Build Plans

At the beginning of the national lockdown I went out for daily exercises with the kids and they talked constantly about Minecraft and I just nodded along. Then, I decided to join in and at least understand what they were talking about. Now, about half a year later, I still don’t always understand what they are talking about but I do at least get some of it. Our second world is progressing well and the luxury now is that we’ve conquered farming and so are able to devote time to “projects”.

I will confess that I have been using a map application to help with guided mining. While cheating I don’t think this is the worst cheat. I also started showing coordinates on screen which feels a little like cheating, but, not the worst as far as I’m concerned. Recently there have been nether tunnels made to progress around the world faster than my minecart railway from the Meadow to the Beach.

A while back I introduced the world to the HOLE via my YouTube channel. I don’t think I wrote about it on these informative pages but I didn’t really have much of an idea what to do. I think the HOLE took about two weeks to dig playing one to two hours a day. Two hours is my limit before I start getting restless.

The bottom of the HOLE is now layered with glass, there are torches placed at the lowest bedrock level and I have also filled a layer of water at the moment to save me dying if I fall into the HOLE. I might or might not remove the water, I’m not sure yet.

I have started a build project in the HOLE. It is going to take some time. So far I think I have spent about a week on it, playing for one to two hours per day. There are a few issues. The main one is resources. After building for a session I am generally out of particular resources and have to spend the next session building those resources up again. It does give me a break from the project I guess and allows me to think about how to design the next stage. The lowest level of the build was almost done as a proof of concept and it looked so good that I decided to carry on. After about a week of building the whole project started to take shape in my head and I now have most of it loosely planned. I know what I am going to do, it’s just a matter of getting the resources and doing the building.

I guess there will be a grand reveal here and on YouTube. I expect this project to take another two weeks to complete the main section of the build. I think it’ll be another couple of weeks after that to build the extras – such as minecart tracks and redstone components. So, given delays and that a national lockdown seems unlikely, this project looks set to last another month. I can’t wait to show people around the project. I will have to come up with some name for it.

HOLE Teaser
HOLE Teaser

La Manche

A while back I journeyed to Dover and the White Cliffs. Just went for a walk and to see what it looks like. It’s an odd feeling looking at the massive modes of transport going about their business. Fascinating. Quite a bit like watching aircraft or trains. I took a few photos as a test of my cleaning of my camera sensor. There is a small spot that I can see in photographs still but overall the result is pretty good and I am a happy chappy. I didn’t want to use a gallery for this collection as I really like the photographs. Click on one to get a, slightly, larger image.

Dover Port
Dover Port
DFDS
DFDS
There'll Be Blue Birds Over . . . .
There’ll Be Blue Birds Over . . . .
SS Falcon From Above
SS Falcon From Above
Wreck and Not-Wreck
Wreck and Not-Wreck
SS Falcon
SS Falcon
Langdon Bay
Langdon Bay

Sensor Troubles

For a few years now I’ve had some dark spots on photographs I’ve taken of aircraft in the sky. These show up when I’m on full zoom on the telephoto lens and a recent trip to Headcorn really showed this up so much so that I had to edit the photographs to get rid of those dark spots. Finally I got around to searching for a solution after I eliminated it being the actual lens. The first thing is to try blowing the dust spots out with some air. This is where my troubles really began. The guide I saw said hold the camera with the sensor facing downwards and blow the air upwards into the camera body. This was attempted but without much thought as I was using a can of compressed air and had to angle the can horizontally to get the flow direction correct. A load of propellant came out of the can and sprayed into the camera body. All of this stuck to the sensor and I effectively ruined the camera.

Another searching of the internet resources led me to find a microfibre sensor wipe that might clean the sensor enough so that I can use the camera again. I was either going to spend GBP20 or so on some special wipes or I was going to have to send the camera off for a new sensor or professional clean. The twenty quid seemed worth it before going for the Amber Level response. One day later and I’ve got the camera body open with microfibre wipes in hand and I’m trying to clean the most sensitive part of the camera full in the knowledge that I might destroy it. The process completed and I now have an OK-ish camera. I still think it needs to be sent off for a proper clean but I might get away with just that rather than having to buy a new sensor. The camera is working a little better than before and the original spots are reduced. They are still there but not as prominent. I need to go somewhere I can take photos of aircraft flying to see what the background looks like.

