Visualize per-character differences in a unified diff file

Crosio Kinderstreich 1

When someone sends you a patch, it is most easily viewed with syntax highlighting. The thing you need highlighted is what changed, at a character level.

You get for free with many tools including git (with git diff --word-diff), but this doesn’t help you with a stand-alone patch (diff) file.

Luckily, git ships with diff-highlight! Send a unified diff to that script’s stdin and you get beautiful syntax highlighting, including per-character changes. Here’s a wrapper for diff-highlight for npm users. On my system I found the script at /usr/share/doc/git/contrib/diff-highlight/diff-highlight, and I just run it with the Perl interpreter that ships with my Ubuntu 16.04 desktop.


UDP 1, 2, 3: netcat vs. socat

TCP is handy for simple, reliable communications like this tiny toy logger. I run the server and clients in separate consoles on the same machine:
# TCP log server
nc -kl 8000 > server-log.txt
# TCP logging from netcat client
date | nc 8000
# TCP logging from socat client
date | socat STDIN TCP:localhost:8000
# TCP logging from Bash client
date > /dev/tcp/
The only bummer about TCP is that–in my example–other clients have to wait in line. We are logging so I want fast, one-way communication from any number of clients to the server, and reliability of every log message is probably not critical. Let’s try UDP! I could just add -u to the netcat server args to use UDP datagrams, but a netcat UDP server gets a little wonky. The easy workaround is to use socat as the server instead. socat happily accepts any datagram from multiple clients, simultaneously.
# UDP log server
socat UDP-RECV:8000 STDOUT > server-log.txt
# UDP logging from netcat client
date | nc -q1 -4 -u 8000
# UDP logging from socat client
date | socat STDIN UDP-DATAGRAM:localhost:8000
# UDP logging from Bash client
date > /dev/udp/
Use at your own risk. The TCP version is surely simplest, safest (ahem, still no auth – this is just a toy) and reliable. I don’t know much about what’s going on under the hood here. Insight welcome! Messages from different clients might get mangled together, too. Tested on Ubuntu 14.04.

Group chat me crazy

Group chat (IRC, Rocket.Chat, Let’s ChatMattermost, Zulip, Slack, etc) rocks! Definitely use it. But, fair warning:

My thoughts on group chat:

  1. Be available sometimes, especially when your coworkers are. Aim for healthy overlap.
  2. Be unavailable sometimes. Focus on your work and get stuff done.
  3. Managers: support your team doing both #1 and #2 above.
  4. Discuss and curate tribal knowledge in group chat, but distill often into other permanent, public, shared resources for your “knowledge base”, such as mailing lists, wikis, and (gasp) formal documentation.

Updating multiple git repositories at once

1. myrepos – manage multiple repos (source)

2. One-liner

Assuming repo1, repo2 and repo3 are subdirs of the current dir, try:

parallel --tag -j0 git --git-dir={}/.git pull --ff-only ::: repo1 repo2 repo3

Note this assumes you’re using GNU Parallel. On Ubuntu 14.04, I had to do sudo apt-get install parallel. This uninstalled moreutils, which was a minor bummer.

Survey for my SeaGL 2015 command-line talk

I want to give my best talk ever, and I need your help. Knowing my audience will help me produce the most relevant, fun, and insightful content. Please spare a minute and take this survey. Submission does not guarantee admission. All questions are optional. Here’s more info on my talk (including date, time, and location).

Alternative to the Google Form above: all survey questions are repeated below. Email your response to [email protected]

  1. Will you attend my talk?
    • Yes/No/Maybe
  2. How experienced are you on the command line?
    • 1=Beginner,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10=Expert
  3. What’s something you love or hate about the command line?
  4. What shell(s) do you use?
    • bash, zsh, ksh, fish, tcsh, other
  5. What operating system(s) do you use?
    • FreeBSD, GNU/Linux, Mac OS X, Windows, other
  6. Is there something in particular you want to learn or improve related to the command line?
    • Examples: basic stuff, piping multiple commands, find/grep/xargs/ssh/cut/paste/col/parallel/at/sed/awk/vim/git, job control (running multiple programs at once), fun/silly stuff, customizing my shell, programmable completion, shell programming, advanced/experimental stuff (like what?)
  7. Anything else you’d like to tell me?

Free Software Claus is Coming to Town

I help organize a conference for Free Software enthusiasts called SeaGL. This year I’m proud to report that Shauna Gordon McKeon and Richard Stallman (aka “RMS”) are keynote speakers.

I first invited RMS to Seattle 13 years ago, and finally in 2015 it all came together. In his words:

My talks are not technical. The topics of free software, copyright vs community, and digital inclusion deal with ethical/political issues that concern all users of computers.

So please do come on down to Seattle Central College on October 23rd and 24th, 2015 for SeaGL!