Mon, 17 Sep 2012
Tue, 28 Apr 2009
I like to stick to Free/Libre (as in freedom) and Open Source Software as much as I can, but I haven't found a open source program that lets me add text on existing PDF documents yet, so I use a commercial but free (as in costs nothing for personal use) program PDF-XChange Viewer, which can be downloaded here.
Unlike most of the other commercial but free programs that allow you to add text to existing documents, PDF-XChange Viewer doesn't add any nagware watermarking to the document to indicate that it was produced with the free version, so you can use it fill out forms in PDF documents that don't have electric form fields, which is very useful on long forms.
It's not perfect — I've had trouble with it on a few PDFs that seemed to have pathological defects — but overall it works well.
I'd still rather have a Free/Libre or Open Source program, though.
Fri, 24 Apr 2009
It's strange, I know, that while I like case sensitive filenames, I don't actually want to be bothered matching the case exactly when I'm using tab completion. Fortunately, emacs and bash both accommodate my whims. For bash, add
set completion-ignore-case on
to your ~/.inputrc file. For emacs, add
to your emacs initialization files. Of course, if want to get rid of all completion case sensitivity, you need
(setq completion-ignore-case t)
Tue, 06 Jan 2009
It turns out that if you are upgrading your pkgsrc packages in a sandbox you really need to make sure that the home directory of the user you are using exists in the sandbox, if you use any packages that have a file:configure script that checks for mcs, since mono hangs if it can't use the home directory. Ugh.
Thu, 11 Dec 2008
It turns out that if you execute the command xterm-mouse-mode (or evaluate (xterm-mouse-mode 1) in your initialization file) when running Emacs under Screen it allows “non-modified single clicks” to work. Normal mouse functionality is still available by holding the Shift key while clicking. I use the PuTTY ssh client for remote access to various servers, and this works well Emacs in Screen under PuTTY, too.
Sat, 06 Dec 2008
I was very pleased to discover large parts of µstr compile and seem to work under VMS v5.5-2 with GCC 2.7.1, which is almost the only compiler available to me on that machine. The other is VAX BASIC, which has adequate simple string handling, but lacks advanced string handling and has only very painful facilities for dynamically allocating complex data structures and working with them.
Wed, 03 Dec 2008
Coding Horror points out the hotfix for the:
⚠ Windows - System Error Insufficient system resources exist to complete the API.
Update: 2008-12-11: Unfortunately, it doesn't always work. Even after applying the hotfix, one of my laptops still won't hibernate.
Wed, 26 Nov 2008
Thanks to the wonders of Google and Ruben I finally found the answer: remove (you'll want to make a backup copy before you remove it, though) /etc/setup/bash.lst.gz which apparently had become corrupted.
According to a comment on that post, running gunzip -t on all files in /etc/setup will tell you which setup files have been corrupted.
Sun, 14 Sep 2008
For some odd reason I decided to power on my old Gateway 2000 486DX/33 and do something with it. It hadn't been on since Wednesday, May 25th, 2005, if I can believe the BIOS date. (I was pleasantly surprised the settings gotten corrupted.) Up to the point I turned it off it was acting as a mail server backup for my personal system, and was running Sendmail, Dovecot, a greylisting milter, and Emacs. A little before that it had actually been one of the MPL DNS servers.
Anyway, it had Windows 95 on the original 200MB IDE hard drive and FreeBSD 4.10 on the 2GB Quantum XP32275S Atlas II. It came with Windows 95 of course when I bought it, but I ran SLS Linux on it originally, if I remember correctly, because 386BSD wouldn't install, and later MCC Interim Linux, and eventually FreeBSD. When my wife got me the SCSI controler and CD-ROM I was so thrilled because now I wouldn't get dragging home OS distributions on floppy any more! Once I got the 2GB hard drive I put Windows 95 back on the 200MB drive for my wife and for the occastional work-related Windows 95 excursion. It had 16MB originally, but I scrounged 4MB more of RAM for it very late on, when it was a DNS server.
I wanted to get a more recent OS on it, but remembering how FreeBSD 4.10 was a pretty tight fight there at the end, I decided I'd put NetBSD on it. (NetBSD documentation says it still should be possible to run in 4MB.) I used NetBSD for a while for my main box at home, but I was never satisfied that I'd mastered it as well as FreeBSD, and I thought this would be good way to put the old 486 to work. Luckily I was albe to find an 3c509B card to get it on the network, because it turned out the 3.5” floppy and the CD-ROM drive were both non-functional. (As I worked with the machine I remembered the floppy had been bad when I'd turned it off, but the CD-ROM had been working.) I gathered some confirmation information and then started trying to figure out how I was going to get NetBSD on it. Luckily the FreeBSD 4.10 install was still working and I was able to extract the NetBSD dosboot.com bootloader from base.tgz, copy it and the netbsd-install kernel over the network with FreeBSD, mount the old 200MB Windows 95/MS-DOS disk under FreeBSD, and copy the files over there, then boot into MS-DOS with F8 when Windows 95 started to boot, run through the prompting for each line in the config files and answering “NO”, and then run dosboot netbsd-install.
The installation was successful, but unfortunately the boot process failed.
As I recall, I've had problems in the past getting boot loaders to boot off this drive. I'll have to revisit it when I have some more time.
Sat, 13 Sep 2008
I installed Ubuntu 8.04.1 on a Pentium II machine with 256MiB and was disturbed by how slowly it seemed. It turns out that it was just that bash was starting incredibly slowly. Removing the default Ubuntu ~/.bashrc fixed it. It turns out to be something in /etc/bash_completion which causes the slowdown, but I haven't figured out what yet.
