Making Ocean Monuments Habitable

I’ve been working on making an Ocean Monument on Minecraft into a habitable base, as entries passim may well have revealed.

Anyway, primary construction is now complete, so here are some pictures…

Of Interest to (Programming) Geeks Everywhere…

So, when I was back in the UK and regularly attending Clojure meetups I got to know a guy called Malcolm Sparks. Malcolm was already an accomplished Clojurian, but he still came along to the dojos and I got to work on problems along-side him a couple of times and then to talk to him over a beer or two a couple more times. He and Bruce Durlingand a couple of other people (Neale, Jo, Bodil, Tommy — you know who you are and I am probably missing people out anyway) were really generous with their time, with me and many other people, even though I was a self-taught PHP developer (the horror!) who was trying to swim way out of his depth in something that plenty of people had told me was “hard computer science”, and that I should leave well alone. Now I’ll be honest, getting to grips with Clojure and Functional Programming was no picnic for me, but with some effort and with their help, I got my head around it. You know why I am still in love with it, still excited about it? It makes programming FUN, and it makes programming insanely productive. I’ve been programming PHP for 15 years, Python for 13, Ruby for 8 not to mention JavaScript the whole time, but no other language than Clojure has allowed me to do as much in as short a time and as low a line count.

Anyway… About a year, maybe eighteen months, before we left for The Philippines Malcolm and a friend of his, Jon Pither, started a Software Consultancy specialising in Clojure, both the development of solutions in the language and consulting for companies adopting it. Unlike a lot of organisations that simply list Clojure amongst the technologies that they use, Juxt are clear that they will only use Clojure and ClojureScript as the mainstay of any project that they take on (they use a variety of other supporting tools / technologies like ElasticSearch and Cassandra etc., but no other programming languages).

They are called Juxt

Recently they have been putting together a “Tech Radar” for the Clojure eco-system, rather than a more general industry-wide one like the one that ThoughtWorks do, and I was among the people to offer feedback before it went live, though I did not end up contributing as much as I gained by looking through the article. If Clojure has ever piqued your interest – you’ve heard it talked about but never given it a try, or you’ve dabbled but never connected with the community – then take it from me, as someone who owes the community a lot at the moment, as someone yet to give back to the extent that I have received, this Tech Radar is a very good place to look for inspiration, for an idea of the extent of the power and flexibility of the language(s) and as an example of how you can run a business, be successful, but at the same time put something very worthwhile and useful back into the community.

Seriously, check it out -> Juxt Tech Radar for Clojure 2016

These guys are at the top of the software game, and no mistake. Jon and Malcolm have spoken at major conferences around the World (and not just Clojure ones) and they have led some amazing projects – in short, they know what they are talking about. That said they are open about the fact that this Tech Radar is based on their opinions and the opinions of their associates within and without Juxt, which is a mark of their no nonsense approach to the whole industry that I for one feel marks them out as people who have something to offer rather than something to take. This Tech Radar, along with the regular blog articles that they publish about new ideas and case studies, when added to their involvement in the UK Clojure and Software communities through organisations like SkillsMatter and so forth tell a tale of an organisation that are interested in doing more than just making a buck. These guys are nurturing their corner of the emerging Functional Programming industry as well as their corner of the Open Source movement, and I know that they are doing it because building software in Clojure is fun and they want other people to have the fun too, just as much as they want to do good work and make a living.

(If you / your company is thinking seriously about engaging with a consultancy to get a greenfield or re-code project off the ground, then you would do well to give them a call, even if all you are looking for is mentoring and guidance for a team or teams that you are cross-skilling to Clojure, though from where I am standing the real win is in getting them to build you a team and your system, rather than just mentor and train.)

