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contrarian overview; simplicity.

From: Rick Engebretson
Subject: contrarian overview; simplicity.
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2004 09:25:49 -0500

Please consider this advice from an old contrarian (hypocrite).

I've exploited computer electronics for 30 years. I studied under Otto 
Schmitt, who invented digital electronics and modem speak (QAM). I pushed 
for the fiber optic "super-network" anatomy (I was a neuroBiophysicist). 
Throughout this time (also raising kids) everybody demanded more features 
on top of more features; computer music, 3D video games, live internet 

Currently, I'm trying to go backwards to simplicity and stable 
functionality. Ncurses is a rare software platform for this. For example, 
managing a large dairy plant requires managing many inter-dependent 
production processes. The old Unix terminal model is perfect for this, 
especially with ever smaller remote "embedded" terminals. A much larger 
application will be managing a redesigned, global energy distribution grid. 
Others have described retail systems on this mailing list. Personal pagers 
and automotive systems are other simple-is-better systems.

But essential documentation for this uniquely important software is hard to 
assemble. The rationale for "escape sequences" and "control codes" over a 
serial line interface remains important, but is being lost over time. For 
this, the "Text-Terminal-HOWTO," by David S. Lawyer is a great starting 
point. The manpages terminfo(5) and console_codes(4) are also great 
references. For those, like me, who can't read C code, the FreePascal.org 
people have some excellent ncurses support. Several excellent programming 
HOWTOs exist. But these are all very scattered resources.

As the maintainers (sustainers) of this core Unix software, your time might 
be well spent writing a book on this topic. Ncurses is far from obsolete.

Thanks again,
Rick Engebretson

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