EMACS, be gone: I'm a vimboi now!

1105 words by attila written on 2024-01-23, last edit: 2024-03-19, tags: emacs, hacking, personal, vi, vim, vimboiPrevious post: Economic Activity Theater #1: The Traffic AccidentNext post: EMACS: The Carpal-Tunnel-bashing, Super Distraction Masheen

Big news, I'm sure, the whole world over: I've ditched EMACS and run into the waiting, open arms of vim.

It happened suddenly one night, after mistyping M-C-S-t x<TAB> i<TAB> one too many times...

You know that one, right? Sure, sure... LITTLE BABIES know that incantation, but what happens when it ACTUALLY WORKS and THE DEVIL appears?

Oh, right... I'M the devil, and I'm already here. I guess it does work, but now what?

The Perils Of a Sustained Childhood Addiction, Gone Terribly

EMACS... Emacs, emacs, eeemacs... what can I say about emacs that hasn't already been said about THE CRAZY EVERYTHING MACHINE. OK, not supposed to say "crazy" anymore, but I still think it, in large part because my EMACS infestation was so intense.

I was also infected at an early age. Before I even knew about Emacs, there was TECO and I was a 12-year old TECO G0D. I wrote a functioning email program in TECO on the PDP-11 at my school, but it was only TECO-16, a far inferior version to the ITS TECO on the PDP10 in which EMACS swam, like a cloud of piranhas. I dialed in to the ARPAnet via an ever-changing list of phone numbers that I and a few other feral hackers collected and passed around; they called us "tourists" at respectable nodes like MIT-AI. We were sincerely more like rats coming in via the sewers, but nobody saw it that way back then.

TECO was a kind of desert, and I wandered it, stopping at the odd oasis, but mostly it was sandstorms. I found emacs and it was like a clean, blank room by comparison... with cockroaches and hyper-intelligent mice in the walls, no windows and no doors, yet it was a staircase with a thousand steps to get there.

Emacs is an unhinged, partially walled digital sanitarium and crank farm. You know, cranks... like me. I'm an Emacs crank going back so far my first computer had an actual crank on it to start it.

The crank was also me. I started it. It's the kind of dad-level joke an emacs crank would find funny. In fact I'm cackling while I type this.

Emacs can spell-check your words, complete your email headers, look up words on dictionary servers (yes, those still exist, and if you were an EMACS crank you would know that). It can read netnews (what?), RSS feeds (What?), play Chess (WHat?) Send and receive Email (WHAT?), talk to IRC servers (this is getting boring), edit any kind of code with full semantic parsing and colorization, plug into more than one IDE framework thingie (there are cranks and then there are CRANKS). It can be your therapist (no), browse the web and find you a human therapist (No!), play music (absolutely not), create ASCII art (oh baby, this is where they get me). It integrates SO WELL with EVERY version control system that I CAN'T FIND ANYTHING AT ALL ANYMORE. I have to make sure I only use that horribly named pile of lunacy on the command line and not inside of emacs, or I'm just COMPLETELY hosed, like on a FOUNDATIONAL level.

If you run the version built with all the bells and whistles (you cannot possibly imagine how many there are), it can really browse the web, with pictures and everything (please), you can twist every knob and frob every frobulator using nothing more than your mouse and (apparently) your imagination. It is "self-documenting," but only because the people who wrote it redefined what "documentation" is to suit themselves... come to think of it that's just an ordinary power move, isn't it? Maybe they're really just jocks in terrible shape?

No. No. Emacs is a kind of madness and I won't back down from this now. I won't die on this hill, because first I would have to find and load the hill's info node, but then once I was reading it in info I would already be running emacs. And I'm no longer running emacs, so fuck that hill and in fact all of info. Forever. Just fuck it.

Man pages, man. Mandoc, POD and markdown are king/queen/royalty here, no shit. I allow myself the perversion of multimarkdown, as a treat. But that means my entire life in org-mode is in peril...?

Vim... Is Not a Bad Little Writing Environment?

It is not. Bad. It is good, actually. Wow, I'm saying positive things. I feel like Nandor after he went through the air purifier:

Nandor after purification
Nandor after purification

I do still have a serious org-mode problem, from years of keeping personal notes in a single, dog-choking org-mode disaster called notes.org. It is basically a chronological trip through my brain since the 90s, it has a zillion entries and perusing it with anything other than Emacs has been impossible forever, forget about editing it. It is append-only at this point.

On GH there is a vim-orgmode project, which I found, obviously, by searching the web obsessively for vim-related shit, bling, tools, toys, ... whatever. Colorschemes? Fantastic. Make All The Things Clickable? I thought they were already? I can throw errors in Python from the comfort of my precious editing session. Also lua. And Perl. I'm at the intersection of a kid in a candy store and a new convert: freshly shaved head, looking extra-goofy in my new robes. Also: sack full of tooth-destroying candy. Here, have a wiki. As a treat.

So yeah with a little more effort I might actually get my old org-mode life hooked up a again. I think maybe it would be better to convert to markdown and investigate folding more thoroughly, since that's mostly what I liked about orgmode to begin with. It's just that its encased in emacs and I can tell you my hands feel a little better after not having fired that beast up for a couple of months.

In any event I am now sufficiently well-versed in the occult and evil art of Getting Vim To Do Shit that I'm sure I'll get vim-orgmode working properly for me, and use it to somehow climb down off of this mountain of shit and use simpler shit.

Maybe that's my true heading now: Be Simpler. As goofy as the vim world seems to be, it is definitely closer to simple than Emacs.

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