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Re: Info sucks?

On 17 Sep, dsb3 wrote:
> To be honest I've forgotten how this whole thread started, but lets not
> forget that a text editor should be suited to the task at hand.  To take
> the discussion a stage further, linux is far from perfect.  Yet what
> matters is that it does (for me) everything that's critical, most of
> what's desirable and until I either write stuff or wait for other people
> to write stuff that suits me just fine.  
Consumer Reports recently reviewed sports cars.  I know, I know, CR on
sports cars should be good for a laugh.  I wouldn't ask them for advice
on a sports car.  But they did make a good comment on the Porsche
Boxster:  The Porsche is the hardest to drive and ultimately the
easiest to drive as well.  That is, it requires much more effort to
learn to drive it (I think they were complaining about a lack of
low-end torque and the difficulty in making a smooth start with a
moderately cranky clutch), but in the long run, the superb handling
makes high speed driving very easy.  I've never had the good luck to
drive a Porsche, but some of my friends have, and they comment that it
is a *weird* car, but it's very easy to drive fast in.

There is a distinction here between easy-to-learn and easy-to-use,
which is not often made by people who like to spout off about
easy-to-use, and as a result most people (including me) don't think
about it very much.  I think we need to think about that distinction
right now.

I think what we have here (on Linux UIs) is something very similar. 
emacs / vi (No way am I getting into that particular flame-fest - you
choose your favorite) is good for driving fast in.  I'm just learning
the joys of emacs + AucTeX + speedbar + LaTeX + xdvi + ... as a
mathematical writing environment.  You may wish to disagree with me. 
Fine.  I think we should be clear, though, about the difference between
debating Porsche vs. Ferrari and debating Porsche vs. Ford Taurus. 
emacs vs. vi (or your favorite powerhouse editor) is Porsche vs.
Ferrari.  emacs vs. kedit / gnome notepad / Windows Write / Word /
whathaveyou is Porsche vs. Taurus.  For a newbie learning how to drive,
it's the Taurus, all the way.  For going racing, though, I'm taking the
Porsche[1], and I contend that the Porsche is "easier to use" in a race
than a Taurus is.  Similarly, I contend that for writing my thesis,
emacs + my addons is "easier to use" than M$ Word and a host of other
fancier looking editors, with all kinds of wonderful menus and dialog
boxes and whatnots.

For "easy to learn", well, that's what Gnome and KDE are all about.
OTOH, http://www.techtales.com/techroom.html proves that driver
education classes ought to be mandatory.

[1] - (wishful thinking, anyway.  IRL I drive a Toyota Tercel.)

Hoping my metaphor didn't get too strained through all that,
Stephen Ryan                   Debian GNU/Linux
Mathematics graduate student, Dartmouth College

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