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Showing posts from 2012

Debugging magic numbers

I came across a magic number today: -0.00132704

I was seeing a whole bunch of values initialized to this number in an automated test, and thought it must mean something. It turns out it is used by Microsoft "to mark uninitialised allocated heap memory" - hex 0xBAADF00D coverts to -0.00132704 as a floating-point value.

Searching for -0.00132704 turns up a number of interesting examples in other people's projects. :)

Review: Reamde: A Novel by Neal Stephenson

Engaging thriller. Unexpected twists for fun.

I'm thinking he wanted to comment on terrorism, and also on gold-farming, and ended up bashing them into each other for this novel. That's ok, and made for a gripping read. It's not really scifi, it's more spy novel in the end.

Some of the convergence was forced - there were some hard-to-believe chance encounters to drive everyone together at the end.

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Review: The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Compelling, unexpected. Not a pop-sci book. Personal experiences from the author, adjustments and discussion of how he changed his life.

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Zero History, by William Gibson

Many of the gadgets are real:
Festoair penguin, and manta ray.
The smartphone was inspired by a DIY Linux phone, says twitter.