- Sep 16, 2018: A tip about apple pies and cobblers...
- If you are making baked apple desserts such as apple pie or apple cobbler... use Granny Smith apples. When baked, the tart apple flavor mellows slightly, and combines with the usual apple pie spices and sugar to make for a delicious tangy fruit taste.
DON'T use Red Delicious. This utterly tasteless apple, when baked, becomes a mushy, utterly tasteless apple-thing. This message brought to you by experience.
- Aug 23, 2018: A whole new world...
- A set of posts to another DBZ fan about Minecrafting, which I will continue as a report on my world:
That sounds like an interesting world. I may have to try that seed. (From Jenny Islander: The seed is (take out the spaces) 7267 5644 6546 4405 901).
Right now, I am playing through a peaceful run of Direwolf20's 1.12.2 2.2.0 modpack. I added "Hunger in Peace" to the pack because I like food to matter even on Peaceful mode, and "Smoother Fonts" because being able to anti-alias fonts and pick the font you want for the tiny print on tooltips and buttons is really nice. I also updated a few mods in the pack before Direwolf20 did, because I don't like keeping known bugs that have already been fixed. The official pack has since caught up. I also set the world to a "rare" Lost Cities with Biomes O' Plenty (BOP) configuration, but someone's definition of "rare" is a lot different from mine, because there are abandoned, crumbling cities at various distances in all directions.
I spawned in a BOP Highlands area right next to a Thaumcraft Magical Forest (which means all the oaks are giant branching oaks, the grass is bluegrass, and there are Greatwood trees--a Thaumcraft (TC) specific tree with huge branching trunks and a very dark wood, like Dark Oak only darker. There are also TC Silverwood trees, which are magical, birch-like trees with branching trunks, and giant mushrooms and weird mushrooms.)
As the pack also includes Botania, and BOP has a lot of biome-specific plants, there are strange flowers galore, everywhere. Since my base style tends to be "tunnel into the nearest hill before it gets dark" and expand from there, I have my base on the border between the Magical Forest (the lowland entrance to my base) and the Highlands (the mountain interior of my base).
Entrance to my base
My sheep pen is up in the Highlands, as I found dozens of sheep up there.
I also built chicken pits there, after bringing a few stacks of eggs back from one of my major expeditions to the nearest "Lost City".
My current base load power generation is up on the mountain, too, as is my nether portal and, just built last night, my Astral Sorcery crafting table.
I'll explain the power generation another time. You can see a "Lost City" on the upper left, not very far away. The dead "city" (more like a small office park) nearest me has been a treasure trove of glass, iron bars, anvils, bookshelves, crafting tables, furnaces, the occaisional enchanting table and brewing stand, flower pots, and endless stacks of terracotta, which were the Minecraft material used to generate that 'modern brutalist concrete' architecture look. (McJty's Lost Cities mod defaults to using vanilla materials to generate the dead cities). That terracotta has turned out to be useful in some of the other mods, saving me the trouble of digging a lot of clay out of the bottom of local ponds. The dead office park has also been a trove of other junk, such as mob spawners; since I'm doing a Peaceful mode play-through, they are mostly useless and harmless. I guess I'm bypassing the intended difficulty of pillaging the abandoned office park by being on Peaceful; apparently its supposed to be infested with zombies, skeletons and giant spiders. OTOH, I don't get to use the monster spawners to make mob farms. I'm going to have to get mob drops the hard way: breeding BEES!
There were also "feral" chickens; on one of my later visits, I penned some chickens in the bottom floor of one of the abandoned office buildings and bred them until I collected several stacks of eggs, which I took home to start my chicken farm. (Chickens don't transport easily long distances, but eggs do).
The Magical Forest lowlands had wild cows and pigs wandering the forest, so I used some of the extensive supplies of wood I had lumbered off to build cowpens and pigpens, and lured some breeding pairs in. I still haven't found any carrots, but it turns out that pigs can be bred with beetroot, and beetroot seeds drop from breaking grass in this modpack, like wheat seeds do. So I have everything I need to breed my sheep, cows, chickens and pigs, which keep me in meat, wool, eggs, feathers and hides. (And help power my power plant, but that's another, more complicated story). As for the rest of a balanced diet, this modpack includes Pam's HarvestCraft, which has all the fruits, vegetables and recipes to use everything you could want. I have already found and started growing many different vegetables and leafy spices. The main things I am still missing are carrots, potatoes, and orchard trees, though I have found the latter on my travels--they just didn't have ripe fruits for me to pick and take home and plant.
I have far more I could tell you about; Direwolf20 the YouTube guy likes to play around with different tech mods and has a very easy-going style on YouTube (i.e. he's competent at making a good video, but can get too enthralled in the "exciting" tasks of making things in a crafting table). His modpack is what they call a "kitchen sink" modpack: some of this, some of that, mods tweaked as necessary to play well together, no special emphasis on "balance" or "progression". Very much a sandbox to play in rather than a game to play through, if you get my drift.
The pack includes some nifty little tools that make building easier, such as Building Gadgets and MeeCreeps. Also /dank/null turned out to be the most useful device for storing (and/or auto-voiding) all that junk/potential building materials that you dig up when mining--cobblestone, dirt, gravel, diorite, etc.
