Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Douchebag Driver Score

Don’t you just hate it when someone does something rude or aggressive to you on the highway? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could signal to other drivers, “Hey, that guy in the blue sedan is a real jerk!” With the right technology, I think that would be possible.

I frequently muse about ways that technology could improve our lives. Obviously, one of the areas which could use some improvement is vehicle transportation. In many ways, technology has already made our daily commute much safer than ever in just the past few years. With features like automatic braking, lane departure alerts, and other such machine-assisted functions, drivers are probably more protected and assisted than ever before.

It is nearly guaranteed that we will one day have fully self-driving vehicles. A coworker of mine recently took at 100+ mile trip, taking control of his Tesla exactly twice. To me, that’s magical. Still, we aren’t yet to the point where all vehicles can fully maneuver themselves, and I think that state of full autopilot is still quite a while out. For the next few years at least, I believe that people will still have to maintain some amount of control over their vehicle.

Which brings me back to my original idea of douchebag drivers. You know the behaviors I’m talking about. They wait until the last minute to merge onto a busy exit, cutting in line in front of half a mile of people patiently waiting, and assert themselves into a gap barely larger than their vehicle is. Sure, I understand that zipper merging is theoretically more efficient. However, I genuinely believe it to be safer for drivers wishing to leave the interstate at a popular exit to commit to the outside lane early and wait patiently.

Beyond last minute exits, these members of humanity’s cesspool are just as impolite off the freeway. They weave in and out of lanes to get just a few cars ahead, and still get stopped barely in front of you at the next red light. On roads that do not allow passing, they ride your bumper, and the worst offenders even flash their lights at you. The nerve!

They take up multiple parking spaces, just to give their vehicle a buffer against other cars. At all way stop intersections, they go when they want, even if other vehicles were at the intersection first. It would seem that their ego is only eclipsed by their blatant disregard for traffic laws, and the safety that these rules of the road enforce.

However, douchebag drivers aren’t limited only to those who take advantage of the most minute and inconsiderate opportunity. On the other extreme, these drivers are the people who occupy the left lane while maintaining a constant speed of 10 mph less than the posted limit. They force people to pass on the right for miles at a time, with no pending left turn opportunity in sight. This disrupts the natural order of multiple lane highways, with faster traffic advancing on the left, and slower traffic keeping to the right.

Perhaps my biggest pet peeve with these slower drivers is the refusal to make a right turn on a red light. I can understand a hesitation to turn on a red light if the intersection is busy and windows to merge are few and short. But intersections with little traffic, and especially those with a dedicated left turn signal, give ample time to turn right with no trouble merging. Right on red, except where stated otherwise, is a completely legal maneuver. Sitting at these lights isn’t illegal, but it is impolite when numerous cars could get through the intersection without waiting for the green light.

Now, let’s wrap all of this information up in a solution. I want a numerical score that gives a general idea of how frequently and severe these drivers violate the social norms of transportation. This number should be displayed above your vehicle within the augmented reality screen in the windshield for all other motorists. If you commit an infraction, the number goes up. If you do something generous, such as allowing people to merge in front of you, the number goes down. Over time, the number would gradually roll toward zero to accommodate for changes in behavior.

If you consistently cut people off and wait until the last second to merge, you’ll rack up a pretty high douchebag driver score. Alternatively, if you drive mannerably, you can maintain a low score and indicate to other motorists that you aren’t scum.

I realize that there are nuances with this idea that would make it practically impossible. What about people that share a vehicle? One person could give the other a bad reputation simply because the score would be based on car rather than driver. Using driver’s license as the score keeper would be a more accurate metric, but how do you associate the score with the license? My idea of a douchebag driver score is unfortunately in the uncertain area between fiction and technical impossibility. Like Smell-O-Vision, it also wouldn’t be valuable enough to justify the time and resources needed to make it a reality.

