Saturday, August 29, 2015

Wrapping Up August

As another month of 2015 slips away, I've had one bonkers week in a month of bonkers weeks.

This post has not much to do with EVE, so you can skip ahead a bit if you feel the need.

In the past week, I've gone to an Opera (Christmas present for Mom), and a monster outdoor-venue rock concert for one of my favorite bands (Christmas present from Mrs. Durden to me; the show sold out ~9mo ago).  The opera was fine (I enjoy the pit orchestra but could do without the singing).  The concert was fantastic - easily in my top 3 concerts.

We took time off work to go to the eye doc; I didn't want to go this week but we'd already cancelled once and I was on my last set of contacts.

We took Friday off to go to an antique tractor show about 90 miles away.  It is a show that my father and grand-dad used to display their old engines at.  I'm getting old enough now that I walk through the aisles of John Deere and recognize the models that my uncle used to farm with.  It doesn't seem so long ago, but he quit farming almost 30 years ago.  Along with tractors, there were old engines of any and every kind.  My favorites are the large hit-and-miss engines that were used to pump oil or water or whatever from the 1910s through the 1940s or so.

So we toured row after row of small engines like the one pictured, and several rows of monster engines that filled a flatbed semi trailer.  These big ones put out maybe 20 hp, but spun flywheels 4-8 feet across and flexed the trailer when the piston hit the limits of its travel.

Amanco hit-and-miss engin by PeterJewell - Own work.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons
Thursday afternoon I had a job interview.  It smells like a good prospect, and I'm hopeful that an offer will be on the table by mid-next week.  The job duties sound less fun than what I do today, but the promotion potential is virtually unlimited and the stability is solid enough that I'd say I could retire there in 20 years if I desired.  At the interview (which was conducted by the Deputy Director), I was introduced to the Director / VP-level exec as "this is him, the guy I told you about."

On Thursday I also took the car to the shop for a semi-emergency set of tires.  I was going to replace all 4 this fall anyway, but one had a slow leak (caused by a monster screw or nail that I finally found this week) and then I hit a board on the way home on Tuesday and did in another tire.

Today I got up fairly early and biked ~30 miles, then returned and showered and the Mrs. and I ran errands.  Three stores, lunch, and (literally) a truckload of "stuff" later, and we returned home.  And by "stuff" I mean 280 pounds of bird seed, steel roof panels for my new wood crib, 2wks of groceries, other odds and ends for winterizing the house, and a couple of new work outfits to wear should I need to wear something swanky for a repeat interview.

So that's been me - two concerts, a job interview, car in the ship, road trip for an old tractor show, and a truckload of stuff to get the house ready for fall.  I hope next week is more calm so that I can enjoy the Holiday weekend here in the U.S.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Gravity Well

Operation Gravity Well, the wardec plan of the Amarr Empire against the Drifters, has begun.
2015-08-25 15:00 By Lina Ambre
NANDEZA – The Amarr Empire's Ministry of War has confirmed reports from independent observers that, within the last hour, elements of the Imperial Navy have engaged a concentration of Drifters in the Khanid Kingdom system of Nandeza. This action follows today's declaration of war against the Drifters by the Amarr Empire. It is unclear if the latest Drifter presence represents a change in their activity at this time. 
Elements of the Imperial Armed Forces continue to move into positions according to the war plan designated "GRAVITY WELL" by the Ministry of War. Activated within moments of the assassination of Empress Jamyl I, it now seems clear that the plan is a combined core systems consolidation and border reinforcement strategy that is presumably a planned response to a so-called "decapitation strike" by an enemy power. While the main fleet elements of the plan seem to have been put into place within hours of its activation, there are many auxiliary units and large numbers of ground troops still in the process of reaching their designated locations. 
On the home front, across all the worlds of New Eden's largest empire, the Ministry of Internal Order has been active both on the streets and on public GalNet casts. The primary propaganda theme has been to strike a note of iron resistance to a foe of unimaginable evil, with subjects exhorted to work and pray for the "Defense of the Throne Worlds".


I for one, welcome our new Drifter overlords, and hope they offer me good lvl4 missions in the future.  :)

What's Playing:  TOOL, Aenima

Friday, August 21, 2015

EVE Vegas - More Speakers Announced

Here's one of those things that make you squint.  I haven't given more than a passing thought to EVE Vegas for the past several weeks, but after having it come up in conversation today with no less than three (3!) different people about the upcoming trip, I get home and see an email from CCP about ... EVE Vegas of all things.

