Recent Finds

For the past few years I’ve been more or less happily developing on OS X. Thanks to Emacs, I have a nice text base interface to work with that allows me to manage most of my core applications (text editor, IRC, email, terminal, etc.) in a keyboard centered environment. At the same time, I missed the stripped down environment of my tiling window manager choice, StumpWM. A recent associate moved on to “googlier” pastures and left behind a X1 Carbon that was up for grabs. Seeing as my MacBook Pro always had problems running VMs and the disk was always almost full, it seemed like a good time to switch.

When switching environments, it usually is a time you are forced reinvestigate the current tools available. Here are some tools that I’ve found interesting.



Helm is the reinvention of anything.el. Many people compare it to Spotlight, Alfred and Quicksilver on the Mac in that it helps you configure smart look ups to find things. People use it for everything from autocomplete to a nice interface to spotify. The spotify video inspired me to write some code to browse the files in my recently converted blog. It was really easy to do and puts a pretty face along side a usable UI for very little time.

Expand Region

Anyone who follows Emacsrocks probably already has seen Expand Region. It is a really simple package that helps you to semantically expand what is selected. Here is a short video showing how it works. The nice thing is that if you are refactoring code, this makes it easy to select the current expression, function or class and cut/copy it where you need it to go. Likewise, you needed to search/replace in a semantic block, it is trivial to do without having to move around to make the selection.

S and Dash

S is a string library for elisp and Dash is a library for working with lists in elisp. Neither are arguably that helpful if you already know elisp and/or common lisp, but for someone like me that doesn’t have a strong lisp background, these are really helpful libs.



I recently migrated my blog to Tinkerer. The nice thing about it is that it uses Sphinx for generating the static pages.


Toolz extends itertools, functools and operator modules in order to provide a more robust functional programming pattern in Python. After playing with it a bit, it was clear how helpful a tool it can be in a distributed processing model. It is trivial to construct a complext pipeline of transforms and pass it to a multiprocessing pool to quickly crank through some data.

Python Daemon

There are tons of tutorials and libraries out there for creating proper unix daemon. PEP 3143 proposed a module in the standard library since it is something that hasn’t changed in a long time. The result was python-daemon. The python-deamon module is really easy to use and makes doing helpful bits like changing working directory and capturing stoud/stderr trivial.


Invoke is a python build tool that is similar to Paver. What is interesting about it is that it has a mechanism for including other source files as extensions. It has a focus on calling multiple tasks at the same time and handing each task’s arguments correctly. I haven’t had a chance to mess with it very much, but my cursory overview has been positive. It cleans up a couple annoyances I had with Paver regarding task arguments. It also comes from the folks that wrote Fabric.

This process of setting up my dev environment has been fun. It has been much simpler to get my emacs up and running thanks to keeping my config files in source control and package listings up to date. My fingers remembered how to use StumpWM. It is as though I never switched! Hope you enjoy my recent finds!