Why I Love Emacs - from Bob Oliver

| emacs, org

Sometimes I post updates from people who don't have their own blog. Here's one from Bob Oliver. - Sacha

This short article sets out why I, as an Emacs newbie, really, really love this software. But before I get into that I would like to explain my voyage (Note: absence of the 'journey' word) to Emacs.

Many moons ago, back in the late seventies / early eighties I was a Cobol programmer, a job I loved. As it is with life, circumstances change and I moved away from Data Processing, as we called it in olden days. This meant I had to get my programming fix using my Sinclair Spectrum, which I programmed using their version of BASIC. I learned how to build my own, very simple games, and spent many hours playing my games and programming more. Then the children came along, the Sinclair went into the loft (attic for non-UK readers) and I had little or no time for hobbies.

Years later, with family grown and flown the nest, the Raspberry Pi was released and revised my love of programming. I took to learning C and Python - though remain very much at the beginner stage. All very enjoyable. This sparked a notion that I might be able to build an app and enhance my future pension prospects. To this end I installed xCode on my MacBook and also tried VS-Code. Needless to say I have not achieved proficiency and have since removed those products from my MacBook.

I still wanted to enhance my knowledge of C, Python and Bash, and so was really pleased when the Raspberry Pi foundation released Raspberry O/S Desktop for Mac (apologies if this name is not technically correct). This enabled me to re-purpose an old MacBook (circa 2009 and no longer supported) as a Linux machine, which got me interesting in learning all things Linux. This led to me installing Emacs as my code editor. Through reading all things Emacs I discovered org-mode and now Emacs is my text editor of choice.

As probably most new users to Emacs, I found it a bit confusing at first, but did as recommended stuck with it, and I am really glad I did.

What do I use Emacs for?

A very good question. Short answer is code and text editor.

  1. Writing, compiling, testing and running C programs.
  2. Writing, testing and running Bash scripts.
  3. Writing, testing and running Python programs.
  4. Compiling my, not so, daily journal.
  5. Using org-mode as my word processor of choice.

The key reason for using org-mode for my journal, was portability and long term accessibility. I had used various electronic journals before, each with their own proprietary file standards, making me concerned that my journal would not be available to my children long after I have gone. Also as Linux, and hence org-mode, use plain text files I can edit with any text editor on any platform, so can be assured that I can move the files as and when I change computers. Also as plain text files, they are readily searchable, so I can recall memories easily.

Finding Emacs and org-mode is probably one of the best things I have done since I retired from full-time employment.

What next:

  1. Maintain my journal writing.
  2. Write up my poems in org-mode - I have several going back to my teenage years.
  3. Develop my writing skills and maybe write a novel.
  4. Learn how to send and recieve mail through Emacs - I have yet to find a guide that is not too technical / complicated for me.


Bob Oliver Essex, England.

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