Wait, what? The universe is weird sometimes.

Anyway, I'll just quote the entire email here, as it's not a bad summary of old-news and new-news:

A new round of Prize draws
The second round of EVE Vegas ticket holder prize draws has just kicked off, and with attendance at an all time high we've decided to reveal a little bit more about the events that will be happening in Sin City this year! 
More speakers and participants announced
Attendees are in for a content packed weekend in the desert this year, with many of our speakers, both player and developer, already announced here and here. 
After the opening ceremony hosted by CCP Guard and CCP Falcon, we will have two days of spaceship packed goodness, with all those speakers already confirmed, plus more!  
We're delighted to announce that CCP Quant will be joining us this year, for another data science presentation after the amazing feedback on his talk from Fanfest 2015. In addition to this, CCP Larrikin will be flying out to Vegas for a talk and roundtables on ship balancing and what we can expect coming up in the releases after EVE Vegas.
CCP Logibro will also be joining us in the desert for the EVE Vegas PvP tournament, and CCP Leeloo will be with us for a CSM roundtable and recap of the CSM X Summit which will be taking place in September. 
In addition to the above announcements, we will also have CCP t0rfifrans joining us for an IP Development roundtable, and CCP DIGGER, Executive Producer for EVE Valkyrie will be heading out to EVE Vegas to give a keynote update on progress with EVE Valkyrie. 

The EVE Store
The EVE Store will also make a return, as CCP Spitfire brings out his latest wares to Las Vegas for your scrutiny, and we'll also be hosting a silent auction for five blades from Tranquility, which were incredibly popular at Fanfest 2015.

Gunjack & EVE: Valkyrie
We're also happy to announce that both Gunjack and EVE: Valkyrie will be with us at EVE Vegas this year, so that attendees will be able to get a taste of the action that's coming up over the course of the next 12 months. 

Instead of recreating all the links in the email, I'll take the easy way out and shove you at the EVE Vegas Facebook page.

What's Playing:  TOOL, Opiate, Sweat

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sniffing Glue II

I am still working on the Shadows of Brimstone assembly.  We still haven't played yet.  My assembly efforts are slowing as I'm pressed with other stuff around the house and a pending visit from my parents this weekend.  But as I type, I'm somewhere around 13 hours invested, generally 20 or 40 minutes at a time (I am a nerd, I keep track of these things).

At this point, everything is assembled and scraped.  Everything in the core set has a base color down, and all but the Golem (end boss) have had their detailing and final shading done.  Next step for most things is to glue them to their little black bases (I'm doing that part out of traditional order).

I am ignoring the Cinder expansion, as well as a couple of things I bought from the web store that will likewise need assembly.  One thing at a time, and I'd really like to PLAY the darn game before I get lost in a haze of acrylic fumes.

Anyway, here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure.  I'm a novice at this - my first attempt at miniature painting - and I am quite happy with the results.  They're a little difficult to photograph with indoor lighting and a cell phone, so trust me when I say they look a little better in person.

Night Terrors - Shaded

Strangler - Shaded
Not this weekend, as I'll be busy, but I'm hoping that by next weekend I can share the entire Army in all its glory on a mock board map ready to slug it out.

What's playing:  Alice in Chains, Facelift, Bleed the Freak

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Random Saturday Post: Things that Scare Me

Irrational fears are irrational.  These are things that scare me.

  1. Spiders that I know are there but I can't see.  If I see a spider across the room, I'm fine.  If I feel a spider on my arm, I'm fine.  But if the same spider goes behind a pillow or under a magazine and I don't know exactly where he is, I go into arm flailing spider slapping puppy whimpering mode.  And then I leave the area in disgust.  (And you don't want to know what happens when I walk through a spider web at night...).
  2. Forgetting my EVE password.  It's long, complicated, and thanks to muscle memory, really easy for me to type.  But don't ask me what it is because I don't know it unless I'm typing it.  And then I panic.
  3. Dropping my car keys in a storm drain.  About halfway between my office door and where I usually park my car, there's a manhole sized storm drain.  In my mind, it's a magnet for my car keys, should I drop them (which, I have probably dropped my car keys walk walking maybe 10 times in my entire life...).  I will walk 10 feet out of my way to give it a wide berth, even though it would be far easier just to put my keys in my pocket.
  4. Undocumented changes to burners.  After every patch I cringe the first few times I enter a pocket, especially on the frigate sized team burners.  I like my Garmur very much, and would prefer it not be ninja'd by some undocumented/unannounced change to AI behavior.
  5. Constraints and commitments.  Give me half a day to putz around in the game and I'm happy.  Put an event on the calendar and I stew about the start time right up until the start time.  Being committed to being somewhere somehow changes the entire dynamic of the day.  It's weird, but it is what it is.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Go Do Something Cool(tm)

This is an addendum to the previous Corp Management post.

