Tuesday, 27 October 2015

BB68 - Show me yours and I'll show you mine

Eve Blog Banter 68 - This is My Rig.

This is my Rig, There are Many Like it...
What do you play Eve on? I'll show you mine if you show me yours! Are you pew-pewing on a laptop? Plotting universal domination on a 12 monitor set up? Mining away on a 50" TV? Is your set up located where your other half can speak to you or do you lock yourself away for hours in your Eve themed shed? How do you play your important internet spaceships?

TL; DR; The executive summary-pictures will save you a thousand words:

Obsolescence cycles of PC hardware dictates a functional but sane mid range type build summarized to the left.

Not much to add here - not shown is the Gigabyte Z97N Wifi Mini ITX motherboard and 2 x 1 terabyte spinning disks (non raid).

Went with Kubuntu 14.04 here for the LTS - my first Debian based installation at home - favoured Red Hat based up until now.

I still run Fedora 21 on the laptop, but will probably also reinstall this soon.

The graphics card is the only somewhat above average item in the build (or was at the time of purchase).

At that stage there was a possibility that we might have to explore GPU processing at work and I used that as an excuse to convince the wife.

GPU processing didn't pan out but the graphics card stays.

When I travel I "play" on a laptop.

An older 15.6 inch ASUS K53S machine set up for work, not gaming.

Intel i7-2670QM CPU @ 2.2 GHz running Fedora 21.

8GiB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GT520MX (1GB) graphics completes the package.

The side-on view of  the techni-coloured mini ITX case with some of the paraphernalia exposed if you are into that sort of thing.

800 Watt PSU because at peak the GeForce GTX 780 draws 42 Amp and resulted in brownouts when I only had a 600 Watt PSU.

In normal EVE sessions I play on two 23 inch Samsung SyncMaster S23B300 monitors running 1920 x 1080 resolution @ 60Hz.

Cheap Logitech K120 keyboard and matching mouse.

It is just the wife and I in our household despite me being in my early forties and my wife in her middle-late thirties.

In our previous house my "office" was set up in a spare room but this meant that we were often separated when I was working late or playing EVE.

In our new abode, the computer workstations are set up in the open plan living space.  The laptop on the left and the Swiss ball are hers not mine.  When things get really serious and I need another screen/client I will squeeze my laptop into the space where the coffee mugs are in the picture.  

The boss is a sports scientist and does not play eve.  Calls us nerds.

She does understand a fair bit about the game though.  In addition, she can see and hear everything that goes on on my side.  Boy did I cop an earful when I went ganking the other day...

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Need to Feed

Whilst the title sounds evocatively EVE-esque (and we get to that) I have to lead with real life.

Your author has to work to eat.  He doesn't qualify for any meaningful social safety net and the recent groundswell of calls for a universal basic income has not as yet materialised into something tangible.

Until such a time as it does (if indeed it is even practical) your author works. As it happens, he is snowed under.

Your author plays the systems game.  His current gig is electricity.  More specifically payments, metering, monitoring and control of residential electricity.

Now I am aware that you don't tune into this blog to while away the sands of your time on the days of your authors' life - so without more ado I will tie this little trivia to two points very much related to the post.

The first is the nature of the service provided and the customers the system is serving.  Electricity happens to be an important commodity and our system provides that to tens of thousands of residents. In addition indigent citizens get Free Basic Electricity allocated on the first day of the month.  This in a country where service delivery protests frequently end up like this (or any of these).

When you make substantial changes to said system and the first of November is looming those images serve as a grim reminder of the possible consequences of your actions.

Now in all honesty your author does not work at the coal face any more - in fact for the time being he resides on another continent. He himself would not be in any physical danger, but he is cognisant of the fact someone, somewhere, just might be.  Nothing like actual real life violence and death in the literal sense, to really focus your attention to the job at hand.

Extra time has to be allocated to this pursuit, and the very nature of time is such that is finite - in order to allocate more time to one pursuit it has to be cannibalised from another.  In your authors' life EVE related pursuits is always the first victim.  Always.  The sacrificial lamb to be slaughtered.

