Archive for the The More You Know Category

Thukk You, Frill Me: Sucide Gank Raffle Details

Posted in Incredible Offers!, The More You Know on July 15, 2012 by khalia

The Thukk You, Frill Me: The Vagabond Protest event is today!

As my part of this event, I will be holding a suicide gank raffle at 1800 EVE time (that’s 2pm EST / 1pm Central / noon MST / 11am PST).

Go to Jatate III – Moon 9 and bring your Stabber, Stabber Fleet Issue or Vagabond and be ready to blow up a Vagabond! Winner of the raffle will take home:

1 x Vagabond
2 x Stabber Fleet Issue
1 x Stabber BPO

See you there!

Giving Up on EveHQ

Posted in The More You Know on June 30, 2012 by khalia

I’ve long been a fan of the all-in-one EveHQ tool. EveHQ did everything that EFT and EveMon and more:

* Skill tracking and planning
* Ship fitting simulation
* Personal/corporate asset tracking
* Order monitoring
* POS simulation
* Industry simulation including T2 invention
* Wormhole effects database
* PI planner

All of these features and a reasonably laid out interface made it my tool of choice for a long time. That is no longer so.

I have stopped using EveHQ and have migrated to EFT and EveMON for my tools. EveHQ has become too frustrating to use due to interface lag, occasional crashes, and massive memory use. After a few hours EveHQ will use as much as 800 MB of memory, which is sometimes more than my EVE clients!

The main issue is interface lag; the program will often fail to maximize or minimize, or take an unusually long time doing so. Switching between tabs or selecting new UI elements can take seconds to respond, or lock the entire program while changing.

It’s a shame, because EveHQ has a feature set that nothing else currently offers. But if you can’t use it, it doesn’t matter how many features you have, does it?

The Faction Warfare “Stupid ISK For Little Work” HOWTO

Posted in CCP, Come On!, The More You Know on June 23, 2012 by khalia

Now that the cat is out of the bag about making a ton of loyalty points with faction warfare for little work – WITHOUT EXPLOITS – I’ll provide the real details on how to do this yourself.

Why am I doing this? Because as Paul said in his previous post, the current behavior is highly unbalanced and needs attention so that CCP will fix it. And we figure we already made all the money we can make. ūüėČ

Overview

You make or reuse an alt that will join Minmatar factional warfare. You’ll fit him in a cheap frigate with a low-cost clone, fly to contested Caldari space, and capture factional warfare complexes. These will yield a lot of LP, which you can translate into items or ships, which you sell for cash.

Background

First an explanation of how factional warfare “tier”s and LP works: As your faction controls more systems, and upgrades them (with LP), your “tier” value increases, every 20% gain. 0-19% is tier 1; 20-39% is tier 2; 40-59% is tier 3; 60-79% is tier 4; and 80-100% is tier 5.

The rewards you get from completing factional warfare sites (also called plexes) increase with each tier, by 5% per tier after tier 1. At tier 3 a small size complex gives 11k LP. Tier 4 is 11.5k LP, and tier 5 is 12k. More importantly the cost in both ISK and LP for items in the LP shop are decreased by 50% for EACH TIER.

Let’s say you want to invest in some Republic Fleet ammunition. At tier 3, one purchase of 5000 units of Republic Fleet EMP M will cost you 1600 LP and 1.6m ISK. At tier 4, it will cost 800 LP and 800k ISK. At tier 5, it’s a shockingly low 400 LP and 400k ISK.

Here’s an example using the same Republic Fleet EMP M ammo:

Tier 3
Cost to buy 5000 units of EMP M: 380,000 ISK
LP Store ISK cost: 1,600,000 ISK
Sell value of 5000 units of Republic Fleet EMP M: 3,420,000 ISK
Total profit: 1,440,000 ISK
LP cost: 1600
ISK per LP: 900

Tier 4
Cost to buy 5000 units of EMP M : 380,000 ISK
LP Store ISK cost: 800,000 ISK
Sell value of 5000 units of Republic Fleet EMP M: 3,420,000 ISK
Total profit: 2,240,000 ISK
LP cost: 800
ISK per LP: 2800

Tier 5
Cost to buy 5000 units of EMP M: 380,000 ISK
LP Store ISK cost: 400,000 ISK
Sell value of 5000 units of Republic Fleet EMP M: 3,420,000 ISK
Total profit: 2,640,000 ISK
LP cost: 400
ISK per LP: 6600

When running missions for LP, a conversion ratio of about 2000 ISK/LP is usually considered about standard. Heavily traded items will sell for less, and infrequent items for more. At tier 4 this is above average money, and at tier 5 it is *insane* money.

Pressing The Button

So here’s what you need:

1) An alt that can join Minmatar factional warfare. Only Minmatar is even close to tier 4 right now; Amarr is stuck in tier 1, the Caldari are just into tier 2, and the Gallente are also down in tier 1. At tier 1 and 2 prices, it’s not even worth trying; you should go mission or run Incursions instead.

In order to join the Minmatar milita, you need positive Minmatar faction standings. An easy way to do this is to run the 10-part tutorial mission series “Cashflow for Capsuleers” which you can get from an agent in Hadaugago. It takes about 40 minutes to run all 10 if you bash through it quickly.

2) Your alt needs to fly a tanky frigate. We’re looking for 100 dps or better with kinetic and thermal resists of 75%. Currently the best way to do this is with the new Incursus. With a 10% bonus to armor repair amount per Gallente Frigate level, it has a superior tank advantage over all the other frigates. I’ve seen people do this in Rifters, or Punishers; but the properly fit Incursus can even tank the Major faction sites that give close to 30k LP on completion.

