August 12, 2008

Bulk view

Sweet! Facebook in Emacs!

So here’s how to access Facebook from w3m, one of the web browsers in
Emacs:

1. Enable cookies by setting w3m-use-cookies to t.
2. Go to http://m.facebook.com .
3. Choose the HTTP login.
4. Log in with your username and password.

Hooray for mobile interfaces that don’t require Javascript! =D

So far, it seems to work. I can update my status! Sweet!

Next step: Figure out how to set up shimbun for Facebook mail so that I can read my Facebook mail like a newsgroup…

Why browse the Web in Emacs?

“Are you browsing Slashdot in Emacs?”, W- asked me after he glanced at my screen.

With Emacs’ reputation for including everything _and_ the kitchen sink, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that there’s more than one way to surf the Internet using your text editor. With today’s Javascript- and image-heavy websites, it can be hard to believe that anyone would use a text-based browser with limited support for many of the things we take for granted. Still, a Web browser in your text editor can be surprisingly useful. Here are some of the reasons why you might like it:

  • Browsing is faster and less distracting. Forget flashing ads, garish colors, and large images. When you surf the Web in Emacs, you can focus on reading, and you can use all the typical Emacs shortcuts for navigating around. You can view images when you want to.
    If you need to see something that Emacs doesn’t support, you can easily open the current page in an external Web browser.
  • You can integrate it into your work. With a little bit of Emacs Lisp, you can qucikly look up information on the Web based on what you’re currently working on. For example, PHP mode comes with a shortcut that lets you look up the current function’s documentation in the PHP manual. You can look up bug report details, dictionary definitions, and Wikipedia pages with minimal typing, too. If you use Emacspeak, you can set up the web browser to speech-synthesize more than what’s displayed on screen. The more you use Emacs, the more benefits you get from the integration.
  • You can customize everything. You can customize your Emacs experience quickly and easily, and if you spend a lot of time on the Net, you’ll appreciate having your own shortcuts and functions. For example, I’ve completely remapped my keyboard shortcuts to support tabbed browsing on a Dvorak keyboard, and I’ve defined a few functions to make frequently-used commands much easier. You can even use functions to process Web pages and either summarize the information you’re interested in or make pages more navigable. It’s all just Emacs Lisp.
  • You’re safe from browser exploits. No Javascript pop-ups, no image bugs, no browser-based malware that can take over your comuter or steal data. Just content.
  • You need less memory. Why open up a memory-intensive graphical Web-based browser when you’ve got Emacs open anyway?

There’s more than one way to browse the Web in Emacs, of course. Browse-url is a package that makes it easy to open URLs in your preferred browser or browsers. For example, you can use it to browse the Web in Mozilla Firefox, and (of course) you can use it to browse the Web within Emacs itself. For browsing within Emacs, you can use w3m.el, an interface to the external W3M browser, or w3, a Web browser written entirely in Emacs Lisp. Of the two, I prefer w3m.el, which is much faster and more featureful than w3. Both can display graphics, tables, and frames, and w3 supports stylesheets.

More about Emacs and browsing the Web soon! Planned projects for this chapter of Wicked Cool Emacs:

*** Project XXX: Browse the Web
*** Project XXX: Open the current webpage in an external browser
*** Project XXX: Different browsers for different pages
*** Project XXX: Toggle between Web and work
*** Project XXX: Quick search
*** Project XXX: Customize your keymap
*** Project XXX: Download files
*** Project XXX: Add access keys
*** Project XXX: Use social bookmarking
*** Project XXX: Typeahead
*** Project XXX: Preview HTML
*** Project XXX: Read Web pages as news

Happy birthday to me!

Last night, I figured out how I wanted to celebrate my birthday.

I’ve never really been one for gifts, and my family’s much the same way. One year, my mom said that for her birthday, she’d like to receive sturdy plants for her garden. Another time, she requested books. One year, I asked people for letters. On another birthday, I asked people for their two-year plans. (Seriously. I gave seatwork.)

This year, I wanted to celebrate my birthday by sharing stories. I realized that a large part of being homesick is missing the sense of being known, and I wanted to share both my Philippine stories with W- and my Canadian stories with my family.

I celebrated my 25th birthday with my parents, my middle sister Kathy, and my partner W-. In the morning, my dad took W- and me around the electronic shops at Raon, the combination of Catholicism and superstition around Quiapo, and the photography shops at R. Hidalgo. I’m looking forward to trying out the SB-800 flash my dad gave me as a birthday gift. =)

After our trip, my mom took us around Ateneo, UP, and Pisay. W- and I had watched "Philippine Science" at the Toronto International Film Festival, so it was nice for him to see where I’d gone to school. We told a lot of stories along the way.

In the evening, my dad and my sister gave the commencement speech at the graduation of the photography students at Benilde. It was a quick, informal affair accompanied by a photo exhibit, which inspired me to think about shooting more.

After the commencement reception, we went out to dinner at Chateau 1771 in Greenbelt. We told tons of stories over dinner, and W- got a better idea of the crazy adventures that my family finds ourselves in. =D It was just the way I wanted to spend my birthday. (Or, well, it would’ve been if I’d remembered to bring a way to record the stories…)

Tomorrow, my godparents are having a tea party at the house in Alabang. It’ll be fun seeing them again. =) The day after that is Diane’s wedding – hooray! I just finished sending a few of my high school pictures to Mario, who’s putting together a slideshow. Can’t wait to attend!

25 years. So far, so good. Next up – even better!