Vega Conflict – Alien Invasion

No folks, this is not yet another screed about Illegals crossing our southern border, rather a new quasi-faction in the game. They are not a true faction, as you cannot build any alien ships, nor is this expected at the current time.

  • The Aliens first appeared in the “Incursion” event in September 2016. They were a total surprise, and were completely unexpected.
  • Unstable (one-way) wormholes appeared in every sector, and started disgorging alien fleets at regular intervals. These fleets would then head to regular wormholes and disappear.
  • Initially they would aggressively pursue and attack rebel fleets within ten levels of their own.
  • They initially came in Level 50, 55, 60, 65 and 70 variants.
  • After a couple of months, they modified their attack strategy to only pursue fleets in extra-solar space (i.e., they would not attack within solar systems).
  • Soon after that, Level 40 and 45 variants started to appear, and it became possible for two players to engage one alien fleet
  • Only alliance members and players you have designated as “friendly” may assist in engaging an alien fleet.
  • As well as loot or intel, destroying an alien fleet yields “unknown objects”, which remain in the player’s inventory. Nobody knows what they are or what they are for.

Rules of engagement

  • An alien fleet typically consists of three carriers known as hives; usually one heavy and two light.
  • They launch waves of drones at the player fleet. Originally armed with beam weapons, these drones are currently a mixture of beam and explosive weapons.
  • Originally, the three carriers would spawn in different corners of the battlefield. Later variants spawned together, and later still they arrived in a tight formation, which made is difficult to engage them individually.

Battle tactics

  • Initially, Aurora rays did high damage to the aliens, but as they modified their weapons and tactics, explosive weapons, such as Creeper torpedoes with Volatile Fuel, became more effective. Currently the most effective weapon is the Manifold missile.
  • Current combat wisdom is to use a heavy carrier such as Ragnarok, Valkyrie or Valhalla. Freyja works too, but has lower range.
  • The carrier has to be protected. Heavy cruisers work well, but battleships appear to be best. Battleships in line formation protect each other and have the double-broadside ability to engage enemies on both sides simultaneously.
  • When using battleships, they may be arranged in a line in front of the carrier, or the carrier may be in the middle of the line.
  • Keep your ships in tight formation for mutual support; any ship that gets out of formation will be targeted and swiftly killed by the alien drones. “the nail that sticks out gets hammered”.
  • If you group them together they will all move and turn at the same rate.
  • When playing co-up, keep carriers together to double the damage.
  • The initial maneuver should be diagonally off to one side, in order to engage one of the hives while minimizing exposure to the other two.
  • You get the same number of points whether you engage a fleet solo or co-op with another player. However, two fleets deal out more damage than one, and take less damage. So co-op is generally better.
  • Successful co-op engagements yield two “corpses” of resources, each of which may be freed up by one of the players.

This article is an excerpt from my recently-updated Game Guide, over a hundred and sixty pages of hints, tips, tricks and tactics that will help you get to grips with the finer points of the game, all for a paltry $3.99. However, if you use this link, you can get it for $1 off. Make me smile – buy my book!

Brave New World

Or: You can’t keep a good man down

More than two years ago I blogged about one Brendan Eich, the short-lived CEO of Mozilla, who committed the cardinal sin of having a politically incorrect opinion.

Way back in 2008, he made a donation opposing Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment that made same-sex marriage legal in the state of California. Even though the donation was made as a private citizen and even though he never discriminated against gays in any way during his time at Mozilla, his disagreement with the love-and-tolerance mob was such heresy that a witch-hunt was in order and he was figuratively burned at the stake. Following a political firestorm, he stepped down as CEO and resigned from Mozilla, and lived out the remainder of his days in obscurity.

Or so they thought.

What he actually did, as tech entrepreneurs are wont to do, is to start something new. A new initiative. A new vision. A new browser called Brave.

Brave is more than a browser, it is a new way of looking at, experiencing, and financing the web. Instead of the horrendous ad-supported model that we all know and… er… love, it allows users to financially support websites that they frequent, while featuring state-of-the-art ad-blocking.

I’ve been using it for about a month, and while it still has a few rough edges, but it is fast, smooth and stable (hardly surprising, given that Eich invented Javascript), at a time when predecessors like Firefox and Google Chrome are becoming bloated, slow and crash-prone. This blog post was written in Evernote running in a Brave tab.

Most important of all: No gays were persecuted during the making of this browser… though a large number of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

Whiners and Losers

Or: When History repeats itself

Or: One week on…

Well, it’s finally over. Unless you are one of the “By-hook-or-by-crook” protesters who think that Hillary has some kind of divine right to be President. But for the rest of us, including the vast majority of Democrat supporters, Donald-Trump is our president-elect. That got me thinking about who won, and who lost.

