Freedom within boundaries

I eat whatever I want, as long as it fits my calorie and nutrient goals.
I can spend on things I like, as long as it fits my budget.
I can do whatever I want, as long as I do things that I should.

It’s a bit counterintuitive with the common definition of freedom, but it is pretty freeing.

Legend of Mana: A story about love

Legend of Mana just popped into my head lately. I re-read the storyline again [1] and I was like “Holy sh*t, this game had a really cool storyline.”

It was about love, and all its beauty and nastiness. It was a pretty mature take on a topic as cliched as they come. I sort of got to relate to it back then, but I was too immature to really appreciate the message.

In retrospect, it was easy enough to lose the storyline as you get involved in the minutiae of killing monsters, picking up exp/gold/items and solving puzzles. The grind to this game was really endless.

Gameplay-wise, it was pretty unique. The battle system was kind of like a side-scrolling beat ’em up. It was also the first time I encountered farming, pet making/raising, and item crafting in just one game. I haven’t seen anything quite like it in recent times.

I’ll probably get around to buying a PS3 within this year because of this.



Simply put, and fairly obvious given the introduction speech, this game is about love. More specifically, its about both the positive and negative effects of love, and if it is worth the struggle to bring love back in to the world.

This is first hinted at in the introduction with the story of the Mana Tree burning down and mankind growing afraid of love. The purpose of the game is then given with the line “I am love! Find me, and walk beside me.” Thus you begin your quest to bring love back into the world.

Now, rather than just bring love back in, the Mana Goddess apparently decides that you need to see all sides of love, good and bad, before you can make the decision to bring it back. This is the purpose of the three major story arcs that you must complete- each one is an example of the dangers of one specific type of love. Listed below are the three arcs and the aspect of love they best represent.

The Fairy Arc- Romantic Love
The main focus of this arc is the romantic relationship between Matilda and Irwin, and the resulting havoc it wreaks on the world. Nearly all of Irwin’s destructive actions are based on his relationship with Matilda, from stealing her power to Matilda refusing to stop him because she loves him and respects his decision, even if it means the end of the world. Irwin sums it up nicely at the end when he says he needs to be freed “from a spell named Matilda”.

The Dragon Arc- Familial Love
In contrast, the conflict in this story arc arises from Larc desiring to be reunited with his sister, Sierra. The sole purpose of him helping to bring Draconis back into power is so that he can once again walk the mortal world, even if it means threatening the world with destruction. Finally, at the conclusion of the quest line, he decides to suffer through his punishment, even if it greatly delays his reunion with his sister.

The Jumi Arc- Communal Love
The Jumi arc is probably the most complicated, but best implemented, symbol of the harmful effects of love. Prior to the beginning of this quest, Florina had been sacrificing her own life for the benefit of her people. Had this continued, there would have been no conflict. However, Sandra, who had a close relationship with Florina, grew to hate the Jumi for sacrificing someone she loved for their own survival, and kidnapped her. Enter the hero, who, after the quest is completed, sacrifices his/her own life out of love for the survival of the Jumi. The consequences of this sacrifice are brought home to the audience when they see Bud and Lisa’s response to the hero’s supposed demise.

Other than these three arcs, this theme is referred throughout the game by many different characters *cough*POKHIEL*cough*. Once the character witnesses one of these arcs, the path to the final test opens.

The final battle of the game is merely a symbol of the character deciding that Fa’Diel is once again ready to welcome love to the world, despite the darkness that it brings. The character’s fight with the Mana Goddess’s “dark half” shows that life is once again ready to embrace love. I think the Mana Goddess’s final speech is the best way to conclude this, so I’ll leave it in more capable hands :-D

I am the light. I am the darkness. Half of myself is what you have fought in the past. I create, I destroy, and I create again. I am love. Not all of me is just. Not all of me is pure. That is only half of myself. Those who desire my other half cross their swords. People’s freedom is lost, and my truth is buried. I shall show you my darkness. You must defeat me. You will become a hero. Open the path to those who search for me.

