Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Runescape - A Fortnight of Membership: Using a Bond

After 2 weeks of membership, my bond has expired and I am back to f2p status. Was my experience worth the 15.5 million gp I paid for the bond? Was it worth whatever the current price of a bond is?


What caused me to actually pull the trigger on consuming a bond was the result of the Spring Fayre on my inventory. Because the activities of the event required no inventory space, and I wasn’t going to waste that time doing anything else, I accrued a ton of xp items that were either p2p exclusive, or could be more effectively used on p2p skills. Since most everything else in the game requires an empty inventory to effectively participate, I was forced with the decision to either trash a lot of really useful items or use a bond to take advantage of them. May as well make the most of the situation.

My initial goal after consuming the bond was making enough money to purchase another and replace the one I had used. Figuring that bonds would only go up in price until the next DXPW, I went ahead and purchased one on the front end, and decided I would then try to recoup the money I spent. I paid 16M for the bond, so I would have to make a little over 1M per day for the duration of the membership. Surely, with the money making methods available to members, I could manage at least that.


MrPickler recommended cutting Elder trees for money. They stay active for exactly 5 minutes, so they’re far more predictable than other types of trees. Plus, the logs sell for a pretty penny. With level 99 Woodcutting, I decided it was worth a shot. If nothing else, they could be my low intensity grind, and I could supplement the income with other ways when I was actively playing.

Turns out Elder trees were really, really good money. Being able to click a few times and ignore the game for a solid 5 minutes just made them even better. This was the point at which Woodcutting became my central focus for the duration of the bond. Logically, I could use elders as the bread and butter for maintaining a bond. To most effectively do that, I should have the best tools available to me. I had a Dragon hatchet, which is tied for the second best hatchet in the game, but the Crystal hatchet was even better. If I got the best hatchet in the game, I could get elder logs even faster, generating more money in less time, and more easily buy bonds.

Being the fan of data that I am, I started keeping a spreadsheet of how many elder logs I cut per tree. With a good sample of data, I could measure how long it would take to pay back my bond, and I could see a quantifiable difference between the Dragon hatchet and Crystal hatchet once I obtained it. During this newfound Woodcutting obsession, I also managed to get Woody, the Woodcutting skill pet within the first 24 hours of my bond. For the record, I started at 13,364,051 xp and got Woody at 14,031,278 xp. That’s only 667,227 Woodcutting xp before I scored the skill pet. For those keeping score, I still don’t have Newton, the Magic skill pet. I even got to virtual level 101 Woodcutting, when I originally thought my first level 100 skill would be either Fishing or Runecrafting.

But what did I need in order to get the Crystal hatchet? In a nutshell, I needed to complete the Plague’s End quest and access Prifddinas. Prif (for short) is basically the end game area for all skills. It has the best training methods, the highest requirements, and it takes quite a bit to even get in. So what else did I need to even be able to start Plague’s End. Surprisingly, I already had all of the quest prerequisites, and I only needed 3 more skills just a little higher and I would be cleared for takeoff. Maybe I could do it.


Specifically, I needed to reach level 75 in Herblore, Construction, and Summoning to start Plague’s End. At the start of the bond, I had 67 Herblore, 71 Construction, and 70 Summoning. Fortunately, I was already in the ballpark for each of these skills. Unfortunately, they can be some of the most expensive skills to train. Instead of trying to tackle each of these skills at the same time, I decided to focus on one at a time so that I wouldn’t tie up all my money in resources.

After some research, I learned that Herblore can be trained in ways that almost net even, with just a small profit earned. Since it was also the lowest of my remaining skills for the Plague’s End requirements, I figured I could knock it out first. I got a few thousand potions in before I discovered that a Dungeoneering reward scroll gives a permanent chance to save herbs and secondary ingredients, as well as speed up the process. Shame that I didn’t pick it up at the very beginning of this process, but I obviously bought it as soon as I learned about it. In nearly no time, I reached the required level and cashed out the potions I had created.

