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How To Get a Game-Obsessed Teenager Into Coding?

Zork the Almighty OpenGL (704 comments)

Code a simple example in OpenGL. It's fairly easy to get started. Get a tetrahedron on the screen. Then make it bounce and spin and deform in real time.

more than 4 years ago

Are You a Blue-Collar Or White-Collar Developer?

Zork the Almighty Re:It's about social status... (836 comments)

Just face it, you're getting too old for slashdot :) About half the people arguing with you are just trying to justify all the money they spent or are spending on education. Yes, you need calculus in academic disciplines, including computer science. You also need it in highly technical or scientific fields, like rocketry, engineering, image processing, etc. Of course, learning computer science does not necessarily teach anyone how to make good software, and in some cases an inverse correlation may be observed.

I think it's really sad how our society basically devalues skilled labour. That's what writing good software is, after all. The attitude of businesses seems to be that people are more or less replaceable and therefore expendable, and people have responded by outrageously increasing their qualifications. This costs society a lot of money in wasted time, lost productivity, lost income, and stunted career progression. The quality of education has also deteriorated under the extremely high demand. This is inflation in education: the amount of it goes up as its value drops.

It does not make sense for most software developers to have a four year computer science degree. It's hard to see what they could need beyond a solid understanding of algorithms and data structures, and exposure to different programming languages. You could learn it in two years, but it would be quite hard. Or you could learn the basics in one year and do a year of apprenticeship and two years as a journeyman to get it all. But it doesn't work that way anymore, because a great many businesses refuse to bear the costs of educating their employees. It's stupid short-term thinking, and they pay for it in other ways, but all of the career risk has been pushed onto the labour force.

So what are you missing? The value of an education is really what you make of it. I guess the best way to explain it is with an analogy. If you were to get an English degree you would study Shakespeare. It may or may not help you write a good play. If you were talented, you might pick up something from Shakespeare. Or you could study Shakespeare with great dedication, and practice writing until your work really compares. Or you could bullshit, plagiarize, and plead your way though a degree and go on to write travesty after travesty to be inflicted on an unsuspecting public. In any case, someone with a BA in English had better know Shakespeare. That's just expected, because it's part of a body of knowledge. It may or may not be related to the skills that employers are looking for.

Universities exist to maintain and expand bodies of knowledge. That's it. To the extent that they have been used as a "shortcut" for employee training or certification, it is highly unfortunate and detrimental to society as a whole. I wouldn't deny the right of an education to anyone, but society has misconstrued its purpose.

more than 5 years ago

Is There a Future For Mature Games On Wii?

Zork the Almighty "mature" game does not mean good game (186 comments)

Too many games are retarded, and a lot of people who play them are probably retarded too. It's like any other form of mass entertainment. Supposedly "mature" games are mostly mindless violence. I think "mature" means "appeals to 13 year olds instead of 10 year olds" here. It's one or two steps up from "My Pony Party". Do you want a good game for the Wii? Try Muramasa. It has a good story, incredible art, and it's a lot of fun to play. Is that a mature game? I would say so. It's a lot more mature than sawing people to death (what the hell?). Developers: stop complaining that your retarded shit doesn't sell. I'm sure lots of even more retarded shit sells like hotcakes, and that seems mighty unfair, but nobody cares nor should they care. Try making something that isn't totally brain dead.

more than 5 years ago

Best Home Backup Strategy Now?

Zork the Almighty home users (611 comments)

Backup your internal HDD to an external one, and if your data is really important, have two externals and swap one off-site once a week.

For the vast majority of home users this is still the best advice.

more than 5 years ago

Tech Or Management Beyond Age 39?

Zork the Almighty management (592 comments)

Ageism in tech is very real, and even if you're not seeing it yet, you will in another 10 years. By that time it will be too late. Get on the management track while you can.

more than 5 years ago

SLI on Life Support on the AMD Platform

Zork the Almighty nvidia dying (2 comments)

Nvidia is just pissing on everyone. Who is going to buy their chips ? Not AMD users (duh), and when Larrabee ships they will face stiff competition from Intel. And they don't have a future generation game console. How does a hardware company think it can act like this and survive ?

more than 5 years ago

AMD's Six-Core Istanbul Opterons

Zork the Almighty Re:Another test at anandtech.com (123 comments)

Hyperthreading shows you eight fake cores which map to four real cores. I benchmarked it extensively. Computationally intensive routines with a small memory footprint can gain up to 20%. Bandwidth or memory intensive routines can lose up to 50%. In the extreme case, 8 threads on virtual cores can be half the speed of 4 threads on 4 real cores on a Core i7. Keep in mind, this is on a crazy application that generates lots of data.

If your algorithm is designed to break up the problem to exploit the cache then hyperthreading is a bigger mess. The data for thread 1 and thread 2 (out of 8) might be complementary, but the operating system will run those threads different actual cores, because all it sees is the virtual cores. This can be very inefficient if you need the whole cache.

Perhaps worst of all, you are stuck always running 8 threads. 2-6 threads may not be distributed evenly across the real cores, leading to inconsistent performance. Therefore, you may lose performance by attempting to scale the problem further than it is efficient to do so. With real cores, I can decide (based on problem size) the correct number of core to use.