Fri, 12 Sep 2008
Sat, 06 Sep 2008
I'm still having my personal e-mail crisis.
I said, earlier,
Anyway, I've finally come up with a way to switch back and forth between Gnus, Mew, and MH-E while keeping up with my current e-mail[…].
That was a bit premature. What I should have said was that I'd found a way to make sure I didn't lose any e-mail permanently when switching back and fourth between e-mail clients. I'm using maildrop to copy my incoming mail to the normal mail spool file and to a separate archive mail file for each day. So, for instance, all the mail I got on 2008/09/05 is archived in the mbox-format file ~/Inboxes/2008-09-05.inbox.
I also said, earlier
Wanderlust seems moribund.
It turns out that Wanderlust only seems moribund, especially to those who only speak English. If you check the mailing lists there's still some activity, and if you poke around on the Wanderlust site you can find a newer snapshot. Unfortunately, Wanderlust uses several other libraries (APEL, FLIM, and SEMI) and these are also hard to find much information about if you only speak English. So I've been fiddling around with it, and have figured out enough to get it working for me. (Thank goodness for the FreeBSD ports system.)
Oddly enough, although Wanderlust mostly understands MH-format mailboxes, there seems to be no built-in way to get it to read mail out of a standard mbox-format spool file and into your inbox. I guess the assumption is that if you're not using IMAP then you've probably moved on to using a maildir-format spool file, since they're supposed to be more reliable.
Well, I'm not. I'm trying to compare Wanderlust, MH-E, and Mew, and MH-E doesn't understand maildir-format mailboxes, so I have to stick to mbox-format. (Ok, I suppose I could mung things so MH-E uses Mew's incm to read the spool file.)
Moreover, I've got a fairly odd pattern of e-mail folders. For years in VM I've saved my e-mail in in separate folders with names like 2008/08/users.bond_tk or 2008/08/list.clisp, with VM defaulting the folder names automatically. I think I've mostly figured out how to do this in MH-E, Mew, and Wanderlust, and I've mostly figured out how to get the three of them to coexist peacefully, so I can really give them a good comparison. We'll see how it goes.
Like many Emacs subsystems, the Emacs e-mail clients tend to use modes with single-character commands for many things, and most the commands are just regular keys, not key combinations. I've gotten so used to this that I find using e-mail clients that require mousing to be extremely painful. Moreover, I've become very accustomed to being able to customize my e-mail client extensively using Lisp.
What it all boils down to is that I'm not happy unless my e-mail client is part of Emacs.
Tue, 05 Aug 2008
I've been having a personal e-mail crisis for the past couple of months. (If you've noticed that my e-mail has been even slower and more erratic than usual, that's why.) I've been trying to figure out a better mail setup and due to my complicated use patterns it has been tricky.
I have dialup Internet access at home, at speeds that are moderately slow even for dialup. I have a personal server elsewhere that does have good internet access, and that's were my e-mail is delivered. My main work computer is a Windows XP laptop. I often work at client sites, and sometimes work at places that have no Internet access, or very limited access with strict controls. I need to read, or at least refer to my e-mail at all those places.
For years I've used Emacs and ViewMail (aka VM) to read my personal e-mail, syncing my e-mail directories between my Internet server, my home machine, and my work laptop with Unison, and primarily reading e-mail on my Internet server. This has worked reasonably well.
I live in Emacs anyway (the Control key is the most worn key on my keyboard for some reason…) and am thoroughly happy with it for editing (and probably dependent on it), and VM has been very comfortable as well. However, development of VM went into hibernation after the release of version 7.19, and so hadn't kept pace with later e-mail developments. Recently the original author of VM, Kyle Jones, handed over development to Robert Widhopf-Fenk and development has picked up again, but it's still lacking some features that I need, and unfortunately I don't have time to devote to adding them myself.
I can't imagine giving up Emacs for reading e-mail, since it integrates so well with the rest of what I do and I enjoy using Emacs and Emacs Lisp, so I'm looking for a new Emacs-based mail reader. So far I haven't been happy with any of my choices.
Back when I read USENET news regularly I used Gnus and loved it. It is distributed with Emacs and seems to have regular development and maintenance. In theory, Gnus can also be used to read e-mail, but because of its news reader design it takes a very unconventional approach to reading e-mail. I'm not entirely comfortable with it, and I haven't figured out the best way to integrate my huge archive of old mail. Moreover, the documentation is quirky and difficult and the programming interfaces are quirky and complicated.
There are other Emacs mail readers. I used RMAIL for a while before I moved to VM, but I can't see moving back. Wanderlust seems moribund. I've used the RAND MH Message Handling System (MH) in the past, outside of Emacs, and there are a couple of modern versions of that (nmh, Mailutils). It turns out there are actually a couple of extensive Emacs interfaces to it: Mew and MH-E. I've looked a little at both, and have had some luck with each. I'll have to see how they compare over time.
I'd be interested in learning about any other Emacs-based e-mail clients. The EmacsWiki doesn't seem to have any other likely prospects, though.
Anyway, I've finally come up with a way to switch back and forth between Gnus, Mew, and MH-E while keeping up with my current e-mail, so I can search for better ways to deal with my old e-mail and compare new email. I should be back to dealing with e-mail quickly and effectively.
A really impressive and unlikely success would be to find a new way of reading mail that lets me access my work e-mail, which is in our corporate Notes e-mail system, from Emacs.