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

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The Ghurka and the map

| Categories: Self-Improvement | Tags:

A Ghurka rifleman escaped from a Japanese prison in south Burma and walked six hundred miles alone through the jungles to freedom. The journey took him five months, but he never asked the way and he never lost the way. For one thing he could not speak Burmese and for another he regarded all Burmese as traitors. He used a map and when he reached India he showed it to the Intelligence officers, who wanted to know all about his odyssey.

Earthquakes

| Categories: Philippines | Tags:

Last Monday, a magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit northern Luzon. The rocking was felt strongly in Metro Manila; I normally don’t feel any earthquakes and only learn of them after the fact via friends or social media. But this time I was on a bed and I could feel it physically shaking, which was impressive given I was only on a second story. Imagine what it must have been like to be in a high-rise condo.

Project Management Tip: Kalma Lang

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

A friend messaged me a while back asking for advice as he was going to be a first time project manager. I don’t identify as a project manager (even though I have done quite a bit of project management work), so I didn’t really have much to say. But I did meet up with a project manager friend later on and asked her if she had any tips. And she told me that one of the best tips she could give was one that I myself told her a long time ago:

Rabbit Holes

| Categories: Pop Culture | Tags:

Since I’m easily distracted, I often tumble down rabbit holes way too easily. You know the kind of rabbit holes I’m talking about: you just want to lookup the name of that actor who appeared in that movie and suddenly you find yourself forty minutes into a Wikipedia dive with three different tabs open, none of them remotely related to what you were originally searching for. (Wikipedia could also be IMDB, Reddit, or TV Tropes).

Holy Week

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

My earliest memories of Holy Week are my grandmother telling us about how solemn the days off were supposed to be and that we kids were supposed to be quiet and not make so much noise and not be playing around so much. That, and the only thing being available on TV being The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston and Yul Brenner. In the early 2000s, what we often watched were the marathon episodes of Seventh Heaven shown on Studio 23 (the actor for the dad/pastor in that show later on confessed to being involved in a child molestation scandal, ironically.

Mobile games have a short shelf life

| Categories: Tech Life Gaming | Tags:

Rami Ismail of Vlambeer points out some of the problems with the mobile app ecosystem: platform SDKs update so often, so older mobile games often break, such that the reasonable option is to make freemium games that you update continuously rather than single purchase games that won’t work a year later unless you burn capital on them: ”… I’m just a little wary of the smartphone market right now. I don’t currently feel at ease developing for those platforms because the SDKs change, their hardware specs change and when you don’t update the game just breaks.

Shredder!

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

No, not the TMNT villain or the kitchen utensil. Some years back I jokingly put “a shredder” on a Secret Santa wishlist, which I knew was way outside the roughly $10 range that locals usually set for Secret Santa gifts. I put a lot of other options on (usually food stuff like quezo de bola or Spam), so I wasn’t expecting to actually get a shredder. But I did! It might be a bit weird to have a shredder at home, but I find it useful (occasionally).

Starcraft 2

| Categories: Gaming | Tags:

It’s been nine years since Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty came out, and the last expansion Legacy of the Void came out four years ago in 2015. I bought all three releases as soon as they came out and recently found the boxes while spring cleaning. Despite the game’s age surprisingly people are still playing it, including me. Not for the ranked ladder - whenever I go into the competitive multiplayer mode I find myself stressing out and feel like my blood pressure is going up and I can’t manage more than one or two games at a time.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. – Winston Churchill I already typed the above quote into the post, then realized I had already used it before. Whatever, just goes to show, I’m no stranger to failure. I was reminded of this quote because recently I prepared a demo for a project that didn’t push through. At first I was annoyed at the wasted effort, but I realized that I had wisely taken the demo project as an opportunity to learn/sharpen some skills.

Tasks you enjoy

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

There are two kinds of tasks you get done: there are the tasks that you just want to get over with, the ones you only do because you basically have to do or face more dire consequences later. An example going to the dentist. (Nobody enjoys going to the dentist right?) You can’t just put it off forever, so you just want to get it done as fast as possible.

Forgetfulness

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

I’ve been diagnosed as hypertensive for fourteen years now, so I’ve been taking these maintenance meds every morning. I’m terrible at it, mostly due to forgetfulness, so I often miss some days. Just this morning, I was watching a Parks and Recreation 10th Anniversary Reunion panel after coming back upstairs from breakfast, and I saw the meds on my desk and I was like “I should take my meds now. Wait, have I already taken my meds?

The Ship of Theseus

| Categories: self-improvement | Tags: quotes

I found myself poring over the Wikipedia entry for the Ship of Theseus the other day. If you’re not familiar, it’s basically a thought experiment along the lines of “if a given ship’s parts are replaced at every port it visits, and eventually none of the parts are from the original ship, is it still the same ship?” The thought experiment questions the meaning of identity of a whole composed of many individual parts, such as a ship, or even a human.

