Archive for the ‘Guide’ Category

EVE bloggers guide to social media

Nov
15

As a follow-up to the Bloggers guide to EVE-related sponsored ads, here’s another guide for those wishing to get the best out of and for their blog. In this one, I will elaborate on the various social media networks that EVE players seem to most commonly use, and how you can use them to connect with your readers and gain additional exposure.

Twitter

This is something that anyone can engage in, and I’d really recommend it. The Tweetfleet is a chatty bunch, and several EVE / DUST devs are on there too. We are furthermore joined by well-known faces such as Chribba, and CSM members like The Mittani, Whitetree and Trebor. Great place to stay in contact with the former EVE employees too.

Twitter is really quite easy to use. You can directly reply to people, or mention them in your tweets by putting @username in them. Hashtags are used to create search lists on topics. In addition to #tweetfleet and #eveonline, there are situational ones like the current #littlethings for suggestions on how Team BFF can improve our collective quality of life once more. These hashtags are not set in stone, so you can make up your own for personal us. They are also sometimes used it jest, or to express emotions.

For bloggers that use WordPress, I recommend using Twitter Tools to tweet upon posting. It’s got more features, but I use it only for that. Pro-tip: Enable the optional module to include hashtags. Other software may have plugins too. Worst case you can stick it on Twitter manually.

To get the best Twitter experience, I’ve found that the default interface is sometimes a bit too limited. I’m using Tweetdeck on PC & Android. Other OS / browsers / phones have tools as well, and Windows has several more alternatives to this.

Facebook

With the pages feature, you can make a page for your blog without cluttering up your friend list. You will need an existing user account to create one, however you can totally bolt down the security of it. I’d discourage the creation of fictional profiles as this is technically breaking the Terms of Service. If this is enforced is unclear. It is possibly a grey zone as long as you don’t engage in spam or friend farming. But even those seem to require being reported before they get banned. Still, you are warned, I am not responsible if you get blocked.

With a tool like RSS graffiti, you can pull your posts from RSS. I’ve found this one a bit annoying to set up, but it works like a charm, and is used by a lot of big sites.

Other than that, your readers can like your blog, share your content easily, recommend it to friends, and you can use Facebook as your page and have additional status updates. Handy to inform people of that new blog skin or ask if anyone has suggestions and feedback.

Google+

A worthy addition or alternative — depending on personal taste — to your social networks and a currently seemingly favorite of the Tweetfleet / EVE as a whole. In some ways superior than Facebook, yet in other ways a little behind. [For those really wishing to know, my biggest gripe is that you cannot change who can see what you shared unless you delete and repost it, while ironically Facebook -- who pretty much copied the circles interface -- do allow this.] The nice thing about Google+ is that it allows fictional profiles. Possibly because they realized it is a drag to enforce, and anyone can be a fake profile on the internet anyway. Possibly why this is being adopted so well by the EVE community on there.

Recently, this network got pages as well, which integrate really well. There is, sadly, no way yet that I know of to do RSS pulls to them, so you will have to manually post it. I assume it is only a matter of time before we get this though. If anyone knows any current automation tricks, leave a comment, please.

One thing where Twitter and Google+ cross over is that it has hashtags. And, you guessed it, #tweetfleet and #eveonline are on there. You can save them as searches and interact through them if you don’t want to add people to circles. To promote your page and your blog, remember to include these when linking your blog posts.

Reddit

Not 100% social media, but worth mentioning anyhow. I’ve only recently taken to this, out of a fear for the trolls / internet tough guys. I was pleasantly surprised at how it’s surprisingly constructive and positive. I’m staying well within the EVE sub-reddit however, so your mileage may vary if you venture beyond.

Being a place to share interesting links, I’d recommend bloggers to share the best of their posts here. General EVE guides, for example. Not everyone may appreciate that you post every last blog post to there, even if you think your latest roam report it really interesting. And while there are moderators on patrol, people can still downvote you all they like.

It is probably also nice that you do more than just push content on there. While Twitter may be forgiving of that, and Reddit does not explicitly forbid it, it’s generally frowned upon in communities because users are forced to ignore you if you are perceived as over-posting. Besides, it’s really just as simple as voting on the shared things, and voice some comments if you feel particularly inclined to speak up. Social media, after all, is about connecting.

