Roy Tang

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

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All entries tagged tech-life.

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Apr 2021

  • 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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    Posted by under post at #blogging #tech life
    Also on: mastodon twitter / 0 / 1528 words

Mar 2021

  • 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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    Posted by under post at #changelog #tech-life
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Feb 2021

  • 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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    Posted by under post at #books #tech life
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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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  • Newsletters, Redux

    A while back I wrote about how I wasn’t a big fan of the recent trend of newsletters. Since then, I’ve realized Substack actually publishes RSS feeds for their newsletters, so I’ve been following a a bit more of them. I thought I’d recommend a few that I’ve found to be quite interesting/useful: Money Stuff by Matt Levine. The only non-substack entry on today’s list, this Bloomberg column covers financial matters like stock market and investment stuff.

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  • Sincere Blogging

    On 3 Feb 2021 3:11pm I wrote: Please write more. Not just on social media, FB, Twitter, whatever. Write on your own sites and blogs. On your tumblrs, wordpresses, whatever. Long-form, rambling, incessant. The world could use more sincere blogging. The above was written mostly as a response to finding so many of my friends’ old and inactive blogs in my RSS reader. I like the term I coined there, “sincere blogging”.

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    Posted by under post at #tech-life #blogging
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  • “The Year Without Pants” is a book by writer Scott Berkun about his time as a team lead at Wordpress.com back in 2010-2012. This book came out in 2013, and the conceit of the book back then was that Wordpress.com, run by Automattic, was a fully remote company, something that was still a rarity at that time. It’s weird reading this book in the context of the current pandemic, where remote work is now the norm among tech companies.

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    Posted by under post at #books #tech life
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  • Link Rot

    1 For a while now, I’d been meaning to go through the links section of this site and clean up/organize all the bookmarks I’ve logged there over the years (first via delicious and later via pocket). One of the first things I had to do was to go through and identify any broken links. So I wrote a quick Python script to ping the URLs and it turns out there were a lot of them, unsurprising given the archives go back to 2004.

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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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    Posted by under post at #current events #tech life
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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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  • 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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Dec 2020

  • 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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Nov 2020

  • 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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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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Sep 2020

Aug 2020

  • 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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Jul 2020

Jun 2020

  • Scraping Facebook

    I had been meaning to quit Facebook for more than a year maybe, but I kept putting it off. The main reason being that I like having backups of my own digital data (still very much a pack rat), and Facebook’s social media export is less than ideal, for me at least. Less than ideal why? It doesn’t include a lot of content I would like backed up, including: comments on my posts (there have been some good conversations with friends over the years I would prefer to preserve) things I’ve reposted from other people content of certain groups I’m members of (again, mostly for some interesting discussions over the years) pictures posted by other people that I’ve been tagged in For a while I looked around for scraper programs/scripts to this for me, but none really did what I wanted.

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  • Why Twitter?

    Alright so someone responded to my previous post on quitting facebook asking why I’m quitting facebook but keeping Twitter. This is a fair question; after all, Twitter also makes its money off targetted advertising, can also get you addicted to engagement (likes/RTs), the Twitter app can also be dumb, and there can also be a lot of toxic people on this platform. So here are my reasons for keeping Twitter, and you may also get some tips for improving your twitter experience:

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    Posted by under post at #tech life
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  • Quitting Facebook

    (This will be cross-posted to my Facebook account.) It’s been long overdue, but I’m quitting Facebook. Why? It’s not you, but it’s not me either. It’s Facebook. There’s a ton of reasons for quitting Facebook, but here are some highlights: Facebook is dumb. The site is barely usable and the app is a big battery hog. And posts don’t even support formatting so now you’re getting this one in Markdown.

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May 2020

  • Migrating away from GMail

    I’ve basically been using GMail as my main email account since I first got access in 2006ish. “Main email account” means I use it as the primary access point for all my other online accounts. GMail was certainly revolutionary when it came out, and had a lot of benefits: it was fast, easily searchable and had a lot of free storage. But in the modern day, there are significant disadvantages to using GMail:

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  • Location, Location, Location

    A while back I got an export of my Foursquare/Swarm data. If you’re not familiar, these were a pair of apps that were used for “checking-in” to particular locations, with a sort of gamification system where if you checked in at a place often enough, you would earn points and eventually become “Mayor” of the venue. The idea being that owners of those venues might give some benefits to those who check-in often at those locations (AFAIK, this never really caught on in the Philippines).

