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During a recent out-of-town trip I observed that despite the abundance of digital entertainment available (what with all the NDS and PSP owners bringing the goods, not to mention some people bringing a Wii), some people still got together to play some face-to-face IRL games. I'm talking the types of games that are not easily translatable into digital format and will probably remain so for quite a while. One such game is known locally as "Killer-killer". Obviously a local name due to the Filipino's penchant for repeating words in a single term, I have no idea if it is known by other names elsewhere or if it exists outside this country at all. (As you can imagine, "Killer-killer" is not a very easy search term.) For the purposes of posterity, I will record the details of the game here. In this game, a group of people sit around in a circular formation, such that each person can easily see each other's face. A good number of participants would be around 6-8, although more can play with ...

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Alara Reborn is finally available locally! For a while I thought about heading to Baguio for the King of the North tournament, but the fact is I have no standard deck ready at the moment. Besides, I wanted to practice sealed deckbuilding for the upcoming Bangkok GPTs, so this morning I was sleeving up a 40-card deck at Robinson's Galleria. {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 1 Jungle Shrine 3 Plains 6 Island 5 Swamp {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 1 Cloudheath Drake 1 Master of Etherium 1 Fleshbag Marauder 1 Viscera Dragger 1 Sharuum the Hegemon 1 Tower Gargoyle 2 Ethersworn Shieldmage 1 Glassdust Hulk 1 Sanctum Plowbeast 2 Jhessian Zombies 1 Lord of Extinction 2 Grixis Grimblade {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 1 Oblivion Ring 1 Scourglass 1 Agony Warp 1 Kiss of the Amesha 1 Obelisk of Bant 1 Mistvein Borderpost 1 Behemoth Sledge 1 Wildfield Borderpost 1 Slave of Bolas 1 Crystallization {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< /cardlist >}} ...

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And so, our delayed prerelease. My sealed deck (at least after initial tweaks -- it varies slightly from my submitted list): {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 1 Crumbling Necropolis 1 Grixis Panorama 1 Jund Panorama 1 Jungle Shrine 2 Plains 1 Swamp 3 Mountain 5 Forest {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 1 Hell's Thunder 1 Hissing Iguanar 1 Druid of the Anima 1 Steward of Valeron 1 Igneous Pouncer 1 Monstrous Carabid 1 Pale Recluse 2 Qasali Pridemage 1 Maelstrom Pulse 2 Putrid Leech 2 Naya Sojourners 1 Jund Hackblade 1 Naya Hushblade 1 Messenger Falcons {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 1 Oblivion Ring 1 Resounding Silence 1 Resounding Thunder 1 Fieldmist Borderpost 1 Bituminous Blast 2 Colossal Might 1 Firewild Borderpost {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< /cardlist >}} And the rest of the pool: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Monocolor" >}} 1 Akrasan Squire 1 Angelsong 1 Knight-Captain of Eos 1 Sanctum Gargoyle 1 Sunse ...

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Last Friday, I was still unsure what to play at Regionals this year, having decided to nix Five-Color Control. Given the cards available, I could easily assemble RDW/Blightning or Chapin's 5-Color Blood. But in the end, I gave in to [the hype][1] surrounding Tommy Ashton's PTQ-winning decklist, [Bant with Finest Hour][2]: However, due to card availability issues, I didn't have any [Dauntless Escort][3]s and only 1 [Noble Hierarch][4]. I moved cards around and tried to fit in [Vendillion Clique][5], which would serve as an additional evasive attacker on top of [Shorecrasher Mimic][6] and [Jhessian Infiltrator][7], plus a little extra disruption. The decklist I turned in on Sunday for Regionals: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 4 Treetop Village 3 Seaside Citadel 3 Yavimaya Coast 4 Brushland 2 Adarkar Wastes 1 Wooded Bastion 1 Mystic Gate 1 Flooded Grove 1 Reflecting Pool 1 Forest 2 Island 1 Plains {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 4 Birds of Par ...

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A couple of friends were over from Singapore last weekend, and we decided to hang out and open a few boxes of Shards block cards to play casual sealed/draft, using the new M10 rules so we could get a feel for it. We played 1 sealed and 2 drafts; I personally played in the equivalent of around 10 rounds of limited, and my observations are: * Number of times damage on the stack came up relevant: None * Number of times there was a double-blocking situation: One, but we forgot to order blockers and I just immediately used a trick to get rid of one blocker. Among our group, 50% are actively playing competitively, so we can't say that we were making bad strategic decisions, but really rule change #5 practically never came up. (We also opened zero planeswalkers, only 1 [Maelstrom Pulse][1] and 1 [Noble Hierarch][2] et cetera. Not so good returns from the boxen in terms of cash cards... ) [1]: http://magiccards.info/autocard.php?card=Maelstrom%20Pulse [2]: http://magiccards.info/aut ...

