Dear Oracle

Dear Oracle: If you ever install a directory whose name contains an ‘&’ in my system’s PATH environment variable again, I will travel directly to the Bay Area and it won’t be for fun. What were you thinking, that people wouldn’t notice? That it looked pretty? That writing out A-N-D was too hard? Are your directory names chosen by Marketing? (“Can you make that directory a little more puce? No, way too puce now. More, you know, edgy and confident puce, not blatant developer puce.”)

Of course, it would be nice if the Windows command interpreter wasn’t such an awful embarrassment and could do things like string quote escaping without losing its mind. I heard some of the political backstory to why cmd has been left to languish for the past two decades and was not surprised (summary: old and crusty NT dev, with matching territorialism and ego). Oh, and the answer to “cmd is crappy” is not PowerShell, thanks. Who said that? We can go outside and settle it, if you want.

Not really sure what the answer is. For instance, every time I write a bit of bash I want to throw up a little. The only shell programming language I didn’t actively hate was the MPW Shell, and that is decades dead now; MPW sure had some flaws, but parts of it were really nice.

But those ‘&’s don’t work anywhere, not matter how fucking puce they are.

m-x start-them-early

Since it was a national holiday, I took The Gibber into work for the day. I sat him down at a desk near me with a laptop and got him on the guest network. He played some MineCraft, and after a while I suggested he work on his book report a little.

“Here, use this,” I said, launching a program. “First, you can just type stuff and it appears. Then, control F goes Forward, control B goes Back, and control N and control P go the next and the previous lines. You can use the arrow keys, if you want.”

He typed some stuff and tried it out.

“Okay, now Control U and a number does the next thing you type that many times. Type Control U and thirty and the letter A.”

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

“Okay, Control U by itself just does four. Another control U multiplies that by four. And another.”

BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB

“Works for the commands that move around, too. Try it out.”

BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB|BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB

“And the Meta key (and now you know what that ESC key is for) makes things go _bigger_, so you can jump around by words and paragraphs…”

—-

I show him C-X C-S and C-X C-C, and a little more, and five minutes later he’s happily typing away.

A cow-orker comes by and asks what I’m doing.

“Teaching him Emacs.”

“What?”

“No son of mine will use vi.”

“Oh.”