In conclusion, hyperthreading has its uses, but operating systems are oblivious to it and that's a major problem with more than one core.

more than 5 years ago

Intel Recruits TSMC To Produce Atom CPUs

Zork the Almighty Intel (109 comments)

Atom cpus are not especially profitable. They're cheap. Intel is handing them off to TSMC and probably hoping like hell that the market still craves high performance. Unless more software is parallelized, things are going to be bad!

Note: I parallelized my software and the Core i7 is awesome. Superlinear speedup is easy to achieve with a dedicated L2 cache. The Phenom II would also give great performance. So I would bet that Atom and other underpowered cpus are a fad. They will not look very good next to a mobile Core i7 that is 20x faster when all cores are used.

more than 5 years ago

A Teacher Asking Students To Destroy Notes?

Zork the Almighty advice (931 comments)

Tell her to fuck off. Seriously, is this a joke ? Why would you let her go through your binder ? Do you just do anything someone says to be nice ? Go to her office and demand your notes back. Don't leave until she gives them to you. Take it up with the head department. Ask them what kind of fucking crock "school" they have. Is it a degree mill where you pay for a piece of paper ? You can get those with mail order you know. What a fucking joke.

more than 5 years ago

45nm Phenom II Matches Core 2 Quad, Trails Core i7

Zork the Almighty Re:AMD is back????? (234 comments)

I disagree. AMD is in an ok position, not great obviously, but their platform is competitive. The Core i7 is a better processor than the Phenom II, but I don't expect its price to come down any time soon. Intel will milk the high margins for as long as they can and sell old Core 2 quads to consumers for at least this year.

Given the choice between a Core 2 Quad and a Phenom II, you should pick the Phenom. No question about it. The Core 2 quad has a split cache so multithreaded performance is crap. The cores have to transfer data through the slow memory interface, which limits parallel speedup in a lot of cases. This wasn't really an issue when Intel released the processor, but in the near future it will be a serious issue because the parallel software is coming.

more than 5 years ago

Black Holes Lead Galaxy Growth

Zork the Almighty economy (50 comments)

"Black Holes Lead Galaxy Growth" - this is great news for our economy.

more than 5 years ago

Bank Julius Baer Issues Statement On WikiLeaks

Zork the Almighty News coverage (187 comments)

Did anyone see the Associated Press coverage? link.

"An effort at damage control has snowballed into a public relations disaster for a Swiss bank seeking to crack down on a renegade Web site for posting classified information about some of its wealthy clients."

Apparently, company information is "classified information", and WikiLeaks is a "renegade" website. I guess it is compared to the Associated Press. Here's a high school example of propaganda. Perhaps it was written by a high school student.

more than 6 years ago


Zork the Almighty hasn't submitted any stories.



Good OS X Programs

Zork the Almighty Zork the Almighty writes  |  more than 10 years ago Here is a list of my favorite Mac OS X programs, which I use on a regular basis. Feel free to post your own, but to get on my list programs must be freeware or open source, and they must use native widgets.

FFview - an image viewer. Great for large, organized photo collections (see my iPhoto rant earlier). Designed for reading manga.

MPlayer OSX 2 - _the_ movie player. Handles everything, no questions asked. I don't even bother with that quicktime shit.

Adium X - IM client. Connects to all the networks I care about. Small and unintrusive if you change the dock icon. Themeable. Very nice program.

Frozen Bubble - game. More like an addictive, polished game. A must have for any platform.

Temperature Monitor - self explanatory. I leave this running, because I like seeing graphs of sensors. This guy makes lots of other great software too. Be sure to check out TinkerTool.

Ogg Vorbis Quicktime components - lets you play .ogg files in iTunes.


Apple's Interfaces are Retarded

Zork the Almighty Zork the Almighty writes  |  more than 10 years ago I understand why everybody likes Apple's interfaces. If you try to do something simple, it usually works. However, for more complex or repetative tasks there is generally no good way to do various things. Worse still, the UI gets in your way. For example:

In iPhoto, I already have my photos organized into directories. When I import them, I get film rolls corresponding to my directories. So far so good. However, the files can not be sorted by anything inside the film rolls, so when I do a slideshow it is all out of order. No sweat, you say, I can just make albums from each film roll. Have you ever tried creating multiple albums in this program ? Good god! It is fucking terrible! You have to drag each one - the command "make album from selection" is greyed out if you select a film roll - then it switches to the album, and you have to scroll up the list back to the photo library, locate the next album, and continue. Honestly, this program is fucking irritating.

(update) Ackk! It's even worse than I first believed. There is no way to automatically sort all albums by filename either. Why Apple, Why ?!! Why does it have to suck so bad ?!! Auggghhh!!!


Current Keyboards and Mice are Crap

Zork the Almighty Zork the Almighty writes  |  more than 10 years ago

Is it just me, or is it impossible to buy a normal keyboard and mouse these days. Every keyboard now has at least ten "multimedia" or "internet" keys, and god help you if you want a mouse without a scroll wheel. I have on my desk a fairly ordinary keyboard (although it has those blasted "windows" keys) and a Logitech 3-button mouse. I dread the day when I have to replace the mouse. Does anyone have a source for "no-shit" keyboards and mice ? I'd be very interested.

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