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In case you haven't heard, the internets are in an uproar over [the announced M10 rules changes][1]. A lot of famous Magic people like [Randy Beuhler][2] and [Zvi Mowshowitz][3] have chimed in with their opinions and in general a lot of forum posters are whining about the most controversial change: the removal of combat damage on the stack. I, for one, welcome our new non-damage stacking overlords. One of Magic's strengths has always been that it is a dynamic, ever-changing game, and this is just another step in its' evolution. Sure, it might turn out to be a wrong step in the end, but while it's here we get to adapt to the new way of thinking, discarding strategic options that are no longer viable (pretty sure [Mogg Fanatic][4] is still a pretty good card though) and looking for what new strategies come to light as a result of the new rules. A couple of friends from Singapore are in town next week and we're planning to draft some Alara block. Most likely I will try to persuade them ...

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The first GPT for Bangkok was last Saturday, May 23, 2009 at Robinson's Galleria. Here's the pool I was given to work with: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="White" >}} 1 Cradle of Vitality 1 Excommunicate 1 Rockcaster Platoon 1 Welkin Guide 1 Asha's Favor 1 Aven Trailblazer 1 Lapse of Certainty 1 Paragon of the Amesha 1 Valiant Guard {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Blue + Hybrid" >}} 1 Call to Heel 1 Cloudheath Drake 1 Coma Veil 1 Kathari Screecher 1 Protomatter Powder 1 Faerie Mechanist 2 Grixis Illusionist 1 Master Transmuter 1 Parasitic Strix 1 Esper Stormblade {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Black + Hybrid" >}} 1 Archdemon of Unx 1 Bone Splinters 1 Executioner's Capsule 1 Fleshbag Marauder 1 Shadowfeed 1 Absorb Vis 1 Yoke of the Damned 1 Grixis Grimblade {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Red + Hybrid" >}} 1 Jund Battlemage 1 Thunder-Thrash Elder 1 Viashino Skeleton 1 Vithian Stinger 1 Kranioceros 1 Toxic Iguanar 1 Volcanic Fallout 2 Jund Hackblad ...

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I reinstalled MTGO3 last week because I figured I could get some casual play out of it at least. After installation I found out that Conflux release events were this weekend so I might as well play, since I was not able to play IRL at this time. I was hoping MTGO3 had improved by now, and that they had sufficient server loading, etc. to handle the number of players without the servers being crashy and laggy and whatnot. No such luck of course. 🙂 My sealed pool follows. {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 4 Plains 5 Mountain 3 Forest 1 Arcane Sanctum 1 Rupture Spire 2 Naya Panorama {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 1 Rakeclaw Gargantuan 1 Welkin Guide 1 Nacatl Outlander 2 Dragonsoul Knight 1 Knight of the Skyward Eye 2 Ridge Rannet 1 Druid of the Anima 1 Rockcaster Platoon 1 Ember Weaver 1 Bant Battlemage 2 Wild Leotau 1 Scourge Devil {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 1 Soul's Fire 2 Volcanic Fallout 1 Jund Charm 1 ...

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Finally getting back into constructed play, I assembled the following 5-color control deck to bring to battle this weekend: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 3 Sunken Ruins 4 Reflecting Pool 4 Vivid Creek 3 Vivid Meadow 3 Vivid Marsh 2 Cascade Bluffs 2 Mystic Gate 1 Fetid Heath 1 Vivid Crag 3 Island {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 3 Mulldrifter 4 Plumeveil 2 Wall of Reverence 1 Broodmate Dragon {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 1 Celestial Purge 1 Terror 3 Volcanic Fallout 1 Wrath of God 1 Pithing Needle 2 Broken Ambitions 1 Remove Soul 1 Negate 2 Cruel Ultimatum 4 Cryptic Command 4 Esper Charm 1 Liliana Vess 1 Jace Beleren 1 Obelisk of Alara {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Sideboard" >}} 1 Negate 1 Remove Soul 2 Celestial Purge 2 Wrath of God 2 infest 1 Scourglass 1 Wydwen 2 Kitchen Finks 2 Jace Beleren 1 Mulldrifter {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< /cardlist >}} Obviously based on Nassif's deck, but tweake ...

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I actually had some trouble using [django-pingback][1] on my custom blog engine; the [django-pingback documentation][2] is mostly fine, but there were some caveats that I had to discover myself through a bit of debugging: * The URL specified for the XML-RPC endpoint in the HTML head needs to be a full absolute url including domain, i.e. http://roytang.net/xmlrpc/, which gave me trouble when I was trying to test using localhost pinging to an online server. I eventually just decided to set it up, deploy on webfaction and test it online before I redirected the domain name. * The documentation mentioned that the pingback handler needs to have the same arguments as the detail view for the post, so I wrote it as follows: {{< highlight python >}} # exactly same arguments as 'details' view. def pingback_blog_handler(catslug, year, month, slug, **kwargs): cat = Category.objects.get(slug=catslug) return Post.pub_objects.get(date__year=year, date__month=month, slug=slug, categor ...

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I went to NG Galleria hoping for more practice with the [5cc deck from last week][1]. I made some minor modifications: Maindeck -1 [Plumeveil][2] +1 [Mulldrifter][3], Sideboard -1 [Mulldrifter][3] +1 [Scourglass][4]. The aggro matchup seemed very solid already so I felt I could afford to lose the fourth [Plumeveil][2]. The fourth [Mulldrifter][3] would have been a land if I had any [Exotic Orchard][5]. The tournament was small (barely twenty people), since the TO had split the usual Saturday tournament into one flight for people who arrived on time, and one flight for people who arrived late. Despite the small number of people, it still went to six rounds, with only the top four getting prizes. My first two rounds went like this: * Round 1 0-2 loss vs R/G/W Planeswalkers * Round 2 1-2 loss vs Faeries Very disheartening, but I didn't drop because I really wanted to get in more practice games. Besides, if I won the last 4 matches, I could still make top 4. * Round 3 2-0 win ...

