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


last update:

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?

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.

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

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


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


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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].

Wanted to try out draft recording, the same method that pinoyraredrafter uses. The below is an ACR draft I tried this morning. I think the deck was decent, although I made a number of questionable picks. I don’t have match stories to go along though, I got mana screwed in game 1 then lost a nailbiter in game 3.   Pack 1 pick 1:   My Pick:   Pack 1 pick 2:   My Pick:

Thirty One


Days seem to fly by at such an unforgiving pace. Has it really been thirty-one years now? I have a lot to be thankful for the past thirty-one years. Family, friends and other wonderful people that provide love and support; a roof over my head, three square meals a day minimum and a nice, stable and well-paying job. For all of these, I am thankful. One would think that at such a point in my life, I would be very satisfied for having been so blessed.

Grand Prix Bangkok happens three weekends from now, and I’ve already booked the flight and hotel. All I need now are byes! The fourth GPT here was yesterday, Sunday Aug 2 at Robinson’s Galleria. The format is M10 Sealed and I found myself faced with the following sealed pool: White 1 Blinding Mage 1 Divine Verdict 1 Elite Vanguard 1 Harm's Way 1 Lifelink 2 Palace Guard 1 Righteousness 1 Safe Passage 1 Serra Angel 1 Silence 1 Veteran Armorsmith 2 Veteran Swordsmith 1 Wall of Faith 1 White Knight Blue 1 Air Elemental 1 Cancel 1 Convincing Mirage 1 Horned Turtle 1 Ice Cage 1 Merfolk Looter 1 Negate 2 Ponder 2 Sage Owl 1 Snapping Drake 1 Traumatize 1 Zephyr Sprite Black 1 Assassinate 1 Consume Spirit 2 Disentomb 2 Doom Blade 1 Dread Warlock 1 Gravedigger 1 Howling Banshee 1 Kelinore Bat 1 Megrim 1 Relentless Rats 1 Soul Bleed 1 Underworld Dreams 1 Unholy Strength 1 Weakness 1 Zombie Goliath Red 1 Berserkers of Blood Ridge 1 Burning Inquiry 1 Dragon Whelp 1 Goblin Artillery 2 Goblin Piker 1 Jackal Familiar 2 Kindled Fury 1 Lava Axe 1 Panic Attack 1 Shatter 1 Siege-Gang Commander 1 Wall of Fire 1 Warp World Green 1 Borderland Ranger 1 Bountiful Harvest 1 Craw Wurm 1 Cudgel Troll 1 Deadly Recluse 2 Elvish Visionary 1 Emerald Oryx 1 Garruk Wildspeaker 1 Llanowar Elves 1 Naturalize 1 Rampant Growth 1 Runeclaw Bear 2 Stampeding Rhino 1 Windstorm Artifacts 1 Coat of Arms 1 Rod of Ruin 1 Spellbook 1 Wurm's Tooth 1 Terramorphic Expanse This was only my second time with M10 Sealed, but the pool looked pretty solid to me.

I haven’t been posting tournament reports lately, because frankly I haven’t been performing very well lately. Here are my last month and a half’s worth of results: May 23/GPT Bangkok #1 (SCR sealed): 0-2 drop May 31/GPT Bangkok #2 (SCR sealed): 2-3 drop June 6/GPT Bangkok #3 (SCR sealed): 4-2 June 7/Standard (Bant Finest Hour): 2-3 drop June 13/Standard-Nats Qualifier (Bant Finest Hour) 1-2 drop June 20/Standard-Nats Qualifier (Bant Finest Hour) 1-2 drop June 28/Standard-Nats Qualifier (BG Elves) 0-2 drop As you can see, I decided to switch to BG Elves after a few more tournaments with Bant.

Here’s the scenario: Last Sunday in the early morning, there was a fire in our office building, which hit some power stuff in the basement. So yesterday (Monday), the whole building was running on generators without air conditioning. Last night, we were notified that the power was back in the building, but just in case, we should come in to work in casual clothes (“dress down”), normally reserved for casual Fridays/Saturdays.

