Book: Side Hustle

A book I’ve been reading lately is “Side Hustle” by Chris Guillebeau. It is a book about starting a side hustle to make a little extra cash on the side, and potentially even making a living from that hustle, over time.

It breaks the process up into easy to understand and follow steps and has great examples of people who managed to start thriving side hustles.

Obviously the book doesn’t tell you exactly what kind of hustle to start, but it presents a range of tools to help you figure out what will work for you. It also presents the entire process in a simple 27-day-plan. With this book and the right mindset I believe anyone can start a side hustle that can bring in money.

Twitch Legends

Twitch is a great place to find new people to talk to and new communities to join.
Here are a few of the people I enjoy on Twitch.

EdinburghsNicestBoy

Starting off on an absolute high. EdinburghsNicestBoy (Or ENB for short) has managed to create one of the nicest and most wholesome communities I have ever seen. ENB is a Scottish streamer who is always ready to put a smile on your face, and the community is always there to cheer you up when needed.

ENB’s streams and community has got it all. Need a laugh? ENB has silly jokes. Feel down? Everyone is ready to hear you out and cheer you up. Need nice pet pictures? Join the ENB Discord.


ScottOnFire09

The first person I found on Twitch was ScottOnFire and I immediately knew I had come to a great platform. The games and the accent were great, and Scott was very welcoming and introduced me to the world of twitch.


RingTail

Stumbling into RingTail’s stream one day, I found myself in the presence of a fellow small streamer, trying to make it on Twitch. He was quick to welcome me into the stream, and I soon felt like we were truly allies in the Twitch struggle. I still support RingTail, when I can, and very much enjoy his content.


RaeMacabre

My latest crush. A beautiful canadian, full of life, doing great content on Twitch, while building an awesome community. RaeMacabre is both sweet, funny, nerdy and spiritual. But most importantly, she gladly puts up with all sorts of personalities and odd senses of humor from the chatters in her streams.

The world truly need more people like Rae.

25 Scouting Activities You Can Do from Home

During the trying time of the COVID-19 lockdown, we decided to do “Home-Scouting” activities in our scout group. The concept was to publish a task each day, that the scouts could do at home or on a small trip with their parents.

In this list is a collection of tasks that you can do at home or in the forest when you can’t go to scout meetings.

1. Forest-Friend

The first task is to create a Forest-friend. A Forest-Friend is a small troll like figure, that you create from materials found in the forest.

There are many ways to create a Forest-Friend. You can carve it in wood with a knife or cut it with a saw and paint it. You can also build it in clay or dirt. Or you could fold a toilet roll and decorate it with grass and rocks and so on. For simplicity you could simply draw him on the ground, using a stick. There are plenty of options, and I encourage you to find your own way of doing it.

2. Tie a Neckerchief

Scouts around the world wear neckerchiefs, as a part of the uniform. It is important to be able to tie it correctly, which is the second task on the list.

You can tie the neckerchief with a range of different knots. Among the most common are the reef (Or square) knot and the friendship knot. Try to learn both. You can find guides on the internet on how to do them. Also try to find and learn other options as well.

3. Spiders

There are lots of beautiful and interesting spiders and a few of them live in people’s homes. The task here is to go and find them. Go hunting throughout you home to find different kinds of spiders and try to find out what species they are. For extra credit read up on what they eat, how they nest and build webs and where they prefer to live.

Remember they often hide in corners and behind couches.

4. Folding Cups

A well-known scout activity is to fold cups from paper. This task is to fold a collection of paper cups. Start with a regular cup and then try making different sizes. What is the smallest cup you can fold? What is the largest? Can you fold a cup from a newspaper?

Try a lot of different sizes and different versions if you can.

For extra credits try folding other things as well. You can fold paper planes, boxes, swans, hats, boats or even flowers.

5. Communications

It is important to communicate. Especially when you cannot meet physically. Write a letter about scouting or another hobby you do. Write about your best experiences with your hobby and tell what would be the greatest thing that could happen doing you hobby.

You can also write about how you keep doing your hobby when it is closed because of Corona or even just holidays.

Remember to decorate your letter with lots of colors.

6. Cleaning up

Cleaning up is important. Not just around you house, but out in nature as well. Grab a carrier bag or similar and a pair of plastic gloves. Now take a good long walk in the forest, local park, beach or somewhere else and collect all the trash you can find.

