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Cool stuff I find interesting

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Nothing fancy. This is just cool stuff that I find interesting that is relevant to programming or in some significant way related, such as things that have a lot of logical deduction involved, or things that are very exacting. I'm writing this in the hopes that some of the 155 people who have apparently viewed this will post similar things that I can geek out over.

#1- Sentry Guns!

This is a very cool example of what the future holds in terms of warfare. These things are right at the crossroads of programming, hardware, engineering, and violence. Ever armchair general's wet dream. Personally I like the remote controlled helicopters with guns on them.

#2- Vector graphics!

Posted Image

It's my dream to make a 3d game engine which works on these principles (image courtesy of wikipedia). With a bit of thought you can probably come to the same conclusion I did- that if games followed vector graphics instead of having polygons, the dynamic of how they are created would shift dramatically, as would the quality of graphics. materials could be made that follow the shapes (as functions of mathematical descriptions in 3d, similar to the shift from hand-made bitmap fonts at each size to the adobe's mathematical description of the outline of each font which was then used to draw the font on screen and for the printer). In simple terms, this means that a rope or chain swung could wrap around an object by following that objects mathematical profile at a greater radius than the object itself. Or a sheet of cloth could truly follow the profile of whatever it is laid over, not as an artistic rendition, but as something done in real time...

yeah. anyway. moving on. nothing to see here. ignore the drool.

#3- Data Mining!

I can mildly nick the surface here and point out all the cool things you can do (or at least that I can do) with regex- surf a domain and pull out emails, phone numbers, URL's, etc, even if people do the annoying "my number is five1 t h r e e sevennine 1 arglebargle 2two 5". Even before I knew what coding was, much less that somebody as dumb as me could do it, I enjoyed thinking about ways to mess with websites I found annoying or which had these obtuse signup methods. not to mention chat bots and so on. The idea that a computer program could be left running and extract screen names, emails, phone numbers, URL's and so on was kind of cool and at the same time annoying because I didn't want anybody doing it to me.

#4- Linguistics!

I studied spanish in middle school (and learned how to say "I don't speak spanish!" fluently enough that native speakers think I'm kidding and- literally- nothing else), I studied latin in high school (semper ubi sub ubi!), and then I kind of gave it a break until I became delusional and thought I would be a navy seal despite the fact that I was an idiot and I weighed 320 pounds, and so I started studying linguistics (and watching a lot of messed up internet videos to "toughen up" mentally. I don't know if I'm mentally tougher but it did something to me) with the idea that I'd get a fat paycheck if I could learn to speak six or seven tongues. so far I've only got my own tongue, but I've got a solid foundation in German, I can read most cyrrilic languages correctly and fluently (and understand maybe 20-35% of russian), I speak Thai fluently (including reading). I can get by in Lao also, since it's basically the thai language with a few (not many) different words and different grammar and occasionally different tones. I can also swear fluently in probably 6-8 hill tribe languages. Linguistics is a lot of fun, it's like a giant puzzle when you have a new language (or even just a piece of one like a writing system).

#5- Guns!

I went to a live-fire event that the marine recruiting center hosted in conjunction with a local machinegun club (yes, they do exist)(yes, they really have machineguns)(no, I didn't believe it at first either)(stop it! I'm trying to write a %&^*$ing blog post!) and I was hooked, I fired everything they had that I could lay hands on, including brens, stens, thompsons... carbines, rifles, submachine guns, pistols, everything. I loved it. I was hooked. and when I turned 18, I promptly bought my own gun, took it apart, and couldn't get it back together again for a week. however, as a result of that, I learned how each part worked and then, maybe 6 months later, I doodled out a design for my gun in a different configuration, with a different trigger... and then I haven't stopped designing new guns since then. there's something very satisfying about it, gun designs by their very nature have to be incredibly elegant or they won't work at all. you need a minimum of parts and an absolute minimum of moving parts and everything has to fit together perfectly because you are in essence setting of a small bomb inside it every time you pull the trigger, and you're hoping that the bomb will only explode in one direction. this is a very primitive analogy, but it gets the idea across. engines are high performance, sure, but a firearm shoots a piece of lead at 2,000 meters per second, accurately enough to hit a piece of paper a mile away, every time, and they can do this between 200 and 900 times per MINUTE (or, if you do the math, between 3 and 15 times per second) for the average auto-loading firearm (most pistols and rifles). everything has to work perfectly or it won't work at all.

I guess that's enough for now. More later!

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