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Droning on again! December 26, 2015

Posted by wastedspacer in Everything Else, Global Industry, New Rules and Compliance, Political Issues, Rants, Technologies, The Fun Stuff.
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I guess I could be classed as a drone early adopter of sorts with a trusty 4 year old Parrot AR Drone. I am somewhat dismayed that the FAA demands I now need to register it! It doesn’t weigh very much, nor fly very high nor even get out much but it does exceed the paltry 250 gram weight.
Being a responsible and law-abiding adult I decided I had better respond to the FAA drone-user nagging by visiting the FAA drone registration site and send them my $5 :
So what’s the big deal?    You first have to set up an ID which should be simple but of course there are unnaturally complex password requirements. You are informed that you cannot proceed with drone registration until your identity has been verified by a web link that has just been sent to you by email. Of course hour after hour go by with no incoming email from the system. You cannot log on again as your verification remains in a pending state, I send a help request to the supplied usahelp@faa.gov contact. Many more hours pass with no response or verification email!
Eventually (later the next day) I see the FAA mail has finally arrived. I click on the supplied link and I get a 404 “not found” error! I try again an hour later with the same result, I send another Email to usahelp but once again receive no response. Many hours later the site finally appears operational and I can register my drone. I was hoping to pay via something other than a credit card (Amazon, Paypal, BitCoin etc). Certainly of concern would be the need for trusting a historically porous government entity such as the FAA with my credit card information!! But given no alternative, I am forced to supply my credit card details (perhaps I should place a bet on how long before the FAA manages to leak their customer details?)!

DroneLALAFinally I receive a printable certificate to stick on my box and I can write my FAA registration on my Parrot drone! In fact if I buy another drone perhaps I don’t need to register that, simply use the same registration number hmmm? Well the chances of me flying more than one drone at a time is unlikely to say the least.

But why do I need to register this at all? Just how dangerous is my drone – or is it more about who is actually using the drone, the where and how?  Or is it just another media fueled paranoia piece of legislation latched onto by a government department keen to elevate its own sense of importance by adding yet more “care-bear” bureaucracy that comes with a whole department of taxpayer supported employees?

If we are registering drones why don’t we register big kites? I see 7-10 ft wide kites being sold that come with 1000 to 3000 or more feet of line! They seem to be potentially more dangerous and can also be fitted with cameras. We don’t even register guns for heaven’s sake and don’t get me started on the dangers there.
On the positive side, it is only costing $5 for every 3 years and the $5 is being rebated (though I will believe it when I see the rebate appear in my statement).  I do get a “Certificate” which makes my little drone seem just that bit more “official” than it did.
On the concern side, yet another massive, notoriously porous, allegedly incompetent and insecure government department is being needlessly inflated. The FAA itself has become a juicier target with the millions of new drone-owner identities and credit card details for harvesting and exploitation by nefarious individuals 
Sorry for droning on!!!

Parents and online game Intervention January 7, 2013

Posted by wastedspacer in Games I'm Playing, The Fun Stuff.
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The perceived addictive potential for online games has prompted at least one parent to take extreme steps in an attempt to deter their son from playing excessively. Given their son is unemployed I wonder if a move to destroy enjoyment of  the one remaining “occupation” is the right approach? One can only assume that the father is otherwise supporting the son so I can certainly understand the parent’s distress. Maybe rather than hiring in-game assassin’s there’s a opportunity for online counselors who can use some local interaction to get overly afflicted players to exit the game and back to reality? I suspect that would depend on whether the online game supports sophisticated peer discussion. Other tools such as total playing time monitors and ergonomic monitoring utilities may be of use but it all boils down to the player themselves desiring a change away from excessive time in game.

Sans-Helmet? The healthier bicycle option! November 9, 2012

Posted by wastedspacer in Everything Else, Global Industry, The Fun Stuff.
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Look ma -no helmets!

I’m certainly an advocate for bicycle safety and I almost never ride without a helmet but I can see how tourists and business travelers who might consider renting one simply don’t want to pack a bulky “skid lid”.

Here’s an interesting article in the NY Times claiming significant overall public health advantages associated with public bicycle schemes supporting “helmetlessness“!


There are a number of public bike schemes (Australia, New Zealand, Mexico) that have had notably poor bike-rental ridership or even completely failed mostly due to each country’s bicycle helmet mandates. This trend is however seeing some reversals such as where Mexico City repealed it’s helmet law following sizable public opposition.


If you are in London and it’s not raining, try the “Boris Bikes” they cost two pounds a day or 10 pounds a week.

