Category Archives: In Person

The Tale of the Two Chocolate Pies

I am almost done with maybe half a dozen posts, but I am tired and haven’t finished any of them, so you get a Christmas vignette instead.

We were up at my father’s house for Christmas, which is about a 3 hour drive away, which is part of why I didn’t finish anything.  Six hours in the car will do that.  Also, I started playing RimWorld when we got home.  That will eat up time.  So here I am writing this on Boxing Day, with the cat watching me… from a box… I am serious.

A cat in a box watching me write on Boxing Day

Christmas dinner is a pretty stock standard tradition there, and the menu never varies.  My step-mother does the most well-done prime rib possible every year.  And by well-done I mean cooked so that the colors red or pink are nowhere visible.  The president would approve.  Whatever.  She’s coming up on 80 and will do what she damn well pleases.  The meat was still tender and enough horseradish sauce makes up for most sins.

Anyway, after dinner I was sitting at the kids table with my daughter and a few of my nieces to avoid the determined clean up operation that gets set in motion the moment it appears people are done eating.  All evidence that there was ever a meal must be eliminated.  The first time my wife ever came to Christmas we went up the street for about 45 minutes to visit my grandmother and by the time we got back both dinner and desert had been served and cleaned away to oblivion.  We ended up eating Christmas cookies in the car on the way home we were so hungry.

My daughter and nieces range from 13 to 24, and two of them are involved in Hollywood so often have interesting tales.  But in the midst of a discussion which involved season five of BoJack Horseman and Ted Danson’s folding straw, my 19 year old nieces saw that desert was being put out on the counter and felt the need to point out that there were two chocolate pies.

Let me make that clear.  There were TWO chocolate pies.  This was significant.

This was important to her because last year, unbeknownst to me, she did not get ANY chocolate pie.  All of the chocolate pie had been eaten before she went to get any, so her chocolate pie aspirations had been thwarted.  Her brother, who has the last piece, declined to share his pie with her, which was no doubt the shocker of the century.

This situation last year was apparently intolerable because there were TWO chocolate pies on the counter.  I imagine my sister had heard enough of this that she just made sure nobody would lack for chocolate pie.

And we are not talking about any sort of extra special chocolate pie here.  This looked to be the stock standard, no-bake, pudding in a pie crust desert that is out every year with its siblings, the pumpkin and coconut pies.  Chocolate was just now 50% of the “pies currently on the counter” demographic.

My sister confirmed that there were a pair of chocolate pies for the reason stated, and did so with a weariness that comes from trying to balance the demands of three teens under her roof.

So when the time came to serve up some pie, I got up and got myself a slice of chocolate pie, just on the off chance there would be a rush for that particular flavor.  I mean, last year we ran out before my niece even got a slice.

I actually had two slices, and managed to get them both without depriving my niece of her slice.  I must admit that my sudden lust for chocolate pie was, in part, to see if we could eat it all again before she got any.  But there would be no pie denial melt-down of any sort.

There was enough chocolate pie for all who desired any.

As I stood in the kitchen by the trash, helping to hide all evidence that there was any desert served after the meal we had so successfully disappeared, my niece walked up to scrape the remains of her pie into the trash.  In her hands I saw a paper plate with a huge glop of chocolate pie filling, missing really only the crust.  The main essence of the chocolate pie, the actual chocolate bit, appeared mostly untouched and she was happily dumping it into the trash.

So I called out in a loud voice, “After all of that talk about chocolate pie, are you telling me that you don’t actually like chocolate pie?  That all you really wanted was the crust?”

My niece confirmed this in a mildly embarrassed voice.  I turned towards my sister and called to her, even louder, so that everybody in the room could clearly head, “Did you see your daughter’s plate?  She was so anxious that she get some chocolate pie that we have TWO chocolate pies, and she is even now scooping almost all of the chocolate from her slice into the trash, having only eaten the crust?”

My sister was willing to play along in some public shaming, but the look in her eyes was, “Welcome to my life.”

In the end, nobody even took a slice from the second chocolate pie.  All of the chocolate pie related needs, including my second slice, were met by the first pie.  The second pie was entirely superfluous.  But at least it got a mention here.  They also serve, who only sit and wait.

The EVE Online 2019 World Tour

As announced at EVE Fanfest… last year I think, I know the plan has been knocking around for a while… there will be no EVE Fanfest in Iceland in 2019.  Instead, CCP plans to take Fanfest on the road for 2019.  In addition to the usual EVE Vegas event CCP will be adding additional events to their schedule as well as dropping in on regular player events, turning them into official Fanfest occasions.

Here are the announced locations for the 2019 World Tour:

Fanfest 2019 Locations

  • Amsterdam, Netherlands March 23-24 – Joining in with the traditional EVEsterdam event
  • St. Petersburg, Russia May 4 – Bringing an event to the large Russian EVE Online community
  • Sydney, Australia May 23-26 – CCP one again attending EVE Down Under
  • Toronto, Canada June 21-23 – CCP in Canada for the first time with an event for the northeast
  • Kemiönsaari, Finland August 23 – The winner of the Fanfest Home contest gets CCP in their living room
  • Berlin, Germany September 13-14 – CCP joins up with G-Fleet for a German event
  • EVE Vegas October 25-27 – The traditional Second Fanfest will return to Vegas
  • London, England November 23 – EVE London will have CCP in attendance

That is eight official EVE Online events being run for 2019.  And if the 2019 T-shirts for all of these events isn’t a concert tour knock-off with all of those dates on the back, I will be sadly disappointed.

For those of us who might make just one of these events in 2019, the plan is to stream them all so we can play along at home.  There is even a teaser video for the whole plan.

The only question that remains: Can PermaBand play a world tour and survive?

Further details at the dev blog announcing the tour.

Home From EVE Vegas 2018

This post won’t be going into the things that CCP announced at EVE Vegas.  Not in any depth anyway.  Some of those items will get posts of their own, though some I will likely wait for the appropriate dev blog to show up before I cheer/jeer/panic.

EVE Vegas 2018

Instead, being true to my presentation, this is more my story of EVE Vegas than anything else.

My wife and I probably made about the minimal duration visit to the event, flying in Friday in time for registration and having to catch a cab during the closing ceremonies to get out flight home.  Silicon Valley is just an hour away from Vegas by air, which makes that seem reasonable.

