StackOverflow

<3 StackOverflow

This is my homage to that wondrous site. Well, it usually helps. To quote Shamus Young from his dev blog.

Right off the bat, I can see something is wrong here. These docs on GLSL are an absolute mess. The wiki is even worse. If you ever Google something and find forum posts listed above the official documentation in the search order, you know you are sailing right into the inky black void near the edge of the map, a place that would be labeled “here be dragons” if not for the fact that the link to the map itself is a 404.

Searching for example programs isn’t very helpful either. There are two kinds of example programs:

Ultra-simple test programs: Here is how to create a flat-shaded, un-textured, colorless, unlit polygon. These little three-line programs can’t teach you anything because they don’t DO anything.
Super-complex programs for a very specific purpose: Here is how to do toon shading on a bump-mapped, multi-textured, reflective surface with a specular map and fresnel shading. These programs are just pages of un-commented equations and are too advanced and specific to be used to learn how to do anything.

Which leaves us with forums. Here is how things work on programming forums:

ALLEN: Hi, I’m new to driving and I need to move my car back around 5 meters. How can I move the car backwards?

(2 days later.)

ALLEN: Hello? This is still a problem. I’m sure someone knows how to do this.

BOB: I can’t believe you didn’t figure this out yourself. Just take your foot off the gas and let the car roll backwards down the hill. Tap the bake when you get to where you want to be. Boom. Done.

ALLEN: But I’m not on a hill. I’m in my driveway and it’s completely flat.

CARL: Dude, I don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish, but you should never be driving backwards. It’s dangerous and will confuse the other drivers. See the big window in FRONT of you? That’s your first clue. Don’t drive backwards.

ALLEN: I’m not trying to drive backwards. I just need to move back a little bit so I can get out of my driveway and start driving forwards.

CARL: So just drive in circle until you’re pointed the right way.

ALLEN: I don’t have enough room to turn around like that. I only need to move back a few meters. I don’t understand why this has to be so hard.

CARL: Sounds like your “driveway” isn’t compatible with cars. It’s probably made for bikes. Call a contractor and have them convert some of your yard into driveway to be standards-compliant with the turning radius of a car. Either way, you’re doing something wrong.

DAVE: I see your problem. You can adjust your car to move backwards by using the shifter. It’s a stick located right between the passenger and driver seats. Apply the clutch and move the stick to the “R” position.

ALLEN: But.. I don’t have a clutch. And there isn’t a stick between the seats.

CARL: Sounds like you’re trying to drive in Europe or something.

ALLEN: Ah. Nevermind. I figured it out.

“Hold on, Matt,” you say. Or maybe “Hold on random Internet guy,” if you feel so inclined. “You haven’t actually written anything yet in this post!” True. You know what? I have a bunch of half-written blog posts, and they all SUCK. So this is the best you are going to get for now. Also:

Punctuation shouldn’t go inside quotes. That is STUPID.

He could say “Stop!,” or “Eat cold steel!,” or “If you move, the planet will explode.;” instead he chooses to scream incoherently and spazz out on the floor. Wait, maybe that wasn’t a choice. The other guy is holding a taser.

That sentence looks retarded. It should be:

He could say “Stop!”, or “Eat cold steel!”, or “If you move, the planet will explode.”; instead…

Doesn’t that just look so much better? Obvious solution: start an Internet petition to change English.

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The World in 15 Years

It’s been a while since I’ve just written something for fun without justifying myself, so I decided to make a post where I just make shit up. Basically, I’ve been thinking about something I heard a while back, which went along the lines of: science fiction is about personalizing issues in the present day and bringing abstract problems to a level in which the characters deal with it directly. While I disagree with the statement to some extent, I also agree with it the more I think about it. Fallen Angels makes climate change a very tangible force that the characters have to deal with, for instance. Power Nap (a webcomic) expands the sense that corporations take advantage of their employees for productivity beyond reasonable limits, and personalizes it for the protagonist.

