Books, culture, fishing, and other games

October 07, 2003

Back to Blogging

Whew! I won't apologize for not writing; I have been! Over 200 pages of policy manual worth of it. And it's done and I'm celebrating. Pinot noir, salmon with dill, salad, and blogging. Ah, this is the life!

My DSL woes continue. Despite a lot of troubleshooting, and being, now, on first-name basis with a couple of very nice (and smart!) BellSouth techs, I can't nail down what's causing my every-two-hour (roughly) resets of my IP address. I have determined it's running on a real-time clock, it's not duration based, but no more than that. If I force a new IP address by resetting my firewall/router or something of the sort, the expected reset still happens at the expected time. I have conceded that the problem could as well be on my end as theirs, so I'm working my end gradually. The trouble is I am a bit leery of trying the obvious (and it's darned inconvenient, since it takes my internal network offline) and bypassing the firewall/router with one PC for a while to see if I still get the resets. I've tried to catch the timing right twice, exposing a machine to attack for up to 20 minutes. I have gotten ambiguous results so far. I really need to set a machine out there for at least a couple of hours straight, and that means no connectivity (and this blog down) for that period. Now that the big project is done, maybe I can work up the guts to reconfigure a Linux box as sacrifice.

I say "sacrifice" because a check of my logs showed regular kiddy-script attacks on my web server. I also see regular port pings on the worm ports on my firewall logs. Setting a Windows PC out there unfirewalled (don't call that Microsoft thing a firewall!) for more than 30 minutes is asking to spend some time cleaning it of viruses, worms, trojans and all the other nice toys. Even a Linux box is not at all immune, just a bit lower risk since most of the boys home from school are running canned scripts to attack Microsoft.

It really is comical to read the logs. Most are truly clueless. But too many are not. Those ensure I will have to quarantine any box I put out there and rebuild it, to be safe.

On more fun subjects:

My role as arbitrageur in EVE is less than successful, to date. I haven't succeeded in making a single buy of isk. I've bid steadily, but the others working the market are so efficient I dare not risk the thin margins offered. The fees between ebay and PayPal are too big a slice to allow enough profit to justify the risk. I continue selling what I "earn" mining, however. That's a trickle at the moment. I'm eyeing my infrastructure, now that I'm done with the big work project, with thoughts of upgrading so I can expand operations. I am mostly getting repeat buyers now. That's both flattering and a pain. I'm still reaching for my 30 positive feedback points so I can do multi-listings, and only one feedback per unique user counts. I'm sitting at 23.

But my entry into Star Wars Galaxies trading is proceeding well. I've been watching the credit market on one server and finally dumped a bid on a big lot of credits at a lowball price. I won. With nearly 5 million credits in hand, at that point, my ingame operations took off. I am reselling some of those credits at a nice profit. I've only made one auction sale, but I moved another 20% of the total to an ingame group of friends that was moving to the same server. We'd been doing some credit swapping between two servers, but he was complaining about the hassle of raising capital on that server to swap to my character there so my character on thisserver could exchange it for some of the credits I bought on ebay. So I told him I was selling some of my excess on ebay, and he asked about pricing, and that led to interest in buying, and after he consulted with his roommates they pooled their cash and PayPal-ed me $25 for a million credits. No fees! That was below my selling price, but well above my buying price, and he is a friend, after all. After another sale on ebay, I'm nearly at break even on my accidental purchase!

For whatever reason fewer items are trading thus far on SWG than, for example, EVE. With the credit market being soft, for reasons discussed on Terra Nova, I want to move away from just trading credits. I see the opportunity as being in buying large blocks (as in millions) of credits on ebay, then using that in game to buy items, and selling the items on ebay. Not many are doing this, clearly. It has a much higher "touch" factor than trading credits since both parties must meet in game to accomplish the transaction. Well, that's not entirely true, and I do have in place the infrastructure to accomplish unattended transfers, but they are relatively expensive and I will only do that for large deals.

I have made three sales of items on my now primary server, to date. Each has been a fixed price sale at $4.95 (keeping it in that impulse buy range, and I know at least the first was exactly that because I had to explain what to do with the item in question). I've made one delivery, the others should happen tonight. Delivering credits is a lot easier with the /tip command. The receiving character does not even have to be logged in. The items I'm selling I buy on the bazaar in game. They are just hard enough to find that many people don't want the hassle, and others don't really understand how the bazaar works. And the prices charged in game seem steep compared to $4.95. At $25 per million credits my cost works out to $0.30 worst case. There is a bit of logistics involved, but that's it. Ignoring the logistics (since I do them in parallel with other game tasks anyway), my profit is running around 1400% after auction and PayPal fees. If only I could pay my mortgage with percentage points instead of dollars!

Is there a point to all this? Nothing new: find a niche, meet a demand, supply a service in a way no one else is. It probably won't last as an exclusive, but I haven't yet spotted anyone else doing it this way. Most of the entrepreneurial types are hawking them in game for a credit profit of around 66%. I've heard of one case of a 733% profit, in credits. Now this is true arbitrage. I buy cheaply in one market, use those goods to trade in another, and then translate the profits there back to the original market. The reason I can achieve the rather obscene percentage profit is the two markets are far out of synch. They will come into synch as I, or I and others, tie them more closely together.

On the topic of Terra Nova, I'd been posting a lot of comments there. I decided I was getting too much of my writing impulse out of my system by doing so and will try to curb it. Instead I will comment and argue here more, since I have my own platform.

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