I learned about the ‘tr’ Unix command today. It’s for translating text in streams. The particular example was:
echo | tr '012' '001'
And I didn’t really understand what that did, but now I do. Basically the ‘echo’ part will echo a new line character, which is octal 012. Then tr will read its input stream and read that new line. It then has a rule to translate 012 (new line) to 001 (Ctrl+A), which it does. So basically it’s just a way of getting a Ctrl+A character in a stream. If you use Ctrl+A as your regular expression delimiter you’re unlikely to have a collision in the expression itself.