With my data collection stopped, I’ve been spending time working on my data processing code again. I spent the better part of two hours trying to add a column onto a data frame in R only to find a single-line solution that’s way too obvious. Such is the way of programming though.

The effort is… slow. I was able to hammer out the general sorting and consolidation in fairly short order, but what I’m working on now is more effort. The net result should be a list of all posted goods over the entire time period with no duplication. This should allow me to measure the elasticity over the entire period instead of daily.

A convenient side effect is that I can segregate the postings that disappear, presumed sold, and see if I can get an idea of what demand is that way. It’s a little backward but makes about as much sense as collecting sales data directly.

By and large, the biggest issue is just finding ways to make the data structures in R do what I want. When I stopped for the day I had separate lists of unsold goods and new listings, but the sold listings were missing. Partial sales for a single seller would also not work properly, I suspect.

I think I have a pretty good idea though. If I loop through the main list checking against the unsold and new listing, the sellers I can’t find can be stored in a list then retrieved. Should look something like this:

For (theThings in t1$Seller) {

duplicate = FALSE

For (unsoldThings in unsold$Seller) {

If (theThings == unsoldThings) {duplicate = TRUE}

For (newThings in newListings$Seller) {

If (theThings == newThings) {duplicate = TRUE}

If (!duplicate) {sold = rbind(sold, theThings)}


Once I’ve done that I can use data pipes to pull the values I’m looking for.

For (theThings in sold) {

finalSold = rbind(finalSold, t1 %>% filter(Seller=theThings))


Or something like that. No plan survives contact with the enemy. Or the data. I’m sure I’ll find some strange situation that manages to break this, assuming it even works to begin with. I’ve recorded it here mainly because I’ve spent the last few hours working out the general idea and I’d much rather not find myself saying “now, I had an idea on how to do this, what was it again?”

Y’all take care. Feel free to acquire anything of value.

Something New – Starlink


When I first came across this title on the Humble Store, I was uncertain what it even was, much less if I would like it or not. It was an odd-looking title on the UPlay platform that was hard to categorize based on the provided material. I figured a small risk once in a while is acceptable and went for it.

Not my image.

Overall it feels like it’s somewhere between Starfox and Assassin’s Creed. You get a Starfox sort of gameplay in a more open-world sort of environment. You can even do a “barrel roll.” I got the distinct impression that the game was designed to be a toy-based franchise like Disney Infinity. Can’t possibly tell where I got that idea.




Upon starting a new save you are prompted to select a Pilot. I am uncertain how permanent this choice is, but if there’s a way to change pilots I either haven’t unlocked it or and too oblivious to have noticed. There are quite a lot of moving parts in the game, so the menus are a bit weird. In addition to an “ultimate” style ability, each pilot also has a skill tree style upgrade system.


Once you’ve done that you’ll be asked to select a ship. From the starter selection, there are several different ones, from the performance class shown here to the tank class that I’m using. In all things, including pilot, ship, and weapons, there are a number of locked items that aren’t available. It’s implied that these could be unlocked via gameplay. In fact, I’ve met some of the pilots in question.

I didn’t see a major difference in the ships stat-wise, but I haven’t actually used anything but the tank class, so it’s hard to say one way or the other.


The final loadout of a given ship looks something like this. I had already managed to locate a couple of mods when I took this screenshot. There are several different weapons with various element types. I think heat, cold, kinetic, gravity, and anti-grav cover the basics. I was using two heat weapons here because I couldn’t tell what was and wasn’t unlocked, but I ended up putting that flamethrower on the left side and putting some ice rockets on the right side. This allows me to hit something with the flamethrower to apply a heat effect, followed by the ice missiles to create a “thermal shock” combo.


At least for the first couple of hours, most of the gameplay took place in what I have been calling “hovertank mode.” Mostly because that’s what it feels like I’m driving. I haven’t found combat to be overly difficult as far as I’ve gotten. There was one POI that lit me up pretty hard, and it was some manner of unique artifact that I didn’t need to deal with.

There are some random organic and metal components you can acquire as you wander about, though inventory is fairly limited in the beginning. Most of the organics have a special mini-game attached where you have to maintain the proper distance to “pluck” it. Those items can eventually be traded to outposts in exchange for currency, items, and influence. They reveal more of the map if your influence is higher.

There are a variety of other things going on too. Wildlife to scan, small puzzles that require one or more element types to complete, elemental canisters that must be shot with their opposing element to open, outposts that require you to block with proper timing, you know, general POI-based content that offers a variety of rewards.

I spent a lot more time on the first planet than I had to in order to get the components to unlock more upgrades to the… mothership? Those trees unlock additional mod slots, additional inventory space, fast travel capabilities, things like that. I wanted access to a few basic items, so I put the effort into unlocking them before I moved on.

