Roy Tang

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

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All entries tagged tech life.

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Sep 2020

Aug 2020

  • Filed under “Things I Don’t Really Grok” Podcasts and audiobooks These 2 are kind of in the same boat. Their main sin is that they are audio-only. When consuming content, my order of preference for formats is roughly: text (+images I guess) (most preferred) video (with audio) audio only (least preferred) I think these preferences have to do with information density: I’m pretty sure I prefer text because text can convey the most amount of information in the least amount of bits.

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    Posted by under post at #tech life
    Also on: mastodon twitter / 0 / 780 words
  • On Mozilla and Firefox

    Mozilla made the tech news recently for laying off a whole lot of people. (Official statement). People were alarmed and worried about the future of what is the last major independent browser and the open web, bit it looks like it isn’t that bleak. Most of the layoffs were to teams other than those working on Firefox, things like the experimental browser engine Servo, devtools, and MDN. The core Gecko team seems to be unaffected.

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Jul 2020

Jun 2020

  • Scraping Facebook

    I had been meaning to quit Facebook for more than a year maybe, but I kept putting it off. The main reason being that I like having backups of my own digital data (still very much a pack rat), and Facebook’s social media export is less than ideal, for me at least. Less than ideal why? It doesn’t include a lot of content I would like backed up, including: comments on my posts (there have been some good conversations with friends over the years I would prefer to preserve) things I’ve reposted from other people content of certain groups I’m members of (again, mostly for some interesting discussions over the years) pictures posted by other people that I’ve been tagged in For a while I looked around for scraper programs/scripts to this for me, but none really did what I wanted.

    read more (586 words)

  • Why Twitter?

    Alright so someone responded to my previous post on quitting facebook asking why I’m quitting facebook but keeping Twitter. This is a fair question; after all, Twitter also makes its money off targetted advertising, can also get you addicted to engagement (likes/RTs), the Twitter app can also be dumb, and there can also be a lot of toxic people on this platform. So here are my reasons for keeping Twitter, and you may also get some tips for improving your twitter experience:

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    Posted by under post at #tech life
    Also on: mastodon twitter / 1 / 922 words
  • Quitting Facebook

    (This will be cross-posted to my Facebook account.) It’s been long overdue, but I’m quitting Facebook. Why? It’s not you, but it’s not me either. It’s Facebook. There’s a ton of reasons for quitting Facebook, but here are some highlights: Facebook is dumb. The site is barely usable and the app is a big battery hog. And posts don’t even support formatting so now you’re getting this one in Markdown.

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    Posted by under post at #tech life
    Also on: mastodon twitter / 2 2 / 740 words

May 2020

  • Migrating away from GMail

    I’ve basically been using GMail as my main email account since I first got access in 2006ish. “Main email account” means I use it as the primary access point for all my other online accounts. GMail was certainly revolutionary when it came out, and had a lot of benefits: it was fast, easily searchable and had a lot of free storage. But in the modern day, there are significant disadvantages to using GMail:

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    Posted by under post at #tech life
    Also on: mastodon twitter / 1 7 / 901 words
  • Location, Location, Location

    A while back I got an export of my Foursquare/Swarm data. If you’re not familiar, these were a pair of apps that were used for “checking-in” to particular locations, with a sort of gamification system where if you checked in at a place often enough, you would earn points and eventually become “Mayor” of the venue. The idea being that owners of those venues might give some benefits to those who check-in often at those locations (AFAIK, this never really caught on in the Philippines).

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    Posted by under post at #tech life #meta #changelog
    Also on: mastodon twitter / 1 2 / 698 words
  • HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset

    I ordered this HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset off Lazada on the first day of MECQ. It’s a bit expensive. Delivery came in Saturday morning, so around a week, not too bad.

    I’m actually not super-picky when it comes to audio issues, but lately the 3.5mm audio jack on my Razer keyboard has been giving off static. I couldn’t move my speaker connectors to the back of the desktop tower case because I often switch them out for earphones (when I’m doing voice chat or streaming on Twitch for example), and it’s inconvenient to do so when they’re so far in the back, so I’ve been wanting to buy a headset that can be plugged into a USB slot instead. That way, I can switch output sources via Windows 10’s built-in software controls. (You can switch output devices by clicking the speaker icon on the Windows 10 taskbar and clicking the ^ icon near the output device name).

