Wearing dice on my head since 2008 Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart. Randomly amazed.

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When making difficult or life-changing decisions, there are two levels of decision making we go through. One level is the rational, conscious mind. The mind is the part that considers all the options, weighs the pros and cons, and compares the metrics against your personal goals. The second level is subconscious and instinctive, sometimes called the human heart (not to be confused with the organ that pumps blood). The heart makes decisions using instincts and biases honed from your own life experiences and baser needs such as fear, anger, or self-preservation.

Exploration

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

The most efficient way to find something you like is to identify it, figure out where to find it, then go find it. This is why we have search engines and indexes and maps. This is why bookstores and groceries and department stores try to sort their wares into logical arrangements, to facilitate this efficient search. Not everything needs to be efficient however. There’s something to be said for exploration - browsing, meandering, walking down new paths, and so on.

Sparketype

| Categories: Myself | Tags:

It’s been a while since I took one of those internet quizzes that categorize you and try to describe your personality. I ran into this one called Sparketypes recently. Here’s my result: Your Primary Sparketype reveals the essential nature or “driver” of the work you’re here to do (whether it’s the work you get paid to do, or not). When you do the work of your Primary Sparketype, you come alive with purpose and, fully-expressed in a healthy way, deepen into meaning, flow, connection and joy.

Leaving Wordpress I’ve been using Wordpress for this blog since circa 2006 I believe, but as I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I was not 100% happy with using Wordpress for this blog. I have a few issues with Wordpress, none of them a major dealbreaker, but collectively enough to make me consider something else: the new Gutenberg editor set to become standard in 5.0 was in my experience, very clunky and kinda annoying the code structure of Wordpress is very deep and complex, sometimes making it difficult for me to make changes I want.

The larger the audience, the more careful you have to be with your words. When you’re hanging out with a small group of close friends, you can say anything ridiculous and irresponsible and it’s fine, your friends can call you out on it. When you’re a commencement speaker you need to be more careful with what you say, even jokingly. Since you’re talking to a large number of impressionable youths, there’s a good chance someone will misinterpret what you say.

Had a slightly confusing conversation a couple of weeks ago with my mom which went something like: Me: “Oh, the bar exam starts next weekend, <my cousin> is in Manila a week early.” Ma: “No, it’s this weekend.” Me: “That’s what I said, next weekend.” Ma: “No, this weekend, on the 4th.” Me: “That’s what next weekend means!” Ma: “No, next weekend is the 11th.” “Next weekend” is definitely confusing, so I should avoid using it in the future for the much clearer and more definitive “this weekend” which is unambiguous when used on a weekday.

(“Late Game Review” because I’m trying to play through games on my ridiculously old backlog, so these games are pretty old) The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim came out on 11/11/2011. I remember I bought the game for Steam on launch day. I finally “finished” it after 350 hours of gameplay and seven years real-time. “Finished” in this case means “achievement complete”, not just “main quest complete”, because as any Bethesda gamer knows, that’s not how their RPGs roll.

My history in text editors

| Categories: Tech Life Software Development | Tags:

Text editors (and by extension IDEs) are a programmer’s best friend. I thought I’d look back at a number of text editors I’ve used over the years. (I grew up with Windows, so I won’t list vim/emacs/nano here, even though I’m at least a bit proficient with vim by now. That is, I know how to exit vim.) Notepad – of course, the default editor in Windows. The one we turn to when all else fails.

According to Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, you need 10,000 hours of continuous sustained practice to become an expert. There are 168 hours in a week. If you never sleep and you eat as you practice, you can become an expert in 60 weeks. (Around 14 months) If you sleep 8 hours a day, you only have 112 hours in a week. If you eat as you practice, you can become an expert in 90 weeks.

The Paradox of Tolerance

| Categories: Opinions | Tags: philiosophy

When I was young, I was a fan of Voltaire’s famous quote “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”. Today, in the face of a world where hatemongers and the intolerant are able to use modern communication technologies to more easily spread their views, I realize that things may not be so black and white. Like so many beliefs I held when I was young, I now find myself of the opinion that instead of absolute tolerance (which may not even be possible), there is some semblance of intolerance that may be needed to keep to the ideal.

