Interesting articles of 2020

Published on January 3, 2021

I wrote more blog posts in 2020 than any other year. I published NAND Fizzbuzz Part 1 in February, which felt like forever ago, and published Part 2 in November. I took an interest in Linux development, which led to an article in March. When I wrote Connecting to a Raspberry Pi on RUWireless Secure in May I was still a college student. I’m nowhere near the throughput of the blogs I follow, and certainly spent far more time reading other blogs than writing. So, I’m going to talk about some of the other articles I found interesting when I read them.

I’ve organized them in chronological order of when they were published, and there’s a bias towards articles I found later in the year since that’s when I started preparing the list.

Xbox Ahoy doesn’t post many videos anymore but the ones he does are surprisingly deep and interesting. Explosive Barrels (March 6) tries to answer the question of What was the first explosive barrel in a video game? and it’s an interesting journey on creativity.

I Spent 11 Years Working on This Line Rider Track (March 28) is another great exploration of creativity. I have fond memories of line rider, both in playing myself and watching videos. It’s inspiring to see the effort that goes into the result, including making the Omniverse 2 map including everything that led up to it. David Lu not only created line rider maps, but recreated the entire line rider game.

Illumination Tutorial for Software 3D Rendering and Part 2 (May 29 and June 26) accomplishes what it says on the box. There’s other OpenGL tutorials similar to it, but I really like the style of Bisqwit. As with learning about anything you don’t know, theres a lot you don’t think about when you’re not doing it.

In November Apple announced the M1 chip, an ARM-based chip to be used in its new computers that has the ability to emulate x64 programs. ARM has become more common, and has been standard on mobile for a while, but a RISC architecture powerful enough to compete with desktop CPUs is pretty crazy to see. Why Is Apple’s M1 Chip So Fast? (November 27) is one of the many articles that explain it. In my own analysis it seems to be two big reasons: (1) Intel’s early refusal to invest in low-power mobile chip development and (2) known limitations CISC always had, that Intel was never able to work around. In the transition to 64-bit computers Intel tried to push IA-64, but failed because it wasn’t backwards compatible. It’s seems obvious to me that the best computer architecture would attempt to be as simple as possible for speed, and push off any complexity to the compiler, hence ARM or IA-64 should beat x64. But I’ve also read some people that disagree, and I’m not an expert in computer architectures.

Installing the world’s worst video card (November 7) by Ben Eater is one of many great videos where he creates pretty complicated devices on breadboards. This follows a series where he created a computer on a breadboard.

Cameras and Lenses (December 7) is great introduction to something I knew nothing about, Cameras and Lenses. I love the style of this blog. The sliders are just the right amount of interaction to facilitate learning without being distracting.

An iOS zero-click radio proximity exploit odyssey (December) and this demonstration is a really impressive exploit, and a warning into how difficult it is to prevent yourself from getting pwned. In short, the exploit gives kernel level access to an iPhone, and is done using consumer wireless devices.