Cool Things to do in Terminal

I’ve been playing around with Terminal recently (the command line interface for Mac), and I’ve come across a few cool things you can do with it. So here they are.

1. Watch Star Wars Episode IV

Star Wars
Yes, you can watch the first Star Wars movie straight from Terminal. The whole thing is in ASCII code, and it looks pretty good. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I put this on in one of my rather boring university lectures. All you have to do is type:


You can do this in Windows as well, but sometimes you have to enable Telnet on your machine first, so here is a guide for that.

2. Play Retro Games

You can play some very cool retro games right inside your Terminal window, and it’s pretty easy too. Just type in emacs, press Enter, then press “Esc + X”, and then you can type in the games you want to play. Here are a few of the games:

  • tetris
  • pong
  • snake
  • solitaire
  • gomoku
  • 5×5
  • dunnet
  • landmark
  • doctor

3. Talk to a Doctor

You can also use Terminal to talk to a virtual psychologist! Use the same steps as above, but instead of typing a game, type “doctor” (without the quotation marks).

4. Set a Start-up Message

Add some personalisation to your Mac by adding a start-up message. Type the following, replacing Message with the desired text.

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/ LoginwindowText "Message"

You’ll be prompted for your password. I have mine saying Hello to me every time I turn my Mac on. To turn this off just type:

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/ LoginwindowText ""

5. Add some space to your Dock

If your finding your Dock a bit too cluttered, you can add some extra separators to space out the icons a bit more. Copy this into Terminal to add a new separator:

defaults write persistent-apps -array-add '{"tile-type"="spacer-tile";}'; killall Dock

To remove it, just drag it out of the Dock.

6. Make it Speak

This is a pretty easy one, and although probably isn’t very useful, it’s quite fun! Just type say followed by the text you want it to say, and then press Enter.

7. Prevent your Mac from Sleeping

There are some apps around for Mac that stop it going to sleep, like Coca and Caffeine. But if you want to do it in Terminal instead, then there’s just one small bit of code you’ll need to know: caffeinate -u -t 3600 To change the amount of time to prevent sleep, just change the value where it is 3600. It is measured in seconds, so the code above will keep your mac awake for an hour.


Sudo Fresh Start

I’ll start this off by telling everyone my bad news, my MacBook Pro seems to of died. The hard drive is clicking, and it’s failing to boot. I’ve also got a suspicion that there could be more faulty, as I’ve tried some stuff which should still work with a failed hard drive, but with no luck. I’m not coming to any conclusions yet, because I haven’t had a proper research yet, but I’ll see what I can do.

That leaves me with only two real devices I can use, my iPhone and my iPad (which I’m using to write this). I suppose my iPad lets me still carry on writing, browsing the web, watch videos, etc. But I feel limited when using these devices, in a way that just doesn’t happen with a Mac.

If I deem the repair of my Mac to be not worth it, then my only choice is to upgrade. And at the minute my favourite is the 13″ Retina MacBook Pro, I would have to go to a store to compare the models though. I would only upgrade at the end of this month, so as to give me time to check if I can fix my current Mac, and to decide on upgrade if necessary.

Time without a laptop could be beneficial for my iPad though, as I’ve probably not been using it to its full potential. And with iOS 9 already installed on it, I can test the new features designed to make the iPad more of a device aimed at content creation, not just consumption. Two main things I can’t do on an iPad however are developing apps and games! Two things that I very much enjoy doing.

Luckily for me, I have a NAS drive which I have Time Machine on taking backups. I can’t say it’s been doing them regularly, but I have a backup from a few weeks ago that will be more than sufficient. Plus there’s the added benefit of iCloud, which hosts all of my music, photos, videos, etc. So I’m not worrying too much about losing my files.

I do think a new MacBook would be useful to me though, as it allows me to have a fresh start albeit a forced one. It would probably be more of a psychological clean slate, but it would allow me to focus on what I really need in a device and not mess this one up. The new models also come with integrated flash storage, so that is a major advantage over the basic one my current Mac. Then there is the retina screen, better graphics, better processor, so it would put necessarily be a like for like replacement.

I think I’ll have to re-evaluate my backup strategy as well. I’ll set up my Time to do backups more regularly, but I also want to add a second layer of protection at least. This could be where a fresh start would come in handy, as it would allow me to start using a service like Dropbox, to host all my valuable files for my blogs and also university. And that would be a lot easier to set up if I started from scratch.

Well there are my thoughts on the situation, sorry if I’ve bored you in the mean time. But I thought I needed to let it all out.

If you have any suggestions on the repair, which model to upgrade to, or even ideas for how I will set up a replacement, then please post a comment. I’m always eager to listen to other opinions.


Kitten Killer

I’ve just finished another game, for Ludum Dare which is a 48 hour game development competition. The idea is to start with a blank slate, and a theme, and then you have 48 hours to create everything and to create a game. The entries are then rated by other game developers and after three weeks, you get to see where you ranked.

My latest entry was “Kitten Killer“, a game where you have to kill as many kittens as possible in 60 seconds. It may seem horrific, but the theme was “You are the monster” so I thought it was very suitable.

It only finished Sunday evening so I have a while left, but it’s already started to receive very positive comments.

You can play Kitten Killer on


Watching The Perseids

Tonight I watched some of the Perseids Meteor Shower in my back garden, and I just want to share my experience. Just in case you didn’t know, the Perseids are a meteor shower which typically appear in August. If you want to learn more then I’d recommend reading this BBC article for starters. Although I didn’t have the best viewing conditions (it was a bit cloudy), I managed to watch a few meteors fly past, and generally see a lot of stars.


I couldn’t do this in silence, so I consulted Apple Music. I found a very apt selection in the “Being Outdoors” section of their activity playlists, I listened to one called “Under the Stars”. I generally found the music to be okay, but my attention was mainly on the stars. One song I did like was “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space” by Spiritualised.


Of course I had to do some photography while I was there, I’m no professional though I do admit. I used my Canon EOS 1000d with a 50mm prime lens, pointing directly up from where I was laying. I used an app called DSLR Assistant for Mac, which is fantastic in my opinion. I didn’t spend too much time getting the perfect shot, as I was more focussed on seeing them with my own eyes. I haven’t edited the photos in any way at all, they are straight from my camera. Here is a shot where I actually captured part of the shower. And here is a 4 second video of 60 different photos that I took. Just to be clear, the photo gets slightly orange at the end as a street light decided it was a good time to turn on. Hopefully, it still looks okay