    I decided I might as well get a fancy headset, this will be the most expensive one I’ve ever bought. On the upside, I get a better (in theory) mic for recordings and voice chats (I was previously using the mic off a cheap webcam), and I can use it on the PS4 as well.

    Tried it out a bit, it’s pretty nifty. But sometimes the mic attachment seems to fall off too easily. Maybe I’ll make a proper review once I’ve used it for while, although IDK if I’m not enough of an audiophile for any review to be meaningful.

    HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset
    HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset
  • Previously. In the most recent weeknotes, I mentioned this post about bringing blogs back to the internet and the ensuing discussion on Hacker News. Some further thoughts on blogging based on the HN discussion: On Traffic and Engagement Someone mentioned that one of the reasons most people stop blogging is that it feels like there’s nobody reading their work. This reminds me of a convo I had with a friend a couple of years back when he saw one of my blog posts.

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    Posted by under post at #blogging #writing #tech life
    Also on: mastodon twitter / 1 0 / 1450 words

Apr 2020

  • Privacy and 'Nothing to Hide'

    I was reading this post about how to respond to the “Nothing to Hide” argument against the concept of privacy. The quoted DuckDuckGo blog post lists some pretty good reasons, but I thought I’d expound on some thoughts as well. The core of the “Nothing to Hide” argument is that if you, personally, have nothing incriminating or illegal to hide, then you don’t need to worry about privacy intrusions. The argument is used mainly to justify things like state-sponsored surveillance, but might also be applicable to data collection activities by large corporations such as Facebook or Google.

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  • Naked CSS Day

Mar 2020

Feb 2020

Jan 2020

  • Weird Blog Spam

    I am generally receptive to receiving emails from strangers, so I don’t mind having a contact email publicly accessible on this site. But I don’t know if it’s a consequence of having a reasonably active blog or what, but in the past few years, I’ve sometimes gotten what I like to call “weird blog spam.” Typically it starts out with an introductory email that often includes a compliment about a specific article on your blog, accompanied by an offer to increase your blog’s visibility if you would just link to one of their articles:

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    Posted by under post at #tech life
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 551 words

Nov 2019

  • It was a bit more than a year ago that I decided to haphazardly and suddenly migrate from Wordpress to Hugo. It’s a good time to look back and reflect on that decision and consider where we are now, and how to move forward. Good: I am extremely happy with the site’s browser performance. It currently scores an insanely high 96 on Google’s Pagespeed tool, and I’m pretty sure I I know how to close the remaining 4% gap.

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    Posted by under post at #tech life #blogging #hugo
    Also on: twitter / 2 / 621 words
  • New Video Card!

    Posted by under post at #tech life
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 879 words
  • Grab Overpricing

    So the Philippine Competition Commission recently fined rideshare provider Grab P23M for overcharging their customers. Apparently only P5M of that is meant to go back to the affected riders, which seems like a piddly amount considering the number of riders in the Philippines. We’ll see how of that I actually get credited back, if any. Grab pricing has been steadily increasing since Uber exited the market early last year. The other day Grab wanted to charge me a bit over P400 for a 13km ride to a commercial area, which seemed insane.

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  • On Feed Readers

    I don’t use Inoreader anymore, but a recent blog post of theirs recently appeared in my feeds that mentioned they implemented “sort by magic”. This was a feature that Google reader had 10 YEARS AGO! There hasn’t been much innovation in the feed reader space in the last decade it seems, which is totally understandable given they are mostly tools used by internet “power users”, and mostly by older netheads, so the target market isn’t very large.

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    Posted by under post at #tech life
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 922 words
  • An Offline Walk

    The other day, a family member mistakenly took my phone with them to the office so I was without a phone all day. This meant my daily walk had to be offline, which was a weird thing I hadn’t experienced in a while. I couldn’t help but note my hand’s instinctively reaching for the mobile phone that wasn’t there. Mobile phones are so ubiquitous in our daily lives, but sometimes it feels like a crutch how we can be totally dependent on them.

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    Posted by under post at #tech life
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 284 words
  • Indieweb Updates and Thoughts

    I mentioned before that I was looking into indieweb stuff. There’s a whole wiki of information about it if you’re into that sort of thing, but also here’s a recent post which kind of serves as an overview. I have some comments on the content of this post, more on that later. Indieweb things I’ve already implemented on this site: have a personal domain (since 2006) microformats (h-card and h-feeds and h-entrys), though I would have to be using some sort of microformats reader to make sure everything there is hunky-dory (no concrete plans for this yet) webmention support, via webmention.

