02 December 2010

Best text editor: Aquamacs

Programmers are very passionate about which text editor they use. There are many lists of the top 10 text editors available for Windows, OSX and Linux.

During my PhD, I had to become very familiar with coding and scripting. I need my text editor to be able to perform complex, multi-line regular expression searches. And as a student, preferably, the text editor would be available for free.

I discovered Notepad ++, which I fell in love with. It was very easy to use, and made me feel very comfortable. But, I soon discovered that Notepad ++ was not very good at multi-line regular expressions. This was a deal breaker. I started looking for a solution. Unable to find one, a colleague nudged me towards XEmacs. It took some getting used to (and configuring), but once it was set up, I could use it to get my work done (although I wouldn't say that I enjoyed using it).

When I started working as a Research Officer, I was handed a MacBook Pro and needed to find a suitable OSX editor. After some detective work, I came across Smultron, which I immediately liked nearly as much as Notepad ++.  I created a Praat syntax highlighting scheme for Smultron, but when I read that it was no longer being developed or supported, it made me think twice about relying on a no longer supported application. I decided to keep looking.

And then, it happened. I came across Aquamacs. Aquamacs takes everything you hate about Emacs and fixes it, making everything you love about Emacs multiply tenfold. You just download and install it and it just works, without losing any of the awesome power of Emacs. It is hands down the best text editor I have ever used, and reason enough to sell your Windows machine and purchase a MacBook. It is that good.

iPad keeps disconnecting from wireless network

I bought an iPad a couple of months ago before traveling all over the US. I must say that I love it. It is so light and convenient and the battery lasts for ever. I had read that some iPad owners were experiencing wireless network dropouts continuously. Having stayed in a number of hotels on my trip, as well as friends' homes, and even having visited several Starbucks, I hadn't experienced any major issues, so I didn't worry about it.

Upon my return to Australia, I configured the iPad to work with my home wireless network and I started noticing the wireless dropout issues that I had read about. This became very annoying very quickly. So, I started scouring the internet for a solution. As I trawled through forum after forum, I came across many different stories and problems, and quite a bit hate. Posts such as, "I can't believe that Apple put out such a piece of crap...", but having used the iPad for over a month on the road with virtually no issues at all, I refused to believe that the fault lied with the hardware - it had to be something to do with the network.

After many hours searching, I finally arrived at a solution. I have tried and tested it and it works. The reason why some people have been experiencing connection problems with their iPads while others have not is because of different wireless network setups. Specifically, the problem lies in the type of wireless security. My network was set up to use WEP security. It was under this setting that I experienced the dropouts. By simply changing the security setting to WPA2, my iPad dropout issues have been resolved. It really is that simple.