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Easily converting ris-citations to bibtex with emacs and bibutils

The problem

Nature only gives me ris-formatted citations, but I use bibtex.

Also ris is far from human readable.

The background

ris can be reformatted to bibtext, but doing that manually disturbs my workflow when getting references while taking note about a paper in emacs.

I tend to search online for references, often just using google scholar, so when I find a ris reference, the first data I get for the ris-citation is a link.

The solution


Cross platform, Free Software, almost all features you can think of, graphical and in the shell: Learn once, use for everything.

» Get Emacs «

Emacs is a self-documenting, extensible editor, a development environment and a platform for lisp-programs - for example programs to make programming easier, but also for todo-lists on steroids, reading email, posting to, and a host of other stuff (learn lisp).

It is one of the origins of GNU and free software (Emacs History).

In Markdown-mode it looks like this:

Emacs mit Markdown mode

A complete Mercurial branching strategy

New version:

This is a complete collaboration model for Mercurial. It shows you all the actions you may need to take, except for the basics already found in other tutorials like

Adaptions optimize the model for special needs like maintaining multiple releases1, grafting micro-releases and an explicit code review stage.

Summary: 3 simple rules

Any model to be used by people should consist of simple, consistent rules. Programming is complex enough without having to worry about elaborate branching directives. Therefore this model boils down to 3 simple rules:

3 simple rules:

(1) you do all the work on default2 - except for hotfixes.

(2) on stable you only do hotfixes, merges for release3 and tagging for release. Only maintainers4 touch stable.

(3) you can use arbitrary feature-branches5, as long as you don’t call them default or stable. They always start at default (since you do all the work on default).


To visualize the structure, here’s a 3-tiered diagram. To the left are the actions of programmers (commits and feature branches) and in the center the tasks for maintainers (release and hotfix). The users to the right just use the stable branch.6

Overview Diagram
An overview of the branching strategy. Click the image to get the emacs org-mode ditaa-source.

Table of Contents

Practial Actions

Now we can look at all the actions you will ever need to do in this model:7

  • Regular development

    • commit changes: (edit); hg ci -m "message"

    • continue development after a release: hg update; (edit); hg ci -m "message"

  • Feature Branches

    • start a larger feature: hg branch feature-x; (edit); hg ci -m "message"

    • continue with the feature: hg update feature-x; (edit); hg ci -m "message"

    • merge the feature: hg update default; hg merge feature-x; hg ci -m "merged feature x into default"

    • close and merge the feature when you are done: hg update feature-x; hg ci --close-branch -m "finished feature x"; hg update default; hg merge feature-x; hg ci -m "merged finished feature x into default"

  • Tasks for Maintainers

    • Initialize (only needed once)

      • create the repo: hg init reponame; cd reponame

      • first commit: (edit); hg ci -m "message"

      • create the stable branch and do the first release: hg branch stable; hg tag tagname; hg up default; hg merge stable; hg ci -m "merge stable into default: ready for more development"

    • apply a hotfix8: hg up stable; (edit); hg ci -m "message"; hg up default; hg merge stable; hg ci -m "merge stable into default: ready for more development"

    • do a release9: hg up stable; hg merge default; hg ci -m "(description of the main changes since the last release)" ; hg tag tagname; hg up default ; hg merge stable ; hg ci -m "merged stable into default: ready for more development"

That’s it. All that follows are a detailed example which goes through all actions one-by-one, adaptions to this workflow and the final summary.

  1. if you need to maintain multiple very different releases simultanously, see or 10 for adaptions 

  2. default is the default branch. That’s the named branch you use when you don’t explicitely set a branch. Its alias is the empty string, so if no branch is shown in the log (hg log), you’re on the default branch. Thanks to John for asking! 

  3. If you want to release the changes from default in smaller chunks, you can also graft specific changes into a release preparation branch and merge that instead of directly merging default into stable. This can be useful to get real-life testing of the distinct parts. For details see the extension Graft changes into micro-releases

  4. Maintainers are those who do releases, while they do a release. At any other time, they follow the same patterns as everyone else. If the release tasks seem a bit long, keep in mind that you only need them when you do the release. Their goal is to make regular development as easy as possible, so you can tell your non-releasing colleagues “just work on default and everything will be fine”. 