Thus ends my first point and pathetic excuse apology for the radio silence on this blog.

The second point relates to the systems game, the basic income grant and related strategies like free basic electricity that is already a widespread reality in at least one country.

Technology is making more and more people obsolete.  What's more systems perform better than the now obsolete humans ever did.  The onslaught is relentless and more and more people will eventually share this fate.  If this guy is to be believed even software and systems will be obsolete in about 15 years:
I see coding shrinking as a widespread profession. Not because software is going away, but because the way we build software will fundamentally change. Technology for software creation without code is already edging toward mainstream use. Visual content creation tools such as Scratch, DWNLD and Telerik will continue to improve until all functionality required to build apps is available to consumers — without having to write a line of code.
~ CRUNCH NETWORKCoding Academies Are Nonsense

I had never really liked social security and welfare.  In retrospect it stems from the vantage of the "have" vs the "have not".  For the "haves" social security is just an expense.  Money showered on the undeserving lazy.

Of course when one is confronted with the idea of obsolescence yourself new respect is given to the view of the "have nots". What would one have social security look like if one was one of them?

Even if obsolescence was not an issue - what if the basic income grant (BIG) ever came to be?  Is it practical?  Is it even possible? Would I still hold my stressful job or would I quit and go on the long holiday?  What would you do?  Will you while away your hours with EVE?

Of course all that is just speculation, ifs, butt's and maybe's.  Much more practical to concern ourselves with the here and the now.  In the absence of a BIG, we are left to use what we've got.

Due to circumstances I have struggled to play.  Things are however looking up.  I have access to my desktop computer again. I can scan.  I can run two clients simultaneously. Final (work!) systems testing will happen today or tomorrow.

I am not totally out of the woods yet.  The SO might feel a little bit neglected and someone has to mow the lawn, but I am getting there!

Just like real life one's EVE existence needs a bit of sustenance.  There is no BIG in EVE and precious little charity.  The Lai Dai Corporation is not unionised. Except for rookie ships nothing is free.

My lengthy spate of neglect have brought about significant rot and decay.  I have survived by cannibalising assets.  Selling stuff.  I have drawn down my balance sheet and ISK to the point where a vigorous injection of ISK is needed for me to have fun in the game.

This unfortunately means some sort of PVE grind is in order.

I still have a 3 billion ISK incursions vindicator to my name (I'm not that poor yet ;-)).  Of course the only character that can fly that now has kill rights against him, so park that idea (for another 15 days at least!).

Instead I have decided to take a look at the COSMOS missions.  I heard about some lucrative implants to be had...

In addition I am looking into higher end wormholes.  Wormholes is an area that I have never really explored - only been in and out, never lived in one.  Heard good things about C5/C6 cap escalations as well.  Of course dependent on finding a good wh corp to join and the result of the COSMOS missions as per above - this requires some expensive hardware!

I am also aware I still owe readers some info regarding ganking avoidance.  In this context I have skilled (well semi skilled up - takes a long time) up a character for mining, and hope to get to this sooner rather than later.

Always the humble servant, I will endeavour to report on my findings - all in good time.  Until then - happy feeding!

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Never the twain shall meet

This just by way of a quick follow up on the previous post where your author went ganking...

I promised Agent Liek DarZ I would run the post by him for comment.  I convo'd him in game and asked him to take a look at the preview.  Unfortunately he was a bit busy and did not get around to it until the post went live (unintended - I played around with schedules and failed...).  There goes all my professional journalistic integrity...

