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"Focus on: 3D Terrain Programming" by Trent Polack
A small book that describes several extremely practical methods for generating, storing, and rendering a 3D terrain map.

"The Sable Quean" by Brian Jacques
Yes, that is a spelling mistake. And on the cover of the book, too!
It's the latest paperback edition in the Redwall series, and the first to be published after the death of its author.
Because the vermin's primary method of attack has been to steal away proper, upstanding citizen's children, it's been a rather difficult read for me so far.

"The Soul of a New Machine" by Tracy Kidder
Back when computers were still made out of discrete parts and were almost as large as refrigerators, a small team of extremely young engineers at Data General Corp, mentored by an even smaller group of well-seasoned veterans, produced the company's first 32-bit processing unit.
They did this while management tried to move most research and development out-of-state, and kept the majority of the project under wraps, even within the company, until it was completed.
All-in-all, a very fascinating book.

"Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the passion for invention" by Charlotte Gray
This book is about an inch and a half thick, and is so packed with info that despite not even getting out of the first chapter yet, I've learned quite a lot about old Alec already.
When he was young, he and his brother had built a replica of the human mouth and larynx, which they eventually figured out how to "talk" with. They'd actually scared one of their tenants on a floor below when they'd figured out how to say "mama" with it.
Unfortunately, only Alexander Graham Bell had survived tuberculosis, both brothers and a brother's son all died with TB as a suspect.

Also, he wasn't actually given a middle name when he was born. It was due to a very strong independent streak, and the fact that both his grandfather and great grandfather were called Alexander Bell, that he added "Graham" as his middle name.

On top of all of this, my mom's still trying to get me to read "Snow Crash" by Neil Stephenson...
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I think I've officially graduated from children's biographies.

I've started to become dissatisfied with the amount of information (and in some cases, sugar-coating) in them, and have even started buying some myself.

So far I have biographies of Groucho Marx, Betty White, Carol Burnett, and Bob Hope, and I'd even found a book on the history of the Poincare Conjecture by Donal O'Shea.

I'm actually starting to drool (a little bit, anyway) over some of the biographies at the bookstore.
Yesterday I found a biography of Alexander Graham Bell for a good price, though I didn't have the money at the time.
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One of my graduation gifts was a copy of The Ashley Book of Knots, the official guide to knots and knot-tying since its first publishing in 1944.
It contains over three thousand knots depicted in over seven thousand drawings, and they're all practical in some way or another.

I'd discovered the section on "Chain Sinnet", which basically amounts to weaving or braiding ropes, and is very similar to something called "Boondoggle" (at least, it's called that in North America, in other countries it's called "Scoubidou").

I've been experimenting with variations on a square knotted variety over the past couple of days, but discovered my right forearm started to hurt.

Turns out, it was too much too soon, and the muscles that controlled my fingers' dexterity weren't used to that much movement that quickly.
I'm going to take the next couple of days off, and then resume my experiments, but much more slowly so as not to hurt myself again.

This book covers so much material, it's going to be very difficult to do any sort of thorough reading, though I'm going to be spending much of my time in the sections on sinnet, as they're quite the interesting variety of knots.
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It turns out that I have 25 Hardy Boys books, out of about 60 in the original series, which turns out to be a bit less than half.

I've copied down a list of the books in the series that I own so I can make sure I don't duplicate any I have already.

It's interesting to see the distribution of books I'm missing, as I mostly have "pockets" of them, short sections where I have a fairly continuous run of them, with fair-sized chunks in-between that I don't have.

Makes me wonder what they cost new right now...
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After barfing up the entire contents of my stomach Tuesday night, spending the entire night hopping up to dash to the bathroom every hour or so, and trying to figure out what food I can eat (toast wasn't going down nicely, oddly enough), I'm starting to feel better.

I felt good enough that I tried to deliver one of my two routes, but really shouldn't have, as I got extremely exhausted afterwards.
(I haven't been that tired in ages)
So I napped for a couple of hours, and sent my supervisor a message saying I'll be able to do the other route tomorrow.

My supervisor understands and has said I can recycle Wednesday's papers. I'll probably keep one bundle in case anybody asks for a copy.
(so far, nobody's asked. I don't know whether that's a good thing or a bad thing)

I'm not quite up to eating as much as I do when I'm well, though that'll come as I finish whatever this was off, which should be by around Tuesday, I think.

The unfortunate part is that everybody has now had it at some point in the last week.
As my younger brother had it first, he's practically back to normal, though my mom who had it second is trailing a bit longer than I expected.

