Friday, January 31, 2014

Stuff I'm reading, Super Bowl edition

I had a great time at the ex-AmberPoint reunion this week. Many thanks to Tom and Becky for organizing and hosting it! It's fascinating how all my former co-workers look about a year older, yet I haven't aged at all...

  • Terrain generation, Part 1
    Most other things, like the terrain generation seeds and entity locations use 64 bit doubles for locations, and they do much subtler things. For example, at extreme distances, the player may move slower than near the center of the world, due to rounding errors (the position has a huge mantissa, the movement delta has a tiny, so it gets cut off faster). The terrain generator can also start generating weird structures, such as huge blocks of solid material, but I haven’t seen this lately nor examined exactly what behavior causes it to happen. One major problem at long distances is that the physics starts bugging out, so the player can randomly fall into ground blocks or get stuck while walking along a wall.
  • A Journey to the End of the World (of Minecraft)
    But, at extreme distances from a player’s starting point, a glitch in the underlying mathematics causes the landscape to fracture into illogical shapes and patterns. “Pretty early on, when implementing the ‘infinite’ worlds, I knew the game would start to bug out at long distances,” Persson told me. “But I did the math on how likely it was people would ever reach it, and I decided it was far away enough that the bugs didn’t matter.”
  • B-R5RB: The Biggest Battle in All Of EVE
    Ostensibly, this fight was for control of a single system. To maintain one's sovereignty over a system requires that one pay certain maintenance fees, and Pandemic Legion (PL) messed this up. The system affected? Their staging system for the current war, B-R5RB in Immensea.
  • Spaceships worth more than $200,000 destroyed in biggest virtual space battle ever
    EVE Online has its own economics, politics, and trade systems, built almost entirely by players in the 10 years the game has been running. It also has its own wars, as huge alliances vie for control of tracts of space in the massively multiplayer online game. One such conflict came to a head yesterday in the biggest battle in the game's decade-long history. More than 2,200 of the game's players, members of EVE's largest alliances, came together to shoot each other out of the sky. The resultant damage was valued at more than $200,000 of real-world money.
  • H1N-What? Wading Through the Alphabet Soup of Flu Names
    It’s hard to keep up with the changing names in the news. H1Nwhat? Bird flu. Pig flu. MERS. SARS. Here is a quick overview of this dizzying, dyslexia inducing array, with what you need to worry about, even if some aren’t yet in your backyard.
  • Crossrail: Tunneling Beneath London
    Crossrail, the largest construction project in Europe, is tunneling under the British capital to provide a new underground rail link across the city, and has encountered not only a maze of existing modern infrastructure, but historic finds including mammoth bone fragments, Roman roads (with ancient horseshoes embedded in the ruts), Black Plague burial grounds, and 16th century jewelry.
  • SNARKs for C: Verifying Program Executions Succinctly and in Zero Knowledge
    Proof systems for NP let an untrusted prover convince a verifier that “x e L” where L is some fixed NP-complete language. Proof systems for NP that satisfy the zero knowledge and proof of knowledge properties are a powerful tool that enables a party to prove that he or she “knows” a secret satisfying certain properties, without revealing anything about the secret itself.
  • Re: clang vs free software
    The existence of LLVM is a terrible setback for our community precisely because it is not copylefted and can be used as the basis for nonfree compilers -- so that all contribution to LLVM directly helps proprietary software as much as it helps us.
  • The Meme Hustler: Tim O’Reilly’s crazy talk
    Ultimately, however, the disagreement between Stallman and O’Reilly—and the latter soon became the most visible cheerleader of the open source paradigm—probably had to do with their very different roles and aspirations. Stallman the social reformer could wait for decades until his ethical argument for free software prevailed in the public debate. O’Reilly the savvy businessman had a much shorter timeline: a quick embrace of open source software by the business community guaranteed steady demand for O’Reilly books and events, especially at a time when some analysts were beginning to worry—and for good reason, as it turned out—that the tech industry was about to collapse.
  • Stevie Wonder's Superstition clavinet, dissected
    My favorite Stevie Wonder jam remains "Superstition" (1972) due in part to the epic clavinet riff. Listen how complex that iconic bit o' funk is by watching YouTube user Funkscribe dissect its intricacies by isolating the multiple parts in the multitrack recording files.
  • The Story Behind MemSQL’s Skiplist Indexes
    A skiplist is an ordered data structure providing expected O(Log(n)) lookup, insertion and deletion complexity. It provides this level of efficiency without the need for complex tree balancing or page splitting like that required by Btrees, redblack trees or AVL trees. As a result, it’s a much simpler and more concise data structure to implement.
  • A Unified Theory of Garbage Collection
    In this paper we show that the two fundamental approaches to storage reclamation, namely tracing and reference counting, are algorithmic duals of each other. Intuitively, one can think of tracing as operating upon live objects or “matter”, while reference counting operates upon dead objects or “anti-matter”. For every operation performed by the tracing collector, there is a corresponding “anti-operation” performed by the reference counting collector.
  • The machine is bleeding to death
    Over the course of the season, I've discovered lots of different ways to hack Madden NFL 25 into a thing that no longer resembles football as we know it. I've played around with rules, injury settings, all manner of player ratings, player dimensions, and anything else the game's developers have made available to us.

    This time is special, though, because I'm pulling out every single one of the stops at the same time. No other scenario I've built in Madden has been so abjectly cruel or unfair; no other scenario has even been close.

It's good to have something to read, in between the ads.

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