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# Advent of emacs #20: How I do context separation in emacs

Posted on Dec 20, 2022 by Chung-hong Chan

Today is a little break, like I did on day 10.

emacs is incredibly malleable. It is pretty easy to create an emacs setup that collapses multiple contexts, e.g. I am programming in one context, talking notes in another, and using social media in another. Quasi, like the ultimate attention drag of our time: our smartphone.

I use emacs for its power to boast my productivity. Sometimes, I need to reduce a bit of malleability so that emacs remains my productivity powerhouse. I don’t want to “live in emacs” and there are many things I don’t want to do in emacs. A recent example is setting up my RSS reader in emacs.

(use-package elfeed
:config
(setq elfeed-feeds
'(
("http://fullcirclemagazine.org/feed/" linux)
("http://feeds.feedburner.com/JackysBlog" blog)
("https://computationalcommunication.org/ccr/gateway/plugin/WebFeedGatewayPlugin/atom" journal)
("https://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/gateway/plugin/WebFeedGatewayPlugin/atom" journal)
("https://rweekly.org/atom.xml" tech)
("https://sachachua.com/blog/category/emacs-news/feed" emacs)
)
)
)


For a time, I have also controlled Spotify from emacs using a hack-together hybrid of ncspot and vterm. But I quickly remove it. That’s too much. I rather use the Spotify client. And an even more recent example is Mastodon.el. I installed it, but quickly removed it.

Instead of customizing emacs, I find it even more important to customize my wetware also. I install this in my wetware: I want to limit my emacs to programming, writing, system management, and some reading. Context collapse creates cognitive overload. By separating the contexts, I have a better emacs experience. But…

# mu4e

I miss my mu4e setup. In my previous job, I could check my university e-mail through mbsync and manage e-mails by mu4e. I considered checking and reading work e-mails within the context in which I use emacs. My new job requires e-mail checking through VPN and it makes setting up mbsync quite difficult. I have to use webmail (Outlook Web Access), which I kind-of don’t like 2.

# Moving on

In the next 3 posts I will talk about emacs lisp.

1. I actually don’t like newsletters. If you maintain a newsletter, please provide an RSS feed also.

2. Another thing I don’t like is the reliance on Microsoft Teams for internal communication. But as I said previously, I can’t change the HCF.

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