Archive for 2019
Should I still write tournament reports even though I did poorly? Spoilers, but the answer is that has never stopped me before! In today’s installment of “I thought you were quitting paper Magic?”, I attended an MCQ yesterday for MC Richmond. The format was Modern constructed. I initially wasn’t planning to play because (a) the entrance fee was kind of ridiculous; (b) modern is a bit of an unbalanced debacle right now because of Hogaak; and (c ) my one assembled Modern deck (Grixis Death Shadow) hasn’t been used since 2017, and was completely absent in the meta for the recent MC Barcelona.
In perhaps what is a perfect example of how writing bring clarity, I started drafting a post listing out the problems with my current notes/todo workflow and ended up coming to a conclusion as to how to make things better for myself. The main issue is that I have a smattering of todo-lists and notes scattered over several platforms: plain text files (in different places!), evernote, google keep, google docs, standard notes, and recently I also started trying Trello.
I don’t remember where I read it online, but I have this in my notes: we write to discover truths about ourselves (paraphrased) The basic idea being that the mere act of writing down our thoughts can bring clarity and help us identify some truths about ourselves we never knew existed. I think it works similarly to the programmer practice of rubber ducking, where the mere act of describing something helps you gain a better understanding of it.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’m enjoying tinkering with the site layout at the moment. I give up on expecting a “stable version” of the site anytime soon and readers can expect incremental updates unannounced going forward. This site is now perpetually under renovation. Current layout image (this image is recursive): Recent changes: Someone called me out for not using a dark theme, so now here we are with a garish gray and green and orange theme, you’re welcome.
“That’s not insomnia”, my friend said, “You have something like a 28-hour sleep cycle.” I laughed and uttered “I’m out of sync with this world!” I was describing why I was almost late meeting the group for lunch, telling him I had trouble going to sleep and slept at 7am, only waking up at 10am. During the past few days my sleep times have steadily been moving later and later until they pushed into the early morning.
Such an uninteresting number. And it hasn’t really been an exceptional 365 days around the sun either, but this has become a bit of a yearly tradition now. Things I considered doing today: spend the entire day offline (Hah! As if.) go out for a walk at the old university (unlikely to push through, given the gloomy weather recently) go to the mall and buy a new external hard drive and a new monitor and eat at Yabu (I like Yabu) and maybe watch a movie in the cinema (I don’t really feel like going to the mall on a Friday, and there aren’t any good movies to watch apparently) play through Ducktales Remastered on Steam, which I bought last night because it was about to be removed from the store, and stream it live on Twitch binge one of the shows on my TV backlog read through a book.
I decided to start doing small “devnotes” on developer stuff I’m doing so I can refer to them later (and also because I feel like I could use more technical content on this blog) Today is about PostgreSQL. I haven’t used it much beyond standard ANSI sql stuff. You won’t always have a graphical interface to access your database, sometimes you need to ssh to prod and query the database from the shell.
This past weekend was EVO 2019, the world’s biggest celebrations of fighting games. If I had stayed in the US another month maybe I could have gone to Vegas to attend and lose badly. Instead, I thought I’d write about fighting games. I consider fighting games one of my weaknesses, in the sense that (a) I easily succumb to the temptation to spend money on them; and (b) I’m not very good at them.
I thought about making a tag “things that would only interest me” for this one lol. I’ve uploaded some old web archives of the oldest versions of my site - back when I still had free sites hosted on the likes of Geocities, Tripod and the lesser-known TopCities. Click here for the index! I’ve had these archives for a while and only now decided to put them up on the site.
I forget where I got this book recommendation from, but it did go on sale for Kindle a while back so I got a copy. The full title is “Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World”. Summary: I really like this book, though I think it falls short in providing concrete steps for how to get from where we are to the idealized utopia he presents. Still, in this world of ever-increasing bad news and crises, the optimism of this book is a welcome respite.
As is my wont, I’m almost never satisfied with a website’s layout, so I’ve been tinkering with this blog’s layout on the backend. To make a long story short, I decided to start working on a Hugo theme. It’s still largely a work in progress, as there’s a bunch of things I wanted to implement. But it was good enough to replace the old one so I went ahead and deployed it, so maybe some bugs here and there on some pages.
I was travelling for most of the past two months, so this covers both June and July, and I guess I haven’t been able to watch too much. Maybe? IDK, we’ll see. Since I was in the US, I took the opportunity to finish watching Voltron: Legendary Defender which only had two seasons available on PH Netflix. Pretty good adaptation, lots of fun callbacks to the old series. Some annoying filler eps, especially in the middle seasons onwards.
I know I already made a whole post about the MCU after Endgame came out, but after the MCU Phase 4 announcements this past weekend at SDCC I was a bit hyped. I thought it would be fun to look back at the past 10 years of MCU Phase 1-3 and see what I wrote about the movies. Iron Man (2008) Surprisingly, I had written nothing about watching this film at all, and I don’t remember going to the cinema to watch it.
