Roy Tang

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

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No, not that kind of history, don’t worry. Twenty-five years ago this month, the first website went up on the world wide web. That was 1991. It took a few years for the Philippines to catch on, the first internet connection in the country was only set up in 1994. My personal experience with the internet came a bit later, during our freshman year in University, sometime in the schoolyear 1995-1996.

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In the modern era of online services and applications, it is getting more and more common to hear of databases and systems being hacked and user data being exposed. The most dangerous of this data is the user’s password since it may allow access not only to your own service but to other services as well. As an application developer, the below is probably the bare minimum you need to know when handling user passwords:

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Around the first week of June 2016, Mark Zuckerberg, well-known nerd and founder of Facebook, was hacked. If even the founder of the world’s largest social network can be hacked, anybody can! So it might be a good idea to review how you manage and secure your online passwords     Avoid using short, simple, or commonly-used passwords! These are subject to so-called “brute force” attacks where bad actors just try a whole lot of passwords until they find one that works.

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Posted by at /  tech-life / Syndicated: / 2
So, through a complicated series of circumstances where I initiated the process but actually managed to get myself surprised, I now own an iPad Wifi+3g 64GB (yes, it’s the most expensive model, don’t worry it did not break the piggy bank). It was purchased from Singapore and brought to me by a friend last Friday. I’ve used an iPad before (during the CCS trip Baguio), but this is the first time I’ve had the chance to customize the applications and content, and have it exclusive for my own use.

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Posted by at /  tech-life / Syndicated: / 3
A while back I started reading The Setup, which is basically a collection of interviews with various tech/creative guys about what sort of hardware and software they use. I always enjoy this sort of thing – it feeds my tech envy when they describe cool setups or gadgets I don’t have. (A lot of them have Macs!) I actually purchased a new desktop computer a while back without posting any details, so I thought I’d something similar to The Setup so that I have a record of what I’m using now.

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My brother pointed me to a new (to me at least) online music service called imeem. The website caught my interest for two reasons. It uses Adobe Flex, a technology which I’ve been using for the past year or so. Any Flex developer knows it’s Flex just by looking at the widgets. (Click to enlarge the screenshot!) The service allowed me to find an mp3 which I’ve never found before and have used as a benchmark for how good an mp3 search service is.

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If you’ve been having trouble with Bayan DSL web connections to some websites (which we have for the past few weeks or so), you may be surprised to know that they have an HTTP proxy server you can use. Strange, considering that when reporting such problems to their trunkline, they never ask whether you’re using that proxy server or not. I don’t recall ever being told about it by the Bayan DSL staff.

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I needed to transfer a file to my phone today, but could not find my USB cable. I figured I’d try out the Bluetooth with the laptop. After around 30 minutes of struggling with the unintuitiveness and some helpful googling I finally was able to transfer my file using the ff steps, for future reference: Turn on Bluetooth on the Acer Aspire using the Bluetooth button. Right-click the Bluetooth icon on the systray -> Show Bluetooth Devices -> Options -> tick “Allow Bluetooth devices to find this computer”

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I came across the Stylish Firefox Extension, and the GMail Redesigned project, which gives the GMail user interface a sleek facelift. [ ]3 _ (I’m not sure if it was necessary to blot out the names of contacts!) _
I’m not sure why but I decided to try out the Flock 2 web browser beta, the “social web browser” built on top of Firefox. This is a test actually. Flock’s blog post dialog doesn’t seem to provide any category support (it supports tags instead), so I want to see what category this post would go under. (Update: Flock let me choose a category after I try to publish the post.

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The gist of it is: it wasn’t as annoying as I had been led to expect. Frankly, I think it’s better than XP, but I might be blinded by the fact that it’s very pretty. Visually it’s a step up from XP the same way XP was a step up from ‘95. The XP box at work seems so bland to me now. The file manager (Explorer) is very nice, I like the functionality of being able to navigate the address bar by mouse click (though I never used this back in Ubuntu) and the ability to sort files even in thumbnail view.