As satisfying as it would be to flag bad drivers as such, I don’t see it happening any time in the near future, if ever. Until that time comes, I’ll have to be content with blowing my horn and giving a rude gesture at drivers that refuse to pleasantly share the road with other vehicles. Just know that if you try to cut in last minute at the Woodruff Road exit from I-85, I will do my absolute best to prevent you from getting in. Wait your turn, you jerk.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

RuneScape - The Unintentional Bond

I didn’t *mean* to pop another bond. Well, I meant to, but it wasn’t my original intention to do it so soon.

When my previous bond ended on 14 May 2018, I was genuinely content with going back f2p. As much as I had fun playing the p2p content, I got my fill of it and I was perfectly fine with returning to the f2p grind and finishing out 99 Fletching. Like I mentioned in the post before, there were a few things that I had tentatively planned for the next time I used a bond, but I figured it would be several months before I did.

Unfortunately, the week that my bond ended was the same week that Jagex ran the Mental Health Awareness Week promotional event. This event, similar to the “Going Like Clockwork” event and many others, consistent of a temporary currency that could be obtained by any sort of skilling activities in the game. Players gained Charity Tokens from just about anything that gained experience. After players have earned enough tokens to unlock all of the main event rewards, any tokens beyond the first 10,000 could be exchanged for reward boxes. These boxes could contain anything from dungeoneering token boxes, to fallen stars, and xp lamps.

I call this coincidence “unfortunate” because the xp rewards cannot be banked, and many of them are either members only, or would give much more effect on member worlds. I was put between a rock and a hard place. Do I destroy and/or consume the rewards now at a less than optimal payoff, or do I use up another bond just a week later and go p2p again to reap these items for their full potential?

Since I have a hard time turning down free xp in otherwise tremendously expensive skills, my greed got the better of me and I bought 2 more bonds. Spending money to save money; makes sense, right? I then consumed a bond, and left the other in my currency pouch as part of my growing collection of untradeable bonds. As of 21 May 2018, I became a Runescape member for another 2 weeks.

Fortunately, I had already gained 100% respect in the Artisan’s Workshop again in my first few days on f2p. While I wanted to get 99 Fletching before I used another bond, my biggest threshold was having enough respect to cash out. I bought another Dwarf Multicannon upgrade and dropped my respect back to 0% again. If I ever do decide to use the cannon again, I’ll have it fully upgraded at this rate.

The biggest and most important thing on my “I’ll do that during my next bond” list was finishing out the requirements for Plague’s End. As the gatekeeper for my Crystal hatchet, that one quest was my prime objective for saying that I got what I wanted out of the bond. Since I got 75 Herblore with the previous bond, all I had left was Summoning and Construction, at which point I would have all the requirements satisfied to begin the quest.

While Summoning and Construction can be quite expensive, they are both conveniently fast to train. I successfully reached 75 in each skill quickly, and played through Plague’s End soon after. As for the content of the quest, it had a really good story, and served as a satisfying resolution to the Plague City quest line. At long last, I could access the legendary elf city of Prifddinas.

The next thing on my list was to gain enough Harmonic dust to upgrade my Dragon hatchet to a Crystal hatchet. Playing harps in the Ithell district of “Prif” seemed to be the easiest way to get dust, so I started playing my heart out. Harps give a surprising amount of Crafting and Construction xp, so I made a mental note to myself that I shouldn’t bother training Crafting when I went back f2p. Within the first day, I had obtained the 4,000 Harmonic dust required to get the Crystal hatchet. I purchased the upgrade, added directly to my toolbelt, and went back to the Elder tree route that I had abused in my previous bond.

To say that I was disappointed with the performance of the Crystal hatchet was an understatement. I had even prepared myself by crunching the numbers for a 15% boost over the Dragon hatchet that I was using before, and I already knew that it would only give me another 1 or 2 logs per Elder tree on average. Still, with all the work that I did to get into Prif, I was hoping for a marked and noticeable difference. Instead, I got… a slightly higher average of logs per tree than I was with the Dragon hatchet. There were still trees that I got only 5 or 6 logs from, and trees giving 16+ logs still felt just as few and far between. Yeah, the Crystal hatchet was better than the Dragon hatchet, even roughly matching the numbers that I expected, but it felt like I should be getting so much more.

