Go diamond

Lately, I’ve been using Go for things that I used to use Perl, Python or Ruby for. This includes quick and dirty scripts for filtering text.

Perl’s “diamond” operator (<>) encapsulates all of this one fell swoop.

#!/usr/bin/env perl

use v5.20;
use warnings;

while (<>) {
    # do something with $_ here

Without any arguments, this will read from stdin line by line. If there are arguments, it will treat them as filenames and read from each of them line by line. If any of those arguments is “-“, it will take that to mean stdin. It’s the perfect thing for the Unix command line. Indeed, we can write one-liners that do all of the above with just a -p flag (or a -n flag, without the print).

In Python, we have a similar capability with the fileinput module.

#!/usr/bin/env python

import fileinput

for line in fileinput.input():
    # do something with line
    print(line, end="")

In Ruby, we iterate through ARGF

#!/usr/bin/env ruby

ARGF.each do |line|
    # do stuff with line
    print line

In short, Perl, Python, and Ruby each make it super easy to write command line utilities that just do the right thing. How do we do something similar in Go?

Well, none of it is hard, but there really is quite a lot going on those tiny little snippets above. That becomes apparent when you write it all out “by hand” in a language like Go. Here’s what I came up with.

package main

import (

func main() {

    filenames := []string{"-"}

    if len(os.Args) > 1 {
        filenames = os.Args[1:]

    for _, filename := range filenames {

        var file *os.File
        var err error

        if filename == "-" {
            file = os.Stdin
        } else {
            if file, err = os.Open(filename); err != nil {
                fmt.Fprintln(os.Stderr, err)
            defer file.Close()

        scanner := bufio.NewScanner(file)
        for scanner.Scan() {

            line := scanner.Text()

            // do something with line here

        if err := scanner.Err(); err != nil {
            fmt.Fprintln(os.Stderr, err)

But wait, there’s more! Perl and Ruby are keeping track of the line numbers already too. So is Python’s fileinput. If we wanted to print those out, we’d just print out “$.” in Perl and Ruby and “fileinput.lineno()” in Python. In Go, we’d have to create a variable to keep track of those as well.

But doing so, we’d know exactly whether we had the line number for each file or for the total. In Perl, Python, and Ruby, we have to take some care to figure out whether it’s per file or not. I think it’s little things like this that cause me to not miss the brevity of Perl, Python, and Ruby when I’m writing Go.

Go diamond

Beethoven Coffee

This morning, my nephew posted a link to this visualization of the daily routines of famous creative people on Facebook. The thing that jumped out at me was one of the mouseovers for Beethoven: “Having coffee, exactly 60 beans per cup.” Naturally, I had to try it!


Sixty coffee beans might sound like a lot, but once you grind them up, you find they pretty much fill an average coffee scoop (30 ml).


That doesn’t even fill a K-cup.


But Beethoven was right, it makes a fine cup of joe (I’m drinking it as I type this)!


Beethoven Coffee

Emacs 24.4 in Debian jessie

Hey, Emacs 24.4 is in Debian jessie…I’m typing on a Debian jessie laptop right now! Let’s upgrade!

$ emacs --version
GNU Emacs 24.3.1
Copyright (C) 2013 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
You may redistribute copies of Emacs
under the terms of the GNU General Public License.
For more information about these matters, see the file named COPYING.

$ sudo apt-get update

$ sudo apt-get upgrade

$ emacs --version
GNU Emacs 24.4.1
Copyright (C) 2014 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
You may redistribute copies of Emacs
under the terms of the GNU General Public License.
For more information about these matters, see the file named COPYING.

Sweet! Now we have to re-install the use-package package using the Emacs package manager and re-install all of the Cask packages.

$ cd ~/.emacs.d
$ cask install

Restart Emacs and we’re back in business!

I’ve been using the fancy rectangle mode hidden inside of CUA mode for a while now, but I don’t want the rest of CUA mode, so I have these lines in my init file.

'(cua-enable-cua-keys nil)
'(cua-mode t nil (cua-base))

Emacs 24.4 has its own fancy rectangle mode using C-x SPACE. That seems to work fine, so I removed those cua-mode lines.

