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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Scoring Down Usenet Spam in Gnus

For some days over the last few weeks, some of the newsgroups that I was following was overrun with spam.  My article counts for some of the newsgroups was in the high hundreds even as I was catching up with the posts regularly.

Fortunately, Gnus offers  a way to score down the spam and even expunge the articles when the score is lower than a threshold.

Here's one way of doing it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Converting your Ascii art to PNGs

If you use org mode, in the contrib/scripts folder of the package you'd find a jar file called ditaa.jar. This is a small piece of software which requires Java (drat!) but nevertheless a neat one.

For those of you who know Artist-mode in Emacs, this would be a god send. Instead of the ASCII pictures that you send in your emails, the same ASCII can be converted to PNG images and sent across. Here's a sample of what I did; albeit a nonsensical one.

First I drew this ascii text of 2 rectangles by invoking M-x artist-mode and drawing them using the rectangle option.

I saved the text file and called the program thus

$ java -jar ditaa.jar ../../temp/aa.txt

DiTAA version 0.6b, Copyright (C) 2004 Efstathios Sideris

Using options:

Reading file: ../../temp/aa.txt

Rendering to file: c:\..\..\temp\aa.png

Done in 5sec


I did that in my cygwin emulation shell in Windows, so it should not be too different in Unix OSes or the DOS prompt.

The homepage of the package is ditaa and it has a good intro on how to use the software. So, it all boils down to learning artist-mode in Emacs and then converting that to PNGs. The package is written by Stathis Sideris and you can contact him for any bugs and features you need. In my opinion, this is one handy piece of software when your rough sketch needs to be seen by all and sundry. For simple database sketches, this will be an excellent tool and another reason to do all your work in Emacs!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Word count of your LaTeX document

Just saw an announcement on the CTAN-ann mailing list about TeXcount.  The homepage has more details on the feature list and other shortcomings. 

This should be useful for getting the correct word count instead of exporting the DVI/PDF file into a text file and then trying a word count.

Note that it require Perl, as it is basically a perl script.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Email encryption howto

In a fortuitous coincidence, the Register has published an article on email encryption.   Just following on the heels on my posting about Gnus authinfo encryption.

While it is certainly Windows oriented, it should be useful to get your basic installation right.  Add to that my refrain, that it's always best to install it in folders without spaces in their names.  Sooner or later that tends to cop out somewhere with some program.

If you install it (note the warnings in the Epilogue about trusting public keys), then configure easypg to point to your gnupg exes and other files, you should be done.

Using it with Gnus is not the only reason you need to install easypg and gnupg

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Encrypting your Authinfo file

The authinfo file is used by Gnus to connect to various mail servers.  Putting the connection details, userid and passwords in it lets you login into different mail servers and download or access your mail and News without having to type in your userid and password everytime.

But the data is stored in plain text.  And if you feel uncomfortable with the file have all the details in plain text, encrypt it using EasyPG.

The emacswiki page on GnusEncryptedAuthInfo provides clear instructions on how to configure your EasyPG setup to encrypt your authinfo file.  Do note that you need to have gnupg installed to make it all work.  Of course.

And a little idea about what is a pass phrase, public, provate keys would help you in understanding the instructions better rather than following arcane (seemingly) instructions.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Closing and Opening server connections in Gnus

When using Gnus, it sometimes happens that the server is flaky or there is a problem with your internet connections and the entire Gnus session sort of hangs.   And you have problems reconnecting.

Perhaps the simplest method is to, close the server connection and open it again as mentioned in this post.  To get to your *Server* buffer, use ^ in your Group buffer.

It's much cleaner than killing your Emacs session and taking other drastic measures.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Emacs in the NYT

I never thought I'd see a mention of GNU Emacs in the New York Times, albeit in the comments section.

But it is there, mentioned as one of the oldest software around by some knowledgeable commenter.

PSTricks or PGF/Tikz?

Right now, you have a choice of learning PSTricks or PGF/Tikz for all your drawing needs. Both are large pieces of work which require you to read the manual over and over again. At least till you get it.

For myself, while I've known about PSTricks, I've stuck to PGF/Tikz. But if you need to have better plotting and more features than the already extensive one in PGF/Tikz, then PSTricks is the way to go. Again, the choice is dependant on your needs and the level of programming you'd like to get into.

This thread on comp.text.tex might help you decide.

EDIT: As the note in the comments mentioned there is also METAPOST and one other graphical language called Asymptote.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

An eviscerating review of OpenOffice 3.0

Man, I'd be gutted if something I developed was reviewed and savaged like this.

I'd still use OpenOffice though.  It's not like I use Office suites frequently but when I receive the odd doc and I want to make some changes, save as PDF etc., I use Oo.  I'm anyway going to download and install it in a few days.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Emacs command equivalents for Vi users

On the newsgroup, there is this thread on Emacs equivalent of some vi commands.  The poster had helpfully created a emacswiki page called ViEmacsTable and listed some of the answers he received.

Well, I've just edited it to add some equivalents that I think are the closest to vi's commands.  Feel free to correct them if they're in error and add anything that you think might be useful.