43 Folders

Back to Work

Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

Join us via RSS, iTunes, or at 5by5.tv.

”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Terminal Nerds II: Electric Boogaloo

516234_3c61dab15b_o Our post about getting started with the Terminal command line and various related discussions swirling around the site have started to produce some remarkable results.

First, our home-grown OSXCLI tag on del.icio.us has yielded a wondrous crop of links for the OSX Terminal newbies. Although the reading level does seem to be inching northward, there’s still a ton of great stuff that should help folks at many skill levels.

Also, a followup CLI discussion on the 43F Google Group has provoked some very smart people to talk about how they use their Macs. The most fascinating comes from my new favorite fake nemesis and CLI stud, John S.J. Anderson, who has posted a terrific breakdown of his setup and emacs world that you should not miss:

I’m a sysadmin and the father of a two-year old, which means my life is almost completely interrupt-driven. My system allows me to quickly capture new input as it happens, and then more fully process it later, which is key to me avoiding a complete mental meltdown. [read it all »]

There are many other highlights on the thread itself that I’ve printed out for future reference. Here are a few:

But, I just highly suggest that once you start learning to make the CLI a place you like, that looks the way you want and behaves as you want that you'll find it far less intimidating. Once you've configured your own prompt there's something of a feeling of satisfied conquest. --[restiffbard]


One thing you can do to ease the transition [into emacs] is enable some of the traditional Mac keybindings (e.g., Cmd-Q, Cmd-C/Cmd-V) by adding the following to your .emacs file... --[Christopher Elkins]

and, probably my favorite of the bunch, is this excellent introduction to UNIX and the command line, by Tim Conrad:

Probably the most important thing to understand about the way that Unix works, in general, is that it's a 'tool-based' system. Instead of doing the Microsoftian design concept, wherein a single tool does everything under the sun, there are a bunch of small tools that can be hooked together to do something complex. --[Tim Conrad]

As you can see by the inset photo, I finally took the plunge last night and picked up Stallman's very large (and surprisingly entertaining) GNU Emacs Manual. I've added this to my current Projects list, and plan to babystep my way through it over the next few months. I'll share how it goes and look forward to more of this stuff from you all. Thanks for all the pointers and do keep 'em coming.

R. Church's picture

One other (devil's advocate) comment...

One other (devil's advocate) comment about text editors. All of them are designed by (duh), and most of them /for/, programmers. What exactly is the advantage of learning Vim or Emacs unless you're a coder?

The things that coders do with text editors are not so unlike the things that non-programmers do with text editors, though I think you'll find that programmers are more demanding. Coders practically live in a text editor, after all.

To my mind, programmers are the race car drivers of the text-editng universe, and their text editors are the race cars. Now, you might not drive a Formula 1 car to the grocery store, but if you're building a lifestyle around getting things done quickly, learning and using a really sporty text editor will prove invaluable.

The hallmarks of a good programmer's editor are that they let you do everything with a keyboard -- mice cause you to move your hand from the keyboard and interrupt your typing -- and they let you perform complex operations in one quick thwap rather than piece-by-piece. Both of these things make programmer's editors harder to learn, but easier to use.

Of course, one can, I'm told, be perfectly happy and productive without ever using a real text editor. It's just that if you're really going to spend a lot of time at a computer, you'll be better off in the long run if you use tools devised and adapted for that heavy use.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


Subscribe with Google Reader

Subscribe on Netvibes

Add to Technorati Favorites

Subscribe on Pageflakes

Add RSS feed

The Podcast Feed


Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

Scared Shitless

Merlin’s scared. You’re scared. Everybody is scared.

This is the video of Merlin’s keynote at Webstock 2011. The one where he cried. You should watch it. »