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Just a bit of an indulgence. There was a warehouse sale at the office building from Tuesday to Friday. Like every single time I would make a big purchase I waffled undecisively between buying and not buying a laptop for the first four days, only to succumb at the very last minute when a model with an insane price became available. On 7:30pm of the last day of the sale, I picked up an Acer Aspire 4920 unit with the following specs:

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Because I’m a sucker for trying out alternative software, I installed and tried out the latest release of the Opera web browser, Opera 9.5, for a bit more than a week. Opera is neat and all, but I don’t see any features that are so awesome that they can’t be done in Firefox (with some extensions maybe). My favorite feature is I guess the Speed Dial page; where opening a new tab displays a customizable table of common websites you visit.

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An alpha release was just announced for Open Office 3. Being an Ubuntu user, Open Office is really the only sane choice I have for an office suite. At work I’m using Microsoft Office 2007. Among the office suite applications, I’m most of a power user for the spreadsheet applications. Here’s my side-by-side comparison of Excel and oOo Calc:

Microsoft Excel 2007 on Windows XP:

  • Looks really pretty.
  • Loads up quickly.
  • Proprietary and expensive.
  • Not available for Linux.

OpenOffice Calc 2.4.1 on Ubuntu:

  • Feature-rich – has some features that excel does not.
  • I can have a sandwich in the time it’s loading.
  • Free as in speech, and as in beer too!
  • Usability issues, such as inconveniently prompting a dialog box on every delete. (This is logged in their database as bug # 9392. There’s a workaround, but hopefully it will be fixed by default in Open Office 3)
  • Autofilter feature is immature compared to Excel, not enough options for filtering.
  • It can open a password-protected XLS correctly (prompting me for the password), but it can’t save it back with the password.
  • I was going to complain about the UI, but now that I’ve thought better of it, it’s no worse than other GTK/Linux apps.

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Seriously. Having to hit an extra key just to use “Home” or “End”? For some reason, PrintScreen and CapsLock keys are higher priority than Home and End, meaning you don’t need to use “Fn” to access them. Do people not use Ctrl+Shift+Home and Ctrl+Shift+End all the time? I’m sure a lot of developers do. Whenever I’m on this laptop and need to use Home or End, I mentally pronounce “Fn” as a seven-letter word starting with “F” and ending with “ing”.

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After finding out that KDE4 was already available for Kubuntu 7.10, the nice screenshots of the new Oxygen theme and hints of a revamped panel and widget system appealed to my inner geek envy, so I decided to install and give it a whirl.

KDE4 Screenshot

My quick impression, after 15 minutes of usage:

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I’m not sure why I keep trying to get the Ubuntu + XP dual boot thing working. I don’t really need it, I can do most of the things I want to do in XP. And I can’t really play games in Ubuntu (I don’t really want to bother with all the crap Wine puts you through). Still, every so often I’m hit with some sort of geek envy where I just want to have an Ubuntu installation handy so I can try out some cool stuff like Compiz or whatnot.

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_ “Robert suggested we create Facebook accounts, I think in an effort to establish that we were “down” with whatever “new jives” the kids were flexing on the mean streets. I refused. Gabriel buckled, and the bullshit that ensued verified my initial assessment: that maintaining Facebook would quickly constitute another job. Of which I already have several.”_ — Tycho, Penny-Arcade I never really bought into social networking (because I am of course antisocial) But lo and behold!

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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 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: The Debian package distribution mechanism is just great.

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I bought a new phone yesterday. At the recommendation of my brother, I got one from the Nokia N-series, the Nokia N73. As a relatively recent smartphone release, it cost quite a chunk of cash. I was having second thoughts for a while, because I’m almost never comfortable parting with a significant amount of cash. If I’m going to spend more than a week’s salary on something, it better provide me with a decent amount of entertainment

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My computer died last night, refusing to boot. Ubuntu would complain of being unable to read the root filesystem. Windows XP would say that there’s a corrupted DLL. I immediately arranged to borrow both an Ubuntu LiveCD and a Windows XP install disk the next day to help check the problem. When I got home today, the computer had been miraculously fixed. My brother said he’d been using it no problem.

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I’m going to try out a new feed aggregator for a while – NewsHutch. Don’t get me wrong, Bloglines is nice and all, but one gets tired of the UI after a while. NewsHutch looks… nice. And don’t get me started on Google Reader… that one is slow as molasses. (I added it to my Google Customized Homepage though, maybe that makes it better)
Since I’m going back to work starting on Saturday, I thought I’d try to look for ways to improve my productivity at work. I’ve downloaded a few utilities that I can try at work to see if it can improve my workflow. The first one is SlickRun. Basically it’s a Start -> Run replacement – press a predefined hotkey and a small command line tool appears where I can type shortcut-like commands.