Here’s your target Incursus fit:

[Incursus, FW]

1MN Afterburner II
2x Cap Recharger II

Small Armor Repairer II
2x Armor Kinetic Hardener II
Armor Thermic Hardener II

Small Auxiliary Nano Pump I
2x Small Capacitor Control Circuit I

You will need the following skills for this:
* Gallente Frigate IV
* Repair Systems IV
* Energy Systems Operation IV
* Energy Management IV
* Hull Upgrades V
* Afterburner IV
* Energy Grid Upgrades III
* Armor Rigging I

With these skills, you’ll be cap-stable, flying at least 900m/s, and should tank around 138 dps. This can tank the Minor and the Medium complexes. Since I know some of these skills take a while (Hull Upgrades V for example), swap to T1 resists while waiting, and a T1 afterburner before you get Afterburner IV.

With T1 resists and a T1 afterburner you should still be doing at least 850m/s and tanking about 120 dps against our target damage profile, which is Caldari’s kinetic and thermal. This will handle Minor complexes but may give you problems with Medium size complexes.

If you max out the Gallente Frigate and Repair Systems skills, you’ll tank almost 160 dps. You’ll be able to run Major sites which have the best LP per time. You can also drop a CCC for another Aux Nano Pump, but you’ll need both Energy Systems Operation V and Energy Management V to make this be cap-stable, or implants. The 2x Nano Pump Incursus has a stupid 178 dps tank.

Receive Bacon

You’ve got your guy and your ship. Now set sail for the Black Rise region, where the Caldari are battling the Gallente. Wait, aren’t you Minmatar, shouldn’t you be fighting the Amarr? Well see, the Minmatar and Gallente are allies; you can complete Caldari complexes for LP. The Amarr FW space is also much more busy, and you don’t want busy. You want as quiet as you can get. Black Rise is quiet.

When you get to Black Rise, fly around until you find a system owned by the Caldari – you want to see “Factional Warfare System: Caldari” on your screen. Running Gallente sites will make those guys angry at you and give you no LP. When you’ve found a system, fire off your system scanner (no probes needed). You’ll find sites like these:

Minor Caldari Outpost
Caldari Stronghold
Major Caldari Installation

“Medium” size sites have no label, they just appear as the faction and the type. The particular type does not really matter to you; except for Majors, you should have no trouble tanking each type. Pick a Minor, and warp to it. You’ll notice a beacon will appear on overview; *everyone* can now see that you are running this site.

You arrive on a gate. Minor gates only allow T1 (including faction) frigates and destroyers. Medium sites also allow T2 frigates, and T1 cruisers. Major sites allow T2 cruisers and T1 battlecruisers.

Enter the site. You will see an item on overview that looks like a bunch of circles, about 50-60km away. This is the capture point. You’ll also find a number of NPCs. You now need to fly in-range of the point and continue to stay in range until the timer on the counter finishes.

Range on sites: Minor is 10km, Medium is 20km, Major is 30km
Times on sites: Minor are 10 min, Medium are 15 min, Major are 20 min

Orbit the site, turn on your repper, and wait out the timer. When it finishes, you get the LP. Horray! Repeat a zillion times.

You Damn Dirty Pirate

So what can go wrong here? A number of things:

1) The Caldari militia and local pirates take notice when you start doing these sites. Sometimes. If you pick an empty system or one with harmless looking people you can pretty much AFK while doing this. If you have possible hostiles in local, set your directional scanner to 100,000 km and zap it every so often. If you see anyone, warp away. Since these guys have to hit a gate AND start off at 50km or more away, you have plenty of time to GTFO.

Though if this happens, you might just want to move on to another system.

2) Don’t forget to turn your armor repper on. Yes, I lost at least one ship that way. Derp.

3) Don’t bring a buddy. Your reward is split if both of you are in range of the site timer when it ends.

4) Sites take a little while to respawn; when you run out in system A, go to B and run a few, then return.

Counting My Eggs

Let us pretend that you are doing Minor sites, at tier 3, and getting 11k LP per site. You pick quiet systems and manage to get an average of 5 done per hour as these sites only take 10 minutes.

At tier 3: 5 sites x 11k LP = 55k LP x 900 ISK/LP => 55M ISK per hour – this isn’t bad, it’s at least as good as most missions.

At tier 4: 5 sites x 11.5k LP = 57.5k LP x 2800 ISK/LP => 161M ISK per hour – This is *great* money.

At tier 5: 5 sites x 12k LP = 60k LP x 6600 ISK/LP => 396M ISK per hour – You may actually have trouble liquidating all your LP at this level, but you can see the insane ISK it represents.

Final Words

So to wrap this up, you can right now make about 55M ISK/hour with a totally new alt and a few days training. If tier 4 returns, you can make as much as 161M ISK per hour. Risk exists, but if you get popped and poded, you lose a T1 frigate with some T2 fittings and a cheap clone. Worth it? Entirely.

Can you do this hour after hour after hour? Not really. Eventually someone will come gunning for you and you’ll need to safe up or move systems for a while. Still worth it? Yep.

Is this unbalanced? Jesus H Christ, yes. The main problems are the ability to tank a complex and win it without killing a SINGLE rat, and the huge imbalance each level of tier gives out. 50% is just so big of a bonus for each tier that it puts everything out of proportion. The poor other militias at tiers 1 and 2 are getting totally shafted, their LP is barely worth anything.

