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

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2013 -- Books and Games

| Categories: Gaming | Tags:

It’s the end of the year, so it feels like a good time to look back at the books and games I’ve gone through in 2013. I guess it’s my lack of focus really but my reading rate has really gone down over the past few years, I guess in favor of TV, comics and games. (I guess comics count as reading too, but I’m talking about full-length novels. For 2013 as far as I can tell I only finished reading the following novels:

Movie Review: Man of Steel (Spoilers!)

| Categories: Opinions | Tags:

Few people are really Superman fans, because let’s face it, Superman is boring compared to say, Batman. I wouldn’t claim to be a fan either, though I follow the history because of being generally a comic book guy (I got less than 50% of the answers in a recent Superman round in one of the local quiz nights =/) That being said, I did re-watch the first 2 Donner Superman movies and re-read All-Star Superman and Superman: For Tomorrow ahead of watching the movie.

I wrote some stuff about Vita vs 3DS in a Reddit post, I thought I’d expand on it here. I have access to both a first-generation 3DS with ambassador status (this is actually my brother’s but he doesn’t use it much) and a PS Vita which is only a couple of months old. I use the Vita a lot more because reasons: The screen is very very nice, especially compared to the 3DS screens.

Resources The content of this post is regarding my own opinion and who I plan to vote for. If you want to do your own research (I highly recommend it), here are some links to get you started: Movement for Good Governance briefers on Senatorial candidates Rappler Senatorial profiles I would also Google “rappler [candidate name] interview” for the interview article for each candidate (too many to list here) Here’s a link to a Google doc of my own notes on each candidate, which I used as basis for recommendations below.

It’s easy to blame the poor, the masses for voting into power devious politicians, the corrupt, those with no track record, political dynasties based on money, survey results, name recognition or who has the most giveaways. But take a look at the number of decisions that have to be made when you go vote in an election (let’s say it’s also a presidential election so that we have a complete view):

People who follow me on Facebook or Twitter know that I’ve been recently made a number of anti-Nancy Binay posts. For a while now I’ve been wanting to write a blog post about that and several other election-related thoughts. I’ve decided to present these thoughts it as a fictional chat between made-up characters. Totally fictional characters. Any resemblance to actual people living or dead = pure coincidence. (Although if you must try to imagine these characters, you can imagine jaeger as a dashing idealist, in-in as a cynical pragmatist, ORYLY as a carefree vagabond and Scrappy coco as someone who just wandered into the wrong room.

Scenes from a Quiz Night

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

Wednesday, March 20, 7:56pm We were four of us walking down the barely lit passage on the side of the building. The guard had lazily pointed us to a large open door near the back of the building. The interior was a studio-type area and there was a group of three women dressed in white who had arrived ahead of us and we followed them up a narrow set of stairs to an elevated lounge area with chairs and tables.

“Sir, baka pwedeng lipat na lang kayo ng taxi,” the driver said to me apologetically. “Hindi na po kasi ako aabot sa garage sa Sta. Mesa.” He offered to drop the flag-down fee from the fare so I just agreed. I got off and looked around. One of the reasons I agreed to let him off despite the late hour was that I knew the place where we were passing by – a well lit area where I could easily get another taxi or take an alternative form of transportation if needed – it was the neighborhood I grew up in.

Writing regularly is something I’ve always wanted to be able to do but like most things I have trouble with, it’s the lack of discipline that gets me. Take this blog for instance. I randomly think of things to write about while I’m idling or commuting or waiting in line or any of the dozen or so other opportunities during the day when my mind wanders, but because of laziness and/or lack of discipline, these ideas never get very far.

Cheetergarmi

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags: Nostalgia

When I was growing up, our mom would make this sandwich spread concoction that was a mix of cheese, butter, sugar and milk. I loved it, and when my mom told young me what the ingredients are I quickly gave it the name “Cheetergarmi” (I’m sure you can figure it out). She still occasionally makes some for us to this day, just had some for a midnight snack! Also, I pretty much wrote this post so that I could have a Google search term that returns a single hit to a blog post of mine.

