17 Jul 2002 AlanShutko   » (Journeyer)

Ah, the simple joys of free software.

With all the Gnome/KDE/Openoffice/Mozilla megaproject work going on, it's easy to lose track of the real point of the movement. Open source isn't just so huge groups of developers can erect major edifices. That's great! But after the glamorous work is done, free software keeps helping people.

I'm saying this, even though you all know it, because this week has been a good reminder in why I use (as opposed to write) free software.

I recently abandoned my Palm III and switched back to Emacs's diary for my calendrical needs. It's nice, but I found that since the calender view didn't distinguish types of events, I couldn't look at a month and see what's going on in a glance. I fixed that by allowing sexp entries to specify a face, so that I could tell at a glance when I was on-call during a holiday that coincided with someone's birthday. Patch mailed off.

I discovered someone had finally written an Emacs Lisp Z-code interpreter called Malyon. (It's been out a couple years, I must have missed its release.) But it had some problems under Emacs 21. Easily fixed and another patch sent.

This basic plot repeated itself for some more elisp and some other utilities. None of the patches have seen a released version yet, but they've been pretty well received so far. The important thing is there are now some problems that I don't have anymore.

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