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As any Filipino player can tell you, local prereleases had to be postponed due to some problems with customs. Since NG had already rented out the space for the prerelease at Galleria, they went ahead and held some constructed events + drafts for people who came, and graciously gave out freebies to those disappointed would-be prereleasers. Kudos to NG for handling the situation well. I lent out my 5cc deck for a friend to play, and went SSC drafting instead. I opened a crappy pack and just took removal -- [Skeletonize][1] then second pick [Executioner's Capsule][2] hoping to go Jund. The black dried up though, so I went Naya instead. I drafted no money, really just building something I could play. The guy to my left drafted like 2 mythic rares, four normal rares lol. Here's my draft deck: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 2 Naya Panorama 3 Plains 6 Mountain 6 Forest {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 1 Druid of the Anima 1 Nacatl O ...

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Most probably my last tournament playing 5cc this season, the local City Champs was last Saturday, Apr 18 at Robinson's Galleria. I slightly tweaked the decklist I've been using for the past month. I was able to borrow 2 [Exotic Orchard][1] to improve my mana base, and I put the fourth [Volcanic Fallout][2] in the board to improve the difficult Faeries matchup, plus an additional [Terror][3] to help with [Mistbind Clique][4]. I added the 27th land in the board ([Reliquary Tower][5]) to help against control mirrors. {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 4 Reflecting Pool 4 Vivid Creek 3 Vivid Meadow 3 Vivid Marsh 1 Vivid Crag 3 Sunken Ruins 2 Cascade Bluffs 2 Mystic Gate 2 Island 2 Exotic Orchard {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 4 Mulldrifter 3 Plumeveil 2 Wall of Reverence 1 Broodmate Dragon {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 1 Celestial Purge 1 Terror 3 Volcanic Fallout 1 Wrath of God 1 Pithing Needle 2 Broken Ambi ...

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It's my first Magic outing after more than a month of hibernation. Hopefully Conflux shakes up standard and makes Magic more fun again. Let's go! Usually I have to register an awesome pool and then get passed a mediocre one. I knew it was different this time around when the guy two seats to my right announced he was able to form a good Naya deck from the Shards of Alara packs alone! As fate would have it, we passed pools two seats to the left and I got that pool, which mostly built itself: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 1 Arcane Sanctum 1 Jund Panorama 6 Plains 4 Mountain 5 Forest {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 1 Akrasan Squire 1 Sighted-Caste Sorcerer 1 Bloodpyre Elemental 1 Exuberant Firestoker 1 Hissing Iguanar 1 Elvish Visionary 1 Jungle Weaver 1 Mosstodon 1 Spearbreaker Behemoth 1 Godsire 1 Woolly Thoctar 2 Aven Squire 1 Rhox Meditant 1 Wall of Reverence 1 Scattershot Archer {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 2 Obli ...

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[Fun little widget from Capcom][1] allows you to put yourself into an SFIV battle video. Here's me as Ryu!

Street Fighter IV is out next week, hopefully we'll be slinging fireballs by next weekend! [1]: http://www.ppcmediaserver.com/campaigns/sf4videoapp/widget/us/ "My Fist Ur Face"

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I decided to attend the Conflux release event last Saturday, Feb 7 at Neutral Grounds Galleria. As usual, I still had to go to work first so I didn't make it in time for the first 32-man flight and had to wait for NG to restock on product for the second flight. Unfortunately, they were short on SoA boosters, so we would be playing sealed with 6 boosters of Conflux. Yes, six. Expect domain? I registered a mediocre pool and got passed one of roughly the same quality level. Here's my deck: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 5 Plains 1 Swamp 2 Mountain 6 Forest 2 Rupture Spire 1 Unstable Frontier {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 1 Aerie Mystics 2 Aven Trailblazer 1 Rhox Meditant 2 Ember Weaver 1 Gluttonous Slime 1 Sacellum Archers 2 Wild Leotau 1 Nacatl Outlander 2 Valeron Outlander {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 2 Celestial Purge 1 Path to Exile 1 Scepter of Dominance 2 Drag Down 2 Fiery Fall 1 Exploding Borders 1 Armillary S ...

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You may have noticed the new color scheme and new "Theme Switcher" widget in the sidebar. I had done some CSS work during the past month in the office and it made me want to tweak the stylesheets on this site a bit. I figured I might as well make it easy to switch stylesheets, so I wrote a small Theme Switcher django app. (Well, it's more of a stylesheet switcher I guess) The model is simple: {{< highlight python >}} class Theme(models.Model): slug = models.SlugField() title = models.CharField(max_length=250) css_path = models.CharField(max_length=500) def __str__(self): return self.title {{< /highlight >}} I only needed one view -- to switch the current theme. Added the ff to urls.py: {{< highlight python >}} (r'^theme/([a-zA-Z0-9\-]+)/', 'themer.views.switch'), {{< /highlight >}} The view code simply stores the selected theme as a cookie: {{< highlight python >}} def switch(request, theme_slug): """ Sets a cookie to specify the new th ...

