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Migrating to Emacs, carrying my 4 years of Vim with me !

The benefit of using a powerful text editor is not of the savings in time you get but the chance for your tools to talk with your mind. Which is an enormous experience once you start feeling it 🙂

Sharing my experience in using Vim and Emacs.

Humble Beginnings with Vim:

I learned Vim and recommend every new comer to use VimTutor.bat to learn vim after learning to touch-type. You know touch typing right ? I learned and used Vim for 4 years for most of my text needs – code search, search and replace code, emails, documentation and wiki.

Ever since I was hooked up to Vim, have enjoyed it every bit of it ! Most of the time I would force shut my mouth so as not to scare my colleagues out of my surprise and enjoyable moments. Vim gave back me some life by removing monotonous text editing.

Every passing minute, hour and day has been a spiralling increase of productivity. I also taught and advertised it too those few colleagues who could touch-type.

I will say a tool is powerful only when it starts to get out of our way and gets the job done. We start to realise what communicating with speed of thought means. Vim fits this principle completely. And surely there is so much more to learn and the hunger just refuses to go away !

The IDE dilemma, look elsewhere:

So I was happy vimming, learning more, enjoying more when one fine day I demanded it to be my IDE for (no) .NET application development. Not that I wanted a glossy looking gray box but features we miss like – code completion (intellisense), project browsing, git/svn integration, class view, function/method/class i.e. search the symbol, integrated debug and build environment. I was using Vim 7.4 at that time and due to the lack of multi-threaded or inter-process architecture in Vim thought that it was a bit limiting for me to do all of this in Vim.

I knew the only other place I could look and demand was emacs and I looked into it.I really agree with the common poke at emacs as “An Operating System which lacks an editor” Or the famously funny name ‘Escape Meta Alt Contol Shift’ !

There’s Emacs but:

Convinced that emacs had the power to provide me what I wanted I had to now leave my adorable Vim text editing language (you should not call it keybindings, its a text programming language) I feared about this but still went ahead to give it a try and planned comeback to Vim if I failed.

After going through the emacs tutorial for first time, I experienced the chords pain quickly (chords means pressing multiple keys with multiple fingers at the same time – the dreaded ‘Escape Meta Alt Control Shift’ name is dedicated to this) .

I got the pain quickly because of my already weak finger and muscles connected all the way till my elbow. I carried this pain for a while and continued to adopt and learn more about Emacs.

Org-mode from google tech-talk was good to watch just for fun.

I found other emacs variants and some cool like neoVim. Even if neoVim sounds interesting and is becoming stable (as I heard from the above Evil youtube video,) and even if emacs lisp is due for a major over haul which is not coming soon, I am willing to keep with emacs and join the 30+ years of evolution and stability. (emacs and vi both were born roughly around 1975)

Some videos of Rick Dillon helped me. Blogs of Xah Lee helped me to swap Ctrl and Alt and removing the caps lock. The pain got lesser.

Through out all this the hand-finger elbow pain was always there and I missed power of text editing in vim. Emacs had too much power and customisation available but lacked a decent text editing behavior by default.

Enter the Dragon: Evil-Mode

Because Emacs was extremely customisable and I was already using Vim keybindings in Chrome browser, Visual Studio; I thought somebody must have implemented vim keybindings for Emacs and I googled. Lo and Behold I found Evil.

Evil Mode Video on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWD1Fpdd4Pc really clicked with me and I was charged up.

Finding evil mode was one such great moment for me as I could use my favorite vim style editing and still be in emacs. Then I never looked back and have happily shifted to Emacs since then.

The IDE dilemma is still to be solved but seeing CEDET and OmniSharp (intellisense) server for C# code completion I am convinced that I will be able to use those features of IDE for which many people fall in the trap.

