Not again

This weekend CCP had yet another one of those Log in for Skill Point Giveaways. It went for just 3 days, but Alpha Pilots could earn 75,000 skill points, and Omega Pilots 250,000. These giveaways have been so frequent that they have lost their allure. I think I heard there is another Undock for Skill Point event soon.

I last used all my Unallocated Skill Points on my Main Pilot Elmis back in August last year. In the 5 months since that pool has returned to 2.3M Skill Points. All those points were given to me by CCP for minimal effort on my behalf. I could have gained even more Points, but I lost interest and did not maximise the rewards for the Undock events.

Elmis gains 150,000 skill points for each Large Skill Injector he uses. It would take the ingestion of 15+ injectors to gain the equivalent Skill Points that CCP has gifted. That would have cost 12+B ISK.

My main Alt has 3.2M Unallocated Skill Points. These would have accumulated through CCP Gifts since January last year – 12 months. He gains 300,000 skill points per Large Injector. His Pool is worth 10+ injectors, a value of 8+B ISK.

My Alpha Alt Pilot has 800K Unallocated Skill Points. I did not bother logging her in every day and rarely undocked. She also purchased a number of Skill ranks using the Pool. That meant with a little more effort she could have had well over 1M Unallocated Skill Points over the last year. She gains 400,000 skill points per Large Injector. The remaining unallocated points are worth 2 injectors, or 1.6B ISK in value.

If you add the various training accelerators also gifted by CCP in the last year, you are talking about 10’s of Billions of ISK in skill point value given across my three accounts.

Reading back on my related posts over the last year, I can see from my tone that I don’t want to be complaining about getting free stuff, but these giveaways have me worried. They cheapened one of the more important aspects of EVE, skill point progression, and makes CCP seem desperate and lacking in new ideas.

I purchased some PLEX on the weekend and donated them to the PLEX FOR GOOD charity drive. This time the donations are headed towards Australia to help with the Bushfire recovery. That was the first proper direct donation I’ve made for that cause. Up until now its been coin and tip donations and buying at sausage sizzles and what not.

The bushfire related donations have been a bit of a quandary for me.

Some have been sent to the services, often made up by large numbers of volunteers, who are fighting the fires. This has been for equipment and supplies. That is admirable, but part of the reason they have equipment issues is that the Governments had cut funding over the years. Maybe more effort should have been focused on ensuring the Governments funded them appropriately in the first place and will do so moving forward. We shouldn’t have a need to crowdfund our country fire-fighting capacity in the middle of fighting bushfires.

Lots of money have gone to Wildlife related services. Also, admirable – except many of these organisations are or directly support very militant left-wing ideology, activists and politicians. I know a couple whose stated goals is for everyone to become vegan and for all animals to have the same rights as humans. One wants Farmers charged with murder if they killed a cow for example. I am being completely serious. There are plenty of on the ground wildlife sanctuaries and hospitals burnt out or struggling to cope, doing a great job, whose city-based head offices have provided very little support from the millions in donations they are receiving.

Similarly, there are well known large charitable organisations reaping in Millions in donations who point towards the fine print on their web pages about how much they keep for administrative purposes, and how they were thinking of keeping some of the funding in their bank accounts for future needs.

Next you have some victims of the fires complaining that they are not getting the money they feel they are entitled too. There were a series of people reported on in the media who lost everything saying this. They lived in bush fire prone areas but had no insurance. They were angry they would probably not get enough money to rebuild and refurnish. Maybe I am just too harsh of mind, as lots of people subsequently donated money and services directly to these people.

I try to focus on how lovely humanity can be in helping, and that most of the people being supported are deserving, but I am reminded daily in the news that there are lots of people and organisations in effect profiting from this catastrophe.

I am personally fine, as is my family. I could technically be impacted by Bushfire Ember attacks where I live, but the risk is very low. I have however lived in, gone to school around, and especially fished, hunted and holidayed in many of the areas impacted by fires.  I recognise small communities and townships in most of the emergency alerts sent out.  Plus of course there is no getting away from the at times horrendous smoke pollution. My Father, with asbestos damaged lungs and other health issues, has been confined indoors for much of the last couple months. It is a mind blogging area of bush and forest that has been burnt out, and it is still on going.