  5. This model does not use bookmarks, because they don’t offer benefits which outweight the cost of introducing another concept: If you use bookmarks for differenciating lines of development, you have to define the canonical revision to clone by setting the @ bookmark. For local work and small features, bookmarks can be used quite well, though, and since this model does not define their use, it also does not limit it.
    Additionally bookmarks could be useful for feature branches, if you use many of them (in that case reusing names is a real danger and not just a rare annoyance) or if you use release branches:
    “What are people working on right now?” → hg bookmarks
    “Which lines of development do we have in the project?” → hg branches 

  6. Those users who want external verification can restrict themselves to the tagged releases - potentially GPG signed by trusted 3rd-party reviewers. GPG signatures are treated like hotfixes: reviewers sign on stable (via hg sign without options) and merge into default. Signing directly on stable reduces the possibility of signing the wrong revision. 

  7. hg pull and hg push to transfer changes and hg merge when you have multiple heads on one branch are implied in the actions: you can use any kind of repository structure and synchronization scheme. The practical actions only assume that you synchronize your repositories with the other contributors at some point. 

  8. Here a hotfix is defined as a fix which must be applied quickly out-of-order, for example to fix a security hole. It prompts a bugfix-release which only contains already stable and tested changes plus the hotfix. 

  9. If your project needs a certain release preparation phase (like translations), then you can simply assign a task branch. Instead of merging to stable, you merge to the task branch, and once the task is done, you merge the task branch to stable. An Example: Assume that you need to update translations before you release anything. (next part: init: you only need this once) When you want to do the first release which needs to be translated, you update to the revision from which you want to make the release and create the “translation” branch: hg update default; hg branch translation; hg commit -m "prepared the translation branch". All translators now update to the translation branch and do the translations. Then you merge it into stable: hg update stable; hg merge translation; hg ci -m "merged translated source for release". After the release you merge stable back into default as usual. (regular releases) If you want to start translating the next time, you just merge the revision to release into the translation branch: hg update translation; hg merge default; hg commit -m "prepared translation branch". Afterwards you merge “translation” into stable and proceed as usual. 

  10. If you want to adapt the model to multiple very distinct releases, simply add multiple release-branches (i.e. release-x). Then hg graft the changes you want to use from default or stable into the releases and merge the releases into stable to ensure that the relationship of their changes to current changes is clear, recorded and will be applied automatically by Mercurial in future merges11. If you use multiple tagged releases, you need to merge the releases into each other in order - starting from the oldest and finishing by merging the most recent one into stable - to record the same information as with release branches. Additionally it is considered impolite to other developers to keep multiple heads in one branch, because with multiple heads other developers do not know the canonical tip of the branch which they should use to make their changes - or in case of stable, which head they should merge to for preparing the next release. That’s why you are likely better off creating a branch per release, if you want to maintain many very different releases for a long time. If you only use tags on stable for releases, you need one merge per maintained release to create a bugfix version of one old release. By adding release branches, you reduce that overhead to one single merge to stable per affected release by stating clearly, that changes to old versions should never affect new versions, except if those changes are explicitely merged into the new versions. If the bugfix affects all releases, release branches require two times as many actions as tagged releases, though: You need to graft the bugfix into every release and merge the release into stable.12 

  11. If for example you want to ignore that change to an old release for new releases, you simply merge the old release into stable and use hg revert --all -r stable before committing the merge. 

  12. A rule of thumb for deciding between tagged releases and release branches is: If you only have a few releases you maintain at the same time, use tagged releases. If you expect that most bugfixes will apply to all releases, starting with some old release, just use tagged releases. If bugfixes will only apply to one release and the current development, use tagged releases and merge hotfixes only to stable. If most bugfixes will only apply to one release and not to the current development, use release branches. 

Creating nice logs with revsets in Mercurial

In the mercurial list Stanimir Stamenkov asked how to get rid of intermediate merges in the log to simplify reading the history (and to not care about missing some of the details).

Update: Since Mercurial 2.4 you can simply use
hg log -Gr "branchpoint()"

I did some tests for that and I think the nicest representation I found is this:

hg log -Gr "(all() - merge()) or head()"

This article shows examples for this.

What can Freenet do well already?

From the #freenet IRC channel at

toad_1: what can freenet do well already?

  • sharing and retrieving files asynchronously, freemail, IRC2, publishing sites without need of a central server, sharing code repositories

  1. toad alias Matthew Toseland is the main developer of freenet. He tends to see more of the remaining challenges and fewer of the achievements than me - which is a pretty good trait for someone who builds a system to which we might have to entrust our basic right of free speech if the world goes on like this. From a PR perspective it is a pretty horrible trait, though, because he tends to forget to tell people what freenet can already do well :) 

  2. To setup the social networking features of Freenet, have a look at the social networking guide 

Bradley Manning hat das richtige versucht

Bradley Manning hat illegale Vorgänge in der Armee gemeldet, wie es die Pflicht jedes Staatsbürgers ist (und wenn nicht die rechtliche, dann die moralische - wenn wir unseren Rechtstaat bewahren wollen).