Bloggers guide to EVE-related sponsored ads

Nov
3

I’ve decided to write this guide as I’ve been expanding the sponsor section of the blog. With sponsored ads I mean any kinds of ads that give you something (game time, money, ect.) for either displaying them, or when a sale is made through them. I’ll expand upon the various EVE-related options, their gains, and their requirements. Note that this is about sponsored ads, so advertising your corp or alliance, or the blog pack, or products of bloggers like Roc’s latest CD, all fall outside of the scope of this guide.

I’ll warn you in advance that you should not expect these ads to pay you enough that you can quit your day job. However, depending on the size of your blog, earning a PLEX per month is possible. For me it takes several months to get that high, but the big blogs out there certainly could get it done.

Another advantage of having these is that you can ask your readers / friends / corp and alliance members to use the ads to make their purchases, earning you a little in the process. That said, if you enjoyed this guide and need time codes, EON Magazine, or a new trial account, feel free to use the sidebar ads!

For those of you having doubts about ads, if you don’t like them, simply don’t do them. All but the last method listed here are direct endorsements though, either for a product or a service, which is far from the evil methods that some bloggers sadly fall for. They should also, except for the last, not be included per default in ad blockers.

EVE Online affiliate program

The EVE Online Affiliate program offers a variety of graphical and flash banners as well as text links that advertise EVE trial accounts. For each trial account that converts into a full account, you receive $10, once you have 100 conversions your payout rises to $15 and at 200 you get the max payout of $20 per converted account from there on. Payout happens through Paypal or by check. While most of your readers will probably already have an account, they may very well want a second one, but that means their friends have to have buddy invites left. Also, don’t underestimate the number of interested people who look at blogs to see if EVE may be something for them. New players are the lifeblood of the game, so if you want to directly support EVE — considering that you are a blogger, you probably will — this is a great option to do so.

EON Magazine

There is no explicit mention of this on their website except a post some months ago. Not sure about the reason for this, but I do know that this deal is still running and it is possible this is no longer a valid option. This was the first sponsored ad I’ve ever displayed, and probably the more guaranteed and generous deal you will find. For simply displaying one of their banners, and from time to time relaying some news related to EON, you get a free subscription to the maganize. If you’re looking to save a bit of money each month but don’t want to give up on all your goodies, this is the option for you. Perfect win-win deal.

Shattered Crystal

Shattered Crystal is one of the two GTC resellers I advertise for, although they also sell some other EVE products like a 30 day starter pack and the commissioned officer edition (new account + Cerebral Accelerator implant). If you’re thinking of advertising for them as well, please use this link, as I will get some love for referring you to them. Payouts are 5% of the sold product, and are paid through Paypal, check or affiliate credits. There is also the option to list your blog, corporation, alliance or other relevant groups so that people without your banner link can still choose to support you when they make a purchase if they select you from the list of options.

EVETimeCode.com

The second GTC reseller I advertise for, who specialize in just this product. They are also very involved in the EVE community. They use an existing affiliate program called shareasale.com (sponsored link), and also offer 5% of the sold product. Payment goes through check or direct deposit (if available in your country).

Google AdSense

I’ve no first-hand experience with this as you need a landline to confirm your account, and I don’t have that anymore. Worth a mention however as with this guide you can block out a ton of ISK sellers and bots right from the start. It’s less direct control, but you can block and allow as you see fit. No idea on the payouts but I know for methods you can choose paypal and check, and possibly others too. The biggest disadvantage of this is that it tends to be standard included in adblockers, so if users run those they will not see and be able to click on them.

Know any other options that were not listed yet? Please leave a comment and they’ll be added if deemed relevant.

Guide: Easy re-positioning of a character portrait to the former pose

Apr
6

Credits for this guide go to Velarra, who initially instructed me on this. I just decided to write it out and publish it because some of you might still find it helpful. Instruction filepaths are for Windows Vista and I assume Windows 7 as well, and assume that your client resides on the C: drive. Users of other OS’s will need to investigate the correct paths for themselves, sorry!

