Roy Tang

roytang.net

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

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2020 October

  • Game Review: Super Mario 3d All-stars

    So I got a Nintendo Switch last month. One of the first games I had gotten for the system was the recently released Super Mario 3d All-Stars. I had really been wanting to play Super Mario Odyssey instead, but my brother had a copy of that game that I could borrow later, so I decided to get 3dAS first, as I had never really played the 3 games on the collection. I've mostly played the 2d Mario games prior to this, with the exception of 3d Land (3DS) and 3d World (WiiU), although both of those games were closer in

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    Posted by under blog at #gaming
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  • Weeknotes 2020-10-18

    So my current webhost finally decided to give me a deadline, the long and short of it is that my new server needs to be ready by December the 9th, giving me a bit under a month to get things in order. I'm already in the middle of setting up the new server, so I think I'll be ready by early November anyway. Most of the code to run the new blog is also mostly ready (who knows how many bugs there are though!) I am (re-)learning a lot about server setups though, so hopefully I'll have quite a few

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  • Weeknotes 2020-10-11

    The world continues to be terrible. The PH government wants people to get back to work and everything to spur the economy (with health precautions and everything). A lot of people have no choice, but I'm fortunate enough to not have to go out there yet, and I'm sure people like me will still hold back. This all would have been a lot easier if the government had gotten control of this pandemic early on but it is what it is. Still not writing blog posts apparently. I have a lot of thoughts swirling in my head, I'm sure they'll

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  • Weeknotes 2020-10-04 Switching It Up

    In the news this week: Donald Trump, who for some reason is still the US president, has tested positive for Covid19, adding even more chaos and uncertainty to the US election season. The rest of the world has no choice but to pay attention, given how much US politics affects the rest of us The Philippines is now #20 worldwide in total Covid cases, yay! Yay? Some drama about the PH congress leadership? IDK, whatever man. Annoyingly, I've not been doing any blog posts other than these weeknotes during the past few weeks. It is what it is though. I

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2020 September

  • Weeknotes 2020-09-27

    October is imminent! There are two distractions I'm looking forward to in the coming month. The first one is Inktober, which I've been doing since 2016. Basically it's just to do 30 ink drawings in October, one per day. There are some official prompts, which I'll probably follow. I haven't really done any serious sketching in a while, maybe this will help me get back into the groove. The second one is Hacktoberfest! Basically it's an event where you have to submitted some number of GitHub PRs in October, and there's some swag for people who finished. I last participated

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  • Weeknotes 2020-09-20

    It's hard to imagine this is already the 3rd week of September, it feels like the month is passing by quickly, although I haven't been particularly busy recently. I did do some paid work this past week; not a lot, just filling in to provide some emergency support/consultation. I guess the reason it feels like the week passed by quickly is that I started a new side project (like many programmers, I am afflicted by the curse of wanting to start too many side projects). This one will probably get finished: I'm writing a Django based server for this website.

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  • Weeknotes 2020-09-13

    It has certainly been a week, yes it has. The world continues to turn (and burn even). I've been busy. Not so much with work, though there was a bit of that due to a required emergency software change (aren't they always emergencies?). I wasn't doing the emergency work myself, more like consulting and advising how to approach it, so not much to tell there. I did quite a bit of work on my personal data processes/backups/workflows. It involved streamlining my backups, dedepulication, going through old records and cleaning them up, and so on. Some combination of Python scripts and

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  • Weeknotes 2020-09-06

    It's September! The last six months were a blur. It's considered "Christmas season" over here already I guess. The local memes are that once the clock hits midnight between Aug 31 and Sep 1, your neighbor's Christmas lights are magically up. Also of course the famous Jose Mari Chan gets famous starting September, since malls and stores love to play his Christmas songs during this time. IDK what to expect for Christmas season this year though, since we are still in a pandemic. I keep telling my mom not to get her hopes up that we (i.e. my brothers and

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  • On Mobile App Development

    This post is just quite a few thoughts on mobile apps and mobile app development, all mishmashed together. I don't claim to be a mobile app specialist, at best I've dabbled in them, but enough to form some opinions I guess? A Bit of History My first exposure to mobile app development when I got pulled to help my then-company's then-fledgling mobile team with cleaning up the codebase for their iOS app. This was back in maybe 2011? It was one of those projects where some devs built a quick proof-of-concept demo using new technology, then management liked it and