I would solve this issue by requiring that a certain number of NPCs had to be killed in order to capture a site. I would also change the tier levels to be closer to a 20% difference between levels, and making tier 2 be as good as regular missions are right now in terms of LP required for similar rewards. Members of factional warfare could still make some ISK, and upper tiers would still be worth fighting for, but not massive firehoses of ISK.

The Curious Case of the DPC

Posted in The More You Know on October 24, 2011 by khalia

Some months ago I switched my graphics from an NVIDIA 9800GTX+ to a pair of cards: An ATI Radeon 5770 and an ATI Radeon 5750. I did this mainly to mine Bitcoins as I wrote before, but I figured it also gave more video power for multiboxing. I run as many as three clients at once, so this is not a trivial issue.

While mining for bitcoins, I would keep all my clients at low quality settings, and still get good frame rate. In the last month I’ve stopped mining bitcoins due to lack of interest and the prices going into the toilet. If I’m not using that GPU power to mine, I can crank up the quality settings on my EVE clients. Or can I?

After turning client settings up to medium-high, I started to notice occasional audio crackles and pops in my audio. I bitched about this to Paul for a while before actually doing something about it, of course. My first attempt was to move off my front-panel audio to the rear connectors and assuming EM interference, but this was without improvement. I also double-checked the headphones on another computer to be sure they weren’t the problem.

Going back to the issue itself, I lowered the video quality on my EVE clients and the audio issue went away. I also noticed it only happened if I had at least two clients open and if they were in “windowed” mode at near-fullscreen resolution. Smaller windows, using “fullscreen” or “fixed window”, made the problem go away. Why was I not using fullscreen? Multiple monitors make that a pain in the ass; fixed window mode works better but only for as many monitors as you have – two in my case. The third client has to be “windowed”. I prefer to use three clients all in windowed mode but not if I was getting audio issues.

By this point I was really dying to know what was going on here. After some google-fu research I discovered a common cause of this issue was DPC latency. DPCs are a queuing method Windows uses to handle multiple requests from hardware. If a device driver takes too long doing it’s thing, the amount of time a DPC will stay in the queue becomes very long – too long and the system just drops it. For audio devices this means the popping/snapping I was hearing.

First step was to download the DPC Latency Checker tool. Just run it and then exercise your system to see if you get latency. I ran it when I got audio problems, and sure enough, huge DPC latency problem:

DPC issues are almost always caused by bad drivers or hardware conflicts. I first updated my video card drivers, motherboard drivers, audio drivers and NIC drivers; no improvement. I then removed all drivers, ran Driver Sweeper to remove all traces of the drivers, and re-installed them all over. No improvement. The next step being a hardware conflict, I disabled everything possible on my system via the BIOS. COM port, LPT port, floppy drive, Firewire, onboard audio, NIC – all went away. Again no improvement.

So now I’m getting rather stumped and annoyed. More google research turns up two more ideas: Some people have issues with ATI’s PowerPlay feature. This power-saving driver feature will downclock the video card and memory when the GPU is idle. So I disabled it again without any improvement. As a final stab in the dark I started disabling everything on my system – services and running processes. Every non-microsoft service was disabled, and most of the Microsoft ones too! Down to complete bare-bones services. Additionally I uninstalled my firewall and antivirus software. No improvement.

I had about given up when I ran across this excellent post on how to find the actual driver involved with the DPC problems. Hope! I downloaded the Windows Performance Toolkit from the Windows SDK (just chose the ‘Tools’ part, uncheck everything else) and followed the steps listed to get a profile of what was going on during this high DPC latency.

The driver in question turned out to be dxgkrnl.sys, the DirectX kernel driver. My DirectX is fully up to date. The DirectX diagnosis tool (dxdiag), also confirms everything is good. I am out of ideas – save one. I pull my old 9800GTX+ out of the box and install it, removing both ATI cards. Then I run the same latency-inducing setup:

The latency isn’t perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than it was with the ATI cards!

Conclusion: ATI, your drivers suck.

Hope this helps some other poor soul with a bad-audio issue.

An All-In-One Guide to Ninja Salvaging

Posted in Ninja Salvaging, The More You Know, Video on October 12, 2011 by captain

So a lot of the time I spend online, I see newer players coming into the SN public chat looking for advice on how to start up with doing ninja salvage.

MLYT has hosted many guides, on how to scan, find a system, and more. These guides are great, but they get outdated, and they’re all separate.

I set out with this in mind to produce a sort of all inclusive guide to ninja salvaging, showing beginners to the trade exactly what they’ll need to get themselves started, as well as demonstrate how easy and quickly you can get into it.

 

In the video embedded below, I discuss what ship to scan and loot with, how to fit them, how to scan, and how to go about ninja salvaging someone’s wrecks. The main purpose for this guide is to be a complete tool to link to people who ask questions, so I can give them good visual advice, rather than have to repeat the same few hours over for each person one on one.

 

Feedback is always good, but if you comment to say something like “X fit is better cause I do this with it”, then the door is over there ->

This video is intended to give the newest of players the absolute cheapest and easiest way to get started in the trade, and as such makes use of very cheap modules and ships. Yes, you will upgrade, but this is meant as a starting point.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72l01PYp4hI

 

Spaceships, Cooper Colors, OODA Loops, and Combat Mindset

Posted in The More You Know on August 22, 2011 by paul

Khalia has already posted about the recent wormhole engagement in which he and I were jumped while running sites, resulting in the loss of a Thanatos and other small ships. I highly recommend you read that post first. I will not give a second telling of the story, but will note that that situation spurred the discussion that led to this very long post.

