Changing the Unix Prompt

It is easy to get confused in Unix about your current location in the directory structure. When this happens, commands involving files give strange error messages that can convince you that your terminal session has turned evil. There is a simple way to remedy this problem, change your Unix prompt so it tells you where you are.

Your Unix prompt is an environment variable that you can change. You do this, on our Unix machines, in the .cshrc file, which runs after you log in to Unix. Using emacs, look for the line:
set prompt="%m(%h)% 
and change it to:
set prompt="[%h] %m %/ $ "
The next time you log in, your new prompt will tell you where you are.

More on the Unix History Mechanism

The history mechanism in Unix can save you a great deal of typing and aggravation. Simply hitting the up arrow key will cause the last command to appear on the command line. Pressing this key multiple times can bring any command you have recently entered back to the command line.

But if the command you want is really far back in the history list, using the arrow key can be very tedious. Fortunately, the history mechanism has another feature that can come into play in these situations. If you type "history" at the command line, you will see a list of your last several command line entries. If you then type !n, where n is the number in the listing, the appropriate command will appear at the command line. Like so:
[8] blade71 /home/ghoffman $ history
    1  15:39   ls
    2  15:40   cd lab_1/
    3  15:40   pwd
    4  15:40   cd ..
    5  15:40   cd ..
    6  15:40   ls
    7  15:40   cd
    8  15:40   history
[9] blade71 /home/ghoffman $ !3
[10] blade71 /home/ghoffman $
Typing "history" can be annoying, so you might consider creating an alias in your .cshrc file. An alias is a way of associating a Unix command with another, usually shorter, sequence of characters. For example, I find typing "ls -l" annoying, so the following alias appears in my .cshrc:
alias ll 'ls -l'
Similarly, you might create the following alias for the history command:
alias h  'history'
But be careful that you don't use a real Unix command for your alias unless that is really what you want. What I usually do is type my proposed alias alone at the command line and if Unix responds "Command not found." you are good to go:
[10] blade71 /home/ghoffman $ xx
xx: Command not found.
If you completely screw up your .cshrc file, you can always get another at /usr/local/lib/.cshrc

Moving files from your home computer to the UMB Unix machines

If you work on your assignments from home, you'll need to use scp (secure copy) to transfer files back and forth. Here's what you need to know. The general format for using scp is:
scp [file] [destination]
Both the file and the destination can be either on your machine or the Unix box. A file on the Unix box must be specified by your Unix username, "@", "" (the machine you are connecting to) , a colon (":"), and the file path, usually relative to your home directory. In specifying this path, the tilde ("~") username abbreviation comes in handy. For example, you can specify my home directory with ~ghoffman. So, if I wanted to copy the file umb.txt in my current directory to the cs-110 directory in my home directory, I would do the following
[511] glennhoffman - ~/consulting/umb
$ scp umb.txt's password: 
umb.txt                                                                                         100% 1897     1.9KB/s   00:00    

[512] glennhoffman - ~/consulting/umb
Notice that command feedback, which lets you know things have gone according to plan. If you want to copy something FROM the Unix machine To your home machine, simply reverse the two arguments. You can also use wildcard characters, so I could transfer all the java files in my current directory using *.java. You can also use the -r option to copy whole directories. One further point. If you are trying to connect from the UMB campus, where they block the port normally used for ssh, you must include "-p80" after ssh, to redirect the ssh connection to an open port.

Indenting your code

Proper indentation of code makes a program more readable, and readable code is easier to debug and maintain than unreadable code. For this reason, we will be deducting points for improperly indented code. You should indent whenever the text that follows an open parenthesis ("(") or an open curly brace ("{") extends beyond a single line. You should also indent the cases in a switch statement and the code blocks that follow. Emacs makes this easier to do. If you move your text insertion point to the far left of the page and then hit the Tab key, emacs will adjust the indentation for you automatically, except, perhaps, for the switch statement. Emacs also has another nice feature that can help with syntax errors. Whenever you type a close parenthesis (")") or close curly brace ("}"), emacs briefly highlights the open parenthesis or open curly brace character that you just closed. To see which open parenthesis or open curly brace corresponds to a given character, simply remove the character and type it again, watching for emacs to highlight its mate.

Using curly braces with for and if statements

Although Java does not require curly braces ("{" and "}" with for and if statements, when what follows is a single line of code, thisis not good practice.Here's why. Let's say the following code snippet appears in your program:
for (int i; i < max; i++)
	j += 2;
Fine. Now say a few months later you find a bug and you want to insert a println statement in your for loop to make sure j is really incrementing:
for (int i; i < max; i++)
	j += 2;
	System.out.println("j = " + j);
The print statement will only execute once even though the for loop may iterate several times. Bugs like this can be VERY hard to find. Save yourself some aggravation, and always use braces. Better still, whenever you close the parenthesis on a for or if statement, enter open and close curly braces like this:
for (int i; i < max; i++){

That way you won't forget to close the brace, which is another common compile error.