Roy Tang

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

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Archive for April 2019

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Churchill on Giving In

“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.

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Watching Lately: April 2019

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.

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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.

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We're in the Endgames now

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.

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- I watched Endgame exactly 365 days after watching Infinity War! (And also 3 years to the day after watching Civil War)- I approve of this movie as a fitting end to the last decade of Marvel films. This is a slam dunk ending. They could end it here, with no additional MCU movies/shows coming out and that would be completely fine- I approve of how little information about the movie managed to leak, I approve of the trailers and the marketing campaign: just enough to get hyped but nothing too spoilery- There is a lot to unpack, but its impossible to cover anything without getting into spoilers, but I’m very happy with the movie and the fan service, especially as a comic book fan.

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Shaggy Dogs

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:

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The Ghurka and the map

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.

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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.

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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:

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Rabbit Holes

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).

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Holy Week

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.

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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.

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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).

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Starcraft 2

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.

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Learning from failure

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.

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Tasks you enjoy

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.

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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?

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The Ship of Theseus

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.

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It is necessary to be lost

“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
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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.

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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.

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Initial Page Load

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.

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Digging Through Time

I recently found out about the blog at 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).

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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.

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Gratitude and wonder

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.

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Don't worry, be happy

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.

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Take care of your teeth

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.

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Justice vs Vengeance

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.

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Shazam! spoiler-free review!

- I liked this movie, it had good heart, fun kid-friendly humor, and a strong message about family- basically the story of a kid with a messed up life being stupid and trying to be better- john glover is here! does he now hold the record for portraying the most number of parents of bald supervillains? that’s not a spoiler right? - this movie is kid-friendly, aside from the violence and the occasional swear word- there is a mid credits scene and the post credits scene.

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Social Media Hiatus

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.

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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.

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I Got A US Visa!

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.

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Havent done much sketching lately, but have been enjoying #mtgwar spoiler season so here’s the villainous Nicol Bolas #mtg #sketch

Roy Tang is a: 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.