Poseidon’s Folly

On the Minecraft Server that I run and share with my wife and a handful of friends, which is a “Survival Only” server, I am in the process of “drying out” an Ocean Monument and I thought that some of you, dear readers, might be interested to see what is entailed… I’ve not had the presence of mind to take screenshots throughout the whole process, but nonetheless, these shots from the last couple of days of work should give you some sense of the magnitude of the undertaking. For the record, we already have one OM on the server that has been civilised, by another player, and I can absolutely say that it’s worth the effort, in case you were wondering… 🙂

More random creativity…

Last night I was struck by an idea, and I got it out on the nearest thing to hand, which was ello.co, but seeing as no one sees what I put there, I thought that I would put it here as well and then hopefully 4 or 5 people will see it… 😉

=========================

There was not a lot of life out on the street that night. Normally when Frank stepped out of his building to have a late-night smoke he was immediately plunged into a hustle and bustle that would rival SoHo in New York or Soho in London, not that anyone often spoke in raptured tones about the fact that Makati is another city that usually does not sleep.

He looked around, wondering where everybody was. Sure if it had been late at night on Easter Saturday, or New Years or Christmas Day, times when the city was indeed quiet; quiet like a ghost town in fact, then there would have been no puzzle to solve. As it was, the year was already in full swing, and yet here he was on a street that was dead by comparison even to those special times. He could not hear a single vehicle – normally he could hear traffic noise up on the thirty-seventh floor, even in the wee small hours of the night. The guards were there, and they did not seem confused, perhaps he was imagining it.

He lit his cigarette and leaned back against the cool concrete, looking up at the stars through the architectural forest of the high rises, trying to shake the odd feeling and to enjoy the tranquility of the moment. His phone buzzed in his pocket. He considered leaving it there, surely there was nothing that could not wait until he had finished his smoke – it was just after two? He took another drag and was just relaxing once more when the phone nudged him again. He dug it out of his pocket and unlocked the screen, expecting to see an alert from someone in the UK who knew the time difference well enough, but also knew him well enough to know that he would be awake.

He had not expected it to be a couple of texts from Georgie.

On Encryption…

GBZXA BGCHS REHAV DDZFP HQFXF QKKCN YBNVH GIUIZ JFQTU AVKUZ GFINX RKLVA CYKHC MLIVP VCLCU HYDQE JOZJL KCASL UHKNH OABKN

If I gave you the key you could decrypt the above message with a deck of playing cards.

Ecrypted communications are not something that governments can defeat by banning WhatsApp and Apple Messages and Threema and Telegram and BBMessenger to name but a few…

If you would like the key, please let me know via a secure channel of your choosing and I will use the same channel to return it to you.

If you would like to be able to exchange emails with me in a genuinely secure fashion, please consider OpenPGP:

OS X
Linux
Windows
iOS
Android

Here is my public GPG key – you will need to send me your public key for me to be able to decrypt any messages you send to me that are encrypted. I also have a Threema and Telegram account, both of which count as “secure enough” seeing as this only a test message, in the end:

—–BEGIN PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK—–
Comment: GPGTools – http://gpgtools.org

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I had a moment of creativity…

…and I just wrote this thought down into ello.co, but I know no one will see it there, so I am re-posting it here.


As I looked out over the glassy surface of the calm South China Sea, that was lapping at my feet, I was filled with an utterly profound sense of longing; to be free of the air. All I wanted was to be able to slip under the surface and explore the shallows and the depths without the artifice of technology or fear of pressure. The sea is beautiful and terrible, but we are no longer free to be at one with her, our bodies are not compatible with her depths nor can we breathe the oxygen that we need from liquid so we are air-bound, no matter what we might dream of.

The soft golden glow of the sunset was narrowing to a thin line of fire across the horizon as I turned away from the water and slowly made my way back up the thin strand and across the garden to where my family were crowded around the fire, waiting for flames to die to embers so that we could lay the day’s catch over the heat.

The sounds of conversation and the clinking of beer bottles trickled over the grass from the deck towards me, and the longing slipped away from me to be replaced by the warmth of the love I held for the people I was walking towards; my anchors in the air-bound world, but such wonderful enlivening ties to bind me here.

If wishing made it so…

I need to find a way to make the ideas in this video a reality for some of the awesome people I have worked with and do work with now.

There really can be profit and balance, growth and humanity – there is no need to work “every hour that God sends”, there is just a need to work hard while we are at work, and then not when we are not…