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Friday, December 14, 2012

The new

Looks like has refreshed their website with a new look. Christmas seems to have come early for the LaTeX community.  You can read more about the announcement here and the subsequent thread replies might be of interest too.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

First Pretest of Emacs 24.3 released

Another quick announcement on the first pretest of what will eventually be Emacs 24.3 is now available.

New builds for MS-Windows

Well, it seems that dropbox is the new way to get the latest weekly or so builds.  On the Windows Emacs mailing list, one of the posters has kindly been hosting the latest build on his dropbox account.  You probably would need to get it from there.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Gnus Tip: Leaving mail on server when using POP3

Apparently, Gnus now supports leaving mail on server when using POP.  This has been committed to the development branch and you should probably use that if you really need it in a hurry.  You need to change your mail source specifiers to use it. need to use the development branch to get the code as well as the documentation update to see the configuration changes needed.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Laptops Keyboards: A Rant

Is there no science to the keyboard layout at all for laptops? Wait, drop that, how about a standard layout bereft of any science? How on earth is it possible to change the layout of the keys on laptops a bazillion ways?  How?  More importantly, why?

I had a Lenovo T60 and when it gave up the ghost, I switched to a L420 where the blooming keyboard has the all important keys of  DEL,PgUp/Dn, among other things,  in a different location. Already, I miss the nifty reading light on the screen that I used to have on the T60 and this misaligned keys simply winds me up no end.

I seem to be paging by the screenful because someone has 'helpfully' decided the page up key should be next to the arrow keys.  How nice; how very, very considerate to an average typist like me.  In hindsight, it was worth my time, that I did NOT spend too much time learning to type with gtypist.  What a nightmare!

When I trudge into a Electronics shop and look at the models from other vendors....well, there's no hope there too. Even within the same model line by each maker, the layout changes. So much for HCI classes for the designers.  The laptops look gorgeous, the keys are the new fancy tactile/shactile stuff, plastic/metal/kryptonite crap, yeah I get all that.  You know what?  I would settle for wooden keys, if they simply left the keyboard alone.

Why is the Enter key so huge in one model and is an almost forgotten piece of plastic tucked away in one corner in another model by the SAME maker?  Why are there gaps between the keys in some models and none in another model of the same size?  Why do some keyboards have keys made of eraser material while others have to be hammered by your fingers to see something on the screen?  What, this is supposed to work like a manual typewriter?  Clack, clack,zing.

I dunno what the designers are mixing in their drinking water; whatever it is, they should stop it.  This is pretty annoying and aggravating for trying to get work done.  It really is a good thing, that I know a bit of Emacs. I don't use these keys that much in it; C-d and C-k do come in handy as do C-v and M-v.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Emacs Stuff you ought to know

You know hippie expand, that's the Emacs poor man auto-completion? One of the pet peeves of it, is that you tend to overshoot the completions from the one expansion that you want.  But Emacs cycles through the list again and again, anyway.  And if you have a large list of possible completions, it's a long way off to get back to the correct expansion.

At least one person was unhappy enough to ask on the Emacs mailing list about  hippie-expand/dabbrev-expand and the simple answer was to use the Emacs undo command C-x u or C-_ .  And that really is the simplest way to back up to the previous expansion when you just managed to overshoot the one you wanted.

If you were looking for information on how to search your emails using Gnus, the thread How to search a recently read mail would be a good idea to peruse especially Tassilo's post on Gnus IMAP search.

And if you were wondering why people use Gnus as a mail client because it does simple things like this, which I believe is a standard feature in all other email clients?  I reproduce the post in full, just in case you want to know how backward Gnus is.   :-)

I just had to email someone a file that was located on a USB drivemounted on computer in another room. I composed my gnus message, hit 'C-c C-a', located the file with tramp, the proper mml tags were inserted complete with "ssh" in the filename, and message and attachment went without a hitch. Very nice!

So there!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

TeXLive 2012 available on Cygwin

It appears that the TeXLive 2012 is now available as an updated package on cygwin.  Please read the instructions in the announcement to choose the correct package sets when using the cygwin installer.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hobson-Jobson: The words English owes to India

I found this BBC article on Indian words in English absolutely fascinating as well as a bit eccentric. I like it that, some words are pretty mainstream and some are not in use today and some too unbelievable at first!

