Aaron uses Emacs. He is FSF Member number 490, joined on 2003-01-01.
The article EmacsGrepAndUnix paints the complex but salient point of how intellectual restrictions in computing (like software patents, the DMCA, DRM) can stifle human culture, knowledge and development. Consider donating to the FSF.
Around 1990, I started using a word processor for grade school papers. My family had installed WordPerfect (WP) version 5 for MS-DOS, a proprietary screen editor, on our Tandy computer. I became quite accomplished at using both WordPefect’s commands (WP commands were available from FunctionKeys), and the confused command line interface and file system of DOS. The painful experience gave me little transferable knowledge, but influenced my preference for computer interfaces that were non-graphical, keyboard-rich and text-only.
My self-introduction to text editing began in the late 1990s while working on HTML files for Web publishing. I used non-free editors that ran on Windows 95, including the Windows-native Notepad and a notepad-like alternative called MetaPad available as FreeWare?. My first editing and command line experience on unix happened alongside meeting another non-free editor, PICO, maintained and distributed by the University of Washington. Confusingly, PICO and its sister mailer, PINE, were “OpenSource” in the source-available sense, but had not been FreeSoftware since around 1996. (Update: later versions of PICO with the ALPINE message system were free software.) My interest in hacking and hacker culture was budding in 1998. About this time, I discovered and read the book OpenSources, which includes the essay TheGnuProject by RichardStallman.
By the year 2000, I had “found religion”: I was motivated to accomplish my work on computers with little to no mouse input and instead using as many keyboard commands and shell commands as possible. However, I wouldn’t identify with any dominant unix editor. I had used Vi and Vim (See ViAndEmacs) at this time but only to learn that I hated them. My first experiences with using Emacs at the time left me unsatisfied. Either Emacs’s sheer magnitude or reputation as a monolith had inspired only fear, bewilderment, ignorance and self-doubt and kept me from adopting Emacs as an everyday editor.
My computer science studies at university involved a lot of C++ programming. Unfortunately, it was introduced with Microsoft’s Visual Studio development environment. Later programming courses, around 2001, did introduce me to using XEmacs to program in C and C++. At that time, XEmacs was poorly pieced together for a beginner to use and was available to me on a poorly administrated lab of Solaris (Sun Microsystems) machines. The greater injustice was the early introduction of “visual” programming environments in my studies rather than a unix or GNU environment with Emacs. The “visual” environment hobbled my brain and made me hesitant to use one of the Emacsen.
My first EmacsOnAIX and EmacsOnGnuSlashLinux? experiences also happened at around that time. But not until 2003 did I begin to grasp the scope of Emacs’s greatness. Emacs was integrated with many other software packages and had “front-ends” for what were now familiar unix tools and utilities. These included VersionControl,
‘find’, and CompilationMode. Native features of Emacs were also influential in my becoming addicted to Emacs. These included IncrementalSearch, RegularExpression searching, InfoMode, indentation, multiple window and multiple file support. I began to increasingly move away from editing in PICO or GnuNano and instead incorporated GnuEmacs into my everyday computer experience. I also began learning EmacsLisp. I was using Emacs for system programming and documentation work, but used it heavily for programming in HTML and PHP to develop Web sites.
In 2005, I became a user of the EmacsSnapshotAndDebian packages. In 2007, I began using Emacs from CVS on Fedora. I enjoy FunctionalProgramming (Lisp, Scheme, ML) and contribute to FreeSoftware and FreeDocumentation?. I’ve contributed to the EmacsWiki since 2004. Since 2003, I’ve edited WikiPedia?, contributing to articles on computer science and FreeSoftware topics.
I’ve contributed to hundreds of articles on EmacsWiki. A useful strategy for contributing is to keep track of the contributions to EmacsWiki by others. The following lists all changes, major and minor, that have occurred in the last two days:
This allows you to see where the action is on EmacsWiki and where improvements or corrections can be made. Not with an emphasis to make every possible correction, but to see how recent edits fit in to the larger Wiki, to see how a frequently used page can be bettered, or to check the quality and linking of related pages of interest.
Various Elisp source code and contributions.
Welcome on the wiki – XavierMaillard
Thanks. – AaronHawley
Thanks for pointing out the missing link and the recent email. – DeepakGoel
Thanks for the underlining function in the FormattingText page, very useful! – Victor R.
Thanks for picking up where I did not finish my cleanup! – JonasBernoulli