Miscellany

It’s been sparse the past month or two.  Sorry about that; not much free time.  And to tell the truth, I seem to write more stuff when I need to vent, and things are going pretty well lately.

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I finished Fallout 3.  What a blast.  I rarely finish games — I think that Bioshock was the last one I ran all the way through — but Fallout 3 was a ton of fun once I “got it” maybe three hours of game play in.

The install-to-hard-disk option on the 360 is fantastic, by the way.  I installed Oblivion, and installing it makes the experience a lot more pleasant.  I might sink quite a few hours into Oblivion, assuming I can make it past closing the first portal without going nuts.  (Bethesda fixed the “make a zillion potions” bug, which is keeping me honest).

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It turns out that I’ve been programming in C for longer than my new office mate has been alive.

One of the pleasures of being an old fart: I got to watch his expression when I introduced him to Duff’s Device.

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Niven and Pournelle return to first their vision of Hell, Inferno, 30 years later with the sequel Escape From Hell.  I enjoyed it, but think that the last half was too much like the “chatty fluff” that Niven started writing after Ringworld Engineers — enemies are too logical and willing to listen to reason (“Oh, ultimate heat-death of the universe?  Sure, I’ll set aside my weapons.”), and the plot gets into the weeds (“I know we have to escape from the Big Dumb Object, but first we have to figure out some side-mysteries involving ice cream and clergy…”).

More than I expected, and worth reading.  But I miss stuff like The Mote in God’s Eye — there’s a class of book that I wish I could read for the first time again.

 

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8 Responses to Miscellany

  1. Rob says:

    Ha! I was reading the comment about Niven and Pournelle and immediately thought, “I have to recommend Mote I.G.E. or be sure he’s read it…” Then I finished the post. I read it for a class (!) in college, and have saved it all these years since. What an enjoyable book.

    As someone who started programming in 79, I enjoy reading another old-timer. Thanks!

  2. Shannon says:

    Yes, Duff’s Device is definitely an eye-opener for those Java-weened, web-whacking young’uns. Driver writing is not for the faint of heart.

  3. Adamantyr says:

    I hadn’t heard of Duff’s Device before.. I knew about loop unrolling, but that’s pretty cool. I’ll have to try writing a version of it in pure assembly.

  4. James says:

    Oblivion is fun. If you play ’em right, dark elves are one of the most versatile classes. That 75% resistance to fire makes Oblivion gates a bit easier, too.

    I hadn’t seen of Duff’s Device before, either. o_O

  5. Anon says:

    I’ve seen warnings against Duff’s Device style loop unrolling in well featured optimising compilers. The argument I’ve heard is that it’s only worth when you really are smarter than the compiler (apparently it’s not enough to think you are smarter).

  6. markchd says:

    As games go, I found it odd that someone else had only played through Bioshock and Fallout three in the past two years. I’ve replayed a classic or two, and Braid was pretty ingenious, but I feel those were the only full-fledged console games worth my time and $60. Good call.

  7. Joe Ganley says:

    Big laugh – I was first introduced to Duff’s Device in an interview in the late 80’s, when my interviewer wrote it on the whiteboard and said, “What does this do?” I’m sure I made the same expression as your coworker when I figured it out.

  8. me says:

    Ah, books. A young and edgy bookseller at Barnes and Nobles recently disregarded my old-poopery of mentioning that I just keep looking for new books from my favourite authors (in my defense, it was a knee-jerk reaction to having someone attempt to help you shop more than the whole truth) by introducing me to Patrick Rothfuss. And I thought I didn’t like reading fantasy… the book is outstanding, and I feel quite indebted to said bookseller. Also, very silly.

    In SF, the best new talents I’ve encountered in a while are Chris Moriarty (mindblowing, I have to reign in my righteous “she should put her family on hold and write that next book for me now” babbling) and Richard K Morgan.

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