…. next time I get to Paris – will be sure to give Vélib’ a go it’s quite a bit cheaper – 7 days of occasional bike use for 8 Euros 🙂


Ground Control to Major Tom – Eve Capsules January 29, 2010

Posted by wastedspacer in Games I'm Playing, The Fun Stuff.
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If you want to move ships around in Eve and a shuttle won’t fit in the hold – try flying naked!

A fundamental element of Eve is that the players are referred to as “Capsuleers”. That means while operating a ship your player is not in a seat but instead in a capsule…. so when your ship gets blown up you fly and warp around in a little peapod thing called a capsule. You can also right click on your ship in the hangar and select “leave ship” your capsule will then pop up as the active ship and you can undock, fly to another station, dock up and make another ship docked there active then fly it away.

The only danger is from another player who could theoretically kill (aka pod) you possibly by even unintended proximity collateral damage. In higher security space, this is very unusual however some suicide pirates have been known to use area effect smartbombs at stargates against large targets such as the recent “Hulkageddon” competitions (they will pretty quickly get themselves killed by Concord and gate guns but their objective was achieved).

I believe the rapidity of response is based on the level above 0.5 security.

If you are in a ship or shuttle, a smartbomb blast could possibly destroy the ship but not the capsule, if you are only in a capsule then it is possible could get killed then your clone gets activated.

You can also choose to eject your capsule from the ship and use it to “board” an unoccupied ship in space. I have discovered an unoccupied ship once or twice and helped myself to it 🙂

Happy capsuleering!

More Eve Mining Musings October 15, 2009

Posted by wastedspacer in Games I'm Playing, The Fun Stuff.

It seemed that Mining in Eve was a good (though somewhat boring) way to accumulate Eve ISK. On the plus side, I have found that I can read or even play a completely different game while my miner grinds at asteroids 🙂

Had I read the miners guide first (see below) – I might have taken a slightly different tack but this doesn’t seem to be too far off track:

I developed Mining V, Astrogeology 3 and Mining Barge 2 then trained specifically for all low-end ore specialties to 2 or 3 on my mining character. I bought a level one Mining Barge (Procurer) and unfortunately a rather excessive 10 year supply of Veldspar with a sprinkling of other ore-type mining crystals. I mined the high-sec belts using my alternate account’s Industrial Badger as ferry and crystal-store with the Procurer’s lone combat drone for defense.

After a few hours of mining I totaled up the haul and was rather disappointed to notice I had only gathered about the same as I had using 3 tech-1 mining lasers on the Osprey (which had 4 combat drones allowing me to mine in lower less-populated high-sec belts). I repeated the study with actual measurements and found this to indeed be the case *sigh*.

With careful power/cpu management I was able to fit 3 Tech-II mining lasers and found I could easily out-mine my procurer and was not limited to the mining crystals I had brought along!

So you don’t make the same mining mis-steps that I did – check out the miners guide.

Eve on the Road September 23, 2009

Posted by wastedspacer in Everything Else, Games I'm Playing, The Fun Stuff.
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Long time no post… and this one is a meager lame excuse for one just before I head off for some sleep…. thought I might add just a few thoughts on Eve on a hotel link…. just about playable, but don’t think of PvP with a Ventrillo server – sums it up !

I’m on a rare business trip from San Francisco to Houston – due to economic pressure, almost all employees have been grounded for the forseeable future! I took a lowly laptop with me to play Eve though the Marriott hotel iBahn seems to like to toss me offline every now n then 😦

Eve + Hotel + iBahn = Aaaaaargh

The performance is passable for simple missions, mining and the inevitable skill planning and inventory management. I would certainly avoid low-sec or combat-heavy missions on this particular Residence Inn network connection though 😦

Eve – Learning about Learning! August 11, 2009

Posted by wastedspacer in Games I'm Playing.
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Its only been nearly 2 months of playing Eve and I think I’ve finally figured out enough to drive the skill-tree a little better! After I rolled a new character on my #2 account, the effective skill-training ball finally dropped. I discovered plugging in cybernetics on the tutorials but I REALLY needed to learn how to learn and consequently the elements of learning so that would push all of my attributes. With improved attributes, the overall skill training times for every discipine drop significantly.

