A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Working in a Coal Mine, Part II: Advanced Mining Tips

By now, if you’re like me, you’ve been mining for a few months and have probably acquired your first Exhumer class ship, and are already enjoying the benefits that it can provide. I’m going to share a few useful tidbits of information that I’ve learned either through advice or experience, hopefully you’ll find some of them useful.

If you’ve not already read my earlier article “Working in a Coal Mine: Some Helpful Mining Tips“, go ahead and give that a quick read, then come back to this article. That first article lays out some basic suggestions for a successful mining career, and this article builds upon that.

And here we go…

  1. Did you get an Exhumer yet? If you didn’t get an Exhumer by now, do so as soon as possible. The difference in time savings and mining yield rate between an Exhumer class ship and an ORE class ship like a Retriever is significant, and absolutely worth all the effort it’ll take to get one. If you’re in a corporation, see if others can help you get together what you’ll need to make this happen. Beg, borrow, steal – whatever it takes – just get in one of these things. You’ll find you can accomplish far more in less time than before, which will free up more time to either mine more, go missioning, or whatever it is you’d like to do with the extra free time.Be advised that the Exhumer skill alone is typically priced at 24M ISK on the open market, so be mentally and fiscally prepared for that investment – but trust me, you’ll make it all back with dividends fairly quickly.
  2. Maximize Your Mining Capabilities. This is done two ways; first, by improving your mining skills, and second by putting the best possible equipment on your ship. Don’t sweat the costs for the hardware and skills to make all of this happen, it will be completely worth it!
    • Skills: Definitely maximize your Mining skill as soon as possible, as this will help increase your ore yield. A couple percent per skill level may not seem like much, but over the long term that can easily equate to millions of units of additional ore in the same amount of time as before.
    • Equipment: Besides getting an Exhumer, upgrade your strip miners to the Tech 2 versions, and be sure to get the right crystals for the ore you plan to go after. You’ll need to acquire the appropriate skills for these new toys, but it’s going to take you to a whole new level of yield.
  3. Multi-player mining operations. In short, when you go mining, try to bring friends. This is especially true in losec or 0.0 space for purposes of protection, but it’s just as true in hisec systems. Find someone you know and trust (i.e., corp mates) who is willing to join you in a mining op, coordinate the time and location with them, and sort out who will perform what role. Who will mine? Who will haul? How will you divvy up the yield when the op is over? Once you get these basics out of the way, your op should settle into a groove, and most of your time will be spent chatting away while the ore piles up.I don’t get into large scale mining operation management in the article, since I’ve yet coordinated such an op, but perhaps in time as I gain experience doing that I’ll write up another article intended for aspiring mining directors.
  4. Fleet up. The very first thing you should do is create a fleet for any op involving two or more ships. This is practical for purposes of communication, location and security. Don’t chat about your op in local or an unsecure channel, and use the fleet window to warp to other players in your fleet. If you have a large fleet, make sure the pecking-order and roles are all clear, and make sure everybody is on the same page about how the op is going to work. Generally the op organizer should be calling all the shots.
  5. Haulers are your friends. Yes, industrials and haulers are boring, but when it comes to a mining op, these are your best friends. The only better friend on a mining op is the guy that’s performing High Guard duty for you while you’re mining away in losec or 0.0. Be sure you and your hauler have tight communications, and everything should go smoothly.The size ships you use for hauling will have a big influence the overall flow of your mining op. Obviously the bigger the hauler, the better off you all are and the smoother things will go. You want a hauler to either be big enough – or capable of making enough runs to dump ore off at a local station – to ensure that your mining ships’ cargo holds don’t fill up. Because once a miner’s holds fill up and the strip miners have no place to dump the ore, things will begin to grind to a halt, and that’s not good for anybody. Active strip miners means profits are being made; idle strip miners are wasting everybody’s time.

    Depending upon the number and classes of mining ships used, you may be able to get away with a single industrial making a lot of runs, or you may need something bigger like an Orca to keep up with high yield ops. A single Exhumer can easily be serviced by a single industrial, like a Minmatar Hoarder or Mammoth, for example. Depending on the volume of the ore, it typically has to make an offloading run to a local station every 1.5 to 3 strip miner cycles. If you have a large mining fleet, you’ll want an Orca to tag along, as they provide extremely large cargo capacity and will reduce the number of offloading runs.

