Roy Tang

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

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Jan 2021

  • Discussions on tech censorship came to the forefront in recent weeks due to the aftermath of the Jan 6 capitol insurrection in the US. I’ve been writing down a bunch of thoughts about the complicated issue, let’s see if I can hammer them into a blog post. (I also wanted to defer posting about it until after the Biden inauguration, in case more things of interest happen.) Here’s where I am now:

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  • I finished the book The End of Everything (Astronomically Speaking) by Katie Mack. I got a Kindle copy on sale on Amazon at the top of the year, figured it was a good way to kick off a year of hopefully reading more books. This is a short review. I figure it’s probably not a spoiler to tell you the book is all about how the universe ends. Or at least, the many possible ways it could end.

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  • This is 2021 week 3. Or week 2. Two and a half? How do calendars work? The world: relatively calm compared to the chaos of the previous week. However in the US, a storm may be brewing over Biden’s inauguration next week locally: still a lot of confusion/inconsistencies around the vaccination plan. Or at least some senators think so. Meanwhile, we are close to breaching 500k cases. Links of interest: I’ve been reading a lot about personal note taking recently, in a bid to find ways to improve my own systems.

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  • We are barely more than a week into 2021 and it has already been quite a year. The world: the week started off with something as innocuous as a guy going viral for making his daughter work six hours to figure out how to use a can opener and open a can of beans. I can’t explain Bean Dad, but it was so weird and surreal the way it took over the internet for a while.

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  • Quotes!

    I used to collect quotes a lot. Maybe I still do. Here are a couple of collections I’ve posted online. Tang In Cheek - a list of quotes (allegedly by me) Email signatures - a list of quotes I used as a pool to randomly select an email signature from. I rarely send email these days, and when I do it’s usually web-based, so I can’t use these anymore. There’s probably a better way to organize these.

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  • Regular Reviews and Tracking

    One habit I now have that I wish I had started much, much earlier in life would be conducting regular, periodic reviews. These reviews are a sort of written introspection of the time period in question, the target audience being future me. I’m reminded of the important of this because I had been going through old files the last few months and I really enjoy reading through some older entries and basically traipsing through younger me’s mind.

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  • Pinoy Drawing Memes

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  • 2020 Word Clouds

    Word clouds! They used to be a thing right? I was reminded of them yesterday and I wish I had thought of this in time for the 2020 year in review, but here we are. I thought I’d generate some word clouds for the blog anyway! Here’s the word cloud for all my blog posts for the year: 2020 blog post word cloud (Click to view full-size) 2020 blog post word cloud

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  • Goodbye Flipboard

    I’ve been using the Flipboard iOS app as my daily morning news reader pretty much since I first got an iPad. It offered a nice, magazine like UI where you can flip through pages full of images and short article blurbs until you can find something you want to read. The past couple of years and iOS versions though, the app has been performing terribly. Crashes a lot, reader view often fails to load, or flickers and reloads continuously and so on.

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  • It’s a brand new year, a brand new week, a brand new day. There’s no real reason to believe 2021 will be a better year, but we can choose to try to be better, and maybe that in itself is better. Last week’s New Year’s Eve transition played out pretty much as expected. We just stayed at home, actually had an early media noche dinner (around 9ish) and observed the fireworks for a little bit.

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  • 2020 Year in Review

    It’s always weird for me when people do their “year in review” or “X of the year” any time before Jan 1st of the next year. You’re making Dec 31 feel left out. It’s one thing the Oscars get right. Anyway, here’s my personal year-in-review, such as it is. Essay-writing section It’s probably impossible to talk about 2020 without talking about the Covid19 pandemic that has ravaged the world. My country is sadly still under a state of quarantine/lockdown, I believe the world’s longest.

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  • New Year's Checklist 2021

    Happy New Year! Something I’ve gotten used to as the New Year rolls in: make a checklist of things to do for the new year. I generally copy stuff over, but the list changes a bit every year. In no particular order: Ponder why people give so much significance to the transition between an arbitrarily-chosen pair of 24 hour periods Take stock and reflect on the past year Count your blessings for the past year and be grateful Greet your loved ones and friends and anyone else you hold dear.

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Dec 2020

  • I started doing these weeknotes at the top of 2020, so this one signals one complete year of doing my weekly reviews/notes in public. I thought it appropriate for a review! Did it turn out to be a good practice? I think for me yes! Not necessarily for anyone following the blog (all 3 of you), since a lot of the weeknotes stuff might seem boring or irrelevant to you. But for me, forcing me to publicly write some thoughts about the past week has been good for my own self-awareness and keeping me writing regularly.