A couple of friends were over from Singapore last weekend, and we decided to hang out and open a few boxes of Shards block cards to play casual sealed/draft, using the new M10 rules so we could get a feel for it. We played 1 sealed and 2 drafts; I personally played in the equivalent of around 10 rounds of limited, and my observations are: Number of times damage on the stack came up relevant: None Number of times there was a double-blocking situation: One, but we forgot to order blockers and I just immediately used a trick to get rid of one blocker.

In case you haven’t heard, the internets are in an uproar over the announced M10 rules changes. A lot of famous Magic people like Randy Beuhler and Zvi Mowshowitz have chimed in with their opinions and in general a lot of forum posters are whining about the most controversial change: the removal of combat damage on the stack. I, for one, welcome our new non-damage stacking overlords. One of Magic’s strengths has always been that it is a dynamic, ever-changing game, and this is just another step in its’ evolution.

The first GPT for Bangkok was last Saturday, May 23, 2009 at Robinson’s Galleria. Here’s the pool I was given to work with: White 1 Cradle of Vitality 1 Excommunicate 1 Rockcaster Platoon 1 Welkin Guide 1 Asha's Favor 1 Aven Trailblazer 1 Lapse of Certainty 1 Paragon of the Amesha 1 Valiant Guard Blue and Blue Hybrid 1 Call to Heel 1 Cloudheath Drake 1 Coma Veil 1 Kathari Screecher 1 Protomatter Powder 1 Faerie Mechanist 2 Grixis Illusionist 1 Master Transmuter 1 Parasitic Strix 1 Esper Stormblade Black and Black Hybrid 1 Archdemon of Unx 1 Bone Splinters 1 Executioner's Capsule 1 Fleshbag Marauder 1 Shadowfeed 1 Absorb Vis 1 Yoke of the Damned 1 Grixis Grimblade Red and Red Hybrid 1 Jund Battlemage 1 Thunder-Thrash Elder 1 Viashino Skeleton 1 Vithian Stinger 1 Kranioceros 1 Toxic Iguanar 1 Volcanic Fallout 2 Jund Hackblade Green and Green Hybrid 1 Court Archers 1 Gift of the Gargantuan 1 Topan Ascetic 1 Filigree Fracture 1 Nacatl Savage 1 Sylvan Bounty 1 Marisi's Twinclaws 2 Naya Hushblade White-Blue 1 Jhessian Balmgiver 1 Esper Cormorants 1 Aven Mimeomancer 1 Glassdust Hulk 1 Offering to Asha 1 Talon Trooper Blue-Black 1 Deny Reality 1 Soul Manipulation Black-Red 1 Bituminous Blast 1 Demonic Dread 1 Monstrous Carabid Red-Green 1 Exploding Borders 1 Nacatl Outlander 2 Firewild Borderpost Green-White 1 Steward of Valeron 1 Knight of the Reliquary 1 Valeron Outlander 1 Qasali Pridemage 1 Sigil Captain 1 Sigil of the Nayan Gods Esper 1 Windwright Mage 1 Tainted Sigil 1 Vectis Dominator Jund 1 Carrion Thrash 1 Morbid Bloom 1 Jund Sojourners Bant 1 Bant Charm 1 Waveskimmer Aven 2 Skyward Eye Prophets 1 Vedalken Heretic 1 Winged Coatl Grixis 1 Drastic Revelation Artifacts 1 Obelisk of Naya 1 Armillary Sphere 1 Kaleidostone Lands 1 Esper Panorama Let’s try something different and get some audience participation.

Last Friday, I was still unsure what to play at Regionals this year, having decided to nix Five-Color Control. Given the cards available, I could easily assemble RDW/Blightning or Chapin’s 5-Color Blood. But in the end, I gave in to the hype surrounding Tommy Ashton’s PTQ-winning decklist, Bant with Finest Hour: However, due to card availability issues, I didn’t have any [Dauntless Escort][3]s and only 1 [Noble Hierarch][4]. I moved cards around and tried to fit in [Vendillion Clique][5], which would serve as an additional evasive attacker on top of [Shorecrasher Mimic][6] and [Jhessian Infiltrator][7], plus a little extra disruption.

