Random Thoughts – Randocity!

Fallout 76 Event: How To – Radiation Rumble

Posted in advice, tips, video game, video game design by commorancy on January 30, 2022

drumsWhile there’s lots to discuss about this event, here’s a How To article which is short and sweet and offers a quick important tip when playing the Radiation Rumble event. Let’s explore.

Enough People

[Updated 4/4/2022] If you’re one of those “can’t wait” people who joins this event and instantly runs to Marion Copeland to start it. Don’t! Just don’t. If we’re all standing around not starting the event, it’s because there’s a reason. WE NEED ENOUGH PEOPLE to run it. It takes a minimum of 4-5 people to successfully run this event. We need enough people to defend the scavengers, but we also need at least ONE person in a power armor suit to run the tunnels and gather ore.

Without enough people to properly defend the scavengers, this event will FAIL. If there’s no one running the tunnels to gather ore, this event will ALSO FAIL. THIS is why we wait nearly the full 6 minutes before activating the event. We are waiting for enough people to arrive to successfully start and run the event.

Therefore, do not rush to Marion to start the event. Wait until the timer has nearly timed out before starting. If you rush to start the event early, you may find people leaving you by yourself standing there with no way to successfully complete the event. Yes, we’ve learned and so will you… the hard way.

Friendly Fire

Let’s get right to the point. Radiation Rumble is a defend event. It has “Scavenger” NPC friendlies which must be defended against ghouls and various foes inside of a mine in Fallout 76. The friendlies have white HP bars which reduce as they are attacked.

It seems a lot of players don’t understand that you can health up these friendlies! Yes, you can! It’s easy with a fire based weapon and the perk card Friendly Fire. This card applies health back, like a stimpak, to any friendly you strike with a fire based weapon. The card states:

Teammates hit by your flame weapons regenerate health briefly (no molotovs).

Any NPC friendly in an event is considered a “teammate” and therefore this card applies. It also applies to teammates of the human player variety.

What kind of weapons can be used?

  • Heated Baseball Bat
  • Flamer
  • Heated Pitchfork
  • Shishkebab
  • Heated Power Fist
  • Crossbow with Fire Arrows
  • Bow with Fire Arrows
  • Heated Chainsaw
  • (Maybe) Floater Flamer Grenades

Basically, ANY weapon that produces fire damage of ANY kind (except molotovs) will health up your friendlies with the Friendly Fire card equipped. It works fastest and offers the most health up with each strike using a 3 star version of this card, but all versions of the card will work. This can be used during any event where protection of NPC friendlies is required. This includes Radiation Rumble, Project Paradise, Bots on Parade and even during the Fasnacht event with the robots.

However, it only works on “live” friendlies. It doesn’t work on plants, like in Death Blossoms. Any robot, person or creature will gain health from Friendly Fire when struck by fire based weapon. There may be some type of friendlies (like Death Blossoms) where it doesn’t work, so you’ll have to try it and see. Most event NPCs work properly with Friendly Fire.

When Friendly Fire doesn’t work

The Friendly Fire card doesn’t work with any “energy” weapon like the Tesla or Gatling Plasma or Gauss. Don’t think you can equip just any energy weapon and have this work. Electric energy weapons aren’t the same as fire weapons. The weapon must specifically produce fire damage to add health to a friendly. It also doesn’t work with energy grenades. Floater flamer grenades may work, but since these are new to the game, Bethesda may have excluded these grenades from working with Friendly Fire. Stick to legacy fire based weapons which are guaranteed to work with Friendly Fire.

Failure is not an Option

I’ve seen Radiation Rumble fail so many times, I can’t even count. It fails because everyone is running around trying to kill stuff and actually failing to protect the scavengers. Protecting the scavengers means hanging around them and being ready to health them up with fire weapons using Friendly Fire whenever their health drops.

Menu Failure during the Event

One word of caution. Set up your weapon and perk card loadouts BEFORE entering the Radiation Rumble event. There are so many creatures, fire and random junk moving about in the environment, you can’t open the Pip Boy to change your load out. If you intend to switch to a fire weapon during the event, make sure your loadout is set up prior to entering the event OR have the weapons set up on the wheel.

The Pip Boy menu gets so slow and bogged down in the event that you can’t even move the cursor. There’s no way to set up your load out using the Pip Boy once inside the event. However, the wheel mostly works. Meaning, you can mostly rely on using the wheel to change weapons, but you cannot rely on the Pip Boy menu or in setting up your perk cards. Do that activity before entering… which means planning this in advance.

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Should schools remain open amid Omicron surge?

Posted in best practices, COVID-19, school by commorancy on December 23, 2021

teach dice ornament on table

I’ve watched a number of people appearing on large news networks who are proponents for schools to remain open amid the Omicron surge. Their primary reason behind this “remain open” argument is that kids are at low risk for dangers from Omicron. This is an entirely one sided argument and fails to take into account too many other risk factors. Let’s explore this fallacy.

COVID-19 Risks

While I may agree that kids may be at far lower risk from severe effects from Omicron if they acquire it, that argument largely holds no water and here are the relevant points:

  1. School administrators are adults, not children. These adults are those who must teach these children and it is these very adults who are susceptible and at risk from illness.
  2. It’s already proven that schools are germ factories for diseases. Meaning, children are well known for catching and passing around diseases among their school age peers. I can’t even count the number of colds I caught during my time in public schools. Yes, schools are a petri dish both in growing and spreading pathogens easily and, most importantly, rapidly.
  3. Children bring home pathogens to their household and spread it amongst family members and school friends.

While children may be more resilient to the effects of pathogens, they aren’t immune to spreading it amongst school faculty, staff and within their own households and to their friends. This is important to understand.

But, the psychological effects?

True, there may be psychological effects of children being unable to properly bond or have in-person friendships because of school closures. I get it, but we have to look at the importance levels of these factors. Does the child’s psychological effects from being in school trump the practical safety of those adults who may get seriously ill or die because one or more children spread COVID?

Clearly, these proponents are claiming that the psychological effects are far more damaging than people dying from COVID around these children. They’re not outright making this claim, but it’s the logical subtext that’s being unspoken with their arguments.

It’s also entirely wrong thinking. Children aren’t dying because they can’t sit in a classroom with classmates and learn. However, those around them are. What good does it do to open classrooms only to find more and more teachers either dying of COVID or becoming so seriously ill they can no longer work? How does that help the children or the school?

How many teachers must die to make this point? When do the mounting deaths in school become enough to warrant school closure? 1, 10, 50, 100 or more? Children cannot teach themselves. They require adults to impart that knowledge. However, when more and more adults around them continue to get sick and potentially die from COVID, then what?

Worse, children tend to blame themselves for such chaotic and serious situations even if it’s not true. However, with COVID, the child might actually be correct that their actions directly led to the death of their favorite teacher. How does a child psychologically cope with that? The psychological damage from knowing that child might have spread COVID to a teacher who died is way more damaging than a child lacking meaningful social interactions with their friends by learning at home, away from their classmates.

Learning Environments

Remote learning works. It does. Anyone who claims that it doesn’t work is only making excuses. The problem isn’t remote learning, it’s that these proponents typically have school age children themselves. The point, their motivation isn’t protecting the safety of the school system, but the inconvenience of having children at home. When a child is at home remote learning, a parent must remain home to watch that child. Inconvenient.

It’s this simple inconvenience that is motivating these “parent” proponents to pressure schools to remain open. It’s this inconvenience that motivates them to make statements stating psychological problems and ignoring all else. Again, their argument has nothing to do with protecting the safety of the school.

Variants and Safety

If anything, Omicron has pointed out that the variants are coming and they’re likely to get much, much worse than become weaker. What this means for schools is that eventually a variant will impact children negatively. In fact, Delta had already begun to show this. Many more children died due to Delta than any other variant before. With Omicron, these school “stay open” proponents are merely guessing that Omicron will play “nice” to children. We simply don’t know enough yet about Omicron to make this assertion.

Allowing children to spread Omicron might become a harsh lesson to parents… a lesson that shows us that children may no longer be spared from their “youngness”. Even if it’s not Omicron, it could be the next variant down the road.

Do we really want to congregate masses of children in places with little safety protections simply to teach them math and history? What good does it do if children begin succumbing to the variants and dying in masses? Then what? Will these “stay open” proponents take the blame for their callous disregard for safety? No.

Leave the Decision to the Schools

Ultimately, it’s the school district’s responsibility to protect its teachers, staff and, yes, even the students. The school districts should make the decision as to whether they remain open. Not the parents. Not the teachers. Not the children. Each school, in conjunction with the school board, should make the determination of the threat level any variant poses to each school’s safety.

