I still find myself clicking on MMO-Champion in down-time at work. It is entirely out of laziness that I have not yet removed it from my delicious link feed, which was how we kept our bookmarks synced in my day. I liken it to looking up people you knew in high school on Facebook - it is not exactly something you care about any longer, but it was something you were attached to at one point and you still have a thread, however tiny, connecting you to it. I feel this way about WoW; I like to think that I keep track of changes for whatever reason and can comment on them, even though I really do not have a stake in it any longer.

I have been playing Minecraft like a fiend. Whatever was put into my water supply to hook my on WoW all those years ago seems to have been shifted to Minecraft. I have a server... wait... let me start from the beginning. I am a computer scientist; programmer by trade. I have always had some fancy with hardware and software and setting up machines. For the longest time I hosted the "of Calamitous Intent" website from a server I set up and ran beneath my desk. It was nothing entirely fancy, just a simple PHP app to host forums and a web site and what-not that I built. A custom character profile page that would allow someone to upload gear and the like in the days before the armory. Lately, it had become my testing zone where I would test out anything Linux-running to see if it worked and keep up to snuff on my shell scripting (I use Windows at work, so writing shell scripts is rare but amazingly useful).

So, we got new hardware at work and they were selling the old kits (mobo/cpu/memory) which were not exactly old and dated, but definitely not top of the line any longer. Plus, it was a Sandy bridge chipset and that particular model had a defect keeping it from being truly 64-bit (and therefore being able to have more than 4GB of RAM; it only has 2 at the moment, but that was still a concern for being non-upgradeable in practice). So, I bought one of the old kits and built out a "new" server for myself: Intel Core2 Duo 2.4GHz, 2GB RAM, 250GB SATA HDD. Keep in mind that this was a hefty upgrade from my 800MHz/256MB/8GB HDD. In any case, when one upgrades a server in this way, one looks for a use.

I had been running a minecraft server from my main machine and just starting it up when Guntir and I were going to play. It made sense at the time - I had RAM and CPUs to spare on my desktop (quad core and 3GB of RAM; you only need a gig for Minecraft client and a gig for the server). However, now that I had a proper server built up, I thought "Why not... just run Minecraft all the time and let Guntir and Ender (GF's brother) connect whenever they want." So, I set it up as a service on the machine, built some backup scripts, setup some crons to fire them off every couple hours to back up world state, and fired the server up. It is actually pretty fantastic not running the server on my own machine because I can allocate more RAM to the game itself, and since the server has more RAM dedicated to it, we get fewer lag-holes.

I am still waiting for Notch to announce how one applies to become a modder for the game. I am a Java developer by both schooling and trade, so I am ready for him to hand out the source so I can look it over in depth. I have a few simple ideas for mods that I want to get out there.

Oh yeah - after getting the server up and running in a way which I am happy with, I ended up checking out mapping programs to see if I could get a topography of our world for reference. I ended up going with something called Pigmap after trying and failing for a number of other options using the Google maps api (all of which were written in Python and required the most asinine setups ever). I ended up feeling pretty good with the results:


This may not be up for long - I found out yesterday while playing that basically any request on this costs something like 100MB of downloaded images >_<. I am going to see if I can off-host the images elsewhere and simply link them up on the page so the user still makes the request against them, but on a different server. I am not sure, as of yet... but I have to say that I am impressed with the results even at the cost of so much data.

Couple of things about my server - it is whitelist only (not publicly accessible), it has no mods, very very few /gives (I gave Ender a sword and a pick when he joined the first time since we were in a cave and surrounded by baddies... but he dug straight down into lava last night and lost them, so meh).