I screwed up and seeing that he paid me the courtesy of replying to my email with the important things he considers omitted, I feel it is only right that I post them - even if he insists that I do not have to:
"Found it went live anyway already ;-), but just my short impression:
almost looks flattering, kind of, as it is often about me, but that is probably because of the close, personal perspective. 
Something I would not consider an omission, as we did not talk about it, but you mentioned it yourself - the treatment of gankees/other players (even before being ganked). There is no need for you to add it, as, like I said, it did not come up really during our conversation, but just to state it towards you:
I never dig for tears, and will gladly explain all the mechanics of ganking (and thus also how to avoid them) to whoever is interested. Especially new players often are open to that part - as they are still learning and probably do not take "This is mine" as a given. 
Yet, of course once people start to threaten me with non-consensual intercourse into inappropriate orifices of mine, they lose all of my sympathy, and yes, I start collecting their rage then. If they make a choice of (mis)treating an individual (me) like that, they are in it by themselves. 
OTOH, in the rare cases I kill true newbies, I will gladly throw some millions their way and tell them to pick a Procurer, for the saviour's sake. It is all about what they WANT to learn, or if they rather insist on getting a safe theme park game where EVE is not designed that way.  
Take away from me personally - I have developed a routine, and I do not have any sympathy when being raged on, but I am not a cold-hearted killer ;-) As you saw, I explained everything to you that may have interested you. 
All the best, and have a nice EVE, 

Now personally I find I am too much of a softie to be a successful ganker.  My conscience bothers me.  So I have to confess that my sympathies probably slant towards the "gankees"

As Turamarth Elrandir pointed out in the comments section yesterday - miners and industrialists have a point. He clearly doesn't care much for the narrative of CODE, or gankers in general.

His is very much a live and let live mentality viz a viz the philosophy of playing EVE.  Playing the way you want to, and NOT being forced to play according to another players' vision or imposition.

Have a look at the blog roll to the left - CODE is listed under role playing and as far as I can tell that is accurate.  This is an important point to remember - EVE is a game.

Liek in this respect raised some valid points of his own - one theme is that gankers are people too.  Most of them happen to be nice guys.  Threats of real life violence, comments about one's mother and so on are just not on - even if you were ganked.

What is clear though is that ganking is a very sensitive subject - emotions stir up in a way I have rarely seen - just have a look at the comments section of any post on the Miner Bumping site.

Even guys like Turamarth who as far as I can tell, are very inclusive (and has not been a victim of CODE to my knowledge) get plenty riled up:
"Well, anyone with guns, knives and bats can beat the piss out of anyone who is unarmed and cannot fight back... and as your friend said, ...He ship scans his targets beforehand to ensure that he brings enough dps to guarantee a kill... So yeah, not something I'd ever do and feel even a trace of pride in."
In the end I have no solution as to what is right and what is wrong - and in truth this debate has raged longer than your author cares to remember.  The cases of both sides presented by people far smarter than himself.

In the end one can only change what you yourself do within the game as it is.

Despite misgivings by Turamarth likening my action to tilting at the windmills - in an ill considered attempt to "...bring justice to the world, under the name Don Quixote." - I will take up Liek DarZ' offer and do a follow up on some advice on how to avoid a gank - inclusive of your authors' own dastardly twists on it, that probably does more harm than good....

Monday, 12 October 2015

Gone off the reservation

Another day, another dollar, another whiner in local.  If you don't know what I am on about read this first.

In order to judge whether ganking is as easy as they say it is, I joined forces with the resident CODE agent around Osmon - Agent Liek DarZ.  Yes in a moment of miner whiner driven insanity, your author went rogue.

One quick email to agent DarZ and a little while later I am on my way to a gank.  Now in truth, this is not the first time your author went ganking.  But seldom as slick as this.

Get your ass to xx station.  Trade window goes up as I dock.  Accept T1 destroyer.  Get in ship.  Message to undock at count of 0.  2... 1... 0... undock.  Take fleet warp to gate with instructions to jump on contact.  Take fleet warp to another gate, jump on contact.  Take fleet warp.  Message to overheat and activate guns. Targets name gets posted in fleet.  Land at optimal, lock... and the rest happens automatically.  I was slow, so I get the kill mail.  Also I am too slow to target the pod.  Warp to station.  Undock in rookie ship to "pull concord".  Dock again and wait out aggression timer.

