We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

:g/David Blunkett/s//Jacqui Smith/g

I have said it before. I am trying to remember if I lacked the nerve to use the full obscenity last time, or whether an editor removed it.

Once again, though, I cheer the demise of a loathsome Home Secretary, but acknowledge that it will make little difference.

There was a time that I thought that Michael Howard was an unusually and unpleasantly illiberal Home Secretary. In truth, that was a fair estimate of the man, but I did not know what was to come.

24 comments to :g/David Blunkett/s//Jacqui Smith/g

  • Geez, you’re such a hacker. Why not just use vi?

  • Snorre

    I don’t get it. It sort of resembles :s/David Blunkett/Jacqui Smith/g, but it’s all jumbled up. 🙁

  • Vinegar Joe

    Michael Savage is laughing.

  • Snorre: in vim what you typed will only search and replace on the current line. Michael’s command will work over the whole file. I think :g/foo/command runs the command on every line matching foo. It works, anyway.

  • Eric

    There was a time that I thought that Michael Howard was an unusually and unpleasantly illiberal Home Secretary. In truth, that was a fair estimate of the man, but I did not know what was to come.

    :g/Michael Howard/s//Jacqui Smith/g
    That should keep you up at night.

  • Me? I gave up being such a f*****g geek years ago.

    These days? I just create a macro in emacs.

  • Alice

    From the article — Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland:
    “If any mistakes have been made and if they were exposed – then people will have to accept the consequences”.

    I’m glad Premier Brown made that clear. provided nobody knows about it, it is OK to lie, cheat, and misuse positions of public trust. Now there is a morality that we all can live by!

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I am showing my ignorance here, but the headline means, er, what, exactly?

  • I am guessing that it’s a code to replace one sequence with another – I don’t know in what language though.

  • It’s a command in a text editor called vim. (My comment above was smitten for a while.)

  • In fact, if I remember correctly, it should work with a stream editor called sed as well. More to the point, it is a headline which demonstrates that anyone who finds it meaningful must, of necessity, be a Unix geek. In other words, someone who really and truly understands computers.

  • In the beginning, there was a line editor named ed. This evolved into another line editor named em, which evolved into an editor called ex, which had a visual mode that allowed full screen editing. (The stream editor sed belongs to the same family, but a stream editor isn’t quite designed to solve the same problem). The very famous distopian hacker Bill Joy (who had been involved in creating ex) noticed that people were using the visual mode of ex most of the time, and thus developed vi, which was more or less the same as ex but for which the visual mode was the default. (The line editing capabilities remain present and very powerful, which is useful if you are editing code, and fits into the powerful command line philosophy of Unix). There have been various extensions and updates of vi since then, and the two best know current implementations are probably vim and Elvis. The command I used as the title of this post would work on any version of vi, and would certainly work on ex. As to em, almost certainly, and ed, quite possibly, but it has been a while.

    Unix people also use another editor called Emacs (which stands for either “Escape meta alt control shift” or “Eight megabytes and constantly swapping”) which was developed by legendary free software hacker Richard Stallman, and further developed by James Gosling (more famous for later inventing Java) and certain other of the great Knights of the Lambda Calculus of yore.

    The question of whether to use vi or emacs is one of the great religious questions. Compared to this one, the question of whether to use a Mac or a PC is a minor skirmish. (My hunch though would be that both Bill Joy and James Gosling are now using Macs. I won’t try to guess with respect to Stallman, although whatever it is, I can’t imagine it is running Windows. Come to think of it, Gosling probably doesn’t like the Java machine in the Mac. So I don’t know).

  • Right you lot! If a thread desolves into the relative merits of text editors we shll be here all day to no point. Mr Jennings filed this under “UK Affairs” not “Geek Affairs”.

    Back on topic. Squirrel Nutkin has tossed in her nuts (Hazel Blears has resigned).

    (Personally, I’m more emacs although for simple stuff in Windows Notepad++ does the trick).

  • Nick M, you spoilsport! I mainly use Emacs but I also use vi, what does that make me? I think Richard Stallman doesn’t even use a web browser – he emails some server which fetches the page and emails it to him. Then he probably views it in Emacs in raw html.

    Here is an appropriate XKCD strip.