The Linq

This isn’t the worst venue on the strip but, as I noted last year, it does leave something to be desired.  It used to be the old Imperial Palace hotel, easily the cheapest place on the strip in its day, and Caesar’s Resorts takeover and refurbishment of it was only a semi-successful attempt to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

It isn’t a bad place to stay, and it is still reasonably price, but it ain’t the Bellagio or Madalay Bay or even the Cosmopolitan.

Our room was nice enough.  We arrived before check-in, but if you upgrade your room they’ll get it for you straight away.  After some discussion as to what constituted a “strip view” (the Linq is set back from the strip, so you most see the backs of other buildings) we ended up with a room in District 3 looking out over the High Roller Ferris wheel.  It was very pretty at night.

The High Roller from our room

During the day it was less impressive.  That patch behind it is a construction site where Caesar’s Resorts are building even more stuff.  Maybe that will be District 9.

Fortunately our room was pretty much directly across from my room last year, so I knew the paths through the hotel and the secret of the “No Casino Access” elevator that pretty much goes directly to the casino level.

The real problem for the Linq is that its convention/event space is really sub-par.  Planet Hollywood had the sort of huge event areas that I am used to from professional events, with a lot of hallway space in between and some big open areas for people to congregate.  The Linq’s space is relatively small and EVE Vegas used it all.  That was good in a way, being the only event there.

EVE Vegas Floor Plan

The problem is that this was the biggest EVE Vegas so far, which meant something over 1,200 people from around the world showed up.  However, the Showroom, where the keynotes were given on Friday can seat maybe 500 people tops, and probably not even that.  So they had to put most of us in Social A to watch a live stream of the keynotes, which meant most of us in attendance ended up watching a big screen showing the same thing everybody at home was seeing.  That is not optimal.  And while there was free beer for the room, the supply was limited and ran out quickly.

There was a gap between the opening ceremony and the EVE Online keynote, during which I found Nosy Gamer and joined him at his perch near the back of the main hall, so I saw that live.  It honestly makes a difference.

Anyway, the word is that next year EVE Vegas will be at a different venue.

The CCP Presentations

  • Opening Ceremony

Mostly about the other projects CCP is working on.  Posted to YouTube.

  • EVE Online Keynote

Preview of things to come in-game and to be talked about in presentations.  Also on YouTube.

The bit about War Decs was interesting.

War Dec Stats

Half of war decs come from five corps.  Those corpse make about 105 kills for every loss they sustain.  Only 4% of wars have a defender making a kill.  But the kills per war go up significantly if the defenders have a structure.  So the coming in December temporary solution is going to be to restrict war decs to corps that have structures, with a full re-work of war dec mechanics underway for 2019.

It was clear from the presentation and from talking to CCP Burger later that this was in the minutes because CCP had, at last, spent time looking into data around it and found it was worse than they expected, so CCP wanted to get it out there that it needed to be changed.  PC Gamer already has an article up about it.

  • Upwell Structures – The Future

Interesting and controversial as CCP maps out moving the last few POS restricted features to the Upwell format.  Jump bridges without jump fatigue that can move titans.  Waiting for the dev blog on that!  But the new visuals for that, and for upgraded art for jump gates, are awesome.

  • Project Nova

Interesting look at Project Nova.  It is in pre-alpha but looks really good.  They are clearly trying to find some positioning for it that doesn’t make it a space version of Call of Duty.  You can sign up to be in the alpha.

  • Ships & Balance

New triglavian ships.  I missed some of this getting ready for my presentation.

  • Introducing The Activity Tracker

I missed all of this because I was talking to Matterall, but they spoke about some of this at Fanfest earlier this year.

  • Events & The Agency

This was good.  Guess what, the Federation Grand Prix event was not popular.  Who knew?  I mean, besides anybody who actually tried it.  Also, a big revamp for The Agency interface is under way as well as more events.

  • Closing Ceremony

Was catching a cab to the airport, but it is also on YouTube already.  It was announced that in 2019 one of the “away fanfest” locations will be Toronto.  Good for Canadians and those in the northeast US.

Player Presentations

They were all excellent.  I showed solidarity with my fellow speaks and attended them all, and I was clearly in among some very talented people.

My own presentation wasn’t streamed and was at 4pm, which put it at the end of day two and just three hours before the party, so let’s just say that it was an intimate event.  My wife counted just over 30 people present, and I only knew about ten of them already.

Me looking serious at the podium, my winter beard already started

Still, it went well, people there were engaged and asked questions, and the wormholers at the back responded when I said they need to get somebody writing about what goes on there because I want to hear about it, but I’m not going to go live there to find out.

Probably the biggest loss due to presenting in that time slot was the person who went after me, Ahlea Corinth.  His presentation,  “Multiple Accounts = EVE On Steroids” was great.  Fortunately, CCP cut back from Stream Fleet and streamed his presentation, so you can find it at the end of the day two stream at CCP’s Twitch site at about the 4 hour 43 minute mark.

My presentation was the only one not streamed and is lost to history.  My moment of streaming fame came at the end of Talking in Stations on day three.  I have a two minute summary there.

Or there is this image that I made as a summary.

Highlight of my Presentation

Addendum: The Greyill put together links to all of the presentations in the recorded streams if you want to go directly to any specific one.

The Party

Drai’s is awesome.  This is a high roller location.  I can see coming to EVE Vegas and not getting a badge for the presentation if you want to hang out with friends, but the party… you have to get a ticket to the party.

Looking at the stage from the back

More up the center line

The drinks were free (and not the cheap stuff either) the crowd was happy and having fun (though Rixx was scowling some in the ABA pit when I passed by and shook hands) things were loud, and Permabanned played, as they always do.

CCP Guard on stage

That brings the house together as well all know some of the words.  HTFU remains the fan favorite I think, though Warp to the Dance Floor isn’t far behind.

People

This is why you go to EVE Vegas.  I am glad my wife went with me, as I tend to be quiet in person (though often tagged as a “good listener”) but my wife, the sales rep, she will get into any conversation and has no problem talking to strangers.  So we went around the event, and especially around the party, talking to people.