  6. Hauler equipment. Great, you’ve got a hauler. Now what should they bring to the op?
    • Storage! Storage! Storage! Haulers really don’t need much in the way of equipment beyond lots and lots of storage. The more cargo space you can get in your hauler, the fewer runs it will need to make. I highly recommend that whatever class hauler you use, get Expanded Cargohold II units in all of your low slots, and max out all your rig slots with Cargohold Optimization units (T2 being the preferred version as they provide more space). Combine those two and you can dramatically increase the amount of ore to haul.
    • Offensive and defensive capabilities. If you’re in hisec space, you really don’t need to worry about this. It’s assumed that the mining ships will all have actively deployed drones that should handle most rats that pop up in the belts, so just keep your haulers within close range of the bulk of the mining ships and you should be fine. For peace of mind you can equip a shield repairer, which can often give you enough protection to wait for help or get into position to warp off to safety.
    • Speed. Haulers are clumsy, slow and handle like beached whales, so there’s not a whole lot you can do to make them dramatically faster. So while haulers are advised to warp directly to a miner in the same fleet when returning from an offloading run to a station, you never know when you’ll need to thrust around within a belt. This is most likely to happen when you’re mining out a quiet belt and the miner needs to reposition near new asteroids. For this reason, go ahead and mount an afterburner or other device that will give you a little boost. Nobody likes waiting longer than they have to, and odds are you won’t be using those mid-level slots for anything else anyway.
    • Mount a salvager and/or tractor beam. Miners with drones leave behind a trail of rats wherever they go, and more often than not they don’t bother salvaging them or taking the loot. If you’re in a fleet op, haulers can take advantage of this by taking along a tractor beam and a salvager. Have your miners hold off engaging rats until they’re within 20km (the range of most small tractor beams), and when the battle is done, haulers can target the wreck, tractor them in, and salvage them at less than 5km. I suggest pulling them to closer than 2.5km before starting a salvage op, as that will let you also grab the loot from the remaining container after the salvager has done its dirty work.
    • Don’t underestimate the amount of money you can make off of even the most non-threatening rats. Tritanium bars can easily yield you 150,000 ISK or more on the open market, and as a hauler, you’ve really got nothing else to do but sit, wait and chat, so this can occasionally help break up the monotony of waiting.
    • If your hauler has a single high-slot available, as is the case with the Minmatar Hoarder class industrial, and your are servicing multiple mining ships and using jetcans to transfer ores from the miners, take a tractor beam instead of a salvager. This will let you service multiple miners within a 20km radius of the hauler without needing to thrust around between them. Take care, however, that this technique will make you more exposed to can flippers who intercept cans being tractored between ships.
  7. The One-Man Tag-Team Mining Technique (or, The One-Woman Tag-Team Mining Technique). This technique requires that you have two accounts on EVE, not just two characters on a single account. In this approach, you’ll use one character as a miner and the other as a hauler. Provided you have sufficient hardware to have two different accounts logged in simultaneously (you can run multiple instances on a single PC if your hardware can handle it), skill up and equip the mining character on one account, and skill up and equip a hauling character on the other account. Here’s how it works.
    • Log them both in simultaneously then fleet them together.
    • Have your miner go out first, locate an ideal mining spot, deploy the drones and fire up the strip miners.
    • Then switch to your hauler and have them warp directly to your miner’s location, and thrust to within 1,500m.
    • As the miner fills up, jetcan the ore.
    • Switch to your hauler, have the hauler grab the jetcan contents (see my notes about jetcan flippers below).
    • When the hauler fills up simply warp back to a local station to offload, then warp back to the miner, and reposition again with 1,500m of the miner.
    • Switch back to the miner, and repeat this process until your miner is ready to move to a new location.In general, never leave an undefended hauler sitting around in a belt or other location while your miner is looking for a spot, even in highsec. Leave them in a station until you’re ready to mine, and then warp directly to the miner. Haulers typically can’t take a pounding for very long, and the last thing you want to do is lose a ship to rats because you were distracted relocating your miner in another belt.
  8. Minimizing Your Losses to Jetcan Flippers. Everybody has had some prick swing by and steal the contents of their jetcan. If you’ve not had it happen to you yet, you will, just give it time. One notorious trick some flippers use when they see a miner and hauler using the jetcan technique is to ram the hauler at high speed so it’s bumped out of the 2,500m range of the jetcan, then they quickly grab the can’s contents and run away. And odds are that whoever is doing this will outgun you both handily and there won’t be much you can do about it, even if they’re a measly frigate (unless you have High Guard protection, that is, in which case your guard should hunt the dog down and pod them). Miners and haulers are slow, typically effetely armed, and realistically they’re both probably away from their keyboards or not paying attention most of the time. So for can flippers, your op is essentially a flying billboard that proclaims, “Come steal my stuff!”Yes, it’s easy enough to mine back the ore that a can flipper can take. But why spend the extra time if you don’t need to? There is a way you can still effectively use jetcans and minimize your losses to can flippers without disrupting your mining workflow and production. I call it my “one unit jetcan trick”, and it assumes that both your miner and hauler are both within 2,500m of a shared jetcan (used to transfer ore between the two).

    So without further ado, I present my “One Unit Jetcan Trick”:

    • When the miner is first ready to jettison a can filled with ore for the hauler, the miner should take a single unit of the least valuable ore being mined and separate that out from the rest of the ore he’s going to put in the jetcan. For example, if you’ve got 30,000 units of Concentrated Veldspar to transfer, split the stack so you have one stack of one unit of ore, and a second stack with 29,999 units of ore.The miner should notify the hauler in fleet (or audio) chat that a jetcan launch is imminent. A simple “jetcan” call should suffice. This will help the hauler know to move fast as soon as they see the jetcan appear. (If you see somebody you suspect of being a can flipper, and if they’re in close proximity to your can, just hold off on putting ore in it until they go away.)
    • The miner then will select both stacks, then jettison them both as a single jetcan. This jetcan will continue to exist for up to two hours, or until all contents are removed. The objective here is to always leave the single unit stack in the jetcan and not remove it.
    • The hauler needs to immediately open the jetcan and transfer the stack of 29,999 units of ore into the hauler’s cargo hold. Leave the single unit stack in the jetcan so the can does not disappear.
    • Repeat as needed, but continue using the same single jetcan until you need to move elsewhere. When you do move, grab the single unit stack and the jetcan will disappear. No need to give can flippers a reason to poke around your cans.

    Why bother with this? Well, let me tell ya’…

    • It alleviates the need for the miner to work around the jetcan timer, which allows jettisoning cargo to once every several minutes. Why jettison can after can when you can do it once and make your life simpler? Remember, every time a new jetcan is jettisoned, that means the hauler will have to open it up as well… what’d be the point of that when both players can open the can just once?
    • This will leave the jetcan intact for subsequent transfers by quick drag and drop operations to and from the jetcan by both the hauler and miner, leaving a very tiny window for a can flipper to grab the contents while the ore is still in there.
    • It’ll piss off any can flippers that think they’re going to get a big score, and leave you with a smile on their face when they’ve flipped it and consequently opened themselves up to aggro for just one unit of a nearly worthless ore. This can be particularly amusing if you’ve got a friendly warp disruptor equipped gunship within striking distance.

