Thursday, 14 October 2010

How NOT to run Planet Interaction

I had such a revelation with my PI that I wanted to share it right away, even though I am probably about to make myself look dim-witted.

My CEO was already involved with it and I asked him if it was worth while. From what he told me it seemed the profit was reasonable, so I trained the skills. He also sent me an e-mail with a run-down of what to do. I then set to work. I decided I would use the PI to construct fuels for our POS. I picked five suitable worlds and built my colonies. I was succeeding in my task, but production was slower than I first thought. I ran this for many weeks.

However, recently we set up another POS in Low-Sec. So, a couple of days ago I abandoned the colonies, replenished my Crane's cargo hold with fresh Command Centres and rebuilt my PI in the new system.

I paid more attention to what I was doing this time, and I noticed that a cluster of four Extractors were excavating around 2,300 units per cycle each. Collectively, that's 9,200 unit per 30 minute cycle (give or take a few units due to the slight variations in mining quantities between each Extractor).

Now, in the instructions that my CEO had mailed me, he said to watch the input levels to Processors. He also told me that the Launch-Pad would hold all my excess materials. In the previous system, I never saw any excess on my Launch-Pad so I thought the Extractor-to-Processor ratio I used was right.


Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong and WRONG!

It takes a Basic Processor Factory thirty-minutes to convert 3000 units of Noble Metals into 40 units of Precious Metals. But I would like to emphasise '3000 units' again. Remember I said I had four extractors kicking out 9,200 units per hour? So, if the Processor will only accept 3000 units every thirty-minutes, where do the remaining 6,200 go?

I'll tell you - thin air.

The Factories will happily accept the 3000 units they need, plus queue up an additional 3000 units as long as there isn't any already waiting. Any excess 'poofs' into thin air. And this has a knock-on effect to any processors thereafter. The thing is - this doesn't have to happen, but I had been running my PI like this for weeks.

The way I 'routed' (not linked) my PI buildings was:
Extractor -> Basic Factory -> Advanced Factory -> Launchpad

It seemed logical. But it's not, if you think about  it carefully. Imagine all the lorries queued up outside my Basic Factory waiting to empty 9,000 units of Noble Metal into the Processor. The problem is they can't. The Processor and it's limited storage are already full and there is nowhere else to store the excess. Well, they're not going to hang around outside a factory for days on end waiting for there turn, so they drive off home and sell my metal on the black-market for their own gains. And I don't blame them.

In my new set-up, EVERYTHING is routed through the Launchpad. That's the trick. If the building churns something out, it goes straight to the Launchpad. Then, if a factory needs a material input it can take what it needs from there instead of being directly linked to a supply structure(s), which could be trying to feed it material when it's already full. This is what my CEO was trying to tell me, but at the time I assumed that any excess would automatically be taken to the pad. The correct way is to route Extractors and Processors to the Launchpad first, and then route the relevant materials stored on the Launchpad back to the PI structures that need them.

Storing surplus stock also allows me to monitor materials that are either excessively piling up or depleting too quickly. I can then balance out the levels by either adding or removing Extractors. This can also free up both CPU and power in my Command Centre, allowing me to run additional Factories. And more Factories means more profit.

Now that (I think) I have set up my PI correctly, I am much more involved with it in a good way. I have spent many, many hours trying to configure it right and I am still tweaking days later. I actually find it fun. I estimate it will take at least a week to get all my Extractors-to-Processors balanced efficiently. This is because I have to monitor mineral piles after making any changes. Or I could use Maths, but I hate Maths.

In only 48 hours I have already produced 24% of what I made in the 3 weeks of running my old set-up. And I expect this increase to triple once the PI is finally balanced. I hope to keep on top of stock so I don't have to start building silo's, too.

So, remember to route everything through the damn Launchpad, not just link it.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Having My Work Cut Out...

So, the re-design of my Blog took a lot longer than I originally stated. There's no getting away from the trend-pattern of my promises - I say my posts will be published by a certain date, but it's weeks after said date that I finally spit them out.

Am I lazy? Not entirely.

Busy? Very.

In EvE I am, anyway.

