A simple trick to make circles in Minecraft

Considering everything in Minecraft is made up of blocks, it can be daunting to build circular structures. Obviously, we can’t make perfect circles, but there’s a neat little trick you can use to make damn good imitations.

Let’s say we wanted to build a 20 by 20 circle in Minecraft. We can do this through trial and error, but that would be a long and painful task. Alternatively, we could calculate where we need to put the blocks using the Pythagorean theorem, but nobody wants to do that… The easier way would be to use Microsoft Paint! But how is Paint relevant to our problem? Well, when we draw circles in paint, they are really just a bunch of small squares placed in a way that they imitate a circle. By copying this pattern of squares in Minecraft, we can get convincing circles!

So let’s open Paint and zoom in as much as possible (you can do this by dragging the slider in the bottom right corner until it indicates 800%)

Zooming in paint

Next, you’ll want to select the ellipse shape and set the line thickness to 1 pixel.

Selecting the ellipse shape

Setting the thickness to 1 pixel

Now, draw a circle with the desired dimensions (these can be seen in the bottom left corner).

Drawing the circle in paint

You’ll notice that, with a zoom this strong, we can easily see each pixel that creates the circle. If we copy each of these pixels in Minecraft, we’ll obtain a good imitation of a circle!

Recreating the circle in MinecraftSo that’s my simple trick to make circles in Minecraft (or ellipses for that matter!).

I hope you’ve found this post useful and don’t forget to come back for more,



Advanced Age of Empires II Tips

Age of Empires II is a very hard game to master and there isn’t as much online documentation as other games. For this reason, I decided to write this collection of advanced Age of Empires II tips to help you guys (and gals) out! I hope you enjoy them!

When in combat, use the terrain to your advantage

You may be outnumbered, but if you use the terrain to your advantage, your army WILL win. Per example, always try and fight on top of a hill, your troops do more damage if they have the height advantage. Furthermore, castles and towers should be placed on top of hills when possible.

Also, try and use choke points to your advantage. Let’s imagine we have an army composed of forty arbalests and 20 champions. What you’ll want to do is to send the champions to the front, blocking the whole passage, so that the enemy cavalry can’t reach your arbalests.

Age of Empires - Using the terrain

Try and collect food from just one animal at a time

The second you kill an animal in Age of Empires, it starts rotting and you lose food. To minimize the impact of this, try and collect food from as few animals as possible. This requires a lot of micromanagement, but it might just give you that slight edge that’ll make you win the game.

Bring sheep/boar UNDER your Town Centre

If you kill a sheep or boar far from your Town Centre, your villagers will waste time carrying the food. That’s why you should always kill the animal DIRECTLY under the Town Centre so, when the villager’s full, he will drop the food instantaneously.

Age of Empires - Animals under Town Centre

Explore with your sheep

Vision wins games. The quicker you find your boars/deer/sheep, the better it is. Since you shouldn’t be killing all of your sheep at the same time, use the spare ones to explore. You’ll have much better vision of the area surrounding your Town Centre, and this frees up your scout to go find the enemy base(s).

When building a forward tower, surround it with palisades

This is especially useful in the feudal age, when you don’t have Murder Holes. Since towers have a minimum attack range, they are very vulnerable to men-at-arms and other melee units. As soon as they get to the tower, it’s helpless. The best way to counter this and ensure your tower does damage is to surround it with palisades. The enemy units will have to destroy the palisades in order to attack the tower, but this puts them in range of the tower’s attacks.

Age of Empires - Surround towers with palisades


This tower is just perfect. It zones off the player from both his forage bushes and his gold mine, while being on top of a hill and surrounded with palisades. If the enemy manages to build something like this in your town, you’ve lost. 

In water maps, invest heavily into gold and wood, then spam boats

I know many people who follow the same build order in land maps and water maps. Don’t do this… In water maps, you gain a massive advantage by controlling the waters. As soon as you start researching the feudal age, shift most of your villagers to wood and gold. Then, build a dock as quickly as possible and start spamming fishing ships with a few galleys. This means you’ll basically be creating two resource-producing units at the same time (villager and fishing boats). It’s equivalent to having two Town Centres in the Feudal age.