Disappointment aside, I still did cut quite a few Elder logs as payment for my bond. I didn’t cut anywhere near as many as I did in the previous bond, though, as my time was divided between Elder runs and harps for Harmonic dust. I got my Crystal hatchet, but there were quite a few more Crystal items that I wanted to obtain, and I’d eventually need at least 12,000 for just the permanent upgrades. Crystal equipment is some of the best in the game, so I figured it would be better to have the Harmonic dust available. Plus, harps were tremendously low intensity, and I could tap my phone just once every few minutes without paying any attention to the process.

Eventually, I did consider whether Harmonic dust could be monetized. Most Crystal equipment is not tradeable, but a few are. Notably, the non-attuned variants of Crystal weapons and armor are tradeable to other players, as are the seeds used to create them with dust. Hence, one could purchase Crystal armor and weapon seeds, use dust to sing them into gear, and sell them back on the Grand Exchange. The exact payoff per Harmonic dust varies based on exactly which item you create, but the return is roughly 300 gp per 1 dust. I’ll probably write up another post later about all of the intricacies and nuance with this practice, but suffice it to say that I’ll still be cutting Elder logs as my main source of income on p2p.

By the end of the bond, I had obtained the Crystal hatchet (4,000 dust), Attuned teleport crystal (4,000), Attuned crystal bow (2,000), and Crystal dagger (375), in addition to keeping 18,274 unused dust in my bank. I planned on getting the Crystal pickaxe as well, but my purchase for a Dragon pickaxe never went through, and it wasn’t something I was as keen on as the hatchet. Collectively, I got 28,649 Harmonic dust during my bond.

As of 04 June 2018

More and more, I’m learning of skills and activities that opportunity cost prohibit me from reasonably doing on f2p. Eventually, I might use bonds more regularly and consistently, or even use 2 or 3 at a time to take advantage of those extra days. For now, though, there is enough to keep me occupied as a free player, even if that just means running dungeons for xp and tokens. I’ll still try to buy 2 bonds for every 1 that I use, to continue stocking up. I don’t expect them to drop in price any time soon.

With the timing of the bonds I’ve used, I caught the beginning and end of the Postie Pete event. During this event, I received 4 Deathtouched darts, among other rewards. Since the darts work as 1 hit kills against basically any enemy in the game, I want to use them to kill TzTok-Jad and get a Fire cape. I didn’t get a chance to before the bond ended, but I’d definitely like to use all 4 darts during my next bond. If I get notice that the darts will be removed from the game the way I lost my last few darts, it would definitely spur me to use another bond and use the darts before I lose them.

My bond was set to expire sometime around 9am on Monday. For the previous bond, I seemed to maintain membership until I logged off. I decided to experiment and see how long I could stay online, on a members only world. With harps, I could avoid timing out with very little effort. I ended up staying on until around 5:30pm, at which point I decided to intentionally log out and avoid trying to stay logged in through a busy afternoon. So ultimately, I ended up getting about 8 more hours of membership just by maintaining that last session of p2p time. Next time I use a bond, I’ll definitely consume it early in the morning so that I can try to squeeze as much out of it as possible.

All in all, I’m glad I got into Prif during this bond. It was worth the 16M, give or take, that I spent on it. However, I really do want to stay f2p for a while this time. I have plenty of things that I can do on f2p that will better prepare me for the next time I use a bond. My goal of 99 fletching is still hanging around, and there are a few Wilderness and Daemonheim exploration achievements that are available to f2p players.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon

It seems that the Bloodstained Kickstarter project of several years ago is actually coming to fruition.


