Thursday, March 27, 2008

More editors

So Emacs 22 got installed at work. I had a heady sense of power, during which I actually got real work done.

As it turned out, there are several chapters in Learning Gnu Emacs that are not important to me at this time, like the major mode for HTML, or Lisp programming (which I already know how to do). So I'm almost done with it. What I really have left to learn are the programming modes and the Emacs object model.

Dean tried to start a rainstorm on my parade. Hi Dean! I still remember getting up early for your C++ class. Good times. I think he's right. The best programmers don't care that much whether they work in vi or emacs. They probably spend the vast majority of their time thinking.

I heard a quote once that SQL was one of the only languages where you do more thinking than typing. I think it's true for me, but in every language I work in, not just SQL. I figure things out for a long time, then type as fast as possible (unless it's the night before something is due; then I just type). Sometimes I worry that I am not getting done all that I could be, if I were frenetic and focused enough to bang out enormous applications overnight.

I don't know if my emacs phase is just a novelty. I have enjoyed not leaving the environment to get all my work done. I don't really feel like I'm context switching to just go to the shell buffer. I feel a little like this was the way it's meant to be.

Lisp as an extension language is good in my book too. I still think Scheme and Common Lisp are probably the most amazing languages I have ever tried to understand, so I guess I am doing all this learning for a variety of mutually self-supporting reasons.

I know enough vi to get around in a pinch, so I don't feel qualified to boo and hiss at vi users. We have some great programmers using vi at my job, too.

But let's also say I am doing an experiment with this tool. I have a crush, we're on our first date. But do we really have a future together? Stay tuned.

New topic, I've been listening to Chris Thile's new band's new album. They are called the Punch Brothers and it is called Punch. (They did another excellent album called How To Grow a Woman From The Ground while Thile was still in Nickel Creek.) It is a chamber-classical-bluegrass album about love, Thile's divorce, and religion. The main music is a forty-minute bluegrass piece called The Blind Leaving The Blind. In four movements. They're all, individually and together, virtuoso players. I can barely wrap my head around it. If you are remotely interested from this description, plunk your dollars on the table (or the computer). They have a Myspace site if you want to hear something awesome first. Or Google videos.

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