When the choice is taken out of your hands

9 years ago, the Australian government embarked on a national program to upgrade our Internet infrastructure. This was done in part as an economic stimulus in response to the GFC, and to position Australia better in the future online world.

The goal was to replace an ageing copper network with (initially but upgradable) 100MBps Fibre connections to the majority of homes, with 25MBps wireless and satellite services covering the more country and remote areas.

Unfortunately, imbecilic politics and politicians got in the way, and a change of government announced the performance specifications were excessive and too expensive. The new government, lead by a technophobe and spite, embarked on finding ways to do the implementation on the cheap.

The result was a continually delayed project, decisions made on price over function, and the use of a mishmash of technologies that all seems to have ended up costing just as much money but with a poorer outcome. It also risks unexpected competition and obsoleteness from emerging technologies like 5G.

After all this time roughly 7 million of 12 million premises in the country can connect to this “new” network. Some suburbs are broadband winners, some are losers – depending on what sort of technology was rolled out to them.

Our suburb was earmarked to have Fibre to the Node installed. This is where new Fibre was run to little roadside node exchanges dotted around the suburb, and you connected to those over the existing copper phone lines. Your theoretical speed dropped dramatically the further away you were from the node – and plausibly you could end up having a slower connection than the existing ADSL2 most use.

That is what the suburb next to us got – but thankfully because the whole rollout was taking so long, we have ended up getting a newer and better option of Fibre to the Curb. This is where Fibre is run to the phone pits in our street, and only the final 10 to 100 meters uses the existing Copper lines. In theory we are much more likely to reach the 100MBps speeds currently on offer.

Having a pre-order in for the connection I was kept informed on the status of the work. This was meant to be ready in November, sorry December, sorry February, sorry May, sorry June, sorry a date at the start of June, sorry a date at the end of June, sorry some unknown time from July.

Having watched the physical infrastructure going in over the last 7 months from my study window, I knew the switch should be somewhat soon. Unexpectedly however last Wednesday night I received some more automated messages about my pre-order, indicating it has been installed 40 minutes earlier, and that my phone number was being ported soon. This was a bit of a surprise as I had been given none of the hardware required to make the connection.

Predictably since then my Internet connection has been dropping out as often as every 5 minutes, is fluctuating at around 15% of its normal speed, and my phone line is buzzing and losing dial tone with a massive amount of interference.

I called my ISP the following morning, and they worked out the unexpected porting of my phone number had removed all codes for my ADSL2 connection from the exchange. They had no idea why I had any sort of internet connection and advised not to turn my modem off as I’d not reconnect after. They have now couriered the new hardware out that I require, but seemingly on a premium but very slow-moving camel.

When it arrives, I am to plug it in and see if my new broadband connection works. I am not feeling particularly confident as while I have an email saying the connection was installed, my ISP shows it having a status of still being provisioned. I’m also not sure how – if the line had been switched over to a Fibre port, how am still getting internet or phone (be it bad).

Unfortunately, I must wait and see. My ISP can’t log any support calls for my existing Internet as technically my ADSL2 connection no longer exists. They would have to ask for a new ADSL2 connection – but that option is blocked at the exchange as all new connections must be through the new broadband infrastructure. They can’t log a support call against the new connection either – as it doesn’t have a status of active yet. Welcome to limbo.

I am mostly bemused and resigned to our current fate. I’ve heard so many horror stories that our example so far is mild.

Now EVE. While I have not been especially active in EVE, I am logging in a couple of times a week to undock and do stuff. For the moment however that choice has been taken out of my hands.

Recently I did run over to Jita to pick up a few Abyssal Space Filaments for use later, and to check out the prices on the related skill books and new ships. Still a massive premium, particularly on the skill books, so I did not look to buy any.

I had planned to try the latest event called Federation Grand Prix. In this event you fly various routes to iconic sites, systems and wrecks in known space. You gain points in the Agency for each course you complete that can add up to various rewards.

My immediate thought was CCP will be leading unsuspecting players into Low and Null Sec systems where it would be a blood bath. Sure enough, soon after the event started I read on various sites of smart bombing battleships wiping out participants heading to the obvious sites. The event doesn’t seem to be about exploring and getting to know space better, or pitting player against player (as smart bombing interceptors and shuttles isn’t really a two-way thing) but is about losing ships and getting used to it.

CCP is still working on the idea that if people lose ships (even if tricked into it unexpectedly) they will suddenly become PVP fanatics and want to stay with the game for longer. I assume a small number of people do just that.

I was going to try a few runs anyway in a throw away clone and ship at a quieter time, hence I logged in last Wednesday night with a couple hours to spare, only to find me being disconnected every few minutes.

What can you do.

Unexpected Reward

Unexpectedly (from my point of view), Collector’s Edition Mystery Code holders have been gifted four Concord skins and a couple combat suits.   Details here:

https://www.eveonline.com/article/pamcd3/concord-saro-skins-and-combat-suits-gifted-to-mystery-code-holders

They will only remain available for 90 days, so if you are a Code holder but not currently active, you might want to log in and grab them.  I presume they will be accessible from an Alpha state account.

Preparation

A few weeks ago, I went duck hunting. It was a 12-hour effort to pack, drive, hunt, drive and unpack. I went mid-week – which is not ideal if you want other hunters to be around to push up a few birds. I went out at the wrong time of day – starting around lunch when birds are not likely to be moving and coming back in before sunset, where there is a window of opportunity of catching birds moving to roost. I went out in the wrong weather – a clear windless day, which reduces the chances of birds moving. Last of all I just walked the relatively open swamp I was hunting – out in the open with minimal chance of success. I had everything stacked against me – and was rewarded with an empty bag.

