The Ups and Downs of the Command Line

Andy Kohler
3 min readDec 2, 2020
Photo by Marc Kleen on Unsplash

Students new to the command line always panic and bust a spring when you start making folders and nested folders and multiple files in a single line. I try not to smile when this happens because I remember my own teachers doing the same thing in bootcamp.

Back in bootcamp my teacher Ernest would march in the room, laptop open, wearing either a t-shirt and jeans or a 3 piece suit, plug the laptop into the projector and open the terminal in Visual Studio Code and just start dropping folders and files in a new front project and if you didn’t or couldn’t keep up God help you.

This kind of thing was shocking especially when you had the bootcamp fatigue anyway. Like every other work situation I just doggedly kept at it. Most of the time finishing and/or succeeding is about keeping your feet moving. “Chop your feet!” The football coaches used to yell at us linemen. You push and drive forward low in short quick steps, almost drumming your feet on the ground and it’s almost impossible to stop you.

Ernest got me the first time with the command line. Second time around, the webpack workshop, I was ready and had VSCode open and my folder structure all ready set up. But that was a mistake because I had it wrong and my paths were wrong. Files in the wrong folders and folders in the wrong folders. Webpack madness! It took Ernest forever to get us all straightened out. I just recently ran through that very project again, this time as the teacher. Good old webpack.

Drawing by author

I can’t stop thinking about bootcamp, maybe in the way that doctors can’t stop remembering medical school. I guess that means that it was an experience that shaped me or changed me. I spent 15 years doing remodeling and worked in hundreds of houses but I don’t remember many of them. I think that was one of the things that scared me about it. That time was passing in a non-memorable fashion, or that it could be anyone doing that work.

This career change has been good yet I only feel like I’m at the very beginning of it, also a good feeling. The one thing I didn’t do in bootcamp was make the experience my own. I let it be defined too much by others. Maybe that’s why I think about it a lot; that it was unresolved. But now I feel like I’m branching out and going to what interests me and exploring it on my own terms, which is a true interaction between a person and craft. More importantly I’m not worried I’m going to break something — that’s pretty much a given at this point. The cool thing is now I assume I’ll be able to fix it.

Andy Kohler

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