Rick's Tech Talk

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Solving Invisible Geometry with Correct Winding

While teaching myself Microsoft DirectX, I fell into an issue that is best described as "invisible geometry". This is the unfortunate situation when lines aren't appearing when and where you expect them to. You've told DirectX to draw something, but you don't see it. The difficulties with getting this simple "two-faced triangle" to draw seemed to represent the difficulties with working with DirectX in general.

Debugging Tagadelic Tags in Drupal

I added a tag cloud to this BLOG. It looks quite nice, and I was happy with the tags except when I saw that that they didn't accurately reflect my content.

When I first deployed this change, the biggest tag was for "drupal", but when you clicked on that tag, you saw only one story. And conversely, the "c++" tag is smaller than the "drupal" tag, but there are three "c++" stories. Why was the "drupal" tag so large? And why was the "c++" tag so small?

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Tetris Update

I've been on a roll with my Tetris development the past few days. Of late, I've implemented "pause" and "fast fall" (or "fast drop"). I've also added the ability to build a "mound". While working on the code to make the mound (the collection of pieces that pile up on top of each other), I found it helpful to dump the contents of my "grid" to a file. Here's my grid after playing the game for a few minutes. Clearly I now have to work on "clearing the rows" next!
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Filtering the Problems View in Eclipse

In the world of Java development, you're bound to throw some projects into Eclipse that fill up the Problems View with so many issues that this view becomes unusable. That happened to me, and it quickly reduced my productivity. This view lets you find compilation and build issues that require fixing. The team leader on my project said "you've got a lot of errors there; let's filter them." He showed me how, and I was amazed. Apparently, this great and obvious piece of functionality was available, seemingly right under my nose!

Best Practice: Keeping an Electronic Notebook

My electronic notebook saved me today. I had a technical problem here at work, involving some old internal software. I vaguely remember using this software, but instead of rummaging through old e-mails or polling my co-workers I grepped my electronic notebook. I was able to find notes from the first time I used this software nearly two years ago. Rereading these put enough details into my head to be back "up to speed." I felt pretty smug. Electronic notebooks are my personal "best practice."

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