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I upgraded my Kubuntu Linux installation to Edgy Eft during the Christmas break. Some notes: Why can’t there be a one-click install? You know, some pop-up alert bubble in the corner saying “A new version of Kubuntu is available.” I don’t see why the user needs to edit the sources.list file, do the apt-get stuff, etc., when all of this can basically be automated away. Except for one thing, I can do everything I need to do using Kubuntu instead of using Windows.

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I wish I had a camera right now so I could post a picture of it, but yeah, I now have a brand-new 19-inch widescreen LCD monitor on my desk. Wow, I have so much space! Both physical space and desktop space! I came home at past 12 midnight last night and was so sleepy I would have immediately went into a catatonic sleep had my brother not brought home and installed this new monitor.

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QUALCOMM Press Center – QUALCOMM Launches Project in Collaboration with Mozilla Foundation to Develop Open Source Version of Eudora Email Program –link Wow. Eudora was my email client of choice back in the day, when webapps were still so much crappier. I suppose they realized so many people had switched to using either GMail or Thunderbird, that they had to do something to make their product relevant. My favorite thing about Eudora was that their client would have a stats page; it literally tracks the amount of time you spend reading and writing email, the average amount of mail you get daily, etc.

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I tried the new Yahoo Mail Beta for a while, but I decided to switch back just now. Short review: it’s nice looking, but feels a tad sluggish. Well, sluggish compared to gmail at least. The biggest problem is that scrollbar in the message list. It’s like promising that you can scroll through all your messages, but when you try to scroll to a far away part of the list, you just get a lot of “Loading… ” text.

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There are a handful of issues that would influence the general direction of the human race in years to come. Terrorism, oil scarcity, trade imbalances and worldwide poverty come to mind, and these are the ones most commonly discussed in mainstream media. There is however, another important battle being waged that is far removed from the minds of the everyday person. That battle is Recording Industry vs The People. Some of the posts at the above blog are awesome reads and point to an alarming pattern of abuse of the United States’ judicial system by large corporations with armies of lawyers at their disposal waging a war against ordinary American citizens.

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Ubuntu Desktop Originally uploaded by zroytang . I’m getting a lot more comfortable with Ubuntu… I spent about half an hour today customizing the environment and setting up some stuff. I can do my downloading in Ubuntu now; I just need to set up some sort of shared FAT32 partition that both WinXP and Ubuntu can access for easy transfer between the two OS. (Currently, Ubuntu only has read-only access to the NTFS file system)

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Ballmer, Bemused – Forbes.com An interview with Steve Ballmer – a lot of “Microsoft is cool” gibberish, but one nice quote stands out for me: Forbes.com: Right now, I can go out and get a free alternative to just about every product Microsoft sells. Why do people keep paying you for something they could get free? Ballmer: One, people value their time. Our stuff does more, and they like that.

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I think I’m starting to get the hang of this :p This whole thing with Kubuntu, where I have to use Adept to install stuff is really weirding out my Windows-geek tendencies. For today, all I wanted was to get some mp3s playing on Kubuntu. Unfortunately, the default included players (Kaffeine and Amarok) were giving me trouble, claiming they could not play mp3s! I asked around for some help, and read some FAQs, but I kept getting errors trying to download and install gstreamer-mad 0.

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[ Previously]1: I installed Kubuntu, but failed to get the internet working. But now, since we got a router to service our home network (whereas previously we were using a cross-cable directly connecting two computers), I decided to give it another shot. Apparently, if I have a router between my PC and the DSL line, I can use something called DHCP to automatically configure my ethernet connection. And I did that!

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Desktop 2006-02-19 Originally uploaded by zroytang . <p> Spent a good amount of time today tidying up the desktop. Check it out! </p> <p> Wallpaper is from <a href="http://everydayicons.jp">Everyday Icons<br /> </a> </p>
Some people I know enjoy puzzles. (So do I.) Here’s a neat one: 85 37 655321 64389000 466 64 24601 101 980 95 057 42799 6 The only hint provided is:   It’s not something you’ll figure out by just thinking about it, but with some creative Googling you can get it. _ Via J-Walk (Warning: the link will show you the answer!