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    Posted by under post at #tech life #meta #changelog
    Also on: twitter / 7 9 / 668 words

Oct 2019

  • Current desktop images (Windows 10 PC and Macbook Air). I’ve been toying with the idea of dual-booting my PC with Ubuntu because reasons (and also I miss having an Ubuntu desktop to toy around with), and I figured maybe I should document my current setup first before I try something that might end in disaster. Both of the pictured wallpapers are from here. Also, yes I am generally bad at cleaning my desktops of icons.

    Current desktop images (Windows 10 PC and Macbook Air). I’ve been toying with the idea of dual-booting my PC with Ubuntu because reasons (and also I miss having an Ubuntu desktop to toy around with), and I figured maybe I should document my current setup first before I try something that might end in disaster. Both of the pictured wallpapers are from here. Also, yes I am generally bad at cleaning my desktops of icons.
    Current desktop images (Windows 10 PC and Macbook Air). I’ve been toying with the idea of dual-booting my PC with Ubuntu because reasons (and also I miss having an Ubuntu desktop to toy around with), and I figured maybe I should document my current setup first before I try something that might end in disaster. Both of the pictured wallpapers are from here. Also, yes I am generally bad at cleaning my desktops of icons.
  • Archiving Yahoo Groups

    So a couple of days ago, Yahoo announced that it was shutting down Yahoo Groups. I was a big user of Yahoo Groups back in the day. I was a member of several active mailing lists in the early 2000s, including some fandom groups (see: The Rise and Fall of the Final Fantasy Forum) and a few alumni groups and some MTG-related ones. Now all of that content is vanishing!

    read more (673 words)

    Posted by under post at #tech life
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 673 words
  • An Archive of My Own

    A post about making a guy making an archive of his twitter data made the rounds lately, so I figured I should make my own post about my ongoing efforts in this regard. I mentioned in an earlier post that I like being able to use social media to dig through my own history. But as the first link above says, these social media sites can go away since nothing lasts forever.

    read more (2301 words)

Sep 2019

  • I have a GeForce 970, it’s a bit old, I got it in 2015. I’ve been having an issue where sometimes in some games, my displays (I have two monitors) will die (go completely black), but the game goes on running for a while (I can hear the audio), then after a couple of minutes or so the audio also stops so I can’t really do anything except do a hard reboot. I’ve tried VNCing into the PC to see what’s going on after this time, but it’s not accessible over the network so I assume it’s dead.

    The crashes happen most often while playing Magic Arena (says a lot about the game!), but I’ve also had it happen once or twice on Starcraft 2 and Borderlands 2. I don’t play very demanding games graphically. I can’t identify any specific action that causes the crashes.

    Some other things I’ve tried:

    • attach my 2nd monitor to onboard graphics, keeping the main monitor connected to the vidcard. In this case when the crash happens, the main monitor goes black, while the 2nd monitor still has a display, but is frozen
    • remove my 2nd monitor (I thought I might be overtaxing the graphics card by having two of them??)
    • checking for memory (RAM) issues. I did have some RAM issues a couple of months ago, but that turned up to be due to a dirty connector, and it was causing crashes not just in games but in general Windows usage, so I think this is a different issue now
    • checking for disk issues. I actually found some bad sectors on my secondary drive and ended up replacing it. But even if I ran everything from my primary (SSD) drive, the graphics crashes still occur
    • reinstalling/updating device drivers
    • resetting Windows 10 (yup, I went that far)

    After all of these, I’m still encountering these crashes so I’m seriously considering replacing the graphics card now, but I’d like the be sure that it’s a graphics card issue and not something wonky with the motherboard, as my purchasing decisions will be different if the motherboard was the problem (I might as well get a new PC then). I’m looking for any advice to help me diagnose or confirm the problem.

    For reference, my current PC specs:

    • Case Silverstone Precision 10SST-PS10B
    • Fan 120mm internal aux fan
    • PSU Cooler Master B600 V2 600W
    • CPU Intel Core i5-4460
    • MB ASUS H97ME
    • RAM 2x DDR3 Kingston HyperX Fury 8gb 1600
    • VC Asus GTX970 STRIX OC 4gb
    • SSD Samsung 850Evo 250gb
    • SSHD Seagate Firecuda 2tb
  • 2019 Windows Installation List

    So I recently reinstalled Windows 10. This reminded me that there used to be a time that I reinstalled Windows so often that I would maintain a standard “installation list” of software that I would install afterwards. (I’m sure I have at least one of those old lists somewhere in my backups, too lazy to look for them now.). I thought I’d post an updated 2019 version, based on the recent episode.