My purpose in this post is not to tell an amusing story, but to lay something out that I didn’t know most people didn’t know. In the immediate aftermath of the fight, I used the terms “OODA Loop” and “Condition White” when discussing what led up to the losses, and he indicated that he was unfamiliar with them. He seemed to find my explanations interesting and helpful, so I’m sharing them with you!

Some background: Though I now am a small business owner, I spent some time as a patrol officer for a city police department. Before that, I was interested in personal defense and had grown up using weapons from childhood. My family’s situation was such that guns were not just toys or a hobby, but valuable tools needed for practical reasons. I got lots of firearms and personal safety training before, during, and after my law enforcement career, and a part of that training may prove useful for the capsuleer, regardless of the player’s feelings about guns or cops.

Cooper Colors

“It is the man, not the gun, that wins.” –Jeff Cooper

Jeff Cooper, arguably the driving force behind the transition from one-handed duelist-style shooting you’ll see in pictures of prohibition-era police to the two-handed modern grip that is taught to most police and military shooters, introduced a color code as a way of explaining the mental state of an individual before and during any sort of combat. It is primarily taught in military and police academies, but is just as applicable to the common person… or the pod pilot of New Eden. I have adapted the four colors for our use.

Condition White – Completely oblivious. This is you when you’re not giving any thought at all to what is going on around you in Eve. It’s not a bad thing if you’re completely safe, such as when sitting in a station or a POS bubble while not responsible for watching or protecting anything. It is also the state you’re in when AFK mining or missioning, or lazily flying through gates while you talk to your spouse about the fact that you forgot to scoop the cat box. Again. You’re not hitting your directional scanner. You’re not watching local. You’re not giving any thought to those that might be preparing to drop on top of you. You’re the guy in the line at the post office with his headphones on who is texting with his cell phone six inches from his face. You’re the lady who has fallen asleep on the subway. You’re a sitting duck, relying either on the goodness of those around you or your unworthiness as a target.

Condition Yellow – Relaxed alertness. This is (hopefully) you when you’re driving down the interstate. This is a police officer while he’s finishing up his hamburger before going back on the street. It’s not a sense of paranoia or fear. It’s not even necessarily you thinking about the threats that might be out there. You might be thinking about your market orders, or the fact that the cat box still needs to be changed before your wife gets home in half an hour. The important thing is that while your higher brain functions are worrying about things other than your safety, your monkey brain is still swiveling your head so that your eyes can take in information about what’s going on. In this condition you might be talking with a friend on skype, but still hitting D-scan every few seconds and checking local as you pass through space that should, but may not be completely secure. You aren’t thinking about the fact that you’re clicking Scan and scrolling down the list every 15 or 30 seconds, but your brain will still sound alarms when you see that heavy interdictor that isn’t one of yours. Which brings us to…

Condition Orange – This is the “Hold on, what’s that?” moment. You’ve seen something that concerns you and could potentially be a threat to your safety. It may be nothing, but it justifies putting on hold whatever you’re thinking about and focusing your attention on what is happening. This is you standing in line at the post office when a sweat-drenched guy comes in muttering something about “making them pay” while wearing a thick coat in the middle of the summer. It’s you on the highway when you see brake lights on the horizon. It’s the cop that sees the back door of a fast food place standing open in the middle of the night. Any of these things could be non-events, and probably are! But they might be the real deal, in which case…

Condition Red – Shit, as they say, has become real. What you initially thought might be a possible threat has turned into a verified immediate danger to your well-being. The cop sees a masked man coming out of the open door to the McDonalds holding a shotgun in one hand and the night clerk’s severed head in the other. Your frigate lands on the bubble with a dozen reds in formation around your¬† landing spot. Whether you have a plan or not, the threat has come to you and you don’t have a choice about whether you have to deal with it. Fight or Flight. It’s time to nut up or shut up.

Clear as mud? Now to get some OODA Loops in! Bear with me, and I promise I’ll tie this all together soon.

OODA Loop

To my knowledge this concept was originally introduced by the US Air Force for instructing pilots, though I wouldn’t rule out the abstraction going back much further. It stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. It’s what happens to anyone who is confronting a threat or engaging in any kind of combat.

You observe the situation, orient yourself to the threat to gain an understanding of what is going on and what your options are, decide on your course of action, and then act on that plan.

While investigating the open door, the cop observes the crazed murderer coming out of the McDonalds. He orients himself to his situation and what his options are. His nearest backup is several minutes away, so immediate help is out of the question. There is a dumpster a few paces away which he had noted earlier would make good cover, the steel being thick enough to stop buckshot or slow down a slug. The night clerk, bless his heart, is beyond saving, so the cop needs to concern himself primarily with his own safety and apprehension of the gunman. The cop decides to draw his weapon while getting to the cover of the dumpster, after which he will radio that he’s in trouble and his partner needs to turn and burn to get there. Then he will confront the suspect from cover and engage if needed. The cop acts on his plan, ducking toward the relative safety of the dumpster while unsnapping his holster and keying up his radio. Because he had his eyes open and had already spotted good cover, he was able to act very quickly when a routine event became a fight for his life.

While in warp to the next gate in your route, you see a red pop into local and spot a Devoter heavy interdictor on your directional scanner. It might be a friendly devoter and you might have missed an AFK-cloaked enemy in system earlier, or this might be the beginning of a trap. You land 15km from the gate and observe that you have landed on a bubble in a field of reds. You orient yourself to your situation: The gate is dead ahead, and your only options are to charge through the bubble to the gate, or turn around and try to get out of the bubble and into warp. The enemy force is mostly battlecruisers and battleships, with one interceptor, who apparently charged outward from the gate but overshot you and is now 30 km behind you. You decide to make a break for the gate in front of you, since the interceptor will be on top of you in a moment to prevent flight back to the gate from whence you came. You act on your plan, clicking approach on the gate and engaging your afterburner. Because you saw the Devoter on scan before landing at the gate, you weren’t shocked to be caught in a bubble. You could immediately see the layout of the battlespace and pick a good option for getting out.