Don’t research all the available technologies right away

It can be tempting to research Town Watch, but you need to set priorities, especially in the feudal age. Some techs are essential, like Loom and Double-Bit Axe, but you might want to skip Horse Collar and Gold Mining in order to build an army as quickly as possible. This will also help you get to the Castle age quicker, where you’ll be able to boom your economy and pay for these upgrades.


That’s it for today, I’ll try and post more tips in the future. In the meanwhile, if you have anything to suggest, let me know in the comments section down below!


How to find the perfect Minecraft map

When I start a new build in Minecraft, I generally have a very specific criteria for what the map should look like. Per example, If I’m building a Egyptian city, I’ll want a desert biome with a large river that’s close to some temples.  Unfortunately, It can take a very long time to find such a place by just walking.

In this tutorial, I’ll show you a way to easily find the perfect Minecraft map, whether you’re searching for specific biomes, structures or just cool geography.

What we’ll be using:

To do this, we’ll be using a program called Amidst, which can be downloaded from this thread: http://www.minecraftforum.net/forums/mapping-and-modding/minecraft-tools/1262200-v3-6-amidst-strongholds-village-biome-etc-finder. What Amidst does is create a large map of what a Minecraft world will look like. The brilliant part is that, instead of actually generating the world, which is very time consuming even on high-end computers. Amidst creates it’s map using the biome information contained within the seed used. This makes for a very reliable estimation of what a map will look like in Minecraft, but for a fraction of the cost (metaphorically speaking).

Once Amidst is finished downloading, open it. It will ask you to choose a profile, simply select the one you play with and click okay.

Selecting Amidst' profile

You should now see something like this, not very interesting eh?

Amidst grey background

Well, let’s make it interesting! Go to File->New->From seed. This will prompt you for a seed. You can type one in the text box, or leave it empty to generate a random seed. Click OK.

Entering a seed

You’ll now need to choose the world type, select the one you want and press Ok once more.

Amidst map

Pretty nice eh? You can now move freely around the map to see if you find what you want, or create a new map by using the file menu or pressing Ctrl+N. Let’s say you’re satisfied with the map and ready to use it in Minecraft: go to the Map menu and click on “Copy Seed to Clipboard”. You can now open Minecraft and create a new world by pasting the seed!

Amidst map in Minecraft

As you can see, I’ve copied the “Thecomputerblog” seed in Minecraft and spawned, as predicted by Amidst, in a plains biome next to a forest and an small ocean.

So that’s how to find the perfect Minecraft map without wasting hours of time exploring! I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and don’t forget to come back for more!


How to beat the new Age of Empires II AI on Hardest

The other day, I saw that Age of Empires II HD + The Forgotten was on sale for 7 dollars on Steam. Being a massive Age of Empires fan, I immediately bought the game to bring back some old memories. I saw that they added a new, better AI (or rather, that they ported it from Forgotten Empires: http://www.forgottenempires.net/) and immediately wanted to try it out! Back in the day, I was a decent AOE II player, but I had’t played several years, so I was somewhat rusty. Nonetheless, I remembered that the AI was pretty easy, even on the hardest difficulty, so I was pretty confident that I would be able to beat the new bots. This being said, I fired up Age of Empires and started a 1v1 game against a bot on hardest. To my surprise, I got absolutely obliterated… I lost the game in under 20 minutes. My conscience being unable to bear such an insult, I decided to hone my build order to be able to beat the new Age of Empires II AI on Hardest.

The Dark Age:

This is probably the most important stage of the game. Screw up during the dark age and you’ll most likely lose the game. This being said, it’s pretty hard to screw up once you get used to it.

