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Re: How to get rid of *GNU Emacs* buffer on start-up?

From: Richard Riley
Subject: Re: How to get rid of *GNU Emacs* buffer on start-up?
Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2008 04:58:28 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.110011 (No Gnus v0.11) Emacs/22.2 (gnu/linux)

stan <address@hidden> writes:

> Richard Riley wrote:
>> stan <address@hidden> writes:
>>> Xah wrote:
>>>> Kevin Rodgers wrote:
>>>>> > «
>>>>> >     * There is no easy, intuitive way to create multiple scratch
>>>>> > buffers. (it is done by using the switch-to-buffer command (C-x b) and
>>>>> > give name that is not one of existing buffers.)
>>>>> We'll have to disagree: I think that is both easy and intuitive.
>>>> What seems to you intuitive is not intuitive to the general text
>>>> editing audience. The text editing audience is broad, including all IT
>>>> professionals, those in academics.
>>> You don't have authority to speak for the general text editing audience.
>>> You certainly never got my permission. 
>> Well, thats not really fair. Emacs is certainly not intuitive to the
>> general text editing audience since its pretty much a minority editor. I
>> dont know anyone who didnt have trouble adapting to Emacs personally
>> (including myself) - but its only after a while you realise the genius
>> behind a lot of the UI. Things you do not see or appreciate when you
>> first tackle it. 
> The point wasn't really about intuitiveness, that of course in the eye
> of the beholder. I certainly didn't wake up one day thinking in terms of
> emacs chords; I had to learn them. I don't really think emacs is worse
> than vim, wordstar, ed, edlin, or any of a dozen proprietary things I've
> been forced to endure. I expect to have some learning, and I don't
> expect it to match windows.
> My point was that generalizing about editor users is at best difficult
> and most often impossible. Arguments like "people are confused" are
> silly and not persuasive. Some are confused and others are happy as
> clams. 

Only if one thinks in B&W. I think it was fairly obvious that Xah was
not suggesting for one minute that 100% of people were confused.

> I also meant to take issue with the idea that many if not most people
> confuse the number of editor users with the number of word processor
> users. "Editor users" is a relatively small subset of people who
> write.

I'm not sure I noticed that issue but of course you are right.

> The difference between the users and needs is large and confusion
> doesn't help.

I'm not sure of the relevance. We are talking about the "generally
perceived" or noticed reaction to emacs by people who try it. My own
experience is that most people go "yuck" - until they dig further and
find what it can really do with a bit of work. Often it takes some hand
holding. I know I had to gird my loins once or twice and dive back in
when I had got frustrated with it.

>> Can the general text editing population adapt and use it? Of course. But
>> initial feedback is usually "what the hell!" :-)
> Again, this sounds like comparing emacs to word processors or windows
> programs. What do you imagine the initial response is for people
> foolish enough to open vi on a whim? For that matter Wordperfect
> wasn't

vi would be there too as something not particularly suited to new
"general" users. But we were discussing emacs.

> exactly a model of intuitiveness and it did really well and continues as
> a significant part of the legal world. I realize I just mixed word
> processors with editors but my point was about the need to learn any
> powerful tool.

I agree. But as an editor some of the defaults are quite a hurdle to new
users. There are not many seasoned users who would disagree with that I
would think. The task is to convince new users that the effort and
learning curve is worth it.

>> I mean, have you seen peoples faces when they read the manual and realise
>> they have to control/meta key sequences to move the cursor left and
>> right, up and down?
> Actually no, I don't know any young people who use emacs and most older
> folks were more interested in getting their hands dirty so to speak. 

So you are arguing from a point of view with little practical experience
of new users? 

>> Please dont take these comments as support for what Xah is saying but
>> there does tend to be a certain reluctance to make "common things" the
>> standard in emacs which might, just might, promote adoption.
> I understand. I do wonder where this idea that emacs needs to be
> competitive in the market comes from. I don't see that it really
> matters
> much to current users. People who use it will continue and developers

It does to me. The more people who use it the better it will be
maintained and the more utilities will be developed to a point of

> will continue to maintain. Why does the number of users matter? Like
> my

I like to advocate good OSS apps. Emacs is one such. I am surprised that
you are not interested in furthering its use. Yet at the same time you
have strong views on how it should or should not be tweaked to ease the
learning curve for new users.

> grandmother was fond of asking "If every one else sets themselves on
> fire are you going too follow them"? I don't really care if everyone
> move to editor X. Emacs works for me and I think it's a useful tool.
> Other who want to use it are free to choose. 

But it is rather naive to think that more users does not safeguard and
enhance an application especially one which so much relies on users
contributions and maintenance.

> I'd also add that much of this seems like a much ado about nothing.
> Anyone who wants to change emacs or even fork the code is free to do
> so.

Don't be silly. We are talking NEW users. New users do not pile in and
write elisp :-;

> This seems like an attempt to convince current programmers that there is
> a need to "fix" emacs or market share will shrink.  Even if that's true,
> why does it matter? It's not like some company will get tired of
> maintaining it and stop work.

You seem almost as if you would not care if emacs lost users. This
surprises me. I would like it to attract more and more. 

>> Things are getting better - e.g I think using the x clipboard finally
>> became the default in 22. Stuff like that.
> Clipboards are a good example of something that maintainers decided was a
> useful change. I haven't seen anything that convinces me there is a

It took a long time....

> burning need to rearrange the default keyboard. For those who do feel
> the need why not just distribute a .emacs file for dummies? The whole
> thing seems to miss the point that emacs is nothing if not
> configurable.

I dont think anyone is suggesting any thing other than that. 

Anyway, thats my tuppence worth. I do not offer a perfect solution only
the reflection that anything that can be done to make Emacs easier for
the new adopter which does not contribute it for the emacs power user
can only be a good thing.

Emacs is a wonderfully customisable work horse and well worth the effort
needed to familiarise oneself with it.

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