The future of food

It's not a bug, it's a feature.
It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.
Last year I mentioned that the Olmense Zoo (which is handily close to us) now has insectburgers on the menu. And on Saturday we were in the zoo at lunchtime, so I gave one a try.

It’s really rather good.

The texture is very meaty. So much so that, if it wasn’t for all the signs promoting the fact that the burger is made of mealworms, I probably wouldn’t have realised there was anything out of the ordinary about it at all.

The taste of the burger is not particularly strong, and pretty much overwhelmed by the barbecue sauce that was included with the burger. It’s certainly not unpleasant, it’s just not much of anything.

Of course, the crucial question with something like this is: would I eat it again. The answer is a resounding yes.

Insects are high in protein and a lot less fatty than beef and pork, they can also provide an equivalent protein yield for far fewer resources. The only downside is cultural – we, in the west are not used to eating insects and tend to have a ‘yuck’ response when faced with the idea. Serving them as a burger gets around this very neatly indeed.

Now all the world needs is a for someone to invent the chili con mealworm.

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Setting up a Multiplayer Voxelands Server on Debian

I mentioned an intention of setting up a Voxelands server a month ago so that Macsen and I could play in the same environment, and I have now finally gotten around to doing this. The server itself is running Debian 8 and the process turned out to be surprisingly painless.

I installed the Ubuntu deb from the Voxelands download page using gdebi, because I need my dependency resolution:

wget http://www.voxelands.com/downloads/voxelands-1602.00-ubuntu-x86_64.deb
gdebi voxelands-1602.00-ubuntu-x86_64.deb

And starting the server is a simple case of typing:

voxelands-server --port 30000

And, if I was going to run this only once, this would be enough. But as I want this to be available as and when required, it’s time for Systemd.

Handily, the Voxelands site provides a sample Systemd.service, so I copied and pasted it into /lib/systemd/system/voxelands.service with just one change:

ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/voxelands-server --port 30000

Then it’s just a case of enabling it:
systemctl enable voxelands

And starting it:
systemctl start voxelands

Now all I need to do is to upgrade the client versions so that they match the server.

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Voxels ate my weekend

Sunrise
Sunrise

Last week Macsen expressed an interest in Minecraft. He has access to an old laptop of mine, so I spent an evening upgrading it from OpenSuse to Antergos and installing Voxelands1 on it, along with a number of other games. I also installed Voxelands on my own laptop so that I could understand the interface well enough to answer any questions that might crop up.

I didn’t intend to start playing the damn game.

I did, however, spend a bit of time poking around the wiki so that, on Friday, I was able to show Macsen how to make a crafting guide and set him going. And he was off, digging, crafting and building. So much so that we had to crowbar him away from the laptop when it was time to eat2.

On Saturday Macsen asked me how my house was going. So I opened up my laptop and showed him what I’d built while tinkering around. Macsen showed me how to build a furnace and went away to copy my house design.

The rest of the weekend was a bit of a blur of YouTubery, sharing of ideas (something in which the twins were able to become involved), digging, crafting and building. And I have to say that there is something quite magical about an eight-year-old enthusiastically describing what he’s discovered and planning his next project.

At present we are both playing in single player mode. We have talked about shared worlds and I am thinking of setting up a small local3 server, but that is a task for another weekend.

I’m not normally much of a gamer but Voxelands has me hooked. It’s immersive, expansive, endlessly entertaining and frighteningly addictive. Darkrose and the rest of the Voxelands team have done a fantastic job so far. Long may they continue.

Footnotes

1 Voxelands is a fork of Minetest which is an Open Source implementation of Minecraft. From my limited reading, my understanding is that the Minetest developers have emphasised their modding engine at the expense of playability. Voxelands has dropped the modding engine and seeks, instead, to deliver a game that is complete, playable and fun. And playable is what I was looking for.
2 Figuratively speaking, of course. But now I’m wondering if it’s possible to craft a crowbar.
3 As in local to my home network and not connected to the interwebs.

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Bad Facebook. No Cookie.