From a story standpoint, I wasn’t overly impressed. The cinematics were pretty solid, but the writing so far hasn’t been particularly interesting. Genious captain re-invents ability to create long lost energy source and now the big bad wants it because reasons. I couldn’t find anyone named John Crichton though, and the technology isn’t “wormholes.”

It’s still on sale for a few days if anyone is interested. It’s not bad for $21. Not sure I’d recommend it at full retail, but let’s be fair, I’ve only played it for a couple of hours.

Y’all take care, and remember, Judge is the best character.

No Man’s Sky – Making an Omelet


I’ve spent some time lately poking around in No Man’s Sky. I’ve mostly just been system hopping along the atlas path while upgrading my exosuit and checking for an S-class multitool. Every now and then I’d stop to gather resources or hunt for crashed S-class ships. I’ve been on the lookout for a nice freighter.

crashed fighter

I did find this beautiful fighter at some point though. It was a decent upgrade, though it’s not fully repaired yet. Once finished it will offer close to double the space of my previous ship.

I also spent about a week working on getting the void egg for the living ship. That entire quest series is the very definition of time gated.

heart timer

I mean that quite literally. That’s real-world hours though, not playtime. This is… the second stage? It took a week of dailies to purchase it and a lot of time flying around doing whatever to trigger the initial step.

egg coords

Once the initial random waiting period is over, it seems to consist of find a specific planet vaguely identified by the quest, then manually navigate to the provided coordinates. No auto-pilot for this one. The first time I was pretty close, this time it took a while to get there.

frag heart

The result of locating your destination is a new crafting recipe that yields an item like this, which is what that timer was from.

Not sure that I much care for the way the living ships look, but it’s an interesting enough diversion. Maybe I’ll write a post-mortem after I’m done. If I get done.

Y’all take care. Don’t get eggs-terminated.

blapril-2020-200Hey, it’s Blapril time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.

Continued Reflection – The Graduate Question

So I reflected a little on Blapril yesterday, and today I’m reflecting on my educational goals a bit. It’s been about a year since I started taking classes and my upcoming semester is my “transition semester.” That is, the point at which I transition from the first half of the undergrad course schedule to the second half. I feel that its “Upper Division” title is maybe slightly more pomp than it deserves, as though it is somehow superior to the “lower division.” More advanced, yes, but it rests upon the foundation of the latter.

I have said many times that when I set out, I had but the vague goal of “research economist.” I am, at the moment, reminded of Breath of the Wild where you receive a quest early on with the goal “Defeat Gannon.” It’s not wrong, but much work typically lies between the setting of the goal and its completion.

I assumed at the outset that a Ph. D. was a basic requirement of this goal. A sort of gate-keeper to the world of academic research. I’m still not entirely certain that I was wrong, but I feel it’s a little more flexible than I assumed. I somewhat internally identify as an “undergraduate researcher” already.

Yet I cannot yet tell how attainable a Ph. D. would be for me. I have plenty of determination, sure, or at least enough to have gotten this far. Based on what I’ve read so far it seems likely that I would have to relocate to pursue a graduate degree. I am uncertain how feasible that is, or if I would be willing to put my family through that. My other alternative would be to pursue a different Ph.D. that’s… slightly closer to home. UTC, for example, is only 30ish miles from the house. They do not have a graduate-level economics program though.

As part of pulling on this thread, I’ve been acquiring and reading resources here and there, like the advice on Greg Mankiw’s blog. I quite like his writing style and his advice is relatable and leads to some interesting moments. One of the bits in his Advice for New Junior Faculty says “Avoid activities that will distract you from research. Whatever you do, do not start a blog.” Too late. Not that I am in any way faculty, but the comment in the context of my life was quite amusing. Fair point, though.

I also liked his Rules of Thumb. Number 3, “Have Broad Interests,” was especially relatable. I have said many times that my life has been a long parade of various interests phasing in and out of hyper-focus. It has… improved… as I’ve gotten older. At a minimum, I’ve learned to direct and control certain groups of activity over longer periods of time, though my coworker has several times pointed out my 2-4 week window of interest in a specific game, while gaming itself is something of a fixture. It is merely the finer details that rotate in and out, not the larger activity itself.

In the long run, I’ve attributed this to a desire to learn new things. Novel information is far easier to find and obtain than hammering out the nuts and bolts. Learning a new skill rotation, a new class, an interesting new hobby, these things progress quickly. Level 1 to level 10 is always faster and easier than 50-60.

Do I still intend to pursue a Ph.D? Absolutely. I cannot live a life where I have not at least put forth the effort required to be certain. That is, I would rather have tried and failed to find a path forward than to have never tried and wonder if I could. Much like this blog, it is The Grand Experiment. The only way to prove or disprove the possibility is to try. Repeatedly.