The more you collect the better. Try to take note of what kind of trash you find most of out there. What could be the reason for finding this type of trash? What is the weirdest trash you can find on your trip?

7. Knots

An important skill to have as a scout is to tie various knots. For this task, find a length of rope and practice all the knots you know.

At the very least you should be able to tie the following: reef knot (Also known as the square knot), sheet bend, timber hitch, clove hitch, friendship knot.

After mastering those, you can try learning the figure 8 knot and a bowline. There are many, many more to learn, so don’t hold back. See how many you can learn.

8. Hiking

Hiking is another important activity for scouts. We hike a lot and it is an activity that requires nearly no preparation, depending on how far you want to go.

The task here is simply to go for a 5+ kilometer hike. Extra credits for going 10+ kilometers.

9. Building a Den

A fun activity is to build a den. You can go out in the woods and build a den from what materials you can find there. If you don’t want to go to the woods you can go to your garden and build it using the garden furniture and tools you have available. If you prefer to stay in you can use a couch, tables, pillows, blankets and whatever else you like. Extra credit if you build a den you can camp in overnight.

10. Baking Cake

A great activity with a high reward is baking. Everyone loves the smell of fresh baking. You can choose to bake a cake, bread, buns or something completely different.

It is up to you to decide whether to bake a large pistachio cake or smaller vanilla muffins. Or maybe chocolate buns with frosting? Anything goes.

11. Painting Rocks

This is actually an activity I have used for a project on this site before. The idea is quite simply to find a bunch of rocks and paint on them. You can use actual paint, or just color pencils, or whatever you like.

You can come up with all sorts of interesting motives, some with actual images, others just abstract color splashing.

12. Geocaching

Now it’s time to go on a treasure hunt. In tins task you are going to be playing the treasure hunt game Geocaching. It is a large international treasure hunt, where people around the world hide small boxes or containers for others to find. The caches are hidden everywhere both in cities and in the woods.

To play you sign up on Geocaching.com where you can then find the coordinates for the caches near you. Then you go out with a GPS or GPS-enabled phone and find the cache. In the cache is a small notebook or log where you can put your name and the date, to prove you found it.

Sometime there is also ‘swag’ in the containers that you can trade. Swag can be small toys or figures and the idea is you take a small item and leave an item about the same value, like a souvenir.

13. Stargazing

Time for a night activity now. Go out after dark and look at stars and the moon. There are plenty of constellations to look at. How many do you know? How many of them can you find?

Look for patterns in the stars and look for other interesting phenomena on the night sky. Maybe even take a walk in the woods to see what interesting nightlife you might find there. Remember to enjoy the dark and the quiet when you are out there. Notice how calming it is, to simply be in the dark.

14. Campfire

Another important skill as a scout is to build and start a fire. We use campfires for everything from cooking our meals to just have a nice cozy time, with singing and marshmallows.

Go and find some firewood and kindle, cut a bunch of small woodchips and build your fire, from the ground up. Can you start a fire with just one match? Or even better without matches? Try using a fire steel or a magnifying glass and the sun. You can also try and find other interesting or challenging ways of starting your fire.

When you get the fire going feel free to cook something over it.

15. Codes

As scouts we like to communicate with various types of codes, like Morse code or numeric ciphers. The challenge here is to solve the codes below and write a few codes yourself. Try different types, and maybe find some that aren’t used here.

//-/****/**/***//**/***//*-//-/*/***/-//—/**-*//***/-*-/**/*-**/*-**//

20 15 – 20 18 1 14 19 12 1 20 5 – 15 18 – 14 15 20 – 20 15 – 20 18 1 14 19 12 1 20 5

16. Flowers

Now it is time to take another walk in the forest. This time to look at different flowers and see how many you can find. Take a good long walk and find lots of different plants and flowers and find out their names. Also see if you can find any rare plants, plants that are used in food or medicine, or even poison plants.

17. Birds

A task a bit like the previous, only this time, look up, rather than down. The task is to go out and find different birds. There are so many different birds in the wild, so try and find as many as possible. Look up what kinds of birds they are if you don’t already know. Also find out where they live and what they eat.

