Well, we got busy and it was hard to keep up daily posts last week. So back at it this week.

Doom Emacs

I made it a point to give myself a bunch of fussing around time yesterday, and decided to spend it on installing Doom Emacs. In its own words:

Doom is a configuration framework for GNU Emacs tailored for Emacs bankruptcy veterans who want less framework in their frameworks, a modicum of stability (and reproducibility) from their package manager, and the performance of a hand rolled config (or better). It can be a foundation for your own config or a resource for Emacs enthusiasts to learn more about our favorite operating system.

There’s a small omission: It also starts from the assumption you want to use Evil mode.

So, the highlights?

  • You get a splash screen with the option to restart your last session, open your org agenda, go to your config files.
  • You get a modal interface with handy menus you can open up by tapping the space bar.
  • You get a more terse config up front by uncommenting functionality in an init file and letting Doom handle a lot of presets.
  • You have to take a few more steps when you make a change because you have to run an external command to compile your config.
  • You get a little more verbosity in parts of your config because you have to frame any custom changes as post-instantiation variables for a given module.

My subjective take thus far:

  • Initially hated it because of course I did: I’ve got Stockholm syndrome around my multi-file Emacs config, and Doom even cuts you off from using Emacs’ native Customize.
  • Went to bed thinking “if this feels god awful tomorrow morning, when it is time to get things done, I am going to get rid of it ASAP.”
  • Woke up feeling curious and a little eager to try it out.
  • Currently in the painful “develop muscle memory” phase for some basic operations, still stumbling with modal editing, but not having a pinkie poised over the control key is nice.
  • I kind of like the whole doom sync workflow when I make a change. A lot of weird Emacs things-that-go-wrong seem to come down to package weirdness and compile errors, and Doom does a lot to clean that stuff up.
  • A little more empathy for the ortholinear and Planck people when the space-bar is what initiates actions and there’s less emphasis on the control key.
  • I like the preset configs for features I wouldn’t have bothered with otherwise. I’ve come to appreciate minimaps, and wouldn’t have bothered with one if it weren’t something I could simply turn on and expect to work without a lot of fiddling.
  • The theme I settled on (“Nord”) is coherent and well thought out, and it covers all the UI I’ve encountered so far. One challenge with Emacs themes is the challenge with any theme, I guess, which is that you can’t always know what’s out there with its own notions about a good palette. As a result, you sometimes get disappearing UI elements as the foreground of something coincidentally matches the theme’s background, etc.

You don’t have to do the whole Evil thing, either: It can be toggled off and you still get a lot of Doom affordances, but with more complex keystrokes to invoke them. I’m keeping it on because I have time to mess with it, and because my foundational Unix user myth re: my editor religion is a matter of freak happenstance I’ve never really reconciled myself to.

No verdict yet, really, besides “gonna keep using it because it has some very sane defaults that make Emacs feel more cohesive than my hacked-together “init.el of Theseus” that started its life on an Amiga 500 in 1996.


Mackup is just this backup config thing. On a Mac you install it from Homebrew, run it, and it backs up configs for over 550 applications: Everything from Adium to zsh, with ssh, Emacs, tmux, Sublime, git, rubocop and hundreds more in between.

Basic features:

  • A variety of cloud stores: Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, and your own filesystem.
  • Exclude lists, for the things you don’t want backed up/syncing across machines.
  • An Include list, to narrow what it touches to explicit apps.
  • Custom files, so you can tell it to, e.g. backup your ~/bin or something with an odd location for its config.

It has a dry-run switch so you can review what it would do, and a “no, this is awful, put it all back” argument.

There are some bugs. It did something weird to my iTerm config after I forced it to, reasoning that the only reason I use iTerm is because some YouTuber told me to and so didn’t care if I learned a Mackup limitation the hard way. It also believes that the Doom Emacs config is somewhere it is not, so I wrote a custom config for that in two minutes:

name = My Doom Emacs



Verdict so far: It’s fine and I’m going to keep using it. I recently started putting more config stuff in Git and was beginning to think about how to make something similar. Glad I don’t have to.

Rocky IV

We finished up our run of the OG Rocky movies I was willing to watch with Rocky IV last night. The one with the Russian. Al was in her phone after the first montage/music video (of four? I lost count). I knew it was going to be awful, but I haven’t seen it since my dad took me and Cousin Scotty to see it in the theater in 1985 and a mild spirit of completionism had descended on me.

It was sort of interesting to see the music video editing sensibility in the direction. Like, you could spot music video tropes in the angles and cuts. It served to make Drago, the Russian, weirdly sympathetic because some of it is bewildering, or at least seems designed to provoke feelings of bewilderment and maybe a little nausea. I think the tempo of editing is generally faster these days, but perhaps less jumpy and discontiguous.

Anyhow, I found myself wondering when they were going to show Drago being injected with steroids with a brief closeup of a dripping needle, then wondered how, almost 40 years later, I remembered that passing detail, then learned it was because they show the needle four or five times in case you were looking away and didn’t get that the Russian was cheating.

Also, wow, this weird conflation of Soviet and Nazi ideologies where the Russians start bragging that Drago is of superior genetic stock.

And the lyrics in one of the music video tracks about how it feels like “freedom is on the ropes.”

Finished Jedi: Fallen Order

I wrapped up Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order over the weekend. : I get the impression it is very much A Kind of Game with a lot of the conventions people not only tolerate but even look forward in that kind of thing.

I found some of it frustrating until I dug into the configuration menu and found I could turn on some accessibility features that made a few recurring tasks (e.g. grabbing while jumping) less fiddly, and that allowed me to spend more time exploring and letting the story unfold than repeatedly falling to my death or tumbling to the bottom of some puzzle.

I learned to live with Jedi Wall Running, but never warmed up to all the moments where you have to slide down a slick mud or ice path and time jumps/grabs/wall-runs/bounces. That all felt less like Jedi Bad-Assery and more like someone decided to reskin a snowboarding game.

I was also a little over all the planet-hopping. You have to revisit things several times. I get that part of the way you make the power fantasy aspects of these games feel more acute is by presenting an impossible obstacle then letting the character skill up and overcome it. But that could take the form of presenting an impossible kind of obstacle and letting the player skill up and overcome one just like it somewhere else?

As a Star Wars property, I really enjoyed it. It’s a lightweight story, but the whole time period between the fall of the Republic and SW:ANH has good story-telling potential, and I liked what they did with it in this game.

The upcoming sequel won’t be on PS4, so … so much for all my gloating about being a trailing-edge casual who doesn’t need the latest.

Anyhow, I think my next game is going to be Ghost of Tsushima. I went into Fallen Order thinking it’d be a good way to get a little more grounded in modern Big Games, and Ghost is what I had in mind specifically.

Okay. We’re at time. This was more of a tool for procrastination today than it should have been. I want to put in two hours on some overdue work.