Wearing dice on my head since 2008 Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart. Randomly amazed.

roytang.net

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It’s a bit strange, but somehow Hong Kong is becoming a bit familiar to me by now. This is only my third time here of course, and I’ve spent less than five weeks here in total since 2004. Still I find that certain things like ordering at restaurants and riding the MTR have started to become a bit more “normal” for me. Originally when I was told that I would be staying in HK for two weeks, I was a bit depressed, as I didn’t really enjoy the prolonged stay last time.

Most of the time, my work involves mostly run-of-the-mill information management systems. Lately however, I’ve been asked to look into some new tech, and that got me interested in what’s called Rich Internet Applications (RIAs for short). The primary platform for RIAs is Flash, which apparently is already owned by Adobe and Macromedia is no more. Yeah, I never really paid attention to Flash, like most people I assumed it was only for making amusing movies and annoying ads.

Brush with the Law

A friend of mine, let’s call her “C”, was waiting for a taxi near her home. There were several other people there waiting for taxis but she had been there first. She finally managed to hail a cab and had already gotten in the back seat when an MMDA traffic guy [1] stopped her and told her that he had hailed that taxi for two women nearby that he pointed to.

Going to HK Again

For two weeks, starting next Tuesday. Maybe the time away from everyone will be good for me. Work has been a chore lately.

Just to make it, y’know, official: I suck at Standard. I played in two Nationals qualifiers over the past two weekends. The first one with the Mishra deck (Flores’ Legends of Team CMU) to a disappointing 4-3 finish in a sea of Angelfire, Solar Flare and Gruul. Disappointed with the decks performance, I took a look at the result of Australian Nationals that same weekend, and decided to play the Rakdos “Satanic Sligh” build that had won that event in today’s qualifier, which was incidentally the last one I could play given my schedule.

SlideRocket (tags: flex) Demo of Virtual Ubiquity's Buzzword web word processor recorded by Dan Bricklin (tags: flex) Picnik -- Photo Editing Webapp (tags: flex)  

YouTube -- Algorithm March with Prisoners The inmates at a prison in Cebu perform the Algorithm March from Pythagoras Switch (tags: music weird pinoy) YouTube -- "Thriller" The inmates at a prison in Cebu perform the "Thriller" video. This has got to be a really entertaining prison. (tags: music weird pinoy) Gang Kidnaps Gamer to Get Password Using Fake Orkut Date -- Gizmodo

Today is of course the release of Magic’s Xth edition, Magic Game Day. As usual, I played at Neutral Grounds in Galleria. Helluva lot of people there, more than I was expecting for a Core Set Release tournament. The format is, as usual, Sealed Deck with four rounds of Swiss pairings. Players were grouped in Flights of 32 people each (previous prerelease tournaments had 48-people flights), each win gets you an Xth booster pack and the top 2 of each flight (the ones who went 4-0) get something extra.

Bad Day Perspective

Some days just don’t go very well. You wake up with a mild headache. Your bed demands that you stay just a few minutes longer. Your computer refuses to work correctly. You have no energy. Every task assigned to you seems to be something you’d rather not do. You find out some people hate you. You get drenched in rain on the way home. You arrive home and feel completely useless, thinking you’ve done nothing today.

As a big Transformers fan back in the day, I have to say: the movie is okay. Action-packed and a fun popcorn flick. The story’s nothing to win an oscar over, but everything looks SO COOL! Some questionable things though: Spoilers! Why does the all-spark only create violent, gun-toting robots? Where the hell did the Autobots come from? I don’t recall seeing the Decepticon symbol anywhere, was it there? How come Soundwave can survive getting his head chopped off, but Jazz can’t take being split in half?

I was playing UG shifters. Lands 4 terramorphic Expans 9 Island 6 Forest 3 Llanowar Reborn 1 Pendelhaven Creatures 4 Vesuvan Shapeshifter 4 Wall of Roots 4 Riftwing Cloudskate 3 Mystic Snake 2 Thelonite Hermit 2 Brine Elemental 2 Aeon Chronicler 2 Willbender 1 Draining Whelk Spells 3 Search for Tomorrow 3 Foresee 2 Psionic Blast 2 Call of the Herd 2 Take Posession 1 Spell Burst Sideboard 3 Mwonvuli Acid-Moss 2 Krosan Grip 3 Delay 2 Riftsweeper 2 Penumbra Spider 3 Serrated Arrows It was my first Block Constructed tourney.

Top 5 Strengths

I took a longish survey at the Authentic Happiness website. (Registration required.) I list my results here for my future reference. _ Your Top Strength: Judgment, critical thinking, and open-mindedness _ Thinking things through and examining them from all sides are important aspects of who you are. You do not jump to conclusions, and you rely only on solid evidence to make your decisions. You are able to change your mind.

