Tag Archives: viewer

since: Since you last checked

I promised I would get since onto these pages before the end comes, mostly because I don’t remember any other log viewer that has this behavior by default … and I want to be able to remember it in the future.


It’s hard for me to be sure though, after so many years and so many log utilities. :

since seems different because, as you might have inferred from the screenshot, it only displays log data since the last time it checked. So you can see the last portions of pacman.log at the top of that image, then the repository update. The next invocation of since only shows the two lines that had been added.

I’m sure other tail-esque tools can do this, and possibly add a few nifty tricks in passing. It’s just a matter of finding the right flags and getting them in order.

For its own part, since keeps its state file in ~/.since, and you have the option to ignore it. You can also tell since to use a special state file, to run periodically, to ignore compressed logs, ignore missing logs, and a lot of other options.

I am not a real bloodhound when it comes to keeping an eye on logs, so at its best, since is useful … but only rarely. On my pseudo-desktop system, there’s almost no call for it.

On a more complex system or in a situation where log files are critical, it might save you some time trying to get the information you need. I’m willing to give it a thumbs-up. 🙂

Tagged: information, log, system, tail, viewer

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vbindiff: Red and blue

Is it time for a hex editor? It’s time for a hex editor … of sorts.

I have to admit a small amount of surprise in seeing a program as venerable yet well-maintained as vbindiff that seems to have skipped a few small steps in its presentation.


Going by the home page, the first “release” of vbindiff was for the OS/2, way back in 1996. Through the years it appears to have shifted more towards the Windows environment, but added *nix support less than 10 years ago, and for what it’s worth, is packaged in both Arch and Debian.

And my fleeting interactions with vbindiff suggest it is a workable, usable program at the very least. It wisely uses a horizontal split-screen arrangement and a strong white-on-blue backdrop, and keeps almost all its key commands on the screen, when they are relevant.

You can edit a file as well, making it a practical hex editor as well as diff tool. It’s not as graceful or elegant as some, and not nearly as splashy as others, but it fills both needs without tripping up.

Except for two or three small things, and this is where my surprise comes in. First, as you can see in the screenshots, vbindiff is apparently comfortable stretching to a depth of at least 42 lines, and possibly a lot more. That I can guess from my terminal depth.

But I don’t see a flag or any option that will stretch it horizontally, which means that there’s a huge, huge gap of wasted space off to the right. Yes, I know 120×42 is unconventional, and I respect that 80×24 is the standard that reaches back to the 1980s. But it’s a bit of an omission — a giant glaring omission, really — given the tiling window manager trend, and the prevalence of terminal emulators.

Second, vbindiff is slanted toward picking out differences between files, but there’s no visual indicator — and by that, I mean color difference or even just a difference in bolding — to highlight changes. Perhaps that’s intentional, or perhaps there’s a way to set that in a configuration file, but I see no note of it in the man page or onboard help.

Add to that the use of red on blue, which would horrify my secondary school art teacher for the shimmering side effect it has for most viewers. I forget the name of that effect or I’d link to it, but it’s not that critical. White on blue is very good, but red on blue is going to offend Miss Crawley, wherever she is now. Maybe she is responsible for my preference for color at the console. … 😐

I should mention that by its own admission, vbindiff can’t handle files greater than 4Gb in size. Of course, if you really need a diff tool for files that are bigger than 4Gb, then I think you have bigger problems than just color choice.

vbindiff does a few things I like — the aforementioned on-screen help is always good, and it allows navigation with arrow keys. It also uses the Enter key as a quick jump to the next difference between files, which will make some of your diff quests easier.

But I don’t think this stands up to things like dhex or some others. It has potential, but really needs to be brought up to date.

Tagged: diff, editor, hex, viewer

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imgcurses: Best of most worlds

My quick run-in with img2xterm yesterday reminded me that I have another curses-based image viewer in my list: imgcurses. If you’ve ever used something like fbida or fim, imgcurses might strike you as the best amalgamation of a framebuffer image viewer and a strict console environment.

With imgcurses you can get from this to any of these:

2014-09-02-6m47421-imgcurses-01 2014-09-02-6m47421-imgcurses-02 2014-09-02-6m47421-imgcurses-03 2014-09-02-6m47421-imgcurses-04

imgcurses has four “modes” that it supports, in the way it renders the image to text-only format. Depending on the image, one mode or another might be the best representation. (The last mode, “detail,” can be somewhat taxing to render, so be patient when you switch to it.)

The best parts of imgcurses are in the simple controls it offers. Left and right square brackets zoom the image in your viewing window, “m” changes the mode and “q” quits the program.

You can see a small on-screen display too, showing the original dimensions and zoom setting, and the mode you’re using. That’s about it.

imgcurses fills in a lot of the gaps that some others — like img2xterm — omit … like fitting an image to your available terminal space. So you won’t have to resize your image before you view it.

I don’t see controls for some higher-level image functions, like rotating or flipping, so you might have to rely on imagemagick for that. And according to the home page, imgcurses only handles JPEG, PNG and TGA formats.

I like this though, and plan to include it on my next text-only systems. It handles the task gracefully, gives a few options for display, and doesn’t overburden my system. Good show all around. Have a star: :star: 😉

Tagged: convert, image, view, viewer

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