Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn
dachte

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English as a Hash

Amusing connection of ideas: Unix shell tab completion, hash buckets, English-unix vocabulary. My tab key on most of my keyboards is much more worn than almost any key (except possibly the space bar ) - in a unix shell, seasoned users use tab all the time to complete command and filenames (for those who know how to set it up, I think some shells can complete arguments to commands - I've never looked into that but I should). Something like "cd ~media/music/collection/death_cab_for_cutie-plans ; id3v2 -l *" becomes "cd ~meTABmuTAB/cTABlTABdeaTABplTAB ; id3vTAB-l *" (note that my fingers prefer tab over any other key because tab is big and usually right near my pinky finger). I'm irritated that in recent Linux distros (maybe the FHS made some of these standard), the root filesystem keeps getting messier, especially that some first-letters are being reused (and often for things of questionable value - why can't /boot be mounted under /var? Why doesn't the automounting stuff in /media happen in /mnt? What is /misc for (it's empty for me)? and so on). I now think about this as those hash buckets no longer having just one element. I hope the FHS people (and distro makers) consider the hash buckets and stop making new directories that have the same first letter as an existing directory - every addition there wastes keystrokes of countless unix folk. Unix people like to type, but we don't like to type! (this statement will probably not make sense to non-Unix people - maybe for them I can say "we like that typing is happening, and that we're in control, but we like it more when most of the typing is not being done by us"). It is left to the reader to think about how unix tab-completion can be connected productively to the idea of Markov chains.

Incidentally, sometime in the future, there will be pop-punk covers of most songs by Death Cab for Cutie, and it will be fantastic. In the closer future, there are nine days until their next album is out - they and Radiohead together form the core for what seems to be a circle of music with almost universal likability in people I know. I've always hoped Firewater and Plaid Tongued Devils would hit that status, but I think they're hurt by not being on a major record label.

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