When I first discovered the project, I was super excited. I’ve always loved Castlevania games, and Koji “Iga” Igarashi is the man behind it all. With his exodus from Konami, any future games in the Castlevania series will likely be a stark deviation from the earlier games, and the Bloodstained intellectual property appeared to be the most true spiritual successor possible. All aboard the hype train, choo choo!

I didn’t fund the kickstarter, since I didn’t own a PS4 at the time, but I definitely followed it closely at first. I followed @SwordOrWhip on Twitter for updates. I checked out all the new art. Being a crowdfunded endeavor, I didn’t want to get too invested and end up being let down if the project failed. Still, everything about Bloodstained looked like exactly what I wanted in a Metroidvania (or “Igavania” as the Kickstarter page calls it) game.

Over time, my interest waned. Sure, the team still released new material and updates every now and then, but the final product seemed forever away. Setbacks happen, but why get excited for a game that might feasibly be years away? I got a PS4 in the meantime, so I could have feasibly backed the project for a PS4 copy of the game, but why put money at something that wasn’t anywhere near completion?

About a week ago, out of the blue, a friend told me about Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon (CotM). Apparently, CotM was a stretch goal for the original Bloodstained project that I may or may not have read about and then completely forgot. I was taken aback, since I figured any content besides the main game would come out as DLC or something else AFTER Ritual of the Night came out. Either way, I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I haven’t bought CotM yet, but if anyone is planning on getting a birthday present for me, I’m saying that wouldn’t be a bad idea.

In short, CotM is a sort of retro-styled game in the Bloodstained universe. I haven’t read much into it, as I don’t want to spoil it for myself, but it apparently plays and looks very similar to the original Castlevania. Since the backers and those interested in this project are mostly in it as a Castlevania spiritual successor, it makes sense to play toward that nostalgia.

At first, I was puzzled by Iga releasing CotM before RotN. The more I thought on it, however, the more it made sense. For backers, you have investment in this project. For literally everybody else, even fans like me, interest in the project mostly died off. Yeah, I’d check back in on it once it came out. But for a while, it was on the furthest back of the back burners. Now that they’ve officially released a side project game, the spotlight is back on Bloodstained and Iga. People are interested in the project again, they’re talking about it, and it paves the way for a larger and more successful official release. I might have gotten off the hype train a few months back, but I’m hopping back on and riding this thing to the finish.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Thirsty Thursday Eve - 6 Pack of the Week 2018-05-30

The Build Your Own 6 Pack area at Ingles (or your local grocer) is great because it allows curious drinkers to try several different styles and brews without committing to the price, storage, and obligation to drink a full 6 pack of each of them. Being a curious drinker myself, I love picking up some new things to try, and my nearest Ingles store cycles out the available beers quite regularly. To present my “research” for others, I figured I could write up a post with a few of the more noteworthy brews I’ve discovered. Expect a follow-up every few weeks, when I’ve had time to find some more good ones.

Name: Up the Creek Extreme Ale
Brewery: Thomas Creek Brewery, LLC
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 12.5%
Buy Again? Yes

I’ve long claimed that I hate IPAs, but this one somehow works. Maybe it’s because the absurdly high ABV gets me too drunk to taste it, but I really do like this ale. Ingles sometimes has it in the build-you-own-6-pack area, they sometimes have it in 4 pack, and frequently they don’t have it at all. When it is available, I definitely recommend picking some up.

Name: Vanilla Porter
Brewery: Breckenridge Brewery
Style: Porter
ABV: 5.4%
Buy Again? Yes

The Vanilla Porter from Breckenridge Brewery is surprisingly good. I expected sweet, and I don’t feel like sweet works well with a proper beer. It’s fine in “malt beverages” like Smirnoff Ice and others, but those are almost like sodas. Where the Vanilla Porter definitely has vanilla, it isn’t necessary very sweet. The flavor works well, especially with the warm malty flavor.

