Roy Tang

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

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Blog: Traditional blog posts, usually longer than other types, with a title. You can subscribe to an RSS feed of this list.

Jun 2020

  • Why Twitter?

    Alright so someone responded to my previous post on quitting facebook asking why I’m quitting facebook but keeping Twitter. This is a fair question; after all, Twitter also makes its money off targetted advertising, can also get you addicted to engagement (likes/RTs), the Twitter app can also be dumb, and there can also be a lot of toxic people on this platform. So here are my reasons for keeping Twitter, and you may also get some tips for improving your twitter experience:

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    Posted by under post at #tech life
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  • 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.

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May 2020

  • 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.

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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 enforcing.

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    Posted by under post at #philippines #philosophy
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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:

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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).

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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, malls or stores they would pass by regularly, and so on and so forth.

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    Posted by under post at #current-events #covid19
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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 exercise.

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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.

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    Posted by under post at #magic the gathering
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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.

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Apr 2020

  • 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.

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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.

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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.

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  • 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).

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  • Weeknotes 2020-04-19

    This week went by quickly, for some reason. And despite the fact that it’s summer, the rains have started coming in early, although only sporadically. inb4 “the world is healing” The COVID19 Diary is still being updated every few days. Actually went out 3 times this week, once for groceries, and twice for meds for the parental units (one would assume they would coordinate so I can just buy everything in one go, but nooooo.

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  • Pure HTML Toggles

    Just last month, I wrote a method of implementing element toggles using a pure CSS approach. While that post was educational for me, it turns out there was an even simpler way of doing things. I found out about it when I read this post by Jamie Tanna. Apparently the details and summary tags already support HTML toggles, so we can do this with neither CSS or JS! I’ve updated the spoiler tags on this site to use this new method.

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  • Web Application Security

    A while back one of the biggest leaks of personal information in history was made by hackers accessing the Commission on Elections database here in the Philippines. More than 50 million voter registration records, including information such as full names, date of birth, address, among others. A small percentage of the data leaked also included email addresses and even passport numbers. The hack exposed more than half of the country’s population to the possibility of social engineering and other exploits.

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    Posted by under post at #software development
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  • Bespoke vs Product Development

    For most of my time working on software projects, it has always been for bespoke projects. Bespoke basically means a software program or package tailor-made for a specific client. The client provides all the requirements, the team fleshes out more details and specifications, some prototyping may or may not ensure, and implementation proceeds thusly. It’s relatively straightforward compared to product development. I only started getting involved with “product”-like projects over the in the latter half of my career as a software developer.

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  • I stopped updating the COVID19 Diary for a few days (last update was on Maunday Thursday), and I feel like that was a healthier choice overall. It helped that nothing significantly newsworthy happened over the long weekend. (Well, there’s still thousands of deaths worldwide, but somehow our bar for “significant” has shifted quite a bit.) Our lockdown has of course been extended to the end of April. I expect it will go beyond that though, likely the earliest chance for things to start going back to normal might be by June.

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  • Naked CSS Day

  • Weeknotes 2020-04-05

    My COVID19 Diary is still ongoing, and I have yet to find a solution for the TOC. Today is Palm Sunday. I’m writing this early in the morning, so IDK yet how the church will adapt the usual fanfare to this whole pandemic thing. The summer heat has begun to settle in during the last few weeks of quarantine. I can’t sit without a shirt or rest or my arms anywhere without sweat threatening to accumulate on the contact surface.

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Mar 2020

  • My COVID19 Diary is still ongoing, although that TOC is starting to get unwieldy. Need to think of a better UX solution for that. “Time is meaningless under extreme enhanced community quarantine” I know it’s probably unrealistic, but I’m hoping the lockdown somehow gets lifted sooner rather than later. It’s not that I crave social interaction (I don’t), but I miss going out for food. I miss pizza.

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  • (Too late for the theatrical release, but it’s tradition for comic book movies, so here we are.) Overall: Totally watchable, maybe slightly better than Suicide Squad for me. Somehow still fits into some kind of DCEU continuity (after Suicide Squad) the movie is really centered around Harley, to the detriment of the other characters. I can understand why they titled it the way they did, and I can appreciate the effort to have Harley carry a Birds of Prey introduction to the masses.

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  • Browsers and HTTP

    Drew Devault wrote a great post/rant about the reckless limitless scope of modern web browsers: I conclude that it is impossible to build a new web browser. The complexity of the web is obscene. The creation of a new web browser would be comparable in effort to the Apollo program or the Manhattan project. For the past year or so, I’ve been thinking about contributing to an open source project.