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So yeah, out of a strange mix of adventurism, inertia, coincidence and plan old boredom, I decided to install linux on this machine. At first I just wanted to see how easy the install would be, but after I nuked my Windows XP install I sort of had no turning back. (-_-!) Anyway, I went for a dual boot of Windows XP and Kubuntu, supposedly an easy-to-use Linux distro. So yeah, I even watched this video online that showed how to do the installs.

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A post I made today had a 23-Oct timestamp. After some investigation, I determined it was because I had left the create post screen open in a firefox tab last 23-Oct, then closed my browser. On my next launch of firefox, the SessionSaver extension automatically reloaded my previous session, but the create post screen still had the 23-Oct date. I had to manually change the date. Note to self: Refresh the create post screen always.

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After seemingly being the last man in the Philippines without a cellphone for so long, I broke down and bought one a couple of weeks ago. I’d post a picture, but I can’t find the digicam, and the phone can’t take a picture of itself. The 6020 itself seems pretty okay, although as a phone newbie I really have not much of a basis for comparison. The camera is nifty, but it took me a while to find a data cable for the phone.

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Bought a brand-spankin’ new 160GB hard drive yesterday. Seagate Barracuda 7200. Yessir, ups the total hard drive capacity at home to 240 gigs, I hope we don’t fill it up too fast. Moved the 40GB hard drive on the primary computer to the secondary (for a total of 80 on the secondary), and installed the new one on the primary. My brother Alvin was working with me on this, and it took us a better part of three hours to get the connection right (one of the casings wasn’t very agreeable)

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As you may have heard, Google Talk is up. The client looks neat and all, but there’s not much reason for most people to start using it. Sure, the voice chat thing is neat, but I know that Yahoo Messenger supports it, and probably some of the others do? Otherwise, the client seems awfully thin. Simple, like Google, but it needs to be a lot more than that to make a difference.

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Or so the paper says. The Philippine Daily Inquirer had an article today about Oracle targetting local SMEs. Apparently they have an advantage because they use “the Linux shareware.” Too bad I can’t find the article online.
Should I get a Hipster PDA? I’m thinking about it. Or something similar. Not really for organizing tasks and stuff. Only for jotting down temporary things when away from a computer. So I can remember them later. I often think up incredibly clever world-shaking ideas while commuting, it would be nice to remember all of them. I still largely prefer the advantages of electronic storage: cut/paste functionality, easy to make backups/copies, distribution, easily searchable etc.

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Bitty Browser Holy crap, that’s cool. del.icio.us links Open "del.icio.us links" in a new window About Bitty Browser About Turnstyle <p> ... but this one doesn't seem to work on Firefox though, all I get are Google ads? Am I doing something wrong? </p> <p> Let's try the launch link: </p> <p> <a href="http://b1.bitty.com/browser/xmlparser/?mode=delicious_username&feed_url=http%3A%2F%2Fdel%2Eicio%2Eus%2Frss%2Froytang"><br /> <img src="http://b1.bitty.com/tag/?a=08248939B365qy4E8d5LFeNKNfs5yClxDkxfLYj8CE7QmmO0y9nZSJ9QQigEcgoPQRQ1xlcaGnbMiDqiN1jOpsPX0QsrtrJLg6IImGun2vKLIa%2BCBl7d7dRkun8%2FNC4aej%2Fjn1AjJFcdf9L6G7J6EDVCVP7K%2BrFZGqjYQx%2FhNNRk0jTkez0cENhq1cYyivHTvYILSAkERyHGlNqmi%2F3qGYL1PXEnpwPb8aTn6kEDkdt0asaHSANpLGHXcX%2BqV%2F6zp0pc&button=launch" border="0" /><br /> </a> </p> <p> Hey both work now!

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[ Pimp My Rig ]1is a hardware review side associated with a friend of mine from high school. Yes, I was asked to help promote it. 😀 I haven’t worried about hardware issues in a while, since I usually ask my kid brother to handle most hardware purchases/setup at home. So, I don’t really know much about the latest and greatest hardware but this site looks helpful enough to be given a try, especially if you’re the sort who enjoys putting together his own PC.

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Roy Tang is a:

roytang.net is a personal site; 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.