Fast Forward 1 year:

Evil and Org are the 2 things I can’t live without in Emacs and use them all the time. Mailman, gnus, Calculator and many more.I look forward for many years with Emacs and Vim bindings … 🙂

Avoid plastic water bottle, all plastics have adverse effects. How to tell which plastic is relatively safe ?

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Plastics are inevitable

Whatever exposure levels are prescribed by these Food Safety Authorities on plastic chemicals, we cannot base our lives or the next generations’ on them. While they suggest that there could be stable plastics which could be made but then it will mean disruption of the big plastic industry.

We cannot expect the plastic industry to just stop whatever they are doing and start making plastics which are really stable and have ‘NO’ side effect water bottle – just plain water in and plain water out !

My favorite water bottle

For wanting a cool and sturdy water bottle I saved the time of researching and went ahead with the well considered wirecutter reviews. Searching for the ‘Best Water Bottle’ on Wirecutter I found one sleek and BPA Free plastic water bottle with cool one handed operation.

Thus I soon ordered on Amazon and got the Thermos Intak Hydration Bottle made of Eastman Tritan copolyester which is a BPA free plastic. Though I like its ruggedness and usability after doing a bit of research on plastics, BPA and its health effects I was saddened that I have to part with this adorable water bottle and have to look for the metal/glass ones due to plastics adverse effects on health. Have provided excerpts of what I found on this important subject:

Note that I still consider and recommend wirecutter and sweethome reviews which are well researched and exhaustively tested for usability.

Excerpts and Links you must read:

How to tell which plastic is (relatively) safe ?

Look for the recycling triangle icon which can help you indicate the plastic resin type and thus toxicity of its chemical. The Resin Identification Code 2, 4 and 5 are “relatively” safe and as shown:

This code, used to facilitate recycling, is found in almost all the plastics, be it for packing processed foods and drinks (your Toothpaste, Coca-Cola/Pepsi, Packaged water, Juice drinks, Tomato/Mayonnaise Sauce, etc) Or plastic bottles, containers and wraps bought for home use.220px-import_canned_foods_in_kobe

So next time at the mall look for this shape on the plastic you buy. Plastics with the resin code 2, 4 and 5 are relatively safe; yet studies have shown them to be toxins with adverse effects. Want to know what relatively safe means, read this page on various plastic types and their toxicity – How can I tell what type of plastic is safe ?

Is BPA-Free safer ? May Not.

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA or USFDA) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), initially had a safer stand on BPA for current exposure levels but have started to show negative remarks on BPA. US FDA banned it from baby products and containers while EU (European Union), giving BPA a SVHC status (Substance of Very High Concern) is on the verge of restricting the restricting the chemicals import. Refer BPA on Wikipedia, especially the adverse health effects

According to these independent tests conducted on BPA-Free plastics in this paper: Plastic Bottles containing BPA-Free chemicals (Copolyester, Other Polycarbonates producing BPS, BPF, etc) sometimes have more estrogenic activity (EA) than BPA plastics, producing adverse health effects especially at low doses in younger people and kids.

Best Programming Fonts: Source Code Pro

As a programmer we want our code to tell us quickly about itself. Using the right fonts really goes a long way to help. Programmer would ideally want fonts which stay crispy clear when scaled down to smaller sizes, have monospace type and avoid ambiguity in some potentially confusing characters as below.

Personally I have liked and been using Consolas and DejaVu Sans Mono. Lucida Sans Unicode and Courier New are other fonts which I appreciate for my programming life.

Just today as I was out for a change and found out this impressive looking font made with programmers in mind – Source Code Pro.

Source code Pro

“An open source programming font released by Adobe, made with the intent of maximizing usability and avoiding common design flaws in monospaced fonts.” … from slant.co.

Read the announcement blog by Paul D. Hunt, the font creator, for more details. Its open sourced by Abode and you can download it from github.

As for a programming font it does not matter to me if this font lacks italic. Although will take some time to get used to its more horizontal space and rounded shape compared to Consolas and few other fonts in this category.

