Tag Archives: reference

rfc and httpdoc: Two terminal references

I have a couple of simple but related tools today, both from the same author. At left is rfc, and at right is httpdoc.

2015-04-25-6m47421-rfc 2015-04-25-6m47421-httpdoc

I’ve known about rfc for a while, but got a reminder about httpdoc earlier this week via e-mail. Since they both have the same style and same creator, it makes sense to lump them together.

rfc, when supplied with a number or a topic line, will pull the text of that RFC from the web and dump it into your $PAGER. No fancy formatting, no color-coded document histories, just one-shot quick access to RFCs all the way back to … well, back to number 1.

The home page has a three-step process for “installing” rfc into your $HOME directory, although I daresay it could be rearranged to allow for more than just one person to use. In any case, it takes very little effort and rfc itself won’t bog down your system, seeing as it’s just a bash creation.

As an added bonus, rfc will keep its documents stored locally, so you don’t have to re-download a request. If you rely on rfc frequently, you’ll probably be interested in some of the built-in actions — like update or list, which give rfc a little more oomph, and search, which … well, you should be able to figure that one out. 🙄

httpdoc is similar, in a way. As you can see above, httpdoc becomes an offline reference tool for HTTP documentation. In the screenshot above, I only showed the 404 status code, but httpdoc can also return documentation on header fields, if you need that.

I can see where httpdoc is still being updated even in the past few days, so I expect there will be more references to come.

httpdoc is written in go, so you’ll need that installed before it will play along. There are also some environment variables that you’ll want to adjust before using it, but it’s nothing complicated.

Both of these tools might strike you as too simple to be noteworthy, but that will depend a lot on your perspective. I use things like dict on a daily basis, and even have it hot-wired for thesaurus entries as part of my .bashrc.

If you have a similar need for RFC or HTTP documentation at the command line, then you might find both of these install-worthy. Necessity is the mother of invention. Or is it the other way around … ? 😉

bibcursed: Light and speedy reference management

I think bibcursed might actually qualify as an office application, in the same way sc and slsc are spreadsheets, and jed and textadept are word processors.

bibcursed manages and edits BibTeX bibliography files, and does it through a series of menus and a captive interface.

2014-12-17-6m47421-bibcursed-01 2014-12-17-6m47421-bibcursed-02

I’ve used some bibliography tools in the past, and even some reference management sites or plugins, but they were usually browser based, and quite taxing on single-core machines. That’s the way things are going, to be honest.

Finding bibcursed now makes me wish I had known about BibTeX a few years ago. It probably could have saved me a little time on more than one university project.

Getting back to bibcursed specifically, everything is arranged through the startup menu, with options to search, change and add as you see fit. bibcursed can’t do much unless you are ready to work with a .bib file, and the one you see above was chosen at random from the vast information repository we call The Internet.

No color, and controls are very simple, but given that bibcursed is more functional than frilly, I find no fault with that. Onboard help is a bonus, and I should mention that bibcursed gave me no grief for very small terminals or very large ones.

I don’t have any context for using bibcursed aside from this brief adventure. But should the opportunity arise in the future, I should like to give it a try, and see how it behaves in a real-world situation.

It can’t be much worse than those online reference managers, that weigh down on my old Inspiron like a ton of bricks. … 😦

sdcv: Local lookup, some assembly required

I’m a big fan of dict, the online dictionary and thesaurus tool that runs almost completely at the command prompt.

Of course, if I’m stuck offline, I’m stuck completely. Words fail me. Literally. 😯

sdcv is a console interface to the somewhat-dated StarDict tool. And in contrast to dict, sdcv works with locally downloaded (or created, I suppose) dictionaries.


There’s not a whole lot to see with sdcv, although that will depend entirely on how many dictionaries you have, and what you ask of them.

Output is a little odd. I think that might be because the dictionaries are intended for a graphical tool, not strict text.

I don’t see any options within sdcv to strip out that coding, so I’m going to enlist the services of dehtml … and that’s what you see above. It’s not perfect, but it’s more readable than as it appears raw.

Of course, the alternative to that is to pipe sdcv’s output into a file, and use a browser to open it.


Either way, there may be some added steps to viewing a definition.

On the other hand, you do have the pick of several dictionaries, cross-language or otherwise, and they’re stored locally. And being the clever young hacker that you are, I’m sure you’ll find a way to build your own dictionaries too.

So to recap … dict for online dictionary access in clean plain text, or sdcv for custom dictionaries stored locally and subject to your scrutiny. You can choose which you like. Or … why not both? :mrgreen:

dict: Another great tool for writers

I mentioned a long while ago that the biggest help in writing for this crummy blog is charm, and a capable lieutenant to charm was aspell.

I neglected to mention dict, and that was a grievous oversight.


dict is a huge timesaver, even if you don’t live at the console 100 percent of the time.

I have a lousy Internet connection (thanks for the sad news, bing) and it can take more than 20 seconds just to load the front page of dictionary.com. (Just to be clear, that’s not their fault, it’s my landlord’s fault. 👿 )

On the other hand, dict can skim through a rasher of dictionaries, gazetteers and thesauri in a fraction of a second, and come up with answers that are just as good.

And in this age of impatience — oops, I mean information, speed is king.

Best of all, there is a laundry list of translation dictionaries, gimmick dictionaries, jargon lists and so forth to install. Have fun with Ambrose Bierce’s classic Devil’s Dictionary, for starters.

I don’t like saying this too loud, because once word gets out, everyone will want it, but: If you don’t have dict on your machine, you’re missing out.

dxcc: Exhausting my quota of exclamation points!

While I search line-by-line through my list of a thousand programs, I run into a lot of stuff I know nothing about.

I enjoy learning things, but it’s a sad fact that sometimes I dismiss things out of hand, just because they’re so far removed from my frame of reference.

But sometimes … I find cool stuff! Here’s dxcc:


What does all that mean? I don’t know! But it looks cool! :mrgreen:

I’m being facetious. I have a very primitive idea what ham radio is, and I know there’s a lot of stuff in Debian (and other distros) aimed at radio operators.

Why? I couldn’t tell you. What does dxcc do? I don’t really know. Should you bother installing it? I haven’t a clue! :mrgreen:

But this is kind of cool too!


A graphical version! I’ve never been so excited about something I don’t understand at all! 😀