This post is the first in a series called Damn Useful. The posts will be a number of tips on the tools we use most frequently as programmers, particularly the shell and editor. Because of my own preferences, I'll focus on bash, vim, and unix tools like grep, screen, and others.
Here are some guidelines on what to expect:
1. One tip per post.
I'm a sucker for productivity tips. I've read dozens of articles with titles like "25 _____ Tips for Fun and Profit!" I usually take away at most one useful tidbit from these articles. A lot of good stuff gets lost in the tidal wave of new information. This posts in this series will be short: one tip each. I'll focus on just one idea and move on.
2. I'll provide mnemonics or imagery to aid recall.
Can you name the nine planets in our solar system? How about the order of arithmetic operations?
If you can, I bet you access a mnemonic you've learned for this purpose. I use My Video Eye May Just Show Us Nine Planets, and Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally for these two.
I'm never, EVER going to forget the names of the planets. That mnemonic is in my brain for good. I want the things you learn through this series to be the same way. As such, I'll try hard to come up with memorable mnemonics for them. Sometimes mnemonics don't make sense, and I'll instead provide an image to think about that will hopefully stick in your mind.
3. The tips will involve tools programmers tend to use daily.
The value of a tip is proportional the number of times a day you can use it. These tips will probably only be worth a few seconds each on their own, so I want to be sure there's a big fat multiplier next to each one. I'll be focusing on the heavy hitters in the programming world.