Who needs procrastination

In hindsight, maybe Friday the 13th was not the ideal day to be doing hardware updates.

I finished up on my PC after midnight, everything seemingly sorted and working well. The last thing I did before shutting down was run my backups, but oddly they had problems reading one of the file systems. During the install of the new Graphic Cards I had noticed a SMART warning on one of my Hard drives as having too many errors reported. I would not have known about it if I wasn’t looking into the GPU temperature sensors as Windows hadn’t warned me in any notification. I had flagged to look at it the following day, so just ran a highlighter over my post-it-note so I would not forget.

I was back at my PC at 3:30am – having been woken up by a nasty headache. I figured I would look at the hard drive issue while waiting for my painkillers to knock the edge off the discomfort.

The only problem was that the PC would not boot. It got past the BIOS but was stuck in the early stages of windows starting.

I went and had a shower to help with my head, and in hope of Windows fixing itself while I was gone. I had no such luck and came back to the same issue. After a couple reboots I was given the option to rebuild Windows or go back to a previous restore point. That happened to be Friday morning after some Window Updates had been automatically installed. (What is Microsoft doing pushing updates on Friday the 13th?)

With the rollback done my PC now went to a black screen in the early stages of boot and stayed there. I turned everything off and went back to bed at 4:30am, but didn’t get back to sleep until after 6.

I was back at my PC at 7:30am after having to get up to get the kids breakfast. Since only one screen was initialising before going blank, I once again removed the new Graphic Cards. The PC was able to boot ok. Looking through the logs and after some testing I found one of my Hard Drives was dead. It started having problems during the process of getting the new Graphic Cards installed. I expect it was already unhealthy, and lots of power up and downs, and a few boots on its side were enough to kill it. No more Seagate drives for me – ever.

I reinstalled the NVIDIA drivers (lost in the restore point rollback) and gingerly plugged the new Graphic Cards back in again. The system started up ok, and has continued to do so multiple times since.

I suspect the problem with windows booting related to NVIDIA’s XTREME Gaming Engine, which was the last thing I had installed to turn off the Graphic Card’s lights. It might have some conflict with the older chipset or the like.

Now I need to buy a new Hard Drive, recover my lost data, and hope the PC remains stable.  On the bright side my headache seems to have cleared.

I might get back to the EVE Client settings tomorrow..

The not so hot upgrade

Preparing for war, I was reminded that I had been really slack in keeping my EVE client settings up to date, particularly on my Alts and over on my Laptop. Today I decided to rectify that.

I logged in my Main and Main Alt side by side, opened up the Escape Menu and clicked on Display & Graphics. I was going to go through every setting, read the tool tip, experiment if need be, and ensure both accounts were in the end set up the same.

But then I was immediately distracted.

If you have multiple Graphic Cards, you can configure which one you want each EVE client to run on.

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It seems to be a dynamic setting – it moves the client across to the selected GPU once you hit apply, without a restart.

Unlike most of the EVE client settings however, this particular one doesn’t seem to be saved per account. If you change the setting for one account, the next account you log in with gets the same setting. For this reason – having to manually adjust them every time you play, I haven’t bothered with it.

I’ve had some issues for a while now with my old dual GeForce GTX 680’s. The first is performance – I can get stuttering when dual boxing on the non-active EVE client, and I’ve had to lower settings in DDO and World of Warships to get them to run more smoothly. The second are temperatures – particularly with summer in full swing down here in Australia. If my Study is cool the main GPU tends to run between 83 and 85 Degrees (Celsius) when under load. That is however starting to head towards 90 if the Study starts to get warm – forcing me to turn on the Air-Con earlier than when I might personally have needed it.

So instead of going through all the Client settings, I got stuck on playing around with this Display Adapter selection option.

I did some unscientific testing.