Of course, I talked to old friends from past events, like Matterall, Johnny Splunk, Nosy Gamer, and of course, the larger than life Dirk McGirk, who ran the Open Comms Show operations from a pool-side cabana at the Linq, where he was looking much worse for the wear after the Friday night Fremont Street roam.  The cabana reminded me a bit of a civil war aid station, with worn bodies strewn about the loungers.  But Dirk was looking out for me again and had an EVE Vegas Open Comms shirt for me.

Wormholers survived all the same

Anyway, I will wrap this up with pictures of some of the people who I talked to at EVE Vegas, though I have a special one I want to call out.

CCP Falcon and I at Drai’s

I’m sure that will send Gevlon’s tinfoil hat spinning.

Anyway, this isn’t everybody I spoke to, just those that I somehow ended up with in a picture, along with some other shots.

Heading to EVE Vegas 2018

That time of the year has arrived, at the other side of the calendar from EVE Fanfest in Iceland is EVE Vegas.  This coming weekend, October 19 through 21, CCP will be setting up in the city most closely representative of New Eden, if only New Eden still allowed gambling.  CCP has a dev post up covering the various aspects of the event.

EVE Vegas 2018

There will be a lot of eyes on CCP as this will be the first public event for the company after the acquisition by Pearl Abyss, the deal having closed on October 12.

I expect that the keynote will cover this in a very “everything will remain business as usual” sort of way.  Neither CCP nor Pearl Abyss wants to rock the boat right now, so a sense of soothing continuity seems like the best plan.

Still, if you want to panic about something, you can go check out the job posting for the new Monetization Director position at CCP.

You will work with Project Managers, Directors and EVE development teams to strengthen monetization designs, vision and process.

As it turns out, CCP is in it for the money.  Who knew?

EVE Vegas is also where we’re likely to hear about the next big thing for EVE Online.  We are at the end of the year where we often get a big, named release as opposed to a monthly update, and CCP like to announce that sort of thing in front of a live studio audience.

We will no doubt be hearing about CCP’s other New Eden related plans.  There is a presentation for Project Nova on the schedule.

For the fourth year running I will be attending EVE Vegas.  This year, in a change up from my usual lurking off on the side, I will be doing a presentation.  If you are going to EVE Vegas as well you have a good chance of spotting me at 4pm on Saturday in the Social A room.

EVE Vegas 2018 – Saturday Schedule (Pacific Time 16:00 = UTC 23:00)

Yes, my topic is blogging.  Go with what you know.  I will be attempting to evangelize the joys of blogging about internet spaceships.  So if you are in Vegas, have a badge, aren’t going to the Abyssal Deadspace round table presentation, and cannot find anything better to do, you can see me mumble into a microphone about the history, future, and reality of blogging.

If you are viewing from home… and CCP is streaming a lot of the event on their Twitch channel… then you’re not going to see me.  While some presentations are being streamed, the block of time where I am speaking is being used for Stream Fleet.

EVE Vegas 2018 – Saturday Streaming Schedule

Given that at least one slide of my presentation goes over the new media options that have supplanted blogging over the last decade, the irony of being pre-empted by streamers is not lost on me.  I suspect they looked at the list of speakers and put the two most dull topics into the same hour so they could turn the camera elsewhere.  Hard to blame anyone for that.  But at least the pressure is off and I don’t have to worry about accidentally saying “fuck” or anything.

Anyway, there it is.  I will be at EVE Vegas to hear what is coming for the game live and in person as well as communing with my fellow blogging types.  These events do tend stratify into groups, so it is probably telling that I’m over in a corner talking about CCP and New Eden rather than at the bar drinking and being loud.  Look for reporting on the event and some pictures next week.

Addendum:

After writing this I got the email from CCP about watching EVE Vegas remotely which includes a streaming schedule that is different from the one on the megablog post linked above.

Alternate universe streaming schedule

I suspect that the one in the in the original post is correct and that somebody just copied the presentation schedule rather than the streaming schedule, but who can tell.  Maybe you’ll see me, maybe you won’t.  We’ll only know when the time comes I suppose.  But now I’ve gone from wondering what I should wear to not caring what I wear to again being concerned about what I will wear.  I’m thinking one of the Open Comms show T-shirts.

No More Toys for Us

I remember the coming of the big Toys R Us store in Sunnyvale, over on El Camino Real near Mathilda Avenue.  It was, in a somewhat conservative time, a brash statement of color.

Something akin to what it looked like back in the day – Pic swiped from the internet

And, more importantly to me at the time, if was full of toys.

More recently they transformed the building into the bland beige store front style so common on strip malls across the country.  But for a while it stood out.  And it was haunted.

Of course, as a kid, it was a big deal even without the alleged ghost. (There is a post on Snopes about the haunting, a recurring story here in the valley, which had to get mentioned one last time when the location was set to close.)  But toy stores seemed to be a thing back then.  We not only had Toys R Us expanding into the valley, we also had a local chain, Kiddie World, with a couple of equally sizable locations, and later another big store… King Something’s Kingdom of Toys I think… it was over off of Interstate 880 with a big wooden soldier on the front of the building … along with smaller local retailers and the mall toy stores that eventually all became KB Toys.  And then there were the pseudo-toy stores, the hobby shops and the like, which grew in importance to me as time moved along.

I suppose it is in the nature of being a child, know where all the toy stores are and which retailer has a decent toy department and which does not.  I recall being disappointed with the one at Sears back in the day.

But even before the internet began to thin the heard of brick and mortar toy stores things were changing.  Silicon Valley was growing.  The population has more than doubled since that Toys R Us location opened.  Population pressures and a level of land scarcity (exacerbated by zoning laws favoring single family detached dwellings, leading the valley to be called a gang of suburbs in search of a city) began pushing up real estate prices, something reflected in retail rental costs, which killed off a lot of the small, independent toy stores.

Time, change, and competition send others packed.  That big toy store off 880 whose name eludes me was gone by the end of the 80s.  By the mid-90s Kiddie World, shrunk to a single location not too far down the road from the haunted Toys R Us, was trying to make its way by focusing on patio furniture and backyard play sets before it closed down.  And, as I mentioned, KB Toys scooped up the mall toy stores… at least before land value made having as many malls as we did economically nonviable.  And then even it fell over, as did the famous FAO Schwartz.