As much as I would’ve loved to knock out all of the requirements for Plague’s End, finish the quest, and score the Crystal hatchet, I decided that it wasn’t worth blowing the rest of my bond on it. I could postpone those until the next bond, when I might be arguably more prepared and financially capable. I did make some progress toward each, and mapped out a plan to train them, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to enact the plan when I become a member again.



Besides my Woodcutting endeavors, it was nice to explore the full world of Gielinor again. I checked into Exploration Achievements, learning that there were a few new categories introduced since I last played. It would have been nice to pick up a few of those new rewards, but I decided that it would more benefit me to focus on the Crystal hatchet and come back to them when I could maintain a bond in less time.

I didn’t do as much Dungeoneering as I would’ve liked, but I also didn’t exactly have the time to prepare for it as I originally intended. Since players cannot enter dungeons with anything equipped or in their inventory, I couldn’t have run through any without emptying my bag of the xp items. That obviously wasn’t worth the wasted resources, so it didn’t much bother me to push my Dungeoneering plans to the wayside.

I did cash out my Artisan’s Workshop respect, and coincidentally got a daily challenge to create 12 mithril ceremonial swords during my bond. Just a heads up, ceremonial swords are absolutely awful. The process involves a lot of random chance, and the rewards are far from worth it. I’ll definitely just participate in the burial armor portion of the workshop when my membership expires.

As I originally planned, I did knock out a few co-op slayer tasks with MrPickler and even managed to get an upgraded Slayer Helm and unlock the Abyssal vine whip. We both agreed that it seems like Jagex has significantly changed combat and some of the higher level monsters. Mithril Dragons used to be absolutely absurd, but we collectively knocked out 33 of them in just a single run. Even Blue Dragons used to be pretty tough, but we were taking those out in sometimes just 3 hits each. We weren’t sure exactly what they changed, but it made us both feel a whole lot more powerful than we did before.


Overall, I would say definitively that the 2 weeks of membership I got with the bond was worth the coins that I paid for it. From a strictly financial standpoint I made far more money during those 2 weeks than I could have during the same amount of time on f2p. Just from cutting elder trees, I sold 7,000 logs at an average of around 6,000 gp per log. That’s 42 mil, just from woodcutting. Assuming elder logs don’t drop in price by a ton, and the price of bonds doesn’t skyrocket, I could consistently maintain a bond just with the low intensity activity of chopping elders.

Beyond the monetary value of membership versus the cost of a bond, it was really nice to be able to participate in p2p activities for 2 solid weeks. Compared to the 3 days of Free Membership Weekends or the multiple months of a recurring membership subscription, I think 14 days for a single bond is a great time frame. It is long enough to tinkering around with several different p2p activities, but at the same time, not so long that you finish all of the fun stuff available and the game becomes a chore. I made a lot of progress in a lot of skills, but there was plenty left that makes me say, “man, I really wish I would’ve gotten around to that.” Those things that I didn’t get around to give me something to plan for when I pop another bond.

At first, I was afraid that I would be tempted to burn another bond before the first one ended, just to have another 2 weeks uninterrupted. But honestly, as much as I would’ve had plenty to do on p2p, I’m good with going back to f2p for a while. I spent the last few hours of my bond wrapping up all of my p2p endeavors. Sold off the p2p items that I had accrued via different activities, slayer drops especially. Made sure that I had used most of the materials I purchased for p2p skill grinding, and sold the products from those. Nothing that I did during those 2 weeks really tied up any significant amount of bank space or gold.


