I got drunk on text files and accidentally spent the weekend with Emacs

Emacs and I broke up recently. I felt I had to move on after years of destructive codependency. It wasn’t Emacs, it was me.

With so much newly-found free time, I began flirting with all manner of sexy tools. No longer did I feel stuck in the same rut and same routines. I could use a mouse. I could work in the cloud. I could mingle with various specific, proprietary, and visually stunning apps of all kinds. Point and click, point and click. It was liberating!

Over the recent holiday, I thought I’d take the time to clean out my digital closets and get a little organized. My desktop was riddled with screenshots, receipts, and other detritus I’d been ignoring. And I don’t even want to talk about my Downloads folder. Yikes. It felt good getting through that.

I went from ~/Downloads to ~/Dropbox. There were a few folders there with names like “notes”, “old-notes”, “org”, “obsidian”, etc. I figured I’d just sneak in, zip things up, and put them somewhere in ~/archive.

I cracked open the “old-notes” folder. It was full of Markdown files. They’ve been there for years, undisturbed. I figured it wouldn’t hurt anything if I just opened one or two to see what it was like. That’s when it started.

Markdown files were still configured to open in Emacs on my Mac, so when I double-clicked just that one little file, it opened right up. And there it was, Emacs, uninhibitedly presenting me a beautiful plain text file.

It was such a wonderful sight I couldn’t help but bring up dired and wow, there the rest of the files were, lined up, waiting to be read, edited, searched, controlled by git, forever. One thing led to another and my entire frame was filled with windows and buffers; some split vertically, some horizontal. All simple plain text and mine to do with whatever I wished.

Evil mode’s vim bindings came rushing back, as they always do, and before long I was flying around in so many files I started to get dizzy. Next thing you know I was opening other folders, other files. .org, .txt, .md, .html, you name it. God, it felt great. We had so much fun.

By the time I woke up two days later I had completely reconfigured Emacs, cleaned up some unused packages, moved my tasks to Org mode, committed and pushed everything to Github.

I don’t know yet if Emacs and are going to get back together permanently, but we sure had a great weekend.

Originally published at https://www.baty.net on November 29, 2020.




Director of Unspecified Services. Former partner at Fusionary (1995-2020). Now an interested bystander.

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Jack Baty

Jack Baty

Director of Unspecified Services. Former partner at Fusionary (1995-2020). Now an interested bystander.

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