Tuesday, October 30, 2012

[DTP] Starting to use Serif's PagePlus X6.

Yesterday I went ahead and got Serif's PagePlus X6 desktop publishing software for Windows. Serif's DTP software has come highly recommended to me as a good, competent, low-end program. As such, its direct competition would be the Open-source program Scribus, and the rather reviled Microsoft Publisher. Comparing it to programs like QuarkXpress and InDesign would likely be useless, as their target market has very different needs, desires and workflows.

That said, I'm coming from QuarkXpress (even if its several years after the fact), and thus I'm having to make sure I keep my expectations in check. Moreover, I'm coming over to this from OSX to Windows, so that's even more adjustment.

What I primarily want is a competent desktop publishing program for my own, personal use. Given how many smaller RPG/game shops use Serif, I think it'll be quite functional for me. Moreover, I really want to start getting into creating ePub eBooks; my old Adobe CS2 couldn't do that (CS5 or higher), my Quark 7 can't do that (Q8), and so far as I can see, Microsoft Word 2013 can't do it (currently in release preview).

I don't have any clients or jobs lined up at the moment, and won't put myself on the market for a while. I'd like to be sure I'm putting out quality first, you know? Having already done one test ePub, I'm starting to test those, but have already run into an issue with the iPad eReader, which is unacceptable. I'll research that later on to see if its my fault, a problem with the export, or any number of possible issues. Just like PDFs and HTML, ePubs are a standard in a rather loose sense - the reader program/client has more influence on things than I'd like.

I was able to get the upgrade pricing from X5 to X6; a $30 savings, although after using Steam and other such services for so long, seeing a small additional fee for "download protection" was a bit unexpected (essentially, it would let me redownload the application for up to 2 years if I need to). However, Serif's customer service has been quite good to me, so I went ahead with it.

At the moment my goals are:

  1. Achieve competence with the program. There's a lot for me to learn, both in terms of knowing what to do, but also getting familiar with PagePlus's personality, quirks, etc.
  2. Establish a workflow for eBook creation.
  3. Establish a dual-workflow for PDF layout and design as well as eBook.
  4. Research fair and reasonable rates for services rendered.

So, we'll see! Here's hoping, right?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

[STO] Your feedback can make a difference!

Dan Stahl announced that Fleet Actions were going to see increased rewards, as following:

  • Gold = Purple + 1920 Dilithium
  • Silver = Purple + 960 Dilithium
  • Bronze = Blue + 960 Dilithium
  • All others = Green + 960 Dilithium
One of the posters politely pointed out they were concerned that this could be damaging to the social atmosphere of Star Trek Online. Dan acknowledged this, had already spoken to the other developers, and said he was bringing the feedback from the thread to the rest of the team.

In addition, we have decided to nix the X2 Dilithium bonus for Gold and instead provide a x2 Purple gear and keep the Dilithium consistent across all players.
Its still a good reward, but not nearly as overbearing as the double Dilithium in my opinion. Will it get tweaked further? Its entirely possible. But the economics of double Dilithium was too good; some people immediately quit STFs if the team misses secondary objectives, after all. If its obvious someone won't get first place, would they likewise quit? Entirely likely.

Either way, good feedback is important to the development process, both for players and the devs themselves. When I was playing City of Heroes, they introduced a change to how stealth worked. If you were stealthed at all, for any reason, then clicking on an item (a "glowie") to interact with it would be blocked. This was done to prevent stealthy players from running through, collecting everything, and having absolutely no risk but all rewards.

The players noted, however, that it then made it possible to grief other players by causing them to be stealthed! Grant Invisibility, Group Invisibility, Steaming Cloud and other powers would cause players to be placed into a stealth state regardless of them wanting to be so or not. So, a player could sit upon a glowie, stealth everyone, and block everyone from clicking on it. So, the testers got to work:

  1. We politely summarized the issue we saw. No personal attacks, but rather, "hey, we noticed this."
  2. Explain, in detail, the issue.
  3. Show data if possible. Replicate it as many times as possible.
  4. Make suggestions as to what could be done instead.
  5. Get others to do the same.
It was quite a thrill when Cryptic's Jack Emmert (aka Statesman) decided to scrap that implementation of the idea. Going with a suggestion, clicking/interacting with an object suppressed a player's stealth, and only their stealth. As such, other players could not grief groups of other players while preserving the Risk:Reward balance the devs wanted.

