2023-02 Austin Emacs Meetup

There was another meeting a few weeks ago of EmacsATX, the Austin Emacs Meetup group. For the this month we had no predetermined topic.

#1 was one of the organizers. He used to live in Austin, but now lives in East Texas.
#2 was a developer near Dallas. He was a power user of IntelliJ, but now uses Doom.
#3 was one of our developers in OKC (Still the Artist Known as Number Three).
#4 did not say much; their name was unfamiliar to me.
#5 was one of the organizers, and formerly worked for the City of Austin.
#6 was a guy from San Francisco, who also did not say much.
#7 was our professor from OKC.
#8 was from Seattle. I think he attended in 2022-12, and was trying to transition from VS Code to Emacs.
There was a #9 and a #10, but they did not say anything while I was on.

I joined a bit late, and there was a lot of talk about running a meeting. I think #6 is involved in the Emacs group in San Francisco. He said that running a meeting is a lot of work. Someone mentioned recording the meeting, and that was shot down. I think a lot of people did not like being recorded unfiltered. Granted, Emacs users are even more intelligent, sophisticated and attractive than other IT folks, even readers of Tales From the Jar Side. EmacsSF does have a Youtube channel, but there are some gaps. I do not remember if #6 said why they stopped recording or if he had any part in the decision. Maybe they just got sick of doing it.

#8 said it is hard to get into Emacs. #1 recommended resources: YouTube, Sacha Chua, ChatGPT. There were some suggestions about how to discover things in Emacs: C-h o (which runs describe-symbol), info pages. #7 mentioned the Emacs Buddy initiative system: you can connect with an experienced Emacs user. You can find the web page about it here, and an EmacsConf22 talk about it here. I have still not gotten around to watching the videos from prior EmacsConf years.

A lot of the meeting was #2 and #3 sharing their screens showing the rest of us how they use Emacs and Org to manage REST requests. They use different languages inside the Org files to make the requests and to process the results. I have to admit sometimes I was a bit lost during their demos; their Emacs-fu is very powerful.

They both mentioned an Emacs package called verb to help manage requests. #2 uses shell, awk and Python to make the requests, then transforms the JSON result into edn (extensible data notation) (pronounced like “Garden of edn”) and works with it using Clojure in a REPL inside Emacs. He also changed his file to make a request with curl. #3 had an elisp function inside javascript to populate his JSON request.

#3 talked about verb using the header line. I honestly have never heard of the header line. The mode line is the line at the bottom, and every config has that; the header line is like a mode line at the top. I think most configs do not use it or disable it. Prelude does not have it. My config (based on an Emacs config for Clojure by Daniel Higginbotham, aka flyingmachine) does not have it either (see Note 1 below). I think the mode line has always been in Emacs, and the header line was just added a few years ago.

#3 also mentioned which-key: per its web page it is a package “that displays available keybindings in popup”. #3 says lives in Org mode, and uses it to keep notes for meetings; he is an inspiration to us all.

#8 said he loves and hates VS Code. MSCode is easy to use, and he said he was having a hard time getting into Emacs. I think he might be trying to do too much at once with Emacs. #1 mentioned you do not have to open PDFs in Emacs if you do not want to. #2: said many people see Emacs as an editor, tool, or IDE, and while it is those things, ultimately it is a Lisp REPL. I wish I heard what he said after that, but then my power went out. Perhaps next time he will complete the thought again.

You’re welcome.

Note 1: Prelude and flyingmachine’s Emacs config may have changed since I last downloaded them. My version of Prelude is from a year ago, and I have been altering flyingmachine’s config from about three years ago.

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. The participants may remember things differently, and may disagree with opinions expressed in this post. Nothing should be construed as views held by anyone’s employers past, present or future. That said, if you like something in this post, I will take credit; if you don’t, blame somebody else.

Image from Mungi Gospels, an 11th-century Armenian manuscript housed at the Matenadaran Institute of Ancient Manuscripts in Yerevan; image from Wikimedia, assumed allowed under public domain.

4 thoughts on “2023-02 Austin Emacs Meetup”

  1. Aww, shucks! =) Thanks for helping new people get more into it. For what it’s worth, I like your write-ups (thanks for adding all those links!) and I think they’re at least as useful as recordings would have been.

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