August 28, 2007

First Encounter Of The Lisp Kind

It was around October 2004. The first release of AirTight Networks, the company I was working, was just over. It was that period when all the managers were busy with the release, and plans were being etched on what to do next. Guys like me were included in the meetings once in a while, but most of the time was less demanding. I was busy thinking about writing tools to automate some of the test cases and at the same time trying to find patches of "vi" that help in handling more than one file at a time. I had heard of emacs during the talk given by RMS in my college days but had never used it. I was trying to decrypt perl and python and make "vi" more usable when almost simultaneously, I came across lisp and emacs.

Ideally this was not my first encounter with the deadly duo, I had cursed lisp during a stupid course in college for its parenthesis, and in the same year cursed emacs as I was unable to quit it in text mode. While in college a senior had told me that his boss had written a mail client in lisp. This time though I was mesmerized and at the same time mystified by the beauty of emacs and lisp and thought of giving them a try.

The learning curve was a bit non linear but a programmable editor written in a programmable programing language was about to change my programming life completely. Knowing lisp helped me a lot in understanding and appreciating the beauty of what is currently my most used tool, emacs.

Lisp seduce you in its web of simplicity by stimulating the thought process that goes while while approaching any problem and emacs helps you to transform the programs into beautiful pieces of art. This transformed me from "codito ergo sum" to being "daeomonized by the cogito virus" and helped me a lot in my the next few years I spent in AirTight and IIT.

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