It won't work out this way every time. But, as the saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar. Treat the developers as people as well, and treat them as well as you'd like to be treated; the Golden Rule is woefully neglected with anonymous communication. We won't often get to see the full story on their side, so keep in mind they've got schedules, budgets, and bosses of their own. Sometimes what we think ought be easy is a not insignificant amount of work (to riff former COH developer Back Alley Brawler).

[STO] Season 7 thoughts, part 1.

If you're active in Star Trek Online's end-game, you owe it to yourself to read up on their changes to Task Force Omega. In addition, its really a great time to use the official forums and the Dev Tracker or simply dive into the discussion concerning the blog. Go over the Dev Blog on TF Omega first, as that will provide some background for everything else. You might also want to use STOwiki.org to reference current values and rewards.

[STO] Dilithium tracking 10/25/12

Well, its been an interesting week in STO land. A lot of it centers around the Task Force Omega Reputation system; they’re streamlining rewards, expanding them in some cases, lowering them in others, and more. As such, its making me wonder if the current Z:D prices are more from people keeping more Dilithium to themselves, “just in case.”

Dan Stahl has been a very busy bee, so its really worth your time to go looking through what he and the other devs have posted. I’ll get some highlights up later, though. Again, knowing what’s coming will help you decide how you want to progress. Overall, I like the changes, but that’s my opinion based on how I play; your mileage may vary.

Monday, October 22, 2012

[STO] Upgrading Duty Officers without Dilithium.

At the moment, Season 7 has plans to increase the costs associated with Reassigning Under-performing Officers. This is an area of concern for some players. Those who are looking for improved Duty Officers for the DOFF system are understandably upset, as are those who are actively working on starbase projects (higher tier projects sometimes require Uncommon Duty Officers in large quantities).

So, are there any other options? Enter the Recruitment Duty Officer Missions.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

[STO] Preparing for upcoming Duty Officer changes.

At the moment, there seems to be a change on Tribble/Public Test Server that Cryptic/PWE is planning for Season 7. In short, there's going to be a Dilithium charge for certain Duty Officer functions.

  • General Recruitment (the basic DOFF pack) - 1,000
  • Reassign Underperforming Officers (crunch 5 into 1 of the next higher quality)
    • Common - 500 (600 at race specific vendor)
    • Uncommon - 2500 (3000 at race specific vendor)
    • Rare - 5000 (6000 at race specific vendor)

Now, one thing I'll have to say is that these numbers are not final. Season 7 is not live yet for one, but on top of that? Its possible they'll be adjusted in the future. Whether it'll be higher or lower, its hard to say, but I'd be surprised if they stay the same. Now, looking at this, I can really sympathize with casual players. As a result, Dilithium-earning activities should become more popular.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

[STO] Dilithium tracking 10/18/12

  Monday Tuesday Wed Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
8/27/2012     160 165 161 156 158
9/3/2012 157 157 157 156 153 152 153
9/10/2012 154 153 154 154 154 154 154
9/17/2012 155 156 155 155 155 154 155
9/24/2012 154 155 159 165 163 158 160
10/1/2012 161 159 160 159 156 157 157
10/8/2012 157 157 158 159 158 158 158
10/15/2012 160 159 160 160      
Well, it looks like the good times of September are over with, at least for now!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

[STO] Multi-prong advancement.

I'm sure you've heard "slow and steady wins the race," right? How about, "don't put all your eggs in one basket?" "Failing to plan is planning to fail." Sure, they're cliches, but that doesn't make them any less sound as advice. And, right now, that's about where I'm at in terms of getting my D'Kora. So, my current game plan is...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

[STO] DOFF Experiment, nearly 24 hours later.

Yesterday I started a little experiment to see what I could do with 2 million Energy Credits worth of DOFFs. Nearly a day later?

  • All but three (valued at 108k EC) have sold.
  • From a starting balance of 25k EC, I've gone to 3.692 million EC.
  • Taking away the starting balance and invested amount, I've brought in 1.692 million EC.

Now, that did take a while to work through! Biggest obstacles to it being fast were:
Exchange limit of 40 transactions.

  • Constant flipping through Buy and Sell tabs for referencing prices.
  • A weird little bug when exchanging higher ranking DOFFs for lower ranking DOFFs (basically, it wouldn't show there be any available on the first try).
  • Time to sell.