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    Posted by under post at #tech life #meta #changelog
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  • HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset

    I ordered this HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset off Lazada on the first day of MECQ. It’s a bit expensive. Delivery came in Saturday morning, so around a week, not too bad.

    I’m actually not super-picky when it comes to audio issues, but lately the 3.5mm audio jack on my Razer keyboard has been giving off static. I couldn’t move my speaker connectors to the back of the desktop tower case because I often switch them out for earphones (when I’m doing voice chat or streaming on Twitch for example), and it’s inconvenient to do so when they’re so far in the back, so I’ve been wanting to buy a headset that can be plugged into a USB slot instead. That way, I can switch output sources via Windows 10’s built-in software controls. (You can switch output devices by clicking the speaker icon on the Windows 10 taskbar and clicking the ^ icon near the output device name).

    I decided I might as well get a fancy headset, this will be the most expensive one I’ve ever bought. On the upside, I get a better (in theory) mic for recordings and voice chats (I was previously using the mic off a cheap webcam), and I can use it on the PS4 as well.

    Tried it out a bit, it’s pretty nifty. But sometimes the mic attachment seems to fall off too easily. Maybe I’ll make a proper review once I’ve used it for while, although IDK if I’m not enough of an audiophile for any review to be meaningful.

    HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset
    HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset
  • Previously. In the most recent weeknotes, I mentioned this post about bringing blogs back to the internet and the ensuing discussion on Hacker News. Some further thoughts on blogging based on the HN discussion: On Traffic and Engagement Someone mentioned that one of the reasons most people stop blogging is that it feels like there’s nobody reading their work. This reminds me of a convo I had with a friend a couple of years back when he saw one of my blog posts.

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    Posted by under post at #blogging #writing #tech life
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Apr 2020

  • Privacy and 'Nothing to Hide'

    I was reading this post about how to respond to the “Nothing to Hide” argument against the concept of privacy. The quoted DuckDuckGo blog post lists some pretty good reasons, but I thought I’d expound on some thoughts as well. The core of the “Nothing to Hide” argument is that if you, personally, have nothing incriminating or illegal to hide, then you don’t need to worry about privacy intrusions. The argument is used mainly to justify things like state-sponsored surveillance, but might also be applicable to data collection activities by large corporations such as Facebook or Google.

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  • Naked CSS Day

Mar 2020

Feb 2020

Jan 2020

  • Weird Blog Spam

    I am generally receptive to receiving emails from strangers, so I don’t mind having a contact email publicly accessible on this site. But I don’t know if it’s a consequence of having a reasonably active blog or what, but in the past few years, I’ve sometimes gotten what I like to call “weird blog spam.” Typically it starts out with an introductory email that often includes a compliment about a specific article on your blog, accompanied by an offer to increase your blog’s visibility if you would just link to one of their articles:

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    Posted by under post at #tech life
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Nov 2019

  • It was a bit more than a year ago that I decided to haphazardly and suddenly migrate from Wordpress to Hugo. It’s a good time to look back and reflect on that decision and consider where we are now, and how to move forward. Good: I am extremely happy with the site’s browser performance. It currently scores an insanely high 96 on Google’s Pagespeed tool, and I’m pretty sure I I know how to close the remaining 4% gap.

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    Posted by under post at #tech life #blogging #hugo
    Also on: twitter / 2 / 621 words
  • New Video Card!

    Posted by under post at #tech life
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 879 words
  • Grab Overpricing

    So the Philippine Competition Commission recently fined rideshare provider Grab P23M for overcharging their customers. Apparently only P5M of that is meant to go back to the affected riders, which seems like a piddly amount considering the number of riders in the Philippines. We’ll see how of that I actually get credited back, if any. Grab pricing has been steadily increasing since Uber exited the market early last year. The other day Grab wanted to charge me a bit over P400 for a 13km ride to a commercial area, which seemed insane.

