Saturday, June 27, 2015

Coffee Politics and Incursions

At work, there are few things worse than what I call Coffee Politics.

We have a small break area with one of those monster coffee makers and several pots.  The coffee itself is free but they do take up a collection here and there for "bonus supplies" like creamer and sugar.  I'm a coffee drinker, but I haven't participated in the Coffee pool for 4-5 years.  I get up every morning and make my own Folger's (French Roast) and bring it in a thermos.

Why?  It's just easier to bring my own and watch the natives self destruct over little things.  Who left the coffee pot on overnight?  Who took the last pour and didn't make more??  There are fights about how best to make the coffee (how strong, how weak, how much water).  There are fights over when to clean the pot (some guys like a mildly dirty pot, yuck).  Why are there grounds in the pot again??  There are fights over getting the supplies from the centralized closet up front.  Who made a pot late in the day and then didn't drink any?  Who left the pot on again over the weekend and left the pot to evaporate down to tar?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Best Laid Plans

So, I mentioned to Sugar in passing the other day that I haven't posted much because I've been running lvl4's and "hey, I've been running a lot of lvl4s" is a pretty short post.

She replied enthusiastically: "Well, you should post that!"

So I am.

Snort worthy comedy would end the post right there.  But in the spirit of producing something like actual content, I'll continue....

First things first, I've been running a lot of lvl4's lately.  Partially to try to get my arms around the Carnyx offer rates for burners (which still appear to be about 5:1) and partially to get more of the Burner BC offers.   Triple Talos is especially lucrative if done quickly.

But mostly, (mostly!) I'm doing it for the yummy LP and am looking forward to a large cash out in a week or two.

A few funny/random things:

  • After weeks of drought, I've had the Blood BC offer twice in the past 2-3 days.  Almost lost my Gila on the first run.  I had full aggro from the main baddie throughout the fight and managed to pop him at 20% shields.  I'd probably lost the Gila w/o the link ship.  Second run was cleaner.  Still fiddling with the fit and still plan to post an update soon-ish.
  • I've been offered the new Angel cruiser-sized burner once.  It hit me late at night and I didn't feel like stopping what I was doing to go fit a new ship, so I (gasp) declined it and kept rolling.  This of course means I'll never see it offered ever again.
  • I lost my first MTU.  I don't use them every run but prided myself in not leaving one behind yet.  At the end of a long session and the end of an AE4, I got back to station and realized I'd left my MTU in the last pocket and turned in the mission.  I could have gone and probed it down, but just bought another one.
  • A day later, I got a killmail report for the unlucky guy who found and popped my MTU.  Poor guy lost a Rupture to get a 10MN burner and 1x Metal Scrap.  Apparently I had looted it but not scooped it, and the stuff inside was from whatever wrecks I decided to leave behind.  I felt bad enough that I almost (almost!) sent him some isk as compensation.  
  • EVE Vegas travel plans have been made, broken, changed, and made again.  It's a long ways out still, but having at least that laying flat is one less thing to worry about while summer continues to kick my butt.*
Other Dog's Breath news:  My "big corp theory" post is still in draft form.  No ETA; it's been back burnered by real life* and a desire to shoot stuff in game.  

That's it for now...

(*) Note:  I'll maybe do a 'real life' post in the near future.  Nothing dire, but by late June things are usually starting to settle back down while the heat outside rises.  Between work and the weather, I'm far, far behind where I wanted to be, and I'm burning more of my time to catch up instead of playing video games.

What's Playing:  Alice in Chains, Jar of Flies, No Excuses

Friday, June 19, 2015

New Domi Model Preview

Confession time -- I've never flown a Dominix in anger.  I have to stop and roll my eyes around the room a bit and try to figure out if I've ever even owned one.  I don't think I have.  Mrs. Durden was always the Domi pilot and Drone Queen.  I was always more Caldari/Amarr based.

Anyway, there's a new Dev Blog up showcasing the potential Domi model.  It's pretty sweet.  Also in the works are Stilletto, Probe, Thrasher, Cerberus (shown), and the Gallente T3D.

In other news, I finally defeated the Blood Raider Anomic Base mission on the live server.  It took me 3 attempts (thankfully with nothing lost but drones and some pride).  The setup I used is identical to what I'd posted from sisi, but I swapped a 3rd Shield Extender for the afterburner.

It did require some different tactics, and the frigates that accompany him seemed to have a lot tougher tank than I remembered.

I'd like to run him a time or two more on live and then I'll post an update and fit here.

What's Playing:  Tool, Sober

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Oh Happy Day

Today is the day I've been waiting for ...

