September 28, 2007

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The Kitten-ful Life

One of my friends has the absolutely best setup for kittendom. She
fosters kittens for the Toronto Human Society, taking in kittens and
raising them to be well-socialized, adoptable, absolutely adorable
kitties. This is not an easy job. I remember raising the
KittenWhoMustNotBeNamed (now called Neko or Catastrophix, depending on
whether you ask me or my sister). Waking up every four hours to feed
the kitten, getting used to the ever-present smell of soy milk or
kitty chow, trying to teach the kitty not to bite (no luck)… But
kittens are so adorable, and I’m sure jz will get _plenty_ of nice
pictures… Too bad W- is allergic to cats and dogs. Envy!

Kitten Foster

Random Emacs symbol: eshell-number-of-handles – Variable: *The number of file handles that eshell supports.

When there’s more than one way to do things

Writing about Emacs turns out to be difficult. There are so many ways
to do something. My goal for this book is to show people some of the
things that are possible and to help people choose. I’m starting to
feel a little overwhelmed myself, too. The key thing that’s making
this manageable for me is giving myself permission to write snippets
here and there, leaving the editing and organization to later.

I’m currently working on a chapter about planning your day within
Emacs. It gives me an excuse to poke around Planner and other modules,
figuring out how to do things. While writing about Planner and
appointments, I took my first close look at planner-appt. Now I have
to think: is this better than the way I’m currently keeping track of
my appointments? Should I switch to it? How do I describe it for
others? Should I show how to use it together with planner-cyclic?

Maybe I just need to stay focused on the reader, instead of on the
features of the software. What do people want to be able to do? That’s
the key…

Gah. This writing thing is hard. But it’ll be worth it…

Random Emacs symbol: tty-display-color-cells – Function: Return the number of colors supported by TTY on DISPLAY.

Work permit on its way

A CIC official called me two days ago to clarify something on my
application for a post-graduate work permit. When we cleared that up,
she told me that my work permit should be done that day. Yay! I’m
looking forward to getting it in the mail. Of course, that probably
means less time to work on my book, but it’ll be good to work. =)

Random Emacs symbol: ccl-encode-euc-tw – Variable: CCL program to encode EUC-TW encoding.

My SecondLife interviewbot is coming along nicely

I’d have given up on the Linden Scripting Language long ago if Stephen
Perelgut hadn’t wanted this bot so much. It’s a good thing I didn’t,
though, as the interviewbot is coming along nicely. It can read
questions from a notecard, ask a series of questions, report the
answers to the owner of the interviewbot, e-mail the answers
off-world, and allow the owner to delete or reset answers. It can
receive answers through channel messages or general chat with a
prefix. Not bad.

Next, I should give it the ability to limit interviewees (if
prequalification is used), do owner-type interactions using a
password, and include dialogs. I’ll also have to stress-test it

Programming is fun, even when you need to deal with a lot of limits.

Random Emacs symbol: custom-define-hook – Variable: Hook called after defining each customize option.