The school is responsible for creating a safe and effective learning environment. You can’t have one without the other. Tossing safety over learning isn’t a road that leads to success. Just the opposite, in fact. It’s a road that leads to failure.

Parental Inconvenience

I’m sorry that parents feel inconvenienced after school closures. However, it’s your child. Your child is your responsibility. If you didn’t want to bear that burden, you shouldn’t have had children. The school system is not a free day care service. It’s a school. It has the responsibility to teach your child, not babysit them.

As a parent, you may view a school as an all-day babysitter. I guarantee you schools absolutely do not see it that way. Schools exist to “school” your child. Sure, schools take children off of your hands for 8 hours to teach them, thus giving you a reprieve from having a child for a portion of the day. However, that doesn’t mean the child is no longer your responsibility during those 8 hours away.

If a school feels that a closure is needed to ensure the safety of every student, teacher and staff member, then that’s an appropriate measure from the school. That also means it’s on you, the parent, to determine the best way to handle your child while the school remains closed, inconvenient or not.

Pandemic

A pandemic is most definitely a reason for schools to close and remain closed. After all, we know children are not responsible when handling and touching dirty items. Thus, it’s easy for a child to become exposed to colds and flu, and, yes, COVID while at school.

A pandemic means that a virus is spreading uncontrollably throughout the world. Children don’t fully grasp the concept of a pandemic. However, they do understand when they can’t visit friends or go to school or play football. These are things children do understand.

Yes, these may have psychological impact on a child’s well being. However, we’re all suffering during this pandemic. Are we trying to somehow “shield” our children from the effects of the pandemic by attempting to keep schools open in defiance of public safety?

Mass Spreading and Ending the Pandemic

Everyone becomes impacted once the spreading of COVID begins, regardless of where it begins, such as in a school or at a movie theater or even at a stadium full of people. Unnecessary spread is unnecessary spread. The more the virus spreads, the more likelihood this pandemic will never end. Worse, the more often the virus spreads, the more chances it has of creating a new variant. Variant creation is never a good thing.

By keeping children in school, regardless of the severity level on a specific child’s health if they contract COVID, the more chances COVID has of spreading both inside and outside of the school and creating a mass spreading event. As I said, we’ll never get out of the pandemic if we continue to do things that cause mass spreading. If we want to stop COVID, we need to halt mass spreading.

Halting the Pandemic

To stop this pandemic means halting large congregations of people coming together in the same location untested. There is no other way around this issue. We must halt untested mass congregations to halt the virus’s spread. The only way viruses spread is by large numbers of untested people congregating together in close proximity, such as in a plane. Because of lack of testing, this spawns mass spreading events.

Clearly, Omicron is now a mass spreading event. Could the spread of Omicron have been stopped? Not easily. Why? Because, at least in the U.S., we seem to have the poorest testing system of any nation. In fact, testing should have been our top priority from day one.

The only definitive way to halt mass spreading is to test everyone immediately prior to entry. However, our testing has been woefully inadequate all throughout this pandemic. Instead of focusing on testing, we have focused on vaccination. Vaccination has really only helped somewhat reduce spread in adults, not in children. It’s only recently that vaccines have been approved for children of certain ages. Even then, there’s some question as to how effective the vaccines are in children. This means that the dosage may not yet be correct to elicit a proper antibody response in children. This could still leave children vulnerable to contracting and spreading COVID, even though they have been vaccinated.

Testing and Tests

Testing is our #1 way out of this pandemic, which the United States has almost entirely ignored since the start of the pandemic. If the United States had focused on producing accurate mass amounts of home test kits in the first few months of the pandemic, we might have been able to halt the pandemic long before now.

Why? Because you can’t spread what you don’t have. If everyone is required to test negative to enter a store, stadium, restaurant, school or board a plane or train, we could have halted the spread within a few months. Mandating the use of instant tests at the entry to every mass public gathering area would have almost instantly halted the spread. A negative test means no one in that venue has COVID-19.

Sure, testing will inconvenience those who test positive, but inconveniencing a few who are carrying and spreading the virus is well worth the pain to halt the spread of this virus in its tracks. Testing is the answer, not vaccines alone. Vaccines help reduce death rates once infected, but they effectively do nothing to halt the spread. Testing combined with quarantine rules halts the spread and this should have been mandated from the very beginning. Testing is the holy grail to stopping this virus.

Instead, we ignored testing as a means to halt the spread and mistakenly put vaccines way out in front as the “Holy Grail”. We can see how well that has worked. Omicron is spreading like wildfire even though 60% of the U.S. population is now vaccinated.

I’ll even venture to guess that once we reach an 85% vaccination rate, we’ll still see COVID spread like wildfire among the vaccinated. The symptoms may be more mild, but spread is still possible among the vaccinated. Right now, the news media is playing the “unvaccinated” card as the reason for the spread. Eventually, they’ll no longer be able to play this card to explain away the latest surge after vaccination rates reach the suggested “herd immunity” minimum level.

Testing in Schools

Testing goes for schools, too. Each morning, a parent should be required to run a test kit on their child. The school nurse should then be required to review each student’s test for negative or positive results. If a child tests positive, they go home and stay home. Any child who has had immediate contact with that positive child also goes home to quarantine. No child will be allowed to attend a school if they test positive for the day or if they have had immediate contact with someone who has tested positive.

The same goes for teachers and staff. Every morning, these employees must also perform a test before they can report to work. If a teacher or staff tests positive, they’re sent home to quarantine.

As I said, the only way to halt the spread is to mandate testing at every single entry point to public spaces and reject those who test positive. If the person cannot or is unwilling to show a negative test result for that day, then they must be required to have a test performed immediately or be barred from entry. Refusing to test is the same to testing positive and the person will be refused entry.

We halt this virus through the use of policies including policies for testing, policies against belligerence and entry refusal policies. The more we do this, the faster we can burn this virus out. If the virus cannot propagate, it cannot survive. With mandated testing and strict entry controls, we can halt this virus in its tracks. There is ultimately no other way.

Schools Staying Open

If parents wish schools to stay open, then the only means by which this can be done is utilizing the testing method described above. That means test providers need to drastically ramp up production of instant test kits so that any school, restaurant, store or stadium can require that every person test negative immediately prior to entry. Testing applies to both the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike. No one is given a ‘pass’. A positive test = no entry… period. No discussion. You go home and stay home until your test shows negative.

This also follows for schools. Students who test positive go home. Students who test negative can remain in class. This is the only method by which schools can also remain open. We cannot rely on supposition that because students have fewer problems when infected that it’s somehow okay to keep the school open. Infection = spreading. Spreading = mass spreading. Mass spreading = pandemic continues and more deaths.

We all want this pandemic to end. We can’t have that if schools remain open without appropriate testing of students prior to entry. If schools wish to remain open, they must adopt a test-before-entry protocol to allow or deny entry based on immediately prior test results. While the vaccines help keep us out of the hospital after infection, testing is the key to ending this pandemic once and for all… not only in schools, but in every large public venue.

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Review: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Posted in botch, entertainment, movies, reviews, storytelling by commorancy on December 22, 2021

theriseofskywalkerUsually, I write reviews and analysis immediately after I see a film. Well, I have to be honest, I did just see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker recently. You might be wondering why that is? Well, let’s explore.

Obligatory Note: This review contains major *spoilers*. Stop reading now if you haven’t seen this film.

Rewarding Poor Business Decisions

I’m not one to necessarily boycott businesses, but with Star Wars I’ve made an exception. I boycotted seeing the film in the theater and I, likewise, boycotted paying money to see it at any rental venue. The reason I saw it last weekend is because finally a channel has released an on-demand version that’s included with something I already pay for.

To be honest, Disney will get a small amount of money from me watching it via on-demand. It’s called the pay-for-play royalty system. That means that every time someone plays it, Disney will derive some amount of money from the playback (probably 10-25¢ at most). I’m okay with that because that’s about what it’s worth. Though, I don’t have to pay directly. I refuse to reward companies for producing crap. I simply won’t do it. I know that this paragraph’s sentiment is entirely brutal… but hey, that’s part of the review.

Retroactive Continuity Bonanza

Congratulations! You’ve hit the Retcon Bonanza! One thing about applying retroactive continuity (retcon) to a story line is that it’s fairly obvious. See, the thing is, retcon runs all through Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in very blatant and obvious ways. I already knew going into The Rise of Skywalker that it would be chock full of retroactive continuity.

So what’s wrong with retconning a story? Let me count the ways.

  1. Trite
  2. Cliché
  3. Poor writing
  4. Bad planning
  5. Bad storytelling
  6. Contrived
  7. Unsatisfying

Great storytelling sets up little bits and pieces all along the way. Then brings those bits and pieces together at the end in a cohesive way to explain why those seemingly unrelated bits and pieces were included. It’s a standard storytelling practice that shows the writer had planning of forethought when crafting their story.