Since moving to the country in 2010, we've had a really dorked up internet connection.  And by dorked up, I mean "expensive" and sometimes "slow."  For the past 4 years or so, we've been on a cellphone-based hotspot.  We're near a tower and connection speed and latency was pretty good, but we were also hit with a monthly data cap and a monstrous phone bill.

Today, I just suffered through a 3 1/2 hour fibre installation with the local rural telecom.  I say suffered, but I wasn't the poor guy stuck in my crawl space for 2 hours, or routing wiring all over the house.  But, he just wrapped up and I put the finishing touches on my new router installation, and things seem to be working.

Same high def channels as we got through DirecTV, and 5x the download speed, no data cap, and the combined changes will save us somewhere around $125 per month.  To put that in perspective, that's half of my current car payment.  Or a VERY nice dinner for two


Has been a slow-ish week in EVE.  Been running a LOT of lvl4s and finally got the Blood Raider BC to pop.  I struggled with it before logging off last night.  The next couple days will be hit-or-miss with availability, and hopefully I'm back posting my usual stream of nonsense this weekend.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Music to EVE By

There, I just used the game title as a verb.  Yay for the English language.

Was talking to the gang about the Interstellar Soundtrack this week, which spawned the idea for this post.

Here are 5 tracks that I've used as the backdrop for my EVE time over the years:

Saturday, June 13, 2015

How I Mission

This might be a repeat post, not sure.  But it's come up in conversation a few times over the past week, so here's the brain dump that I came up with this morning while I was out riding between corn fields on the bike.

Vanilla Level 4's

I use a mix of ships.  Typically this is the Golem, but I also keep a N-Apoc, Sacri, Drake, and Nighthawk handy.

Over the years, I have done various modes of lvl4's.  Blitzing, kill-all-no-loot, kill-all with an alt salvager trailing behind.  For a long while, I simply looted the large wrecks looking for large meta4 guns and left the rest.  (Not optimal, but I'd rather SHOOT STUFF than LOOT STUFF).

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Quality of Life for the Mission UI

I've been running lvl4's lately, enjoying the added variety of BC-sized Burners, Team Burners, Single Frigate Burners, and of course... Silence the Informant.

(Side note:  So far I'm still running about a 5:1 burner to vanilla ratio following the Carnyx patch but I really don't have all that much data).

Paying attention to LP payout, burner rates, and how often Buzz Kill seems to spawn (grrr, that mission), it reminded me that I wanted to do a post about the mission log and some Quality of Life UI improvements.

So here are three upgrades that I'd like to see....

Monday, June 8, 2015

Corporate Survey of Thunder and Goodness Results!

The survey is now officially closed.  There were 37 folks who chose to respond, which for a small blog in a small game isn't all that bad.  I was shooting for 50 responses but was happy with 25+.  Oddly enough, 37 is right in between those two numbers.

Background:  First, I figure I should elaborate on why I did this.  I started off wanting to ask a few questions and using the blog comments to collect some thoughts.  But, as the idea started to gel, I realized that I had more than a couple questions I wanted to ask.

The core of my query is to support a future blog series that talks about starting your own corp/alliance and avoiding some of the problems of the first 6 months or so.  I have my own opinions on this, but wanted to see if my ideas held up to reality.

I knew going in that the results would be skewed - you fine readers are a subset of a subset of EVE players (people that read niche blogs as a subset of folks that actually read news outside of the game).  But, SOME feedback is better than NO feedback, so here we are.

And with that out of the way, let's dive into the results.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Survey Closing

I'm back at the PC after a hectic weekend including out of town visitors (her parents), unexpected out of town visitors (my parents, who invited themselves down at the last minute), and the triathlon (which overall went well).*

I started a post to run through the Survey results, but thought that I'd give a 24hr warning to anyone that hadn't taken it yet.  So here's this post instead:  I'll be closing the survey a little after this time tomorrow.

Thanks to those who've spent the time to take the Corp survey; if you haven't the link is here.

In the mean time, I'm running more lvl4s and beginning to tolerate the new icons.  I still think they stink, but it's not going to keep me docked up while I pout.

*Tri info:  Mrs. Durden did well despite a rocky swim and finished around her target time.  She was hoping to improve her bike avg speed and did so.  She held out on the run and got a good time, and her Dad was there to take pictures and enjoy it with her (he hadn't been to one of our races yet).

