Own JS/CSS options

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Go for a walk

When was the last time you did a leisure walk? If you just said “oh, yesterday,” then this text might not be for you, but most people seem to not have the time for that. I was one of them. I changed, and I’m happy for that.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Emacs Snippets: Syntax Highlighted HTML

For this blog and a few other uses, I regularly need some piece of source code nicely formatted in HTML. Emacs already provides a toolchain for that with the htmlfontify package. Sadly, that package both only works on whole buffers, and always adds the same kind of huge header and footer. I need neither. I already have the CSS around, and I want to add the HTML into some other page.

So, the following command will create a temporary buffer, and insert pre-wrapped HTML of the current region (if active) or the whole buffer (if not) there.

Simple, useful.

(defun fc-htmlfontify-buffer-or-region ()
  "Show the current buffer or region if active as HTML in a temporary buffer.

This uses `htmlfontify'."
  (let ((hfy-page-footer (lambda (filename)
        (hfy-page-header (lambda (filename stylesheet)
    (if (region-active-p)
        (let ((text (buffer-substring (region-beginning)
            (insert text)
            (switch-to-buffer (htmlfontify-buffer))))
      (switch-to-buffer (htmlfontify-buffer)))))

Sunday, March 18, 2012

typo.el 1.0 released: An Emacs library for typographical editing

typo.el provides two modes. typo-global-mode provides a prefix map for a number of useful Unicode glyphs, while typo-mode changes the behavior of a number of keys in the current buffer.

The changed keys will try to smartly guess which Unicode glyph you wanted to enter from context. Most of them let you easily cycle through a selection in case the first one was not what you wanted.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

On Social Reading

With social this and social that being the latest thing on the internet, and e-books going very strong, it was only a matter of time until the big companies started to realized that you can combine the two. And indeed, I’ve recently read quite a good article (in German) about this. But what I did read made me cringe.

I’m an avid reader. Dear big bosses, let me tell you what social reading should be for people like me. Because you seem to miss the point.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Book Review: The Crossing Places

The Crossing Places
Why no real cover?

At the start of Elly Griffiths’ The Crossing Places, the police find a corpse of a child. Believing it might be the remnants of a girl that went missing ten years ago, they call in archaeologist Professor Ruth Galloway. Sadly, it turns out the remnants are prehistoric. When shortly thereafter another child goes missing, Ruth feels herself dragged into the investigation.

What a beautiful setting. Ruth Galloway is such a likable character, and so very different both from standard crime novel heroes or typical chick lit heroines. She’s forty, overweight and an archaeology geek, a bit self-conscious about all of those, but at the same time has a strong personality. Likewise, her counterpart, deputy inspector Nelson, is also a very likable, normal, albeit scruffy person, with normal emotions and normal problems.

The story moves along fluently and provides plenty of hints and false leads as to who the murder might be. There are very few slow scenes, and even the few “infodumps” where Ruth explains all sorts of archaeological terms fit well into the story and are only mildly annoying.

The only downside to the whole book for me was that it was written in the present tense. This seems to have become a trend in books as of late, and I find it quite annoying. The odd tense regularly distracts me from the story and kicks me out of immersion. But in this case, it could not really destroy the book—more Ruth Galloway for me.

I can recommend this book to all friends of “whodunit” crime novels who are looking for a bit of mystery and unusually usual and very likable protagonists.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Emacs Snippets: Calculation Helpers

If there is one thing that absolutely highlights horrible user interface design to me, it is when a user is sitting in front of a computer and picks up a pocket calculator. That’s just wrong in so many ways.

You have to copy any data already on the computer, and then copy the result back. Then the calculator in your hand is missing all sorts of editing functionality to fix up mistakes you do. And well, you are sitting in front of an enormously powerful calculator, but have to use a separate hardware gadget for a simple calculation. Why?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Authenticating Users on the Web

One of the main challenges on the web right now is the question of authentication. Not so much the question how to do it at all, but how to make it easy and convenient.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Book Review: Sea Witch

Sea Witch
Why not a real cover?

Seach Witch is the first book by Helen Hollick on the adventures of the pirate Jesamiah Acorne. This book accompanies him from being a standard pirate to finding his true love, Tiola, a white witch. Through various difficulties, the unlikely pair—him a pirate, thief and murderer, her a healer and witch of the good—find each other’s love.

For me, there are two kinds of pirate books: Those that tell a romance with a piracy-themed backdrop, and the good ones. While a romance is an integral part of a good pirate story and can well be the main plot, I prefer it if the story still is primarily about pirates and ships, and not primarily about a romantic relationship. And while Sea Witch is not a pure romance novel, the story focuses a lot on the deeply romantic relationship between Acorne and Tiola.

Helen Hollick balances this out with historical accuracy that is unknown in more romance-focused stories. Even though dates have been slightly adjusted, most of the events in the book have historical backing, and there is an appendix explaining the liberties taken for the sake of telling a good story. While the historical backdrop is accurate, I felt that the everyday interaction of the characters, in particular the main protagonists, lacked some of the historical feel. Instead, sometimes it feels as if the characters have a modern mindset and just accidentally stumbled into the historical world. Sea Witch manages this much better than many historical novels I’ve read, but it was still slightly distracting at times.

All in all, Helen Hollick tells an interesting blend of piracy and her own kind of witchcraft, without falling into the comical humor of Pirates of the Carribean. It is quite enjoyable to follow the story, as it is obvious from her writing that she dearly loves each and every one of her main characters. And even though the romance aspect was a bit too strong for my personal liking, I enjoyed reading the book.

If you like pirate stories and are not afraid of a heavy focus on romance, the Sea Witch is for you. Myself, I will have to think hard about whether I want to continue reading the series, though.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Emacs Snippets: Kill Region or Line, Toggle Case

Two code snippets that solved problems random people on #emacs had. The first implements a specific behavior for C-w, the other toggles case at point.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I love my text editor

This text is a love declaration to my text editor. It's the most important tool on my computer (yes, more important than the web browser). It interconnects almost everything I do. And this is marvelous, because text editors are also one of the oldest tools still in use with only few conceptual changes since their inception.

But what makes text editors so great?