Planetside 2 Stalking

Yep, it's another article about Planetside 2. This time, it's tips on how to become an efficient Stalker.

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Why Make Things Complicated?

Been jumping across projects recently. Pretty normal for me, just another day at work. Actually, I kinda requested that to happen. I don't want to get stuck months at a time on one project, that's boring especially with the pace web technologies are moving. It gives me the opportunity to play with different stacks, compare technology, criticize approach, all that fun stuff. This time around, all about ending up making things so complicated.

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How Documentation Should Be

In the last few months, I've been writing documentation for Ractive - a lesser-known but highly flexible UI framework. It's my go-to framework when doing personal projects or when I just want to make things work without futzing with tooling and all that jazz. But while the framework itself is pretty powerful, it has a weakness: It's documentation is a bit behind. So I've been fixing that and learned a few things along the way.

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Unit Test As Much As Possible

It's been a while since I last posted an article. I've been so busy the past few months that I have a lot of drafts but never had the time to just polish them up. Anyways, this time I'll be talking about unit testing, how code should be written to accommodate it, how testing should be done, and why prefer it over other forms of testing.

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Separation of Concerns

So it seems like the theme for this year's holiday dev discussion (more like holiday nerd wars) is the recurring idea of separation of concerns. The community is divided into two camps: The camp that believes in separation by language and the other is the camp that believes in separation of responsibility. So here's my opinion on a few things.

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How You Write CSS Might Be Breaking WYSIWYG Content

Whenever we work with content that comes from WYSIWYG editors, there's always feedback from QA about the styling not being quite right. Every time this is brought up, it's just dismissed as a WYSIWYG issue, that the nature of the content is just unpredictable during development. That's just a convenient excuse, and here's why.

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When I Review Code...

I am behind on my writing. Got busy in the last few weeks being in a shuffle of projects. Different challenges, different environments, different tech stacks, my kind of fun. And if there is one thing I like about it this time, we now officially incorporate code reviews in our workflow.

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High Reuse Web Interfaces

HTML and CSS maintainability, scalability and reusability is often taken for granted. Just because HTML Just Works™ and we can just pop in a CSS framework that Just Works™ doesn't mean it doesn't require the same amount of attention as your JS architecture, your PHP code quality or your awesome Java code. In most cases, it's actually HTML and CSS spaghetti that will slow you down. Here's how you can cut down development time by keeping these 5 little steps in mind when building web interfaces.

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Your Concept Of CSS Is Broken

A few weeks ago, I talked to the team about BEM, a simple naming convention that brings sense and structure to CSS. It was brought up because CSS doesn't get the same attention like the other tech used in the company. Its impact to delivery is often seen as negligible, dismissing it as just another bug in need of a fix. But unknown to everyone, it's dragging everyone back. As always, I get mixed reactions from the developers. Some find it fascinating, some find it silly, and others be like "meh". Here were some questions that were thrown in.

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Parallel Development in Drupal With This One Trick

Being in different projects and roles is fun. I get to try every technology I can get my hands on. The goal is not just to get a finger on every pie, it's also to accumulate knowledge of what works, what doesn't and when, and apply improvements in other projects or projects to come. But if there is one thing that still eludes me, it's how to efficiently do Drupal development in a multi-developer team. More is merrier, but not without some challenges.

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Context-Specific vs Context-Free CSS

For the past few weeks I've been in, drowned and out of a pool of projects, mostly Drupal. You might think that "Ahh, Drupal. So you do the same thing every time like a production line?" - not exactly. Even though the projects build on top of the same system, they all have their... eccentricities. In particular, CSS is written differently for each of them. In this article, it's all about the two ways of writing CSS: context-specific and context-free.

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Explosive Workflows

This week was... crazy I believe is the right word for it. I was dropped into two projects, both of which are in the middle of their sprints. Taking out a day to set up for both, that left me with just a few days to work on them. But that's cool because we have project managers who can move worlds and make room for stuff. One thing they can't do, however, is deal with problems related to development workflow. It's something only we developers can do. Here's a few that keep biting back and may need to be dealt with when I get back to work.