I know that it seems like we’re overthinking these situations. The detail is important, and I’ll explain why in a minute.

When You Aren’t Ready

What if the cop had been talking on his cell phone with his girlfriend, spotted the open door, and gone to remind the night clerk for the hundredth time to lock up when he’s there alone at night? What if you’d been playing Words With Friends on another monitor while autopiloting through your “safe” alliance space?

In either case, the good guy is completely unprepared for the engagement, and will only escape unharmed through luck or the ineptitude of his opponent.

Watch this scene from The Matrix. Don’t worry, you only need the first 45 seconds.

The guards are supposed to be the very first line of defense for what is supposed to be a very secure government building. Yet, what do you see the guards doing? They’re sitting on their asses at the X-ray machine. When Neo walks in, they obviously consider him to be just another in a long list of people who need to go through this boring administrative task of getting cleared by security. If they treated this duty like the deadly serious job that I’m sure was described for them when they were assigned the post, do you think they’d be sitting in swivel chairs?

Here the metal detector goes all the way to eleven. Even if they were bored before, this should have put them into Condition Orange. But it doesn’t.

If you watch the video again, you can see Neo observing the layout of the room and the positions of the guards at about 0:20, but the guard that “confronts” him isn’t doing so because the machine indicated that there was a lot of metal on him. The guard was going through a perfunctory script, asking someone who was acting very strangely and had set off the metal detector to take any keys or loose change out of his pockets. In the above shot, the guard has a basket in his left hand and the metal detector wand in his right. He’s standing at shoving distance from an unknown subject, and doesn’t have a hand free for his weapon or to push away this trench-coated weirdo if things go pear-shaped. His friends are obviously unconcerned with the situation, talking amongst themselves and not even looking at Neo.

This is the exact look you have on your face when you look over from your Scrabble game and realize you are in a warp bubble surrounded by enemies. Total surprise. The guards make a very unpleasant transition from Condition White to Condition Red, which is, as always, accompanied by the “Holy shit!” exclamation.

By now, Neo and Trinity are inside the OODA loop of the guards, who can observe that something very bad is happening, but don’t have time to figure out who or how many bad guys are confronting them, much less where they are or where they’re going. The result is the predictable comedy of errors, with guards skipping straight to the act step, diving in nonsensical directions, attempting to engage without any cover, or calling for backup which will never arrive in time to help. This guard at 0:38 is so far behind the curve that when the elevator doors open with a ding he just freezes. In the moment it takes him to realize that the woman pointing a gun at him is another aggressor and swing his revolver toward her, she shoots and kills him. Action beats reaction, every time.

What You Can Do About It Now

“OK, OK!” I hear you say. “You’re the fancy ex-cop, blah blah, you’re a badass with the body of a god and the mind of a chess master. I get that I need to be more aware of my surroundings. I can’t always see the game six moves ahead like you can.”

First off, I’m glad you’ve noticed that I work out, but I’m really not that smart. I just want to give you some things to do even when you’re away from your computer that will help you next time you see combat in Eve.

Visualization. By thinking about the things you do on a regular basis in Eve, and what kinds of situations you might find yourself in, you can mentally put yourself in that situation and think about what you could do to improve your odds of surviving it. Remember all the detail I went into for the cop at the McDonalds, or the pilot flying into a gatecamp? You can do the same thing while daydreaming at work, or laying in bed at night, or pretending to listen at a meeting. Turns out, your mind files away those contrived experiences and decisions the same way it does actual experience.

The guards in the lobby worked the same assignment, every day. Yet when the very event they were assigned to prevent happened, they immediately became as worthless as a bag of assholes. Why was that? They had hours on end five days a week to think what they would do if they found a gun on someone at the security checkpoint. In an alternate universe, where the guards had been visualizing scenarios to prepare for a fight, what might the “Holy shit!” guard have said?

“Yeah, sometimes we sit around thinking about what we’d do if someone tried to get past us. Mostly the job is boring, and most of the people are boring, but it’s understood that if the metal detector goes off, everyone needs to be paying attention to what set it off. I’m really vulnerable when I’m explaining to the person that they need to remove anything metallic from their pockets, so I leave the basket on the table and step a few feet back from them while I explain what they need to do. Bernie and Jim usually will put down whatever they’re holding step halfway behind a column. Their job is to watch the person’s hands and save my pasty white ass if he makes a move. It’s all real friendly and the casual observer wouldn’t see anything fancy in it, but it keeps us a little safer, you know? Sometimes after the building closes for the day we’ll put water guns in our holsters and practice where we’d stand if we got into a gunfight in that lobby. It’s become kind of a game after a while, and I suppose we’ll probably never have to actually use any of that stuff. Still, it’s the job.”

When you go over in your head what you’ll do when a certain situation or one like it happens, you’ve shortened the Decide portion of the OODA loop and given yourself that much more time. If you can make your next decision while the bad guy is still processing your last move, then you can turn the tables on an aggressor and get away clean, or even turn an ambush into a rout in your favor.

