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making a surface. trianble strips or meshes!!!!!!!!urgent

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hi, iam new tp open gl, i''ve got a problem that i have a 2D data set a height field of an area and i have to display a 3D surface. to be more precise i have to read from a given data file(.dat format)display a 3D surface. the data is stored a 8 bit signed integers. i have been able to read the data from the file but i don''t know how to start making a surface from it........iam confused . should i use triangle strips or meshes..... i don''t know wat to do with that data....how to use it...plz do guide me cause iam in a lot of trouble and i''ll be very gratefull if u reply soon. thanks

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