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Symbolics system support?
Date: Tue, 5 Feb 1991 09:35 EST
From: dmitchell@APCTRC.msc.edu (Donald H. Mitchell)
I don't know if you've notice but Symbolics system support is becoming much
quicker to respond! Clap, clap, clap, bravo!
The downside is that almost all responses I've received this week are of the
variety, "*** is a feature that was incorrectly documented." For example, the
inability to turn blinking cursors into solid non-blinking cursors as per the
documentation is a feature. The inability to select the zmail window from a
different X terminal even if there is only one current console on the
Symbolics is a feature.
This is a little bit unfair. In my message to you about blinkers, I
1said0 that I didn't know whether the bug was in the documentation or in
the code. And when I reported the bug to the developers, I sent my
message to both the DW and the Doc bug lists so that they could get
their act together. I certainly never said it was a "feature", or
implied that there was anything good about the current behavior. In
fact I suggested a workaround that should enable you to get the behavior
In Meryl's message about Zmail, she explained that it was a limitation
of Zmail's design that prevented you from bringing it up on a screen
different from the one where it was first initialized. She certainly
never claimed that it was a "feature"; the tone of her message was one
of frankly acknowledging a limitation.
At Symbolics Software Support, we think it is wrong to try to pull the
wool over a customer's eyes by claiming that something we know darn well
is bad is actually good. We try to be factual and frank. In your
message, you make it sound like we were pulling some kind of bamboozle
or snow job. Since you did not quote our messages to you, I felt that
I should make some response. I hope I am not being too obnoxious about
There are lots of things wrong with Genera, as everyone on this list
knows well. We think it is much better to tell you something doesn't
work than to flim-flam you. But we are certainly not claiming these
limitations and bugs as desirable features.
The other problem detail: after you cold boot, once you select a zmail window,
it's a true pain to get the window to appear on any other console until you
reboot even if you only have one console at a time. For example, I booted and
started a zmail console on my X terminal at home, I killed that genera process
(and thus that console), the next day I tried to bring up zmail on my Sun at
work: no can do. I've worked around it sometimes by weird and unrememberable
kill window, kill process, select activity, and do the hoki-poki routines, but
Symbolics says that the only way to start a "new" zmail window is to cold
boot. That's a feature that all X windows based symbolics users will love.
Note, the implications are that if you use a different X windows display to
bring up your genera console, you are unlikely to be able to access zmail.
The actual problem is that Zmail is not re-entrant. You can't even have
two Zmail windows on the same screen. No one is claiming that this is a
feature. Frankly, it sucks. But it would be an enormous amount of work
to fix. It is, however, possible that you could "swipe" the existing
Zmail by sending the Zmail frame a :SET-SUPERIOR message.
Cheers to the discovery of even better features.
These bugs and limitations are bound to be frustrating. They frustrate
us too. Can you turn down the irony just a tiny bit? It's warm in