Into The Woods

I recently set up a virtual competition at work. The idea is that everyone tries driving the Brands Hatch GP circuit in a game and records their best time. That seems simple I guess. The only rules are that the vehicle must be closed wheel and exist in real life. It would be too hard to specify [and then check] other settings like traction control, gear ratios, engine mods, aero packages etc. So basic rules and hope everyone plays by them. Yesterday I had a go in the Porsche 919 Hybrid. I thought I was doing really well and I was aiming for a time of 1:12 ish [this was my best lap time from composite sector times] only when I decided to quit did I notice that my Audi R16 had gone faster [close wheels cars that exist irl].

BH GP Lap Times
BH GP Lap Times

I’m reasonably convinced I should be able to get somewhere in the 1:11s with either the Porsche or the Audi. I’ll have another go tonight I guess and try. I’m not really bothering with the suspension set up and I’m not upgrading the engine [yet] the only thing I have adjusted is to tune the gearing to the Brands Hatch circuit. This makes the acceleration as effective as possible for all of the not-straights that Brands has. I took a photograph of my lap times because I thought it looked quite good. I’m not sure how consistent is a good consistent but I think it’s quite good to be in the low 1:13s.


As you can see my fastest lap was on lap seven of this particular run. I do think I should be able to get it down another second though. But this requires everything to be good on a lap and Paddock Hill bend is really annoying. On lap 8 you can see I was really pushing it and went off, I think at Paddock, I then used the rest of that lap to try some corners in different gears to see if I could take them a little faster or change the acceleration profile on the exit. Quite clearly after lap 12 I rage quit and decided that I wouldn’t get any better in that session. Let’s see how I do later today.

Not Often I Actually Manage This

While avoiding all the terrible news at the moment I have been spending some time gaming because, let’s face it, other worlds are better than this one at the moment. I’m starting to look for ancient debris in Minecraft [seems like a job for me, just keep doing the same stuff] and I’m considering my YouTube series on aircraft in X-Plane and how to improve that. I’m not sure I remember what day I last drove the car. It might have been Monday, who knows? The heating in my house is going to fail and I booked a technician but I have to wait three weeks for that person to turn up, so it could get interesting over the next while. I have heating at the moment but keeping it going requires fiddling a couple of times each day.

Mr O and I have been looking for places to do follow-the-leader low flying. Our first attempt was through the Mach Loop and it’s slightly annoying that it seems that could be the best place in the world to do that. I had a go at Star Wars Canyon in the USA and it isn’t that long and was actually quite boring from a – you can fly anywhere in the world – point of view. So I’ve been looking at the Chilean fjords. They look more remarkable than the Norwegian fjords and I wonder if Slartibartfast had any role in designing them. So, along with my search to find somewhere to retire I am also looking for decent valleys and LFAs, Low Flying Areas. Currently I’m tempted with New Caledonia and Tierra Del Fuego. One is warm and tropical and the other is most definitely not. These are dreams really as I doubt very much that I could afford or qualify to move to those places and then end up being a burden on their healthcare systems. It’s nice to dream though.

In these times we have to take enjoyment from the smaller things and do our best to keep sane. It’s not going to be easy and the fall-out from this pandemic is going to affect people for many years to come. Hopefully we will have a government willing to cough up the money to ensure the best of all. They seem quite cash-happy at the moment but I suspect that’s because of business losing money rather than an overall caring for people thing. Let’s wait and see.

43 x 47

New year new glasses or however the saying goes. Not a lot to say but I did think I should write something before playing some games. Let’s summarise what’s happening at the moment:

Weather – shit
Human rights – likely to be trampled
Pandemic – still really bad
Roaming charges – likely to return
Horrible people – still in charge
Scientific illiteracy – still high
Uncle Frank – still a racist

So, going well in the new year then. I think I might start another miniseries on YouTube this time flying different types of aircraft in X-Plane. I just need to find a nice place to fly a few circuits. I expect each video to be around five minutes long. I need to have a practice at some.

I don’t do resolutions but I am going to try and play a more varied selection of computer [or console] games this year. I have many games and I enjoy buying them but I rarely get through them. I have some suspicions about why this is and I will probably write about that some day. But, much like buying books, getting new games is exciting and I like owning things. I’ve solved the books buying issue by buying a Kindle and making sure that I read more things more often. I’m doing well at the moment. It helps not having loads of channels on the television because there aren’t that many things I want to watch. There will be even less once the NFL season finishes in about a month.

