October 24, 2006

Democamp a blast! Blew their brains to bits

October 24, 2006 - Categories: democamp, emacs

I set out to geek the heck out of Toronto’s hippest geeks, and I did.
I showed them Emacs as they’d never seen it before—and even that was
a tiny fraction of my config. Lots of cool stuff behind the scenes,
too. When I showed them M-x doctor (the Emacs psychotherapist),
someone shouted out, “Is Emacs talking to you?” I laughed and
continued. What I *really* should’ve done was break the sequence of my
presentation, hook up the speakers, and tell them about Emacspeak –
presentation sequence be darned. ;) Oh, if they only knew how easy it
was to make jokes reality under Emacs! I remember writing my ‘bot
implants’ – the hippie-expand code I used to answer questions really
really quickly on IRC…

Anyway. That was FUN. And it was relatively easy to get through,
especially with the cue system I made (Emacspeak rocks!). I’ll talk
about that some other time. It’s a really cool hack and well worth exploring.

SO. The democamp.ca folks will eventually get
around to posting a vidcast. In the meantime, I have a 431MB MPEG
movie that I need to either downsample or cut up in order to put
online, maybe on YouTube. I don’t have
enough memory or hard disk space to play around with this (have you
seen my computer?!), but I’ll happily put the video up if we can
figure out how to go about doing that.

If you enjoyed the talk, missed it, or just want to hear/see me bounce
up and down about Emacs some more, come to the Linux Caffe
on Saturday (Oct 28, 2006) from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM. I’ll be there,
and we might even see about having some kind of mini-show / vidcast. I wonder if
David has a projector. =)

That was fun! Can’t wait to do it again!

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Random Emacs symbol: comint-input-sender-no-newline – Variable: Non-nil directs the `comint-input-sender’ function not to send a newline.

Terrible at remembering names?

October 24, 2006 - Categories: connecting

Check out this teacher-oriented article What’s Your Name Again? by Mary !McKinney. It starts:

“I’m terrible at names,” complained my friend Steve. He’s a respected professor of
entomology who is fascinated by ugly bugs that make many of us shudder. “Really?” I
asked. “How many species of beetles can you identify by name?”


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Random Emacs symbol: comint-input-ignoredups – Variable: *If non-nil, don’t add input matching the last on the input ring.

Not among strangers

October 24, 2006 - Categories: democamp

It’s amazing, looking out over a crowd of some 70 people and realizing
that very few of them are strangers. It was my first
DemoCamp presentation. I
jumped at the opportunity to wear my beautiful white suit (I *love*
that outfit!), but neither the suit nor the stage (MaRS is big!)
imposed any distance whatsoever. It felt as if I was sitting around a
table with good friends who indulged me by listening to an
enthusiastic demonstration of my latest cool hacks.

It helped that there was a low table that I could put my computer on
so that I could do my demo without hiding behind the podium. (I hate
podiums and other things that stand between me and the rest of the
people!) The microphones were good, too. I left the podium microphones
in place, and my natural presenting voice was strong enough to get
picked up without effort. And of course, a warmed-up sympathetic crowd
was just *wonderful* to work with… =)

I can’t wait to work on a few more things. A lower voice might be
easier to listen to, as long as I can still keep my warmth and humour.
A slightly higher table would’ve been nice. More structure for the
hacks, maybe a clearer message? But it was a fun presentation, and I’m
glad I got the chance to show people something crazy and fun.

I’d like to refine this presentation even further. I have an important
message I want to share with as many geeks as possible. I want people
to push the boundaries, to imagine what’s possible when software can
be customized to that extent. Maybe the benefits will trickle down to
everyone else, the way wild ideas in research prototypes can be taken
into the mainstream…

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Random Emacs symbol: emerge-revisions-with-ancestor – Command: Emerge two RCS revisions of a file, with another revision as ancestor.

Awww, good karma

October 24, 2006 - Categories: goodkarma, happy

You are really becoming an great speaker ;)
btw, I was hanging around the back and overheard people asking if you had
gone yet – apparently you were the only thing they were there for! awesome!

E-Mail from Mike Tsang

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Random Emacs symbol: color-values – Function: Return a description of the color named COLOR on frame FRAME.