While we wait I chat to Agent DarZ.  He has been at this for a very long time. Look at his kill board.  No seriously, go and take a look.  Way more losses than kills (you get shot by CONCORD twice for every gank - once with the gank, and once when you undock your rookie ship per above).  ISK efficiency of course the inverse.  The asymmetrical nature of that stat of course the chief bone of contention.
Name redacted to protect the guilty

I ask if I may post my observations in this blog and offer to run it by him first.  Sure he says - I can do that, but he doesn't care to censor me in any way.  There is nothing secret about what he does.  Too true. Every step we took in our gank is documented.  Everything from basic catalyst training and fitting, to advanced catalyst, thrasher and vexors.  There is even a nice section on "managing" CONCORD.

We chat about the philosophy of CODE.  The complacency of care-bears.  Anti tanking.  Whether or not he thinks ganking is too easy or not.

The way he does it, certainly makes it seems ridiculously easy, but your author has been around the block enough times to know that is not the case.

What we have here is an individual that has put an enormous amount of time and effort into perfecting his technique.  Intimate knowledge of his environment as well as his targets.  In short, a player that has done the hard work, put in the time and should be rewarded for his efforts.  Whatever your opinion about the philosophy of ganking - at least lets have respect for that.

In Agent Darz' case he runs 4 clients.  Most of his targets are identified with D-Scan (he only rarely uses probes).  He has perches for most of the systems around Osmon and can scan any system easily.  He ship scans his targets beforehand to ensure that he brings enough dps to guarantee a kill, and get gets the warp in pretty much spot on every time.

When the gank goes down he normally controls 2 dps characters - and snags the pod in the vast majority of the cases.  In addition he usually scoops the loot with a 3rd.  For the uninitiated - this requires a certain amount of coordination across multiple screens - something your dimwitted and slow deliberate author has trouble pulling off.

If that still seems all to easy, well then the below is posted especially for you...

Agents of CODE are cowardly you say
and only in it for the easy prey
they care not about the ISK
dishonourably they enter the fray.

In PVP, not so easy the fight will go
in a tournament they might not even show
In miner space grief they sow
always land the final blow

Regarded as the most dastardly clan
in all the realms of the LAN
If ganking is your plan
an agent from CODE is your man

Where CODE is concerned most of the targets happens to be industrials or miners, but as Agent Darz points out - a target can be anything - he links a Caracal kill as an example of a "moving" target of opportunity, although those happen less often.  In passing he mentions that he doesn't really care about the ISK.

He has been ganking for a long long time - I ask him what keeps you coming back and not getting bored?  "Some people actually start to be cautious, so there is challenge. But there is also new ones all the time" he says.  He continues that he just needs a target : "The harder to kill, the better"

Of course the ganker is but one side of the story.  Your author is only too well aware of the ostential reason for his roguishness - miner whining.  Well in this case not a peep.

In fact when I tried to contact marian64 Sukarala the convo gets rejected.  A second try sees me permanently banned from contacting him.  A pity as I really would have appreciated his perspective. I take a cursory look at his and his corporations' kill boards - as far as the corporation goes, not too bad (lots of losses but at least a good number in low/null/wormhole space).  As far as marian64 himself goes - could be a noob with a good couple of highsec losses.

This is the point your author realises he will never be CODE agent worth a damn - his conscience gets the better of him and he refunds marian64's 30 million ISK loss

Forgive me Agent DarZ for I have sinned...

As part of my redemption I send an email to his CEO - with an apology and an offer to sacrifice a tanked ship to marian64 and the rest of the corp in highsec if they so choose (gets rid of the kill right too).  In truth I'm struggling to figure out what the character of the corp is - no idea whether that would appeal or insult.

So does this mean your author has turned around and slunk back to the care-bear den from which he came?  Not quite.  With kill rights against him waiting to be activated PVE is out of the question - who knows what he will get up to!

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Oh, for crying in a bucket!

Your author has lamented his real life situation before.  He is relegated to high sec for the moment.  Bouts of skill queue online and lvl4 missions to keep the ISK ticking over.