Standing on escalators

In Ayala, there’s this escalator that always pisses me off.
Not so much because it’s a one-lane escalator (in Ayala!), but because inevitably
there’s going to be someone who’ll stop walking and thus forcing everyone
to just stand there and wait.

“Maybe, she’s just tired.”
“Maybe, his legs hurt.”
“Maybe, she’s having girly pains.”

Oh the thoughts that I force myself to think to calm myself down.

Then the slow ride is over and I’m calmed down.

Good thing that the next platform has twin, dual lane escalators.
Then somebody stands in the left lane of the “fast lane” elevator.



It’s 2014.

This year will be a year of building up habits.
Building up the ones that I’d like to have.
My goal, at the end of the year, is to have these habits built up:

  • Workout
  • Sleeping/Work
  • Hygiene

Just 3 things.

I’ve managed to find a workout routine to stick to.
It’s simple and easy to follow and it’s beginner-friendly. I hope to follow through with this until my membership expires on April and by then, should have a good enough habit base that getting a continuing membership is a no-brainer. I’m happy to teach anyone who’s interested in the program. :)

Diet is still a tricky thing for me. I’m getting back into recording my meals in My Fitness Pal.

Sleeping/Work habits is just different sides of the same coin. Right now, I wake up at around 10 to 11 AM. I’m only able to work by 2pm and I stop at around 6pm until 12 midnight, where I go to the gym between 10PM and 12MN. From there, I try to get into the flow again until I become sleepy, which is around 2 to 3AM. Oftentimes, I’m left with the feeling that nearly my whole day went out the window.

I want to change that habit to something like: Wake up at 5AM, work until 8AM, have breakfast, work on non-coding stuff between 9AM until lunch, 1PM to 4PM should be coding work again and the rest of the day will be spent on dinner, gym and leisure. Not married to the actual times, but it’s more of being awake more in the day and spend more of the evening actually sleeping. I actually like being up early in the mornings. I just don’t like getting up.

I also want to incorporate daily reviews to what I’ve accomplished in the day and what I need to do the following day.

I’ve got my hygiene regiment down, I just have trouble sticking to it every time.

Okay, I’m sleepy!

Have a happy new year everyone!

Making Squid a transparent proxy

..has absolutely nothing (almost) to do with Squid.

It’s a single firewall rule like so:

-A PREROUTING -p tcp -m tcp -i wdev0ap0 --dport 80 -j DNAT --to-destination

That’s an IPTables rule, normally but Arch (at least the version I was working with) was using UFW so that goes inside my before.rules in /etc/ufw/before.rules, right at the top.

-A PREROUTING -p tcp -m tcp -i wdev0ap0 --dport 80 -j DNAT --to-destination

Make sure to restart ufw.

ufw disable && ufw enable

From Squid side, you just have to make sure that Squid is listening to a port transparently.
http_port 3128
http_port 3128 intercept.

That should do it.


I wanted to use a FQDN for the splash page though, so we used DNSMasq for DNS.
pacman -S dnsmasq

Then we just edit the /etc/hosts file and put in the FQDN that we want to map to the local IP (not localhost). Of course, this only ever works if your device has a static IP (which it should).

# /etc/hosts: static lookup table for host names

# localhost.localdomain localhost
::1 localhost.localdomain localhost

# End of file

In order for you to use the DNS on the device, you have to make it your first/default DNS. So, configure that on your network settings.

From here, I can change the Squid splash page config accordingly based on where my allow access page is.

Next steps:

  • Pass along default DNS setting during DHCP
  • Start squid and dnsmasq on startup
  • Remove Node.js apps from startup
  • Install Nginx
  • Map default Squid error page from the static HTML error to default web server on localhost (might not be needed)
  • Dealing with SSL on a transparent proxy setting
  • Changing upstream from eth0 to usb dongle

Thanks to Madumlao for all the help. :)

Squid Splash Page Notes

I’m playing with Squid and setting it up as a captive portal.
This is my notes on their documentation.

  • Top-down processing of rules gave me 90% of the troubles I encountered.
  • The deny_info path doesn’t really work. It should be a filename relative to the error_directory directory.
  • You have to manually create the session db/session folder the first time. mkdir /var/lib/squid/session && chmod 777 /var/lib/squid/session
  • To clear sessions from the server (for testing), you can delete and re-create the sessions folder: rm /var/lib/squid/session -r && mkdir /var/lib/squid/session -r && chmod 777 /var/lib/squid/session
  • Always check permissions.

