Roy Tang

roytang.net

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

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There was a recent thread over on the [Neutral Grounds forums ][1]about how Filipino MTG players often "netdeck" or use decklists off the internet. To anyone who starts playing MTG, the ability to build your own decks has always been one of the primary appeals. For this reason, every MTG player would like to think that they have in themselves some level of deckbuilding "skills" and that using netdecks should be treated as a loss of pride in one's own work. I don't feel strongly about this issue; I've used both netdecks and my own homebrew designs in tournaments before. Checking my own stats (one advantage of this blog is that I have a record of every tournament I ever played): I have a 59% match win rate when using a netdeck, and 54% when using my own homebrew designs. There's a statistically signficant difference, so I can't claim that I am an awesome deck designer. (Maybe in the future.) I think that netdecking makes more sense the less time you can dedicate to Magic. For people li ...

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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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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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1. Web design has never been one of my strong points, and it's something I'd like to improve on. 2. The [Roy on Magic][1] blog has been using the default WordPress Template since forever, and I've been trying to find a good WP Template that fits the "Magic the Gathering" theme. Put the above points together, and I have a new personal project. Just for fun, I'll log my progress here. Where do I start? I'm actually pretty clueless about web design in general, but I figure I can rough it out. I decide that I need to start by choosing colors. Yes, websites have colors, and despite the fact that I couldn't figure out matching shirts and pants to save my life, I'm going to try to pick a decent color scheme for a website. Except I didn't. I cheated instead. I knew that Excel 2007 came with predefined sets of color themes, so I fired up Excel and chose from one of the available color schemes. {{< img src="screenshot077.jpg" >}} I figure it's okay to cheat here and there b ...

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I had been planning to do this for a while: it's my first WordPress Plugin! Over at [Roy on Magic][1], I often have to write out decklists and such, so I wanted to have an autocard feature similar to the one used at MTGSalvation. After a quick five-minute search I couldn't figure out how they did it, so I just wrote the plugin myself. Actual effort was around 3.5 hours, most of it struggling with PHP and Regular Expressions. :p Details and download are at [http://roytang.pbworks.com/w/page/7977432/MTG-Autocard-WP][2]. Hopefully someone else will find it useful. Update Jan 2021: Since the wiki link above is obsolete, I've rescued the text below for archival purposes. _This is not an active project!_ The download link below should be working, but I make no guarantees as to whether it will still work with current wordpress versions. ___ *MTG Autocard for Wordpress* What: Wordpress Plugin Plugin Name: MTG Autocard for Wordpress URI: http://www.roytang.net/wiki/index.php/MTG_Autocard ...

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**Frontend**: All page templates are valid (X)HTML. However, I choose not to claim valid XHTML (and no doc type declaration) since I can't guarantee that blog posts I write are compliant! The site uses standard CSS and uses the [Blueprint CSS Framework][1] for the grid layout of the page. The site design is entirely original (if not simple and bland -- I'm not very good with website design yet!). The site has minor usage of [JQuery Javascript library][2] in some parts. **Backend**: The server side uses [Python][3] and [Django][4] behind mod_python on Apache, with a MySQL database. The following Django apps and Python libraries are used: 1. custom made blog application by myself 2. built-in (contrib) apps: admin, comments, sitemaps, flatpages 3. [django-tagging][5] 4. [django-xmlrpc][6] 5. [comment_utils][7] for advanced comment moderation features 6. [template_utils][8] 7. [django-pingback][9] 8. [Beautiful Soup][10] for XML/HTML parsing 9. [Pygments][11] for syntax ...

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- 3.2MP or better camera - good/easy to use music player - at least 2 GB storage more is better - prefer easy to use keypad / d-pad (ayaw ko ng may joystick) - the larger the display the better (at least 2.4" is preferred - same size display as my last phone) - Internet/HTML browsing is a plus - able to view PDFs or office docs easily - mura lang. j/k, bahala na ung budget but please don't tell me to get an IPhone, N96 or Xperia X1 unless you're willing to sponsor it :D

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Previously I hosted two separate WordPress blogs on roytang.net, the old one I've had since forever, and a separate one that discussed only magic related articles. It was a bit bothersome to have two WordPress installs though. Now that I've migrated to a Django backend, I decided to merge the blogs back into one. The blog now has the following sections/categories: * [Magic the Gathering][1] -- for posts related to MTG * [Software Development][2] -- for posts related to Software Development (hopefully I can write more about this topic) * [Gaming][3] -- originally I didn't have this category, but looking at previous contents of the blog and my delicious links, this is one of the things I write about the most, so I made it a separate category * [Weblog][4] -- everything else I can think of Each category has a separate RSS feed you can subscribe to -- so that if you're only interested in MTG posts you can subscribe to the MTG category feed, etc. There's also a master feed that s ...

