Archive for 2018
I’m not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions, but here’s some suggestions if you’re into that sort of thing: learn a new language talk to strangers more often visit 12 museums (one per month) step away from your devices once a week (increase the duration every time) read at least 12 non-fiction books read at least 12 physical books write a poem; maybe write 12 poems walk in the rain travel somewhere alone learn to draw stop a fight walk two thousand kilometers make more puns find something you can change in your local community and try to change it figure out what it means to be happy start twelve new side projects finish one side project once a week, throw out a few things you no longer need These aren’t things I’m committing to, but they are examples of the sort of NYRs I’d be likely to take on.
I mentioned before how I’m not a fan of LinkedIn: I’m not a fan of LinkedIn, as it seems to be mainly a way to get harassed by recruiters who didn’t even bother reading my profile. Some number of years back, I added the following clause to my LinkedIn profile: Recruiters: if you contact me, please specify the position you are recruiting for, what city it is in, and whether you can meet the above asking salary.
If you’re looking for a New Year’s Resolution, why not try learning a new language? Since late 2014, I’ve been using Duolingo to teach myself new languages. Learning a new language not only helps when you’re travelling, but it unlocks different ways of forming thoughts in your brain, helping cognitive development (I may have made up that last part with absolutely no basis except my own speculation.) The first language I tried to study using Duolingo was Spanish, mainly because back then we had an upcoming trip to Europe (including Barcelona) planned in 2015 so the Spanish would have helped.
Some things I’ve been watching lately, aside from the usual TV shows I follow: I very much enjoyed Elseworlds, the Arrowverse crossover this year. I mean sure, a lot of it didn’t make any sense, but it was like a love letter to DC fans. I actually consider myself more of a Marvel fan than DC, but I still loved it! I wrote a spoiler-free review over on the Tumblr.
Two things I’ve learned over the past couple of months of daily blog posting: I have a lot to write about I might have too much to write about Since I use this space to help myself think through some things, I found that I sometimes have a tendency to write about things that maybe I shouldn’t write about publicly, either for personal privacy reasons, or for professional courtesy reasons.
Back during the early days of gaming (both PC and console), there weren’t many game releases, and I had a lot of free time, so whenever I got a new game, I usually managed to play a fair amount of it. Ever since the advent of Steam and its constant sales, this has been a lot more challenging, especially since I have had much less time for gaming since I started working.
Some random notes I had jotted down about Christmas: Filipinos love Christmas. Filipinos are well-known for celebrating the longest Christmas season, with decorations and Christmas songs starting to become common around September. The most well-known meme around this time is about the song Christmas in our Hearts by Jose Mari Chan, which is one of the songs malls often play during the season. Many memes leading up to December or even earlier imply Jose Mari Chan preparing to strike on unsuspecting Filipinos.
Gift giving is something I’m quite bad at. Okay wait, that’s not accurate. I’m fine with the gift giving. The real problem I have with is gift-buying. I’m not good at buying gifts for other people. The main problem I guess is that I’m not good at buying things in general, unless those are things that are of particular interest to me. And since my interests are a bit niche, there tends to be not much overlap with what gifts I think other people will appreciate.
A Nobel Prize-winning psychologist says most people don’t really want to be happy Interesting article, a quote: Kahneman argues that satisfaction is based mostly on comparisons. “Life satisfaction is connected to a large degree to social yardsticks–achieving goals, meeting expectations.” While I guess this is largely true for society as a whole, it’s something I try to avoid for myself, since comparison is the thief of joy. The article argues that satisfaction is different from happiness, which is fleeting.
Facebook is in hot water again, over controversial deals it made in the past that compromised user privacy. I have been considering for a long time to leave Facebook. These are the challenges: For many people, Facebook is the only way I have to contact them I don’t have a better place to share family pictures (again most of the family is on Facebook) certain follows/groups relevant to my interest are Facebook only Basically the network effect.
