Notes from the Library

Sat, 20 Jun 2015

Six months ago I activated the Emacs Vim Emulation Layer, EVIL, and tried to go back to the vim keybindings I used years ago, before Org-mode dragged me into Emacs like it does so many. I found that it didn’t suit me: the Emacs keybindings turned out to be more deeply wired into my fingers, and I was no longer convinced by the idea of the Vim zen cult (no hard feelings guys, you’re cool). One thing that I found when configuring EVIL was that although my configuration for the Vim emulation was complicated, I could strip out a lot of other stuff from my Emacs configuration that I was using to work around Emacs not being that great at editing text. I learnt something from this despite deactivating EVIL again, a lesson I’ve applied again this week.

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Mon, 15 Jun 2015

Joel on Software: Controlling Your Environment Makes You Happy

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Joel on Software: Things You Should Never Do, Part I

We’re programmers. Programmers are, in their hearts, architects, and the first thing they want to do when they get to a site is to bulldoze the place flat and build something grand. We’re not excited by incremental renovation: tinkering, improving, planting flower beds.

There’s a subtle reason that programmers always want to throw away the code and start over. The reason is that they think the old code is a mess. And here is the interesting observation: they are probably wrong. The reason that they think the old code is a mess is because of a cardinal, fundamental law of programming:

It’s harder to read code than to write it.

David Cameron likes to talk a lot about the working people of Britain and how the Conservatives are behind them in their project of being busy working people. If we’re careful to avoid the Puritan deification of work, we can agree that the project of holding down a job and working one’s way through the ranks has a lot to be said for it. There is a sense in which holding down any job at all, in the short- to medium-term, uplifts people and gets them out of depressive self-centeredness. But in the longer term it’s irresponsible not to look at one’s work in the context of the national and international economies. And when we do this we find that Cameron is inviting the middle classes to vote him and his friends in for selfish reasons and then assuage the guilt by indulging in a narrative about being a working person.

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Sun, 14 Jun 2015

The Accidental Rester

These days I’m suspicious of anyone using ‘productivity’ but I think there’s something in this. Skillful resting to avoid minimally restive activity like scrolling down social networking websites need not be in the service of productivity to be a good thing.

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