The last two entries (here and here) took too long to write, and there’s a helluva lot of other titles to go through. And many of them don’t deserve much comments, so I’ll just go through the rest quickly or I might never finish. Action Comics – the younger Superman stories are interesting, but occasionally Morrison goes off on one of his weird tangent stories. Superman’s early years are largely re-written, and that’s understandable, he’s never had particularly interesting events in his history anyway

Last weekend was Grand Prix Manila 2012, held at the SMX at Mall of Asia. I don’t really consider myself a “regular” Magic player anymore so I’m not going to give a full tournament report, though I will record some details for posterity. Let’s start with the deck. I played some version of Naya Pod, limited by what cards were available as usual: A Pile of Naya [Creatures] 4 Birds of Paradise 3 Avacyn Pilgrim 1 Ulvenwald Tracker 4 Strangeleroot Geist 2 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben 1 Daybreak Ranger 2 Borderland Ranger 2 Blade Splicer 2 Fiend Hunter 2 Wolfir Avenger 1 Phyrexian Metamorph 2 Hero of Bladehold 2 Huntmaster of the Fells 3 Restoration Angel 1 Oxida Scrapmelter 1 Acidic Slime [Spells] 2 Birthing Pod 1 Bonfire of the Damned [Lands] 4 Copperline Gorge 4 Razorverge Thicket 3 Sunpetal Grove 2 Rootbound Crag 2 Gavony Township 1 Slayer Stronghold 2 Cavern of Souls 4 Forest 1 Mountain 1 Plains [Sideboard] 1 Ancient Grudge 2 Ray of Revelation 1 Zealous Conscripts 2 Garruk Relentless 2 Celestial Purge 3 Thunderbolt 2 Arc Trail 1 Surgical Extraction 1 Oblivion Ring

This is part 2 of my DC New 52 Review. Part is here. Hopefully I finish this series before the reviews become too out of date. Batman I decided to read every book of the New 52 to widen my horizons regarding my comic book reading, and one of the greatest advantages has been exposure to Scott Snyder’s work. I have a tendency not to remember writers and artists of comics I read, except for the very famous ones, so I wasn’t aware that I had read his work before during the Black Mirror arc in Detective Comics pre-New 52.

CJ Corona Impeached

| Categories: Opinions Philippines | Tags:

Time for some Monday morning quarterbacking! Disclaimer: I Am Not A Lawyer. I’m just a guy with opinions. And you know what they say about opinions… Today, the Philippine Senate has impeached the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by a vote of 20 to 3. I’ve generally kept silent about the CJ trial, mainly because I know people who are rabidly pro-Corona and I don’t feel like getting into an argument with someone who’s obviously biased (I’m sorry my friends, we are going to have to agree to disagree now).

The DC New 52 Review (Part 1)

| Categories: Pop Culture | Tags: Comics

If you’re reading this, that means I’ve done it: I’ve read the first eight issues of every DC New 52 book. I’ve always been a Marvel fan more than DC, my previous DC reading having been restricted to JLA and the Batman books, so I figured exposure to the New 52 would widen my appreciation of the DC stable of heroes. Here are my reviews: Justice League While the art is Jim Lee-fantastic, the first story arc left much to be desired.

2011 in Review. Sort of. I guess.

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

Somehow the years seem to fly by more quickly nowadays. They all seem to blend in together too, at least in my memory. When I was thinking of what to write for this post I thought that this was the year I had taken my break from working. That was actually last year. I don’t think it’s a sign that I’m growing old. Maybe more of a sign of the fact that I’ve settled in to some sort of routine that makes it difficult to tell the days or even years apart.

Dear Citibank, About Your New Website

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

Hi, About this new website design/whatever. I am glad that you know have 2-factor authentication to protect me from fraudulent online transactions, but please check the following problems ( I gave up trying to post this using your messaging system, see #3 below): Please fix or replace the horribly unusable custom combo box control you have. When using it to select a payee while making a payment, it’s difficult and counterintuitive to scroll up and down the list (it seems I must hover my mouse over the up and down arrows on the scrollbar).

So Metro Manila is at the peril of heavy rains, flooding and traffic again (as often happens this time of the year) and I thought I’d do some actual blogging for a change. I didn’t want to brave the rush hour traffic last night so I finally got around to watching X-Men First Class (luckily it was still showing at Mega). I had actually seen Green Lantern first despite X1C showing two weeks before the DC movie.