Mrs. Durden reminded me of one of my favorite delegation stories.  This one happens to come from the Office, but has implications to your CEO career as well.

Years ago, I switched from a highly stiffling corporate environment (building of 1200-1500 and many many layers of management) to the far less formal group that I still reside with today.  I went from that hyper-corporate environment to a team of about 25 people (at the time) and nearly no oversight at all.

A few months in, I needed to get a demo model done out in the shop for an upcoming conference.  It involved taking an existing piece of equipment and carving on it so that people could see all the little widgets inside move.

My first instinct was to start an email to the shop manager, who I'll call Barry.  The email to Barry started with good intentions, but as I continued to think through how I wanted the model to look and act, the longer it got.  Cut here, paint this, remove this ... paragraph after paragraph of instruction and requirements.

I was about to hit send, but I sat back in my chair for a second and said "Gawd, what a mess.  This is Barry, he knows this crap better than I do.  I'm writing this like it's the old office."

I selected the entire email, hit delete, and then said typed (paraphrasing):

Need a demo model for the conference for product XYZ. 
Recommend you carve up one of the carcasses in the scrap pile. Needs to be onsite before the meeting and look good enough for sr. customers.  If you need help, let me know.   
Otherwise, go do something cool.

A few things happened:

  • Barry thought the task was great and commented repeatedly on the chance to get to "do something cool."  He was truly excited about getting full control over the demo model.
  • The result far, far exceeded my expectations, came in quicker than needed, and was a hit at the conference. In fact, the demo model has attended every conference since.
  • A year or two later, we were having a discussion about delegation and team management and I told this story to the other Leads.  "Go do something cool" has become sort of a catch phrase around the office, a code word for getting "management" the hell out of the way and letting people be creative instead of stifling them with unnecessary requirements.

Now, I could continue to type and sell this as some sort of a feel-good fluffy story about delegation and trust, and how Delegation is a good thing.  And I could probably milk that for another 2 or 3 paragraphs and be done.

Instead, I'll just say that "Go do something cool" is about delegation, but it's MORE about trust and ownership of a problem.  When you have a good, seasoned, veteran crew that truly want to do a good job, just define some high level expectations, trust them, and then get the hell out of the way.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

So You Wanna Start a Corp (Part V)


Fast forward a month or three or five.  Let's say that you've founded a corp, had a successful kickoff, and you've got a roster of players off being productive.  Good job, my friend.

Things should be great, right?  Then why aren't they?  Why all the drama?  (Or worse ... lack of any activity at all?)

Quite possibly, it's you.  Here are three things you can keep in mind to help you stay ahead of the drama curve.

NOTE:  Before the jump to the full article, I gotta add a disclaimer.  This post is just friggin' chock full of generalizations and strong opinions on how to be a CEO.  They might not work for you.  They might not work in all situations.  The point here, though, is to make you think - to be cognizant of the role you are signing up for as the CEO, and to maybe not take the mantle of Leadership as lightly as some seem to do.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sniffing Glue

After GenCon last weekend, this week has been a blur of youtube videos, game shops, and art supply stores trying to get the basics assembled to paint my copy of Shadows of Brimstone (SoB).

As I mentioned earlier, I picked up SoB: City of Ancients (one of two core sets) and the expansion, Caverns of Cinder at the 'Con.  I bought them realizing that the minis would require some assembly and possibly painting, but did not expect a) for it to be THIS much work and b) to spend an entire weekend on it. (That's a statement both about my ability to add steps [i.e. more detail] to as well as the amount of work there truly is).

I'll have a more detailed post sometime down the road, but here's a work in process shot of my Spiders.  There are a total of 12 of these little bastards; for a sense of scale, the body is about the size of a smallish green olive.

At the point I write this, everything is now assembled and the first wave of figures are headed towards final shading.

In the mean time, you may see some side bar content coming and going as I sort through some of the Minis/Painting blogs.

