Daniel Mai

Automation Woes

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with automating things on the computer. I’ve been trying to use the mouse less in favor of the keyboard. There’s only a small number of keys to press compared to the number of pixels on the screen that I must navigate with a mouse cursor, which makes keyboard strokes much faster than pointing and clicking around.

After reading Mitchell Hashimoto’s piece about being obsessed with automation a couple of months ago (it starts with Neopets!), I’ve been trying to lessen the steps to do things on the computer.

It’s getting somewhat ridiculous, though. Because I’m never going to be satisfied (who ever is), and I want to be able just run one command to do everything.

For example, I can open a terminal window and execute a wget command to download thousands of webpages practically instantly. One command, none of this “right-click, save-as…” monotony. “Yes, this is awesome,” I tell myself. But then when I need to run a few of these wget commands in different directories on my computer, I groan at all of these steps. So I write a throwaway script that runs wget within each directory, and run that one script. Bam. Reduced several steps to one (excluding writing the script, of course).

And that’s crazy. I’m happy that I can essentially “click” on thousands of webpages within seconds, but I’m not happy with doing that several times. I’m ridiculous.

But hey, in a world of trade offs, the less time I use to do things, the more time I have, right? So I can use that time to do better things.

Like, automate more mundane tasks.