  1. As soon as the game starts, queue up four villagers in your Town centre. Select your three initial villagers and build a house with them.
  2. Now, we need to find sheep as soon as possible. Use your scout to explore in circles around your Town centre, If you have nearby berry bushed, send your villagers there temporarily. Otherwise, use your villagers to explore.
  3. As soon as you find sheep, bring them under your Town centre and harvest them. Don’t forget to keep creating villagers. Your Town centre should ALWAYS be producing villagers or researches.
  4. Villagers 1 to 6 should go in to sheep. Once your seventh villager pops out of the Town centre, build three houses with him. Once he/she’s finished building the houses, send him into wood.
  5. The next two villagers should also go into wood. Start by cutting down the trees that are near your Town centre. We won’t build a lumber camp for quite some time.
  6. We now have a population of ten. Once scout, 6 villagers in food and 3 in wood. If you can, create an extra villager and send him in food, but if you’re short on food, research loom.
  7. Keep pumping out villagers and sending them in food until you reach a population of 20, you’ll then have 1 scout, 3 in wood and 16 in food. At some point around the 10th villagers usually, you’ll want to lure two boars. Also, if you have access to deer or shore fish, use it! Once your boars/sheep/deer are depleted, send four of your hunters into wood. Your other villagers should go collect food from the berry bushes.
  8. Once you reach a population of 20, continue creating villagers, but send them into wood. Create a lumber camp near the closest forest.
  9. As soon as you reach 25 pop, advance to the feudal age.

The Feudal Age

  1. While you’re advancing to the feudal age, build a few houses (3-4) and a barracks. If you’ve already found the enemy town, then you might want to build the barrack near his town.
  2. As soon as you reach feudal age, research Double Bit Axe and queue up a villager. This villager will go into food.
  3. Now, create four villagers that you’ll send into gold. We’ll need a decent amount of gold to get to castle age, and we’ll want to have enough to create knights.
  4. If you don’t already have a barracks near the enemy town, build one. Once finished, build an archery range and a stable.
  5. Once you’re at 30 population (1 scout, 4 gold miners, 12 woodcutters 13 in food), create another villager and send him into food. Then, create four villagers and send them into wood. Next, research wheelbarrow.
  6. You’ll also want to build a few houses for your quickly expanding population
  7. While this is all happening, you’ll want to start creating a few skirmishers of men-at-arms to harass the enemy. I recommend you build a tower near his gold mine or lumber camp. Don’t overdo it though, we want to get to the castle age as quickly as possible.
  8. When the wheelbarrow research finishes, you should be able to advance to the Castle age. If you decided to go really aggressive on the enemy, then you might not have enough resources. If you’re close, simply wait it out. Otherwise, continue pumping out villagers and sending them to your most needed resources.
  9. While advancing to the Castle age, you’ll want to continue harassing the enemy and building houses, but make sure to keep a good stockpile of wood (around 500). You’re gonna need it!

The Castle Age (and beyond)

  1. Once you reach the Castle age, research Bow Saw and queue up some more villagers. Send these into wood.
  2. Using a few woodcutters, pop down a new Town centre. This, with knights, is the main reason we advanced to the castle age so quickly.
  3. Create some knights in your stable (which should be near the enemy base) and use these knights to raid the computer’s lumber and mining camps.
  4. Continue harassing and creating villagers (assign them to the most needed resource) and you’re well on the way to victory! When you think the enemy is weak enough, start creating rams to bring down his towers/Town centre(s). He should surrender quickly enough ;)


Here’s a video I made of me using this strategy against the computer on hardest. I’m using the Byzantines for their cheaper skirmishers and spearmen, but this strategy works with any civilization:

Note: I made several errors in this video, yet still came out on top. Just goes to show how weak the AI is to early aggression.


That concludes this article, I hope you’ve enjoyed it and don’t forget to come back for more!


How to bring back the old hotkeys in Age of Empires II HD Steam edition

The other day, I visited the Steam store only to find Age of Empires II HD, with the Forgotten expansion for 5$. Having once been an avid AOE II player, I decided to buy the game to bring back some old memories.

