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Archive for the ‘Geeky’ Category

Sewing with EL wire & faux fur

Sewing with EL wire & faux fur

Starting a pile of stuff to pack

Starting a pile of stuff to pack

Learning to solder EL wire

Learning to solder EL wire

Three strands of EL wire done, 12 to go

Three strands of EL wire done, 12 to go

Doing the I-made-a-tutu dance

Doing the I-made-a-tutu dance

Sheep hat!

Sheep hat! (with sheepskin from my old car seat covers)

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Minecraft Dramas

Before I start this story, let me assure you that it has a happy ending. I’ve put hours and hours of work into my favourite world – it has an open-pit mine surrounded by sea, with a waterfall that goes all the way down to bedrock, where I’ve built a lake and grown some trees. Soon the dirt around the lake will be grassed over, and I’ll plant some flowers. Around the outside of the mine is a farming area, with wheat and sugar cane. I also have a tree farm in the form of a meditation maze, floating in the sea. Because it can be hard to spot the saplings and bits of wood that fall into the sea, I’ve started construction of an underground, glass-roofed room under the maze, which will be connected to the mine. I’m planning to turn the upper part of the mine into an apartment building, with caves dug into the cliff face. I’m building an ‘upstairs’ cliff house overlooking the tree maze as well – a three story place with floor to ceiling windows and a bridge across the bay.

My meditation maze / tree farm

But then – disaster! I open my level and Minecraft crashes. WTF? After a few hopeful re-tries, I manage to look at the error messages. The chunks are in the wrong places? Does this mean my level is somehow corrupted? Woe! But that’s ok, because I’ve been making backups – I’ve got another copy that’s only a few days old. So I make a backup of the corrupted level, just in case, and copy in the other one. It starts up ok, which is good – but my mine is only half dug! WTF? Somehow this backup is two weeks old, not a few days! Woe!

There follows a week and a half of desperate googling, installing of Minecraft backup and map-editing programs with dodgy linux versions which won’t run, and more desperate googling – interspersed with periods of despair. I can’t bring myself to start again on the old backup, so I start a new world. Even snow and lofty mountain caves don’t console me; it’s just not the same, the magic isn’t there.

But finally, yesterday, Steve (who is awesome!) managed to get MCEdit running and there it was before me – my mine, my trees, my cliff-house! Mysterious rectilinear chunks were missing from the world, but apart from a corner of my glass-roofed room, my creations were unscathed. Oh joy! He started up Minecraft, loaded the world… A moment of tense waiting – and there it was! My world had been returned to me!

The moral of this story? Make backups. And make sure your backups work. And, if you can possibly manage it, have a nerdy boyfriend.

Mine, sweet mine (pun intended).

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Minecrack

A week and a bit ago I bought myself Minecraft, the new It Game. The premise is simple: you collect resources, and use them to make tools and houses (and crazy enormous sculptures). It’s awesome, and very addictive.

Pretty much anyone who comes to my (real life) house is forced to admire my (game) house, and my many tunnels – now with signs to help me remember what’s where – and my new lava lake, etc, etc. I also tell them my stories of triumph (“after 6 days I’ve finally figured out how to make fire! Good thing I turned off the zombies!”) and of woe (“I dug a new tunnel and found some trees and then I couldn’t find my tunnel again and I thought I’d lost my house forever!”). I’m trying to keep my obsession in check so that my friends don’t start avoiding me.

But I do want to show you what I’ve built… I promise not to be too verbose – just a few pictures, and then some thoughts on gaming for newbies. So:

My house from the lagoon

This is my house. It looks onto a lagoon and across the ocean. The house has windows all along the front, and a stone roof. It backs onto the mountain, and my main tunnel has it’s entrance inside the house.

Towers at night

After getting traumatically lost a little while ago I’ve started taking elaborate precautions. I build tall towers at each tunnel entrance to help me find them again. I’ve also started building a large tower on top of my home mountain – I’m going to cover it in torches to make it easy to see from far away.

Here are my towers from a bit closer up and to the right a bit. Look at that crazy overhanging shelf with the trees. I saw that when I was lost, but decided not to check it out. If I had I might have found my way home and not had to drown myself to get back to my precious house 😦

This is my lava lake. It’s the start of a series of caves full of useful stuff – coal and iron, particularly. As you can see by my items bar, I’d just died – falling into the lava while trying to get a good screenshot. I should have known better than to walk backwards.

