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More Eve

A Caracal cruiser near a Minmatar jump gate.

I'm still playing and enjoying Eve. As well as the exploration I'm doing my market thing again.

What's my 'market thing' I hear you ask? Essentially I have a character that has very good market and refining skills, and also has very high standings with the local trade hub. So, I have buy orders for modules, refine them with no loss and then sell the refined minerals to buy orders. Sure I could make more by putting the minerals up for sale or even hauling the modules to a better hub but, hey, I'm lazy and I can run this in the background while I do things on other accounts/characters. Usually I'm looking at a 40 - 50% return on most items so it's a decent bit of profit.

If you're running 200+ orders it's a little complicated to keep track of things, so I downloaded the Odessey databse dump from CCP and wrote a small php app to help me out. Thanks to some nifty mySQL work via Eve Dev I was able to pull out every item in the database along with the minerals and quantities thay break down to. The quantities in the database match what my perfect refine/standings character gets, which is fortunate as it saves me having to adjust the figures for skills and standings.

Now, I realise there's a whole bunch of utilities, such as EveHQ that probably do what I want but having tried them they didn't really do what I wanted, so here we are.

My second set of thanks goes to Eve Central whose api allows me to pull the current max buy prices for minerals at the hub I'm working out of. Some php magic happens - ok, it's a function that multiples each mineral quantity from each module by the current mineral price and sums them to produce a cost price, but it 'seems' like magic, and I output everything to a table. Strictly speaking I don't need to output the mineral quantities but it's handy to see what modules produce what minerals and quantities in case I'm looking to target something specific.

Find as you type ajax completes the basic functionality and it's turned out quite well. I can now go through an item group e.g. large hybrids, and see which max buy orders are below my cost threshold and put an order in on that item.

I'm wondering if I need to add something that tells me the total amount of ISK I have in buy orders against the total profit when the minerals are sold. I'll give it a few days and see.


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Back to Eve

A Caracal cruiser near a Minmatar jump gate.

So, yes, I'm playing Eve again. I guess it was inevitable as no matter how many times I take a break I always end up going back

When I first fired up my accounts I went straight back into what I knew and was doing before I got bored and took a break - missions. The good thing about grinding missions is that it's an easy way to earn a set amout of ISK (in-game currency) over a set period of time. The down side is repetition, leading to boredom, leading to me taking a break. I quite enjoy the PvP side of things but am quite bad at it and a little risk averse if I'm honest.

This time I decided to try Exploration as a way of making ISK and I'm enjoying it far more than I thought I would. I'd dabbled before in it but never came away with much after an hour or two of scanning so figured it wasn't my thing. This time is different though. Maybe I'm more prepared for it. The changes to scanning that CCP made in the Odyssy expansion seem to have dumbed things down a little, but on the other hand, being able to discard the sites I don't want and move on quickly has made things far more enjoyable.

It's only taken me a few days to get used to the competitive nature of exploration in 'hi-sec' space as sites are open to anyone who can scan them down. I've been in a few races with people to get to the Commander spawn, which is fun, although frustrating if you lose out. My single biggest mistake? Thinking you have time and not shooting the Commander as soon as it appears. Shoot it! Kill it with fire! and then loot the wreck. whatever you need to do to get whatever it drops into your cargo hold.

I'd also never realised just how many wormholes there are in Eve. For some reason, when I was last living in 0.0 space they seemed to be fairly rare. In hi- sec you can't move for tripping over the damn things!

Security shouldn't be an afterthought

A prison cell in Kilmainham Gaol. Shot through a peep hole in the door.

A post on Slashdot got me thinking about this topic this morning as it's something I'm always looking to get across to clients.

Given the number of high profile hackings there've been during the last 12 months alone then it's something that any developer should give serious consideration.

Seeing as PHP and mySQL are most used this PHP security cheat sheet should give a good overview on Cross Site scripting (XSS), mySQL injections and other techniques to access any, unprepared, database driven web site.

The idea is to minimise the risk. There's nothing wrong with paranoia but sometimes it's just not practical. You can build a better mousetrap but someone else will build a better mouse.


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Chrome browser has now reached 40% market share

It would appear that Chrome browser has reached 40% market share on the desktop, which surprised me at least. I have to admit I don't keep a close eye on these things.

I've always favoured Mozilla browsers and used Netscape Navigator before that. I'm not sure why Firefox has fallen out of favour with people, although a 20% market share isn't bad I guess. We all have a desire to have our choices validated though so that's probably where the disappointment comes from.