Above all other things I’ve read recently though, lies this quote.

A person can dig a perfectly fine ditch without enjoying his job for a minute. By contrast, research requires a certain passion about the topic being studied. Passion goes hand in hand with creativity. No one can manufacture this passion for strategic reasons of career advancement. – Greg Mankiw

The number one question I get from people when I talk about my plan is “what kind of job can you get with that?” I mean, honestly, I hadn’t thought of that way until people started asking me. I started to learn. Ideas about employment and making more money were side-effects or excuses used to achieve my real goal. I would love to be more financially secure, but at no point did I stop and ask questions like “how much money do professors make?” I just assumed that pursuit of the larger goal would eventually leave me with that job and the things that come with it and I was okay with that.

Yeah, okay, I started the blog for “strategic reasons of career advancement,” I guess. But that’s not what keeps me here. I love the Blaugust community and I love the process of writing and the places it leads me. I enjoy all my classes and appreciate the additional understanding of the world they grant me. Yeah, they serve a larger goal too, but I may as well enjoy the ride.

Okay, I’ll be quiet now. Y’all take care.

blapril-2020-200Hey, it’s Blapril time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.

Blapril Wrap-Up

It appears to be lessons learned week for Blapril, and the overall timing works out well to reflect on blogging among other things.

The official period of Blapril is 3/29-5/9. Some 42 days total. Of those 42 I currently have 33 posts that ran consecutively from 3/29 to 4/30. I am more than pleased with that result. I didn’t quite manage that with this past Blaugust, but when push comes to shove my blog takes a back seat to classwork, and both events are strangely placed in context of classes.

Since my school runs on the standard semester system, classes spin up in early August. This coming semester will begin on August 10th, for instance. What happened to me last time was that the first major assignment/exam for every class ended up on that last week of the month and I just didn’t have time to push through the end.

I can only assume it is situations like this that led to the expansion of the posting “window” for Blapril. I even ran into a similar issue here. With most of my classes having a final exam or test of some sort piled up into the last week, I had to stop writing posts long enough to secure victory. Worked out to around five days total, it seems. While I don’t expect to maintain my current GPA forever, I will not relinquish it without a fight.

In both cases, my idea of success is somewhat strange, though. I am less concerned with the final grade and more interesting in the subjective judgement of feeling like I got the best score possible given the resources and skills available at that time. The Gold award from Blaugust 2019 is a great example. I am not at all upset about missing Rainbow by a day or two, because I understand and recognize the constraints that led to the decision, and I’m okay with that. This is what guides many of my time management choices. Does this decision represent my best effort to advance the highest priority activity at this moment? Do I think I will agree with that choice tomorrow, next week, next year, or 5-10 years from now?

If I have erred in my assessment of priorities or time required, I take note of those things and try to adjust my method to accommodate it. There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes as long as I attempt to learn from them. Human error is a fascinating topic in and of itself that’s well beyond the scope of this post.

Since we’re at the end of a cycle, I’ve been considering what manner of content I’ll be publishing as well. I have some long-term goals that are going to be difficult for me. I want to eliminate the “I’m posting this sentence/paragraph so it counts as a post” sort of posts. I don’t feel that they have any real value beyond keeping a “days since last incident” counter going. My “lizard brain” likes that counter, though. It’s a number. Activity that makes numbers go up is “good.” Numbers going down is “bad.”

As for what sort of topics I’m discussing, I foresee a lot of research and statistics in the near future. I put my project on the backburner so I could keep up with school and daily posting. I intend to pick that project back up now that time is a little less restricted and if I’m working on it, I’ll be thinking about it. If I’m thinking about it, I’ll be posting about it.

I still haven’t replaced my banner either. Back at the beginning of the event, I said “but hopefully I’ll get the banner sorted out before the end of April.” So that’s still on my to-do list. I’ve… got some ideas. They just don’t feel “finished” yet.

Either way, I’ve gotten a bit long, so y’all take care. It seems I need to go watch some people who don’t understand a process try and fix it, my favorite form of entertainment.

blapril-2020-200Hey, it’s Blapril time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.

Writing – Five Least Viewed Posts

What better time to do this than right behind the five most viewed? I’m going to start with the “least viewed” and go up from there.