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  • On Feed Readers

    I don’t use Inoreader anymore, but a recent blog post of theirs recently appeared in my feeds that mentioned they implemented “sort by magic”. This was a feature that Google reader had 10 YEARS AGO! There hasn’t been much innovation in the feed reader space in the last decade it seems, which is totally understandable given they are mostly tools used by internet “power users”, and mostly by older netheads, so the target market isn’t very large.

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    Posted by under post at #tech life
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  • An Offline Walk

    The other day, a family member mistakenly took my phone with them to the office so I was without a phone all day. This meant my daily walk had to be offline, which was a weird thing I hadn’t experienced in a while. I couldn’t help but note my hand’s instinctively reaching for the mobile phone that wasn’t there. Mobile phones are so ubiquitous in our daily lives, but sometimes it feels like a crutch how we can be totally dependent on them.

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  • Indieweb Updates and Thoughts

    I mentioned before that I was looking into indieweb stuff. There’s a whole wiki of information about it if you’re into that sort of thing, but also here’s a recent post which kind of serves as an overview. I have some comments on the content of this post, more on that later. Indieweb things I’ve already implemented on this site: have a personal domain (since 2006) microformats (h-card and h-feeds and h-entrys), though I would have to be using some sort of microformats reader to make sure everything there is hunky-dory (no concrete plans for this yet) webmention support, via webmention.

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    Posted by under post at #tech life #meta #changelog
    Also on: twitter / 7 9 / 668 words

Oct 2019

  • Current desktop images (Windows 10 PC and Macbook Air). I’ve been toying with the idea of dual-booting my PC with Ubuntu because reasons (and also I miss having an Ubuntu desktop to toy around with), and I figured maybe I should document my current setup first before I try something that might end in disaster. Both of the pictured wallpapers are from here. Also, yes I am generally bad at cleaning my desktops of icons.

    Current desktop images (Windows 10 PC and Macbook Air). I’ve been toying with the idea of dual-booting my PC with Ubuntu because reasons (and also I miss having an Ubuntu desktop to toy around with), and I figured maybe I should document my current setup first before I try something that might end in disaster. Both of the pictured wallpapers are from here. Also, yes I am generally bad at cleaning my desktops of icons.
    Current desktop images (Windows 10 PC and Macbook Air). I’ve been toying with the idea of dual-booting my PC with Ubuntu because reasons (and also I miss having an Ubuntu desktop to toy around with), and I figured maybe I should document my current setup first before I try something that might end in disaster. Both of the pictured wallpapers are from here. Also, yes I am generally bad at cleaning my desktops of icons.
  • Archiving Yahoo Groups

    So a couple of days ago, Yahoo announced that it was shutting down Yahoo Groups. I was a big user of Yahoo Groups back in the day. I was a member of several active mailing lists in the early 2000s, including some fandom groups (see: The Rise and Fall of the Final Fantasy Forum) and a few alumni groups and some MTG-related ones. Now all of that content is vanishing!

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  • An Archive of My Own

    A post about making a guy making an archive of his twitter data made the rounds lately, so I figured I should make my own post about my ongoing efforts in this regard. I mentioned in an earlier post that I like being able to use social media to dig through my own history. But as the first link above says, these social media sites can go away since nothing lasts forever.

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Sep 2019

  • I have a GeForce 970, it’s a bit old, I got it in 2015. I’ve been having an issue where sometimes in some games, my displays (I have two monitors) will die (go completely black), but the game goes on running for a while (I can hear the audio), then after a couple of minutes or so the audio also stops so I can’t really do anything except do a hard reboot. I’ve tried VNCing into the PC to see what’s going on after this time, but it’s not accessible over the network so I assume it’s dead.

    The crashes happen most often while playing Magic Arena (says a lot about the game!), but I’ve also had it happen once or twice on Starcraft 2 and Borderlands 2. I don’t play very demanding games graphically. I can’t identify any specific action that causes the crashes.