    For the record, I’ve not read or heard of anyone using the above technique before. This is not to say nobody has ever done it. I’m assuming that somebody, somewhere in the EVE universe in the last few years has used this technique before, but it was new to me, so I’m presenting it as such. If you’ve used this before, all hail you for being completely brilliant! 😉

  9. Melting your ore. When all is said and done, you’ll probably want to melt your ore to help you advance your Machiavellian objectives. Be sure that you are able to process any ores so that you lose nothing in the process. If you don’t have the suitable skills or standing at a station to make this possible, find someone friendly who does and ask them if they can do it for you (you can contract them a container with all the ore to melt). There’s no point in having waste in your melting process, as that basically means you’ve wasted a proportional amount of time in the belts getting the ore in the first place.
  10. Splitting the loot. How you divvy up the bounty of your labors is up to you and those you went mining with. This can be an equal share per contributor; all of it can be donated to a particular player to help them advance to their next ship, or whatever works for your mates. Just be sure everybody’s happy, because odds are you’re going to need to work with them again very soon.

I hope these tips help somebody, because they’re practices that have definitely helped me with what’s become a fairly lucrative mining career.

Getting can flipped (and making a profit from it)

I have to share this funny incident that happened to me this morning while I was mining out in Teonusude… I’d been shredding rocks for about a solid hour, tag teaming with Max in a Hulk and Atrox in a Hoarder, and transferring between the two using a single jetcan… keeping 1 unit of ore in the can to keep it from disappearing (thus no jetcan timer issues) and transferring it quickly between ships.

Well, in my bored zoned-out haze, I hadn’t really noticed a small Gallente frig warp in and sit idly. He was yellow, it’s hisec, so I just kept at it, and dumped some Plagioclase in the can as usual, but was slow on the transfer and left it there longer than normal.

While I wasn’t paying attention, the frig charged my Hoarder and bumped it away from the can, flipped it, and immediately went red – I had aggro, but nothing to fight with. Unfortunately I was beyond 2,500m range and couldn’t grab the content, and by the time I thrusted towards the can, the frig had my ore and putted out of range. His idea of fun was tractoring cans to 50km range, taking the loot and salvaging them. Guess he figured he was too fast for slow miners and haulers to do anything about it. Well I was having none of that shit.

I putted Atrox’s hauler out to a can away from Max’s miner, which kept the beams on the rocks like nothing was happening… I didn’t want him to get the idea that the same person was driving both ships. So to grab his attention, Atrox opened a channel and started smack talking him, while at the same time doing some homework on him. Hmmm… 2006 character, he’s definitely got skills, but I guessed he probably couldn’t do too terribly much damage to my hauler before I could warp away or bring in reinforcements (especially when I had a shield repairer on me). Of course, I was assuming he couldn’t jam my warp drive… besides, Hoarders aren’t that expensive and Atrox was only 3 days old, so it’s not like it would be a big loss even if he did take me down.

I told him that he’d pay the consequences for can flipping me. That got his attention, and he wanted to know what I was going to do about it. I told him to come closer and I’d show him. Surely little Billy Badass would take that challenge – after all, what was a hauler going to do to an obviously more experienced frig pilot? He took the bait and sped over to me, orbiting and launched a Tech 2 Warrior II drone. He obviously was waiting for this big-mouth 3 day old hauler to make a stupid move and then he’d take me down… I’m sure he thought it was so predictable.

What he didn’t appear to notice is that Max’s Hulk slipped back to Teon HQ, grabbed a fully armed Hurricane with six 720mm Howitzers, long range missiles, 5 Valkyrie drones and a full cap and shield tank, and warped back to Atrox.

Before the Gallente stud-muffin could react, he was locked, all guns from Max’s Hurricane roared, and stripped away his shields and half his armor in one salvo. Unfortunately the web couldn’t lock him, and I didn’t have anything to keep him from warping away, but he was obviously caught completely unawares. He hastily warped off, and messaged Atrox back: “What in the heck was that!?”

I honestly don’t think he realized what had happened to him, and was oblivious to what Max pulled on him. But what I did realize is that he warped off before he could recall his T2 Warrior II drone, which was now floating idly less than 5,000m from Atrox.

Well, Studmuffin McGee started to threaten coming back in his cruiser and cleaning Atrox’s clock, so Atrox scooped up the drone, and both he and Max warped back to Teon HQ to end the session. (I had to go to work sometime.)

So at the end of the day, I lost some Plagioclase, but gained a 350,000 ISK T2 done. Not bad for 5 minutes worth of work. I figure I made at least 250K in profit, and had the pleasure of pissing off somebody that probably could easily outgun me if he’d come back before I moved on. And as for the Plagiocase, it took me 10 minutes that same evening to mine back what I’d lost.

It was a great start to the rest of the day and left me smiling all morning. What a jackass that guy was, but I’m still keeping my eyes peeled… I’m sure he didn’t take kindly to being called a “moron” by a noob.

Finding a good region to run PVE missions in

Sometimes it’s funny to look back at a learning experience and realize how obvious something should have been to me from the beginning. Where to run missions was one of those learning experiences, and unfortunately I learned the lesson the hard way.

The corp I belong to, Techno-Wizard Industrial Technologies, is based in the Teonusude system in Molden Heath – this is a Minmatar system right along the border between losec and hisec. It’s a great spot for the corp’s purposes, but it made running PVE missions challenging, as every fourth or fifth mission offered by an agent ended up sending me into losec.

For a while I simply declined those missions, knowing that going into losec was a stupid idea of somebody of my skill level and combat experience. But over time, I began testing the waters by making runs one-jump into losec space, typically early in the morning when there were fewer pirates on.

I thought I was being careful. I checked the number of ships and pods destroyed in the last half hour, checked for cynosural fields, and pinged for updates in the local intel channels. Even when everything looked clear, I still held my breath when making that jump into losec, hoping that red was not to be seen. And for a while it seemed to work fine… everything was largely uneventful, and I was able to get away clean every time. But that lucky streak came to an unfortunate end one day, as I decided to make a multi-jump passage across losec to a hisec system. Dumb move.