Donald Trump and Mark Zuckerberg are different people in vastly different positions, but I find it interesting the uncanny parallels their stories have taken them through. Like many non-Americans, I’m acutely aware of the shenanigans of Donald Trump, the current US president. It would be a fascinating story, if only it weren’t so bad for the world. His character arc is of someone who rose to the level of this own incompetence.
The other day I was passing through the QC memorial circle (as is my wont) and I decided to walk around the tiangge/flea market that’s often there. It seemd larger than usual that day, so I figured I should finally take a look. And in the process I remembered what I dislike about local flea markets: 90% of the stalls are selling some form of clothes (which I have no interest in browsing - maybe if these stalls sold something my size for once!
I’m a fan of unpredictability and randomness, and I easily get bored with regularity, repetitiveness or consistency. I once articulated this as a life philosophy to a friend - that I preferred a life with periods of highs and lows, like a sine wave, instead of a simple and boring flat line. This is why I often enjoy games like Scrabble or MTG. Basically competitive skill-intensive games that still have a significant element of random chance, so that the games while interesting, almost never play out the same way.
I’ve been playing MTG Arena for a good while now, a little bit during the closed beta, and now I think we’re still in open beta (?) because things still keep changing around. But I figured I could put in a little commentary about how this thing is going so far. I’m coming off the POV of a long-time Magic the Gathering player of course, with a little bit of comparison to Eternal and Hearthstone, the two digital CCGs I’m most familiar with.
It can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the stimuli that the modern world provides us. There’s a seemingly endless stream of problems to be overcome, bad news to be angry about, movies to watch, tv shows to binge, games to play, books to read, pictures to share, gossip to be had, new things to learn, challenges to be faced, and so on. And with all of these comes the pressure to make the most of your time, to make sure it isn’t “wasted”.
I read this article about how Bill Gates spent 5 years not watching TV or listening to music in his twenties while building Microsoft. Now, I’m pretty sure I watch a lot of TV, unapologetically. Quite possible too much. But I can’t help but wonder if maybe I would be more productive if I had the same kind of discipline Bill Gates had, and maybe that would increase the odds that I could focus and create something of consequence?
Sorry, a bit more doom and gloom this time: David Attenborough: collapse of civilisation is on the horizon I was visiting at a friend’s house recently and our discussion turned to the impending doom threatening the world. While I hold out a tiny bit of hope that maybe somehow human society and/or science will find a way to save us, he was not so optimistic. He reads and writes a lot of speculative fiction and his view is that we are inevitably headed towards an era of land scarcity and resulting wars due to climate changes.
When another person expects something from you by a certain date, be it a meeting, or a debt to repay, or a work-related submission or something else, and you are unable to provide it by the agreed upon time, you owe it to that person to tell him you can’t make it, explain why, and provide a plan for moving forward. It’s a basic courtesy. If you made an appointment to meet at a certain time and place, and it looks you’re not going to be able to go, message the other party and tell them.
For any nontrivial software project of at least moderate team size, there can be a significant cost to onboarding a new team member, especially at later stages when you are rushing to meet deadlines. The most signifiant cost is of course the communication overhead as described in the Mythical Man Month. Fun story, the CEO of a company once told me they would add more developers to a delayed project to meet the deadline and when I pointed out the increased overhead he said to me that it wasn’t a problem because they would just assign modules to those devs that have minimal dependencies so they don’t have to communicate so much.
This might surprise you, but I tried my hand at writing fanfiction back in the day. Most of it was Final Fantasy-related (as that was what I was really into back then) and the odd Ranma ½ one (mainly because I was a member of an anime-focused fanfic collective, called the “Nikholas F Toledo Zu” for inside joke reasons, writing under the name “Vector”). Anyway, I’m not exceptionally proud of the writings, but I like having all my work available on this blog/website/whatever, so I’ve added them at this link: Fanfiction.
I only recently found out about Github pages, which allows you to serve static content out of a Github repository, with a github.io subdomain. You can also point a domain name to it if you want (I haven’t tried that yet). It’s a quick and easy way to host a static site for free. Here’s mine: roytang.github.io and the corresponding repo. There isn’t really anything there right now, I just put up some links so I’d have something.