  1. Ingame, click the character you want to start with and do ‘capture portrait’. This will appear under ‘C:\Users\<Name>\Documents\EVE\capture\Portraits’ (for both TQ and SiSi clients, beware of overwrite!). If you are porting a portrait between TQ and SiSi I suggest you make guideline screenshots of the sliders and settings. These are found in the screenshot folder under ‘C:\Users\<Name>\Documents\EVE\capture\Screenshots’.
  2. Enter character creation, re-sculpt or re-customization, whichever applies. Sculpt, dress and decorate to your liking and press ‘next’.
  3. Open a second explorer window and head to ‘C:\Users\<Name>\AppData\Local\CCP\EVE\c_program_files_ccp_eve_tranquility\cache\Pictures\Portraits’. This is the folder where the game saves the snaps if you use the four portrait boxes in portrait mode. You might find some old shots here. Either save them somewhere if you want them, or clear out the folder for now.
  4. Copy the capture from step 1 to the folder from step 3.
  5. Open the image from step 4 and start tilting / turning / zooming ingame until you feel it somewhat looks like your old portrait again. You can use Windows Photogallery, or another image viewer that will allow you to switch back and forth between images rapidly.
  6. Hit the snapshot option ingame, and you will see a second picture appear in the folder, this being what you just captured ingame. If you are using Windows Photogallery, then press next to go to your new portrait draft. Sometimes it might not realize a new image was added, if so close Photogallery and simply open the new image.
  7. Uh oh, it probably still differs a bit! Click back and forth rapidly and you can see the character “jump”, giving a good indication of what you need to change still.
  8. Keeping the drafted image open (this is important for Windows Photogallery, because it will only refresh the image when it is opened, not when you take a snapshot when viewing the old image), make your adjustments and take another snapshot in the same slot as you used before. If done correctly, the image in Windows Photogallery will refresh.
  9. Click back and forth again, you should be closer to the desired result now. A small tip here is use certain points in the background image as a landmark. Was the shoulder covering it, or not at all. Did the head reach up that high? If all else fails hold some fingers against the screen to “mark” the distance. Remember to clean icky finger stains from screen afterwards.
  10. Keep repeating step 8 and 9 until both images look the same, or close enough.
  11. Happy with your new portrait? Hit finalize and return to the game.
  12. Soon your friends and enemies will likely be jealous on how you were able to customize without losing your old pose. Either laugh in their faces, or link them to this guide to enlighten them how you did it.

Angel Cartel COSMOS guide

Feb
12

Thanks to the faction repair plan — which boosted Faber from 2.00 into having 5.00+ Gallente faction in just a few days and I am not even done yet; best alt investment ever — I recently started to do the COSMOS missions, and stumbled upon the fact that there are Cartel COSMOS agents. So I decided to whip up a dedicated guide for those who would like to run these as well.

You will need a minimum of 2.00 corp or faction standings to do most of them, if you do not have this then either you will have to mission in Curse  or run the Angel Cartel epic arc (guide here). Both are easier said than done, but if you do your homework you can pull both off even if you do not have friends in the area. A STRAC that cannot be probed down, can cloak and is bubble immune for regular missions for example, and nulsec travel knowledge together with being well trained in flying advanced frigate hulls to get to the arc and stay alive running it.

While in the process of writing this guide and urging alliance members to go and run these missions already, I was informed by Rhen Ayase that a guide on them already exists here. It’s slightly dated, since it does not contain mission changes such as PI items no longer being used as mission items (Crate of Mechanical Parts versus the old Mechanical Parts) and cosmetic changes such as the new agent portraits. It has however sped up the process of finishing this guide, by allowing me to buy up public complex items in advance and having the correct ships ready for the Caldari COSMOS. Minmatar and Gallente COSMOS was run without but double checked against the existing guide before publication.

Minmatar COSMOS – The Crystal Dust Compound

  • Agent name: Nassor Tromkurt
  • Corporation: Guardian Angels
  • System: Tvink
  • Required standings (corp or faction): 6.00
  • Mission level: 4
  • Mission series: Drug Trade
  • Standings modification (Social V): 3.9832% faction, around 20% Guardian Angel.
  • Notes: The tags for part 3 and 4 come from the public complex within the same system. When I first visited it several players were running it, one of them even stole from my wrecks … and discovered that I was in a pvp ship. Ended up getting the remaining tags off of contracts, there were only a rare few up but 15 tags at 1.5 mil was a steal.