Stichhaltige Beweise… der BGH und die offensichtliche Rechtsverletzung

» ein Programm so anpassen, dass es massenhaft Ausgaben mit zufälligen IPs zu erzeugt, die erfundene Musikstücke anbieten «

Recipes for presentations with beamer latex using emacs org-mode

I wrote some recipes for creating the kinds of slides I need with emacs org-mode export to beamer latex.

Update: Read ox-beamer to see how to adapt this to work with the new export engine in org-mode 0.8.

PDF recipes The recipes as PDF (21 slides, 247 KiB)

org-mode file The org-mode sources (12.2 KiB)

Below is an html export of the org-mode file. Naturally it does not look as impressive as the real slides, but it captures all the sources, so I think it has some value.

Note: To be able to use the simple block-creation commands, you need to add #+startup: beamer to the header of your file or explicitely activate org-beamer with M-x org-beamer-mode.

«I love your presentation»:

PS: I hereby allow use of these slides under any of the licenses used by worg and/or the emacs wiki.

Der Flattr-Knopf ist freie Software!

Der Flattr-Knopf ist freie Software! Wie es dazu kam:

Vor 2 Monaten habe ich in der Flattr-Gruppe gesagt, dass es für mich ein Problem ist, dass die Flattr-Knöpfe keine freie Software sind, und gefragt, ob jemand eine freie Alternative kennt.

Der Kohlenstoffkreislauf | The carbon cycle (slides)

I did a 10 minute talk about the basics of the carbon cycle. Since I think that it worked out quite well, I’m publishing the slides here under the GPL (=licensed free and copyleft).

Ich habe einen 10 Minuten Vortrag zu den grundlegenden Mechanismen des Kohlenstoff­kreislaufs gehalten. Da er meiner Meinung nach gut geworden ist, veröffentliche ich ihn hier unter der GPL (=frei und copyleft lizensiert).

Carbon Cycle, a short overview
The carbon cycle, a short overview (pdf)

Dieser Text ist mir was wert:

If you want to use it, you can directly work on my source files:

Falls ihr ihn nutzen wollt, könnt ihr direkt meine Quelldateien verwenden:

Remember: GPL means: name previous authors, publish your source files and put what you create with it under the GPL, too.

Denk daran: GPL heißt: Nennt die Vorautoren, veröffentlicht eure Quellen und stellt damit erstelltes auch unter die GPL.

  1. Die Bilder stammen aus Battle for Wesnoth 

Eure Rhetorik schadet den meisten Künstlern - und der Gesellschaft - offener Brief an ver.di Publik

→ Zu Filme im Kino - und im Netz in ver.di-Publik.

Sehr geehrte Publik-Autoren,

Ich habe schon vor einem Jahr mit Schrecken zur Kenntnis nehmen müssen, dass ver.di den Verwertern das Lied singt und erzählt, dass die Mehrheit der Leute in Deutschland dafür kriminalisiert werden soll, das sie offen das weitergeben, was sie lieben - und dafür nebenbei eine vollständige Überwachung jedes einzelnen hier geschaffen wird.

Open Letter to Julia Hilden on her article about pay-per-use

I just read your article on per use payments.

I think there are two serious flaws in per use payments:

(a) Good works of art need to last

As you stated correctly, I define myself partly through the media I "consume".

This does mean, that I want to have the assurance, that I can watch a great movie again a few years in the future.

Imagine this scenario:

  • I found a really great book, read it and got entranced.
  • It's 20 years later, now. and I want to read the book to my children.

Background of Freenet Routing and the probes project (GSoC 2012)

The probes project is a google summer of code project of Steve Dougherty intended to optimize the network structure of freenet. Here I will give the background of his project very briefly:

The Small World Structure

Minimal example for literate programming with noweb in emacs org-mode

If you want to use the literate programming features in emacs org-mode, you can try this minimal example to get started: Activate org-babel-tangle, then put this into the file

Minimal example for noweb in org-mode

* Assign 

First we assign abc:

#+begin_src python :noweb-ref assign_abc
abc = "abc"

* Use

Then we use it in a function:

#+begin_src python :noweb tangle :tangle
def x():
  return abc


The ease of losing the spirit of your project by giving in to short-term convenience

Yesterday I said to my father

» Why does your whole cooperative have to meet for some minor legalese update which does not have an actual effect? Could you not just put into your statutes, that the elected leaders can take decisions which don’t affect the spirit of the statutes? «

He answered me

» That’s how dictatorships are started.«

With an Ermächtigungsbescheid.