For the most common of situations, you can develop a mantra. Much like “steer into the skid” is something that they make you repeat over and over in Drivers Ed class up North, simplifying what is probably the best course of action into a very simple set of commands and repeating those commands to yourself can cause your subconscious to scream them at you again under stress. Police undoubtedly hear “MOVE! SHOOT! COMMUNICATE!” when the crap hits the fan. Marines probably hear a Sergeant screaming “SPORTS, SHITBAG!” reminding them of what to do when their rifle goes click instead of bang. When you are mining and you suddenly see the Local list fill up with red skulls, maybe you’ll train yourself to hear “PLANET, CLICK, WARP!”

And maybe by thinking about what kind of spots you’ll get yourself into, keeping your eyes open so you can spot trouble, and deciding in advance what to do, you can buy you the time you need. You’ll overcome your surprise and plan the next move before your attacker even realizes that you’re not where he thought you’d be.

Thanks for reading this far. Hope it helps.

Not Our Finest Hour

Posted in Combat, Delicious Tears, The More You Know, Wormholes on August 22, 2011 by khalia

It had already been a long day for me working a 12-hour shift with my volunteer ambulance service and then having dinner with my grandparents. When I got home Paul, who is going into his weekend, was up for doing wormholes sites. I had scanned down a C2 while I was waiting for him to finish his dinner, and then we ran all of those anoms.

Back in our C3, we started going through the single anom and radar/magneto sites; we’d been talking on Skype for hours and things were getting silly (Paul’s new musical hit coming soon to this blog – stay tuned). We were running with four Drakes and our Thanatos carrier. Then Paul’s terse announcement: “Legion coming in!”. The Legion pointed the carrier as we tried to decide what to do.

Unfortunately we didn’t have many options as directional scanner showed a small fleet – which arrived on scene a few moments later. Three Dominix, a Dominix Navy Issue, an Abbadon, a Typhoon, and a Damnation. We quickly realized their target was the Thanatos as they pointed it and threw all their firepower into it. We were initially hopeful that my flight of 11 fighters and some additional ships could break their tanks… but they had an excellent spider tank setup, and despite best efforts, no amount of fighters and ship DPS we had on hand was going to work for us.

When it was clear that eventually they were going to break the Thanatos tank – it was fit for resists and reps, but against this much DPS it wasn’t going to last – we started trying to get ships out from the carrier bay. We ended up losing a Devoter and a Drake, but we got other ships safely out.

The bad guys attempted a ransom – which we obviously weren’t going to take – but we tried to stall for time by counter-offering:

[06:03:39] bumnz > 500 mil we let ya go
[06:03:49] bumnz > clock is ticking
[06:03:56] Marius Atilla > moo
[06:03:56] bumnz > tick tock
[06:06:00] Marius Atilla > better hurry mate
[06:06:13] Marius Atilla > u bout to die
[06:06:16] PaIIadium > lol
[06:06:20] PaIIadium > not today
[06:07:30] PaIIadium > busy hole you got here
[06:07:42] Radjax > for a minute
[06:07:50] Markus El’kar > 400
[06:08:01] Marius Atilla > deal
[06:08:01] bumnz > ok 400
[06:08:06] bumnz > send to me
[06:08:09] Paul Clavet > logging on an alt
[06:08:22] PaIIadium > whats going on in here?
[06:08:40] Paul Clavet > to get the money
[06:08:41] PaIIadium > a ransom perhaps?
[06:08:52] Paul Clavet > ya

With the Thanatos going into hull, I started the self-destruct timer. If I was going to lose a carrier, I was going to at least get my base insurance payment out of it. Of course the bad guys didn’t like this, leading to some amusing tears:

[06:10:33] Syl Kougai > So you’re going to SD instead of take it like a man? That’ll be good in your blog.
[06:10:34] PaIIadium > that things taking a beating
[06:11:13] Markus El’kar > Insurance.
[06:11:24] GodfreyOfIbelin > i didn’t know wh’s had stations
[06:11:32] Markus El’kar > They don’t. I still get 262m for it.
[06:11:57] Markus El’kar > I have to say I’m impressed what a group of RR Domis can do; nicely played
[06:12:15] Syl Kougai > Be sure to blog about how you sd’d like a bitch.
[06:12:19] bumnz > for selfdestructing im gona leave my alt in here
[06:12:30] bumnz > put that in ya blog and smoke it
[06:12:31] GodfreyOfIbelin > bunch of pussies
[06:12:38] Paul Clavet > lol pirate tears
[06:12:42] Markus El’kar > Deny you the kill and get money back? Yeah, clearly I’m the dumb one =)

The ship self destructed around the 50% hull mark and we warped away; we lost no pods, which was a small blessing. The insurance payment was indeed worth it, and denying them a killmail and drops was added bonus. I would have done it just for the insurance money in any case.

From: Secure Commerce Commission
Sent: 2011.08.22 06:11

RefID:1003045796452 Your friendly insurance company has transferred 262,052,019.20 ISK into your account for the recent loss of your ship. This payout is the default payout for an uninsured ship. If you are interested in better insurance then please visit a station with an Insurance Service for further details.

The resulting smack talk was amusing, considering that we admit they played a nice trap, and that we had failed to do a good job keeping an eye on what was going on.

[06:12:56] Marius Atilla > well you did get caught
[06:12:58] Marius Atilla > so, yeah
[06:13:00] Marius Atilla > you are
[06:13:03] Paul Clavet > Very well sprung trap though, gents
[06:13:09] Syl Kougai > Well
[06:13:12] Syl Kougai > Was worth the try.
[06:13:44] Paul Clavet > yep, well executed
[06:18:22] bumnz > see ya tomo
[06:21:48] rockpoker > http://www.mylootyourtears.com/
[06:21:55] rockpoker > dont forget to update
[06:25:12] rockpoker > any gf gf peace out
[06:25:21] rockpoker > anyway**
[06:26:24] Khalia Nestune > Oh, we will.