My swim was strong and went well.  I fought my wetsuit (which has now happened 2 out of 3 races with it) and am thinking of cutting the sleeves off of it (imagine swimming with large rubber bands on your arms).  Despite that, I hit last year's time almost exactly while getting out of the water in overall a more composed state.  Transition was fine, if a little slow.  Bike hit my time for last May's race but slower than last June's.  First lap I was on fire and felt great, and passed a few slower guys.  Second lap my legs threatened to cramp the last 10 miles and I couldn't push and my average speed came crashing down.  It was a cool day and I'd opted not to take my anti-cramp tablets in the transition.  Was a bad decision that cost me.

Which is why I love multi-sport events.  The variability of the course, the number of small decisions that can make or break a race.  It's all a puzzle that needs to be solved.  Yesterday I chose to save a few seconds in the pit and it cost me minutes on the course.  I'm not mad or disappointed because my time is still where I have been and I took 1st in my age group (of 2, hah!) - but I'm going to need to solve the puzzle better if I'm going to improve my time.  I'll return to the same course in September for a rematch.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Yes, the New Icons Stink

I'm generally not a hater, and generally not one to fear change, so I tried to keep an open mind on the things I was hearing about the new ship icons.  Every patch brings out a wave of forum angst directed at CCP. It's usually a case of the 3 bears conundrum: The patch is too big, too small, and rarely does CCP get credit for doing something "just right." I heard the angst on icons brewing and shrugged it off as "business as usual."

So I was caught off guard when I actually didn't like the new icons.  "OK," I thought. "You'll get used to them." So over the course of the past couple days I did some explore sites in the Zealot and then ran some lvl4's in the Golem and ... The icons still suck. 

I find myself picking my primary targets not from the icon, but on the target's name. I'm effectively ignoring the new feature. I catch myself and try to force my eyes to the icon column, but they just won't stay there.

Now, a few of them aren't bad. The sentry gun, MTU, and accel gate are fine.  The beacon icon is OK, but needs to be a different color or something.

But the differences between ship icons are too subtle.  It is too easy to miss an important ship that might have a web or scram equipped, or a lurking little bastard that will shoot up my drones. On my screen, I have trouble telling between battleship, BC, and cruiser icons.The wreck icon is also particularly hard to use ... Filled or unfilled was so much easier to see.

And krikey, drone icons are supposed to be X's. What they've done to my little mechanical friends is just unnatural.

I agree with those that point out that making the UI easier to read by adding a huge variety of icons is a move in the wrong direction.  It's called an overview (as opposed to a detailed view) for a reason.  Making the overview more complicated while striving for simplicity is like saying I'm going to fix your flat tire by letting the rest of the air out.  CCP continues to talk about new player retention and getting folks up the learning curve ... How will this possibly help?

I am almost never on the bandwagon of rolling back features, but in this case I'd be in favor of a classic mode.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Countdown the Race Day

Non-EVE post about biking and triathlons follows:

Our first race of the season is this weekend.  The weather looks like it's holding, although the cold snap in the central US is keeping the water temperature down under 70 degrees.  I'm currently in a "taper" week where we do very light workouts and coast up to the big event.

This will be my 8th overall race and 5th at Olympic Distance or higher, in my 5th overall season of racing.  This particular event, I'm signed up for the Aquabike - I will swim and bike but not run.  I'm starting to get used to the pre-race jitters, but this year they're manifesting differently than in past seasons.  Typically right now I'd be feeling a sense of regret and dread as I stared down the gauntlet of the challenge; the sense of "obligation" for consuming a perfectly good Saturday by getting up at 4:30am.

This year, instead of feeling overwhelmed or stressed, I'm excited.  In fact, a few minutes ago, I signed up for a 2nd race later in the summer.  Crazy. (Normally race signups are something I do in the cold days of winter....never EVER when the weather is nice, hah.)

Part of my change in attitude, I think, is that this time last year my lower back hurt so bad that I thought I'd maybe never seriously ride the bike again.  Months of therapy and stretching, some time off in the off season, and I'm back at it and wanting to find out where my new limits are.  In the month of May, I logged more miles on the bike in almost 2 years (August 2013, the month I did my Half Iron distance Aquabike).

Another part of it (and I hate to jinx myself by saying this...) is that I'm reasonably prepared; perhaps mentally more prepared than any other race, and physically almost back to my peak of 2013.  Stronger in some ways, and weaker in a few others, actually.

Sure, I'd like to have another 2-3 weeks to prepare.  The weather in April was crappy, and work tied me up with unanticipated travel and more than a few late nights.  That delayed the start of outdoor biking and obliterated the semi-structured training plan I'd wanted to take on.  But, I've come a long ways in the past 3-4 weeks, and I'm very happy with the change in stamina over such a short time.