I gulped a few times while I realized how easy it is to fall into the pitfalls of convenience - and lose the project in the process.

Install and setup infocalypse on GNU/Linux (script)

Update (2015-11-27): The script works again with newer Freenet versions.

Install and setup infocalypse on GNU/Linux:

Just download and run1 it via

bash setup_infocalypse*

This script needs a running freenet node to work! → Install Freenet

In-Freenet-link: CHK@rtJd8ThxJ~usEFOaWAvwXbHuPC6L1zOFWtKxlhUPfR8,21XedKU8YbKPGsYWu9szjY7hChX852zmFAYuvyihOd0,AAMC--8/

The script allows you to get and setup the infocalypse extension with a few keystrokes to be able to instantly use the Mercurial DVCS for decentral, anonymous code-sharing over freenet.

« Real Life Infocalypse »
DVCS in the Darknet. The decentralized p2p code repository (using Infocalypse)

  1. On systems based on Debian or Gentoo - including Ubuntu and many others - this script will install all needed software except for freenet itself. You will have to give your sudo password in the process. Since the script is just a text file with a set of commands, you can simply read it to make sure that it won’t do anything evil with those sudo rights

Custom link completion for org-mode in 25 lines (emacs)

Update (2013-01-23): The new org-mode removed (org-make-link), so I replaced it with (concat) and uploaded a new example-file: org-custom-link-completion.el.
Happy Hacking!

1 Intro

I recently set up custom completion for two of my custom link types in Emacs org-mode. When I wrote on about that, Greg Tucker-Kellog said that he’d like to see that. So I decided, I’d publish my code.

Reducing the Python startup time

The python startup time always nagged me (17-30ms) and I just searched again for a way to reduce it, when I found this:

The Python-Launcher caches GTK imports and forks new processes to reduce the startup time of python GUI programs.

Python-launcher does not solve my problem directly, but it points into an interesting direction: If you create a small daemon which you can contact via the shell to fork a new instance, you might be able to get rid of your startup time.

To get an example of the possibilities, downl

The generation of cultural freedom

New version of this article:

I am part of a generation that experienced true cultural freedom—and experienced this freedom being destroyed.

We had access to the largest public library which ever existed and saw it burned down for lust for control.

I saw the Napster burn, I saw Gnutella burn, I saw edonkey burn, I saw Torrentsites burn, I saw one-click-hosters burn and now I see Youtube burn with blocked and deleted videos - even those from the artists themselves.

Bildung darf keine Vorbedingung für demokratische Mitbestimmung sein, sonst ist es keine Demokratie

Kommentar zu Piratendemokratie von Jörg Rupp.

Für mich zeigt das erstmal nicht, dass „die Piraten“ eine inkonsequente Sicht zur Demokratie haben, sondern dass dieser Pirat äußerst elitär denkt - und Demokratie nicht verstanden hat.

Demokratie ist ja gerade die Herrschaft des Volkes. Dr. Joachim Paul will aber die Herrschaft der Intellektuellen.

Das Internet durchbricht die strukturelle Informationshoheit

Kommentar zum Text Der Bluff der Internetversteher in der Taz.

Im ganzen Artikel klingt hier mit, dass das Internet nichts wesentliches ändert. Aus der Sicht einiger Weniger ist das auch wahr: Für einen bestimmten Personenkreis ändert das Internet nämlich (fast) nichts: Für diejenigen, die vorher bereits die Zeit und das Geld hatten, ihre Meinung mit anderen zu teilen.

El Kanban Org: parse org-mode todo-states to use org-tables as Kanban tables

Kanban for emacs org-mode.

Update (2020): Kanban moved to sourcehut:

Update (2013-04-13): Kanban.el now lives in its own repository: on bitbucket and on a statically served http-repo (to be independent from unfree software).

Update (2013-04-10): Thanks to Han Duply, kanban links now work for entries from other files. And I uploaded kanban.el on marmalade.

Some time ago I learned about kanban, and the obvious next step was: “I want to have a kanban board from org-mode”. I searched for it, but did not find any. Not wanting to give up on the idea, I implemented my own :)

The result are two functions: kanban-todo and kanban-zero.