It’s also an immensely satisfying storytelling practice. If you’re an astute observer, you can put these foreshadowing pieces together early to conclude what’s about to occur. If storytellers are too obvious with their clues, it makes guessing the ending too easy. For example, many people were able to easily guess the premise of M. Night Shyamalan’s Sixth Sense, when the ending was all but revealed by four words of dialogue spoken very early in the film. However, this situation also depended heavily on whether you believed the visuals of the film or you chose to believe the spoken words. It also means the writers concocted a poorly conceived clue delivery system. It should have been way more subtle than that. In fact, those words shouldn’t have been uttered until much later in the film.

That’s not the case with The Rise of Skywalker, though. With this film, it wasn’t a matter of clumsy clues. It was the fact that no clues were given at all, not in The Force Awakens and not in The Last Jedi where it makes much more sense to leave these clues behind.

Emperor Palpatine

Palpatine was the primary villain in the first 3 Star Wars films. He was dispatched at the end of Return of the Jedi by being dropped down a power shaft. This villain was firmly dead. However, The Rise of Skywalker latches onto this story context for all that its worth. That, and cloning.

The thing is, Attack of the Clones wasn’t really referenced… or more specifically, Kamino. Specifically mentioning this planet somewhere along the way, such as earlier in The Force Awakens would have set up the notion of cloning as a possibility somewhere in the story. For example, if Snoke had been found to be a clone based on DNA testing or something similar after he’d been chopped in half in The Last Jedi, that would have explained what was said by Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker. Yet, no such reference in either of the first two films exists.

As an another example, even the simple act of dropping Palpatine’s name in any small kind of way, such as mentioning the similarity to Snoke’s villainy. Even simple name dropping can open whole doors up later and it’s those kinds of clues that avoid retroactive continuity problems. Simple name dropping Palpatine or Kamino or Cloners in any capacity along the way in The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi would have been enough to prove the writers were thinking about closure of the story at the beginning of it.

Instead, the writers and filmmakers were so self-absorbed in their own self-indulgence that they couldn’t even consider such prior setup in the writing of the first two installments.

To be honest, this is really the fault of J.J. Abrams. He had the task of opening the storyline in The Force Awakens, but fails to really give a hint at what’s to come. Hints and clues are what make great stories. It’s called foreshadowing and it’s an incredibly impressive storytelling tactic when it’s done correctly. When it’s not done at all, then it’s called retroactive continuity… or building a new story by making up establishing facts instantly rather than relying on clues laid down earlier.

Sure, the original films and the prequels had information that could be leveraged, but not in a way that would be seen as clues for Disney’s trilogy. You don’t just pull crap out of the air and hope people somehow magically get the reference. Proper build-up is essential to a story. Without it, it makes a story fail.

Palpatine Again!?

When Palpatine is, again, introduced as “the man behind the curtain” in The Rise of Skywalker, it’s groan time… ugh! I’m thinking, “Not again”. Can’t these guys think up anything original? At least there wasn’t yet a third Death Star… at least we’ve made some progress, I guess. Not much, though.

Bringing Palpatine back to life without really so much as an explanation is such a bad storytelling idea that it makes the rest of the story feel like garbage. You either believe Palpatine is back or you don’t. The worst thing about Palpatine is that he stands there like a statue and simply taunts people with words. Granted, in Return of the Jedi, he was also fairly catatonic. Though, he did get up and walk around a little. In this film, he’s a literal statue standing in one spot the entire time spouting platitudes. It’s his same old tired self-assured, over-confident, self-righteous Sith rhetoric about eliminating the Jedi. He died for those same clichéd thoughts in The Return of the Jedi. Has he learned nothing? You’d think that after his first death at the hands of Vader, he’d be a little more cautious and wiser the second time around. Yet, *crickets*.

The storytellers don’t give Palpatine an ounce of credit as intelligent or thoughtful. The man is made out to be as dumb as brick. Seriously, after Palpatine’s trip down the power conduit, you’d think he’d rethink his over-confident, self-assured, self-righteous threatening demeanor and, instead, try something new. Nope.

Snoke

You might also want to point to Snoke as an example of that, but then you’d be wrong because Snoke was summarily chopped in half midway through The Last Jedi. That was that for Snoke. It’s one thing to use Snoke as a puppet, but it’s clear that that puppet failed utterly to its own demise. Stupid Villains!

Just to make it perfectly clear, none of the above was mentioned anywhere in The Last Jedi. Again, no such clues were left behind for bringing it all together in the end. Nope. No where was it mentioned that Snoke was a puppet of Palpatine, though a clue should have been left somewhere in TLJ if not by Snoke himself. For example, a quick scene where we see Snoke nodding to a shadowy figure in a cloak which fades out followed by Snoke going directly into communication with Ben. That would have been something.

Of course, in Star Wars revisionist tendencies, Disney may go back into both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi and retrofit dialog, extra scenes and whatnot to shoehorn these clues…. which is an even worse practice than what they did in the contrived storytelling in The Rise of Skywalker. Revisionism has no place in movies, let alone Star Wars films. To be honest, what George Lucas did with his revisionism was add better FX and reintroduce scenes that he wanted, but those changes didn’t fundamentally alter the storyline and were not introduced to ‘fix’ a story problem for a later film.

No, George’s stories were solid from the beginning, so the stories didn’t need ‘fixing’.

Disney Hires Crap Writers

Part of the problem here is that Disney doesn’t have a clue how to run a live action film business, nor exactly what a good live action script is. Disney comes from an animation background. The stories in Disney’s animated films have been simplistic and intended for children.

For some reason, Disney thought they could insinuate themselves into a live action movie business and have those films turn out great. Well, it’s clear, that’s not true.

No where is that more apparent than in how the stories for the Disney Trilogy were handled. The first mistake was hiring J.J. Abrams to write these films. Instead, Disney should have hired actual film writers with experience in writing. Before that, they should have hired actual story writers to come up with the overall story arc encompassing the three films prior to embarking on filming them. This would have meant that going into each film there was an outline of the necessary elements needed to craft each film’s story which would support the rest.

The director might take some liberties in some areas around portions of the story telling, but the required story elements must be included for the entire story arc to work. This would have also meant that all three films were essentially written up-front. Instead, Disney apparently allowed the writers of each film to craft their own story in pre-production for each film. Basically, the films were made up at the time of each production.

This isn’t a recipe for success. In fact, it’s a recipe for failure. It’s exactly why J.J. Abrams Alias and Lost series failed to ultimately work. The stories were “made up” as they went along rather than attempting to at least write an overarching story outline that encompasses the entire season. Each story doesn’t need to be written, but certain specific points must be included in the season to reach the conclusion properly. Without such inserted clues, the conclusion absolutely cannot be satisfying… and so it goes with Lost. Lost‘s conclusion was such an awful mess that not only did it make no sense, what little pieces did try to make sense were awful. It was like watching a train wreck unfold.

So then, Disney hires this two-bit hack to pen Star Wars? Here’s a guy who can’t even write two TV series properly and yet Disney hires him for Star Wars? Yeah, I could see this wasn’t going to end well… and so it goes.

Endings

Speaking of things not ending well, let’s continue with The Rise of Skywalker and its ending. Disney would have been smarter to leave a thread open that could be followed up with a new trilogy. Instead, Disney, and more specifically, J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy were so focused on damage control that they forgot to add intentional cliffhangers leading into a new series of films. However, I believe at the time the film was being created, damage control was the primary means of closure for the The Rise of Skywalker storyline.

With that said, the ending is simultaneously satisfying and disappointing. On the surface, it’s a satisfying conclusion to this series of films. Diving deeper, the entire story is incredibly unsatisfying, thus leaving the conclusion disenchanting. The whole shoehorn-this-story-into-a-Palpatine-issue is deeply distasteful. Not only does it ruin the thought that Palpatine is, in fact, dead, it does so in a way that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and simultaneously leaves a gaping hole open as wide as the Grand Canyon.

The original Palpatine was shrewd, cunning and incredibly intelligent. Yet, this film treats Palpatine as one of the dumbest villains to have ever graced the Star Wars universe. Granted, the Palpatine in The Rise of Skywalker is supposed to be a clone. I suppose one could argue that the cloning process dumbs down its clones unintentionally (or even intentionally). The Kaminoan cloners might have seeded its clones so that they would never become aggressive towards Kamino, thus dumbing them down in other ways. It would make sense for the Kaminoans to protect Kamino from its clones turning on its masters or on the world. This argument could be said of all of the Clone Troopers. Yet, this fact has never been established in canon outright.