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2020 August

  • Weeknotes 2020-08-30

    This last week was weird. I feel like I didn't really get much done in terms of productivity, yet I don't feel I was unproductive. A very relaxed and chill week. Once again a tiny bit of work done this past week, some fixes, including to side projects. I also spent some time preparing for some events next weekend. Although I wasn't productive this week, I did outline a bit of a roadmap of new features for one of my side projects, hopefully I can get into that in the coming weeks! We are still in a pandemic! But I

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  • Weeknotes 2020-08-23

    The week after I posted about phoning in the weeknotes, here I am with one where there's nothing much to report. Not that surprising, given how busy I was over the previous few weeks, I took the opportunity to take a more relaxing week. There was a bit of work to be done, but very miniscule by comparison. Minor fixes here and there, including to some side projects. I did get to write on the blog more, as expected. Let's hope I can keep it up. These week's quiz nights were terrible for our team, but on the bright side,

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  • Filed under "Things I Don't Really Grok" Podcasts and audiobooks These 2 are kind of in the same boat. Their main sin is that they are audio-only. When consuming content, my order of preference for formats is roughly: text (+images I guess) (most preferred) video (with audio) audio only (least preferred) I think these preferences have to do with information density: I'm pretty sure I prefer text because text can convey the most amount of information in the least amount of bits. I'll also watch informative videos, to a point. If it's movie-length, it better be damn entertaining. That leaves

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  • On Mozilla and Firefox

    Mozilla made the tech news recently for laying off a whole lot of people. (Official statement). People were alarmed and worried about the future of what is the last major independent browser and the open web, bit it looks like it isn't that bleak. Most of the layoffs were to teams other than those working on Firefox, things like the experimental browser engine Servo, devtools, and MDN. The core Gecko team seems to be unaffected. Not that these things aren't important. MDN, if you're not familiar, is a set of documentation of web standards and browser support, available online, that

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  • These weeknotes are coming in late in the day because of reasons. (The reasons being laziness and procrastination.) Actually, I feel like I've been kind of phoning in the weeknotes over the past few weeks, they've mostly been "hey, I've been busy, so nothing of significance happened, but here are some things I watched/played." Supposedly one of the side effects of writing regular updates is that you tend to look out for more interesting things to do so you have something to write about, even on an unconscious level. In the past few weeks, that has been problematic because (a)

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  • Weeknotes 2020-08-09

    Still kind of busy, although there's a bunch of things I hope I can finally wrap up this week, so I can move on to the long list of other things I want to be doing. The world continues to be bleak, so I'm still hiding from it. My stuff: Forty-two. I thought about just merging these into a single post for the day, but nah, this seems better. Reworking the old charity side project still ongoing. I was hoping to finish all the changes last week and next week would be testing and deployment, but stuff got in the

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  • Forty Two

    Forty two is of course the "Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything." (if you haven't yet read the 5-book Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy, I suggest you do so, you are in for a treat.) For some reason I imagined I would be able to take at least a couple of days off of everything else I'm doing to chill and actually craft a well-written, deep, introspective post for the occasion, but alas, various things I'm working on and all the usual distractions means I am here in the early morning hours of the

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  • Weeknotes 2020-08-02

    Kind of a busy week for me again, so the week kind of passed me by quickly. It's August! In one month it will be (PH) Christmas season! It feels like July went by more quickly than other quarantine months. My stuff: A bit of consulting work. Reworking the old charity side project still ongoing. I was hoping to finish all the changes last week and next week would be testing and deployment, but stuff got in the way (and estimates may have been a bit off), but the spillover is small and we should still be fine for finishing

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2020 July

  • Weeknotes 2020-07-26

    The world: hm. I was a bit busy this week, so I wasn't paying too much attention, so I don't have too much to rail against today. Well of course, things are still ongoing. There's still the pandemic, fascist police state philosophy continues to rear it's ugly head in the US, PH gov't continues to be dumb, etc., but this week seemed a bit tame comparably. On July 26, 2020, midnight I wrote: Pandemic thoughts and updates, July 26 edition: Watching mass via Facebook again today. The nearby Church actually holds services, but last I heard it was only 10

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  • Review: Final Fantasy VII Remake

