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John D. Cook

John D. Cook johndcook.com

The worst tool for the job

John D. Cook:

I don’t recall where I read this, but someone recommended that if you need a tool, buy the cheapest one you can find. If it’s inadequate, or breaks, or you use it a lot, then buy the best one you can afford.

If you follow this strategy, you’ll sometimes waste a little money by buying a cheap tool before buying a good one. But you won’t waste money buying expensive tools that you rarely use. And you won’t waste money by buying a sequence of incrementally better tools until you finally buy a good one.

What follows is an application of that idea to software tools.

John D. Cook johndcook.com

The hard part in becoming a command line wizard

John D. Cook:

I’ve long been impressed by shell one-liners. They seem like magical incantations. Pipe a few terse commands together, et voilà! Out pops the solution to a problem that would seem to require pages of code. Are these one-liners real or mythology? To some extent, they’re both. Below I’ll give a famous real example. Then I’ll argue that even though such examples do occur, they may create unrealistic expectations.

I agree with his overall argument, but the good news about the command line is you don’t have to become a wizard to get value out of it. Start small and go from there.

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