Before I use another bond, I have a few self-imposed criteria that I want to satisfy. Since Artisan’s Workshop can easily train Smithing on f2p, but I’ve already consumed all of the f2p respect rewards, I want to reach the 100% respect limit again. With all of the materials necessary to reach 99 Fletching, I want to go ahead and polish that off. Originally, it was just for the sake of knocking out another skill, but the ability to fletch the second best Dungeoneering magic gear would be incredible. On that same token, I would like to get 99 Crafting as well, but that isn’t a requirement as much as it would just be extra fluff. Once I reach those conditions, I would feel adequately prepared for another round of p2p time.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Smell-O-Vision

Long theorized by television and film, “Smell-O-Vision” is the idea that digital media could produce a scent to more thoroughly immerse the viewer. While there have been attempts and partially successful examples in the past, I do not believe we will ever achieve true Smell-O-Vision. And I’m not just being a doubting naysayer, I have genuine reason behind this proposition.

This theory began from a discussion with my wife about purchasing Bath & Body Works items for Mother’s Day gifts. We both prefer shopping online instead of visiting brick and mortar stores, but scents are one thing that will always require a store front. Without physically smelling the products, you can never know exactly what you’re getting unless it is an item that you’ve purchased before. We mused about how it would be nice if they could use Smell-O-Vision on their website to let you smell the scents from the comfort of your home.

Before long, we started musing about exactly how this would work. To release actual scent molecules, there would need to be some sort of device installed on the user’s end with each of these smells already loaded. Apparently, a company has already explored this option to scent rooms according to the user’s preferences. As expected, however, it requires a cartridge of scents and limits the user to only 11 different scents at the time this article was published.

Alternatively, there would have to be some way that a signal could stimulate the smeller’s brain directly to spoof the scent. After all, our senses are all electrical impulses interpreted by the brain as sights, smells, tastes, sounds, etc. Not that this route would be easy, but in theory, it could create any scent without a cartridge, and as long as the scent has been essentially cataloged.

The problem with the neural option is that it would require an immense catalog of scents, and users would need some sort of probe installed in their brains to communicate any particular scent. Are people really going to be willing to get a probe in their brains just to smell something via data transmission? How much would that cost to install? What sort of bugs would arise? The complications here are nearly endless.

For the case of Bath & Body Works, we determined that a scratch and sniff catalog would probably be a better option (if that gets implemented, I want credit). At present, we just don’t have the technology. The more we talked about it, though, the more that I doubted we will ever have the technology. With all the hoops to jump through, all the elements in place, Smell-O-Vision would be costly to implement and offer very little practical benefit.

Ultimately, it comes down to a balance of difficulty and benefit, or risk vs reward if you will. Properly implementing a true Smell-O-Vision would be tremendously difficult. It would require research, trials, effort, money, and time to an absurd degree. Which is all well and good for things that truly offer a boon to humanity. An AIDS cure, if/when it comes, would be worth every bit of the effort required to create it. Smell-O-Vision just does not give the same benefit, which (in my opinion) makes it a bad use of all those resources mentioned above. Digital media could be a little more immersive by emanating scents. Purveyors of perfumes, candles, and the like could make their scents available online. While these results are not without value, they pale in comparison to curing diseases, solving world hunger, or some other humanitarian goals. Until we solve literally every other large problem in the world, I think (and hope) Smell-O-Vision will fall behind initiatives that solve bigger issues with more impactful results.

Sources:
Deleon, N. (2016, April 28). Smell-O-Vision Is Finally Almost Here. Retrieved May 8, 2018, from https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/xyggad/cyrano-digital-scent-gadget

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Runescape - Third Ban and Alternate Account

Thanks to the overzealous bot detection methods of Jagex, my own compulsion to grind out levels, and the world of Gielinor seemingly plotting against me, I’ve been banned from Runescape for the third time. Hence, I made another alternate account that I actually plan on playing occasionally.



The Spring Fayre
This story begins on Good Friday, 30 March. Runescape has typically hosted an Easter event each year, with some unlockable items. I hadn’t yet seen any details about one, but I did notice decorated eggs placed around the game, so clearly something was afoot. After doing some research, I learned that beginning in 2017, Jagex replaced the annual Easter event with a “Spring Fayre” event. It seems this trend was also repeated for 2018, with an event that started on 26 March. The decision made sense, what with religious tolerance and all that. Besides, we still got an event with unlockable rewards, so I didn’t really care how they phrased it. Plus, the quests for holiday events have traditionally been somewhat cumbersome and annoying, so I was admittedly glad to see that there was no quest for this event.