  1. Monetization and Episodic Design (1) – Hey, look at that. I wrote this one in the distant past of this past Monday. Funnily enough, it has two likes but only one view. A good job of highlighting just how deceptive the view counter can be.
  2. Monetization Pt 2/3 – F2P Musings (2) –  This one is ancient, for me. September of 2018. I vaguely remember writing it, but as the second out of three it seems a bit of a rant now. I guess I kinda agree overall with it overall? I don’t really hold any particular business model as better or worse than another these days. I just judge each game on its own and admit that every model has pros and cons.
  3. #1485 (Untitled) (2) – Ah, an oops I forgot to post and now I don’t feel like it post. Can’t say I blame anyone for skipping that one. Interesting side-note this is mostly a side effect of WordPress’s “You’re on an X day in a row writing streak!” notification. It does a good job of guilting me into writing throw-away posts just so the counter doesn’t reset. Not as practical these days, and outside the blapril event window I’m not sure I would bother. Even when I do throw-away posts, I try to do more than a few sentences.
  4. Super Discount Clothing and more Eco (3) – Another short late-night post about thrift store pants and a little bit about the game Eco. The former is pretty normal for me. If I’m wearing it, it was either given to me or came from the thrift shop. Where clothing is concerned I’m pretty cheap functional. I actually liked Eco, though I always felt it was meant to be played by a larger group of 12-24 people. I found it in the earlier days of economic research because it would work well for small-scale research on government and policy.
  5. Something New – World of Goo (3)– A something new post with only two images? I’m never letting that guy write again. I didn’t even remember playing this till I read the post. That’s actually kind of sad. I don’t think I invested a lot of time in it. That was pretty normal when I was doing the EGS games every week. I tended to spend more time with the narrative-driven titles, but even that might only be an hour or so. I’ve been debating the wisdom of doing these weekly. Now that I’m taking classes and not gaming as much, I don’t know that I can be so consistent.

So there it is. Two posts about monetization, two throw-away posts, and one that just didn’t connect. I’m not sure what to do with this information at the moment. I’ll probably give some pause before posting about the first and try to avoid the second completely. The last one, well, that’s just how it is sometimes, I guess. In hindsight, it doesn’t look like my best effort, but I couldn’t tell you what I was doing or how I was feeling that day. Maybe that was the level of effort I had available that day.

With Blapril winding down I’m giving some amount of thought to post frequency and content. I like the daily format and I’ll have some time between semesters, but once I dig deeper into my research project it will likely occupy most of my thoughts. Since my blog posts are typically a reflection of what I’m thinking about, they might get a bit… monotone.

Y’all take care. Get some extra sleep, make sure you eat, something.

blapril-2020-200Hey, it’s Blapril time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.

Top Five – Most Viewed Posts

While considering my view count and answering a question on discord, I combined the “Five Favorite Game Series” idea that’s going around (It’s apparently Krikket’s fault) with a curiosity about my most viewed posts. I intend to do one of those also, at some point, but this is where my thoughts are today. I actually already knew one of the top five, but it’s since gone from number one to number two.

  1. FFXIV – Shadowbringer Astrologian. (687) This is probably the surprise that shouldn’t have been. It only averages one hit/day these days, but that small trickle certainly adds up over time. It’s actually been popping up a bit more lately. This was a first impressions piece after all the big changes in the expansion. It wasn’t a fun time, especially for a shielding spec.
  2. GE Big Boy Appliances. (546) The throw-away necro-post that for some reason still gets the odd hit here and there. It was down to only a few hits per week, but with me posting more for #Blapril it’s gone up to a few hits/week. This was my #1 post for a long time but now lags by a little over a hundred views.
  3. FFXIV – Hildebrand Sidequests. (297) Another throw-away post reminiscing about getting caught up on said very goofy quest series. It’s… not for everyone. I have no idea why this post gets hits, but I quite like the images I chose.
  4. FFXIV – Shadowbringers – Astrologian Revisited. (241) It’s almost impressive that my follow up to the other post managed to make this list. It actually has 440-odd fewer views. That’s around 33% of the original. This was mostly an update once I reached and tried my hand at some of the end-game content. I thought maybe the problem everyone was complaining about was end-game specific. In hindsight, I guess the problem existed and I simply didn’t care. “You don’t pay my sub,” as they say.
  5. LegalEagle v. Matpat? (206) I don’t remember hearing any more about this, but it happens to be the oldest post in the list. It was more of a maybe YouTube drama/maybe fake drama curiosity at the time. I’m still not convinced it wasn’t designed to drive views for both channels while providing a very polite “I see you” sort of acknowledgment. Not sure it matters, a year and a half later.

So there it is. Got a cute little pareto/power law kind of curve to it. Maybe I should take on the slightly more disturbing topic of the lowest five. I feel afflicted with a sort of morbid curiosity to see what ended up at the bottom of the pile.

Y’all take care, and remember views aren’t everything. They do not define the intrinsic value of our work, only how many people and bots decided to click on it.

blapril-2020-200Hey, it’s Blapril time! The goal is to simply promote and stimulate the blogging community by encouraging people of all skill levels and backgrounds to post. The official post can be found here and it’s never too late to start.