Larkspur (larkspurlazuli) wrote,

Programming in the public computer lab

Yesterday night when I returned home from school and attempted to resume work, I realized that my laptop would not power on. Uh oh.

All my schoolwork is done on the computer (but stored remotely so data loss is not a problem), so I've since come to grips with the very real possibility that until this gets fixed (at least 1 1/2 weeks) I'll be spending all day and night at my school's computer lab or at work. I've always hated the public lab computers for many different reasons - I'm not allowed to install my own software, sometimes Linux can be difficult to use or puzzling, plus, the lab is always noisy and the keyboards are stiff and dirty.

Tonight is the first time in a long while I've really done programming on the lab computers. And I admit, it's not nearly as bad as I expected.

At first I was lamenting the loss of my preferred text editor, notepad++. After poking around through all the available text editors on the school computers, and poking again, I discovered Kate. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it allows extensive customization of text display, but, like notepad++, also allows multiple documents to be open in the application at the same time, lets you search all open documents simultaneously, lets you view documents side by side, and... the best part.

There is a plugin for Kate that allows you to open a terminal window in a separate pane of the application! This is perfect for me as I've been using the terminal to compile and run my code. At home, I always had to save the document, transfer it to the remote computer using WinSCP, click on the terminal window, compile, and run. But the fact that I now have the text editor and terminal both open saves me several clicks, in addition to the fact that I no longer have to transfer the files on every compile/run - because the files I'm editing and running are stored locally.

Phew! A very good example of how something I had seen as negative (loss of my preferred development environment) allowed me to find something which is actually even better.

And to my other points- I'm planning on bringing my own keyboard to school so I can use one I like. I already carry my laptop, why not a keyboard instead?

And the lab can be noisy, but it's actually more distracting if it's too quiet rather than too noisy - picture a dull roar in the background vs. one or two people who are loud and can be heard clearly. And, as I've always believed, I like being in the lab because it's a studious environment - everyone is there doing the same thing, everyone is working hard. It encourages me to do the same. Believe it or not, CS majors don't tend to do a lot of goofing off- at least, at my school they don't.

Looks like I'll be doing a lot more coding in the lab in the future...and maybe some of it will be by choice.
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