    Some other things I’ve tried:

    • attach my 2nd monitor to onboard graphics, keeping the main monitor connected to the vidcard. In this case when the crash happens, the main monitor goes black, while the 2nd monitor still has a display, but is frozen
    • remove my 2nd monitor (I thought I might be overtaxing the graphics card by having two of them??)
    • checking for memory (RAM) issues. I did have some RAM issues a couple of months ago, but that turned up to be due to a dirty connector, and it was causing crashes not just in games but in general Windows usage, so I think this is a different issue now
    • checking for disk issues. I actually found some bad sectors on my secondary drive and ended up replacing it. But even if I ran everything from my primary (SSD) drive, the graphics crashes still occur
    • reinstalling/updating device drivers
    • resetting Windows 10 (yup, I went that far)

    After all of these, I’m still encountering these crashes so I’m seriously considering replacing the graphics card now, but I’d like the be sure that it’s a graphics card issue and not something wonky with the motherboard, as my purchasing decisions will be different if the motherboard was the problem (I might as well get a new PC then). I’m looking for any advice to help me diagnose or confirm the problem.

    For reference, my current PC specs:

    • Case Silverstone Precision 10SST-PS10B
    • Fan 120mm internal aux fan
    • PSU Cooler Master B600 V2 600W
    • CPU Intel Core i5-4460
    • MB ASUS H97ME
    • RAM 2x DDR3 Kingston HyperX Fury 8gb 1600
    • VC Asus GTX970 STRIX OC 4gb
    • SSD Samsung 850Evo 250gb
    • SSHD Seagate Firecuda 2tb
  • 2019 Windows Installation List

    So I recently reinstalled Windows 10. This reminded me that there used to be a time that I reinstalled Windows so often that I would maintain a standard “installation list” of software that I would install afterwards. (I’m sure I have at least one of those old lists somewhere in my backups, too lazy to look for them now.). I thought I’d post an updated 2019 version, based on the recent episode.

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  • A Tale of Two Backups

    Despite my desktop PC being generally more stable after the events of the Great Memory Scare of 2019, I was still encountering occasionally crashes when playing games. And by crash I mean the displays dying although the PC continues to run for a short while thereafter and after which they proceed to apparently stop operating completely. It only happens when playing games, and most often when playing Magic Arena and sometimes (rarely) when playing Starcraft 2 or Borderlands 2.

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    Posted by under post at #tech life #gaming
    Also on: twitter / 0 / 1530 words

Aug 2019

  • Ephemeral social media

    I read this post: Why I’m automatically deleting my old tweets using AWS Lambda where the justification for regularly deleting your old social media content is that they are no longer representative of the current version of you and thus can be misleading. This has certainly been the case when famous people’s older tweets resurface (James Gunn comes to mind). To each his own and I kind of understand the intent, but this kind of thinking is a bit anathema to me.

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  • Three Hearts

    Shogun There’s a quote I like from James Clavell’s novel Shogun: β€œIt’s a saying they have, that a man has a false heart in his mouth for the world to see, another in his breast to show to his special friends and his family, and the real one, the true one, the secret one, which is never known to anyone except to himself alone, hidden only God knows where.”

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    Posted by under post at #quotes #tech life
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  • Big news in online repositories this week is that Bitbucket is sunsetting support for Mercurial! This might be the death knell for Mercurial, although Git was already the super popular choice before. Back when I started using online source control for my personal coding projects I started out with Bitbucket over Github because they offered unlimited private repos and Mercurial (which I had already tried out before at work, so at first I preferred it over git).

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  • The Great Memory Scare of 2019

    My current desktop PC has been with me since late 2015, so going on 4 years now. I bought relatively high-end parts for it at the time, hoping to be a bit future-proof so that it would last me longer than previous desktops. So I was a bit worried when I started encountering issues during the recent weeks. Here’s the timeline: May 2019, before my overseas trip. It happened a few times that the computer would completely shut down while I was playing Starcraft 2 coop.

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    Posted by under post at #tech life #gaming
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