Roy Tang

roytang.net

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

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I find myself staring at stacks of old CD-Rs in my room that are just there taking up space. As far as I know, they contain copies of old TV series/anime I used to watch and backups of my old hard drives from time long past. (I'm pretty sure I still have backups of my drive contents from the IRC laboratory in UP.) I'm wondering whether I should bother going through them to check which ones are already useless (as some certainlty already are). If I'm going to rearchive them into a different format it would probably take more than a week to reburn them to DVDs. But DVDs are soon to be obsolete with the coming of Blu-Ray, maybe I should just buy another external drive and archive them there? I could easily buy another hard drive with the capacity of somewhere around 200-300 CDs. I've had a pack rat mentality ever since I first bought a CD burner back in the day, but lately I've found myself unenthusiastic about backing up _anything _to optical media. I had to backup the factory settings ...

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I'm not sure why but I decided to try out the [Flock 2][1] web browser beta, the "social web browser" built on top of Firefox. This is a test actually. Flock's blog post dialog doesn't seem to provide any category support (it supports tags instead), so I want to see what category this post would go under.
(Update: Flock let me choose a category after I try to publish the post.)
I'm not yet entirely sure what the merits of using Flock are, it seems to be mostly conveniences when using certain webapps. I'm going to try it out for a few days.
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[1]: http://flock.com

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Changed to [Thematic ][1]
Criteria Raiders of the Lost Ark Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Winner
Opening Sequence Indy explores an abandoned ruin, is betrayed by his companion, recovers a lost artifact only to get it snatched by the bad guy. Later, his boring lecture at the university is interrupted by some university official telling him the government was looking for him Indy explores an abandoned warehouse, is betrayed by his companion, recovers a lost artifact only to get it snatched by the bad guy. Later ...

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Above average -- a level of competency at a given subject such that: 1. You are good enough that average people look at your work and tell you "You've got a lot of talent!" 2. You are good enough that you know there's a huge gap between you and those who are truly excellent. I was wondering the other day whether being above average was a curse. It's like being good enough to be in movies, but never good enough to be the star. Everyone around you is happy that they know someone who appears in movies, but deep inside you wish you were the star. I don't think anyone ever dreams of being above average. Unfortunately most of the time there's a huge gap between "above average" and "excellent" that requires so much more effort for incremental gain. When looking at that plateau, it may seem insurmountable so many people just settle for being above average. I find myself thinking about this now because I'm often faced with one of those plateaus in one aspect of life or another. And when ...

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Because I'm a sucker for trying out alternative software, I installed and tried out the latest release of the Opera web browser, Opera 9.5, for a bit more than a week. Opera is neat and all, but I don't see any features that are so awesome that they can't be done in Firefox (with some extensions maybe). My favorite feature is I guess the Speed Dial page; where opening a new tab displays a customizable table of common websites you visit. Opera also provides a function to zoom in or out of any web page (don't know if Firefox has a similar extension). Supposedly Opera is also the fastest in terms of browser rendering; I didn't perform any benchmarks, but I didn't notice any significant difference either. There are quite a few cons though. In particular: * The standard WordPress rich text editor doesn't work correctly; I had to use the plain text editor when posting using Opera. * Some Google properties such as Google Docs and Google Notebook don't work correctly * Flash content t ...

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The place was NG Galleria, the format was booster draft, three rounds of Lorwyn-Lorwyn-Morningtide followed by three rounds of Shadowmoor-Shadowmoor-Shadowmoor. I went in a bit confident; I had a drafted a couple of times in the past month with decent results (2-1 and 3-1), so I figured I could probably manage at least a 4-2 here or better. I was quite wrong. For the LLM draft, I went with a Treefolk-based build around Battlewand Oaks. I luckily opened a Bitterblossom in pack 3 so my splash went to black, gaining additional removal from the Morningtide pack. Round one vs U/B was close, we went to game 3. But eventually, he decided to gamble and play [Stenchskipper][1] with only a [Mothdust Changeling][2] as backup. Unfortunately both of my removal cost five and neither were in my hand at that time. I easily lost to the 6/5 flier. Round two vs Monowhite Kithkin was close again, but in game 3 I walked into a Coordinated Barrage that resulted in bad trades and was unable to recover. ...

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I added an iGoogle Gadget that allows me to post from iGoogle. Neat huh? But I'm not sure if it's okay to trust the gadget with my blog account details...

