Europe

*Note: This was a previously unpublished post*

I recently got the chance to visit a friend who was living in Munich (over there for a year for a job), and it reminded me that there is a lot of Europe, and indeed the rest of the world left to explore. Growing up my parents took me to Greece on holiday a handful of times, and I loved exploring each island, and discovering the local history, especially as many of the Greek islands changed hands a number of times during their history.

When I was still in school, I got the chance to go on a “World War 2 history trip”, which toured around Belgium, Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic for 11 days on a bus. This was a world wind tour, but I got the chance to see Auschwitz-Birkenau, preserved trenches, and a number of historical monuments and museums. I was very lucky to go on this trip, because it was supposed to be only open to History students, but they were slightly below numbers and opened it up to others.

As an adult, I think I want to look closer at the history of Europe, and make sure I take in the sights and sounds of the countries within, before exploring the wider world.

The furthest I’ve traveled so far as to Florida, which was for a Minecraft Conference, so I didn’t get a huge chance to explore, but I’d certainly like to explore eastwards, see what places like Japan or New Zealand have to offer.

It’s easy to get absorbed in the immediate world, especially when surrounded by work, TV, games. Living in London it feels like new experiences are all around, but I need to make sure I take a chance to step outside of that bubble.

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Conference Season and Meetups

*Note: This was a previously unpublished post*

As I’ve become more entrenched at The Mill (VFX House) now and then I get the chance to escape into the world, to visit events like AWS Summit London, Google Cloud Next, IP Expo and the like.

When I talk to people at these events, and also at the smaller ‘mini-conferences’ you find posted on meetup.com, the message I always share is that there is a lot of value to be found at the events, and not all of it is being shared by PowerPoint.

The biggest value I always find is when people tell their ‘war stories’, things that went horribly wrong, how they fought through issues and came out victorious. While it might take some people a bit of alcohol to loosen tongues, the experience of people in the trenches is of better value to me than something I could read by browsing a products online documentation.

I sometimes get asked to draw up a small report of what I’ve learned going to these conferences, or what their value is, and I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of these stories. The presentations are also often worth breaking into a few bullet points, especially anything that can get people talking internally about new technology or how we can adopt new things to better the business.

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London

*Note: This was a previously unpublished post*

Shortly after getting my degree (BSc Network Computing), I was given the chance to move to London. This was a bit of a surprise, and happened almost out of the blue when Seiji Okamoto (Friend from University and contributor to Essentials) got a job in London, and was looking for someone to help pay rent.

The first year in London was somewhat tame, as I spent a good chunk of my time still working on Essentials (which didn’t provide an income), and a bit of Job searching. This meant I was somewhat limited in what I could do, as exploring would have quickly ate into my savings.

After getting a permanent job or two I’ve had the chance to spread my wings a bit and get to know more of the city. I had a friend visit last year, who was asking about what they could do as a tourist. This didn’t really go very well as the only time I’ve visited tourist attractions was on the couple of times my parents popped down to visit me.

Seemed silly that I’d been living permanently in London since 2012, and hadn’t done half of the 10 top things on a “Tourist’s guide to London”.

While not exactly London, I’ve made a commitment to see more of the south, and booked a trip to see Bath and Stonehenge next month. I’m missing the education in what exactly is worth seeing down here. But I figure I should at least visit, Kew, Cornwall and Dover.

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DevOps

*Note: This was a previously unpublished post*

For the last 3 years I’ve been working in Systems Administration, specifically focusing on Cloud Infrastructure, and working directly with Development teams to try and make deploying websites as easy as possible.

I sometimes find it hard to describe what I do in a few words, suggesting that “I work in IT” doesn’t really leave me feeling warm and fuzzy. I’d rather string buzzwords together like “Cloud Infrastructure Architecture” than handle being compared to Roy from The IT Crowd, and accept the stereotypes that go with it.

That said, I do enjoy working in this part of IT. There is something very refreshing about walking into the office, knowing that the development team will have somehow invited a new problem for me to solve, and I don’t mean that sarcastically.

