Monthly Archives: October 2019

Emacs and org-mode for sending mailshots

I use Emacs for reading and sending email, so I’ve been using emacs-lisp to send mailshots for years (but in a rather clunky way).

The big shortcoming is that it is not hugely convenient getting the data (e.g., student names, email addresses, marks, comments) into emacs-lisp data structures, or conveniently writing the emails.

org-mode makes it all easier.

I present an example here: how to send mails giving feedback on performance in a test.

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Webscraping Wikipedia: update

Sunday’s procrastination showed how to webscrape Wikipedia using Emacs.

I’ll quickly present a tidier version here, with Emacs code that scrapes a single page, outputting for each edit in the history the page topic, the user and the time-stamp. Then I’ll show a little bash script that calls the elisp many times.

Unlike the previous version, it just does one random Wikipedia URL at a time, and outputs topic, user and timestamp, not just topic and time-stamp. It uses much of the same code:
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Webscraping Wikipedia with Emacs

Idle hands

For the want of something better to do (okay, because procrastination), a pass at webscraping Wikipedia. For fun. I’m going to use it’s “Random Page” to sample pages, and then extract the edit history (looking at how often edited, and when). Let’s say we’re interested in getting an idea of the distribution of interest in editing pages.

See update: tidier code.

I’m going to use Emacs lisp for the web scraping.

OK, Wikipedia links to a random page from the Random Page link in the lefthand menu. This is a URL:

How random is this page? See

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