    Posted by under blog at #gaming
    Also on: mastodon twitter /
  • Weeknotes 2020-07-19

    My country: There are days when I have to consciously temper my rage at the shenanigans of this government. I can't write about them today. My stuff: This week's pandemic notes. Had a busy work week again; at the same time I also picked up an older charity project where the client asked for UI updates. Had issues with running the old code, and it was small enough, so I decided to rewrite it in a new tech stack. Might write about it at some point. Gaming: I am like 98% through the FF7R hard mode run. I'm totally making

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  • I was going through some old emails and found some receipts for things I had purchased from the iTunes App Store for my iPad, and I wondered how much have I actually spent on apps/games on the App Store? I went through all the receipts and decided to write mini-reviews for each item as well: Purchase Date Name Price (USD) Still Available on App Store? Notes 2010/10/30 Alien Blue HD - Reddit Client (Unofficial), v1.1.0, Developer: Morrissey Exchange Pty Ltd (17+) 3.99 N Wow, my first ever App Store purchase was a Reddit app! Appropriate since I reddit a lot.

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  • My country: Friday afternoon the House of Representatives voted to deny the franchise application of the nation's biggest broadcaster ABS-CBN. This despite all agencies of the executive testifying that the company had no violations. Justifications cited were mostly personal reasons. The Palace claims they remained neutral on this issue, but no one really believes that. Probably not even then. What now, Philippines? My stuff: This week's pandemic notes. Had a busy week work-wise. Learning a lot about Vue and Laravel though, so that's fun! Gaming: I am like 95% through the FF7R hard mode run. Only a 5% difference from

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  • My country: Friday afternoon the president sighed the controversial "Anti-terror law" that vastly expands police powers, allows people to be arrested without warrants on mere suspicion of terrorism etc. Interesting timing, right after China applies a new anti-terror low to Hong Kong (and rightly gets castigated for it by countries all over the world) and also right after the PNP (who promise not to abuse their newfound powers) are under criticism for killing some soldiers in a misencounter and tampering with the crime scene to cover it up. Many are afraid of the chilling impact on freedom of speech, but

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  • Image Lightboxes using HTML/CSS

2020 June

  • My stuff: This week's pandemic notes. Easily the most annoying thing this week: our broadband modem conked out Wednesday night. Customer support isn't super responsive for local telcos: I called their support line the next day (support line is not even available 24/7!), got put on hold for 45 minutes TWICE before they agreed to send a repair crew over the next day (Friday). Friday morning I got a text that the technician visit was actually scheduled for SATURDAY morning. They arrive Saturday AFTERNOON, due to traffic apparently. And unluckily, they are out of spare modems for the replacement. They

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  • Scraping Facebook

    I had been meaning to quit Facebook for more than a year maybe, but I kept putting it off. The main reason being that I like having backups of my own digital data (still very much a pack rat), and Facebook's social media export is less than ideal, for me at least. Less than ideal why? It doesn't include a lot of content I would like backed up, including: comments on my posts (there have been some good conversations with friends over the years I would prefer to preserve) things I've reposted from other people content of certain groups I'm

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  • My stuff: This week's pandemic notes. Some days still hot, but weather beginning to turn for the better. Sleep kind of better and a bit more regular too. Did my quarterly medical checkup this past week (slightly delayed). No issues, but I need to do an FBS test for next time. Sleep schedule kind of settling back into my usual biphasic sleep. Although the second phase seems to move around a lot... Not much work-wise the past week, and a bit more family-related expenses. Medical and government stuff. Gaming: still playing a lot of Final Fantasy VII Remake. I think

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  • Weeknotes 2020-06-14

    Surprisingly, no new crises have emerged during the past week. I think. More of the same crises, carrying on. Last Friday was the PH independence day holiday. I didn't feel like celebrating. It doesn't feel like we are free. In any case, a protest rally against the yet-to-be-signed terror bill took place at the university that morning, inspite of threats from the authorities that it wasn't allowed. The protestors spaced themselves out and everything. Some friends reported trouble getting into the university though. Apparently a heavy police/military presence was manning many of the entrances for some reason. "Basta". News report.

