I had been blogging on blogger.com for a while, but the last few months, I have been increasingly annoyed with the service. Little things, mostly, like the way the editor works and how the Preview mode is very far from the appearance of the published entry.

However, the main reason for the switch was the fact that I simply could not get Emacs support working. g-client took me some of the way, but it wasn’t nearly good enough in its current state.

Just one example: To create a new blog entry, I needed to specify a “post URL”. And to obtain that, I needed to invoke some method (forgot the name) which created a temporary webpage on my harddisk and launched Safari to show it to me! On that webpage, I could then see an overview of the blogs I had on Blogger (a list with 1 element), copy the link to the “post URL” of the blog and paste it back into Emacs.

Also, to save my new entry as a draft, I had to modify the template used for new entries to include some XML snippet that I had to look up in the Google API. And after saving or publishing an entry, the buffer was completely garbled for some reason.

OK, that was a few more examples 😉

I’m not sure if it was just me who completely misunderstood how to use this library, but it seemed extremely rough around the edges.

As I have described in another entry, blogging from Emacs works beautifully with WordPress. And Emacs is where I want to spend my time, also when blogging. I like it here, it’s comfy.

Actually, I was planning on doing a thorough comparison between Blogger and WordPress, but I have realized that this would be pointless, because hundreds of others have done just that. So just google for it if you’re considering which to choose.

If you’re a cat owner, you know that cats love to drink from the faucet!
Being a cat owner myself, I was pretty excited to learn about this Cat Faucet project by Sixerdoodle Electronics. I have often thought about building something similar myself, but I had never gotten around to it.

However, even though the design of the Sixerdoodle Cat Faucet is very elegant, I find it more complicated than necessary (mainly because they wanted to keep it low voltage, it turns out).

So I started wondering how to build the simplest possible cat faucet. This is what I came up with:


(Open above image, with notes, in a new window)

(Diva enjoying the running water)

The complete list of components:

  • a solenoid from an old dishwasher
  • a movement sensor (the kind usually used to light up a driveway)
  • a few bits of plumbing
  • a piece of gaffer tape to limit the area monitored by the sensor

(Solenoid from an old dishwasher)

(The movement sensor, pointed straight down)

That’s it. The flow of water is controlled simply by adjusting the position of the red valve that lets water into the system. The sensitivity and timeout of the sensor can be controlled with small knobs on the underside.

My wife put a little bowl underneath the faucet to allow the cats to drink from a surface of water as well as from the running water. Excess water simply spills down the drain below.

Contrary to the Sixerdoodle design, my cat faucet is not low voltage (it runs on 230V, our mains voltage in Denmark). However, because both components were designed to be safe and withstand pretty rough conditions, this does not worry me at all.

(The finished setup, tucked away under a small shelving unit)

(Obviously, it takes a little practice!)

Prelude

February 9, 2008

Hello, and welcome.

This blog will be mostly about Emacs. For now, anyway. I have a feeling that, along the way, I will probably start blogging about other subjects as well. But for now, I’m writing about Emacs.

Note that my blog will not be for the Emacs newbie. Although I certaintly recommend investing the time needed to learn the basics of this wonderful editor, there are already a lot of great resources out there to get you started. For an excellent starting point, check out the Emacs wiki.

I hope that others will be able to make use of my experiences on my way to becoming an expert Emacs user. Feel free to comment away!