Looks wonderful in dark colored schemes. Loving it in Vim dark color schemes such as lucius, solarized(dark), molokai, zenburn, etc. Thanks Adobe for open sourcing this font!

This page from slant.co ranks other very good fonts as well.

How to make attractive Resume / bio-data / CV

Don’t ask a format from me, really there is no such universally good resume format.
If you can convey best things about yourself in quick and easy manner, consider that a elegant and attractive resume. No amount of graphics, tables, details will help when it comes to your resume.

The only thing attractive about your resume is if you can convey important information to the employer in seconds. Obviously we are not talking about arts or media industry, which may require exquisite graphics/art but that too is sweeter if kept short and relevant. Employers love if you save their time in selection process, wear their shoes and you will know 🙂

Remember, resume is your chance to be called for an interview. Yes its just that – quoted from the great parachute book of job searching: “What Color Is Your Parachute?” by Richard N. Bolles. Spare some time and read that book, it will mature your thought process about employee – employer relationship

Now, making the resume attractive (relevant) will also mean that you know the employer and the said job profile and then you highlight those relevant parts of your career which makes you unique and potential to the current opportunity. Most of times it just means to do simple modification to the existing resume. Even if you don’t have a resume like starting on a career or updating one, be sure to consider these important points:

Resume Content:

I would not a provide a sample word or pdf document but a draft layout for resume could look like this: (Note that these are nothing but questions I expect answers of each candidate)

  • Contact: Your Name, email and phone number – in clear large or bold font.
  • Accomplishments / Summary: short bulleted points answering what have you done/achieved which makes you relevant to us. This is your highlights.
  • Technologies: keywords of what languages, frameworks, technologies used and which are relevant to us. (You could ignore this section if its too small at the start of your career)
  • Work Experience: In descending order – Employment history and projects done in each employment period. In projects, description should be brief, technical and should highlight your contribution. Contribution again should be brief and highlight your technical / soft skills. You could also use conversational style description which makes it more interesting and personal. Like instead of table you tell a story in almost similar word count. e.g This project required me to port the xyz framework from A platform to B platform, where I got good hands on experience on tools like p, q and r.
  • Education / Courses: Include relevant courses and master / degree grades. Avoid all earlier grades example School, Primary, Secondary if possible.
  • Links to Online Profile: You may include links to your LinkedIn profile, StackOverflow, WordPress (blogging), Google+, CodeChef profile, etc and (not social profile like facebook) not taking much space (e.g. use icons/usernames and hyperlinks). Even if you don’t include good employers will find out this.

Formatting Tips:

  • No grammatical or spelling mistakes. No incorrect data. Correct Captilization for technology terms e.g. “ASP.NET”, iPhone, DirectShow.
  • Font size between 10 – 13, avoid bold, italics, multiple font types. Avoid too many boxes – robotic looks. Avoid too much graphics more than what is enough to convey points quickly and intuitively.
  • Don’t include all projects just for the sake of it instead discuss extra projects and hobby projects at the time of interview (which you maintain in another big work journal of yours).
  • You can avoid references and be willing to provide these on actual request by the employer.
  • Resume should be short at most 1 or 2 pages and always remember that the employer decides on your resume in 10-20 seconds.

 

All the Best!

Tabs for Windows Explorer – QtTabbar

Tabbed browsing and dual pane for file dragging are the 2 killer features I always dreamt of in Windows Explorer. I just waited and waited hoping M$ to get it right for the file explorer.

But wait no more as I found QtTabbar and been actually using it for a year now. Recnttly shifted to new PC and started missing it badly after few days.

There are 2 or 3 other similar tools I have seen but this keeps on winning me (like so many others) due to its ‘no fuss’ nature and ‘does not come in between’ ability (and its free by the way).

Its here on sourceforge, find out for yourself.

Note: this tool will be a life saver for Windows 7 or earlier versions. Windows 8 has done some enhancements to explorer, you may want to compare features.