Alara Reborn is finally available locally! For a while I thought about heading to Baguio for the King of the North tournament, but the fact is I have no standard deck ready at the moment. Besides, I wanted to practice sealed deckbuilding for the upcoming Bangkok GPTs, so this morning I was sleeving up a 40-card deck at Robinson’s Galleria. Hide DecklistShow Decklist -- Lands 1 Jungle Shrine 3 Plains 6 Island 5 Swamp Creatures 1 Cloudheath Drake 1 Master of Etherium 1 Fleshbag Marauder 1 Viscera Dragger 1 Sharuum the Hegemon 1 Tower Gargoyle 2 Ethersworn Shieldmage 1 Glassdust Hulk 1 Sanctum Plowbeast 2 Jhessian Zombies 1 Lord of Extinction 2 Grixis Grimblade Spells 1 Oblivion Ring 1 Scourglass 1 Agony Warp 1 Kiss of the Amesha 1 Obelisk of Bant 1 Mistvein Borderpost 1 Behemoth Sledge 1 Wildfield Borderpost 1 Slave of Bolas 1 Crystallization And the rest of the pool:

And so, our delayed prerelease. My sealed deck (at least after initial tweaks – it varies slightly from my submitted list): Hide DecklistShow Decklist -- Lands 1 Crumbling Necropolis 1 Grixis Panorama 1 Jund Panorama 1 Jungle Shrine 2 Plains 1 Swamp 3 Mountain 5 Forest Creatures 1 Hell's Thunder 1 Hissing Iguanar 1 Druid of the Anima 1 Steward of Valeron 1 Igneous Pouncer 1 Monstrous Carabid 1 Pale Recluse 2 Qasali Pridemage 1 Maelstrom Pulse 2 Putrid Leech 2 Naya Sojourners 1 Jund Hackblade 1 Naya Hushblade 1 Messenger Falcons Spells 1 Oblivion Ring 1 Resounding Silence 1 Resounding Thunder 1 Fieldmist Borderpost 1 Bituminous Blast 2 Colossal Might 1 Firewild Borderpost And the rest of the pool:

As any Filipino player can tell you, local prereleases had to be postponed due to some problems with customs. Since NG had already rented out the space for the prerelease at Galleria, they went ahead and held some constructed events + drafts for people who came, and graciously gave out freebies to those disappointed would-be prereleasers. Kudos to NG for handling the situation well. I lent out my 5cc deck for a friend to play, and went SSC drafting instead.

Most probably my last tournament playing 5cc this season, the local City Champs was last Saturday, Apr 18 at Robinson’s Galleria. I slightly tweaked the decklist I’ve been using for the past month. I was able to borrow 2 [Exotic Orchard][1] to improve my mana base, and I put the fourth [Volcanic Fallout][2] in the board to improve the difficult Faeries matchup, plus an additional Terror to help with [Mistbind Clique][4].

I went to NG Galleria hoping for more practice with the 5cc deck from last week. I made some minor modifications: Maindeck -1 Plumeveil +1 Mulldrifter, Sideboard -1 Mulldrifter +1 Scourglass. The aggro matchup seemed very solid already so I felt I could afford to lose the fourth Plumeveil. The fourth Mulldrifter would have been a land if I had any [Exotic Orchard][5]. The tournament was small (barely twenty people), since the TO had split the usual Saturday tournament into one flight for people who arrived on time, and one flight for people who arrived late.

Finally getting back into constructed play, I assembled the following 5-color control deck to bring to battle this weekend: Hide DecklistShow Decklist -- Lands 3 Sunken Ruins 4 Reflecting Pool 4 Vivid Creek 3 Vivid Meadow 3 Vivid Marsh 2 Cascade Bluffs 2 Mystic Gate 1 Fetid Heath 1 Vivid Crag 3 Island Spells 1 Celestial Purge 1 Terror 3 Volcanic Fallout 1 Wrath of God 1 Pithing Needle 2 Broken Ambitions 1 Remove Soul 1 Negate 2 Cruel Ultimatum 4 Cryptic Command 4 Esper Charm 1 Liliana Vess 1 Jace Beleren 1 Obelisk of Alara Creatures 3 Mulldrifter 4 Plumeveil 2 Wall of Reverence 1 Broodmate Dragon Sideboard 1 Negate 1 Remove Soul 2 Celestial Purge 2 Wrath of God 2 infest 1 Scourglass 1 Wydwen 2 Kitchen Finks 2 Jace Beleren 1 Mulldrifter Obviously based on Nassif’s deck, but tweaked with some singletons that I like.