I went to the Lumbridge crater where the event was located and looked around. There were stations for various games, each of which was themed around a certain skill. Some were p2p exclusive, which obviously meant I couldn’t play them. A few seemed like too much work for not enough reward. The mining game was neat, but I didn’t really care much about mining. Then, I discovered the Test of strength machine.

As the name implies, the Test of strength machine gives experience in the strength skill. One click, anywhere on the machine, gave a chance to gain nearly 100 experience points per hit at my level. There was no cost to play, nothing to react to, and nothing to prevent me from spamming it with clicks. I wanted to level up my strength, and this was a way to do that without risking death in actual combat. Perfect.


As with most cheap/free and low-attention activities in Runescape, I started abusing this mini-game. Being able to casually tap anywhere on my phone screen while at work meant I could work on my strength while focusing on other things. I made every effort possible to show that I was a real person and not an auto-clicking bot. If I had to switch to another app on my phone, I first minimized the Runescape client so the mouse wouldn’t jump around erratically. Every now and then I would move around, or click on other places to prove that I was playing legitimately. I’d already been banned twice when trying to train Magic. I didn’t want to get banned again.

This training method was great. It was faster than actual combat, I didn’t have to pay attention, and it was free. I didn’t see a downside. It occurred to me that I might be able to reach level 99 strength using this method, if the event lasted long enough. The event was originally scheduled to end on 23 April (more on that later). I started with roughly 4,640,000 strength xp. Level 99 requires about 13,040,000 xp. If I could get 8.4 million xp, I would have level 99 strength with nearly no effort. To hit 99 before the end of the event, I would need somewhere between 300k and 400k xp per day. At my current pace, it was possible, but it would be difficult.

The Third Ban
Setting this goal for myself was where I messed up. I knew that if I got ahead early on, I would be able to give myself a buffer, and could get less xp per day later. On 2 April, I got from 5,167,121 strength xp to 5,666,562 strength xp. In a single day, I got almost 500k xp. I would definitely be able to get to level 99 during the event if I could keep that up. I stopped to eat dinner, and tried to log in again afterward for a little more grinding. Upon entering my password, I saw that unfortunately familiar ban notification.


At this point, seeing a ban didn’t even give me the panic of losing my account anymore. It didn’t cause any extreme stress. I was just disappointed and frustrated. I have only ever played legitimately. I would never cheat at this game, both for my own integrity, and the fear of losing an account that I’ve played numerous hours on. Why, then, did Jagex insist on banning me a third time?

Losing 3 days of gameplay because of the ban, and damper that it put on my morale, there was no way I would get reach 99 strength by the end of the event. Sure, I could make some decent progress, but why bother? It wasn’t worth the ban risk, and Jagex clearly has me pegged.

Alternate Account
Myst_Jake was unavailable for 3 days, that was certain. I contemplated the idea of making an alternate account that I might play from time to time. I made 2 alts before, but hadn’t played on either of them in years. One was Mario_Karter, an account that didn’t really have a firm direction. The other was Zezima_Pwn3r, which was intended to be a ranged pure that I was originally going to share with MrPickler. We both forgot the password for Zezima_Pwn3r long ago, so that account was lost for good. I did still remember the login information for Mario_Karter, hoever.

Mario_Kart3r play time as of 2018-04-05

I tried logging in with Mario_Karter, just to see if the account still existed. I half expected it to have been deleted. It did still exist, but in one of the name recycles, that name was claimed by someone else. Alas, I should’ve figured as much. To keep it mostly the same, I renamed the account to Mario_Kart3r. A little leetspeak never hurt anyone. I went to Hans in Lumbridge to figure out how long I had actually played. Seems I had only put barely 6 hours into Mario_Karter. Honestly, I don’t expect it to get much higher than that.