Version Issues

| Categories: Software Development | Tags:

SCM (Software Configuration Management) doesn’t just refer to version control for the software you’re building. It also means controlling the versions of software you depend on. This includes operating system and programming runtimes. Sometimes even minor version differences can cause issues in running your software. I have two example stories to share: One of our clients asked us for help with an upgrade their production servers from CentOS 6.4 to 6.

Favorite JRPG Tracks

| Categories: Gaming Pop Culture | Tags: Music

I used to play a lot of JRPGs, especially back during they heyday of the Playstation Era. These days, I only get to play a few, but I still enjoy a lot of the music tracks from this game, often the battle music since I prefer more upbeat tracks. Here are some of my favorite JRPG tracks from recent years: Rivers in the Desert (Persona 5) – easily the best song in the OST for me, and the rest of this OST is amazing so that’s saying a lot.

Responsiveness and Notifications

| Categories: Tech Life | Tags:

I had always considered my responsiveness to emails and IMs a point of pride – I liked to keep an empty inbox so I replied to emails and IMs as soon as I became aware of them. This of course turned out a bit bad in the short run. I was easily distracted from whatever work I was doing – although I did take pride in being pretty good at multitasking (Yes I know, no one is *really* good at multitasking, I’m just less bad at it than other people).

Apparently, Youtube’s algorithms tend to promote extremist content. This is an unsurprising (yet unforeseen) consequence of the “free” advertising-driven internet. Social media algorithms optimize for engagement (eyeballs, views, likes, whatever, etc). Meanwhile, humans are more likely to engage with controversial content. Everyday status quo content is boring by comparison. Hence, controversial or extremist content will tend to bubble to the top. It’s the same reason politics has made social media divisive – promoting divisive content has turned out to be profitable in terms of engagement.

The sky is falling

| Categories: Just Another Day Opinions | Tags: Politics

There’s a lot of doom and gloom and bad news in the world these days, giving us ordinary folk little reason to be optimistic. Examples include: we are almost certainly too late to prevent climate change at all and social collapse is now an actual possibility Trump has begun taking steps to walk back a nuclear arms control treaty increasing trends of nationalism and populism threatening to walk back the gains of globalisation (i.

I’ll probably never be an entrepreneur. It’s funny. There’s a lot of these “Anyone can be an entrepreneur!” “You too can be an entrepreneur!” articles that go around. But I don’t think it’s true. I don’t think entrepreneurship is for everybody. Laziness is probably the main factor. Becoming an entrepreneur is hard work. That’s something all the entrepreneurship articles aren’t shy about telling you. “Anyone can do it, as long as you are willing to work hard!

Shogun was the first novel I ever read outside of required school readings and it remains one of favorites to this day after many rereadings. It had it all – the age of exploration, religious conflict, language barriers, duty, honor, love, betrayal, war, sacrifice, samurai, ninjas, guns, cannons, etc and it still influences my thinking to this day. One of my favorite quotes from this book: Toranaga: “Tsukku-san says that the Netherlands were vassals of the Spanish king until just a few years ago.

Systemic change is difficult. I’m talking about software projects/systems, but there are a lot of parallels with societal systems too, like governments or states. I’ve been in large projects with hundreds of thousands of LOC where a lot of the code was painful to read and full of code smells and so on. It happens over time as projects get maintained by different developers and teams or different enhancements or changes are made.

Anxiety

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

Webcomic PVP Online recently did a short series on the character Cole suffering anxiety. I generally consider myself to be a well-adjusted and functioning adult (more or less), but I did grow up as a socially anxious introvert, so I still find myself suffering mild anxiety from time to time. The most common scenario is when someone messages you like “Hey, can we talk later?” with no additional context whatsoever.

