$ ~/command/line/adventure

our first homework assignment for reading and writing electronic text with allison parrish is, shockingly, to read and write electronic text.

i completed this great series of command line exercises; read padgett; loved some of these sentences from loss pequeño glazier’s “grep: a grammar” either because i’m a dork or a sucker for obscurantist writing about writing or both:

“writing as the action of production (process). That is, to a viewpoint where it’s the procedure or algorithm that counts, the output being simply a by-product of that activity.”

“Such materiality is evident in concrete conceptions of language: “literal strings,” “strings,” “regular expressions,” and “compound expressions” are among the way language is viewed in the world of grep.”

“Like the hole in Pollack’s paint can, a grep is an opening into the world of the materiality of words constituting the electronic text file.”

but my favorite part was the command line adventure of installing pdftotext. when you download the precompiled binary from the website, you get this:

i’m used to a GUI interface for installing stuff, so this was new. i opened the INSTALL instructions, which say:

for step 1, i couldn’t figure out how to copy an entire directory so i just cp’d one executable at a time.

with step 2, i ran into a problem.

the terminal kept telling me i was using the cp command wrong. some googling revealed that this happened because /usr/local/man/man1 doesn’t exist on my  mac; the man pages actually live in /usr/share/man/man1.

i sudo installed in the correct directory and checked that the page existed with man pdftotext:

voila! then, running pdftotext 2015-Annual-Report.pdf exported the 2015 facebook annual report to a text file with the same name in the same directory where i ran the command.

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