7/22/2006

7 Things I don't Like in Co-workers' Computers

I shouldn't care about anything in my co-workers' computers. But once in a while, I need to sit down in front of their machines to help debug something, I find these things annoying and slowing things down. For me, it's just a few times, no big deal. But for owners of these machines, I don't know how many person-months are wasted on typing and keystrokes.

1. vim not in path, or not installed anywhere in the current machine. There may be some network locations with vim executable, but it's hard to remember where they are. So I have to use /bin/vi.

2. csh is used, rather than tcsh, bash, zsh, etc. If they really love csh, why can't they just upgrade to tcsh, which is totally csh-compatible. I guess /bin/csh is the default login shell and they never bother to change it.

3. Current path is not displayed as part of the prompt, and users are more likely to run commands in the wrong directories. I have set prompt="%/ > " in my $HOME/.tcsh, to always include `pwd` in the prompt. I don't remember the last time I run pwd command.

4. File/path-completion doesn't work, or not smart. For example, csh uses the hard-to-reach escape key for its limited file-completion, and doesn't support case-insensitive match, possible matches listing, nor hyphen-underscore auto switch. I usually don't type a complete path. I don't trust my typing, even though I'm a pretty good typist.

5. $JAVA_HOME is not defined, or $JAVA_HOME/bin is not in the path. As a result, commands like java, javac, jar, etc are not recognized.

6. Up and Down keys don't show command history. Without these two history keys, I will have to run history command all the time to get the previous commands. Slightly better, use shortcuts like !java, but that is not very accurate and may give you a javac -classpath ... command.

7. Shell background is not black or dark gray. It's just a matter of personal preference.

To alleviate some of these pains, I created a $HOME/.common file, and every time I go to another workstation, I just run tcsh and source /home/me/.common.

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