For the record: I hate trading. I realize it’s necessary to the way Magic’s business model works, and I realize it’s part of what makes opening booster packs fun, but make no mistakes about it: I hate trading. Don’t get me wrong, I love Magic. More precisely, I love playing Magic. I want to play spells, to match wits with my opponents, to recover from mana screw, to win from one life, to make bad plays then learn from them.

It’s 8:30 pm on Friday. I step out of Maxim’s, a fastfood place near the office in Hong Kong. I flew in to HK the morning of the day before, and had given a presentation over a conference call on Thursday night. This was the only free time I had during the entire trip since I had to fly back the next morning. I decided to take a walk for maybe an hour or 30 minutes, to savor the cool night’s weather before going back to hot and humid Manila the next day.

I had actually read the much-acclaimed graphic novel only last year. And while I found the story decent enough, I wasn’t sure whether to like it or hate it. Undoubtedly it was an important point in the history of “superhero” comics, but I was never entirely sure about it’s point. So of course I saw the movie, and it had remained roughly 85-90% loyal to the source material, which made it a bit boring for me since I generally knew what was going to happen most of the time (except for you know, that thing about the bad guy’s master plan… ).

For the record, I purchased an original R1 copy of Street Fighter IV for the PS3 last Tuesday, and we’ve been pretty much playing it whenever we had free time at home. The one time I came in late to work during the month of February was because of Street Fighter IV. Street Fighter IV came in with ridiculously high reviews for both the XBox 360 and PS3 versions, the PS3 version garnering a 94 (universal acclaim) on Metacritic It can’t be denied that it’s an awesome game, although not everyone agrees.

I reinstalled MTGO3 last week because I figured I could get some casual play out of it at least. After installation I found out that Conflux release events were this weekend so I might as well play, since I was not able to play IRL at this time. I was hoping MTGO3 had improved by now, and that they had sufficient server loading, etc. to handle the number of players without the servers being crashy and laggy and whatnot.

I had time to kill before going to see my brother’s art exhibit at megamall, so I went and watched Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. It was so bad. I could’ve been able to forgive the fact that they roughly 80% of the story shied away from Street Fighter canon, had the movie’s storyline actually been good. As it is, you can expect short, unsatisfying fight scenes, ridiculous background stories, disjointed plot/scenes (reminds me of Smallville and/or Heroes writing =/), terrible wigs and the ridiculous sight of Michael Clark Duncan getting beaned by a pineapple.

You may have noticed the new color scheme and new “Theme Switcher” widget in the sidebar. I had done some CSS work during the past month in the office and it made me want to tweak the stylesheets on this site a bit. I figured I might as well make it easy to switch stylesheets, so I wrote a small Theme Switcher django app. (Well, it’s more of a stylesheet switcher I guess)

Excellent talk given at the Canadian University Software Engineering Conference (CUSEC) last year (2008). The presenter is Zed Shaw who’s a famous Ruby guy or something. The video is around 70 minutes long. The first part of the talk is mostly about a Document Management System he worked on, kinda interesting, but the second part is better where he talks about people who program cool things as a hobby and how to avoid becoming just another corporate code.

Amazingly, despite my work schedule I still managed to finish a rather old-school RPG. I finished Star ocean: Second Evolution for the PSP today, clocking in 30 hours of playtime. I have to say I quite enjoy playing RPGs on handhelds. RPGs are usually rather long games so it’s nice being able to handle them in bite-sized chunks while commuting, et cetera. Star Ocean: The Second Story was probably one of the best Japanese RPGs to come out of the Playstation era, despite the lackluster translations of that time (hey, it was pre-year 2000, all translations were pretty bad then!