Extremists will try to paint Hillary’s defeat as a loss for Women. This is simply not true, except in their minds; a lot of black people think that President Obama let them down. But he never promised black people special treatment, nor should he. The president is *everyone’s* president – or is supposed to be. So women who expected Hillary to “do something for us” are likely to be similarly disillusioned. The same folks who accuse Trump of sexism fail to notice that KellyAnne Conway, was the first female winning campaign manager in history. If that isn’t a victory for women, what is?

The biggest winner – after the unsinkable Mister Trump – has been Scott Adams. I have been reading his predictions for nearly a year, and he has been making them for longer than that:

  • 8/5/2015: “I’m watching the Donald Trump campaign for president with the same amount of amusement as everyone else. The only difference is that I think he has a legitimate shot at becoming president”
  • 8/13/2015: “I’m going to predict he will be our next president. I think he will move to the center on social issues (already happening) and win against Clinton in a tight election.”
  • 8/28/15: Media gives Trump 2% change of winning the nomination “based on historical patterns, solid data, and sound reasoning”. Scott says Trump “would win the general election by a large margin” and gives a 98% chance of winning.
  • 9/12/2015: Scott Adams predicts a Kanye West presidency (you heard it here first).
  • 10/23/15: Scott Adams predicts a Trump landslide and forecasts media embarrassment. “The Huffington Post moved Trump to the entertainment section and sealed their reputation as a useless wart on society… If Trump wins the presidency, every pollster and every pundit (except me) is wrong to the point of irrelevancy.”
  • 11/19/2015: The media says Trump and Carson’s odds < 10%
  • 12/29/2015: “One way is if Clinton’s health or legal issues rise to the point of being disqualifying, and Trump persuades us to think about those things more than we think about anything else. Once you imagine there is one candidate in the race who is eligible and one who might not survive the term, or might be in jail, you start to imagine it as a one-person race. And you will. That’s how you get a landslide.” Spooky

…and those are just the posts from last year.

Another winner is… men. Time after time I have found men reluctant to discuss their political preferences until I boldly speak my mind and say “I’m voting for Trump”. Only then will they speak out, comfortable that no-one will castigate them for having the “wrong” opinion. Gentleman, the coast is clear; you can come out now. If Trump can say it, so can you.

There have been many losers. The sheer amount of raw emotion among Hillary’s mostly-female supporters when it finally dawned on them that she was not going to win was telling. Grief, drama, tears, trauma… and that was just the (few) men in the room; many of the women were having full-on meltdowns, of not outright breakdowns. Do you remember Republican supporters weeping and wailing uncontrollably when they got their hats handed to them in 2008? Me neither. That’s because it never happened.

And it didn’t end there; a week later, there are still demonstrations going on.

The biggest loser has been… the media. They have consistently stumped for Hillary at every opportunity, with the notable exception of Fox news, which has remained studiously neutral – except for Megyn Kelly, who was, I suspect, furious at the Donald for pointing out that she got her job because of her looks. While politically incorrect, this seems reasonable: smart and pretty beats smart alone every time, and as I am fond of saying, “there are no ugly women in TV-land”. One talking head on CNN even admitted their clear bias on national TV.

The elephant in the room is that What is most alarming is that the media is bending over backwards to avoid stating the obvious: “We screwed up. Horribly”. But rather than admitting their clear and obvious bias, they are trying to blame everyone and everything else.

As far as I am concerned, the 2016 election is the coming-of-age and ascendancy of the Internet…

…and the beginning of the end and the proof of the irrelevancy of the Mainstream Media.

To My Progressive Friends

The political shenanigans of the past year have shown us both the dark side of human nature and the dirty side of politics.

I have listened to the name-calling, vituperation and insults, both to my chosen candidate, and to those who chose to follow him. You have called me Deplorable, Racist, Misogynist, Homophobic, Bigoted… and that’s just the epithets hurled at us in public.

I did not respond to those insults. There is no effective way to do that; denial that you are a racist just makes you look more like a racist. Sometimes the best defence is to smile, tip your hat and go on your merry way.

The race is over. And once again, I successfully forecasted the result. To the surprise of everyone who took the polls and the media seriously, your candidate lost. That’s democracy; sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

The real question, and the one that nobody is asking, is “How could the media have gotten this so very wrong?” With all of their resources, polls, think-tanks, and focus groups, they utterly failed to see it coming. Media bias has been obvious and self-evident to me, concentrating on his alleged sexual misconduct while downplaying bribery, corruption, and potentially, treason.

This is Brexit all over again, complete with the howls of anguish from those who found themselves, as a great man once put it, “on the wrong side of history”.