18. Fairy Chimes

Out in nature there are thousands of little fairies. Sometimes you can hear them play on little bells or chimes. Fairy Chimes can be crafted in many ways. One of them is to take a stick or small branch and decorate it with different colors of yarn, string and cloth. You can also use feathers or pearls or whatever else you like. When it is decorated you hang something from it that the fairies can play, like little bells or something else that can make a bell or chime like noise. In the example below, I used bottle caps.

Hang the chime outside and wait for the fairies to come and play on it. Remember that fairies are invisible, so you will not see them, but only hear them play.

19. Pancakes

One more very loved scouting activity is to bake (And eat) pancakes. This task is simply doing exactly that. It is of course much preferred that you bake them over an open fire, like a campfire, but if that is not an option for you, you can use a stove.

You can also choose to use a camping cooker or storm stove if you prefer that.

The more you bake the better.

20. Nature Bingo

This task is to play a round of Bingo, but instead of numbers, we use stuff from nature. You can print the Bingo Board from the image below and use an egg carton to collect the items.

You can also find something else to collect the items, and you can customize the item list if you want.

The rules are simple: Take a walk in the woods and find the items on your Bingo Board.

My suggestion for the Bingo Board is as follows: Blade of grass, Bud on a branch, White flower, Mushroom, Moss, Flint rock, Fresh leave, Withered leave, Snail, Pinecone, Nettle.

21. Packing, Planning and Sleeping outside

This task has three small steps. The first part is to prepare a night outside. Find out what you will need for sleeping outside. Find all the things and pack them in a small bag.

The second part is finding a place where you can stay overnight, outside. You can find a shelter, use a tent, go to the woods or the neighbors garden.

The last part will be completed at night. You probably guessed it. You have to execute your plan. Go out and sleep where you planned. You can bring friends or family if you want, the only requirement is that you plan the small camping trip and that you sleep outside.

22. Shadow Drawing

Drawing shadows is a fun activity to pass the time. Find a bunch of different objects, place them in a ray of sun and draw the silhouette of their shadows.

You can use any object you want, like toys, tools, flowers, or food items.  

Try different angles for the objects and see the shapes change. You can also try drawing the shadow of an object and leaving it at the same spot for a few hours and see how the shadow changes.

23. Whistles

Another fun activity is making your own whistle. You can make your whistles from many different types of wood. The easiest type to make is a poacher whistle. It is a type of whistle used to call deer.

To make it you first find a stick, about 10 cm long and 2 cm thick. Split the stick down the middle. Cut a small divot in the middle of one of the halves, on the ‘inside’ of the stick. Find a wide blade of grass and put it between the two half sticks. Tie the sticks together with a piece of string or rubber band on each end.

Now when you blow through the small divot it should make an interesting noise, a bit like the sound of a young deer.

If it doesn’t work right away, try adjusting the blade of grass and try again.

24. Nature Photos

The second to last task is to take photos of nature. There is so much beautiful nature out there, so grab a camera and go capture it.

You can try and fine motives in flowers, trees, animals, lakes, meadows, or anything else nature related.

The idea is to find the best motives and light settings and take some artistic photos of our beautiful nature.

25. Message in a Bottle

The last task is to send a message in a bottle. It is always nice to receive mail which is why we want to send some out now. But to save on stamps, we will be sending a letter, as a message in a bottle. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and write a letter or draw a drawing for a random person.

You can choose to write about scouting or a bit about yourself or simply draw a pretty picture.

When you are done you roll up the message and put it in a bottle to be sent off. To send it, you simply find a good spot to put it. Normally message-bottles are thrown in the ocean, but to avoid polluting the water we will just leave the bottle somewhere to be found. A few examples of places where you can leave the bottle could be on the sidewalk outside your house, on a bench in the local park, or somewhere else.

Be sure to put the bottle somewhere where people will notice it, and not confuse it for trash.

15 Teambuilding Games To Bring Your Team Closer Together

An important aspect of good teamwork is to be comfortable with your teammates, colleagues or whoever you are working with. In this post I will give a few suggestions for small games and activities that can help strengthen the team spirit in the group.

Some of these will require some preparation or some items, while others require nothing but a handful of people.

It is important to note that the best result will come from letting people decide which games they want to participate in. You should try to convince people to participate, as some will immediately try to worm their way out of this kind of activities; however, forcing someone to participate in games they are not comfortable with, is not the answer.