Haven’t done a tournament report in a while. Heck, I haven’t really played tournament Magic in a while, not seriously at least. For that reason it may have been a bad idea to run with a deck that requires a lot of matchup knowledge to play. The tournament was Grand Prix Singapore 2011, the format was standard and my weapon of choice was Caw Blade: [Lands] 4 Island 3 Plains 4 Celestial Colonnade 4 Glacial Fortress 1 Inkmoth Nexus 1 Marsh Flats 1 Scalding Tarn 4 Seachrome Coast 4 Tectonic Edge [Creatures] 4 Stoneforge Mystic 4 Squadron Hawk 2 Mirran Crusader [Spells] 4 Preordain 4 Spell Pierce 3 Mana Leak 3 Into the Roil 2 Condemn 1 Sword of Feast and Famine 1 Sword of War and Peace 1 Batterskull 1 Jace Beleren 4 Jace the Mind Sculptor [Sideboard] 1 Sword of Body and Mind 1 Sylvok Lifestaff 2 Spellskite 3 Flashfreeze 2 Divine Offering 2 Celestial Purge 2 Day of Judgment 2 Dismember

Singapore

| Categories: Travels | Tags:

I was in Singapore from June 2 – June 6, mostly to visit friends who are getting married and compete in the MTG Grand Prix held there last weekend. I like bullet points, so here’s a summary of my trip: Props: public transportation. One thing Singapore and Hong Kong have in common: well-defined, convenient and tourist-friendly public transportation systems, namely trains and buses. It makes our local buses and trains here pale by comparison.

Maybe I'm just heartless

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

… but I feel like this country has spent far too much energy pleading and praying for and glorifying and sensationalizing three drug mules when we should be trying to figure out how they got past our airport security and immigration officers in the first place. Comments Comment by rumz on 2011-04-03 18:06:00 +0000 no, i agree with you. once dead, there isnt anything we can do for them.

A Christmas Story

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

Okay, story time. On my way home today as I was about to get on the jeep to Tandang Sora, a woman got off the jeep crying uncontrollably and declaring she would not go with him. Unsure what was going on I walked past the woman who was now wailing unintelligibly outside the jeep. I got on the jeep and took a seat. Inside was this man who was gesturing to the woman outside and telling her to be quiet and just get in the jeep.

Randomly Amazed

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

The first thing (out of two): As not many people are aware of, I actually underwent some minor surgery last week. I’ll spare you the boring details, except for the fact that at some point I had to be given spinal anesthesia while I was fully awake. Now, if you’ve never been given spinal anesthesia before, let me give you a rundown: you’ll be asked to lie on your side and curl up into something like a C-shaped fetal position so that the anesthesiologist can inject a tiny needle into a small area between the discs of your spinal column.

iPad: First Impressions and Snap Judgments

| Categories: Tech Life | Tags:

So, through a complicated series of circumstances where I initiated the process but actually managed to get myself surprised, I now own an iPad Wifi+3g 64GB (yes, it’s the most expensive model, don’t worry it did not break the piggy bank). It was purchased from Singapore and brought to me by a friend last Friday. I’ve used an iPad before (during the CCS trip Baguio), but this is the first time I’ve had the chance to customize the applications and content, and have it exclusive for my own use.

I haven’t written a tournament report in a while (maybe because I’ve been playing rather poorly lately? =/), but Prereleases are always fun right? Here’s my Scars of Mirrodin prerelease report! The first hour was spent waiting in an unbearably hot basement area for the 8th player on our table to register his sealed pool. What? yeah, he was late, and the event started early so the airconditioning was not yet on.

August 23, 2010: A disgruntled and decorated police officer who had been dismissed on charges of extortion took hostage a bus full of tourists from Hong Kong. The hostage drama unfolded in front of the Quirino Grandstand in Manila with the expected media circus, confused cops and SWAT who didn’t know what to do and a tragic ending that involved dead hostages and a bullet to the head.

The Fifth Power

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags: birthday

I maybe getting older but as anyone can attest, I’m still a child at heart. As they say: life is a journey, not a destination. I still don’t know what my destination is, but I’ll keep moving forward one step at a time. Looking forward to the next power of two.

Here’s the situation: It’s game 3 of a sealed game. You know your opponent has Mind Control, Aether Adept and Plummet still in his deck, so you should finish it quickly to avoid losing to topdecks. The field is as shown (click for larger view): If you Stampede and swing with everyone, you win! Unless he has Condemn, in which case you will lose. You never saw Condemn in previous games.

What Am I Doing Now?

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

I get asked this a lot since I’m not currently working. I never get to answer clearly, so here’s an attempt. The short answer is: Whatever I want The long answer: Yes, I spend a lot of time goofing around – watching TV series, movies and playing video games. In fact I think for most of the first two months of my hiatus, this was what I did. Now there’s a lot less of that – I’ve caught up with all the series I wanted to catch up with, and I don’t have any significant video games I want to finish.