Next things to do:

  • Making it a transparent proxy
  • Dealing with SSL (port 443)
  • Changing upstream providers from LAN to USB Dongle

Here’s a copy of my squid.conf:

# Recommended minimum configuration:

# Example rule allowing access from your local networks.
# Adapt to list your (internal) IP networks from where browsing
# should be allowed
acl localnet src # RFC1918 possible internal network
acl localnet src # RFC1918 possible internal network
acl localnet src # RFC1918 possible internal network
acl localnet src fc00::/7 # RFC 4193 local private network range
acl localnet src fe80::/10 # RFC 4291 link-local (directly plugged) machines

acl SSL_ports port 443
acl Safe_ports port 80 # http
acl Safe_ports port 21 # ftp
acl Safe_ports port 443 # https
acl Safe_ports port 70 # gopher
acl Safe_ports port 210 # wais
acl Safe_ports port 1025-65535 # unregistered ports
acl Safe_ports port 280 # http-mgmt
acl Safe_ports port 488 # gss-http
acl Safe_ports port 591 # filemaker
acl Safe_ports port 777 # multiling http

# Recommended minimum Access Permission configuration:
# Deny requests to certain unsafe ports
http_access deny !Safe_ports

# Deny CONNECT to other than secure SSL ports
http_access deny CONNECT !SSL_ports

# Only allow cachemgr access from localhost
http_access allow localhost manager
http_access deny manager

# We strongly recommend the following be uncommented to protect innocent
# web applications running on the proxy server who think the only
# one who can access services on “localhost” is a local user
#http_access deny to_localhost


# Squid normally listens to port 3128
# http_port 3128 transparent
# http_port 80 vhost
# http_port 3128 intercept
http_port 3128 intercept

error_directory /makubex

#### Passive ####

# external_acl_type splash_page ttl=60 concurrency=100 %SRC /usr/lib/squid/ext_session_acl -t 7200 -b /var/lib/squid/session.db
# acl existing_users external splash_page
# http_access deny !existing_users
# deny_info 511:splash.html existing_users

#### Active ####

# external_acl_type session ttl=300 negative_ttl=0 children-startup=1 concurrency=200 %LOGIN /usr/lib/squid/ext_session_acl
# acl session_login external session LOGIN
# http_access deny !session
# deny_info session

external_acl_type session concurrency=100 ttl=3 %SRC /usr/lib/squid/ext_session_acl -a -T 10800 -b /var/lib/squid/session/
acl session_login external session LOGIN
external_acl_type session_active_def concurrency=100 ttl=3 %SRC /usr/lib/squid/ext_session_acl -a -T 10800 -b /var/lib/squid/session/
acl session_is_active external session_active_def
# acl clicked_login_url url_regex -i$
acl clicked_login_url url_regex -i$
http_access allow clicked_login_url session_login
http_access deny !session_is_active
deny_info 511:index.html session_is_active
# deny_info session_is_active
# acl clicked_login_url url_regex -i$

##### Catch All #####

# Example rule allowing access from your local networks.
# Adapt localnet in the ACL section to list your (internal) IP networks
# from where browsing should be allowed
http_access allow localnet
http_access allow localhost

# And finally deny all other access to this proxy
http_access deny all

# Uncomment and adjust the following to add a disk cache directory.
#cache_dir ufs /var/cache/squid 256 16 256

# Leave coredumps in the first cache dir
coredump_dir /var/cache/squid

# Add any of your own refresh_pattern entries above these.
refresh_pattern ^ftp: 1440 20% 10080
refresh_pattern ^gopher: 1440 0% 1440
refresh_pattern -i (/cgi-bin/|\?) 0 0% 0
refresh_pattern . 0 20% 4320

visible_hostname makubex

Using Dropbox Chooser within ActiveAdmin

We use Dropbox quite heavily in Loudcloud. I’m working on an internal CRM system and since all of our files are on Dropbox anyway, I figured it would be super helpful to just have to link to our Dropbox files.

