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Re: For users not programmers with very little, maybe a smattering of ex

From: Mike Mattie
Subject: Re: For users not programmers with very little, maybe a smattering of experience, how do you setup gnus for reading email?...
Date: Sun, 17 Feb 2008 15:03:02 -0800

On Sun, 17 Feb 2008 08:04:53 -0500
Don Saklad <address@hidden> wrote:

> > So, did it help? 
>           Yup, it did.
>           Well, here, to get gnus going for email it's between
>           dealing with symptoms like dyslexia and ADD

I don't know much about dyslexia, but Emacs can be setup to reduce the impact 
ADD symptoms,
unfortunately it requires a little bit of Emacs sophistication.

1. Emacs

Emacs is a ADD happy place. Many of the Emacs developers and users place a 
extremely high
value on a interface that does not distract. It also rarely creates new frames 
which is a *huge* bonus. You can rely on the principle that any distracting 
Emacs feature
will have an off switch.

You can turn off most of the menus and fullscreen Emacs. The buffer management 
is nearly
ideal for ADD since the buffers are not visible in any way unless you go 
looking for them.

If you learn how to use the Emacs command interface (alt-x) it can be a benefit 
and a risk. You can
get things done in the editor by typing commands without alot of interface 
being presented at you.
Even more importantly the command interface does not linger or grow like cancer 
across your
screen as pop-up menus do.

The risk is that there is so many interesting functions, and so many ways to do 
something, that you can
get stuck in a recursive "better way" or "exploration" loop for a while. No 
cure for that, it's the
fun part of Emacs.

2. Desktop

The typical desktop designed around multi-tasking can be crippling. Every 
window and desktop
gizmo unrelated to your current task is lethal to your focus. A window manager 
that allows 
you to create workspaces you can switch between is a huge help.

I put coding in one, communications in another, and leave another workspace for 
misc programs 
that are allowed to clutter up the workspace with windows. The major programs 
that I use such 
as Emacs,Firefox, and a mail client are *always* full screened. I change my 
task focus by changing 
workspaces, and I cycle applications within a task group only when necessary.

A setup like this can give you a fighting chance to discipline yourself to stay 
on task. If you want to 
use Gnus and keep this task separation you can create a frame for gnus in a 
communications workspace, 
and a primary Emacs frame in your work workspace.

>           Complexity can be interesting, greater usability can take
>           into account nonprogrammer users having difficulties with
>           manual texts whether it's the writing of the text or
>           limitations of the users attempting to interpret the manual
>           texts.

If you have difficulty reading text you definitely are going to have a rough 
time. You might be able
to setup EmacsSpeak, which converts text to speech. You might be able to get it 
to read the manuals
to you. Anything as complex as a computer is going to have alot of RTFM 
involved so it would likely
be worth the investment to get it working well in at least one application.

On a more general note I would say the MS Windows interface ideas are a 
un-mitigated disaster for ADD. Everything
pops up a new window, everything blinks, flashes, and in general it looks like 
the circus is running your desktop.
The interface is multi-tasking centric which is lethal, and the apps are 
advertising/brand centric which means they will do
anything to steal and stay in your attention.

The Mac interface is very balanced, the dashboard is really helpful because it 
disappears. Unfortunately I haven't figured
out how to switch window managers yet. The mac interface is smarter but it's 
still hard to get rid of all the desktop
icons (lethal distraction), and diet the menus.

Linux is the best since you can create an ideal environment with some 
programming skills. It will likely require a
significant investment in time and effort to learn if you have not already. I 
think ubuntu is lowering the bar
considerably - it may be an option.

The web is the seventh ring of hell for ADD. Add-block plus is a minimum, and 
if you can tolerate noscript it
will get rid of almost all the visual blitzkrieg that assaults you when pages 
load. I am fortunate that the
most useful programming sights are still "old web".

Whatever you do, you are likely on your own as far as modern computers are 
concerned. A truly distraction free
environment is a advertising/branding free environment for the most part, and 
multi-tasking is out of the question.
The market forces won't be catering to you any time soon. Every once in a while 
for my own amusement I propose
interface changes that make software easily dismissed from the user's 
attention. If they actually think about
it instead of laughing outright it can be amusing to watch a MBA's brain 
malfunction for a while.

You will have to roll up your sleeves and cater to your own needs AFAICS. 
Luckily modern programs are getting alot 
easier to modify, and Emacs is the king of user modification.

Mike Mattie

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