Roy Tang

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

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Blog: A blog is a website consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries, typically displayed in reverse chronlogical order. A single entry is called a blog post. You can subscribe to an RSS feed of this list.

Jun 2021

  • Weeknotes 2021-06-13

    These weeknotes are being published a day late, for reasons that will be discussed later. A quote “The price of being a sheep is boredom. The price of being a wolf is loneliness. Choose one or the other with great care.” - Hugh MacLeod The world: Early last week, a slew of big websites went offline due to some problems at a CDN, which is some kind of testament to the problems with centralization, but my favorite part of that story was that tech news site The Verge did their reporting from a Google doc during the outage but they accidentally tweeted the edit link instead so for a short while everyone was reporting for them.

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  • A quote “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” – Ernest Hemingway The world: This week was the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, and a recent tweet highlighted how the HK government, which used to freely allow commemorating the event, is now cracking down on the former colony’s freedoms. StackOverflow has been sold to an investment company.

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  • After reading a couple of Hercule Poirot mysteries, I decided to try an Agatha Christie book from outside that series. I found that And Then There Were None was one of those commonly appearing on lists of her best works, and the concept intrigued me: Ten people are invited to an island and get trapped there and then murders start to happen. Kind of hard to talk about it without spoiling too much (and what I’ve said might already have been spoilers!

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May 2021

  • Weeknotes 2021-05-30

    June is almost upon us, hopefully bringing some respite from the scorching summer heat. This year feels like it’s passing by very quickly. A quote There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.

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  • I’ve not read any Agatha Chrstie, so I thought I’d rectify that by getting into the Hercule Poirot series of books. To start off I chose Murder on the Orient Express because I watched the 2017 movie a couple of years ago and Death on the Nile because it has a movie coming out next year. I figure it would be a good contrast of movie-first vs book first. Took me a bit under a week of leisurely reading to finish Murder on the Orient Express.

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  • Anticipation and Anxiety

    Peter Rukavina quotes the New York Tribune about how Anticipation is the real thief of joy (as opposed to comparison): Anticipation is, in truth, the real thief of joy. The best times are always the unexpected ones. It is not the parties that you plan for weeks and look forward to that come off. There must be surprise and novelty and freshness to yield the last word in happiness and thrill.

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  • Thoughts on Vue.js

    I’m not big on modern frontend JavaScript frameworks (mostly because I think web pages should use as little JS as possible), but when I do find the need to use one, my weapon of choice is Vue.js. I dislike React, but mostly because (a) my first experience with React was with mobile development using React Native for mobile app development, which I generally don’t like; and (b) I don’t like Facebook, which backs React.

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  • Weeknotes 2021-05-23

    It’s the last week of May (more or less), and I’m mostly looking forward to a new month because I’m tired of ridiculous summer heat and I’m hoping the sun tones it down a bit in June. The one aircon we have in the house has been busted all summer, so we have been suffering through the heat and surviving mostly through stacking multiple fans and also an excessive number of showers.

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  • Weeknotes 2021-05-16

    A quote “Who has never killed an hour? Not casually or without thought, but carefully: a premeditated murder of minutes. The violence comes from a combination of giving up, not caring, and a resignation that getting past it is all you can hope to accomplish. So you kill the hour. You do not work, you do not read, you do not daydream. If you sleep it is not because you need to sleep.

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  • Weeknotes 2021-05-09

    This post is being published a day late. Things happen okay? Sometimes you get busy and things need to be pushed back. The world: like the thug that he is, our dear president claimed that the arbitral award ruling in the PH’s favor was nothing more than a sheet of paper he could easily discard. He also challenged former justice Antonio Carpio to a debate over the West Philippine Sea issue, a challenge the latter quickly accepted.

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  • I finished reading Snow Crash in around three weeks, slightly faster than the other comparable work I’ve read this year, which was Neuromancer. Comparable of course only in the sense that they both have some kind of worldwide internet-like network as a central plot point. Otherwise, they are not really that similiar, though the review is made easier by having a base for comparison. Snow Crash is much less cyberpunk than Neuromancer, and maybe takes itself a little less seriously too?