So I fire up the game and start a simple standard game. I am then horror-struck when I realize that the hotkeys have been changed. Being too lazy to relearn all of the hotkeys, I set off to find a way to bring back the old hotkeys in Age of Empires II. Fortunately, there’s an easy method:

  1. First off, go to your Steam library, right-click on you Age of Empires, and click on Properties.Age of empires properties
  2. Next, do to the “Local Files” tab and click the “Browse local files” button.Browse local files
  3. This will bring up a list of files and folders. Click on the “Bin” folder, then the “en” folder.
  4. You should now see two files: en-language.txt and en-language_x2.txt. Open en-language.txt with Notepad.
  5. Using the search function (ctrl+f), find the following text and REMOVE it completely:

//Shortcut hotkeys overrides — NO LOCALIZATION REQUIRED
//Hotkeys made on QWERTY keyboard, for some languages (FR?), some keys could be switched to match AZERTY/QWERTZ or other common layouts
//Forgotten Empires uses a grid hotkey system.
4151 “A”
4152 “F”
4154 “S”
4155 “V”
4156 “T”
4157 “D”
4158 “R”
4168 “W”
4169 “Q”
4171 “X”
4173 “D”
4174 “Z”
4176 “S”
4177 “B”
4178 “W”
4179 “E”
4180 “Q”
4701 “X”
4702 “Z”
4703 “C”
4704 “V”
4709 “G”
16068 “S”
16078 “S”
16079 “A”
16085 “D”
16086 “F”
16087 “S”
16089 “Z”
16090 “A”
16092 “T”
16093 “F”
16094 “A”
16095 “S”
16096 “D”
16097 “S”
16099 “A”
16100 “A”
16101 “A”
16106 “V”
16121 “A”
16128 “W”
16135 “Q”
16138 “F”
16142 “C”
16144 “T”
16149 “A”
16156 “G”
16157 “W”
16161 “D”
16164 “Z”
16169 “R”
16171 “E”
16176 “G”
16178 “F”
16182 “X”
16185 “Z”
16186 “X”
16202 “S”
16203 “D”
16287 “G”
16326 “A”
16344 “Q”
16416 “D”
16426 “S”
16436 “F”
16443 “X”
16464 “R”
16487 “E”
16504 “A”
16660 “D”
16667 “F”
16679 “D”
16731 “C”


6. Save the en-language.txt file and repeat step 5 for en-language_x2.txt
7. Open Age of Empires, then on the main screen, click on Options->Hotkeys->Reset All Keys.

Resetting all hotkeys

There you go! You should now have the default hotkeys back!

I hope you’ve found this article helpful and don’t forget to come back for more,


How to broadcast links in Minecraft

I can be really useful to broadcast links in Minecraft. It’s a great way to advertise your server’s website, or to allow people to donate. It can also be used to link to a texture pack that doesn’t allow re-hosting on your server (per example, Conquest, my favourite texture pack).

So how can we broadcast a link in our Minecraft server? Well, we need a plugin called Simple Broadcast, The 1.7.2 version can be downloaded here: http://dev.bukkit.org/bukkit-plugins/simplebroadcast/files/22-simple-broadcast-v1-7/.

Download and install Simple Broadcast. When this is done, reload your Minecraft server. This will create a SimpleBroadcast folder (in your plugins folder), which looks something like this:

SimpleBroadcast Plugin folder

Now, we need to open the config.yml file with notepad. For the sake of this tutorial, let’s just broadcast a message every 5 minutes that reminds everyone on the server to download the Conquest texture pack.

Scroll down the config.yml file until you see this:

– ‘Thank you for using SimpleBroadcast!’
– ‘Plugin by &oKingDome24.’
– ‘If you have questions, please visit the BukkitDev page!’
– ‘%laquo%Many new and cool variables are now available%raquo%’

These are the messages that will be broadcast by the plugin. Let’s replace it with our own. In my case, I’ll give a link to Conquest, so my message will look something like this:

Don’t forget to download the Conquest texture pack!


To write our own messages, we need to respect a few rules. First off, need to enclose our messages in single quotes (‘). Furthermore, line breaks are new allowed.

So how do we add single quotes and line breaks INSIDE of our message? We need to use something called variables, the full list of which can be found here: http://www.simplebroadcast.net/documentation/#variables. Variables also allow us do add formatting to our text, so our link looks more like a link.