DevOps is becoming a rather popular, and interesting process. A lot of people struggle to define it, so I’m not going to do that here, but it does require a good mix of people working together to solve Web/App Development challenges. You need a good mix of Developer, QA and Designer types supported by Infrastructure and Security Engineers. Obviously people can wear more than one hat, as long as nobody tries to do everything.

For the indoctrinated already, I’m mainly using a mix of AWS services, specifically AWS Opsworks (Chef), RDS, Cloudfront with Vagrant and Jenkins for local tooling.

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Insomnia / Sponge

Since i49, I’ve now attended a number of Insomnia Gaming Festivals, returning as a staff member each time.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with a number of people from Multiplay, but also with the event volunteers. I should have expected as much by now, but the community behind projects is often the most interesting part of the experience. Not to mention getting the chance to meet some really cool people from the Minecraft, Youtube, Twitch and Gaming communities.

I’m already booked to work the next iSeries event, but I’m also helping Multiplay out at the upcoming Minecon. This will be the first time I’ve worked behind the scenes at Minecon, and I’m sure it will be quite a different experience. I’m also assuming I’ll miss out on the cape this time around, as I wont need an attendee ticket to attend the event.

This event is looking to be an interesting one. Last Minecon, we had a stable modding and plugin platform which were seen as ‘semi-legal’, being that Mojang supported the projects and there were no legal challenges. Since then, we have had the DMCA drama with CraftBukkit, leaving Minecraft without a clear solution.

In this absence Sponge, and Spigot have picked up the mantle.

Spigot is running with a (legally interesting) solution based on Bukkit, which has allowed server owners to run almost all their old plugins on 1.8 compatible servers. This is quite a logical choice, with the absence of any other Bukkit compatible platform, being able to continue development in any form, is helping the server owners and helps people maintain interest in Minecraft.

Sponge on the other hand is a complete rewrite. The API is designed to be platform agnostic, but contain all the functionality that is expected of a modern API. When Bukkit was originally created Minecraft was in a different place, and that has meant to try and stay up to date the Bukkit API has evolved, but some design decisions simply couldn’t be modified this late in the game. Sponge is built on the idea that we take everything learned from Forge and Bukkit, and produce a single API which provides everything we need. The initial implementation is a forge mod, with a few other implementations on the cards. The real result of this is that if you create a Sponge plugin, the plugin will work: on Servers (modded and unmodded), on Single player, and on Open LAN games. We finally have a fully supported solution that will allow plugins and mods to live happily on the same platform with reduced barrier to entry. Future goals also include things like custom interfaces and API support for client side modding.

Currently Spigot has the most the server community supporting it, and Sponge has most of the development community. This however is mostly due to the fact Sponge is not quite ready to replace Bukkit, but this should change in the near future. Once Sponge is out, I think we’ll see a lot of interest from the server admin community, as this could lead to a lot more flexibility when it comes to game modes. Then the game is a battle of inertia.

A few people have questioned why I’ve not released an official release of Essentials thus far, and this is due to some legal advise I received early in the DMCA situation. I’m not blocking the development of Essentials for Spigot in any way, but not personally taking part at this time.

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Minecon #2

I guess I just don’t get around to posting on here very much.

It has been a year since the last Minecon, and it has been an interesting year. I was invited to be a speaker at Insomnia Gaming Festival 49 (i49), which was great fun. Got to meet a lot of awesome people, including HatFilms, Skydoesminecraft and BebopVox. I also got to meet some friends which I had missed at Minecon 2012.

After Insomnia my next event was Minecon 2013, this time in Florida, where I got to meet up with Andrewkm and Skylexia two of my good friends from Ecocitycraft. At the last moment got roped into running the Spigot booth, and even ended up doing a couple interviews.

One of the highlights to Minecon was the people who remembered me. I got to meet friends I made at i49. At one point before Minecon opened, Skydoesminecraft came running up and hugged me, followed shortly by Dinnerbone doing the same (although I might have coerced him a little into that one).

The whole experience, being a little bit of a celeb, was great fun. I signed a few autographs and posed for a few photographs. While I don’t think my public speaking at either event was great, it is improving, and should be much better the next time I’m up on stage.

Edit:
Releasing this post, it’s been sitting as a draft for 6 months.

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