We'll close this chapter with a brief look at a nice utility that can be useful for keeping track of how you spend your time, information that system administrators will find comes in handy all too often. It is called plod and was written by Hal Pomeranz (see http://bullwinkle.deer-run.com/~hal/plod/). While there are similar utilities with a GUI interface (e.g., gtt and karm, from the Gnome and KDE window manager packages, respectively), I prefer this simpler one that doesn't require a graphical environment.
plod works by maintaining a log file containing time stamped entries that you provide; the files' default location is ~/.logdir/yyyymm, where yyyy and mm indicate the current year and month, respectively. plod log files can optionally be encrypted.
The command has lots of options, but its simplest form is the following:
$ plod [text]
If some text is included on the command, it is written to the log file (tagged with the current date and time). Otherwise, you enter the command's interactive mode, in which you can type in the desired text. Input ends with a line containing a lone period.
Once you've accumulated some log entries, you can use the command's -C, -P, and -E options to display them, either as continuous output, piped through a paging command like more (although less is the default), or via an editor (vi is the default). You can specify a different paging program or editor with the PAGER and EDITOR environment variables (respectively).
You can also use the -G option to search plod log files; it differs from grep in that matching entries are displayed in their entirety. By default, searches are not case sensitive, but you can use -g to make them so.
Here is an example command that searches the current log file:
$ plod -g hp-ux ----- 05/11/2001, 22:56 -- Starting to configure the new HP-UX box. ----- 05/11/2001, 23:44 -- Finished configuring the new HP-UX box.
Given these features, plod can be used to record and categorize the various tasks that you perform. We will look at a script which can read and summarize plod data in Chapter 14.