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Mail, Domain Names, NSLUG, and 7.2 and 8.0, and the coming ice age in Hell.

    Date: Wed, 16 Dec 87 10:53:20 CST
    From: forbus@p.cs.uiuc.edu (Kenneth Forbus)

    They could make the
    best mailer in the world and it wouldn't make much of a difference if they
    don't stay head of SUN and others in the raw performance of their lisp on
    large problems.

I dunno about this, in the past Symbolics has sold their machines as
productivity platforms and stressed software engineering on them.  I am
working on a large system created by about seven people and we also have
to deal with three different external groups (the customer, a third
contractor, and internal product development).  Much of my work is
communications.  And no, I do not want to log onto our overloaded VAX
with its "ultrasophisticated mailer" when I can use all of those lisp
cycles that would be going to waste and ZMACs and filters and all of the
rest to handle mail the way it should be handled.  Hey Zmail works
pretty damn well, I think you should reconsider your image of it.

    Symbolics will never win by competing head to head with stock hardware
    vendors on "infrastructure" computing.  Their forte is providing a vast
    number of lisp cycles with an excellent environment.  

I certainly hope that Symbolics will provide at least as good as a
general computing environment as anyone else.  Once you've asked your
bosses to buy you a Sun or a VAX or a Mac to let you do what you cannot
do on your Symbolics, they are going to legitimately look at you funny
when you tell them you can't use the lisp environments on those


    Date: Wed, 16 Dec 87 04:16:58 EST
    From: David Vinayak Wallace <GUMBY@AI.AI.MIT.EDU>

    If you're really interested in
    this get on namedroppers.  But the question of how this is all to work
    is still up in the air.

I would have liked to, see; but I had this problem with domain software
on my Symbolics....:)  More seriously, what is the point if I don't have
the software to fix in the first place?  Ok, what is an address for

    Customer-reports, like most companies' support departments, consists
    of people who know how to read manuals.  Technical people go crazy in
    such a job.  Therefore I generally use it for complaints rather than
    for things which I want fixed in the near term.  What works is just to
    send them your code; that way they can send the code to the
    responsible person, and maybe then it'll be "fixed in the next release."

I try to rarely "complain" to customer-reports.  I do not feel it is
their job to receive complaints or flames.  What gripes me is that I may
spend several hours working out minimal programs exhibiting a bug,
sending moderately well written, explained bug reports in, and then find
out that the customer-reports people are directed not to fix code or
create patches.

And you can only send them code for those portions of the code you have,
and while I have sent them code, it's not clear that they make use of
it.  As was described at NSLUG, there are many ancient bugs that they
have fixes for which have never been implemented.


As to Barry Margolin's responses, get me straight, I am not saying that
Symbolics has been doing nothing, I am saying that that is the
indication I see.

Like I said before, no one at Symbolics has ever sent me a message
explaining what they were trying to do, when it was going to be done,
how I should be patient, how I could help, temporary patches or

It is really aggravating to expend a great effort in trying to get a
piece of software working and then find out it has never worked.

And it is equally aggravating sending messages to customer reports and
never getting much response back except for an indication your message
was received and sent to the developers.

I used to hate DEC and how they handled SPRs, but at least they would
send a letter to you indicating the time frame in which it would be

    At our site we use a simple solution: we set ZWEI:*MAIL-NETWORK-HOST* to
    a Unix host, and let it deal with it.

An interesting nondocumented variable, also a bit of a copout!