Those Value Pack’s CCP have been offering for years are about to be replaced, including that $5 for 1M Skill point thing. I wonder what the new ones will be like.  I expect more skins to be included.

https://www.eveonline.com/article/q4mrom/last-call-for-current-value-pack-offers

CCP have offered those packs on sale once or twice a year, which can make them very good value.

Last of all on this unexpectedly long post – I replaced my gaming laptop yesterday. The MSI laptop I had was still able to run everything I needed it to comfortably, but it had a few issues.

One issue was that MSI has been very poor in providing any updated software, drivers or firmware. Basically, next to nothing was made available from a month or so after the laptop was released. I don’t know if that was just worse for my laptop, or if it is a common thing with MSI. In recent months this has meant I was not able to apply various important Window updates because of hardware incompatibility issues.

Another problem was an introduced hardware fault. Last year I was at a friend’s place for a Roleplaying night (a Shadowrun campaign). He unplugged my Laptop charger without asking and moved it to a new socket on a power board to make room for his oddly shaped tablet charger. He careless and with little attention managed to awkwardly wriggle my lead in a half connected / half not state, causing an electrical buzzing noise, a pop, and smoke to come out of my laptop. It turned out he had fried the soldered connection between the charging port and battery, meaning I have only been able to run off power since. He has been a friend for a couple decades and is a reasonable bloke – but he just shrugged and didn’t give the slightest shit. It was my problem. Just the sort of mindset I find more and more common.

It can be fixed but came with risk and a price. It wasn’t something I had the skill to do, so it ended up being better living with a working laptop plugged in, than one that might never start again. Through no fault of its own, the laptop has since irritated me.

The new laptop is one of the ASUS Republic of Gamer models. We will see how that goes.

Distractions

I was reading Wilhelm Arcturus’ post on his Games of the Decade and was triggered to go look at some of his recommendations.

https://tagn.wordpress.com/2019/12/23/my-games-of-the-decade-a-look-back-from-2019/

This led me to pulling out a plastic box of all my old favourite games that had stopped working years ago, but which I could not bring myself to throw away.

This led me to installing the Steam Client on my PC and logging into my old 2004 Steam Account.

This led me to spend $70.

With the Steam sales on there were a bunch of my old favourite games available for between $2.50 and $8.00. I picked up:

Total Annihilation
Star Wars Galactic Battleground
Blitzkrieg 1, 2 and 3

I also grabbed a couple newer titles:

Defense Grid – The Awakening
Factorio

The old games have held up well but were not quite playable. Whatever Steam has done to wrap them up to run on Modern PCs doesn’t quite handle multiple screens / mixed resolution / 4K / notifications all that well. I resorted to trying to run them on the Laptop I use for study and work, but then had some issues with sound. I’ll have to keep at them.

The tower defense game is fun, and I will get many hours of entertainment out of, but Factorio is going to be a very big distraction.

Nothing to report in EVE. I collected all the Christmas Gifts, including the final 500K SP on my two subscribed accounts. There was also an interesting Dev Blog post from Team Talos, outlining their changes since they came into being, and some of what is coming up in the future.  Worth a read.

https://www.eveonline.com/article/q30yr2/seasons-greetings-from-team-talos

Philip Hue Review

For many years I have had a Bose 5.1 speaker system in my Study, connected via a Yamaha AV Receiver to my PC, PVR, DVD Player, PlayStation 3 and a wall mounted TV. It was part of my vision of the dream Study. Over time however it has got less and less use.

A few months ago, we upgraded to a 4K main TV and added a soundbar with sub. The results were better than expected, and it became apparent that I wouldn’t be watching movies in my Study anymore. Consequently, I ended up removing the speakers, Receiver, my PlayStation, and copious meters of cabling.

I was happy with having a less cluttered Study.

I regularly peruse the Battlestations Subreddit on Reddit, enjoying seeing how people configure their computer set ups.

https://www.reddit.com/r/battlestations/

(If my wife knew she might prefer I looked at something more risqué. It would be cheaper.)

With newfound desk space, I thought I might try some of the room mood / RGB lighting that is popular on the subreddit. After investigations on function, price and availability of the various options, I settled on trying the Philips Hue “Smart lights”.

https://www.meethue.com/

I ended up with a Hue Bridge controller, two light bars, one coloured globe and a wireless dimmer switch.

The tldr summary is I found it easy enough to setup and surprisingly impactful in influencing the ambience in my study.

In more detail.

