Three Big Lies about Programming

I recently found two fantastic presentations the guys from Insomniac put together about misguided/inefficient approaches to programming and the steps they take to compensate.

The first, titled “Three Big Lies: Typical Design Failures in Game Programming,” puts forth that many of the biggest issues we face as programmers is of our own design. Essentially, we are guilty of over abstracting and over modeling.  They argue that since all programming boils down to data transformations, we should just focus on the data.  “World Modeling” may be a nice way to ease new programmers into the field, but it is not necessarily the most efficient approach.

The second presentation focused on a design paradigm that I have worked very hard to create for many of my own projects.  “A Dynamic Component Architecture for High Performance Gameplay,” essentially lays out a system for modeling game objects through composition of relatively flat hierarchies of components.  Where more traditional approaches create individual objects with complex inheritance systems.  The author not only explains the benefits of the system, but also a sample of his API and many examples of how it helps improve their system.

If these articles don’t challenge the way you program, then either you are a genius and have already made these revelations, or you’re an idiot.  Enjoy.

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GNU Patch in Windows 7 or Vista

I just had a little fight with Windows 7 about permissions. It seems that it demands that any executable with the word “patch” in the name must be run with administrative privileges. After fighting with it for a few minutes about the absurdity of the problem, I resorted to a simple hack.

  1. Rename patch.exe to patsh.exe.
  2. Then create patch.bat in the same directory containing the following command:
    @patsh.exe %*

You will never notice a difference, and Windows 7 can go politely F*** itself.

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Fast Delicious Artisan Breads

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a DayA couple days ago I came across an awesome recipe while working on a new bagel recipe. It purported that you could make tasty artisan breads in only five minutes per day. I was a bit skeptical at first, but after reading the article I was convinced. Essentially you treat the bread like a sourdough, and keep a big lump in your fridge until you want some bread. All you need to do in preparation is shape the dough, heat up the oven, and then bake. Thats not an exaggeration either.

Using their system, if you have about an hour and a half of time around the house, you can have a delicious loaf of bread. It only takes about 5 minutes of work, but it breaks down to something like:

  • 40 minutes to rise
  • 30 minutes to bake
  • 20 minutes to cool

But really, you only have to do about a minute’s worth of work between each phase. I liked the recipe so much, I bought their book. The full recipe is listed after the jump.

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Barefoot Running

A while back I read an interesting article about the Tarahumara in Mexico and their running style. Seems they are widely reputed for there ability to run for extreme distances. They are known to run hundreds of miles, or for days on end. More amazing than that though, is the fact that they do it all barefoot. No hi-tech Nike’s for them, just the amazing machine that is the human foot.

The basic style is that you run on the balls of your feet instead of landing on your heels and rolling to your toes. Modern shoes prevent running on your toes, unless you are perhaps at a full sprint. Interestingly, the barefoot running style allegedly also helps prevent many common running related injuries. People who run barefoot generally have fewer problems with shin splints, ankle problems and knee problems.

Vibram FiveFinger KSO

Recently I started mulling over the concept again, and wondered what a shoe would look like that allowed you to run as though you were barefoot, but still gave you some protection. I played with the idea a bit, and then searched to see if anyone had made it yet. Turns out the awesome people at Vibram beat me to it with the Five Finger.

I haven’t been able to jog in about a year, because of back problems that are aggravated by the impact of traditional jogging styles. Wearing these shoes, though, I have been able to run 10x as far and still no back pains. Best. Purchase. Ever.

IANAMD, but if you cannot run because of chronic pains in your ankles/knees/back then perhaps you should give them a shot.

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