I’ll make it quick and say that a Rupture class cruiser doesn’t stand up very well to T2 and T3 warships camped at a gate and quick on the draw. Within a minute, my ships, armor and hero tank were all stripped away, and before I could turn my pod around, it was gone too. It wasn’t the first time I’d be podded in EVE, but I’d learned enough since the first instance to know I shouldn’t get bent out of shape about it. I’d say the mistake cost me about 10-20M ISK at most. Expensive, but I could afford it.

So the mistake I’d made was positioning my base of operations right along the losec border without doing better homework. Of course all the agents available to me were going to be offering up losec missions; that’s purely a function of proximity to those systems. What I felt stupid about was not doing more research of agents available to me in different corps (but belonging to the Minmatar faction) that were safely far back in hisecspace who offered up all-hisec missions.

One reason I probably failed to do that was simple lack of knowledge on how to effectively research this. Once I figured out how to identify agents available to me in areas further away, I identified a new remote base of operations in Heimatar, moved a handful of relevant mission ships there from my permanent HQ, and immediately started having far better success running missions and advancing my standing with NPC corps. The fact that I could accept the overwhelming majority of missions without having to decline any losec destinations made a massive difference.

So if you’re along a losec/hisec divide and are struggling with PVE missions crossing into losec space, take my advice: move. The reward is better, and the risks substantially less.

Like I said, it should have been obvious. Live and learn, eh?

Anchoring Containers Inside of No-Anchor Zones

Preface

I don’t recommend this trick for those who have friends in EVE that mine along side them with an Orca or other large freighter at their disposal – that really negates the need for this trick. But if you’re a solo miner that is out on your own, and tired of running back and forth between the belts and your local station in your ORE ship, then this trick is for you.

To make this trick effective, you’re going to need several million ISK to buy a lot of giant secure containers if you don’t already have them, an industrial large enough to haul multiple containers out to the belt at once, and a mining ship to do the dirty work; I highly recommend you go with an ORE ship with strip miners – do not waste your time with a small ship outfitted with a rinky-dink Miner I or II. If you’ve got all that – and some time and patience – read on.

And on we go

The first thing I learned about EVE was that life isn’t fair. The next thing that I learned about EVE was that I should use every possible angle or trick I could in order to get ahead. This is true in both combat and business in EVE. So when I thought up a little trick to help ease my long mining sessions, I gave myself a little pat on the back.

Now, I may not be the very first person in EVE to have made use of this trick, but it’s been one that’s proven very beneficial for me, and one that I think other solo miners might appreciate, because it could save you a lot of time shuttling back and forth between the asteroid belts and your nearby station.

And what is this trick? The astute will have picked up from the title that I’m talking about how you – Joe Miner – can anchor giant secure containers inside of the no-anchor zones, which are defined as any space within 5,000 meters of any asteroid (actually that also includes other player containers or wrecks). Normally you aren’t allowed to anchor the containers in that zone – you can deploy them, but you can’t anchor them.

But actually, that’s not entirely true. You can anchor containers in that zone. And how, pray tell, is this done? The trick isn’t finding some exploit of the rule – the trick is to anchor your containers when the asteroids aren’t there. You see, no asteroids, no restrictions.

This is going to involve you having a bit of good fortune, good timing, or both. But you’ll definitely need patience.

A typical container deployment

A typical container deployment

Typical container deployment

Before we dig into the whole part about the asteroids not being there, let’s look at the way that most containers are typically deployed in most belts. By now experienced miners have seen it a bazillion times – you warp in to zero, and between you and the asteroids are typically a litany of anchored containers left there by every other miner and their brother. In most belts you’ll see anywhere from one to a handful of containers owned by the same pilot. In most cases, the deployment patterns will be fairly chaotic, but you may see variations on that. Cleaner deployments will typically be in an  arc concave to the belt. Odds are you will maybe be able to sneak in one or two containers in this space in busy belts, maybe more in quieter ones.

My belief is this pattern is typical because miners are lazy. Not all miners, but perhaps the preponderance of them. They’ll warp in to zero, then thrust out to within 14km of their target asteroid, engage the strip miners, and move on. From what I’ve seen in my neck of the woods, most miners come in for one load, warp back to the station, and then either come back to clean out the rocks they want or move on to the next belt if they finished the job. Not me – I keep working the same belt – I have had enough of running around through a system more than I need to. So that’s why I began using this next deployment pattern.

Deploying outside of the belt

Deploying containers "outside" the belt

Deploying containers "outside" the belt

The next image shows what a typical deployment pattern is for those adventurous enough to try and preposition containers outside of the belt. Doing so isn’t rocket science, but it is trickier than deploying between zero and the belt itself; this is mostly because there are fewer convenient astronomical objects that you can use to position yourself properly before deployment.

If you’re fortunate, there will be some astronomical object near your belt’s plane – like a moon, distant station or stargate – that you can align to and thrust out 5,000m or more beyond the belt and deploy. But keeping all your deployed containers in a perfectly flat plane is nigh impossible – at least from my experience so far. If you do figure out a way to deploy a perfectly flat pattern, please let me know.

But with some trial and error, you can position all your containers in a more-or-less “flattish” pattern (maybe within +/- 20 degrees of the belt’s plane).

A positive to using this deployment scheme is that most belts I’ve visited don’t have containers outside of the belt, so your chances of being able to lay your claim here should on average be pretty good. The other thing is that you can fit way more containers outside of the belt than you can inside the belt, so you can spent more time on a single run this way. If you’re really lucky, you’ll be able to deploy both inside and outside of the belt, which is even better.

Anchoring in the “no-anchor zone”

Anchoring containers in the no-anchor zone

Anchoring containers in the no-anchor zone

And finally, the payoff: deploying and anchoring containers in the “no-anchor zone” (NAZ). This isn’t a real term, it’s one I just made up, so I call dibs on it. But it should be fairly obvious what I mean by “no-anchor zone” – it’s an area around an asteroid belt that includes all space within 5,000 meters (in every direction) from every asteroid in that belt.