Paul and I spent a good while analyzing our billion-ISK lost. What did we do wrong, what could we have done differently, and what lessons did we learn? Paul will have another post shortly with his own perspective from being in law enforcement.

The primary lesson here was that we got complacent, and in EVE when you get complacent, you die. We should have left the Thanatos just outside the POS and assigned the fighters. I had been doing this most of the time, but for radar and magnetometic sites the additional RR from the carrier and agro onto the carrier was useful. Useful it was, but it left the carrier too vulnerable. Secondly, we did not put sentries on the wormholes in our system; or at least the wormhole from the high security static entrance. We had been doing this recently, but in our rush to get the sites done, we again got complacent and assumed nothing would happen. Tiredness and impatience are a bad combination.

Discussion of what we could have done differently was limited. Really once they had sprung the trap our fate was sealed; there was little we could have done with our on-hand ships against their spider tank setup. Our own set of RR fit battleships, complemented by the carrier RR, might have forced a different outcome, or a draw. Aside from this there was little we could do.

Paul and I have both suffered losses we consider more “dumb”, from a “I can’t believe I lost that ship” point of view, and this wasn’t even the most expensive ship I’d ever lost (a faction-fit Tengu holds that ‘honor’), but it was a sharp reminder that to let down your guard is to invite disaster. You can be sure it isn’t a lesson we will ignore.

How to Get EVE GTC for (sort of) Free

Posted in The More You Know on July 26, 2011 by khalia

About a month ago, Paul introduced me to Bitcoins, a form of virtual currency. The mechanics behind how Bitcoins work involves a lot of math and cryptography; if you’re so interested, read the Bitcoins FAQ page. Like other currencies, Bitcoins can be bought for or sold for actual cash. The current trading value is about $14 per bitcoin. Like regular cash, bitcoins can be used to buy things from other people, or you can accept bitcoins for your goods.

The more interesting part for us is how bitcoins are created:

How are new Bitcoins created?

New coins are generated by a network node each time it finds the solution to a certain mathematical problem (i.e. creates a new block), which is difficult to perform and can demonstrate a proof of work.

Read ‘network node’ as ‘your computer’. People solving a ‘block‘ – which is used to validate transactions like sending and receiving bitcoins – get some bitcoins as a reward. To make an analogy with real cash, pretend someone wants to give money to someone else. You act as the witness, saying “Yes, party A gave X dollars to party B”. As a reward for this, you get a small amount of cash.

Shorter version: Your computer can generate bitcoins. Since they are tradeable for real cash, you can make money; or buy things directly with bitcoins. More on that in a moment.

In turns out that modern video cards, particularly those made by ATI, are extremely good at solving these problems. If you’re not familiar with using a video card for non-video work just remember that a graphics card is essentially a miniature computer made to handle graphics issues. It can be made to do other things quite well. Take a look at the Bitcoin hardware chart to see the relative comparison of cards. Making bitcoins in this manner is called Mining.

Solving an actual whole block is a ton of work, even for a fast video card; it might take months. Instead participate in a mining pool. This works like other distributed-processing projects. Small chunks of the problem are assigned to a lot of people, and when the problem is solved, everyone gets a payout based on how much work they did.

If you’ve followed along so far, you’ve figured out that you can use your video card, the same one you probably play EVE with, to generate bitcoins which can be turned into real cash. Alternately you can do what I did, and buy a GTC directly for bitcoins, from Bitcoincodes. For 2.88 Bitcoins, I received a GTC, with no issues at all.

I have two video cards, an ATI 5770 and an ATI 5750, which gives me a total of about 0.15 bitcoins per day. This gives me a single bitcoin every 12 days or so; or a whole GTC about every 4-6 weeks. The price of a GTC will vary based on the actual cash value. I could convert my BTCs into cash and buy a GTC that way, but this is more trouble for me than just buying the GTC directly.

Like Paul you may determine that your extra electric cost of mining cancels out the value. If you have cheap electric service or don’t pay for your electricity (college kids I’m looking at you), then this is a win.

To get started download and setup GUIMiner, the easiest way to start mining for coins. You’ll want to use a bitcoin pool. I recommend deepbit.net, but there are several other options. Finally you’ll want the official bitcoin client so you can store bitcoins in your ‘wallet’ and buy things with them.

I leave my client running all the time. Performance under EVE is very good. I see a reduction in mining speed, but it’s still excellent. If you’re really serious about mining, buy a modern ATI video card. An Radeon 5770 can be had for about $100 and will give you around 0.08 bitcoins per day.

Macro Miners and Some Ideas

Posted in Developers! Developers! Developers!, The More You Know on June 18, 2011 by khalia

If you haven’t already, go have a listen to the most recent Fly Reckless, where our very own Paul is a featured guest. It’s pretty funny (shout out to drunk Angus!), but they do cover some serious topics, including macro miners.

As mentioned in the podcast, Eve’s in-house economist, Dr. Eyj√≥lfur “Eyjo” Gu√įmundsson (good luck pronouncing that), recently made a statement that banning all macro miners would crash the EVE economy. I’d like to be able to provide the source for this, but I couldn’t find it on the Google. Any reader who wants to take up this challenge will get some sort of bonus from me.