I know just how you feel. Eight years ago, I greeted the election of Barack, Hussain Obama with this message. I did not vote for him. I did not vote at all. I did not share his philosophy. I did not believe in his policies (particularly Obamacare, oh how right I was…). but I was willing to get behind the new president and wish him the best success. Because he was the duly elected president, and I respected the office, even if I did not respect the man.

Now it’s your turn

Why I can’t vote for Hillary

I recently got a well-meaning email from a friend, exhorting me to vote for Hillary in the upcoming election. Sadly, I cannot, in good conscience, oblige him. Why? Let me count the ways:

1: Too many questions

  • Her conduct regarding the Benghazi situation — It appears that she was unable/unwilling or unavailable to authorize reinforcements and as a result, four Americans died. Then she blamed it on a video.
  • The Email scandal: There is nothing wrong with using a separate email address for strictly personal content. However, the fact that she was discussing Government business using her private email is negligent at best. At worst, it is treason.
  • Potential health issues: She has been seen falling over, collapsing and having a seizure in public. She passed out on 9/11, initially claiming that she was “overheated” (it was early in the day, not that hot, and she was the only one in the crowd who passed out). Then she claimed that she had Pneumonia, a claim that, if true, means that she has no respect for the health and well-being of others. The fact that she refuses to give clear answers to questions and refuses to even discuss her health until after the election is alarming
  • Allegations of corruption/Financial irregularities: People donate to the Clinton Foundation, then later get appointed ambassador later in the same day. Coincidence? I choose to believe otherwise.

I do not dispute that one of more of these bones of contention may not be valid, but there are too many of them to ignore.

2: Abysmal track record

For someone who has walked the corridors of power for 26 years (First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State), she has a poor record for original thought or real change. But if you vote for her, everything will be just fine. Right…

3: Nothing New

I’ve said before that Elections are not won, they are lost. Gore lost in 2000 (yes, he lost, get over it) because of Bill Clinton. Kerry Lost in 2004 because people who knew him doubted his fitness to command. McCain lost in 2008 because he couldn’t prove that he wasn’t George W. Bush. Romney lost in 2012 because he wasn’t offering anything new. Ironically, Barack Obama offered “Hope and Change” and… well… he disappointed us. The only question in my mind is whether Hillary’s presidency will be Bill Clinton’s Third Term or Barack Obama’s.

4: Too much media bias

The media’s pro-Hillary stance is obvious and palpable. In their minds, She can do no wrong, and her opponent can do nothing right. The mass media are even refusing to ask the hard questions about her health. This is hardly surprising, as the oligarchs who own the media are the same ones who have bought and paid for all of the candidates on both sides of the aisle… with one notable exception.
There is also evidence that Twitter and Google are censoring Dissenting voices, but only those on the right. Perhaps the most obvious example of this is Milo Yiannopolous, about whom I have already posted. A more recent example is the sad case of David Seaman, a liberal journalist, who was fired from and erased from the Huffington Post for daring to ask questions about Hillary’s health. This is the very definition of the “Useful Idiot” described by Stalin. The trouble with Useful Idiots is that once they realize that they become disillusioned and realize that they have been duped, they become your most dangerous enemies.

My previous former life

eap_foto-bae

My first job out of college was working for a UK-based Defence Contractor, where I was involved in a very small way in the development of Avionics for the Experimental Aircraft Programme (EAP), a technology demonstrator for the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Here is a video of the beautiful beast in flightHere is a more detailed description of the plane and its systems. Here is a rather nice write-up on the plane. Here is another.

“We worked all hours, we could be in until midnight and then back in at 6.30am, it was hard work but it was satisfying. You knew you were at the start of something really special, what we created was the forefather of the next generation of flight

Boldly going… nowhere

Star Trek: Beyond Review

I am an old-time star Trek fan. My childhood was filled with re-runs of the original series (Kirk, Spock, Bones and the ever-expendableEnsign Ricky Redshirt), and I grew up “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. So I decided to pay out good money to see “Star Trek Beyond” (shouldn’t there be a semi-colon in there somewhere?) in the theater.

Beyond Star Trek

I can’t say that I was that impressed. Star Trek was all about the future of humanity. About Optimism. About where we are headed. And if this is where we are headed, then the future looks disappointing indeed. The Star Trek universe used to be filled with adventurers, and explorers, and feats of derring-do. Aside from the few “hero” characters in the movie, most of the crew and almost all civilians have become hedonistic sheep, wandering about, having a good time, and doing the 24th-century equivalent of staring at their iPhones every thirty seconds. It is no surprise that the Bridge of the Enterprise looks a lot like an Apple store.

Having said all that, this is a great action movie, and a fun enough romp for grown-ups. But it is not really a Star Trek movie: there are more fistfights than starship battles, and the philosophical moments resemble an infomercial for a “let’s-all-be-friends” brand of pacifistic globalism. The stunts are “oh-come-on” unrealistic, and the characters are “oh-come-on” invincible. And Dr McCoy still has a potty mouth. Physician, heal thyself.

