Stop Bitching About Blink Attributes

Let’s play a game. Here are some grep results. Can you guess the search term?

Name that channel.

Here are some more. Try to guess the search term again:

I am unable to disagree with this sentiment.

Neither were too hard, right? Here is where I confess it was a stupid game (and not simply due to priming issues or WordPress’s apparent inability to display images without resizing them): The point was to demonstrate a difference in speed that you are likely unable to even detect–but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Your eyes were guided immediately to the blinking text, because out on the savanna, your ancestors cared more about whether or not a lion was charging than they did the color of its mane.

Yet, upon learning of my liberal use of the terminal blink attribute–interestingly enough, the only text attribute more or less exclusive to terminals–a co-conspirator scoffed: “Ew.”

Such emotional responses hold back otherwise better programmers. Perhaps this particular person should have chosen a walk of life less demanding of rationality. Regardless, what this person did not realize is that good trains of thought require minutes to get going but only milliseconds to derail–and being able to find the exact text you were looking for while largely coasting on muscle memory is a godsend. The blink attribute helps tremendously toward this end–and not simply with $GREP_COLORS, either… though I do welcome you to begin by placing the following in $BASH_ENV (a more appropriate location than ~/.bashrc) or the corresponding location for your shell of choice:

export GREP_COLORS="cx=30;1:sl=39:mc=33;1:ms=31;1;5:fn=34:ln=32:bn=36:se=8"

… Then again, maybe your eyes are just drawn to gonads.


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