Weekend Project: Stack Bragger

| Categories: Software Development | Tags:

Stack Bragger lets you brag to your Facebook friends whenever you ask new questions or earn new badges at StackOverflow, SuperUser or ServerFault. I was looking for a weekend project and found out that stackoverflow api was released so I thought I’d make a small facebook app. I originally just wanted to post to FB whenever I got a badge, something like how PSN accounts automatically post Trophies to FB. It also posts questions you ask so that any friends you have on facebook not already using stackoverflow might want to help answer 😀

Free Time

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

Aside from my current hiatus, I’ve taken month-long breaks even when I was still employed. One of the things I most often get asked when I take an extended break from work is “Won’t you get bored with all that free time?” This question strikes me as a strange attitude towards free time, as if it were an annoyance to be avoided instead of a resource to be enjoyed. The people who subscribe to this belief are probably the same people who watch TV all the time when at home, or who can’t imagine life without having a 9 to 5 job eating up most of their day.

On Working

| Categories: Just Another Day Opinions | Tags:

I’ve been meaning to write about why I quit a perfectly good job I had at Azeus, but it’s been hard to articulate the reasons, in the same way I found it hard to explain to people why I didn’t feel a corporate “9 to 5” was entirely necessary at this point. Then I read a blog post today “Why I Quit A Six Figure Job” which I found to express/coincide with my thoughts pretty well on the upsides and downsides of having a job.

The Setup

| Categories: Tech Life | Tags:

A while back I started reading The Setup, which is basically a collection of interviews with various tech/creative guys about what sort of hardware and software they use. I always enjoy this sort of thing – it feeds my tech envy when they describe cool setups or gadgets I don’t have. (A lot of them have Macs!) I actually purchased a new desktop computer a while back without posting any details, so I thought I’d something similar to The Setup so that I have a record of what I’m using now.

Coming Back to Writing

| Categories: Writing | Tags:

So the other day I was watching a video of Scott Berkun‘s talk about the future of WordPress: (Go ahead, watch it first if you like, this blog post will still be here when you get back) I loved how he delved into the history of writing itself, not just of WordPress – harking back to the days of the printing press, etc. We live in such a world of privilege where anyone with an internet connection can easily publish his thoughts and words unto a worldwide audience, and yet for many people writing is a lost art that they don’t partake in on a regular basis.

Elections 2010 -- Annoyances

| Categories: Philippines | Tags:

Expect long lines, hot and sweaty rooms and maybe disorganized Comelec. Here are some other annoyances I encountered (just a quick brain dump): The Comelec BEI and volunteers may be uncoordinated. I went to a waiting room at the first floor and got a number and was told to wait for my batch of 10 to be sent to the voting room at the second floor. After about an hour, we found out the voting room wasn’t aware numbers were being given out and had let some people start voting already.

Elections 2010 -- My Ballot

| Categories: Philippines | Tags:

For President, I’m voting Dick Gordon, because I believe that the Philippines should be a meritocracy where people are chosen as leaders based on the strength of their accomplishments and qualifications. For Vice President, I’m voting for Mar Roxas, as he’s simply the most qualified and with the strongest history of government service. The E-VAT thing is actually a plus for him, as it shows he has the capacity to make difficult decisions if needed.

Just a quick dump of my impressions of RoE limited from the prerelease. I’ll probably post a more detailed analysis later. The RoE limited format is fun and it is slower than Zendikar, but you still need to keep an eye on your curve (even though that curve may now end with 7-8-9-and up instead of 5-6… ). Lots of ground stalls, so guys with evasion are much more valuable.

I played in the Rise of Eldrazi Prerelease Event yesterday at Eton Cyberpod in the Ortigas area. It was a new mall, so I went there a bit before opening time in case I had trouble finding the venue. Turns out that wouldn’t be a problem as there were a bunch of Magic players outside the mall waiting for it to open when I got there. It turns out that the mall had recently changed it’s opening hours from 10 AM to 11 AM though, so we all had to wait outside in the heat for an additional hour before we could start the event.

MTG Storm!

| Categories: Magic the Gathering | Tags:

I’ve decided to no longer post MTG-related stuff here at roytang.net. Instead, you can read about my MTG-related opinions and misadventures at MTG Storm!