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  • Christmas Traditions

    This was the year when a lot of Christmas traditions were broken, due to the pandemic. There are cultural/country-specific Christmas traditions of course, but usually each person or family also has their own personal traditions that they do every Christmas. Here are some of mine: Christmas Eve dinner, or as it’s popularly known here in the Philippines, noche buena. Growing up, our immediate family/household unit usually celebrates Christmas Eve with a late noche buena, an extra meal that happened after dinner and starting at around midnight.

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  • Weeknotes 2020-12-20

    It’s the penultimate week of the year, and I’m sure I’m not the only who’s had enough of this accursed year and looking forward to moving on to the next one. I know that’s silly since the world won’t magically become better when the calendar flips over to January the first, but I think it helps our mental health to have this sort of “fresh start” mentality, even if it’s on an arbitrarily chosen date.

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  • I’ve talked a bit about mentoring in software development before, and how early on I used to get feedback about me being “intimidating”. I never got any concrete feedback regarding that, so I don’t know what problems I had specifically. Though I was recently reminded of one particular incident that was a bit cringey for me personally. This was a bit more than 10 years ago I think. I was usually assigned to mentor new hires, which means fresh graduates who usually needed guidance with a Java (which was our primary programming language at that time) and with our in-house web framework, which could be a bit challenging to work with.

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  • Weeknotes 2020-12-13

    Time passes yet again. I think I have to get used to not having much personal stuff to report in the weeknotes on certain weeks (aside from the watching/gaming parts), especially given the pandemic where I’m at home 90% of the time. Speaking of the pandemic, the UK started vaccinations last week, and the US FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine as well, so hopefully this is where things start to turn around.

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  • Weeknotes 2020-12-06

    This week felt like another set of those moments-in-between, where not much seemed to happen, but it somehow still went by quickly anyway. I think the household and the family has slowly gotten used to the idea that any big Christmas celebration isn’t happening. My niece’s birthday was last weekend, so we sent her gifts via Grab delivery instead of being able to get together. Most likely something similar’s going to happen for gift exchanges on Christmas.

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  • Perfect Strangers

    While digging through some old stuff recently I found a copy of the late 80s/early 90s US sitcom Perfect Strangers and decided to binge through all 8 seasons of it (really more like 6 and a half, since seasons 1 and 8 were an abridged 6 episodes each). I grew up watching this series, on live tv even, before we had cable or Netflix or anything like that. During the binge-watch I remember a good number of the episodes from the first season all the way up to the end of season 7, which implies almost all of it was broadcast on local TV, kind of a rarity I think?

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  • Dress Codes

    A while back someone I know went from working as a developer to working at a senior/management type position at a bank, and that new job came with the corresponding dress code, which meant he was now going to work in long sleeves or barongs. That kind of thing is not for me - back when I still considered a regular office job, one of the fastest ways to get me to run away from an “opportunity” would be an overly stringent and/or formal dress code.

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  • Ephemeral Echoes

    Last week, Twitter added Fleets, their own version of stories (short-lived posts). As could be expected, it’s not something I can relate to. I did post one (saying “This is dumb.") just to see what the interface was like, but that’s it. I thought about writing a blog post about how I dislike this sort of ephemeral social media, but it turns out that something I’d already written about before. Things don’t change I guess, and they just come around.

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  • After playing through Super Mario 3D All Stars in October, I borrowed a copy of Super Mario Odyssey for the Nintendo Switch from my brother and played through it for most of November. Odyssey was the main reason I actually got a Switch; I played through a few worlds at a friends house during a single session and loved it, so I had been meaning to get the console just for Odyssey alone.

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  • Rhythm of War is book four in Sanderson’s epic fantasy Stormlight Archive series. Goodreads tells me I read the prior book Oathbringer back in Nov 2017, but didn’t bother writing a review, so I had to make sure I’d write one now. The book’s launch day kind of caught me a bit unexpectedly so I didn’t bother doing a re-read of the previous three books. Which given an epic fantasy series of this scope might have been a mistake, but watch me do it again for book five.

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Nov 2020

  • We Shouldn't Need Heroes

    It’s National Heroes Day over here, so I’ve been thinking about heroics. In software development, Heroic Programming can have a negative connotation: HeroicProgramming is often the only course of action left when poor planning, insufficient funds, and impractical schedules leave a project stranded and unlikely to complete successfully. I guess it’s not just in software development either. Many times heroics are an indicator of failed systems. Bonifacio and other Philippine heroes were needed because Spanish colonialism had failed the Filipino people, necessitating a revolution.

