Tools for setting, tracking and achieving long term goals

planner2018

Immediately after reading an article on David Allen and his brainchild Getting Things Done, I started with implementing his methodology. I loved it. I still love it - especially the Getting Things Done concepts of inbox ZERO, maintaining lists, and periodic reviews.

Inbox ZERO for me is not so much about having empty email inboxes, as well as making sure that input is collected from multiple locations and stored into one dedicated location. An inbox can also be a notebook, or note taking software like Google Keep.

Electronically stored lists have the benefit of being available on a multitude of devices, the ability to synchronize between them, backups, and their biggest advantage - providing dynamic views.

emacs

Both tools that I have been using so far (the open source Java application ThinkingRock [1], and Emacs in Org mode [2]) for maintaining lists of actionable items and projects were great in that perspective. Using those tools for periodic reviews was a different story. After trying numerous configurations I never got the hang of using ThinkingRock and Emacs for that purpose. Items become abstract letters on a screen. Views never fully captured what was important or which project served which goal.

Periodically reviewing projects and …

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zsh shell inside Emacs on Windows

Configuring Emacs (on Windows) to use the zsh shell can be tricky, especially when you use ( oh my zsh) plugins or fancy prompts. Emacs sets an environment variable when running a shell, which can be used to selectively disable plugins and change prompts. Configuring the SSH client and server to set and accept that variable makes ssh-ing inside Emacs to remote servers possible as well.

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Use Emacs to create OAuth 2.0 UML sequence diagrams

OAuth 2.0 abstract protocol flow

It seems that the OAuth 2.0 protocol is more and more being used by web (and mobile) applications. Great !

Although the protocol itself is not that complex, there are a number of different use-cases, flows and implementations to choose from. As with most things in life, the devil is in the detail.

When reviewing OAuth 2.0 implementations or writing penetration testing reports I like to draw UML diagrams. That makes it easier to understand what's going on, and to spot potential issues. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

This can be done extremely easy using the GPL-licensed open source Emacs editor, in conjunction with the GPL-licensed open source tool PlantUML (and optionally using Eclipse Public Licensed Graphviz).

Emacs is worlds' most versatile editor. In this case, it's being used to edit the text, and automatically convert the text to an image. PlantUML is a tool which allows you to write UML in human readable text and does the actual conversion. Graphviz is visualization software, and optionally - in this case, it's used to show certain images.

Download the compiled PlantUML jar file, Emacs and optionally download and install Graphviz.

Once you have Emacs installed and running …

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Compile Emacs for Windows using MSYS2 and mingw64

Emacs 25.1

Emacs 25.1 was officially released on September 17th, 2016. The excellent MSYS2 subsystem and the open source gcc compiler make it super-easy to build binaries on/for Windows (7, 8, 10). In three easy steps from source to binaries:

1: Install and prepare the MSYS2 subsytem

Download and run the installer at http://repo.msys2.org/distrib/msys2-x86_64-latest.exe After installing, run MSYS2 64bit which drops you in a Bash shell. Update all packages using the following command:

pacman -Syuu

Sometimes updates of the runtime/filesystem can cause update errors. This is no cause for panic - kill and restart the terminal. For building 64-bit Windows binaries, always use mingw64.exe to start the terminal.

Install all packages necessary for building:

pacman -Sy --noconfirm base-devel git \
mingw-w64-x86_64-{giflib,gnutls,jbigkit,lib{jpeg-turbo,png,rsvg,tiff,xml2},toolchain,xpm-nox}

2: Clone the Emacs source

To simplify building, you can define the environment variables BUILDDIR (where the binaries are built), INSTALLDIR (where the binaries will be installed to), and SOURCEDIR (where the source lives, the git repository). Note that since you're in the MSYS2 subsystem, paths are Unix-style, using forward slashes. This command creates SOURCEDIR if it doesn't exist yet, clones the …

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