journal for 2004-04-13


We had a Lehigh Valley Linux Users Group meeting tonight. Chris Hever had been scheduled to give a talk on “Advanced Vim Techniques,” but about a week before the meeting posted to the mailing list, saying something like, “I might not be able to make it. If that’s the case, can someone cover for me?”

I replied that if no one had anything else to do, I could cover Vim stuff. I didn’t hear anything back from him for a while, so I asked when he’d let me know. He replied that he’d either show up or not show up, and that was it. This was pretty surprising, so I figured I’d just glance through his notes and have some idea of what to talk about if he didn’t show up. I really didn’t want to prepare myself and then have nothing to do.

His material looked more like an article than a presentation, so I made an outline of the points that looked most important, those that I might want to skip, and then other points to cover as time permitted. I had no idea how much time each point would take.

Well, he didn’t show up, so I started going through things, and everything was going pretty well. I got lost once or twice, mostly because I’d claim that something could be done and then find myself unable to prove it. After about forty-five minutes of talking about stuff, Chris showed up. He was surprised to see that I wasn’t going from his notes directly, and I think he was a little offended. He asked to take over, and I said, “OK.” I told him what I’d covered and hadn’t, and he flipped through his notes to find what he wanted to cover.

A large amount of his remaining presentation was about internationalization, digraph entry, and file and terminal encoding. (“This is how you enter German Unicode text while on a Latin-1 terminal, but save to an ASCII file.”) I was a little miffed, because it seemed like he spent a lot of time on a topic that wasn’t likely to help most people there solve any problems. He also made a point of bashing Emacs a few times, which was … I don’t know, embarassing? First of all, the claim “Vim can do this, but Emacs can’t” is nearly always a lie. Also, religious wars are only useful for people who understand all the religions involved. I enjoy discussing religion with people who understand it, not with people who just spout dogma. This is as true for Christianity as it is for text editors or programming languages. I found myself doing a lot of Emacs-defending, despite the fact that I’d originally opened by saying, “Emacs is neat, I just don’t use it. This is a talk about why Vim is great, and not about its relationship to Emacs.”

Anyway, I think it went well, basically. Chris remembered to cover some things I’d forgotten, and I got to wince every time it looked like he was accidentally going to bring up mdxi’s disfunctional porn site in Safari.

I felt really inspired to put together some “Vim for Vim Users” material, either a presentation or a set of how-to’s, to teach Vim users the really useful almost-basics like buffers, windows, marks, registers, and so on.

Written on April 13, 2004