Roy Tang

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

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Jan 2020

Posted by under post at / Tags: #books #review / Syndicated: twitter / 0 / 326 words

Weeknotes 2020-01-26


It feels like every week of 2020 so far has brought some sort of herald of doom. First week was potential War with Iran breaking out. Then there was the Taal Volcano erupting. And this past week we had the Corona virus outbreak originating in China. At least the Volcano eruption doesn’t map directly to a horseman of the apocalypse, so that’s something. What are we in for this week??

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Flask vs Django


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Weeknotes 2020-01-19


The big news here in the country over the past week was of course the big Taal Volcano eruption south of Metro Manila. Our house is far north enough of Metro Manila that we didn’t really get any ashfall over here, although when I went out on a walk the day after the big eruption, the air felt thick, like on morning New Year’s Day after all the fireworks. We do have friends and family who are affected and closer to the volcano though, so here’s hoping things get better for them and everyone else, especially those that had to be evacuated.

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So the back half of the CW Arrowverse’s epic Crisis on Infinite Earth’s crossover finally aired this week, and I promised more words about the Arrowverse and the crossover last month, so here we are. Spoilers abound! On 15 Jan 2020 at 5:05am I wrote: #CrisisOnInfiniteEarths spoiler free review: low budget, pacing and writing issues, but idc because all the dc comics fan service kept making me smile First the bad: as noted above, writing and pacing and budget issues plague the crossover, but this is typical of the Arrowverse as a whole.

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Weird Blog Spam


I am generally receptive to receiving emails from strangers, so I don’t mind having a contact email publicly accessible on this site. But I don’t know if it’s a consequence of having a reasonably active blog or what, but in the past few years, I’ve sometimes gotten what I like to call “weird blog spam.” Typically it starts out with an introductory email that often includes a compliment about a specific article on your blog, accompanied by an offer to increase your blog’s visibility if you would just link to one of their articles:

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Weeknotes 2020-01-12


I’ve been thinking for a while about doing regular weeknotes. This is a type of post I’ve seen in some blogs where they recap the things that’ve happened to them during the past week. I’ve actually been doing these privately for a while, and now I’m going to try making them public. I think the advantages are obvious in terms of (a) having notes to recall what you were doing over a certain time period; and (b) guaranteeing regular writing output on the blog.

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My Top Tens of the 2010s


Apparently I’m not done looking back at the 2010s yet. I had some “top tens of 2010s” discussions with some friends recently, here are my personal lists, each in no particular order: My Top Ten Movies of the 2010s Avengers Endgame (2019).. I’m keeping only one slot per franchise, so I had to choose an MCU movies for this. Runner-ups for this slot were Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America Winter Soldier, and individually either one of those movies might be around the same or better than Endgame, but Endgame is the culmination of a decade’s worth of movies and gave me the most enjoyment as a comic book fan.

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2019 Year in Review


Well, it has certainly been another revolution around the sun. I added the tag yearnotes for these end-of-year recap and statistic things. 2019 Statistics: Work, Travel, Learning and Self Improvement: Hours worked: 180-200 hours (estimated) - down from 1163 hours last year I’ve been cutting back on my work commitments this year, preferring to spend more time on personal projects. Programming languages/frameworks learned: Only 1 really new thing, that’s the Ionic mobile app framework.

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New Year's Checklist 2020


It’s a new year! I don’t have any clever jokes or deep wisdom or long, introspective essays to share at this time (I have those the rest of the year though!). Instead, here’s a checklist for the new year. 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 Set a target of how many books you’ll read in 2020 Choose the first book to read Throw away a few things you no longer need Make a list of where you will travel to in 2020 Check out what movies are coming out this year and which ones you want to watch (see below) Audit your financials – where is your money going, how much do you owe, how much are you earning, where should you invest, etc Pick up your keyboard and shake out all the grime that’s gathered there over the past year Make a list of projects you want to do in 2020 Choose something from the past year that you’re going to stop watching or doing Eat your favorite food.