Tea And Doughnuts

The first time I ever went to Headcorn airfield, or Lashenden Aerodrome or whatever it’s called, was in a little Cessna with Andrew Passfield. Andrew was getting his flying hours up to complete part of his CPL. He used to get a little bored flying by himself and so would take passengers. We took off from somewhere near Lakeside, Thurrock, and flew over Kent to Folkestone to see the Channel Tunnel Terminal being constructed. Then we landed at Headcorn and had some tea and doughnuts before heading back with a quick circle over Brands Hatch. It was a lovely flight and great fun. I particularly remember that the construction site of the channel tunnel terminal was immense and that Kent has some very straight railways. Almost strange to think that I am now living in that area.

I went recently to Headcorn Aerodrome just as somewhere to go. The weather was meant to be nice and, as you would expect, the aerodrome is mostly outside and so it seemed it would be a reasonably safe place to visit. I didn’t know if there was going to be much action there but we headed out anyway. On arrival there were parachutists gliding down from 8000′ and plenty of aircraft up and doing their thing. There was even a Stearman wing walker jobby flying around. Further inspection gathered the information that for a measly GBP350 you too could wing walk and spend some time being buffeted around by the atmosphere!

Just Dropped Off The Kids
Just Dropped Off The Kids

I took the Camera and it was nice to get some use out of it. I’ve not really been anywhere this summer and so the poor thing has lain alone.

Lined Up
Lined Up

I have noticed that I have a lens problem though. My 300m telephoto lens causes muck spots on light backgrounds and that is something I’m going to have to look at over the next week. Also this coming week I will be mentally bracing myself for going to work. Something I haven’t done for six months. My last day in work was 16th March. I have been working but from home and so having to put a pair of shoes on will be very strange.

Wing Walk Stearman
Wing Walk Stearman

Back To The Future (35th Anniversary)

So, I wanted to get out and go somewhere and I normally return to the darkness of the film theatre as an easy escape. There isn’t really a lot of films on at the moment because all the major studios have delayed release of all their films due to the SARS-Cov-2 issues. So, in a sensible move, the cinemas around here are showing classic films to get us to visit. Today, as of writing, the following films are available to watch with my comments after each:

  • Back To The Future (35th etc) – seen
  • Back To The Future II (2020 reissue) – will watch at home
  • Dark Waters – seen
  • Dreambuilders – don’t want to see
  • Goodfellas: 30th Anniversary – maybe
  • Harry Potter II RE – don’t care for these movies
  • My Spy – already seen on Amazon Prime
  • Onward – absolutely not
  • Proxima – seen
  • Sonic The Hedgehog – seen
  • The Dark Knight (2020 reissue) – can’t stand Batman films
  • The Empire Strikes Back: 40th Anniversary – maybe
  • The Greatest Showman – kill me now
  • The Shawshank Redemption (2020 reissue) – maybe
  • Unhinged – really not sure about this isn’t it just Falling Down?

So, there is plenty to see and that’s just today. Tomorrow there’s a different selection of films going on. I might go again at some point. I’ve been going to early showings assuming that the cinema is cleaner than after a few crowds have been in. I’m not sure about the whole opening doors to the toilets thing but I guess if everyone uses hand sanitiser that shouldn’t be too bad. To be honest in the film yesterday there were only five people in that particular screen and I think we all pretty much enjoyed the film.

Earlier in the day I had been down to the river at Peters Village and seen that the tide was quite low. When I checked the tide charts supplied by Wolfram Alpha I could see that the tide was turning and by the time I went to the cinema it would have been around 75% of high water for that day. Sure enough on the way in to the cinema as I drove along the esplanade I could see that the tide was indeed getting towards its highest. There were no mudbanks to be seen.

After watching the film I rated it on IMDB because that is a thing I do for cinema films and there is a previous communication detailing the ratings process here. I then tweet the result on my rarely used (for now) twitter account.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing this film again. It was great fun. There are so many aspects of the film that are well thought out and delightful little touches that it was as if I hadn’t seen the film ever before. I couldn’t tell you when I last watched this whole thing, but I can tell you that it was still excellent and it did make me wonder why films weren’t made like this anymore. Maybe they are and I just haven’t found them, or maybe they are and I’m struggling with confirmation bias, but this was a well scripted, well made film where every little bit of it just seems to work really well.

I’ve already bought the box set on Blu-Ray along with the Indiana Jones trilogy and Star Wars (1-6). I will be watching the next few films in this particular series over the next week or so and I can’t wait. I honestly can’t remember much and am pretty sure that the last time I watched the third film would have been in the cinema when it originally came out. We’ll see what I think of it!

Beck Map

This most definitely is not a Harry Beck type map but maybe I should produce one. This map goes with the previous communication about the Minecraft world that I inhabit and the underground system that I made. Apparently we are now working on an infinity room in the server, whatever that is. I hope I have enough RAM to cope with that!

