In Poor Taste?

Perhaps as I get older I become less tolerant? I honestly don’t think that’s true. The more I learn about people and the world I am more accepting of the differences between us all. Except hate. I think I expect everyone to be as tolerant as me when I know a lot aren’t. For once, the golden rule applies pretty well: be nice. This should be followed by one of my mum’s favourite sayings which was: if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. I do believe you are allowed to think whatever you want but your actions should always follow the golden rule. What I’m trying to say is, this communication might not be as bad as I think, some of you might look at it and shrug, I just found the subject in poor taste.

I was playing Gran Turismo Sport yesterday and racing online. The races this week are GT3 cars around the Red Bull Ring in Austria. It’s a pretty fast track with some corners that really require you to cope with understeer with plenty of downhill braking and off camber. There’s also two corners where early power on the exit will have you over-steering. I’m not sure it’s a favourite but it is a good challenge.

Corners 1 and 2 require gentle power on exit, definitely avoid the kerb on the inside and maybe short-shift to avoid oversteer. Corner 3 has downhill braking and is tighter than you think, everytime!

Anyway, when the entry list came up on the screen I was a little [not shocked] bothered by two of the PSN names that people had chosen. Now, I often have to remind myself that it is likely that most players are not as old as me and most haven’t been playing as long as I have. You can tell by my PSN name, Kertz, that I got in early when selecting usernames. It’s like my personal email address which is just my name and zero numbers, being an early adopter has its uses sometimes. Here’s the entry list:

Playstation Network Names
Playstation Network Names

Maybe people think it’s a giggle to have a funny name? I’ve seen plenty with 69 in the number. Qualifying in second place is Jack-T-Ripper1. The addition of the 1 is curious and might mean that Jack-T-Ripper was already taken? I’m not sure it’s a good thing to have your PlayStation identity the same as a serial killer of women, maybe it shows a deep lack of respect? Maybe it’s a laugh and I just don’t get it? If I think about some of the lyrics to songs I like then naming yourself Jack The Ripper isn’t that bad. Oh dear, maybe I’m old.

Then, qualifying in 11th place is a certain Wernher_V2_Braun. For me this is more worrying but again, maybe I’m just being a little sensitive. This Dutch player has taken a name based on a user of slave labour in the second world war. Yes, Von Braun created the technology to launch the American space programme but he also used slave labour in his factories. I do not know whether he had Nazi ideologies but he is a very complex character. For me, the fact that the Dutch player included the V2 as part of their name is the most disturbing part. They could have had F1 which was the engine that took man to the moon, but no, they chose the Nazi ballistic missile called the V2, as though they are paying homage to that programme.

As much as how we present ourselves shouldn’t change the opinions people form of us, it is what they do. The human brain makes judgements really quickly and it’s hard to get away from that. Does it matter whether I wear a suit or not? Does that really affect my ability to perform my job? No. Should I wear a suit? I don’t think so, but the image creates a power. It’s why we have uniforms for those in positions of implied power. So, are these two people assholes? I don’t know. I would like to think they are not, but if you think it’s OK to name yourself after a serial killer or a man responsible for the deaths of thousands with allusions to those deaths then perhaps you shouldn’t be advertising your thoughts. Maybe this is a case of internet-balls. I don’t know. I honestly believe you should be able to think what you want, but externally you should be nice. I think I find these identities distasteful while at the same time thinking I’m wrong for thinking that. Argh, conflicted.

Flight Comparisons

I did a thing. I used Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 and X-Plane 11 to compare the flying and things. The plan was to fly from Biggin Hill to the Manston Airfield [which is currently shut]. While flying in MSFS I flew over Brands Hatch, my house, my place of work, Leeds Castle, Canterbury and then landed at Manston. I recorded the screen for each of these segments and uploaded them to YouTube. There is some information which needs to be released about the set up first I suppose because this wasn’t an even playing field. I will do that after the take off videos. Now, MSFS doesn’t have any particularly fast aircraft or military planes at the moment. So I used a Pitts Special in that game and my favourite T-7 in X-Plane. The order of the videos will always be MSFS and then X-Plane but it should be obvious from the aircraft involved.

Biggin Hill Take Off MSFS
Biggin X-Plane

The mechanical set-up. The PC has a Core i5 processor running at 3.7GHz. There is 16GB RAM, the graphics card is a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super, the monitor is a 27″ 16:9 1080P thing, I’m not convinced for the need of a higher resolution or size. I’ve got two speakers running a boring stereo output, I’m not that bothered about full 5.1 for the PC, I don’t use it enough. I have a Saitek X52 HOTAS system and that’s about it.