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Dec 2019

Decades


Today is the last day of the 2010s. I was originally planning a short retrospective on the past decade, but that felt a bit unfair to the other decades prior which hadn’t received such reflection, so let’s go through all of the four decades I’ve lived through so far. 80s: Having been born in 78, the 80s were my “growing up” years. I lived through the EDSA revolution, but I don’t remember much of what was actually happening in society during that time.

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Watching Lately: December 2019


Been watching a lot of things this December. I finally got back on The Expanse after finishing S1 more than a year ago. I only finished S2, but it was already a vast improvement over S1. S1 felt like a lot of meandering around until the characters actually ran into the plot. S2 was stronger, faster-paced, and there’s always a lot of things going on in each episode. I really like this series now, looking forward to S3 and S4 when I have the time.

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Review: XCom 2


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What Am I Doing Now


A few days ago, a friend from a company I used to work for said to me something along the lines of “{Company Executive} asked me how you are doing”, and I couldn’t give anything other than a pithy “I’m alive” answer. I find that since I generally live an unconventional life, it’s a pain to describe how I’m doing. It’s not a straightforward “Oh, you know, still working as a freelance developer/consultant/solutions architect” for me, because I don’t really identify that much anymore with what work I’m doing or who I’m employed by.

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Nov 2019

NaBloPoMo Epilogue


So NaBloPoMo complete, no big deal. It wasn’t much of a challenge since blogging every day for a month is something that I’ve done multiple times over the past couple of years. It comes out to around 15,900 words written in November, not counting this post. Definitely not as big a thing as completing nanowrimo for instance. Writing on a regular basis is great, and generally a reasonable use of your time.

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Recent Links for 11/29


I’m trying out this “recent links” series where I highlight some stuff I’ve bookmarked. I used to just share them via Pocket, which get fed into the links list on this blog, but the problem with that approach was that I don’t get to comment on each link about why I shared or bookmarked it. Writing them into a blog post gives me a chance to highlight them too. I’ve seen some other blogs where they have something like a weekly list of recent links, let’s see if that works out for me.

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Criticism


Criticizing the logistics or implementation of an event doesn’t necessarily mean you want it to fail or you want to the organizers to be embarassed. On the contrary, pointing out flaws allows for improvements. Criticizing the organizers of a sporting event doesn’t mean you don’t support the athletes participating in the event. Criticizing your country’s leaders and politicians and government doesn’t mean you are unpatriotic. No given politician is the same as the entire government, much less the country.

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Review: The Outer Worlds


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The Costs of Corruption


A quick follow-up to something I mentioned in yesterday’s post: It is a cultural problem too. Even we the citizens have little respect for rules and laws and try to skip around them when we can. This is why we have fixers, and connections, and patronage. We trade on favors to get us out of trouble. I’m not sure if needed to be said, but I wasn’t saying that literally every single person participates in fixing and patronage to get around the rules.

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Laws Not Men


In yet another example of what is wrong with this country, the PNP are planning to arrest vape users after Duterte’s directive, despite there actually being yet no law or executive order banning vaping. Thus, the arrests are meaningless and merely another form of harassment. PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac explained that while violators would be apprehended, they would be released immediately after the incident is recorded in the police blotter.

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It was a bit more than a year ago that I decided to haphazardly and suddenly migrate from Wordpress to Hugo. It’s a good time to look back and reflect on that decision and consider where we are now, and how to move forward. Good: I am extremely happy with the site’s browser performance. It currently scores an insanely high 96 on Google’s Pagespeed tool, and I’m pretty sure I I know how to close the remaining 4% gap.

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New Video Card!


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Grab Overpricing


So the Philippine Competition Commission recently fined rideshare provider Grab P23M for overcharging their customers. Apparently only P5M of that is meant to go back to the affected riders, which seems like a piddly amount considering the number of riders in the Philippines. We’ll see how of that I actually get credited back, if any. Grab pricing has been steadily increasing since Uber exited the market early last year. The other day Grab wanted to charge me a bit over P400 for a 13km ride to a commercial area, which seemed insane.

