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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Free Security Book

I owe this one to my colleague Stephen Holmes in Dublin, who today pointed me at the freely downloadable version of Ross Anderson's superb Security Engineering. This is without a doubt one of the finest free online books (of any kind) that I've ever seen, beyond being a celebrated classic in security circles for several years now. The author is a Professor of Security Engineering at the University of Cambridge's Computer Laboratory. Even so, he writes entertainingly. ;^)

The chapters are individually downloadable, or you can shag the whole book. For a quick look, I recommend Chapter 11 (which had me utterly spellbound).

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Dojo 2D

In the ever-widening quest for richer web widgets, the Dojo guys, it turns out, are considering implementing their own 2D graphics API. It would actually be a bunch of wrappers around SVG, VML, and Canvas methods, of course. The primary target is SVG.

Implementing this for even a small subset of SVG will be arduous. (The Flash ninjas must be laughing themselves sick right about now.) I'm tempted to dismiss Dojo 2D as a quixotic quest. But I also know AJAX developers are clamoring for just this sort of thing, and I'm sure Dojo 2D will be a scandalous success.

Performance is apt to be underwhelming (SVG is already sluggish enough without wrapper layers), but that's never stopped a market disruptor before, and anyway, Dr. Moore can't be far behind with the cure.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Lightweight 3D in Java

I finally found the ultimate no-frills super-lightweight 3D library written in Java: Peter Walser's idx3d framework. (Freeware, of course.)

After playing with idx3d for a month, I'm still astonished at how much functionality Peter crammed into just 29 (count 'em) .java files. The code is streamlined and easy to follow (a rarity in 3D engines). No frills, no baroque overfactoring, no "let's be fully general so as to handle the occasional weird-ass edge-case even if it means slowing everything else down."

I've found the idx3d code to be extremely stable, reasonably fast (again, a rarity in Java 3D engines), and after 30 hours of flogging it mercilessly in Eclipse (on Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop), I have yet to see an OutOfMemoryError.

The most wonderful thing about Peter Walser's code is that it was written in Y2K (back when Java was lean and mean) and has very few JRE dependencies: you'll see an occasional java.util class, but for the most part, Walser's code files contain no imports. Which is astonishing.

If you're interested in 3D programming, check this thing out.