Looking for org-mode everywhere

Learning how to integrate Emacs org-mode across all my platforms and devices. So far, haven’t found a quite smooth enough way to edit that darned text file from cloud storage on either the Android device or via the browser. Who knew that in 2014 Emacs would be the premier client tool available for a particular use case of editing a text file anywhere?

Anyway – still working out the details and kinks, just throwing ideas up here by way of brainstorming.

Gotta say that when my instance of Visual Studio (again) locked up my work PC for ten minutes yesterday, it was a big motivation for me to continue moving down the path of finding and using tools which are not so monolithic. Yes, here I’m talking about using Emacs as an organizer and replacement for some features of Outlook and my current web-based organizational tools. But one of the great things about it is that as I spiral my learning curve around creating that solution, all the stuff I learn about Emacs along the way also gives support to my skills and knowledge to start using it to solve a boatload of other problems.

org-mode for Emacs

Lately I’ve been exploring more of the “literary” side of being a technologist.

Literary: I heard it described that way by someone else (maybe it was Steve Yegge in one of his posts about Emacs?) a few years ago. The idea is that if you move from the typical GUI work that a Windows administrator / programmer does, to using more command-line tools and keyboard shortcuts, you develop a closer relationship with things like code, text, commands, functions, keyboard shortcuts, scripts, etc… And that this creates a deeper bond in your thought process.

I wrote recently about how I’ve finally gotten to a point with Emacs where I can use it and feel pretty productive, and can use it to solve certain text manipulation problems that would be very difficult to solve another way. It’s a great tool because it’s one that you can invest time in deepening your knowledge of on an as-needed basis, and you can be sure that every minute spent doing that will payoff in either improved productivity or improved understanding of an important aspect of technology at some point in the future.

Similarly, I’ve been rounding out my knowledge of various scripting tools and (having recently bought my first Mac) getting a deeper education in the innards of Mac systems (by reading some books about the Unix innards, not just the Mac stuff on top of the Unix). And I’ve been finding increasing uses for PowerShell in my work as a Microsoft guy – so much so that I now believe anyone doing programming or administration of any sort on a Microsoft system is really holding themselves back if they don’t make a lot of use of PowerShell. Yes, it’s that useful – and in many ways does Unix better than Unix does Unix.

But back to Emacs. Now I’m learning org-mode. It’s not going to replace my use of Remember the Milk, Outlook, Evernote, Basecamp, or any of the other organizational tools I use. But having a mature and lightweight (read that: text-based) organizational system can really come in handy when you need to operate in project planning mode and all you have available is a text editor. Yes, Emacs puts a lot of nice functionality on top of that text file. But that file can also be tweaked even when you don’t have anything fancier than a basic text editor available.

It’s all part of embracing some of those nifty Unix ideas of data portability, transparency, etc… And embracing those ideas, I think, will also make me a better Windows programmer.


And the weekend isn’t even half over…

It’s been a fine Spring day.

The day start pretty early, I did some things around the house. Some “administrative” home stuff. 

Then, off to the town library to help out with some Spring garden clean-up. It’s something I’ve wanted to offer to help out with in the past but it always seemed like it happened at times during the week when I was at work. Now I’m not so sure – it seems like maybe they do things on the weekend but I just don’t hear about them.

Well we did a bunch of clean-up, mostly raking up the piles of leaves that had sat through most of the winter. One of the members of the Friends of the Metuchen Library spent some time digging up and chopping down a 15-foot tree that was soon going to be causing problems for the tree it was growing too close to. More picking up, etc… then I walked over with one of my neighbors to La Gateaux, which is a new coffee shop in town. Coffee, croissant, some good chat, then home.

It wasn’t even 11am yet. Big start to the day, huh?

An hour or so later we were out and about doing some more errands. Ran over to the Indian grocery to pick-up some nuts (they have good nuts at reasonable prices). Then we went to the Raritan Bakery which we recently discovered. It has a really nice selection of baked goods and has the perk of a little ad-hoc barbecue stand setup out front where we bought some food for lunch.

Back home, nap time. Next up is this evening we’ll drive to Montclair, NJ for a house concert to see some nice folk music.


My request for Chipotle to open in my town of Metuchen, NJ

I recently found out that some folks in my town think it would be a great idea for a Chipotle to open on or near our Main Street. I’m a big fan of Chipotle, so I thought I’d look into what one might do as a first step in that direction.

Turns out they have a web form you can submit to make a request – anyone can make the request, doesn’t have to come from any sort of official, just a neighbor who cares.

So that’s what I did. 🙂

I live in an awesome, walkable downtown community which has a great stream of commuter and local shopper traffic both passing through and using us as a primary destination. We are right on a one-seat ride via train to Manhattan, making our town attractive for all sorts of reasons. We have an active, supportive community of folks who are constantly looking for ways to make our town better. And from what I hear, we have lots of teens and parents who love Chipotle. I’m not the real estate expert for our town, but my understanding is that we have several storefronts with varying levels of advantage in the factors your team considers for new locations – some have better walking visibility, some better driving visibility, some closer to parking, some closer to more of the “passing through” traffic on the main arteries through town. Hopefully you’ll come check us out and give an opinion on opening a location here! Our town has a New Business guide published here: http://www.metuchennj.org/documents/new-businessguide.pdf

Learning about what makes a healthy suburban downtown

It’s a beautiful sunny day. Walking around town, stopped in for a chat with a local business owner who is working on transitioning / re-opening a business on our Main Street in Metuchen, NJ.

There’s a lot of complexities to opening and running a business – many of them are ones I wouldn’t have thought about. And the health of our Main Street’s businesses is really critical to the health and appeal of our town. The businesses aren’t just there for our convenience in shopping, they are there to support the healthy town community.

Lots to learn. Looking forward to learning what I can.