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At the Conflux release event, we were given posters of the four planeswalkers fighting againt big, bad Nicol Bolas. It got a friend and I talking: could Nicol Bolas actually win against the four planeswalkers? The situation is: Player A controls [Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker][1], at starting loyalty. Player B controls [Ajani Vengeant][2], [Tezzeret the Seeker][3], [Elspeth, Knight-Errant][4] and [Sarkhan Vol][5], all at starting loyalty. Assuming each player has no other permanents and they cannot play any other spells. They can only use the planeswalker abilities. The goal is to destroy all planeswalkers on the opposing side. If player A goes first, can he win? What if player B goes first? Answers next week! [1]: http://magiccards.info/autocard.php?card=Nicol%20Bolas,%20Planeswalker [2]: http://magiccards.info/autocard.php?card=Ajani%20Vengeant [3]: http://magiccards.info/autocard.php?card=Tezzeret%20the%20Seeker [4]: http://magiccards.info/autocard.php?card=Elspeth,%20Knight- ...

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I was going through some old files today, I found this screenshot of my desktop from 2004: {{< img src="desktop.jpg" >}} Actually, I still like that wallpaper. It's well-drawn. It's from [RPGamer Theme Central.][2] Items I had in the quick-launch toolbar: * mIRC (for downloading comics) * Thunderbird * IE * IE again (?!) * I believe this is EditPad, a notepad replacement * Chami.com HTML-Kit * WinAmp * Windows Media Player * DivX Player * No idea * Shortcut to some folder * Kazaa (pirate!) * No idea * 2xExplorer (Windows explorer alternative) * Crimson Editor (so far there are at least 3 different text editors) * Show Desktop * Terminal * Outlook (I never used this) * Excel * No idea * Thunderbird again... apparently I never cleaned up this taskbar. * Visualboy Advance * Firefox * Quicktime (3 different media players too!) * Warcraft III * Yahoo Messenger * No idea For reference, here's today's desktop, same wallpaper: {{< ...

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I was neglecting the NDS a bit, so I decided to look for some fun homebrew stuff to do with it. Here are some I tried (You'll need some sort of flashcart to use these. Mine is an R4.): * [Pocket Physics][1] -- a neat little toy app that allows you to draw diagrams on the touch screen that would then become affected by physics. It's a bit like a free-form [The Incredible Machine][2] that's portable. It's a bit of work to get a nice physics model done, but there are some available for download, you can just view the work of others if you want. * [Colors!][3] -- a painting/sketching app for the DS, you can create images that have a painting feel to them * [ScummVM DS][4] -- SCUMM was the adventure-game engine that drove a lot of the point-and-click adventure games of the 80s such as the Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion games. Provided you have a copy of those games, ScummVM DS allows you to play all those old games on your DS! There's a whole world of homebrew apps/games o ...

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I came across the [Stylish Firefox Extension][1], and the [GMail Redesigned][2]  project, which gives the GMail user interface a sleek facelift. _(I'm not sure if it was necessary to blot out the names of contacts!)_ [1]: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2108 [2]: http://www.globexdesigns.com/gmail/

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So I saw _Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull _last Friday. Two days later I also watched for the first time _Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark._ Instead of doing a lame movie review, here's a double header feature! (Warning: Spoilers for both movies follow)
Criteria Raiders of the Lost Ark Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Winner
Opening Sequence Indy explores an abandoned ruin, is betrayed by his companion, recovers a lost artifact only to get it snatched by the bad guy. Later, his boring lecture at the university is interrupted by some university official telling him the government was looking for him Indy explores an abandoned warehouse, is betrayed by his companion, recovers a lost artifact only to get it snatched by the bad guy. Later ...

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I needed to transfer a file to my phone today, but could not find my USB cable. I figured I'd try out the Bluetooth with the laptop. After around 30 minutes of struggling with the unintuitiveness and some helpful googling I finally was able to transfer my file using the ff steps, for future reference: 1. Turn on Bluetooth on the Acer Aspire using the Bluetooth button. 2. Right-click the Bluetooth icon on the systray -> Show Bluetooth Devices -> Options -> tick "Allow Bluetooth devices to find this computer" 3. Enable Bluetooth on the N73 via menu -> Tools -> Bluetooth 4. Scroll right on the N73 and the Paired Device screen is shown. Choose Options -> New Paired Device 5. The N73 should list your computer name (mine is PANDA!), select the computer name and you'll be prompted for a passkey. Don't input anything yet... 6. Back to the Vista PC, right-click the Bluetooth icon in the systray, then choose Add Device. 7. Tick "My device is set up and ready to be found." and click Next ...

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Am I the only one getting these random JavaScript alerts (obviously debugging messages!) on the new Facebook today?

