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



ManishA (M) writes:

    M> I am not and cannot deny the fact that emacs is extremely
    M> powerful and provides all the wonderful features that you
    M> talked about.  But think from a blind man's perspective who is
    M> trying not just to use a computer effectively but also to get
    M> himself integrated with the rest of the world both in his
    M> personal and professional life.

Gary replies:

Well, thank heaven you didn't get up in arms over my calling you an
infidel. (grin) What you write is, however, something not limited to
blind users: For years I have had exactly this problem of needing to
integrate with businesses who would rather pay a tithe to feed fat
convicted felons than be productive.  In this respect, you are 
very lucky because your particular shop is X based.

Manish explains:

    M> I work ... in a software firm (where)
     everybody ... uses x-windows and frame maker ...  In this
     situation, how do you suppose that all the other 130 of my
     colleagues will give up the luxury of the GUI-based environment
     and change their main platform of working just in order to
     accomodate me. That too in an industry that is experiencing
     extremely high rates of employee turnover and they can never be
     sure when I might switch to another company or whatever!

Gary responds:

Do you suppose if they did, you may be happier about staying?
Seriously, though, this is the same problem as those who need to
interoperate with Microsoft Office.  Emacspeak is not really a
solution for this situation.  If nothing has changed since 1988,
Framemaker may actually be possible for you since Framemaker was
(maybe still is) LaTeX under the hood.  The newer Framemake uses
XML and thus would be accessible using Emacspeak with PSGML mode.

But for spreadsheets, database programs and other specific gui
applications, emacspeak is not the solution: You can still use Linux,
but from what I understand the primary "screen reader" (or "screen
guesser") is SpeakUp and it is not yet ready for prime time.  They do,
of course, welcome your participation.

Manish summarizes:

    M> I do not mean to take away any credit from the great work that
     you people are doing but just want to complement it with a
     blind person's perspective who wants and needs your support to
     make this world more normal and livable than it currently is.

Gary responds:

Granted, Emacspeak is a different solution to a different problem.  It
is primarily designed for people working with Emacs, and Emacs was
designed for people working in ASCII text.  If your problem can be
reduced to transformations of ASCII text streams, then you can use
Emacspeak.  

Your job, apparently, is not about either programming or technical
writing. It is about fitting in to an inflexible operations process
and pretending to be visual.  This is not to say that is bad or good,
it is just the way it is in some backwards thinking shops --- but this
is a technical issue of process management and architectural design,
and not an issue for Emacspeak.

This probably leaves you with only a few options:

1) Devote resources to develop SpeakUp to a point where it fits your
   needs; this is, after all, how free software like Emacspeak and Linux
   are developed: People who need it build what they need.

2) Develop an e-lisp package to manipulate Framemaker data files.  I
   am certain Framemaker would be interested in helping you, and
   again, your work for your own need would benefit the entire
   community by adding yet another thing to the emacspeak repetoire.
   Consider how difficult it would be to take your average Windows
   screen reader and add a totally new problem domain ;)

3) Change jobs. Find someone who values people and innovation over
   software licenses and proprietary data formats. (grin) In my
   experience, and speaking as an industrial engineer, any production
   process bound to single vendor solutions is begging for
   obsolescence.   Only open interfaces survive.

   As a vote of encouragement, I write for Macmillan Computer
   Publishing, the world's largest trade publisher.  On my first
   contract, I was required to write using MsWord "to fit their
   publishing process", ie, the same situation as what you have
   here. I did it, and it was painful.  For the next contract, I
   politely refused.  I would use DocBook.  I explained what DocBook
   was, how it worked, I explained the future of publishing under XML,
   educated their process people on DSSSL and a host of other clumsy
   acronyms.  Eventually, and after several white-papers, they agreed:
   DocBook is the future of technical publishing and MsWord costs more
   in fidgitting over fonts (that will be stripped during production)
   than it is worth.  MCP is not stupid, they know they must
   understand this technology or die. My next book will be their pilot
   project, written 100 percent in DocBook.

   Ok, changing jobs or changing your job's processes are probably not
   options for you, but it may be better than ...

4) Switch to Windows and prepare to be first frustrated, and later
   unemployed with obsolete skills (grin)

-- 
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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