Name: Guinness Extra Stout
Brewery: Guinness
Style: Stout
ABV: 5.6%
Buy Again? Maybe

Not bad, but not as good as Guinness Draught. I really like the creaminess of Draught, and the Extra Stout loses that. The fact that this is a maybe buy again, and not a yes, is because I would be more likely to pick up Draught instead. I picked up specifically the Extra Stout to try a milkshake recipe. The milkshake was awful, but I’m pretty sure it would have been just as bad with any other beer. Note to self: combining ice cream, beer, and liquor is not a good idea.

Name: Milk Stout
Brewery: Duck-Rabbit
Style: Stout
ABV: 5.7%
Buy Again? Yes

I don’t know what a Milk Stout is, but it is delicious. Apparently, it’s brewed with lactose, which sounds terrible, but is fantastic in application. It has that typical stout maltiness, but with almost like a coffee flavor. I wouldn’t want to knock back a lot of these, but having one by itself is great.

Name: Smirnoff Ice Screwdriver
Brewery: Smirnoff
Style: Malt Beverage
ABV: 5.8%
Buy Again? Yes

Chick drink or not, the Smirnoff Ice Screwdriver is amazing. Tastes nearly identical to an actual screwdriver drink, which I particularly enjoy. Plus, it as a surprisingly high ABV for that style of drink. If you like a screwdriver, or even orange flavored drinks, you’ll love it.

Name: Not Your Father’s Mountain Ale
Brewery: Small Town Brewery
Style: Malt Beverage
ABV: 5.0%
Buy Again? Yes

Not technically part of a Build Your Own 6 Pack, but I had to rave about this stuff. Everything I’ve had in the “Not Your Father’s” line has been great, and I love Mountain Dew, so this was an obvious match made in heaven. It’s smooth, citrusy, and delicious. At roughly $11 for a 6 pack, it isn’t something I would drink a ton of in a sitting, but starting off the night with one sounds like a great idea to me. Unfortunately, we drank them all before I got a picture of a full one, so you’ll have to look for it yourself. Just go look for a beer pretending to be Mountain Dew, you can’t miss it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

GoPro Video Delay

If you look at my GoPro playlist on YouTube, you’ll notice that I haven’t added a new video since 23 June 2017. Honestly, I find that a little depressing and frustrating.

It isn’t that I haven’t wanted to add new videos, or even that I haven’t recorded footage to make new videos. It’s that I just haven’t had time to edit them together. Between work, school, raising kids, and writing articles for my side gig, I really don’t have time to sit down and create a video. Looking back, I sound like a broken record because I’ve mentioned not having enough time to make videos before. Still, as much as I love creating content, I have much bigger priorities at the moment.

In addition to my lack of time to work with videos, I also don’t have time to learn a new editing software right now. Microsoft discontinued Windows Movie Maker, and if I’m going to learn a new editing software, I may as well go with what a lot of videographers use with DaVinci Resolve. The problem is that DaVinci has a notoriously difficult learning curve, and I don’t exactly have the time to play around with it and figure out how everything works. Until then, why bother making videos that I know could be better with a little more practice?

For now, I don’t expect to have time to edit videos any time soon. But, I also don’t want the next few months/years to pass me by without even recording them. Tentatively, my plan is to keep shooting videos that I would want to edit, pulling them off into dated folders, and maybe labeling them if I just have some free time. As for actually editing together videos, I’m hoping to create a bunch of them with all of my footage after I finish school in early 2020. By then, the kids should require a little less immediate care, I’ll have 1 less thing on my plate, and I should have some time to play around with my footage and actually learn how to use DaVinci Resolve or some other video editor.

So just know, I haven’t hung up the GoPro for good. If anything, I have bigger plans for it than I did before. I just don’t have the time right now to really do with it what I want to. Once I get the opportunity to learn a new editing software and go through my vast archives of videos, I should start putting out new videos again. There will be plenty of lake, river, trampoline park, and martial arts videos incoming. Just you wait.

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 tinker 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


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.

Deleon, N. (2016, April 28). Smell-O-Vision Is Finally Almost Here. Retrieved May 8, 2018, from