Sunday, April 27, 2014

Late April reading.

We got a few showers this week. April showers bring Mayflowers, and Mayflowers bring Pilgrims!


  • Republished on Slate is a strongly-worded article first published in The New Scientist: Mathematician Spies.
    For the past 10 months, a major international scandal has engulfed some of the world's largest employers of mathematicians. These organizations stand accused of law-breaking on an industrial scale and are now the object of widespread outrage. How has the mathematics community responded? Largely by ignoring it.
  • Another Slate article, from last summer, linked by the above: An Open Letter to My Former NSA Colleagues
    I can only guess how much more horrified the ex-NSAers I know—you, my former colleagues, my friends, my professors, and my mentors—must be. Unlike me, you have spent much of your working lives helping the NSA build its power, only to see your years of work used in a way it was never supposed to be used. You could speak out now in a way that violates neither your secrecy agreement nor your honor. It's hard to believe that the professors I know at universities around the country would remain silent as the NSA abuses their trust and misuses their work.
  • On to lighter topics. Remember that story about how thousands of game cartridges were buried in the New Mexico desert? Well, count that urban legend as "confirmed":
    • Number 1: The Worst Game of All Time: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (Atari, 1982)
      In 1983, faced with literally millions of unsold and returned E.T. games added to its already sizeable inventory of unusable cartridges, Atari opted for an environmentally unfriendly (some would say downright hostile) solution: The company dumped them into a city landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico, where they were crushed, buried, and later covered in a layer of cement. The incident was reported in the New York Times and prompted protests and legislation from city officials.
    • Witness Video Game History: Attend Atari Landfill Excavation on April 26
      We’re excited to announce that the excavation of the long-rumored “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” video game burial site will occur on April 26, 2014 and will be open to the public. Spectators are invited to watch the team uncover the infamous Atari game cartridge grave.
    • Long-Buried E.T. Cartridges Unearthed at New Mexico Landfill
      The findings started out very promising, with an old, dusty Atari 2600 joystick buried in the landfill. Then an "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" cartridge. A box. An instruction manual. And the confirmation of "a lot more down there." How many more, we don't know just yet -- but at this point, we can safely report that those long-buried cartridges are actually, 100 percent there. Crazy, isn't it!?
  • Game Programming Patterns
    I wrote this book to answer those questions. It’s a collection of patterns I found in games to make code cleaner, easier to understand, and faster.

    It’s Free and Online!

    This is the book I wish I had when I started making games, and I want you to have it now!

  • Zero to 95,688: How I wrote Game Programming Patterns
    I’m not doing this for the money, which means I’m doing it for my personal satisfaction. And what’s most satisfying to me is feeling like I got to put as much of my own creativity into it as possible without someone else calling the shots.
  • My new favorite vim/tmux bug
    I didn’t have much time to play with it in the moment, but the very best thing happened - we were able to replicate it on any machine recently reimaged with our new workstation setup script! This meant I was able to get the bug onto my laptop! AW YEAH.
  • TDD is dead. Long live testing.
    But first of all take a deep breath. We're herding some sacred cows to the slaughter right now. That's painful and bloody. TDD has been so successful that it's interwoven in a lot of programmer identities. TDD is not just what they do, it's who they are. We have some serious deprogramming ahead of us as a community to get out from under that, and it's going to take some time.
  • Why Most Unit Testing is Waste
    This raised the overall corporate measure of maturity of its teams in one year, because you will certainly get what you reward. Of course, this also meant that functions no longer encapsulated algorithms. It was no longer possible to reason about the execution context of a line of code in terms of the lines that precede and follow it in execution, since those lines of code are no longer adjacent to the one you are concerned about. That sequence transition now took place across a polymorphic function call — a hyper-galactic GOTO. But if all you’re concerned about is branch coverage, it doesn’t matter.
  • And last, but oh so not least, don't miss this epic: It’s Adventure Time: The bizarre magic of the world’s greatest kid’s—is it for kids?—television show.
    Adventure Time is a smash hit cartoon aimed primarily at kids age six to eleven. It’s also a deeply serious work of moral philosophy, a rip-roaring comic masterpiece, and a meditation on gender politics and love in the modern world. It is rich with moments of tenderness and confusion, and real terror and grief even; moments sometimes more resonant and elementally powerful than you experience in a good novel, though much of Adventure Time’s emotional force is visually evoked—conveyed through a language of seeing and feeling rather than words.

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