This map shows an aerial view of the meadow area of the server world. The straight lines represent different sections of the underground system.

Meadow Underground System
Meadow Underground System
  • RED – from Meadow Station to Harbour 1
  • WHITE – from Harbour 1 to Main House
  • ORANGE – Meadow House to Harbour 2
  • YELLOW – Harbour 2 to Mountain Base

Do these colours match the colours of the lights in each tunnel? Of course they do! Below is an overview of most of the world so far. We have discovered some deserts and a cold region but have yet to find a jungle biome which is a little annoying.

Current Interesting Parts
Current Interesting Parts

You Gotta Get About

It’s been interesting removing oneself from the shit-show that is 2020 and enjoying my Minecraft server world. In the server world things aren’t perfect. I die sometimes, normally from entering the Nether, creepers seem to blow up my most treasured aspects of the world and occasionally I get lost and spend days walking back home. All of this still makes Minecraft better than 2020 or almost any of the last four years. My favourite time is when it rains in Minecraft. I love it. The sounds, the smell, the not getting wet. Now, I’m a little gutted as this is the second draft of this I’ve had to do. My first draft disappeared into the ether[net] and I don’t know what I wrote. I know I was happy with my prose but something will be lost this time around and you won’t get the chance to read my brilliance.

So, here we are, another video which is a screen clipping from the PS4. I looked into doing this properly with a voice over and all that jazz. I downloaded some software and recorded some screen clips on my computer and then starting meshing all that stuff together and having a go at a voice over. What did I learn? I learnt that I hated speaking out loud. I can just about do it for work stuff when I record lessons but I did not enjoy trying this out. Then, I also learnt that I spoke too many “ums” as I tried to commentate on a five minute clip. So I decided that I wouldn’t do it. Now, I do know that learning a new skill takes time and practice. I am giving it neither at the moment but I think that might change in the future and maybe I’ll give this another go over my summer break. What follows is a written description of the sort of stuff I was going to say.

This video takes about a Minecraft day. In fact I go to sleep at the beginning and the end so it is pretty much a day. We travel from one end of the Empire to the other but there are still aspects that are missed and maybe I will cover those one day.

So, we open at night and I am atop the Mountain Base. I sleep in the mountain top hall that I built and then head down the stairs to the internal secret hall. I think I want to make all the walls by the steps the same as I feel it’s a little messy at the moment. It was meant to be a secret staircase and so didn’t matter but every time I use it I think it needs smartening up. At the bottom of the ugly steps I look in a chest and take a rail – I’m not sure why because I didn’t even put it in its rightful place in the basement later, then I head out into the main hall and get a minecart from that chest. Then the journey starts! We get a tour of the underground railway I built.

Mountain to Harbour 2

The journey from mountain to harbour 2 station has smooth stone blocks and the railway lays on wooden planks. The lights start out as yellow stained glass and all the torches are placed one block rearwards from the track and with smoothstone surrounds. The emergency doors into the mountain base open and close automatically keeping the different areas secure. Once the yellow accented lights run out we get shroomlights. The whole idea of this was to give each branch of the underground from the main Meadow House a certain look and feel so you always kinda know where you are in the system. At Harbour 2 station we can see it has a purple concrete and smooth stone design to it. The way to the surface is a long ladder. The station at the top is designed to be similar to the platform area. We get a short look at the mountain base. Then, there is the harbour with the flip-flop switches that are operated by buttons and open and close the water exit to the harbour.

Harbour 2 to House

This section of the journey doesn’t take too long and we head to the main house and store room. House station is designed in white concrete with a light blue concrete ceiling to match the store room. The floor is glass and most of the lighting is torches under the glass. It costs a fortune to keep the glass clean of soot and dirt! Then we head up stairs to the Basement Storage Area which I built. It’s all nicely labelled and everything has a place. Every now and then I have a tidy up because other players on the server leave things all over the place. There is an enchantment room and a portal to the Nether. The doors to the station look hidden but are a bit obvious if you are the type of player who likes to go around pressing every button that you find. I do like the flip-flop circuit.

House to Harbour 1

Harbour 1 was the first harbour I built. I spent quite a while rowing around the rivers trying to map out the land. I have stairs places on all explored rivers which point back to the main house so if you come across a river you can find your way home. These walls on this line are a snazzy stone effect that I can’t remember the name of. The lights are white on this stretch of track. I think my favourite part of all the railways is the bit on this section where we go through a cave. I think it just looks nice considering every other part of the journey all looks the same. Harbour 1 station is red glass and wood accented. I think there’s even a tree growing up through the middle of the ground level building. We also see the first harbour and a glance at Meadow House. When looking at Meadow House you can see two platforms that were designed to give an overview of the meadow. The top one is called The Top and it’s just slightly too high for all the animals to be rendered when you get up there so you can’t actually see a great deal of detail. It’s nice up there though.