I have a small mobile app that I wrote using React Native (henceforth RN) back in 2017, currently deployed on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Shortly before my US trip, I got an email from Google telling me about a required action: By August 1, 2019, all apps that use native code must provide a 64-bit version in addition to the 32-bit version in order to publish an update.
People travel for different reasons. My parents travel mostly for shopping purposes. Which meant when I flew back home with them during the recent trip, we came back with an additional 3 fully-packed pieces of luggage full of shoes and clothes and such. As someone who doesn’t really indulge in shopping, I can’t relate to this, and in fact it runs anathema to my philosophy of always packing as little as necessary when travelling.
The topic of the mythical “10x programmer” has been the topic of discussion recently on tech twitter, due to a thread listing out the supposed signs of being such a mythical beast. 10x engineers Founders if you ever come across this rare breed of engineers, grab them. If you have a 10x engineer as part of your first few engineers, you increase the odds of your startup success significantly. OK, here is a tough question.
I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I might take some comparison shots using the A50’s camera, so I thought I’d post those now. Note that I am terribly bad at photography, I am well-known for often posting out-of-focus shots and such. Well, I tried at least. This one is a photo of some Deceptions taken using the Samsung Galaxy A50 camera, default settings: Here’s a similar photo taken using the Asus Zenfone Max 4 camera, default settings:
Since I was going to be staying in the US for more than a month, on my first day there, I went over to Best Buy and got myself a T-Mobile sim card and plan, and the staff there helpfully offered to install the sim into my phone, then the Asus Zenfone Max 4. Upon handling my phone, she commented “you know you’re battery’s expanding, right? That’s dangerous, it could explode or such”, but I shrugged it off.
I had written about travel anxiety before, but I’m revisiting the topic because the recent US trip reminded me how much of a problem it is for me. The US trip was a new experience because I would be abroad for 40 days with multiple travel legs, it involved 4 international flights (back and forth) plus three domestic flights within the US, and on one leg and several flights I would be travelling alone.
After the Seattle part of the trip, I reunited with family for the final leg of the trip where we all be hanging around the San Francisco bay area. We were based in my uncle’s place in Vacaville, which one of my friends kindly described as “in the sticks”, i.e. basically far away from everything. Like Houston, we had to rely on the kindness of relatives who were willing and available to drive us around.
First, the spoiler-free review, then more spoilery stuff afterwards. I watched Far From Home while I was… far from home. great movie, lots of fun, and the stakes are a lot higher than the Vulture just stealing some tech off Tony Stark basically a story of Peter Parker the high school student trying to juggle his Spider-Man problems with his high school life, which was one of the best eras of comic book Spider-Man the movie gives us a look at what the world looks like post-Endgame and how weird it is for everyone if you’ve seen the trailers, you know who the “villain” is and you have certain expectations coming in.
Seattle was the riskiest part of my trip, relatively speaking, because it was my solo leg - I didn’t have any friends or relatives in the city I could turn to in case of an emergency. I had also read online that while Seattle was very much a walkable city, there was a nontrivial homeless population, and some areas may be a bit sketchy after dark. As a friend of mine said though, “sketchy” in the US is probably a lot safer than “sketchy” in Metro Manila.
Grand Prix / MagicFest Seattle Photo Dump: I wasn’t actually planning to play much competitive Magic this year, at least not on paper, but when the family planned a US trip in June, I figured I’d take a short side trip to attend and experience a US GP. I had the choices of Washington DC on the 14th-16th (Limited), Seattle on 20th-23rd (Limited), or Dallas on 28th-30th (Modern). After some wrangling with the family’s schedule, Seattle was the one most convenient to go to, and Limited meant I didn’t have to try and put together a decent deck.
Not much to say about Anaheim, it felt like the town was all about Disneyland and not much else. But then again we did spend our three days there just going to Disneyland, so what can you do? In LA we stayed in the Koreatown district, so everything felt weirdly Asian. Not Asian like living in Asia, but like Chinatown in any other city I guess? The city felt a bit dirty, I’m told the metro elevators smelled bad, and there was grafitti everywhere and a high incidence of homeless people.
I’m not a big fan of theme parks. I think for the most part they are overpriced and not worth the time, effort or money. And I’d probably never go to one by myself or without one of my nieces/nephews. I understand the impetus of bringing kids to a theme park of course, they really enjoy it. Prior to this trip, I’ve only ever been to a theme park once, and that was in Unversal Studios Singapore with my brothers back in 2015.
My US trip started on the first of the month. I’ve been meaning to write more regularly about it, but one thing I had forgotten was how exhausting it would be to be a tourist, walking everywhere all of the time. Here’s how many steps my Fitbit recorded during that first week: I finished this week with a bit more than 105k steps, which I’m pretty sure is a lifetime record (though I dont have the data anymore from the Europe trip in 2015 - I suspect that it’s comparable in scale.
Damn, that was a grind. But it felt super rewarding especially as a free-to-play player since the closed beta, always struggling for wildcards to build the decks. I had never tried going for Mythic beyond the first month, when I realized what a grind it was. This standard format was also pretty dynamic, which meant the best deck changed constantly, so it was hard to be successful by sticking to one deck, which meant a lot of WCs are needed to be able to shift with the meta.
