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Scope of this group
Only two points (but I wax verbose on each):
First, I like Lispms, and I want to continue using them in my work.
In order to do this I have to be able to convince other people that I
am making an informed choice of Lispms over other environments. So I
need to know the strengths and weaknesses, both technical and
economical, of anything that might be proposed as a replacement for my
Lispm. Yet I do *not* want to wade through all the Unix related
postings, all the VMS related postings, all the Macintosh related
postings, &c, to build my case. That, sir, is why, if anyone in
SLUGdom hears that something is "just like a Lisp Machine" I want to
discuss it right here in SLUG.
Imagine the following scenario:
Employer: I hear the MacExplorer provides a much cheaper Lispm
environment than your Symbolics machine. Porting your stuff over
there for the next release will make our budget.
Employee: But... but... but... I thought only Vaxes and Suns were
powerful enough for our work! I don't know anything about Macs! I
don't even know how to find out about Macs!
Employer: Oh, don't worry. I've looked into it, and I'll be making my
decision in the next few days. I'll take care of it.
(Door shuts, leaving Employee to muse to himself:)
Employee: Darn. I feel left out of this decision. I try to keep up
with competing technologies, but new ones can come from any direction.
I wonder... maybe if I subscribe to some Macintosh mailing lists I
could find out enough to influence my employer's decision. But would
I find out in time? Too bad SLUG is limited to discussing Symbolics
machines. I am sure other people in SLUG have good arguments for not
using MacExplorers (MacIvory, for one). If the MacExplorer does turn
out to be what I want for this project, I would still like SLUG to
help me keep things compatible with my faithful old Lispms, so I won't
risk making them useless on this project.
Imagine the same scenario, but starting like this:
Employer: I hear Sun's SPE is just as good as a Lispm-- and I can get
a diskless Sun for $3,000-- about a tenth the cost of your Lispm.
Unless you come up with some objections by the end of the day, we will
move to Unix...
Get the idea?
My point is that even the most loyal Symbolics customers should still
be able to use SLUG to justify that loyalty. That means discussing
Unix, Suns, Vaxes, VMS, MacExplorers vs MacIvory, IBM, and whatever
else comes up. (Don't kid yourself-- things will come up that you
cannot imagine now. In 1978 did you imagine ever having a Lispm on
Now my second point: This is the ARPANET. Its purpose, as I
understand it, is to support research done for the government. The
SLUG mailing list is legitmate only sofar as it serves that purpose.
It is not intended to keep blinders on people who can only think as
far as the machines they currently use. Rather it is intended to open
up communication, so that people can ask questions and receive answers
on *any* topic leading toward better research. It happens that some
Unix news items and problems affect Symbolics users. Maybe my
decision about whether to put a VMS VAX file-server on my ethernet
depends on whether I can also make it a mail-server and print-server.
SLUG is the proper place to discuss these issues. True, a VMS
mail-list is also a good place to discuss them, but I don't currently
have a VAX, so why should I ask the VAX mail-list my question instead
of SLUG? I never see SLUG postings that have nothing to do with
Lispms, whether or not they also mention Unix. So, Everyone, please
don't stop posting whatever you think is useful to other Symbolics users.
I think I'm done now. Thanks for listening.