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

Akira (2020 Reissue)

The other night I made sure I went to the cinema because it was the last time I would be able to go to the Cineworld cinema at Rochester for the foreseeable future. I went out of a sense of duty I guess.

I faced quite a problem in deciding which film to see. When I looked at the listings I noticed that Akira was playing and damn I love that film. But there were also some films I hadn’t seen before and maybe it would be better to see a new film rather than one I’ve seen every decade since the late 1980s. Here’s a list of the potentially shitty films I could have seen; After We Collided, Bill and Ted, Saint Maud, Schemers, The New Mutants. I’d already walked out of Tenet and really didn’t want another attempt to see that. I had a conversation with Smith and decided it would be Akira – my fear was that I would fall asleep but it was definitely better than any other film on that evening.

The last time I saw Akira was with Smith at the British Film Institute and I wrote about it in this communication. Until I just looked up that link I didn’t know how far in the past that film trip was. I do know that pretty much every time I watch the film the ending surprises me because I think my brain blocks it out.

The tide was quite high as I drove along the esplanade and I parked in my usual area where there are plenty of spaces but slightly further from the entrance doors. My current parking policy is to park away from entrances and walk, it’s far less stress than finding somewhere close. I had cinema food as dinner – a hot dog, some popcorn and a bag of minstrels, might as well make the most of my last trip. I think I would have liked a massive ice cream but the thought of diabetes kept niggling in the back of my head. After watching the film I would normally rate it on IMDB, but I’ve rated Akira before. The rating system defines that this is a 10/10 film because I have seen it multiple times, bought it on multiple formats and also been to see it at the cinema more than once.

I love this film. It packs so much social commentary into its storyline that it always impresses me. There is always something that happens every time I see this that means the overall movie makes more sense. Except the end. I’m not sure the end every really makes sense to me. I know what is happening but I’m surprised every time.

When I walked out of the cinema I had a real feeling of loss. It felt like the end of an era. I’ve spent so long in that place and have used it as a refuge from my own thoughts at times that I feel a real personal connection with that collection of bricks. I will be sad if it doesn’t open again. I will have to try and find a new cinema and escape venue.

Broken Black Magic Mirror

Every now and then I go through the process of making sure that all the devices in the house are up-to-date and running the latest software. It takes a while, especially some of the more esoteric devices I have, but by the end of it I am happy in the knowledge that everything should be working on the latest standards.

I recently did this with the two Raspberry Pis that I have in the house. One is in the loft and it runs a simple ADS-B receiver sending data to an aggregation site where I am able to track aircraft. The other Pi is in the dining room and was running some Magic Mirror software which took a long time to sort out. I wrote some communications about it. It was good fun doing that coding and trying to get it working how I wanted.

The update I performed on the Pi in the dining room failed. I don’t know why. When I performed a restart the Pi gave me its equivalent of the Blue Screen Of Death and then asked which version of OS I would like to install. Somehow the update screwed up the Pi enough for it to decide to reinstall its OS. This wiped out all the MagicMirror programming I had completed and now I’m lost.

Do I go through the process of the MM again? Do I try to search for a back-up [which I can’t remember doing] and then just install that again or should I start from scratch? Maybe I should try to find something else for the Pi to do? The MM project was fun but not something that I really used a lot. The TV in the dining room is rarely turned on. Maybe I’ll try and find another data aggregation program to install. I don’t know. I just know I want to do something.

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.

The Vigil

Because the cinemas are so quiet at the moment it is actually quite nice to go there. They’ve got themselves sorted for Covid quite well with hand sanitiser, face masks, wipes etc. The cinema I go to has a 5 people only in the toilets but you can’t actually see in the toilets to know if there are 5 people so I’m not sure how that will work on a busy day. A lot of the current crop of films out are reissues. The cinemas or film companies are trying to get the world used to the cinema again by getting us to see our “favourite” films. Amusingly a lot of these films are ones I couldn’t be bothered to see again. They are pushing Inception quite a bit ready for the release of Tenet but I hated Inception and won’t be going to see Tenet. I’ve just tried to create a hyperlink to my review of Inception but that term doesn’t exist on this site! I’ve just looked up when that film came out and it was in 2010 which is before this site existed, my dark ages I guess. I can tell you that a friend recently asked if Inception was brilliant or bullshit and my answer was “bullshit”.

The state of the tide of the river Medway was high. It wasn’t completely high tide as I could see some mud bank on the eastern side, the river was also flowing seaward quite fast and so I think the tide was waning. There are times when the river looks still, times when it flows the “wrong” way and times when it looks too fast. These coincide with whatever the tide is doing at that time, but with a small delay the further upstream you get.

River Medway
River Medway – I was going to walk further along for the picture but it was near film time.

