Surprising Compression

Recently I went somewhere for a thing! Given the last year of lockdown and nothing really happening this was a super treat. Motorsport Vision emailed earlier in the year offering the chance to drive the GP circuit at Brands Hatch and as I considered the price to be suitable I booked a place. There were rules to follow once on the circuit but it was nice to experience the route in the sun and in my Prius. There were quite a few “showy” cars in the queue for the sightseeing but I didn’t care. I enjoyed it even though our speed never really exceeded 50 mph.

Driving The GP Circuit
Driving The GP Circuit

I will say that even at the pedestrian pace we were going the compression going down Paddock Hill was surprising, it also started earlier than I had expected but now that I’ve had time to reflect it makes sense that you feel negative g as you go over the top and then the onset of positive g is fast as you approach the inflexion.

This was great fun and something I’d love to do again. I should probably see what lap time I could get by driving on Gran Turismo. Unfortunately the current GT version doesn’t have a Prius so I’ll try and find something else with similar power and torque.

FW3/22

I went along the river Medway for a walk in the cool temperatures and I wasn’t expecting to find a second world war relic. I mean, there are 17th century castles and defenses to save the British fleet from being destroyed [again] but something slightly more contemporary was a slight surprise. I also didn’t expect it to at an extreme slant!

Cockham Wood FW3/22 Pillbox
Cockham Wood FW3/22 Pillbox

I guess the photograph doesn’t make it look so bad but I will confess that standing inside [it didn’t smell of piss which was a surprise] made me feel quite disorientated with walls and floors at strange angles. I almost felt like I do when I wear the PSVR.

Cockham Wood Pillbox Inside Out View
Cockham Wood Pillbox Inside Out View

I think the above picture is pretty neat. I wasn’t expecting a family to be there but it works really well. So glad that I have a reasonable camera on my phone. I tried to avoid taking pictures of all the rubbish inside the pillbox.

St Mary's Island, Medway
St Mary’s Island, Medway

The river itself was very still, I think it was approaching high tide and there wasn’t that much wind. This meant I didn’t have to use a slow exposure to get a smoothing of the water.

Upnor Steps
Upnor Steps

God, it was nice to be out and somewhere else. To be somewhere where the limit of my view is more that about three metres. I do think that my eyes are suffering with this being stuck indoors quite a bit. Maybe I should get to taking tea in the garden more often. I think I could stand and stare at Bushey Wood.

So, I Did A Thing And Learnt Some Stuff

Early on in this pandemic that is fucking the world I started playing Minecraft pretty much so I could engage in conversations with my kids and understand a little about the world they were obsessed with. I still don’t know everything but I know what I like and enjoy and so I’ve been building. It gave me purpose. I hated it at times, having to head off to the farm to get wool or go and get supplies so I can make concrete. I considered making a squid farm at one point, but just changed my design to have less black concrete. I quite liked the process of building a thing and then changing my mind about what I wanted to to look like or how to complete a particular section. I would often think about what to do while I was running or working.

I haven’t done everything I want. There are things I kept thinking about that I could make to increase the complexity of the build and make it look even better. I wanted exhaust tubes to be built heading from the base of the launchpad up to the ground level around 100 blocks away and these would have smoke constantly pouring out of them to look as though the rocket was taking off. I wanted to build a launch control centre like the one at Kennedy for the Apollo launches but I only have so much time and there are other things I like doing. I’m not a complete obsessive!

Once I had done enough – I don’t think I should say finished – I tried to figure out the best way to save this build for posterity. I have the world save files backed up and stored on a NAS and in the cloud. But I wanted to be able to show this off I guess so I looked into making a YouTube walkthrough. Now, I have some rules about this website and I decided I should have rules about the videos. I wasn’t going to feature my ugly face, but I decided I would in the end. I have an opening title card – ha ha, created in MS Paint – yes it looks cheap but these are my first videos. Not sure what I’ll do next. I’ve been really impressed with the video recording software and I found it very intuitive. So, here is the first in the series, Episode 1 of Megaship 3000.

It turns out I can talk much better if I have wine and it amuses me how stilted and staccato my opening words are. I think I relax a little once I get going and know what to talk about. Many, many thanks to Penguin for giving me feedback on the first few attempts at a video and I would also like to thank the penguin chicks for their advice which, as seasoned YouTube watchers, was really good. I guess it’s now time to publicise my efforts and think about a release schedule! There are eight episodes in all and I guess, one day, I might do this again.

Megabuild Progress

So, as time goes I progress on my Minecraft Megabuild. Even as I continue to build I keep coming up with ideas for new things and extensions but I have decided that once I’ve completed the inside and possibly adjusted the route of the underground railway approaching the build I will stop. I’d love to make a launch control like the one at Kennedy Space Centre but maybe another time. I need to start playing on a new world. This server is now known as Season Two and Season Three has already started. I expect another couple of weeks of tidying up this thing and then I will start recording the tours. I’m keep planning how this is going to work. I’ve practised recording a video with audio and it went ok. I just need to sit down and plan the sections. I think I’m going to make each video around five minutes long covering a single aspect of the build each time.

River and Rocket
River and Rocket

I’m currently fitting all the control systems to the rocket. Really this is just a bunch of switches and toggles in places that look right. I’m also moving all the material I excavated from the hole into rocket storage. I guess my plan is to have this thing be able to blast off and then build a new world somewhere. I’ve got my cabin sorted and I’m pleased with the view from there.

Top Half Of The Rocket
Top Half Of The Rocket

I’m not sure how much time I’ve spent on this. It’s been around an hour a day for quite a while. I’ve been spending time collecting the resources as all this has been made in survival game mode.

Minecraft Statistics
Minecraft Statistics

I’m waiting on a new camera and then some more time just to sweeten off this model and then it’ll be record time. I’m looking forward, it’ll be a new skill and one that I’ve kinda tried before but the result was terrible!

Gantry and Beach Base
Gantry and Beach Base

Here you can see my beach house, tree farm, beach bar and monolith. There’s also a nether-portal and if you know what you are looking for you can see Beach Station. Anyway, just wait for the videos!

Sneak Peek and Upskilling

I’ve been working on a Minecraft mega-build. I don’t think it’s as mega as some of the things made by the Hermitcraft server people but this is still pretty large. I’ve been working around an hour a day for what feels like ages. It started out as an experiment and now I seem somewhat obsessed with it all. I think about the plans as I go about my daily business and some of those have had to be binned as just too extravagant. Once this build is finished I think I might have trouble becoming motivated again in Minecraft, it’s been such a labour that this could end my metre-cubed-block career.

Sneak Peek
Sneak Peek

There’s also the problem of saving this build for posterity. That is where I will be upskilling. I intend to record some videos, to be placed on the YouTube platform, of me moving around the world and talking at the same time. I tried doing this in the lockdown and I hated it but I think it’s the only way to record the details of this build. I’m going to be testing recording and talking in other areas of this world to get practiced at this and hopefully be able to sound almost professional when I publish the videos of this build. I’ll also be using the PC rather than the PS4 to complete the screen recordings so that should look at lot better too.

Beach House Complex
Beach House Complex

I do not intend to learn any video editing software so I expect my tour around the base will be short clips rather than one long massive video. That way I can maximise the information given. Wait and see.

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!