10 rules for staying young

October 24, 2006 - Categories: life

Via Quinn, who got it from Richard, who got it from Dave Pollard, George Carlin’s 10 rules for Staying Young:

  1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay “them”.
  2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.
  3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. And the devil’s name is Alzheimer.
  4. Enjoy the simple things.
  5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.
  6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life is ourself. Be alive while you are alive.
  7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.
  8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.
  9. Don’t take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country but not to where the guilt is.
  10. Tell show the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

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Random Emacs symbol: byte-goto – Variable: Byte code opcode for unconditional jump.

Postfix TLS problems

October 24, 2006 - Categories: geek

It looks like my mail authentication has very quietly broken behind
the scenes. I’ve been using SSH tunnel to get out to another host, and
then TLS to authenticate against Jijo’s mail server.

I think TLS is no longer doing its job, which is why Jijo’s mail
server is now rejecting all my mail. How do I go about troubleshooting

Hmm. HANG ON A SEC. This is dodgy.

telnet localhost 10025
Connected to localhost.localdomain.
Escape character is '^]'.
220 pd7mf1no.prod.shaw.ca -- Server ESMTP (Sun Java System Messaging Server 6.2-2.05 (built Apr 28 2005))
HELO sachachua.com

That’s not the server I’m looking for! The port is supposed to be
forwarding to mail.hosting.qsr.com.ph. I think Shaw may have just
started transparently fiddling with its SMTP out.

That’s not good. I don’t know if I can find another way out, as I
think Grad House or the university blocks port 25 out…

I rock! Mail back online

October 24, 2006 - Categories: geek

Stymied by the sudden breakage in my mail setup, I racked my brain
for another way to get to the mail server in order to deliver my mail.
None of the shell accounts I had on other systems were active, and
none of the people I pinged were online.

I remembered that /etc/services was a list of well-known ports. If
mail.hosting.qsr.com.ph was listening on another standard port, that
would be a good place to find it. Searching this file for “smtp”
turned up port 25 (smtp) and port 465 (smtp over SSL).

A quick check confirmed that port 465 was accessible from my computer
even without tunneling.

All I had to do, then, was set up my mail system to use the new port.

I tried putting the port in directly. I also tried playing around with
the configuration, but I couldn’t find a clear tutorial.

I found stunnel along the way. Stunnel is a generic SSL tunnel for any
network service, and it was really easy to set up. Here’s my
/etc/init.d/stunnel-mail based on
http://www.technovelty.org/linux/tips/exim4ssmtp.html :

case "$1" in
    echo -n "Starting ssmtp tunnel "
    start-stop-daemon --start --quiet --exec /usr/sbin/stunnel -- -c -d ssmtp -r mail.hosting.qsr.com.ph:ssmtp
    echo "stunnel."
    echo -n "Stopping ssmtp tunnel "
    start-stop-daemon --stop --quiet --oknodo --retry 2 --exec /usr/sbin/stunnel
    echo "stunnel."
    $0 stop
    sleep 1
    $0 start
    echo "Usage: /etc/init.d/ssmtp-tunnel {start|stop|restart|reload|force-reload}"
    exit 1

Then it was just a matter of adding new entries to my sasl_passwd file
and regenerating the map.

Nothing like a good problem solved!

Random Emacs symbol: visible-frame-list – Function: Return a list of all frames now “visible” (being updated).

Whoops, a little too hasty with the rm there

October 24, 2006 - Categories: geek

I accidentally deleted the second half of my workshop recording. Which
is a pity, as it turns out you can get a fair bit of quality out of a
plain recording.

Wow. The first one’s not bad at all.

Random Emacs symbol: dump-emacs – Function: Dump current state of Emacs into executable file FILENAME.

mencoder rocks for editing movies

October 24, 2006 - Categories: democamp

I used my Sony Cybershot digital camera to take a video of my
presentation at Democamp
last night. The file weighed in at 400+ MB! After a bit of trial and
error, I figured out how to use mencoder to crop to just me bouncing
up and down and talking excitedly about Emacs. =) Here’s the
incantation I’m currently using:

mencoder -ss 111 -vf crop=275:300 mov07578.mpg \
         -of mpeg -oac mp3lame -ovc lavc -o emacs.mpg

I might need to tweak it a bit more. Still, mencoder is fun!

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Random Emacs symbol: w3m-w3m-retrieve – Function: Retrieve web contents pointed to by URL using the external w3m command.