This trivia is not related to Emacs in any way.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Interesting Emacs linkfest

Just so you know, that I'm snowed under again and it's criminal not to share my blog laziness with all and sundry.

Another Emacs mail client/backend choice discussion that crops up regularly in  If you haven't made up your mind, this won't help either but it sure helps in being more indecisive.  I dunno.

Running up and down your C code while coding and want a better way to track and come back to where you last coded?  Well, C K Kashyap seems to miss his vi keys and whaddya know?  Emacs has some key bindings for that and more as you can see in the thread 'Tips for quick jumping back and forth'.  Take a look for various productivity tips.

John Wiegley has been doing some wonderful stuff that might help people who are annoyed that Emacs hangs for 1.5 nano/micro/milli seconds before resuming when sending out mail messages or calling unknown executables instead of writing elisp functions to do the right thing(TM).  So he's gone ahead and posted async.el, followed  by dired-async and again followed by smtpmail-async. He's using the new fangled github so all those of you clever enough to speak git, check it out.

Seeing so much stuff, yours truly went ahead and asked whether this feature,async, is going to be part of Emacs main and the man actually responded to my email! Amazing.  For those chaps who thought Emacs Developers don't respond to feedback....tphthhp.   I kid, I kid.  (I should add, that all the Emacs-Devel people I have contacted, have responded to me or to the list whenever I contacted them).

John apparently never sleeps.  When the whole world is turning into Big Brother, you are encouraged to rat out yourself (and others) by tracking all the email addresses you send and store them, for later....beatings prolly?  Err...he's written gnus-harvest that needs sqlite to store all the email addresses compared to .mailrc or BBDB.

And I just noticed that Texlive 2012 is now available, thanks to this texlive post in comp.text.tex

That's it as I head back to my cave.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Numbering Lines and lists in Emacs

I'm not talking about Line Numbering as we usually understand it but more along the lines of numbering lists or text inside the file buffer and which are part of the file. to use the wiki definition again;NumberLines

In Emacs 24.1, the NEWS file had this new addition to the rectangle commands.

** New command `C-x r N' (`rectangle-number-lines') numbers the lines in the current rectangle.  With a prefix argument, this prompts for a number to count from and for a format string.

This allows you to now number lines or lists easily instead of using a macro or additional elisp functions.  Mark a vertical region of text(using transient mark mode may help) 1 character wide and then hit C-x r N and that's it.  It numbers the line.

If you use the prefix command C-u and do C-u C-x r N, it will prompt you for a starting digit and the format string, so you can start from 15, say.

Things do get better with Emacs!

Monday, June 18, 2012

June TUG News

I saw this post on comp.text.tex and found a few interesting tidbits that people might be interested in, especially Knuth.

- Donald E. Knuth reports that a new, corrected reprint of Digital 
  Typography is now available. He writes, "I must say that I'm enormously 
  happy to hold it in my hands, because hundreds of things that readers 
  pointed out in the first printing have now been corrected." The best way 
  to ensure that you get the new, corrected printing is to order from the 

- As mentioned in the last newsletter, new corrected printings of Computers
  and Typesetting are also available. Knuth writes "...the books themselves 
  are significantly better in hundreds of small ways. I went through every 
  page very carefully and introduced many refinements, which have made me 
  extremely happy with the result. I'm now able to replace my personal desk 
  copies, in which hundreds of handwritten notes had been scrawled since the 
  Millennium edition came out, by fresh versions that are essentially 
  perfect (as far as I know). This is especially true of Volume B, because  
  important updates to the TeX software that were made in 2002 and 2007 have 
  never before been available in print." See the section entitled Spiffy New 
  Printings at

- TeX Live '12 is now frozen (svn revision 26895). Public release will occur 
  in a couple of weeks, and DVD will follow soon thereafter.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Bookmarking in Emacs

This little feature in Emacs should be among the first things you should learn when you're trying out Emacs.

The thing is, you have to consciously keep at it for sometime before you start using it in a fashion that suits your workflow. In fact, I didn't use bookmarks at all for quite a few years; doing the same C-x d, scrolling to a folder, repeat scrolling till I reached my usual nested directory.  If you're doing something repetitively, it's a good bet to check out the manual about it or ask in the Emacs mailing list, someone's been through your pain before.

