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Re: Is Emacs on Aqua crippleware or is it just broken?

From: BK
Subject: Re: Is Emacs on Aqua crippleware or is it just broken?
Date: 7 May 2003 12:28:27 -0700

Alan Mackenzie<address@hidden> wrote ...

> As somebody who's actively writing documentation, you knew this.

You are not paying attention. I am not writing any documentation.
Instead, I am trying to serve the custom that one has to write a final
follow-up after getting help with a problem. I got help from the
Lispers on how to get ILISP working with my Aqua Emacs and one of the
authors of ILISP suggested that I should provide a how-to for OSX
users that could be included in the ILISP user guide.

I am not in the business of writing documentation, I am just returning
a favour.

> Now, such a subject line coming from a frustrated newbie who's
> practically tearing his hair out,

Et voila, that's me.

> I think is understandable and forgiveable (though not everybody on this
> group would agree with me here). Coming from an experienced insider is 
> something different.

Experienced insider? on what?

I have never used Emacs before in my life and my Lisp skills date back
ages when we learned a bit of VAX-Lisp (without Emacs) at university,
not to write software, but to do mathematics. Back then there was no
such thing as Mathematica, so people used APL or Lisp depending on the
math professor's preferences.

I was so impressed by the language that I said "if I ever get to do
programming, that's the tool I want to use". Once in a while I played
with various open source lisps and a few years ago I bought MCL, which
unfortunately only works under OS9. But I never really got to do
anything serious. Now I want to pick up on this again and take it a
little further this time.

I did quite a lot of glueing Mac applications together with
AppleScript though, but I have never run into anybody who would have
got offended when I said that AppleScript is crippled compared to most
other programming environments, because its true and most
AppleScripters know it - perhaps with AppleScript Studio the gap isn't
that big anymore. Anyway, we like AppleScript nevertheless.

If that makes me an experienced insider, I'll be very surprised.

> There seems a strong possibility that you were posting deliberately to
> annoy people.

To the contrary, to me it begins suspiciously to look more and more as
if I might have actually done many people a service because almost
nobody seems interested in why almost all of the Emacs keyboard
shortcuts are deaf. Instead they seem to take pleasure in nitpicking
and flaming, almost as if they had just been waiting for someone who
is easy prey.

> > Anybody who reads the actual post can see that there is no flaming no
> > bashing, but a description of problems along with a question whether
> > or not the problem described is intentional ("feature") or broken
> > ("bug").
> Well, it seemed to me to be somewhat arrogant, laying down the rules of
> how the program ought to work.  But that's just my take.

Which would be wrong. How am I supposed to know how the program ought
to work. I have a book that lists a bazillion Emacs keyboard
shortcuts. The most important ones all start with C-x, which is deaf
on my Emacs and so are others which to me would seem to be essential
for an editor.

Amongst them copy/cut and paste. So, if Emacs' copy paste doesn't work
and it is a Mac port, then I figure it may well be that it uses the
Apple style cut/copy paste, so I try that. But no luck there either.
So, perhaps, drag and drop works instead which would be an acceptable
substitute. But no luck there again. But that means there is *no
pasting* at all. That is something I can hardly believe, so at least
one of the possible methods should work and if it doesn't then it must
be broken.

In order to fix the one that's broken, I must first know which one is
supposed to work and which one is not, because that which isn't
supposed to be there in the first place cannot work and I shall not
think of it's absence as a bug then. So, I ask.

And what do I get? Holy cow. An army of self knighted defenders of the
holy Emacs order have just been waiting for someone like me who didn't
know how to pray the holy Emacs gospel and they all come at once to
slice the infidel into pieces.

Thank god I didn't sign up for any memberships. I'd be in serious

> > This is important to know because if it is intentional then it would
> > be a complete waste of time trying to find a fix.
> And I perceive this latest paragraph to be a continuation of the
> arrogance.  It sounds to me very like you are presuming to judge whether
> the implementor of the software is ignorant or stupid.

I am utterly puzzled how you managed to read all that into what I
said. Mindboggling.

If a feature isn't supposed to be there, that is to say if the
implementor decided that the feature is not supported, then it
wouldn't be a bug. If it isn't a bug there is no point asking how to
"fix" it. Because a bug that isn't there cannot be fixed. Consequently
it would be a waste of time to try to find that "fix" because there is

Sure, I could make a suggestion for the feature to be supported in
some future version, but I figure that if a rather obvious thing isn't
supported then the implementor must have had his reason when he
decided not to support it. Then again, for the purpose I need to know,
it is sufficient to know that it was meant not to be there.

For example, I can write down something like

"Don't get confused by the fact that "Quit" doesn't quit. It is meant
to be that way. Instead do C-x C-c to quit Emacs."

That would be fine if only C-x worked. You know what's going to happed
if I write the above and C-x doesn't work, do you?! I'll risk getting
swamped with email ...