Gallente COSMOS – Latent Transmitter

  • Agent name: Trex Ameisoure
  • Corporation: Salvation Angels
  • System: Parchanier
  • Required standings (corp or faction): 2.00
  • Mission level: 2
  • Mission series: Antagonism
  • Standings modification (Social V): 4.6875% faction, around 17% with Salvation Angels
  • Notes: Part 2 will have you gather tags within Contested Gallente Skeleton Comet (public complex) in Deltole. I found this to be farmed again as well with no tags on contract. The junkies do not drop the tags, you want the drug runners. Part 3 has mostly cruiser and battleship rats and a though structure to crack, make sure you actually pack enough firepower, a battleship would be recommended but I did it in a battlecruiser. The structure did drop 2x Shadow Serpentis items as well as 2x +3 implants and 3x 3% hardwirings (some get no Shadow Serpentis loot but +5 implants). Part 4 has you return to the public complex of part 2. You can get step 2 and 4 done in one go as preparation before you  start on this chain to save up time. The item was also available on contract, so to save time I bought it at 20 mil. Not cheap, but time is money, and the drops from part 3 do cover the costs.

Caldari COSMOS – Abandoned Astro Farm

  • Agent name: Skurk Tekkurs
  • Corporation: Archangels
  • System: Vahunomi
  • Required standings (corp or faction): 2.00
  • Mission level: 2
  • Mission series: Designated Driver
  • Standings modification (Social V): 1.6394% faction, around 5.5% with Archangels
  • Notes: Part 1 requires Secret Garage Coordinates, kill some rats in the system or buy it off contract. part 3 is a deadspace pocket with just 5 frigate rats of which the last drops the mission item.
  • Agent name: Anou Dechien
  • Corporation: Archangels
  • System: Vahunomi
  • Required standings (corp or faction): 2.00
  • Mission level: 2
  • Mission series: The Break In Expert
  • Standings modification (Social V): 2.0167% faction, around 5.4% with Archangels
  • Notes: Part 3 takes place in Contested Kazka Headquarters (public complex) which only allows in frigates and destroyers classes. Another item I got on the cheap from contracts.
  • Agent name: Krakan Rost
  • Corporation: Archangels
  • System: Vahunomi
  • Required standings (corp or faction): 4.00
  • Mission level: 3
  • Mission series: The Bank Heist
  • Standings modification (Social V): 1.3828% faction, around 6.5% with Archangels
  • Notes: Part 1 leads you into the same public complex as the previous mission, but the items are also found on contracts. I had to dish out 12 million for them, but again time is money. Part 5 requires an item from Contested Caldari Lai Dai Refinery (public complex), which seems relatively easy to obtain if the complex is not farmed, but since it was the last item needed and up for cheap I grabbed that as well.

WordPress plugins, hacks and SEO

Mar
31

When mandrill asked me to share my WordPress hacking wisdom I replied that I would do a blog post on it, as well as on what plugins and search engine optimization I have applied.

Search Engine Optimization

Following the WordPress SEO guide ranked highest in Google (proof the advice works?) I applied the following changes:

  • Permalinks are now created as http://ghostfestival.net/myrhial/%postname%/. To avoid stupidly long url’s the SEO slugs plugin throws out all stop words. When writing or editing a post you’re still presented with the opportunity to make edits to this so you can tweak it to perfection. I did not need the Redirection plugin as it seems WordPress does this automatically but it might prove useful for users of older versions who do not have the ability or knowledge to upgrade.
  • Headspace 2 optimizes page titles, something of which I’ve noticed the results on my old Blogspot blog. When writing or editing a post you can edit what you’ve configured as default should you wish to. What wasn’t immediately clear to me there is that when you click “page title” or “description” in front of the input fields it automatically makes a suggestion for you. Headspace is also able to insert code for Google Analytics and various other webmaster tools, which made it my all-in-one solution replacing several other plugins that did this for me.
  • Writing good descriptions and alt texts have been drilled in during my education, and having had the experience of working with a blind student who relied on a screen reader made it all too clear how unusable the web can be. While an EVE Online blog might not be visited by this target group a search engine indexer pretty much works the same way. And then there are mobile users, who might opt to block images to save bandwidth. That last group however you can do a big favor by optimizing your images for the web so they can enjoy your blog in all its glory.
  • Breadcrumbs are more than a web fashion trend. They are one of the biggest investments in user-friendliness you can do, and help indexers make sense of it all.
  • Caching is your friend when set up properly. WP Super Cache works like a charm for this. It has a LOT of options but was pretty much configured right for my tastes out of the box. I’ve noticed the speed increase already, and despite enjoying the luxuries of unlimited hosting its still nice when you don’t go and hog all resources!
  • If you want more speed I recommend the YSlow and  Google Page Speed Firebug plugins and following their best practices.
  • The rest of the guide I’ve pretty much skipped or was implemented already. I’d like to add though that I do not agree on removing links to other blogs as a SEO solution. Keep your list trimmed and up to date, with an archive page is a good idea since an overdose of links might be seen as spamdexing, but if you need to take such measures to keep your readers on site you should consider other solutions like better and more interesting content.
  • There’s information floating around the web that adding rel=”nofollow” to all links means higher page ranking. This is not true. Nofollow should only be added to links of which you cannot guarantee the quality, or are paid advertising. Pagerank sculpting — adding nofollow to everything except a few preferred links — is something I personally frown upon. If I wanted I could add the attribute to all blogs except those belonging to Naraka members to boost their rankings, and ask them to do the same, but where would that lead us? Imagine the whole EVE blogging community starting to apply this. I cannot see it having any positive long-term effect.

Plugins

All of these are available under “Plugins > Add New” in your WordPress admin control panel.

  • Akismet: Comes standard with WordPress and is catching spam like it ain’t pretty. Getting a lot of the sneaky spam, vague comments with a link to some site on posts from ages back. Do not want! As pointed out in the SEO section this spam can be very harmful for your blog as without nofollow attribute search engines will downrank you for it. Don’t let it happen.
  • FD Feedburner Plugin: I highly recommend feedburner if only to keep track of who’s subscribing to you and how, and with lots of options to get the most out of your feed it sets you apart from the rest. Once you have it this plugin redirects all RSS to there, with options to also use feedburner for your comment and category feeds.
  • Google XML maps: Bit of a misleading name since Google, Bing and Yahoo all have webmaster tools with sitemap support. While an RSS feed can work just as well (not when run through feedburner) this plugin alerts these services of updates and allows for customizations to sitemap.
  • IntenseDebate: Makes commenting a lot more interactive and syncs with the classic WordPress commenting system so you don’t lose your comments when you uninstall the plugin. Had it on Blogspot too, but it cost me blood, sweat and tears to get the Blogspot exporter plugin to work. My workaround? Save your exported comments xml file on your own host to get around the password protection of the IntenseDebate site. Any kind of comments and post titles with quotes or other odd signs are going to be skipped and I found nothing faster than to manually add them to the database.
  • RSS footer: Inactive now, but might see future use to advertise new pages or other things not viewable through RSS.
  • Twitter tools: Tweets whenever I publish a new post, and has a nice sidebar widget. If I wanted I could even enable it to let me tweet right from my blog.
  • Yet another related posts plugin (YARPP): Adds related posts at the end of posts both on site and on RSS. Especially nice to bring the attention to previous installments of the Blog Banter and Friday Flash Fiction.

Hacks

Just one really, which I couldn’t find a plugin for, and what seems to be standard functionality on WordPress.com hosted blogs but not in the standalone version (why?!). I wanted to display categories and tags at the end of a post when read through RSS so confusion is avoided between in character and out of character writing.

  1. In your blog’s root folder browse down to wp-includes and open all files starting with “feed-”. These are the layouts of the various methods of RSS your blog supports. Skip the ones for comments.
  2. Locate the line looking like <![CDATA[<?php the_content_feed('something') ?> or  <?php do_action('rss_item'); ?> and add the following right behind: <p>Posted in <?php the_category(', ') ?></p><?php the_tags('<p>Tags: ', ', ', '</p>'); ?>]]>. Should be a </content> tag right behind it.

And you’re done! Wasn’t that simple? If you wanted you could add the post meta data instead. Does not include tags however so that bit you’d have to take from the short version I used.