But Toys R Us seemed to be able to hang on and even thrive, scooping up fallen rivals and opening up Babies R Us in the late 90s, the go-to store for new parents.  Gift cards to Babies R Us were very welcome at baby showers and the like.  And in the age of Amazon the chain was able to strike a deal with wrecker of the status quo, even if Amazon reneged on the deal.

The chain was around for my daughter to grow up with.  Trips there were fun for the both of us.  There is something about being able to see and touch toys in person, to get their measure in reality, that surpasses any online purchasing experience.  The web is for buying, but stores are for browsing.  And Pokemon events.  Toys R Us used to host Pokemon download events, and my daughter and I attended more than a few of those.

However the internet kept pressure on the company while retail competitors like Target and WalMart.  Then they screwed up a couple of season of buying and were soon in deep trouble, needing to borrow more money for 2017 holiday season, a time of year which generates the lion’s share of their revenue.  That did not pay off and, having not turned a profit since 2013, the company was in serious trouble.

And so it goes.  Today, Friday, June 29, 2018, the last Toys R Us in the US is closing down.  It has been reported that their overseas subsidiaries will follow suit and the company will effectively disappear.  There is a farewell notice on their web site.

Farewell from Toys R Us

I am, at least theoretically, well past the need for a toy store, though I have persisted pretty well on the “don’t ever grow up” front.  As well as can be expected.

My daughter too is past toy stores for now, but she was sad as well when she heard the news.  She remembers going there when she was younger.  It was a memorable experience, a rite of childhood, being able to go to a big toy store.  And she has picked up some of my sense of nostalgia as she has realized that childhood doesn’t last forever.  The only constant in life is change.

And so one more facet of my life, of my daughter’s life, of the life of the valley, passes into memory.

Good-bye Geoffrey!

It will be a while… I hope… until grand kids are a concern.  I wonder what will fill the gap for them?  What will replace the toy store experience?  Or will video and virtual be all they know?

Home From EVE Vegas 2017

That went fast.  Very fast.

EVE Vegas 2017 – SOLD OUT

I was sitting there in the big auditorium with Nosy Gamer and Dire Necessity and Mynxee and Johnny Splunk as CCP Guard and CCP Falcon said from the stage that EVE Vegas 2017 was over and I think the reaction among several of us was, “Wait, it’s done? That’s it?”

It seemed like too short of a weekend.  Still, a lot happened.

CCP Presentations

CCP expanded on some of the things they were talking for the upcoming Life Blood expansion.  We already knew the Guristas were going to get a shipyard in north null sec, a mirror of the Blood Raiders in the south.  We learned that there would/could be up to three Guristas shipyards up at once as well as the capital ship blue prints they would drop; they include a faction version of the Phoenix dreadnought and Leviathan titan, which both can launch fighters in keeping with the usual Guristas theme.

There was also some updates on the new moon mining structures, how they will work, and some video of them in action.

But I think High Sec got a lot more attention than in past presentations.  There were, of course, the Guristas and Blood Raiders outposts, mini versions of the shipyards to find in empire space.

Then there was the announcement that moon mining would be coming to high sec with the new structures.  It will only be available in 0.5 sec status systems, and only deliver ore and not moon goo, but you can still get supercharged rocks out of it that boost yield for your mining op.

There was also the update to The Agency, which is slated to be the all-in-one place for finding PvE content.  It won’t just be for events any more.

But I think the big thing for high sec will be Resource Wars.  That is a new, co-op PvE system where you can join in, but don’t have to fleet up, to either mine or kill pirates to help your empire gather resources for rewards.  Semi-sorta public quest-like in nature, it touches on the three things I was going on about with EVE Online PvE.  They will provide progression of a sort with some meaning (akin to missions), have predictable return on investment, and are somewhat on demand through The Agency interface.  I want to try them out when they go live.

In the grand tradition of the game, I am sure somebody will be complaining about all of this.  CCP can’t add anything to the game without some people saying it isn’t enough while others bitch that it is too much focus on somebody else.  I just see new stuff and am happy.

Then there was the expansion of Alpha clones, which created what might be called an “Alpha Plus” or “Alpha Prime” class of players.  That will need its own post, but there is an article about it up at PC Gamer. (Also, I briefly met Steve Messner, the author, and got to thank him for linking to one of my posts last month.)

And, in addition we got updates on Project Nova and heard about the new Project Aurora (which some people got to play), both of which represent CCP figuring out that maybe they should team up with other developers when they make something in an arena they have not mastered.

Anyway, there are many other articles on the presentations and I will probably do posts about individual things later.  Suffice to say, much was learned about upcoming releases and plans going forward.

Player Presentations

EVE Vegas always features some player presentations, and the ones I saw this time around were all excellent. These are the ones I managed to sit in on.

Mike Azariah of A Missioneer in EVE spoke about finding your own path to “win” in EVE Online.

Eveline Vos and Keskora Yaari talked about the nature of life and conflict in wormhole space which, as an outsider to that corner of New Eden, was very interesting.

Emmaline Fera, a friend from Twitter, gave a simply awesome presentation on EVE Online leadership skills and how they transfer back and forth to real life.  I would love to see this again or at least get the presentation.

Matterall gave an hour long presentation that followed the experiences of a single NCDot player from the OTEC era through to today.  This was especially interesting as my own time in null sec started just before OTEC (I came in during the war against White Noise) and closely paralleled the story, only on the other side of every conflict. Addendum: Somebody recorded it off of the Twitch stream.

Debes Sparre (who used to comment here now and again) and Elise Randolph gave a presentation about building fleet doctrines that was very good.  I liked that they framed as a parallel to ship fitting.  As you pick modules for your ship, so you pick ships to fill out your doctrine.  They also promised to put their presentation and final fittings up on the web.

And then there was the usual Max Singularity presentation.  This time around his New Eden Physics Class 101 developed a consistent tech lore as to why ships in New Eden behave the way they do.  This was, in part, covered by his submission to the Frigates of EVE book, but he gave us the expanded, one-hour presentation as to why our ships work they way they do.  I can only hope that this all ends up some place where we can reference it at some point.  Anyway, now I have to buy that book as well.

Demos & the EVE Store

CCP had the usual array of demo stations and such setup in another room.

