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

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The QC Memorial Circle

| Categories: Just Another Day Philippines | Tags:

View this post on Instagram A post shared by Roy Tang (@roytang0400) on Oct 16, 2018 at 2:24am PDT I took a quick walk around the QC memorial circle the other day. There was some kind of event going on in the main plaza for the Department of Agriculture; Secretary Pinol was there giving a speech. I walked a couple of rounds around the park so I could meet my daily steps target.

For the past few weeks or so, many in the country were consumed by a sort of lotto fever. The PCSO 6/58 Ultra Lotto had gotten up to a record high jackpot prize of more than 1 billion PHP (roughly 20M USD – I know some lotteries in the US have prizes way higher than that, but hey, we’re not the US.) Many people who normally don’t play the Lotto were participating due to the sheer size of the pot.

Working hours and overtime

| Categories: Gaming Software Development | Tags:

Rockstar was in the gaming news recently because they mentioned that some of them had worked 100-hour weeks on their massive sequel to Red Dead Redemption coming out soon (no idea if I’ll play this). The idea of 100 hour weeks seemed insane to me, and it got me thinking: I’ve done some serious overtime before, have I ever gotten close to that amount of work in a week? Luckily, I didn’t have to speculate too much, because I had data (I love data).

I’ve noticed that when I dream I live in a different house. In the dreams, “home” is not the home that I live in now. Instead it’s the “home” I grew up in. It’s my grandparents’ house, where we lived until the right after the turn of the millenium. That house is no longer there; I’ve mentioned it before. But when I manage to remember my dreams it seems like it’s still “home” for me.

On Dreams and Ambition

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

I found an old document I had written around 2012, six years ago, I’ll quote it in full here: I remember when I was in high school, I made a bet with a classmate that I would be able to become president of the country before he could. Our wager was worth one cubic meter of solid gold. A few years back, I made a wager with an officemate who was about to leave my company to go independent; I bet that I would become famous before he would.

This is a story from the early days of the internet. Circa 2001-2004ish. A time of Geocities and AIM and and ICQ and from before Gmail even launched. At that time, I was a big Final Fantasy fan (okay, I still am, more or less). My first real experience with online fan communities was a Yahoo Groups mailing list called the “Final Fantasy Forum”. It was a fun, tight-knit group that loved to discuss the FF series and other JRPGs of that era.

Mentoring in Software Development

| Categories: Software Development | Tags:

Mentoring is one of those tasks that’s to be expected of anyone in a senior software development role. This usually involves reviewing other people’s code, helping them with tough technical issues, and even giving career advice. I’m not sure how good I am when it comes to mentoring other software developers. When I first became technical lead on projects, I got some evaluations from junior developers saying I can be “intimidating”.

I’ve had a copy of this book for quite a while now, but for some reason only got around to starting on it three days ago. It’s not a particularly long book, but I pretty much devoured it in twenty four hours.Mandatory screenshot of old-school Doom The book traces the paths of the lives of John Romero and John Carmack – two legends of the software development world that changed PC gaming forever.

(“Late Game Review” because I’m trying to play through games on my ridiculously old backlog, so these games are pretty old) I got my digital PS3 copy of Ni No Kuni during some kind of PSN sale a while back for like $10 and seeing as how the sequel came out recently, I figured I’d better finish the first game before my rarely-used PS3 decides to die on me. Anyway, the game was great and I enjoyed it enough to go for the platinum (post-game was a bit grindy though):

This started as one of those silly Facebook memes where you post one thing every day and didn’t have to explain and you tagged other people and they continued with the meme. I was very bad at following the meme instructions, but I did find the exercise interesting. I found it difficult to identify 10 specific movies, and since I didn’t explain during the FB posts, I thought I’d make a blog post about them instead.

A few days ago I read this great Reddit comment about how increasing hyperpartisanship makes it easier to influence the entire population. Quoting the relevant part: Once you've done that, you have a population that's easier to manipulate. You have, say, 30% that's 100% sure on both ends, and probably another 15% on both ends that are 80% sure, and a remaining 10% that could go both ways. The more you do this, the more the 15% will be set in stone.