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Google started a¬†[treasure hunt¬†][1]about a month ago, releasing four questions (one per week) that covered a range of computational topics. I actually joined the treasure hunt late, the 2nd question was already released by the time I got wind of it. The site says there are prizes to be won for the people who are able to provide complete answers first; I'm not sure what my odds of winning anything are since (a) I joined late and (b) I can only do the questions during the weekends, typically a few days after they are released. Still, for what it's worth, I was able to answer all four questions correctly on the first try. For any programming parts, I wrote up Python scripts to help me through. The problems were pretty good, and also randomly-generated so that you can't just copy the answer from another participant. Hoping I win something. ūüėÄ [1]: http://treasurehunt.appspot.com

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Watch it, and be blinded by awesomeness. For added effect, imagine it's really Jack Black doing everything the Panda does.

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The tournament was last Saturday, March 15, Standard. Slightly modified list from last week: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 6 Islands 5 Plains 4 Adarkar Waster 4 Nimbus Maze 4 Desert {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 4 Mulldrifter 4 Reveillark 3 Mirror Entity 2 Bonded Fetch 3 Body Double 2 Riftwing Cloudskate 2 Venser, Shaper Savant 3 Aven Riftwatcher {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 3 Prismatic Lens 2 Mind Stone 4 Wrath of God 3 Momentary Blink 2 Condemn {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Sideboard" >}} 2 Windborn Muse 2 Crovax, Ascendant Hero 2 Condemn 2 Stonecloaker 2 Sower of Temptation 2 Draining Whelk 2 Teferi's Moat 1 Magus of the Moat {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< /cardlist >}} Just a quick summary this time: Round 1: 2-0 win vs UB Faeries Round 2: 1-2 loss vs Reveillark-Blink (mirror match) Round 3: 2-0 win vs unknown opponent Round 4: 0-2 loss vs BUrw Reanimator with Reveillark combo Round ...

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(02:25:57 PHT) Roy: do you really think I would be emo? :p (02:27:14 PHT) Coworker: "... i looked at the screen... it did not look back at me... why? why? why must it be this f***** way.."
(02:28:08 PHT) Coworker: < ...

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Seriously. Having to hit an extra key just to use "Home" or "End"? For some reason, PrintScreen and CapsLock keys are higher priority than Home and End, meaning you don't need to use "Fn" to access them. Do people not use Ctrl+Shift+Home and Ctrl+Shift+End all the time? I'm sure a lot of developers do. Whenever I'm on this laptop and need to use Home or End, I mentally pronounce "Fn" as a seven-letter word starting with "F" and ending with "ing". I like laptops, but keyboards need to improve in some way. My suggestion? Remove the trackpad and have an extra row for those keys that you would have relegated to "Fn" status.  While using the keyboard is around 200 times more productive than using the mouse (citation needed), the mouse is around 200 times more productive than the trackpad. Who designs these interfaces anyway? Do Mac users have similar issues?

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The tournament format is Morningtide standard, 09 March at NG Galleria. My decklist, pirated from Benjamin Peebles-Mundy, with slight modifications: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 6 Islands 5 Plains 4 Adarkar Waster 4 Nimbus Maze 4 Desert {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 4 Mulldrifter 4 Reveillark 3 Mirror Entity 3 Bonded Fetch 3 Body Double 3 Riftwing Cloudskate 2 Venser, Shaper Savant {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 3 Prismatic Lens 2 Mind Stone 4 Wrath of God 3 Momentary Blink 3 Condemn {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Sideboard" >}} 3 Windborn Muse 3 Aven Riftwatcher 2 Stonecloaker 2 Sower of Temptation 2 Draining Whelk 2 Teferi's Moat 1 Magus of the Moat {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< /cardlist >}} Tournament report follows. **Round 1: 1-2 loss vs Monoblack Rogues** Not a good start. This was one of the aggro matchups my scant playtesting focused on, so I already knew it was a beating. The Win ...

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I'm blogging from an airport; I feel like such a seasoned traveler. Actually I'm writing this post just so that I can claim to post on the internet from airports. I am of course flying back to Manila after a short 3-day visit to Hong Kong. People always ask me where I plan to go while in HK, even though I always come here to work. It's even worse this time, as I flew in Sunday evening, attending a three-day seminar until Wednesday, working during the evenings then flying back Thursday morning. Not much time to do anything really. Ordinarily, I wouldn't want to take lunch at the airport because of the excessive price, but the check-in took a bit longer than I expected so I wasn't able to grab some food outside. The second mistake was ordering a fried noodle dish. It would have been fine if I was sufficiently skilled with chopsticks, but as it is I can only food I can manage relatively well with chopsticks are large pieces of meat. And fried noodles are served all bunche ...