Here are the relevant files:

# app/inputs/dropbox_input.rb
class DropboxInput < Formtastic::Inputs::FileInput
  def to_html
    input_wrapping do
      label_html <<
      builder.text_field(method, input_html_options.merge({ type: "dropbox-chooser", style: "visibility: hidden;" }))

# app/admin/invoice.rb
ActiveAdmin.register Invoice do
  form do |f|
    within @head do
      script src: "", id: "dropboxjs", type: "text/javascript", "data-app-key" => "APP_KEY_HERE"

    # ....

    f.inputs "Official Receipt" do
      f.input :or_file_url, as: :dropbox, label: "OR File URL"

    # ....


Nested forms with polymorphic association in Active Admin/Formtastic

I spent nearly the whole day making this work.

Given models:
Invoice, has_many :items
Item belongs_to :itemizable, polymorphic: true
Domain & Service has_many :items, as: :itemizable

The problem was multiple things:

  1. The automagic of Formtastic can’t detect the collection if it’s a polymorphic association
  2. Formtastic doesn’t really play well with non-existent attributes

Initially, I’ve thought of just doing:

ActiveAdmin.register Invoice do
  form do |f|    
    # ...
    f.has_many :items do |item|
      item.input :itemizable, collection: (Domain.all + Service.all)
      item.input :quantity
      item.input :price_per_piece


But this fails because 1) domains and service can share the same id and 2) I have no way to tell what the item was.
A few hours in and I was going nowhere. It’s surprisingly hard to look for anything related to polymorphic associations on Formtastic. This post gave me an idea however.

So, I’ve thought, why not just hold the id temporarily on an accessor attribute and just do the assignment from a callback before validation kicks in based on which attribute it went into? Raise an error if both were filled up.

It worked! I can now save new polymorphic records. (look at Item#assign_itemizable)

There’s a small problem however. The form to edit an existing record doesn’t pre-populate the corresponding select dropdowns. The solutions was rather simple, override the reader method to return the id of the itemizable if the itemizable is a member of the class.

Maintenance-wise, everything here would add overhead for every new itemizable model I would associate to item, but overall, I think it was a pretty elegant hack. *pats self at back*

Here’s the complete code:

# app/models/invoice.rb
class Invoice < ActiveRecord::Base 
  has_many :items

  accepts_nested_attributes_for :items

# app/models/item.rb
class Item < ActiveRecord::Base
  before_validation :assign_itemizable

  belongs_to :invoice
  belongs_to :itemizable, polymorphic: true
  validates :itemizable, presence: true

  attr_accessor :itemizable_domain, :itemizable_service

  def itemizable_domain if self.itemizable.is_a? Domain

  def itemizable_service if self.itemizable.is_a? Service

  def assign_itemizable
    if [email protected]_domain.blank? && [email protected]_service.blank?
      errors.add(:itemizable, "can't have both a domain and a service") 

    unless @itemizable_domain.blank?
      self.itemizable = Domain.find(@itemizable_domain)

    unless @itemizable_service.blank?
      self.itemizable = Service.find(@itemizable_service)

# app/admin/invoice.rb
ActiveAdmin.register Invoice do
  form do |f|
    f.inputs "Invoice" do 
      f.input :customer
      f.input :invoice_number
      f.input :issuing_person
      f.input :issued_on
      f.input :remarks
    f.has_many :items do |item|
      item.input :itemizable_domain, collection: Domain.all
      item.input :itemizable_service, collection: Service.all
      item.input :quantity
      item.input :price_per_piece


Edit: Fixed a bug in Item because I overwrote the accessors, which were being called in the validation. This caused a sort of chicken-egg situation, and ultimately causes the validation to fail all the time. Changed .empty? to .blank? so it doesn't barf out on nils.

The key to happiness: a good bed, nice chair and healthy food

If you want to spend on yourself, here’s what I suggest you spend on: A good bed, nice chair and healthy food.

(Ha! I bet you didn’t see that coming!)

This image would explain everything.

Yes, that's the same image as the featured image.
Mmm. Pie.