I don't expect to necessarily set a personal best for the course, but I think it'll be close enough that my time will depend on the weather conditions (chop/clarity of the swim course, as well as wind on the bike route) as much as anything.

Idle moments are filled with thoughts of things I need to remember to do, equipment I need to check, or dig out of the closet.  Other moments are filled with race day strategy or mentally rehearsing key moments of the event (swim start, in particular, has been on my mind today -- it's tempting to jump in the water and swim as fast as you can, even with a warmup before the race start, you can still blow your heart rate up and be hurting at the 100m marker ... with 1500m to go).  I'll print out my checklist and start gathering hardware tomorrow.

And on the plus side, Sunday is planned to be a day for being lazy on the couch and playing EVE.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Workarounds on Patch Day

So I login to the laptop, and attempt to patch up.  Start the download an go off to do some shopping on Amazon, come back at 672kb of the patch complete and hung.

Hrm.  Not good.  Kill the process, try again.  Same thing.

I was reminded of this little trick.

In your main EVE folder there is an executable named RESCACHE.exe (caps for emphasis).  It will scan the shared cache file for missing and corrupt files and repair.  I had to do this on the desktop a few weeks ago and it worked fine.  Hopefully it will let me login so I can be a little social ingame.  I'm currently downloading 2+ gb, but that's better than a full reinstall.

Happy Friggin' Patch Day, and good luck to you.


Edit:  Looks like Rescheck worked, and I am logging in.

Game Roster Rundown

Back on the old guild's forum, I'd post updates every so often as a rapid fire update per game title.  Haven't done it in awhile, so here you go:

WoW - Easy one first. Done, over, and not logged in at all this entire expansion. Never say never (I could see myself logging in some random rainy weekend and blasting a new character up through some levels for fun) but don't expect a triumphant return anytime soon.

Heroes of the Storm - Game launches tomorrow, I guess.  I've had beta access for quite awhile.  The click frenzy multiplayer game isn't my cup o' tea, but the tutorial was fun to play through.

Guild Wars II - There's an expansion coming soonish.  Honestly, the feature list that I've seen really isn't pulling me into the game.  I barely started the 2nd season's storyline before I burned out and left sometime last year.  I still recommend this game for anyone looking for a fairly old-school, big title MMO.  The game looks great; the amount of armor sets and dyes make the game fun.  The world exploration and dynamic event system is one of the best I've played.  But, the world exploration kind of stalls out around lvl50 and the last few levels are a haul.  At endgame, the content is either busywork daily questing, a grindfest wagon train of event farming, or a mess of reflex-testing combat mechanics in dungeons and storyline content.  The WvWvW pvp arena was an interesting concept, but running back from the spawn point repeatedly reminds me of the old Alterac Valley grinds in WoW.  I want to like this game very much for it's look and feel, but can't help but find reasons to not log in.

Diablo III - Last major effort was at the end of the 2nd ladder season.  Mrs. Durden has started a new Witch Doctor through season 3, but I haven't rolled anyone new yet.  I'm not sure what I'd play, honestly - the Wizard and Crusader are my favorites and I replayed them for S1 and S2.  D3 is a good companion for EVE as it lets me get my hack and slash, character building tendencies worked out without it affecting EVE.  The game does get grindy if you farm a bunch of bounties, but as an occasional game to jump into and kick some demon ass, it works very well.  I especially like Act I, as it reminds me of fun times in Diablo II.  It's a bad time of year for me to be playing two different titles (D3 + EVE) and so this one has to go on hiatus.  It's nice that it doesn't cost anything beyond the box shelf price, so I can pick it up and run when I feel like it.

EVE - I just resub'd my main account for 12 months.  I expect to be here, killing burners and rambling about crazy things for the foreseeable future.  I just hit a reasonable milestone in terms of my personal wealth, so it's time to set my sights higher and perhaps flesh out some of the blank spots in my ship museum.

And that's what I am (and what I'm not) playing at the moment.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Dog's Breath: Year 1 in Review

Friends, it has been a year already.

This is the post where I'm supposed to pretend I'm standing in front of a podium, thanking the Academy, and my mom, etc. etc..  I'll avoid all that, if I can.

I did want to pause and at least recognize the date, and thank all y'all for stopping in and reading my ramblings.

I'm a firm believer that in order to see where you're going, sometimes you have to look behind you and see where you've been.  It's the sum total of the parts of the journey that makes us who we are, looking at the end state of where we ended up only tells part of the story.

Alpha State

"Everything that has a beginning has an end."  That's one of my favorite quotes from the Matrix 2.  It has to do with the ...