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GitLab Pages In A Breeze

My blog has quite a history. It started out on HelioHost as a plain WordPress installation, which eventually became a Wintersmith static site updated over FTP. Tired of the manual updating procedure, I moved to OpenShift to have it auto-build on push. Unable to work with CoffeeScript and Jade, I created my own static site generator written in vanilla JS. But writing in Node 0.10, the latest on OpenShift, was a pain. GitHub + Travis could have done the trick but reading about how to set it up was enough to drive me away. Then I remembered GitLab.

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Widgets - How Hard Could It Be?

Yesterday, I was given a task to build a drop-in widget - one that can be paradropped into some hostile website and survive landing. Yey! Right this way sir! I never thought I'd see the day that I'll be building one of those again. It was like the ghost of JavaScript past paying me a visit after 15 years. Remembering Friendster, my layout that was perfect in IE6 but the mp3 player was covering my face on Firefox 2, writing in vanilla JS without the aid of jQuery, hand-crafted XMLHttpRequest calls and all that. Good times, good times... wait. How in the world did I write those things? The horror ensues.

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Just Deploy My Stuff

Came across this video on YouTube while reading Twitter. Very interesting, especially the part where the speaker kinda explains how microservices give more control to the developer, and reducing reliance to operations.

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When thinking about Docker...

Every once in a while I'll learn something new, apply it to something real, and make a difference. I'm no dev-ops guy but I have always wanted to learn the tricks to streamline the development process, one that painless and from the eyes of a developer. Four months ago, I learned Docker out of curiosity. I was once a skeptic but it's just a matter of a change in the way of thinking that made me decide to move over. In this article, I'll show you what changed and how I use Docker.

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Finally Using Mechanical Pencil!

Another two weekends passed since publishing my own static site generator Mechanical Pencil. It Works On My Local™ but during deploy, it just throws up.

EEXIST: file already exists, symlink ...
        

The error is very vague and there's a lot of unknowns in play that just makes it very tedious to debug. Spending another 4+ hours on it, I managed to get it to deploy.

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What I Learned Building A Site Generator

Last month, I accidentally broke my blog setup. I wiped out the node_modules directory for some experiment, and ended up not being able to re-download the dependencies due to some error. I thought I was done for, and was already looking for alternatives. Fortunately, all I needed to fix it was to bump up the generator's version. The older version relied on really old dependencies that didn't install well. However, I did build a static site generator... from scratch.

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Ractive Tricks

Recently, I've been writing my projects with Gobble. It's a pretty neat build tool. Feed it files, you get processed files, done. Pull in Rollup and Babel, then you've got an ES6-guzzling machine, ready to pull in your shiny JS. Drop in RactiveJS, a lesser-known but very powerful UI library, now we're talking business. Today, I'm going to show you some neat time-saving tricks.

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Hands-on: Raspberry Pi 2 B

So today, the package arrived. I got my Raspberry Pi 2 B! And even more amazing is it's so simple to set up! I got it as part of the CanaKit Raspberry Pi 2 Complete Starter Kit. It includes everything you need to even make your TV into an instant media center/super huge PC monitor. It even came with a bunch of manuals for me to entirely ignore (which I did). And so my adventure starts...

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ES6 with Ractive, Gobble and Rollup

I took the week off... and a snow storm happened. Lucky? Maybe. However, my parents are more worried about me being idle rather than working. Apparently they see me as a workaholic... which I am... sort of... and that doing nothing will lead to withdrawal symptoms. I did what I can to keep my heart at peace by answering Vjeux's challenge and writing this article on rapid prototyping. After that, I dusted off my pet project and away I go, this time with ES6, Ractive, Gobble and Rollup.