This is how he came to spend a lot of time in business with Lozdod Pousel, the Sisters of Eve agent in the Osmon system.  Now Osmon is a special place.  Close to Jita, a lvl 4 SOE agent, and it spawns ice anomalies.  What's not to like?  All this attracts miners, mission runners, and CODE.

Now your author has nothing especially against miners/mission runners (care-bears from now on).  Or CODE.  He does however wish he could have one loyalty point for every time a care-bear whines about a gank in local - he would not have to run another mission. Ever.

Please note that I am not anti care-bearing here - for the time being, I am one.  Well sort of.  Maybe.  More about that soon...

If you are the kind of care-bear that takes losses in stride - move along, there's nothing to see here.  If however you are the other kind please for your own and your authors' sanity listen up.

There is no point in whining about a gank in local.  It hurts my ears.  You get no sympathy - on the contrary - it just ticks people off.  We've heard it all before, and we are sick of it.

You are outraged.  You lost an expensive ship.  It hurts.  Ganking is too easy.  Bla bla bla.

You have a number of valid points. We get it.  But, here's the thing:  The rules of engagement are what they are.  Ganking is a fact of life.  It is up to us to deal with it.

Ganking, like mining or missioning is a legitimate play style.  Last time I checked these guys also paid for subscriptions.

The sooner we get to this realisation, the better of we will be.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Neck on the block and skin in the game

A comment on an earlier post got me thinking about opinions and criticising of others's opinions. There is an asymmetry in the situation.  I for instance find writing a blog post a lot more challenging than merely commenting on a point in the blog of another writer.

The same holds for actions.  Pertinent to this blog, the actions of CCP developers and the criticism thereof by players and bloggers.

Criticism I find is easy - being the originator of a semi coherent and even vaguely interesting topic/game feature is much more taxing.

That is not to say that we should not be criticised for what we write (or the game feature's we implement). On the contrary.  Your author is all too well aware of the need for criticism - he is wrong more often than not. Until his wife recently (and lovingly!) pointed his short comings out to him, he was totally oblivious to the true state of affairs.  Who knows, had she not done so, he could have been blissfully unaware of his foolishness for many more years!

This is why criticism should be welcomed - in the words of Scot Adams (the creator of Dilbert cartoons):

"Realistically, most people have poor filters for sorting truth from fiction, and there’s no objective way to know if you’re particularly good at it or not. Consider the people who routinely disagree with you. See how confident they look while being dead wrong? That’s exactly how you look to them."

I am a big fan of comments. In the (anonymous) comment a lot of value can be gotten. It is within this distant relationship or the safety of anonymity that the real truth often emerges. This more than anything is why I would like to keep the comments section on this blog open and anonymous. *

Besides that, criticism should be allowed for the entertainment value. Whether it is in the comments section - or one blogger responding to another.

I found the recent interchange between Talvorian Dex and Gevlon totally fascinating. Not to say who is wrong and who is right but fabulous entertainment - especially when digging into the respective comments sections as well.  Both Tal and Gevlon are very active in interacting in their comments section - good on you both sirs!

Another slightly more tongue in cheek exchange was that by Neville Smith trolling ok, it was a troll with Rixx Javix regarding warp core stabilisers.  If I had enough energy for trolling the good fight I would counter Rixx with a campaign to remove warp scramblers/disrupter's if he wants to remove warp core stabilisers ;-)

Of course this can be used for good and for bad - an example of good use is that of Sugar Kyle in her recent blog series starting with taboo-questions - dealing with highsec and changes people want to see.  What a wonderful initiative - kudo's to her and all the responders (94 comments!) alike!  Double kudo's to her for doing the extremely hard work of distilling all that information into something useful.

Which brings me to the real point of this bog post.

Criticising is good when you believe someone is making a mistake. Trolling is good when you do it in a nice way for entertainment (of all a la Neville above).  Being constructive is best of all, but also happens to be infinitely harder to do. This is what puts your neck on the block and your skin in the game.  This opens your up your efforts, to scrutiny for all to tear apart or praise.

If you happen to fall in the last category - for whatever it is worth, respect to you from this humble author - whilst he is not bright enough to achieve much himself, he likes to think that he is (just) bright enough to appreciate constructive achievements when he sees it.

