5 Stupid Terminal Tricks to Keep You Entertained
Bored? Launch Terminal and get ready for some completely stupid tricks to keep yourself entertained. You’ll be listening to Horse Ebooks blab away, watching Star Wars in ASCII, playing retro games, toasting your CPU cores with a repetitive phrase, and even talking to a virtual psychotherapist. The hidden joys of the command line are upon us:
1: Watch Star Wars in ASCII
Yes, really, you can watch the original Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope right from the terminal. All you need to do is type the following:
Sit back, relax, and enjoy your ASCII adventure.
2: Play Tetris, Pong, and Other Retro Games
The text editor emacs has a collection of games hidden inside, including Snake, Tetris, Pong, Solitaire, Towers of Hanoi, and more. To access these little easteregg jems, here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Type ‘emacs’ at the command line, then hit Function+F10, then ‘t’, then ‘g’
- Select the game from the list by using arrow keys or by hitting a key corresponding to the game, S for Solitaire, T for Tetris, t for Hanoi, s for Snake, etc
The controls take some getting used to, but the games are playable enough to pass the time.
3: Talk to a Virtual Psychotherapist
Remember Eliza? If not, you’re probably not old or nerdy enough. Anyway, you can access the virtual psychotherapist Eliza right from Terminal, again buried inside of emacs:
- Type “emacs” to launch emacs, then hit the Escape key followed by capital X, then type “doctor” and hit return
- Unload your problems and concerns onto a virtual therapist
Eliza is pretty funny, and I’ve always secretly hoped that Siri would include the same logic as an easter egg somewhere, but it hasn’t happened yet. I guess you’ll have to stick to doing useful things with Siri for now.
4: Read Horse Ebooks Gibberish Aloud
If you’ve ever wanted your Mac to speak complete utter gibberish to you (or an unsuspecting co-worker/friend/family member), look no further than OS X Terminal app, text-to-speech, and the nonsensical world of HorseEbooks.
Fire up Terminal and paste in the following command:
curl -s horseebooksipsum.com/api/v1/ | say
Now enjoy a neverending stream of gibberish until you hit Control+C to stop the speech.
If you’re unfamiliar with Horse Ebooks, it’s basically an unintentionally hilarious Twitter spam account that has gotten famous for it’s meaningless tweets. Here’s the type of stuff it will say:
Air. FACT: Every year thousands of people. Oh yeah and don’t forget. What if you are wrong and I. Finance. My. How to grind through the greasiest Texas shuffle like you were born just outside of Dallas. Late that night, an old friend calls in. Mesmerizing Ways. She is forced to flee from Rome. SECRET CASH. Brag. Sum of money put aside. 40 inch vertical. Beyond mortality, Feel the prow s grating, golden, on the stars. Forgive. Or Loss. How do you feel. Engaging conversationalist and you d love to touch his hand or. Kiss the crazy. Bolt From The Water Like A Prisoner On Jail Break… If I could show you a precise leg. Monopoly on your radio. Cement. Why banks need to sell and can be your best friends. Your abs. There are plenty of skinny guys nailing the golf ball further than you. Intensive singing. Simple little. 40 inch vertical. KEEP. YOU.
This makes a great joke to play on someone if you can SSH into their Mac, crank up their speakers, and let Horse Ebooks blabber on.
5: Repeat A Word or Phrase Into CPU Inferno
Remember our post on stress testing a Mac with the yes command? You can actually have the yes command repeat anything just by placing it in quotes. The repetition is so fast that your processor will go into overdrive, fans will start blaring, and everything else will become slower as the word or phrase is repeated forever, well at least until its stopped with Control+C
Here’s all you need to do:
yes "I like fan noise"
There is literally no end to yes unless you stop it yourself. Hit Control+C or kill it with “killall yes”
Thanks to Jared for the Horse Ebooks inspiration