I'd kind of like to know what it was, but kind of not, as it's possible my brother picked it up from a Chinese food kiosk in the mall.
(we'd originally thought it was food poisoning from the prawns, which had been sitting there for who-knows-how-long)

To help keep my mind off things, I started rereading my Hardy Boys books at the beginning.
Some day I've got to try collecting the rest, as I'm sure I only have around twenty out of fifty-six books in the original series.
(I'm not sure I really care for the more modern rewrites of the series, they've felt far too modern or even futuristic. If I want futuristic, I can go read a Tom Swift book)
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I was browsing around my university's library today and found a couple of books that would be very interesting to read.

Unfortunately, due to me not taking any classes right now, I don't get to borrow any library materials right now.
(when I graduate, I'll be able to borrow books as an alumni, but I'm still waiting on that)

The first one I found was rather unusual, as it was focused on a supposedly small aspect of game design that is typically overlooked, but can have a major impact on how a game can be played.
Real Time Cameras: A Guide for Game Designers and Developers talks about how to properly design a camera management system in great depth, drawing some comparisons to "classical" non-interactive camera setups as used in the movie industry.
It also goes into a small but crucial amount of detail on how the rest of the game's systems should be designed so the camera stuff doesn't have to step on too many toes.
Cost through one of our major bookstore chains is $65.95, rather more than I would like to spend on books right now.

The second book of interest was on a semi-related topic to the first one in that it was related to designing games, only this one is entirely focused on how the engine itself should be designed.
Game Engine Architecture talks about how the core engine should be designed for best effect.
It's another expensive book, costing $71.50, a bit more even than the one on camera design.

While browsing for information on the above two books, I found a third book that would be interesting to have.
Multi-threaded Game Engine Design covers how to design a game engine to run on our modern multi-core processors, which sounds like a very useful topic to me.
While not as expensive as the first two, $45.50 is still a fair bit to put down for a book, at least on my income.

If I have to take another course to finish my degree, the first two books will be at the top of my list of books to borrow, but if I manage to get a good job (ie, one where I get at least $1,000 a month) I'll probably buy all three of these relatively quickly.

I've already got some ideas for redesigning and improving my current Tetris game engine which I will be implementing and posting about here, so expect to see more game development journals in the near future.
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I recently purchased a book on math that was most enjoyable.

It was The Poincaré Conjecture by Donal O'Shea.

It starts out with the dawn of mathematical history, with the early Greek thinkers before even Pythagoras, up through Euclid (with his Geometry and his unproven fifth postulate), through Gauss (and his non-Euclidean spaces), up to Riemann, Klein, and Poincaré (with his conjecture), up through Einstein, and finally to Perelman (with his proof of the Poincaré Conjecture).
(granted, there are many mathematicians I haven't mentioned, but that's what the book is for)

Not only does O'Shea talk about the genealogy of mathematics, he also talks about some of the social climates in the time of each mathematician (so far as is known, at least), as well as demonstrating how important geometry and topology was to the advancement of the vast majority of the mathematics we have today.

Interestingly enough, the primary driving force that pushed mathematics the hardest was actually the ancient, unproven conjectures, not the proven, complete works.
I suppose that was due to capturing people's imagination, though even many of the brilliant failures spawned many new branches of mathematics that nobody had ever noticed before.
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
Book stores can be dangerous places, especially if you happen to like reading books.

A while ago I mentioned that I'd found Groucho Marks' biography, well this time I found Bob Hope's autobiography entitled "My Life in Jokes".
He means it literally, as each paragraph or even sentence is a joke, which might be tiring for some readers.
(I don't know about myself yet, I haven't finished reading it yet)

Sometimes you find books that you just can't leave, such as one about the history of the Bumstead family.
(I eventually figured out that my Dad would like that, so it worked out after all)

However, I'm keeping the Bob Hope book, as I'm apparently collecting comedian biographies...
carlfoxmarten: (Default)
Now, you may be thinking that books on World War 2 are boring as heck, but here are two books that I've read or have heard of that are very interesting, and I highly recommend reading them.

The first one, "Between Silk and Cyanide: A Code Maker's War" by Leo Marks, is the true story of a young cryptographic genius that becomes head of one of Britain's war departments (SOE, or Special Operations Executive, mostly in charge of spy operations) and all the innovations he brought.
It goes into detailed descriptions of the codes that he was permitted to write about, if you go in for things like that, like I do.

One other interesting part about what he managed to do was find a way to consciously forget about information.
Which was extremely helpful for sending in someone to start another network of spies along with all the codenames and passcodes.

The second book is "Most Secret War" by R. V. Jones, and focuses on his role as a scientist during the war.
Not to mention his penchance for practical jokes...
His reasons for playing practical jokes was rather interesting, and should be thought of today.
Because scientific research is mostly sitting and thinking long, slow thoughts, you don't get to learn to think quickly and practical jokes, especially when they start to go sour on you, help you learn to think very quickly.

Very interesting, that one.


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Carl Foxmarten

August 2017

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