Saturday, January 31, 2009

Where's my $HOME?

Once upon a time, life was simple. My progress could be measure by the state of my home directory. My work lived in folders that represented input or output data, program source code, and latex source code. Beyond that there were some odds and ends like gnuplot script files and the resulting postscript files, either to analyze or include in whatever paper I was writing. I also had a Mail directory that my email client (elm at first and then pine) access, but I didn't really use email that much. I would use emacs (or vi if it was a quick edit) to edit a file or run my programs to generate output data. That was pretty much it. I lived in the shell. I could telnet from wherever and have the same environment from wherever I was. As time went on, I found myself using emacs more and more as my shell, but the idea was basically the same.

Now... I usually have email, a web browser, and some office app or adobe open, usually to read, and sometimes to write. I'll be editing code sometimes (less often then I like) and have used pythonwin, but recently I've rediscovered emacs (now on windows). Instead of constantly having an awareness of my directory structure, because I'm cd'ing around it in the shell, it's mostly a place to store some program's files or downloads from my web browser. It ends up getting messy because I'm not as cognizant of where everything belongs. The file system is just a dumping ground.

To make matters worse, I have stuff on multiple computers (home, work, and laptop) and I have stuff that just lives on the web (delicious, twine, google docs, evernote, whatever I'm intrigued by this week). I'm homeless. Where's $HOME?

Holy cow. Where am I? How's my progress? What's my operating system doing for me? I used to live in the shell. Todo management? "grep -R 'TODO' ." I'd make up scripts to handle common tasks and throw them in ~/bin. A lot of that was made possible by the miracle of plain text. Unfortunately, I deal in binary files (.doc, .ppt, .pdf, .xls, etc.) these days and I have to open some separate window to look at them.

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