As I mentioned before, the only way to do this is to do it when there are no asteroids present in the area you want to deploy containers in. I’m sure you’ve warped into your favorite belt now and then and seen it completely wiped out – somebody got there before you with all their friends and vacuumed it clean so not even a pebble was left. This is the perfect time to deploy all your containers.

If you already had containers pre-positioned here between zero and the belt, or just outside the belt, you can use them as a point of reference to position your containers between them. If there are no containers at all, then you’re going to have to do some guesswork on placing them, but typically the rocks are at around 23-27km from zero, so dropping them at 25km from zero is a safe bet.

Start from one end of where the rocks normally are, and start deploying and anchoring your containers in 5,000 meter intervals. You may need to thrust around and use reference points around you to find the right spots, but with a little work you can do this. If there are any wrecks preventing you from deploying, you’ll need to either salvage them or destroy them.

When you’re done, all you need to do is wait for all the rocks to re-populate during the daily maintenance downtime, and when you log back in, you’ll find that all your containers are intact and floating around inside of the zone you normally could never put them into.

Mining It All Up…

I’ve managed to secure about 28 giant containers in a single belt using these techniques. Now, this might sound kinda’ stupid to some, but there are good reasons I’ve done it this way. For starters, most of the time I’m a solo miner, and I’m not dual-boxing. I don’t use a second character to control a hauler while my primary mines. The second is that using this technique, I can mine – by myself – in the same belt for a good 2-3 hours in a Retriever before I need to make a single warp to clean out the containers. Suddenly this sounds a lot more appealing for a single miner, doesn’t it?

Now this technique is not without its challenges. When you anchor your containers in the no-anchor zone, you have absolutely no clue where the rocks will reappear the next day. So you could very easily find yourself dodging rocks just to get your ships within 2500m of the containers. I have one container that is within just a few meters of a massive rock on most days, but I can use the container just fine. I’ve not yet had a problem of a container existing within an asteroid, but that might just be pure, dumb luck on my part. If you do run into that problem, I really have no idea what will happen to your container, but I’d suggest mining out the rock that consumes it, scoop the container back into your bay, then redeploy it a bit further out.

…and Hauling It All Away

One last tip I’d like to share is on hauling all this stuff out. It’s ideal to minimize the number of runs you need to make between all the containers. First, set up bookmarks on the exact position of every second or third container – if your hauler has a higher capacity, then you’ll be able to set your bookmarks further apart. But always start with the first container in your arc, and be sure you also bookmark the last one in your arc.

In my case, I have two containers arcs of about 14 containers each. I name my bookmarks according to the container arc and the container’s sequence number in the ring, so for my outermost container arc I call them “Outer 01”, “Outer 02”, “Outer 03” and so on – up to “Outer 14”. The arc of containers inside the no-anchor zone are named “Inner 01” through “Inner 13” or so. Yes, this adds up to a lot of bookmarks, but when you make your first haul, you’ll understand why. If you use the three-arc approach above, you might want to go with a convention like “Outer”, “Middle” and “Inner” or similar.

Start at “Outer 01”, then go by each container and empty out the ore until you fill up your hauler. Make a note of where you left off, because when you’ve emptied out your hauler at the station, you’ll want to warp directly back to the bookmark you left off at (if the container wasn’t empty), or the next bookmark in the arc if you emptied the last container you opened.

With a Mammoth fitted with Expanded Cargohold II units and Cargohold Optimization I rigs, I can empty out about 5 giant secure containers before I need to run back to the station. And be sure to put a good thrust system on your hauler – no point putting around slowly if you don’t need to.

And by the way, mining this container deployment works just like hauling from it – warp to the first bookmark, fill up the container, and move on to the next one. Keep doing this in a pattern that works for you until they’re all filled up. Just be sure to visit every container at least once a month or they’ll vanish, and be sure to set a password for each and ensure they’re anchored properly before you leave, otherwise you may come back and find some missing.

Before I wrap this up, don’t forget that you’re operating in three dimensions, not two. If you really wanted to, you could also create additional container arcs on the z-axis above and below the asteroid belt, which could come close to doubling the number of containers you could deploy with this approach.

Conclusion

Let me be the first to say that the first moment I have somebody that can tag along with me in an Orca on my mining ops – or when I start dual boxing and get my own Orca – I’m going to scoop up all these containers and abandon this approach. But for right now, this technique works for me, and it lets me haul in hundreds of thousands to millions of units of ores in a short period of time. Plus I don’t need to deal with the monotony of warping back to the station to empty out my mining ship 28 times to net the same result that this technique offers.

But as with any technique, your experience may vary, as may your opinion of it. That’s fine, to each their own. But hopefully this may be useful to someone who’s sick of mining and is looking for any angle to make it just a bit easier. So if you try this approach, be sure to find a good book, because you’re going to need it once you engage your strip miners.

Alliance Tournament 7 Videos on YouTube

Chances are you’ve read something about Alliance Tournament VII (AT7) on the EVE website or in-game names, but may not know what it is. In brief, it’s a competition that CCP holds in which crack teams of pilots armed to the teeth in their best gear are brought together to blow one another to smithereens in hopes of winning some rare prizes as well as the right to justifiably call themselves champions.

This year, CCP broadcast the entire tournament live over the Internet in HD, and quite of few videos are now available up on YouTube for your enjoyment. In addition to showing the combat itself, commentated by some EVE experts (superfans that have gotten on CCP’s good side and got flown out to Reykjavik for it), there was also a panel of other experts, game developers and designers interviewed and gave their own commentary on all things EVE, not just the tournament itself.

This is a fascinating watch for those who have many, many hours to kill at some point or another, or just string it along through your week during a lunch break. I learned a lot from watching this, and think that CCP did a fantastic job putting it together. And I say that not only as a recent EVE convert, but as a former game industry professional. The production values were rather good, all things considered, and I anxiously look forward to the next AT so I can learn even more. Oh, and it’s pretty awesome to watch shit get blown up, too. 😉

Big kudos to CCP Soundwave for doing a fantastic job at keeping it entertaining!