Introductions – Breaking the Ice

These first five exercises are great for breaking the ice and getting people to warm up to the idea of team building, without requiring too much of anyone. They are easy to get started with and require no preparation. They are also great for newly assembled teams, to give people a chance to get to know each other.

2 Truths and a Lie

To start off, we have a great little game, where people will have to try and read one and other, to get a sense of who everyone is.

The rules are fairly simple: Everyone takes turns telling three things about them selves, where only two are true and the last is a lie. These can be anything, from the color of your bedroom walls, to the name of you pet, to the number of kids you have. You will have to think of things that the rest of the group doesn’t know, already, as it is their task to try and figure out which statements are true, and which is the lie.

It works best if the group is asked to agree before giving their final answer, to force some teamwork, and cooperation.

The game might have a slow start, but the more people get comfortable with the situation, the more they will open up and give their input.

When everyone has had a go at it, everyone should feel that they know each other just a little better.

The Organizer

This second game is a quick little gimmick to challenge the communication in the group while getting to know each other better. The idea is that the group has to form a line, where everyone is sorted by various parameters, such as height, age, shoe size and so on. The catch is no one can speak.

Start out with easy things, to let the group get comfortable with the rules. A good starter would be height, as it is easy to line people up, based on that, without having to communicate to much. Follow up with things like age and shoe size, as these are also somewhat easy to communicate and sort by.

Then when they start to get confident in their skills, challenge them by telling them to sort by harder things, such as date of birth. Communicating a birthday can be challenging, when you can’t speak. To bring people close, ask them to sort by eye color. I am not sure exactly how that would work, but that’s the beauty of being the game-master: It’s not your problem to solve the task.

If you feel like making things more interesting, start asking the group to line up based on increasingly odd and vague features like their degree of ticklishness or how much they like a specific food.

The One Question Icebreaker

This next game requires a little more thinking and reasoning, and it gives people a chance to learn how the others think. It also requires a little preparation from the ‘game-master’. We will get to that in a moment.

First the group is divided in smaller teams of three or four people each. The teams are then given a scenario that they are supposed to make a decision on. These are the scenarios that the game-master needs to prepare beforehand. The teams can all get different scenarios, or they can get the same one, depending on what works for your organization.

The rules for the teams are that they will come up with one question to ask, that will help them make a decision on their scenario. The catch is that they only get one question. This forces the teams to come up with a single question that can give them all the information they need to decide.

The scenarios can be anything, but the more serious the scenario, the more the teams will have to be precise on their questions.

The teams will be told that they have no previous knowledge on the situation, meaning their question should give them exactly what they need, to decide.

A scenario could be deciding weather they would hire a stranger as a babysitter for their infant. Another could be weather they would hire a person as the CEO of their company or elect them to some political top-post.

Give the teams a few minutes to talk about their scenario and come up with a question. Then the teams will present their question to the entire group, and the group can discuss the questions. This can quickly spark some interesting discussions about the scenarios and possible answers for the questions.

Count to 30

This is a seemingly easy game, that quickly turns out to be very hard. The goal is for the group to count to 30. That seems doable, but no one person can say to numbers in a row, and if two people speak at once, or the group miscounts, they loose and must start over.

Obviously, two people in the group can just alternate, and easily count to thirty, but since it is a group game, that will be counted as cheating, and the count will start over.

Remind the group that it is rude to point, to keep one person from dictation who says the next number.

Tell the group to put their hands in their pockets or behind their backs to eliminate other hand-signs.

Keep adding rules as the group forms strategies, to make the game harder, and force them to rethink their strategy again and again.

The Whisper-Men

The last of the icebreakers is about telling stories and passing on information. The game-master, tells one person a short story. The rest of the group are sent away, so they can’t hear. After that, one person is called over, and the first person retells the story to them. This continues, so that the last person who heard the story tells it to the next person in the group, until everyone has heard the story.

At the end of it, the last person to hear the story retells it to the game-master, and everyone can have a good laugh, as the story has surely changed quite a bit. The more people the story passes through, the more it changes.

The is a great exercise to practice communication, but it can also be used to demonstrate how quickly information can be misunderstood, misheard and in other ways manipulated. This demonstration can be used to make people think about what they hear and what they retell, to minimize the impact of gossip in the organization.

Team Building Tasks

Now that the ice is broken, we will get into a list of exercises that will require a little more teamwork, communication and cooperation.