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    Posted by under post at #tech life
    Also on: twitter / 2 0 / 245 words
  • A Tale of Two Backups

    Despite my desktop PC being generally more stable after the events of the Great Memory Scare of 2019, I was still encountering occasionally crashes when playing games. And by crash I mean the displays dying although the PC continues to run for a short while thereafter and after which they proceed to apparently stop operating completely. It only happens when playing games, and most often when playing Magic Arena and sometimes (rarely) when playing Starcraft 2 or Borderlands 2.

    read more (1530 words)

    Posted by under post at #tech life #gaming
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 1530 words

Aug 2019

  • Ephemeral social media

    I read this post: Why I’m automatically deleting my old tweets using AWS Lambda where the justification for regularly deleting your old social media content is that they are no longer representative of the current version of you and thus can be misleading. This has certainly been the case when famous people’s older tweets resurface (James Gunn comes to mind). To each his own and I kind of understand the intent, but this kind of thinking is a bit anathema to me.

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    Posted by under post at #tech life
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 316 words
  • Three Hearts

    Shogun There’s a quote I like from James Clavell’s novel Shogun: “It’s a saying they have, that a man has a false heart in his mouth for the world to see, another in his breast to show to his special friends and his family, and the real one, the true one, the secret one, which is never known to anyone except to himself alone, hidden only God knows where.”

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    Posted by under post at #quotes #tech life
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 570 words
  • Big news in online repositories this week is that Bitbucket is sunsetting support for Mercurial! This might be the death knell for Mercurial, although Git was already the super popular choice before. Back when I started using online source control for my personal coding projects I started out with Bitbucket over Github because they offered unlimited private repos and Mercurial (which I had already tried out before at work, so at first I preferred it over git).

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  • The Great Memory Scare of 2019

    My current desktop PC has been with me since late 2015, so going on 4 years now. I bought relatively high-end parts for it at the time, hoping to be a bit future-proof so that it would last me longer than previous desktops. So I was a bit worried when I started encountering issues during the recent weeks. Here’s the timeline: May 2019, before my overseas trip. It happened a few times that the computer would completely shut down while I was playing Starcraft 2 coop.

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    Posted by under post at #tech life #gaming
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 1225 words
  • Internet Commercialization

    0 A while back, I read this post from 2015: Who is doing this to my internet? lamenting the changing nature of the internet due to commercialization and advertising. 1 It’s a bit funny that the OP was lamenting about the “good old days” of the internet back in 2012, when by then the big social media networks like Facebook and Twitter were already relatively well-entrenched. When I think of the “good old days” of the internet I tend to harken back pre-social media to the heyday of blogging around 2005-2008 maybe?

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    Posted by under post at #tech life #blogging
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 800 words
  • Note-taking / Todo Workflow

    In perhaps what is a perfect example of how writing bring clarity, I started drafting a post listing out the problems with my current notes/todo workflow and ended up coming to a conclusion as to how to make things better for myself. The main issue is that I have a smattering of todo-lists and notes scattered over several platforms: plain text files (in different places!), evernote, google keep, google docs, standard notes, and recently I also started trying Trello.

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    Posted by under post at #tech life
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 586 words

Jul 2019

  • Move Fast, Break Things

    Posted by under post at #hugo #Meta #Tech Life #changelog
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 423 words
  • Testing the Galaxy A50 Camera

    I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I might take some comparison shots using the A50’s camera, so I thought I’d post those now. Note that I am terribly bad at photography, I am well-known for often posting out-of-focus shots and such. Well, I tried at least. This one is a photo of some Deceptions taken using the Samsung Galaxy A50 camera, default settings: Here’s a similar photo taken using the Asus Zenfone Max 4 camera, default settings:

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    Posted by under post at #tech life #photography
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 241 words
  • Samsung Galaxy A50

    Since I was going to be staying in the US for more than a month, on my first day there, I went over to Best Buy and got myself a T-Mobile sim card and plan, and the staff there helpfully offered to install the sim into my phone, then the Asus Zenfone Max 4. Upon handling my phone, she commented “you know you’re battery’s expanding, right? That’s dangerous, it could explode or such”, but I shrugged it off.

