Almanah — a Diary App for You

June 14, 2009 by Clair Ching  
Filed under How To

Ever wanted to note down some things that happened to you in a day? Diaries are ever useful for logging things that you might need to refer to in the future and to keep them in a calendar form would be easy for some. Others need to be able to refer to the calendar to make sure that the entries are consistent. Almanah seems to be an application made solely for that purpose.

Almanah

Almanah

Using Almanah is simple. Just run it and note down the things you want by typing them on the big space it shows to you. By default it would save all these things you’ve typed in the current date’s page. If you want to note something in advance, maybe a birthday, then go to the date you wish to specify. Write down the birthday celebrator’s name.

Apparently Almanah is also capable of noting the tasks and events in Evolution. But I don’t use Evolution as a mail client so I can’t really show that to you. In any case, that’s a nifty feature.

Also, if you’ve got important notes, URIs or files you want to associate with the date, it is possible. Just add a link. There’s a sidebar for all of the links and above it is a calendar to help you navigate throughout the diary.

I hope that Almanah would help you remember the important things in your life whether it’s personal or related to work. Even if it looks very simple, what it could do for you could be a lot.

Top 5 Applications I Can’t Live Without

May 24, 2009 by Clair Ching  
Filed under Geeky Fun

Since I started using Linux, I’ve found a new set of tools that help me in my work everyday. If not directly used for work, at least these tools help me work faster in one way or another.

  • Drivel - Who says blogging can only be done via the web browser? Drivel supports WordPress as well as LiveJournal. Whether I need to blog here, my personal blog on LJ, or elsewhere, Drivel makes it easier for me and I don’t need to launch another webpage and wait for everything to load. I could type my drafts on Drivel and post them at a later time. This is especially for moments when the internet provider fails.
  • Pidgin - The application that used to be called Gaim. This all-in-one messaging client is still the most useful for me. GyachiE works and there’s also Empathy but I like my keyboard shortcuts on Pidgin a lot. It is easier and faster for me to use Pidgin because I could easily launch a conversation with my contacts.
  • Firefox - My favorite web browser. I love the fact that it has many plugins and extensions. Not to mention personas and themes. Whether I want to use it easily with StumbleUpon, delicious or something else, Firefox makes it easy.
  • Emacs planner mode - Because I am back to using Emacs, I can’t help but include Planner mode. I like taking down notes with Planner mode because I don’t think about what it will look like as it’s just going to be stored as a text file. Because it’s in Emacs, I could customize Planner mode too.
  • Gnome-Do - If you want the ultimate launcher, Gnome-Do is awesome. You really have to try it so you know what I am talking about. It could launch conversation dialogs, launch your favorite apps, and so much more.

What are your top 5 apps? Maybe there are applications out there that I must try so let me know. :D

Using Mew as a Mail Client

May 2, 2009 by Clair Ching  
Filed under How To

I’ve been looking for an email client to use but I’ve often been hesitant about it because more often than not, I still end up checking the web user interface. However, I’ve been using Emacs more often again and I’d rather be using that to compose my email and if ever I do have notes saved written in Planner mode, then it’s way easier to just do it within Emacs.

Mew's logo/splash screen

Mew's logo/splash screen

Mew is an email client you could use with Emacs. Emacs is a text editor with a lot of potential for extensibility. You could add a planner to it, an outliner and so much more. There is actually a number of email clients for Emacs but I chose Mew because it looks straightforward compared to Gnus.

Mew can be configured to download your mail via IMAP or POP. The manual shows you how to do things and if ever you’re doing this for the first time, it might be weird. Why? Because this is Emacs and there’s a way of doing things.

For starters, you need to Emacs 21.4 and later versions. It doesn’t make sense to use Mew without Emacs. ;) Also, you need to download and install Mew. It’s in the Ubuntu repositories as well as in Fedora, apparently. So you could just probably use the application installer tool in these distros.

How to install it from scratch:

  1. Download Mew’s source.
  2. Extract the source.
  3. In the directory of your soure, type ‘./configure’.
  4. Type ‘make’.
  5. Type ‘make install’.

Now it’s time to tell Emacs that you’re going to use Mew. If you already have a .emacs file, just add this line:
(mew)

That would automatically load Mew for you.

But before you even use Mew, you need to set up Mew first. You need a config file for it. Let’s call it .mew.el. Create a text file with that name. I will just share with you my .mew.el file in case you have a similar set up. I am using Google Apps, so basically this is a Gmail Account using a different domain name.


(setq mew-name "my name") ;; (user-full-name)
(setq mew-user "username") ;; (user-login-name)
(setq mew-mail-domain "domain.com")

;; Set using IMAP
(setq mew-proto “%”)
;; (setq mew-imap-user “your IMAP account”) ;; (user-login-name) ;; this has been commented out
(setq mew-imap-server “imap.gmail.com”) ;; if not localhost
(setq mew-imap-ssl t)
(setq mew-imap-ssl-port “993″)
(setq mew-imap-user “username@domain.com”)

;; send email via SMTP
(setq mew-smtp-server “smtp.gmail.com”) ;; if not localhost
(setq mew-smtp-ssl t)
(setq mew-smtp-ssl-port “587″)
(setq mew-smtp-port “587″)
(setq mew-smtp-user “username@domain.com”)
(setq mew-ssl-verify-level 0)
(setq mew-tls-smtp “smtp”)
(setq mew-smtp-auth-list ‘(”PLAIN” “LOGIN” “CRAM-MD5″))

;; cache the password
(setq mew-use-cached-passwd t) ;; so I won’t have to type the password all the time.

For the address book part, it’s easy. Just create a text file. called Addrbook in your Mew’s Mail directory. In my case it’s in ~/Mail. The text file is more or less like this per line:

eclair eclair@domain1.org, eclair@domain2.org eclair “Clair Ching”

This is how I set up my Mew account. At least it’s easier for me to send emails from Emacs. I am still looking at other things like searching email, etc.

OpenOffice.org as an Outliner

April 18, 2009 by Clair Ching  
Filed under How To

I was never a hardcore user of OpenOffice.org but I do need it from time to time because of the documents I need to write.

OpenOffice.org

OpenOffice.org

There are a lot of people in my office who prefer to use it for everything. Although one thing I’ve noticed is that they just open it as if it’s any other text editor. But I don’t think they’ve seen it as an outliner before.

Dmitri Popov of Linux Magazine has shared tips for us on how to use OpenOffice.org as an outliner:

The easiest one is to press the Numbering On/Off button in the main toolbar or the F12 key. This turns the current line in the documents into a numbered entry and displays the Bullets and Numbering context toolbar which offers basic outlining tools.
….
Another approach requires a bit more work, but it allows you to use OpenOffice.org Writer as a two-pane outliner. This solution is based on the Outline Numbering feature which lets you specify a hierarchy of heading styles and then manage them using the Navigator. By default, OpenOffice.org Writer uses the built-in heading styles (i.e., Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3, etc.) for each level, but you can easily change that using the Tools -> Outline Numbering dialog window.

Two options to help us use OpenOffice.org in a different way. I personally like outliners like emacs-org mode because it helps me organize my thoughts better. I also help write training materials so this is a great help to me.

For those of you who like making lists, check this out. These awesome tips might help you work better with an existing application instead of downloading a separate outliner. :)

Again, thanks to Dmitri Popov for the tips!


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