Anyways, if you want to bookmark a location(think man, info pages, specific directories), hit C-x r m and it will prompt you for a name.  Give one and you're set. C-x r b will give a promptable(tab completable) list that you type in to jump to the specific directory or file location.  The bookmarks can be saved for the next sessions by issuing a M-x bookmark-save.

That's all there is to it and you'll soon find it nifty when you're working on a coding project with large number of folders and files. People get lost in the humongous manual and this is the quickest way to get back to where you were when trying out things in the scratch buffer.

This thread might be useful for some and there are some improvements to it which can be found in the Emacswiki bookmarks link.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Suggestions for a RSS Reader?

Can anyone suggest a good RSS reader, please?  I used to use fastladder but that unfortunately has closed down.  I don't want to use Google Reader and i find the mozilla addon sage a bit old.  I'd prefer something that is browser based with little footprint and something that shows the unread article count.


Update: Thanks all for the comments, I went with newsblur. It doesn't even ask for an email registration!

Emacs 24.1 Released

After a number of pretests, Emacs 24.1 has been officially released.  You can read the announcement here.  Some highlights of the new features that I think might be useful to people, especially the Emacs version of apt-get.

- New packaging system and interface (M-x list-packages) for
  downloading and installing extensions.  A default package
  archive is hosted by GNU and maintained by the Emacs developers.
- Support for displaying and editing bidirectional text, including
  right-to-left scripts such as Arabic and Hebrew.
- Support for GnuTLS (for built-in TLS/SSL encryption), GTK+ 3,
  ImageMagick, SELinux, and Libxml2.

Binaries are at the usual place though it might take a few days to show up in your favourite mirror site. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Emacs 24.1 release candidate out

Barring last minute bugs, this will probably get released as Emacs 24.1.  The windows release information is also out.

So,if all goes well, we should see Emacs 24.1 released in about a week's time or so.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Couple of Emacs Tips

Getting crushed at work....which makes me even more lazier at this.

First, if you want to run different .emacs based on the version of Emacs,  suggestions are provided here and here with an outline of how to do it.

Second, if you're particular about how and where the Emacs app should start on your screen, here's one way of doing it.

Props to original posters for the answers.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Some funny programming quotes

I'm auditing the CS212 course on udacity and I see this page.  My favourite funny and deadpan ones are.

"It scarcely needs mentioning that, when you have a decorator inside a decorator, it's an interior decorator." -- Neale Morison

On A**N + B**N == C**N and N > 1:
"Now, if you can find a solution for this when N is greater than 2, I want you to let me know." -- Peter Norvig

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ma Gnus v0.5 is released

The traditional May 1st release of Ma Gnus is out.  You can either use git to clone or download the latest release as a zip file. For a list of features implemented, see this post.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Cygwin find breaks Emacs find-dired

At least when the file names have spaces in them, it seems.  Going by this Gmane thread, it's best to use a windows compiled version of find which can be got here or here.  I'd suggest you go with Eli's suggested one, based on his experience in using them.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Getting ppt figures into LaTeX

This might be of interest to folks who work with ppts and LaTeX.  There are some interesting methods discussed in this thread, apart from the usual PDF export and cropping edit cycle in comp.text.tex.  Might be worth checking out.

*Hell, the new forum interface of google groups is a total UI bork.  I so want to swear till the air is blue.  Just look at it and weep.  Me, I'm going back to my gnus cave.

Monday, April 9, 2012

An Emacs conference?

This looks like a fabulous idea, via Hacker News, that an Emacs Conference is being planned, probably in London.  Go ahead, sign up or at least provide your inputs on what you'd like the experts to cover for you in the PROPOSALS section of the link.

This is the best chance to ask for detailed help if you were too embarrassed to ask on the mailing list or Usenet.

Monday, March 5, 2012

TeX Live has been added to the Cygwin distribution

If you've been wondering what replaces the obsoleted TeTeX package in cygwin, here's some news for you.  Tex Live is now available as installable package on cygwin. as native you'd want it to be with Emacs and AucTeX.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Emacs Tip: Change Background colour depending on File mode

From the mailing list, here's a nice tip by Kevin Rodgers that might be useful for those who need visual reminders when working on read only files.  Adding the following to your .emacs, would change the background to yellow in this case, which, of course you can modify.