After watching this film I rated it on IMDB. There’s a whole convention about what the ratings actually mean and descriptions of such are in this communication. When I can then access my PC I tweet the IMDB result. I gave up Twitter on my phone and so I now only check it when I can access the flight simulator. The result is below:

So, things. I considered walking out of this film but thought it would be a little rude so I stayed until the end. This film was a “horror” and I’m not really into that. Once you give up all belief in supernatural you can then logic away the scary shit and just watch the film for giggles. I can remember being a teenager and seeing The Omen, Poltergeist, Amityville and so on and they really disturbed me. There was something about those films that really shook me deep. I think I knew they weren’t real but the playfullness of the filmmakers affected me, which I guess is the point. While watching The Vigil I had the following thoughts:

I am bored and this film is boring me.

This guy is getting paid USD400 for reading Psalms and he is failing to do that. He made an agreement but isn’t holding up his side of the bargain. I don’t know what the rules are concerning a Shomer but he’s not doing anything. A Shomer is there to read to the corpse and ease the spirit on its journey. How long does this journey take? If the Shomer stops reading for a toilet break is that allowed? Must the reading be constant? What are the rules? Overall this seems a silly idea to me. Anyway, the main character isn’t doing his job.

Overall I thought this film was poor. It could have been really good. But it used the sound and music to increase tension when it would have been harder but more rewarding to really explore the relationship between this character and his religion and the traditions it has. I can’t decide if this film was a cheap attempt at horror or a real exploration of the psyche!

This Shomer has left his protected bubble of Hasidic Jews in New York. We learn why he left I guess and he is part of a support group for people who leave this oppressive regime. He suffers guilt and problems stemming from a traumatic incident along with leaving the community. We learn that he has seen things and takes tablets to help him control his visions. So, this film is about the psychotic breakdown of a man leaving a religious organisation and the mess that the Hasidic caused him. He is troubled by his own demon and it comes to him while he is [not] doing this Shomer job. I might read a little more about this film and, if I’m lucky, it will be a metal breakdown rather than a horror movie. I won’t be letting you know though!

If you want to know some more about strange religious behaviour then just read an article on the Eruv. It’s a piece of string that “extends” the boundary of your property so that you can go outside and do things on the days when God insists you stay inside your property. Why God allows this loophole is beyond me, it’s all rather made-up.

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

Unhinged

I rated this film on IMDB, there’s a communication with a list of how the rating system works. I tweeted the result.

This film was terrible. I hated it. I considered walking out but was curious how they would end it. It was utter shit.

I think the lesson here is how we blame the wrong people for the things that go wrong. Woke up late? Your fault. Lost job just before retirement payout? Likely the fault of the regulations that are written by your government. Addicted to opiates? Likely the fault of the government. The media spin everything so our anger is misplaced. It keeps the masses quiet. Why don’t Amazon pay any tax? Because of the laws of the land. Why don’t companies pay fairly? Because of the rules of the land. Why is your MP fucking useless? Because individual people are selfish and vote without any form of altruism. Best I stop this before I end up in a downward spiral. This film was shit.

Gearing

I’ve been out cycling a little bit recently and I have been enjoying it. As a calorie burner it’s not as efficient as running/jogging but it is a different activity and fun. Also, as I can cycle three to four times faster than I can run and because of the increased time needed to burn fat I now have somewhere between 9 and 25 times the area to investigate – it depends on a number of factors but is essentially the length scale factor squared.

When I’ve been out I’ve been changing gear but I have been wondering what the actual ratios are and understanding these would make things a little more efficient and help me know when it’s best to change from big to small etc. The bike is an 18 speed machine which I find surprising but then I’m slightly old and can remember 5 speed derailleurs being impressive technology. I looked up the number of teeth on each gear and created a spreadsheet.

Bike Gearings
Bike Gearings

This now means that I understand the numbers more and can change into a more correct gear given the upcoming terrain. All the above are in the form 1 : n, where it is turns of pedal : turns of wheel. On a more fundamental level I think I am surprised at how efficient we are at cycling and it should be done more, if you can get a bike.

100% Wolf

To avoid the last day of this heatwave, there have been seven days with temperatures in excess of 30C, I booked in to the cinema. The main reason was to enter an air conditioned building for a few hours and relax without sweating all over everything. I went to see 100% Wolf.

On the way to the cinema I noted that the tide was very low. All of the mud banks were visible and the little boats were stuck in their tiny channels that keep them from beaching. After the film I thought about the rating and then did that and tweeted the result:

I gave this film a 4/10 because I fell asleep for about twenty minutes and then proceeded to figure out exactly what had happened to the characters once I’d woken up. I only watched until the end just to see what happened. This is possibly not the fault of the film but the fault of the hot weather and me not sleeping great. Without doing some control experiments I won’t know about which cause it is.

This film surprised me at the beginning as it was an Australian production and I don’t think you see many of those, especially animations. Maybe I’ll try and watch something slightly more highbrow over the next few days. I’ll let you know of course. In the mean time, while the world awaits MSFS 2020 here’s a clip of me going Gatwick to London City for giggles.