As with most things, the old adage of “you are never to old to learn” fits nicely here. I had level 2 “targeting” in the training queue which I noticed used intelligence and memory so with the requisite learning skills that add points in those areas I was able to slot in two skill areas that reduced the “targeting” skill learning time by 10%. So had I front-end loaded the learning skills, I wonder how much accelerated learning I could have achieved? Ah well all the following skills changes seem much closer than they did a few days ago 🙂

Smarter Pew Pewing (Eve 101) August 6, 2009

Posted by wastedspacer in Games I'm Playing, The Fun Stuff.
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Eve 101 – 3 hours of realizing what looked like the top of the ladder was actually the underside of the first rung!

At about the 6 week stage I was under the assumption that I finally had a clue about Eve. I was feeling pretty good that I had some cool frigates and destroyers bristling with weapons. I finally scored enough ISK to get a more combat worthy Cruiser than my lowly Osprey, one with lots of weapon slots, medium weapons, boatloads of ammo with change left over to buy a couple more should I somehow bend it 🙂 I was mixing it up with the trainer missions with no problem and decided to try some of the standard level 1 missions – those seemed unusually hard not to mention wasting a lot of ammo so I went in search of enlightenment …

….no problem? … how wrong could I be 😦 I received a kind offer from SeCahn of the Chaotic Collective corportation to undertake what he dubbed Eve 101 and suddenly (well more like 3 hours later) the root to many of my problems became a little less obscured.

First thing to realize, Eve is a REALLY DEEP game technically, all those stats, readouts, values really do make a big difference to hitting your selected targets. Optimal ship/weapon/equipment loadouts are critical to successful completion of not only standard missions but to survival in more hostile PvP space.

The first part of Eve 101 involved careful scrutinizing of the little blue “info” tags. Lots of digging around to find all the critical detail on ships, weapons and equipment. I thought my Minmitar Stabber cruiser looked really cool (a bit like a flying Eiffel tower) I had been pretty lucky with the “rats” (Asteroid Belt Pirates) and trainer missions. Alas, SeCahn’s critical eye identified some serious mismatching with my weapons and shields based on the cruiser selection. The first concern was that none of the weapons I had equippped derived any benefit feom the ship design! Secondly, I had “double-shielded” which logically made sense since I would have thought that twice the shields would be twice as effective? Alas no, minor (but potentially deadly) details such as power grid overuse would likely plague me in extended firefights 😦

I thought I had figured out guns – fly to optimal range, orbit at that distance and blast away. Good theory, and works fine for a single stationary target, unfortunatly, only bases and gun emplacements ever stood still long enough to enjoy that kind of activity!

So shooting guns at enemies is yet another very difficult activity to get good at in Eve. It all started getting both disturbing and compelling at the same time to the point where I think I had the spark of a clue! Start looking at stats like radials per second, match them up with the tracking rate of your guns and see if it’s even worth pulling the trigger and wasting the ammo. Unlike the obvious bigger guns = better results in just about every other game, Eve doesn’t work like that at all! An analogy here might help, imagine you are trying to shoot a rat (a real one not an Eve one) – a BB gun would be perfect for the job…. but would a 155mm Howitzer or a cruise missile? … by the time you wheeled one of those into place and lined it up, the rat would be miles away!

Then I was supplied with more equations and I now realized how completely out of my depth I had been, however, it has opened my eyes on to some tricks which paid off in spades during an Agent mission last night.

The 4-part series labeled itself as “Marketing” which involved a couple of minor fetch and carry missions but the 3rd mission involved engaging a small navy besieging a gate and space station!!! The first encounter, I was able to pop one of the 20 enemy ships before having to warp out for repairs. On returning to the battle-zone, I noticed the enemy force was a mix of some missile carrying Inquisitors and the vast majority were laser equipped Executioners. Since my ship was mostly long-range railguns and missiles the only immediate threat were the Inquisitors. After one ore two returns for repairs the Inquisitors were all dealt with leaving a lot of Executioners that could be picked off with Railguns at 20-30K range well before they got within the 6-7K max range of their beams since they were unable to close quickly at all!

So now I find myself delving into loadouts, ship stats, power/cpu capability in a continual effort to wring the best performance, defensive strategy and ammo use from my ship…

I can see why many folk don’t get too far into Eve, there’s definately a minor geekiness gene required to really make it fun … so I’m just hoping my geekiness is up to the task .. but so far …what a great game!

