Saturday, May 24, 2008

del *.*

After college I worked for some years as a PC software programmer, mostly coding smallish database applications in environments like dBase and Foxpro, Access and Visual Basic. I enjoyed the work, which was very satisfying when it went well (and maddening when it didn't).

I started the job in the very last days of MS-DOS, which meant I developed some facility with the DOS command line. That was where I did basic PC housekeeping, the copying and deleting of files, and also where I did the more complicated work of maintaining configuration files, setting up networking and so forth.

And all these years later, I'm still at the command line. Microsoft Windows makes it easy to move files around by dragging and dropping, but I find it's much more satisfying -- and faster -- to type abstruse commands at what I still think of as the DOS prompt. (In Windows XP you bring it up by clicking Start and Run, and then typing cmd and clicking OK.)

Sometimes people at the office see me typing commands in the little black window and ask what I'm up to. I show them the DOS prompt and show them how, if I press Alt-Enter, the black window takes over the whole screen, and suddenly it's 1989 again and time to do a mail merge in WordPerfect.

No comments: