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Books

+ - Book Review - OpenGL Programming Guide (6th Ed) 1

Submitted by
Martin Ecker
Martin Ecker writes "The Red Book, also known as the OpenGL Programming Guide published by Addison-Wesley Professional, returns in its meanwhile sixth edition with additions covering OpenGL 2.1. The Red Book, so called because of its nice, red cover, is probably the most-well known, standard introduction to the OpenGL graphics API. Let me take you on a tour through the pages of this book to see what it has to offer.

Just as the previous, fifth edition of the book, the sixth edition is incredibly complete and thorough. It contains explanations of pretty much every feature of OpenGL, even the rarely used ones. You want to know about the fairly new occlusion query support of OpenGL? It's in this book. You want to know about the accumulation buffer and its uses? It's in this book. You want to know about the (mostly deprecated) use of indexed color buffers? It's in this book. The sixth edition also covers vertex and fragment shaders and recent additions to the GLSL, the OpenGL Shading Language, such as the preprocessor. Even though the coverage was expanded, the authoritative guide to shader programming in OpenGL still remains the Orange Book aka The OpenGL Shading Language (see my previous Slashdot review http://books.slashdot.org/books/04/07/15/162242.sh tml).

The Red Book is aimed at the beginning to intermediate graphics programmer that is not yet familiar with OpenGL. It assumes a basic background in computer graphics theory and working knowledge of the C programming language. The book consists of 15 chapters and 9 appendices that together span approximately 860 pages.

The first chapter gives a brief introduction to the basic concepts of OpenGL and describes the rendering pipeline model used in the API. GLUT, a cross-platform library that allows easily creating OpenGL applications, is also shortly discussed together with a program that shows GLUT in action. The following chapters proceed to explain the basic geometric primitives, such as lines and polygons, supported by OpenGL and how to render them in different positions and from different viewpoints using the various OpenGL matrix stacks. Also the basics of using colors, fixed-function lighting, framebuffer blending, and fog are discussed.

Chapter seven contains a description of display lists, a unique feature of OpenGL that allows to store OpenGL API calls for efficient multiple uses later on in a program. Chapter eight then moves on to discuss what an image is for OpenGL. Most notably this chapter now covers pixel buffer objects, a fairly recent addition to OpenGL, which the fifth edition of the book did not mention. The discussion of images in chapter eight bring us straight to chapter nine on texture mapping, one of the largest chapters in the book. This chapter discusses everything you need to know about textures, from specifying texture images in uncompressed and compressed form to applying textures to triangles using the various kinds of supported texture filters. Also depth textures and their application in the form of shadow maps and — new in the sixth edition — sRGB format textures added in OpenGL 2.1 are presented.

In chapter ten the authors discuss the buffers that make up the framebuffer, such as the color buffer, depth buffer, and stencil buffer. This chapter summarizes some of the things already presented in the earlier chapters and then describes the various framebuffer operations in more detail. Also the accumulation buffer and its uses, such as motion blur and depth of field effects, are discussed. Chapter eleven and twelve are on the tools provided by GLU, the GL utility library, in particular tesselators, quadrics, evaluators, and NURBs. GLU is nowadays rarely ever used in production code, so these chapters mostly demonstrate just how complete the Red Book is in its coverage of OpenGL. This also applies to chapter thirteen on selection and feedback, which are rarely used features, mostly because of the lack of hardware acceleration in today's GPUs (Graphics Processing Units).

Finally, chapter fourteen is a collection of topics that didn't fit into the other chapters, such as error handling and the OpenGL extension mechanism. Additionally, this chapter presents various higher level techniques and tricks, for example how to implement a simple fade effect, how to render antialiased text, and some examples of using the stencil buffer. The final chapter of the book is a discussion of the OpenGL Shading Language (GLSL, for short). In the sixth edition this chapter has been updated to version 1.20 of GLSL as required by OpenGL 2.1. Even though the OpenGL API functions required to use GLSL are presented, this is only a rough overview of how programmable shaders are used in OpenGL. For a more detailed description of GLSL the reader is referred to the Orange Book.

The book closes with quite a few appendices on the order of operations in the OpenGL rendering pipeline, the state variables that can be queried, the interaction of OpenGL with the operating system-specific windowing systems, a brief discussion of homogeneous coordinates as used in OpenGL, and some programming tips. Also a reference of the built-in GLSL variables and functions is included.

The book contains a large number of images and diagrams, all of them in black and white except for 32 color plates in the middle of the book. The illustrations are of high quality and generally help make the explained concepts and techniques easier to understand. Most of the color plates depict spheres, teapots, and other simple geometric objects, so they aren't overly eye-catching but do serve their purpose of showing what can be achieved with OpenGL.

All in all, the Red Book remains the definitive guide to OpenGL. Apart from being a good introduction, it also contains many interesting tips and tricks that make the experienced OpenGL programmer come back to it often. If you've read through the Red Book and the Orange Book in their entirety you pretty much know everything there is to know about OpenGL.

About the review author:
The author has been involved in real-time graphics programming for more than 10 years and works as a professional game developer for High Moon Studios http://www.highmoonstudios.com/ in sunny California."
Space

+ - Strange things happening to the rings of Uranus->

Submitted by
dwayner79
dwayner79 writes "Middle Schoolers are loving it, but as the article says, "Strange things are happening to the rings of Uranus, that little blue planet way out there in the solar system.It has rings and moons, and once every 42 years, the planet's tilted angle lets earthbound observers briefly catch three edge-on views of the rings instead of the usual direct view that makes them appear as if they were sunlit paintings on the flat rim of a dinner plate. The time for the rare views is right now, and a team of astronomers from UC Berkeley and the SETI Institute in Mountain View has seen some dramatic changes — some rings are growing brighter, at least one is fading away, and another is either new-formed or unexpectedly moving outward from the planet by thousands of miles.""
Link to Original Source
Programming

+ - Poll: What age did you start programming for fun

Submitted by
An anonymous reader writes "Poll: What age did you first start programming for fun (outside of school work)?

