Headlines for Friday:

  1. Circus school (96 words)
  2. Switching mindsets (292 words)
  3. How I came to love Emacs (371 words)
  4. Chapter is taking shape (210 words)
  5. Taking portraits of people (120 words)
  6. Through the fear (260 words)


Priorities - A: high, B: medium, C: low; Status - _: unfinished, X: finished, C: cancelled, P: pending, o: in progress, >: delegated.
AX@10:30-12:00 Work on my book - 1399 words
AX@13:00 Ian Irving, Lou's Coffee Bar
AX@14:45-15:00 Transfer images, write blog entry
AX@15:00 Call Mohan re Web 2.0.
AXE-mail Martin Buckland about personal branding
AXCheck Fido bill from 2007.10.12
ACJoyce Davis' birthday



1. Circus school: 07:19

The static trapeze lessons I've been taking are tons of fun and great motivation to exercise more. (11 straight days of exercise!)

Here are a couple of other classes that might be useful:


  • Centre of Gravity, Tuesdays & Thursdays, 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm, $10 drop-in - 416-469-1440
  • Toronto School of Circus Arts, sessional, http://www.torontocircus.com/


On Technorati:

Random Emacs symbol: mule-version-date - Variable: Distribution date of this version of MULE (multilingual environment).

2. Switching mindsets: 07:45

One of the interesting side-effects of writing this book on Emacs is that I get to stretch my brain by trying out different ways to plan my day.

My Planner configuration had accreted to just the right kind of support over the past five years, and I've been using it without needing to think about it much That's part of the reason why it works so well for me. It's just part of my workflow. It has molded my brain, and vice versa. ;)

I'd like to write a really good chapter that also shows the best of org, so I'm going to either have to _think_ org, or find someone (talkative! ;) ) who does.

Right now, I'm working on how to use Emacs to manage schedules. I'm running into interesting differences between Planner and Org, and these differences give me a better appreciation for both.

In Planner, I'm used to scheduling a slew of tasks at a time and moving things around a bit, ordering and grouping my tasks visually. In Org, I don't have the ability to manually edit the agenda view, but I do have the ability to pull tasks in from lots of different locations. This doesn't quite support my old way of planning, but opens up new ones.

Here's what I'm learning in order to do things the Org way:

  • Keep my scheduled day as clear as possible, putting down only fixed appointments and things I absolutely need to do that day.
  • Add other items as planned, but focus only on the next few actions.
  • Separate my tasks by context to make it easy to pull out the next few applicable actions.

Random Emacs symbol: cos - Function: Return the cosine of ARG.

3. How I came to love Emacs: 08:28

Riffing off P.F. Hawkins' post on how he came to love Emacs, let me tell you my story. =)

I wasn't always an Emacs geek. I remember giving it a shot and finding out that I much preferred vim or even pico -w. I don't remember much else of my pre-Emacs days, though. I do remember the turning point.

While browsing in the library stacks at my university, I found a copy of Unix Power Tools. It described Emacs, so I decided to give it another try. I got hooked.

The key thing for me was the exposure to Emacs Lisp. Unix Power Tools gave all sorts of tips, often accompanied with Emacs Lisp code to put in your ~/.emacs. So I thought, hey, this might be fun to learn.

I read the Emacs Lisp intro manual. I read the Emacs Lisp manual. Then I started reading all the source code I could find, frequently referring to the help files in order to understand something. I learned about C-h f (describe function) and the ability to jump to, trace, and modify practically any bit of code in my text editor. My universe blew wide open.

Several years and several thousand lines of config later, I've got a text editor that fits me like a glove. The people I've met, the things I've learned, the crazy ideas I've tried... What would my life be without Emacs? It's really kinda odd to say that about a piece of software, but yes: Emacs has changed my life.

What's next for me? Well, I'm working on that book. I hope it'll be as mind-blowing as Unix Power Tools was for me. I hope it'll help people discover more and get excited. I'm learning more about the things people can do with it and I'm playing around with other crazy ideas, particularly for contact management and personal information management. I also want to bring this kind of customizability to other applications. Maybe I'll try it with Lotus Notes, which I'll need to use for work anyway. But Emacs, ah, Emacs... How do I love thee? Let me M-x count-the-ways!