* Open and anonymous comments can be abused - where this blog is concerned all I can say is so far so good.  Only a handful of very pleasant comments were posted. Maybe I am naive and it is merely because this blog is not that widely read, but I hope it keeps.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Not ready to make nice

Aegis Sov.

Some love it, some hate it.  Your author is in the latter camp - weird, for his personal circumstances are such that he cannot partake in null sec battles of sov. Be it entosis trolling or whacking the mole.

In truth he does not understand it.

 "But Absence that can be said of a great many of things", you point out.... " and just because you don't understand it does not mean that its not a valid mechanism to control sov" you continue.

You're right, and you're right. Don't get me wrong, I get the mechanics.  It is the why I do not get.

At all.

To me it is just an incident pit of bad thinking, bad planning and panic.  Your author is of the solemn opinion that Aegis Sov is an explicit product of Do Something Syndrome.

Yes dear reader.  Doing something for the sake of doing something because some vocal minority has shouted hard enough for long enough.
"We all have moments where we fall victim to the curse of Do Something Syndrome. In fact the modern organization is full of do something syndrome. The key is to try and realize when we are doing it and back away"
Shane Parrish on The Farnam Street blog
Because your author is by nature a lazy bugger it is easy for him to subscribe to the concept of Primum non nocere. That and the fact that he lacks the wherewithal to figure out what to do in even the simplest of calls to action means that he in fact does very little. A trait that has served him well.

I have said this before - Aegis sov feels rushed.  Incomplete.  Figure-it-out-as-we-go like.  CCP is coming around to tacitly admitting this.
"Long story short, we have had long meetings about the structure attack system, and came to the conclusion that, while Entosis Links do indeed achieve our design goals for the Citadels, they are not actually delivering an experience we are satisfied to provide."
By Team Game of Drones
We have seen this too, with first the speed nerf on entosis ships and reducing command nodes, then removal of entosis links on trollceptors.

Sure the quote by Team Game of Drones is in connection with citadels and not sov, but to my mind it is equally valid where Aegis sov and entosis links are concerned.

"But Absence, this is just a result of listening to players and adjusting accordingly - surely a good thing!?" Ah, yes surely it is, except for the fact that all of those problems were identified before Aegis Sov came to be.

And you're right.  There are the proponents of Aegis, and those that like it.  And sometimes one cannot know how things will turn out before you actually try them out - I am sure there are a whole slew of predictions relating to Aegis that did not come true. Lamentations that were merely swept under the carpet as insignificant mistakes - forgiven because the critics happened to be a whole lot less prominent than a CCP dev.

And what exactly is CCP to do?  Am I now one of those people that you can never please? And yes, this subject is OLD.  I should let it go, but I cannot.

To paraphrase the Dixie Chicks - your author is not ready to make nice.  He's still mad as hell and unable to forgive and forget.

Aegis to him is fatally flawed.  It is a system that does not even fulfil its own stated design goals. It represents wasted effort (in his opinion...).

This perhaps is the most fascinating aspect of it all. Exactly why this should continue to matter.  The conclusion your author comes to is that he still cares. For a while there he had to do some serious introspection regarding himself, EVE and bitter vet syndrome.

In this it seems I am in good company - I presumptuously hold as evidence a candidate I would never have though capable of bitterness - the inimitable Sugar Kyle:

I have refused to fly Hurricanes since the nerf almost three years ago because I refused to add to any stats that said Hurricanes where being used as often as pre-nerf. And I've whined about them a lot since then. I couldn't even go, "I'm done talking about them," because really I wasn't. I was bitter and mostly bit my tongue because frothing bitterness wasn't going to make things go back to how they used to be
This in context of the latest battle cruiser buff.  What a nice example of a personal protest (and it worked too!! ;-)  ).  If only I was smart enough to think of that.

Now where Aegis is concerned, your author will have to move on.  It is a fait accompli and by the looks here to stay.  And he will.  It is however to him ok to protest against it some more ;-)