The venue is, as always, NG Galleria. The format, Standard. I was playing Mike Flores’ “Legends of Team CMU” – the Mishra/Korlash aggro/control/combo deck that placed seventh in New Jersey Regionals, with a modified sideboard since I couldn’t get all of the cards in time. Flores discusses the deck in detail here (requries a Premium SCG.com account) Round 1 0-2 Loss vs GUB NarcoBridge (Dregde combo) Round 2 2-1 Win vs Mono-black Rack

Edit: After a WordPress upgrade, this post was messing up the layout. Changed to link to youtube video instead of embedding. Trailer is here Comments Comment by Huda Swithun on 2007-10-22 04:40:44 +0000 you had me suicidal, suicida. Huda Swithun.

The saga of the mightiest deck in the universe continues. My previous outing showed me a solid control matchup and maybe 60% aggro matchup. I tweaked the sideboard to improve the aggro game post-board, dropping the useless Yixlid Jailers for 4 Last Gasps. Here’s how I did: Round 1 2-0 win vs MGA Round 2 0-2 loss vs RUW control (no angels) Round 3 2-0 win vs RGW mid-range aggro (elephants/avalanche riders)

Amazingly, I went more than two whole months using only Ubuntu at home since one of my RAM sticks got busted and Windows refused to boot. Luckily, I have a dual boot computer, with Ubuntu as my alternative OS. Ubuntu is pretty awesome. As a Windows replacement, it does most of the things you need without much problem. It has two distinct advantages over Windows: The Debian package distribution mechanism is just great.

Blogging Ultima A blog about playing through each one of the Ultima games, in sequence. I should do this. For Final Fantasy. When I retire or something. (tags: games) jmonkeyengine.com -- About Java game engine (tags: java programming gamedev)  

_ (edit 24-Dec-2008: Imported decklist from the wiki, removed the dead link below, anchor tag retained for posterity) _ Creatures 4 Korlash, Heir to Blackblade 4 Dimir House Guard 4 Dark Confidant 3 Withered Wretch 2 Detritivore Spells 2 Grim Harvest 3 Damnation 1 Persecute 2 Demonfire 4 Tendrils of Corruption 4 Sudden Death 4 Rakdos Signet Lands 20 Swamp 3 Blood Crypt Bearing the deck I’ve named “the mightiest deck in the universe”, I got the following results:

Yawgatog.com -- Resources -- Magic: The Gathering Comprehensive Rules Changes from Set to Set (tags: magicthegathering) Yawgatog.com -- Resources -- Magic: The Gathering Oracle Changes from Set to Set (tags: magicthegathering)  

Before actually going to the elections last Monday, I played some Limited-format Magic last Sunday at Galleria. The format was Time Spiral Block Sealed, and I was feeling good. I opened a card pool with no outstanding rares. The only real bomb was the red uncommon Pyrohemia. Spotting the Deep-Sea Kraken and wanting to play it, I decided to go red-blue. I tested the build for a few minutes before realizing it completely stunk and had very few creatures.

Ban the distribution of sample ballots and election paraphernalia on election day within the vicinity of voting precincts. Seriously, check out the amount of trash generated on election day near the precinct: And I noted that the current level of trash is already an improvement from last year! In Quezon City at least, the local government seems to have been able to keep people from plastering campaign posters all over the place (relatively), so banning campaign materials on election day should not be too much of a stretch.

I still don’t know how I am voting on Monday. Or even if I am voting at all. I’m thinking of voting for those 3 guys from Kapatiran, simply to reward the sheer chutzpah of their candidacies. The GO and TU coalitions seem largely irrelevant to me, you can be fairly sure those coalitions won’t mean squat after the elections, so all these surveys keeping score of administration vs opposition seem a bit useless.

I bought a new phone yesterday. At the recommendation of my brother, I got one from the Nokia N-series, the Nokia N73. As a relatively recent smartphone release, it cost quite a chunk of cash. I was having second thoughts for a while, because I’m almost never comfortable parting with a significant amount of cash. If I’m going to spend more than a week’s salary on something, it better provide me with a decent amount of entertainment

Pretty good movie, as expected. The story is what you’d expect from a comic-book movie, but the mid-air fight scenes are really great. The whole Sandman thing is basically fluff, the movie could have been done without him. He was like a cheap pop to make the whole “dark side” thing easier to start off, but then they had trouble resolving his story. It’s not like he’s a major Spidey villain anyway.

Wowowee

philippines

So, I was there in the taxi with my youngest brother Brian. And I brought up the topic of the noontime TV show Wowowee, which we had just seen about half an hour of before we got in the taxi. I told him that I thought of it as a really terrible show. Sure, poor people win relatively-large cash prizes and stuff from it, but it feels so exploitative. Hundreds, maybe thousands of poor folk from god-knows-how-far-away queue up outside the studios every day hoping to get into the studio audience to participate in the cash giveaways.