My list of “things to spend on to invest in myself” is much longer. Those were the top 3.


I amortize costs over the lifetime of the product. I often say, if I spend X amount on this and it lasts me Y (months/years), then I’m just paying Z per (minute/day). Sometimes, I say, if I spend X amount on this and I use this Y number of times, then I’m just paying Z per use when applicable. This way I can compute costs on a daily/monthly/basis.

I’m a believer of YAGNI so I don’t really buy the latest and the greatest (read: most expensive) unless I need them. I fall right in the middle/upper-middle most times. Just enough for my needs, and some bells and whistles.

My longer list with approximate cost ranges is as follows: (All figures in Philippine Pesos)

  1. Good bed, read: mattress (3k to 9k over 3 years or 2.75 to 8.25 per day)
  2. Nice chair (2k to 6k over 2 years or 2.75 to 8.25 per day)
  3. Healthy food (200 to 300 per day)
  4. Flattering clothes (15k to 20k over 1 year or 41.00 to 55.00 per day)
  5. Fluffy pillows (500 to 1k over 1 year or 1.50 to 3.00 per day)
  6. Decent Keyboard & Mouse (1k to 2k over 1 year or 3.00 to 6.00 per day)
  7. Good enough desktop/laptop (20k to 50k over 3 years or 18.50 to 45.75 per day)

I’ve prioritized the list using these reasons:

  1. Bed: The effects of quality sleep affects your every waking hour.
  2. Chair: Good posture is a sort of “prevention is better than cure” thing. More short term, it helps alleviate building up of stress which would affect your quality of work. This also contributes to quality of sleep.
  3. Food: It keeps you alive. Why not spend on it?
  4. Clothes: Find the kind of person that you want to be, and dress like him/her. Imitation is the highest form of flattery or Dress for the kind of job you want, not for the job that you have. The clothes make the man. Or it doesn’t. This deserves its own post.
  5. Pillows: Goes with the bed.
  6. KB&M: My hands are my bread & butter. RSI and CTS can be literal career-ending injuries.
  7. Workstation: I spend at least 8 hours on this thing. I would want to have enough for what I need.

That comes out to 269.5 to 426.25 per day or 8,085.00 to 12,787.5 per month. [1] Factor in bills, rent and other consumables and you’re looking at close to 15,000 to 20,000 per month to live a comfortable life. [2]

I’m at this point in my life wherein I’m content, materially, with everything I have so far. The only significant purchases I have left are a laptop replacement, a vehicle and a house. The last 2 are just luxuries with my current lifestyle and wouldn’t probably buy them for myself anytime soon (i.e. in the next 3 years).

Optimizing for happiness

Happiness is having everything that you need in the world. The first step to being happy is finding out the minimum that you need. It’s entirely subjective.

The next step to happiness is optimizing the these things that contribute to your daily well being. If you feel well enough on a daily basis, then I think you’re 80% there to general happiness. [3] The rest is tougher to crack: healthy relationships, sense of purpose, et al. But it sure becomes easier once you’ve got a solid base.For the low low price of Php 20,000 a month, I can pursue the rest of my 20%.

Am I happy? Currently, yes. But it’s a process.

[1] I actually have another round of computation, wherein the costs are weighted based on how much I use the thing. I’m being lazy so I didn’t include it.

[2] This is for a single, no dependents person. For a family that is sharing a lot of the things above including rent and utilities, this would be significantly less per person. But of course, you’d have to multiply per head so it comes out larger in lump sum.

A totally pulled-out-of-my-ass formula is : x = number of people, amount = x * 20,000 * (0.9 ^ x). This yields:

1 20,000.00
2 32,400.00
3 43,740.00
4 52,488.00
5 59,049.00
6 63,772.92
7 66,961.57

[3 ]Pareto principle, the 80-20 rule. Generally speaking, 80% of output, comes from 20% of input.

Motivation and Decision-making

I like reading about psychology. Especially psychology related to motivation and decision-making.

Here are some links that I find myself visiting time and again. Some of them, I can relate with (to some degree) while others are references I come back to time and again.

Featured image care of Marco Bellucci