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  • Weeknotes 2020-06-07: Mad World

    The world isn't letting up. The virus is still around, but both the US and my own country have gotten distracted. The US is in its second week of police brutality/black lives matters protests. Meanwhile, our government took on a sidequest of trying to enact a wide-ranging and easily abusable anti-terror bill, triggering some smaller (by comparison to the US). I haven't written about the terror bill, mainly because I haven't had the opportunity to dig into it too deeply. But my general impression leaves me two points: what is the justification for asking for increased police/anti-terrorism powers? We don't

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  • Why Twitter?

  • Quitting Facebook

    (This will be cross-posted to my Facebook account.) It's been long overdue, but I'm quitting Facebook. Why? It's not you, but it's not me either. It's Facebook. There's a ton of reasons for quitting Facebook, but here are some highlights: Facebook is dumb. The site is barely usable and the app is a big battery hog. And posts don't even support formatting so now you're getting this one in Markdown. Facebook uses your personal information to earn money, and they're not even very good at keeping that information safe. Their tech tracks you all over the internet, even when you

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2020 May

  • Weeknotes 2020-05-31

    It seems difficult to write about stuff today, when the world seems like it is on fire. For historical context, for the past few days the USA, presumably a first-world nation, has been in the grip of massive protests and riots and police brutality following the murder of a black man by four police officers was captured on video and went viral. Basically, many states are responding to protests against police brutality with... police brutality. Bold move Cotton. I'm not an American, but this resonates with me a lot because to see this kind of thing happening in a country

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  • Equal Protections

    A recent post on Cory Doctorow's pluralistic blog had a really good take on the general worldview of "the right", describing it as "mafia logic". I'm going to quote a huge chunk of it here: This follows perfectly from the second definition. The purpose of the law is to protect the rightful rulers, so the law can't – by definition – punish them. And it is "mafia logic." Holbo was talking about Michael Gove – a UK Tory Minister – excusing his the Prime Minister's advisor Dominick Cummings repeatedly breaking the quarantine rules that Cummings is responsible for creating and

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  • Migrating away from GMail

    I've basically been using GMail as my main email account since I first got access in 2006ish. "Main email account" means I use it as the primary access point for all my other online accounts. GMail was certainly revolutionary when it came out, and had a lot of benefits: it was fast, easily searchable and had a lot of free storage. But in the modern day, there are significant disadvantages to using GMail: you don't control your account; it's rare, but anecdotally people have lost access to their GMail accounts for some perceived infraction, and when that happens you have

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  • Location, Location, Location

    A while back I got an export of my Foursquare/Swarm data. If you're not familiar, these were a pair of apps that were used for "checking-in" to particular locations, with a sort of gamification system where if you checked in at a place often enough, you would earn points and eventually become "Mayor" of the venue. The idea being that owners of those venues might give some benefits to those who check-in often at those locations (AFAIK, this never really caught on in the Philippines). I wasn't a super active user of Foursquare/Swarm, I had maybe 500ish check-ins from 2010-2017

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  • ABS-CBN, Bias, and Press Freedom

    A bit of brouhaha a couple of weeks ago after the National Telecommunications Commission ordered the country's biggest broadcaster ABS-CBN to cease operations because Congress had been remiss in renewing their franchise.. This despite the NTC earlier promising they can operate provisionally while the franchise renewal is being processed, a change of heart apparently due to a legal opinion by the SolGen. Some thoughts: "Bias" The speaker of the house says: But you are one of the reasons why there are issues with your network. In the eyes of some, there is clear bias and meddling in the elections, which

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  • Weeknotes 2020-05-24

    My stuff: This week's quarantine notes. the weather has been so hot lately, I've taken to shifting my sleep schedule to afternoons so that I can maximize the use of the air-conditioning to when it's most needed. It also helps me be more productive, since I can get more things done if I'm awake during the cooler hours of the day. I think I'm more looking forward to the end of summer than the end of quarantine. a bit of consulting work this week, actually had to code some stuff. Mostly integration work, API calls, that sort of thing. The

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  • Previously. In the most recent weeknotes, I mentioned this post about bringing blogs back to the internet and the ensuing discussion on Hacker News. Some further thoughts on blogging based on the HN discussion: On Traffic and Engagement Someone mentioned that one of the reasons most people stop blogging is that it feels like there's nobody reading their work. This reminds me of a convo I had with a friend a couple of years back when he saw one of my blog posts. He was getting into content creation himself via a Youtube channel and he asked me what kind