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The tournament was yesterday, May 03, Standard at Robinson's Galleria. I was planning to play Green-White midrange, as documented on [Deckbuilding for an Unknown Metagame][1]. Due to card availability issues, the final list I played is: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 4 Llanowar Elves 4 Birds of Paradise 1 Tarmogoyf 3 Kitchen Finks 4 Wilt-Leaf Cavalier 2 Wilt-Leaf Liege 2 Chameleon Colossus 2 Spectral Force 2 Cloudthresher 1 Oversoul of Dusk {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 4 Oblivion Ring 3 Sunlance 3 Primal Command 2 Loxodon Warhammer {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 9 Forest 3 Plains 1 Pendelhaven 4 Wooded Bastion 4 Brushland 2 Horizon Canopy {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Sideboard" >}} 3 Tormod's Crypt 2 Stonecloaker 3 Wispmare 3 Condemn 2 Squall Line 1 Vexing Shusher 1 Pithing Needle {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< /cardlist >}} **Round 1: WG versus UG Savor the Moment** Game one saw him with a bad ...

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[Part 1][1]. [Part 2][2]. Moonglove Winnower template is currently live on [Roy on Magic][3]. I made several color and formatting changes since the last update. Relatively easy due to the stylesheet. I also had to scrap the CSS hack for implementing equal height columns, it was causing problems with anchors in the URL. I went with a 1-pixel high background image instead. Currently most of the PHP logic/heavy lifting is done in sidebar.php while most of the formatting stuff is handled in the stylesheet. Since I'm copying from an existing template and not creating one from scratch, I didn't actually need to learn much PHP. Most of it was moving code around. I'm not releasing this source yet because: * The code is still very messy * It still doesn't work properly with WordPress Widgets * I still have some improvements I want to make. The search box is missing for instance. * I'd like to release some variations (featuring other Magic card art) at the same time. * It ...

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Regionals was today, 18-May. The format was standard and I went to play at Galleria. I have a mixed track record for regionals. During [Regionals 2006][1], I went 1-4-drop with a rogue deck of my own design. During [Regionals 2007][2] I played Korlash/Mishra built by Flores, going 5-and-3. I was debating whether I would even go to play in the tournament, as I was totally unprepared and was quite tired. I figured a straight aggro deck would be fine, as I didn't want to play Reveillark again for the expected nine rounds. I lent out the merfolk deck, so I cobbled together a build of Elves the night before instead: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 4 Treetop Village 19 Forest {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 4 Llanowar Elves 3 Elvish Hexhunter 3 Riftsweeper 4 Wolf-SKull Shaman 4 Wren's Run Vanquisher 4 Imperious Perfect 4 Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers 3 Jagged-Scar Archers 3 Wilt-Leaf Liege {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 3 Tower Above 2 O ...

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Despite it's age, I've only recently gotten around to loving Advance Wars: Dual Strike on the DS. It's just the sort of game I enjoy: challenging enough not to bore me but not so difficult that I give up in frustration and has enough extras to keep me coming back. A bit of a learning curve though, and probably not for casual gamers. I beat the normal campaign last week (just barely -- winning on Day 28 of a 28-day target), and I'm hoping I can finish the hard campaign before the release of [Advance Wars: Days of Ruin][1] next week. Also, I was getting bored with my desktop wallpaper so I decided to look for some AW:DS wallpaper, but the official site (linked above) had apparently shoved them off somewhere in favor of Advance Wars: Days of Ruin stuff. Instead, I called up the wayback machine to get the official wallpapers. I might as well offer them here, since wallpapers for the game are hard to find: [Advance Wars: Dual Strike official wallpapers][2]. I ended up not using them after ...