Links:

Implementing “Out of Eve”

If you’re a coder or website administrator that’s been wondering what it’s like to implement the “Out of Eve” (OOE) application on your library, read on for my insights on the entire process from evaluation to production use.

If you’re not familiar with OOE, it’s a Web-based application that will allow you to check on the status of your character and corporation via the Web, without having to be logged in to EVE. It uses your full API key (provided on EVE Online’s website) to retrieve all of the information it displays, from stats, to skills in training, production runs in progress, and even all of your transactions. Basically it does a damn good job of showing you what going on with your EVE characters via a Web browser.

Very recently a fellow corp mate turned me on to this cool little app, which seemed like a great addition to the TWITZ website. I’d been considering developing my own API-based tools, but what would be the point of doing that when somebody else has gone through all the trouble already? So quickly my focus shifted from rolling my own tools to evaluating OOE.

Installation

Getting the OOE code archive was easy enough and trivial. The installation notes were a bit thin in detail, but provided enough of the major steps that any experienced Web administrator with PHP and MySQL administrative experience could figure out the bits that weren’t explicitly called out. The first time MySQL or PHP user might find it difficult to figure out these steps, so if you’ve never installed a MySQL database before or don’t know how to manage a PHP-based site, then I strongly urge you to find somebody to help you out – or at least be very patient if you’re willing to forge through the process on your own.

Thankfully I had enough knowledge to fill the gaps in the instructions, and with a bit of trial and error I was able to get run the OOE database installation scripts.

You will need to get the most recent EVE database dump off another website as well, as this isn’t provided with OOE (I grabbed apo15-mysql5-v1.sql.bz2, which is the Apocrypha 1.5 dump for import into MySQL). This dump is very large – it’s about 140MB uncompressed, and about 42MB zipped. If your ISP has upload restrictions, you might find this problematic, and need to break up large files into smaller ones and upload them. If you do have this problem, decompress the file on your local system, load it up into a text editor as plain text (I use TextPad), find a convenient spot between two SQL commands about halfway through the file, split it there, and save both halves into seperate files. Compress those files into two zip files, upload them, decompress them, and then use whichever MySQL management tool available to you to import each file in order. This takes a bit of work and time, but it does work just fine.

Be sure when you’re importing all this data that you setup your databases correctly and that you setup database users that OOE can use to access them.

When you get to the configuration step, a basic knowledge of PHP will help here. There is likely going to be a bit more editing required than the installation instructions let on, but it’s something that I think the moderately experienced site admin should be able to figure out with little problem. You’ll more than likely spend most of your configuration time trying to figure out which directories to install the OOE passkey file (used to encrypt users’ API keys) and store cache files. The instructions suggest that you not put these in a Web-accessible directory but instead put it someplace outside that directory where your web server can get to it. The instructions suggest using /var, but some ISPs may not allow you to use /var, and your ISP’s web server may not be able to use /etc either. In this case, just change the name of the passkey file to something besides the default and put it in a folder outside of your OOE files – this will make it hard for anybody to find it or guess it; likewise with the cache files.

Security

The biggest concern I had about OOE was security. Not that I was worried about someone compromising my website with it, but that users are required to provide their full API key in order to use OOE. While the full API key won’t allow anybody to change any of your character or account information even if it is stolen, it could allow your enemy to find out where you’re at, what kind of ships you have, how much money your corporation has, and other sensitive information you wouldn’t want them to have. Fortunately, you could change your full API key easily on the EVE Online website even if it was compromised, so there’s no show-stopper about providing the full key here.

What gave me even more confidence about OOE’s security was that you can specify a passkey that is used to encrypt all of the API keys provided by users, so even if somebody was able to access the files that contained the API keys, they would be encrypted, and unless the hacker also was able to dig up the passkey itself, they’d never be able to decode the APIs. This is a good thing to have.

There are also user-specific logins for OOE, which are password protected, and you can only see your characters, not anyone else’s. These login credentials are stored in a seperate database of the other OOE or EVE DB dump files, which is another plus, and it uses a different database user to access it – another good security move.

At the end of the day, as a site administrator, all of my security concerns were allayed.

Testing

Testing was pretty trivial. Once I got it installed, I simply put the local OOE installation URL in my browser and the login screen appeared immediately. If you had any DB configuration issues, you should find out right away when you see an error message. I had a few things to sort out (namely locating the cache and passkey files somewhere the web server could access them), but after that everything worked fine.

Simply create your own login, add your character, then start flipping through everything. I saw only one error page in all my testing, which tells me that the distribution code itself is pretty solid. Once you’re comfortable that everything works for you, feel free to open it up to your users and share the URL.

Customizing

While you can select from one of four different templates to change the OOE look, I wasn’t satisfied that any of them fit into the color scheme our corp uses. So I went into each of the templates and changed the title.png logo, and also disabled the RSS feeds that appear on the login screen (neat idea, but it’s very distracting and confuses the first time user; beside, I can enable RSS feeds on the corp’s main site).

These changes were pretty easy to do, and you can easily modify the look of each template further if you know basic HTML. Beyond the logo and simple color scheme tweaks, however, I didn’t touch anything else about the look.

Assessment

OOE isn’t the sexiest tool int the world, but it doesn’t need to be. In my opinion, OOE is a tool for EVE junkies that need their fix while they’re at work, sneaking in some intel gathering while they’re on vacation, or out somewhere in the world away from a computer and can use their mobile browser to check in on their character and skill progress. It does the job well, and is perfect to meet the needs of my corp for now.

While the installation instructions could be made more robust for those who are new to site administration, it has enough meat to get the job done if you’re a more experienced admin. Overall, the installation process was not too bad, and the end result is a tool that everyone in my corp can use.

If you’re a site admin or corp officer, I’d definitely recommend checking out OOE and getting an install on your site. Big thanks to Azazel Mordred (EVE name) for creating such an awesome tool, and I encourage you to keep up the good work.