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  • Over the past couple of years, I’ve been regularly playing digital boardgames online on Steam with one of my friend groups, I thought I’d do reviews of them. This is my fourth such review, and this time I’m gonna talk about Root. This is a IRL boardgame by Leder Games with the Steam version published by Dire Wolf Digital. Root is a competitive game themed about multiple factions vying for supremacy in a forest area.

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  • Weeknotes 2021-05-02

    It’s already May? April felt like it came and went so quickly. But then again, time has little meaning in this accursed pandemic. The world: The brouhaha over community pantries (as described last week), seems to have calmed down and they are now generally coordinating with LGUs for assistance in maintaining health protocols Meanwhile, the government has embarked on a propaganda campaign to assert that we aren’t the worst in terms of pandemic response in the world Certain congress people continue to promote the usage of the drug Ivermectin, which has no known effect on Covid-19, as a Covid-19 cure or something.

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Apr 2021

  • Math and Privilege

    In a recent STEM-focused newsletter, Noahpinion talked a bit about the myth of math being an inborn ability: Again and again, we have seen the following pattern repeat itself: Different kids with different levels of preparation come into a math class. Some of these kids have parents who have drilled them on math from a young age, while others never had that kind of parental input. On the first few tests, the well-prepared kids get perfect scores, while the unprepared kids get only what they could figure out by winging it—maybe 80 or 85%, a solid B.

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  • Ludum Dare 48: Diver

    The jam A thing I did last weekend was to participate in the 48th LUDUM DARE game jam. Doing gamedev has been a long-time elusive dream of mine, all the way back to my college years. I’ve had a number of failed attempts to get into gamedev, both solo and with other people.I’ve also played around with things like PyGame, Unity, DragonRuby, etc. I read about the LD48 game jam this April and signed up to participate.

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  • Falcon and Winter Soldier review (with some spoilers): more action-packed and straightforward compared to Wandavision, jumping straight into the action from the get go some great performances here, especially from Sebastian Stan (Bucky), Wyatt Russell (John Walker), and Daniel Bruhl (Zemo) Bucky and Sam have great chemistry, even though they start out annoyed at each other pacing is a bit odd at times; feels more like an extended movie than a weekly episodic series (especially compared to Wandavision, which took advantage of the weekly format really well) although a complete story by itself, this one felt more of a setup for future MCU storylines (again compared to Wandavision) while overall the season was good, I find Wandavision was the clearly better watch for me, though I suppose your mileage may vary if your preference is for action sequences Ending spoilers follow:

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  • I’ve been a bit busy this weekend (see below), so this post is running a bit late. The world: An ongoing saga right here in the Philippines: Last weekend, community pantries for the needy started sprouting up in Metro Manila and all over the country, largely inspired by one started in Maginhawa here in Quezon City. The central idea was “give what you can, take what you need.” Stories spread of heartwarming stories like a poor old man donating some food even though he had very little and an ice cream vendor giving away the remnants of his cart for the day to those in the queue.

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  • Blogs of Yesteryear Part 2

    This is a follow up to “Blogs of Yesteryear”. This is the remainder of my blogroll from 2004/2005. I feel like the second half is less interesting than the first half, but I figured I might as well go through them as well. geekiness I think the blogs under this session are about general geeky topics. Absurd Genius - looks this was a tech and gaming-focused blog that featured a web portal for the PSP browser.

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  • Weeknotes 2021-04-18

    I’m not sure what to think of this past week, feels like it went by quickly. I may have spent too much of it daydreaming. The world: NCR+ bubble is now one week into modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ - an acronym that makes no sense). Cases still seem to be pretty high on a day-to-day basis, though we’re told the R number is dropping slightly, so that’s good I guess?

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  • Google Chrome and FloC

    Google Chrome is adding a new feature that lets their browser target you with ads without using third-party browser cookies. Here’s some more info: How to fight back against Google FLoC. But basically it comes down to: if you’re a web user who doesn’t want your browsing history to be used to target you with advertisments, stop using Google Chrome. There are many alternatives. I’m a Firefox boy myself. For site owners, you can add a Permissions-Policy: interest-cohort=() response header to opt-out of your site being included in the data collected about your Chrome visitors.