Building Gadgets include the Builder, which is like a Builder's Wand on steroids--it will let you lay down lines and walls of blocks from your inventory without having to place each one yourself. If you've ever hung off the edge of a roof or cliff trying to place another row of edging, you'll appreciate it a lot. The Builder will work with the /dank/null widget and pull blocks out of its inventory, if they exist. I have found the combination handy in mining--an iron /dank/null holds 1152 of any individual block in it, like cobblestone, so as I mine out all that cobblestone, it gets stashed, and if I need to bridge a chasm, out comes the Builder and I can use it to toss up a quick bridge from that stash of cobblestone. (It also has an 'undo' function, so I can take that bridge back down when I'm done with it).
The other Building Gadget is the Exchanger, which lets you switch a block in inventory with a block in the world, also in walls, columns, etc. This is handy for laying pretty floors and paneling your underground base's walls in something better looking than stone cut by random seams of diorite/granite/andesite.
MeeCreeps are summoned by a widget craftable by vanilla stuff you will collect in deep mining, such as diamonds. They are turquoise-blue enderman looking dudes who will carry out simple tasks, depending on where you summoned them--if you summon one by clicking the widget on a tree, it will offer to cut the tree down for you. If you click on the floor, it will offer to flatten the area, or build a cobblestone platform, or dig down to bedrock, or whatever. Extra materials do need to be provided by you: if you want a platform, throw stacks of cobblestone at it if the local area doesn't have stone.
More to come, I hope...
- Dec 5, 2017: Horror can stop working as horror if...
- Horror can stop working as horror if the reader has a sufficiently different cultural background from the author, because what horrified the author may be mundane to the reader. Alternatively, what the author accepts as good and right may horrify the reader in ways the author never intended. This can happen over time as well as across borders.
I recently read Arthur Machen's The White People. Not only couldn't I find any horror in it (beyond the mundane horror of how badly Machen treats female character in general), I had trouble finding any plot or even what the hell was going on. I can't say I agree with H.P. Lovecraft's analysis of "what was going on"--it's not really in the text and I think HPL pulled it out of his aft. Machen's idea of horror seems to be Women With Agency Doing Things, which really, really doesn't age well.
And then there's H.P. Lovecraft, who wanders freely between cosmic horror of "man was not the first, and won't be the last being to rule the Earth, and they will return when the stars are right", the existential horror of losing your identity to undeath, body-theft, gender-change, or species-change; and the racist's abject horror that Those People live in his neighborhood, possibly even right next door!. Guess which aspect of HPL's horror has not aged well?
Writers need to pay attention to the classic horror tropes they're using, or they might find themselves saying "Genocide is morally good" or "Slaves are by nature inferior beings whose lives and desires are worthless and meaningless" in the themes of their stories. (Looking at you, Robert E. Howard and H. P. Lovecraft). Or you, the writer, could think about those tropes and deconstruct them instead, giving us wonderful stories like Elizabeth Bear's "Shoggoths in Bloom".
- Nov 12, 2017: Minecraft modding and how to annoy modders, with some background.
- I maintain some Minecraft mods. One of the "joys" of Minecraft modding is that the APIs, the frameworks, have a nasty habit of changing in unexpected and poorly-documented ways from major version to major version. This is because Minecraft was not designed for modding by outsiders. Modding is permitted and tolerated and, PR-wise, encouraged. However, for a long time, the internal code was simply not designed to encourage it. However, since the original Minecraft was written in Java, it was easy to decompile and possible, thought not easy, to deobfuscate. People did that. People originally modded by writing replacement classes for Minecraft classes, and then inserting them into the Minecraft jar.
Modding this way was not easy, either for the programmer or for the end user, who had to master the art of unpacking jar files and inserting the provided modded jars.... not something that gamers are normally encouraged to learn or do.
Eventually, some bright lads came up with the idea of a standard mod loader, that would automatically load those modified classes as Minecraft launched, so that the end user didn't to do surgery on their game executable. They also decided to solve the other problem, that if two different mods modified the same base class, you'd have a mess.
They created an API for modding, so that mods would play nicely with each other, and have a standard interface with which to mod Minecraft. That combined mod loader and API is called Minecraft Forge. Originally, you had to do surgery on your Minecraft executable to install Forge, though it would then handle all the other mods, but the Forge guys got tired of explaining how to do that, so they wrote an installer to do it automatically, and the rest is history.
So, I write mods using the Forge API. At some point, Mojang (the developers of Minecraft, now owned by Microsoft), decided to start cleaning up the internals of the game to make it easier to write mods and other add-ons. This necessarily required large internal changes, which made modding across major versions... interesting. Players who don't write mods have little-to-no idea about this, and just want to know "have you ported your mod to 1.8 yet?"
Repeat ad nauseum for every single major version change from 1.6.4 => 1.7.10 => 1.8+ => 1.9.4/1.10.2 => 1.11.2 => 1.12.2
Not ONE modder I've ever heard tell about likes being nagged about porting code. Not one. Fortunately most forum moderators figured out a long time ago that "When are you going to port your mod?" is 99% of the time, a passive-aggressive way of demanding that you hurry up and port your mod, and so forbid the question. One, it is rude and entitled to demand that modders work for you for free, and two, annoyed modders have been known to quit modding. Or put explosive bees in their mods.
So don't do that.
- Nov 6, 2017: sort-of Monthly Cybertron Reboot
- Cybertron has been rebooted, post-DST change. Carry on.
- Nov 1, 2017: Started NaNoWriMo
- I'd forgotten how hard it is to actually get words out in quantity. Writing feels like it's flowing along, but then I do a word count check after a few hours and find out I have a whole 600-odd words.
Good thing I'm only aiming to complete a short story, not actually complete a 50,000 word light novel.