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    Posted by under post at #tech life
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 760 words
  • After the Seattle part of the trip, I reunited with family for the final leg of the trip where we all be hanging around the San Francisco bay area. We were based in my uncle’s place in Vacaville, which one of my friends kindly described as “in the sticks”, i.e. basically far away from everything. Like Houston, we had to rely on the kindness of relatives who were willing and available to drive us around.

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    Posted by under post at #travels #ustrip2019 #tech life
    Also on: twitter / 2 / 1256 words

Apr 2019

  • Rami Ismail of Vlambeer points out some of the problems with the mobile app ecosystem: platform SDKs update so often, so older mobile games often break, such that the reasonable option is to make freemium games that you update continuously rather than single purchase games that won’t work a year later unless you burn capital on them: “… I’m just a little wary of the smartphone market right now. I don’t currently feel at ease developing for those platforms because the SDKs change, their hardware specs change and when you don’t update the game just breaks.

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    Posted by under post at #Tech Life #Gaming
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 311 words
  • Initial Page Load

    I read a recent blog post from a friend about the large page sizes on initial load of a web page. From there, I got to a link which said that the average page size nowadays is at least 3MB. This led me to check the performance of this very blog/site. Initial load of the home page clocks in with 13 requests weighing around 140KB total. This is not bad, in fact it would be a significant improvmenet since I migrated to a static site using Hugo.

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    Posted by under post at #Tech Life #Meta
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 309 words
  • Digging Through Time

    I recently found out about the blog at geocities.institute where they dig through the Geocities archive torrent extracted by the internet archive and write about interesting things they find. That of course eventually led me to traipse through the internet archive’s wayback machine again, especially looking back at some of my older websites. I like having the ability to dig through time and find old content I’ve written or created. (Which is only one of the reasons why I advocate backing up your social media content regularly).

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    Posted by under post at #nostalgia #Tech Life
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 626 words
  • Social Media Hiatus

    I’ve written a bit about the need to reduce social media usage, so this month I’m gonna give it a try and have decided to disconnect from Facebook and Twitter until the end of the month. Actually, the real motivation is to minimize the chances of accidentally reading spoilers for Game of Thrones and Avengers Endgame! But taking a trial run of a social media purge seems a good secondary reason too.

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    Posted by under post at #Tech Life
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 132 words

Mar 2019

  • I posted a quote yesterday about how if you’re feeling like an outsider or you don’t belong, you should take the take to try and “find the others” who are more similar to yourself. For every person, there likely exists a “tribe”, not necessarily all in one place, a community where that person would fit in. And in the modern age, the internet and social media make it all the more easier for such “outsiders” to connect with each other.

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    Posted by under post at #Tech Life
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 572 words
  • Export your social media data

    As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about Google Plus being discontinued, I should note that you should be regularly doing backups of all your social media content anyway. Most of them will provide easily accessible backup tools, but probably they have to be accessed via a web browser. Here are the relevant pages for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. (And be wary of sites like Quora that don’t have a direct backup option.

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    Posted by under post at #Tech Life
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 343 words
  • Google Plus is dying

    They’re pulling the plug on it by end of this month. I got an email telling me to backup my content from there so I did, not that I had much. I don’t think I wrote any original posts there, the export was mostly +1s and shares and such. Maybe I’ll dig through it in detail in the future. I wish I could say they tried their best with Google+, but they really didn’t.

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    Posted by under post at #Tech Life
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 121 words
  • RIP Webfaction?

    A few months back, my current web host WebFaction announced they had been purchased by GoDaddy, which was worrying. Back then they hadn’t announced any details other than there would be some account migrations and single sign on, so it wasn’t a big deal yet. I initially joined WebFaction back in 2008 because they were a Python-friendly and developer-friendly host that had some reasonable budget options, allowing me some space to host this blog and any side projects I wanted to deploy.

    read more (536 words)

    Posted by under post at #webfaction #Tech Life #Meta
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 536 words

Feb 2019

  • Noisy channels

    There’s a significant risk of information overload nowadays. For someone like me who spends a lot of time on the internet, there’s a lot of feeds I follow. Not just social media like Facebook and Twitter, I also follow a set of RSS Feeds via Inoreader, I’ve signed up for a few newsletters, and on weekends I read through several Flipboard categories. Just another symptom of my tendency to want everything I guess.

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    Posted by under post at #Tech life
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 681 words