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  • Weeknotes 2020-11-29

    December is almost upon us! I had an opportunity last week to take on some additional work, but on further reflection, I thought I’d pass on it. I am in general, averse to working during the Christmas season (that is to say, more so than during the entire year in general). Even back when I was working full-time, I’d prefer taking most of my leaves during December. It’s really a result of the terrible traffic in Metro Manila, which gets significantly worse during Christmas season, a trauma that lingers even when I’m home all the time.

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  • This week felt weird. It kind of went by quickly for me, but it doesn’t feel like anything important really happened. Its kind of like those moments in-between other events, where you’re just coasting along and waiting for the more significant things to happen. My country is still recovering from the storms of the past few weeks, Trump is still flailing around trying to overturn democracy, and our own president is still insecure when someone gets more attention than him.

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  • Weather this past week was very bad for those of us in Metro Manila (and many other places in Luzon). Howling winds and strong rains dominated for 2-3 days of the week due to typhoon Ulysses. This typhoon wasn’t as strong as Rolly a couple of weeks ago, but it seems that it brought a lot more rains, causing flooding and loss of power in a whole lot of places. Metro Manila was hit quite badly, even drawing comparisons to Ondoy back in 2009.

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  • The World: Somehow the week seemed to go by both quickly and agonizingly slowly, mostly because of the US presidential elections held this week. Slowly because after the initial burst of results on Tuesday night (US time), the remaining states’ results trickled in very slowly. Quickly because much time was spent doomscrolling and refreshing election-related updates. I think the world collectively breathed a sigh of relief this weekend as the US networks finally called the race for former VP and now president-elect Joe Biden.

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  • I recently did a server migration since I moved to new hosting, The move was from managed/shared hosting to a VPS, these are some notes I took during the process, which I figure might be helpful if I ever tried to do this again. (And maybe someone else finds it helpful too). Links and references to helpeful resources are included. Setting up a webserver and WSGI container I already knew I wanted to use Nginx (managed hosting on the old server always used Apache), that meant needing to choose a WSGI container for the Django apps.

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  • Now: Stormy weekend here in Manila. Supposedly the “strongest storm of 2020” so far, typhoon Rolly made landfall earlier today and is currently battering many of the provinces south of Metro Manila. Storm signals are as high as number 5. As of this writing, weather is currently cold and nippy but not particularly rainy where I am. We expect stronger winds and rain to hit us as evening approaches as well.

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Oct 2020

  • Leaving Hugo It’s been a bit under two years since I migrated the site from Wordpress to Hugo. As discussed in this post one year ago, I was very happy with the general workflow of managing posts through markdown files in git, but had big problems with the Hugo build time, largely a consequence of my social media archiving. At that time, I didn’t want to invest effort into migrating to a different backend, but the problem has only gotten incrementally worse since then, so I decided to take the jump and started working on it last month.

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  • Weeknotes 2020-10-25

    Server migration update: I had encountered some trouble with the Travis-CI -based Hugo build generating this here website last week. Luckily, most of the migration work to the new backend was already done, so I went ahead and switched over the servers. So this site is no longer plain-old deployed HTML, but rather powered by a Django backend. The site should be mostly the same, though I did take the opportunity to move some stuff around.

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  • So I got a Nintendo Switch last month. One of the first games I had gotten for the system was the recently released Super Mario 3d All-Stars. I had really been wanting to play Super Mario Odyssey instead, but my brother had a copy of that game that I could borrow later, so I decided to get 3dAS first, as I had never really played the 3 games on the collection.

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  • Weeknotes 2020-10-18

    So my current webhost finally decided to give me a deadline, the long and short of it is that my new server needs to be ready by December the 9th, giving me a bit under a month to get things in order. I’m already in the middle of setting up the new server, so I think I’ll be ready by early November anyway. Most of the code to run the new blog is also mostly ready (who knows how many bugs there are though!

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  • Weeknotes 2020-10-11

    The world continues to be terrible. The PH government wants people to get back to work and everything to spur the economy (with health precautions and everything). A lot of people have no choice, but I’m fortunate enough to not have to go out there yet, and I’m sure people like me will still hold back. This all would have been a lot easier if the government had gotten control of this pandemic early on but it is what it is.

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  • In the news this week: Donald Trump, who for some reason is still the US president, has tested positive for Covid19, adding even more chaos and uncertainty to the US election season. The rest of the world has no choice but to pay attention, given how much US politics affects the rest of us The Philippines is now #20 worldwide in total Covid cases, yay! Yay? Some drama about the PH congress leadership?

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Sep 2020

  • Weeknotes 2020-09-27

    October is imminent! There are two distractions I’m looking forward to in the coming month. The first one is Inktober, which I’ve been doing since 2016. Basically it’s just to do 30 ink drawings in October, one per day. There are some official prompts, which I’ll probably follow. I haven’t really done any serious sketching in a while, maybe this will help me get back into the groove.