I remember when playing the original version of Civilization back in the day, the “most advanced” form of government was Democracy, with the only downside of it being you can’t declare war (because you had a senate that would stop you.) The other available forms of government were typically not very useful, but Democracy massively increased your trade output, so most often I would build the Pyramids (a wonder which allowed switching to any government immediately and without penalty), and spend the rest of the game toggling between Democracy and Despotism (for when I wanted to go to war).
The big TV thing of May 2019 was of course, the much maligned finale for Game of Thrones. I’ve written about that separately here. Most of the US TV series also ended their runs in May. Arrowverse show seasons were littered with poor writing as usual. I rank the seasons in this order: best is Legends of Tomorrow season 4. The reason Legends is the best is that they’re not afraid to be outrageous.
“We are, finally, all wanderers in search of knowledge. Most of us hold the dream of becoming something better than we are, something larger, richer, in some way more important to the world and ourselves. Too often, the way taken is the wrong way, with too much emphasis on what we want to have, rather than what we wish to become.” — Louis L’Amour via swissmiss
After a much-maligned eighth and final season, HBO’s Game of Thrones is done. Unmarked spoilers follow. The eighth season was so notoriously bad, we got petitions asking for rewrites. Here’s how I explained it to a friend after the notorious episode 5: It’s not about characters being killed, it’s about bad writing because they’re cramming. The writers were determined to finish the show in 2 smaller seasons so they’re skipping a lot of necessary character development and characters just do stupid things because the plot demands it.
The results are disappointing, but that’s only because we expected better. Historically, those who have made it into the Senate did so mostly on name recognition. What does it matter if Diokno had the best resume of all the candidates, if many of the voters did not know who he was? How could he compete against someone who appeared on a hit primetime TV series right up until the start of the campaign period?
Continuing with the Wheel of Time re-read! I devoured Eye of the World much more quickly than I expected, finishing the book in less than 3 days. It helps that I had already read it before of course, but I think there’s also a part of me that enjoys escaping into this fantasy world when the real world outlook seems dire. Anyway, the book shows a lot of Tolkien-esque plot influence, especially near the start: Some kids from a backwater village are visited by a magic user and after some troubles are forced on the run from black riders?
The PH senatorial and local elections are on Monday. I almost didn’t want to write the usual election post, mostly because I was annoyed with and tired of the electorate and the politicians and the system and all that. But we shouldn’t give in to despair. Often when choosing who to vote, it will be difficult to find candidates who align perfectly with your values. You make compromises to prioritize those issues you think are more important.
Since I was going to be taking a long trip in a month, I was looking for some books to read on the plane and in airports and whatnot while waiting. I settled on a re-read of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, a pretty good time for it since by next year we may have a TV series from Amazon (hopefully better than Game of Thrones). Side note: Wheel of Time is also why I’m not optimistic that GRRM can finish ASoIaF in just two more books - Jordan took forever and died before he could finish WoT and even Sanderson who took over needed an additional three books to finish the saga.
I often prefer having a randomly changing background wallpaper, even back in the day when Windows didn’t support it natively and I had to install various plugins to support it. I like the variance! The one I’ve been using recently was this set of wallpapers based on Street Fighter stage backgrounds, which I got from a reddit thread that I unfortunately can’t find anymore (I’ll update this post if I find it later).
I am, admittedly, a grammar nazi. I think it’s something that comes with being a voracious reader, especially as a child. When you have been reading (and speaking) English so much from an early age, you come to have an instinctive grasp of what is and what is not proper sentence construction. Some sentences just look right and some just look wrong. I’m not saying I have perfect mastery of the English language or anything.
Someone once described me as a tinkerer, i.e. someone who likes taking stuff apart or putting them together or otherwise experimenting to figure out how they work. This is not entirely inaccurate, though I prefer not to tinker with real world stuff because of my poor dexterity. My tinkering is usually limited to software and tech devices. I’m always willing to try different things to figure out how to get software to work.
From a friend’s Facebook post: Less than 2 weeks to the elections, I want to share a hard lesson I learned from the previous one. Especially given that I’ve had formal lessons in rhetoric and logic. Do not believe that logical fallacies are fallacies. Or rather–understand that they are logical fallacies, but that the world does not run on logic and so any classroom lessons on what arguments are fallacious have no relevance.
I follow a lot of strangers over on Twitter, each one usually for a different reason that I find interesting. Sometimes they follow me back for one reason or another, and it gives me a little bit of anxiety. The anxiety is because here is this person whose content I like, who followed me back probably because of an interaction we had, and she is expecting that my tweets will be more of the same kind of content.
