The Aggressive Automator Goes to ETech

by chromatic

Related link: http://www.oreillynet.com/et2005/



I resolved early last year to automate my work as much as possible. I keep a question in the back of my mind "Is this painful? Do I do this task multiple times?" If so, I look for a shortcut.



I'm at ETech this week. This gives me the opportunity to watch many, many people as they work. Of course, having a highly trained pain detector isn't very pleasant.



Hey, that guy's using Vim! Cool! Wait... he's using the cursor keys to scroll back and forth on the line. Should I say something? Should I tell him about the w and b commands?



Ahh, he's changing the capitalization. Ouch. r new letter. Should I mention the use of tilde?



Hm, someone else is using the command line... oh, to run multiple commands, one after another. First build the application, then restart the web server. Fortunately, she knows about the up key in bash cycling back through the command history. She's also working in a different terminal than the programming window. Yet it takes up, up, Enter, up, up, Enter to be able to test the program.



It's tempting to rewrite the command line to put the two commands together, using bash short-circuiting to launch the second command only if the former succeeds.



Now there's someone ahead of me looking up a CPAN module the speaker just mentioned. I have a lovely Mozilla/Firefox keyword shortcut that lets me type something like cpan Test::Plan and brings up the documentation page for the module. That's much more convenient than me going to search.cpan.org, typing in the module name, changing the search type to look for a Module, and hitting the search button. Now I can use Ctrl T to open a new tab, Ctrl L to move focus to the URL bar, and type away.



I'm never sure of conference etiquette, though, so maybe I'll just hope that the nice people whose work I've invaded inadvertently through my peripheral vision will read this weblog, consider a bit of pain in their lives, and look for ways to automate it away.



As for me, I'm missing my three-button mouse right now and wishing that secure IMAP were faster....



Are there polite ways to recommend shortcuts to people?


3 Comments

shiflett
2005-03-15 11:54:30
Tell Them
I always appreciate when someone points out a more efficient way to do something. You can look over my shoulder anytime. :-)
cwinters
2005-03-16 06:16:52
Tell Them
...as long as it's not during a presentation!
aristotle
2005-03-24 19:30:32
I don't even need to resolve
I automate things almost compulsively. Watching anyone else do anything usually ranges from mildly irritating to downright painful.


I have found that most people don't appreciate being told how to do things better, though. Maybe I haven't found the right way to suggest improvements, but the most positive reaction I can usually hope of is indulgement.


Thanks for mentioning the tilde command, btw! This is one thing I've often been irritated by in Vim and hadn't found an adequately easy way to do yet. (My solution so far was vu or vU, which is just a little better than r[new letter] as you can use the . to apply it to different letters, but that's still a far cry from the ~.)