Perhaps the most poignant moment for me was right at the end. This movie was dedicated to Leonard Nimoy – the original Spock – who passed away earlier this year, and “For Anton“, which I later found out was Anton Yelchin, the actor who played Ensign Pavel “Wictor-Wictor” Chekhov, who died in an accident shortly after the movie was completed. Chekhov, the word is given. Warp Speed.

The Final Final Frontier

The Star Trek reboot has been a jolly enough jape, but at fifty years of age, it is time to put the franchise out to pasture. I don’t think that I will be seeing another Star Trek movie, and I will be avoiding Paramount in future. Not only because this movie fails to live up to the true spirit of Star Trek, but because the Executives at Paramount have gone back on the creator’s word. Gene Roddenberry used to say that “Star Trek belongs to the fans“; he welcomed Fan fiction. But Paramount recently issued a directive that said, among other things, that Fan films should not be more than fifteen minutes in length, and cannot include any known Star Trek actors), and their suing of the creators of the fan film “Star Trek: Axanar” has left a bad taste in my mouth.

And for that reason, if nothing else, I regret seeing “Star Trek Beyond”

 

 

 

Vega Conflict: Finding the Pattern

For the past week or so I have been farming the new Level-60 Iron Star Deserter Supply Run fleets. They come in 5 flavors that yield boxes for Iron Star ships: Hunters (Python Cutter), Raiders (Heretic Cruiser), Battalion (Vigilante Battleship), Artillery (Machete Destroyer) and Scouts (Hurricane Frigate).

Although the fleets are technically different, they are actually precisely the same, consisting of four Python Cutters, Two Vigilante Battleships, Two Machete Destroyers and one Freyja Carrier. Various strategies exist to crush these fleets, and I have my own; you are welcome to peek into my battles and see how I do it. I can usually farm an entire hour-long supply run usually without losing a ship (the Cutters are the only real challenge, the rest is easy to kite), followed by a 1-6 hour repair cycle.

Any road up, the subject of this post is neither the makeup of the enemy fleet nor the strategy required to defeat it; my purpose here is to examine the “prizes” contained in the boxes.

Screenshot_2016-08-25-19-08-37Each box contains:

  1. Either a Tier-5 core, a Tier-4 core (I wish Kixeye wouldn’t give out sub-standard cores!) or a pattern (Mk II, III, IV or V)
  2. Ship Parts
  3. Iron Star Armaments

To mark up a single Hurricane Frigate to Mk V, you need:

  • 2048-2560+3200+4000=6688 Iron Star Armaments
  • 10+30+90+270=400 Hurricane Frigate Parts
  • 5+5+5+5=20 Tier-5 Frigate Cores
  • One each of Mk II, Mk III, Mk IV and Mk V Patterns

So, how much farming would that entail?

As an experiment, I collected a whole lot of Hurricane Boxes. When I opened them, I got the following results:

Screenshot_2016-08-25-19-09-08Screenshot_2016-08-26-04-10-12Screenshot_2016-08-26-22-07-48

This means that after after opening a total of 49 Hurricane boxes, I got:

  • Countless Iron Star Armaments (once so hard to find, now as common as muck)
  • 150+42+102=294 Hurricane Frigate Parts
  • 10+1=11 Tier-5 Frigate Cores
  • 13+4+12=29 Tier-4 Frigate Cores
  • 8 Mk II Hurricane Patterns
  • 1 Mk III Hurricane Patterns
  • NO Mk IV Hurricane Patterns
  • NO Mk V Hurricane Patterns

What does this tell us?

  • Tier-4 Cores (useless) outnumber Tier-5 (the ones you really want) by about six-to-one
  • Only one in four drops contain a Pattern.
  • Most of those patterns are Mk II.
  • You will have to farm fifty fleets to get one ship to Mk III
  • Mk IV and V? Forget it.
  • It is almost like Kixeye wants us to spend coins to get the pattern boxes ($4 per ship to get all four patterns)

Dear Kixeye, stop giving with one hand and taking with the other. Stop giving out sub-standard cores and stop playing silly buggers with the higher level patterns!

I’m Sick of Being Right

Some weeks ago, I posted on why the SSA’s multi-factor Authentication scheme was a bad idea.

This morning I got another message from them:

SSA SOL2TL;DR:

  1. It is no longer mandatory, but it is recommended.
  2. We are working on alternatives.

I’m glad that they see things my way, but I am a little disappointed that an organization this big can make such a huge blunder.

Hobson’s Choice

An oldie but a goodie: I no longer have the phone but I found this screenshot:

Screenshot_2014-01-07-07-39-47

So where’s the “Cancel” Button?