Capsuleer for the iPhone

Do you ever sit somewhere away from home without a computer, wondering what your skill training progress is, but were unable to check it? Are you bored to death in a meeting at work and would like read EVE blogs?

While there are some cool PC-based tools out there like EveMon and EveHQ, they require you to have a computer connected to the Internet, and not everyone is carrying around a laptop with an Internet connection everywhere they go. So if you’re an iPhone owner and EVE junkie, you’re in luck, and there is a way for you to check in on your characters from time to time to time to see how things are going.

There’s a free iPhone app called “Capsuleer” that I’ve been using for the last several weeks, and gives me key information that I want about EVE as it happens in realtime without needing to be logged in to the game.

Using Capsuleer, I can use my iPhone to quickly check my skill training progress and see what’s in the queue, get an estimate on what day and time the queue will become empty, check my character’s stats and bank account, and even read posts from other EVE bloggers if I have some time to kill.

While having access to this info isn’t the same as being in-game, it’s a blessing for those that don’t have the luxury of playing EVE all day, and it can help give you that EVE fix and information you want to get when you have a few free moments. The app is well supported and is updated with new features from time to time, and I highly recommend you check it out. And the price can’t be beat: free!

If you want to learn more, I encourage you to visit the Capsuleer website, and you can download it from the iTunes App Store.

Pilot details

Pilot details

Skill queue

Skill queue

Blog post

Blog post

The Early Years

It wasn’t easy for a lowly pilot like me to make my first million. After I got out of the civilian flight school, I bummed my way around Gallente space, working for any rinky-dink local line that would hire me. Sometimes the jobs would be for just a few trips in suborbital craft ferrying livestock from one spot to another. Sometimes I was a scab that had to race through rough-and-tumble mobs of pissed off striking pilots, just so I could do a single run between a shithole surface base and it’s associated shithole orbital station. Yeah, I got the crap kicked out of me plenty in the early days by people that didn’t want me to succeed.

For a while, I was worried that my entire career was going to be spent mostly in sub-orbit and in-system runs to desolate moons and rat-infested stations overloaded with people. I can’t even remember how many scumbags I’d come across in those years – officials with the authority to deny my transit paperwork extorting me for extra cash, other pilots doing everything in their power to snake a gig away from me, system defense pilots with bad attitudes and itchy trigger fingers that would just as likely blow me out of the sky as let me proceed unhindered to my destinations. It wasn’t a fun time at all.

But my first real break was when I landed a gig as a permanent copilot for an upstart line running along the Gallente/Caldari border. It was solid, paid well, and I got plenty of stick time to boot. Most of the pilots seemed to like me, and they gave me enough flight time that I could show the powers that be that I could be trusted with millions worth of their precious hardware. In no time I earned my captain’s wings, and things just seemed to snowball from there.

What I hadn’t counted on was all the cargo being loaded into the holds wasn’t always – shall we say – “appreciated” by those whose space we traversed. “Those” people, of course, being anyone in the government, military, local warlords, raiders, pirates, competing merchants, and sometimes I think every single person in every star system I ever went through.

At first the cargos I hauled were just controlled sensitive materials we’d get fined for if we didn’t have the paperwork filled out in the proper way, or didn’t pay the proper tax in the correct kow-towing procedure to the proper official with an over-inflated sense of self-importance. But gradually I found out that as I succeeded more, the higher ups trusted me more, and the cargo became increasingly, um, “exotic”. Unlicensed prostitutes, narcotics, weaponry, stolen naval electronics warfare gear, and even families of political prisoners… no idea whatever happened to any of it, and I learned quickly not to care. The fewer questions I asked, the bigger my bonuses got. All I know is that as time went on, I was more and more inclined to stay as far as possible from anyone even remotely associated with any government or military.

The runs were becoming more and more dangerous, but they were also increasingly profitable. I was making a lot of money for my employers, and they knew my value. They knew I could be trusted with their most sensitive secrets, and to keep me happy they made sure I was taken care of. In time, I managed to skim enough of my own profit off of the profit that the owners were getting so that I could strike out on my own. But it wasn’t an easy break. The guys I used to work for knew I was getting restless, but I was valuable to them, and for the longest time they refused to release me. It was only after I’d trained a few other pilots up to their accepting standards that they finally agreed to let me freelance under the conditions that I’d do work for them whenever they called, and I’d keep my mouth shut about everything or I’d be found floating out in some nameless asteroid belt in 10,000 years by an alien exploration probe. With that kind of offer, how could I refuse?

At first I leased one of their old hauler industrials, and it was a piece of junk, but it was my piece of junk. I managed to keep it patched together and flying, but the occasional local-yocal enforcement crews liked to leave my ship with reminders not to come again – typically in the form of projectile holes throughout my depressurized hull, or close run-ins with missiles fired in anger. I may have started as a civilian pilot in the beginning, but the nature of my work quickly made me become familiar with military weapons systems, avionics and sensors of every variety imaginable, and I began to hone my combat techniques.

Officials weren’t my biggest problem anymore, it was competing merchants and pirates that could give a rat’s ass about my desire to be successful – they wanted my ship, my cargo, my money, and my head. I, too, began to leave others with reminders about how I’d like to never see them again, and there were a number of times where I guaranteed I’d never see some of them again by laying waste to their ships and crews.

But in time, I learned whom to grease and when, and whose wife or mistress liked what exotic substance or gift. I swear, that alone saved me the hassle of countless patch jobs and haul-assing away from system defense boats. I managed to work my way into circles with contacts into certain pirate organizations, and ended up doing side jobs for them too, just to have them cut me slack on future runs for others without giving me grief. I learned that making friends quickly of the people you hate wasn’t just good business sense, it was a survival necessity. I wasn’t working any harder than before, just smarter. And some of these folks were real scumbags. Not just criminal masterminds, but some of them were wanted for legitimate war atrocities and even put militaries at unease… but money was money, and they had it. If they didn’t have it, they knew somebody who did, or somebody who’d not want to kill me so that I could get to the people who had it. It was all becoming a game in time, the ropes increasingly familiar.