Eve – noob + 1 month or so July 22, 2009

Posted by wastedspacer in Games I'm Playing.
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A little over a month after starting Eve, I have built 3 characters from different races Amarr, Caldari and Minmitar. My Amarr character could loosely be described as my primary and has amassed a miniscule in-game “fortune” of a little over 10 million ISK. The other two characters have about 2-3 million ISK each. Much of the income was by way of the 3 starter agent mission arcs. These focus on combat, trading and mining/industry, they have also supplied me with a number of ships and so far, I have managed to not get any of them shot out from under me. I found that I could repeat the same mission arcs by traveling to other race starter systems and obtain more ships and ISK! Despite a number of hails and requests from folks camped at the gates or stations, I have yet to join a player corporation. I have joined fleets or sat in on some chat-channels with potential corp-mates and in all but one I was very impressed with, it was apparent that there were some maturity issues, communication challenges or possibly major time-zone differences.

I have not ventured into what is commonly termed “low sec” (less than 0.5 security state) or null sec (0.0) figuring I would leave that until I have been accepted into a corporation where I can rely on some support.

I have only been attacked once when mining with my Caldari character in Gallente space. An Orange (slightly criminal) tagged Gallente ship decided to shoot at my Caldari Bantam frigate which like the Pythonesque “brave” Sir Robin ran away 🙂 I have avoided accidentally shooting other folks wrecks or falling for the “Jetcan” (jettisoned cargo container) “theft” trap where plucking the contents will instantly cause you to be flagged as a criminal and enemy to the corp who set the trap. There’s usually a nefarious type lurking nearby who will jump on the unsuspecting noob! I’ve certainly witnessed the effect of such skulduggery with the noob wrecks and pods suddenly appearing by the gates and stations!

Mining – best described by the phrase from one of the No Prisoners No Mercy podcasts: “In space nobody can hear you yawn”. Pretty much sums the high-sec version of mining up. Pirates do spawn though usually easily handled or avoided even by lowly mining frigates. Some of the big ore harvesters have such thick hulls and shields that I see swarms of pirates buzzing around not doing any damage. I’ve actually found that swatting pirates off the backs of ore harvesters, getting the bounties and salvaging the wrecks produces much more ISK than grinding rocks! The one redeeming element of mining is that so long as you have something with a huge storage hold, you can do other things like read a book, watch TV, take a power nap just keeping an ear out for the pew pew of a pirate atttack or the silence of an exhausted asteroid.

Low-sec space mining (I’m told) is an altogether different experience with more capable pirates (NPC and Human) gunning for you so you’d better have an armed escort or overwatch crew and a twitchy finger on the warp button! Maybe another week and I’ll be ready to try more exciting mining locations!

Buying skill-books is another interesting (and often very expensive) challenge once you get beyond the basics though it pays to check what skill books are going to be provided as later mission bonuses – I ended up paying a fair amount of ISK for skill-books that I was later just given as a reward. Luckily, there is sometimes a market for even the mission reward skill-books!

Enough for now – so far my little armada of ships include an Osprey Cruiser, Cormorant and Catalyst Destroyers and about a dozen frigates. I have also amassed a mountain of minerals, some blueprints, spare skill-books plus numerous guns, missile launchers, mining gear, shields, cargo hold extenders, ECM and a plethora of other ship add-ons. Hmmm – inventory management sure is another unexpected challenge in Eve – time to declutter 🙂

“Re-Noobin” in Eve – Tip #1 June 24, 2009

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So far its been a blast back at being a “nub” or “noob” 🙂

First tips that worked for me:

Before going out and buying the Eve retail box …. use a spare EMail account to request and play the 14 day trial. Create characters with forgettable names and try out all the races, missions and seek out the riskier places since you will invariably make all the common noob mistakes but have a very laissez-faire time of it all. Assuming you are still engaged in the game, on day 13 buy the retail box and create your actual account and characters you intend to keep for the long haul.

This method works particularly well if you have two PCs, load the EVE client on both, get some characters in the same station and shovel all the gear and resources from the throwaway account. Bear in mind you can’t move ISK (Eve’s in-game currency) but you can move consumables so you essentially end up buying big piles of stuff on the throwaway account (i.e. ammo, ships and equipment) to trade with your permanent characters (a sort of Eve self laundering).

This gives your “real” characters a good leg up and will let you hold off plunging in to join the first jump-gate recruiting corporation that tempts you with gear since you’ll have a stockpile of your own.

With initial character creation, race is a fairly minor choice other than getting the “look” you might want your Eve persona to have there are some differences in the ship types but given Eve’s skill path system it seems that you can always train any race to fly any other race’s ships that might take your fancy 🙂

Starting attributes can make a difference – it seems the least useful for the average player is charisma. The recommended treatment is to “remap” 2 of the attribute points from charisma into attributes that will assist your starting skills, intelligence, perception etc.