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Challenge Accepted: Rapid Prototyping with Ractive

Yesterday, I had a little discussion with Mattias Johansson on Twitter where I "hijacked" his tweet regarding Java vs JavaScript learning. He said when learning Java, code examples often contain everything including the kitchen sink. On my end, I said JS code examples only include snippets and leaves everything else for you to find. He disagreed (totally fine I promise :D) but I wasn't really on the same train. On the same day, Pete Hunt wondered why it's so hard to board the React train and Eric Clemmons generalized it as a JS issue. Then Vjeux issued a challenge on getting a very simple JS setup that requires little to no tooling. Challenge accepted.

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Computer Games From the Outside In

In the past few months, I've been getting in touch with my inner self (a fancy way of saying "I just wanted to keep myself busy outside of work"). Originally, when I first encountered a PC, I wanted to be a gamer. But I was terrible at games, being headshot, zerg-rushed and all that (Yes, Couter-Strike and StarCraft: Broodwar). Then I wondered that if I knew how the game worked, I could be better. That led me to the world of software development, and here I am now. Now, I venture back into games...

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ES6, Ractive, SystemJS and Rollup

So I have this little project, and I wish to use Ractive with ES6. Looking through my options, there were many... too many. Entry barriers in JS is getting higher and higher lately. I remember a few years ago, that I just needed jQuery and Bootstrap and boom! Instant awesome webapp. Now, it seems like you I to download a ton of packages, run a dozen commands, know a bunch of keystrokes, and only then would I actually start writing your app. That shouldn't be. So here's a zero-to-hero setup to get up and running with Ractive and ES6.

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Documentation - It Matters

So documentation... I've been stressing this out since forever that an app should have an accompanying documentation of some form. People don't care. They just write code like there was no tomorrow. So this week, I transitioned to another project and found myself dumbfounded... ROFL ZOMG WTF! A pile of code with ZERO DOCUMENTATION. Yep! Zip, zilch, zero, nada, NOTHING! And oh boy I ain't seen nothing yet. Preparing myself for a whole lot of hurt.

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DotA2 tweaks reloaded

For the last 2 weeks, I haven't been playing DOTA 2. I heard that Reborn client was promoted as the official client. Then I remembered that the Reborn client was nested inside the legacy client's installation folder. Without hesitation, I wiped DotA2 from my PC and had Steam redownload it. Now the install folder only contains the Reborn client files. Then I remembered... I forgot to backup my autoexec.cfg! The adventure starts!

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Doomed to Refactor

Those who don't refactor bad code are doomed to repeat it.

- Me, Just now

Yesterday, I tried to create a single component comprising several input fields for a person's name. That way, anyone can just drop in this component anywhere and it should look the same everywhere. I spent all day writing it The Right Way™ and in the end, some hacked-up validation logic which didn't follow framework convention pretty much screwed it up. Now, I was forced to (gasp) copy-paste my logic everywhere instead of housing it to one component.

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DotA2 Reborn Tweaks

So... I just happen to take a long nap and ended up wide awake in the middle of midnight with nothing to do. So I decided to play DotA2 and behold, an update! The update states that the Reborn client now has autoexec.cfg support. However, no one has posted any update on which console variables are supported and which ones were dropped. So I went on an adventure to find out.

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Derived Data

A sane application starts with sane data structures.

This was what our data structures professor told me when I presented my project a few years ago. I have followed this mantra ever since. A sane application starts with sensible data, and works it's way from there. The UI is merely decoration. However, time and again, project after project, debugging hell happens. And it all boils down to data structures, specifically about failing to determine what derived data is.

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Components Reboot

So here I am again, trying to market the idea of "components". Yes, because project after project, I hear these:

  • "Why does it work here and not here?"
  • "Why does this look like this here, and not here?"
  • "I'm pretty sure we tested this and it passed. Why is this broken now?"
  • And many more!

If you're one of the people who get this often and wonder what you can do with such, this might just be your lucky day.

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Fallout New Vegas

So this weekend... Fallout: New Vegas. Yes, I haven't played this game yet. I already played Skyrim 3 times with 3 different character classes. Got bored between the second and third that I did Fallout 3. Game wasn't interesting, only the backstory, especially when you find out that the whole vault thing was an experiment. Now it's off to Fallout 3: New Vegas.