Some of these can be frustrating, if the team doesn’t manage to communicate properly, so keep in mind that any exercise can be paused and altered to your needs. The goal of these exercises is to build the team spirit and learn to cooperate. Remember it is more important to have a good time, than to complete the tasks to perfection.

Put it down

The first exercise is hard start, as this task is near impossible. All you need is a broom stick (or hula-hoop or something like that). The group then lift the stick on the tip of their fingers. The goal then is for the group to put down the stick. The rules are simple: Everyone must always touch the stick, and is someone let go, they start over.

As the group tries to put the stick down, they will most likely find, that it rises, rather than falls. This is due to everyone feeling that they are about to lose touch with the stick, so they lift their finger slightly, pressing the stick higher.

This one can frustrate most people at first, but after a few tries, the group should be able to complete the task.

Build a Lego structure

Building with Lego is something we have all done at one point or another. This exercise, however, will require a lot more communication from the group.

For this you will of course need some Lego. You will also need to have build something that the group will have to replicate. The structure that you made will be in a different room from the group or hidden behind something where they can’t see it. Everyone in the group then takes turns going to the structure and coming back with instructions for the group to follow. After a while the group should have a perfect replica of the original structure.

If the group are too good at this there are a few twists that can be added in. First of all, you can give the group more Lego bricks than they need, to throw them off. Second you can add a second link in the communication, by having the group at one place, a person halfway between the group and the Lego structure. Then a person goes to the structure, relays the instructions to the person halfway (And takes their place) and the halfway person then brings the information to the group. Lastly, if you want to force the group to fail (To see if the group can fail gracefully, and not start tearing each other apart) you can give them the wrong Lego bricks, so that they cannot build the structure completely, or you can change the structure along the way to force some arguing.

Be prepared for the group to turn on you, if (Or when) they realize you set them up.

The Perfect Square

Next, we will do a more quiet exercise. For this one you will need a rope, with the ends tied together, to form a loop, and blindfolds for the entire group.

One person is appointed the leader, and they are now the only person who can speak, and also the only person who can see. Everyone else are blindfolded. The rest of the group take hold of the rope.

It is now the goal for the leader to guide the group to form different shapes with the rope. Start with a perfect square, a circle or triangle. Later make it harder by asking the group to form a pentagon or a star.

For a bigger challenge, you can say the leader has to stay a few meters away from the rest of the group, so they can not physically move the group members around.

Flip the carpet

Now it is time to get real close to each other. Get a large carpet, blanket or tarp and have the entire group stand on it. The goal is to flip the carpet, while playing “The Ground is Lava”. This means that if someone touch the ground, the exercise starts over.

After a few tries the group will start to get the concept and find a way that works for them. Now you ask them to complete the task without speaking. When that seems to work for them as well, you ask them to fold the carpet in half, instead of flipping it. They repeat this until they fail. See how many times they can fold the carp, and in turn how little space the group can squeeze into.

Turn the kayak

For this one you will need a cup of water for each participant, and a bunch of short ropes or strings. Make sure there are only four or five people in each team, as larger teams will make it too hard.

You now line the team up, shoulder to shoulder and tie their legs together. Now you give them each a cup of water, and tell them to turn around, while not spilling the water and keeping the line intact and straight.

Use paper or plastic cups, as there is a risk someone will fall, and we don’t want broken glass all over.

Up the challenge, by having every other person facing the opposite way from the rest.

This task will require a lot of planning and coordination from the team.

Ball and Bucket

This one requires a bit of preparation. You will need a small ball, two buckets, two or more ropes and something to mark a perimeter, for each team. The teams should be four to six people for this.

An area where the teams are not allowed inside is marked. It should be 1,5 – 2 meters wide. Now the two buckets are placed side by side inside the area. The ball is placed inside one of the buckets. The team is divided, so half the team is on each side of the area with the buckets. Now give the team the ropes.

The goal for the team is to move the ball from one bucket to the other. If they overstep the perimeter of the area or they drop the ball, the exercise resets. They are only allowed to use the ropes for moving the bucket.

The task is easiest completed with two ropes, but giving the team more ropes, can work as a red herring.

To make it even harder. Widen the area that the team cannot enter. Alternatively, have everyone on the team put one hand in their pockets, so everyone works one-handed.

