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Re: [OFF TOPIC] Re: Question on Linux Distros

ManishA (M) writes:

    M> "Hi, Your mail was really interesting. One thing that particularly caught my attention was that you work with a lot of software--- Do you do that with emacspeak?

Gary replies:

Thank you for your endorsement.

I should explain that I am not blind. My best friend is blind, but 
completely non-technical. I am creating this desktop for him.

That said, I am doing blindfold tests and find I can do just about
anything I want within emacs.  I have been using PCs since 1981 and
with all that experience, I still find that I spend 90 percent of my
day within one window: Emacs.  I do use the Netscape browser, but this
is the only visually-oriented application that I really must use,
and emacs w3 mode is probably enough for most of the pages I visit.

Within Emacs, I do

  - all my technical writing (using LaTeX or DocBook)

  - my complete programming environment in Java, C, C++, HTML and perl

  - all my correspondence for print, fax, email and Usenet

  - Emacs RA (remembrance agent) keeps track of my files

  - calendar-mode and the diary keeps track of my appointments

ManishA (M) adds:

    M> But emacspeak talks only within emacs --- What do you use for
    M> the rest of the stuff.

Gary replies:

I don't, and I don't have a good solution.  SpeakUp requires changes
to the kernel and only works with serial-port voice synths, which are
out of the price range of my friend.  We are stuck with ViaVoice so
we can only use things that are compatible with a software synth.

For a desktop, I found KDE had too many places where it could be
distracted from Emacs and would leave him stranded.  I've settled for
FVWM2 with a menu that is stripped down to include only the relevant
applications.  This should allow him to Alt-TAB to get from one app to
another should an inadvertent keystroke leave him stranded, and it will
let us run the RealPlayer, the only app we really need under X.

ManishA (M) boldly adds:

    M> Then how does one go around using Linux as a normal operating system and not just as an enhanced word-processor, as in emacs?

Gary replies (loudly):

Enhanced word-processor!!!!!! Infidel! Heathen! Blasphemy of Blasphemies!

ahem.  Excuse me.  Emacs is not a "word processor", Emacs is a way of
life.  I know of no word processor which offers free psychotherapy.

Seriously, Emacs is what we once called "a lisp machine".  What you see
on the screen is merely the console into a full Common-Lisp engine
which has been extended by the Internet community with 1048 different
packages (and more are available on Emacs Lisp archive sites).

Because it is a Lisp Machine interface, Emacs can do things other
applications can only dream of doing.  For example, GNUS will
automatically rate the potential importance of emails and tracks your
reading habits to refine the ratings.  GNUS can also split your email
by arbitrarily complex rules; I receive over 300 emails per day and
could not cope with this volume without GNUS.

I highly recommend subscribing to gnu.emacs.sources as an excellent
resource where community members post the most amazing extensions to
our favourite computing interface.

As for the GUI, it remains problematic; I have set Paul's machine to
use an X login screen, but I have no way to alert him that the machine
is ready (is there any way to have getty or xdm run an arbitrary
binary before the login prompt?). Instead, I tell him to wait until
the machine is quiet, and then just try to login.  After a while, he
will get accustomed to the pattern of silence and disk-noise.

Once he is logged in, FVWM will launch emacspeak under X so that will
be the initial application; FVWM is set to click to focus, so there is
no way he can accidentally slip off of the current program (I hope).

I am still learning.

Manish (M) expresses a common dream:

    M> These are questions I have been desparately trying to find answers to --in vain!  I am basically a Windows user who has been trying to switch over to UNIX for a rather long time now and am on the verge of giving up.

Gary replies:

The hotter the battle, the sweeter the victory. The view from the high
mountain is worth the climb.  Firewood does not become ashes: Now
firewood, now ashes.  Do or do not, there is no 'try'.

I hope this helps (grin).

(as a foot note to those of you 'listening' to this, is there a
smoother way to handle in-line citation of email messages?  I am
trying to imagine this as a screenplay, but I wonder if there is any
standard markup that would place any in-line material into a different

Gary Lawrence Murphy <garym@canada.com>  TeleDynamics Communications Inc
Business Innovations Through Open Source Systems: http://www.teledyn.com
Linux/GNU Education Group: http://www.egroups.com/group/linux-education/
"Computers are useless.  They can only give you answers."(Pablo Picasso)

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