Best Practice: Use Long-Format Flags in Shell Scripts

When working on the command line, it’s perfectly fine to use short-format flags. For example:

$ ls -al

This is memorable, easy to type, and helps you focus on accomplishing the task at hand.

However, when writing shell scripts that will be used over and over, it’s tempting to write in the same, comfortable short-flag style. However, compare the following:

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Voice Assistant Or High-Tech Game of Telephone?

You tell me…


Me: “Hey Siri! How much money is one million pennies?”

Siri: …

Siri: “Here’s what I found on the web for ‘How much money is one million pennies’”

Me: 😒


I mean yeah I probably should have been able to do this in my head…but so should Siri!

SSH Is Wonderful!

Can we just take a moment to talk about how awesome SSH is! I’m out in my garage where the wifi reception is horrible and coding on my dev server via SSH. Even at ~120kbps down and ~50kbps up, I’m still able to use vim and screen productively. This is incredible to me!

Having grown up with 28kbps dial-up internet at home, it’s just amazing to me when I see technology in 2020 that still works flawlessly under dial-up-like connection speeds.

Optimism And Software Development

Business and salespeople are optimists. Well, perhaps that’s painting with too broad a brush. Maybe it’s safer to say that, at the very least, their jobs require some degree of optimism regarding the raw probability of things like a sale closing or a business venture succeeding.

On the other hand, programming is an inherently realist (if not slightly pessimistic) endeavor. Well, maybe that’s painting with too broad a brush again and it’s safer to say that it should be a realist if not slightly pessimistic endeavor. (If you’re skeptical, just spend some time working on a behind-schedule software project and you’ll very quickly get in touch with your realist/pessimistic side.)

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Netflix

A lot of companies (Apple, Disney, Warner Brothers, etc.) are planning on launching their own streaming service within the next 12-18 months to compete with Netflix. My guess is execs at these companies looked at the profit margins Netflix was getting on content belong to their companies, started seeing dollar signs, and figured, “Hey – we can do this and make boat loads of money for ourselves!”

However, in arriving at the conclusion that they should launch their own streaming service in order to achieve massive profitability, I think these companies missed the point regarding what made Netflix so popular in the first place.

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