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Computers & Software

Emacs 23 and Fun with Org Mode

I installed Emacs version 23 the other day on my machines. Nice anti-aliased fonts and quicker startup times — plus a lot of things that should be defaults (like transient-mark-mode) but weren’t and which you were forced to put into your .emacs file under earlier versions are now defaults. Meanwhile, not quite related, but not quite a non-sequitor, I had fun trying out Org mode in Emacs today. I had a horrible work-related task involving reviewing CVs on a dozen job candiates, extracting contact information, figuring out the status of their applications, and then figuring out who needed to be called and then calling them and recording phone notes. In other words, a lot of information to organize, so why not use Org mode? I hadn’t tried using it in a while so naturally I had forgotten all the commands. I refuse to use menus in Emacs (I toggle the menu and toolbar off) so instead I opened a buffer in another frame (what any other program would call another window) with C-x 5 b, and pulled up the info page on Org mode (C-h i for info pages, then found the topic and opened it). I kept this window (ahem, I mean, frame) open to the side, and then went to town with Org mode. Each candidate was an outline heading, then I added subheadings with contact info, status, notes, CV information, etc. All the different headings appeared in different colors, and the Tab key expanded and collapsed each heading. I added TODOs (with M-S-Enter) for each phone call I had to make, or other tasks, then I went to work doing each task. I started with the outline completely expanded, and when I finished each candidate I collapsed his tree. I used C-c C-t to change a finished TODO to a DONE, and I time-stamped each call using C-u C-c . – the “.” is part of the command. I used the C-u prefix to add both the date and time, without it just the date is added. Finally, when my outline was completely collapsed, I was done. In the process, I turned a chore into something more fun, I learned more about Org mode (there is a ton of stuff I still don’t know judging from the Info pages), and, by the way, got the work done. Whew!

By mannd

I am a retired cardiac electrophysiologist who has worked both in private practice in Louisville, Kentucky and as a Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver. I am interested not only in medicine, but also in computer programming, music, science fiction, fantasy, 30s pulp literature, and a whole lot more.

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