I thought the Philips Hue range was for the most part extraordinarily overpriced. I understand there needs to be a margin for the research and development that went into them, but the products felt much cheaper than their asking price, and I expect would cost only a tiny fraction of that to manufacture.

There were cheaper start-up kits, but these were focused on the American Market and use primarily screw in bulbs where in Australia bayonet sockets are far more common.

(They might have been shoplifted regularly, as in most shops they were not on the shelves and you had to ask for them at the counter.)

The various components connected quickly and reliably to the Bridge controller / hub and could be found and configured in the Smartphone app or the PC Sync Software.

Updates seems to be pushed regularly to the various components. This process often seems to freeze, but when you exit and come back into the application, the updates have usually been applied.

As I have found with most lighting related software, the configuration of the lights seemed a little more awkward than it needed to be. You add your lights and configure them to rooms and zones. You then had separate concepts of entertainment areas and scenes to configure, plus automation routines and timers available. It meant there were lots of ways you could use them – but at the cost of being somewhat unnecessarily complicated.

Even so, I thought the product line was more mature than I had been expecting.

I found it wasn’t a good idea to use the coloured bulb in the main light socket in my room. It was too easy to get out of sync with the other lights, particularly any time my wife walked into the study and thought it was too dark. I ended up purchasing a new lamp for my desk for that bulb.

The dimmer switch can be programmed with several scenes you can cycle through and was the much better way on a day to day basis to turn the system on and off than using your phone.

You could set up environment options – where the lights react to either music or video. Aside seemingly being a bit behind the action, it didn’t do much for me except get annoying.

I had an unexpected issue of note. Because the Light Bars angle cross-ways instead of straight down, they really show up dust! Things still look dusty almost immediately after diligently cleaning around them.

I must admit that I have enjoyed using them more than expected. I like having a few go-to ambient scenes to use. For example, I particularly like the red scene when I am playing EVE. It adds- an undefinable – something.

The system can also incorporate additional home automation systems and options, which is part of the reason I went down this path in the first place.

I would say – ignoring price – it has exceeded my expectations.

(Interestingly Bunnings have halved the price of lots of the range – after I had finished my purchases. That is indicative of there being huge mark ups.)

There is a little bit of EVE stuff coming – but it is waiting for the conclusion of things in game before I speak about it.

Warm Wishes

I don’t tend to remark on the major holidays here on this blog.  I don’t know why.

I found Christmas a magical time when I was growing up.  My parents did not have a lot of spare money, so the only time you got new things was on your birthday and at Christmas.  Mum would always give us a stocking, half filled with the stationary for the next years schooling, we would get a couple presents, and we would have a big roast meal with pudding and extra sweets on the table.

I’ve tried to re-create some of that special feeling for my kids – but I don’t think I’ve managed to.  They have and are given so much stuff that really, presents don’t have anywhere near as much meaning, and they are constantly going out for tea or to parties, so a Christmas meal is just one more.  Still – we have adjusted and adapted over the years into our own routine to try and get it right.

My daughter is 9 and rather shrewd, and had remarked this year on the school playground chatter about what really goes on at Christmas.  You can only shrug and remark that Santa only comes to those who believe.  She decided to ignore the other kids this year and let herself get excited, but it may have been the last opportunity for me to have succeeded in creating a similar magical time for her.

This is our Tree on Christmas EVE as my wife watched the Carols with the kids.  It is more than 20 years old and still looks a treat.  It is a reminder that sometimes spending a bit more money for quality can save you in the long run.

My wife volunteered herself and our Son (13) and Daughter to help out at their church for their Christmas Lunch.  She hoped to remind them Christmas wasn’t just all about presents.  They helped usher and feed 180 odd people who were suffering hard times or finding themselves alone.  I don’t involve myself with church, so I had some quiet time and got to play EVE and blog about it on Christmas Day.

Afterwards the four of us sat down together to eat an early Christmas Tea.  Instead of the roast, we have cold meats and salads, followed by pudding.  It is more in line with the temperatures and what the kids prefer.

Temperature plays a big part in Christmas here.  Today it got to 39.8 degrees Celsius.  We were meant to be visiting my parents – but for days they have had and will continue to have similar temperatures, and they don’t have air-conditioning in the rooms we are meant to sleep in.  We will have to wait for the weather to turn.  My wife and I combat the heat as best we can – such as tonight we had milkshakes.  (We’ll ignore the fact the house is air-conditioned and quite comfortable.)