Spider web

The Spider Web is an old classic. Again, some preparation is required. You need two trees or something similar. You also need a lot of rope. Now you tie the rope between the trees to for the spiderweb.

The team now have to get through the web, without touching the ropes. Each hole in the web can only be used for one person, so planning is important.

You can define the difficulty with the way you set up the spider web, and with how tough you will be with the rules. Will gracing the rope mean a complete reset, or will you let it slide?

A variation of this includes a stack of random objects that the group have to get through the web, along with them selves. This could be anything from gardening tools, to a bowling ball or even a couch. Your imagination is the limit.

The roundabout hula-hoop

Here is one that can be both a challenge and a fun game. You may have guessed; you need a hula-hoop or similar object for this game. The group stands in a circle, where everyone is holding hands with their neighbor. One of the participants has put their arm through the hoop, so it is hanging on them.

The task is for the entire group to go through the hoop, without letting go of each others hands. At first everyone might be laughing at the one person fighting their way through the hoop, but after a while the group will realize that it is very much a team effort, to get everyone through.

Up the excitement by challenging the group to do it as fast as possible. Try with different size groups to see how that affects the dynamic of the game.

To up the difficulty, try a smaller hula-hoop, or switch the hoop with a rope, with the ends tied together to form a ring. The rope will also be easy to adjust to be smaller or larger, depending on the skill of the group.

Battleship Captains

Here is one that can be really fun, or really chaotic, depending on the participants. The group is divided into teams of four to six people. Each team is now a Battleship. The ships are formed by standing in a line with their hands o the shoulders of the person in front. The person at the back is the captain for the ship. Everyone but the captain is blindfolded.

The ship “sails” by walking around, and the captain can turn the ship by tapping the shoulder of the person in front of him, who then does the same, until the person in the very front gets tapped, and turns. Tapping on the left shoulder turn left, tapping the right turns right. To fire the guns, you tap both shoulders at once. When the front person gets tapped on both shoulders, he breaks free and runs (or walks fast) straight ahead, like a torpedo. The torpedo only stops when they hit something, or is stopped by the game-master, so they don’t end up in a ditch. If the torpedo hits another ship, that ship lose a person. The torpedo can then go back to their own ship.

The ships (teams) start in each corner of a large area, and the goal is to destroy all the other ships. You destroy the other ships by shooting them to pieces, with torpedoes. A ship is out, when only the captain is left, or the captain is hit by a torpedo.

Pass the ball

This last one is really a collection of challenges, with similar goals, but increasing difficulty.

The group is divided in smaller teams of six to ten people. Each team get a ball and are told that the goal is to pass the ball until everyone has touched it at least once. The challenge is to get the ball to every team member, faster than the other teams. Let the team try several times and watch strategies form. This is the warm-up part of the challenge.

When the teams have good strategies and seem confident in their game, it is time to bring out the next stage. Everyone gets a match, and the team get a curtain ring, or other small ring. The team members now hold the match in their mouth, and hang the ring on the matches, passing it from person to person. The rules are the same as before: Everyone must have the ring at least once and the goal is to be faster than the other teams.

The next level is with a playing card. Note that this is where people will start backing out, which is fine. Don’t force anyone to participate!
The technique is to put the card on your lips and suck, so that is stays there. The next person places their lips on the other side of the card and suck, so they can “grab” the card that way. Once again, everyone participating will have to hold the card once.

The boss level is only for the hardcore. You now bring out ice cubes. One person puts an ice cube in their mouth and pass it to the next person. Not many will be willing to participate in this one and you (the game-master) should be prepared to have everyone back out. Use that to have a small talk about how far people are willing to go.

The conclusion

You can of course pick and choose from these ideas to make a program that fits your team building event. Some of the exercises might not fit you team, or maybe different versions are a better match. Depending on the size of the group and how well they know each other beforehand, you can change the exercises to fit you needs.

Always make sure the group has fun with it, and that they get successes in the different challenges, even when you make hard for them.

After the entire session, spend a few minutes evaluating with the group. Ask what they thought of the challenges, and if they would participate again another time.

Good luck with it all.

Tremek: The History of a City

Over the last many years, I have been playing Minecraft on a few different servers. Along the way a single line of servers, starting with BlockyWorlds, have been my all-time go-to. On there I, and a few others, build a city. Here is the story of that city, over the years.