(add-hook 'find-file-hooks

 (lambda ()
   (when buffer-read-only
     (set-background-color "yellow"))))

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Using Beamer Animations to simulate Terminal Input and Output

I've been meaning to write about this for some time.  A few months ago, I had to prepare some training material on Unix basics and such.  While beamer was a natural choice for the presentation, I wanted to show some nifty animations that showed the commands and outputs as typed in a terminal.  I had the written text all done up but didn't know how to get the animation correct; I had misunderstood the features of animate package on CTAN.

Being stuck, I posted on tex stackexchange and had a beautiful solution from Alexander Grahn who went out of his way to solve my different issues that I had with my code.  Finally, on a beamer slide, you can now autoplay simulated Unix commands and expected output while giving a talk, instead of doing uncover on mouse click in beamer.

If you want to see my code instead of the one posted on the stackexchange site, do email me and I shall mail it separately.

EDIT: the compiled PDF can be found here, as requested. Of course you have to download it and open it in Reader for you to see the animations; it won't work in the web preview.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ma Gnus 0.3 released and changing file transfer mode in Ange-ftp

Ma Gnus 0.3 has been released, primarily targeting marks removal from various backends.  And if you want to change the file transfer modes(binary/ascii) when read/writing remote files in emacs, you need to tinker with ange-ftp-binary-file-name-regexp as suggested in this post.  If you need to know what Ange-ftp is, you also need to know Tramp.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Org-mode, Another reason to learn it

You know why people fall in love with org-mode?  Because of posts like this, explaining how to do source code and results with the minimal of overheads.  That's why.  It's all in a bloody, blooming, text file, dammit.

What's your excuse in not learning it?
sotto voce: Emacs?

Friday, February 10, 2012

SSL certificates, why do they bother?

After reading this article from The Register, why bother with SSL?  A banking heist of the century is waiting to happen, me thinks.  And that innocuous padlock on your browser is going to be the reason for the vanishing money.   You can think of even more ingenious ways of using it to snooker anyone...

Certificate Authority Trustwave has revoked a digital certificate that allowed one of its clients to issue valid certificates for any server, thereby allowing one of its customers to intercept their employees' private email communication.

And it's all downhill from there.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

No Gnus v0.19 is released

Installing AucTeX and Preview LaTeX on Windows

So, I upgraded my Emacs to the latest version and went through the steps of compiling my elisp packages on my Windows XP laptop and promptly struggled a bit on getting Auctex and Preview LaTeX to work.  I've decided on documenting it; well, only the key steps with a lot of hand waving and assumptions thrown in.


Cygwin toolchains are installed(that's what I have)
MiKTeX is installed(whatever version)
Win32 Emacs from the official GNU site (I used 23.4)
Ghostscript is installed too (I used the cygwin based one)

In the cygwin terminal, either checkout the cvs version of Auctex or download the tarballs and untar it somewhere.  Presumably you have MiKTeX and Emacs installed already somewhere; preferably in a folder path that doesn't contain spaces in it's name(It should work with spaces in the path name but I haven't and daren't try that; I really don't need that aggravation).

First you run configure to generate the Makefile

./configure --with-emacs=c:/gnu/emacs-23.4/bin/emacs --prefix=c:/gnu --with-texmf-dir=c:/MiKTeX2.9

If you haven't got all the build tools needed (make, install, latex,perl..) it will stop.  Fix each one of them by installing the necessary packages by using the cygwin package manager setup.exe. Of course, you need to adjust the paths above.

By default, the preview build is enabled by default, which, you can disable by adding the option --disable-preview to configure above, if you don't want to preview your latex document that's got figures and maths.

When the Makefile is generated, run make.  Do not do a make install.  You can use the files in situ by following the instructions of Tassilo Horn here.   You'd probably need to add the following to get the correct info files of Auctex.

;; AUC TeX
(add-to-list 'load-path "C:/gnu/elisp/auctexcvs/auctex/")
(load "auctex.el" nil t t)
(add-to-list 'load-path "C:/gnu/elisp/auctexcvs/auctex/preview/")
(load "preview-latex.el" nil t t)
;;set the path to info files of auctex
(setq Info-default-directory-list
      (cons "c:/gnu/elisp/auctexcvs/auctex/doc" Info-default-directory-list))
I prefer it this way as this does not change the directory structure of a stock install of Emacs on Windows.  Easier to share the folders for someone to copy without borking something.

Navigate to the preview folder and load the circ.tex and compile it.  It should hopefully do so.