Anyway, we have to keep our hopes up that at some point this government will accidentally do something good and actually help people. At the moment they seem to be a bunch of art history students trying to understand that gravity exists. Which is probably what they are:

Boris Johnson – Classics Oxford, Eton
Rishi Sunak – PPE Oxford, Winchester College
Dominic Raab – Law Oxford, Dr Challanor’s Grammar [state school]
Priti Patel – Economics Keele, Westfield Technical College [state school]
Michael Gove – English Oxford, Robert Gordon’s College
Robert Buckland – Law Durham, St Michael’s School
Ben Wallace – Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Millfield
Matt Hancock – PPE Oxford, Kings School
Alok Sharma – Applied Physics and Electronics Salford, Presentation College
Elizabeth Truss – PPE Oxford, Roundhay School [state school]
Therese Coffey – Chemistry Oxford, St Mary’s College
Gavin Williamson – Social Science Bradford, Raincliffe School [state school]
George Eustice – Truro Cathedral School
Robert Jenrick – History Cambridge, Wolverhampton Grammar School
Grant Shapps – Business HND Manchester Polytechnic, Watford Grammar School [state school]
Brandon Lewis – Law Buckingham, Forest School
Alister Jack – Glenalmond College
Simon Hart – Radley College
Natalie Evans – Social and Political Sciences Cambridge, Henrietta Barnett School [state school]
Oliver Dowden – Law Cambridge, Parmiter’s School [state school]
Amanda Milling – Economics and statistics UCL, Moreton Hall School

Two Up – Rafale

Had another flight in the X-Plane system with Mr O, who is based in Texas. This time I decided we would fly from Kerry airport in the Republic of Ireland and bomb, or at least virtually attack, Skellig Michael – the island where Rey finds Luke. This time I recorded a section of the flight. After the bombing run it took about ten minutes for us to find each other in the skies so that wouldn’t be too interesting!

Could Be A New Thing

After the launch of my YouTube series Minecraft Megaship 3000, I have been pondering other things. I quite enjoyed the challenge of creating those videos and maybe I should do more? I might try streaming on Twitch and I think it will be flight simulation based. I’m just trying to work out what I could do. I might even stream some Minecraft. Who knows?

There are two videos currently live. Another six will be released with episode three today at 1500. The last video covers a tour with a ray tracing resource pack, it’s worth watching all the others for. Happy Noodlemass.

Machynlleth Tours

I spent a lovely time last night flying over the Welsh countryside with Mr O. We both have PCs capable of running X-Plane 11 and as we near the winter no-work-period it seemed sensible to try and fly together. While this is possible it is not easy. X-Plane has the ability to link up with another computer but only if you are on the LAN together. This is somewhat irritating. Also, it will only link up if the copies of all the sub-directories are exactly the same. This is not really a possibility as neither of us wanted to change our personal set up. So, the next thing was to find a solution from the world of the internet. There are a few after market add ons that will allow you to fly together but I didn’t want to pay money [I think I might make a donation] and I wanted the simplest set up. I found JoinFS a cross-platform tool to fly together over different sims! Also, as an advantage it is P2P and so doesn’t rely on an external network or server.

Two Ships Heading For The Mach Loop
T7 and Tonka Live Flying

After a while trying to set the software up and not reading the instructions, because who does that, we managed to get one aircraft showing in my sim although Mr O couldn’t see me. I think that’s because JoinFS works by “knowing” the type of aircraft you are in and telling the other machine what type of aircraft to show. My T-7 wasn’t categorised and so nothing showed up for Mr O. This wasn’t a problem and we proved the concept worked with a trip around the Mach Loop until Mr O crashed!

On the next attempt we both had Tonkas and heading out to the Loop from RAF Valley. It looks like there are some positioning issues as Mr O’s plane was partly sunk into the ground and his weapons rack was ten metres from where his plane was, but you know what, at least we could see each other on the tarmac.

Two Tonkas Heading To The Loop
Two Tonkas Heading To The Loop

In the previous picture you can see my Tonka, Mr O’s and also his weapons rack just off his starboard side. So we headed to the loop. I think we did OK. I guess we might need a bit more coordination on airspeeds and maintaining a distance but for a first go it was done well. I think we did about three tours around the loop. In this next picture you can just see Mr O flying with much bigger balls that me!

Looping The Loop
Looping The Loop

We both ran out of fuel at some point so we had to coordinate pausing the game and adjusting the settings to add more fuel to the planes. This worked fine for Mr O but when my cockpit lit up like Xmas and I had run out of fuel I only had one engine burning upon game restart. I couldn’t get the second engine started, but that didn’t matter, we still made it back to Valley and landed.

Engine Two Out
Engine Two Out

I look forward to the next flight. I just need to pick somewhere cool to fly. Maybe the Swiss Alps?

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!

Do I Want This Much Detail?

Yes – I suspect I do.

I’ve found a website which looks through all your GT Sport data and makes in nice and clear. I’m not sure what this means. I’m not sure if I want this much detail but I am sure it’s cool. There are a couple of sites that do this:

Gt Sports Stats

Both of the above sites should link to my profile on those pages. This is what I have foiund so far:

My GT Sport Stats
My GT Sport Stats

I’ve only driven 35,409km. I think I probably need to get that increased. I’m also concerned about my driver rating, below, but what I can do about it I’m not sure.

My Driver Rating Within GT Sport
My Driver Rating Within GT Sport

I guess I just have to keep plugging away at this in between bouts of Minecraft building.

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.