When a non-programmer looks over at my computer screen whilst I’m coding, I’m met with varying reactions. The usual reaction is one of confusion, amazement, sometimes admiration but every now and then… bewilderment at seemingly filthy language.
The bewilderment often comes after a closer look at what I’m typing. Take for example:
> git pull
> make clean | head
Out of context, one could get the wrong idea. A lot of our commands sound like something out of a Carry On movie. Strangely enough this doesn’t usually occur to the everyday friendly neighbourhood programmer like myself. Not because our minds aren’t as filthy as the rest of the world, but just because we’re used to the technical usage of these terms.
“A lot of our commands sound like something out of a Carry On movie”
Often friends have called me out on these. “Git?”, they’d say between chuckles, “Why are you typing git?”. In my head, I’m thinking “how can you not know what ‘git’ is!?” which of course is a nonsensical question. Why should they know?
Well, here is a short blog to give you what I consider to be the top 9 misunderstood “Carry On Coding” computer commands, in no particular order. (For the technical beings amongst you, I am taking my cue from Linux BaSH scripting commands).
- head: You see anyone typing this, don’t be alarmed. The command simply retrieves the first few lines of a file (or stream of text).
- touch: If you see a programmer type touch me, they are simply creating a blank file called “me” if it doesn’t exist. If it does, it changes the modified date of the file as if the file has been updated.
- git: One of the more frequent commands you may find a programmer using, it is not an insult to anyone. It is simply a tool to manage a repository of files. Ok, let me try that again – imagine a remote filing system (like Dropbox or Google Drive) which also stores every version of every file and directory. It’s something close to that. Why this tool was called “git” in the first place? Google it.
That’s right, I have no idea.
- tail: This is similar to head except it retrieves the last few lines of a file. That is the only rear end it is referring to.
- kill: The only thing getting murdered with this command is a process on your computer. Think of this as a program killer. If you use Windows, think of when (not if) you have had to type Ctrl-Alt-Del to see everything that is running, and stopping (or killing) processes or applications that aren’t responding, for example.
- killall: See kill… but referring to the app you want to kill by name.
- wc: This is a command to count the number of words in a file. It is not a request for a public lavatory. Next.
- df: If you’re curious about the confusion here with this term, Urban Dictionary will tell you it’s another way of saying “wtf”. Rest assured, when we type df we’re not expressing such frustration at the computer (much as we’d like to). It simply checks how much space is free on your machine. (df = disk free).
- bash: Why am I clarifying this one? Look up Urban Dictionary. Bash is the name of a Linux command environment… erm… translates garbage coders type into things a computer can understand. That’s as far as I’ll go into that, apologies to the coders out there.
Honourable mentions: finger, unzip, fork and mount. If you’re burning with curiosity regarding the technical meaning of these, go ask a programmer. But most likely, you’re giggling like a school child and couldn’t care less about the technical meaning…
So there you have it. Hopefully that clears a few things up. If you look at a coder’s screen and think you saw something dirty, you can no longer claim ignorance!
Carry On Coding!