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The last limited tournament of the season, it was last week, December 20 at Robinson's Galleria. The format was Shards of Alara sealed deck. For once, I opened a pretty good pool. Unfortunately, I failed to make the follow through. Decklist and (short) tournament report follows. {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 1 Sigiled Paladin 1 Welkin Guide 1 Viscera Dragger 1 Exuberant Firestoker 1 Predator Dragon 1 Ridge Rannet 1 Rockslide Elemental 1 Cylian Elf 1 Mosstodon 1 Mycoloth 1 Wild Nacatl 1 Bull Cerodon 1 Rip-Clan Crasher 1 Steward of Valeron {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 2 Oblivion Ring 1 Resounding Silence 1 Dragon Fodder 1 Magma Spray 1 Resounding Thunder 1 Skeletonize 1 Soul's Fire {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 1 Obelisk of Naya 1 Arcane Sanctum 2 Bant Panorama 3 Plains 6 Mountain 5 Forest {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Sideboard" >}} 2 Angelic Benediction 1 Angelsong 1 Dispeller's Capsule 1 G ...

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The PTQ was last Sunday, November 17 at Robinson's Galleria. As per usual, I opened and registered a pretty good pool with 2 [Battlegrace Angel][1] and [Tezzeret the Seeker][2]. The pool I got passed to me and the deck I built below: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 1 Grixis Panorama 1 Naya Panorama 1 Plains 3 Swamp 5 Mountain 4 Forest {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 1 Skeletal Kathari 1 Viscera Dragger 1 Hell's Thunder 2 Hissing Iguanar 1 Jund Battlemage 1 Algae Gharial 1 Cavern Thoctar 1 Jungle Weaver 1 Manaplasm 1 Rhox Charger 1 Blood Cultist 1 Carrion Thrash 2 Goblin Deathraiders 1 Kresh the Bloodbraided 1 Rip-Clan Crasher {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 1 Oblivion Ring 1 Resounding Silence 1 Skeletonize 1 Soul's Fire 1 Branching Bolt 1 Jund Charm 1 Obelisk of Grixis 1 Arcane Sanctum {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Sideboard" >}} 1 Angel's Herald 1 Ethersworn Canonist 1 Excommunicate 2 Knight of ...

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Despite it's age, I've only recently gotten around to loving Advance Wars: Dual Strike on the DS. It's just the sort of game I enjoy: challenging enough not to bore me but not so difficult that I give up in frustration and has enough extras to keep me coming back. A bit of a learning curve though, and probably not for casual gamers. I beat the normal campaign last week (just barely -- winning on Day 28 of a 28-day target), and I'm hoping I can finish the hard campaign before the release of [Advance Wars: Days of Ruin][1] next week. Also, I was getting bored with my desktop wallpaper so I decided to look for some AW:DS wallpaper, but the official site (linked above) had apparently shoved them off somewhere in favor of Advance Wars: Days of Ruin stuff. Instead, I called up the wayback machine to get the official wallpapers. I might as well offer them here, since wallpapers for the game are hard to find: [Advance Wars: Dual Strike official wallpapers][2]. I ended up not using them after ...

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Traveling by land sucks compared to traveling by plane. So for our weekend trip to Albay to visit our new sister-in-law's family, I booked 3 two-way Cebu Pacific tickets for my brothers and myself. Our parents would take the bus since it was slightly cheaper and they didn't mind sleeping on the road. The other reason was that my two brothers had never ridden a plane before -- this would be their first time. First domestic flight for me as well. As expected, they were excited like giddy shoolboys, taking pictures on the way up the plane and leaning towards the window and all that. I suppose it was to be expected, but the airport in Legazpi was a far cry from the Manila one. Practically a strip of road labeled as the runway and a small building labeled a terminal. The flight itself was fine but obviously budget. I have been spoiled by PAL. And of course the view of Legazpi City was a lot more green than Metro Manila. Of course, there was Mayon, visible as soon as we descended from the ...

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Random memory for the day: I remember watching the Superfriends TV series when I was a little kid, and every time Superman would fly off into space, there'd be a shot of the earth as a globe, with Superman flying out from the northern hemisphere. As a stupid kid, I thought to myself, "I wonder why the earth is shown as an oblate spheroid? When I go out with my parents it was obviously flat." (Paraphrasing a bit since when I was a kid I did not know the term "oblate spheroid") I have always had a curious  scientific mind of course, and I was able to come up with the only possible rational explanation: The upper half of the sphere must be the atmosphere, and the surface of the world must be inside the sphere on a plane near the equator. That would explain why Superman always flies up from the upper half of the sphere! It seemed like a brilliant idea at the time. _(I was thinking of making a mock-up drawing of the above hypothesis and claiming that I drew it when I was four. But Ubunt ...

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Random thought while watching the news: If Cory Aquino ever went out in public without wearing bright yellow clothes, would people recognize her? _"That lady looks a lot like Cory! Except she's not wearing yellow!"_

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"when redirecting, how can I make the redirect URL decoupled from the urls.py of the parent app?" -> It turns out that HttpResponseRedirect supports relative paths, so this was fine. `return HttpResponseRedirect("../" + str(post.id) + "/")` I got the basic posting structure up. /post/new/ -> To make new posts /post// -> To view a single post /post/all/ -> To view all posts I should probably start thinking of a better url scheme. Ideally, I'd want the @login_required views to be indicated as such in the urls. Something like "/admin/post/" for new posts "/admin/manage/" for a screen to manage posts to differentiate it from a screen just to list them out. Next I think I'll try to CSS-ify the blog; I'll probably just reuse stuff from one of the blogger templates as I'm still not very good with the HTML/CSS. I'll also look into using some of the date-based generic views to get an archive view. I'll need more data though. Will consider importing from the WordPress blog.

