In the Beginning…Was the Command Line

[Amazon Link]

When I read just about anything by Neal Stephenson, I start the comparisons: he's three times funnier than I; he's fourteen times more literate than I; he's 48 times a better writer; … well, you get the idea. Combination of admiration and jealousy. And if he puts his name on a collection of grocery lists, I'm off to pre-order it at Amazon.

Anyway: this short book is a discussion of computer user interfaces, giving a nice brief in favor of good old Unix-style command line. It being Stephenson, there are lots of entertaining diversions off to places like Disney World, and Ames (Iowa) High School in the early 70's.

The book is copyrighted 1999, which puts it out of date in some respects. BeOS, which Neal liked a lot, is (I think it's fair to say) mostly defunct. And Linux has come a long way toward widespread respectability, which makes his salesmanship on its behalf a little unnecessary today.

But some things haven't changed: Microsoft's OS's still stink on ice, and the GUI metaphor continues to mean that a lot of CPU power is (still) spent on preventing users from knowing what's going on, and actively confusing them in some cases. Although, granted, you miss quite a bit with non-GUI web browsers.

Bottom line: luminescent writing on a geeky topic. I think non-geeks would like it too.


Last Modified 2012-10-25 2:34 PM EDT

URLs du Jour

2006-01-14 (All-Cheney Edition)

I'm weirdly obsessed:

  • Joel Achenbach makes the long-awated Burr-Hamilton parallel. Someone had to.
  • The infidel Treacher.
  • The WSJ compiles the TV gagsters.
  • And one I'm just going to steal from Lucianne, who, um, appropriated it from Free Republic: Ten Ways Dick
Cheney Can Kill you

  • So far speculation is that either:

    1. Cheney violated a major hunting safety rule, to wit: "Don't shoot people."
    2. Or Harry Whittington violated a major hunting safety rule, to wit: "Don't get in Dick Cheney's way."

    The truth is out there.

    But seriously, best wishes for a speedy recovery to Mr. Whittington.


Last Modified 2007-08-22 1:41 PM EDT