Random Emacs symbol: eshell-login-script - Variable: *If non-nil, a file to invoke when starting up Eshell interactively.

4. Chapter is taking shape: 14:43

After a little bit of [[http://sachachua.com/notebook/wiki/2007.10.12.php#anchor-2][thinking about Org and Planner]], I'm starting to feel more comfortable with the chapter that I'm writing. I pasted my draft into OpenOffice and found to my surprise that I have about 13 pages of content, with 7 more to go.

I'm comfortable working with the book as an org outline, and I really love how it lets me navigate the outline and mark segments as TODO or DRAFT. I think I'd rather draft it in Emacs than in OpenOffice.org, where I'll be tempted to fiddle with formatting and editing. I'll use longlines-mode to draft my book so that I can paste it into OpenOffice for a rough idea of the page count, but that'll be my only concession. =)

I'll put the chapter together before sending it to beta readers, which would basically be the people who've e-mailed me or commented on my book-related blog entries. If you want to be a beta reader, now's a good time to volunteer! It involves reading rough drafts and going, "Ooh, that _is_ cool," or even better, "Hey, you missed this totally awesome Emacs trick..." =) Encouragement will help keep me going, too!

Random Emacs symbol: w3m-encoding-type-alist - Variable: *Alist of file suffixes and content encoding types.

5. Taking portraits of people: 15:31

Ian Irving was kind enough to not only introduce me to a wonderful little cafe (Lou's Coffee Bar at Runnymede and Annette) and share his insights on consulting and tech evangelism, but to also sit for a portrait by this amateur.

Good side-lighting. Yay dimples. =) I also like the background - the exchange bookshelf at the cafe. I cropped this one really tight, which improved the composition a bit.

Next time I take a picture, I'll spend a little more time trying to make sure it's in focus.

Not bad for a quick shot, though. =)

Random Emacs symbol: w3m-arrived-put - Function: Store VALUE in the arrived URLs database as the PROPERTY of URL.

6. Through the fear: 23:39

I'm not afraid of heights, just falling. I _enjoy_ the challenge of speaking in front of people or turning up in a room full of strangers. But falling? Losing my balance or grip? Scares the heck out of me.

Precisely why I'm taking trapeze lessons, of course. Perched precariously some six and a half feet above the ground, dangling upside down and wondering if my grip's about to give, resolutely ignoring the pain shooting up from my blistered left hand, I can _still_ focus and learn, and I _love_ that. It's ever so satisfying to feel that frisson of fear and _work through it anyway._

I love setting little goals for myself. Last Tuesday, it was being able to hook my knees on the bar all by myself. We made slow progress as I learned things piecemeal, but I did it. And I'm coming to love failing, too, to love knowing that I have a lot to learn. Learning means putting together all these things that you can't quite describe, you just have to _do_. When my toes don't quite clear the bar or my legs feel kinda wobbly, I love being able to take a step back in my head and try to figure out what's happening and what I want to happen.

Today I managed to hold the upside-down-legs-over-head position using the lines. I also made it up to a sitting position! Next session, I want to make it up there with very little assistance. I want to smoothen my motions, too.

Plenty to learn, plenty to learn...


  1. Reply to Tito Sarmago - sent today
  2. E-mail to Martin Buckland
  3. E-mail to Lorna Wong
  4. Reply to Leo Kluger - sent today
  5. E-mail to Ian Irving
  6. Reply to Mark Chignell - sent yesterday
  7. Reply to Carsten Dominik - sent today
  8. Reply to P.F. Hawkins - sent 2 days ago
  9. Reply to Mohan Nadarajah
  10. Reply to Michael McGuffin - sent 2 days ago
  11. E-mail to Tim Sanders
  12. Reply to Michael Nielsen - sent 2 days ago
  13. Reply to Michael Fagan - sent 2 days ago
  14. Reply to mdy - sent yesterday
  15. Reply to Paul Huff - sent today
  16. E-mail to Karen Quinn Fung, Jedediah Smith, Leigh Honeywell

Inbox items: 5 as of 23:24