The Original

Many years ago, a server called BlockyWorlds was thriving, with one of the friendliest communities in the world of Minecraft.

The only thing missing was a large City for people to visit. One of the regular players on the server then started to get a team together, who could collaborate on such a project.

Before long, a glorious city grew out of the ground and started a large shop, a community farm, forest, and mine.

Over time the city grew to be one of the most visited and most well-known places on the server. A true core of the community.

One day it was decided that the server needed a cleanup. The worlds were reset, along with all player data, and the great city of Tremek was lost, to the void.

We can never die

A few of the players who were still active, and had managed the original city of Tremek, decided that the server wipe should never be the end of something so important in the community, as that city.

Therefore, they found a new location and soon started construction. Once again, the great city rose, and new shops, farms, and meeting places, were constructed. Tremek had risen once again.

For a long time Tremek stood tall, to unite the community on BlockyWorlds, and was well known through the world.

Unfortunately, the server was losing players, as many of the regulars grew too old for Minecraft or got other hobbies. After a while, the server was running out of money and eventually shut down.

For the second time Tremek was lost…

…But not forgotten

A sister server to BlockyWorlds, called Utopia, became the new watering hole, for most of the players who were still active on BlockyWorlds, till the end.

Utopia had a lot of familiar faces, and the community was just as great as on BlockyWorlds. This inspired one of the last managers of the original Tremek to once again rebuild the glorious city.

Construction went well, but with only one builder, it was not going fast. Despite that, the city grew and after a while was starting to look great.

Unfortunately, a lot of the community on Utopia did not know Tremek from earlier, and many other cities drew the attention of the crowd. This meant that the city of Tremek never got the attention it deserved on Utopia.

Even the owner of Tremek was losing the fire. Then Utopia, as so many before it, was closed.

Utopia Reborn

After a long time of silence, the King and Owner of BlockyWorlds, decided to reopen a Minecraft server, under the Utopian flag, called Utopia Reborn.

This is a brand-new server, with brand new opportunities. A clean slate. Quite a few of the old BlockyWorlds and Utopia crowds quickly joined the new venture. So did the last owner of Tremek.

With the rebirth of the Utopia brand it would be a shame to not also let Tremek rise again.

This was the time for New Tremek.

The Rise and Fall of everything new

As Utopia Reborn grew larger and more established, it was decided that it was time for a few changes. The server needed to upgrade to the latest Minecraft version, and the Reborn part of the name lost its meaning, as the server came into its own right.

After many long discussions and much consideration, the entire server was reset, for the greater good. Tremek was deleted, along with everything else.

End of the Line

(For now)

The server, Utopia, is still growing and thriving. New players are joining, and everything is looking awesome.

Unfortunately, not a lot of the community remembers, or even knows of Tremek. The greatness and glory of Tremek is now only a faded picture in the memory of the very few who were there from the very beginning. We, the few, who have been a part of Tremek from the first blocks were placed in an empty field on BlockyWorlds, until the very end of Utopia Reborn, are eternally grateful for the King, who created the Server and the world, in which Tremek could shine its glory. We are grateful for the fantastic kingdom, where we could build a dream city, and live in it, for years.

Tremek will not be rebuild on the latest iteration of the Utopia server.
But let it be known: We who lived and died with Tremek, through all the years, have only one thing left to say to the great GonzoDark, who made it all possible:

Thank you.

The Scary Key

For quite a while I have been into hacking and penetration testing. The concept of gaining access to areas and systems that are supposed to be off limits. I’m not interested in illegally breaking into places, but the elegance and ingenuity used by hackers and penetration testers intrigue me.

A while ago I saw someone claiming that you could 3D print a key and have it work. However, I was sceptic that it would be as easy as it seemed on YouTube and doubted that it could even work. Therefore, I set out to test it.

The idea originally came from The Modern Rogue who tested this out together with Bill Doran from Punished Props. They took a photograph of a key, sketched it out and printed it on a regular 3D printer. Then they used it to open a lock.

For me it seemed like duplicating the kay would be a lot more complicated, without having some sort of template. Getting the pins replicated and precise enough to work for the lock is one thing, but keys also have odd grooves on the sides, to prevent ‘rogue’ keys to enter the lock. Designing and printing these details on the kay seemed daunting to me.