Idle: GPU0 49-52 Degrees, GPU1 49-52 Degrees
One EVE Client: GPU0 82-83 Degrees, GPU1 50-52 Degrees
Two EVE Clients same GPU: GPU0 85 Degrees, GPU1 52-54 Degrees
Two EVE Clients separate GPU: GPU0 82-84 Degrees, GPU1 82-84 Degrees

I could see both GPU were being used just by the temperature readings, but I couldn’t say either client was particularly more responsive.  While I did not notice any stuttering, I don’t notice that all the time anyway.  I now had two GPU running hot instead of one with otherwise inconclusive results.

At this point my wife came into my Study and asked if we could take the kids up into the hills to try out some new gourmet milkshakes, so my EVE Client setting updates were delayed by a couple hours.

When I got back to my Study I was immediately distracted again by researching new Graphic card options. A couple hours later and a trip out in heavy rain, I was back in my study with two new Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1060 G1 Gaming 6GB graphics cards.

They reviewed well for their performance verse price, ran on game mode at 1594 Mhz / 1809 MHz boost (against 1006 / 1058 MHz on the 860s) and had 6GB GDDR5 memory (against 4GB). They did not however support SLI, were on paper a fair bit behind the 1070 and 1080’s, and if it wasn’t for needing a certain mix of connections for my 4-screen setup (and wanting options to expand or upgrade it down the track), I might have otherwise gone for one higher spec card instead.

I removed the old 680 Graphic cards, plugged in the new 1060’s, and booted. Well – I tried too, but the Motherboard got stuck on a non-descriptive error code.

I had my suspicions on what the issue was, so out came the new Graphics Cards and I booted up ok using the on-board graphics and one of my monitors. Given the age of my Desktop, I started by updating the Motherboard BIOS.

I then rebooted and the motherboard was stuck on another non-descriptive error code, suggesting an issue with the new BIOS. I then did a hard reboot (should have done that the first time) and thankfully the desktop started correctly.

One of the new Graphic Cards was then reinstalled and the Desktop booted. The boot performance however was very slow and there were NVIDIA related errors.

I then spent a while mucking around with the NVIDIA software, which wouldn’t upgrade, uninstall or install properly. After manually removing services, registry entries and some DLL files, I finally managed to clear out the old software and configuration, and start afresh with a new install. That seemed to resolve the issue and the boot performance.

The second new Graphic Card was reinstalled, and aside arranging the four-screen layout correctly, all now worked.

I was finally able to log back into EVE.

I repeated my unscientific testing.

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Idle: GPU0 46-49 Degrees, GPU1 46-49 Degrees
One EVE Client: GPU0 60-64 Degrees, GPU1 46-52 Degrees
Two EVE Clients same GPU: GPU0 65-67 Degrees, GPU1 52-53 Degrees
Two EVE Clients separate GPU: GPU0 65-67 Degrees, GPU1 53-56 Degrees

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Running the EVE clients on separate GPU no longer appears to make any meaningful difference, so I will go back to ignoring that setting.  While the EVE clients seem to be running smoother, it will take more than an hour of running about to confirm that.  Mostly I am just really pleased with how much cooler the GPU operate.  The temperatures can get into the low 70’s when docked in stations and zoomed in on your ship, but overall the improvement was unexpectedly good.

Success of sorts.

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A curse sitting in station as I test out performance / temps.

Now it is too late in the evening to go back to try to organise my EVE Client settings.  Maybe tomorrow – if I don’t find something else to procrastinate on.

Connections

I’ve had a handful of times over the years where someone has offered to buy my Player Owned Custom Offices, including the Corporation who declared war the other day.

Logically I should have sold them. I haven’t used them for some time and am not likely too in the near future, I earn minimal ISK from them and I can’t defend them. I should have taken the money and ran.

What has stopped me is that a small collection of individuals and corporations have been given access to use my POCO for 0% tax. I didn’t know if they still use them as I see no journal entries, or even if they still play, but I presume there are people out there who have PI set ups and routines that include the assumption of access to my cheap POCO.

I know it probably seems stupid, but it doesn’t sit right with my personal integrity to sell out on them. I expect few would have that expectation or care, but it is just how I feel.

When the latest approach came about the POCO I immediately checked my Custom Office journal entries and sent an Alt over to the system to eyeball the locals for a while. As luck would have it I noticed pilots with blue standings still living in the area.