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  • Weeknotes 2020-09-20

    It’s hard to imagine this is already the 3rd week of September, it feels like the month is passing by quickly, although I haven’t been particularly busy recently. I did do some paid work this past week; not a lot, just filling in to provide some emergency support/consultation. I guess the reason it feels like the week passed by quickly is that I started a new side project (like many programmers, I am afflicted by the curse of wanting to start too many side projects).

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  • Weeknotes 2020-09-13

    It has certainly been a week, yes it has. The world continues to turn (and burn even). I’ve been busy. Not so much with work, though there was a bit of that due to a required emergency software change (aren’t they always emergencies?). I wasn’t doing the emergency work myself, more like consulting and advising how to approach it, so not much to tell there. I did quite a bit of work on my personal data processes/backups/workflows.

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  • I finished Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End yesterday, and I felt like making a post about it, since I had a bunch of screenshots. Late game review because the game came out in 2016. I think I got it from PS+? Certainly didn’t pay for it. I first played the original Uncharted trilogy back in 2010-2011, but I found out just now while writing this post that I never finished Uncharted 3 (started yes, apparently), so that explains why some story elements seemed unfamiliar in the 4th game.

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  • Weeknotes 2020-09-06

    It’s September! The last six months were a blur. It’s considered “Christmas season” over here already I guess. The local memes are that once the clock hits midnight between Aug 31 and Sep 1, your neighbor’s Christmas lights are magically up. Also of course the famous Jose Mari Chan gets famous starting September, since malls and stores love to play his Christmas songs during this time. IDK what to expect for Christmas season this year though, since we are still in a pandemic.

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  • On Mobile App Development

    This post is just quite a few thoughts on mobile apps and mobile app development, all mishmashed together. I don’t claim to be a mobile app specialist, at best I’ve dabbled in them, but enough to form some opinions I guess? A Bit of History My first exposure to mobile app development when I got pulled to help my then-company’s then-fledgling mobile team with cleaning up the codebase for their iOS app.

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Aug 2020

  • Weeknotes 2020-08-30

    This last week was weird. I feel like I didn’t really get much done in terms of productivity, yet I don’t feel I was unproductive. A very relaxed and chill week. Once again a tiny bit of work done this past week, some fixes, including to side projects. I also spent some time preparing for some events next weekend. Although I wasn’t productive this week, I did outline a bit of a roadmap of new features for one of my side projects, hopefully I can get into that in the coming weeks!

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  • Weeknotes 2020-08-23

    The week after I posted about phoning in the weeknotes, here I am with one where there’s nothing much to report. Not that surprising, given how busy I was over the previous few weeks, I took the opportunity to take a more relaxing week. There was a bit of work to be done, but very miniscule by comparison. Minor fixes here and there, including to some side projects. I did get to write on the blog more, as expected.

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  • 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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  • 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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  • These weeknotes are coming in late in the day because of reasons. (The reasons being laziness and procrastination.) Actually, I feel like I’ve been kind of phoning in the weeknotes over the past few weeks, they’ve mostly been “hey, I’ve been busy, so nothing of significance happened, but here are some things I watched/played.” Supposedly one of the side effects of writing regular updates is that you tend to look out for more interesting things to do so you have something to write about, even on an unconscious level.

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  • Weeknotes 2020-08-09

    Still kind of busy, although there’s a bunch of things I hope I can finally wrap up this week, so I can move on to the long list of other things I want to be doing. The world continues to be bleak, so I’m still hiding from it. My stuff: Forty-two. I thought about just merging these into a single post for the day, but nah, this seems better. Reworking the old charity side project still ongoing.

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  • Forty Two

    Forty two is of course the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.” (if you haven’t yet read the 5-book Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy, I suggest you do so, you are in for a treat.) For some reason I imagined I would be able to take at least a couple of days off of everything else I’m doing to chill and actually craft a well-written, deep, introspective post for the occasion, but alas, various things I’m working on and all the usual distractions means I am here in the early morning hours of the day itself typing this out.

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  • Weeknotes 2020-08-02

    Kind of a busy week for me again, so the week kind of passed me by quickly. It’s August! In one month it will be (PH) Christmas season! It feels like July went by more quickly than other quarantine months. My stuff: A bit of consulting work. Reworking the old charity side project still ongoing. I was hoping to finish all the changes last week and next week would be testing and deployment, but stuff got in the way (and estimates may have been a bit off), but the spillover is small and we should still be fine for finishing everything next week.

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