oh bitty box, how you're grown

So rzr_grl had a zillion zillion files she wanted to download from a web site, using her OSX Mac. First she tries to use this program called Fetch, which is expirey nagware. (And it's just baffling to me that anyone would actually pay for software that does something as basic as "downloading files", but that's beside the point.) So she tries to run it, and it's expired. So she deletes it and installs it again. That didn't work. So she searches for all files with Fetch in their names, deletes those, and installs it again. That works. Wow, awesome security there, dude: I'm pretty sure even my 'leet hax0r mom would have figured out that one.

So then it turns out that Fetch only does ftp, not http. You've got to be kidding me!

So I say, fuck this, I've heard rumors that these are real computers now, just use wget. So I download it, configure... oops, no C compiler. Presumably it was on some CD that she doesn't have here. So we go looking for an OSX binary of gcc. (Brief conversation on how it's possible for compilers to need compilers occurs.) Apparenty the only binaries are on Apple's site, and it takes forever to find it, because their site sucks. Also they make you register in order to download gcc. It's gcc! WTF! So we get that installed, wget builds straightaway, and all is sweetness and light.

But here's the thing that really struck me about this: command lines, as a user interface, really suck ass. Even if you use them, you know that's true. Somewhere, deep in your heart, you know what you're doing is ridiculous, and there's got to be a better way. And yet, after spending 20+ years trying to evolve the user interface into something better, what's the most powerful improvement Apple was able to make? They finally put a god damned shell back in.

It seems to say, "sorry guys, we were wrong: it turns out that we actually had this figured out in the late 70s; that whole GUI thing, we've been barking up the wrong tree for a while."

Oh, and ^C doesn't work right in the shell half the time, even though stty says it's the intr character. It really is like I've gone back in time, I haven't had to fuck around with stty settings in like ten years. (I can only assume that if I ever see Emacs running on this box, Delete is going to bring up Help. Hey, maybe they could figure out a way to make me care about how many stop bits I'm using, that'd be so retro!)

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3 Responses:

  1. teferi says:

    wget's in fink as a binary package; you wouldn't have needed gcc. fink.sourceforge.net
    I've never had trouble with control characters in Terminal, although it does suck in uncountable other ways.

  2. rpkrajewski says:

    curl is included by default instead of wget. It's some kind of BSD vs. GPL thing, but you can get still get wget in a jiffy.

    Terminal does have one neat feature; drag a Finder file selection to it, and it's inserted, correct quoting and all. So applying shell sequences to arbitrary sets of files is actually within the reach of mere mortals.

    As for command-line innovation, the only thing I've seen that was truly interesting was how MPW (Macintosh Programmer's Workshop) could take resources from a command you were typing, build a dialog that offered all the options in a nice, undertstandable way, and take whatever filled out and render it back as command line text. Apple called this feature Commando. You could consider the next GUI step after TOPS-20's JSYS facility.

  3. rpkrajewski says:

    At least on my machine, the Delete key in Emacs (which is part of the default installation, not even the developer tools) deletes the character to the left, but the forward delete key does nothing. Oh well.