It’s been a while since I last wrote, but I’ve still been busy. I began my research position at the MIT Media Lab working with Fluid Interfaces. It feels like I’m designing the future; I really couldn’t ask for a better job right now. But, more on that later.
I’ve still been continuously refining my workspace, and how I use my laptop. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’ve been moving more and more towards the command-line for day-to-day operations because of it’s unparalleled level of customizability and compatibility with other programs. There’s nothing more powerful than being able to whip up a small python or bash script that interacts with a couple of other programs to achieve something instantly that optimizes my work flow.
I use the Awesome window manager, which works great for tiling up terminal windows right up next to browser windows. However, I also use Byobu (which uses tmux as a backend), practically a tiling window manager for terminals. While working with a whole bunch of terminals, I’ve found that I actually prefer using byobu panes over separate terminal windows under awesome.
I’m pretty sure I clock in somewhere at three to five Google searches a minute when really focused on a programming task, especially when I’m working with something I’m unfamiliar with. Historically, I’ve done this by switching tags in awesome to my web browser and then searching in the Google Chrome omni-bar. It required me to leave the context of my code and then flip back and forth between code and browser if I needed to reference anything.
My new-found love of w3m’s compact nature led me to design the perfect search program for my setup. I dubbed it the generic name: search-pane, and it does the following:
This is how I got it setup (on any Ubuntu machine with sudo privileges):
Save the following python file in
search-pane (no extension):
#!/usr/bin/python from subprocess import call, check_output from threading import Thread import os import sys import readline home = os.path.expanduser("~") histfile = os.path.join(home, ".search-pane/history") # load history readline.read_history_file(histfile) os.system('cls' if os.name=='nt' else 'clear') # clear the terminal url = '' query = '' if len(sys.argv) > 1: url = "http://google.com/search?q=" + '+'.join(sys.argv[1:]) # google url query = ' '.join(sys.argv[1:]) readline.add_history(query) # add query to history buffer else: try: query = raw_input('Search: ') # get user's search url = "http://google.com/search?q=" + '+'.join(query.split()) # google except KeyboardInterrupt: sys.exit(0) readline.write_history_file(histfile) # write search to history file def write_other_hosts(): # write to history files on other registered hosts with open(os.devnull, 'w') as FNULL: with open(os.path.join(home, ".search-pane/other-hosts"), "r") as f: for line in f: line = line.strip().split() host = line path = line # make sure we don't write to local file again client_names = check_output(['hostname', '-A']).split() if (host.split('@')[-1] not in client_names): call(['ssh', host, 'echo', '"' + query + '"', '>>', path], stderr=FNULL) # Spin off another thread for sshing so user doesn't have to wait for # connection to complete before viewing w3m. try: Thread(target=write_other_hosts).start() except Exception, errtxt: print errtxt call(['w3m', url]) # pass url off to w3m
Make the directory and file for search history:
mkdir ~/.search-pane touch ~/.search-pane/history
Allow anyone to execute the python script (make it into a program):
chmod a+x /usr/bin/search-pane
To get quick access to the program from the command-line edit
To add byobu key bindings edit
# thallada's keybindings: bind-key Enter new-window -n "search" "search-pane" bind-key - split-window -v -p 20 "search-pane" bind-key = split-window -h -p 30 "search-pane"
To add vim key bindings edit ~/.vimrc
"Open google search in a tmux split beneath vim map <leader>g :silent !tmux split-window -v -p 20 "search-pane"<CR>
If you wish to add the functionality to other machines then follow the steps above and, on every machine, add the other hosts and the paths to the search-pane history files on each to the other-hosts file:
The syntax is:
Host separated by path by a space.
So far it’s been really useful, and since it doesn’t screw up my focus as much I’m searching more.
Also, wow python is a lot easier than bash for these sorts of things…