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2nd Trial for Taipei was last Sunday, October 17 at Robinson's Galleria. I open to register a very mediocre pool while the rest of the guys at my table open awesome pools with lots of bombs. "Gee, I hope we don't keep this pool." The judge comes over, rolls the dice and we keep our pools. Awkward. {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 2 Crumbling Necropolis 9 Plains 1 Mountain 5 Forest {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 2 Akrasan Squire 1 Ranger of Eos 1 Rockcaster Platoon 1 Sighted-Caste Sorcerer 1 Sigiled Paladin 1 Yoked Plowbeast 1 Jund Battlemage 1 Ridge Rannet 1 Vithian Stinger 1 Cavern Thoctar 1 Court Archers 1 Drumhunter 1 Jungle Weaver 1 Wild Nacatl 1 Steward of Valeron 1 Woolly Thoctar {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 1 Oblivion Ring 1 Magma Spray 1 Resounding Thunder 1 Sigil Blessing 1 Obelisk of Jund 1 Quietus Spike {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Sideboard" >}} 1 Angel's Herald 1 Angelsong 2 Disp ...

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So I got a basic blog app up and running. Posting, paged archives, etc. Comments implemented using the django.contrib.comments. No problems here, the only caveat being most of the current documentation found by Google searches refer to the pre-1.0 version. Need to peruse the official docs for 1.0 stuff. RSS feeds implemented using django.contrib.syndication, this one seems fine. I tested it and it's running fine on localhost. I also have a free django hosting account at http://bells-n-whistles.net, so I try to upload it there. However, when I access the website there ([http://www.randomencounters.bells-n-whistles.net/blog/][1]), I get the following error: `'comments' is not a valid tag library: Could not load template library from django.templatetags.comments, No module named comments` I think the settings.py is not being reloaded - I tried to set Debug = False and I'm still getting the stacktraces. Bah, I'll figure it out tomorrow. [1]: http://www.randomencounters.bells-n-wh ...

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My brother pointed me to a new (to me at least) online music service called [imeem][1]. The website caught my interest for two reasons. 1. It uses Adobe Flex, a technology which I've been using for the past year or so. Any Flex developer knows it's Flex just by looking at the widgets. (Click to enlarge the screenshot!) {{< img src="imeem.png" >}} 2. The service allowed me to find an mp3 which I've never found before and have used as a benchmark for how good an mp3 search service is. The song is the Tagalog opening for Shaider! (Now I need to find a new benchmark) [1]: http://imeem.com

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Grand Prix Manila 08 has come and gone and is in the history books. While the Wizards official coverage gives you the play-by-play and the results, I’ll see if I can’t provide any interesting stories about my first constructed Grand Prix event.


Cast of Characters

It was about three weeks before the Grand Prix, and I still had no idea what I was going to play. I didn’t have a regular playtest group, and I needed some people to bounce ideas off. I formed a mailing list on Yahoo Groups and added the following (last names withheld unless they request it):

Mike "Switch" – Switch and I have known each other forever and basically started playing Magic around the same time. Mostly participating in Lim ...

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Grand Prix Manila 08 has come and gone and is in the history books. While the [ Wizards official coverage][1] gives you the play-by-play and the results, I’ll see if I can’t provide any interesting stories about my first constructed Grand Prix event. For the PTQ on day two, I decided to just use the Kithkin build we made for Paul, except that I put in Stillmoon Cavaliers maindeck, taking out Knight of Meadowgrain. I also fixed up the sideboard a bit. The list I played: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 4 Windbrisk Heights 4 Rustic Clachan 2 Mutavault 16 Plains {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 4 Burrenton Forge-Tender 4 Goldmeadow Stalwart 4 Figure of Destiny 4 Wizened Cenn 3 Knight of Meadowgrain 4 Cloudgoat Ranger 1 Thistledown Liege {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 4 Spectral Procession 2 Mirror Weave 3 Unmake 1 Ajani Goldmane {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Sideboard" >}} 2 Crib Swap 3 Wispmare 3 Pollen Lullaby ...

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Grand Prix Manila 08 has come and gone and is in the history books. While the [Wizards official coverage][1] gives you the play-by-play and the results, I’ll see if I can’t provide any interesting stories about my first constructed Grand Prix event. **Day One Tournament Report** As mentioned in the [previous post][2] , I'm playing QnT and I hope to fight aggro decks all day long. **Round 1.** I shuffle up with my first round opponent. I keep a two-lander with some good creature control spells. He starts with a Forest and I realize he'splaying some sort of monogreen elves deck. Unfortunately, it was a bad keep for me and my hand never got past the 2 lands. My notes show I never dealt a single point of damage in this game. I board in Sowers and Austere Commands. For game two, the tides are reversed, as I gain two life off a Kitchen Finks and never change my life total after that. An early Wren's Run Packmaster that got Sower'ed basically won me the game. For game three, we didn't h ...

