Two little list utilities for MATLAB-like array indexing

I grew up with MATLAB, where extracting a subset of a vector V was easy as feeding a vector of indices into a vector.  For example entries i thru j could be had with V(i:j) and an more complicated index scheme could be accomplished with a vector of indices i_index and then V(i_index).

In Maxima, first(), last(), firstn(), rest(), and most generally makelist() allows for all that and more but with a little more cumbersome calling protocols.  Here are one-liners that achieve something like the two canonical MATLAB examples above:

A maxima function to replicate MATLAB diff() and an efficiency comparison

I needed a function to compute a list containing the difference between adjacent entries in another list, as diff() does for an array in MATLAB.

I first wrote  something using makelist() and found it very slow for large lists.  I then rewrote the function using rest() and found it much faster: