Distractions, Diversions, Books, Wines, Whiskeys and Other Stuff To Think About When You Should Be Doing Something Else.

diversions distractions and digressions

Diversion and Distraction of the Ingress Kind: Tactical Portal Defense / Portal Control

 

Time for another Ingress post, maybe a book post later too.

 

This post is on the topic of portal defense / portal control in Ingress. I am talking specifically about purely tactical, within action range, portal defense / control. I happen to work right next door to a portal (OK, considering how much time I spend at work I practically live within range of the thing), and since I’ve been playing it has more or less been mine. This is not to say that the silly Frogs haven’t tried to take it away from me on occasion and that is what this post is about. I think I’ve gotten pretty good at tactical portal defense / control.

Caveat #1: I am perfectly aware that portal defense / control of this kind, however it is done, is in the end something of a waste of resources, but because of my dedication to the logistics of the game I am well prepared to expend the resources in order to achieve the psychological advantage of this sort of confrontation. If you aren’t loaded to the inventory cap with a full range of resonators, portal shields, power cubes and high level XMP bursters, this is not for you.

Ok, a little background on the situation. I live in a medium sized city and while there are active Ingress players there aren’t enough of us, green or blue, to trip over each other (the iPhone release of Ingress may change that, too early to tell). We, more or less, know who each other are and the areas we tend to play in. I specifically have two greens whose preferred play area overlaps with mine at my work portal. We are all at this point Level 8, though they started about a month after I did so until recently I was a level ahead of them and had a very slight power advantage. Their advantage is that they always play together (though their speed is pretty lacking in my opinion). My city is also situated so that out-of-town players come here to power level so I’ll get the occasional green dropping by to knock on my proverbial door. My work portal makes an inviting target for them as it is usually an anchor for multiple links and fields. Until I fight back, that is.

Tactical portal defense / control ultimately depends upon how fast you get the notification that your portal is under attack and how fast you can pull up your scanner. You first need to assess the situation. If you still have resonators on the portal you are in luck. Your first job is to make sure your portal is fully resonated with the highest level resonators you can place. Don’t start throwing low level resonators on the portal (more on that later). Once that is done turn your attention to the portal mods. Shields are the key. They are expensive in logistical terms but even a common shield will keep your resonator placements coming faster than your opponent can kill them, just make sure you keep at least one shield on at all times. Considering the cost, common shields are your best bet and two is better than one thanks to Ultra Strikes. A common shield and a force amp or turret is nice, but if you lose the shield you will lose resonators faster than you can replace them. With the shield, even in a 2 on 1 engagement (which I’ve had more than a couple of times) you can keep ahead.

At this point you have an XM advantage. Attacks from your portal are affecting your attacker and sucking away their XM. You only have this advantage because, you will notice, you haven’t tried to recharge a resonator, merely replaced them. I think recharging is a mistake for two reasons. First, it sucks away your XM. Second, your opponent is probably going to be able to reduce your resonators faster than you can charge them and speed is key in defense / control. It costs far less to place a new resonator, in XM terms, than to charge one, especially a high level resonator. If you can determine where your opponent is attacking from you should, of course, place your highest level resonators at the farthest point from them. More on physical position later.

Caveat #2: Whatever the level of your portal when you start out at the end of the contest, should you prevail, your portal will likely be reduced to the highest level portal you can field by yourself. Your fields will probably be gone. Your links will probably drop. Any that you manage to keep are bonuses in your favor, but assume they are gone, don’t chase keeping them. That is why this is portal defense / control.

So what happens if you get the notification and your portal is already gone. Hopefully it hasn’t yet been fully resonated because you need to stop it before it does. Why? Because you need to be killing resonators before your opponent deploys a shield. You have lost the defense fight already, but you may still control the portal. You are essentially now playing the other side of the previous engagement but you have the advantage of surprise and preparation. To put things in Boydian terms, you have an OODA advantage.

Caveat #3: There is a delay in your scanner between what your opponent does and what you are doing. If you are on the resonator placement side of the engagement your resonators will dissappear suddenly when, to your scanner, they look to be at full power. You have to keep in mind how many of what level resonators are deployed and switch very quickly between them. Again speed is key. On the attacking side your scanner may show few to no enemy resonators. They are probably there, you just can’t see them yet. You can recon by fire, do it, assume there are resonators and act accordingly.

So the idea on the attacking side of portal defense / control is to, obviously knock down the resonators to keep the portal from being fully resonated. Note that it isn’t as to kill resonators as fast as they appear. It is a delicate tightrope to walk, but even with logistical superiority you need to be hitting more than one resonator with each XMP. I would recommend using Level 7 bursters if 8s are harder to come by in your area, but if you have a pocket full of 8s go right ahead and use them. Usually in my battles so far the resonator destroyed notifications come in groups of 2-4 and that’s about right I think. It is tempting to try and jump back to the resonator placement side of the battle, but be careful. Because of the delay in your scanner you may waste valuable, irreplaceable, time trying to slip a resonator on the portal while your opponent (who is already placing resonators) blocks you with their own and potentially fully resonates and shields while you are poking at your phone trying to get back into attack mode. My thinking is that once they give up and go away you can resonate all you want. Keep up the pressure. In a 2 on 1 engagement, if your opponents aren’t communicating (and I don’t think mine do very well) they may be trying to place resonators over top of each other, all to your advantage.

Note: A common mistake that many players will make is that they start using lower level resonators because they feel like they are wasting their higher level gear. They are probably logistically insecure, and it is also easier to just keep throwing out Level 1 and 2 resonators than switching back and forth and keeping track of how many higher level resonators they are using. It just means they are easier to kill, so keep at them. You might be able to downgrade to Level 6 bursters though and still keep up the same pressure. It depends on how fast they are.

Position: Because of where I usually am in relation to the portal and where my opponents have typically positioned themselves (Usually in the parking lot of the building next door, sometimes positioned almost on the portal in order to use their Ultra Strikes) I have had the outer position. With Level 7+ XMP bursters and the ability to deploy resonators at greatest distance from the portal itself. The further they are from the portal, the more likely you are to need higher level bursters on the attack side of the engagement. I also have the possible advantage of playing from wi-fi though I think it is pretty negligible. Many times if you take a physical position where you can wave politely at them and give them a big shit-eating grin they will give up and go away. It also keeps them from thinking you are a spoofer which is good. I don’t do it unless I don’t know the attacker.

 

So that is my take on tactical portal defense / control. The goal is to keep the portal tuned to your faction, and more importantly hand your opponent a psychological (strategic) defeat. They might decide to leave you alone, or they might decide to come back when they know you aren’t there and take your portal anyway (Big deal, you still beat them, they know it, and you can take your portal back at your leisure. No portal is safe in this game and you get game points for taking it back). The point is to not make it easy for them and to make them expend resources they can’t afford to waste. Good luck and happy Ingressing.


Classic Sci-fi / Fantasy Distraction

image

When you come in to work and find boxes full if classic Sci-fi and Fantasy paperbacks sitting out, (Chalker, Hambly, LeGuin, Asimov, Harrison, Heinlein, Card, among others) don’t be surprised when the store almost doesn’t open on time.

Just sayin.


Diversion and Distraction of the Amusing Kind: The Killing and Firefly

I was watching the first episode of the new season of The Killing on AMC. We meet Detective Holder’s girlfriend played by Jewel Staite (who played Kaylee on Firefly) who reveals Holder’s “Serenity” tattoo.

I had to pause my DVR. That’s just about as funny as Richard Castle (played by Nathan Fillion) dressing up as Mal for Halloween.

By the way, though the first two seasons of The Killing seemed to drag on interminably, the third season starts a whole new case and it is looking incredibly interesting based off just the first two episodes.


The 2012 / 2013 Jericho Award

Jericho AwardFor those of you who aren’t familiar with the Jericho Award, that honor is bestowed, by me, upon the best new show of the season (starting in the summer and ending with the close of the spring finales) that was cancelled. Granted, it is kind of an ignominious award to win but, it is also intended to point out injustices and frustrations with “The Powers That Be” who decided what shows live and die even apart from their respective, and sometimes rabid if small, fan bases.

This year I even kept track of all of the new shows I started watching to make my selection process even easier! In no particular order:

Defiance on Syfy

I don’t play the game so I’m not exactly sure how it ties in but the show has… potential. I kind of like it because everything isn’t explained right away, avoiding hours of exposition for the sake of explanation. I also dislike it because we, the audience, need some exposition from time to time to figure things out. A note to the writers: a lot can be learned just by showing the audience a map, no dialog needed.

The Following on FOX

The only problem I have with this show is suspension of disbelief, otherwise it had some pretty good entertainment value. If think were it lost me most was watching Kevin Bacon personally end a cult member or two in virtually every single episode. Actually I think he did shoot somebody in every single episode.

Ripper Street on BBC America

Why did I start watching this one? I have no idea except to explain it as the curse of the DVR. So many shows, so much memory. I actually kinda liked it. I’m pretty sure it is a cleaned-up depiction of Whitechapel in that era, but the acting is good and the writing doesn’t assume the audience is stupid. Check it out on DVD if you run across it.

Revolution on NBC

You know what? I don’t like this show and yet I continue to watch it out of sheer stubborness. I haven’t even watched all the episodes and I’m pretty sure I know how the season will end (the last episode is either on my DVR or will be soon). I so wish it had hewn closer to S. M. Stiriling’s “Dies the Fire” type of world, but it didn’t, it has guns. I’ve got news, guns pretty much killed any reason to carry a sword that you actually fight with. Aside from that, the plot is so convoluted and contrived in order to put a dozen people at the heart of every single major event before and after the power went out it blows my mind. Seriously, aside from these dozen people nothing else has or will happen in this world. Everybody is just waiting for them to get near so they can actually do something.

Elementary on CBS

Far and away my favorite new show of the season. I wasn’t sold on Watson being a woman at first but I really like the juxtaposition. The writing is smart. The acting is great. Above all Holmes isn’t single-handedly solving every crime for the NYPD. My only complaint is that Moriarty was introduced way too early in the series. I could happily have watched whole seasons without bringing in the arch-nemesis. Make him go away for a few years then bring him back when you know you only have a few seasons left.

Copper on BBC America

A gritty and brutal period show. The crimes and mysteries and situation seem believable and the acting and writing is very well done. Another show to watch on DVD.

Arrow on CW

Another show I liked quite a bit. Granted, it is on the CW so there is a fair amount of “pretty people doing pretty things” but the action is good and you need a little bit of brain-candy every now and again. It also did a really good job of working in the back-story all through the season instead of dumping it in all at the beginning. Some of the acting is good, some is pretty rotten but hey, how many other live-action super hero shows have made it on TV without being really weak in writing and acting or just  too campy. I think Arrow will avoid both of those things.

Continuum on SyFy

I started out not liking this show, probably because the main character relied very heavily on her future tech at the beginning. As episodes went on it gradually was whittled away from her and the show got better. You get to see her actually being a policewoman and a detective. Great job writers! (Everybody else take notes, Bond has toys because he is Bond and he is awesome. Your characters need to be characters first and use gadgets second). I like where this show is going. Lots of potential.

Perception on TNT

Sherlock Holmes meets A Beautiful Mind. Yeah, I can watch that. The imaginary people seen by the main character are more interesting than most of the other characters on the show but I’ll take what I can get.

Longmire on A&E

My second favorite show of the season. The acting is super. The writing is spare and elegant (Walt Longmire is a man of deep introspection and few words).  This is the kind of show where something happens and it seems at first to be straightforward, but Walt gets those narrowed (or more narrowed) eyes and you know there is something else afoot and the next hour of TV is going to be interesting to watch.

Hannibal on NBC

This show has grown on me. I started off not liking it simply because of Lecter’s terrible accent. I still don’t like that accent. It is Scandinavian meets Scottish and somebody is making him hold a marble under his tongue. Otherwise, since they are going to be using many elements from the books it looks like something that will get better. I hope so.

Last Resort on ABC

This was a terrible, terrible show and I’m glad it was canceled without finishing. Not even the phenomenal actors and great locations it had available could rescue the ridiculous premise or the horrific writing. Seriously, if all you see is Andre Braugher’s speech in the first episode you have seen the best this show has to offer. Everything else is downhill from there.

Robot Combat League on SyFy

I don’t even know if this is a show that will come back but I really liked it. Actually I liked parts of it. I really liked the fighting parts. I couldn’t have cared less about the reality-show parts of it. I hope that this season will serve as a proof of concept and next season, or even a new show, will feature robots that follow game rules but are designed and built by the teams themselves (A whole other show I would watch). Even if the network bankrolls the production costs I want to see teams that are invested personally through blood and sweat in their bots and who will innovate nifty ways of beating the hell out of each other for my personal amusement.

So, who wins the Jericho Award for 2012/2013?

Nobody!

Only one of these shows was cancelled and that was Last Resort and I refuse to give an award of any kind to that show. Really this is congratulations to all the other shows I listed here. I enjoyed watching your first seasons and you remain programmed into my DVR for this coming season. Hopefully your freshman compatriots of 2013/2014 will be able to follow in your footsteps and get picked up for a season 2.


The 2011-2012 Jericho Award

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Jericho Award, that honor is bestowed, by me, upon the best new show of the season (starting in the summer and ending with the close of the spring finales) that was cancelled. Not very prestigious I’ll admit, but since it is awarded to the show that I like the most, I would like to think that it serves to point out an injustice or two.

This season has a few shows to nominate. I didn’t really like all of them all that well, but I did watch all of their episodes. There are other shows that failed after their first season, but for one reason or another, I didn’t watch them. You may think they are much better but if I don’t watch them they don’t get nominations.

And The Nominees Are:

The River

For all of the times that I rolled my eyes at the rampant stupidity of the people on the Magus the show really hooked me with the first episode and finished just as strong. Granted, in between there were a lot of moments where it was kind of painful. I think the weakest point was with writing that had to be, well, convoluted in order to get the group to go in a certain direction or down a particular path. On the whole I didn’t think the show had more than a season in it based on its premise but after the finale I could see potential. I also liked how it ended with a soft cliffhanger. Maybe it will get picked up by TNT or Syfy, but I doubt it. Too expensive. Not enough cult following.

Alcatraz

In spite of never being a Lost fan (I only watched the first season and that on DVD) I really enjoyed this show. The back and forth between the two timelines to tell the story and bit-by-bit reveal new aspects to the mystery worked for me. If anything I think the end of the first season was too ambitious and may have killed its chances of getting picked up by a cable network like Syfy, though it would still suffer from fewer problems than some other shows. I really though FOX would have brought this one back. Oh well.

The Finder

Ok, I don’t watch Bones so I don’t really understand the tie-in beyond being in the same narrative universe, but I am a sucker for quirky detective stories. This one was about as quirky as it gets. To tell the truth, I was a big fan of Walter logic and the ensemble cast really worked and was interesting. Each of the characters seemed to really effortlessly bring their particular skill-set to the table, though Walter was the one to tie them all together. If there are any of the nominated shows that I think should be picked up on cable it is this one. Personally, I think it is a natural fit for USA or A&E. Both of those networks already have quirky detective shows in Psych and The Glades (respectively) but I don’t think another would hurt either of them and may actually help to pull audience from one to the other.

Terra Nova

Ok, to be honest I didn’t like this show, but since I did watch all of the episodes I decided to include it with this season’s nominees. Honestly, the premise was weak. The plot was contrived. The special effects were gratuitous. The writing was tortuous. The acting was weak (I know, I already said weak but it fits here too). I am appalled that this is the show that is getting the most traction for a bid to go to cable. Seriously? I know Terra Nova had fans, but I just don’t understand what people see in this show.

And The Winner Is…:

Well, I am really tempted to declare a tie, but I think the show that I am going to miss the most is The Finder (whose potential Jericho-mate is Alcatraz). Both of these shows were solid all the way through and seeing as how they were on the same network, and that House is coming to an end, I don’t see why FOX would want to discard both of them while keeping the terminally stupid Touch. I could only stand two episodes of that piece of garbage.

Like I said, winning the Jericho Award is kind of ignominous. The reall winners this year are the shows that I watched that did get picked up for another season and that deserve a look from those of you who missed them. Here they are in no particular order (probably missing a few too):

  • Person of Interest
  • Hell on Wheels
  • Alphas
  • Grimm
  • Homeland

The State of Distraction: February 1, 2012

I’m going to try something new. Maybe it will start a conversation. Maybe it will only happen once. Maybe it will alleviate some boredom…

The purpose of The State of Distraction is to throw out some things that may be of interest that may not get their own posts or that I may not get around to posting about.

We will see how it goes.

Books:

I just got done with Ghost in the Wires the autobiography / memoir of Kevin Mitnick. I liked it as much as The Art of Deception and The Art of Intrusion (both are must-reads on the 5GW bookshelf). I might get around to doing a more complete post about this one but in short I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in security or cyber-security.

I’m currently reading Storm Front by Jim Butcher. I’ve heard a lot about how good The Dresden Files are but never picked up the novels. So far I am enjoying it quite a bit and I will probably end up reading the series, though I probably won’t post reviews about them. Storm Front came out in 2000 after all so there isn’t much new there to talk about. My local library seems to have all of the books available and I already have Fool Moon waiting on deck. I might have to make it a point to go back and read up on series that I didn’t read because they were already a couple of books in before I noticed them. Suggestions would be great.

Wines:

Of the wines I’ve been sampling lately a couple have stood out from the rest. One is the S.I.P. certified (a classification that goes beyond the organic tag) 2009 Carmel Road Pinot Noir from Monterey California. It has a nice, rich cherry / plum flavor and a beautiful black tea-like character. It also has very nice structure and balance and is worth looking for.

Another winner is a Spanish Rioja, the 2005 Marques de Murrieta Reserva. This is a wine at its peak right now showing a wonderful glowing garnet (going brickish) color, and a nice fruit / earth / wood balance with a delicious finish.

Whiskey:

Most recently I’ve been drinking (rī)¹ and it is delicious. I have lately been kind of developing a taste for high-rye bourbon and straight rye whiskey. I guess something about that extra spicy character and extra touch of heat appeals to my palate. This one is exceptionally complex with layers of nuanced flavor. My preferred way to enjoy this one is in a Glencairn glass with no ice.

Other Diversions:

Who couldn’t be diverted by the Presidential primaries right now. It looks like it is coming down to Mit and Newt (though Mit has the upper hand I would say). As an independent moderate (if I can be called anything except cynical) I really should like Mit, but he seems like a weaksauce politician to me who will do anything to get a vote. Newt appeals to me (I hate to admit) because he seems more like a political animal rather than a politician. I acknowledge his strategic ability but I have doubts about his ability to lead. I guess if you show me a real leader with the ability to deliberately improve the position domestic and international position of my country beyond the next election’s time frame, then I’ll vote for that candidate. It’s pretty much that simple for me, I just don’t see that guy on the ticket.


The 2011 Christmas Card Game

Christmas Cards, Holidays Cards, Season’s Greetings, whatever it is you want to call them, this is the time of year when we keep the U.S. Postal Service solvent by sending out copious amounts of mail, mostly out of a sense of guilt and obligation. In fact, most people wish this lame holiday tradition would come to an end.

On the other hand, there is opportunity for fun and bragging rights. This is your chance! Play the 2011 Christmas Card Game with your family and friends.

Rules:

Some point awards are positive (+), some are negative (-).

There are 12 positive and 12 negative awards.

Each card is individually scored by tallying the positive points and subtracting the negative points.

Awards are changed each year in order to prevent gaming of the system.

Positive Awards:

+2 points for each card received.

+1 point for a hand-written address.

+1 point for a hand-written return address.

+1 point for a family photo.

+2 point for a photo including a crying child.

+3 points if an alcoholic beverage appears anywhere on the card.

+1 point for a Christmas stamp.

+3 points for a Hanukkah or Kwanza stamp on a Christmas card.

+5 points for a hand-made (by the person sending the card) card.

+1 point if the card includes or features a child’s drawing.

+2 points for a first-time card from somebody you have known for 10+ years.

+2 for a personal hand-written message, of more than two sentences, inside the card.

Negative Awards:

-1 point for receiving a card you didn’t reciprocate.

-2 points if your name is misspelled or your address is incorrect, anywhere on the card or envelope.

-1 point for computer generated, stamped, or printed signatures.

-5 points if there is no handwriting anywhere on the card or envelope.

-2 points if a featured drawing is from a child over the age of 10 and under the age of 18.

-3 points if the card is accompanied by a fruitcake, fruit basket, or really, any kind of fruit.

-5 points if the cards contains a photograph where everyone is wearing the same sweater.

-1 point for a non-holiday stamp.

-2 points if the card includes an original poem by the sender.

-1 point if the card signature includes pets.

-3 points if the card signature includes more than two pets.

-2 points if the card rains glitter when taking it out of the envelope.

There you have it. Happy Holidays and happy card-sending!