But, overall, I'd say it was a reasonable use of time. Again, I personally prefer to have multiple avenues to a single goal, so this is just one of many. The best thing is it doesn't deplete my Dilithium Reserves, which I use for buying Crafting Materials as well as buying Zen for Master Keys. Moreover, it allows me to leverage my existing Energy Credits rather than having them sit around.

All in all, it seems like a perfectly useful tool!

[Q&A] Computer Education!

Jonathan, Ben and L.D. are talking about computer classes and continuing education. Tune in today at noon. Q&A Presents Maui On Line! KAOI AM 11-10 and 96.7 FM!

You can listen in online at http://kaoi1110.com/ or download the show later at http://www.q-a.net/mauionline/.

Friday, October 12, 2012

[STO] DOFF Investing Experiment.

Based on the article/post I read yesterday on making Energy Credits, I'll be posting an experiment for myself. I took 2 million EC and bought 15 Duty Officer Mini-Packs, leaving me with 25,000 EC. I'll open them all up, and proceed to post them onto the Exchange. Now, I've got 11 existing, salable Duty Officers already, so this won't be exact, but at the same time those DOFFs were free via the Star Fleet Academy recruitment DOFF assignments.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

[STO] Great read on making Energy Credits.

ertihan on the official Star Trek Online boards has a great post on how to make Energy Credits called The Art of the Deal.
The art of making EC in STO can be pretty intimidating at times, but the truth is that it's not as complicated as it sounds. The first million can come pretty quickly if you know what you're doing, but here are some tips to get you going.
 Its a relatively quick read, and what I really, really like is how ertihan goes from starting up to reaching high levels of Energy Credits in a sensible fashion. Being upfront about costs and risks is another highlight; high risk and high reward go hand in hand, after all! But, the Big Leagues section has some fun reading, good ideas, and moreover an "advanced" economic game. In theory, this is where the Exchange could turn into indirect PVP.

Please note: Silver players will need to buy the Energy Credit Cap Increase from the Cryptic Store. Its 500 Zen ($5USD). If you don't want to spend money, make it a goal and buy it via Dilithium and the Z:D Exchange.

If you're not planning to become the next Grand Nagus, you can use some of the information defensively. By knowing how things get marked up, you can go down the line a bit and net some good savings. Moreover, you can also kit out alt characters much easier by using a high-level characters.

Again, great read, and totally worth your time to look through.

[STO] Dilithium Tracking 10/11/12

Its been a fun week for Star Trek! Lifetime Subscriptions are on sale for $199 for a limited time, Lifetime holders get all Veteran’s Rewards without waiting (which is causing more than a little division on the forums), the new 1,000 day VR ships have been released, and a new STF for Season 7 has been announced!

But, you can see all that elsewhere; you came here for numbers...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

[STO] Lifetime Subscriptions on sale!

From now until November 12th, you can get a Lifetime Subscription for $199.00!

At that price, you'll only need play 14 months to break even versus having a subscription (normally it'd take 20 months). Don't forget you'll also be getting 500 Zen as a monthly stipend; useful for buying all sorts of goodies, including things you can sell on the Exchange like Master Keys and Fleet Modules. And don't forget Dilithium. Buy goodies, save it up, or buy Energy Credits, whatever you like ^_^

Additionally, Lifetime Subscribers get access to all Veteran's Rewards, regardless of how long they've had their Lifetime sub. So, someone buying a new sub today will have access to the 1,000 Veteran Reward ships. These ships look pretty nice (not as nice as my Atrox, but whatever), and might be a lot of fun to play, so we'll see!

I think this is a nice move on Cryptic's part. Its a good perk, but not overwhelmingly amazing. Its not "must have" from a practical standpoint. Moreover, the Lifetime Subscription is $300 for most of the year; one poster noted that its not especially practical to time-base those rewards for Lifers. They'll get everything eventually, after all, whereas Free players will never get them, and Subscribers have them as a carrot to keep subscribing or to go Life.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

[PC] Cheap and easy cloud mirroring.

There's a lot of great reasons to use Cloud storage like SkyDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. I love that I can work on files between my smartphone, laptop, and desktop. But, sometimes I wonder, "How do I back this up?"

Thanks to a quick internet search, I've got a simple way to mirror some of those files!