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Five AM


The world looks a bit different at 5 AM. In a bid to get back into the daily walking groove, I’m trying to shift back my daily walks to early in the morning, before breakfast. Recently I’ve been doing it in the afternoons or early evenings, but walking in the mornings has the distinct advantage that if for some reason I am unable to do it (maybe because I was super tired from the previous day, or the weather doesn’t cooperate, or just plain laziness), I have the rest of the day to catch up on it.

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The past few years have not been good for competitive balance in MTG. Following yesterday’s deservedly heavy-handed B&R announcement, standard is now at 14 cards banned since 2017. Before 2017, the standard bannings have been relatively sparse. Working backwards: 2011 - cawblade standard, 2 cards banned 2005 - affinity standard, 8 cards banned 2004 - skullclamp banned 1998-1999 - the infamous combo winter, 9 cards banned So this period from 2017-2019 has seen the most bannings since the affinity era, and may even be comparable to the unquestionably disaster that was Urza block in `98-99.

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A Cradle for Imperfect Thoughts


A lot of people seem to think that blogging as an activity is about writing a well-thought out first draft, revising and researching and revising again until the post is perfected, then finally hitting publish (then possibly realize you had some editing errors and upadating and republishing). I tend to think this sort of perfectionism holds one back, I prefer to publish even when thoughts are yet half-formed and maybe even incomplete, laying the groundwork for revisiting the topic in a later post.

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On Feed Readers


I don’t use Inoreader anymore, but a recent blog post of theirs recently appeared in my feeds that mentioned they implemented “sort by magic”. This was a feature that Google reader had 10 YEARS AGO! There hasn’t been much innovation in the feed reader space in the last decade it seems, which is totally understandable given they are mostly tools used by internet “power users”, and mostly by older netheads, so the target market isn’t very large.

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An Offline Walk


The other day, a family member mistakenly took my phone with them to the office so I was without a phone all day. This meant my daily walk had to be offline, which was a weird thing I hadn’t experienced in a while. I couldn’t help but note my hand’s instinctively reaching for the mobile phone that wasn’t there. Mobile phones are so ubiquitous in our daily lives, but sometimes it feels like a crutch how we can be totally dependent on them.

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Tales from a P2P Bus


It’s a lot more uncommon for me to go to places like Ortigas or Makati nowadays, but when I do I almost always take the P2P bus. The P2P (Point-to-Point) buses were introduced in Metro Manila I think around late 2015/early 2016, as a pricier alternative to the usual city buses. The fares are more expensive, but the buses are also much more comfortable and they don’t make stops along their route, only at the endpoints, so their travel time is faster compared to the usual city buses.

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Is SQL a dying art?


I was helping my brother check some database issues the other week, and he mentioned how impressed he was with how quickly I was able to come up with SQL queries on the fly. I told him that SQL was one of the skills I considered myself to have mastery over. This shouldn’t be surprising given my early career path: for most of my first year working as a software developer, I was working on reports which involved lovingly handcrafted (and oftentimes quite complicated) SQL queries.

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What to do in a production crisis


Despite our best efforts as software developers, it can still happen: production goes down. Or some sort of bug introduces catastrophic data error. Hopefully you have a support/DevOps team to handle the response. If not, the dev team themselves have to step in. This usual means a mad rush to figure out what happened and how to fix it, sometimes during off hours and maybe even into the early morning, all while facing pressure from clients and higher-ups.

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Anime Opening/Ending Themes


Had a friendly discussion last night about our favorite anime theme music, figured I’d share some of my favorites. J-Pop in general and anime theme music in particular have a kind of energy that you just don’t get from Western music. I think that generally I tend to favor those that openings for series that I had a chance to watch on TV (instead of via streaming/online channels), since back in those days I had to sit through the openings!

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Indieweb Updates and Thoughts


I mentioned before that I was looking into indieweb stuff. There’s a whole wiki of information about it if you’re into that sort of thing, but also here’s a recent post which kind of serves as an overview. I have some comments on the content of this post, more on that later. Indieweb things I’ve already implemented on this site: have a personal domain (since 2006) microformats (h-card and h-feeds and h-entrys), though I would have to be using some sort of microformats reader to make sure everything there is hunky-dory (no concrete plans for this yet) webmention support, via webmention.