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Grand Prix Manila 08 has come and gone and is in the history books. While the [Wizards official coverage][1] gives you the play-by-play and the results, I’ll see if I can’t provide any interesting stories about my first constructed Grand Prix event. **Grand Prix Manila, Day Zero** I met up with Switch and Alex at the venue (Megatrade hall in SM Megamall) early and got in by 10 am. I had originally been planning to play the grinders with Kithkin; but since I was planning to play five-color control in the main event I figured I might as well get some practice in and hopefully get 3 byes. However, I was unable to assemble it in the morning; so I had somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 minutes to assemble it after signing up for the second trial. The mistake was that I didn’t have a 5-color control decklist to reference, and I built it with only 25 lands. We had to buy Runed Halos from the dealers (they were a bit cheap) The 25 land count would come back to haunt me, as I kept a two-l ...

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I hit the first flight at Eastwood City last Saturday, September 27. Here's my sealed pool: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 1 Arcane Sanctum 1 Bant Panorama 1 Crumbling Necropolis 1 Savage Lands 4 Plains 4 Island 5 Forest {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 1 Obelisk of Esper 1 Courier's Capsule 1 Resounding Wave 1 Branching Bolt 1 Sigil Blessing 1 Magma Spray 1 Oblivion Ring {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 1 Cloudheath Drake 2 Kathari Screecher 1 Kederekt Leviathan 2 Druid of the Anima 1 Drumhunter 1 Jungle Weaver 1 Mosstodon 1 Naya Battlemage 1 Mayael the Anima 1 Rafiq of the Many 2 Steward of Valeron 1 Bant Battlemage 1 Yoked Plowbeast {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Sideboard" >}} 1 Relic of Progenitus 1 Bone Splinters 1 Deathgreeter 1 Dregscape Zombie 1 Glaze Fiend 1 Onyx Goblet 1 Puppet Conjurer 1 Skeletal Kathari 1 Undead Leotau 1 Viscera Dragger 1 Call to Heel 1 Cathartic Adept 1 Courier's Capsule 1 Etheriu ...

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I couldn't leave work early again last May 24, so I settled for signing up to a booster draft. Unfortunately, the draft itself didn't go well. I tried going with either red/green or red/black first, but wasn't getting enough good cards. I eventually settled on picking up the many blue fliers that were passing by and eventually ended up in Uw. I was still undecided and still picked from red/black occasionally in pack two until the third pack where I cracked Thistledown Liege. (I also picked Ashenmoor Liege later in the pack). I ended with around 18 R/x cards in my draft pool so my U/w deck wasn't very solid and I had to put in a bunch of filler and also splashed for Burn Trail and Ember Gale. I still managed to go 3-1 despite that, with some lucky matchups. Most of the other decks had trouble dealing with my multitude of fliers, especially if I manage to [Spectral Procession][1] into [Thistledown Liege][2] In the only match I lost I basically had no chance anyway; the guy's deck had ...

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The GPT was today: Sunday, 25-May-2008 as Robinson's Galleria. I'm sad that the GPTs are all scheduled on Sundays. The deck I brought: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 23 Forest {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 3 Elvish Hexhunter 4 Safehold Elite 4 Wren's Run Vanquisher 4 Imperious Perfect 4 Kitchen Finks 4 Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers 3 Jagged-Scar Archers 3 Wilt-Leaf Liege 2 Heartmender 2 Oversoul of Dusk {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 4 Shield of the Oversoul {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Sideboard" >}} 2 Cloudthresher 2 Chameleon Colossus 4 Mercy Killing 3 Tower Above 2 Primal Command 2 Gleeful Sabotage {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< /cardlist >}} I felt unsure bringing in this deck (or any other deck actually). I'm walking into a tournament again with no playtesting, so it's almost sure to bite me in the ass. Still, it's a solid choice; hopefully I could just make some skill matter. I probably should have splashed w ...

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Regionals was today, 18-May. The format was standard and I went to play at Galleria. I have a mixed track record for regionals. During [Regionals 2006][1], I went 1-4-drop with a rogue deck of my own design. During [Regionals 2007][2] I played Korlash/Mishra built by Flores, going 5-and-3. I was debating whether I would even go to play in the tournament, as I was totally unprepared and was quite tired. I figured a straight aggro deck would be fine, as I didn't want to play Reveillark again for the expected nine rounds. I lent out the merfolk deck, so I cobbled together a build of Elves the night before instead: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 4 Treetop Village 19 Forest {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 4 Llanowar Elves 3 Elvish Hexhunter 3 Riftsweeper 4 Wolf-SKull Shaman 4 Wren's Run Vanquisher 4 Imperious Perfect 4 Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers 3 Jagged-Scar Archers 3 Wilt-Leaf Liege {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 3 Tower Above 2 O ...

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Due to an increased workload, as of Friday night I was still totally unprepared for Block Constructed. I decided to skip the Shadowmoor Block Inaugural tournament yesterday, but I still showed up in the afternoon at Galleria to look for cards. Luckily, there was a draft signup so I went ahead and gambled some money on my supposed skills in Limited. After waiting some 3-4 hours for the draft signup to reach 8 people, we got started. I always carry a pair of scissors in my bag now since I'm really bad at opening packs when my hands get sweaty. Some select picks: Pack one, pick one: [Mossbridge Troll][1] In the removal-light SHM limited format, the Troll is pretty hard to kill for some color combinations. And besides, it's a rare! Pack one, pick two: [Wicker Warcrawler][2] There's a group of people I draft with on a semiregular basis; "Be a man, take the artifact!" has been one of our running jokes for years now. The thing abut the warcrawler is that many people don't r ...

