Subject: Re: Lehman Report, Software patents, and more
From: Chris Maeda <cmaeda@cs.washington.edu>
Date: Sat, 27 Aug 1994 11:44:31 PDT

   Date:    Fri, 26 Aug 1994 16:31:44 PDT
   To:      Chris Maeda <cmaeda@cs.washington.edu>
   From:    Jonathan Ryshpan <jon@halsp.hitachi.com>
   Subject: Re: Lehman Report, Software patents, and more 

   >   Emacs - GCC - GDB looks pretty integrated to me, and it's free.  
   >
   >You have low standards.  Take a look at something like Lucid Energize,
   >or Centerline's environment, or Powerbuilder, or Nextstep.
   
   It looks like CM is feeding pretty high on the food chain.  I *often*
   hear stories about buggy stuff from uSquish etc.  Just thought I'd share
   one with you.

I actually feed pretty low on the food chain, being a grad student and
all.  We would love to have something like Centerline or Energize, but
we can't afford it.  I use the gcc/emacs/gdb "environment" (ha ha) on
a daily basis and while I'm reasonably productive in it, I harbor no
delusions that it's anywhere close to state of the art.  I also use
Microsoft stuff for document production, slides for talks, etc.  I
used to use emacs, tex, and slitex.  I'd rather drink molten lead than
go back to slitex, and I'd like to eventually drop tex altogether in
favor of Framemaker.


   This afternoon one of my co-workers was editing a report with uSq-Word
   when our network went off line for maintenance.  This locked up his
   system [QUALITY!].  He's a pretty savvy user, so he was saving his
   work manually every 15 minutes or so.  Unfortunately when he was done
   rebooting his PC there was no evidence of the work he had done in this
   afternoon's editing session -- the file appeared to be what it had been
   when he went for lunch [QUALITY!].

   Nothing like this has *ever* happened to me with vi (now a part of the
   public domain) or with emacs.  My friend, as I say a DOS savvy fellow,
   says that this kind of misfortune has happened to him often.

It's hard to make conclusions about which software is more reliable
based on a couple of anecdotes.  I use Word and PowerPoint and I've
never run into any problems.  On the other hand, I've heard of many
people being screwed by NFS hiccups.  You're also confusing the issue
by comparing applications when the underlying system software is
really the problem.

In any case, are you trying to make a point about free software being
better?  Microsoft's personal productivity apps are orders of
magnitude better than anything the free software community has
produced.  (Why does your friend use Word at all if emacs and vi are
free?)  I'm sure someone will eventually write something free that
compares, but the fact that the current gap is so wide suggests that
there is some structural impediment to the production of high quality,
high value-added free software.