I realise it’s a bit weird for me to be reviewing a marketing book, given my self-proclaimed aversion to marketing and sales. A while back I wrote a review for Tim Ferris’ book Tribe of Mentors on this blog, and for some reason someone decided to contact me citing this review and asked if I would review this other book and they would give me a complimentary copy. This was something new to me, so I thought I’d try it out!

Why I'm Not An Entrepreneur

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

For years now, I’ve had numerous discussions with friends and family about the possibility of setting up my own business, no matter how small. Prospects have ranged from my own software consulting firm to a food stall in an MRT station. None of these ideas never push through. Aside from general risk-aversion and not being confident in the ideas, there’s a few factors that in my mind are significant obstacles towards starting a new business for me.

Let Go or Be Dragged

| Categories: Just Another Day Self-Improvement | Tags:

"Let go or be dragged" Zen proverb A few days back I read something on a Hacker News thread that kind of resonated with me: I’m not going to claim to be the most workaholic person ever – I’ve certainly known a lot of people who work far harder than me. But I do recognize that I have this problem of emotional attachment to a project, especially if I’m the main person responsible for it.

What is education for?

| Categories: Opinions Philippines | Tags:

I recently watched this TedX talk by Seth Godin about the purpose of school/education: One of the best points I agree with from the talk is that majority of our educational system is geared towards generating graduates who are obedient. We teach students from a young age to follow rules and answer roll calls. We teach them standard prescribed solutions. We teach them how to take exams and how to find the right answers.

(Somehow I now have a series of posts about blogging in 2018. Here’s the first one. Two is a series, right?) Great comment the other day on reddit (found via r/bestof), in response to Twitter’s inaction vs Alex Jones. Quoting part of the comment: How can the OG generation of web users possibly hope to maintain the Internet as a free and decentralized medium when a growing majority of the current userbase accept centralization of content and audience, as not only the status quo but as the way things should be?

Forty

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags: birthday

"Life begins at forty" -- Walter B. Pitkin It’s supposed to be a milestone of some kind, isn’t it? Like any other birthday though, I don’t feel much different. I still feel like a kid (hence the “kid-at-heart” in this blog’s header), no more an adult than I was twenty years ago. More or less still the same person. I still enjoy the same pursuits, prefer the same foods, have the same hobbies, appreciate the same things.

July 2018: Gaming Update from 2011

| Categories: Gaming | Tags:

It has been a while since I had a bit of free time (work is busy busy busy). I thought I would post about something here. And I’ve decided (just now), that I need to post more frivolous things, a bit of dumb blogging as some might say. Today I will talk about what games I’ve been playing in the whatever little spare time I’ve been able to scrounge up. I find that if I don’t distract myself with some gaming, my brain tends to overthink about silly things like problems and deadlines that I can’t do anything about anyway.

This book was on sale on Amazon Kindle a while back, I figured I’d give it a whirl. Some years ago I had read one of the author’s previous books, The Four Hour Workweek, and I wasn’t too impressed. It was interesting at least, but a lot of the advice seemed either difficult to apply to my personal situation or involved doing stuff I wasn’t really interested in (i.e. sales and marketing and whatnot).

I had an out of country trip last weekend to Kuala Lumpur to play Magic, but I was a bit tempted to not write about it all. The reason being that inevitably after one of these MTG-related trips the first thing people ask me is “Nanalo ka ba?” (Did you win?) and this time, the answer was sadly no. (Let’s get the spoilers out of the way early shall we.) However, I realized that not all stories have to have happy endings.

A couple of days ago I was rummaging through some old files and found a folder of some personal files I had copied from work computer at my old long-time place of work. One thing I was hoping to find there was this TODO text file that I kept throughout the years I worked there, even as I moved from one computer to another. It was a very long, append-only file, accumulated over some number of years.