Harbour 1 to Meadow Station

Meadow station was originally the start of the railway line to the beach because it meant I didn’t have to have so many resources to build the line. Over time I wanted to be able to avoid walking and now I have achieved that. The underground line heading that way has the same snazzy stone things and pink accented lights. All turns in the system have signs on them in case you get lost. Meadow Station is a glass topped glorious sweet design that makes me happy. It was my first ever use of sea lanterns. There’s not really anything else there now but the station. It looks so nice I don’t think I’ll get rid of it but I rarely use the station for anything other than passing through.

Meadow Station to Beach

This is boring and takes around three real minutes. It’s quite good if you need a comfort break while playing as you can just get on the railway and head off to somewhere nice and do stuff. I’ve spent a while adjusting the redstone torches from the last video and putting them under the track to make it all a little neater. The purple concrete blocks allow you to find your way if you get lost. The side with the torch points to the direction of Meadow Station. The monolithic spikes every now and then were waypoints for when I used to walk to the beach. They also have torches on them which point towards the meadow. Getting back home has been quite important to me. The railway heads due west and as we approach Beach Station you can see my mob farm off to the right towering up over the land. Beach station is a glory of green and glass. I like the design of it. Once off the railcart we head to the beach, the house there, the small farm and the beach bar.

The Beach

The beach has an area nearby where I practise my redstone skills. It has the mob farm which kinda works ok ish. I also have an extensive mine which I have used to gather lots of lovely resources and the underground railway to that is in the next video. At the beach we gaze at the monolith which was a suggestion of a friend and I really like it. I think it adds a certain something to the whole area. The ratios of the edges of the monolith are 1:4:9, although I made this one 2:8:18, which is the same ratio. Then we head to the beach bar and dive into the sea pool I made. From there we are able to swim underwater to my ocean viewing platform. The lower opening to this was open to the sea but waterzombie things kept getting in my house so I used trapdoors to block it off. Finally there’s my storage basement at the beach and a short journey up to the surface and another flip-flop for the doors to my summer house. We have once last glance at the monolith and then head to bed, the end of a busy day in this Minecraft world.

TMA-2

After my video showing my Empire I had the following comment on Twitter:

This was an omission I had to correct. So, I did. I went and built a monolith at the Beach House but it looked too small. 1 x 4 x 9 didn’t really work that well so I doubled it. You have to keep the correct ratios and here it is:

Monolith and Portal
Monolith and Portal

It’s a 2 x 8 x 18 which is a lot of obsidian that I had to make down in one of my mines. I have perfected my lava quenching techniques though! I think it looks good just floating in the air and although I touched it while building the thing I won’t be going near it, just in case.

TMA 2, Portal and the Beach House
TMA 2, Portal and the Beach House

This view has all the important bits of this end of the world. My beach house, the portal and the monolith. There’s also the remains of a tower showing top centre which was to indicate the way back – I’ve since got rid of most of it!

Monolith and Portal
Monolith and Portal

I’m currently working on a *secret project* and there will be another video released soon showing the Empire. I’m not expanding the area but I’m tidying up some of the impact of building in the meadow area. Ultimately I would like to continue the *secret project* to the rest of the Empire but I think that would be too tedious. I have other things I want to do, like learn redstone and also get a shulker box and beacon.

First Time

While out for a walk yesterday this monster of a beetle was seen and then photographed.

Stag Beetle
Stag Beetle

The body and horns must’ve been 5cm in total. It was the first time I had seen anything like this and once I was home I looked it up. It was a stag beetle. It’d be good to see another one in the wild one day. Also while walking across the middle of the field I noticed a few house martins eating insects over flying over the field. It was a lovely sight and something I’ve not seen for a long time. I can remember martins and swallows from my childhood but I don’t recall any since then. Maybe I just wasn’t looking.

Empire

I’ve been building my Minecraft empire bit by bit. The last few days have had me experimenting with redstone and what that can do. I’m now upgrading different bases that I “own” to have automatic doors and security systems. Once I get quite good at the basics I’ll try to make bigger and better things. I have an area near my beach house where I practice certain builds and I have even gone to sleep realising I could have made things much simpler but, hey ho.

Here’s a video of the journey from one end of my empire to the other. You will move from my “secret” mountain base to the beach house. It’s changed a little since I made this video as I’m trying to add more stations to the system but this still represents most of “my” land.

Once I’ve got the railway system working well I’ll try and post another video to show what I’ve done.