For an extra challenge, I considered making a hardcore ironman account. After looking into them a bit, I decided that a standard ironman was more my speed. I originally thought that a hardcore ironman became a regular ironman on death automatically. Apparently that only happens if you’ve played long enough and purchased a specific item. Until then, the account just shuts down completely on death. Learning that, I decided a regular ironman account was enough for me.

When making the account, I already had a name in mind. What else would I use, but Acalania. It was my World of Warcraft character’s name, and my character on Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn as well. It seemed the most fitting name for an account that I did plan to play, but would likely abandon eventually. I started it up, and went almost directly to the Runespan. That seemed to be the most logical place to begin, in a game mode that allows no trade with other players. I got up to 52 Runecrafting before the ban on Myst_Jake finally expired.


Mining at Spring Fayre
When Myst_Jake was able to play again, I decided against training strength much more. I got up to about 6,600,000 and level 92, but I figured halfway to 99 was adequate. Mining seemed to be the more popular option at the Spring Fayre, so I decided to try it out. It required less clicking, and I could make a point to talk every now and then in hopes to prove my humanity.

Originally, I didn’t really know what to set as a goal. I started at level 76 mining, with about 1,450,000 xp. Level 85 would be enough to unlock the ability to mine runite ore. At the time, that seemed like a reasonable goal. I reached level 85 without much trouble, and figured there was no sense in stopping then. Level 90 was probably attainable, and that was a nice, round, multiple of 10.

When I reached level 90, I still had a little time left before the Spring Fayre ended. Level 92 is nice, since it marks the halfway point for experience between level 1 and level 99. However, levels above 90 require much more experience between each level. With time counting down, I didn’t know if I would be able to reach level 92 by 23 April, but I decided there was no harm in trying.

Myst_Jake play time as of 2018-04-30

Sure enough, I reached level 92 mining on 20 April. I guess that wasn’t such an unreasonable goal to begin with. I kept playing through until 23 April, when I expected the event to end. Per my understanding, it would run until 12:00 game time, or 8:00 EDT on 23 April. However, each time I logged on, the Spring Fayre was still going on. Players were speculating about when it might end, and eventually came to the consensus that Jagex had extended it by 1 week.

May as well take advantage of another week of easy mining xp. I learned that 95 mining gives access to harmonized runite ore once players can get into Prifddinas. Apparently, that’s where the real money is. Plus, level 95 could be boosted to 97, which would allow me to use any ancient effigies that require mining. Three mining levels seemed like a lot, but it would be easier during the event than with the normally available methods.

As with each previous goal, I reached level 95 far ahead of schedule, on 27 April. With just three days left (supposedly), I didn’t expect to reach another level. Any more xp would just be icing on the cake. I plan on eventually getting 99 mining, and any headway toward that goal should make it that much easier to reach later.


Looking back, it’s funny to see how much progress I made in mining. I play for over 10 years and get nearly 1.5M. I play for a few weeks and get over 7M. I guess that goes to show just how much easier it is to train skills now, especially during events.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Thirsty Thursday Eve - Kirkland Signature Original Spiced Rum

Of all the things I might discuss for the first Thirsty Thursday Eve post, Costco’s Kirkland Signature Original Spiced Rum seemed to be the most appropriate. I love everything from Costco anyway, and their drinks are no different. I recommend it to pretty much anyone who partakes in alcohol, and I always have a bottle up on the shelf. It may not be the single best distilled spirit I’ve ever had, but it’s really good, and really cheap.


Price is the biggest selling point for this spiced rum. I can get a 1.75 L handle from my local Costco for $15. I don’t know of another liquor you can get for that cheap, let alone something worth drinking. Some quick math shows us that 1.75 L is approximately 60 oz. For a 1.5 oz shot, you can get right at 40 shots from a handle. This comes out to about 37.5 cent per shot. You get a shot of rum for less than 40 cent. This stuff is cheap.