So let’s go back to our message, we’ll need to replace our single quote with it’s corresponding variable, ie. %sq%. Let’s also add a line break before the link. We now have this:


– ‘Don%sq%t forget to download the Conquest texture pack! %nhttp://www.minecraftforum.net/topic/1452033-174-32×32-conquest-wip-weekly-updates/’

Now, we need to give some style to our link. Let’s make it blue and underlined. We can do this by adding the &9 (blue) and &n (underline) variables before the link.


– ‘Don%sq%t forget to download the Conquest texture pack! %n&9&nhttp://www.minecraftforum.net/topic/1452033-174-32×32-conquest-wip-weekly-updates/’

So now, let’s say we want to make this link appear every 5 minutes. Still in the config file, we need to find the following line of text:

delay: 60 # time in seconds

This line corresponds to how often (in seconds) the message will be displayed. If we want it to appear every 5 seconds, then we’ll write:

delay: 300 # time in seconds

Ok, we can now save the file and reload SimpleBroadcast by typing /sb reload in the minecraft chat (or sb reload when using the console). Our link should now appear in Minecraft!

Our link displayed in Minecraft

We can now open the chat and click on the link, which will give us the following prompt. Were we to click yes, it would open the page in our browser!

Minecraft link prompt

That concludes this article, I hope you’ve enjoyed it and don’t forget to come back for more!


Easy way to remove pages from the main menu in WordPress

I fell in love with WordPress the first time I used it. It’s just so damn intuitive and simple (for the most part)! Nonetheless, there are some things that aren’t so obvious. The other day, I encountered one of these on this very website. The problem was that, after creating a new page, it was visible in the website’s main menu. Now, I did not want this page in the main menu, but there was no option to hide it in the page manager.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to remove pages from the main menu in WordPress. What we need to do is to create a custom menu in which we add only the pages we want.

Let’s say we create a new page called Test:

Creating our new page

Our menu will look something like this:

Menu with both pages

But the thing is, we don’t want Test to appear in our menu, so we need to go to Appearance->Menus and create a new menu.

Creating a new Menu

Now, we can add the pages we want to appear in our menu by selecting the checkbox next to them and click “Add to menu” .

adding a new page to the menu

Once you have all your pages, you need to select the “Primary Menu” box. 

Making our menu the primary menu

When all this is done, click on “Save menu” and there you go!

Fixed menu

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and don’t forget to come back for more!


Add smoke, crates and a bunch of new blocks to your Minecraft world

If you’re like me and you enjoy building in Minecraft, you might find yourself frustrated by the lack of decorative blocks. In this article I’ll show you a way to add smoke, crates, and a bunch of new blocks to your Minecraft world.

Note: we won’t really be adding new blocks but, rather, we’ll change the texture of already existing, yet unused blocks.

Allow me to explain myself. Every block in Minecraft has a specific number associated with it. This number is called the block’s ID. Fortunately for us, not all of the numbers are associated with a block. These unused numbers are simply “dummy” blocks that look and behave like some already existing block.

Per example, the block ID 1:0 is Stone, while 1:1 is unused. This being said, if you were to give yourself a block with an ID of 1:1, it would behave exactly like stone, but you would be unable to stack it with “real” stone, because they aren’t the same blocks; they don’t have the same ID!

Knowing this, some texture packs have created decorative textures for these “fake” blocs, This means that people who install the texture pack will see the re-textured blocks, while those using a different texture pack will just see the default block.

This is great for multiplayer, because it allows you to add awesome new blocks to your builds without breaking the server! So how do we do this?

What you’ll need:

The first thing you’ll need is a texture pack with metadata textures: In this tutorial, I’ll be using the Conquest texture pack, because it’s one of the most popular packs as well as my personal favourite. It also has a wide variety of awesome textures, such as animated smoke, crates, chains, etc.

You’ll also need access to a Minecraft server running Craftbukkit and WorldEdit, or WorldEdit for singleplayer.

Changing the textures

Once you’re finished installing WorldEdit and the Conquest texture pack, you can start decorating! Here’s a diagram of all the “hidden” textures of Conquest: http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/14812134/Forum/reference.jpg. But how can we use them in Minecraft considering these block IDs are not in the game? That’s where WorldEdit comes in.

