Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How Not to Fit a POS

I'm sitting at the middle seat of a long corporate conference table here at AEOS HQ. With me in the board room are the grizzled prospectors of Team APHID. They're a motley mix of races, but they all share one thing in common. Every last one of them looks decidedly out of place in the ergonimically optimized, synthetic-leather executive chairs: They've got dirt under their fingernails and swarth on their skin. Their musk, a weird mix of rosemary and lamb, has now overwhelmed the climate-controlled air of the room.

I don't blame them for fidgeting in their seats like they are. I'm sure they would rather be with the rest of APHID's blue-collar force right now, out there in the void, chewing on a nice, fat arkonor rock. Frankly, so would I. But APHID's CEO, Amber Macx, has called a meeting about last month's attack, and woe betide the man or woman who tries to skip out of Ms. Macx's PowerPoint* Hell.

But wait, you say, I thought you were the boss of APHID. I am and I ain't. I'm primary (and largely silent) shareholder and chairman of the board, but Amber is CEO and calls most of the shots. I chose this unorthodox arrangement because she's a cold-hearted Ni-kunni bitch when it comes to business and because she keeps APHID's purse-strings shut as tight as her...well, you get the idea.

It's times like these that I regret the decision, though. I know from the first PowerPoint slide that this presentation is going to mean death by boredom even for our ice miners: It's a slow dissolve into a title screen sporting neutra face lettering and a clip art photo of a bunch of Caldari corporate goons smiling pleasantly over their quarterly reports. The title of the presentation is: "APHID at the Crossroads: Toward a Synergistic View of Corporate Defense Structures."

By the third slide, Amber's presentation is telling us in so many words not to go on vacation anymore so that we can be on hand 24/7 to defend HQ. She's studiously avoiding making eye contact with me as she makes this point, which is how I know she blames me for the attack. ("Notify: Your Dual Passive-Aggressive Torpedoes strike Rolinthor [APHID] perfectly, wrecking him for L337 damage.")

And with that, I'm done here. I'll sit through the rest of little Miss Hedion University School of Management's presentation. I'll smile and nod and maintain a deeply earnest expression of concern on my brow. But I'll not be devoting another brain cell to a presentation premised on the idea that there's a perfect way to fit a control tower.

Which brings me to the first lesson I've learned about POS-fitting: 1. To paraphrase a famous Khanid groundforce general: Fixed fortifications are a monument to man's stupidity. Mankind has discovered ways to cross oceans, mountain ranges, solar systems, even the very fabric of time and space. Do you seriously think you're going to devise a defensive system that some dedicated pirate won't be able to find a way around?

The best protection - the only protection - is encapsulated in lesson number two: 2. Don't let it all hang out there. Fortunately, we had already intuitively grasped this lesson. Before the attack, I rarely kept more than 100 million isk in ore, minerals, or other assets on site. (All I need to do is get Prime to gin up a big holo sign saying something like "POS-manger keeps less than 200 million isk in the corporate hangar after dark.")

Now that I've removed my tongue from my cheek with those last two lessons, I can offer a few more practical suggestions about the kinds of modules you should use to defend your towers. 3. Anchor (but leave offline) at least as many guns as you have online. That way, when your tower is put into reinforced mode (which, I hasten to add, it will be eventually), you'll be able to online a second set of guns when the strontium clathrate tanks run dry. (NB: Since a tower's mainframe shuts down once it is put into reinforced mode, you don't want to use any weaponry that relies on CPU; hence, leave the cruise missile batteries at home.)

Speaking of strontium, 4. Strontium clathrates are your friend. In order for those asshats from the Last True Socialism to kill AEOS HQ, they had to wait around for more than two days while the tower burned through its full stront tanks. Given that no wormhole lasts longer than 36 hours, that meant they had to hop on the "W-Space Express" along with me, without knowing when or exactly where the static wormhole would let them off again.

One last practical lesson: 5. Keep your guns in two tightly-grouped bunches at antipodal points outside the shields. I had made the mistake of spreading my guns out at six evenly-spaced points. That meant that the asshats only had to incapacitate two paltry small railguns from a safe sniping distance; the other weapons were so far away that their meager damage was easily tanked by two remote-repping battleships.

There's alot more good advice out there in scrips and scraps on Galnet, and I encourage you to seek it out (a good fitting-tool is a must; this browser-based one doesn't even require you to install a new program). But if you keep the above general guidelines in mind and experiment a bit, you'll do just fine - PowerPoint Hell (TM) not required.


*Archaeologists sifting through the rubble of New Eden's ancient civilizations with their Analyzer I modules have uncovered many astounding do-dads: hardware, software, even wetware. Among those discoveries was a program called PowerPoint ∞.0. Who wrote it? The Takhmal? Talocan? Yan Jung?

Who cares? The real mystery is why the archaeologists didn't just delete the insipid piece of crap code and spare us all the misery.

This is the first and only remaining slide of a presentation downloaded from a Yan Jung archaeological dig in 86 YC. In YC 87, a team of researchers from the University of Caille watched the whole presentation in a controlled laboratory setting, whereupon they fell into a terminal coma (except for one, incidentally, who went on to great things in the world of corporate law). After a similar incident ended with an entire CreoDron weapons division R&D team turning into a pack of gibbering loons, the Gallente Federation confiscated all remaining copies of the full presentation and quarantined them at an undisclosed location.


  1. If you are going to run a PowerPoint presentation, at least have the dignity to only use the standard templates. This assures that your presentation only sucks as much as everyone else and does reach new heights of inanity and sheer blinding pain generation.

    Recoding said piece of software as a 'new' product like 'Keynote' or 'Present' only serves to show that sado-masochism is alive and well in the software development community.

  2. Frankly, the idea of sifting code in general sounds like masochism, but some people seem to like it.

    As for Power Point, it's great for career advancement: I'm seen some folks who could take the most banal set of fact imaginable and render it into an engaging presentation. Doesn't really help anyone understand anything better, but boy was that an impressive show!