Light amateur paint job, before final shading.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Blog Banter #65: Iteration

I saw the Blog Banter recently about Attributes but didn't have time to respond.  But when I'm at the pool burning swim laps, I have a lot of time with my head face down in the water to think.  And one of the thoughts that came through my noggin was half-realized response to the Attributes post.

Attributes and Skills
Does Eve need attributes? It's been discussed a lot recently. Unlike other MMO's your characters attributes don't make a difference in day-to-day gameplay. They simply set how fast you train a skill. Is it time to remove attributes from the game or totally revamp their purpose? Do they add a level of complexity to the game that is not needed? If you really need to use a 3rd party application to get the most from it should it be in the game? Should they be repurposed with each attribute adding a modifier to your ship? Are attributes a relic from the past or are they an important part of Eve - You make your decision and deal with the consequences?

I'm way late to this Blog Banter party, but here goes, in three separate but related thoughts:

I.  I get the logic behind wanting to nuke the Attributes system.  They're not used as intended, and really aren't a meaningful differentiator between your character and mine.  People wave the flag of character customization, but it's not really that either, and kind of never has been.  Past a certain point, what determines if I'm a better pilot is a) my time invested in skillpoints and b) how good I am at the nuances of EVE and whether I can put together a decent fit or not.  Attributes go into the first bucket (a), but given the age of the game and the ability to buy characters on the bazaar the value of the Attribute system is diluted greatly.

I'm still against (in general) ripping them out.  It's a slippery slope.  The learning skills don't add much, nuke them.  Attributes don't matter, so rip them out.  With Attributes gone, the +3/+4 implants are just a tax on clones, so let's just toss those in the bin too.  Wait ... "Everyone" has max gunnery skills, so they don't matter either ... let's crap on those too.   Shield vs. Armor tanks really don't matter, (hitpoints are hitpoints after all...) so let's get rid of Shields entirely and just have Armor and Hull points from now on.

The game would be much simpler, yes?  Then why not do it?

I come from a 5+ year stint of WoW.  To me, Homogenization is a very dirty word.  Blizz spent years making it so the classes were "balanced" and evening the playing field so that new players could enjoy the same endgame that veteran players had access to.  Patch after expansion after patch trashed old systems and replaced with shiny and new that promised to be "better" but really didn't make the game any richer or deeper.

In the end, it was a boring, watered down mess.  Having a few antiquated warts in the combat system is fine. Stop making it "better" and work on new content instead of reinventing the old every patch.

Better is the Enemy of Good Enough.

II.  Originally Attributes mattered because you badly needed skills.  Now everyone has the skills they want and the skill queue is something they load up once a year.  Rather than nuking Attributes, I'd be in favor of making them meaningful again.  I'm sure I'll get shouted down on this, but perhaps it's time to add another layer of skills across the game.

Don't remove content just because people have conquered it. Removing old content nibbles at the soul of the game, bit by bit.  

II.  I worry about the iteration going on.

Here's an analogy:  When you live in an old house, some upkeep is expected.  But if that's all you do, you never get ahead of the curve and won't turn your old house into a charming piece of property.  (Trust me, all I've done this year is cut the damn grass and haven't done ANYTHING to improve the 10 acre spread).

I know there's big things on the horizon, but beating CCP up to iterate on old stuff, banging pots and pans about the "useless" attribute system maybe isn't the best use of their time.

We should be careful what we ask for.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

So You Wanna Start a Corp (Part IV)


1. What Kind of Corp Do You Want to Be?

First, this is usually the wrong frikkin' question.*

Saturday, August 1, 2015


Sixty thousand geeks and nerds descend upon a hapless town in the midwest.  And there was much rejoicing.

Has not been a lot of EVE-ing this weekend as Mrs. Durden and I traveled to GenCon in downtown Indianapolis this weekend.  I'm trying to write this summary post before we dash off to a GenCon dinner-party with college friends that are also in the same zipcode as us.

We attended last year for the first time and quickly marked our calendars for 2015.  Last year we were lured in to see my very favorite author (Jim Butcher) and completely underestimated the size, depth, and scope of the event.

We've been to Blizzcon -- this blew it away in terms of scale and size and ... scale.  The Indy convention center is huge.  Like huge even on Las Vegas casino scales.  GenCon takes up all of it.  Fills it completely, and there is spillover to the surrounding businesses, malls, and bars.

Nerds.... everywhere.  Nerdvana.

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 ...