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Re: A Microsoft Christmas Carol

  Christopher Pall wrote --
  > It was a hobby back though... For those who ONLY wanted to do common chores
  > such as word-processing -and not learn how filing systems worked- there was
  > a lot of overhead to learn before you got to the real work.
  There is still at least as much overhead, and when you get to the real
  work you are working at half your potential.
  That's IF you get to the real work. I recently saw someone get fired after
  two weeks for asking too many questions about common chores in W95 and
  M'soft Word. This is someone who had written a master's thesis in Word.
  Why do I so often see this line about only hobbyists and academics using
  computers before GUIs? Does that come from some ad campaign there in North
  America? It's ridiculous. Hobbyists and academics alone couldn't have
  supported all those companies putting out CP/M machines and software.
  To relate my own experience: In 1982 I was doing free-lance translations
  and wanted a quiet typewriter so I could work at night. A friend of a
  friend said he knew just the thing, I said you're on, and I found myself
  with an Apple II. I didn't know a bit from a byte; the terms "file" and
  "operating system" were foreign to me ("These are *translations*, not
  `files'!" "Hey, I thought *I* would be operating it!"). After half an
  afternoon of inept instruction and a couple of phone calls, the friend of
  a friend flew back to the States and I was on my own. I hesitantly tried
  to do some real work on the thing by way of practice, and my typewriter
  days ended then and there. I was up and running and loving it.
  Much later, another friend dragged me to a computer club meeting ("It
  works fine! I'm happy! *You're* interested, *you* go by yourself!"). I saw
  that other computer users were just like me (I think I expected them to
  have lab coats, pocket protectors and black-rimmed coke-bottle glasses).
  The talk was interesting; the beer was cheap; I wound up joining. *Then* I
  started learning about the inner workings of computers -- which turned out
  to be *stunningly* easy to understand, IF PROPERLY PRESENTED. The problem
  is that they simply aren't properly presented. If they were, people could
  go from one system to another with ease, and we can't have that, can we?
  >> work and your tastes. For people who work with text, it was particularly
  >> wonderful to be able to keep your hands on the home row, your eyes on the
  >> screen, and your mind on your work, and to do *everything people do today*
  > Hmmm.... I don't know if I agree with this. It depends on how far you want
  > to go back.
  The program that to my mind epitomizes that philosophy appeared in 1978
  and was in active development until 1992. It was capable of near
  book-quality printed output in 1981. The program I'm using now (off line)
  dates from 1989 and has capabilities that are absent from M'soft's latest
  and greatest. I've adjusted it to provide a Mac-like command interface
  (menu bar and drop-downs [though beyond that, luckily, it has function
  lists instead of dialog boxes]) and to work much like that 1978 program
  (main-block ASCII Ctrl and character keystrokes for everything). This
  system doesn't have a task-switching shell (though one was once sold for a
  suite that included the program I'm using), but the systems my Unix
  accounts are on do, and those of course were made for task switching
  through plain ol' main-block ASCII Ctrl and character keystrokes.
  M'soft claims, or at least used to claim, that their system can be used
  entirely through the keyboard (Apple might make this claim, too). Given
  their design goal -- first to disable standards-based keystrokes, and
  then, when the inefficiency of point-and-click became evident, to put
  trivial "shortcuts" on them -- it hardly seems unreasonable to say there's
  a better way.
  > I've got one of those split in two keyboards.
  I am forever indebted to you. Checking the bottom of this keyboard, I
  found a switch to swap Caps Lock and Ctrl back from the positions IBM
  swapped them to in 1986. Glory be! I've been swapping them with a TSR. I
  retrieved this wonderfully quiet keyboard from a basement scrap pile this
  past summer. It appears to be a 1986 model produced in 1988. If only I
  could chop off all the keys I have no use for: F1 through F12, Ins, Del,
  Home, End, PgUp, PgDn, the arrow keys, the numeric keypad....
  Dan Strychalski