Some things I’ve been watching lately, aside from the usual TV shows I follow: Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (on Amazon Prime) – surprisingly good, even if I’m not too familiar with the Jack Ryan stuff. I only know John Krasinski from The Office, Spoilers for Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan: Click to toggle spoilers The story starts with Ryan tracking down Suleiman’s network via financials, but they never follow-up on who was financing his group I’m not sure what was the point of the whole drone pilot side story (including the weird trip to the casino and the night with the couple), although it was admittedly kind of entertaining Daredevil season 3 (on Netflix) – I enjoyed the season a lot.

Ten years ago this month, I started studying Django by trying to build my own blog application. I found the code lying around while I was going through some backups lately. It’s way out of date, it uses an early version of django. I thought of bringing it up to speed, but that didn’t seem practical. Instead, for archival purposes, I cleaned it up a bit and uploaded the code to a github repo.

Comic books and superheroes have always tended to skew towards liberal philosophies, given how writers and artists tend to support ideals like individualism and free expression. So it’s not surprising that the derivative shows tend to lean the same way. Not only do many of the shows promote diversity, but many are becoming overtly political as well. Some recent examples. (Spoilers for current seasons of Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow and Daredevil follow)

Michael Scott

| Categories: Just Another Day Pop Culture | Tags: TV Series

I’ve been re-watching The Office (US) lately (it’s a good show to leave running in the background while you’re doing other stuff), and I just find the character of Michael Scott fascinating. He’s funny and well-written and basically just a big bag of human flaws that somehow bumbles his way into managing an office. He’s self-centered, attention-hungry, easily distracted, and refuses to acknowledge any bad news, yet despite all of that he loves his workmates like a family.

Malcolm Gladwell, in an article from 1996 discussing the Challenger disaster, tells us: This kind of disaster is what the Yale University sociologist Charles Perrow has famously called a “normal accident.” By “normal” Perrow does not mean that it is frequent; he means that it is the kind of accident one can expect in the normal functioning of a technologically complex operation. Modern systems, Perrow argues, are made up of thousands of parts, all of which interrelate in ways that are impossible to anticipate.

Suggested additions to HS curriculum

| Categories: Opinions Philippines | Tags:

I have no plans of running for elective office (though it is a running joke among some of my circles), but if I were, one of the problems I would focus on would be education. As such, I have a list of suggested additions to the High School curriculum here in the Philippines. (The first version of this list was in an FB post I wrote during the 2016 campaign period, in response to people clamoring for better Martial Law education.

Capitalism

| Categories: Opinions | Tags: philosophy

In fourth year HS, we had an Economics subject, and back then I was fascinated with the idea of free market capitalism – the free market, the invisible hand, the law of supply and demand, and the idea that through competition we are forced to adapt and become better and more efficient in order to survive. Capitalism mirrored the law of nature: the strong will survive. These days, I am much less enamored with the idea of capitalism.

You don't have to be on all the time

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Reminders: You don’t have to be on all the time. You don’t have to optimize everything all the time You don’t have to be at maximum productivity all the time You don’t have to be the best at everything you do all the time You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room all the time You don’t have to worry about everything all the time You don’t have to be strong enough for everyone all the time You don’t have to solve everyone’s problems all the time There had been some suggestion that people with the above traits (hypercompetitive, always wanting to optimize everything, manage their time, be productive etc) have a higher tendency for heart disease or cardiovascular problems, although that theory is in question.

The QC Memorial Circle

| Categories: Just Another Day Philippines | Tags:

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Roy Tang (@roytang0400) on Oct 16, 2018 at 2:24am PDT I took a quick walk around the QC memorial circle the other day. There was some kind of event going on in the main plaza for the Department of Agriculture; Secretary Pinol was there giving a speech. I walked a couple of rounds around the park so I could meet my daily steps target.

For the past few weeks or so, many in the country were consumed by a sort of lotto fever. The PCSO 6/58 Ultra Lotto had gotten up to a record high jackpot prize of more than 1 billion PHP (roughly 20M USD – I know some lotteries in the US have prizes way higher than that, but hey, we’re not the US.) Many people who normally don’t play the Lotto were participating due to the sheer size of the pot.

