Monday, June 17th, 2013

M-x spook

In light of the recent leaks about the NSA's illegal spying, I've decided to go back to using M-x spook output in my email signatures.

cypherpunk anthrax John Kerry rail gun security plutonium Guantanamo wire transfer JPL number key military MD5 SRI FIPS140 Uzbekistan

(3 comments | Leave a comment)

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Plus One

In mailing list discussions, I've noticed that the practice of replying "+1" to messages with which one agrees has become very widespread.

I think this is interesting for a lot of reasons, such as what it shows about habits picked up in communicating via social network sites that grew out of e-mail percolating back to e-mail. We seem to have really grown to like this idea of "voting" for people's messages, and if there's no "Like" or "+1" button on their message, we'll make our own. (Likewise, apparently a person's name is no longer sufficient to indicate that one is addressing them in an e-mail -- am I right, @dear_reader?)

The problem for me is that I have my venerable awesome e-mail client Gnus set to hide quoted text in messages by default with (add-hook 'gnus-article-prepare-hook (lambda () (gnus-article-hide-citation 1))), and it thinks that "+" is the start of a quoted line -- so it hides the "+1". While there's a certain poetic justice to that, it confuses me because it makes the message look empty, and someone could do something like "+1 I'm pregnant too", causing me to miss some very important news.

The fix for this is to change the regexp pattern Gnus uses to decide if a line is a message quote or not. gnus-message-cite-prefix-regexp is built using message-cite-prefix-regexp, so I changed the value of the latter, removing the literal "+". I also found while investigating this that I already configure that variable in order to add "#>" which someone sometime during my 9 years of using Gnus must have used. The net result is (setq message-cite-prefix-regexp "\\([ ]*[-_.#[:word:]]+>+\\|[ ]*[]>|}]\\)+"). (Note that some of those whitespace characters are tabs, which probably won't display properly here, but you can compare to the default value to see what I actually changed).


(10 comments | Leave a comment)

Monday, March 7th, 2011

New job

Today was my first day as the new executive director at the Free Software Foundation.

I'm really excited about the opportunity to do more at the FSF -- but also sad that I won't have the pleasure of working with Peter Brown any more, as he is moving on to more challenges. Peter's been an amazing mentor and boss to me in the eight years I've been with the FSF, and it's not going to be the same without him.

Along with the change in job positions, I have relocated from Seattle back to Boston.

This continues to be my personal space, not an official FSF channel -- but this is big personal news for me so I wanted to share :).

(10 comments | Leave a comment)

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Churchill Club Panel Discussion on Software Patents

My FSF colleague Brett Smith and I will be making the case against software patents on a panel at the Churchill Club in Mountain View, CA, the evening of February 16th. Hope to see End Software Patents supporters in the audience!

More information: Churchill Club Panel Discussion on Software Patents — Free Software Foundation — working together for free software

(4 comments | Leave a comment)

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Editing with Emacs from Chromium

I switched browsers from Iceweasel to Chromium a while ago. I finally got around to looking for an extension that would allow me to edit text areas in Emacs rather than in the browser, in a fashion similar to Iceweasel's "It's All Text" extension.

So I installed Edit with Emacs. I'm writing this post with it as the first test. You'll be able to tell if it works right at about the same time as I can.

(5 comments | Leave a comment)

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Setting envelope_from in exim

I've been bothered for a while that because my login on my machines is johnsu01, the envelope_from on my outgoing mail has been instead of the address I actually use ( This makes it impossible to unsubscribe from some mailing lists, since they look at envelope_from instead of From. I started trying to fix this in gnus, but then realized that it was easy in exim. Just open /etc/email-addresses and add something like

Wait, did I just put my real email address on the internet? I MIGHT GET SPAM.

(Leave a comment)

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Planner documentation back online

The documentation for Emacs Planner is available again at It was AWOL for a while; sorry about that. A bugfix release is also coming soon.
(Leave a comment)

Friday, July 30th, 2010

Presentations at Debconf in NYC

I'm excited to be giving two presentations at Debconf 10, held this year on the Columbia campus in New York City.

The first is "FSF's Campaigns for Freedom" on Sunday, August 1st, from 14:00 to 15:00 in 414 Schapiro. I'll give an overview of some of the current FSF campaigns, like the GNU Project, Working Together for Free Software, Defective by Design, PlayOgg, Windows 7 Sins, and the High Priority Projects List; and resources like the Licensing & Compliance Lab, Free Software Jobs page, Hardware Directory, and the Free Software Directory. But I'm going to save plenty of time to talk with the room about things the FSF should or could be doing.

The second is "Patent Absurdity: How software patents broke the system" on Thursday, August 5th, from 14:00 to 15:00 in the Davis Auditorium. We'll be watching the Patent Absurdity film, chatting about what's happened since, and what the Bilski decision means for the future of free software.

I'll be around the conference all week, so drop me an email at or catch me in the #debconf channel (johns) if you want to chat about the FSF or GNU.

(Leave a comment)

Friday, April 16th, 2010

A new wrinkle in the editor wars

I was pointed to this screenshot showing a snarky Vim ad displayed in the results for a search seeking Emacs help.

So I decided to see what might come up in a search for "vim."

The results may shock you. Or they may not.

I guess we always knew that the editor wars had a little too much to do with testosterone concerns. Apparently some marketers have caught on.

(2 comments | Leave a comment)

Monday, March 15th, 2010

GNU Hackers Meeting and LibrePlanet, Cambridge, MA, March 18th - 21st

I'm excited about the GNU Hackers Meeting in a few days.

We're going to meet for some curry on Thursday night with the people in town so far, then the bulk of the meeting will be on Friday. Things on the agenda so far include lightning talks from several of the people attending about the GNU projects they are working on, a discussion about the problems with Software as a Service and what GNU can do about it -- with a focus on the creation of a new GNU network services team, and longer presentations like David Sugar on Replacing Skype, Matt Lee on GNU FM (the software that runs replacement, and Michael Flickinger on Savannah.

This is the first US edition of the GNU Hackers Meeting -- there have already been a few in Europe. One cool thing about this one is the range of contributors we have represented. We have people from the origin of the project, including RMS, John Gilmore, and Rob Savoye -- plus new contributors like Steven DuBois of GNU Generation (the awesome project started last year by FSF intern Max Shinn for high schoolers interested in GNU).

After Friday, the Meeting segues into the rest of the LibrePlanet conference, which promises to be awesome as well. The Women in Free Software track is particularly important to me because I think it's progress in one of the most critical steps we need to take to really make the free software movement work for everyone. As one of the conference organizers I'm sure I'm going to be bouncing around a lot during the days, but I'm definitely going to make a point to catch as much as I can of all of the presentations in that track -- I'm especially interested in hearing Karen Sandler of the Software Freedom Law Center, and the panel on Sunday with Chris Ball, Hanna Wallach, Erinn Clark and Denise Paolucci.

It's not too late to register for either the GHM (if you're a GNU maintainer or significant contributor), or the LibrePlanet conference -- just follow the instructions on the wiki. Drop me a line if you're reading this and will be there.

(Leave a comment)
Previous 10