Link: graphics analysis of Deus Ex: Human Revolution

March 21, 2015 Leave a comment

Screenshot from the article showing normal map generation

This is one of the best presentations I’ve ever seen. Each step of the rendering pipeline is explained clearly, and the animated transitions between the screenshots are incredible. I can’t wait to read more from this author.

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Your update is not more important than my work

March 5, 2015 Leave a comment

I love TextMate, but I just saw the most user-hostile, infuriating thing. I’m doing work when all of a sudden I get the pop-up:


TextMate forced update

TextMate forced update

It closed my document (thankfully giving me a chance to save), and now the program refuses to launch until updated.


Link: At Chipotle, How Many Calories Do People Really Eat?

February 20, 2015 Leave a comment

This article makes good use of histograms to display distributions rather than just standard descriptive statistics like “average”. For those who haven’t taken much math or haven’t been exposed to these sorts of distributions, the author also picks out certain points along the cumulative frequency distribution chart to explain what they mean; for instance only 10 percent of meals have less than 625 calories.

For many data sets (especially non-normal ones that arise in social networks, arithmetic mean (sum and divide by the number of elements) is a gross approximation of the real central tendency. See Ed Chi’s great article about this subject.  (Full disclosure: I have worked with Ed at Google)

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Link: “A female computer science major at Stanford: “Floored” by the sexism”

February 19, 2015 Leave a comment article

Choice quote:

When a boy – let’s call him Rush (like Rush Limbaugh) — heard my friend had interned at Facebook, his mouth dropped. “Wow! Facebook! You must be really smart!” He then turned to me and asked the exact same question: What did you do this summer?

Except when I responded the same — “Facebook” — I got a completely different response. “Oh… well then I should have applied for that internship.”

Terrible. Also terrible is the treatment she received during her internships:

My high-pitched voice also became an unexpected source of frustration as team meetings became small battlegrounds for respect. At another company (which I prefer not to name), I noticed that management listened more to what my male counterparts had to say even though I was offering insightful feedback. Managers asked my male coworkers about the status of projects, although I was touching all the same files. The guys were praised more on their progress although I was pushing the same amount of code.

We as an industry have to stop this nonsense.

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Link: why one Wikipedia editor obsessively corrects the phrase “comprised of”

February 6, 2015 Leave a comment

One Man’s Quest to Rid Wikipedia of Exactly One Grammatical Mistake

I had no idea “comprised of” is not grammatical.

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Building a Case for Lego Art

January 11, 2015 Leave a comment


A long but interesting read about LEGO as art. I see parallels with the arguments about whether or not video games are/can be art (see e.g.

Originally posted on Building Debates: discussing the big issues in the LEGO community.:

In-Pieces-NYC-Nathan-Sawaya-and-Dean-West-Avant-Gallery-LEGO-yatzer-12 Natan Sawaya, IN PIECES Installation view at the Openhouse Gallery, photo © Dean West

Jonathan Jones writing in the Guardian[i] on Nathan Sawaya’s recent touring exhibition The Art of the Brick[ii]says that ‘Sawaya’s Lego statues are interesting, but the people calling them art are missing the point. Lego doesn’t need to be art.’ It’s a valid position, but one that begs the response, is Jones missing the point? Jones confuses the argument as to who chooses what is culturally validated as art, with the argument as to what constitutes something as art. In one sense he is right, Lego creations don’t need to emulate the works found in galleries, but in another wrong, in that just because Lego doesn’t often look like so-called gallery art, or even if it does by way of a disguise (Jones’ position on Sawaya), this doesn’t mean it isn’t art.

His concluding…

View original 3,136 more words

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Book review: Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark

January 7, 2015 2 comments

Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark
by Mike Doyle
published by No Starch Press
Book cover

Disclaimer: I received a free review copy from No Starch Press.


Beautiful LEGO 2: Dark is the sequel to Mike Doyle’s Beautiful LEGO. I thoroughly enjoyed the first volume and the second is just as high quality.

When I read the first volume, I was in the presence of young children who were entranced by the pictures and made me turn through all the pages multiple times. There were images that they considered too scary. In that first book, such images were few and far between. As you can imagine from the subtitle “Dark”, there’s a lot more disturbing stuff in this volume. I wouldn’t recommend letting young children see many of the creations featured in this book.

The editor explores various meanings of the word “dark”, from the literal (models of the ocean and places that get no sunlight, or models of silhouettes), to creepy (bugs, insects), to violent/horrific (zombies, a crawling baby devil). Some of the models I would not have thought as belonging to the Dark theme (such as the trains or the buildings), but the chapter titles (i.e. “The Robber Barons” for the trains, “Greed Co., Unlimited” for the buildings) frame the models and give them a gritty and dark connotation.

I was disgusted, creeped out, and generally unnerved from many of the creations on display. I let out an audible ‘ugh’ of disgust upon seeing Hatchery (p. 3), and got shivers down my spine upon seeing Jason Ruff’s Big Hairy Spider (p. 25). The aforementioned devil baby (Junior, by Ekow Nimako, p. 194) also gave me the creeps. If the first volume asked the question, “Can LEGO be art”,  then the emotions that these photos of plastic toys elicited in me is a strong argument in the affirmative.

That’s not to say that this book is unenjoyable. I was consistently impressed by the quality of the models. Some of my favorites were the Tyranosaurus rex by Ken Ito (p. 114), the wonderful depth of field and leading lines of Tim Goddard’s “Tunnel Vision” (p. 79), the incredible scaly underbelly of the sea monster in Lauchlan Toal’s “Guardian of the Emerald” (p. 92), the “Micro Bone Dragon” by Sean and Steph Mayo (p. 111). Finally, I have to recognize “The King in Yellow“, by Brian Kescenovitz (p. 318). This is a brilliant minimalist scene featuring a king on his throne; the king himself consists of maybe 4 pieces. It’s absolutely wonderful, and a far cry from some of the models that are made of thousands of pieces. The restraint required in such a model is wonderful to see.

Just as in the last book, the backgrounds of the images have been digitally replaced to have beautiful gradient backgrounds. While all of the models are terrific, there are the same problems that plagued the last book, which is that some of the photographs are of low resolution (for instance, you can see jagged pixelated edges in “Jones’s Addiction” by Cole Blaq on page 72). If the rest of the photographs and production quality weren’t of such high quality, I probably would not have noticed these issues.

Finally, some LEGO purists might be upset at the inclusion of digital renderings of some creations. I did not have any problem with it, and in fact I mistook some photographs for renderings (the hairy spider for one). There are only a handful of renderings within the 300+ pages of the book if it matters to you.

This book is a must have for LEGO fans. It does have some disturbing content in it, so I would not recommend buying it for young children.

Categories: LEGO Tags: ,