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Never give out any of your confidential usernames and passwords to programs or services that you do not trust completely. This may be a bit obvious to the more tech-savvy, but everybody has to watch out. Luckily, there are even some programmers who are able to catch the work of evil programmers. [Coding Horror has this story about an evil programmer who sold a GMail backup solution that steals your username and password.][1] The offending account was reported to Google, but I hope someone brings legal measures against the company who made and/or distributed the evil software. [1]: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/001072.html

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On my way home today I passed by Megamall as usual, and there was a Scrabble tournament going on. I stopped for a few minutes and watched. I realize a lot of people would probably find watching Scrabble games boring, seeing only two geeky people spelling out words at random, not even making any sense. But watching the Scrabble games brought me back to a time when I didn't have the internet to keep me up at nights. Scrabble is a game close to my heart, me and my brother Kerwin practically grew up with the game. My grandfather often played games at home with my uncles, often with small bets of ten or twenty pesos. I remember as a kid I was so envious of a notched-tile board that my grandfather had bought, while we kids played with our cheap and dingy locally-made board. There was one summer where me, Kerwin and my cousin played Scrabble basically every day, sometimes with our uncle who often had free time. We learned a lot of new words of course, we learned strategy, ...

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Am I the only one getting these random JavaScript alerts (obviously debugging messages!) on the new Facebook today?

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In my continuing quest to become better than everybody else, I spent some time today learning [Django][1] (a Python webapp framework) and the [Google App Engine][2]. I tried following the tutorials included in the [Django Book][3] for a while, but I've never taken too well with just typing up examples from a book, so I decided to write something from scratch. I decided to write a simple message board application. I wrote the message board pretty quickly using Django; it took me about 2-3 hours to have a bare-bones message board up and running. (I was watching Speed Racer at the same time.) The UI is horrendous of course, but it's functional, with categories and topics, etc. Now to deploy the message board app somewhere. After a bit of searching around, I couldn't find any suitable free Django webhosting. So I went with the backup plan: I'd upload the project to the Google App Engine. I've had a Google App Engine account for a while now, but haven't done anything with it yet. Unfort ...

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2nd PTQ was last Saturday, August 23 at Robinson's Calleria. I brought a slightly modified version of the greedy deck: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 2 Mutavault 4 Reflecting Pool 4 Secluded Glen 3 Sunken Ruins 4 Vivid Creek 2 Vivid Marsh 3 Wanderwine Hub 2 Mystic Gate {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 4 Merrow Reejerey 2 Mirror Entity 4 Silvergill Adept 4 Stonybrook Banneret 4 Sower of Temptation {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 4 Bitterblossom 4 Cryptic Command 4 Nameless Inversion 3 Unmake 3 Sage's Dousing {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Sideboard" >}} 2 Shriekmaw 2 Crib Swap 2 Pollen Lullaby 2 Hallowed Burial 4 Wispmare 3 Vendillion Clique {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< /cardlist >}} The venue is crowded as the PTQ is the same day as WoW TCG Nationals. There aren't enough tables, so around 40% of the players need to wait for tables to be freed up before they can play. As you can imagine, this makes for long rounds ...

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I've been submerged in work for the past two weeks or so, not having much time to do anything else aside from work and the DS, which lets me sneak in some Professor Layton, FFTA2 or Civilization Revolutions while waiting for bug fixes to be confirmed. So I took a break this weekend and won't be reporting back to work until Wednesday. No plans really, just some unplanned downtime to unwind a bit...
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I was registering for an account at a local auction site (which shall remain nameless), the zip code combo box threw me off:

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I joined this year's [Google Code Jam][1]. It's part of my characteristic competitiveness and arrogance that I actually imagined I had a chance at winning the contest. No such luck, see [my results][2]. I was eliminated in the second online round. That I managed to get there at all was surprising considering the level of difficulty. I'm not really a com-sci guy, so I'm weak with regards to algorithms, I don't always know what the best approach for particular classes of problems -- I usually just brute force it then try to optimize based on my on-the-spot analysis of each problem. It seemed it wasn't enough; there were a lot of hardcore guys who were able to get perfect scores, and I salute them. I'm not sure whether I'll still participate next time, as the problems don't seem to be geared towards someone of my skillset. Still, the fact that I managed to pass 3 rounds (including the qualifier) indicates some potential for winning. And I was one of only two Filipinos who made it to ro ...

