Archive for May 2013
I love the shell for the most part. Modern systems ship with the fantastic (for the most part) BASH shell, which includes tab completion, sophisticated line editing modes and many nice usability features (try using a shell without history or line editing support and see what a difference this makes).
There are still some places where the shell falls down in my opinion though (ahem), but it mostly has to do with just getting around the filesystem. I started writing some tools like g (go), url (open urls), and r (recent). I had an ugly tool for Windows that I called shelper (shell helper?) that I used to set up environment variables for Visual Studio and the C++ compiler (cl.exe) among other things.
These tools occupy an uncanny valley between simple configuration and actual applications/utilities. I’m never sure if these things belong in my dotfiles or if I should maintain them as projects. One also gets the distinct feeling of reinventing the wheel or just plain ignorance that you are just reimplementing something that already exists in your shell but you just don’t know what to even search in the docs.
I’m not sure what the granddaddy of all these commands is (pushd/popd maybe?) but they all have some similarities.
Going back to my own set of hacks, I don’t know if it’s better to just keep using my own stuff or try to convert to, say, fasd.
Recently I’ve been writing some blog posts with Jekyll, so I have directories of long files that have dates prepended to them. It’s tedious to do built-in BASH completion on these files, and I never got tab cycling to work in BASH for some reason (and I’m not convinced that this is really what I want anyway). So I thought why not reference files by number? I’m sure that one of these fasd clones will do this, but I have no idea which one.
So of course, I wrote a shell script to do it anyway. I give you lsn:
# lsn lets you select a file by number on the shell if [[ $# == 1 ]] then # print the file with number n ls | sed -n $1p else # list files with numbers starting at 1 ls | cat -n fi
That lets me do something like this:
$ ./lsn 1 2012-07-21-nanopad-teardown.markdown 2 2012-07-30-iph-midi-looper.markdown 3 2013-02-08-unboxing-the-keith-mcmillen-softstep.markdown 4 2013-05-21-gridlok-drum-sampler-for-ipad-review.markdown 5 lsn $ vi `./lsn 4`
It’s questionable whether the backtick notation is more painful than copying the filename or muddling through tab completion though. Of course I could have a command called vin, or maybe have lsn take a the command as an argument.
Although this all seems incredibly lame, it serves to concretely describe a small bit of friction I encounter, to enumerate some others’ solutions (that I seem to forget or be unable to find again) and because I’ll probably misplace lsn at some point in the future or forget it even exists and this is the only way I’ll find it again (unless it gets bigger and I put it on github). One hack at a time (one hack in front of the other?). Or something.
I have been mulling over the idea of writing a guide for Pure Data aimed at developers proficient in at least one other more mainstream programming language. Pure Data is so different than many other programming environments, yet its utility is such that I keep coming back to it despite the difficulties in managing code written in it using traditional techniques.
I’ve written a couple of posts in the past dealing with things like connection order and event processing precedence. However, the little oddities of PD run pretty deep, and I’m afraid that it is quite an involved subject to start in on.
Plenty of other books have been written on PD in the past, and I don’t think I want to write just another PD book. I think there has been enough written on general signal processing techniques and also on programming PD in general. There are some idiomatic things in PD that come up again and again, and I don’t think I’ve seen a concise guide for PD aimed at programmers that already code in other languages and already are familiar with signal processing in general.
Here is a rough list of topics I might cover if I write such a guide:
Bang vs everything else
Lists, atoms and messages
Top down, left right (sort of)
That’s a good start. I’ll add to this list soon hopefully.