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  • This is not the time for mediocrity

    I originally had this as a tweetstorm/rant, but it ended up quite long, so I’m posting it to the blog too. It is mostly frustration at how poorly the people in charge are handling things. Instead of asking for more budget, the govt should be telling us first how they are planning to spend the money they are already allocated, which they claimed was sufficient. Instead of saying we can’t do mass testing because of limited kits, they should be telling us about their plans for getting more testing kits, ppes, hospital capacity, etc.

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  • Past week has been difficult productivity-wise. I mean, the isolation isn’t really a problem for me since I’m usually at home anyway. But it’s difficult to find the energy to be productive about anything. It’s like the whole pandemic situation manifests as a lingering ball of anxiety in the back of my head. My parents are prayerful and hopeful that things get resolved quickly, but I’m not super optimistic - I think it’s likely to go long.

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  • “It’s chaos, be kind” - Michelle McNamara on the world. Current events: This past week has been… challenging to say the least. Especially if you’re the sort who experiences anxiety over the smallest uncertainty. I was originally going to write about local COVID19 happenings in this space, but it ended up being way too many words. I spun it off into a separate post, and intend to update it periodically as events unfold.

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  • COVID19 Diary

    This post will largely be about the effects of the COVID-19 virus on my country, the Philippines, including government and society’s response, largely from a personal POV. It’s actually a bit difficult to write about, but I figure it’s something I would like to be able to look back on in the future, so let’s give it a shot. The reason it’s difficult to write about is that events are unfolding and changing rapidly, and a lot of things are still unclear.

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  • Upcoming Gaming Things

    Some gaming things I’m looking forward to in the coming weeks: 12 Mar: Historic anthology 2 and return of Historic ranked in Magic Arena. Looking forward to new cards being added to the Historic pool! 18 Mar: Release of Federations DLC for Stellaris. I’m not planning to get the DLC, what I’m looking forward to is the accompanying free patch since one of the promises is improved late-game performance, something which made playing this game very annoying during the past year.

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    Posted by under post at #gaming
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  • How to Make Voluntary SSS Payments

    Since I stopped being a full-time employee at the end of 2015, I’ve missed around four years of monthly SSS payments. This isn’t really that big a deal, since I’ve already paid more than 10 years of premiums, I’m already guaranteed to get a pension from SSS when I reach retirement age. However, this past January I decided to resume making SSS premium payments on a voluntary basis. I had to research a bit and ask some friends about the whole process, so I thought I’d document it here both for my own recollection and in case someone finds it useful.

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    Posted by under post at #philippines
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  • Weeknotes 2020-03-08

    The Week That Was: The COVID19 pandemic is starting to pick up steam, both internationally (including the US) and here in the Philippines. The Trump administration seems to be handling things poorly, which would be typical to expect of an administration not used to transparency or integrity. For all our sakes they need to get their act together. The PH government appears to be doing slightly better (assuming no hidden epidemic), although their messaging still seems to be all over the place.

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  • Late Game Review: Tales of Berseria

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  • Pure CSS Spoilers

    Edit 2020/04/17: A month and a half later, I found a better way to do this! I previously had some post that had some content hidden via spoiler tags, using a custom Hugo shortcode. Since I’m an old-school developer I was previously doing this using some Javascript run on load: let elements = document.querySelectorAll(".spoiler_header"); Array.prototype.forEach.call(elements, function(el, i) { el.addEventListener( 'click', function( event ) { let nextEl = el.nextElementSibling; let display = getComputedStyle(nextEl)['display']; if (display == 'none') { nextEl.

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    Posted by under post at #software development #css
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  • Date Your Work

    Part the first: I recently read/replied to a twitter thread by Patrick McKenzie: Quoted patio11's tweet: A disturbing large percentage of citations of some of my best work say “Written in 2012 but still relevant”, which a) is a direct artifact of the blogging form factor, b) is an unforced error, and c) I should just fix forever when I achieve activation energy. He continues with a short Twitter thread (click through for more), asserting that having the date on the post front-and-center is a problem because even though the article content is almost always relevant, people will tend to judge it based on the fact that it’s more than a decade old.

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  • Weeknotes 2020-03-01

    It’s March! These weeknotes are coming in late in the day, for various reasons. The world news recently has mostly revolved around the COVID19 pandemic. Even the Americans are starting to get worried now. The PH still has surprisingly few cases, and we’ve even been commended by WHO for our containment efforts! Those of us who are used to our government’s usual level of competence are a bit wary - for all we know we might already have a hidden epidemic going undetected.

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Feb 2020