Bring me all of your dreams, You dreamer, Bring me all your Heart melodies That I may wrap them In a blue cloud-cloth Away from the too-rough fingers Of the world. Langston Hughes
Now that I’m playing MTG again regularly on MTG Arena, maybe I’ll start writing a bit more Magic stuff. With War of the Spark now out and the metagame not yet established, I thought I’d be foolish and waste my wildcards on some brewing. As a reminder, I’m still an F2P player on Arena, so wildcards are precious and few lol. I did have some 50k in gold and a few gems saved up when War of the Spark hit, so i have already played a few sealeds (only 1 got to 7 wins) and opened quite a few packs.
“Never give in, never, never, never–never, in nothing, great or small, large or petty. Never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” - Churchill Persistence is a virtue, except when it isn’t - there is some amount of good sense necessary to discern when one should just give in. As in most things, a balance is required. Unfortunately, good sense is not always in abundance in today’s world.
I’ve already written extensively about Avengers Endgame, but there are other things I watched this month too. Shazam came out early this month, and while it was unfortunately sandwiched between MCU blockbusters, it was a fun adventure romp and surprised me in a few ways. I wrote a short spoiler-free review over on Tumblr. TV-wise, I’ve been on a rewatch binge of 30 Rock that unfortunately started with season 4 due to Amazon Prime’s weird way of presenting things.
I already wrote about Avengers Endgame a bit in yesterday’s post, but that was a bit rushed and I had more thoughts, so here we are. I figured I might as well get everything out. There will be unmarked spoilers for Avengers Endgame and Agents of SHIELD. Before even going into the movie that was seemingly sold out everywhere despite being on almost every cinema screen in the Metro, I was thinking to myself what a phenomenon.
Two endgames to discuss in one post! MTG War of the Spark and Avengers Endgame spoilers ahoy! Endgame #1: War of the Spark The latest Magic set has been a home run in terms of lore and flavor and storytelling, bringing the last three years worth of MTG lore to its conclusion as the villainous dragon planeswalker Nicol Bolas aims to complete his plan to achieve omnipotence over the multiverse. The set is packed with planeswalkers summoned to Ravnica by Bolas’s schemes, which means mechanically that a lot of new planeswalker design space is being explored.
I was struggling to remember the term - I knew there was one - for the type of stories where it’s long-winded and the narrator is generally trying to keep the audience hanging and eventually ending in an anticlimax. These are called Shaggy Dog Stories, there’s even a subreddit for them. The ones I heard the most growing up were from my high school crowd, and I remember two of them:
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.
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.
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:
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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?
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” – Ernest Hemingway
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“Whatever doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.” Nietzche I liked this quote a lot when I was younger and more gung-ho, especially about things like work. In fact, I may have considered it as a bit of a defining quote back then. I guess the idea was ‘ok, we’ll rush in and try anything, at worst we learn a lesson and be better for next time’.
The PS Vita has officially ended production. Sadness for the little handheld that could. The PSP that came before it was a juggernaut, and so was the 3DS it went into battle with. Unfortunately Sony never gave the Vita proper support, and third parties didn’t follow, so the handheld never lived up to its true potential. I haven’t had much opportunity for handheld gaming the past few years, since I don’t travel as much anymore.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I watch a lot of TV shows, rarely on TV itself though. I outgrew scheduled television maybe more than a decade ago. I’m reminded of this because I was going through some old disks and found burned episodes of stuff like Smallville, Heroes, The Simpsons, various anime, and so on. Those were from the days before streaming though. These days an abundance of content is available online via the streaming services, no need to store all those episodes yourself.
Given my recent misgivings about Quora, I thought it might be a good idea to cross-post some of my answers from there into this blog, with some edits even. So here’s the first one! (stuff in italics were added during the cross-post) How can you read and study a large software project source code? Attacking a large, existing codebase that you are unfamiliar with can be a daunting endeavor.
Sometime in the last week, I broke past four hundred thousand words total on this blog, as noted on the archive page. Four hundred thousand words! That number sounds insane for some reason. Over 17 years of blogging, that’s an average of 23,500+ words a year. I could have written like 17 short stories or 8ish novelettes or 3-4 decently sized novels. This post is just me navel-gazing over that number.
As I’m writing this, I’ve been grinding Eternal’s ranked ladder, trying to beat the end-of-month ladder reset and hoping to make Master rank again. Since this morning, I’ve been moving up and down the threshold of the Diamond I, the rank just below Master, hence frustratingly there has been little progress, less than 24 hours before the ladder reset. I usually do manage to hit Master rank a bit earlier than this, but I’ve been a bit busier this month for some reason, so my daily Eternal grinding had been reduced to the token one win per day.
The popular adage is that on your deathbed, you would not be regretting not having worked more. I think about this often, especially when there are people trying to convince me that I should do this work or that, because they have no one else to turn to or something or the work desperately needs to be done. It seems that there’s always work that desperately needs to be done, but if you look at it closely the consequences are rarely that life-altering.
Some things I’ve been watching lately, aside from the usual TV shows I follow: I watched Alita: Battle Angel, with the friend who introduced me to the series in the first place. The movie looked fantastic and the fight scenes were great. Plot was supercondensed, several books’ worth of story combined into one. Ended in a weird place, kinda? Easily the best western live action anime adaptation by far. After watching I immediately passed by a friend's house to borrow these.
