Wednesday, May 30, 2007

MacBook adventures: Additional Proggies

By sheer coincidence, I appear to have purchased my MacBook about the same time Bob Sutor got his Mac. By even sheerer coincidence, we both use Ubuntu as well. And we both work for IBM. This is getting spooky. I'm almost glad I missed his talk at UNC a few months ago -- the universe might have imploded if we were in the same vicinity.

Anyway, this is my first (well, first-and-a-half if you count the blog entry I almost-posted about locating a new screen background) blog entry about setting up my new MacBook. Today's ramblings are about additional programs I've installed on the Mac to make myself more comfortable. Mac purists (sorry John, that's you) will probably scoff at some of these, but productivity trumps purity everyday in my world.

Safari was ok as far as it went, but that wasn't quite far enough. Gmail's chat didn't work. David Heinemeier-Hansson is somewhat enamored of Camino, and after using it for a month or so I have to concur. Gmail is working fine & it's done a bangup job on every webpage I care about thus far.

Next had to go (no tabs?! WTF?!). iTerm is the replacement, but even it has some uglies that need to be configured around. In particular, I was pulling my hair out until I figured out how to create a new keyboard profile that sends option as meta. The bookmarks with associated commands and corresponding keyboard shortcuts are nice too. Emacs over ssh to the Ubuntu box is looking pretty good with Monaco 10.

Lastly (for this post, at least): Carbon Emacs. I drank the emacs koolaid in college about 18 years ago and Meta-X has been my constant companion ever since. It was a pleasant surprise to run across a Macified flavor of my favorite tool and defer an onerous retraining of the fingers for a few more years (ctrl-P is NOT print, damnit!).

More to come...


At 12:30 PM , Blogger Charles Gordon said...


I ran across your blog while setting up my own MacBook. If you're using iTerm to run Emacs over ssh, you should definitely give "tramp" a try. Tramp is an emacs library that allows you to C-x C-f and enter something like: / It opens a persistent ssh connection and handles all the saving, auto-saving, updating, etc.

At 1:33 PM , Blogger Mike Burr said...


For some bizarre reason, Tramp has seemed to pop up in my life every couple years for the last decade or so. Every time it comes up, I think "cool, this is just what I need". Then I start trying to use it and inevitably wind up having to re-learn how to specify its various file transfer methods and delving into emacs' guts to figure out why it's not recognizing my filespecs. It's typically a frustrating experience.

But it's been a couple years -- maybe it's time for another round...

At 2:35 PM , Blogger Charles Gordon said...

I know what you mean, having run into similar problems. I generally blame ssh, since it has the *most* arcane semantics of any program I've ever used. My experience with tramp is that if I can ssh to a host, I can get tramp to work. The most common problem I have is knowing which of "ssh1" and "ssh" to use. That isn't always clear, but it is easy to just try them both! Good luck.

At 3:04 PM , Blogger Anonymous said...

Nice post about preparing a new macbook lol, thinking of getting one of the new ones with trackpad


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