I went and tried out Sparq for a bit.  It is interesting, but perhaps not as accessible as Wii Sports, to which it has been compared.  The VR aspect of it is cool and immersive, but I still had problems just getting my hands to go exactly where I wanted them.  I don’t know if I’m just clumsy (high probability) or if the PlayStation 4 VR just isn’t as precise as I expected it to be.  Also, I could never quite get how big the shield on my hand was for deflecting shots.  It looks tiny from your own perspective, but you can see your opponant’s shield and it looks much bigger.  The fact that you cannot have local matches is probably the biggest hindrance to the game. (Unless your friend brings over their PS4 and VR headset to play.)

EVE Valkyrie: Warzone was on display of course.  Oddly though… or perhaps not… there were no VR headsets with that demo.  They wanted people to play the non-VR version, with stations setup to use keyboard and mouse and others with the XBox controller.  I didn’t try that out, but I bought a copy on Steam, so I’ll have a post about that later.

And then in the same room was the EVE Store, which finally had some decent items available.  And I mean simple things, like a T-shirt that just said EVE Online, that should have been there by default last year.  Also a year late was a Warp to the Dance Floor T-shirt.

Of course, it isn’t the EVE Store without some sort of screw up.  They were supposed to have EVE Vegas 2017 pins, but they were delayed so didn’t make it to Vegas.  I was told I would have to order them through the online store.  But the online store was completely failing to work with my phone browser, so I figured I would just order one when I got home.  But they were apparently only for sale during the event, so I missed out.  Bleh.

I did buy my daughter a Permaband T-shirt.  Her response was very “meh.”

People

There were many.  Over a thousand.  I did not speak to nearly enough of them.

Nosy Gamer, Dire Necessity, and I went to Holstein’s over at the Cosmopolitan where, once again, Dire order the shake with the comically large addition.  Last year it was a whole slice of pumpkin pie.  This year it was pretty much a whole ice cream sandwich in his cookies and cream shake.

Gonna need a bigger shake…

I also had a great dinner with Debes Sparre where we did the usual thing that long timers in the tech industry do; exchanged work horror stories.

The Venue

The Linq hotel was a strange bird.  I couldn’t quite place my finger on it until somebody pointed out that it used to be the old Imperial Palace hotel, the one-time cheapest place to stay on the strip.  Caesar’s bought it and spiffed it up, but it was still a matter of trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.  So I had a room with very nice decor, but the hot water system isn’t of the recirculating type typical of nice hotels, so you have to wait for the water to warm up.

And nothing screams “high class” like soap dispensers attached to the wall in an otherwise very up scale shower.

They all dispensed similar clear liquids too

There were also not enough elevators.  The main set were slow, heavily used, and glitchy.  I got in one that insisted on going up on every other stop, which made getting to the lobby a 10 minute ride.  The elevator car of the dammed.  And this situation wasn’t help by signs like this.

This sign is a complete lie

There was an elevator four doors down from my room with this sign, so I didn’t use it on the first day.  Later I discovered that it would put me on the second floor about a dozen steps from some steps and a door that put me on the casino level, which is where you need to be to get anywhere.  Those elevators were never busy.  So, I guess technically there were enough elevators, but the hotel was scaring people away from some of them.

Also, I got lost at one point, as all three towers… or districts… connect on every floor so I ended up going to a room with almost the same number as mine.

So it wasn’t the Bellagio, but I have to admit that the room prices were pretty good for what you got.  Of course, it probably helped that CCP didn’t book the event during Halloween again.

The Party

The party venue was like the Chateau of previous years on steroids.  Bigger, better, and many more bars to serve up free drinks.

Club Drai

CCP Guard and a few other got up and sang some of the Permaband numbers, though Killing is Just Another Means was left off the play list due to recent events in Las Vegas.

Not being the party person I was 30 years ago, I went back to my room and went to bed after that.  But there were many after parties and some people looked the worse for wear the next day.

Goodies

Of course there were things to pick up, both from CCP and players, as part of the event.

CCP had a goody bag that came pre-loaded with some items, including three SKINs.

EVE Vegas SKINs

I redeemed them and immediately activated the Megathron SKIN on my main.  I left the other two unredeemed wondering if I should send them to my Gallente Alpha alt, since he actually has the other two ships.

I have to send a special shout out to Dirk MacGirk who gave me one of this year’s Open Comms show T-shirt featuring the show advisory on the back.

Not mentioned: Alcohol Consumption

I wore the T-shirt from last year at the event, as it is one of my prized EVE Online possessions.

There were other nice items, including a Signal Cartel card and poker chip from Mynxee and an event T-shirt featuring one of the new moon mining structures.  I tried to sum that all up in one picture.

EVE Vegas Loot

That star on my badge is from Mike Azariah certifying that I have “won” in EVE Online.

Blade Runner 2049

I went to the charity showing of Blade Runner 2049 that CCP hosted.  No spoilers, but it helped to have seen the original… or the director’s cut I suppose, if you want to be technical…, it didn’t feel like 168 minutes sitting there, and you probably want to see it on the big screen.

Summary

A good time was had.  I would do it again.

I haven’t covered nearly enough of what I saw and heard, and I am nearly 2,000 words in.  More for further posts I guess.  I am sure I have forgotten something major I wanted to mention.

And, naturally, after a weekend of EVE Vegas I feel like I need another weekend right away just to get back in my day-to-day stride.  This no longer being young stuff sucks.

Where I Started Typing

My Aunt moved earlier this year and, in cleaning out her house, came across any number of items that had been stored away for years.  One of them was a typewriter.

Nothing to do with deviled ham

Probably one of the reasons I have done as well as I have in the computer age, or the information age, or whatever we end up calling this era, is that I learned to type at a fairly young age.  And the first place I started was with this typewriter.

A look under the lid, the ‘N’ key is the one sticking up in the bunch… we’ll get to that…

That is a 1937 Underwood Champion portable typewriter that my grandmother hauled off to college when she was 18.  It was portable by virtue of the fact that it came with a hard carrying case with a handle.

Typewrite and case

The typewriter sat in that case in the hallway closet at my grandmother’s house and when I would come over to visit I would often haul it out to bang away on it just for the feel of putting words on paper.  There was something about that action that made words feel more “real” or “official” to young me.

