When programmers have fun

Contrary to popular belief, programmers and geeks alike have a great sense of humor. As you will see in this short article, when a programmer is fed up with coding and gets loose, the results can be quite spectacular. Such programmer jokes inserted into software are often referred to as “Easter eggs”. If you’re a regular Linux user, you might already know a few Easter eggs from the apt-get or the cowsay commands, but some Easter eggs are much more imaginative.

Behold the sl (Steam Locomotive) command which, when typed in a terminal, shows an animated ASCII train crossing the console window. This could be a nice trick to confuse people who mistype the ls command intending to list the contents of the working directory (students from the INFO department for example).

Nice train isn’t it?

sl is available on GitHub and was last updated in July 2014. Its author says it is both a way to “cure your bad habit of mistyping” and ‘a joke command, not useful at all”. I’m not really sure it makes you type better, but it sure makes you laugh though.

Next up in the half-useless Linux tools category is WeatherSpect, a weather application that pulls its data from the Weather Underground API and displays it as an ASCII animation (sun, snow, rain…), with the addition of random objects such as an elephant, a bunny or a horse. As if it weren’t enough already, WeatherSpect author Kirk Baucom also wrote ASCIIQuarium, a perl script simulating an aquarium in ASCII art. And as always with opensource software, ASCIIQuarium was forked into several projects, such as a live android wallpaper or a screen saver for the Windows operating system… Here’s what the original ASCIIQuarium output looks like:

Underwater ASCII mess

Every bit of the animated “image” being a colored ASCII character, we see rather easily what the author had to go though in order to create this little piece of software. Some people obviously don’t have anything else to do…

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