I felt a little sorry for the Corporation that declared war. They seemed to have young and keen pilots, and where playing a sort of optimistic, plant your flag type of game. It is a game that would make you a target.  In my initial investigations, I could see they had anchored at least the smaller Raitaru and mid-spec Azbel engineering complexes, along with an Astrahus Citadel. I could also see their Killboard was mostly a sea of red and that they had been mauled previously by some of the usual Hi-Sec wolves. Taking my POCO would add to their collection of structures and provide them with a needed morale boost from an easy win.

What they were not to know is that I had on occasion thought about what a solo player like me could do against a medium sized Hi-Sec industrial corporation like them. I’ve read plenty of blogs and stories about the escapades of others, and gone as far as finding likely candidates. I had no idea if I’d be able to do anything effective, and I wasn’t sure I’d get much enjoyment out of it, but it was an area of game play worth looking at. The problem was that I have never been able to bring myself to War Dec the sort of Corporation I might be able to have an impact against. Now I would have the opportunity without the initial moral discomfort.

Because I was out of the house and on the road soon after the War Declaration came through, I wasn’t able to do the preparations I had wanted too. I did manage to spend several billion ISK Plexing my main Alt account, grabbing a Freighter, and moving in a stockpile of PVP hulls into the area. I even finished off some investigations on boosters and brought in a supply of suitable ones. I had planned to continue the War Dec well beyond the loss of my POCO, and look into the disruption I could cause, hunting their local miners and mission runners, camping trade routes and hubs for their haulers, theory crafting the ship set ups to oppose what they commonly flew, identifying their traps and all the sorts of intelligence gathering I might try to effect. What about hiring help, how much would it cost, what might I target?

I expect I would make a complete hash of it or simply not enjoyed myself, but you never know if you never try.

Not long after the War went live I watched cloaked on and off from various vantage points as the Corporation put two of four POCO into reinforced mode. It took them around an hour and 14 minutes for each. On the third the fleet dispersed and there was only one Rokh left on the POCO. They might have got tired or been trying to bait me. I unfortunately was running around the house sorting food for a New Year’s EVE party, wrangling children, and packing to visit my family for a couple of days. Just as I was about to log off I made a run on the lone Rokh – locking and shooting it with some of the new fireworks. Unfortunately and oddly I didn’t see any pretty lights from this endeavor, and I logged off with the idea of starting my campaign in a few days’ time.

A couple of sleeps later I was sitting in my parent’s kitchen, chatting to my Mum as she prepared food. I logged into my laptop to check email and quickly look at what was happening in EVE. Oddly there were no messages about destroyed POCO but instead an offer to retract the war. The attackers had another round of war declarations in bound that they were ill-equipped to handle and were reevaluating the location of their home system. What oddly fortuitous timing.

I accepted and advised I wouldn’t undertake any hostile action in the remaining 24 hours. As I said in my last post, there was no malice in the process.

While this means I won’t be following through with my plans, I will leave some combat ships and jump clones in the area so that if someone else chases the POCO, it won’t be such a scramble to be able to provide some sort of response.

The story doesn’t quite end here though. When I logged in the following day I had a message from one of those groups who had free access to my POCO. It was one of those groups I had friendly interactions with in the past but not spoken to in some time. It was one of those groups I declined to sell my POCO to others because it might have been troublesome for them. It turned out I wasn’t the only one who looked out for old allies.

Even as a Hermit, you can still experience the coolness that connections can provide within EVE.

A lack of Malice

I had an appreciated impetus to try something new in EVE. My Alliance has had war declared on it – to allow the taking of my Custom Offices.

The attackers are a 60-odd member non-PVP focused corporation, one of who has recently read this blog. (Shout out). They seem pleasant enough.

The timing was inconvenient – I was only alerted to the war 12 hours in, and had to do my initial preparations after midnight and then in between organising dessert for a New Year’s Party. I also have a couple family functions and travel to get through before I have much free time.