"Hi, I read your step by step guide and managed to get Emacs and ILISP
working but I can't seem to quit the program. You said I shouldn't be
confused by the fact that 'Quit' doesn't quit, that it was meant to be
that way and use C-x C-c instead to quit, but C-x C-c doesn't quit the
program either. What's going on here?"

So, shall I write something like this

"Don't get confused by the fact that "Quit" doesn't quit. It is meant
to be that way. Instead Emacs is meant to quit by doing C-x C-c, but
that may not work either so use force quit or kill -9 to kill Emacs."

If this thread continues the way it does now, I may actually have to
resort doing this, but if it can be avoided, I think it will be to
everybody's benefit if I can throw in whatever makes C-x C-c work for
anybody who runs into the same problem. That would be so much nicer,
don't you think so?

And look at it from the bright side ... If ever some stupid Mac user
like me comes along and asks why he can't quit Emacs, you don't have
to deal with him, you can simply point him at the URL with the ILISP
user guide and tell him to read the dummy section for dumb Mac users.

But then again, perhaps, you don't want that. Perhaps you enjoy making
us Mac folks look stupid.

> > There is far too many posts on usenet where somebody reports a
> > problem, is told that the software in question hasn't implemented such
> > a feature, at least not yet, and then it goes on and on and on mocking
> > about it. If it's not there then it's not there and consequently there
> > is then no point trying to get "the bug fixed".
> Now, here you have failed to take into account the possibility that you
> had misunderstood the issues, and that there simply is no bug, therefore
> nothing to fix.

Which was precisely my point. Hint: look at the quotation marks around
the last three words to indicate that the bug was only perceived, that
is was really a feature (feature in this context means the missing
bit, whatever it was, was *intended* *not* to be there and therefore
it cannot be "fixed").

> > If someone tells me: "Quitting is not yet implemented, for now you have
> > to use force quit or kill -9", then I call that a feature, albeit an
> > inconvenient feature, but you won't find me going on about it. I will
> > accept that it's not there and that is it, I'll proceed to the next
> > problem. Likewise, if you tell me "Weird, this should work, it works
> > for me", then I call that a bug, which is a lot better than if it's a
> > feature because many bugs have known fixes.  Again, you won't find me
> > going on about it like "Look how bugridden this software is", no, all I
> > want is to find out is how to fix the bug.
> You might do well to consider that there might not have been a
> bug/feature at all, and the problem was your own misunderstanding.

Sure, let's try to find out. The Emacs manual at
and the O'Reilly book "Unix in a Nutshell" both say that C-x C-c is
used to exit Emacs.

I understand this to mean that if I want Emacs to quit, then I press
Ctrl-x followed by Ctrl-c and Emacs should then quit.

But you may well be right and that was a misunderstanding, because if
I press Ctrl-x followed by Ctrl-c Emacs does in fact *not* quit.

Perhaps, you can enlighten me with your understanding of what the
meaning of "C-x C-c is used to exit Emacs" is. Better still, if C-x
C-c isn't supposed to quit Emacs don't tell me what it does, just tell
me how I am supposed to quit Emacs instead. And when you do so,
remember that the Apple style methods to quit an application don't
work, which may be intentional, but intentional or not, they won't
count as alternatives to quit Emacs.

And just in case you are going to tell me that kill -9 is the proper
method, I would be eager to know why this isn't mentioned neither in
the Emacs manual nor in the O'Reilly book.

But perhaps this is just a misunderstaning, perhaps C-x C-c is just a
shorthand for kill -9. *That* would be an acceptable explanation.

> > .... it means there are missing features which are present in other
> > versions of the same software. Very often this is done for marketing
> > reasons "cheaper or freeware version is crippled - full version costs
> > more".
> This suggestion, made in the context of Emacs,

How conveniently cut to quote out of context and ignoring the "Very
often" bit. Do you do this kind of thing on purpose or does it come

> Can you really be so naive as this?  You'd do better if you realised that
> the software you're talking about is functional software of the highest
> grade, not "beta software", not "crippleware",

Fine. The only trouble I have with that statement is that it cannot be
reconciled with the fact that most of the keyboard shortcuts listed in
the Emacs manual and in my O'Reilly book simply do not work.

Tell me, how is it that everybody is so extremely careful to ignore
the fact that most of the Emacs shortcuts are deaf?

Is there anything going on here I should know about?

Am I not supposed to say "most of the Emacs shortcuts don't work"?

Is that some kind of sacrilege or what is it?

You know in the UK it is almost customary to make a certain kind of
joking comment to somebody who is going to visit Germany or otherwise
going to have a get together of some kind with Germans. The comment is
"Don't mention the war!" Is there anything like that going on here and
I am the fool who went into the trap or what?

> If there's something in Emacs you don't like, then change it to what you
> want, if you're capable enough.

Well, if I was able to do that, I wouldn't have to ask here, or would

I have absolutely no clue how to make Emacs behave the way the *Emacs
manual* says it should behave and I would appreciate if somebody here
could tell me how.


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