Here’s a small medieval house I’ve built. As you can see, I’ve imitated smoke coming out of the chimney using cobwebs. The effects is decent, but real smoke would be a lot better!

Medieval house with cobwebs

What we need to do, is to replace each cobweb block with a block of ID 30:2 (as you can see from the reference sheet posted earlier).

So, open the chat and type //wand, this will give you a wooden axe, which we will use to convert our cobweb to smoke.

Spawning the WorldEdit wand

Using the wand, we now need to set the region in which our command will take effect. To do this, left-click the first corner of the region you wish to affect, then right-click the opposite corner. For more information on how the wand works, you can look up the WorldEdit wiki: http://wiki.sk89q.com/wiki/WorldEdit/Selection#Selecting_cuboids.

Setting the first position

Setting the second position

Once the area is selected, we can replace the blocks, to do this, we use the following command: //replace <block to replace> <new block>. In our case, we want to replace cobweb (ID: 30) with the smoke texture (ID: 30:2), so we will type:

//replace 30 30:2

Medieval house with smoke

And there you go, you now have awesome animated smoke, and the best part is, if you were to change your texture pack, you would just see normal cobwebs. This means that you don’t break your game by using this method and that this won’t ruin the build for other players.

So that concludes this article, I hope you’ve enjoyed it and don’t forget to come back for more!


Add cool effects to your voice in Skype

Ever wanted to surprise your Skype friends with some cool voice effects? In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to add tons of effects to your voice in Skype,

What you’ll need to do is to download a free program called Clownfish. This program is primarily intended as a translation tool, but it also offers a wide variety of voice effects, which is what we’ll be looking at today.You can download Clownfish here: http://clownfish-translator.com/download.html.

Once you’re finished downloading and installing Clownfish, fire it up as well as Skype. You will then be asked if you want to allow Clownfish to use Skype. Click “Allow Access”.

Allow access to Clownfish

You should now see this message confirming that Clownfish is working.

Clownfish confirmation

So how do we add effects to our voice? Well, you need to access the Clownfish menu. You can do this by going to your task-bar and right-clicking on the Clownfish icon.

Clownfish menu

Now, go to the voice changer sub-menu and select “Hear voice”. This will allow you to… well… hear your voice :P. We can now add an effect. Go to Voice Changer > Voices, and select the effect you want! You should now hear the effect you chose, and so will your friends.

Selecting a voice effect

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and don’t forget to come back for more!


How to use Android on your Windows computer

Any self respecting nerd enjoys tinkering with Android. Unfortunately, not all of us have enough money for a decent Android phone. So, instead of playing with an old, slow phone, why not simply use Android on your Windows computer? This article will show you how.

To do this, we will be using an Android emulator called Genymotion. I prefer it to the emulator bundled with the Android SDK, because it’s easier to use and much faster. Furthermore, it’s free for non-commercial use, which is what we’ll be doing.

Step 1:

First off, you need to create a Genymotion account. You can do this by going to this page and completing the “Sign up” form: https://cloud.genymotion.com/page/customer/login/.

Genymotion signup

Step 2:

You can now activate your Genymotion account (by going to your email inbox) and download the program. (I recommend that you download the “Ready-to-run Genymotion installer”). Once the download is finished, install the program.

Genymotion account confirmation

Step 3:

Start Genymotion, You’ll see a dialog box asking you if you want to add a new virtual device. Click “Yes”. This will open the Virtual device creation wizard. You’ll need to click on the “Connect” button, and enter your Genymotion account info.

Adding a virtual device

Step 4:

Once you’re connected, you’ll be shown a list of all the different virtual devices. Select the one you wish to emulate and click “Next”. The device will now be downloaded and installed.

Step 5: Once the device is finished downloading, you’ll see it in your Genymotion menu. All that’s left to do is to select the device and click “Play”!

Pressing play

There you go, you now have a working Android operating system on your computer!

Android in action

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article, and don’t forget to come back for more,