Working hours and overtime

| Categories: Gaming Software Development | Tags:

Rockstar was in the gaming news recently because they mentioned that some of them had worked 100-hour weeks on their massive sequel to Red Dead Redemption coming out soon (no idea if I’ll play this). The idea of 100 hour weeks seemed insane to me, and it got me thinking: I’ve done some serious overtime before, have I ever gotten close to that amount of work in a week? Luckily, I didn’t have to speculate too much, because I had data (I love data).

I’ve noticed that when I dream I live in a different house. In the dreams, “home” is not the home that I live in now. Instead it’s the “home” I grew up in. It’s my grandparents’ house, where we lived until the right after the turn of the millenium. That house is no longer there; I’ve mentioned it before. But when I manage to remember my dreams it seems like it’s still “home” for me.

On Dreams and Ambition

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I found an old document I had written around 2012, six years ago, I’ll quote it in full here: I remember when I was in high school, I made a bet with a classmate that I would be able to become president of the country before he could. Our wager was worth one cubic meter of solid gold. A few years back, I made a wager with an officemate who was about to leave my company to go independent; I bet that I would become famous before he would.

This is a story from the early days of the internet. Circa 2001-2004ish. A time of Geocities and AIM and and ICQ and from before Gmail even launched. At that time, I was a big Final Fantasy fan (okay, I still am, more or less). My first real experience with online fan communities was a Yahoo Groups mailing list called the “Final Fantasy Forum”. It was a fun, tight-knit group that loved to discuss the FF series and other JRPGs of that era.

Mentoring in Software Development

| Categories: Software Development | Tags:

Mentoring is one of those tasks that’s to be expected of anyone in a senior software development role. This usually involves reviewing other people’s code, helping them with tough technical issues, and even giving career advice. I’m not sure how good I am when it comes to mentoring other software developers. When I first became technical lead on projects, I got some evaluations from junior developers saying I can be “intimidating”.

I’ve had a copy of this book for quite a while now, but for some reason only got around to starting on it three days ago. It’s not a particularly long book, but I pretty much devoured it in twenty four hours.Mandatory screenshot of old-school Doom The book traces the paths of the lives of John Romero and John Carmack – two legends of the software development world that changed PC gaming forever.

(“Late Game Review” because I’m trying to play through games on my ridiculously old backlog, so these games are pretty old) I got my digital PS3 copy of Ni No Kuni during some kind of PSN sale a while back for like $10 and seeing as how the sequel came out recently, I figured I’d better finish the first game before my rarely-used PS3 decides to die on me. Anyway, the game was great and I enjoyed it enough to go for the platinum (post-game was a bit grindy though):

This started as one of those silly Facebook memes where you post one thing every day and didn’t have to explain and you tagged other people and they continued with the meme. I was very bad at following the meme instructions, but I did find the exercise interesting. I found it difficult to identify 10 specific movies, and since I didn’t explain during the FB posts, I thought I’d make a blog post about them instead.

A few days ago I read this great Reddit comment about how increasing hyperpartisanship makes it easier to influence the entire population. Quoting the relevant part: Once you've done that, you have a population that's easier to manipulate. You have, say, 30% that's 100% sure on both ends, and probably another 15% on both ends that are 80% sure, and a remaining 10% that could go both ways. The more you do this, the more the 15% will be set in stone.

I realise it’s a bit weird for me to be reviewing a marketing book, given my self-proclaimed aversion to marketing and sales. A while back I wrote a review for Tim Ferris’ book Tribe of Mentors on this blog, and for some reason someone decided to contact me citing this review and asked if I would review this other book and they would give me a complimentary copy. This was something new to me, so I thought I’d try it out!

Why I'm Not An Entrepreneur

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

For years now, I’ve had numerous discussions with friends and family about the possibility of setting up my own business, no matter how small. Prospects have ranged from my own software consulting firm to a food stall in an MRT station. None of these ideas never push through. Aside from general risk-aversion and not being confident in the ideas, there’s a few factors that in my mind are significant obstacles towards starting a new business for me.

