Yanking and sorting lines matching a pattern

One of the best investments I’ve ever made is to be proficient with a good cross-platform editor, in my case Vim. It took me a good few months before I really became comfortable with it, but those few months’ struggle yielded huge dividend since then!

So after years of Vim usage, I consider myself a power user. Yet from time to time, I come across some nifty tips that remind me why I fall in love with it in the first place: the sense of wonder, awe, beauty, and intelligence of its creators!

Here are two things I learned recently:

  • Sort based on a pattern
    I use sort and sort u all the time. sort does what the word implies, sorting all lines in the buffer. sort u (unique) does the sort, but in addition to that, removes duplicate lines. Those two commands are extremely useful.

    Yesterday I was doing some email log analysis, and had a bunch of email addresses in my file. And I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if I could sort those addresses based on domain names? So I searched the web, then looked through :help sort. Sure enough, I can absolutely do that.

    Say you’ve got the following lines:


    To sort them based on domain names, type :sort /.\+@/ in normal mode will do just that.

  • Yank all matching lines into a register
    I use :g/pattern/d fairly often. What that line does is to delete all lines inside the document that match the pattern. Since you can use regex with pattern, this can be pretty powerful.

    However, before deleting them, sometime it is a good idea to save them away. To do that, run
    :g/pattern/yank CapitalLetter

    This command will put matching lines into a register. Let use X as an example. At a different buffer, you can run


    And it’ll paste those lines!


1. 怎么更新Ubuntu Linux;
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install build-essential
2. 怎么安装Python包;
sudo apt-get install python-pip
sudo apt-get install python-dev
sudo pip install numpy
sudo pip install ggplot…
3. 怎么安装R和R包;
sudo apt-get install r-base
sudo apt-get install openjdk-7-jdk
sudo R
4. 如何方便快捷下载视频:
Firefox, 插件DownThemAll





Convert Excel file with hyperlinks to CSV

It seems the venerable file format CSV (Character/Comma-separated values) never goes out of style. According to CSV wikipedia page, IBM Fortran started supporting this format in 1967, before many of us were born. CSV has been with us, through thick and thin, silently but steadfastly, ready to spring into action when duty calls. For sure, it’s one of data professionals’ best friends! Often times, we’d convert spreadsheet files or dump data inside a database into a CSV before it can be distributed and consumed downstream.

Major league scripting languages, such as Perl, Python, and Ruby, all have their own way of converting Excel spreadsheet files into CSVs. Here I list their most popular libraries, based on my research: for Perl, there is Spreadsheet::ParseExcel; for Python, there is xlrd; for Ruby, there is roo.

However, none of these addressed a problem I had recently.

Here is my use case:
Given Excel files, in both xls and xlsx format, that have hyperlink columns in them, convert them to CSV. For hyperlink columns, save the text value (also known as Friendly_name) but not its URL. None of the libraries mentioned above can handle it.

So I ended up trying PHP, and found a PHP library called PHPExcel that addressed my needs. Below is a quick CLI PHP program I wrote.

Follow steps below to use it:

  1. Download PHPExcel library;
  2. Save the program below. On Linux, you can save it as excel2csv. On Windows, save it as excel2csv.php. Modify as needed so it points to the correct directory where PHPExcel is located;
  3. On Linux, you may want to run
    chmod +x excel2csv
    On Windows you should be ok if your system knows to use PHP when it sees a .php extension;
  4. To use it, on command line, run
    excel2csv inputExcel outputCsv
    Remember to replace the parameters to your liking!

Hope it helps!

#!/usr/bin/php -q
< ?php

$inputFile = $argv[1];
$outputFile = $argv[2];

function Xls2Csv($infile,$outfile)
	$fileType = PHPExcel_IOFactory::identify($infile);
	$objReader = PHPExcel_IOFactory::createReader($fileType);

	$objPHPExcel = $objReader->load($infile);

	$objWriter = PHPExcel_IOFactory::createWriter($objPHPExcel, 'CSV');

Using rsync to backup remote n00 files

I had trouble rsync remote Linux 600 files (rw——-) today. I knew that I came across this issue before but couldn’t remember how I resolved it. Therefore I had to waste time looking for and verifying a solution. Hence this blog post.

This is the problem I had earlier:

rsync -zr userA@remoteServer:/var/www/website/ /home/user/Documents/webSiteBackup/website/www/
rsync: send_files failed to open "/var/www/website/wp-config.php": Permission denied (13)
rsync error: some files/attrs were not transferred (see previous errors) (code 23) at main.c(1655) [generator=3.1.0]

So the issue is that wp-config.php is a 600 file, meaning only root can read and write it. Although userA@remoteServer has sudo privilege, I still need to run visudo so that it won’t ask for password when this user runs rsync.

Here is the line I added into visudo:

userA    ALL=(root) NOPASSWD: /usr/bin/rsync

And here is the slightly modified bash command to run:

rsync --rsync-path="sudo rsync" -zr userA@remoteServer:/var/www/website/ /home/user/Documents/webSiteBackup/website/www/

Hope it helps you as well.