Palpatine, the original, would have also known and understood this dumbing down limitation of Kamino Clones and probably would have attempted to mitigate it long before it became a problem. Yet, it seems that didn’t happen based on clone Palpatine’s overall dumb self-righteous behavior. This cloned Palpatine is one of the least intelligent villains I’ve yet seen in a Star Wars film, save that perhaps Snoke was likely also a clone considering that Palpatine claims to have “made Snoke” (implying a clone).

Whether Palpatine used Kamino to produced the clones or if Palpatine bought and established his own cloning technology separately, it’s not really stated. Watching this film, I assumed that all of the cloning occurred on Kamino… or at least, Kamino cloning technology was utilized by Palpatine even if not cloned directly on Kamino.

I know that Palpatine suggested bringing the dead back to life in the prequel Revenge of the Sith (which was lightly referenced in The Rise of Skywalker). Don’t take my word for it. Here’s the conversation from Palpatine himself.

This platitude by Palpatine may have been a veiled reference to cloning or to an unseen force power or both, which by the time of this scene, the world of Kamino and its technology had been established by the prequel, Attack of the Clones. Of course, this information wasn’t definitively stated in The Rise of Skywalker or even in Attack of the Clones or Revenge of the Sith. The information in The Rise of Skywalker was all left to the audience to put 2 and 2 together and theorize Palpatine was talking about cloning and/or the conversation above. If you hadn’t watched the prequels before seeing The Rise of Skywalker, you wouldn’t be able to correlate this information, leaving the means by which Palpatine reappears as a mystery that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and isn’t resolved in the narrative.

What this all means for the ending is a somewhat convoluted, complex, yet simpleminded ending. In fact, the ending was so simpleminded and single tracked, it was easy to predict the outcome.

Is It Over?

This is a lingering question that remains. If there’s one clone, there can be many. Did Rey fight the last and final clone? We don’t know. This is the gaping hole the size of the Grand Canyon. If it took Rey to the point of death to kill one single clone, then fighting any more means she probably won’t succeed in killing any others. After all, she won’t have Ben there to give her his remaining life force and bring her back to life again.

For the reason of clones, the ending is entirely unsatisfying. Once you open this story door to clones (plural), it’s a never ending cycle. You simply can’t win against potentially thousands of Palpatine clones strewn throughout the Star Wars galaxy. This is why the ending is simultaneously satisfying at face value and completely unsatisfying when you dig deeper.

Cheap Cop Out

Ultimately, the two main problems in this story stem from relying on the concept of cloning combined with using a duplicate (cloned) Palpatine to carry this story. Out of thousands of better possible ideas, JJ chose these two weakest and most trite ideas over any others? This simply shows just how inept a writer JJ actually is. Though, the “Mary Sue” idea was almost completely squashed by introducing the “Palpatine’s Granddaughter” idea. My problem with the ending of this story is, why did we miss a generation? In fact, the whole “Palpatine having children” storyline could have been a far better story idea to base this final set of films on over what’s included in this mess of a trilogy. Definitely, the “Palpatine having children” story idea is a far, far superior story in establishing the idea of the carrying forward of the Sith vs Jedi conflict over the mess-of-a-story shown in this bankrupt trilogy. This is particularly true if you truly want to hand off this conflict to a new generation of Sith and Jedi. Unfortunately, JJ has already given away the farm.

Following the “Palpatine had Children” idea, when did Palpatine procreate and with whom? Why wasn’t it THIS story that begins these final 3 films? If, as a storyteller, you’re going to tease us that Palpatine had children, then we need to know more about this situation. Who was his “wife”? How many children did Palpatine have? Was Rey an only child? Have these children chosen to be dark or light? None of these questions are answered. They’re left open. JJ’s story elements weren’t added to tell us that Palpatine had children. They were useless contrivances included simply to carry The Rise of Skywalker to conclusion. These contrivances are the very definition of retroactive continuity, “Let’s add something random about the past that lets the future proceed in a specific way.” That’s entirely retroactive contrivance

If past historical events had been introduced early in The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi, I’d not be critical of these “convenient” story elements included in The Rise of Skywalker. It would have meant that the writers were thinking ahead to the future film. It also means that the story arc was properly planned. Without these elements in any prior films, it’s included for mere convenient storytelling. It’s also the very definition of a “hack writer“.

Palpatine’s Children

Before we dive deep into the the “hack writer” concept, let’s explore what we could have had in this final trilogy. Oh, and boy is it a doozy! It’s actually hard to believe that JJ chose not to run with this story idea, which would have made the final trilogy not only completely satisfying, but would have opened the door up to so many more films and TV shows. Disney could have made twice the amount of money off of this (and it would still be going) and the Star Wars brand would be stronger than ever instead of petering out after The Last Jedi ended up like dropping a gallon of water on lit candle.

If The Force Awakens had opened, instead, using one of Palpatine’s children as a primary villain with that child obviously dark side leaning, the whole tone and concept of this entire trilogy would have completely changed. Talk about introducing a “new generation”, well this was the way to do it! It would have also changed the entire story concept over these three films. Instead of a Mary Sue story unfolding around Rey, we could have focused on the brashness, harshness and destructiveness of a Palpatine child and in a growing Jedi order to combat that new Palpatine threat.

Except, this time it’s not Palpatine. It’s the child of Palpatine and they have a completely new idea on how to squash the Jedi order, not using Palpatine’s old, tired rhetoric… that didn’t work anyway.

If Palpatine had had more than one child, which of course we knew nothing about those other children, another child could emerge as a conflict mechanism, both against the Jedi and also against the Sith. This would allow the story to pit both Palpatine children against one another, but at the same time against the Jedi. See, so much potential lost!

This could have turned Star Wars a bit darker, more modern, updated, yet still fall within Star Wars ideas and visuals. Instead of the crappy Disney trilogy that we got, which was a bunch of cotton candy fluff, we could have dived deep into a darker, more sinister plot involving Palpatine’s children. Snoke could have still been involved as a puppet of this Palpatine child, but we don’t even have to bring back Palpatine as a clone to accomplish it. We simply need this dark side leaning child to “carry the torch”.

So many ideas and so any concepts swirling, it’s amazing JJ didn’t realize that THIS is where the story should have headed… not with his carnival of cotton candy and candied apples. JJ’s trilogy was, in fact, so candy-bar sweet as to get diabetes. No, that’s not where Star Wars needed to go. Star Wars needed to begin with a darker, more sinister villain to launch the story, then slowly emerge (over 3 films) from that darkness with a huge win at the end… a win that perhaps doesn’t even stem from the Jedi. Such a win could then lead into not only more films, but also spin off into a whole bunch of TV series.

Disney missed the boat here in an immense way. So much potential completely wasted and lost.

Hack Writer

A hack writer is a pejorative term for a writer who is paid to write low-quality, rushed articles or books “to order”, often with a short deadline.

That’s exactly how J.J. Abrams comes to The Rise of Skywalker. He was most definitely paid to write a rushed low-quality script and the film most definitely reveals that. It also reveals that JJ doesn’t have the creative chops to come up with solid, great story ideas and concepts, such as using a Palpatine child to not only bring Star Wars to a brand new generation of children, but also breed a whole new generation of Sith and Jedi alike. Instead, we got…

High Gloss Cotton Candy

One of the things that most disturbs me about this film is its high gloss nature. This gloss defines the term putting “lipstick on a pig“. This phrase means taking a low quality, bad product and dressing it up to disguise its fundamental failings.

The “gloss” here is the film’s far too quick pacing and the overuse of CG effects, right from the opening. Yes, it’s a pretty film. It also includes throwing random and rapid paced information at the viewer, but not giving the person not enough time to react to that information. If the viewer attempts to think anything through, they’ll miss the next scene of the film. This is intentional. You can’t really go into deep thought and stay focused on the film in front of you. You can only go into deep thought after the film is over, at which point you’ll already be initially “satisfied” (or at least sated) by the film’s intended conclusion.

However, thinking the film through, you’ll understand all of the points I’ve made above.

That’s the whole point of the “glossy coating” and, thus, to put “lipstick on a pig”. It’s not that the story is the worst story I’ve ever seen in a film, but it’s definitely not a great story by any stretch. It was cobbled together from elements not established in this trilogy. Instead, the story had to fall back on story elements established from the prequels and the original films, but which hadn’t been discussed in this trilogy until the final film. Yes, that’s the very definition of a “Cop Out”.

Instead, this trilogy should have relied on itself and its own stories to carry its way through to conclusion. It didn’t need a cloned Palpatine to carry this story. That’s perfectly clear. Here’s one of the primary problems I have with this whole cloned Palpatine issue. How and when did Palpatine become cloned? Is someone else pulling the strings? Was that cloned Palpatine merely a test for Rey? Was it merely the first in a series of tests? Was that clone the only one?

