Category Archives: Software

New from Syntap Software: Minecraft Sign Plotter

June 2015 edit: I have updated the included substrate dll in the beta download.  Substrate does not appear to properly load a Minecraft 1.8 file, but opens world files through Minecraft version 1.7.10.  I will keep an eye on Substrate and update the utility if/when Substrate supports 1.8.n worlds.

Over my Christmas vacation I decided to join in the fun with my kids and begin playing Minecraft. I had actually set up virtual Minecraft servers for them here at home so they could host worlds for their friends.  I had bought licenses for my kids and a couple as gifts, but had never actually played the game.  I bought my own license and began learning the game.

While playing I ran into the problem of not being able to find things I had built, after having wandered off my spawn area and gotten killed. I didn’t know about making beds at the time, and it wasn’t until one of my sons showed me the “F3” command that I knew how to find anything at all using direction or coordinates… I had mainly gone by sunrise/sunset direction and terrain familiarity.

So armed with F3 I began adding X/Y/Z coordinate info to signs in front of hideouts and tunnels.


I jotted down the coordinates on a piece of paper so I could find them later if I wanted to. As my Minecraft world got bigger, I nerded-out and began plotting a map of my signs on a Visio document. But updating that took time and I began to look for a tool that would look into my Minecraft world and show me where all the signs were. There are some spectacular world utilities out there, but I couldn’t find one that would give me a simple graphic of my signs I could use as a deskside tool while playing the game.

So… off to build my own. I ran across Substrate, a .NET library written by Justin Aquadro for accessing and manipulating Minecraft worlds. Using Substrate, I was able to build a utility to open my Minecraft world and generate a 2D graphic of the X/Z coordinates of my signs. The utility can also print a list of all the signs, what they say on them, and their X/Y/Z coordinates.

Minecraft Sign Plotter’s first public release can be downloaded here. No installation program, just unzip the files in the archive to a single folder and run it.

Some notes on functionality and the options you’ll see:


1) Hit the ellipses button to load your LEVEL.DAT file in the Minecraft save area for your world.  That gets the utility pointed to the right place.

2) If your plotted results get too cluttered due to proximity, you can use an ID instead, which is just a sequential number corresponding to a found sign on the list you can print.

3) You can optionally include the display of coordinates on the plot.

4) I found sometimes I like to use signs for small local notes that I don’t need cluttering up the plot.  For those, you can make the first character in the sign text something you specify.  I have it as a pound sign (#) as the default, so in Minecraft I can start a sign’s text with a pound sign to optionally exclude it from the plots.

5) Top world dimension can be set higher if your world gets huge.  The default is 1800, which means that signs within X and Z -900 to 900 should appear

Once your options are set, hit the Create Plots button and wait for the operation to finish.

Once done, you have buttons to:

02-maploaded1) Print list : send the table of signs, their Minecraft Sign Plotter-generated IDs for that run, and their X-Y-Z coordinates to a printer

2) Print Plot : send the plot graphic to a printer.  Note that the sign plots rotate through a list of eight or nine colors in order to be able to tell them apart easier on a printout.   You can get a print preview by clicking on the “Plot Preview” graphic.

3) Save Plot: saves the plot to your Minecraft world folder (where you loaded LEVEL.DAT)




I have only tested this on my worlds so this is a work in progress for now.  It helps me keep track of what I am doing and where to go, I hope others will find it useful!  Thanks to Justin Aquadro for creating Substrate which makes all this doable in a short period of time.  I plan to include the source code for the sign plotter with the final 1.0 release. Happy mining!

New OFX File Creator Tool – SunsetOFX

Update December 29 2017 –  SunsetOFX now supports importing Yahoo quote exports.  This isn’t as fast as the old direct downloading of quotes but it sure beats manual entry and I hope you are able to realize some time savings with this update.  The new version can be downloaded here.  To use this functionality, download an updated quotes.csv file from your Yahoo portfolio screen by clicking “Export” there.  In SunsetOFX, make sure the “Yahoo CSV” tab is selected on the left (the other option is “Manual Input”). Click the “Load Yahoo CSV” button and open the quotes.csv file you downloaded from Yahoo.  Sunset OFX will go through that file, and where it sees a ticker in the file that exists in your SunsetOFX ticker list, it will update the price and date.  A couple things to note… 1) if a ticker in the quotes.csv file is not in your SunsetOFX list, it will be ignored and will NOT be imported as a new ticker for SunsetOFX to process for Microsoft Money import, 2) as with any SunsetOFX update, I recommend you back up your tickers.xml file (from wherever you are running SunsetOFX on your PC) and your Microsoft Money data file, 3) please provide feedback if you run into issues… this is freshly-developed and I don’t know enough about the particulars of Yahoo’s CSV output to have much error-handling in place. 

Update November 2 2017 –  It appears Yahoo has discontinued the web service that SunsetOFX and Perl/Java scripting solutions depend on to download ticker quotes.  The scripting solutions may be dead in the water, but with SunsetOFX you can still manually update your quotes for importing into MS Money.  Not as easy as it was October 31, but definitely easier than one-by-one price updates within MS Money.  If other solutions develop, or if Yahoo changes their mind, I’ll update this post.

Update July 19 2016 –  I noticed when Yahoo Finance online access goes flaky while you are updating quotes, an unfriendly error message pops up.  Now you should see a note about a quote lookup not making it back and to try again. Current version is and is what you’ll get from the Downloads page.

Update March 1 2015 –  After using SunsetOFX for a couple of years for all my own quote updates for Microsoft Money, I have brought it out of beta into Version 1.n.  Thank you for all the feedback!

This post is mainly for those using python scripts and other methods to supply the sunset edition of Microsoft Money with stock quotes from Yahoo.

Lately the quotes coming down from Yahoo have contained odd numbers for prices, and invalid dates in the quotes. This prevents a valid OFX file from being created.

Inspired by , the creator of the Python script I have been using to get my stock price updates nightly, I created a Windows app that lets you establish a ticker list that you can add/delete from, as well as visually change what is being downloaded from Yahoo’s web services before the OFX file is created. That way if any stock prices are showing $554,665,321 when it should be $10.23, you’ll be able to change them without hand-editing an OFX file or manipulating Python script.

If you’d like to give it a try you can download the tool at Unzip the file to its own directory and run the program, no other installation required. Whenever you exit the app your tickers will be saved to an xml file. Also in that directory is where the OFX file the app creates will be stored, filename SunsetOFX.ofx.

When beginning to use this tool, it is highly recommended that you try it out on a copy of your MS Money data file in order to make sure it is working with your setup.

Remember, the assumptions for this app are the same as the Python script discussed here. When you add tickers, you get a choice between Stock and Fund. Make sure you specify the same thing your MS Money file is expecting. To check that within Money, right-click on a portfolio position and select “Investment Details” to see what the “Investment type” field is showing.

The .NET framework required is 3.5, which comes default with Windows 7.  The latest version is in the file linked above.

There is some support for options at this time, but quotes are not automatically downloaded.  When you create your option position in Money, use the Yahoo ticker as the position name and do not supply a ticker symbol.  In the Dummy Investments area, as with a stock or fund entry, “buy” zero contracts of it.  When updating quotes, manually fill in the latest option price and it will be included in the OFX dump.  If you run into trouble where Money option prices are not updating, look at the holding settings and copy-paste the option symbol into the Ticket field for the option in SunsetOFX.  I run into this problem myself sometimes because Money supports the old option ticker symbol system which was a shorter ticker string.  If it is truncated in Money, just paste into SunsetOFX whatever Money is showing for the ticker.


SunsetOFX Screen Capture