    On (or off?) topic: This bit from the BBC news article struck me as an odd attitude (my emphasis):

    A source close to Ms Smith said she was quitting her cabinet job because it was the “right thing for her family”.

    The source told the BBC that the row had put pressure on her children and her parents and while she regretted wrongly submitting a claim for the adult movie, she felt “vindicated” in her overall approach to claims, now those of other MPs had been published.

  • RAB

    When you guys start on this techie stuff

    I feel like a little boy lost in a department store, crying for his mommie.

    I have used up most of my computing skills just booting my machine up of a morning.

  • Sunfish, working for RMS-free discussions since 1996

    GNU/Damn it, if you GNU/people don’t start using the GNU/term GNU like you’re supposed to, we’re going to have some goofy GNU/guy pitch up here and invade every GNU/thread with “free as in speech/free as in beer” GNU/nitpicking.

    It’s like the 9mm-vs-45 discussions all over usenet. (Remember usenet?). It’s like when the meowers and the objectivists show up in the same place at once.

  • >Remember usenet?

    What do you think?

  • >Remember usenet

    Remember it? I still use it.

  • J.M. Heinrichs

    emacs on a Mac
    vi on a Mac

    – No one mentioned mailing their punch card packs to the ‘computing facility’.


  • Kevin B

    A bit pointless to enter a four day old thread but I’m getting bored with the cabinet ins and outs, so I thought I’d get this off my chest.

    My heart goes out to the guys who spent long hours producing wysiwyg editors. You know, those fancy things where you could search and replace strings with a few clicks of a mouse and then save in text, (without all those nasty formatting characters). It must be soul-destroying to have their labours decried by the geeks they tried to make life easier for.

    And before you accuse me of insufficient geekiness, I got my start with computers toggling in the bootstrap code on a PDP8 and then patching the paper tape together for the reader to handle. Those were the days when a few k of disc space was the size, (and shape), of a fancy wedding cake.

    I suppose it doen’t help that I learnt a sensible OS language, (VMS) before I started messing with Unix.

    Incidentally, the guy who wrote the man pages for vi, particularly the entry for ‘regular expression’, had a promising future as an EU bureaucrat writing especially impenatrable regulations.

  • Laird

    Bizarre. Nary a word about the actual content of the post; this whole thread has veered off into a fantasyland of arcane geekspeak.

    I guess the headlines do matter.

  • Sunfish

    All I can say is, God bless Bill Gates for inventing DOS and the whole concept of a GUI.

  • Kevin B

    That was nasty Sunfish.

    I thought I was being a bit contentious bring up VMS on a unix thread but at least that OS war is over and unix won. (Quite rightly too, though I sometimes wonder if the world would have been a nicer place if DEC hadn’t been quite so propriatorial.)

    But bringing up the GUI wars! They’re still going on.

    Speaking of which, I see Steve Jobs is making a recovery and may be back at the helm of Apple soon. I wish him the best of luck.

    The cause of personal liberty owes quite a debt to Gates and Jobs (and DARPA and Berners-Lee and the cast of thousands) who brought personal computing and the internet to the masses. Even if all we use it for is to escape from the daily grind.

  • Paul Marks

    One good thing about Microsoft – at least the CEO (no longer “Bill” Gates of course) is openly talking about moving operations out of the United States if the Obama plan to tax overseas sales goes into effect.

    If people insist on seeing the sun set in the pacific they can move operations to Vancouver or Victoria or some other place in British Columbia (although moving them to Alberta would make more sense). And Vancouver is no more P.C. than Seattle anyway.

    Then crazy American regulations and crazy American courts would no longer be such a problem for Microsoft.

    Too close to Comrade President Obama and his “Community Activists”?

    Then move the corporate H.Q. to New Zealand – English speaking and well outside the American and E.U. legal net.

    After all even Khrushchov is supposed to have said that even after the Marxist conquest of the world New Zealand should be left with private property in the means of production, distrubution and exchange – so that “we could have some idea what the prices of things are”.

    Although Comrade President Barack Obama may not be so tolerant as Krushchov is supposed to have been – even though Barack Obama may be evolving from orthodox Marcism in the direction of that heretical form of Marxism known as Fascism.