I have my share of sleeping problems, but it gets slightly worse when I’m sleeping on a new, strange, unfamiliar bed. It always takes me some time to adjust to any new trappings, and I almost always expect on my first few nights at a new place that I won’t get the correct amount of sleep or be awake at the proper times. I wonder if there is some primordial instinct that causes us to be wary of unfamiliar sleeping arrangements, granting (against our will) heightened awareness in case of predators.
The EDSA revolution was a promise. “Never again.” They cried. But the scope was never clear. Never again to a dictator? Okay, but if not that, then what? What of corruption, of patronage, of poverty, of oligarchy, of ignorance? We thought the job finished and patted ourselves on the back and assumed everything would go back to normal, without regard to what “normal” needed to be. The same evils took different guises, and today the forces of darkness and dictatorship are almost close to fulfilling their return.
“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.” ― John Greenleaf Whittier, Maud Muller - Pamphlet It is human nature perhaps, to think about those alternate realities that might have come from different decisions or different dispositions. If only I was braver. If only I was more decisive. If only I didn’t have something holding me back. If only I knew what I knew now.
“None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an after-thought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.” — Keanu Reeves via swissmiss
For my first few years in elementary school, I didn’t get any pocket money. Instead I’d have a couple of sandwiches and a thermos of water. So I wasn’t used to handling money. One time while waiting for the school bus, I was a bit thirsty but my thermos was already out. For some reason, I decided to borrow five pesos from a classmate to buy a coke from the canteen.
It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: And this, too, shall pass away. How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride!how consoling in the depth of affliction! - Abraham Lincoln More quotes! I like ones that have a level of ambiguity, a meaning that changes depending on situation.
I had some free time the other day so I randomly decided to post in the PH subreddit’s regular afternoon random discussion thread, asking for questions about software development. I ended up typing some longish answers, I thought I’d copy them over to the blog in case anyone was interested. TBH I meant more like StackOverflow type questions with specific technical problems, but I ended up answering mostly career-related questions, which is fine, but disclaimer: I don’t claim to be an expert, these are just my opinions on things.
There’s a significant risk of information overload nowadays. For someone like me who spends a lot of time on the internet, there’s a lot of feeds I follow. Not just social media like Facebook and Twitter, I also follow a set of RSS Feeds via Inoreader, I’ve signed up for a few newsletters, and on weekends I read through several Flipboard categories. Just another symptom of my tendency to want everything I guess.
The quote is from the 1980s cult classic Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I didn’t include this movie in my top 10 movies post, but it and the sequel Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey are still among my childhood faves. These wise words are give by the Wyld Stallyns band composed of the epnoymous Bill and Ted, and form the philosophical basis of the future utopian civilization inspired by their music.
Filipinos have this weird concept of nationalistic/Pinoy pride where we as a nation brag about anyone who has even remote traces of Filipino blood and gets some sort of global recognition. I’ve even seen a few meme images about it: (Image credit: Reddit) I imagine that this tendency is because we are so starved of things to be proud of as a nation that we latch on to anything that is even remotely Filipino.
Back in 2017 during a Steam Sale, I was trying to choose a Metroidvania to play. My choices came down to either Ori and the Blind Forest or Hollow Knight. My impression that was that Ori had the more challenging platforming, while Hollow Knight had the more challenging combat. I chose Ori at that time, and I enjoyed that game. Last October, Hollow Knight was in a Humble Monthly, and I decided to go for it.
According to Wikipedia, Speaking truth to power is a non-violent political tactic, employed by dissidents against the received wisdom or propaganda of governments they regard as oppressive, authoritarian or an ideocracy. I always had the general sense of it before, but not that it was specifically for use against oppressive or authoritarian governments. It is believed the phrase has origins in a Quaker pamphlet published in 1955. I was reminded of this phrase today and looked it up because it seems relevant again recently, at least in the Philippines.
Last October I participated in #Hacktoberfest, sponsored by DigitalOcean and Github. It’s a “celebration” to promote open source activity, and basically you just need to submit 5 pull requests to any github repository, and they give away swag to anyone who completes the activity. Microsoft held a [counterpart celebration] where they only require you to submit 1 pull request to any Microsoft repository. I’ve always wanted to start participating in Open Source, but it’s a bit difficult to find a good place to contribute (other than logging issues of course).
In late 2017, the US moved to ban Kaspersky antivirus from use by federal agencies, because of suspected influence from the Russian government. In late 2018, the US and other countries have either banned or are considering banning the Chinese tech giant Huawei and its telecoms products, for security reasons. Both companies are under scrutiny for their perceived ties to their governments, both of which happen to have authoritarian leanings. From a certain POV, the bannings may be unfair, as they are “preventive” in nature, i.
Interesting article on closed captioning, or as I like to call them, subtitles. My first exposure to subtitles was anime of course, but these days I vastly prefer having subtitles on any show, even if it’s dubbed in a language I do understand. From the article: “Why do you have captions on?” I asked. “It helps me with my ADHD: I can focus on the words, I catch things I missed, and I never have to go back,” she replied.