So many questions left unanswered. So many questions that needed to be answered for a proper conclusion. Yet, no. These are not “cliffhanger” questions. These are fundamental questions which should have been answered over the course of the Disney trilogy, yet were not. To really underscore the Cop Out problem, we must examine…

The Last Jedi

The closing shot of the kid in the The Last Jedi shows a force capable child. Yet, The Rise of Skywalker doesn’t even attempt to close that narrative. The ring that Finn and Rose bestow onto that kid meant nothing? The whole almost 30 minute romp through the Casino was pointless? Indeed, it means the whole Rose storyline was more-or-less pointless considering they set up an almost blatant new romantic interest in The Rise of Skywalker in Naomi Ackie’s Jannah character. Yet, neither the romantic storyline between either Rose or Jannah materializes in The Rise of Skywalker. Rose has a few scenes in the Leia camp, but it’s all for naught and is a fairly useless means of closure for this character. Set her up in The Last Jedi to be a romantic interest, then ignore Rose as mere wallpaper in The Rise of Skywalker. The interest around Rose was molded into yet another new character of Jannah.

Yes, The Rise of Skywalker trounces all over The Last Jedi in an attempt right-its-wrongs for better or worse. More specifically, The Rise of Skywalker simply chooses to ignore those things it deems as unimportant from the previous film. Examples: the force-capable kid, the Casino romp, Rose and even the ring. Whatever The Rise of Skywalker writers deem as unimportant are left without acknowledgement or conclusion. Indeed, The Rise of Skywalker plays too much fan service and not enough at closing elements already opened in prior films.

It wouldn’t have taken much to include a small scene showing that force-capable kid wearing the ring somewhere in The Rise of Skywalker. It doesn’t need to be a long or even important scene, it simply needs to be in there. Maybe a scene between Rey and that kid moving rocks around briefly, as though she or Leia is training him. We don’t need to know more about the kid other than he’s still around and he may or may not become important later, just not in this film.

Change of Clothing

One of the most obvious and out of place elements is that Rey wears the same outfit and hairstyle throughout much of all three films. At least Leia was given proper costume changes along the way including her film’s iconic opening outfit with buns, her braided pony tail ceremonial outfit at the end of Episode 4, her Hoth ice outfit, her Bespin outfit, her ever important Jabba Bikini and so on. With each new environment, she changes clothing. No, it’s not explained how Leia does this, but she does.

Rey, on the other hand, almost never changes clothes. She effectively has two outfits. Her scavenger outfit which she wore in The Force Awakens and again in The Rise of Skywalker. In The Last Jedi, the costumers gave her a new darker outfit and a new hairstyle while on the Luke Skywalker banishment planet, but that was a short stint with that outfit. However, once she leaves, she’s back into yet another version of her scavenger outfit. For battling, I guess that outfit is fine, but you’d think that Leia could have issued her more appropriate resistance clothing along the way. For scavenging on a hot planet, what she was originally wearing was fine. For a resistance member, she should have changed into something more befitting of her new role. Additionally, being a budding Jedi, she should have at least donned more Jedi befitting clothing. Nope, she was placed right back into her scavenger outfit all throughout The Rise of Skywalker, even at the end of the film.

This is a small point, but it’s a relevant point to the development of a character. The costumes indicate growth of a character as much as her actions and words.

Story

After all of this lead up, let’s finally talk about the film’s story as a whole. The story itself is both simplistic and meh. It concludes in a way that leaves a bad taste for Star Wars and for Disney in general. Because hack writers were chosen to not create a cohesive whole, but a chopped up mess of a hack-job over three films which almost have no relation to one another other than characters, it ends up a truly sad affair. It also concludes in this way.

However, Disney also felt obligated to conclude this problem child. They did so only because they had started down this road and felt the need to finish it. Personally, I think Disney should have shelved the entire project after The Last Jedi and called it done. The whole thing was too irreparably damaged by that point, at least as a creative project. For Disney, the dollar $igns lingered too much in front of someone’s eyes to give it up.

Let’s talk about the film itself. When we begin The Rise of Skywalker, we’re greeted by the familiar text crawl followed by the familiar and obligatory space pan shot. Before we step into the visuals, let’s talk about this text crawl. The text crawl mentions Palpatine by name and that he’s back, never mind those pesky details of exactly how. Basically, the story opens with retroactive continuity before an actor ever graces the silver screen. We already know the lay of the land before one single actual live action shot. From that crawl alone, we now know exactly what we’re in for in The Rise of Skywalker, but we don’t yet know how it will unfold. Though, giving it two minutes of thought, you can understand where the story is heading, we simply need to see it visually.

How it actually ends up playing out is a series of scenes, the Millenium Falcon, a cameo by a now aging Lando Calrissian and a bunch of throwbacks and nods to the original Star Wars, simply to keep the visual interest high. In other words, visually the film relies almost solely on reminiscing over the original three films by attempting to ignore the failings of The Last Jedi specifically, but also glosses over some of The Force Awakens. The Rise of Skywalker attempts to be the one and only one film that matters in this Disney trilogy. In fact, it tries way too hard at this and ultimately feels hollow and disappointing.

It’s a film that feels whole and solid while you watch it, but like a chocolate Easter Bunny once you bite down and realize it’s hollow, the film ultimately lacks any real reason to exist. For this reason, this is why George Lucas decided not to create films 7, 8 and 9 himself. He realized that once the 6 films were complete, there was nothing left to say.

The Rise of Skywalker proves this fact out in amazing abundance. At the end, we’re left not with the question about how great Rey is, but what the hell just happened? More importantly, what was the point? How exactly does Rey’s existence perpetuate the Star Wars narrative in a positive or useful way? Rey is clearly not a Skywalker. She’s a Palpatine. She’ll always be a Palpatine. She’ll always have the potential for falling into the dark side. Yet, she takes the Skywalker name because, plot.

Was it necessary or important for Rey to be a Skywalker? *shrug* I’ve no idea. There’s nothing that comes after to explain the need for this inexplicable naming. Yet, that’s exactly how the story ends. She’s now Rey Skywalker in name only. She’ll always be Rey Palpatine or whatever her father’s family surname was. We don’t even know if it was her father or mother who was the daughter or son of Emperor Palpatine. For all we know, Palpatine didn’t even have a child. Instead, he may have made a clone of himself who ultimately broke away, got married and had a child. We just don’t have enough backstory to know how this whole Rey situation came about.

We came too late in The Force Awakens to get this backstory. It was also never explained throughout the Disney trilogy. We’re simply left in the dark. Even at the very end of The Rise of Skywalker, we’re still left in the dark about how Rey came to be the granddaughter of Palpatine. Bad storytelling. If you’re planning on including retroactive continuity, you could at least fill in these rather important details so we can better understand how and from where Rey came… or, more specifically, how Emperor Palpatine managed to have kids. We don’t even know if Palpatine’s kids were from the “original” Palpatine or if one of Palpatine’s clones had kids. Yes, I said clones… as in the plural form, meaning “more than one”.

Ben and Rey

One thing that The Rise of Skywalker postulates is that Rey and Ben are a force dyad. The only way that’s possible is if Ben and Rey are twins, or at least from the same parent. That implies that Leia may have given birth to twins (like her mother who also had twins Luke and Leia) and somehow Rey was kidnapped by a Palpatine clone and assumed it to be his own child birthed by, well, whomever was on the ship with Rey whenever she was left on Jakku.

Again, this was not explained in the film, but a force dyad doesn’t make much sense unless they’re siblings or, in some way related… which makes that kiss at the end all the more “ewww”. Again, not explained.

Never Ending Ending

Here’s the ultimate problem that exists and persists after closure of The Rise of Skywalker and it’s a big one! An ending that never ends is what we have left over from The Rise of Skywalker. What exactly do I mean? I mean that because Palpatine is a clone, there were likely many Palpatine clones. If Palpatine were to make one clone, he would make several. Why? To ensure the survival of at least one of the clones, there must be many.

The question remains, how many and where are they? We don’t know. Clearly, Rey seems to have fought a particularly weak clone. Perhaps they’re all weak. The fact that they’re clones, they might not have inherited all of the force strength of the original. Because Rey couldn’t defeat this Palpatine clone all by herself implies that she herself was most likely born of a clone and not the original Palpatine. While that may or may not be a problem, the bigger problem is that the ending of The Rise of Skywalker has no end.

As Rey heads off into the galaxy for future travels, she’ll inevitably encounter more Palpatine clones and she’ll be forced to dispatch each and every one. In fact, it’s highly likely she’ll have to dispatch many Palpatine clones, because like the original Palpatine, even the clones will have the drive to survive and those clones will also hire cloners to clone the clone making yet more Palpatines. Like a virus, this situation perpetuates and never ends. Rey will never run out of an army of Palpatines to defeat.