Personally, from a web development point of view it's not a bad thing. Internet Explorer is much improved and we're at the stage where we can probably forget about IE6/7 in a lot of cases.


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Not the chair you're looking for

MWE Labs 1510lx workstation

I've been looking for a new desk chair, something 'aeron-y' but without the price tag if possible. Coming across the MWE Labs 1510lx on Ars certainly stopped me in my tracks with it's command chair looks.

The issue, besides the nearly £4000 price tag, is it doesn't seem that practical for an office of any kind. Plus I probably wouldn't get much work done as I'd be spending all my time issuing commands to my pretend minions.


photo by D Sharon Pruitt

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Late to the party

Birthday cake with candles

Being of a cautious nature I'm not one to start using new web techniques straight away, prefering a 'wait and see' approach. Such is the case with Responsive Web Design (RWD) that first surfaced in 2010 - I did say I was cautious.

The basis of RWD is far from new, being based on what was once know as fluid design. Widths were sized in percentages and columns got narrower and wider with the browser window. The problem back then was that css elements like min-width and max-width weren't properly supported and Internet Explorer still had the vast majority of the browser market share, so your fluid design would just keep on getting wider, or narrower with your browser. As screen resolutions increased you were left with very long lines of text, making it very difficult to read. While some persisted, most fled to the safer climes of the fixed width site where, as designers, we could give clients what they wanted - consistency across different browsers.

And there was much rejoicing, despite the fact that we still had to apply hacks to get Internet Explorer to present some things as they looked in the other browsers of the time. So, not much rejoicing then.

I recently worked on a site for Go Stationery based around Shopify, using a paid for theme that took advantage of RWD and it was an interesting exercise. Interesting enough for me to rethink my own site. Certainly from a developers point of view it's fun to resize the browser window and watch as the layout moves around to accomodate the new width according to break points. My biggest concern with visitors to a RWD website is will it confuse them? If someone is used to the desktop version and visits the site on their phone, only to be presented with an unfamiliar layout, is this going to be an issue?

Certinaly feedback to Craig Bucklers article on Sitepoint would indicate frustration from some users but it's fair to point out that if you're hiding content to make it fit then the design isn't working. It's not something that can often be bolted onto an old site design as how things interact as they're pushed together needs to be taken into account and I suspect this is where the complaints of things being hidden on the phone and tablet versions are coming from.

As a test I've adopted a hybrid approach where the layout is fluid down to just before things start to look bad and then I've fixed the width. I'm fortunate that I'm not dealing with a large news site, full of adverts and other things I would need to accomodate but then it's best to start small.


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Sisterhood of Dune

The cover of Sisterhood of Dune, book 1

I read Dune about 2 or 3 years back. It was one of those books where nothing appeared to happen and yet I kept on reading for some reason. I never did discover why I finished it or read other books from the series.

As much as I enjoyed Dune, what frustrated me was the mixture of old and new technology, which is something that I've come across in various sci-fi worlds over time - the idea that something cataclysmic happened and there has been a techonological leap backwards. Dune, Battletech, Warhammer 40k are all based on this idea although Dune, written in 1965, is obviously the forerunner. I'm not a hard sci-fi kind of person really. I want to get swept up in fantastical things and don't really care for the accuracy of the science behind it. My point, and there is one, is that it leaves things feeling a little old fashioned.

'Huzzah good sir! I have travelled across time and space and will now vanquish you with my trusty sword'

Yeah. Right.

The idea to me that fiefdoms and nobility would not only still exist but have more power than they do today doesn't work for me, although from a 1965 perspective it may well have made more sense.

Just to be clear though, it's not that I won't read hard sci-fi but that such authors seem to go to great pains to weave the technical stuff into the story that I often feel the author is simply showing off, or maybe, not wanting to waste the research they did for the book. I don't know but they're not as fun to read.

Saying that I don't mind a bit of mysticism (hand-wavey or timey-wimey) in my sci-fi which is why I picked up Sisterhood of Dune recently. It's an interesting book but rather than concentrate on the Bene Gesserit it chooses to show how all the various major schools of the Dune world came into exisitence after the jihad that overthrew the thinking machines, or whatever they were called. I don't have the greatest attention span in the world but I did occasionally get lost following which character was part of what school and why they were doing whatever they were doing. It would probably help if I'd have started on a different prelude book but hey, the cover looked interesting.

I rest my case m'lud.