Musings of an 8-bit Vet

A Student Coders Tech Diary

Command Line Crash Course

Command Line Fu – This cartoon is particularly amusing because…

I’ve spent the last twenty-four hours working through The Command Line Crash Course as homework for class. In addition our instructor had us log our progress in Pivotal Tracker by having us work through “stories” to test our knowledge.

Overall it was excellent, since we got exposure to two parts of the development environment at the same time: using and working the command line, and learning a tool that is a de-facto standard in the development industry.

What did I learn?

Pay attention to the stories, details are important, so don’t rush ahead or you’ll miss something. My first few stories in Pivotal Tracker were rejected for that reason.

Using the command line is both frustrating and confidence inspiring. You get the feeling you are really interacting with the environment. The abstraction of GUI’s has made many people feel that they “understand” computers, but the reality is not that simple.

I grew up using CP/M, DOS, and even did some time on a VAX 11/750 mini-computer. As a result I’m comfortable with basic aspects of the command line. But as I’ve been delving into development I’ve seen command lines that I’ve had to use and have simply cut and paste them without being entirely sure what they do or how they do it.

The classic was grep. I was always fascinated by what it was doing, and how it was so often used in combination with pipes or redirects. Prior to this I never really had a reason to use it. Since we do so much work with text and files, I see how useful it can be.

In other news I did some fiddling with the blog and added a twitter feed for a list of Rubyists that I follow. Check it out in the sidebar to the right.

Thanx for reading. Stay tuned for more from the front lines…