Later I would take typing in school and get my own typewriter, an Olivetti Lettera 32.  It was also a portable, though considerably smaller and lighter than the old Underwood.

The baby blue Lettera 32

(Picture source)

That was probably a fitting choice of brands as the Underwood company was purchased by Olivetti back in 1959.

I do not know where the Olivetti ended up.  With the coming of my first computer I immediately started shopping for a printer and what passed for a word processor back then.  After some fumbling about I got a copy of AppleWorks for my Apple //e and was off to the races.  At that point the typewriters went back into storage, rarely to be heard from again.

And so it goes.

Now I write a blog on much more sophisticated (or bloated… or both) software and share some of my words not on paper but electronically across the world via the internet, but I still put my fingers on the same keyboard layout I started to tinker with back in the early 70s.

And it was the internet that helped me figure out how old this typewriter was.  There is no date of manufacture stamped on it that I could find.  But I could see a serial number stamped into the frame.

Serial number inside the unit

With that number I was able to use Google to find the Typewriter Database site which includes a page of Underwood Champion serial numbers by year.  That pinned down the year, which lined up with my grandmother graduating from high school and heading off to college.

The typewriter itself still looks to be in prime mechanical condition.  “They don’t make them like that any more” might be cliche, but it has some grounding in reality.  And among the other things you can find on the internet are ribbons compatible with it.  I am sure the ribbon in there hasn’t been replaced since the 1950s at the latest.  There is scant print ability left in the dried out husk that is in it currently.

Some words are just visible

Actually typing on it requires quite a firm touch.  I recall how my grandmother used to brutalize the IBM Selectric in the library where she worked, pounding on those keys that would activate with a much lighter touch.  The mechanical operation requires you to push it, and hitting the shift key lifts up the entire platen unit, so not something you can do without a pinky that has been working out at the gym.

And then there are the quirks of early keyboards.  Each key cost money, so they only included what was necessary.  You will see there is no key for the number one.  The lower case ‘L’ was deemed sufficient for that.  And with no key for the number one, there is also no key for the exclamation point.  To make one you would type a period then backspace and type a single quote over it.  And forget about your angled, square, or curly braces.  Straight up parenthesis is all you better need.

You do, however, get a special key for the fractions 1/2 and 1/4, while some of the other standard punctuation is scattered about the keyboard in places you might not expect to find them.

The keys work… mostly… save for the ‘N’ key, which sticks.  It used to stick occasionally, now it sticks every time you hit it.  The arm of the key is slightly bent so gets stuck as it strikes and you have to reach up and pull the key back every time you used it.  Nobody will be typing the great American novel on this machine… not very quickly anyway.

Also, there is a little bell that rings when you hit the end of a line so you know when to hit the return lever to start on a new line.  I had forgotten about that aspect of manual typewriters.

The case however has seen better days.  The hinges on the back are broken, so you can no longer carry the case by the handle.  You have to carry it like you were carrying a cake in a box lest the typewriter come loose and fall out.

Now I have to figure out what to do with the unit.  This 80 year old typewriter is a minor bit of family history, but not really an heirloom.  My daughter was interested in it momentarily before going back to her iPhone.  I expect I will find some room for it in my office with the rest of the junk I hang onto.

Kitten Time

My wife has been looking at kittens for a few weeks now.  It is the season and the local Humane Society has pictures posted up on their web site.  Then my daughter got in on the act, and the deal was pretty much sealed when she started texting me pictures of a kitten in her lap at Petco up the street.  And so we have a new member of our household.

Miles at home with us

His name is Miles.  For the moment.  Names are a contentious issue.  He came with the name Barry, which my wife was for but my daughter was against.  Miles came up after much back and forth.  It might stick, or he might end up as Milo.  We’ll see.

He is a dozen weeks old, is full of energy, and has a purr like a mini two-stroke engine that he revs up the moment we’re in the room with him.  He is all over my wife’s home office.

Now it is just a matter of getting Miles introduced to Rigby, our current cat.  Rigby is still young-ish, coming up on four years of age, and has been missing having a playmate around.  He knows something new is up and has posted himself outside the office door for long stretches to see what is up.

Rigby watching the door intently

We did have a test encounter earlier.  Rigby was in the office doorway and Miles jumped out, arched his back, hissed, and hopped/bounced in that posture straight at Rigby, who retreated in the face of the aggressive fuzz ball.  We’ll have to work on that.

Oscar at Peace

After we moved into the old house… our first real, single family detached dwelling in the mold of the suburban American dream… and had settled in a bit, it became time to get a cat.  We had a cat at our old condo, a charmer named Woody, but he had passed and we decided not to think about another cat until we had settled down in a new home.  Getting there took a while, but once we had ourselves established in the autumn of 2000, we went looking for a cat.

Two cats actually.  The thought was that a pair would be happier.  And so one weekend we picked Felix from a rescue shelter.  He was an adult can of unknown age who had been living in the parking lot of the IBM facility on Cottle Rd. in San Jose.  When that was closed, the woman who had been feeding him collected him up and brought him in to find him a real home.  He was happy and friendly and liked people and warmed right up to me, so he came home with us the day we met him.

The next weekend we went searching for a companion.  Since I had chosen Felix… or maybe he chose me… my wife was looking for a cat for herself.  After some searching we came across a black kitten with a white tummy, white paws, and a little diamond shaped white spot on his forehead.  He wasn’t a tiny kitten, but about five months old.  My wife thought he was adorable and so we brought him home.

Earliest known picture of Oscar

Earliest known picture of Oscar, hiding under our bed

He came with the name Dylan, but we changed that to Oscar, to match Felix as the “Odd Couple” of cats, and it turned out to be quite the fitting name.

When we brought him home we followed what we had been told and set Oscar up in the guest room with the door shut to keep the two cats apart until they grew used to each other.  That lasted for about 30 minutes.  They were almost immediately on either side of the door sniffing and meowing and obviously anxious to see who was on the other side.  There were no hostile signs, so we said, “What the hell” and opened the door and the two became immediate buddies.

Felix sharing his catnip pillow with Oscar

Felix sharing his catnip pillow with Oscar

But while the two of them were pals for life, they had very different personalities.  Felix had to be around whoever was over to visit, greeting every guest, and was always happy to sit in anybody’s lap.  He was the good cat, gregarious and happy and always in the thick of things.