While flying east-ish from Biggin Hill I could see a golf course and realised it was the one near Brands Hatch so I decided to flyby the motor racing circuit and see what it looked like. Here are the results for both simulators.

Brands Hatch MSFS
Brands Hatch X-Plane

My comments on Brands Hatch would be that both simulators manage it quite well but MSFS does put a building on the Brabham Straight. That would be tricky if you want to have a motor race but I guess this is just a simulation and if I really cared a lot about Brands Hatch I could make my own custom scenery for X-Plane.

Some words here are defining the software set up. For MSFS2020 I have essentially bought the deluxe version. I did this because I was quite convinced that I would pay for the extras in micro-transactions anyway so I might as well do it up front. Other than that I haven’t done anything to MSFS. I whacked all the graphics settings to the far right and just let the PC see where it can take me. For X-Plane 11 there are extras and these should probably be explained. The Boeing/Saab T-7 Red Hawk is a bought add-on made by AOA Simulations. There are plenty of free aircraft you can get for X-Plane, a quick look at the downloads website shows 1,128 aircraft for X-Plane 11. I also have lots of after market scenery libraries installed. These allow third parties to create scenery using standard models. There are 83 directories in my Custom Scenery folders, some of these will be airports and some will be libraries. I also have TrueEarth installed which is a paid for scenery collection of the UK. Great Britain South cost around 30 Australian dollars. So, given the time and money I have invested in X-Plane I am probably quite biased towards that, the sunk-cost fallacy.

In the next couple of videos you, probably, won’t know where my house is and you might not know where I work. If you do you will see the differences in this. These videos take you from the Medway Valley four villages over Maidstone and close to Mote Park. More comments after these then.

The Commute MSFS2020
A Faster Commute X-Plane 11

I’ve just changed my embedding technique and so the videos might look different from the one above, I’ll see once this is published. In MSFS my house doesn’t exist. The shadow of it does but the actual 3D model isn’t there. My work place has buildings but they aren’t the right shape. In X-Plane my house is modelled in 3D and my work place has buildings of the correct shape but not the correct colour. Remember that the X-Plane scenery is a paid extra. I know that the original scenery was just shadows on the ground for my village.

Next up is a flight and stall turn over Leeds Castle. Leeds Castle is near the village of Leeds and not the city in the North. It’s a pretty castle although I don’t think I have ever been inside the actual buildings. I think in the following videos it is clear that X-Plane does the better job, once again it has a scenery pack installed for Great Britain.

Leeds Castle – MSFS 2020
Leeds Castle X-Plane (with add-ons)

As I headed east I was reasonably sure I would land at Manston on the eastern tip of Kent. The last time I ever flew in a Chipmunk was from RAF Manston when that still existed. Along the way is Canterbury, the home of the Church Of England and other such religious paraphernalia. I wondered what the city would look like as I passed overhead. I had not seen this before in X-Plane and was quite curious.

Canterbury MSFS2020
Canterbury X-Plane 11

Again I think it’s clear that X-Plane nails the cathedral but I have to point out that I have paid extra for the scenery pack of the island of Great Britain. I would be annoyed if it didn’t look better. The last two things then are landing at Manston.

Manston MSFS2020
Manston X-Plane 11

You’ll notice that MSFS2020 was a little busy with other aircraft on the runway. Hence I landed late and on the right side of the runway. You can turn off other players or you can see them all. X-Plane has the option to have other people flying in the sim, you can also have AI aircraft and set their aggressiveness for combat. You can also have real world traffic in X-Plane and I’ve tried that and it seems to work quite well, depending on the ground ADS-B coverage from a particular database.

My overall thoughts. I think I prefer X-Plane. This is probably for a number of reasons and not all of them might be valid. A lot of this comes down to the sunk-cost fallacy. I’ve spent more time on X-Plane, I’ve spent more money on X-Plane, I prefer the military jets, I have no inclination to program a flight computer, I like shooting stuff. I will say that I think the clouds in MSFS look a lot better and they might not kill the PC like they do in X-Plane. I am sure that over time there will be a lot of extras and add-ons for MSFS and these will take a little while to become ubiquitous. I think I’ll see if I can lock the chase view in MSFS because I’m not so keen on the camera always staying horizontal, I prefer the default chase view in X-Plane. I’ve a feeling that X-Plane is more detailed in its settings and more customisable, this is generally what happens with non-Microsoft stuff, you have the chance to tinker more. MSFS is a good simulator and with full settings it wrecks my PC which is a pretty decent PC so I would expect the graphics to look good. X-Plane just has that edge for me.