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Grand Prix Manila 08 has come and gone and is in the history books. While the Wizards official coverage gives you the play-by-play and the results, I’ll see if I can’t provide any interesting stories about my first constructed Grand Prix event.


Cast of Characters

It was about three weeks before the Grand Prix, and I still had no idea what I was going to play. I didn’t have a regular playtest group, and I needed some people to bounce ideas off. I formed a mailing list on Yahoo Groups and added the following (last names withheld unless they request it):

Mike "Switch" – Switch and I have known each other forever and basically started playing Magic around the same time. Mostly participating in Lim ...

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Grand Prix Manila 08 has come and gone and is in the history books. While the [Wizards official coverage][1] gives you the play-by-play and the results, I’ll see if I can’t provide any interesting stories about my first constructed Grand Prix event. **Day One Tournament Report** As mentioned in the [previous post][2] , I'm playing QnT and I hope to fight aggro decks all day long. **Round 1.** I shuffle up with my first round opponent. I keep a two-lander with some good creature control spells. He starts with a Forest and I realize he'splaying some sort of monogreen elves deck. Unfortunately, it was a bad keep for me and my hand never got past the 2 lands. My notes show I never dealt a single point of damage in this game. I board in Sowers and Austere Commands. For game two, the tides are reversed, as I gain two life off a Kitchen Finks and never change my life total after that. An early Wren's Run Packmaster that got Sower'ed basically won me the game. For game three, we didn't h ...

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I went to NG Galleria hoping for more practice with the [5cc deck from last week][1]. I made some minor modifications: Maindeck -1 [Plumeveil][2] +1 [Mulldrifter][3], Sideboard -1 [Mulldrifter][3] +1 [Scourglass][4]. The aggro matchup seemed very solid already so I felt I could afford to lose the fourth [Plumeveil][2]. The fourth [Mulldrifter][3] 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. Despite the small number of people, it still went to six rounds, with only the top four getting prizes. My first two rounds went like this: * Round 1 0-2 loss vs R/G/W Planeswalkers * Round 2 1-2 loss vs Faeries Very disheartening, but I didn't drop because I really wanted to get in more practice games. Besides, if I won the last 4 matches, I could still make top 4. * Round 3 2-0 win ...

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Just to make it, y'know, official: I suck at Standard. I played in two Nationals qualifiers over the past two weekends. The first one with the Mishra deck (Flores' Legends of Team CMU) to a disappointing 4-3 finish in a sea of Angelfire, Solar Flare and Gruul. Disappointed with the decks performance, I took a look at the result of Australian Nationals that same weekend, and decided to play the Rakdos "Satanic Sligh" build that had won that event in today's qualifier, which was incidentally the last one I could play given my schedule. I guess I wasn't the only one thinking that, as of course I failed to predict how th metagame would shift. There were a lot more burn decks this time around, and my first two matches were among them. I split the first two for a disappointing start, then lost rounds four and five in quick succession. Frustrated at my inability to play the format and the terrible 2-3 record, I ticked "Drop" in the Result Slip and went home quite a bit sleepy. So ends this ...

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The saga of the [mightiest deck in the universe][1] continues. My [previous outing][2] showed me a solid control matchup and maybe 60% aggro matchup. I tweaked the sideboard to improve the aggro game post-board, dropping the useless Yixlid Jailers for 4 Last Gasps. Here's how I did: Round 1 2-0 win vs MGA Round 2 0-2 loss vs RUW control (no angels) Round 3 2-0 win vs RGW mid-range aggro (elephants/avalanche riders) Round 4 2-1 win vs RW Boros aggro Round 5 2-1 win vs RG Gruul aggro Round 6 1-2 loss vs GW aggro Round 7 0-2 loss vs RGW Zoo The below stats are for both tournaments total wins: 21 total losses: 13 win% ratio (total): 61% wins vs aggro: 15 losses vs aggro: 10 win% ratio vs aggro: 60% wins vs control: 6 losses vs control: 3 win% ratio vs control: 67% Obviously, I did a lot worse than the previous tournament, as all my percentages d ...