Barangay Elections

| Categories: Philippines | Tags:

Ever since I came of age, I’ve exercised my right (and duty) to vote in every election that comes around. Except for Barangay/SK elections. I’ve never voted in Barangay elections. I understand that voting is a civic duty, and I have no real justification for shirking it. But the fact is that my level of awareness re: barangay-level government is very low. I have no idea what their responsibilities or jurisdiction is supposed to be.

Google Duplex and Conversation AIs

| Categories: Tech Life | Tags:

Google recently had a demo of their new AI assistant Duplex at Google IO 2018: It’s an amazing demo to watch, from an engineering perspective. Basically a combination of natural language processing + text-to-speech that can emulate human speaking patterns. It’s not that much of a breakthrough (more like putting several different things together), but it’s impressive and is a good indicator of where we are with regards to true conversant AI.

When Game of Thrones entered its sixth season in 2016, it was true spoiler territory for those of us who had read the GRRM books before HBO’s TV adaptation turned the property into a worldwide phenomenon. Due to the author’s glacial writing pace, at this point the TV series went past the point that the novels had reached. Thus nobody – book readers or tv viewers – knew what events would unfold in the story.

StackOverflow

| Categories: Software Development | Tags:

As a programmer, I’ve always been a big fan of StackOverflow. I asked my first question there and also wrote my first answer in September 2008, which was the month the site launched, so I was pretty much there from the beginning. The site was a huge boon to programmers when it first came out, because the internet as a venue for asking questions and answers back then was a horrible fragmented landscape of small forums and mailing lists and sites like Experts Exchange, all of which were terribly designed.

Rethinking Facebook

| Categories: Tech Life | Tags:

There’s been a recent brouhaha lately over Facebook’s data privacy issues after the Cambridge Analytica scandal came out. For a while, a #DeleteFacebook hashtag even made the rounds. I will admit that I had been considering reducing my own Facebook usage for a while, but not because of any data privacy issues. While I understand that Facebook probably mishandled private data and that this is a serious concern for a lot of people and even for society at large.

The Setup 2018 Edition

| Categories: Gaming Software Development Tech Life | Tags:

While browsing through my old blog posts, I found one about my setup from 2010. I figured it was a good time to do an update. I like doing posts like these because it provides an easy reference for me to look back and see what I was working with at a certain point in time. What Hardware Do I Use? Desktop. I bought a new desktop rig back in late 2015, here are the specs:

[][1](Image credit: r/ProgrammerHumor) I’ve been meaning to add SSL to this blog ever since I first heard of Let’s Encrypt last year. Unfortunately, support on my otherwise awesome webhost was not yet first-class and seemed complicated at the time, so I kept putting it off. But recently I was testing something unrelated and found out that I needed to have SSL on my server in order for OAuth2 to work, so I grudgingly got to it.

Around four years ago (give or take a few days), one of my many Twitter interactions with Globe Telecom’s CS account went a little bit viral due to them trying to justify their Fair Use Policy by calling 3% of their users “rotten bananas”. Apparently I didn’t bother writing on the blog about it back then, so I thought I’d do it now. View post on imgur.com The exchange went a tiny bit viral on social media, with friends telling me about people I don’t know sharing the image of the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

I decided to try learning some 3d modeling. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been following this beginner Blender tutorial where I had to make donuts. (Link to the tutorial series on Youtube.) Here’s my output!(click for full size) This image took around 40 minutes to render. I had to do 2000 samples per tile which is why it was so slow. I was getting too much noise/graininess at lower sampling rates.

I’m not super big on New Year’s Resolutions anymore. (I seldom even do the 1920×1440 joke these days.) I mean, I’m all about productivity and improvement and changing for the better, but I’ve found that very specific resolutions don’t often work for me. Mostly because I have very little focus (obviously something that an be improved). New Year's resolutions: Read, write, watch, play, create, destroy, win, learn, improve, chill, move forward

My 2017 in numbers

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

Happy new year! Last year I posted some year-end statistics. That seems like a good way to recap the year, so let’s do it again. Random statistics from 2017: 45 blog posts (including this one; total of 818 currently on this site according to wp-admin, though that number doesn’t add up to last year’s stats; down 34 posts from last year, an indicator of increased busyness) 0 words written for Nanowrimo (hopefully I can have another go next year) 59 sketches submitted to r/sketchdaily (a far cry from last year’s 321, yet another indicator of busyness) Duolingo streak: 0 days.