Unless the attackers do something really stupid, I’m not going to be able to do much about the Custom Offices. They took to the first one with two Rokh, a Bhaalgorn, Harbinger Navy Issue, Dominix, Vexor Navy Issue and a Coercer.

So, what can a solo player do in this situation? I’m inclined to find out. I have plenty of patience and nothing better to be doing with my EVE time.

I managed to buy a Freighter and move in a bunch of supplies into the area just before the war went active. I also reactivated my Main Alt account. (How long did that last in an Alpha state? Just over two weeks?)

We will see if I generate some blog content or not.

Nothing to report

The last o7 show of the year is available.

Not a great deal in it, although some of the proposed future Fireworks look cool. They relayed some EVE statistics, including that so far in 2016, 7.1M ships have been destroyed while 56.6M have been manufactured. I hope I heard wrong – that really doesn’t make any sense.

I am logging in each day to collect the Christmas Gifts across 3 accounts – 2 paid and 1 alpha. Interestingly there are differences some days on what each account gets. Today there were no gifts and nothing mentioned on the launcher. I noticed CCP say on Facebook that the gift was a 15% discount code to be applied to their new EVE Store. They probably needed to advertise that more – I expect people might be wondering what is going on.

I am not doing much in EVE at the moment. I had a play around with the Sunesis, and more recently I purchased a Porpoise to test that out.  I’ve done a little bit of mining and a little bit of exploration.  I had two old friends return to EVE recently.  One was playing around as an Alpha Clone and chatted for a few days, but appears to have stopped logging in again.  The second made use of a discount subscription offer from CCP, but he also went quiet after a short while in the middle of trying to consolidate his assets.

12 Days of XMas Gifts – but for who?

From December 14th, for 12 days, CCP will be handing out Christmas Gifts. Each gift will only be present in your redeeming system for 24 hours so you will have to log in each day to claim them all.

https://community.eveonline.com/news/news-channels/eve-online-news/the-yoiul-festival-draws-near/

One thing they did not appear to specify was if both Alpha and Omega accounts got them or not.  I assume from the lack of details that both do.  I’d wondered how CCP were going to approach that.  Having to log in daily probably works best.

We should also be seeing some new fireworks.  If they are the ones shown in the image in the Dev Blog, they are going to be rather cool.

CCP are also going to re-balance Rorquals by cutting back Excavator Mining Drone yield by 32%.

https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=503147&find=unread

That seems like a big nerf – the sort that makes you wonder how they got the initial values so wrong.  I think I read somewhere that since the Ascension release Rorquals could mine as much as 8 Hulks.  Now it will be 5.  If correct, again, rather surprisingly big values.  They will also be increasing drop rates related (I think) to the Excavators, to hopefully make them a little less expensive.

I am flat out busy in Real Life at the moment, so haven’t been able to do as much in EVE.  I am currently running some Level 1 Mining missions because, well, I’ve never done them before.  Once I get 16 I will move on to Level 2 missions, and so on.

Monitoring Temps

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As I mentioned the other day it is a good idea to monitor your GPU temps when playing EVE.  There are lots of (free) hardware monitoring tools available, such as Speccy, Open Hardware Monitor,  HWiNFO64 or Speedfan.  (Obviously make sure you download direct and deselect any optional installs.)  The problem is that you have to remember to run them, and they take up a lot of screen space.

There are various programs that allow you to set up little screen or desktop widgets to display such information.  My old favourite is Rainmeter, which allows skins with (effort) an amazing level of customisation.  I installed the 4.0 Beta version and went looking for some of my old setups.  I had previously used Open Hardware Monitor as my source for temperature data for Rainmeter but that no longer seemed to work.  (It may have related to one being 64 bit, the other 32 bit.  I’m not sure.)  I decided to switch over to Speedfan – which required setting it up as a scheduled task so that it automatically ran in the background.  Using Benzene from an older version of the OrganiC skin, I was able to create a simple meter to monitor the GPU temps (colour coded), with RAM and CPU thrown in for good measure.

Now I just need to transfer it across to my laptop and get it working.