When I say cheap, though, I speak solely on price. This rum does not *taste* cheap. I won’t say the quality is amazing, but it certainly isn’t bad. Another spiced rum I like is Blackheart, and I would say the Kirkland Signature spiced rum is similar in flavor. I may prefer the Kirkland Signature slightly, but that could just be because I drink it more often. Either way, it’s pretty good. I’ll drink it neat, on the rocks, or mixed with soda. I’m not an expert on distilled spirits. I can’t taste the subtle notes of butterfly breath and caribbean sun or whatever, but I don’t really feel like that matters. I like it, even without appreciating the finer details.

At 92 proof, Costco’s spiced rum also has a little more punch than the standard 80 proof liquor. In my opinion, this gives it a little more diversity. You can drink it straight for an extra kick, or you can dilute it slightly to open up the flavor more and cut some of the alcohol. When mixing, the rum maintains a presence where other spirits might get snuffed out. As a serving suggestion, I usually fill a highball glass with ice and pour about 3 fingers. The first few sips have nearly the full proof, and it grows more mild as the ice melts.


One thing that I frequently hear is people hating on specifically this spiced rum, and generally spirits from Costco, for being a store brand alcohol. If it doesn’t come from a well known distillery, how can it be any good? Thing is, it probably *does* come from a well known distillery. Costco has many products that are rebranded versions of products from existing brands. They guarantee a large purchase volume, with the exchange that it be sold under Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand, and typically at a lower price. The specific brand usually isn’t revealed, but Costco isn’t just distilling their own spiced rum out in a warehouse somewhere.

The other issue is the general snobbishness and superiority that come along with alcohol connoisseurs. Kirkland Signature spiced rum isn’t Santa Teresa 1796, so it isn’t any good. I personally haven’t had ultra high end spiced rum, so I honestly can’t say how it compares. But, I do know that I like drinking Costco’s product, and I can actually afford it. That’s like saying that filet mignon is better than a burger. No crap, Sherlock. It’s also significantly less obtainable, and I’m not turning down a good burger any time soon.


The bottom line here is value. There are better liquors. There are cheaper liquors. However, getting this quality at this price is something I haven’t seen in anything else. For only $15, you aren’t breaking the bank to have a good time, and you don’t have to save it for special occasions. At the same time, it’s good enough to share with friends and not feel like you’re giving them leftover swill. If nothing else, it’s worth picking up a bottle to try. If you hate it, you’re only out $15, and I’ll take the rest of it off your hands.

Sources:
Kirkland Signature Original Spiced Rum St. Croix Island. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.badgerandblade.com/forum/threads/kirkland-signature-original-spiced-rum-st-croix-island.507933/
Kirkland Signature Original Spiced Rum, 1.75L. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.costco.co.uk/Food-Wine-Household/Spirits/Rum/Kirkland-Signature-Original-Spiced-Rum-175L/p/819195
Kirkland Signature Original Spiced Rum, Saint Croix, United States Virgin Islands: Prices. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.wine-searcher.com/find/kirkland signature original spice rum st croix united virgin island caribbean
Kirkland Spiced. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.rumratings.com/brands/2076-kirkland-spiced
LLC, P. (n.d.). Kirkland Signature Spiced Rum. Retrieved from https://www.proof66.com/rum/kirkland-signature-spiced-rum.html
Rum questions/discussions. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ministryofrum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6280
The Best Top Shelf Rum Brands. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ranker.com/list/best-top-shelf-rum-brands/ranker-shopping

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Runescape - Buying a Bond: The Value of Membership

Jagex has announced that they will be increasing the price of Runescape membership and bonds in June 2018. In anticipation of this change, I have purchased some bonds with in game currency.

When I first read the announcement, I wasn’t surprised at all. Prices go up over time. When I first started playing, you could purchase membership for $5 per month. This cost has gradually climbed over the years, to the point that standard membership now is $9.49 USD per month. You can get better deals with Premier Club or other promotions, but that requires committing to the game for a year at a time. Given my spotty history with Runescape, I’m not going to pony up the cash to play for a year when I might not want to play anymore for a while after just a few months.

