Retrospective: Reasons why you should love emacs

Last Saturday I was at Dominican College O&M’s campus at La Romana, as one of the speakers for the “OpenSaturday” series of events.

This was a complete success: full-room, engaged audience, excellent speakers.

I had the opportunity to give my first talk on emacs.

It was delivered using org-tree-slide-mode for one part — which was really cool for the audience and for me, too.

On the second half of the presentation, I used org-mode and demonstrated custom “ToDo” states and timestamps, org-mode html export (C-c C-e h H), syntax highlighting, Immediate mode, and Emmet mode. Of course, I demonstrated having multiple buffers open in several windows at the same time.

It was all in a hurry, because it was a 10-minute talk; I couldn’t demonstrate the keyboard macros – which would’ve been nice, as I was going to demonstrate an extraction of html form item names and the generation of php code to get it from the $_REQUEST superglobal; this makes use of emac’s ability to use search and all functions as part of the macro, which I know for a fact several editors can’t do.

The show-stealer was Emmet mode – I actually thought people would’ve been more surprised at noticing that the presentation was within emacs, but they weren’t. As many are CS students who are learning HTML, seeing html>(head>title)+body>div#content>ul>li*5 grow into the corresponding tree blew them away.

I’m planning to enhance that presentation to fill a 45-minute slot featuring keyboard macros, elisp functions + keybindings, and select parts of my .emacs file. Perhaps the presentation will be accompanied by a “Reasons to love Vi” by one of my colleagues, which would be sweet.

In any case, a great Saturday – hopefully things will keep on being fun.


I usually don’t have internet on my phone unless I’m home.

I started playing a recent freemium game aiming to be an e-sport.

The game has offline notifications.

This decimated my capacity to properly concentrate, little by little. I can now appreciate the reason many decry this as the era of distraction, of people looking down at their phones all the time. Not to misrepresent my stance: I’d noticed people walking around carelessly, too concentrated on their phones; it’d not really worried me, as once upon a time I did that, only carrying books around instead of a phone.

What I hadn’t noticed is the barrage of notifications, at seeming random times; the concatenation of stimuli in near-random intervals that create a tick-like habit of constantly checking the phone, fomenting a mental nag.

Any kind of worthwhile work – which is any work not to be automated just yet – takes time and focus; it probably needs introspection and analysis. Otherwise, it should be automated as much as possible until we find the need to analyze and meditate anew.

In any case, I’ve since uninstalled the application, which had no option to deactivate the offline notifications. I’ve also uninstalled a few other applications, which I liked to use from comfortable places at my home. And I took some days to cleanse.

Now that I’m not twitchy with check-my-phone-itis, I feel a lot better, and will keep posting – because now I can think through stuff, and remember better.

In case there’s any doubt, I’m saying that constant nagging severely impaired my focus, productivity and overall quality of life. You may be affected, too. Run an experiment on living without constant notifications running you, and see what happens. As for me… well, it seems not to be my style at all.