Roy Tang

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

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Oct 2019

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

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 at /  tech life / Syndicated: / 2 0 / 245 words
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 at /  tech life  gaming / Syndicated: / 0 / 1515 words

Aug 2019

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 at /  tech life / Syndicated: / 0 / 319 words
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 at /  quotes  tech life / Syndicated: / 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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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 at /  tech life  gaming / Syndicated: / 0 / 1225 words
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 at /  tech life  blogging / Syndicated: / 0 / 800 words
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

As is my wont, I’m almost never satisfied with a website’s layout, so I’ve been tinkering with this blog’s layout on the backend. To make a long story short, I decided to start working on a Hugo theme. It’s still largely a work in progress, as there’s a bunch of things I wanted to implement. But it was good enough to replace the old one so I went ahead and deployed it, so maybe some bugs here and there on some pages.

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Posted by at /  hugo  Meta  Tech Life  changelog / Syndicated: / 0 / 423 words
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 at /  tech life  photography / Syndicated: / 0 / 241 words
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 at /  travels  ustrip2019  tech life / Syndicated: / 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 at /  Tech Life  Gaming / Syndicated: / 0 / 311 words
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 at /  Tech Life  Meta / Syndicated: / 0 / 309 words
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 at /  nostalgia  Tech Life / Syndicated: / 0 / 626 words
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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Posted by at /  Tech Life / Syndicated: / 0 / 572 words
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 at /  Tech Life / Syndicated: / 0 / 343 words
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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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 at /  webfaction  Tech Life  Meta / Syndicated: / 0 / 536 words

Feb 2019

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 at /  Tech life / Syndicated: / 0 / 681 words
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 at /  drawing  Tech Life / Syndicated: / 0 / 79 words
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 at /  blogging  Tech Life  Writing / Syndicated: / 0 / 200 words

Jan 2019

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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Posted by at /  Tech Life / Syndicated: / 0 / 254 words
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

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 at /  linkedin  Tech Life / Syndicated: / 0 / 260 words
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 at /  Self Improvement  Tech Life / Syndicated: / 0 / 933 words
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 at /  Current Events  Tech Life / Syndicated: / 0 / 414 words
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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Posted by at /  Tech Life / Syndicated: / 0 / 148 words
Friends will know I’ve been wanting to get a Macbook for quite a while now. I have chat messages as far back as 2016 musing about buying a Macbook Pro. I haven’t had a serious personal laptop purchase since 2008. (Side note: Qualifier “serious” because I do have a low-spec MSI laptop I think I bought for cheap some years ago that I’m not really happy with. It’s got a dead battery now, I should probably install it with a more lightweight Linux or something and maybe use it as a torrent device or such?

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Posted by at /  Tech Life / Syndicated: / 2 / 627 words
I recently found a stash of old DOS games we used to play, so I thought I’d write about the early days of PC gaming. My PC gaming career (such as it is) started way back in the MS-DOS era. It was an interesting time to be a gamer, to say the least. It was a time when you had to make bootdisks and fiddle around with files like autoexec.bat and himem.

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Posted by at /  Tech Life  Gaming / Syndicated: / 0 / 815 words
Recently, Q&A site Quora announced that they got hacked. HEY!! /2012/08/236815222147514368/ 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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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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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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Posted by at /  Current Events  Tech Life / Syndicated: / 0 / 516 words
Looking at my archives, I was blogging regularly from 2005-2009, mostly because I was really active in competitive MTG during that time. Starting 2010, my blogging activity started to taper off, with less than 60 posts until 2015. I tried to revive the habit around mid-2016, posting at least once a week, but the writing slowed down again around April this year (coinciding with one of the more busy periods for me work-wise).

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Posted by at /  blogging  Tech Life  Writing / Syndicated: / 0 / 862 words

Nov 2018

I mentioned in yesterday’s post about my daily walks that my brother got me a Fitbit Charge 2 mid last year, I thought I’d write a quick review. (Actually, this is mainly an excuse to write down a story about how stupid I am.) Anyway, yeah my bro got me a Fitbit. Or maybe I paid for it. I don’t really recall. The point is, I had it and I’ve been using it regularly for the past year and a half.

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Posted by at /  walking  Tech Life / Syndicated: / 0 / 693 words
Looking back on 8 years of apple tablets. I got my first iPad (1st generation!) back in 2010 with 64gb storage. This version was purchased for me by a friend in Singapore. I got the 3g model back then, but I never got around to using that feature. Future purchases would be wifi only. My main usage for the iPad back then was for reading ebooks/comics and playing some games. I spent a lot of time on Tilt to Live on that bad boy.

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Leaving Wordpress I’ve been using Wordpress for this blog since circa 2006 I believe, but as I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I was not 100% happy with using Wordpress for this blog. I have a few issues with Wordpress, none of them a major dealbreaker, but collectively enough to make me consider something else: the new Gutenberg editor set to become standard in 5.0 was in my experience, very clunky and kinda annoying the code structure of Wordpress is very deep and complex, sometimes making it difficult for me to make changes I want.