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Aha! I finally managed to finish a book again! I’ve heard of Cal Newport since years ago tangentially due to his Study Hacks blog, which was pretty good at the time. I haven’t followed his career too closely, but he’s an academic at Georgetown apparently. I wasn’t looking for any career advice in particular, but I did have a recommendation for this book from somewhere so I thought I’d give it a go.

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Unfocused


I am envious sometimes of people who are able to narrow down their interests to a specific scope, it’s kind of like a lot of their decisions are made easier. Consider a person whose only hobby/interest is something like sports (not necessarily all sports, or just one sport, just sports in general). looking for something to do in your spare time? Sports! want to watch something on TV? Sports! picking up a newspaper, but don’t have much time to read?

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DevNotes: Python's yield


I’ve been using Python for well over 10 years, and I still don’t have an intuitive mastery of one of its keywords: yield. Everytime I see it in someone’s code I need to stop and mentally remind myself what it does. I figured I’d write a devnote to help improve my recall. Typically, yield is used in a function with a loop, like so: def some_func(lim): for i in range(0, lim): yield i yield means the function returns a “generator” that can be used as an iterable in a loop:

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A while back I found myself having to figure out how to compile/build/run a mobile application. The developers previously assigned to the project were no longer available to consult with, but they did leave behind some documentation. However, their documentation quality left a lot to be desired. The instructions they left basically amounted to: npm install ionic serve ionic codrova run android/ios Okay, first sign of trouble is that their instructions were basically commands that anyone who knew the app used Ionic would be able to Google.

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The World Can Be Suffocating


The world can be suffocating. You won’t always have enough energy. You’ll have too much to do. You’ll fall behind on your commitments. Bad things will happen at work. Your problems will pile up. Roadblocks will stand in your way. You’ll never have enough time. Other people will come to you for help. You will bear the weight of their problems as well, even a little. Then there’s the problems plaguing the world around you.

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Four Days in Bicol


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NaBloPoMo: Just Write


Apparently, NaBloPoMo (or National Blog Posting Month) is a thing. It doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as the original Nanowrimo (which was already a tough sell), but I think it’s a worthy endeavor nonetheless. Some friends were inviting me to do Nanowrimo again this year, but due to general life and busyness and other things, I wasn’t able to prep. I could just wing it (maybe I still will!), but that likely leads to disaster!

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Inktober 2019: Director's Cut


For the uninitiated, Inktober is a drawing challenge where you have to make one drawing in ink (no digital! but you do you I guess) for each day in October, with each drawing based on a certain prompt. This year’s prompts list is: I’ve tried participating in this a few times since 2016, I think I only completed the full 31 days once before this year though. You can view my current and future entries through the inktober tag.

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Actually watched something in the cinema this month: Joker. I wasn’t originally sure if I wanted to see it, I wasn’t hyped for it at all in the months prior. But as the showing date came nearer, there was a lot of buzz around it so I decided to go anyway. I don’t feel like it lived up to the hype and the warnings about promoting incel stuff, but at least it’s one of the higher-grossing DC movies, so maybe we’ll have more to come in that vein.

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Oct 2019

Archiving Yahoo Groups


So a couple of days ago, Yahoo announced that it was shutting down Yahoo Groups. I was a big user of Yahoo Groups back in the day. I was a member of several active mailing lists in the early 2000s, including some fandom groups (see: The Rise and Fall of the Final Fantasy Forum) and a few alumni groups and some MTG-related ones. Now all of that content is vanishing!

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This is Metro Manila


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While you slept, the world changed. I haven’t reviewed any comics on this blog for a while, so today we’ll talk about Jonathan Hickman’s triumphant (so far) return to Marvel: House of X/Powers of X and the upcoming Dawn of X wave of books. Spoilers abound so be aware. Also while writing this I realized how absurd comic books must seem to nonreaders, but really that’s what makes it all fun!

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An Archive of My Own


A post about making a guy making an archive of his twitter data made the rounds lately, so I figured I should make my own post about my ongoing efforts in this regard. I mentioned in an earlier post that I like being able to use social media to dig through my own history. But as the first link above says, these social media sites can go away since nothing lasts forever.

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