It is necessary to be lost

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags: quotes

“It is necessary to be lost. There is a simple logic to this. You cannot find yourself without first being lost. You cannot catch what you do not drop. You have to open your fist and let what you are clenching fall.” — Cary Tennis @ Salon via karigee

I usually log links to interesting articles that I read over on Pocket, which get fed into the links list on this blog, but that page only shows the most recent ones, so I thought I’d highlight some in a post as well. Recent science news: scientists have managed to image the event horizon of a black hole! Here’s a nice article about why that’s a big deal and some interesting science stuff behind it.

Promised Neverland and Dr. Stone

| Categories: Pop Culture | Tags: manga comics

Many of the manga series I used to follow from long ago have since ended, the only ones still running now are One Piece and Hajime no Ippo. So I thought I’d follow some newer ones. Here are some short reviews: The Promised Neverland I picked up this one due to a strong recommendation from someone I follow on social media. The premise starts out with some super smart kids who grew up in an orphanage without any knowledge of an outside world.

Initial Page Load

| Categories: Tech Life Meta | Tags:

I read a recent blog post from a friend about the large page sizes on initial load of a web page. From there, I got to a link which said that the average page size nowadays is at least 3MB. This led me to check the performance of this very blog/site. Initial load of the home page clocks in with 13 requests weighing around 140KB total. This is not bad, in fact it would be a significant improvmenet since I migrated to a static site using Hugo.

Digging Through Time

| Categories: Tech Life | Tags: nostalgia

I recently found out about the blog at geocities.institute where they dig through the Geocities archive torrent extracted by the internet archive and write about interesting things they find. That of course eventually led me to traipse through the internet archive’s wayback machine again, especially looking back at some of my older websites. I like having the ability to dig through time and find old content I’ve written or created. (Which is only one of the reasons why I advocate backing up your social media content regularly).

Another repost from my Quora answers. Back in 2016 when I was on a work hiatus, I answered a lot of “how to live” questions on Quora, this is one of them. How can I find my interests in life? Look everywhere. Try everything. Life is varied and has a wider scope than you could possibly imagine. Step outside your comfort zone. Visit new places. Sign up for strange classes.

Gratitude and wonder

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

There is plenty of advice about how living a life of gratitude can lead to happiness. And that’s fine, gratitude and thankfulness are good traits to have. But in addition to gratitude, I would recommend wonder. That is, seek out wonder in your life. Put yourself into situations where there’s a good chance of wonder, awe, or amazement. Seek out things that amaze you and make you go “Woah!” You won’t always succeed, but that’s okay, the moments when you do will be worth it.

Don't worry, be happy

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

I worry about a lot of things. Recently with the planning for the US trip, the worry that comes to mind is financial: this trip is expensive, should I be cutting back? Can I afford this Airbnb? Can I afford going to Disneyland with my nieces? etc. All this worrying is silly of course. I already know I can well afford the trip, but the fact that it’s so expensive triggers the spendthrift in me to worry that I might be spending too much and I might be on a slippery slope to financial ruin.

Take care of your teeth

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

If I could send one message back to my young teenage self it would be “take care of your teeth.” Okay, that’s not true, the first two options would most probably be “buy Apple stocks before 2007” and “get as much Bitcoin as you can before it’s worth $10”. But the teeth thing is really important, it’s most probably up there somewhere in the top five. I don’t have a good record of taking care of my teeth.

Justice vs Vengeance

| Categories: Philippines | Tags: current events philosophy

via /u/haveanicedayreddit on reddit: The very fact that our nation’s highest court is weighing in on the amount of cruelty we can inflict upon those we put to death suggests we’ve taken a wrong turn. And yet the very subject invites some to ask why we should even care about the feelings of rapists or murderers. Here’s why we need to care. We need to care because our justice system demands it.

Social Media Hiatus

| Categories: Tech Life | Tags:

I’ve written a bit about the need to reduce social media usage, so this month I’m gonna give it a try and have decided to disconnect from Facebook and Twitter until the end of the month. Actually, the real motivation is to minimize the chances of accidentally reading spoilers for Game of Thrones and Avengers Endgame! But taking a trial run of a social media purge seems a good secondary reason too.

Minus

| Categories: Pop Culture | Tags: webcomics

Some number of years back I first encountered this comic image and I really liked it because it had a message of boundless optimism, of no challenge too large to overcome. I later found out that the image comes from an Eisner-award winning webcomic called minus (intentionally lower case). The meaning of the comic changes significantly in the context of the webcomic, as the titular girl minus apparently has unlimited reality alteration powers.

