2022-10 Austin Emacs Meetup

There was another meeting a week ago of EmacsATX, the Austin Emacs Meetup group. For this meeting there was no predetermined topic.

#1 was one of the organizers, and is active in the Austin Clojure group.

#2 was one of the developers in OKC (not the professor), aka The Artist Formerly Known As #3.

#3 was one of the organizers, and formerly worked for the City of Austin.

#2 did most of the talking. There were two general themes: Crafted Emacs and the book Mastering Emacs. He recommended that everyone read Mastering Emacs. When he read it he had been doing Emacs for thirty years, and he still learned something from it, even though it is geared towards beginners. I think I was the only one who had not read it. The group thought that it would be great if the book talked about Org Mode, but it is still worthwhile. The book explains how to get information from Emacs itself, and on customizing it. It emphasizes using the customization buffer to make changes as opposed to using Emacs Lisp. I think Emacs Lisp is not covered in the book; #1 has given a few presentations on Emacs Lisp. #1 and #2 thought the output of the customize interface was difficult to parse.

#2 went over a module he added to Crafted Emacs that incorporates a lot of the information in Mastering Emacs. He also compared a few external packages to their corresponding built-in alternatives, such as how Emacs help is different than the “helpful” package. (Is there a package out there called “useless”?) Helpful provides more information (hence the name), but each call opens a new buffer, while with the built-in help you can control the windows and frames with your configuration. #2 mentioned dedicated windows, which is a term I had never heard. A few other packages that were mentioned were ibuffer (see here, here and here), dumb-jump and ripgrep. One of them mentioned flyspell (see here and here); a lack of spell checking is starting to bug me in my Emacs usage.

#2 used a LOT of key chords. I do not like to memorize key chords, but I admit it looks more impressive when someone is going through buffers, windows and frames and making changes with key chords as opposed to M-x wait-for-me-to-find-what-I-want.

At one point #2 admitted he pointed at screen with his finger while on the call; nice to know I am not the only person who does that. He also used “a priori” in a sentence outside of a philosophy class. You don’t hear that very often. In 1992, I heard someone use “i.e.” (as in “id est“, or “that is (to say)”, not Internet Explorer). Pedantic points for everyone.

There might be a topic next month.

Don’t forget: EmacsConf 2022 is happening online on 2022-12-03 and 2022-12-04.

You’re welcome.

I give people numbers since I do not know if they want their names in this write-up. Think of it as the stoner’s version of the Chatham House Rule. I figured that numbers are a little clearer than “someone said this, and someone else said that, and a third person said something else”. Plus it gives participants some deniability. People’s numbers are based on the order they are listed on the call screen, and the same person may be referred to by different numbers in different months.

I am not the official spokesperson for the group. I just got into the habit of summarizing the meetings every month, and adding my own opinions about things. That said, if you like something in this post, I will take credit; if you don’t, blame somebody else.

Image from the Gero Codex, a 10th-century Ottonian manuscript housed at the University and State Library Darmstadt; image under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication.

1 thought on “2022-10 Austin Emacs Meetup”

  1. I’ve found various Emacs packages useless over the years, but never encountered one named useless 🙂

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