If I had published a post for every event that has happened to me in EvE over the last few weeks, I'd be in the hundreds. So I won't do that. Instead, enjoy a 'quick' run-down:

 - My Corp joined an Alliance
 - We move system to be with the main hub of the Alliance
 - Corp gets involved with the variety of Alliance activities
 - I start running Wormhole sleeper-sites with Alliance members - great fun
 - Alliance gets War-Decced
 - Forces gather ready for battle. I spend tens of millions stocking up on throw-away Frigates, Cruisers and Battlecruisers with PvP fits. I am determined to learn PvP
 - War starts
 - I manage to miss out on all battles due to time-zone clashes while all my battle-ready ships gather dust
 - Battles are fruitless on our part due to our superior opponents, but apparently fun
 - Some Corps leave Alliance to avoid the War
 - We learn of traitors in our Corp
 - My Corp CEO falls out with Alliance CEO over leadership in regards to fleet organisation (out of something-like 250 Alliance members, only 15 show up for battle)
- Arguments escalate between our Corp and Alliance members
- Our Corp leaves Alliance, and War is over for us
- I'm left with mothballed PvP ships
- D'Oh!
- Back to mission running and mining
- I buy an Orca to help with mining-ops
- I suddenly find myself never doing mining-ops
- I start up Planetary Interactions to help fuel our High-Sec POS
- My CEO and I discuss putting up another POS, this time in Low-Sec
- Low-Sec POS investigated
- Low-Sec POS materials gathered
- I discover the ultimate fit for my mission-Rokh with perma-run active shield-tank and awesome DPS. I am totally unstoppable in Level-4 missions
- I lose my Rokh in a Level-4 mission
- WtF!!?
- Back to the faithful Drake while I save for a CNR
- I learn how to set up and run a POS
- Low-Sec POS set-up with Moon-Mining capabilities
- I am promoted to 'Chief of Logistics' in our Corp to handle Low-Sec POS logistical requirements
- I take a moment to feel proud that my efforts toward my Corp are being so generously rewarded
- I start to explore Low-Sec
- I also start a Corp T1-Frigate Tournement Ladder for fun
- I find myself at the bottom of said Tournement Ladder
- I concede that I will probably always suck at PvP

And that's pretty much where I'm at. It really is the bones of my recent activities, and I would like to discuss some of the above in greater depth for future posts. I particularly enjoyed running Wormhole-ops.

The main high-light for me is Low-Sec. I am really excited to be there. No, it's not 0.0, but it's providing me more variety in my game-play. Although, there doesn't seem to be a great deal to do other than ratting and running scan-sites. Perhaps I am already seeing the problems that Mynxee is addressing at the moment. But while it's new to me, the general day-to-day events are a lot more interesting. I will remain operating in High-Sec mostly, but it's nice to be doing something different.

When out there, I'm starting to learn how to use the 'Local' channel and D-Scan effectively. I can't help but get nervous when Yarr-folk pass through the system. I'll admit that I'm a coward who runs back to the POS when a -9.8 rated pilot lingers in the system a little longer than I feel comfortable with. And I am aware that I will need to lose many ships before I start to get anywhere near good at PvP, but I am still getting myself established out there. I am in no rush.

Hopefully I will soon be losing to Low-Sec no more!

And it's also nice to be Blogging again.

Optimising your PC...

When my computer went kaput, I began a trek of learning about the internal workings of a PC to solve my problems. I signed up to and this was where most of my knowledge came from - the guys and gals were fantastic.

Anyway, there was one particular post that caught my eye. I read it and carried out the procedures to both my PC (XP) and my girlfriends laptop (VISTA).

Wow. What a difference.

Now, perhaps I am teaching a lot of folk to suck eggs. But I would like to share this with the IT-ignorant people like myself. So, for those of you who know how to turn off those hidden background programs as well as disabling unwanted applications at start-up, you can stop reading here.

For those still following, click on the link to this post:

I hope that Sven2157 doesn't mind me sharing this, but it made such a difference to both of my computers that I am keen to pass this information across to others. Although, I take no responsibility for anyone who manages to mess up their computer (covering my behind here!).

So, if you are confident enough to follow those steps, you will see a big difference in computer performance, especially at start up!

Well, I did anyway.