I Got A US Visa!

| Categories: Travels | Tags:

Family’s been planning a US trip this year, and while I wasn’t originally planning to join them, they convinced me to go. I was like, why not? My schedule is flexible, I’ve never been there, and going to the US meant adding a whole new continent to my experiences. Getting a US Visa was a good idea anyway, in case I ever decided to travel there for some other reason (i.

Daily news reading is a habit I inherited from my father, who tends to read the morning newspaper at the dining table during breakfast every morning and most other meals as well, even to this day. Some would say a bad habit, especially when among company. These days my morning newspaper consists mostly of Flipboard articles, then the local newspaper during lunch and dinner if I am at home. Aside from mealtime readings, I also regularly take breaks to check what is going on in social media and my RSS reader.

The big one this month was Captain Marvel. I posted the usual spoiler-free review over on Tumblr, but I have some more spoiler-y thoughts over here: Click to toggle spoilers While I thought the movie was ok, I was underwhelmed by the third act and specifically the lack of any serious threat for Carol to defeat towards the end of the movie. As this tumblr post explains more clearly than I ever could, perhaps the issue is that the narrative is not something targetted towards me as a man, who has not experienced the emotional gaslighting IRL that many women are exposed to.

You can find your tribe, but others can too

| Categories: Tech Life | Tags:

I posted a quote yesterday about how if you’re feeling like an outsider or you don’t belong, you should take the take to try and “find the others” who are more similar to yourself. For every person, there likely exists a “tribe”, not necessarily all in one place, a community where that person would fit in. And in the modern age, the internet and social media make it all the more easier for such “outsiders” to connect with each other.

Find the others

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags: quotes

“Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the “normal people” as they go about their automatic existences. For every time you say club passwords like “Have a nice day” and “Weather’s awful today, eh?

Export your social media data

| Categories: Tech Life | Tags:

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about Google Plus being discontinued, I should note that you should be regularly doing backups of all your social media content anyway. Most of them will provide easily accessible backup tools, but probably they have to be accessed via a web browser. Here are the relevant pages for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. (And be wary of sites like Quora that don’t have a direct backup option.

Google Plus is dying

| Categories: Tech Life | Tags:

They’re pulling the plug on it by end of this month. I got an email telling me to backup my content from there so I did, not that I had much. I don’t think I wrote any original posts there, the export was mostly +1s and shares and such. Maybe I’ll dig through it in detail in the future. I wish I could say they tried their best with Google+, but they really didn’t.

A Quick Twitter App I Wrote

| Categories: Software Development | Tags:

I wish I had a more concise way to describe it, but I really don’t. Some time ago this guy I follow on Twitter, visakanv wanted to know how to do a certain search: he wanted to know who a given famous person follows on Twitter, and among those, finds the one who follow him (visakanv), so he could network through them. I might not be explaining the concept too well, here’s the thread.

Meritocracy

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

The concept of a “meritocracy” has come to the fore again with the recent college admissions scandal in the US, where wealthy parents bribed coaches and other professionals to get their kids into high-end universities with supposedly high standards. It’s put a lie to the idea that the students of these universities represent the “cream of the crop” or “the best of the best”, showing that kids can get in not only due to their own talent, but also due to money.

Google Stadia

| Categories: Gaming | Tags: stadia

Earlier this week, Google officially announced their much-rumored streaming game platform, Google Stadia. Initial thoughts: If this works out, it will greatly lower the barrier for access to AAA games, since people won’t have to buy desktops or consoles anymore, and you would be able to game on laptops without worrying about overheating. Sadly like many online services, it will probably be a while before it even becomes available over here in the PH (I believe even Sony’s Playstation Now is not yet accessible here) One would presumably worry about how well it would work with the limited bandwidth available to third-world countries like ours, but I had this worry too when Netflix first became available here, and that worked out fine Speaking of Netflix, if Stadia manages to have a Netflix-like unlimited access service, that can only mean my gaming backlog is going to get a lot worse!

Discerning motives

| Categories: Philippines | Tags: politics

Scenario: Someone I know, let’s call him/her Person A, appears to be supporting Party B, who in my opinion represents some of the worsts traits of Philippine politics (including but not limited to corruption, patronage, personality politics, etc). Now, I like to be optimistic about people and give them the benefit of the doubt, so in a bid to understand I tried to list down some possible motivations for Person A to do so.

Zero Time Dilemma

| Categories: Gaming | Tags: vita

With the PS Vita recently being discontinued by Sony, I decided to work on reducing my Vita backlog a bit. One of the games I’d been meaning to play for a while now was Zero Time Dilemma, the third game in the Nonary Games trilogy. I’ve only previously played the 2nd game in the series, Virtue’s Last Reward, which is a bit appropriate given how the events in these games often unfold nonlinearly.