Facebook’s ongoing attempt to get around EU privacy legislation in Belgium has taken a turn for the semantic:

Facebook has appealed a ruling from the Court of First Instance that supported the Belgian data authority’s demand that the social media network stop tracking users.

The court’s ruling contained some English words — like cookie, homepage and browser — which could violate a Belgian law that says all rulings must be in the official languages of the country: French, Dutch and German. Facebook has said this means the whole ruling must be annulled.

Facebook’s lawyers need to get out more. They’re not fooling anyone with this.

Privacy lawyers not associated with the case told POLITICO this is a “desperate, petty and last-ditch” attempt to avoid Belgian justice.

And that’s putting it mildly.

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Ideological purity: It’s great when you can afford it

John Mann makes an interesting observation:

Hidden from the discussion of Labour’s big increase in membership is any analysis of who has joined as fee paying individual members, but a deeper examination will show that it is overwhelmingly the middle classes who are joining. One street in Islington North, with owner-occupiers living in multi-million pound properties, had 40 people over a 12 week period join the Party.

Allow me to refer you to something I linked to earlier.

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Quote of the day: The applause was for the man with principles

The applause was for a man who had been clear in his arguments. The applause was for a man who had never hidden from his colleagues in the PLP in the run up to the vote. The applause was for a man being true to Labour’s social democratic and internationalist traditions. The applause was for a man who demonstrated, not just during his speech but over the weeks that preceded it, what leadership should look like. For many, the applause was a response to an old feeling: that of being led. Hilary Benn made the Labour benches – for the most part – feel proud. As an accountable, honest, transparent medium, Hillary Benn amplified the power of his message.

Jamie Reed

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That facepalm moment

I’m not going to name any companies here but I recently cashed in an freebie. It was one of those introductory offers in which you get something for nothing and are then asked to sign up so you can use the (paid) service in future. As it happens, this piece of marketing worked and, having poked around the site for a bit, I decided I would create an account in order to order personalised presents in future.

So I opened KeePassX, generated a (very long, very random) password and pasted it into the sign-up form. This is where things started to go awry.

My sign-up password was rejected because it was too long. This is always a bit concerning. If a sign-up form tells you your password is too long, it’s a bit of a giveaway that they are not hashing passwords properly and are probably a bit ramshackle when it comes to security.

Still, they already have my address for the freebie so I shortened my password and pasted it in.

And then they emailed my (clearly unhashed) password back to me.

The company in question does not have my credit card details. This company will never have my credit card details.

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Quote of the day: This future is television

The stream, mobile applications, and moving images all show a departure from a books-internet toward a television-internet. We seem to have gone from a non-linear mode of communication – nodes and networks and links – toward one that is linear, passive, programmed and inward-looking.

Hossein Derakhshan on an internet stripped of its power to change the world and instead serving up a stream of pointless social trivia.

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Mongo only pawn… in game of life*

About a week ago, Ben Everard on Linux Voice posted an introduction to MongoDB from issue 11 of the magazine. So I thought that now would be a good time to go and see what all the cool database kids are talking about`.

One thing that isn’t mentioned, and which came to bite me, is that Mongo needs to have 3GB available for its journal and other data. This all goes into /var/lib/mongodb and, in my case, this is in my already undersized root partition. Thank you, GParted for digging me out of that particular hole.

Installing MongoDB on my Antergos box is easy:

# pacman -S mongodb mongodb-tools

The mongodb-tools provides import, export and diagnostic capabilities and become useful later.

And then the thing that I always forget. Start the daemon:

$ systemctl start mongodb.service

After this, you can launch the MongDB shell with the mongo command, and you’re in.

Ben’s article is certainly an interesting introduction, but what I found more useful was this article: Getting Started with MongoDB (MongoDB Shell Edition). The guide provides installation instructions for various operating systems, which you can skip past by clicking here. This guide also provides a database that can be downloaded, imported and played around with.

It’s surprisingly easy to get a handle on the basics of MongoDB, and I can certainly see how the objects and methods approach to building and managing data provides a lot more flexibility than traditional relational databases. Now I just need to come up with a project to justify seeing just how much I can get out of this.

* Because whenever I see the name Mongo, I think of this guy.

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