Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Minecraft Difference?

So I was at one of those couple dinners, except we were three couples. The guy next to me asked if any of us played Minecraft with our kids. I didn't really wanna talk geek, so I mumbled something about having tried it on the iPad. He was very much into it, so I ended up saying that I really prefer Second Life. Weird reaction... He went like: What! Isn't SL dead long ago? I said it is alive and kicking; We're just over the hype. So he asked me, what the fun is in SL. Easy, right? Not so easy after all.
A rainy day
So we can login and meet friends, play games and build stuff. Ahem... that's excactly what they do in Minecraft - except they can choose who they wanna meet by using a private server. Oh, and five year olds can build a complete house in like 10 minutes. Hmm.

Some people have animals in SL, but hey... I have horses in Minecraft and I can even ride them. BTW I also have rabbits, and there are all sorts of animals and creatures out at night. Ok, so cars and boats and planes? Minecraft has a boat and railroads too, but no cars and no planes. Not really a big deal. I mean, if I wanted to drive a Ferrari, I'd probably get one or tap Realracing on the iPad. Then what?
Futher up the mountain it's snowing
 While I was thinking, my friend proclaimed that Minecraft had to be better because it was sold for like 14billion or something. Ok, games... In SL we can play games! Oh, but they do that in Minecraft too. They have all sorts of games with puzzles, races, parkour, battles and what nuts. I was having a really hard time convincing him that SL is great, but then it struck me. There's one thing we have in SL which they don't have in Minecraft.
After rain comes sun
That one thing is XXX. Really? Is that the most significant difference. Oh well, we can make much better looking items like cars, houses and rollercoasters and more, but it takes like forever, and I have yet to try a rollercoaster in SL that feels like a rollercoaster; We do have very nice 3D boats that act like they sail using virtual wind, but that's far too technical an argument. I ended up asking for more redwine and turned the discussion elsewhere; This was way too complicated and that Zin in the glass made me dizzy. So here's the question for everyone: Is there a key difference that makes SL better than Minecraft, or are we all just idiots because we like to spend days building a house instead of minutes?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Volkboat II

SL never sleeps. While I've been busy with RL, Ana has been busy building something really cool. Check it out:
Ana's Volkboat
It's a pretty decent piece of work, and it is only version 0.8 or something. This is a little bit exciting. Not only does it look like a very real boat, it will also come with a superinteresting sailing engine, but let's get back to that in a future post...
Shape nailed 
For now I'll just be amazed by the accuratesse of the build. This time it is not the artists impression of a boat. It is a close digital replica. I think Ana nailed the shape pretty good here.
Wish list
Christmas is far away but still... Santa (and Ana too ;-) , this is on my wishlist. Definately. I can't wait to sail this around the northern islands - maybe even dock in Nyhavn and have a virtual beer. Woohoo... it's just like RL, hihihi.

PS: That other Folkboat I saw is here...

Thursday, December 4, 2014

There is a big rock here!

Transcript: The helmsman said "Check this out". Then someone climbed up to windward and said "What is it"? Then silence and then booom. Then someone climbed back down and looked to leeward: "There's a big rock here.
I'd say game over. Insert coin.
OMG what a nightmare. They won't forget that crash the first few days. Probably never. Also they'll probably never again forget to zoom in and check the course on the chart. Have a look at Captain JP's experience with electronic charts.

So it was visible after all. I guess a simple lookout with binoculars could have saved them. Pretty low tech standard equipment when I go night-sailing. Even works without batteries.

Video of the crash here. Hefty stuff that.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Major who?

Sailing Anarchy has received a letter about the Team Vestas Incident. It says what everyone else has refrained from saying till now: It was a fuck-up of the highest magnitude.
Major F*ckup
Read about it here: Letter to Saling Anarchy.

Daylight? Currently the sun sets at 1837 near Mauritius. They reported the crash at 1510UTC. As far as I can figure, Mauritius is UTC+4. Assuming they didn't report the crash immediately, they would have crashed less than a half hour after sunset. Meaning: It wasn't even dark. Scroll down for details and photos.

So we're looking at a pretty well known set of islands. It's around sunset. There is a lighthouse. There are houses and trees. Obviously the navigation failed somehow. The lookout also failed. How about the standard precaution when sailing in unknown waters: Depth alert!?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Team Vestas grounded

Ok, explain me this: You start by taking a state of the art racing yacht. It might have had issues with assembly quality at first, but it is state of the art.
The VO65
Then you spend millions on sails and hire top notch sailors from all over the world. Back it all up with a global player in the wind industry and they follow a course like this:
Looking for an island to hit
It does not look like a GPS defect. It looks like I dunno what. Look at it! Why didn't the alarm bell ring? They aren't even close to missing it. They are hitting it head on ending up like this:
I mean really. Really really. It is not like the island is secret base or unknown land or anything...
A well known island
It's Cargados Carajos. Named in 1506. Sixteen islands and numerous rocks at surface level. It's been there for ages. This is so embarrassing. So WTF happened?

