Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

Grateful for Emacs

August 31, 2007

Grateful for Emacs? Kind of an odd statement for a nongeek to make. But I am.

Emacs is free software. It’s free in two senses, in fact. First, and of most immediate importance to those of us on a tight budget, Emacs doesn’t cost money. Second, and more important, Emacs is free in the sense that it is unencumbered by a restrictive, proprietary license. It has a license, yes, but the license is designed to give rights to the end user rather than restrict them. A better explanation that I can give can be found at the article The Free Software Definition.

With Emacs, and other free software that I’ll talk about another time, I have been able to do some wonderful things, at least wonderful to me. Not the least of these is transcribing a 130-year-old journal of my great-great-grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Knowlton (ok, if you’re really interested, the PDF copy can be found at So, yes, I’m grateful for Emacs. 🙂

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Portable Emacs on a USB drive

February 28, 2007

Ahhhh… [sigh of satisfaction]. I like Emacs; I really do. It’s arcane, difficult to master, the province of super geeks, one of the subjects of the *nix holy editor wars. I am not a master by any means; I have no lisp fu; I couldn’t write an expression to save my life.

But, I don’t have to because there are so many other super geeks out there. I have looked for a long time to be able to find a way to run Emacs from my USB drive, and found instructions in this article: Portable Emacs 22.0.50 on USB. Very cool!

Windows genuine advantage

July 22, 2006

On the one hand, credit to Bill Gates et al. to making computing available to the masses. Windows has made computing possible for the nontechnical. On the other hand, I wonder if so much power in the hands of so few (relatively speaking) is a healthy thing. Doesn’t Microsoft trust the customer? Andy Patrizio asks the same question in “Where’s The Advantage In Windows Genuine Advantage?”.

A cheerful second to Midspot’s Ubuntu post

July 20, 2006

Jon Barnhardt has posted his “Top Ten Reasons to use Ubuntu”. I cheefully concur. While not as technically savvy as Mr. Barnhardt, I have also successfully installed Ubuntu 6.06 in a dual boot environment with Windows XP Professional. I’m very pleased, generally. I’m moderately frustrated because I can’t print. My wife’s color laser printer is a Minolta 2300 DL for which there are no readily available Linux drivers. This is hardly the Ubuntu development team’s fault though. And I haven’t always been terribly successful in getting connected to my DSL modem that doubles as a wireless router.

Others don’t necessarily agree with Mr. Barnhardt, or I suppose with me then for that matter. Two comments to Mr. Barnhardt’s post expressed such disagreement. I was bothered by the comments, not so much because they disagreed but because of the tone. It seemed, to me anyway, to be less than civil. Disagreement can be a vital and necessary part of conversation; it’s what helps us question our own assumptions and either defend them or abandon them when they are shown to be inaccurate. Disagreement can be civil though. As for one poster’s criticism of Ubuntu’s default wallpaper (which I find relatively soothing and warm myself, a nice departure from Windows’ bright, cartoonesque appearance), perhaps he could visit “Ubuntu is on my head” over at Teenage tantrums 😉