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Vague Requirements - The Root Of All Problems

"Criteria of satisfaction: [vague specs + single-state wireframe]. It should work the same as [some other section in the site]. Here's a screenshot [single-state screenshot] of what it looks like."

So tell me, how does the other section work? Guess what, nobody! I know right? Sweeping criteria of satisfactions, very weak task descriptions, "should work the same as". Not really helpful in any way. If you're one of the people who get this often, strap up because you're in for a bumpy ride in a wild chase between business, management, development and everyone else who feels important.

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Weekend Warioring

"Just do it" Nike said. "Just do it" Shia LaBeouf said. Well, I did it. So they said that make your weekends productive by learning a few things. Two weeks ago, I ended up playing DotA2 and Planetside 2. Now, I got myself to budge and do stuff.

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Blog Reboot

Hello there! It's been a long time since my last blog post (May?). Actually, there's been technical issues lately with my blog. It just got clunky to work with especially if you have to work with different machines, in different locations, and different moods. If you add a very terrible hosting service, plus a terrible blog framework... you flip tables!

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The Ractive Flux Experiment

It's been more than a year since I started writing "real JavaScript" - JavaScript that is actually used in a real product rather than "hobby JavaScript". In that one year, there have been a lot of twists and turns with regards to framework of choice. From Ember to React. From highly cohesive to extremely loosely-coupled. Countless trials, and errors. A lot of pizza, beer and sleep were lost in the war. But I have spoken! I have chosen! It's Ractive... with a bit of Flux.

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FirefoxOS Hacking Part 1

Just when I though I had to clone back my blog and set it up again, it so happened that I have a backup on my PC. Yey! I can write a blog post! This time, it's a quick guide on setting up a FirefoxOS phone for hacking. For this post, I'll be on Windows and the victim is a Cherry Mobile Ace. So hang tight, this will be a quickie!

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My Skyrim Setup

So it's weekend, and I think I need to take a break from writing code and research on the latest tech. I need something that causes my curiosity to run wild, but not something that's related to work. So I decided to play Skyrim... again. However, I had to reinstall because I uninstalled it recently. I have to go through it all that painstaking installation and customization again. So so why not make a post instead and not forget?

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Bottlenecks in JavaScript Development

So you find this shiny new toy called JavaScript and you begin to write some code. If you've started some work on C and Java, you'll easily find out that JavaScript is very terse. No type keywords, very flexible syntax, a lot of ways to build things. You'll almost say "Wow! Why wasn't C built this way?!" Fast forward say, 8-10 years, you begin to see the pitfalls of JavaScript. Browser compatibility, API availability, all those quirks. However, those are newbie problems to worry about. In our line of work today, there are other things to worry besides those petty problems.

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Handling a Student Team

A year an a half ago, I was in despair that I actually posted for help on the interwebz on how to manage a student team. As far as I remember, that time we were under several school projects and I was also doing stuff outside school (freelancing, sidelines etc.). I very well know I can do what we're tasked to do, but just can't because of the sheer amount of work and the kind of people I have to deal with. Fast forward a year later, here I am. I graduated, I have a JavaScript+Python gig at a startup, and breating fresh air (for now). So what did I do and how did I do it? Here's how:

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Learnings from React and Flux

To people who immediately say I'm an idiot, then you're probably a good programmer, but a terrible mentor. True that React + Flux is efficient and makes sense, but for the people like us who have not been taught The Right Way™ of creating apps, it's somewhat a big leap. jQuery has helped people a lot, but it has created monsters out of developers. Architecture-less applications, stateful HTML and all those stuff. So here, I outline where I have been, what I did, and what I learned off of these adventures. Hopefully someone will stumble across this and be of help to them.

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The Aftermath

Ok, so... I graduated yesterday. Nothing out of the ordinary. I was expecting something like a "level-up" sound effect like in the games we play. Welp, I guess I play games too much. Since yesterday, all I have been doing is... nothing. Then a post from a classmate said: "What's next?" That got me thinking. Uhm... Hmm...

