Productivity tips to improve your computing environment

Date and Time: 
2014 April 10th - FULL DAY
CG - room TBD
Sean Fisk

Building An Empire: Productivity tips to improve your computing environment

A well-crafted computing environment is key to increasing and maintaining productivity in the workplace. Rather than a one-time chore, creation of a computing environment should be viewed as an incremental process. I call this process “Building An Empire.” The fundamental piece of empire building is the continual search for better, faster, and more robust workflows.

Textual shells are well-known to be the most efficient interface for communicating with a computer’s operating system. As such, this presentation will focus on shells and related tools. For participants, a working knowledge of Bash or similar shells and Vim/Emacs or similar editors is preferred, but not necessary.

The presentation topics include:

  • General discussion of keyboard shortcuts
  • Getting help from the operating system (--help, man, and info)
  • Compiling software from source (with the GNU Build System or CMake)
  • Efficiently accessing remote resources (with Secure Shell [SSH])
  • Terminal multiplexing (with tmux)
  • Paths and prefixes (PATH and the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard)
  • Shell scripting best practices
  • Distributed version control systems (Git, Mercurial, etc.)
  • Software build systems (SCons, Apache Buildr, etc.)
  • Customizing your shell (.bash_profile, .bashrc, etc.)
  • Managing your shell customizations (with Git)
  • Miscellaneous tools (autojump, ack, pyenv, rbenv, aria2, htop)


The slides are attached, but this was a hands-on event, not a presentation. For further reading (possibly in a better form than the slides) see

  • Mastering EOS the new manual for Sean's university’s computer lab, a manual on which he is actively working. Although it contains some lab-specific information and some basic skills, it also does a good job of explaining many things taught for the SEA tutorial, particularly Advanced OpenSSH
  • Dotfiles — shell customization, etc.
  • Local install scripts — compiling and installing software locally
Speaker Description: 

Sean Fisk is graduate student at Grand Valley State University studying for his Master’s degree in Computer Science. In summer 2013, he was an NCAR intern in the SIParCS program of Computational and Information Systems Laboratory. You can see his final presentation here.

PDF icon introduction.pdf218.76 KB
PDF icon bash-best-practices.pdf424.25 KB
PDF icon building-software.pdf266.65 KB
PDF icon bash-in-python.pdf291.54 KB
PDF icon ssh.pdf172.22 KB
PDF icon vc-git.pdf255.07 KB

Event Category: