[personal profile] idupree
(Written last week.)

When I search the web, sometimes I feel like I'm cheating.

Today - browser history:

I've known for a while that shaders (e.g. OpenGL vertex and fragment shaders) were important, but had a devil of a time finding out a few specific examples of anything they were good for. I learned various things about them but but my chief discovery was some Valve documentation about their shaders. (Valve is a company I'd heard of and would know what they're talking about in this realm.)

Learning about Qt was a bit tricky. It's a storied toolkit that's been good for a long time. There's lots of high-ranking-in-search documentation that might just be about Qt 3 (Qt 4 has been out for seven years and is standard now). Official documentation appears at all of Trolltech, Nokia, and Qt-project.org websites because each one has been the primary owner of the project in recent years. I combined experiments with GCC, Qt Creator, a series of NeHe/Qt crossover tutorials, learned the history of qmake, and found out a fine way to integrate a little Qt into our game. [In the next few days I found that mostly sticking with qt-project.org documentation worked well. It's the latest site. They have thorough API docs, and several overview essays about different parts of Qt and how they interact, e.g. slots/signals, threads, GUI design, Qt memory management.]

I found the people who are finding best approximations to functions like sin(), and the name of their field, when my sibling and I were discussing it.

I found how to enable my sibling's in-browser Java.

(TODO: You deserve examples of times I failed or struggled, like the repeated polling of a favorite band's lovely but technologically broken website to find out what year they'd play near me, or my attempts to find a physical/geographical map of the Internet for which I asked a librarian, which was in this case successful.)

My sibling wondered what means of locomotion 1970s trains in Britain used (ze was drawing one of them), and I could find out in a couple minutes on Wikipedia because I'd already read about trains a fair amount. Keep in mind: I have never been to Britain. I have never been alive in the 1970s, and never will be, because time doesn't go backwards. I'm not knowingly in contact with anyone who has more than visited that island nation, either. And yet I could find this out in less time than it takes to walk to the nearest... anything!

If it were just one subject, I could understand. But it's so many subjects that I can combine a passing familiarity, and the Web, to find information and judge its credibility. I have a good probability of success. I can equally quickly detect probable failure. For most queries, it takes little time either way.

Cheating, I tell you: it feels like cheating.
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January 2014


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