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The tournament was yesterday, May 03, Standard at Robinson's Galleria. I was planning to play Green-White midrange, as documented on [Deckbuilding for an Unknown Metagame][1]. Due to card availability issues, the final list I played is: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 4 Llanowar Elves 4 Birds of Paradise 1 Tarmogoyf 3 Kitchen Finks 4 Wilt-Leaf Cavalier 2 Wilt-Leaf Liege 2 Chameleon Colossus 2 Spectral Force 2 Cloudthresher 1 Oversoul of Dusk {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 4 Oblivion Ring 3 Sunlance 3 Primal Command 2 Loxodon Warhammer {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 9 Forest 3 Plains 1 Pendelhaven 4 Wooded Bastion 4 Brushland 2 Horizon Canopy {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Sideboard" >}} 3 Tormod's Crypt 2 Stonecloaker 3 Wispmare 3 Condemn 2 Squall Line 1 Vexing Shusher 1 Pithing Needle {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< /cardlist >}} **Round 1: WG versus UG Savor the Moment** Game one saw him with a bad ...

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It's been three whole weeks since I last managed to attend a Magic tournament. Despite the hectic work schedule and the fact that spoilers have failed to impress me, I managed to wrangle a Saturday off to hit Robinson's Galleria for the Eventide Prerelease. So we show up early and join the first flight. I open and register a Shadowmoor tournament pack with next to nothing in terms of decent cards. I think the best removal it had was an Aethertow, and none after that. I was glad that usually small set Prereleases required passing the tournament pack. Naturally, after I was done registering, the judge told us that for our table, we would keep the tournament pack. Doh! I opened my three Eventide boosters and saw two unexciting rares([Endless Horizons][1], and [Glamerdye][2]) and one mediocre one ([Pyrrhic Revival][3]). I did notice I had quite a bit of playable R/W hyrbids though, including two [Belligerent Hatchling][4], which would be great with a [Flourishing Defenses][5] I had in th ...

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The tournament was last Staurday, 14-June and the format wasLorwyn/Shadowmoor Block Constructed. I had been having a bad constructed record over the past few tournaments, so I thought I'd play in one of the smaller tournaments before heading into another GPT. I didn't want to play Kithkin (too random) or Faeries (not enough components). I though I would go for control instead and thus assembled the following Commandments decklist: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 2 Forest 3 Island 3 Reflecting Pool 1 Primal Beyond 4 Vivid Grove 4 Vivid Creek 2 Vivid Meadow 3 Mystic Gate 2 Sunken Ruins 1 Fire-Lit Thicket 1 Wooded Bastion {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 4 Mulldrifter 3 Shriekmaw 3 Cloudthresher 1 Plumeveil 1 Horde of Notions 4 Kitchen Finks {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 4 Firespout 4 Cryptic Command 3 Broken Ambitions 2 Austere Command 3 Makeshift Mannequin 1 Mind Spring 1 Fathom Trawl {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup ...

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The place was NG Galleria, the format was booster draft, three rounds of Lorwyn-Lorwyn-Morningtide followed by three rounds of Shadowmoor-Shadowmoor-Shadowmoor. I went in a bit confident; I had a drafted a couple of times in the past month with decent results (2-1 and 3-1), so I figured I could probably manage at least a 4-2 here or better. I was quite wrong. For the LLM draft, I went with a Treefolk-based build around Battlewand Oaks. I luckily opened a Bitterblossom in pack 3 so my splash went to black, gaining additional removal from the Morningtide pack. Round one vs U/B was close, we went to game 3. But eventually, he decided to gamble and play [Stenchskipper][1] with only a [Mothdust Changeling][2] as backup. Unfortunately both of my removal cost five and neither were in my hand at that time. I easily lost to the 6/5 flier. Round two vs Monowhite Kithkin was close again, but in game 3 I walked into a Coordinated Barrage that resulted in bad trades and was unable to recover. ...

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The tournament was Sunday, June 15. The format was of course Block Constructed. I was playing the same Commandments deck as the day before, except I managed to get the second Mind Spring (taking out the Fathom Trawl). During last minute playtesting on Sunday morning I also decided to take out the Plumeveils from the board (they were redundant with Nameless Inversion) and put in Faerie Macabres to help the Elemental matchup. Here was the decklist I played: {{< cardlist >}} {{< cardgroup title="Lands" >}} 2 Forest 3 Island 3 Reflecting Pool 1 Primal Beyond 4 Vivid Grove 4 Vivid Creek 2 Vivid Meadow 3 Mystic Gate 2 Sunken Ruins 1 Fire-Lit Thicket 1 Wooded Bastion {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Creatures" >}} 4 Mulldrifter 3 Shriekmaw 3 Cloudthresher 1 Plumeveil 1 Horde of Notions 4 Kitchen Finks {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< cardgroup title="Spells" >}} 4 Firespout 4 Cryptic Command 3 Broken Ambitions 2 Austere Command 3 Makeshift Mannequin 2 Mind Spring {{< /cardgroup >}} {{< ...

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