Friends will know I’ve been wanting to get a Macbook for quite a while now. I have chat messages as far back as 2016 musing about buying a Macbook Pro. I haven’t had a serious personal laptop purchase since 2008. (Side note: Qualifier “serious” because I do have a low-spec MSI laptop I think I bought for cheap some years ago that I’m not really happy with. It’s got a dead battery now, I should probably install it with a more lightweight Linux or something and maybe use it as a torrent device or such?
I recently found a stash of old DOS games we used to play, so I thought I’d write about the early days of PC gaming. My PC gaming career (such as it is) started way back in the MS-DOS era. It was an interesting time to be a gamer, to say the least. It was a time when you had to make bootdisks and fiddle around with files like autoexec.bat and himem.
Recently, Q&A site Quora announced that they got hacked. Quora is good reading, but it seems difficult to navigate and chance upon the really well-written answers. Or maybe I dunno what i'm doing — Roy Tang (@roytang) August 18, 2012 I started reading Quora back around 2012. My impression then of the site is that it encouraged insightful, well-written, story-like answers. This was opposed to other Q&A sites like Stackoverflow which encourared concise and clinical answers.
I must admit being a bit unconcerned with online privacy tracking by the large vendoers (Google, Facebook, etc). I mean, I do tend to use my real name as username after all, so most everything I do online can be traced back to me. I assume that anything I do on the internet can be figured out by other parties, so if something is important enough to me that it should be kept private, it shouldn’t go on the internet at all.
Via a blog post by Dave Martin, I read about Steven Pressfield’s quotes on “The Resistance” that keeps us from doing our work: The danger is greatest when the finish line is in sight. At this point, Resistance knows that we’re about to beat it. It hits the panic button. It marshals one last assault and slams us with everything it’s got. (Side note: I’ve put his books on an Amazon wishlist.
Last week I looked into sentiment analysis, basically it means analyzing text to find out whether it’s “feel good” or “feel bad”. My idea was to use this to analyze my public posts (specifically, on Twitter), to see whether I was trending towards being more positive or more negative. Unfortunately, when I tabulated the data, it was unexciting. No discernable trend of any kind, no plateaus signalling times of stability. Just wild swinging ups and downs as you’d expect from a normal, well-adjusted person.
China is setting up some kind of large-scale “social credit system” to rank and monitor the behavior of their citizens. Citizens with low scores can get penalized in various ways like being denied travel or access to top-tier schools and so on. It’s quite creepy, and the mere idea evokes the dystopian Black Mirror episode “Nosedive” where people use an app to rate other people. China’s social credit system might be even worse than the Black Mirror one because:
Looking at my archives, I was blogging regularly from 2005-2009, mostly because I was really active in competitive MTG during that time. Starting 2010, my blogging activity started to taper off, with less than 60 posts until 2015. I tried to revive the habit around mid-2016, posting at least once a week, but the writing slowed down again around April this year (coinciding with one of the more busy periods for me work-wise).
The other day I wrote about how I’ve been walking on a regular basis recently. While the regularity and the tracking are fairly recent, I’m actually not that much of a stranger to walking as an activity. Even back when I was in high school I would often walk all the way home instead of taking the bus-and-jeep commute route I was supposed to take. It didn’t take that much longer, and I often enjoyed the solace (and I got to save a bit of money, even as a child I was quite frugal~).
It’s December the 1st, there’s this image I often share on this day: It’s a really stupid pun that I won’t explain (but it maybe only works in a Filipino accent.) I love puns! The best puns are so terrible and so great at the same time. Puns are like a tiny puzzle that your brain has to solve and when you do solve them, your brain has that tiny flash of “A-ha!
Some things I’ve been watching lately, aside from the usual TV shows I follow: For some reason, I watched two biopics this month. The first one is Hidden Figures, about three black women who were instrumental during the early days of NASA leading up to the Friendship 7 mission piloted by John Glenn. The movie is fairly interesting if you are even remotely interested in either the challenges faced in black history or math and science or the early days of the space program competition between the USA and Russia.