For preview you need the png or jpeg image support with Emacs. I've used the dlls mentioned in the Emacs README.w32 that are hosted on the GTK website. Specifically, the png and zlib ones that I downloaded and just dumped  in the Emacs bin directory.  Added the following to my .emacs

(setq preview-image-type 'png)

Ran the preview command on the circ.tex buffer and it showed the equations and images inline which is what it's supposed to do.  If you want jpeg support you'd have to get the jpeg dlls for win32 somewhere(the install files mentions gnuwin32 site)

Which is where I stop now as it all works fine and dandy for me.  The various install files tell you not to mix the cygwin paths and normal DOS paths and other such warnings.  But I haven't seen anything that has knackered my installation or borked my usage of them with different bits of win32 and cygwin tied together with AucTeX

So far.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Emacs 23.4 Released

GNU Emacs 23.4 which fixes a security flaw in EDE, along with other bug fixes has been released .

Monday, January 23, 2012

It's not Coincidence, it's Providence!

Browsing my local paper, found this little gem tucked away in a small article.  This year is the 125th birthday celebrations of mathematical genius Ramanujan, so The Hindu runs lots of maths related stuff as well as vignettes about Ramanujan, this year.  Here's a weird but nice clip from the article.

A tale Robert Kanigel repeated a couple of times during his recent visit to Madras to launch the 125th birthday celebrations of mathematical genius Ramanujan related to his first visit to Madras in 1988 to start following the Ramanujan trail on the ground as he got down to working on the mathematician's biography.

That November day he landed from London was a bandh day in Madras and the airport was virtually deserted. There was a lone auto rickshaw with a passenger in it and another person haggling to get aboard. That person was Viswanathan Venkataraman, who had also arrived from London. When he noticed the forlorn foreigner wondering what he should do, Viswanathan told him that the only way to get to the city was to squeeze in with them. And Kanigal joined them for that ride in a sardine tin.

During the ride, Viswanathan discovered that Kanigal was not a tourist but a well known writer who was working on Ramanujan's biography. “What a coincidence,” remarked Viswanathan, “I am the grandson of S. Narayana Aiyar with whom Ramanujan worked in the Port Trust.” No, it's not coincidence, it's Providence, a surprised Kanigal enthusiastically replied. And so began Kanigal's first steps in Madras that led to The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A quick round up on Org, Emacs 23.4 news

Looks like I'll be busy for the next couple of weeks on work related stuff.  Here's some newsworthy posts from various mailing lists.

Konrad Hinsen has posted a patch for org-mode for IMAP support for VM links in orgmode.  Possibly of interest only to VM users.

Due to a security issue, there will be a Emacs 23.4 release in the next week or so, here's the announcement of the first release candidate by Chong Yidong.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sending Emails with Attachments from the Command Line Revisited

Previously I had posted about trying to send attachment emails from the command line here and here.  But the hitch was, every time I changed computers(which while infrequent) I still had to download and compile mpack and install it every time.

On a whim, when I asked on the cygwin mailing list, I was asked to try the Email package.  And I have to report it works beautifully.  It needs an MTA to connect to the mail server, for which there is msmtp and is part of the Cygwin packaged utilities already.   That sort of solves my portability issue.

Configuring Email was simple.  Edit the email.conf file with the following minimum details and you're set.

SENDMAIL_BIN = '/usr/sbin/msmtp -t'
MY_NAME  = 'Sivaram '
#REPLY_TO = ''
USE_TLS = 'true'
TEMP_DIR = '/tmp'
SMTP_AUTH_USER = ' nnsivaram.nnet

And you call it in the shell script as follows

    echo "Mailing... $mailid with $attachfile"

    /usr/bin/email  -s "Mailed report on `date`" -a $attachfile  $mailid < $mbody
    echo "email Return code is $?"

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

C gave you "Hello World" while Haskell....

gives you

ghci> filter (`elem` ['A'..'Z']) "i lauGh At You BecAuse u r aLL the Same"
Cue me, laughing like a juvenile, suddenly, in office. 
But on a more serious note, teaches 
you Haskell, a FP language.  

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Emacs version(23.4) to be released due to security flaw in CEDET

Apparently, there's a security flaw in CEDET's code that allows arbitrary execution of code.  To fix it, the Emacs maintainers are going to release a new version of Emacs 23.3 with the patch as Emacs 23.4.

You can read more about it here.