Minecon

The last blog post on here, was my first real post about Essentials. Essentials is a Minecraft server plugin, based on the Bukkit server mod. The purpose is to basically turn the basic vanilla server into a platform that can be used to host a online community. Without a plugin suite like Essentials, a player base of more than a handful can be painful to run. See my full post for a bit more information on this.

I’ve just recently came back from Minecon2012, an annual Minecraft convention, which this year was hosted at Disneyland Paris. Due to the expensive nature of Disneyland and the cost of the Minecon ticket itself I had initially expected to not be able to attend, but Andrewkm, the server owner of EcoCityCraft, offered to sponsor part of the costs of the visit and kindly paid for my ticket and room. Andrewkm, is one of the nicest members of the Bukkit community I’ve come across so far, and oft donates money to Essentials. Although inn exchange we generally address the bugs he reports a little faster than normal, but it’s just good business to keep the people who feed you happy.

Because Andrewkm offered to pay for the room, it turned out that all of the Essentials lead development team would be able to attend, so we decided to turn it into the first Essentials meetup as well. So for the first time, the lead developers got together in the same room. snowleo and ementalo are people who I’ve worked quite closely with now for over 20 months, but before Minecon2012 had the chance to meet.

Minecon in itself was rather interesting. While the highlight was probably meeting up with the EssTeam, I also got to meet various other people who I’ve spoken with on several occasions but never met. Some of the most notable being people from the Mojang and Spout team. I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t get the chance to meet the HatFilms guys in person (despite standing within 2 meters of the guys on more than one occasion, I did hear that pretty much every Minecraft server at Minecon was running our software.

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Essentials.

I briefly mentioned in a earlier post (Minecraft) the Essentials Bukkit server mod, for the game Minecraft.

The server plugin adds a basic set of admin/staff tools to a server, and can add a lot of easy to use tools for players at the same time. The idea behind Essentials, is that the core plugin provides a basic set of commands that cover the traditional and most common uses/problems on a Minecraft server. For example it allows you to ban a player who has gone offline by their last used IP address, or allows you to mute a player who is spamming chat.

At the moment, I’m one of the two lead developers on the project, and been an integral part of the team for over a year. I drifted into development by joining the support team, and then began to contribute bug fixes or minor changes that were brought up during support sessions. After a while, I ended up handling the brunt of most feature requests and bug reports, while running the IRC support channel.

I’ve really enjoyed my team working with the team, and had a hand in directing the development of both the code base and the community, although since I’ve taken a full time sysadmin position (to earn some real money) I’ve had far less time to donate to the project.

The Minecraft community in itself, is quite interesting. There are all sorts of overlapping characters, ranging from public figures to developers, all of which shape the community at it’s core. I’ve never been involved with such an active development community before, but for the most part loved the dynamic. Becoming the lead developer of such a (in?)famous plugin, has been interesting in itself. Since the plugin is seen as very mainstream, or even anticompetitive, it has been interesting to see conversation changes, as people work out who am I am. Continue reading

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VCS.

For several years now, I’ve been using SVN to serve as a versioning system, and also for backup.

There are several folders on my hard drive which contain script and code which I would be rather upset if I lost. One of the ways I keep this code backed up is by linking it to a SVN hosted on my webserver. I figure the chances of my webserver and my PC both being erased at the same time is rather small. The advantages of using SVN make the platform beyond useful with tools such as diff for comparing two different versions of a script, or being able to revert to previous versions of code.
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Minecraft

One of the more interesting things to hit the geek scene at the moment is Minecraft. For quite some time now, in just about every Linux or programming medium I use I come across discussion of Minecraft. By most definitions Minecraft is an indie sandbox construction game, although peoples ‘mileage’ does somewhat vary.

The most popular gameplay mode at the moment is survival mode. When you first start you spawn somewhere in the world, and in the time between spawning and the sun setting, you need to do something to ensure survival, because it’s going to be a somewhat scary night if you intend to just sleep underneath the stars.

When you start you are armed with nothing but your fists, which aren’t really very productive in doing very much. The first step is usually to punch some trees until you collect some wood to make basic tools. From this point you’ll want to try and produce something that produces light, and some sort of dwelling which will save you from attack. After this beginning however, people start to play different.
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Dropbox

Dropbox is a free service which creates a folder on your hard disk which it mirrors both online and with other machines you have also installed the service. Therefore it allows you to carry certain files with you, no matter which PC you visit, either by installing the application, or accessing the files online. It works pretty much without hitch, you start with 2gb of space, but you can buy larger accounts or accumulate space via referrals.

Extra space:

  • Sign up using a referral.
  • Get people to sign up using a referral.
  • Link an academic email address.
  • Link your twitter/facebook.

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Where should my data go?

At the moment, I store my data in 3 places:

  • Windows and programs run from a single 300GB hard drive (which I would like to upgrade to a solid state drive sometime soon).
  • My user folder is dumped onto a RAID-1 array of 2x 1TB disks.
  • Drobo containing 4x 1TB disk, formatted to give 3TB (or 2.7 TiB) space.

The Drobo is the current centre of question, I’m now up to 85% used which doesn’t give me much room for expansion. The question is what to do now.

My Drobo is currently piped through a DroboShare, which limits its performance greatly, I generally don’t get more than 12MB/s from it, even across a gigabit network. While this is not bad from a network device, it isn’t ideal. One way to fix this performance is to upgrade to an FS.

Upgrade options:
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