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The tournament was last Saturday, Aug 16 at Robinson's Galleria. I played the same deck as [last week][1], except I had the following sideboard: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup >}} 2 Hallowed Burial 2 Shriekmaw 2 Eyeblight's Ending 2 Crib Swap 2 Pollen Lullaby 4 Wispmare 1 Jace Beleren {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< /cardlist >}} The extra removal was geared towards the kithkin matchup, which was unknown to me at the time. As is usual for me, I lacked playtesting; with the justification that these PTQS _were_ my playtesting for the GP. Tournament report follows! My memory is a bit sparse, so I'll gloss over some of the details. **Round 1**: PWC Special vs GRBW Persist I won this in three games. The opponent's deck was very rogue... tons of persist creatures: Murderous Redcap, Kitchen Finks, Twilight Shepherd... and [Rendclaw Troll][2]. Yeah, look it up. Games: 2-1, Matches: 1-1 **Round 2:** PWC Special vs Kithkin/Mirror Master Ooh, my first Kithkin matchup with this deck! Let's see how ...

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Upon the prodding of [Mikong][1], I attended the recent [Barcamp Manila][2] held in Ortigas last Thursday. I wasn't really sure what to expect, as I've never attended any such conference before, and I've never been particularly involved with the local developer community, but I said I'd go anyway, I figured it'd probably be fun. The event was held at the Orient Square building at the offices of [Exist Global][3] and [Morph Labs][4], who sponsored the event. I was a bit worried since I'm going in without having a presentation, although everyone is encouraged to present. Turns out I needn't have worried -- over 80 people attended the event, there wouldn't have been enough time for everyone to present! All in all, the talks were interesting, with a wide range of technical topics discussed involving multiple programming languages including C++, Java, Ruby and Python (with much playful jeering between the many Ruby advocates and the few Java developers). There was even a short comedy ske ...

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A bit late, but for the record I went 1-3 in the Eventide Release Party with my very lame pool. (I swear, I get Dramatic Entrance all the time in sealed!) After the release event, I played in an EVE-EVE-EVE draft, where I went 2-1 and didn't manage to raredraft anything valuable. Tomorrow: Philippine Open (Block)!

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I needed to transfer a file to my phone today, but could not find my USB cable. I figured I'd try out the Bluetooth with the laptop. After around 30 minutes of struggling with the unintuitiveness and some helpful googling I finally was able to transfer my file using the ff steps, for future reference: 1. Turn on Bluetooth on the Acer Aspire using the Bluetooth button. 2. Right-click the Bluetooth icon on the systray -> Show Bluetooth Devices -> Options -> tick "Allow Bluetooth devices to find this computer" 3. Enable Bluetooth on the N73 via menu -> Tools -> Bluetooth 4. Scroll right on the N73 and the Paired Device screen is shown. Choose Options -> New Paired Device 5. The N73 should list your computer name (mine is PANDA!), select the computer name and you'll be prompted for a passkey. Don't input anything yet... 6. Back to the Vista PC, right-click the Bluetooth icon in the systray, then choose Add Device. 7. Tick "My device is set up and ready to be found." and click Next ...

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The Philippine Open tournaments (one Standard and one Block) are held as side events to the Philippine Nationals. (I was not qualified obviously). I played in the block portion last Saturday, August 9 at Robinson's Galleria. I played a version of the PWC Special from GP Kobe, the so-called "Greedy Deck" {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 2 Mutavault 3 Reflecting Pool 3 Secluded Glen 4 Sunken Ruins 4 Vivid Creek 2 Vivid Marsh 3 Wanderwine Hub 2 Mystic Gate 1 Swamp {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 4 Merrow Reejerey 3 Mirror Entity 4 Silvergill Adept 4 Sower of Temptation 4 Stonybrook Banneret {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 4 Bitterblossom 4 Cryptic Command 4 Nameless Inversion 2 Peppersmoke 3 Sage's Dousing {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Sideboard" >}} 2 Austere Command 1 Jace Beleren 1 Puppeteer Clique 1 Arbiter of Knollridge 4 Wispmare 2 Pollen Lullaby 2 Eyeblight's Ending 2 Shriekmaw {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< /ca ...

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Tournament was last April 6 2008 at NG Galleria, with 3 formats: Block, Standard and Extended. I was thinking of playing block but shifted to standard at the last minute because I only had one Mutavault. This was deck I assembled on Saturday: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 4 Faerie Conclave 19 Island {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 4 Tideshaper Mystic 4 Lord of Atlantis 4 Merfolk Reejerey 4 Stonybrook Banneret 4 Silvergill Adept 2 Sower of Temptation {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 4 Ancestral Vision 4 Sage's Dousing 4 Delay 3 Psionic Blast {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Sideboard" >}} 4 Rune Snag 4 Flash Freeze 3 Surgespanner 2 Sower of Temptation 2 Voidmage Prodigy {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< /cardlist >}} Of course I went in again with no playtesting. Enjoyment. Tournament report follows. **Round 1: UB Faeries** It's basically impossible to join a standard tournament without seeing UB ...

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