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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair

Regular blog here, 'microblog' there

Many of my traditional blog post live on this site, but a great majority of my social-style posts can be found on my much-busier microbloging site at updates.passthejoe.net. It's busier because my BlogPoster "microblogging" script generates short, Twitter-style posts from the Linux or Windows (or anywhere you can run Ruby with too many Gems) command line, uploads them to the web server and send them out on my Twitter and Mastodon feeds.

I used to post to this blog via scripts and Unix/Linux utilities (curl and Unison) that helped me mirror the files locally and on the server. Since this site recently moved hosts, none of that is set up. I'm just using SFTP and SSH to write posts and manage the site.

Disqus comments are not live just yet because I'm not sure about what I'm going to do for the domain on this site. I'll probably restore the old domain at first just to have some continuity, but for now I like using the "free" domain from this site's new host, NearlyFreeSpeech.net.

Tue, 22 Nov 2011

A salute to Vim from ArsTechnica's Ryan Paul

As much as I dislike his Gwibber social-networking application, I'm that much more of an unabashed fan of Ryan Paul's tech journalism for ArsTechnica, itself a bastion of high-quality reporting and writing.

While I think Paul's a little too close to Ubuntu to write about it objectively, he's just too good not to read.

A recent article, Two decades of productivity: Vim's 20th anniversary, shows Paul at his best:

Vim has been my editor of choice since 1998, about a year after I started using Linux as my main desktop operating system. I’ve used it to write several thousand articles and many, many lines of code. Although I’ve experimented with a lot of conventional modern text editors, I haven’t found any that match Vim’s efficiency. After using Vim nearly every day for so many years, I’m still discovering new features, capabilities, and useful behaviors that further improve my productivity.

Vim has aged well over the past 20 years. It’s not just a greybeard relic—the editor is still as compelling as ever and continues to attract new users. The learning curve is steep, but the productivity gains are well worth the effort.

As I'll tell anybody who asks (until they're sick of hearing it), my first exposure to vi was at UC Santa Cruz in the late '80s through the ADM3a terminals on which Paul notes it was developed. That was the only way to write things on Unix machines in those pre-GUI days.

Nowadays I use vi (nvi in BSD, as Paul points out, and Vim in Linux) to hack around, and I generally use it to modify configuration files when I'm already in the terminal.

But I'm more comfortable using the Gedit GUI editor in GNOME. I also have Geany installed, which I use when I want to make search/replace changes across multiple documents. These days, I gravitate toward Gedit. In Windows it's Notepad++, one of the best editors I've seen on any platform.

Vi is always there ... and it doesn't take long to learn the basics, so get crackin'.