Smug again…

I have this wee technical problem. See, Jean Elmore, who did all the coloring for Book I and Book II, sent me some CDs with all her photoshop files on them. 306 of these were PKZipped, each in their own zip file.

I know full well that to a programmer, or someone with command-line chops, this is a trivial problem to solve. My command line chops are eight years out of date, and the programmers I know are all too busy to help me with this program just now. But the problem is a TRIVIAL one, right?

Step 1: Check WinXP CMD HELP (Run: CMD, and then type HELP from the command line) for unzipping commands. There are none.
Step 2: Google XP Pkzip command line. Found this page immediately, and hit on “” as the most likely candidate for a solution.
Step 3: Extracted locally, noodled around in the .txt files, and determined that UNZIP.EXE was probably the command line tool I wanted.
Step 4: From the command line I executed a quick PATH command to figure out where best to put UNZIP.EXE. Settled on C:\Windows, because in the end I really don’t care.
Step 5: From explorer, I copied all the zip files to C:\jeano.
Step 6: From CMD, I did >mkdir extract
Step 7: Wondered why I didn’t create that directory using the right-click “new folder” comand. Determined it must be my command-line hindbrain asserting itself, and shaking out some dust.
Step 8: Test-run: C:\jeano>unzip -d extract
Step 9: Sure enough, schlock20040221.psd appeared in the /jeano/extract directory.
Step 10: C:\jeano>unzip *.zip -d extract
Step 11: Go work on something else while 306 files extract into the “extract” directory.

I’m pleased. Now I can conveniently work with these files. I’ll also be burning all the Jeano files to a single DVD (I’ll make two copies), and sending one off-site.

A big shout out to the folks responsible for Infozip: thanks for the free software! By way of repayment, you can all read my comic on the web for free.


21 thoughts on “Smug again…”

      1. ::slaps forhead with clue by four::

        correct. and the unzip program that is on my unix machine is the info zip version..

        This is what happens to you when you are busy reading documentation on an ATM switch that you may or may not have to support. it turns your brains to Jell-o.

    1. To quote the zlib page:

      “zlib was written by Jean-loup Gailly (compression) and Mark Adler (decompression). Jean-loup is also the primary author/maintainer of gzip . . . and the former maintainer of Info-ZIP’s Zip; Mark is also the author of gzip’s and UnZip’s main decompression routines and was the original author of Zip. Not surprisingly, the compression algorithm used in zlib is essentially the same as that in gzip and Zip, namely, the `deflate’ method that originated in PKWARE’s PKZIP 2.x.”

  1. but..

    I have the same problem on my machine. I just

    1) install WinRAR
    2) create a new folder
    3) select all files in explorer
    4) right click+ drag to new folder
    5) select extract files from context menu
    6) …
    7) profit!

    1. Re: but..

      Been there. Done that. Bought the t-shirt and wondered why anybody bothered with a command-line program in a world of “clicky-clicky-done!”

        1. Re: but..

          Ahh, yes, but in this particular case, just a few clicks replaced a lot of keystrokes.

          The command line has its uses, but they are getting few and far between for the average user. As for me? I’m just lazy. I know how to do a lot of things both ways, so I just take whatever is the fastest.

  2. Um, do you have Windows XP? Didn’t it just show you the ‘zipped files as a “compressed folder”?

    I thought Pkzip was a “standard” enough compression formula that the built-in ‘zip’ utility would handle it.



    1. Well, you can unzip from explorer, but none of the commands listed under >HELP had anything to do with unzipping.

      It’s possible I could have accessed them via a MOVE command, and the extraction may have been automatic. That’s not especially intuitive, though, so I didn’t even bother testing to see if it would work — I just went and got stuff I KNEW would work.

      1. Yup, if you can open the *zip file and see the contents in a windows explorer folder view, then you can just select what you want, and drag it or do a ctrl-c, ctrl-v into another location and they will extract “automatically”.
        I agree; this is not especially intuitive, especially if you had touched a computer for more than half an hour before, say, Y2K.
        In windows, there are usually about five ways to do anything, four of them are not intuitive and all of them are badly documented.

    2. Oh, by way of clarification: yes, I could access the files fine, but each zip archive contained a folder “Schlock Backup” with a subfolder “PSD” and then a document “schlock.psd”. So manually extracting 306 files would have been a non-trivial task. Lots of click and drag, and plenty of room for missing one or two.

      The programmatic method is superior. The 10 steps listed above took 10 minutes or less. Writing this post and responding to the comments took longer.


      1. I’m getting sick of windows. When I quit my tech support job, I think I’m gonna buy a new Mac.
        /used to work at the Apple Assistance Center
        //that job r0xx0red

  3. There’s also Stuffit Expander. It’s their free tool that can unpack just about any archive or compressed format out there. For a multi-folder job like this, I’d;

    1. Drag the cd icon onto the Expander icon. It would then inform me that the cd was a locked volume and ask where I’d like to expand them to.

    Expander is also a cross platform tool and runs on Mac and Windows. Can be found at any major shareware site.

      1. Wouldn’t work with UNIX unzip. However, unzip 'schlock*zip' will work just fine.

        Subtle difference, and the reason I know is – you guessed it, it bit me.

  4. “By way of repayment, you can all read my comic on the web for free.”

    That made me laugh. Then I started coughing. Then I recovered from that, and laughed a little more. Then I stopped laughing. The end.

  5. I instinctively turn to the commandline for any nonvisual task. I suppose that comes from my programming background and the fact that I’d been using various computers for about four years before I first saw a GUI.

    One of my major reasons for moving away from windows was the lack of a decent commandline. There are some tasks that GUIs handle well: web browsing, image editing, etc. Just about everything else can be done more efficiently and effectively with a good commandline tool.

    As an aside, my mother’s currently doing a computer course (mostly MS Office) and she’s having a huge amount of trouble with some fairly simple tasks. When I went to help her, I had the same trouble. Why can’t people who write big fancy apps provide a way to turn off the “smart” features that screw everything up?

    1. Turns out you can turn off most of the “smart” features. Finding the switches may take more time than the rest of her course, but that’s a bridge you may have to burn.

      Personally, I think those smart features should be disabled by default – I can’t tell you how many technical calls I’ve had to resolve by explaining that it is a “feature” that Microsoft put in the new version, and would you like to know how to disable that feature?

      And I’m right there with you on the cli vs gui … though I think I’m perhaps a little more tolerant of the gui … I tend to find a lot of ways to utilize command line functionality within guis. It feels like I’m beating Bill at his own game.

      May I suggest, for anyone stuck in a windows environment, the Windows 2003 Resource Kit tools, with particular attention paid to robocopy?

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