Monday, March 5, 2007


One of the Firefox developers is a UNIX geek. Not only that, but this UNIX geek uses the text editor vi.

How do I know this? Am I posessed of insight unimagined by mere mortals? Well, yes... but that's not how I know. I know because this unknown developer has one of the same mental tics that I have, and it annoyed them so much that they fixed it, not by changing their behavior, but by building their quirk into Firefox.

vi is an ancient piece of software. Well, not like Hammurabi ancient, but like bell-bottoms ancient, which for computer software means that it might as well be running on a computer made from bear skins and stone knives. err.... anyhoo... It was designed to work on ancient terminals without fancy modern conveniences like a mouse or cursor keys, so you use regular alphanumeric characters to do all kinds of things for which they were not intended. I switch between vi and other applications all day long, and when I do, I sometimes forget which application I'm in. I'll use the "hjkl" keys to try to move my cursor when I'm using Word, and then I'll delete all the garbage that I just inserted into my document. When I go back to editing in vi, I'll select text with my mouse and then insert text in a place that is completely wrong.

It's almost as tedious as reading that last paragraph.

So here's how I know about the UNIX geek. In vi, you initiate a search by hitting the forward slash key. In Firefox, if you hit the forward slash key, it assumes that you, like the unknown developer, are a vi-using UNIX geek sufferering from caffeine deficiency, and it opens the search bar.

Go ahead. Do it now.

It's so seamless that I had been doing this for months before I even noticed what it was doing and realized what it meant. Pretty cool... in a geeky sort of way.


lulu said...

Whereas I find it maddening because I am a poor typist and manage to hit the key by accident and open the search when I don't want to be searching. In fact, until now, I never even knew how it was that the damn search thingy got opened.

deadspot said...

Now you know... and knowledge is power!

Dale said...

I didn't know this and now I feel extra super geeky and cool. How can this be?

Johnny Yen said...

I have no idea what you're talking about, and I am soooo glad about that.

deadspot said...

Dale, are you familiar with the concept of the "contact high"? If you're around people who are stoned, you start feeling a little stoned, even if you aren't partaking... well, I think what you're experiencing is "contact geekiness". It should wear off soon. I have no idea how to explain the coolness unless it is your body's natural defenses coming to your aid.

Brian, this is the difference between your blog and mine. You write insightful and moving commentary on life. I write things that make people say "I'm so glad I have no idea what you just wrote."

Dale said...

I keep pushing the button. It hasn't worn off. I'm hoping though.