My Coding Approach

| Categories: Software Development | Tags:

I was thinking about my typical approach to coding. When writing a new feature, I tend to implement in the direction of where the data flows, starting from the user interface then to the backend and back to the frontend and wherever else that goes. I will build incrementally, using debugging tools or console printouts to ensure that each step is working correctly. As an example, here’s how I did a recent web-based function:

I had booked the Singapore trip earlier in the year, since I almost always attend Grand Prixs in Singapore as its an easy trip and gives a good opportunity to visit friends. Unfortunately, I ended up not having time to prepare for the tournament itself. Fortunately, it was a limited event rather than constructed, so I figured maybe I could wing it and still do well. (Spoiler: I could not.)

Singapore 2017

| Categories: Travels | Tags:

I took a 5-day trip to Singapore last weekend, mostly to play in the Grand Prix, but the opportunity to get away from the country for a while was appreciated. These are some notes and anecdotes from the trip. (Not about the GP itself, that’s a separate post on its own.) By my count this would be my 5th visit to Singapore. That means Singapore now ties Hong Kong for my most visited foreign destination.

Compartmentalization

| Categories: Just Another Day Self-Improvement | Tags:

I had been looking into a software performance problem for a few hours now and had decided to call it quits for the day. I turned off the lights and climbed into bed, hoping to get to sleep early for a change. I hadn't been in bed five minutes when I thought about something I hadn't tried yet. I picked up the tablet that was beside my bed and did a few google searches and soon I was back on my desktop trying out some parameters I hadn't tried yet.

Thirty Nine

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags: birthday

I haven’t had much time to write recently. Been busy. (I’ll write about that some other time.) But I’ve kind of been posting regularly on this date for a while, so here we are. Ah, time. And the inexorable passage thereof. There’s some kind of big milestone for me in around three hundred and sixty-five more solar cycles. Well, I don’t personally consider it big, since that’s kind of arbitrary. But as people are wont to say, life begins… maybe I’ll save that for next year.

Hardware Review: Steam Link

| Categories: Gaming Tech Life | Tags: Hardware

Last week the local gaming shop had the Steam Link on 70% discount so I figured I’d give it a try. We recently got a new TV at home, so I was eager to try out some Steam games on the big screen. If you’re too lazy to click the link above, the Steam Link is basically a set-top box that streams your gameplay to a TV via HDMI, allowing you to enjoy your steam games from the comfort of a couch.

Pisay (the movie)

| Categories: Pop Culture | Tags: Movies

Last weekend I watched Aureus Solito’s movie Pisay at the UP film center with a couple of friends (both of whom were my Pisay batchmates of course). For the uninitiated Pisay is the nickname for our beloved _Philippine Science High School. _It’s a system of government-run schools with a special focus on science and math subjects. There’s a highly-competitive entrance exam and we’ve always been told that students who make it in are considered the “cream of the crop.

Random thoughts while walking at night: The structure of government can be a bit analogous to the structure of a software development project. The Constitution is like the requirements for a project. It’s kind of high-level and (I believe) shouldn’t be too detailed. Supposedly the requirements are written by the client. For a country like the Philippines the client is “we the sovereign Filipino people”. Slight tangent: I used to know this guy who was one of those rabid “we need to amend the constitution” types and he asked me to review a “mathematical model to track the budget as a function of tax collection and monetary policy” that he wanted to include in a proposed new constitution.

Adulting

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

Some time ago a friend from high school invited me to her daughter’s debut. And I had to proxy for her daughter’s ninong and maybe give a few words on what it means to become an adult. My first two reactions were (1) wow I’m so old one of my batchmates has an eighteen-year-old daughter; and (2) what the heck would I know about becoming an adult? (I guess (3) was “oh, it’s a debut, so it’s formal and I have to dress up?