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  • A number of people I follow have been raving about Ted Lasso for a while, so I thought I’d give it a try. My thoughts: Season 1 is 10 episodes, each episode 30 minutes long. I finished all of the episodes over the span of one day! I didn’t know much coming in: I knew it was about sports, and I knew it was supposedly a comedy. For some reason I assumed it was about American football.

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  • dorinlazar.ro talks about programming being hard: Most beginners in programming eventually end up with the same ingratiating message: „Programming is easy, everyone can do it”, with some threatening message that people doing the gatekeeping should stop doing that. I’m here to tell you that that is not true. Programming is hard, programming is not for everyone, and for the time being everyone might be able to do it, but most definitely most should not.

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  • Without Their Permission is a 2013 book by Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian. The central thesis of the book is that modern-day internet breaks down barriers and allows anyone to accomplish great things without having to go through traditional gatekeepers like publishers and such. I actually read the first part of the book a few years ago, and just resumed reading the book now because I saw in iBooks that it remembered where I had stopped.

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  • Weeknotes 2021-04-11

    The world: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Queen Elizabeth’s husband, has passed away. So has DMX, American rapper. Big facebook breach reported, etc. Doesn’t seem like news, really. My phone number was among the data leaked. The country is still experiencing a surge in cases, hospitals and ICUs still bursting to capacity. Yet in spite of the crisis, the president has not been around. This has prompted questions of whether he’s still alive.

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  • Blogs of Yesteryear

    During a recent session of spelunking through old web stuff, I managed to find some older versions of the blog that I hadn’t found before (and hence aren’t available in the ancient archives). Screenshots of those old versions have been inserted back in the timeline. I guess it’s one of those things I never bothered to archive because in theory all of that content had already been exported from Blogspot to Wordpress and eventually to the current site.

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  • So after reading Neuromancer last month, I was looking for a bit of lighter fare, so I decided to work on some Discworld books and started with the first book of the City Watch subseries, Guards! Guards!. I was already quite a bit in when I was like “why does all of this seem so familiar? Are Discworld books really so same-y that it feels like I’ve read this before?” The good news is that it wasn’t true, Discworld books aren’t super-samey; I have read it before, way back in 2016 in fact.

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  • Weeknotes 2021-04-04

    It’s April! Or as it’s otherwise known, March 2020 month 13. As is usual, we are suffering the sweltering summer heat. Also, it’s Easter Sunday, if that means anything to you. The world: Surprising almost no one, the PH government extended the ECQ lockdown in the NCR+ bubble. Anyone with half a brain could have told you that the one week ECQ was no way going to be enough, given what we know about the virus’ life cycle.

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Mar 2021

  • Weeknotes 2021-03-28

    It’s the last weekend of March. It feels like the month went by quickly. The world: Local covid response: The government introduced the concept of an “NCR Plus” bubble last Monday, restricting travel in and out of the NCR and adjacent provinces, in response to the rising cases. Still, the daily counts kept rising, hitting record highs of almost 10k cases daily. Even before the dust has settled on the bubble response, they decided to announce last night a reversion to the stricter ECQ.

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  • See also: Justice League spoiler-free review (2017) This is basically a movie that’s more than 3 years old, we’re not holding back on spoilers here. plot basically follows the same beats as the theatrical cut except this time we have a lot more team setup time (one of my criticisms from the previous version), giving the characters stronger backgrounds, especially Cyborg and Flash Ray Fisher was right to complain; in this version he’s one of the important characters of the ensemble while he was basically a minor guest character in the theatrical cut more DC characters make appearances in this version, among them Ryan Choi, DeSaad, Granny Goodness, Martian Manhunter, the Joker and of course Darkseid himself I accept this version as a better version of the original theatrical release and is my new DCEU headcanon it never would have worked in theaters anyway, given the four hour runtime.

