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RE: [h-e-w] Newbie - initial config

From: Drew Adams
Subject: RE: [h-e-w] Newbie - initial config
Date: Mon, 9 Mar 2009 00:19:39 -0700

> I'm about to become an Emacs user, so sorry for non-emacs 
> terminology, I just have to get used to it.

Welcome to Emacs, Tomas!

Yeah, the jargon takes some getting used to. Both the Emacs manual and Emacs
Wiki offer some jargon-equivalence mappings, which might help.
Emacs Wiki is here: The newbie section, in
particular, is quite helpful.

> I'm visually impaired, but don't use screenreaders nor "heavy-duty" 
> magnifiers yet, I prefer to rely on features provided by 
> apps. I prefer to read variable-width fonts on screen, and my
> font size for conmoftable reading is about 30pt.
> I have just downloaded Emacs 22.3 for Windows and I'd like to 
> create an initial config for it.

I'm no expert on this, but I think Emacs 23 (soon to be released, and available
now in pretest as Windows binaries) might be better for variable-width fonts.
Others on this list might have better advice about this.

> I reviewed a tutorial, but it is focused on platform
> independent basics. To be able to read docs comfortably with 
> Emacs, I need some customizations:
> 1. I'd like to be able to swetch between fixed-width and
> variable-width font.

See above.

Also, the mailing-list address@hidden is more general and has wider
participation. You might find more help there, generally, including from other
users who are visually impaired.

> 2. On Windows, ctrl+wheel controls zoom factor in many apps, 
> including open-source ones like Firefox, Scintilla-based editors etc. 
> I'd like to have this ability in Emacs too.

Library `zoom-frm.el' offers that (ctrl+wheel, and also mouse clicks). You can
download it here: Some explanation:

To use it, you will also need libraries `frame-cmds.el' and `frame-fns.el',
which are also on the wiki
%3F%24). As with any Emacs-Lisp libraries, just put them in a directory that is
in your `load-path' (try `C-h v load-path RET').

> 3. In Appendix G.9, I've found a useful tip to use system 
> caret instead of default Emacs cursor.

With Emacs, you learn something new every day. I've used it for decades, but I
had never noticed variable `w32-use-visible-system-carat' until you pointed this
out. I've probably read that Info section before, but this never registered.

This variable is apparently an "internal" variable, not a user "option". That
doesn't mean you can't change it; it just means that you cannot use the Emacs
Customize facility to change it (and save it). I think that is a bug - it should
be a user option. I just filed a bug for this.

To change it persistently, you can put this code in your init file (.emacs or
_emacs, on Windows):

(setq w32-use-visible-system-carat t)

That approach works for both user options and internal variables. If you just
want to try it out interactively, to see the effect, do this:

`M-: (setq w32-use-visible-system-carat t) RET'

> Since there's no .emacs file on my system yet, I don't know
> how to apply this change.

Just use `C-x C-f _emacs' to visit a new, empty file buffer named `_emacs', then
`C-x C-s' to save the file (edit the directory part of the file name to put it
in your home directory).

> 4. On Windows, moving by words places point at the beginning 
> of the word regardless of direction of movement. Emacs' behavior
> is confusing for me. This applies for paragraphs and other
> objects too.

Yes, you will find lots of company in that. I, for one, think it's worth getting
used to. But I'm sure you can find lots of contributed code on the wiki that
will change Emacs default behavior to be more like what you expect in this

My advice on key customization in general is to try the default Emacs behavior
for a while, giving it a chance, before you try changing it to fit what you
might expect or are already used to. There's time enough to do that, if you
really want to. But you'll probably find after a while that many of the default
key bindings have a certain amount of logic behind them.


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