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2017-07-22 Weekly Drip: Wiping your OS while running, the myth of safe C/C++ code, and generating coastlines. [07.22.2017]


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Byte upgraded over 2,000 production servers in place, by installing the OS in memory, wiping the disk, and reinstalling the OS to disk. They used a script that warned Do not use this script on any system you care about. Apparently that warning was sufficient to convince them they had to try it. “It was like replacing the wheels on a moving vehicle…” [ed. I would be sweating bullets running this migration. I guess this is why I’m not a sysadmin]

Raymond Chen wants to know if people write insane code with multiple overlapping side effects with a straight face? Chen argues that ‘insane code’ is at risk of having false positives, and one should avoid blaming the compiler for being the problem. If you have no problem interpreting ‘a -= a *= a; p[x++] = ++x;’ than you probably can skip Chen’s article.

Robert O'Callahan is pretty sure no one can write C/C++ code safely. O'Callahan has a PhD in Computer Science, and was once a distinguished engineer at Mozilla where his job was to review C/C++ code. O'Callahan includes himself in this statement and confesses he ‘cannot consistently write safe C/C++ code.’

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Stack Overflow Channels is in private beta. Stack Overflow Channels aims to make a space for engineering teams to ask questions in a private environment. Channels also allows an improved way to share technical questions and answers with your whole team.

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Amit Patel from Red Blob Games is exploring procedural map generation, and shares an experiment that uses Distance Fields to describe mountains and coastlines, by allowing a designer to influence the procedural algorithm. The algorithm is simple, but the results are surprisingly good. Ultimately, he intends to use this in conjunction with other procedural generation algorithms to get better results.

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