This is the problem you bring into a story when forcing such concepts as clones as a story element for story closure. Like waking up from a dream sequence as an ending, using clones to close the final story element leaves the story’s ending unsatisfying. There’s nothing at all satisfying about the possibility of hundreds or thousands of Palpatines all infesting the universe waiting to attack the next Jedi that happens along.

See, I didn’t even have to resort to holding up the unmitigated pretentious disaster of a story that was J.J.’s Star Trek to illustrate just how much of a hack writer J.J. Abrams really is. Oops, I guess I just did. Yes indeed, J.J. seems to have the uncanny ability to ruin just about any franchise he touches.

Graphics: 5 out of 5
Story: 1 out of 5
Pacing: 2 out of 5
Overall: 2 out of 5 (wait until it’s available to watch without paying)

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How to poach an egg in the microwave?

Posted in best practices, cooking, howto, kitchen by commorancy on December 5, 2021

poached egg and salmon

There are a number of YouTube videos claiming to poach an egg in a microwave. Almost every one of them is wrong and, worse, exceedingly dangerous. So, how do you poach an egg in a microwave? Let’s explore.

The Art of Egg Poaching

Poaching an egg is a cooking style which “poaches” an egg in hot water. Let’s understand that like oil and water, microwaves and water don’t always mix well, specifically when the water is heated. Microwaves tend to heat water excessively hot, to the point that the water becomes superheated. Superheated water is water that has reached a temperature beyond the boiling point.

Whoa! Wait a minute! Hold on. “Beyond the boiling point”, you say? You ask, “So why doesn’t it boil?” Good question. Microwaves are exceedingly efficient at heating water molecules rapidly. In fact, this is exactly how microwaves work. Microwaves target water molecules and energize them into moving rapidly. Molecules moving rapidly release heat. However, because the speed at which the microwave can heat water, it can get the molecules moving beyond the boiling point, but the water remains entirely still (i.e., no movement).

This is a dangerous and very deceptive condition. It means that the first thing placed into the water will cause the water to instantly explode into a boiling frenzy and spray boiling hot water everywhere, including potentially all over you causing burns. The point is, you never want to submerge an egg (whole or cracked) into water, then attempt to cook / poach it using a microwave. This is not at all a recommended cooking method. It’s also exceedingly dangerous.

Proper Egg Poacher Cookware

As with anything cooked in the microwave, appropriate cookware is required. Not only is each microwave cookware designed for a specific purpose, it ensures the safety of the person using the cookware for that purpose.

nordic-poacherFor the microwave, there are a number of different egg poachers that you can find. The most common is a clam shell style cooker with two compartments, into which you can crack two eggs. For example, here’s one type of clamshell style egg poacher at Amazon. If you prefer to buy name brands, here’s a Nordic poacher at Amazon (see inset image). You can sometimes find these style poachers at dollar stores and clearance home shops, like Home Goods.

How to Poach an Egg in a Microwave?

This method assumes you have acquired one of the above microwave cookers. DO NOT use an uncovered bowl instead.

Before I get into the how to portion, let me say that eggs, particularly the yolk, cook exceedingly fast in a microwave regardless of wattage. What this means is that even the best microwave poached egg won’t have a texture like an egg poached in a pan of water over open heat. This further means that if you are set on the texture and style of an actual poached egg, you’ll want to prepare it using a pan of heated water on a stove top, not by a microwave… especially if you like your yolk runny. On the flip side, poaching an egg in a microwave is easy and fast. If speed is important, then this method is the preferred choice.

With that said, to poach in a microwave egg poacher, the instructions are as follows:

  1. Crack one or two eggs into the compartment(s)
  2. Place one teaspoon of water on top of each egg
  3. Close and lock the lid over the egg(s)
  4. Place the cooker into the microwave, being careful to keep the unit level to avoid spilling
  5. Cook the eggs in the microwave for 1 minute
  6. Open the lid and check for doneness (careful, as steam may release which will be hot)
  7. If the egg is still not done, close and heat again in 20-30 second increments until done, checking after each 20-30 seconds.

Note that when poaching, the yolk will likely cook completely. It’s almost impossible to prevent this in the microwave. Once done, the egg whites will have a similar texture to poached. Unfortunately, the yolk is likely to be fully cooked and have that crumbly fully cooked texture.

This is a super fast way to cook an egg, but it may not provide the exact “poached” texture you’re looking for in the stove top method. However, this method, when used in the recommended microwave cookware, has very little chance of causing scalding hot water burns.

Also, be cautious when piercing the yolk with a fork immediately after coming out of the microwave. The yolk has a tendency to build up steam pressure inside and explode upon being pierced. You’ll want to wait for the egg(s) to cool for a few minutes before piercing. Alternatively, cover the egg with a paper towel and gently pierce it with a fork underneath, keeping your hands clear or covered with an oven mitt. If it explodes, the paper towel will catch it.

Be Safe and Happy Cooking!

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Smart Bulb Rant: Avoid Bluetooth + Alexa Bulbs

Posted in Amazon, botch, business by commorancy on November 28, 2021

LED BulbHaving worked with a number of smart Internet of Things devices (IoT), mostly light bulbs and hubs, I’ve come to learn what works and what doesn’t. Let’s explore.

Smart Hubs

Overall, the smartest value for your money is the purchase of a smart hub with light bulbs, such as the Philips Hue system. Why? These smart hubs use a mesh network that is separate from your WiFi network. These systems also have their own custom iOS apps that allow for extreme customization of colors, scenes and grouping. These hub-based devices also don’t require or consume IP addresses, like WiFi bulbs, but there are drawbacks to using a smart hub based system.

The biggest drawback is that smart hubs require an active Internet connection be available 24×7. When the Internet goes down, the smart devices, including light bulbs, don’t work well or at all. This is where WiFi bulbs typically shine, though not always. Controlling WiFi bulbs almost always works even with the Internet down when the mobile app is written properly. However, some mobile apps must check in with the mothership before enabling remote control features. Which means… the lack of Internet connectivity makes it difficult to control your devices other than manually. The good news is that most of these light bulbs work correctly by using the light switch on the lamp. This means you can still turn lamps on and off the “old fashioned way” … assuming you have electric power, of course.

The second drawback is that these systems are subject to interference by certain types of wireless systems such as some Bluetooth devices, wireless routers and cordless phone systems.

However, to be able to utilize voice control, such as with Google Home, Alexa or Apple’s Siri, this requires the Internet. The same for most smart apps. Though, I have found that Hue’s iOS or Android app can sometimes control lighting even with the Internet offline. However, without the Internet, the hub may perform poorly, work intermittently or fail to take commands until the Internet is restored.

While the Internet is online and functional, however, control of lighting and devices is easy and seamless. Not always so with…

Bluetooth and Alexa

Recently, some IoT LED bulb manufacturers have begun designing and using smart LED light bulbs based strictly on Bluetooth combined with Alexa. These Bluetooth based lights also don’t require or consume IP addresses, unlike WiFi bulbs. After all, Echo devices do support Bluetooth to allow for connecting to and controlling remote Bluetooth devices. The problem is, the Echo’s Bluetooth can be spotty, at best. Mostly the reason that Bluetooth is spotty is that it uses the same frequency as many home cordless phone systems (as well as WiFi routers and other Bluetooth devices). Not cell phones, mind you, but those old 2.4Ghz cordless handsets that sit in a charging base. Because these phone systems burst data periodically to keep the remote handsets up-to-date, these bursts can interfere with Bluetooth devices. Note that this can be major a problem if you live in a condo or apartment where adjacent neighbors could have such cordless phone systems or routers. Unfortunately, these bulbs can end up being problematic not only because of cordless phones.

Likewise, if you live in a large house with a number of different Echo devices on multiple floors (and you also have these cordless phone handsets), the bulb randomly chooses an Echo device to connect to as its Bluetooth ‘hub’. Whenever a command is issued from any Echo to control that light bulb, these devices must contact this elected Echo ‘hub’ device to perform the action. This could mean that the light bulb has hubbed itself to the farthest device from the bulb with the worst connection. I’ve seen these bulbs connect to not the closest Echo device to the bulb, but the farthest. As an example, I have a small Echo dot in the basement and this is the unit that tends to be elected by these bulbs when upstairs. This is also likely to have the most spotty connection and the worst Bluetooth reception because of being in the basement. There’s no way to ensure that one of these bulbs chooses the best and closest device without first turning off every Echo device except the one you want it connected to… a major hassle.

In the end, because the bulb chooses randomly and poorly, you’ll end up seeing ‘Device Malfunction’ or ‘Device Not Responding’ frequently inside of the Alexa app. If you click the gear icon with the device selected, you can see which Echo device the bulb has chosen. Unfortunately, while you can see the elected device, you cannot change it. The ‘Device Malfunction’ or ‘Device Not Responding’ messages inside of the Alexa app mean that the Alexa device is having trouble contacting the remote device, which is likely because of interference from something else using that same frequency (i.e., cordless handsets or routers).

