Literate Org-mode configuration for Emacs is liberating

TLDR: Check out the Docs section for my Emacs config in Org-mode The literate programming paradigm, as conceived by Donald Knuth, represents a move away from writing programs in the manner and order imposed by the computer, and instead enables programmers to develop programs in the order demanded by the logic and flow of their thoughts. Literate programs are written as an uninterrupted exposition of logic in an ordinary human language, much like the text of an essay, in which macros are included to hide abstractions and traditional source code.

Leverage recorded macros to learn elisp and hack together workflows in Emacs

The primary power of Emacs is that you can create customised workflows to suit your needs. However, lisp is probably not a language that many learn as a typical requirement in the academic systems, perhaps even for a software engineer. How would one then start customisting Emacs? One way would be to hunt for snippets from forums like reddit and stack overflow, and customise them. Another easy way to learn a programming language, especially one that is intrinsic to a software is to record macros and edit these macros.

Incremental improvements can lead to significant gains

While reading the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, I was reflecting that my choice of embracing Emacs and progressively gaining mastery over it was intimately connected with the philosophy preached in the book. My efforts initially started out with a craving for a system to quantify and manage my tasks, habits, notes, blog writing, job applications and projects in a custom environment, and to be able to build toolkits of code to perform repetitive tasks.

Nteract : An interactive computing environment

A slide deck from Netflix, mentions using Nteract as their programming notebook, and prompted a mini exploration. This blog post by Safia Abdalla, (a maintainer/ developer of Nteract) introduces Nteract as an open source, desktop-based, interactive computing application that was designed to overcome a bunch of limitations in Jupyter Notebook’s design philosophy. One key difference (among many others) is the ability to execute code in a variety of languages within a single notebook, and it also appears that that the electron based desktop app should make it easier for beginners to start coding.

Rapidly accessing cheatsheets to learn data science with Emacs

Matt Dancho’s course DSB-101-R is an awesome course to step into ROI driven business analytics fueled by Data Science. In this course, among many other things - he teaches methods to understand and use cheatsheets to gain rapid level-ups, especially to find information connecting various packages and functions and workflows. I have been hooked to this approach and needed a way to quickly refer to the different cheatsheets as needed.

Why bother with Emacs and workflows?

I’ve written several posts on different ways and tools available to aid productivity, and probably a lot about Emacs. My background is in computational physics, and not in programming, and yet Emacs has been an indispensable driver of my daily workflow for the past 3 years. The fact is that knowing Emacs (or Vim), or having a custom configuration is not a wildly marketable skill, nor is it mandatory to achieve spectacular results.

Back to RSS

Why use RSS? Off late, I had been relying more on email based content consumption. The phenomenally fast search and filtering capabilities that can be leveraged with mu4e make this easy. Even with all these filters, it is quite difficult to keep on top of news and information from different sources. It is actually inconvenient to mix important emails and correspondence with newsletters and the like, which arrive by the dozen(s) everyday.

Juggling multiple projects and leveraging org-projectile

Scimax has a convenient feature of immediately creating projects (M-x nb-new). The location of the project directory is defined by the setting (setq nb-notebook-directory "~/my_projects/"), which has to be set in your Emacs config. Once the name of the project is chosen, a Readme.org buffer is immediately opened and one can start right away. It is an awesome, friction-free method to get started with a project. These projects are automatically initialised as git repositories, to which it is trivial to add a new remote using Magit.

Jupyter notebooks to Org source + Tower of Babel

This post provides a simple example demonstrating how a shell script can be called with appropriate variables from any Org file in Emacs. The script essentially converts a Jupyter notebook to Org source, and Babel is leveraged to call the script with appropriate variables from any Org file. This reddit thread and blog post elucidate the advantages of using Babel and Org mode over Jupyter notebooks. Directly editing code in a Jupyter notebook in a browser is not an attractive long term option and is inconvenient even in the short term.

Emacs notes: Select paragraph and browse-kill-ring for effective content capture

I like to have any reading material and my notes side by side1. This is easily done with Emacs by splitting the buffer vertically (C-x 3)2 For example: Once a link has been opened via w3m, I hit org-capture (C-c) with a preset template that grabs the URL to the article along with the created date in the properties, with the cursor in position ready to take notes. (setq org-capture-templates '(("l" "Link + notes" entry (file+headline "~/my_org/link_database.