Emacs-Rails 0.44

January 13th, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

For those interested, version 0.44 of the best Rails mode for Emacs has just been released. For those developing for Rails using Emacs, there is no other extension so feature rich like it. This new version fixes many bugs and introduces a couple of new features worth checking out.

I’ve contributed with a few patches and if your are interested in helping out, the leading programmer of the extension is a nice guy and will gladly accept your contributions. :-)

iPhone? iPhone!? I want a Phone!

January 9th, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

And I thought a Linux-based mobile phone would be cool… A cell phone without a keyboard? Without a keyboard!? A [cell phone without a keyboard][2], which is also an iPod and with 8GB internal memory!?

Holy crap! Holy, holy crap! Programmable and extensible (I assume it is, because it runs OS X). Forget Windows Mobile, forget QTek, Blackberry and any other mobile company. It will be Zune versus iPod, which is no comparison at all. I will pay–whatever price–they will charge.

I remember reading on Wired a couple years ago (the dead-tree version then) about a man who had programmed his own handheld to be his primary computer. At work, the handheld plus a keyboard plus two monitors. At home, the handheld plus a keyboard plus a monitor or the TV. The handheld was his remote control and everything else–except it was not a phone. Apple brought this much closer to the market.

With something like the iPhone and a couple acessories, the desktop will begin to die. The PC era, as Om Malik said, is over. And because of a phone.

By the way, Read/Write Web has an interesting breakdown of the features.

Back to what matters: I want a phone, mister! Right now. Want to know the worst part: considering that I live in Brazil, it may never be available here, or cost a small fortune.


January 7th, 2007 § 0 comments § permalink

I just finished reading Blindsight, from Peter Watts. I found the book via a very positive indication from Boing Boing, which comments about the book’s release under a CC license due, in part, to the fact that the book was selling way to fast.

I basically could not stop reading the book. It had been quite long since I read something as mind-boggling and mind-expanding. Blindsight is packed with new ideas and concepts. Watts has an impressive command of both science and philosophy, and he’s not afraid to show it. Many of the questions he raises in Blindsight are the kind that make your brain go into overdrive for a couple days.

One of the great themes in the book is the distinction between being sentient and being intelligent, with a sub-theme around the real need of the former for long term survival. Watts presents strong arguments for each case, allowing readers to take their own conclusions. Within this theme, other questions like the existence of free-will, what is really sensory perception, and many other are interleaved in a work that would easily pass for a philosophy book–albeit one dealing with vampires as well.

It’s quite obvious by now that I strongly recommend Blindsight. Considering it’s license, it would be criminal not too as well. The other two books by Peter Watts are already in my reading list.

Ion3 and Conkeror

January 7th, 2007 § 4 comments § permalink

After I permanently moved to Emacs as my primary text editor, I got so used to the ease of running multiple actions by the mere use of a few keystrokes that I’m trying to do the same thing all the time in other applications. Unfortunately, and quite obviously indeed, any such attempts failed with the exception of a few coincidences.

Recently, I decided to try a few alternatives I found to maximize the Emacs “experience” in my daily use of computers.

The first alternative was to use Ion3 as my primary window manager under Ubuntu. Ion3 is a minimalist window manager, with a strong emphasis on the use of the keystrokes to access both the interface and application. It uses frames, easily accessible via simple key combinations, as a way to partition screen space. The convenience of such setup can only be really seen trying it. One of the most interesting advantages of Ion3 so far is the ability to use a kind of full screen mode for applications, without menus, window borders or any other additional baggage. Very productive, indeed. Obviously, given Ion3 relative immaturity, a few glitches are still present in some tasks.

The second alternative was Conkeror, a Mozilla extension that completely modifies its interface to resemble Emacs, with familiar key bindings and concepts.

The experience has been positive so far, although I could do way with a few details in both applications. Fortunately, both are strongly customizable and I’m experimenting with different approaches to really find out how viable both Ion3 and Conkeror are for daily use. It may turn out that I should not keep using them. Muscle memory may get me addicted to them, and since I’m still required to use Windows as part of my daily work, I may get so used to a very different desktop that I’ll not work quite as well on any other setup.

Anyway, if anybody knows of other similar options, I’d like to hear about them.

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