Category Archives: podcast

Emacs Chat: Sacha Chua (with Bastien Guerry)

UPDATE 2013/07/08: Now with very long transcript! (Read the full blog post to find it.)

After I chatted with Bastien Guerry about Emacs, he asked me if he could interview me for the same series. =) So here it is!

Just want the audio?

Find the rest of the Emacs chats at

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Sketchnote Lesson: Adding color

This entry is part 2 of 11 in the series Sketchnote Lessons

Color is a great way to add visual interest and guide people’s eyes to what you want them to focus on. Here’s Kevin Dulle’s sketchnote lesson on adding emphasis with shadows and color:


Reposted with permission – check out his blog for more tips!

If you’re starting out with sketchnotes, you don’t have to use color right away. Go ahead and draw with whatever you feel comfortable with, whether that’s a black technical pen, a 4-color ballpen, or a digital stylus.

You can always add color afterwards. On paper, you can use crayons, colored pencils, highlighters, markers, and so on. Make sure you test it in an inconspicuous area (maybe on a separate piece of paper) because your coloring method may interact badly with your drawing.

You can also add color on the computer. I prefer this way because then I can easily change my mind about what colors to use. Erasing is easier. Learn how to use the software tools that are out there. Here is a quick video I put together on how to use the free GIMP tool to add color by either replacing the ink that’s there (as if you changed pens) or adding color on top (as if you used a highlighter).

Okay, so that takes care of the mechanics. What about the styles?

Develop your personal style by looking for inspiration and experimenting with ideas. In addition to checking out people’s sketchnotes, look elsewhere for interesting color combinations: nature, art, product designs, and so on. Try different techniques and colors.

Here’s a sampler of different coloring styles I’ve played with in my sketchnotes:

image Highlighter
I like this because it’s super-easy to add quickly if you’re drawing digitally – just add a new layer below your text.
Visual Book Review: The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything… Fast
image Color as accent for images
You can add this while drawing by switching between pens (on paper) or between colors (if digital), or you can use the Color layer trick in the video to add it afterwards.
How to use Evernote to improve your visual thinking
image Colors with meanings
Here I used red to indicate the path of my mistakes and blue to indicate what I could improve.
An embarrassing failure is the result of a series of unfortunate decisions, and that’s a good thing.
image Emphasis
Red is a great color for drawing attention. Coloring your headlines helps set them apart.
Visual Book Review: Running Lean – Ash Maurya
image Extra information
You can also use gray or lighter colours to include extra information that people don’t need to focus on.
Visual Book Review: The Start-Up of You – Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha
image Depth
You can use a lighter colour for shading or depth.
Visual Book Review: The Sketchnote Handbook
image Branding
Pick up colors from company logos or event materials to make your sketchnotes look more like part of the event.
Sketchnotes: #INNOTalkTO Innovatively Speaking
image Lots of colors
This is fun to do when you have more time. In this case, I colored in my sketchnote while waiting in line for an “autograph.”
Sketchnotes: How to Live an Amazing Life – C.C.Chapman

Sketchnote Army has a wide variety of sketchnoting styles. Flip through it, see what you like, and try playing around with those ideas. Have fun!

Like this? Check out the other sketchnote lessons and learn more. Feel free to suggest topics, ask questions, or share your own tips!

Mindmapping chat with Billy Waters (@vitaminsludge)

I’ve been curious about how people manage hundreds of maps. Billy Waters reached out to me over Twitter, gave me plenty of tips, and shared his Dropbox folder with hundreds of maps with me. (Neat!) Instead of pinging him constantly with lots of questions, I asked him if I could set up a Google Hangout so that I could pick his brain. He agreed, and he was okay with sharing it too. Here’s the recording!

Time Note
1:02 Started in 1990
1:14 Other tools
2:01 Mindjet
2:53 Building an archive of book notes
3:42 Mind-maps and to-do lists
4:02 todo.txt
5:09 Taking notes
5:23 Organization vs brainstorming
5:40 How to process a book
6:23 Don’t like linking maps
6:59 Mindmaps not a solution for everything
9:11 Keeping maps when you move computers
11:09 Forgetting what you have
12:21 I don’t really search them
13:26 Mapping for others
14:48 ~12 hours to process a book
15:18 Highlighting on a Kindle
17:00 Learning about mindmapping
17:52 Other techniques: Major system, spaced repetition
18:33 Learning Chinese
20:43 Unwieldy maps
21:54 Favorite map
22:34 Printing and laminating maps
25:11 iPad and iThoughts for mindmapping on the go
26:34 Ikea
28:51 Mindjet vs Freeplane
32:20 Learning from other people’s diagrams
38:21 Copyright and book summaries
42:03 Paper, digital; ScanSnap
43:58 Dropbox
45:09 Backups
46:19 Teaching English in China for three years; visual thinking
48:04 More creative mindmaps
50:52 Biggerplate and sharing mindmaps
52:22 Two people: Jamie Nast, Michael Deutch
53:25 Use Your Head (Tony Buzan)
54:05 Unwieldy map, unwieldy thoughts
54:32 Floating nodes

The main things I picked up were:

  • Don’t worry about all those fancy features or about losing track of what you have. It’ll work out.
  • Check Biggerplate and other mindmap collections for inspiration.
  • Check out these other role models and books.
  • Structure + detail

Power user of mindmaps? I’d love to hear your tips too!

You can download the MP3 from

Emacs Chat: Magnar Sveen (Emacs Rocks)

UPDATE 2014-01-27: Transcript posted!
UPDATE: Want just the audio? MP3 / OGG

Here are the notes from my chat with Magnar Sveen, the creator of the Emacs Rocks screencast series and a number of other great Emacs resources. Enjoy!

0m48s Magnar has been using Emacs for two years
2m30s Moving from TextMate
3m45s World of Warcraft
4m10s Friend’s influence
5m10s Learning as a game
6m10s Other ways of learning – time outside work
7m44s Screencasting
9m30s Things Magnar wants to learn more about – Org
10m19s What else Magnar does with Emacs
11m17s Norwegian text adventure game
12m08s Outside Emacs: family, board games (120!)
13m41s Managing a large hobby project
14m30s Learning through projects
14m48s Dealing with feeling overwhelmed by Emacs
16m38s Hardware
20m20s Emacs configuration
20m40s Projects with perspective-mode
21m32s Find file in project, ido-vertical-mode, flx-ido
23m45s Switching between projects
25m01s Guide-key
25m56 Rebinding C-h
26m36 paredit and smartparens
29m20s visual-regexp
30m35s annoying-arrows-mode
32m45s project-archetype
35m15s Wishlist: package management
35m55s Satisfied with configuration
35m25s Marks and regions
37m20s Configuration is on github
37m40s evil-mode
40m00s Feedback on Emacs Rocks
42m00s Growing to appreciate Emacs because of extensibility
43m15s The giraffe book
44m57s Getting code into core
49m39 Emacs koans?
51m45s IRC bot
52m50s Learning from other people in the office
54m40s Other questions
56m23s Board game recommendations

Read or download the transcript

Check out Emacs Chat for more interviews like this. Got a story to tell about how you learned about or how you use Emacs? Get in touch!