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this week's favorite

Zip: How not to design a file format

The Zip file format is now 32 years old. You'd think being 32 years old the format would be well documented. Unfortunately it's not.

Rendering more than 1 million particles

Particles are one of the most mesmerizing systems across computer graphics. They are simply a group of objects that act together, following the same set of rules but with some amount of randomness. However, they are only impressive when they number in the thousands or hundreds of thousands.

Thinking about glue

In Glue: the Dark Matter of Software, Marcel Weiher asks why there’s so much code. Why is Microsoft Office 400 million lines of code? Why are we always running into the truth of Alan Kay’s statement that “Software seems ‘large’ and ‘complicated’ for what it does”?

700,000 lines of code, 20 years, and one developer: How Dwarf Fortress is built

Dwarf Fortress is one of those oddball passion projects that’s broken into Internet consciousness. It’s a free game where you play either an adventurer or a fortress full of dwarves in a randomly generated fantasy world. The simulation runs deep, with new games creating multiple civilizations with histories, mythologies, and artifacts. I reached out to him to see how he’s managed a single, growing codebase over 15+ years, the perils of pathing, and debugging dead cats. Our conversation below has been edited for clarity.

Towards inserting one billion rows in SQLite under a minute

Recently, I ran into a situation where I needed a test database with lots of rows and needed it fast. So I did what any programmer would do: wrote a Python script to generate the DB. Unfortunately, it was slow. Really slow. So I did what any programmer would do: went down the rabbit hole of learning more about SQLite, Python, and eventually Rust… in my quest to get a 1B row database under a minute. This blog post is a summary of this fun and educational exercise.