“Screenshot” :)

Refactor in such a way that the
let Presentation manage dumb sprites
return all actions on every command:
Make the UiState adhere the list of
Turn the model into a pure state

Paper zu Org-Mode für „reproducible research“

Ich bin gerade auf das Paper hier gestoßen:

A Multi-Language Computing Environment for Literate Programming and Reproducible Research” (PDF)

Es beschreibt schön, was mit emacs org-mode möglich ist. Dazu gehören so spannende Punkte wie im Dokument mitgelieferter Quellcode, dessen Ergebnisse automatisch eingebunden werden, so dass die Dokumente aktuell bleiben können.

Kinderschutzvereine: Lasst euch nicht von Innocence in Danger vereinnahmen

Kommentar zu Missbrauchsinitiativen gegen Grüne-Politiker, in dem Jörg Rupp aufs Übelste diffamiert wurde, weil er im Rahmen geforderter Internetzensur von „der alten Kinderpornoleier“ gesprochen hat.

Zitat in der Taz, durch Christian Füller:

«Realer Missbrauch habe meistens irgendwann ein Ende, sagte Enders, „die kinderpornografischen Bilder aber lassen die Kinder nicht mehr los“»

Übersetzung: Der Missbrauch lässt die Kinder wieder los, die Bilder aber nicht… Na wenn das ein Experte sagt, kann der Missbrauch ja nicht so schlimm sein…

- bissigster Sarkasmus Ende -

Nein, Missbrauch lässt Kinder nicht wieder los! Im Gegensatz zu Bildern verletzt echter Missbrauch das gesamte Leben, von dem Moment des Missbrauches bis zum Tod.

Und Leute, die solche Sprüche bringen, erdreisten sich, über die Wortwahl von anderen meckern.

Wenn eine andere Gruppe von Gefahren des Netzes für Kinder gesprochen hätte, wäre das vielleicht interessant. Aber, um es einfach und offen zu sagen:

Innocence in Danger ist verbrannt.

(strikethrough start end): Durchstreichen in plain text mit Unicode

Ich habe letztens entdeckt, dass es einen Unicode-Modifier zum Durchstreichen gibt. Was lag also näher als eine Funktion zu schreiben, mit der ich in Plain-Text Worte durchstreichen kann?

Zum Glück macht emacs das einfach: Packt das folgende in eure .emacs, dann könnt ihr mit M-x strikethrough den aktuell markierten Text durchstreichen:

(defun strikethrough (start end)
  (interactive "r") 
  (goto-char (min start end))
  (while (< (point) (+ (max start end) (abs (- start end))))
    (insert "̶")))

Kinder mit OLPC sind fast ein halbes Jahr weiter in ihrer kognitiven Entwicklung

Kommentar zu Keine guten Noten für Schulcomputer aus der taz.

Die Studie zum Erfolg des OLPC bescheinigt, dass Kinder mit OLPC intelligenter und sprachgewandter sind als Kinder ohne OLPC. Sie sind ihren Altersgenossen fast ein halbes Jahr vorraus. Und das nach 15 Monaten. Das heißt sie haben sich in 15 Monaten so weit entwickelt wie andere in 20 Monaten!

Das Netz ist ein Lebensraum

Leserbrief zum Artikel Piraten auf dem tazlab 2012 in der taz.

Ich denke, ein ganz wichtiger Punkt, der für die Piraten spricht, ist dass sie als einzige wirklich gemeinsam hinter Computer und Internet als Lebensraum stehen (interessante Lektüre dazu: Wir, die Netz-Kinder (kopie)).

Außerdem sind sie die einzigen, die offen sagen, dass es in Ordnung ist, was heute die meisten Jugendlichen (und auch die meisten älteren) machen: Medien nutzen und nur für die Guten zahlen.1

  1. Nein, das ist nicht alles, was die Piraten ausmacht. Aber es ist ein klares Alleinstellungsmerkmal. Es ist nicht nur eine weitergedachte Grüne Idee (wie Liquid Democracy), sondern eine wirklich aus der Lebenswelt der Menschen kommende Sichtweise. 

Read your python module documentation from emacs

Update 2021: Fixed links that died with Bitbuckets hosting.

I just found the excellent pydoc-info mode for emacs from Jon Waltman. It allows me to hit C-h S in a python file and enter a module name to see the documentation right away.


Dies ist meine sechste Deutung.

Ich bin jetzt Familienvater und durch die Vierfachbelastung Familie, Hobby, Doktorarbeit und 3 Stunden Fahrtweg jeden Tag heftig ausgelastet.

Die Deutung ist auch auf permanent gespeichert.

Inhalt abgleichen
Willkommen im Weltenwald!

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