There’s a part of me that wants to be snobby about all this. I want to write that X-Plane is for proper flight sim people and that MSFS is just a tiny bit “arcade” and that if you really want to fly then you would have had X-Plane, P3D, or DCS or other such simulator because you would have found them. Me being snobby is my brain taking full command of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. This goes along the lines of “you aren’t a real XXXXX unless you do YYYYY”. So, you aren’t a true Scotsman unless you are born in Scotland. You aren’t a true Scotsman unless you wear a kilt and have your own tartan [which is a bullshit thing made up by the Victorians]. You aren’t a true Scotsman unless you wear nothing under your kilt. You aren’t a true Scotsman unless. . . . . and so on. Now, sometimes there are qualifications and so on that can prove you are a particular thing but even then some people might say “oh, you aren’t a real XXXXX until you’ve had YYYY happen”. J Clarkson uses this when describing motorists, he says you aren’t a real motoring fan unless you’ve owned an Alfa Romeo. Clearly he is using the fallacy to great comic effect, along with being a bit of a prick. People seek legitimacy through the things they do. Many will say, especially those with internet balls, that you aren’t a real XXXX unless you have YYYY. This is bollocks. I have to remind myself a lot about this when I’m thinking. I actively work to make sure that I consider this and work through how my brain thinks.

So, my conclusion is: I really like X-Plane and will probably “fly” in that more than I will MSFS. But, if you’ve bough MSFS and you like playing that then good on you and I hope you enjoy the time you have.

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.

Before All This

Sometime last year I managed to run home from work and then the following day run in to work. This I did once. Mostly because I lost the fitness bug and also because I became mentally unable to do much. I might have written about it somewhere within these pages but I can’t remember and I’m not going to search. I wanted to get more exercise and try to lose some mass but I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Earlier this calendar year I was feeling bad about the environment and how much we have messed up the future of this world for my children’s generation. I think the Extinction Rebellion demonstrations really got me thinking. So, I decided maybe I should ride a bike to work. I’d save a little on petrol, use less fossil fuel and keep fit. I decided I would investigate a bike.

Then. The world blew up. I was working from home and there didn’t seem to be a reason to suddenly investigate a bike. Once my routine had settled I started looking at bikes online and getting advice from friends. Would you believe it? Every fucker was buying a bike for something to do. It would appear that walking or running was too hard work for them and loads of people got the biking bug. I couldn’t buy a bike. I still planned to though. Mind you, this also meant getting a shed that would fit the bike as I don’t have a garage or anything like that to store the machine.

A few weeks ago I checked a local bike shop’s website and THEY HAD STOCK. Well, I was browsing really, not that bothered about buying at that point, but if I didn’t order something then I would be waiting another few months so I pressed “add to basket”, added some accessories and then waited for my delivery date. It took about 8 days for the bike to be in shop. I guess that’s not so bad. It’s very easy to forget that in this world some things you have to wait for, we are so used to everything being there right now. The next issue was a bike carrier for the car. In case I wanted to take the bike to the other end of the country and to move small bikes around. My car, Bora Horza Gobuchul, is a stupid shape and so I had to spend quite a bit on a bike carrier. Having now used it, I’m not sure I would take bikes on a long journey but it functioned well.

On delivery day I was persuaded to buy a year’s maintenance plan for the bike. I have no idea if that was good value for money but it seemed sensible. I haven’t maintained a bike, ever. Even when I was young all I did was make sure the tyres were at the correct pressure. I never really cleaned a bike or did any other type of maintenance. Pretty similar to my motorcycle history too, washing bikes was something other people did. The bike now rests in my dining room and will eventually live in the shed, but as you probably know, there is a seven week delivery time for a shed!

Commute Vehicle
Commute Vehicle

My observations on the first ride I had in over twenty years was that it was not a smooth ride. I did a little tarmac but mostly footpaths across fields which are fine to run on but cycling caused arse issues. I was being bumped all over the place and I did wonder if rear suspension would have been sensible, then I realised that the front suspension didn’t seem to be doing much. A even cycled down the North Downs on a footpath that I normally run and I found that a little scary as I had to keep the brakes on the whole time and was convinced I was going to hit the gate at the bottom of the track. I’ll have to try again soon.

On another ride with other people it turned out that the level of comfort was much better because we weren’t travelling so fast. The bumps in the footpaths seemed levelled out with a lower speed and perhaps there’s a lesson for me. I will have to try another ride soon across some tracks and see if I can go slower. I’m not convinced I will be able to, we all have our natural riding speed I reckon.