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  • Weeknotes 2021-03-21

    The world: Over the past couple of days, our nationwide daily covid cases broke 7000+, the highest recorded so far. Have to be super careful when going out for errands. Not that I wasn’t being careful even before, mind you. Just now, government has announced we are still under GCQ (see my post about the PH quarantine levels), but with more restrictions, etc. Looks like they are still hesitant to provide a stronger lockdown which would require paying people to stay home so they don’t starve to death.

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  • 2021 Site Update

    Over the past couple of weeks or so, I’ve made quite a few changes to the site, mostly focused on frontend/layout/UI changes. The changes are more or less done, so here’s a changelog entry. The main driver of the changes was this post about best practices for text websites. Not all of it applies to the site, since I do have a bunch of image content around as well, but enough that I was spurred to apply many of the points and also include some additional changes I’ve been meaning to do.

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  • It took me more than three weeks to get through Gibson’s influential work Neuromancer, a book that pioneered the cyberpunk genre and even introduced terms like cyberspace, ICE and “the matrix” into popular lexicon. It’s not because the book is bad or anything, it’s just that Gibson tends to describe everything very vividly, and almost all of it from the POV of our lead character Case, who is sometimes in the real world, sometimes in cyberspace, and sometimes simply just drunk or high.

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  • When I was much younger, I used to strongly identify as Lawful Good. Whenever I’d play any of the old-school DND RPGs like Baldur’s Gate or Neverwinter Nights, I’d find my main character almost always being a Lawful Good Paladin goody-goody type. This was back when I was younger and more idealistic and a stronger believer in “rule of law”-type principles. As the years have gone by, I’ve found that my alignment has shifted considerably.

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  • Weeknotes 2021-03-14

    Happy Pi Day! The world: It’s the one year anniversary of the world’s longest lockdown. In some kind of sick anniversary celebration, local covid cases are on the rise. Yesterday, 5000 new cases were reported, the highest daily rate in 6 months or so. And now a Philippine variant has been detected. Now is not the time to be complacent, we all need to be more careful. The government seems unwilling to impose another widespread ECQ and are focusing on targetted, granular lockdowns.

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  • Over the past couple of years, I’ve been regularly playing digital boardgames online on Steam with one of my friend groups, I thought I’d do reviews of them. Today’s review is for Blood Rage: Digital Edition. This is a Norse mythology themed game based on a IRL boardgame. It’s one of those “place your guys on the map” boardgame where each player vies for control of provinces. The game is divided into three ages, and at the end of each age one of the provinces is destroyed as part of ragnarok.

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  • Weeknotes 2021-03-07

    March has begun. Did it ever really end? The world: Vaccination finally starts in the country, with initial donated batches of Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccine arriving in the country. Just in time for the one year anniversary of the world’s longest lockdown. SinoVac isn’t the best choice, but many of my doctor friends say they’ll settle for it if that’s what’s available for them. I think QC is planning to use AstraZeneca for their citizens, but worrying is that AZ’s efficacy has been shown to be not so good against certain variants such as the South African one, which has already been detected in the country.

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  • #WandaVision spoiler-free review: Overall, I really liked it, and I think they did well with the one-episode-per-week format. The show certainly would not have been this hyped if it all came in one drop Really difficult to not spoil. If you have somehow avoid being spoiled by the internet until it all dropped, good for you! A very emotional story of Wanda dealing with the aftermath of Infinity War/Endgame good usage of the sitcom tropes fantastic performance by Elisabeth Olsen lots of fan service for comic book fans to dig into.

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Feb 2021

  • Weeknotes 2021-02-28

    Today is the last day of February. Tomorrow, we march on. The world: Biden ordered his first military strike last week. America is back, etc. This past week, embrassingly our local police and anti-drug agency got into a shootout against each other near the Ever Gotesco mall in Quezon City. Both sides claim they were doing a buy-bust, which is impossible. As usual, there is little transparency about what actually happened, and many promises of “impartial” probes and investigations.