This makes the purchase of any Bluetooth only LED light bulbs an exceedingly poor choice for Alexa remote control. Amazon can make this better by letting the user change the hub to a closer unit. As of now, the Alexa app doesn’t allow this.

Hub based Systems

Why don’t hub based systems suffer from this problem? Hub based systems setup and use a mesh network. What means is that the devices can all talk to one another. This means that instead of each device relying on directly connecting to the hub, the devices link to one another to determine which device in the mesh has the best connection to the hub. When the hub issues commands, it goes the other way. The command is sent down the mesh chain to a better connected device to issue the command to the destination bulb. This smart mesh network makes controlling lights via a hub + mesh system much more reliable than it would otherwise be without this mesh. The Philips Hue does use 2.4Ghz also to support the ZigBee protocol, but the smart mesh system prevents many connectivity problems, unlike these Sengled Bluetooth LED bulbs.

This is exactly why purchasing a Bluetooth-based light is a poor choice. Because these BT light bulbs don’t have enough intelligence to discover which Echo device is closest and has best connectivity and because it cannot talk to just any Echo device, this leaves the light bulb prone to problems and failure.

Sure, these BT bulbs may be less costly than a Hue bulb, but you get the quality you pay for. Alexa’s Bluetooth was not designed or intended for this type of remote control purpose. It’s being sledgehammered into this situation by these Chinese bulb manufacturers. Sure, it can work. For the most part, it fails to work frequently and often. It also depends on the bulb itself. Not all bulb electronics are manufactured equally, particularly when made in China.

If you find a specific bulb isn’t working as expected, the bulb is probably cheaply made of garbage parts and crappy electronics. You’ll want to return the bulb for replacement… or better, for a Hue system / bulb.

Color Rendition

These cheap bulb brands include such manufacturers as Sengled (shown in the photo) … a brand commonly found on Amazon. Because these bulbs are made cheaply all around, but separate from the BT issues already mentioned, you’ll also find the color rendition on these LED bulbs to be problematic. For example, asking for a Daylight color might yield something that ends up too blue. Asking for Soft White might end up with something too yellow (or a sorry shade of yellow). These are cheap bulbs made of exceedingly cheap parts through and through, including cheap LEDs that aren’t properly calibrated.

Asking for Yellow, for example, usually yields something more closely resembling orange or green. That would be fine if Alexa would allow you to create custom colors and name them. Unfortunately, the Alexa app doesn’t allow this.

Whatever colors are preset in Alexa are all the colors you can use. There are no such thing as custom colors inside of Alexa. If you don’t like the color rendition that the bulb produces, then you’re stuck. Or, you’ll need to replace the bulb with one that allows for custom color choices.

Bulbs purchased for a hub based system, like the Philips Hue bulbs, typically offer a custom iOS or Android app that allows for building not only custom colors and presets, but also custom scenes that allow for setting individual bulbs separately, but as a group. The Alexa app wasn’t designed for this granular lighting control purpose and is extremely lean of options. Everything that the Alexa app offers is set in stone and extremely rudimentary for lighting control. The Alexa app is designed as a can-opener, not as a specific tool. It does many things somewhat fine, but it doesn’t do any one thing particularly well.

Purchasing these BT Alexa-controlled LED lights is a poor choice overall. If you want the flexibility of color choices and color temperatures, you buy a bulb system like Philips Hue, which also offers a custom app. If you’re looking for something on-the-cheap but which allows quick control, then a Sengled or Cree or GE smart bulb might fit the bill. Don’t be surprised when the bulb fails to control at all or produces a color that is not what you were expecting. Worse, don’t be surprised when the bulb’s LED driver fails and begins to flash uncontrollably after a month’s use.

Updated Dec 7th after Amazon Outage

Today, Amazon Web Services (AWS) had a severe outage that impacted many different services including Ring and, yes, Amazon’s Smart Home features, including Alexa + Sengled bulbs. In fact, the only system that seems to have remain unaffected (at least in my home) was the Philips Hue system. Alexa was able to properly control all of my Philips Hue lights all throughout the day.

However, Alexa failed to control Kasa, Wemo, Wyze and even its own Bluetooth bulbs like Sengled. Indeed, pretty much most of my lights were unable to be controlled by Alexa throughout the duration of the outage, which was pretty much all day.

Amazon was able to isolate the failure root cause, but it still took them hours to recover all of the equipment needed to regain those services. This failure meant that it was impossible to control smart lights or, indeed, even my Ring alarm system.

Smart lights are controllable by switch. Shutting the switch off and back on will illuminate the light. You can then switch it off like normal. However, that also means that if the switch is off, Alexa can’t control the light. You must leave all lamp fixtures in the on position for the lights to turn on, off and dim by Alexa. If you turn the light switch off, then the smart features are no longer available and the lamp will display “Device is Unresponsive” in the Alexa app.

Failures

In fact, this “Device is Unresponsive” error is the exact failure response I saw throughout the day in the Alexa app during the failure. How does this all work? Alexa is powered by Amazon Web Services servers. These servers store data about your lamps, about your routines, about your Alexa usage and, indeed, about how to control your devices. Almost nothing is really stored on any given Echo device itself. Some small amounts of settings and a small amount of cache are utilized, but only to keep track of limited things for short periods of time. For example, if you’re playing music and pause, Alexa will keep track of that pause pointer for maybe 10-20 minutes max. After that time, it purges that resume information so that the stream can no longer resume.

All information about Alexa’s Smart Home devices is stored in the cloud on AWS. It also seems that state information about the lights (on, off, not responding) is also stored in AWS. When the connectivity stopped earlier on the 7th, that prevented connectivity from Alexa to those servers to determine the state of the information. It also prevented Alexa from controlling those specific devices handled strictly by Alexa. Because Alexa skills seemed to be handled by those servers, Alexa skills were unavailable also.

However, some services, like Ring, are also hosted on AWS. These servers seemed to have been impacted not only affecting Alexa’s interface to those services, but also preventing the use of Ring’s very own app to control its own services. Yes, it was a big outage.

This outage also affected many other servers and services unrelated to Alexa’s Smart Home systems. So, yes, it was a wide ranging, long lasting outage. In fact, as I type in this update, the outage may still be affecting some services. However, it seems that the Smart Home services may now be back online as of this writing. If you’re reading this days later, it’s likely all working again.

Smart Home Devices and Local Management

Using a hub Smart Home system like the Philips Hue hub system can allow for local management of equipment without the need for continuous internet. This means that if the Internet is offline for a period of time, you can still control your lighting with the Philips Hue app using local control. While you can control your lights with your switch, it’s just as important to be able to control your lighting even if your Internet goes down temporarily.

What this all means is that investing into a system like a Philips Hue hub and Philips Hue lights allows your smart lighting system to remain functional even if your Internet services goes down. In this case, Philips Hue didn’t go down and neither did my Internet. Instead, what went down was part of Amazon’s infrastructure and systems. This had an impact on much of Alexa and Alexa’s control over Smart Home devices. However, even though this was true of Alexa skills and Alexa controlled devices, Philips Hue remained functional all throughout.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that investing in a Philips Hue system is the best choice, but clearly in this instance it was a better choice than investing in the cheaper Alexa-only bulbs, which remained nonfunctional throughout the outage.

If there’s any caveat here, it’s that Smart Home systems are still subject to outages when services like AWS go belly up for a time. If you’re really wanting to maintain the ability to control your lights during such outages, then investing in a system like Philips Hue, which seems to be able to weather such outage storms, is the best of all worlds. Unfortunately, the Alexa only Sengled Bluetooth bulbs were the absolute worst choice for this type of AWS outage.

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Rant Time: It’s time for Gutenberg to go.

Posted in botch, business, rant by commorancy on October 9, 2021

woman in white shirt showing frustration

As the title may suggest and as a WordPress.com blogger, I’ve given up using the Gutenberg editor for articles. Let’s explore exactly the reasons why.

Gutenberg, Block Editing and Calypso

One of the biggest selling points of Gutenberg (the latest WordPress editor, first released in 2018 and headed up by Matias Ventura) is its ability to have literal text blocks. Each paragraph is literally a square block that is separate from all other blocks. The blocks allow for movement with an arrow up and down. The point to this movement system is to allow for easily rearranging your articles. At least, that was the main selling point.

In reality, the blocks are more of a chore than a help. I’ll explain this more in a bit. When Gutenberg first launched, it replaced the previous editor, Calypso, which was released in 2015. Calypso loaded extremely fast (in under 3 seconds you’re editing). Typing in text was flawless and simply just “worked”. When Calypso first released, there were a number of performance issues, some bugs and it didn’t always work as expected. However, after several updates over the initial months, all of that was solved. The slowness and performance issues were completely gone.