Let Go or Be Dragged

| Categories: Just Another Day Self-Improvement | Tags:

"Let go or be dragged” Zen proverb A few days back I read something on a Hacker News thread that kind of resonated with me: I’m not going to claim to be the most workaholic person ever – I’ve certainly known a lot of people who work far harder than me. But I do recognize that I have this problem of emotional attachment to a project, especially if I’m the main person responsible for it.

What is education for?

| Categories: Opinions Philippines | Tags:

I recently watched this TedX talk by Seth Godin about the purpose of school/education: One of the best points I agree with from the talk is that majority of our educational system is geared towards generating graduates who are obedient. We teach students from a young age to follow rules and answer roll calls. We teach them standard prescribed solutions. We teach them how to take exams and how to find the right answers.

(Somehow I now have a series of posts about blogging in 2018. Here’s the first one. Two is a series, right?) Great comment the other day on reddit (found via r/bestof), in response to Twitter’s inaction vs Alex Jones. Quoting part of the comment: How can the OG generation of web users possibly hope to maintain the Internet as a free and decentralized medium when a growing majority of the current userbase accept centralization of content and audience, as not only the status quo but as the way things should be?

Forty

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags: birthday

"Life begins at forty" – Walter B. Pitkin It’s supposed to be a milestone of some kind, isn’t it? Like any other birthday though, I don’t feel much different. I still feel like a kid (hence the “kid-at-heart” in this blog’s header), no more an adult than I was twenty years ago. More or less still the same person. I still enjoy the same pursuits, prefer the same foods, have the same hobbies, appreciate the same things.

July 2018: Gaming Update from 2011

| Categories: Gaming | Tags:

It has been a while since I had a bit of free time (work is busy busy busy). I thought I would post about something here. And I’ve decided (just now), that I need to post more frivolous things, a bit of dumb blogging as some might say. Today I will talk about what games I’ve been playing in the whatever little spare time I’ve been able to scrounge up. I find that if I don’t distract myself with some gaming, my brain tends to overthink about silly things like problems and deadlines that I can’t do anything about anyway.

This book was on sale on Amazon Kindle a while back, I figured I’d give it a whirl. Some years ago I had read one of the author’s previous books, The Four Hour Workweek, and I wasn’t too impressed. It was interesting at least, but a lot of the advice seemed either difficult to apply to my personal situation or involved doing stuff I wasn’t really interested in (i.e. sales and marketing and whatnot).

I had an out of country trip last weekend to Kuala Lumpur to play Magic, but I was a bit tempted to not write about it all. The reason being that inevitably after one of these MTG-related trips the first thing people ask me is “Nanalo ka ba?” (Did you win?) and this time, the answer was sadly no. (Let’s get the spoilers out of the way early shall we.) However, I realized that not all stories have to have happy endings.

A couple of days ago I was rummaging through some old files and found a folder of some personal files I had copied from work computer at my old long-time place of work. One thing I was hoping to find there was this TODO text file that I kept throughout the years I worked there, even as I moved from one computer to another. It was a very long, append-only file, accumulated over some number of years.

Barangay Elections

| Categories: Philippines | Tags:

Ever since I came of age, I’ve exercised my right (and duty) to vote in every election that comes around. Except for Barangay/SK elections. I’ve never voted in Barangay elections. I understand that voting is a civic duty, and I have no real justification for shirking it. But the fact is that my level of awareness re: barangay-level government is very low. I have no idea what their responsibilities or jurisdiction is supposed to be.

Google Duplex and Conversation AIs

| Categories: Tech Life | Tags:

Google recently had a demo of their new AI assistant Duplex at Google IO 2018: It’s an amazing demo to watch, from an engineering perspective. Basically a combination of natural language processing + text-to-speech that can emulate human speaking patterns. It’s not that much of a breakthrough (more like putting several different things together), but it’s impressive and is a good indicator of where we are with regards to true conversant AI.