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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Apr 2020

Naked CSS Day

Mar 2020

Browsers and HTTP

Drew Devault wrote a great post/rant about the reckless limitless scope of modern web browsers: I conclude that it is impossible to build a new web browser. The complexity of the web is obscene. The creation of a new web browser would be comparable in effort to the Apollo program or the Manhattan project. For the past year or so, I’ve been thinking about contributing to an open source project.

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Feb 2020

Redesign

Posted by under post at #tech life #changelog
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I used to host my tumblr blog on a custom domain at tumblr.roytang.net. That was working fine for a while. Then recently I decided to play around with having Cloudflare in front of my site (might be helpful on the off-chance I ever manage to go viral somehow). Not yet sure whether Cloudflare was a good idea, but apparently it doesn’t play well with Tumblr’s custom domains, so the above custom tumblr URL got turned off.

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Thoughts on Blogging, 2020 Edition

I found this great article the other week about Why You Should Start A Blog Right Now. The whole thing is absolutely worth a read, but my favorite part is at the start where he enumerates a list of reasons why he wrote particular posts, and it sent me down a rabbit hole again of evaluating why I write on this blog, and whether it was an endeavor worth continuing.

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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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Nov 2019

One Year with Hugo: Highs and Lows

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
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New Video Card!

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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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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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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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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.

(Click on images to view full-size)

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!

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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.

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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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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.

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Posted by under post at #tech life #gaming
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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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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
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Devnotes: Migrating Mercurial to Git

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
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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
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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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Jul 2019

Move Fast, Break Things

Posted by under post at #hugo #Meta #Tech Life #changelog
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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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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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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
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Apr 2019

Mobile games have a short shelf life

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
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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
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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
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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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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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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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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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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.

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Posted by under post at #webfaction #Tech Life #Meta
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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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Draw Something

Just a fun little throwback: some years back me and some friends played an app called Draw Something for a while, where you draw stuff and send the drawings to your friends and they try to guess it. I had some screenshots stored in a Facebook post for a while and it showed up in the “Memories” thing, I thought I’d post them here on the blog too. We had a lot of fun with the app back then!

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Posted by under post at #drawing #Tech Life
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Broken Streak

I thought I had a post scheduled yesterday, but I didn’t. That broke a continuous streak of 124 days of daily blogging. I thought about writing a post and publishing it retroactively, but that seems like the kind of BS Type A behavior I kind of want to avoid these days. At least I did a lot better than the last time I tried daily blogging in October 2006, when I only managed 23 posts for the month.

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Posted by under post at #blogging #Tech Life #Writing
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Jan 2019

Dark Mode

When a friend recently posted a screenshot from his discord to one of our group chats, most of us jokingly chastised him for having the default light-colored theme, asking if it didn’t blind him when opening up the app at night. I remember when I started working, I told a fellow software dev that it was a bit weird that he liked to use a dark theme for his IDE, telling him it looked like he accidentally did “Select All” on the text for some reason.

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IFTTT

A free web-based service I’ve found very useful over the past few years is IFTTT. The initialism is a bit unwieldy; it stands for “If this, then that”. It basically provides a way to “glue” different services and APIs together so you can set up some kind of automation. You set up rules with conditions and specify what to do when those conditions are met. One of my main uses for it was for social media cross-posting.

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Dec 2018

Noone reads LinkedIn profiles

I mentioned before how I’m not a fan of LinkedIn: I’m not a fan of LinkedIn, as it seems to be mainly a way to get harassed by recruiters who didn’t even bother reading my profile. Some number of years back, I added the following clause to my LinkedIn profile: Recruiters: if you contact me, please specify the position you are recruiting for, what city it is in, and whether you can meet the above asking salary.

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Posted by under post at #linkedin #Tech Life
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Duolingo

If you’re looking for a New Year’s Resolution, why not try learning a new language? Since late 2014, I’ve been using Duolingo to teach myself new languages. Learning a new language not only helps when you’re travelling, but it unlocks different ways of forming thoughts in your brain, helping cognitive development (I may have made up that last part with absolutely no basis except my own speculation.) The first language I tried to study using Duolingo was Spanish, mainly because back then we had an upcoming trip to Europe (including Barcelona) planned in 2015 so the Spanish would have helped.

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Posted by under post at #Self Improvement #Tech Life
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Notes on Facebook

Facebook is in hot water again, over controversial deals it made in the past that compromised user privacy. I have been considering for a long time to leave Facebook. These are the challenges: For many people, Facebook is the only way I have to contact them I don’t have a better place to share family pictures (again most of the family is on Facebook) certain follows/groups relevant to my interest are Facebook only Basically the network effect.

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Posted by under post at #Current Events #Tech Life
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Github Pages

I only recently found out about Github pages, which allows you to serve static content out of a Github repository, with a github.io subdomain. You can also point a domain name to it if you want (I haven’t tried that yet). It’s a quick and easy way to host a static site for free. Here’s mine: roytang.github.io and the corresponding repo. There isn’t really anything there right now, I just put up some links so I’d have something.

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Macbook Air (2017 Model)

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Ancient PC Gaming

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Quora

Recently, Q&A site Quora announced that they got hacked. On 18 Aug 2012 at 1:22pm I wrote: Quora is good reading, but it seems difficult to navigate and chance upon the really well-written answers. Or maybe I dunno what i’m doing I started reading Quora back around 2012. My impression then of the site is that it encouraged insightful, well-written, story-like answers. This was opposed to other Q&A sites like Stackoverflow which encourared concise and clinical answers.

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Online Privacy

I must admit being a bit unconcerned with online privacy tracking by the large vendoers (Google, Facebook, etc). I mean, I do tend to use my real name as username after all, so most everything I do online can be traced back to me. I assume that anything I do on the internet can be figured out by other parties, so if something is important enough to me that it should be kept private, it shouldn’t go on the internet at all.

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Social Credit System

China is setting up some kind of large-scale “social credit system” to rank and monitor the behavior of their citizens. Citizens with low scores can get penalized in various ways like being denied travel or access to top-tier schools and so on. It’s quite creepy, and the mere idea evokes the dystopian Black Mirror episode “Nosedive” where people use an app to rate other people. China’s social credit system might be even worse than the Black Mirror one because:

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