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  • Weeknotes 2020-05-17

    My Stuff: This week's quarantine notes. Work: A bit of Laravel work, and a bit of server management and deployment. Nothing too ridiculous. Watching: Haven't watched much this week. There was the really great Justice League Dark: Apokolips War which came out last week. Apparently it's the last one for the DC AMU, or this particular timeline at least. Quiz: We are now up to 3 locally produced online quiz nights per week, which seems like a lot because we only used to attend 2-3 live events per month. I managed to tie for first place in the Geekfight one

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  • I mean, that's true in general of course. But it certainly seems much more true in these pandemic times. Before all of this waves hands arounds frantically, people had a general sense of routine and predictability about their daily lives. It varied person by person of course, but many people had regular things like a steady job that kept them occupied for most of the week, a school where their kids could go off to most days, maybe a favorite bar or restaurant they visit every week or so, church on Sundays, friends you saw every other weekend or so,

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  • Weeknotes 2020-05-10

    My Stuff: Early this morning I took a walk outside for the first time since the lockdown started. Previously I had only gone out for groceries and meds. Only for less than 30 mins, and only in our subdivision, walking up and down the street. It's good to be walking again, although this short and limited route is quite boring and full of neighbor's dogs barking at me, so I'm not too fond of it, but it's better to get the habit started again since I've been feeling the fatness piling on due to the quarantine and the lack of

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  • Magic the Gathering Restrospective

    Last week, Wizards announced that they were sunsetting DCI numbers and Planeswalker Points, this felt like an appropriate time to do a retrospective on my 25 years playing Magic the Gathering. Strap yourselves in, this is going to be a long one! The Early Years I started playing MTG in my fourth year of high school, so that's around sometime 1994-1995. The most recent expansion releases at that time were The Dark and Fallen Empires. The blame for this lifelong hobby/obsession lies solely at the feet of the older brother of one of my HS batchmates, who introduced me and

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  • Weeknotes 2020-05-03

    First week of May. At least two more weeks of quarantine remain. COVID19 Diary still exists, only updated every so often. I stayed in the entire week! The week was slightly more productive than the last one, at least in terms of personal projects. I moved a couple of them forward. And also spent a bunch of time spring cleaning and moving stuff around here on the site. Details to follow. Quizzes: I watched the Geekfight, but I could only personally answer like 4 questions maybe. My teammate who was an official player did much better. We joined the PopQuiz

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2020 April

  • Privacy and 'Nothing to Hide'

    I was reading this post about how to respond to the "Nothing to Hide" argument against the concept of privacy. The quoted DuckDuckGo blog post lists some pretty good reasons, but I thought I'd expound on some thoughts as well. The core of the "Nothing to Hide" argument is that if you, personally, have nothing incriminating or illegal to hide, then you don't need to worry about privacy intrusions. The argument is used mainly to justify things like state-sponsored surveillance, but might also be applicable to data collection activities by large corporations such as Facebook or Google. Wikipedia article for

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  • Technical Interview Notes

    I've had the good fortune to be on the interviewer side of technical interviews much more often than I've been the interviewee. I've been doing a few more of these over the past couple of years and made some notes, so I thought I'd talk about technical interviews for a bit. Caveat: these are largely based on my own experiences, in the local environment here in the PH. Technical Exam / Screening Many companies will ask applicants to undertake a technical exam before letting them advance to further stages of the recruitment process. This kind of screening is most useful

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  • Weeknotes 2020-04-26

    It's the last week of April, but thanks to an extension, we are still in for three more weeks of quarantine. The COVID19 Diary is still being updated sporadically. Only went out once this week, for groceries. We tried to buy a bit more than usual, hoping to reduce the number of times we need to go out. We also celebrated a couple of birthdays in the family, through a zoom call, complete with the grandkids blowing on a candle from across the internet. The week wasn't very productive. Lots of sitting or lying around, scrolling through feeds, instead of

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  • Working with people from other cultures

    Unless you’re working at a small shop that only serves local clients, software development these days is often an international endeavor. That means the aspiring software developer needs to be able to work with and get along with people of different cultures. In the company I worked with, most projects back in the day we would have a person from the foreign office in charge. Their roles were either as project manager (PM) or system analyst (SA). They were the ones who would be interacting directly with the clients so they get to decide which things need to be done

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