Another repost from my Quora answers, this time some info for anyone looking to move into programming. How much of what we learn in school helps us in real life? The stuff school teaches you - literature, mathematics, art, history, science, and so on - are intended to give you a broad enough base from which you can freely choose the direction you want to go in life. This means that as you specialize, many of these subjects may become “irrelevant” to you, but having this broad base of knowledge gives you a better foundation in life.

The Eternal Struggle

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags: quotes

“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” - E.B. White I am fortunate that with my flexible working schedule I get to choose whether to derp around or to be productive every day.

Lies and marketing

| Categories: Software Development | Tags:

I mentioned before that as an engineer, I’m not fond of marketing. Image credit: Dilbert.com (Disclaimer: Liking the Dilbert comics is not an endorsement of Scott Adams’ politics) It’s not that I can’t be good at salesmanship either. I have a good grasp of communication skills and think I have a decent chance of writing good copy. My main issue is that I’ve been exposed many times to sales/marketing practices that just seem dishonest downright or scummy.

If I could give some advice to someone starting out in their software development career, it would be this: Don’t stay in the same place too long. The first company I worked at, I stayed with them for thirteen years, which I now feel was way too long. I have to admit, the work was hard and challenging, but I was young and had a lot of energy and was willing to work the long hours.

RIP Webfaction?

| Categories: Tech Life Meta | Tags: webfaction

A few months back, my current web host WebFaction announced they had been purchased by GoDaddy, which was worrying. Back then they hadn’t announced any details other than there would be some account migrations and single sign on, so it wasn’t a big deal yet. I initially joined WebFaction back in 2008 because they were a Python-friendly and developer-friendly host that had some reasonable budget options, allowing me some space to host this blog and any side projects I wanted to deploy.

I read this tweet from @GaryGulman, a standup comic who gives out tips for comedy writers: 70) Today, put together a list of the most embarrassing moments in your life. Take one or two and write them out in detail. Next time you’re in front of a warm crowd, work on telling the story. #GulManTip #WriteNow — (((GARY GULMAN))) (@GaryGulman) March 11, 2019 Today, put together a list of the most embarrassing moments in your life.

Routines

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

I posted the other day about trying to get back into the habit of early morning walks. Unfortunately, I failed to continue that habit the very next day (hopefully I’m able to succeed on upcoming days). The main reason I failed is that I was unable to sleep early on the preceeding night. My sleep cycle is horribly irregular, given my flexible working hours. I tend to be easily tempted to take naps at odd hours.

Another repost from my Quora answers, this time some info for anyone looking to move into programming. What are the pros and cons of making your career in programming? Pros: It is a very rewarding career financially. Software development often ranks in the top 10 highest-earning careers in most countries There is a lot of scope - you could be developing web applications, mobile applications, embedded applications, client-side, server-side, data analysis, artificial intelligence, games, etc It is very difficult to be bored.

Break of dawn

| Categories: Daily Life | Tags: walking

I stepped out of the house a bit past five in the morning today. I haven’t done this in a while, taking my daily walk in the early morning. I used to do it pretty regularly, except back then I confined myself to the inner roads of our subdivision, or doing loops around the covered court in the nearby seminary. Walking the same routes every morning and doing repetitive routes got boring after a while, and combined with my erratic sleep schedule the habit soon fell off the wayside.

750 Words

| Categories: Writing | Tags:

I’ve mentioned 750 Words before. It’s a pretty neat service that allows you to write privately online. It’s not public like blogging is, so if you’d like to develop a daily writing habit but don’t want things to be available to the world, it’s a pretty good option. You can of course, just write on paper or on local files and just not upload anything to the cloud at all. But there’s some benefits to an online service like this one too - the most obvious one is that you can write anywhere, with any internet connected device, but they also have a few other nifty features like tracking streaks (which can be great for building habits), and 750words even allows you to attach daily metadata to your posts (such as a number indicating your mood for the day or how many hours you slept) and it can later show you a chart of how that metadata changes over time.

Unknowns

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

Our instinct tells us to fear the unknowns, especially the ones that loom large in our imagination. The bigger the unknown, the more fear and uncertainty it generates, and in some cases it can lead us to paralysis and inability to move forward. Most often, the only way to conquer these unknown obstacles is to face them head on. Study them, attack them, break them apart, until you understand what they are.

Image source: r/GetMotivated It’s fun to think about what might have been, but often regret is tinged with optimism - the optimism that given another chance, we might have made different decisions and obtained better outcomes. But different doesn’t always mean better, so such visualizations are often pointless speculation.

Sometimes you just come up short. You try to work your brain but it always comes up dry. It happens, even to the best of us. There’s no shame in failure or in defeat. It’s only human. We can’t be at our best all the time, otherwise it’s not our best. What’s important is you pick yourself up and try again the next day. Tomorrow, we can do better.