Jagex has stated that members will keep current pricing provided their membership does not lapse for more than 14 days. That’s all well and good, but I don’t see that lasting for long. Come time for Premier Club purchases next year, Jagex is going to want more money out of their player base. Besides, everyone stops playing eventually. How long until no players have the grandfathered rate anymore?

Initially, I didn’t feel that this price increase would affect me. I didn’t plan on going p2p for a while anyway, and if I did, I would just pay the higher price for a month and cancel my membership again for a while. It occurred to me, however, that an increase in dollar value of a bond would also increase their value in gold pieces from within the game. I wasn’t sure exactly what the price increase would translate to in game, but it would certainly be cheaper to buy a bond now, rather than after the initial purchase price goes up.

I started looking into the market price trend of bonds. For the past several years, the price of bonds will gradually climb leading up to the bi-annual Double XP Weekend, then bottom out for a few months afterward. Each event has left the “bottomed out” price a little higher, but the trend has continued almost identically for several times now. Fortunately, in the wake of DXPW, the market price of bonds was lower than it has been for several months. At roughly 14.6 million gp, the in game cost of a bond was honestly somewhat reasonable.

If I were going to buy a bond, the time to do it was right now. Between the upcoming price hike and current market, chances were good that bonds might never be this cheap again. I looked on the Grand Exchange and contemplated whether to place an offer on a bond. If I liquidated all of my in game wealth, I would have something north of 100 million gp. I could afford the price of a bond, but it was far from trivial. Was 14 days of membership worth about 1m per day? Worse, I would probably have to put an offer for something more than the current market value. What exactly is membership worth to me?

I put up an offer to purchase one bond for market price, and another offer for 15m even. I left these offers for several hours, with nothing happening on either. Eventually, I decided to place another offer for 15.5m to hopefully snag one. Fortunately, the newest offer purchased within just a few minutes. My wallet may have been 15.5m lighter, but I also had a bond worth 14 days of membership.

For the sake of maybe picking up another bond for cheaper, I left the other two offers up for a few days more. Playing fast and loose, I eventually decided to put up another offer for 15.5m, and got another bond. Sure, 31m was a ton of money, but I may as well pick up 2 while they were cheaper than I expect them to ever be again.

With 2 bonds in my currency pouch, I started to look into what I could do in p2p that would give me the income to maintain membership with a bond. Some slayer tasks can be pretty profitable, and cutting elder logs can apparently net about 800k per hour. So honestly, there were options that I could maintain without too much difficulty. Plus, I don’t plan on keeping membership for long stretches of time. I’ll use a bond when I want to play p2p, earn enough money to buy another bond, and then go back to f2p for a while.

I’ll probably keep 1 bond in reserve at all times. It’s much easier to make money in p2p, so it would be good to have that bond as a backup. Instead of trying to catch up in f2p, I can just pop the bond and spend that time making money to buy another bond and get ahead. I plan on using the first bond after the Spring Fayre ends, an event I’ll discuss later. For now, I’m focusing on maxing out my mining gains.

At the end of the day, this still begs the question. How much is membership worth? For those paying with real money, how high can the price go before it becomes too much? If you’re buying bonds, how much in game money should a day of membership cost? When it gets so expensive that it takes the entire 14 days just trying to make back what you spent, why even bother going p2p in the first place? I have 28 days available, but where do I draw the line for buying more bonds in the future?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Thirsty Thursday Eve

I’m considering a new blog segment about all things alcohol. The name: Thirsty Thursday Eve. You know, because it’s a Wednesday thing, and Thirsty Thursday is when people drink? Whatever, I thought it was good.

This is a culmination of a few different ideas I’ve had over the years. A while back, I thought of doing something for “the economic alcoholic” or how to be frugal with your drinks. Recently, I considered that I should start recording and reviewing various beers that I try, since the selection at Ingles swaps around so much that I rarely remember what all I’ve had. In short, Thirsty Thursday Eve would be an umbrella that all of these topics fall under. Plus, it would post on the day before Thursday, so people can take my advice into consideration for their weekly ethanol-related rituals.