[Q&A] Talking about Backups!

Another big show today as Jon and LD discuss a favorite topic of ours... yup! You guessed it... BACKUP! Tune in today at noon. Q&A Presents Maui On Line! KAOI AM 11-10 and 96.7 FM!

You can listen in online at http://kaoi1110.com/ or download the show later at http://www.q-a.net/mauionline/.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

[STO] 10/4/12 Dilithium Tracking

Steady as she goes!

We’re still coming off the high from last week, but prices aren’t sharply dropping like they did last time. Which is better if you’re buying Dilithium, not so great if you’re wanting to buy Zen. That said, it’s a lot better than the “old days” my fleeties were talking about last night! Its sort of hard to imagine 1:200 or even 1:300 exchange rates, at least for me. As such, well, I find this more favorable, clearly.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

[STO] Buying Zen with Energy Credits

UPDATE: I was told about the Exchange bug! Yay! That completely threw off the value of A. As such, its probably one of the most attractive options you have.

UPDATE: There's a revisiting of this with more current numbers.

I’ve been going on about buying Energy Credits using Dilithium and Zen for a while now. And, honestly, its great! Those with an abundance of Dilithium or Zen can use their resources to get things they want from the Exchange, contribute to their Fleets, and more. Its very useful, relatively simple, and pretty straight forward.
But, what if you wanted to do the opposite?

[STO] Top shelf booze and more Uncommons.

Logged during lunch for a quick check of my DOFFs, Dilithium, etc. Out of curiosity, I checked the price of Romulan Ale, as I wanted to buy some more for my Fleet. What was 200k EC was now 1 million EC. Whoops! Should've bought sooner!

I suspect the price skyrocketed due to the newly announced special project for Starbases. The Conference Room and Hunting Bar look great, have wonderful personality, and are taking up a special projects slot. As such, well, people are clearly trying to burn through their current projects which ought account for the pricing. If you've got it, or have some time to play in Romulan space to get it, right now is looking like a wonderful time to be a seller.

After that, I gandered at the Uncommon Unreplicatable Materials pricing. Since I've been keeping my Dilithium rather than selling for Zen right now, I was able to buy a nice batch of it. Reconsidering my pricing, I went with 175k per unit this go around. That's still 25k less than the low end, 75k less than what I felt the "normal" price was (~250k). I divvied everything up again - four stacks of 7, one stack of 5, and 6 single units. That ought bring in 6.825 million.

Older sales I had finally came through, so I'm back over 4 million again. The 25-unit stack of Uncommons was a nice boost, but I think it was too large. Breaking it up into smaller stacks would've gotten everything sold faster.

Looking forward to tomorrow's update!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

[STO] They got a Korath Temporal Science Vessel!


A player I’m happily acquainted with let me know that they got a Korath Temporal Science Vessel! It’s a really cool ship, and one I’d really like to have for my KDF Science character. Best part about it? They didn’t pay a dime.

I asked, “how did you do it? What was your strategy?” Their answer?

Monday, October 1, 2012

[STO] Its hard to stock the top-shelf stuff.

Specifically, Dosi Rotgut and Romulan Ale. The fleet I’m in is currently advancing its starbase, and the Bartender project is up on the block. We’re done with everything except filling up on the Dosi and Ale, but getting those two items is not fun or easy.

Both can be obtained through Confiscate Contraband From Crew and Special Reserve duty officer missions, however this is not exactly reliable. The Rotgut can also be a reward for Experimental Development of Cocktails from Tulaberries, and the Ale can also be a drop in Romulan space. Farming Tulaberries and hoping for that mission takes time, and, well, simply shooting up Romulans has to be the least interesting way for me to get anything.

The most reliable way to get either would be to hit up the Exchange, but with prices starting at 200k Energy Credits and rapidly increasing it’s a little unattractive. That said, I've gone through and bought 75 Dosi Rotguts for my fleet, blowing through ~16 million Energy Credits. Now, that's all been earned via DOFF, Master Key, and Unreplicatable Materials sales, so its not like I worked hard for it, but that's still a tidy sum.

On the flip side, my stipend will be hitting soon, so i can go ahead and look forward to more Master Keys sales, plus Fleet Modules. Moreover, with a decent sum of Dilithium in the bank, I can also go through and buy more Uncommon Unreplicatable Materials.

I should be back to where I was soon enough ^_^