In whatever way and conditions you go through this festive time of year, I hope you manage to find your own magic.

Warmest wishes,

EveHermit

A new record maybe

(Version 2 of this post)

It has been over five weeks since I had posted – possibly an inauspicious new record. I hadn’t noticed.

I’m still logging into EVE once a week or so but doing little other than playing the skin collecting game. I have on several occasions really wanted – needed – to be able to do some mindless mining. The reality is however you need to pay attention when mining now, and that defeats the purpose of using it to relax.

I noticed that someone has picked up the EVEMon project and moved it off the old API. I haven’t tried it – but it is available here if anyone wants to give it a go:

(Edit.. changed link from current version on GitHub to the EVE Forum post that gets updated to the latest version as it is released:)

https://forums.eveonline.com/t/evemon-4-0-7-beta-esi-edition/75953

I am sporadically playing World of Warships. I tend to play a ship until I win its first battle of the day – which gives an XP bonus, then move onto the next ship. A consequence of that is I tend to end up with a large collection of ship lines all at the same Tier. At the moment that tier is VIII. I have been stuck at this point for a very long time – generally only around half way to Tier IX. To make matters worse – I find myself in Tier X matches more often than not, and even when I play at my very best, I have very little impact on the finally result.

I am only getting to Dungeon and Dragon’s Online once a month or less. I am meant to have Wednesday Night off to play, but my wife scheduled an activity for my Daughter on that evening.

Most of my gaming now is a session or two a day of Hay Day and SimCity on the iPad.

The main reason for this lack of free time is that I spend the vast majority of my days and evenings as a taxi service for my two kids.

EVE – even if I could find something new and interesting to do – just can’t get a look in.

Hunting Partner

My father has given up on Duck Hunting and has not been out the last couple seasons. While his hunting retirement relates to health issues, it occurred without an announcement. I had to piece things together from his rude disinterest and disparaging comments when I discussed going hunting with him.

It has had an impact on our relationship. My father is a selfish cantankerous man with anxiety issues and a penchant for insular views that he rudely pushes. He has greatly influenced the person I am today – through a long list of actions and behaviours of his that I’ve sworn never to mimic. Hunting was the way we stayed connected. I put up with him more than I might naturally be inclined, and he wasn’t quite as abrasive around me. Without hunting I am sure I would have had an estranged relationship with him from my teenage years.

I have been hurt by the change in him – but as I think I might have already mentioned – someone did offer the explanation that he might be grieving over the loss of his hunting. Others suggest his increase hostility and more erratic behaviour might be the beginnings of dementia.

Now, after 35 odd years of almost always hunting with my father, I am having to hunt on my own.

Hunting on your own is a lot harder. Two people can scout more locations, keep each other motivated, keep each other alert on the long drives, share resources, work together in the field, discuss the decisions that must be made, and see the highs and lows and be part of each other’s stories. Two people is also a lot safer.

Hunting solo you need to be better prepared, more aware of your limitations, keep yourself motivated, and understand those special moments – a brilliant Sunrise, and beautiful double taken over decoys, won’t ever be truly shared.

Yes, there is an obvious EVE analogy in there. I’m clearing out some recent half-finished posts from my blog notes that I figure I won’t ever finish, but there seemed enough of this one to post anyway.

Turning ugly

This WordPress site was created back in January 2011. In August 2012 I spent $60 to remove ads and allow some custom changes to the theme for 12 months. I spent the same in 2013 and 2014. In 2015 the cost went up to $78 a year to achieve the same thing. I paid that, then again in 2016 and 2017. This year WordPress has moved to site plans. To remove ads and keep the same customisation choices will now cost $120.

I can’t justify spending that much for my own vanity – just to have things looking a little neater.

I’ll see what I can do – but if you are one of the few regular visitors here, I apologise that things are likely to shortly turn ugly.

My internet access woes continue. It has been two weeks today. I received a FTTC Network Connection Device for the house. It is meant to connect over my old Copper phone line to and power a FTTdp device in the phone pit down the street. The connection behind the FTTdp is Fibre. Unfortunately, the NCD hasn’t been able to establish an initial connection. Someone is scheduled to come and look at the issue today. Meanwhile we still have no phone, and unreliable and very slow Internet.

I did risk undocking the other day and managed to get to Jita. Hazard a guess as to what I was doing? Yes, that’s right – picking up a few ship skins.