Emacsconf 2019

Operated at https://emacsconf.org/2019/, this conference on “all matters Emacs” went quite well; I was very pleased to have noticed it a couple of weeks beforehand.

They had some struggles publishing video; whomever it was that had the idea of pre-recording the lightning talks was really onto something, as that gave them material to present whilst getting the glitches dealt with. Hopefully some lessons were gleaned from the struggles so that the organizers do not wind up prematurely aged 🙂

The other thing that was a fantastic thing was the https://emacsconf.org/2019/pad “Pad” where they collected a stream of comments. In the world of social media, this sort of collection seems to head into wildly awful places. But this particular comment stream was sheer gold, collecting sets of URLs and viewers’ notes that were somewhat better than the notes I was trying to take, and which collected URLs, questions, and answers.

Actually, in going back and looking, the talk on “Emacs as My Go To Scripting Language” led to adding a discussion on the Pad on a wide set of generative approaches to building regular expressions (for an overview of ideas, see https://gist.github.com/aterweele/11bdefcac0255baa3a8a71d498236d0d ) which was a thought-provoking addition that wasn’t remotely part of the talk. It’s a nice sort of equivalent to the in-person “Hall Discussions Track” that is often the best part of a conference.

Many thanks to the organizers, I hope they have recovered! 🙂

Trying Out org2blog

Hmm. Let’s see how https://github.com/punchagan/org2blog works.

It requires xml-rpc.el; el-get knows about that… Splendid!

I can login to my blog… It takes a very little bit of URL surgery to figure out the apropos URL…

I think I overdid the default categories, but that’s not a huge problem.

Now, let’s see if it’ll publish the entry…

Hey, that worked fine! Cool, I can publish blog entries without looking for my web browser. Now, let’s see if I can get it to stow the password for my website in the encrypted .authinfo file that Emacs likes…

Nope, the .authinfo extension is a Gnus thing, so that possibly goes further than we can readily get. But the author’s amenable to taking a peek at it :-).

Gnus, Dovecot, OfflineIMAP

This is a followup, effectively, to Roland Mas’ article Gnus, Dovecot, OfflineIMAP, search: a HOWTO .

I went thru Roland’s HOWTO, and have a few comments on variances that I noticed:

  1. I first installed OfflineIMAP; this worked pretty much fine as described. I didn’t bother adding the extra Python code for propagating Gnus expiry material, as I generally don’t use it.
  2. I had a couple problems setting up Dovecot:
    1. By default, Dovecot uses Maildir++ folder handling, which isn’t consistent with how OfflineIMAP stores folders.There’s an additional option needed to cope with this:
      mail_location = maildir:~/Maildir:LAYOUT=fs
    2. Perhaps because of the above, I couldn’t readily get Gnus to talk over a pipe to a Dovecot process.Not a big deal – I have Gnus speak to Dovecot via talking to the socket, which is the usual thing one would do with Dovecot anyways.
  3. It seems to me as though Gnus should be able to talk directly to Maildir. It does, after all, have a protocol for it (nnmaildir).I couldn’t struggle my way thru the Gnus documentation to properly set up a virtual server for nnmaildir to do this.

    This would be pretty valuable in that it would eliminate the need for Dovecot altogether. Perhaps it’s a documentation problem that nobody seems to know how to do this.

Designing SQL Schemas in Lisp

I have, as a task, designing a fairly rich DBMS schema for some future systems.  I’m not keen on doing a whole lot of by-hand reconciliation, so am taking a somewhat different approach.  I am analytically describing the relationships between tables, and then generating SQL DDL from the results.

I am doing some of the intermediary work in Lisp; probably a little bit dubious, but the translation is making sure that everything that I do have is  pretty strictly defined.  I created Lisp “primitive” functions such as “make-table”, “add-column” which do a little bit of data validation, and do any SQL generation in one spot.  The more interesting part is then to characterize the creation of various sorts of tables:

  • first-class-object indicates a table that sits on its own.
  • make-subobject indicates a table that depends on one of the “first class” objects.
  • make-association-table indicates a table that links two “first class” objects together.
  • make-transaction-stream indicates a table that contains transactions/activities
  • make-queue sets up a table that will contain work that is to be processed (and, presumably, cleared out upon completion)

The more structure that may be characterized in a fashion that makes it amenable to automation, the better 🙂


There is an ASN.1 encoder/decoder for Common LISP as part of a “SYSMAN” system, an SNMP implementation.  It doesn’t directly support CLISP :-(.  But the bits that seem troublesome are evidently pretty directed to SNMP MIBs…

I got something working via the combination of:

(dolist (file '("asn1-package" "dependent" "mib" "asn1-defs" "ber-defs" "ber-decode" "ber-encode"))
  (compile-file file)
  (load file))

Along with a few minor changes to some of the component files.  It looks like it works, but I haven’t really exercised it yet…