I mentioned in yesterday’s post about my daily walks that my brother got me a Fitbit Charge 2 mid last year, I thought I’d write a quick review. (Actually, this is mainly an excuse to write down a story about how stupid I am.) Anyway, yeah my bro got me a Fitbit. Or maybe I paid for it. I don’t really recall. The point is, I had it and I’ve been using it regularly for the past year and a half.
These days the only real exercise I get comes in the form of daily walks. When I took a work hiatus in 2016, it was one of the daily habits I promised myself I would pick up. During that time, I wanted to hit the often-recommended daily target of 10,000 steps per day. (Tangent: I found out while writing this post that this number may have no scientific basis after all)
The aforementioned quote is attributed to Theodore Roosevelt. I’ve been thinking about this lately as I try to plan for what’s ahead and what I want. I think one has to be able to decide what one wants independently of what other people are doing. As a concrete example, it’s easy to fall into the trap of “Oh, this other person in my field did X and now they are making so much money, should I take that path as well?
During the past few years, I’ve started following more artists (mostly comic-book related) on social media. Seeing the occasional art post wander across my feeds is often a welcome respite from the terrible news in the world today. I thought I’d share some of my favorites! Jim Lee is a comic book icon and for me his very detailed and elaborate pencils epitomize 90s comic art and his style still heavily influences many newer artists today.
I said in my previous Duelyst review that Eternal didn’t really hook me. That was in Feb 2017. I stopped playing Duelyst after around six months. I started playing Eternal regularly July of that year, and have been playing regularly ever since. What changed my mind? I’m not sure, but once I got around to playing Eternal regularly, I found myself enjoying it. I think one of the main factors is that out of all the online ccgs I’ve tried, Eternal is the one that’s closest to Magic the Gathering.
Looking back on 8 years of apple tablets. I got my first iPad (1st generation!) back in 2010 with 64gb storage. This version was purchased for me by a friend in Singapore. I got the 3g model back then, but I never got around to using that feature. Future purchases would be wifi only. My main usage for the iPad back then was for reading ebooks/comics and playing some games. I spent a lot of time on Tilt to Live on that bad boy.
This meme appeared on my timelines again and so I thought I’d talk about DLCs for a bit. Spoiler: I largely disagree with the sentiment that the state of DLC in gaming is pretty bad. I’ve commented quite a few times on Reddit threads regarding this over the years, here’s my favorite one: What if they didn’t bundle DLC separately and just straight-up sold the game for a higher price (and with a slightly later release date), would you prefer it?
With the rise of social media, we get to see a lot of things our friends are doing or buying or places they’re going to, and this has led to the rise of the phenomenon called FOMO or Fear of Missing Out. It’s a type of envy of other people’s lives and as a type of envy it’s also a form of regret for our own life choices. FOMO is rightly called a fear, and like all irrational fears, it should be dismissed as soon as one recognizes it.
Aside from my hobbyist readings (keeping up with gaming and comics news, etc), my usual reading diet used to consist of current events and tech news, primarily through apps like Flipboard and Feedly, secondarily through social media like Reddit and Twitter. Recently though I’ve started following more sources and blogs that are focused on more… “cultural” affairs. When I started doing #sketchdaily a couple of years ago, I started following more artists.
“The price for being the best is always… having to be the best.” Terry Pratchet, Lords and Ladies This is one of my favorite quotes. For context: in the story, one of the characters has a special talent that he can shoe anything anyone gives him (like when you put horseshoes on a horse). And Granny Weatherwax tells him that the price he pays for that talent is that when someone brings him something to shoe, no matter how wild or ridiculous the request, he has to do it.
I remember a conversation I often had with a friend, the first team lead I ever worked with. Many times she would be putting in extra hours for days at a time and I would say to her “Put that off until tomorrow, it’s time to go home.” and she would reply along the lines of “But I still have so much work to do.” and my usual rejoinder would be “Are you expecting to finish all of that work tonight?