I’ve completed a practice commute, to see how sweaty I get and to check out the route. I got very sweaty. I’ll have to plan cooling down time and somehow work on the logistics of shirts and clothes which will be ferried in the car on days that I can’t use the bike. I’m also slightly worried about being able to see in the darker months but will figure that out when it happens. I’ve got a good head torch I use when running so maybe I can fit that to the bike helmet? Who knows? Plenty of time to think about it.

I actually have quite enjoyed discovering new stuff. More paths further from home. There’s plenty to explore and further to travel. I’m looking forward to it all. Except the cars.

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.

Fastest

It’s been a little while since I wrote on here but in all honesty I’ve been struggling to find things to write about. You see, nothing’s happening. We are in this lockdown and work is odd at the moment. I have been in to work three times since 17 March. Those three times were supervising and not doing my real job but at least it was somewhere else to be. I’m in a couple of times over the next week and that might be more interesting. Working at home places really interesting pressures and thoughts on you. I keep trying to manage engagement with the time that I have. I’ve also spent time in a better world, my Minecraft world. Even though there are creepers and zombies and witches and I died in that world a few days ago, it’s a far more enjoyable place than the real world at the moment.

Each day I try and have two races on Gran Turismo. Sometimes I’m not in the mood but mostly I am. It’s a nice half hour distraction from the world and it can be really enjoyable. The issues with racing online still exist and the idea that you will lose because someone else is entirely incompetent is annoying but normally it’s worth it. Of the current daily races I have enjoyed racing around the Mount Panorama circuit at Bathurst. I’ll probably write a little about my favourite cars sometime soon as I noticed I’d completed over 3000miles in my Mazda! That’s more than some people drive in the real world in a year.

Anyway, in a race yesterday I started in second position. My time of around 2’07” is pretty good but the person on pole had 2’05” and I’ve no idea how they got that. I’m not convinced I’ve really hooked together a complete decent lap but to lose a further two seconds from my time would be hard work. Also, I suspect there are people out there even faster. It looks as though GT matches you with people of a similar ability and time so I don’t know what the fastest time in the world is. Mind you, I guess there are people playing a lot more than me. I know I’ve been playing from 1997 ish but to get loads better at these circuits you just need to get practising.

For whatever reason at the start of the race yesterday the person in pole didn’t accelerate at the start and I zoomed past them. I was in the lead from the first corner and didn’t look back. Well, I did, I used my mirrors to see what was behind me but you know what I mean. The thing about being in the lead is that there’s a lot more to lose if you stack it going into a corner so it does make me more hesitant and cautious on corner entrances and exits. This can cost time and so I have to monitor the gap to the car behind. For this race it was around 1.8 seconds for the whole race and only moved by a few tenths. I sometimes get an adrenaline build up on the last lap as I get excited about winning. This time I calmed that and kept telling myself to keep a clean lap and remember where I tend to oversteer on the exit of corners when I put the power down early. Mount Panorama is a glorious circuit and very tricky, the section at the top of the mountain is horrible and fantastic at the same time.

Below is a screen video clip of the final positions along with my “win” celebrations and the delivery of my daily workout car. If you complete 26.6 miles in a day you get a free car. Most of these I don’t use. There are around 500 cars in the garage and I’m not fussed by them.

I’m pretty sure this was my first ever fastest lap in a race. I’m very happy with that. I don’t know what lap times other people got but it doesn’t matter. I was out in front with a clear road and that does make it a lot easier. You don’t have to judge what other people are going to do and brake slightly early because of the concertina effect. You can pretty much put down qualifying laps, just while hoping that you don’t get nudged or whacked by someone forgetting to break, or by someone who is just an asshole.

I am quite convinced that the physics of the car is different in the race compared to qualifying and I’m not sure why. I get a little more understeer during races and I suspect, but do not know, that it’s due to the air modelling the game does. Driving a car through mostly still air is very different to driving through disturbed air and I have noticed a very minor difference in steering and braking while racing in the pack with other cars around. There is a definite effect and the car doesn’t behave as it does on qualifying. It’s something I think I need to investigate.

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.

One Metre Cubed Blocks

Lockdown has led me to have the chance to learn how to play Minecraft. I know it’s not that hard, but I’ve found it interesting and fun. I’ve also had the chance to explore parts of the world that I can’t do in real life. I had started thinking that I would write today about systemic racism and privilege in our modern society but I’m not going to, yet. I think there’s been enough said over the last while and if you read these communications you will see what side I’m on. What I will say is that if you deny systemic racism then you either a purposely not reading or learning anything about our modern society or you are racist. I think my favourite thing I’ve seen written recently was – We hate Trump because he is racist, you hate Obama because you are racist – and don’t you go thinking this is just an American problem, it is rife in this little island over here too.