I love sleeping. And taking naps. But I’m not very good at doing it at night. Insomnia is a common problem for me. I often find it difficult to go to sleep at night, taking upwards of 1-2 hours in bed before I can manage to fall asleep. Of course all that time lying there feels unproductive, so I’ll often be tempted to to grab a nearby screen and read something online or such, which makes it even harder to get to sleep.
Just a fun little throwback: some years back me and some friends played an app called Draw Something for a while, where you draw stuff and send the drawings to your friends and they try to guess it. I had some screenshots stored in a Facebook post for a while and it showed up in the “Memories” thing, I thought I’d post them here on the blog too. We had a lot of fun with the app back then!
I thought I had a post scheduled yesterday, but I didn’t. That broke a continuous streak of 124 days of daily blogging. I thought about writing a post and publishing it retroactively, but that seems like the kind of BS Type A behavior I kind of want to avoid these days. At least I did a lot better than the last time I tried daily blogging in October 2006, when I only managed 23 posts for the month.
I’m not much for public performance. But sometimes I think about doing some stuff that involves some level of public performance. My examples for this post are: game streaming public speaking standup comedy Public speaking and standup comedy are basically the same, and might be interesting to do (standup seems more fun). Like many people, I used to have a mild fear of speaking in front of a bunch of people/strangers, but as I’ve gotten older and cared less about what other people think, this kind of faded away.
I used to be super easy to goad into a debate. It’s a clear weakness to my projected DGAF attitude actually. Well, the main thing is that I enjoy lively discussion, even though it can often lead into chaos. I soured a bit on online debate during the 2016 election season though. Too many people I knew getting butthurt or reacting poorly. Someone I knew since high school unfriended me over some imagined slight even.
Today is Chinese New Year. It’s something my family celebrates. I am of course, ethnically Chinese, but I don’t talk about it much. When asked, I will often reply that I identify as a Filipino, not as Chinese (maybe slightly more relevant these days given our disagreement with our largely populated neighboring country). I don’t reject the heritage or anything - but I’m not particularly steeped in it either. I don’t speak the language (beyond a few token phrases).
I saw the following question on Twitter: People who write a lot of blogposts… How do you know a post is done? — Andreas Klinger ✌️ (@andreasklinger) February 2, 2019 “People who write a lot of blogposts… How do you know when a post is done?” Having written daily posts since October, I feel like I already qualify for “People who write a lot of blogposts”, but I realized I don’t have a straight answer aside from “When I run out of things to say”.
A while back I started a Twitter trivia bot as a weekend project. That bot is still up and running on Twitter, you can check it out there! But today, I thought I’d write about the answer-checking mechanism used by the bot. It was a bit interesting to me because it was the first nontrivial use I had for Django’s unit testing framework. I’m not too keen on unit testing web functionality (something I still have to learn), but this seemed an appropriate first use of a unit test framework for several reasons:
I picked up Slay the Spire during the last (Winter) Steam Sale, not really knowing what I was getting into. I had heard some good things, but I didn’t really know much other than it was a roguelite where I had to go through a dungeon. But it was cheap so I took the dive. I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was it a roguelite, it was also a deckbuilding game!
Sometimes I stop and think and I’m amazed at how much trust we place in our fellow human beings, many of them strangers, enough so that society is able to function. Some examples of what I mean: My mom pays for thousands of pesos worth of groceries and doesn’t bother going through the receipt to make sure the cashier punched in the right items We order food in restaurants that is cooked and prepared outside of our view and trust that they are prepared appropriately and with proper regard for health standards I take naps in a taxi cab assuming the driver won’t take me to a secluded location and try to rob me We cross the street trusting that drivers are sensible people who won’t blow past traffic lights and suddenly careen towards us We go to work and trust that our coworkers will do their thing and our work will get done and the company is going to pay us We order stuff online and assume that the order will be fulfilled All of this, in spite of the fact that we know there are humans who exist who are incompetent, unreliable, or even downright malicious or sociopathic.
Some Youtube channels I’ve been enjoying recently: ComicTropes is a weekly show that does deep dives into various mainstream comics titles, and often includes the background history of characters and creators, so very interesting stuff for comic book nerds. GameMaker’s ToolKit talks about video game level design topics. His series “Boss Keys” does a deep dive into Zelda dungeons and analyzes them based on criteria like linearity. His level design analyses are strongly based on systems and gameplay and how they affect the player experience.
Between the ages of 10-12, my reading diet consisted almost exclusively of the teenage-targetted detective series The Hardy Boys. For me, the term invokes the names Frank and Joe before the Matt and Jeff of WWE fame. We had a fairly wide collection of the blue-hardcovered books of those days. And I believe I made the effort to read every single book in that particular series, through borrowing and such. I think I was successful, but I can’t be sure.