Rats! Now when I try to post this blog, I just get

Wrong type argument: stringp, netrc-get

in the minibuffer. It seems that netrc.el is busted in Emacs 24.4!

Emacs 24.4 in Debian jessie

Emacs 24.4 released

Emacs 24.4 was released today! Let’s try it

wget http://ftpmirror.gnu.org/emacs/emacs-24.4.tar.xz
tar xf emacs-24.4.tar.xz
cd emacs-24.4
make check
sudo make install
/usr/local/bin/emacs &

Among other things, it has a new web browser…eww. No, I don’t mind web browsers…that’s its name! Type M-x eww RET to try it. Here’s what the Elixir home page looks like in eww:

screenshot of eww in Emacs 24.4


As I understand it, this will be the last release of Emacs 24. Next up, Emacs 25!

Emacs 24.4 released

FP101x – Introduction to Functional Programming

This week, I started the Functional Programming course on edX! Almost all of my recreational programming time has been devoted to Go lately, which is decidedly not functional. But I’m excited about the release of Elixir 1.0 and I’ve been meaning to do more with Clojure, so I think I’ve got a lot more functional programming in my future. Perhaps this course will give me a boost!


keep calm and curry onand ghci in terminal

The course is not a Haskell course per se, but that’s what it uses for all the examples. I installed the Glasgow Haskell Compiler with

sudo apt-get install ghc

That was easy. Thanks, Debian!

$ cat hello.hs
module Main
      main=putStrLn "Hello, World!"
$ ghc -o hello hello.hs
[1 of 1] Compiling Main             ( hello.hs, hello.o )
Linking hello ...
$ ./hello 
Hello, World!


Next I configured Emacs for Haskell by adding

(depends-on "haskell-mode")

to my Cask file and

(use-package haskell-mode
    (add-hook 'haskell-mode-hook 'haskell-indent-mode)
    (add-hook 'haskell-mode-hook 'interactive-haskell-mode)))

to my Emacs init file. Now I’m ready to try the first set of exercises!

screen shot of Emacs in haskell-mode and ghci in terminal

Figure 2: Emacs in haskell-mode and ghci in terminal

FP101x – Introduction to Functional Programming

Go workshop at Gilt Tech

Friday I attended a Go workshop at Gilt Tech in New York. It was fantastic!

pic of my badge for Gilt

I had never heard of Gilt Tech before. I found out about the course from Lauri Apple’s Google+ post. I signed up immediately! I live in Baltimore, so I had to get up very early to get on a train to New York. My train was held up with a bad axle, so I was late arriving to New York. Thankfully, the workshop started at 10:00, rather than 9:00, so I still made it on time!

pic of the Empire State Building

Figure 2: Looking up at the Empire State Building from my walk down 33rd St.

Everyone at Gilt was super nice. They have a really nice facility on Park Avenue. They had a beautiful classroom set up and even had coffee and bagels waiting for us! At lunch time, they provided pizza and other things to eat and drink as well. Amazing!

The workshop was led by Aditya Mukerjee, who has been using Go professionally for over two years. He was terrific! He covered a lot of ground, but was clear and concise about everything. He made heavy use of screen, git, and tig, so anyone unfamiliar with those tools might have been a bit lost, but it was very effective. Most of what he did was checked in to a repo on github, so we could all check out the same thing he was showing if we wanted.

pic of Aditya Mukerjee at the head of the Gilt classroom

Figure 3: Aditya Mukerjee at the head of the Gilt classroom

During the hands-on exercises, I paired with Rafael. We didn’t finish our project that day, but I think we both learned a lot.

After the workshop, I walked around New York a bit. I saw Birdland, had a few lovely pints at Heartland Brewery, and went up the Empire State Building. Then I hopped back on the train to Baltimore. This was also delayed, making for a very long day, but it was worth it. By the time the train rolled into Baltimore, it was my birthday. Happy birthday to me!

Update: Gilt posted a blog about the class as well. You can see me (and Rafael) in the second to last photo there.

Go workshop at Gilt Tech