Oscar, on the other hand, was quite reserved.  He loved Felix and my wife, but held himself aloof from the rest of the world.  I joked that it took him five years to get used to me, but it was about the truth.  He wouldn’t go out of his way to find me, but would seek out my wife day and night to be close to her, preferably in her lap.

Felix would be in the thick of thing and Oscar would be peeking around the corner or sneaking around the periphery of any event, keen to know what was going on but not willing to go out there with all those strangers.  He was also always getting into everything.  While Felix was content with things as they were, Oscar had to know what was under, behind, over, and around anything in the house.  He could be quite the wiener, and his nickname quickly became Oscar Meyer.

And then my daughter showed up and there was a whole new world of adventure for Oscar Meyer.  There was some combination of new stuff and a little human that was constantly around my wife and who, no doubt smelled a bit of her, that made my daughter and all of her stuff of immediate interest to him.  I don’t think my daughter had been home for more than 10 minutes before he appeared at her bassinet to see what we had brought home.

What do we have here?

What do we have here?

Of course, he immediately tried to get into the bassinet with her and curl up.  She was nice and warm and that was a trait he loved in people.  We had to keep a close eye on him and even had to get a mesh “kitty tent” to go over my daughter’s crib to keep him out once she started sleeping there.  But her stuff was his stuff as far as he was concerned and looking back at the pictures he was around her and my wife a lot.

Life with Oscar and Felix was good.  They were pals and Felix, who would welcome anybody in our house, took up the slack with visitors as Oscar remained wary of strangers and really only liked my wife and daughter for years.  I remained under suspicion.

Of course, when it came time to go to the vet, I was the one who had to stuff the kitties in their boxes.  Felix would go easy, but Oscar… who could somehow sense I was coming for him even if left no evidence about… would run and hide under the bed the moment I glanced his way.  I recall once having to take the mattress and box spring off the bed to get at him.  Still, once in a while he would show up and hang out with me.

Hey, is that Age of Kings you’re playing?

Felix, older and having lived a harder life in his youth, passed away just about eight years ago.  Oscar though, he was in his prime at that time.  He was king of the house and soon had to rule over two new kittens.  The coming of Fred and Trixie worked out well, and the three of them became pals, with the two younger cats cuddling up with Oscar.

Black and white fur at rest

With three cats, everybody in the house had one.  Oscar remained ever my wife’s cat, while Fred would sleep with our daughter, and Trixie would hang out with me… though she would cuddle up on my wife in bed.  She knew where the warmth was.

Fred and Trixie were not with us long however.  They both suffered from a congenital issue that cut both of their lives short, feline aortic thromboembolism.  Fred went a year before Trixie, and in the interim she had to have a new cat to call her own, so Rigby joined us as a kitten.

Not being black and white, the new tabby kitten wasn’t welcomed very warmly.  It took a while for Trixie and Oscar to accept Rigby, but eventually they did.

Trixie, Rigby, and Oscar together on the tower

By this point Oscar was slowing down.  He was still king of the house, and held court on the couch where he would welcome any guest and sit in their lap… so long as it was warm… but he was more interested in sunny spots and treats than running around and playing.  Then Trixie passed and it was just Oscar and Rigby.

Those two were not pals.  When Rigby was young he wanted to play when Oscar wanted to sleep.  Later when Rigby came into his adult size, he stated testing Oscar over who was really the boss.  There were the occasional fights, but mostly it was the kitty equivalent of “I’m not touching you, I’m not touching you!”

Oscar trying to pretend Rigby isn’t there

They could be cuddly at times, but their rivalry was never far from the surface.

 

And Oscar was getting older and slowing down even more so.  The vet told me a couple of times that 12 to 15 years is a good life span for a healthy cat.  Oscar hit 16 last year and was closing in on 17 this year, but time was telling on him.  His hips were bothering him, so we got him a heating pad to sleep on during the day.  He had gone deaf at some point, which meant that an already vocal cat had no real way to gauge his volume. He then got a bad ear infection about 18 months back that took a long stretch to go away with antibiotics, a respiratory infection late last year that sapped his strength before it was over, and then this past January an episode that looked like another ear infection (head tilt, problem with balance) but which the vet thought was an issue with his brain; not a stroke but some sort of episode.  His blood pressure was very high and in addition to his other symptoms he was blind in one eye.

I started writing this post after that day at the vet because he looked to be done, even crawling under our bed to be some place dark, something past cats I have owned have done that indicates their time has come.

Then he bounced back a bit.  The “maybe this will help” medicine the vet gave us seemed to actually help.  He got up on the bed with us the next day.  His balance improved, he could get around the house on his own, and he started eating again.  He wasn’t eating much though and he was far from his old self.  We made him as comfortable as we could and offered up food he really liked just to get him to eat more.  Even Rigby (mostly) stopped being a pain to Oscar and would groom him.

But it was borrowed time.  Oscar was eating less and less and was losing weight.  Even for an older cat who slept a lot already, a lot of his time was spent asleep.  And then when I got home from work Wednesday I found him in the middle of the floor of office.  My wife said he had used the litter box, but then just stopped in the carpet there and wouldn’t move.  She had food and water close to him, but he was just sitting there.  I found a cat bed he would occasionally deign to sleep in, put it down next to him, then placed him in it.  He curled up there and slept.  He did not move until the next morning when he was trying to walk to our bedroom.  I picked him up and put him on the bed in the dark room and he curled up again and stayed there.

I was working from home yesterday and my daughter was home sick from school, so we kept an eye on Oscar, but things did not look good.  There was no interest in food or water.  I let my daughter take him out in the back yard where it was warm (72 degrees) and sunny to see if that would stimulate him.  Oscar has never been outside and has shown no desire to ever leave the house.  But as a cat any new environment is of interest to him. He explored a bit, but could barely go a dozen steps before having to lay down and rest for a bit.

Out in the grass

While he was out there with my daughter I called the vet and made an appointment for one last check before the end.  We all went to the vet and cried a lot  as we said good bye.  He is at peace and suffers no more, but we are still sad today and miss him.