When a friend recently posted a screenshot from his discord to one of our group chats, most of us jokingly chastised him for having the default light-colored theme, asking if it didn’t blind him when opening up the app at night. I remember when I started working, I told a fellow software dev that it was a bit weird that he liked to use a dark theme for his IDE, telling him it looked like he accidentally did “Select All” on the text for some reason.
Some things I’ve been watching lately, aside from the usual TV shows I follow: Bumblebee only came out over here in January (thanks to the usual MMFF shenanigans), and I decided to watch it on a whim. Pretty decent soft reboot, read my spoiler-free review over on the Tumblr The first half of Young Justice Outsiders is out, and it’s pretty good. Focus is back on a smaller group after the larger team in YJ season 2.
I always wish I had kept screenshots of what my blog looked like back during each of the myriad theme changes I’ve done over the years, as a kind of timeline of how my website aesthetic has evolved (or gotten worse, whatever). I recently found the stylesheets and such for my old django-powered blog from circa 2008-2009, and recently there’s been this “10-year challenge” meme where people show how they’ve changed over the past 10 years.
Quote 1: “The world isn’t fair Calvin” “I know Dad, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?” – Bill Watterson, “Calvin and Hobbes” Quote 2: “If you expect the world to be fair with you because you’re fair to them, its like asking a lion not to eat you because you don’t eat lions.” (Unknown source) We accept that the natural order of the world is inherently unfair.
Sometimes I see posts like this: and I can’t help but feel like it’s at least a little bit applicable to me. And I start to wonder whether maybe I’m suffering depression? Or maybe just a little depressed? The question only lasts in my head for a moment. Despite my sometimes bleak outlook for humanity, I still consider myself a largely optimistic person and I understand life is generally good for me at least (at the moment).
The first trailer for Spider-Man Far From Home dropped last week. I used to pretty hyped for superhero movie trailers, but I haven’t bother watching this one yet. MCU still has two more movies coming out before this one, and I’m already hyped enough for those, I don’t think I have hype to spare for a third one. My brother was complaining to me about the trailer, saying he was spoiled about some elements.
In a recent episode of The Orville, captain Ed Mercer of the Union is stuck debating with a member of the Krill, a fanatic and xenophobic race in conflict with Earth’s multi-species Planetary Union. He says: “Look, from what we’ve seen, when planets first achieve space travel and they venture out into the galaxy and discover that they’re just one single species among a vast diversity of lifeforms, they usually react in one of two ways: they embrace and adapt to the fact that they’re no longer the center of the universe, or they ratchet up their xenophobia.
One of my pet peeves is people coming up to me cold/unsolicited and trying to sell me things: People who try to grab your attention or hand you fliers in a mall are the popup ads of real life — Roy Tang (@roytang) January 16, 2019 Like my tweet above says, it’s like advertising spam in real life. I’m sure it bothers other people too, but it annoys me a bit disproportionately.
I pass by the Quezon City Hall every so often, and I’ve always been curious about the QC public library they have there. It got a bit of press a while back about how it was a nice place to hang out (for a government institution at least), so I had a todo list item about checking it out. Well, last week I did! I passed by on a weekday afternoon about 4pm after running some errands.
Last week I was able to tick an item off my bucket list: I played chess in the park with strangers! (Yes, my bucket list items are that level lol) Achievement unlocked: play chess in the park with strangers (and lose badly) — Roy Tang (@roytang) January 15, 2019 When watching TV/movies, I was always fascinated by those scenes where people are in the park playing chess and I wanted to play chess in the park with strangers too.
A friend was worried and jittery about an event he’d been preparing for a while now. He just wanted it to be over and things to not go wrong. I told him not to worry, that he’s already done the best preparation he could and that no matter what things will surely work out. It’s easy to fall into the trap of anxiety, overthinking things that might go wrong, or things that might not go according to plan, and so on.
I was at the mall last week and I decided to watch the new Bumblebee movie (it came out late over here because reasons). Here’s my spoiler-free review. As the link says, I’ve been a big fan of Transformers since I was a kid, so I thought I’d talk about that for a bit. The 1980s cartoon obviously, though I think only the first two seasons of that aired on local TV.
After yesterday’s post about Konmari, I thought about some stuff that brings me joy, some of them despite my better judgment: learning new things. This is a bit uncommon I guess, so it makes me a bit of a nerd. Luckily nerds are cool now, or something. Okay, this is super positive I guess. being argumentative. I love a good debate. However, since the 2016 election season, I’ve cut back on this significantly.
I don’t know much about this Konmari thing. I think it’s been around for a while, but got a boost recently due to a Netflix special. I think I agree with it in principle, or at least what I know of it from secondary social media commentary. Minimalism is a worthwhile goal, and so is getting rid of things that do nothing for you other than take up space. Some people aren’t reacting well to the idea of throwing away books though:
Someone responded to my post on things to learn in 2019 by asking how one finds the inspiration to learn all of the things. Well, my first answer was that those are just things I find interesting and may look into, but that’s not really an answer for the inspiration part. Software development is a very wide field, one where the amount of things you can learn increases daily, so it’s almost impossible to keep up with everything.