At present, this would consist of a number of different things. Reviews on various drinks, including beers, spirits, and mixed beverages. For new concoctions that I discover or create on my own, I may write up recipes. If I find stellar deals on drinks (looking at you, Kirkland Signature Spiced Rum), I may discuss those here. Again, this is anything alcohol related. If anybody has recommendations for specific products, or even ideas about what I could discuss, feel free to drop those in the comments or shoot me a private message. I’d like to evolve this into something regular.

Maybe it will pan out. Maybe it dies before it ever really gets off the ground. I figured it can’t hurt to throw the idea out and judge interest. Everybody has different tastes, and I think it would be nice to get discussion going about what different people like.

I was initially hesitant about posting this sort of thing on my blog. What about my public image? What about family and fellow church members that may have less favorable views on alcohol? But then I decided that it doesn’t concern any of you. It isn’t exactly private that I do drink on occasion. I even make a post about a certain alcoholic beverage a while back. I do this in my own home, where my bills are paid, and my family is taken care of. If alcohol were to become a problem for me, I would hope that somebody would call me out on that before it causes major issues. I do realize that alcoholism can wreck lives if left unchecked. However, if you have a problem with me enjoying an alcoholic beverage on occasion, and kept within a reasonable number… I don’t care. What I do in the privacy of my house is none of your concern.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Better and Better - The Plight of Mobile Device Upgrades

So many people feel pressured to buy a new smartphone every year or two, but is it really necessary? Why can’t we get a mobile device and stick with it?

A common rule of thumb known as Moore’s law will tell you that computer processors double in speed and performance capabilities roughly every 2 years. This pace has held true for decades, and has only begun to slow down in the past 5 years or so. Over roughly the past half of a decade, the progress hasn’t necessarily come to a screeching halt, but it has slowed dramatically.

What does this mean for the technology industry? Well, a lot of things, but one thing in particular is that new versions of CPU chips are going to be smaller and smaller improvements over previous versions. Year over year, the latest and greatest won’t be so much greater than last year’s model. On some fronts, this is a good thing. Hopefully, it’ll force the hands of chip manufacturers into reducing prices.

How specifically does this affect the mobile technology market? Smartphones haven’t been a thing for very long, and only really became popular consumer goods around the time that the first iPhone  was released in 2007 and Android was released in 2008. In roughly a decade since they became popular, smartphones have gone from janky pieces of equipment that weren’t really great at anything, to fine-tuned hardware that can keep up with full fledged computers. Each year’s new device has improved on the old model by leaps and bounds.

With processors reaching a plateau in performance, this trend is bound to reduce the performance gap between flagship devices released each year. The processor gets a higher number after the model name, you might get another gig or two of RAM, the the practical performance isn’t as noticeably better as it used to be. Sure, technophiles like myself appreciate the spec bumps, but is your average user going to? I sincerely doubt it.

People feel pressured to upgrade, though. All the cool kids have the newest version, why don’t you? Doesn’t matter if you’ll take advantage of any improvements or spec bumps, you *need* the latest model.

It’s all about marketing and planned obsolescence. Phone companies can sell these little computers like your life depends on it. And even if the marketing doesn’t sway you, things like OS upgrades mean you can’t stay on the old model too long. After a while, you’ll stop getting security fixes and updates that keep you compatible with apps and such. Even if the hardware still works fine, you’re depending on the OEM to keep releasing software updates for your specific model. How long is that going to last?

I don’t mean to sound old, but it just bothers me how phone manufacturers are constantly pushing upgrades, and not maintaining the old devices. Yes, I realize that they get more money from people buying new phones, but it’s really not necessary. If they would lay off the planned obsolescence, upkeep devices for longer, most people would really have no reason to upgrade. Other than the nearly arbitrary number after the name of the phone, it’s going to do what you need it to do just as well as last year’s model.