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NeXTSTEP, Shopify and Bash History

This post was first sent to my newsletter on April 23rd, 2021.
You really ought to subscribe :)

Welcome to a tech edition of the letter.
I’m trying something new with this now, since I am in that strange valley, where I don’t know enough about programming to write opinions of my own and yet I need to talk to my techie friends.

So, taking a leaf out of Kushal’s newsletter, I will share stuff that I come across as I read.
And reading and jabbering about tech is something I can do.
And the stuff I share will definitely be the best links and articles I find from the wide variety of sites I read.
At most three a letter; I don’t want to overwhelm you :) So, like Kushal, but not as niche as him. Definitely not wide ranging either. Let’s see :)
Also, please let me know how you like it :)
Here we go …


Brad Cox, passed away on January 2nd this year.

The throwaway language he created to sell his software libraries was picked up by a computer company as the cornerstone language to base its operating system around. That failing company was then bought out by another company at death’s door, for the operating system and the libraries they’d created with Brad’s language.
Read all about it in The Deep History of Your Apps: Steve Jobs, NeXTSTEP, and Early Object-Oriented Programming,

NeXT had already invented the future back in 1988, but because NeXT never shipped more than 50,000 computers, only a handful were lucky enough to glimpse it in the 1990s.
Steve Jobs needed to return to Apple to distribute that future to the rest of the world.


Ben Thompson always has awesome insight on the meta, in technology.

Here’s his take on The Web’s Missing Interoperability,

from a big picture perspective this is clearly a case of Shopify, one of the most exciting companies in tech and the seeming leader of The Anti-Amazon Alliance, effectively moving into Facebook’s garden, because the web is increasingly a barren wasteland for small businesses. The cause is Apple: its approach to cookies makes platform-based web storefronts increasingly difficult to monetize effectively (Shop Pay performed magic in this regard), and its attack on “tracking” — which goes far beyond the IDFA — makes it increasingly impossible to acquire users in one place and convert them in another. The solution is to do user acquisition and user conversion all in one app — i.e. on Facebook — which is why Shopify is helping merchants move off the web and onto Facebook.

Again, it’s a good solution for Shopify, and Facebook deserves credit for recognizing that Shopify is a complement to their service, not a competitor, but I find it disappointing that once again elevating privacy above every other tradeoff is entrenching Facebook, the biggest incumbent of all.


Jump more efficiently into bash history

The third tip on Max Hoffman’s post solved an really sore and irritating need I had.

The last tip aims for faster retrieval of commands from history. Usually, the up-arrow jumps to the previous command in the history. However this quickly becomes very tedious if one jumps 5 or 10 or more commands back in history. Instead if you put

bind '"\e[A":history-search-backward'
bind '"\e[B":history-search-forward'

into your /.bashrc and start typing part of a command it will only jump to those commands in the history which start with the same fragment of a command. This is useful for any command line work and you may already know if from e.g. IPython but it is also useful for cd. So …

cd <up-arrow><up-arrow> ...

let’s you quickly navigate through previous cd commands.



That’s all folks! :)


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