Finally had the time to play Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4. Took just a little under two weeks from start to Platinum. Maybe mild, unmarked spoilers somewhere in this review, be warned! Overall: the game was amazing and spectacular and fun, especially for a big comic book fan like me, well worth the buy. Mechanics: Combat felt a bit weird to me at first, mainly because I was expecting it to be closer to Arkham-style combat, and I kept trying to use Spider-Man’s Circle Dodge the same way I use Batman’s Triangle counter, and that got me clocked by the first boss of the game (Kingpin) a few times.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
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" 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.
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?
"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.
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.
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 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.
When Game of Thrones entered its sixth season in 2016, it was true spoiler territory for those of us who had read the GRRM books before HBO’s TV adaptation turned the property into a worldwide phenomenon. Due to the author’s glacial writing pace, at this point the TV series went past the point that the novels had reached. Thus nobody – book readers or tv viewers – knew what events would unfold in the story.
As a programmer, I’ve always been a big fan of StackOverflow. I asked my first question there and also wrote my first answer in September 2008, which was the month the site launched, so I was pretty much there from the beginning. The site was a huge boon to programmers when it first came out, because the internet as a venue for asking questions and answers back then was a horrible fragmented landscape of small forums and mailing lists and sites like Experts Exchange, all of which were terribly designed.
There’s been a recent brouhaha lately over Facebook’s data privacy issues after the Cambridge Analytica scandal came out. For a while, a #DeleteFacebook hashtag even made the rounds. I will admit that I had been considering reducing my own Facebook usage for a while, but not because of any data privacy issues. While I understand that Facebook probably mishandled private data and that this is a serious concern for a lot of people and even for society at large.
While browsing through my old blog posts, I found one about my setup from 2010. I figured it was a good time to do an update. I like doing posts like these because it provides an easy reference for me to look back and see what I was working with at a certain point in time. What Hardware Do I Use? Desktop. I bought a new desktop rig back in late 2015, here are the specs:
(Image credit: r/ProgrammerHumor) I’ve been meaning to add SSL to this blog ever since I first heard of Let’s Encrypt last year. Unfortunately, support on my otherwise awesome webhost was not yet first-class and seemed complicated at the time, so I kept putting it off. But recently I was testing something unrelated and found out that I needed to have SSL on my server in order for OAuth2 to work, so I grudgingly got to it.
Around four years ago (give or take a few days), one of my many Twitter interactions with Globe Telecom’s CS account went a little bit viral due to them trying to justify their Fair Use Policy by calling 3% of their users “rotten bananas”. Apparently I didn’t bother writing on the blog about it back then, so I thought I’d do it now. View post on imgur.com The exchange went a tiny bit viral on social media, with friends telling me about people I don’t know sharing the image of the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
I decided to try learning some 3d modeling. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been following this beginner Blender tutorial where I had to make donuts. (Link to the tutorial series on Youtube.) Here’s my output!(click for full size) This image took around 40 minutes to render. I had to do 2000 samples per tile which is why it was so slow. I was getting too much noise/graininess at lower sampling rates.
I’m not super big on New Year’s Resolutions anymore. (I seldom even do the 1920×1440 joke these days.) I mean, I’m all about productivity and improvement and changing for the better, but I’ve found that very specific resolutions don’t often work for me. Mostly because I have very little focus (obviously something that an be improved). New Year's resolutions: Read, write, watch, play, create, destroy, win, learn, improve, chill, move forward
Happy new year! Last year I posted some year-end statistics. That seems like a good way to recap the year, so let’s do it again. Random statistics from 2017: 45 blog posts (including this one; total of 818 currently on this site according to wp-admin, though that number doesn’t add up to last year’s stats; down 34 posts from last year, an indicator of increased busyness) 0 words written for Nanowrimo (hopefully I can have another go next year) 59 sketches submitted to r/sketchdaily (a far cry from last year’s 321, yet another indicator of busyness) Duolingo streak: 0 days.