A while back I wrote about my experiencecoding and maintaining an in-house web framework at a previous job. It was a full-stack web framework. We had libraries for front-end Javascript up to server-side database connections. And the entire stack was tightlycoupled. But while the framework was serviceable, it was almost always behind modern trends in web development. I always felt like we were playing catch-up. And as a developer I wanted to widen my horizons and try out more things.

A Bus Ride in Metro Manila

| Categories: Just Another Day Philippines | Tags:

"Grabe naman kasi ang ginagawa nyo sa pasahero" (This is too much for the passengers), she said. She was a short, old lady trying to get to the front of the bus so that she could disembark. But like most city buses in Metro Manila during rush hour, the bus was filledto the brim with people, many of them standing tightlypacked in the aisle, holding on to handrails on the bus ceiling or the nearby seats.

I don’t really play Magic regularly anymore; Last year I only played Standard because I was Q’ed for the WMCQs. But when there’s a local Grand Prix, oldies like me crawl out of the woodwork and try to believe we can still do well in a tournament with minimal prep. Grand Prix Manila 2017 was to be Standard format, held on June 2-4, 2017, at the SMX convention center. At the start of the year I already knew I would be playing in this year’s GP Manila, but since I hadn’t played Standard for well over a year, I didn’t really know what I would be playing.

Tokyo, Redux

| Categories: Travels | Tags:

So last April my friends and I took a second trip to Japan. This time we mostly stayed around Tokyo, while taking a few days off in-between to visit Fuji, Hakone and Nikko.I went to Fuji, but that’s not in Tokyo! I like Tokyo, so I’ll talk about Tokyo for now. I’ve only been here twice, but I could imagine myself living here for an extended period of time. It solves my top three problems with Metro Manila: overly hot weather, poor transportation options, and poor internet.

Review: Persona 5 (You Never Saw It Coming)

| Categories: Gaming | Tags: Review

My first Persona game was Persona 4 Golden on the Vita – a fantastic game. After that I dived into Persona 3 Portable and eventually the spin-off games Persona 4 Arena (and Ultimax) and Persona Q on 3DS. So it was no surprise that one of the game releases I was most looking forward to this year would be the next numbered game in the series: Persona 5 on the Playstation 4.

Blogging and Social Media

| Categories: Writing | Tags: blogging social media

I haven’t been blogging too much recently. I got busy for a while and had to skip a few weeks, and then general laziness prevented me from resuming a regular posting schedule. (Hopefully that ends now.) Most of the time my ranting was on social media, which got me thinking: Is writing on your own blog still useful in this day and age of social media? I’ve been blogging for a long time – my archives say 2002 – waaay before Facebook or even Twitter came around.

First, the spoiler-free summary (spoilers after this part): overall a very entertaining movie to sit down and watch popcorn and to enjoy the jokes and the space battles and the different colored lights and the tiny adorable tree creature GOTG’s humor was one of its strong points and for the 2nd movie, they push the comedy up a notch, perhaps a little too much in some places. Lots of funny gags and one-liners I felt like some of the character/background development stuff was pushed a bit too hard as well the movie’s plot also felt a bit thin and straightforward.

MarkLogic NoSQL

| Categories: Software Development | Tags:

I recently attended a few training sessions for MarkLogicheld at an office in a nearby business center. Now, I'll forgive you for not knowing what MarkLogic is, as even I hadn't heard of it before six months ago. MarkLogic is (apparently) the leading Enterprise NoSQL provider. NoSQL is big and sexy right now because of the supposed advantages in handling big data, and large web companies like Google and Facebook use a lot of NoSQL in the backend.

Paella

| Categories: Just Another Day Travels | Tags:

A couple of years ago, two friends and I were being tourists in Barcelona. With its wide, spacious streets and strangely uniform city blocks, we walked around a lot. During one of our tourist days, we decided to eat some _paella_ on the way back to our AirBNB. Who comes to Barcelona and doesn’t eat paella right? We ended up walking for quite a while. Every time we came upon a new restaurant that served paella we would consider the price and the restaurant and would think, hey maybe we can find somewhere better or cheaper further along the way.