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Posted by at /  hugo  wordpress  Meta  Tech Life  changelog / Syndicated: / 0 / 1764 words
Text editors (and by extension IDEs) are a programmer’s best friend. I thought I’d look back at a number of text editors I’ve used over the years. (I grew up with Windows, so I won’t list vim/emacs/nano here, even though I’m at least a bit proficient with vim by now. That is, I know how to exit vim.) Notepad – of course, the default editor in Windows. The one we turn to when all else fails.

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Posted by at /  Tech Life  Software Development / Syndicated: / 3 / 666 words
I had always considered my responsiveness to emails and IMs a point of pride – I liked to keep an empty inbox so I replied to emails and IMs as soon as I became aware of them. This of course turned out a bit bad in the short run. I was easily distracted from whatever work I was doing – although I did take pride in being pretty good at multitasking (Yes I know, no one is *really* good at multitasking, I’m just less bad at it than other people).

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Posted by at /  Tech Life / Syndicated: / 0 / 292 words
Apparently, Youtube’s algorithms tend to promote extremist content. This is an unsurprising (yet unforeseen) consequence of the “free” advertising-driven internet. Social media algorithms optimize for engagement (eyeballs, views, likes, whatever, etc). Meanwhile, humans are more likely to engage with controversial content. Everyday status quo content is boring by comparison. Hence, controversial or extremist content will tend to bubble to the top. It’s the same reason politics has made social media divisive – promoting divisive content has turned out to be profitable in terms of engagement.

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Oct 2018

This is a story from the early days of the internet. Circa 2001-2004ish. A time of Geocities and AIM and and ICQ and from before Gmail even launched. At that time, I was a big Final Fantasy fan (okay, I still am, more or less). My first real experience with online fan communities was a Yahoo Groups mailing list called the “Final Fantasy Forum”. It was a fun, tight-knit group that loved to discuss the FF series and other JRPGs of that era.

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Posted by at /  Nostalgia  Tech Life / Syndicated: / 0 / 895 words

Aug 2018

(Somehow I now have a series of posts about blogging in 2018. Here’s the first one. Two is a series, right?) Great comment the other day on reddit (found via r/bestof), in response to Twitter’s inaction vs Alex Jones. Quoting part of the comment: How can the OG generation of web users possibly hope to maintain the Internet as a free and decentralized medium when a growing majority of the current userbase accept centralization of content and audience, as not only the status quo but as the way things should be?

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Posted by at /  blogging  Tech Life  Writing / Syndicated: / 0 / 1042 words

May 2018

A couple of days ago I was rummaging through some old files and found a folder of some personal files I had copied from work computer at my old long-time place of work. One thing I was hoping to find there was this TODO text file that I kept throughout the years I worked there, even as I moved from one computer to another. It was a very long, append-only file, accumulated over some number of years.

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Google recently had a demo of their new AI assistant Duplex at Google IO 2018: It’s an amazing demo to watch, from an engineering perspective. Basically a combination of natural language processing + text-to-speech that can emulate human speaking patterns. It’s not that much of a breakthrough (more like putting several different things together), but it’s impressive and is a good indicator of where we are with regards to true conversant AI.

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When Game of Thrones entered its sixth season in 2016, it was true spoiler territory for those of us who had read the GRRM books before HBO’s TV adaptation turned the property into a worldwide phenomenon. Due to the author’s glacial writing pace, at this point the TV series went past the point that the novels had reached. Thus nobody – book readers or tv viewers – knew what events would unfold in the story.

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Posted by at /  Movies  TV Series  Pop Culture  Tech Life / Syndicated: / 0 / 786 words

Mar 2018

There’s been a recent brouhaha lately over Facebook’s data privacy issues after the Cambridge Analytica scandal came out. For a while, a #DeleteFacebook hashtag even made the rounds. I will admit that I had been considering reducing my own Facebook usage for a while, but not because of any data privacy issues. While I understand that Facebook probably mishandled private data and that this is a serious concern for a lot of people and even for society at large.

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While browsing through my old blog posts, I found one about my setup from 2010. I figured it was a good time to do an update. I like doing posts like these because it provides an easy reference for me to look back and see what I was working with at a certain point in time. What Hardware Do I Use? Desktop. I bought a new desktop rig back in late 2015, here are the specs:

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Posted by at /  Gaming  Software Development  Tech Life / Syndicated: / 2 / 1451 words
[][1](Image credit: r/ProgrammerHumor) I’ve been meaning to add SSL to this blog ever since I first heard of Let’s Encrypt last year. Unfortunately, support on my otherwise awesome webhost was not yet first-class and seemed complicated at the time, so I kept putting it off. But recently I was testing something unrelated and found out that I needed to have SSL on my server in order for OAuth2 to work, so I grudgingly got to it.

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Roy Tang is a:

roytang.net is a personal site, an E/N site, and kind of a commonplace book; I post about a random assortment of topics that interest me including software development, Magic the Gathering, pop culture, gaming, and tech life. This site is perpetually under renovation.