A 7-days contest on HackerRank has just ended, teaching basic Unix text processing tools. These are nice-to-know and universally useful commands that a programmer should learn.

The contest itself was too easy at the beginning and too hard at the end. It was an introduction to these tools, but the penultimate challenge was more like a fight with a whitespace character that wreaked havoc to the equal operator. I spent hours tackling down this one, and learnt only a little.

On the other hand, the contest reached it’s purpose. It introduced me to sed and awk, the tools I often heard as useful but never actually tried them. Now I have a basic understanding of their usage, and I’m confident that I’ll be able to look up the docs when I need them.

Despite the aggravations, knowing these tools is an important aspect of being an effective developer. These are basic tools that you’ll often need. Solving a simple challenge with a one-liner instead of googling around and using inferior tools only disturb your train of thought.

Every now and then, find some time to learn something basic. You’ll quickly transform how you carry out tasks using your computer. Became the wizard of the 21st century.