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Vim cookbook   06 Oct 04
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Useful stuff about the vim — one of the two good editors on that planet.


CityBuilder   06 Oct 04
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CityBuilder is an attempt to automate much of the work involved in creating very large virtual urban landscapes. The system takes a street map as input, and produces street geometry and a scene graph containing the building models as output. The user has control over the types of buildings placed in the city through the use of image maps. The potential applications for this system include video game content (think GTA*), visualization, etc.

It is well known to most of those in the field of computer graphics that mountainous terrain can be generated programmatically. A good deal of research has been done in this area, focused for the most part on the use of fractals to generate landscapes. While these techniques produce some impressive results, they are restricted in the kinds of terrain that they can generate. For example, these techniques are not appropriate for the creation of urban terrain.

This is unfortunate, as there are many benefits to being able to programmatically generate urban landscapes. Many recent video games, for example, feature very large urban environments. Finding little research on the topic of urban terrain generation, I decided to create my own utilities for that purpose.

Note - I have recently been made aware that a very similar project was published at SIGGRAPH 2001, entitled "Procedural Modeling of Cities". That project made use of L-systems to generate the street topographies (mine uses a user-created node graph) and (from the description) is considerably more complex. I haven’t seen their output. If you’re interested in this sort of thing, you might want to take a look at their work, too.

With the CityBuilder system, there are three stages in the creation of a city. The first stage is to create the street map, the building models, and some miscellaneous support files used by the second stage. The second stage is where CityBuilder takes control. Street geometry is created using the StreetBuilder component, building models are placed in the city by the BlockBuilder component, and miscellaneous items like traffic lights are placed in the city by the ClutterBuilder component. The third stage is to fine-tune the output using a scene-graph editor or by hand-editing the output files. The city is then ready to be viewed.

ToonArchive - Tiger Map Server   06 Oct 04
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The Tiger Map Server dynamically generates road maps of the U.S. and serves them using a built in web server. The backend data files are provided by the US Census, and contain data for land, water, road, etc. across the United States. has taken the tiger map server and converted it to shapefiles, which are free to download.

The Tiger Map Server works as a simple httpd server. It connects to a port, and returns jpeg maps over http. The URL string specifies the lat/lon/scale as well as the width and height of the image requested. This design make it extremely easy to integrate the Tiger Map Server into existing websites or custom apps. As well as serving jpegs, the server can also return the raw pixel data. This is much easier to deal with in a C/C++ app, like my Car Computer project.

Advanced Bash Scripting Guide 3.0 (Stable)   06 Oct 04
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This comprehensive book (the equivalent of about 604 print pages) covers almost every aspect of shell scripting. It contains 299 profusely commented illustrative examples (including such goodies as an anti-spammer script), and a number of tables. Not just a shell scripting tutorial, this book also provides an introduction to basic programming techniques, such as sorting and recursion. It is well suited for either individual study or classroom use.

More blogs about the US RubyConf   04 Oct 04
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James Britt originally posted these links on his blog (and has a picture of the conference attendees from the presenter’s view) at — here are the URLs that james posted and that I have been reading:

SmallTalk ...   02 Oct 04
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Phlip posted this into the XP-ML.
 Smalltalk is an amazing and legendary language
 divulged to humans by Prometheus. This angered the
 gods enough they condemned him to refactor a big ball
 of Hadean mud for all eternity.

 Smalltalk can only be used by humans with a psi power
 greater than 17, with adjustments. Smalltalk
 programmers do not type, they lean their heads towards
 their monitors, and meditate. The more advanced
 programmers do not even need monitors.

 Smalltalk responds to their thought patterns by
 testing itself, coding itself, and refactoring itself.
 When humans with low psi powers need to _see_
 Smalltalk, it manifests itself as a physical avatar of
 a series of almost meaningless ^[]: characters,
 interspersed with intention-revealing selectors.
 Squinting at these symbols will reveal a Mandala
 symbolizing the 7th Chakra of the nearest programmer
 who is romantically involved, if any.

 Smalltalk itself generates its own refactoring
 browser, test rig, IDE, and 3D graphics subsystems as
 you write your program with it. So as you structure
 your program, Smalltalk uses that structure to
 generate the refactoring browser needed to refactor
 its structure. This is why some advanced Smalltalk
 Gurus know the best way to program Smalltalk is to
 simply pick up the CPU and shake it.

 The only reason such an obviously superior language
 has not taken over the world is because it interferes
 with the plans of the astral Lizard People, and their
 avatars and representatives among us. These can be
 recognized by their MCSD plaques, their years of
 experience writing distributed application servers
 that serve application distributors, and - especially
 - their books with code samples in Java.

Blogs from the US Rubyconf   02 Oct 04
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OneStepBack Bucklogs

ruby for commercial applications   02 Oct 04
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This common thread appeared today in the ruby-ML and matz answered
 |Can we use ruby for commercial


 |Do we need to distribte our application with sources?

 No.  If you're using regex.c comes with 1.8.2, you have to allow
 re-linking the binary (via supplying object files or dynamic linking),
 because it's LGPL.  If you are using Oniguruma new regex engine, you
 have no such restriction.

 Gabriele Renzi added:
  IIRC 1.9 in the cvs already has oniguruma as the standard regex lib.

BugMeNot   02 Oct 04
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Bypass compulsory web registration via Firefox’s right-click context menu. Compatibile with Mozilla and current Firefox releases that use the new extension manager. Visit bugmenot for full details of their service.

Free voice recognition software   29 Sep 04
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Sphinx is a speaker-independent large vocabulary continuous speech recognizer under Berkeley’s style license. It is also a collection of open source tools and resources that allows researchers and developers to build speech recognition system.


Try a System

If you’d like to have a chance to try out an application that uses CMU Sphinx, try the Communicator, an experimental system that helps you plan air travel. You can reach it at the toll-free number 1-877-CMU-PLAN (1-877-268-7526) or at +1 412 268 1084.. The system will provide real flight information. The system may be sensitive to loud background noises, especially over cell phones.


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