Younger than 10
11-12
13-14
15-16
17-18
Older than 18
Never
I forget when CowboyNeal first started touch-^^TUTORING me."

Comment: Re:I wonder how this will affect Sony (Score 1) 138

by J-Doggqx (#20094353) Attached to: GTA IV Delayed Into Next Year
"I'm talking Buy the system, Pre-order the game, Million Seller right away kind of games"

Was that ever GTA4? Granted it was certainly the case for GTA3 for the PS2, but that was an exclusive release (originally) while GTA4 is going with a multi platform release. Maybe it would move some PS3s, but I think the 360 version will sell more copies of the game due to the larger install base, lower console price, and upcoming additional exclusive content. If anything this would have helped Microsoft sell consoles this Christmas more than it would have helped Sony.

Businesses

+ - Dell begins their largest layoff ever. 3

Submitted by cyphercell
cyphercell (843398) writes "Dell has begun their largest series of layoffs ever. This morning at about 10:00am more than two hundred employees at Dell's Roseburg Oregon Call center found out that they no longer had jobs. Sparking what appears to be the beginning of year long run of layoffs for the company. http://www.newsreview.info/article/20070802/NEWS/7 0802014

Refuting local suspicions of malice Dell spokesman David Frink states:

... the closure has nothing to do with a lawsuit filed by employees of the Roseburg center in February, claiming Dell violated federal and state wage and hour laws.
http://www.newsreview.info/article/20070213/NEWS/7 0213020

and later says

...plans to reduce employment worldwide by 10 percent at the end of May.


Their plans to reduce employment can be found here:
http://www.statesman.com/business/content/business /stories/technology/06/01/1dell.html

Here are some highlights:

Dell set to shed 8,800 workers...

Dell has 82,200 permanent workers, including 18,000 in Central Texas, and 5,300 temporary workers worldwide. The layoffs are expected to affect both groups...

In its last large-scale layoffs, Dell cut more than 5,000 jobs in Austin after the high-tech bust in 2001.

...many of the layoffs could come in Central Texas, where Dell is headquartered. In a March 29 report to clients, Goldman Sachs analysts said Dell might reduce the work force at its test and assembly facilities in the U.S. and Malaysia.
"
Security

+ - Should We Rebuild America with Minneapolis Bridge?-> 2

Submitted by mattnyc99
mattnyc99 (1008511) writes "The tragic collapse last night in Minneapolis of a truss bridge—one that the U.S. Dept. of Transportation found "structurally deficient" two years ago—raises an important issue beyond just the engineering of one single span. As national security expert Stephen Flynn pleads in an op-ed on American infrastructure in the wake of yesterday's disaster, "The blind eye that taxpayers and our elected officials have been turning to the imperative of maintaining and upgrading the critical foundations that underpin our lives is irrational and reckless." Do we need to start spending to rebuild America?"
Link to Original Source
Space

+ - Shrunk Budget for NASA Causes Delay in Manned Moon

Submitted by
mikesd81
mikesd81 writes "Playfuls has an article stating that the $545 million reduction from NASA's budget for 2006 could delay the agency's plans to send a man back to the moon in 2014, NASA's boss Michael Griffin told the Congress on Thursday. The possible delay could be four to six months delay (pushing the 2014-planned flight to early 2015) and into a "brain drain" of specialists. Congress' refusal to accept the initial budget for the project could postpone the first launch of the new manned spacecraft until December 2014 at the "very best". President Bush's $2.9 trillion fiscal 2008 space and science budget includes more than $6 billion for NASA. Included is $1.2 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to develop the new rocket for Orion. If the Congress accepts the funding, NASA would also receive $1.6 billion to conduct astronomy research, upgrade the Hubble telescope and build new space telescopes."
Networking

+ - The IT Daylight saving checklist

Submitted by
coondoggie
coondoggie writes "A two-year-old federal law moves expands Daylight Saving Time by a month, starting this year. For humans, it means resetting clocks on a different weekend twice a year, but for computer systems it means upgrades that could cause headaches as the March 11 deadline approaches. Whether you're up to speed or in panic mode, here's a checklist of what you should be doing to prepare. http://www.networkworld.com/news/2007/030107-dst-s lides.html"
NASA

+ - NASA's future inflatable lunar base

Submitted by
Roland Piquepaille
Roland Piquepaille writes "If you think that future NASA's moon camps need to have a science fiction look, you might be disappointed. Today, NASA is testing small inflatable structures. In fact, if these expandable 'tents' receive positive reviews, astronauts will 'camp' on the moon as early as 2020. These 12-foot (3.65 meter) diameter inflatable units could be used as building blocks for a future lunar base. Right now, a prototype is tested at NASA's Langley Research Center. But NASA also wants to test other inflatable structures in the not-too-friendly environment of the Antarctic next year. Still, it's too early to know if NASA's first habitable lunar base will use inflatable or rigid structures. Here you'll find more details about this project and pictures showing this NASA's inflatable lunar basic unit during and after deployment."
Programming

+ - When a CGI script is the most elegant solution

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Writing local Web applications can be quick, easy, and efficient for solving specific Intranet problems. Learn why a Web browser is sometimes a better interface than a GUI application and why experienced Web developers find themselves struggling to learn a GUI toolkit, and descover that a simple CGI script would serve their needs perfectly well, if not better."

Life. Don't talk to me about life. - Marvin the Paranoid Anroid

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