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The venue is, as always, NG Galleria. The format, Standard. I was playing Mike Flores' "Legends of Team CMU" -- the Mishra/Korlash aggro/control/combo deck that placed seventh in [New Jersey Regionals][1], with a modified sideboard since I couldn't get all of the cards in time. Flores discusses the deck in detail [here][2] (requries a Premium SCG.com account) Round 1 0-2 Loss vs GUB NarcoBridge (Dregde combo) Round 2 2-1 Win vs Mono-black Rack Round 3 1-2 Loss vs Mono-red Burn Round 4 2-0 Win vs White Weenie Round 5 0-2 Loss vs Dragonstorm Round 6 2-0 Win vs Rakdos Round 7 2-0 Win vs BW Rebel Control Round 8 2-0 Win vs Gruul Specific game notes: Round 1: First game went long, eventually two large grave trolls and a svogthos managed to overwhelm the defense with 5 cards left in his library. I guess I should have mulliganned the 2nd game when I didn't have either a Crypt or the Leyline, as I died to 20+ zombies on turn 4. Round 2: Game 1, I went down to 1 he had four racks dow ...

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I couldn't sleep, so obviously, I had to start a new personal project. [PyMTG][1] I was inspired after forum-browsing lead me to look at existing MTG open-source software. I've been thinking of starting a true-blue personal software project for a while now, and the idea of PyMTG appeals to me for several reasons: (a) It's related to one of my current hobbies (b) Allows me to become familiar with a new language (Python) (c) It's moderately to insanely difficult (depending on how well I set my targets), i.e. it's of a scale large enough to be challenging. The wiki page contains the target features for the first release at the end of the year. Quite modest I think, despite my tendencies to underestimate. I hope I can follow through with this project and have enough time for it. The success of the project would be determined by how much of the existing MTG cardbase it could support. Ultimately, I would want it to be open-source and have people help me to obtain 100% cardbase ...

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Yeah, I post these late, I'm a busy man. But I want to have a record so here we go. Same deck as [the last time][1] , except I removed the 2 grim harvests from the board and put in +2 sudden death (to improve the pickles matchup) Round 1: My opponent had a BUw Mannequin deck, splashing for O-Ring and Blink. He obviously put the deck together at the last minute though. 2-0 win Round 2: Table 1! UW control, but he has bad draws both games. 2-0 win Round 3: B/G Elves. Manny totally crushes aggro decks. 2-0 win. Round 4: MGA. Wow, this matchup is even better than the last one. But I get a bad draw in game two and almost lose to a Spectral Force before topdecking into the Damnation. 2-0 win. Round 5: A 4-0 start feels good. A friend warns me beforehand that my next opponent is U/B, but turns out he's wrong. He has Dreadship Reefs as storage lands so that's where the mistake was made, but my opponent was none other than MUP -- Monoblue Pickles. I win game one somehow and board in +2 ...

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I believe that this year, I have managed to improve my Magic-playing a bit (despite the abundance of embarassing mistakes).I also believe I'm slightly better at Limited than I am at Constructed. TO back up these beliefs, I could point to my DCI ratings. But as a programmer who loves stats, I compiled additional stats for my own pleasure: [My Playing Stats][1]. A bit of background: I've been playing Magic on and off since Revised, but only gotten into the tournament scene seriously in 2006. I've played in a few Limited tourneys before that, but I guess I took them with a different DCI number as they don't reflect on my ratings history. In particular I remember placing 2nd at a Team Sealed event at BCI Makati back during the Invasion block era. And I'm pretty sure I went 4-0 at an Onslaught prerelease, as I have the shirt to prove it. As can be seen in the stats page though, this was the year I started taking it seriously. I devoted more time to Magic, studying my own technical play fo ...

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Amazingly, I went more than two whole months using only Ubuntu at home since [one of my RAM sticks got busted][1] and Windows refused to boot. Luckily, I have a dual boot computer, with Ubuntu as my alternative OS. Ubuntu is pretty awesome. As a Windows replacement, it does most of the things you need without much problem. It has two distinct advantages over Windows: 1. The Debian package distribution mechanism is just great. Virtually everything you need is provided and can be installed easily. In Windows, every single program decides how it wants to be installed. 2. The customizability of the UI. I'm pretty sure this one rates a lot higher for geeky fellows than ordinary folk though. However, there's something that makes it really difficult for me to go pure Ubuntu permanently: gaming. Wine/Cedega is a pretty lame substitute. And with the Future Sight online release coming up, I decided I needed to have access to Magic Online again, so I got hold of an XP installer and tried to f ...