So, I momentarily abandoned my plans for writing a space opera. Most of all, I just wasn’t ready for a writing project of that magnitude. But more importantly, it didn’t MEAN anything to me. I wanted to write a story that took some problem or idea that affected me and make it very real and tangible. With the latest set of vicious storms in my area knocking out power for days, even disabling emergency services and perhaps water utilities for a time, I began thinking about how reliant our global society is on electronics and the electricity to power them. This coupled with the thoughts that had been stewing about in my head ever since I casually skimmed a National Geographic article. The article was not that interesting, but the subject matter was one that hadn’t really occurred to me before: a freak solar flare, like one that happened in 1859, could essentially fry the entire power grid and all of our electronics. This, to me, proposes a much more interesting and up-to-date apocalyptic scenario than the standard nuclear armageddon.

That got me thinking about the near future, and so I’ve compiled a list of some things I think will be likely to occur in the next 15 years. I tried to not be too optimistic. Yes, I know that some of it is inconsistent, and some of it is much more detailed than other parts.

Geopolitics
Asia
-China becoming more democratic, but increases censorship nonetheless
-Huge number of economically successful high-tech countries in East and Southeast Asia
-Pacific Rim emerges as haven for free data sharing, as well as Eastern Europe

Africa
-Poor countries still poor
-Communication technologies become even more widespread
-Corrupt governments overthrown in continuous cycles of bloody revolution
-Raw material supply becomes unreliable
-Poor corrupt countries may fall into anarchy

America
-Rest of world becoming more socialist in terms of government handling of resources
-USA increasingly resistant to government regulation of resources and thus begins to lag in large societal changes and technological adoption
-More and more unrest as the US government fails to agilely address new problems
-Increased attempts by media-industry-controlled government factions to eradicate un-supervised data sharing on Internet
-USA oversteps some boundaries trying to persecute free data sharing companies in Asia, world becomes weary of US intellectual property pushes

Europe
-Everything goes to shit in Greece with communist election, pulls out of EU
-Spain pulls out of EU because of financial collapse
-Germany pulls out of EU in anticipation of EU and Euro collapse
-Euro goes to hell
-European economy collapses, lots of companies migrate their finances to US or Asia in anticipation
-Several brief civil wars break out in countries hit hard, tourism in Europe goes to shit, causes more economic decay

Technology
Space
-DARPA project kicks off space recycling
-Retired space stations are cannibalized
-Expanded commercial industry, competition with SpaceX
-Asteroid mining just starting, expected influx of resources (Earth mining becomes ridiculously expensive as resources are depleted)
-Plans for mars still just plans (commercial and governmental)
-Commercial space station with sponsors (Red Bull module?)

Computers
-More advances in mobile technology
-Competition in information glasses (see Google Glass)
-Increased presence of laplets (netbook / tablet hybrid, see Microsoft Surface)
-Increases in high-speed Internet availability
-Cloud gaming (processing on external machines, screen streamed)
-Some cities are implementing ubiquitous wifi
-Self-driving cars prevalent
-Resource sharing via private companies becomes more accepted

Medicine
-Cures for blindness, etc
-Advances in prosthetics, mind-controlled apparatus
-More use of robotics, especially in operations
-Cancer research still unable to cure cancer
-Pushback against genetic engineering to solve rampant problems (e.g. anti-sepsis bacteria, clotting-inducers, artificial immune boosters, disease-vector re-engineering)
-Technological advances in molecular synthesis jeopardizes pharmaceutical industry

Transportation
-Niche markets of supersonic flights and new efficient airships are filled
-Ocean drilling for oil becomes extremely common, Gulf spill stigma overcome
-Oil synthesization expanding as a market, more viable as oil is used up and Middle Eastern oil is unavailable
-Price of flights start to increase, flying starts to become less popular

Environment
-Increased reliance on new breed of safe fission power
-Global warming still “on the rise”, even though it has been partially linked to various natural processes
-Carbon emissions significantly reduced in Europe and America, increased in Asia
-Attempts to limit number of chemical rockets used, rejection
-Anti-desertification movement gains momentum, Saharan reduction initiated
-Still huge pushes towards recycling


I might update this post with some short descriptions of why I make some of these predictions, but until then you should leave a comment agreeing or disagreeing. Also follow me on Twitter @mattlevonian if you like my blog.

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