I chose to start MTG blogging again right in the middle of spoiler season for the upcoming set Rise of the Eldrazi, so let me start out by reviewing some new cards. Let’s take a look at the card previewed in this week’s The Week That Was by Brian David-Marshall, Inquisition of Kozilek: Nobody expected the Kozilek inquisition! BDM of course already pointed out the obvious comparisons to Thoughtseize, which is the premier pinpoint discard spell at this mana point; Thoughtseize has the advantage in versatility (can get any card) versus the slight drawback of giving up 2 points of life.

By way of introduction

| Categories: Magic the Gathering | Tags:

I’m a long-time Magic player from the Philippines. I used to blog at my personal website, but I had this domain so I just decided to use it. My magic blogging used to consist mostly of tournament reports (I like to play both limited and constructed). For this blog, I’d like to write more design/card analysis and about events in the Magic community. Most of online Magic community writing is geared towards an American/western audience, so I’d also like to write stuff relevant to the Asian magic scene if I get the chance.

Now, this is a bit awkward. One of the side projects that’s been in my backlog for a long time has been to work on an improved version of the MTGO Draft Converter at zizibaloob. I thought I would get started on that today, and in fact already had quite a bit of javascript done for the draft widget when I read a new post by Brian David-Marshall over on top8magic and found out that there was already a new draft recorder website: RareDraft.

When Your Wallet Gets Stolen

| Categories: Just Another Day | Tags:

December 17th. It was around 10pm, I was getting off the bus carrying a box of ensaymada in my right hand and using my left hand to make my way down the crowded aisle despite the speed and turbulence of the bus ride. As I alighted off the bus, I felt movement in my left pants pocket, where my wallet was. As soon as my left hand was free I checked to find my wallet missing and looked back accusingly at the mass of unfamiliar faces crowded along the door of the bus.

New Comments System

| Categories: Software Development | Tags:

I got tired of having to maintain my own comment moderation system, and I decided against throwing out the django code and going back to wordpress. Instead, I’m migrating the comment system to DISQUS. I love this little mess of django code that’s running my blog. I wish I had time to clean it up. But for now, at least I can have a more industrial-strength comment system in place.

Zendikar Draft #1

| Categories: Magic the Gathering | Tags:

I was able to chain a sealed event into a number of drafts this weekend. Here’s one of my better drafts:   Pack 1 pick 1:   My Pick:   Pack 1 pick 2:   My Pick:   Pack 1 pick 3:   My Pick:   Pack 1 pick 4:   My Pick:   Pack 1 pick 5:   My Pick:   Pack 1 pick 6:   My Pick:   Pack 1 pick 7:   My Pick:   Pack 1 pick 8:   My Pick:   Pack 1 pick 9:

The following are M10 sealed: Friday Oct 9, 8am Sunday Oct 11, 10pm Friday, Oct 16 6am Sunday, Oct 18 8pm The following are Zendikar sealed: Monday, Nov 9, 1am Friday, Nov 13, 8am Monday, Nov 16, 3am Sunday, Nov 22, 11pm Friday, Nov 27 7am Saturday, Nov 28, 8am Sunday, Nov 29, 9pm Friday, Dec 4, 8am Monday, Dec 6, 1am Monday, Dec 20, 3am Friday, Dec 25, 7am Monday, Dec 27, 3am Good luck to all Pinoys playing in the MTGO PTQs!

Decklist Sharing Tool

| Categories: Magic the Gathering | Tags:

Want to post decklists online to tweet to your friends? You can use the Decklist Sharing Tool! As an example, here’s a recent decklist posted to twitter by Evan Erwin that I converted using the tool: I wish I had more decklists to share, but to be honest, I haven’t thought much about Zendikar standard yet =p

I’ve been meaning to write a nontrivial app using Google App Engine for a while, and here’s my first weekend project: Decklist Sharing Tool, an tool for MTG players to share decklists online. I had the decklist parsing and autocarding code available for a while (and used on my MTG related posts), so that part was fairly easy, I got it done under 3 hours I think. The rest of the time (around 5-ish hours) was spent on glue logic, fixing minor bugs, working on HTML layout, cleaning up text, etc.

As you might have heard, there was a helluva storm in the Philippines yesterday, and I was pretty much stuck at the Titan Hobby Shop for most of the day. Luckily, that meant I get to play in the Zendikar prerelease. My Zendikar prerelease record: 1-3 =/ I had a decent pool and went with a UW build, but I played too loosely and the stars just weren’t aligned. My pool was very bad value-wise as well, having mostly “nice” rares like [Lullmage Mentor][2] and [Lorthos, the Tidemaker][3].