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>>>>> "NS" == nathan  <nathan@bristol.st.com> writes:

NS> (if (interactive-stream-p *error-output*) ... output progress  messages)

NS> I notice the NEWS file contains the 22June1994 comment 

* The function INTERACTIVE-STREAM-P knows that if the terminal stream is
  referring to a regular file (via input redirection) it is not

NS> Implying that it should work.

Well, it is qualified with "via input redirection", which does work
(with bourne shell):

$ clisp -q -x '(interactive-stream-p *error-output*)' 2>out 0<&2

And dpANS does pretty much state that interactivity is analogous to input:

     The stream is connected to a person (or equivalent) in such a way
     that the program can prompt for information and expect to receive
     different input depending on the prompt.

     The program is expected to prompt for input and support "normal input

     read-char might wait for the user to type something before returning
     instead of immediately returning a character or end-of-file.