Minecraft World
Minecraft World

This is how much of the current world I have explored. It is approximately 5km across its furthest points. The base is somewhere in the middle of all that! This is the second Minecraft world I have generated, the first had me on an island in an ocean and I spent quite a while on that world but I have to say that being spawned in the woods and on a land of large area is much easier. It’s much easier to find resources. I find that I tend to separate my playing sessions into three main types.

  • Building Structures
  • Off Adventuring
  • Mining for Materials

The loop top right is one that I spent a few “days” exploring. When exploring I always have a bed, food and compass in my inventory. The bed is to be able to skip the night so that I encounter as few monsters as possible. Food is a requirement and then the compass I use to find my way back to the world spawn point. My main base is close to the world spawn point and I think that’s important along with a compass. I haven’t yet figured out how to use the Minecraft maps properly I need to do some reading on them. Each session I play is between one and two hours. I find the mining good fun and I think I try to see too much logic in the placement of blocks but also need to understand that while it’s random it is also procedurally generated. Building structure is excellent and my plans are slowly getting larger. I haven’t really figured out the aesthetics of it all yet and I need to practise my use of materials cleverly to look good but I’m getting the hang of it slowly.

My Buildings - Minecraft
My Buildings – Minecraft

My main structures are marked with red blotches in the above picture. Starting far left they are:

  • Beach House
  • Beach Station
  • Meadow Station
  • Main Base
  • First Harbour
  • Secret Mountain Base

I found the beach while I was off on a wander and I decided eventually to build a pathway from the main base to it as easy access to the sea is helpful in this game. Once I had a pathway in place with lit towers marking the route I then decided that the “day” it takes to walk was rather annoying and I chose to make a railway from the main base to my beach house. I knew I would have to gather a lot of resources and that I did. I needed plenty of railway and powered rails along with lots of blocks to make the whole line one straight section of railway. I chose to do this as it’s easier to head in a single direction through mountains and over rivers than winding your way, it also requires less material. The resulting railing is just under 1,6 kilometres long.

It's a long way to the beach
It’s a long way to the beach

To travel this far in the minecart takes about three real minutes. From main base to the beach house is about five real minutes of travel. At least it gives you time to sort out the inventory and make sure everything is placed neatly. Once the main railway was in place I built stations at each end and I don’t have any screen shots of those at the moment. I then wanted to build two decent looking bridges over two rivers and a future job is to build a nice viaduct where the railway passes over the swamp biome.

My Suspension Railway Bridge
My Suspension Railway Bridge
My Standard Railway Bridge
My Standard Railway Bridge

Ill try and get some screen shots of my stations and secret mountain base and put them on here sometime soon. I wanted my stations to be fun and represent the areas they headed to. So the station near the main base is fun colours and looks like a sweet while the station near the beach is green and looks like the forests the line heads towards. I have really done any Redstone constructions yet apart from the railway. I think I will need to start these soon as I would like to have a switch which turns railway points so you can pick your destination in the station and the correct railway line is chosen automatically. While I don’t know if this can be done I am sure I could find a guide if I wanted but I will learn bit by bit.

Because I’m classically on the left of politics I’m going to mention some problems with this game. Is this important? It’s just a game you say. Well, yes this is important because all of this adds to culture and what people think is acceptable. What do the Marvel films teach us? That the world will be saved by gods and masked superheroes with immense damage and that all arguments can be solved through violence. This is partly why I don’t really enjoy these movies, that and they aren’t that good. So, Minecraft. Let’s look at the overall themes. I mine coal to power my cooking and smelting processes. I harvest trees for the wood but at least I can regrow the trees or even plant more than I have destroyed. Animals roam the land and I can use them for my own purposes. I get points for killing them and also for breeding them. If I’m trapped in a village overnight I can kick a villager out of their bed and sleep in it. I can destroy the villagers’ homes with no repercussions, I can steal their food and their possessions with no repercussions. I can kill them with no repercussions. I can take their lands and use their goods for my own purposes.

This game teaches you that there are no repercussions to stealing land, taking food, killing natives, destroying the planet, building whatever you want. I know this game is played a lot by younger children who love it. They love the creativity of it. They love challenging each other and it is a massive online arena with YouTubers careers made on explaining it to the world. But, when you break it down, what does it teach you? If there’s a better metaphor for historical and current European descent white supremacy then I’m not sure I know what it is. Where was this game created? Stockholm. Who owns it now? Microsoft. This world is biased and people claim they can’t see how! There, I managed to end this communication on a depressing note.