The idea of a “market crash” is that without the large supply of minerals supplied by macro miners, prices on everything would rise sharply. This would cause players to leave the game, is the theory, because they wouldn’t be able to buy things. I’m not sure this is actually the result. As supply drops, demand rises, driving costs of minerals up – and suddenly mining becomes more profitable. More players move into mining, and the prices stabilize. They just never return to the same prices as possible by large number of botters running 23/7.

I don’t think this is a bad thing. Mining is the redheaded stepchild of careers in EVE. Nothing is more boring than mining. It currently returns barely enough ISK to self-support an account by buying PLEX. A solid L4 missioner can pull in 50m or more an hour once they get some experience. Boosting the value of mining is to be considered a good thing, even if causes short-term havoc on the market. It also acts to drive up costs of everything – which in my mind is good. Make losing that T2 ship more painful. Better game play, more stress, more emotional investment.

My opinion on macro mining is slightly different than most. I do not think all macroers can ever be detected and eliminated. In order to determine the difference between a bot and a real person, you need a real person; computer’s can’t do it. The next smarter bot will just break the existing computer solution. Killing bots doesn’t scale well – it takes too many people and man hours.

The better solution is to make macro mining unprofitable – in real life. We know that macros are used to generate ISK which is then sold in RMT (real money transactions) to make real cash. If we can drop the value returned by macros below the point where it’s worthwhile for people to run the bots (and pay PLEX for accounts) then they’ll stop doing this and start doing something else.

My proposed solution has two components: It uses a method that penalizes macros more than regular players, and doesn’t break immersion. A key attribute of macros is that they can run non-stop; a lot of macros will run for 23 hours a day, 7 days a week. Slightly more clever ones will run for 18 hours and then take 6 hours off, and start again. At the same time, we know that very, very few real players actually mine non-stop for these volumes of time. They might do it once in a while, but for a month on end? No way. (If you do, I am so so sorry for you. Seriously.) We can’t just say anyone mining more than 18 hours a day is a bot, because we may actually catch a person actually doing this. The more hours you accumulate mining per month, however, the more likely you look like a bot.

We start by adding a new counter to every account (not just player, to prevent player switching on an account), and this is amount of time mining laser has been activated in the past 30 days. This value is incremented while the player has any mining laser active (but only once, no matter how many lasers active), which won’t be hard to program. This gives us an idea of how much this account mines.

Let’s take an average player miner, and say he mines for 2 to 4 hours a day, five days a week. Over a month this gives us 40 to 80 hours a month (or less, as mining lasers aren’t always active, but you get the idea). These guys shouldn’t get any penalty. Now go up to the really hardcore player miners, a very small bunch. Say they mine for 6 to 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. That’s 144 to 192 hours a month. Some of these guys might actually be bots, so we want to penalize them, but not much. Again, this is going to be a very small group. Who do you know that mines 8 hours a day 6 days a week? Above 192 hours a month we become increasingly sure that the account is a bot. A full-on, 23/7 account is 690 hours a month, and we’re 100% these guys are bots. They are harshly penalized.

Our penalty for being a botter – or at least seeming like one – will not be to outright ban, but to cut into the return. If you’re out mining for a really long time, it’s kind of reasonable that you might attract attention, of the bad type. So here’s what we do: Every hour, each miner has a certain percentage chance, increasing with number of hours mined, that dangerous pirates will spawn and attack. Our pirates will be four cruiser or battlecruiser class ships, and they all warp scramble. Furthermore, they scram as rapidly as CONCORD does. We do not want our botters to be aligned and just warp off when these guys spawn. These spawns have low bounty value and low or no drops, to prevent farming. If you’re a real player who plays an insane amount, bring a defense ship or corpmate. You should be able to afford it.

What percentages are we talking about? Up to 144 hours/month, 0%. From 144 to 200 hours/month, very slowly rising, say max of 5% at 200. The percentage then sharply rises after 200, hitting 100% around 300. 300 hours a month means this account is mining 10 hours a day, every single day of a month, without stop.

FAQ

Q: Doesn’t this unfairly impact people who mine all the time?
A: If you mine 7 hours a day, every single day, without rest, it might. This is a tiny, tiny, tiny number of people. And a lot of bots.

Q: Won’t bots just limit themselves to mining only enough not to trigger the spawn?
A: If they do, that’s great. They’ve just limited their own income, putting them on the same level as regular human miners. They may stop entirely because the value isn’t worth it.

Q: Won’t macros start using cheap ships?
A: If they do, so much the better. It will again cap some of their income.

Q: Won’t macros start running missions?
A: I haven’t seen a successful mission macro yet; the complexity is large. It won’t be such a problem, as the effect on the mineral market from mining is smaller.

What do you say, readers?

Corp Theft Trick: The Long Arm of the Orca

Posted in The More You Know on May 17, 2011 by paul

So you’ve gotten your infiltration alt into a victim corp. They’ve got Orcas in space which you intend to bump out of the shield and into the hands of your waiting Orca pilot. Upon opening the SMA, you also see a small fortune in T2 and T3 cruisers. Your problem is that, being a pathetic Drake pilot, you can’t fly most of them out. You are left with the annoying prospect of having to bump each ship out, or bumping the Orcas within range of the SMAs so you can drag ships across.

Or are you?

It turns out that you can move ships from one SMA into another even at extended ranges. So right-click on the Orca and open the ship bay, then drag ships from the POS-mounted SMA to the Orca. Note that this trick doesn’t work in reverse, so once you move ships out to the Orca the only way to move them back is to pilot them and stow them manually, or bump the Orca within range of the SMA. If you can’t pilot the ship, make sure you want it to be part of the Orca load before you make a one-way move.