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This year, I resolve to find more direction. That being said, I'm kind of behind already. I usually manage a total cleanup of all the stuff in my room before the New Year. This year? Not even close. At least I have an additional 3 weeks of vacation to finish everything. Review of [last year's resolution][1]: "I will try more new things this year" : I'd say that's a resounding success. Especially with the trip to Hong Kong, I think I ate more new food there than I have during the past five years or so. Yay for me. [1]: /2006/01/i-wasnt-planning-on-making-resolutions/

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I played the [same deck][1] again this past weekend, but I forgot to name it "Nameless Deck Wins" this time, so I posted a much worse record. =( I went 2-3-drop, with the losses all going to aggro decks (2 Boros, 1 KarstenBot). The Boros matchup is winnable, but really tight, with no room for error. Anyway, with Planar Chaos coming out, my colors (Red/Green/Black) look like they're getting a good boost, so hopefully I can further improve this deck. And hopefully think of a better name. [1]: /2007/01/nameless-deck-wins/

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Obviously, I've started playing a lot of Magic since last year. I've been a long-time player, having started around the time of Revised more than twelve years ago, but I've never seriously started playing in tournaments in such until I had a job, which meant more money to spend on Magic (also meant less free time though =/) As anyone who has immersed himself in this game knows, Magic is an addictive experience. When you're in the thick of it you're always thinking of new decks, card interactions, etc. hopefully to make yourself a better player. Lately I've been thinking of writing more about Magic, but [my personal blog][1] has been mostly filled with Magic posts lately, so I thought it better to just create a separate space for writing about Magic. So, here we go: Roy on Magic. _(All Magic-related posts from the other blog have been moved here.)_ [1]: /blog

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I'm planning to write more about Magic, so I created a [separate space][1] for that. All MtG-related posts are moved there. [1]: /tags/mtg

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The game was not as long as I had hoped, although I finished without completing stuff. (Only had 11 hearts when facing the final boss). I told a friend that the current Zeldas are too easy compared to the [Zeldas of old][1]. There are a lot more hints this time around on how to get past stuff, etc. He told me that the 3d Zeldas are even easier. One of the sacrifices they had to make to become popular I suppose. Of woe to the hardcore gamer! (Not that I claim to be a hardcore gamer mind you) Still, very enjoyable game. Don't even need knowledge of Wind Waker to play it. (Although it helped being told that Link jumps farther when carrying a chicken.) [1]: /2007/10/memories-of-zelda/

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Can holding a stylus cause carpal tunnel syndrome? Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for a few days now; the controls are purely-stylus driven so my wrist aches a bit after a few hours of play. Of course the game has been consuming a good number of my waking hours (I didn't even play any [Magic][1] this weekend), but that's not what this post is about. This post is about the original Legend of Zelda. The first time I played the game, I was able to borrow some sort of faulty and/or bootleg copy that wasn't able to save games. Stupid right? Well, it could save as long as the console wasn't powered off, so you could still progress a bit. So in theory, with a single marathon gaming session, I could've finished the game. The thing is, during those days my dad didn't like having us play too much video games. At most he'd let us play maybe 1-2 hours at a time. On weekends. I'm sure there's some sort of speed run where some hardcore dude finished the Legend of Zelda in like fifteen minutes, ...

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I was in Galleria earlier today and suddenly the power went out for a few seconds. It came back up almost immediately, but of course everyone was a bit spooked given the recent bombings at Glorietta 2. Even I felt a bit shaken up I might add, even considering cutting short the tournament ([I wasn't doing well][1]) I hate that. Being overcome by fear, even for a very short instant. Hopefully, the authorities would be able to find whoever was responsible for the recent bombings to make the rest of us feel safer. [1]: /2007/10/gpt-bangkok-4/

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SMS/MMS API from Globelabs. Guess I should sign up for it sometime.

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