Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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Archive for December 2018

Posts (31) :: Photos (35)

Posts

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.

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Noone reads LinkedIn profiles


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.

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Duolingo


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.

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Watching Lately: December 2018


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.

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Private writing


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.

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Gaming Backlogs


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.

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Christmas in the Philippines


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.

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Gift Giving


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.

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The Pursuit of Happiness


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.

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Notes on Facebook


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.

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On Trump and Zuckerberg


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.

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Book Stores


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!

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Variance


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.

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MTG Arena


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.

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The Spaces In Between


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”.

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Watching Too Much TV?


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?

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The Great Filter


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.

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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.

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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.

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Fanfiction


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 1/2 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.

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Github Pages


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.

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Macbook Air (2017 Model)


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?

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Ancient PC Gaming


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.

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Quora


Recently, Q&A site Quora announced that they got hacked. On 18 Aug 2012 at 1:22pm I wrote: 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 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.

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Online Privacy


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.

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Easily Distracted


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.

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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.

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Social Credit System


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:

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Daily Blogging


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).

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Benefits of Walking


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~).

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No puns left unsaid


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!

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Photos

Thought I'd finish a game from last year's backlog before the new year lol #PS4share https://t.co/kmVD26oP6a
Happy new year! #medianoche
Thor (2018) #8 by Jason Aaron and Mike del Mundo. Thori is great lol
The Green Lantern (2018) #1 cover by Liam Sharp
Old Man Hawkeye #1 cover by Marco Chechetto
Detectiv Comics #944 cover art by Martinez, Fernandez and Anderson
Superman (DC Rebirth) #2 variant cover by Kenneth Rocafort
Merry X-Men Holiday Special (2018) cover by David Nakayama
Noche buena 2018 (I forgot to take a picture before people started eating). Merry Christmas everyone!
Spider-man (2016) #21
The Mighty Thor #21 cover by Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson
Something to do: Every time you see an epal “there's no such thing as premature campaigning” ad from one of the devil's minions, share something about one of the lesser-known but better and vastly more deserving senatorial candidates. Here's senatorial candidate Chel Diokno https://t.co/8mJIsFxem7
Chel Diokno is chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group, which Jose W. Diokno founded. It is the Philippines’ oldest and largest group of human rights lawyers.
Fool! Doctor Doom does as he pleases! Spidey Super Stories Vol 1 #53 (July, 1981)
Shazam #1 cover by Dave Eaglesham
Young Justice (2018) #1 cover by Patrick Gleason
Into the Spider-Verse spoiler-free review 
- this is a great animated comic book movie, it makes me happy- I may have been a bit overhyped by the early reviews, but it was very entertaining, funny and had brilliant presentation, melding the medium of movies with comic books in a way that has never been seen before- again, the presentation is fantastic, the animation is great and intentional and the funky alternate universe stuff is represented well- IDK if I would call it the best comic book movie of all time, or even the best Spider-Man movie of all time, but definitely one of the best animated movies of all time, for a comic book fan (highly specific lol)- in fact, much respect to the writers who dared to bring this story to life.
Hawkeye (2012) #1 cover by David Aja
Immortal Iron Fist #8 by Fraction, Brubaker and Aja
Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #1 cover by Jim Cheung
Spider-Verse (2014) #1 cover by Antonio Fabela
Aquaman Spoiler-Free review!
 I came in with low expectations (given DC's history), but the movie turned out pretty good, even though it wasn't the best comic book related thing I've seen this week (see previous post) it's fun and action-packed, some fun set pieces and action sequences. Lots of CGI (as can be expected) the plot is fairly predictable, I've seen similar story arcs for this character more than once, things pretty much happen as you expect also the plot kinda feels a bit like black panther, except in reverse?
Stellaris on climate change https://t.co/lBwhtEQRww
Arrowverse Elseworlds crossover spoiler-free review!
- if you’re not aware, episode 1 - Flash S05E09, episode 2 - Arrow S07E09, episode 3 - Supergirl S04E09- I don’t usually review TV show crossovers but TBH I can’t recall any other any TV show crossovers and I just really, really enjoyed this one- basically a love letter to DC comics fans, a celebration of dc comics/TV/movies from the past four decades, and apparently a prelude of things to come.
Superior Spider-man #1 cover by Ryan Stegman
Teen Titans (DC Rebirth) #13
JLA v3 #44 Tower of Babel part 2 of 4 by Mark Waid and Howard Porter
I was disappointed when Age of Ultron did not have this line. Avengers vol. 3 #22
Young Avengers #12, art by Jim Cheung
Superman asks Batman to help mug a reporter (she had kryptonite). Action Comics #1003 by Brian Michael Bendis and Yannick Paquette
The X-Traitor mystery was introduced in Uncanny X-Men #287 (1992) and was left unresolved until Onslaught: X-Men and Uncanny X-Men #335 (1996)
The X-Traitor mystery was introduced in Uncanny X-Men #287 (1992) and was left unresolved until Onslaught: X-Men and Uncanny X-Men #335 (1996)
The X-Traitor mystery was introduced in Uncanny X-Men #287 (1992) and was left unresolved until Onslaught: X-Men and Uncanny X-Men #335 (1996)
The X-Traitor mystery was introduced in Uncanny X-Men #287 (1992) and was left unresolved until Onslaught: X-Men and Uncanny X-Men #335 (1996)
The X-Traitor mystery was introduced in Uncanny X-Men #287 (1992) and was left unresolved until Onslaught: X-Men and Uncanny X-Men #335 (1996)
Justice League Dark #2 Greg Capullo variant cover
House of M #6 by Olivier Coipel
Silver Surfer: Parable by Stan Lee and Moebius
Found while digging through old files: Twitter circa 2009 https://t.co/lMmu4vyvPN
Red Hood and the Outlaws (New 52) #1 cover art by Kenneth Rocafort

Roy Tang is a:

roytang.net is a personal site, an E/N site, and kind of a commonplace book; I post about a random assortment of topics that interest me including software development, Magic the Gathering, pop culture, gaming, and tech life. This site is perpetually under renovation.