I had been eyeing Lucas Pope’s acclaimed indie hit Papers Please on Steam for a while, but finally bit the bullet on it during the last sale. The story of the game itself is interesting, as Pope was more or less a one-man team, doing the design, code, music and art for the game himself. If you’re not familiar, the game places you in the role of a border inspector in a fictional 1980s totalitarian state called Arstotzka, a thinly-veiled parallel to communist East Germany and similar nations.
A while back we were tasked with helping a client’s internal dev team to migrate their repositories from Subversion to Git. The distributed VCS seemed ideal for their situation - they had a very small in-house dev team managing contributions from external subcontractors. The main rationale was that their process of merging contributions from the external developers was extremely complicated and often resulted in conflicts that were challenging to merge. Before this, I hadn’t actually used Git too deeply myself (aside from cloning stuff from Github), and especially not in a team setting, so the training one of our other engineers gave them was a good opportunity for me to become familiar with Git as well.
Sipunin, from the root word “sipon”, referring to the common cold. It refers to someone who is susceptible to and often has the common cold. Certainly applicable to me. For as long as I can remember I’ve always had the cold all the time, especially during the earlier and later months of the year. (I’m sure selective memory lets me forget all those days that my nose was actually not clogged…)
I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s difficult to keep up a blog. Blogs feel a bit like they have to be long-form, highly profound, useful or informative pieces or prose that a wide audience can appreciate. We don’t have this same pressure when posting to other social media like Twitter or Facebook. I like to think of a blog (or this blog at least, at this moment) as a living, evolving thing, with each post capturing a single moment in a timeline, building upon previous thoughts, helping us see how the author’s thinking changes with time.
Here I am writing about Duolingo and keeping up streaks, then just a few days later, this happens: Ah crap I broke a 97 day Duolingo streak D: — Roy Tang (@roytang) January 6, 2019 There’s a problem with Duolingo’s streak notifications that I’m not sure how to solve. It send you a daily reminder at around the same time you did the work the previous day. If you’re unable to do it at that time, there are no further reminders later in the day.
One of the things about self-identifying as a “Full Stack Developer” or “Solution Architect” is that there’s no shortage of things to learn, and oftentimes it’s good for your career-wise to at least have some passing knowledge of a bunch of technologies. It helps that I really like the field as well. I try to make sure I study or learn at least one new programming language or framework every year (though I am willing to stretch that definition as needed).
Although I still primarily identify as a “Full Stack Developer”, during the past few years I’ve also found myself in a role called “Solution Architect”. The thing about being a solution architect is that there isn’t really a clear definition of the role, what it involves, or the scope of responsibility. I suppose it depends largely on the organization and the project. The role mostly involves making techical decisions on a larger scale, like project-wide or organization-wide, rather than on the micro day-to-day technical decisions involved in a typical software development involves.
A free web-based service I’ve found very useful over the past few years is IFTTT. The initialism is a bit unwieldy; it stands for “If this, then that”. It basically provides a way to “glue” different services and APIs together so you can set up some kind of automation. You set up rules with conditions and specify what to do when those conditions are met. One of my main uses for it was for social media cross-posting.
This year I had the dubious privilege of having to work with a C++ project again. Although my college education was in C, that was a completely different animal. I did self-study C++ for a bit back even before I was working, mostly because I was interested in game development even back then. I remember trying some OpenGL and/or DirectX stuff back with good old Borland Turbo-C++ during the DOS days and using the Dev-C++ IDE when I shifted to Windows.
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 2018: Work, Learning and Self Improvement: Hours worked: 1,163 (up around 50% from last year) Programming languages/frameworks learned: I’ll say 4. I’m counting: C++ which I revisited this year after more than a decade of not using it Go, which I used for the templating in the Hugo blog Flask, which I had dabbled in before but only used in a full-scale project this year Laravel, which I also used in a couple of projects this year Books read: 4.
New year’s resolutions are hard to maintain, so much so that people will make jokes about opening a gym that only runs during January, since most gym NYRs run out of steam by then. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve found regarding acquiring new behaviors comes from the first motivational books I ever read - The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino, which for some reason we had a copy of in our house when I was young.
New year’s resolutions are hard to maintain, so much so that people will make jokes about opening a gym that only runs during January, since most gym NYRs run out of steam by then. One of the best pieces of advise I’ve read on this is “Don’t break the chain”, most often anecdotally attributed to Jerry Seinfeld. This advice means that for a recurring activity, once you get a streak or chain going, as much as possible you should avoid breaking the chain.
Most of these are carried over from the 2017 checklist. Maybe an annual thing, eh? In no particular order: Greet your loved ones and friends and anyone else you hold dear. Maybe even those you disagree with Ponder why people give so much significance to the transition between an arbitrarily-chosen pair of 24 hour periods Take stock and reflect on the past year Think about what you’d like to learn this year or how you want to improve Count your blessings for the past year and be grateful Change your passwords Buy a new toothbrush Make a New Year’s joke (“If you must use fireworks of any kind tonight, at least try to limit your injuries to the left leg only.