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Shellac

Pixelglow Software (Glen Low)
Rating: (four burnt toasts)

Frustrated by obscure command line syntax? Tired of juggling man pages and commands in separate Terminal windows? Want more capable, more flexible Automator actions?

Shellac is your friendly neighborhood UNIX guru. [sic]

Mow your lawn for you, lady? Seventy nine cents. Run your Unix command for you, lady? Ninety nine cents. In advance, please.

Pixelglow Software - 'Simpy Brilliant Stuff' (GROWL).


Every neighbourhood has a Unix guru; not every Unix guru charges a US dollar to run the 'catenate' command.

It's no longer a question of people not knowing what they have on their computers; thanks to the liberating force of CLIX, people know better today and that excuse will no longer work. No, today it's the rather snooty (and acceptable):

'I don't like the command line much!'

Or the:

'I'm actually afraid of the command line and I'm not ashamed to admit it - there! I said it and now I feel better!'

Or the classic words of Cable Sassie:

'No masters degree in Linus Torvalds!'

Lame is cool; lame is really in; if you have the money you pays the neighbourhood Unix guru - who comes with his lawnmower, does your garden, runs your pathetic command line - and laughs all the way to the bank.

We're witnessing the evolution of software. Instead of dropping to a command line and typing the word for a popular domestic pet, we download a complete Cocoa app that's only going to type it for us - and we pay one US dollar for the service?

HOW TO SEE A FILE IN THREE EASY STEPS
1type 'c'
2type 'a'
3type 't'

Oh and be sure to type in the file name, and be sure to hit Return, and save the dollar and go to iTunes and help support Bono, The Edge, Sarah, and Steve Jobs instead.

Shellac is a 272473 byte download to a DMG. Expanded Shellac takes 1.046 MB on disk.

The available Unix commands aren't many; a single corresponding Automator action package takes 80 KB; what with approximately 900 Unix commands on an OS X box, that computes to over 70 MB if you really really want to avoid typing at your keyboard ever again. (You more than double the disk space needed to manage your BSD subsystem.)

A number of the iTunes priced commands are variants on 'cat', ie they show different parts of a file (yawn). You of course have the generic cat which will catenate any number files in their entirety (you might want to page them out by piping with more or simply by using more, but that would cost another dollar if and when the command becomes available) and you also have cut which outputs selected parts of a file, head which does the same, tail which does the same, wc (not water closet but word count, a typical 101 exercise) which counts characters words and lines in a file, sort which sorts the output, grep which filters the output, paste which merges the output, and uniq which eliminates duplicate outputs.

Nine commands. Nine very basic Unix commands. That work on text only. Basically pretty up text destined for the screen. Show the first lines of a file, show the last lines of a file, sort the lines of a file, count the lines of a file, eliminate the duplicated lines in a file, or output only those lines which match a regular expression.

It's all yours for nine dollars. A steal. Nine dollars, about nine meg on disk, and hey the sky's the limit. Once each and every Unix command is made into an Automator action (tedium but hardly rocket science) you can get the entire collection for under one thousand US of A smackeroos ($1000).

A bloody steal.

After seeing Pixelglow's pièce de resistance, people are now proposing CLIX commands be sold - a command line for 98 US cents (to undercut the simply brilliant stuff) or all one thousand four hundred five commands for one thousand three hundred seventy US of A dollars. (You save six dollars ninety cents.)

Stay tuned. Perhaps one will be able to purchase ten for five dollars or maybe you'll get a hot dog or Bozo's Vertigo thrown in for free. Or maybe five for a dollar with wrappers from three Big Macs or an empty greasy KFC bucket.

The possibilities are endless - it's simply brilliant stuff. It's the evolution of software. Welcome to the feast.

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