The Chronicle

of a ColdFusion Expatriate

Sharpening Your Blades

The “toolbox” metaphor often used to describe a programmer’s knowledge, favorite software, shell scripting tricks, and so on, is a convenient one. The skills and utilities that a seasoned programmer brings to bear on any given problem is much the same as the craftsman’s physical collection of implements; selected carefully, representative of the craftsman’s preferences, and wielded with precision borne from experience.

We can learn much from these parallel concepts. In the same way that a builder must keep the blade of the saw sharp, so must a programmer focus some effort on sharpening the “blades” of his or her tools and techniques. This is not a post about education or learning new algorithms or solving ridiculous code katas every day. This is a story about chainsaws.

Master Vim Registers with CTRL-R

Vim’s registers are incredibly powerful. You use them all the time when you yank and put text or record macros, but are you using CTRL-R (in insert mode)? If you aren’t, you’re missing out on a huge efficiency boost! I will show you what CTRL-R does and how it can make you faster and give you even more uses for Vim’s registers.

Why You Should Give ZSH Another Try

If you’re already a fan of “the Z shell” (zsh), you may not need to read any further. If, however, you’re like me and have spent years in the Bourne Again shell (bash), it might be time to re-evaluate your choice.

I have used bash for a long time and reached a fair proficiency level in it. I was doing things like looping over program output, filtering it, using utilities like seq and wc all the time. I could re-run commands from my history in more than one way and reverse-search them with Ctrl-R. None of this was news to me.

But then someone told me about this Z shell configuration package called “oh my zsh,” and I decided to dangle my toes into the waters of the Z shell and see what it’s all about. After all, the OS X terminal drops you into zsh by default; there must be something to it.

I’m never going back.

Test Complex Vim Settings Easily

Have you ever wanted to test a new value for a complex Vim setting, like comments, and been annoyed at having to print out the setting, memorize its value, and then type it back in? There are a couple of ways around this that are much more convenient, but I’ll show you a great trick for getting the current value of a setting to work from.

Type Like Optimus Prime: the Mechanical Keyboard Renaissance

Set aside for the moment the fact that Optimus Prime’s defining characteristic is his ability to transform. Pretend, instead, that he’s just an enormous, sentient robot. That’s what your keyboard would be like if you had mechanical key switches in there. Maybe you already do and this is old hat; if that is the case, move along. But if you want to learn about Cherry MX Blues and the siren song of the Rosewills and the Leopolds, by all means, read on.