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Optimistic UI State

While I'm rolling in bed, fixing code some teammates's code in the dead of midnight, the thought of "avoiding local component state" keeps crossing my mind. It's due to the fact that I develop components which tend to keep local state rather than share its state directly with the cache layer of the app (model/stores/whatever). This I tend to avoid, but generic components do need to have some internal state somehow, especially when it's not concerned with the data at all. However...

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Cherry Mobile Ace (FirefoxOS) review

So in the previous blog post, I talked about buying a new phone. That's because I broke my Android phone. I curse the idea of putting a phone in the back pocket. It doesn't just bend your iPhone 6, it also puts internal stress to your regular plastic smartphone. While I could buy a new one, it doesn't mean I should buy a new one, especially if... I still have my toy phone.

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Window Shopping

So this week I broke my phone. Typical problem with LCD-based screens (TN, IPS, and the likes) is that it's liquid between 2 panes of glass. Subject the phone to enough pressure, the glass will cease to work properly. In my case, the screen had some serious ghosting/burn-in.

And when your phone is a "local brand" that doesn't have a service center nearby, you're out of luck. The nearest would still be in another province and service would cost as much as buying a new phone which I plan to do starting off with window shopping.

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Stepping into ES6

So it's Christmas vacation, the new year to be exact. While others are partying and getting fat with food, I am... I don't know... 12 hours into trying to convert the module system we use at work from RequireJS to Browserify. And while I'm at it, I'll just throw in ES6 support as well...

Which I just succeeded 5 hours into the first day of the new year.

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Bluetooth Lag

So today I brought my bluetooth mouse to work, because I was going portable with my laptop to chase the pocket wifi signal (the closer to it, the better). This also meant leaving my tangle of monitor, keyboard and mouse setup at my desk and moving closer to the less populated areas of the office... Welp, that was the concept.

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Studying for ES6

Been busy this week, mostly because I had to catch up with lost time at work (demmet internet). My first rewrite has been deployed to the test server and is subject to scrutiny (yey!). Now chilling (screw thesis) and downloading a few anime. And when I mean chilling, I read up on the latest in programming, JavaScript of course, and that means screwing around with ES6.

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Architecture Design Simplified

The goal of applications are simple: Modify data, display data.

I dunno why applications are so hard to build for such simple purpose. We have a lot of tools here, libraries over there, hype everywhere. Then talk about "the right tool for the right job". I dunno about you people, we're just fiddling numbers and strings. Keep it simple!

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Component Development

One of the few hobbies I have, if not the only hobby, is building small JS libraries, experimenting with new APIs and trying out development strategies. And over the course of experimenting (which mostly happens at work :P), I have come up with ways to building stuff in a manner that is not only faster, but easy to wrap your head around. Zero-magic, pure swordsmanship and maybe a bit of thievery. Here's a few of them.

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Drupal Camp Cebu Thoughts

So I just came back from Drupal Camp Cebu 2014, which was... I'll explain later. Just thought I'd post about it while I'm still fixing that AC100 and SAO 2 episode 19 downloads. So how was the event? Hmm, I had mixed feelings about it for one. Let me get this straight before hell breaks loose: It didn't suck.

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Architecture

So today marks the first day of the sprint at work, or at least was kicked-off today by way of a sprint meeting of our team. The sprint actually started yesterday so whatever. Anyways, sprint is a word usually associated with moving fast, and in order to move fast in code, one must have a good architecture.

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Mutable Broadcasted Objects

This time, I'll go technical with JavaScript. I've been too long since I have posted a technical article, and delved too much about random ramblings of the mind. This time, I'll deal with an outstanding problem I have been facing for like a week now which deals with broadcasted mutable objects.

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React+Flux Take 1

For 2 weeks now, I have been rewriting part of our website. The Flux architecture has proven to be so simple, gone are the headaches of 2-way binding which I formerly tried to promote. I used to pitch like "With 2-way binding, never will you touch the DOM again!" and "jQuery will be reduced to an AJAX library".

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