Eventually I paid off the old hulk, and managed to finance a new and bigger commercial ship. It’s funny as hell going to a commercial starship financing office to get a loan using fake papers, using as collateral a ship that was itself bought using dirty money, in order to get a new ship to make more dirty money. If they didn’t know what my play was, they were either stupid or they knew what I was up to and how much money they could make off of me. Either way, they set me up with the front money. I have to believe that somebody, somewhere, knew what I was up to and was pulling strings for me, and it was only a matter of time before they emerged from the shadows and told me what they really wanted from me.

From that point on, things went well. I was hassled less, and I earned a reputation prominent enough that other pilots came to me looking for contract work. I bought some new birds, hired on some new pilots that weren’t likely to have my ships shattered and salvaged by some other corp, and things were really looking up. Things were good.

As I look back, it’s been a long road. As I look at the brand new Mammoth that I just purchased, sitting in the hanger bay here in Teonusude, I can’t help but reflect on those early days. I’d come a long way from scraping and groveling for crumbs from the table, to being the guy that owns the table and the house the table is in. This new Mammoth was the very first all-cash purpose for a new ship, and she’s a big sucker. I’m excited thinking about all the, um, “exotic” goods I can put in her holds, and what I’m going to do with all the money that I make from her.

Dirty or not, I ain’t gonna’ owe nobody no more.

Exodus

For the last several days I’ve been running missions based from the Nakugard system in Metropolis. As usual, a series of events and questionable decisions led me to relocate four ships there, several jumps away from my home base in Molden Heath.

The origin of this temporary relocation was my desire to run some COSMOS missions so that I could get better salvage, so I could in turn process it and get some of the rare (to me) ores that I’d need to have a corp-mate build my new Maelstrom battleship. (Yes, I’ve gone from zero to battleship in about a month.)

The problem is that once I got to Nakugard with my Hurrican battlecruiser, it was clear that I needed a salvage ship, which I had tucked away in a hangar back in Molden Heath. And then I quickly realized I needed my cruiser, because some mission acceleration gates won’t accomodate battlecruiser class ships. Oh, and then I realized I needed my gunboat frigate so I didn’t have to keep swapping out the fittings of my salvage frigate.

It seemed I was setting myself up to be located here for a long time… but was it worthwhile? As the salvage collection grew, it was pretty clear that the missions I was running was not going to yield the rarer ores that I needed. It was more likely that Level 2 agents or better would yield those missions, but I wasn’t quite in their favor that much. On top of that, my time out here in Metropolis was taking away from the time I’d been using for mining back in Molden Heath.

Oh, whatever is a capsuleer to do?

I had to make a decision. It was clear that I’d never get the ores I needed by doing what I was doing, and I was probably better off earning the money to buy the rarer ores I needed by selling the ores I was able to mine. And so it began, the exodus of my new little mini-fleet back to my home base. And ne’er was there a more boring session.

Auto-pilot is one thing. Normally I don’t do it for normal sessions, as warping to 15 km away from the gate and having to run on impulse engines the rest of the way is definitely not what I consider a use of valuable time. Generally I suck it up and do it manually, warping to zero each step along the way, trying not to get distracted by other things that are more interesting – like lint.

Well, some 40 or more jumps later, all my ships finally made it back home, and I revisited all my secure containers to refresh them, just to make sure. It was good to be back home again, but I definitely wasn’t looking forward to the long task ahead, mining more ore so that I could buy more ore. Oh, the irony. (Pun not intended.)

If you happen to fly by and see me mining away in the belts, stop in and say hello. I’ll need the company. 🙂

Getting started with COSMOS

When I first joined my current corp, the elders kept telling me that I should join them on COSMOS missions, or that I’d have a better chance of collecting the ores normally found in losec systems if I instead ran some COSMOS missions, took out some enemies, and then reprocessed the salvage into those ores. Ok, I thought, sounds great. But what the heck is COSMOS and how do I start these missions?

What is COSMOS and why should I care?

First up, I have no idea what COSMOS stands for. And after Googling around, best I can tell there are few other people that do, either. But let’s not get hung up on the meaning of the acronym, let’s talk about what good COSMOS missions can do for you.

There are constellations in New Eden that contain special agents and complexes that will help you earn special rewards and/or resources. These constellations are scattered about, and there are some accessible to every major empire, including Gallente, Caldari, Amarr and Minmatar, so you don’t need to worry about getting shut out of this opportunity based on your starting race.

Also, though I’ve not ventured out to find them, there are apparently COSMOS systems out in 0.0 space as well for those that don’t frequent empire space.

Where do I get started?

The EVE Online Wiki has a pretty good reference page on where you can get started with COSMOS missions. For the first timer, you will need to find an agent in your empire’s space that allows you to begin with a standing of 0.0. You won’t be able to access any other agents with higher standing requirements until you complete missions for lower level agents.

For me, an Gallente in Minmatar space, I chose to stark at Nakugard, which has a 0.0 agent present. The initial missions are pretty trivial, mostly running errands and doing a little mining to get you going. So be prepared to have access to multiple ships and/or multiple fittings to meet the diverse needs. Were I you, I’d make it a point to not have all your different fitting gear stored multiple jumps away, as that will make it a real pain to advance, so if you’re going to do some COSMOS missions, its worth the initial effort of pre-positioning a couple of ships before starting a series of missions. One of those configurations should include a salvager, another a miner, and another a combat ship.

There are a number of guides and tutorials out there on individual missions, so I won’t bother to create them here. It’s a simple matter to search on “EVE Online COSMOS mission guide” and you’ll get several results.

So hopefully this will help you get started, and save you the trouble of fumbling around and asking dumb questions like I did. Good luck, and fly safe.