Yellow Sand Road

Here is another of my pathfinding mechanisms. I’ve found some good caves at a distance from my house, and I’m marking the route with a sand path. The sand is easy to see at night.

(Five pictures is not so bad, right?)

Anyway… I’m so glad this game lets you turn off the enemies.  For me the appeal is the sandbox building fun and I didn’t want to have to keep dying annoyingly while I tried to figure out what was going on. I don’t have the long gaming experience which would make it possible for my to jump straight in and survive (as I said, it took me about a 6 “days” to figure out how to make light). I’ve played a grand total of six games – Lego Star Wars, Zelda Twilight Princess, Super Mario Galaxy I & II, Super Mario Bros (Wii), and Zelda Phantom Hourglass on the DS. What hope have I got against zombies when I can’t even make a stick?

I really appreciate games that make it easier (possible?) for non-gamers to get started. I think most gamers don’t realise the wealth of concepts, approaches, conventions and physical skills that they have to draw on when starting a new game. I still feel the lack with every new game I start. I’m still scarred from the time people tried to make me play Warcraft 3 at a LAN – luckily the Wii brought me a nice friendly platform and some games which didn’t scare me. I’m now the proud owner of a games console and several games, and now Minecraft, my first PC game that isn’t a relative of Solitaire or Minesweeper. Maybe I’ll try zombies in a new world sometime, now that I know what I’m doing a bit…

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Mario Mario Mario…

I’m so excited about Super Mario Galaxy 2. It comes out next month. I need to go put in my pre-order, so that I can have it at the earliest possible moment. The original game is practically perfect in every way, and SMG2 appears to take all that made SMG awesome and just add on some more awesome stuff – and according to this diagram from ign.com, some more evil level design:

How A SMG2 Level Is Born

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Last night Steve and I walked to the park to look for the International Space Station. We weren’t sure where to look. We spent a few minutes theorising about orbits and speeds and the direction of the Earth’s spin, and then spotted it mid-conversation. It was very bright, and moved right over the top of us. Double bonus: it was going approximately the same way we’d figured it would be 🙂 It was really cool to look at it and realise that there are people up there in that thing. What were they doing up there? Sleeping, eating dinner, working? Pretty cool.

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Educational Rap

What the Large Hadron Collider is all about:

I found this quite amusing…

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Fire Camp!

I’ve just got back from Spun Out 2008, aka fire-twirling camp. It was AWESOME! The atmosphere was great – cruisy and laid-back, but still full of energy and fun and craziness. Here is a short summary in list form:

Things I Did:

  • Learned some cool fire-twirling stuff – especially a fan of the anti-spin and isolations we did in the staff workshop on saturday.
  • Saw a lot of really cool tricks
  • Gave myself a henna tattoo, of a peacock and swirling vines
  • Watched a fire-show including all the usual stuff, but also a rope dart (which came very close to the people), a fire whip, spinning fire wheel things, a home-made flame-thrower, a wooden man set on fire, and a man riding a flaming bicycle wearing only a bike helmet and his (synthethic!) boxers!
  • Had a go with the flame-thrower – omg. so. awesome! You pull on the handle and this huge flame just goes *woof* above you – it made me laugh every time…
  • Did a bit of fire-twirling (with fire) – of course, once I had the fire I completely forgot all the cool stuff I’d learnt earlier in the day 😛
  • Danced
  • Played fire soccer – which has to be the craziest thing I’ve ever done, but also one of the funnest. When the ball went out of bounds, someone would have to run after it, put out the little fires it had started, and kick it back in. Every now and then it would go too far or in the wrong direction, like, under the DJ’s equipment (which got us banished to the far end of the sandy patch), under a bush, or even under a car! (Luckily it just rolled straight through, and the guy who’d run after it just picked it up and pitched it back). Fire soccer was exhilarating, scary, hilarious, and awesome!
  • Learned a bit of contact juggling, which is rolling the ball around on your hands and body, and stuff like that
  • Decided that I want to go to Burning Man
  • Twisted my ankle walking to my tent in the dark
  • Talked to lots of cool people
  • Cut up two enormous watermelons
  • Walked on stilts – straight away! No desperate clinging to poles and rafters… I was pretty pleased with that 🙂
  • Rekindled my interest in fire-twirling, especially staff (I want to buy a fire-staff now…)
  • Generally had an awesome time.

Some photos soon, hopefully… But now I have to get back to the real world and do some work 😛

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