After considering the task for a while I realized that maybe the details on the key were not that important. Simply printing a key slim enough to bypass the grooves might work. Of course, the key might not be strong enough to turn the tumbler, but if it could slide in and set all the pins correctly, a flathead screwdriver could be used as a wrench to turn the lock.

I immediately wanted to test this theory, and how long it would take to get it to work. I have a clear padlock laying around, for training lockpicking (Just for the hobby). I took a quick photo of the key for that lock and imported the image into CAD. I am using Fusion 360, because it is free and quite powerful.

It didn’t take too long to sketch out the key, by simply drawing shapes over the teeth of the key. I extruded extruded the key image just a few millimetres. Just enough to have some structure, but still thin enough that it would easily slide into the lock.

Using OctoPrint on my RaspberryPi and my Ender 3, I printed my key. As soon as the key was finished I tested it on the padlock. It was very snug, and almost didn’t fit in the cylinder, but after a little bit of wiggling the lock popped open. The key held up just fine, and I didn’t need a screwdriver to wrench the cylinder.

You can easily feel that the kay is not the original, but for a 3D printed model it works remarkably well. The printing of the key took about five minutes and the entire project from finding the key and lock, to the lock popped open, took just 26 minutes and 20 seconds (Yes, I timed it).

It is a very ugly key and it looks like it is about to break even just laying on the table. It feels weak and fragile when you hold it, and it feels rough and unpolished when you use it to open the lock. But the point here is: It opens the lock. As a proof of concept this key proves how easy it is to duplicate a key. Obviously it would be significantly harder to copy a high end key and open a better lock, but remember this took me less than half an hour. Imagine what someone more skilled than me could do with a days work and an image of your house keys.

Remember this is all just for education! Please don’t go out and copy keys that are not your own, as that is still very much illegal.

Stay safe. Stay honest.

The Valentine Project

I was bored on valentine’s day, and mindlessly watching random YouTube videos, when I came across a cute little lollipop-project, that I had to try.

It was a simple and sweet way to give someone flowers and I immediately wanted to do just that. I knew that a store not far from my house had a sale on lollipops, so I went to get some of those, and a few different napkins.

The project is really simple. First, I ripped the napkins in quarters, and separated the layers, leaving me with thin sheets of paper in various colours; white, red and purple. Then I poked a lollipop through three layers of paper, one at a time, in altering colours, and folded each sheet around the lollipop head to form a flower.

I did this with seven lollipops, to have enough for a small bouquet of the paper/lollipop flowers. Finally I grabbed some straws to extend the “stems” of the flowers and put them in a small bottle, as a vase.

I think it looks pretty good, and it’s definitely a fun and sweet alternative to regular flowers. I think any girl with just a bit of a sweet tooth would be very happy to receive a bouquet like this on valentine’s day (Or any other day, for that matter).

The Coward’s Confession

When I first saw this project and decided to go shopping for the materials, I had a specific girl in mind (Remember this was on Valentine’s Day). I wasn’t sure I would give her the bouquet, as we don’t know each other that well. She is a very beautiful and very sweet girl, and I would have loved to give her flowers. My plan was to see how the bouquet turned out, and then give it to her, if it was nice enough. As I said before, I was quite happy with the resulting flowers, and I even knew that I could probably find her and surprise her at her work office.

I then spent over an hour debating weather it would be a good idea to go and surprise her and coming up with excuses why I shouldn’t and how it could go wrong. Truth is, I got scared, and wasted my chance that day.

The next day I decided to pull myself together and just chance it. If nothing else, I could play it off as a joke, and nothing serious. I went to apply for jobs at three other offices that day, with practically no fear, and “sold” my resume to the best of my ability. Then it was time to go to Aveva, for the big finally. Then I got scared again. I drove around for over an hour, trying to get myself to go to the office, where she works. I went over every possible scenario and outcome, if I finally went to talk to her. In the end I drove home, with the bouquet still in my car. I didn’t go talk to her. I still don’t know how she would have reacted.

I have a note on my phone that says: “Fear is the Enemy of Progress”. I have it there to remind me that we can never go forward if we are not willing to take chances. It usually helps me overcome my fears and drives me to move forward despite being insecure and nervous. In this case I went against my principles. I gave into fear. I let myself down.

This is my confession. This is the confession of a coward.