DigitalOcean - the Good, the Bad and .. well the Good

Update: Still pleased with DigitalOcean’s offerings, I’ve decided to check out their referral program. Links to DigitalOcean in this post contain an affliate link.

DigitalOcean logo with tick

Many readers have probably seen the advertising for DigitalOcean [Note: affiliate link] around the traps. Their logo appears pretty consistently in my Facebook advertising feed, probably FB clueing in to my general interest in all things webby.

My kids had been hassling me for a new Minecraft server, mostly to play with different mods and the like. Given their idea of “monetising Minecraft” hasn’t paid off (what is it with kids these days - they all want to be e-entrepreneurs), the DigitalOcean offering seemed a reasonably inexpensive way for them to play.

Super impressed with the speed of set-up with DigitalOcean. We had a server up and running within minutes, and then a little bit of configuration to get the kids Spigot based server running. All up we probably spent no more than a couple of hours getting things in a reasonable shape.

The server ran smoothly for a month without any problems, then suddenly the server disappeared, with this message appearing in my inbox:

Oh no! We've found an issue with your account and issued you a new ticket that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.  

I’m pretty used to VM hosts sending bad news - when they actually have the capacity to detect that something has gone wrong. Not all of them do. Assuming the worst, it looked like DigitalOcean had picked up a fault and were letting me know.

I logged into their support page to find out what had happened… and that’s where the confusion started.

Ruby Pub - Part 1: Toolchains

Ruby Pub

Part 1 of a series investigating the development of a Ruby-based e-Publishing system.

Before progressing too far in building a toolchain for publishing e-books, I want to have a look at the current state of the art - just to see what’s out there and check that I’m not re-inventing the wheel.

A surprising number of successful authors already use Ruby to drive their e-publishing toolchains. This post looks at a two of these systems: Kitabu and Bookshop.

BASIC Games in Ruby

BASIC Computer Games Ruby Edition


Recently I rediscovered my copy of BASIC Computer Games - Microcomputer Edition, sitting on my oldest son’s bookshelf. Finding this battered old tome evoked many happy memories; typing reams of ALL-CAPS code into the brand-spanking new Micromation, an MP/M machine my school purchased through a long-running fundraising campaign. This was before I got my hands on a VIC-20, a machine that booted directly into a Commodore BASIC shell, and lost whole Summer holidays to simple, joyful coding.

BASIC was a big part of growing up with computers for my crowd. Looking back now, it was a terrible first language to learn, and I wonder how much further I would be now if I’d had something like Ruby available to me when I was a kid. With a hint of nostalgia, I decided to sit down with my son and see what a Ruby version of a BASIC Computer Game might look like - if we ported one of these old games to a new language.

Your Kids Are Being Trolled On Minecraft

Minecraft Troll

Note to parents: your kids are being trolled (and trolling) in Minecraft.

The act of trolling is as old as the internet - probably older. Its intent is to provoke an emotional response by engaging in behaviour likely to upset its target. In the early days of the internet, “trolling” was generally associated with posting inflammatory comments in news groups. More recently, the word is used to describe a wide range of online harassment.

Arguably there is good trolling and bad trolling, as extolled in The Age’s article Why People Troll. Good trolling creates debate, questions our assumptions and makes us think. Bad trolling, as generally evident in Minecraft games, serves no other purpose than to offend and upset its victims - and is nothing short of a cyber-bullying.

Trolling in Minecraft - or “griefing” as it’s known - can take various forms: from beating up players, stealing or damaging their virtual property; or by exploiting bugs in Minecraft and its extensions to interfere with the play of others.

None of this will be new to regular players of Minecraft. But many parents may be blissfully unaware of what their kids are being subject to (and subjecting other kids to) during the many hours they spend in this virtual world.