Down Cycles

No matter how much of an optimist I am, I have to admit all people will have down cycles. The last few days seem to be one of mine. Health-wise: My stomach has been in a rebellious mood for the past three or four days, I actually went to work with a fever last Friday. Also, it seems my blood pressure was a bit high since yesterday. I’m thinking about going in for a checkup within the next week or so, depending on how my condition changes.

A bit lazy today, just a quick summary. As usual for a prerelease, lots of people at NG yesterday. I got there before Galleria opened and whiled away time on the DS. The NG staff was a lot more efficient today, they were able to start the first 3 flights as early as 10:30. I got on flight C, and proceeded to open one of the most mediocre card pools I’ve ever seen.

I scrubbed out of the last 3 TSP-TSP-PLC drafts, how annoying. :/ I tend to make bad plays at the worst possible time, and also don’t mulligan very well. If I’m not good at it, I suppose I should stop. Maybe I’ll get better once Future Sight comes out.

Tech Life Most start-ups fail -- Rands In Repose: 1.0 (tags: entrepreneurship articles software) Rands In Repose: Free Electron (tags: hackers productivity software) Rands In Repose: Taking Time to Think (tags: articles productivity software) quixoticals: The Most Frustrating Super Mario Mod Ever What an unspeakably cruel pair of stages. (tags: games funny)  

Simplicity

At work, especially during assessment time, they often ask me if I have any concerns or needs or suggestions that I want to raise to management. And I never have any answers. So I thought about it today, and I realized why I seldom have complaints: I’m a simple person. It doesn’t take much to make me happy, and I figure I’m already ahead of the curve anyway. I have a fairly good paycheck, I like my job (more or less), I like the people I work with, and they recognize and respect me for my contributions.

Due to pressing work concerns, I was unable to go to confession for Holy Week this year. So much for being a devout Catholic. As is tradition, most of the long weekend was spent watching a whole lot of stuff: 24 – I’ve been keeping pace with the episodes so far. The thing about 24: people die. A lot of them. And amazingly, Jack Bauer gets off every single time.

I obviously don’t have much time for gaming if it takes me more than a month to finish a “simple” choose-your-own-adventure style game like Phoenix Wright. Very entertaining game, it puts you in the shoes of a novice defense attorney, Phoenix Wright and your adventures in trying to uncover the truth behind several murder cases. The gameplay is composed of two parts: investigative sequences where you go around various locations gathering information and evidence, and the actual trial part where you have to spot contradictions in witness testimonies and prove your clients to be innocent.

Nikon | Universcale A flash webapp that shows you a scale of everything in the universe. Gives a nice sense of perspective. (tags: flash cool)

TMNT

movies pop-culture

if you’ve ever lived in the Philippines during the summer months, you’re well aware of the sweltering heat. Not being in the mood to feel like french toast during this Sunday noontime, my brothers and I decided to troop to the nearby mall and catch a movie – in this case the return of those childhood stalwarts the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the big screen. Now, as my youngest brother asked, what were we doing there?

So yeah, it was a Two-Headed Giant Limited PTQ at NG Galleria yesterday. I played with my friend Paul, and we had a rather good sealed pool, coming up with a pair of decks that had the basic strategy of “Do not block!” Unfortunately, we were only able to go 5-2, ending up as the team in 10th place. Well, it’s not like we would’ve been able to go to San Diego, but still the 750USD would have been nice.

Desktop Tower Defense Okay, I wasted about an hour of my time playing this. On easy mode. And I couldn't finish it. I suck on tower defense. (tags: flash games web-games) How-to: Installing Ubuntu Linux on a usb pendrive | Debian/Ubuntu Tips & Tricks (tags: howto linux usb)  

  Under Development Standard @ NG Galleria 24-Mar-2007 Main Deck 60 cards Sideboard 4 Breeding Pool 3 Stomping Ground 1 Steam Vents 2 Mountain 7 Island 5 Forest 1 Skargg, the Rage Pits 23 land 3 Plaxmanta 3 Sulfur Elemental

Mostly due to my antisocial nature and my laziness, I haven’t actually seen a movie in a theater since… forever. I broke that fast mostly because of the hype surround 300, the movie based on Frank Miller’s comic book retelling of the Battle at Thermopylae. Everyone who’s seen the movie has the same thing to say: it’s really good. So I went to see it with a brother of mine.

My computer died last night, refusing to boot. Ubuntu would complain of being unable to read the root filesystem. Windows XP would say that there’s a corrupted DLL. I immediately arranged to borrow both an Ubuntu LiveCD and a Windows XP install disk the next day to help check the problem. When I got home today, the computer had been miraculously fixed. My brother said he’d been using it no problem.

I’m sure a lot of people have experienced it, the feeling of being adrift, directionless. Just living your life day in and day out not knowing where you’re going or why. Maybe not everybody though, as I’ve met quite a few people who seem quite content with the monotony of their lives, doing the same thing day in and day out, never bothering to overcome the inertia of their daily lives.