As I wearily got back to my car the Warden of the private hunting property I was on drove by and tactfully pointed out I was doing it all wrong. I agreed – but said I had a very small window of opportunity to get out of the city, and a bad hunt was better than no hunt at all. He remarked that I might have had more luck if I hadn’t come in so early. I agreed – but said I had to be home to take one of my children to an activity. I then said what I was really doing was scouting for a future hunt, watching the flight paths the birds took, working out where I would setup. I recounted what I had observed, and he was able to confirm what I had thought and gave additional information about where other hunters often went, adjacent wetlands that birds travelled between, and the different behaviour of some of the common species on the swamp.

A couple days ago, I went duck hunting. It was a 12-hour effort to pack, drive, hunt, drive and unpack. I had planned to go earlier but the weather was too calm, so I delayed the trip. This delay also increased the chance other hunters would be about. I was on the road at 3:30am to ensure I arrived and was setup well before sunset. Instead of finding some random spot, I waded straight to the location I wanted to hunt in the dark, under the intersection of two flight paths I had earlier observed. I put out a small set of decoys. At this point in the season birds were weary of landing in anything but larger decoy spreads, so this small grouping was more about confidence and explaining my calls. As the sun rose the wind picked up noticeably and other hunters started to shoot. In very tricky conditions I had an enjoyable and successful hunt and came home with a good feed.

When you hunt solo like I have been the last couple of years you can sometimes stumble into a very successful hunt by chance, but mostly, it requires a lot of preparation and effort to have some semblance of success.

This playing EVE analogy was brought to you by the wild duck stew I will be eating tonight.

Failure to maintain

I was asked the other day via Eve mail how you maintain interest in EVE while playing solo. I gave the same advice I’ve rolled out on this blog over the years. The importance of setting goals, sourcing new goals, and engaging (even from afar) with the community. As I hit send on my reply I was suddenly tinged with guilt. Here was I giving advice when I no longer maintain much interest in playing EVE myself.

At the moment I am mainly playing a game of skin collecting. (What a creepy sentence.) As the Dev Blogs arrive I pay attention to the old skins being retired, the new skins being added, and the event skins that become available. I carefully go through them all looking for any to purchase.

https://www.eveonline.com/article/p9v3nb/caldari-ghostbird-skins-now-available

The latest new skins from CCP are the Ghostbird series for the Caldari hulls. I can’t say I think much of them – but that is obviously a personal view. The Crow and Raptor look ok, but not interesting enough to buy. The Manticore was to me the pick of the bunch – but I already have the Raata Sunset and Wiyrkomi skins for that hull, which I like much more.

The Bloody Hands skins do look very nice, particularly the Nidhoggur and Panther, but they come at a premium price. As they are for hulls that I rarely if ever fly, I won’t be purchasing any of them either.

Often however, I have ended up undocking and taking a trip to Jita to spend ISK on my Skin Collection.

The EVE Faction Citadels are here:

https://www.eveonline.com/article/p9usoa/the-outpost-retirement-release-is-now-live-faction-citadels-are-here

The process seemed to have gone relatively smoothly. The Asset recovery rules mean this won’t be the ruination of the game, but it was a reminder about who in EVE has power (the few), and who doesn’t (the vast majority).

I remarked a few times when this was all announced that I expected Providence to lose all its stations before the transformation, so the groups with actual power in the game could profit from them. That came to pass – although with a last-minute change of owners from Pandemic Legion (who had taken them from CVA) to a TEST based coalition. I hope at least a handful were kept by CVA aligned groups.

As a solo player I don’t expect to have any influence on anything or anyone in the game. I also don’t begrudge the success of those who through skill and effort lead the groups that are at the pinnacle of EVE. However – this reinforced what I have said before – my sense that there is a level of impotence, even futility to what most people might try to do in Null, unless it is at the bidding or permission of one of the few Elite player groups.

The “Into the Abyss” expansion is now live (just in case you were living under a rock):

https://www.eveonline.com/article/p9hn2k/eve-online-into-the-abyss-is-now-live

I read earlier (a reference I now can’t find, maybe on Facebook) that the player losses within the Abyss Dead spaces were already into the Trillions of ISK. So much so that we might see the impact on the EVE Monthly Economic reports.

I didn’t have much interest in these sites as I had initially read when you exited them you would have a suspect flag, making you attack-able by other players. CCP changed that a little – so that the Suspect Flag only occurs on harder levels of the sites (4 and 5 – if I remember correctly). This change however was offset by learning there was a hard 20-minute time limit on which to run and exit the sites via the final gate, else the site, your ship and pod, would all be destroyed. (Unsalvageable I assume.)

Not ideal for this little Hermit, who likes to take their time and enjoy the scenery, making a point of doing and exploring everything. I’ll run some lower level sites down the track, when things quieten down. It will be interesting to see in the long run what percentage of the player base use them regularly. Is this going to be yet another niche addition to the game?

My lackluster reaction is not a dummy spit in CCP’s direction. They have done what they said they would, with a mindset that has stayed consistent. I have not been enamored by where they were going but appreciate they have delivered.

The biggest drain on my EVE enthusiasm has been my wife.

In one example of this, she has managed to add even more to our family schedule, then became busy with a project at work and left most of the extra running around to me. Our current schedule for the kid’s activities is – 2 on Monday, 1 or 2 on Tuesday, 1 on Wednesday, 2 on Thursday, 1 on Friday, 2 or 3 on Saturday, and 2 on Sunday. My wife suffers working mother’s guilt – and this seems to be her solution. The time I eked out for reliable EVE play has long since been stolen.