The end of an era.  We always grow attached to our pets, but after 16 years the bond is very strong and the parting all the more difficult.  Oscar had been with us since before my wife was even pregnant with our daughter, and we used to joke, when my daughter wanted a sibling, that he was her older brother.

It is even difficult to choose pictures to post of him.  We got our first digital camera as a gift just before we got Felix and Oscar and he has been a kitty of the digital camera and then the iPhone age.  There are literally hundreds of pictures of him to choose from.  But I think my favorites are from the early days, when he and Felix roamed our house and were such pals, and when Oscar just had to get into everything, so I will add a few more of those to the end of this already over-long post.

EVE Vegas – Like Finds Like and Other Things

Back from EVE Vegas and I am still tired.  And, since it was Halloween on Monday I flew back home just in time for more things going on.  No rest for the weary.  I heard that CCP chose the weekend because they thought it would be a good date for a party, but I am not sure anybody has problems finding a party on Halloween.  But I was there.

Various bits of EVE Vegas

Various bits of EVE Vegas 2016

Lots of interesting things were announced or talked about during the event.  My favorite tidbit of data involved how many citadels there were in New Eden.  The count, as of the art presentation (which also gave us the new explosions video) on Sunday, was:

  • Astrahus – 6,690 with 90 more coming online
  • Fortizar – 747 with another 30 in progress
  • Keepstar – 14 in space

That is a lot of citadels deployed in New Eden.

They didn’t say how many Keepstars were being deployed, but one went up in our own staging system last night.

Goons have a Keepstar

Goons have a Keepstar

Its deployment probably went unnoticed because our staging system has citadels the way Jita has station.

Anyway, lots of stuff at EVE Vegas that people are writing about.  You can find summaries over at The Nosy Gamer and at NevilleSmit.com (post 1, post 2, and post 3)

I have some thoughts of my own rattling around my head, especially about the bright future of ship skins in New Eden, but I am tired and there are kids outside looking for candy so I am going to save that for another day.

Instead I want to look at some minor bit of EVE Vegas that I find interesting, which is who I spent time talking with at the event.  The list, in no particular order:

There are probably a couple missing from that list, but since I generally can’t even remember what I had for breakfast by the time lunch rolls around most days, the fault is mine not yours.

Mark726 and I at the Chateau party

Mark726 and I at the Chateau party

So yes, there is a pretty clear pattern there.  That list is mostly people in EVE Online fan media whose work I had listened to or read before Vegas and who were, in most cases, at least somewhat aware of me and my blog.  (This blog, and not EVE Online Pictures, my official fan site blog, which nobody knows exists.)

Myself, Neville Smit, and Nosy (Note the unintentionally on point sign in the lower left)

Myself, Neville Smit, and Nosy (Note the unintentionally on point sign in the lower left)

And just to sort of round that theme out, I know Gabby through Twitter (she was literally the first person I spoke to at EVE Vegas last year) while Debes used to comment frequently on EVE posts here (until I went to null sec), so they really fit the pattern as well.

Which isn’t to say I didn’t talk to anybody else.  I spoke for just a bit with Robby Kasparic, who contributes to Imperium News and is in Reavers, and meant to get back to chat with him some more but never quite managed it.  For example, I also met DBRB, who is exceptionally pleasant in person, Lady Scarlet, and The Mittani at various points during the event.  But those were all in passing moments and as like as not I was forgotten pretty quickly.

Out of 800+ people at the event, that really wasn’t a lot of people.  I spoke to two CCP people during the whole thing; CCP Logibro, to give him a TNT pin to add to the collection he had on his badge lanyard, and CCP Guard, because I was on his team for the trivia quiz. (Hint: Always be on Mark726’s team for such events.  His team won while ours came in last with 9 points out of 40, though CCP Guard knew the answers when it came to questions about events in 2003.)

And part of that is because of me.  Manic Velocity gave a talk title “Scaling the Social Cliff of EVE Online” where he spoke about how it can be a problem for an introvert like himself to come to events like EVE Vegas and actually talk to strangers, which I would have loudly agreed with if I wasn’t too introverted for that.  It is nearly impossible for me to walk up to a group of strangers already talking and join in.  I’ll look away and walk past and hate me for being me while I look for somebody I know.

But another part is in my motivation in going to Vegas, which isn’t primarily to party or gamble or drink exotic alcoholic milkshakes, though I may indulge in that sort of thing.

Holsteins - That is a slice of pumpkin pie on the left milkshake

Holsteins – That is a slice of pumpkin pie on the left milkshake

And I certainly went to the Chateau party.

The DJ was pretty spot on picking music for the EVE Vegas crowd

The DJ was pretty spot on picking music for the EVE Vegas crowd

But I think my prime motivation in going to EVE Vegas was to talk about EVE Online with other players, and doubly so in the face of announcements that CCP puts out at these event.  And actually talking about the game, its people, and various related issues from running a stream to what makes a news site “work” for readers is difficult to do with more than a few people.  Even at the blogger lunch that Marcus Scarus threw together, where there was not a huge crowd, we broke into smaller groups at times to talk about different topics.

So talking to a lot of people wasn’t necessarily a key objective.  Talking to some of the “right” people was, and I think things turned out pretty well with the list of people above.  Thanks for spending time talking with me.

Also, a special shout out to Dirk MacGirk because conversation is enhanced when somebody hands you an awesome T-shirt.

The Open Comms Show T-Shirt, graphics by Rixx Javix

The Open Comms Show T-Shirt, graphics by Rixx Javix

So now to figure out how to get to Vegas again next year.

Also, in closing, there is one more odd aspect to all of this, which is what do you call people?  And how do you introduce yourself?  We all have our real name, our in-game name, and sometimes a different name under which we blog or stream.

When I met The Mittani we ran into him at the Cosmopolitan.  He introduced himself as “Alex” so I returned with, “John,” both our real life names.  But he came our way because I was standing with Noizy, whom he has met in the past, and started talking to him.  However, I still don’t know what Noizy’s real life name is and only vaguely recall his in-game name.  There isn’t any great message in all of that, just a glimpse at the oddity of our various identities.

Finally, I was told several times that there was one other person from TNT, my alliance, who attended EVE Vegas.  However, this always came up when I arrived and he had just left, so I never actually met him.  Ah well, maybe next year.