I really can't see where the fuss is. And I particularly agree with the following comment on the page:
"Wow, you spent ten years learning how to use emacs. In the same period of time you have earned a PhD, learned a few foreign languages, scaled a few mountains, learned several other computer languages like F#, Ruby, Scala, C# 4.0, started your own dot com, and gotten into great physical shape..."
I know I'm being pessimistic here, but it's not without reason. Back when I was a teenager I spend hours, weeks, months tweaking with linux kernels and the OS in general to make it run as smoothly as possible. Back then it was my passion, and I did learn a lot. But at the end of the road I realised that I could have done so much with my time because all that knowledge is now either lost or obsolete due to newer versions of linux software coming out fixing old bugs.
I went down the path of trying to master vi. This was more for the sake of looking "l33t" in the linux community than any job prospects/etc. It was painful and made me appreciate eclipse and other IDEs a lot more.
There seems to be a perception out there that being able to code an entire stand-alone application using vi or emacs is really awesome and cool. This inspires beginners to want to be just as cool and elite. And when they find out it's gonna take years they see it as even more of a challenge (and some sort of ego-boost), without actually thinking of the return on investment.
There may be other people out there that use an editor, or an OS, to impress others; but from personal experience and those of friends, there are plenty of people that learn vi and Emacs because they needed to get things done.
The right tool for any job depends on the person. Someone familiar with the details of HTML and CSS would likely be better off not using a WYSIWYG editor, but for someone unaware of and uninterested in DOMs and stylesheets that editor would be great.
What's dangerous is that the fiddling feels productive, even when you're just learning/making useless gimmicky features.
(defalias 'yes-or-no-p 'y-or-n-p) ;don't bug me
>Are there any websites/screencasts that show such "masters" in action?
Purely for the sake of motivation.
I can get things done with Textmate but I feel I've hit a wall in what I can do with it. I've used emacs off and on for about 6 months now and I really want to take it on full time.
While really learning the nooks and crannies of Emacs's functionality can suck up a lot of time, it's also not going anywhere. I've only been using Emacs for about three years now, FWIW, but I'm a bit of a toolsmith, and I've learned enough to teach others. (FWIW, I'd also jump ship if a better editor comes around, but Emacs and Vim are each good enough that getting sufficient momentum with a new editor to displace them would be incredibly difficult. The most interesting alternative I've seen is Acme / Wily from Plan9, but I don't like its mouse-y interface.)
The best way to learn Emacs is to start with the tutorial (start Emacs, then press Control-h and then t), and then learn how to use the built-in help system. Everything is meticulously documented, though sometimes with unfamiliar terminology. It helps if you have a focus, like learning how to run make, a Python interpreter, etc. inside it. The Emacs Wiki (http://emacswiki.org) has quite a bit of good advice, as well.
Don't forget to keep your Emacs config under VC. :) Extension recommendations - pabbrev, tagging.el, uniquify, saveplace, recentf, remember, midnight, anything, and emacs-w3m if you're using Unix.
And org-mode rocks :-)
Marco Baringer's is the only good Emacs screencast I've seen so far. Please share if you find any other.
I haven't gone through these yet, but you may want to check them out: http://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/EmacsScreencasts
Also, be sure to use this : http://steve.yegge.googlepages.com/effective-emacs
And he did it again that day, and made a bit more progress, and learned a beautiful proof for Weierstrass's theorem using the induced sheaf cohomology of the exponential sheaf sequence. Joe decided to use Windows XP -- he didn't want to think about all that lisp stuff today, and having nothing but Internet Explorer 6 (Joe only reads one page at a time) and Notepad to do his work with, he wrote the rest of his Latex notes in Notepad. And he felt happy, and went to bed -- which wasn't a bed, just a floor, as Joe was really a minimalist sort of guy.
How will Emacs enhance his experience (in any broad sense)? He doesn't compile often. Come to think of it, he probably doesn't need the preview-latex function either. In which forms do these gains come for him? Generally, what is the least complex form of editing that Emacs can still produce gains for?
C-s or C-r, type a few chars, <Enter>, continue editing
 since he is on Notepad at the moment
Any data formatting and parsing is extremely simple and easy, since this essentially becomes programming by doing. Much quicker than any other method I know and awesome for the many, many quick hacks one needs throughout the day.