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  • Game Review: Knightin'

    A while back, on a whim I purchased this indie game Knightin’ on Steam. I forget how I came across it and why I decided to buy, but no regrets. It’s a tightly-focused dungeon crawler in the style of original Legend of Zelda/Link to the Past dungeons. Each dungeon is a set of rooms you clear one at a time, until you get to the dungeon boss and beat him. Clearing rooms involves defeating enemies, solving puzzles, avoiding obstacles and opening chests.

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  • I read Ghost of My Father by Scott Berkun this past week. This book isn’t my usual fare. It’s a memoir about the author’s father and their relationship and family life. I’m familiar with the author’s work, but mostly in the realms of tech, design and public speaking, but this book was largely personal, and mostly talking about strangers I had no real interest in. I think the only reason I have a copy at all is because I was on the author’s mailing list and got a review copy of some sort.

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  • Over the past couple of years, I’ve been regularly playing digital boardgames online on Steam with one of my friend groups, I thought I’d do reviews of them. My second review is about Scythe: Digital Edition. Scythe is a competitive game where you play one of seven factions in an alternate history post-war Eastern Europe. Players vie to control territories, hire workers, build mechs, accumulate resources, accomplish secret objectives, and other such goals.

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  • Weeknotes 2021-02-21

    Last week of February is about to start. Time flies, as they say. The world: Texas (and other parts of the southern US I guess) have been hit by heavy winter storms, with accompanying power grid failures and such. We have some relatives there so it’s a concern. Meanwhile, their governor falsely blames renewables for the power problems and their senator went to Cancun. Facebook cut off Australian news links.

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  • Walkaway is a novel by blogger Cory Doctorow. It tells the story of a near-future world and a trend of people going “walkaway”. This term means walking away from what they call “default society”, characterized by late stage capitalism, massive inequality, ever-present surveillance, and a world controlled by what they call the zottarich, or simply zottas. Not too far from our own present reality of course. Later, the novel also delves into the near-future (?

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  • Over the past couple of years, I’ve been regularly playing digital boardgames online on Steam with one of my friend groups, I thought I’d do reviews of them. The first one is Sentinels of the Multiverse. We’ve played the IRL boardgame of it before during one of our sporadic in-person meetups. If you’re not familiar, it’s a comics-themed coop game where up to 4 people play as a group of heroes to beat a villain (basically comic book shenanigans).

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  • Weeknotes 2021-02-14

    The world: Trump has been acquitted in his second impeachment trial, proving yet again to the world that the US is a flawed democracy dominated by corruption at the highest levels Duterte says he cannot be brave in the mouth against China. Back before the 2016 elections, somebody I used to know claimed that we needed a “rottweiler” like Duterte as president because he would be tough against China. I remember this sometimes and laugh and then am also sad.

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  • Don't Be Ashamed of Joy

    Lauren R. O’Connor talks about a childhood lesson about pleasure: When I was eight years old, I saw the movie Back to the Future for the first time, and I fell in love. All I wanted to think and talk about was Back to the Future. I dreamt about Back to the Future at night. I rode my bike down the steepest hill in my neighborhood and pretended I was flying, approaching 88 mph, about to zap myself back in time.

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  • Decentralization

    Will Schreiber argues that decentralization is a narrative mirage: Human history is a story of increasing centralization. From roaming the plains of Africa, to settling down and building homes, to buying food in central markets, to instituting courts of law. Progression is compression. How can I make it so everybody isn’t making their own shirts? Deciding their own justice? Tabulating their own spreadsheets? I’ve argued a few times on here in favor of decentralization (see 1, 2, 3), and the whole concept of movements like Indieweb is a preference for a decentralized internet where everyone has his or her own personal site, instead of reliance on centralized large silos like Facebook or Twitter or whatever.

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  • Irregular Calendars

    A post from Austin Kleon reminded me of the proposed conceptual international fixed calendar: (Click to view full-size) 11 Feb 2021 1:53amClose Basically: each year would be 13 months of 28 days each, plus a bonus day at the end of each year, for a total of 365 days. This way, the first day of each month would always be a Sunday, the 2nd would always be a Monday, the 3rd a Tuesday, and so on.

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