Update 1: I've hit a rock a couple of times. Holiday sailing going at slow speed while looking to drop the anchor. It is not a nice experience. However, these guys were doing 19 knots at night in the middle of nowhere. OMG it must have been discomforting to say the least.
Just where is it?
Looks like they hit something east of Coco Island. Wikipedia puts that at 16° 50′ 0″ S, 59° 30′ 0″ E. Google maps shows the excact spot. Some say that older texts indicate these islands are about three miles further south-west. It is hard to imagine a state of the art racing machine sailing with old charts, no?

Update 2: This is a more detailed viev of just what they hit:
Apparently there's a population there. Up north. Cruisers occasionally come to visit, and OMG there's even supposed to be a lighthouse on Ile du Sud; Very close to where they were grounded. I can't find a picture of Coco Island, but here's a shot of Ile Du Sud, where they are staying right now.
The barracks on Ile Du Sud
The lighthouse isn't very visible. Maybe it is not there anymore. BUT... Both the islands, the lighthouse and the reefs are on this screenshot from an electronic chart:
The lighthouse
Which means it has been charted accurately on modern navigation tools. Someone was there using electronic charts. So really... WTF happened here...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Fizz Cup 2014

We saw some truely great racing in the North Sea this evening. Sixteen skippers signed up and thirteen showed. We were looking forward some busy times in the Fizz Cup team. I was on the RD boat, so here's a view from the rather chaotic prestart circus. That's excactly how it should be some 30 seconds before start: Chaotic.
The usual chaotic prestart 
During five fantastic races we had close to zero protests; None were filed, and I think there were only two or three incidents where someone found it neccessary to do a 720. There was some talk about someone hitting the RD boat, but I didn't see or hear it and I was the only one onboard.
The shot above shows the fleet en route - just crossing the startline in race one. It was a tight squeeze having 13 boats on a line as short as this. The line is supposed to be 1.5 times the total length of the fleet. This line was not; Amazingly, the expected barge-fest didn't happen. I suppose this has to do with the sailors knowing the risks of such a start. Another thing that made me wonder: Note the angle between the boats and the line. It looks like a portside start was favoured. Noone dared to take that chance.

Winner of the Fizz Cup 2014
After five super races we found a champion. She didn't have better peek boatspeed, but from my observations she was considerably better at keeping the boat at top speed. That's more of a boathandling thing. She'd be just a tiny bit faster at most maneuvers and especially after most maneuvers. Oh, and no capsizes even though there were mean gusts spread out over the course. Especially on the left side. That was more than enough. She won with a considerable margin. In fact she didn't even need to sail the last race. Congrats to Silber Sands. Very nice sailing. From my notes, I am pretty sure Armano is second and Ultramantra is third. Woots. What a great day out there... Thanx to Bea for organizing.
More on this very soon...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hudless J-class sailing

A few days back ZZ asked if the Maia can be sailed without a hud; I answered yes. Maia comes with a nice hud, but she also has key features known from RL such as compass, luffing and a windex. Here's a few images to support it.
Well trimmed sails won't flap
First up there's the flapping. Racers like telltails because they give an early warning of non-optimum airflow. However, it is perfectly possible to cruise and race without telltails. Just pick your course. Let out the sails till they flap, and then sheet in untill they stop flapping. The hud will help you find and stay at the point of optimum sailtrim - as will telltails; However, when you are cruising, no-one pays attention to that last half knot of speed. They care about the freshness of the lime in the GT and the spectacular view...
When you are at the wheel, there's a compass right in front of you. Look down a bit, and if you are one of those ppl with huge boobs, you're in trouble. Me, I can see the compass just fine, and yes it does rotate... or rather the compass stays still while the boat rotates. Oh, and note there's no cupholder, so you gotta steer with one hand while balancing your soft drink with the other. (or just don't drink and drive ;-) 
Windex tells you apparent wind direction
Up the mast is a pretty little helper-thingie. It is the well known windex that more and more boat builders now seem to include, and that i soooo nice. No more texthuds needed. Just look up and you know the wind. Just like a real boat. 
Heeling tells you windspeed
But it doesn't tell the windspeed, and there's no meter saying how strong the wind is. True. No need for a windspeed readout. That you must figure out yourself from the heel. Once the sails are trimmed, she will heel over according to windspeed. The boatspeed will - ofcourse - also be affected by this.
Downwind winging
That's really all there is to it. It helps a lot if you have a basic understanding of windangle versus sail angle. Downwind the wind hits the sails with a 90 degree angle and simply pushes the boat. Upwind it is a different story. Upwind the sails are almost aligned with the wind creating low pressure on the back of the sail essentially pulling the boat forwards. Just one more thing... the Maia is big. Craig spent some time making it sail like a big boat. She is not a dinghy. It will take a while to adjust course or turn her around.