Before Calypso arrived, there was the much older “black colored” editor that was simple text-only editor. Meaning, there was no ability to graphically place or drag-move objects. Instead, you had to use specific HTML tags to manually place images and use inline CSS to get things done. It was a hassle, but it worked for the time. The big update for WordPress was that Calypso would bring modern word processor features and a more WYSIWYG type experience to blogging. Calypso did that exceedingly well, but in an occasionally limited way.

Unfortunately, Calypso had a short lifespan of about 3 years. For whatever reason, the WordPress.org team decided that a new editor was in order and so the Gutenberg project was born.

Gutenberg Performance

The real problem with Gutenberg is its performance. Since its release, Gutenberg’s block-building system has immense overhead. Every time you type something into a block, the entire page and all blocks around it must react and shift to those changes. Performance is particularly bad if you’re typing into a block in the middle of an article with many other blocks. Not only does the editor have to readjust the page on every single keystroke entered, it has to do it both up and down. Because of this continual adjustment of the page, keystrokes can become lagged by up to 12 seconds behind the keyboard typing.

Where Calypso’s typing performance is instant and without lag, Gutenberg suffers incredible lag due to its poorly conceived block design. Gutenberg has only gotten worse over time. Unlike Wine which ages and gets better every day, Gutenberg gets worse every day. There are literally hundreds of bugs in the Gutenberg editor that have never been corrected, let alone the aforementioned severe performance issue.

Classic Editor

You might be asking, “What editor are you using?” Technically, I’m using Calypso inside of Gutenberg because there’s no other option than the antiquated “black editor”. When Gutenberg came about, they had to find a way to make old articles written in Calypso compatible with Gutenberg without having to convert every single article into the new Gutenberg block format. To do this, the Gutenberg team included Calypso in the block called the “Classic Editor” block. It’s effectively a full version of Calypso in a single block.

The Classic Block type is what I’m now using to type this and all new articles. I must also say that every character I type into the Classic Block is spot on in speed. No lags at all. Typing is instantaneous. However, with Gutenberg, typing words into a Gutenberg “paragraph” block can see text show up literally many seconds after I’ve typed it… sometimes more than 10 seconds later. I can literally sit and watch the cursor make each letter appear after I’ve stopped typing. It’s incredibly frustrating.

Few typists are 100% accurate 100% of the time. This means using the backspace key to remove a double tapped letter, add a missing letter or rewrite a portion of text is required. When you’re waiting on the editor to “catch up” with your typing, you can’t even know what errors you made until it finally shows up. It’s like watching paint dry. It’s incredibly frustrating and time wasting.

Editor Performance

Gutenberg’s performance has gotten progressively worse since 2018. By comparison, Calypso’s launch performance suffered when it was first released, taking 10-12 seconds to launch. The Calypso team managed to get that under control within 6 months and reduced the launch time to under 2 seconds. Literally, you could go from a new browser tab to editing an existing or brand new article in under 2 seconds. Gutenberg’s launch performance has remained consistent at ~10 seconds and has never wavered in the many years since it launched in 2018. And… that 10 seconds all for what? An editor with horrible performance?

Gutenberg launched with “okay” block performance years ago, but in the last 6 months, its performance level has significantly degraded. Literally, the Gutenberg paragraph block, the mainstay of the entire Gutenberg editor, is now almost completely unusable in far too many circumstances.

If you’re looking to type a single short paragraph article, you might be able to use Gutenberg. Typing an article like this one with a large number of paragraphs of reasonable length means slower and slower performance the longer the article gets, especially if you need to edit in the middle of the article. That’s not a problem when using the Classic Block as the article has only one block. It’s when there’s an ever growing number of blocks stacking up that Gutenberg gets ever slower and slower. Gutenberg is literally one of the most horrible editing experiences I’ve ever had as a WordPress blogger.

Gutenberg’s Developers

As a user of Gutenberg, I’ve attempted to create bugs for the Gutenberg team in hopes that they would not only be receptive to wanting these bug reports, but that they would be willing to fix them. Instead, what I got was an ever growing level of hostility with every bug reported… culminating in myself and one of the Gutenberg developers basically having words. He accused me of not taking the right path to report bugs… but what other path is there to report bugs if not in the official bug reporting system devoted to Gutenberg’s bugs? This one entirely baffled me. Talk about ungrateful.

Sure, I’m a WordPress.com user, but the WordPress.com team doesn’t accept bug reports for Gutenberg as they have nothing to do with Gutenberg’s development. They’ll help support the WordPress.com product itself, but they don’t take official bug reports for sub-product components. In fact, I’d been told by multiple WordPress.com support staffers to report my bugs directly into the Gutenberg project bug reporting system. That’s what I did. I explained that to the developer who suddenly became somewhat apologetic, but remained terse and condescending.

Let’s understand one thing. WordPress.com is a separate entity from the WordPress.org Gutenberg development team. The two have no direct relationship whatsoever, making this whole situation even more convoluted. It’s a situation that WordPress.com must workout with WordPress.org. As a blogger, it’s not my responsibility to become the “middle man” to communicate between these orgs.

Any development team with this level of hostility towards its end users needs to be reevaluated for its project values. Developers can’t develop in a bubble. They need the feedback from users to improve their product. Developers unwilling to accept this feedback need to be pulled from the project and, if their attitude does not improve, be jettisoned. Bad attitudes need to be culled from any development project. It will only serve to poison the end product… and nowhere is this more abundantly clear than in the Gutenberg editor. This editor is now literally falling apart at the seams.

WordPress.com is at a Crossroads

At this point, WordPress needs to make a choice. It’s clear, the Gutenberg editor can’t last. WordPress.com must make a new editor choice sooner rather than later. Gutenberg is on its last legs and needs to be ushered out of the door.

If that means re-wrappering the entire editor so that the Classic Block becomes the only and default block available, then so be it. I’d be perfectly happy if WordPress.com would make the Classic Block not only the default editor block type when entering a new editor, but the ONLY block type available. After all, everything that can be done with individual blocks in Gutenberg can be done in the Classic Block.

Then, refocus the Gutenberg development team’s efforts to improving ONLY the Classic Block. Have them drop the entirety of development for every other block type from that horrible Gutenberg editor product.

Blocks and Gutenberg

Let’s talk about Gutenberg’s design for a moment. The idea behind Gutenberg is noble, but ultimately its actual design is entirely misguided. Not only has Gutenberg failed to improve the editor in any substantial way, it has made text editing slower, more complex and difficult in an age when an editor should make blogging easier, faster and simpler. All of the things that should have improved over Calypso have actually failed to materialize in Gutenberg.

The multiple block interface doesn’t actually improve the blogging experience at all. Worse, the overhead of more and more blocks stacking to create an article makes the blogging experience progressively slower and less reliable. In fact, there are times when the editor becomes so unresponsive that it requires refreshing the entire editor page in the browser to recover. Simply, Gutenberg easily loses track of its blocks causing the editor to essentially crash internally.

None of this is a problem with the Classic Editor block because editing takes place in one single block. Because the Classic Editor is a single block, Gutenberg must only keep up with one thing, not potentially hundreds. For this reason, the Classic Editor is a much easier solution for WordPress.com. WordPress.com need only force the Classic Block as the primary editor in Gutenberg and hide all of the rest of Gutenberg’s garbage blocks that barely work. Done. The editor is now back to a functional state and bloggers can now move on with producing blog articles rather than fighting Gutenberg to get a single sentence written. Yes, Gutenberg is that bad.

Bad Design

Worse, however, is Gutenberg’s block design idea. I really don’t fully understand what the Gutenberg team was hoping to accomplish with this odd block design. Sure, it allows movement of the blocks easily, but it’s essentially a technical replacement for cut and paste. How hard is it really to select a paragraph of text, cut it and then paste it into a different location? In fact, cut and paste is actually easier, faster and simpler than trying to move a block. Block movement is up or down by one position at a time when clicked. If you need the block moved up by 10 paragraphs, then you’re clicking the up button 10 times. And, you might have to do this for 5 different paragraphs. That’s a lot of clicking. How does that much clicking save time or make blogging easier? Cut and paste is always four actions. Select the text, cut, click cursor to new location, paste. Cut and paste has none of this click-click-click-click-clickity-click BS. Of course, you can cut and paste a whole block, but that sort of defeats the purpose of building the up and down function for movement, doesn’t it?

Instead, I’ve actually found in practice that Gutenberg’s alleged more advanced “design” actually gets in the way of blogging. You’d think that with a brand new editor design, a developer would strive to bring something new and better to the table. Gutenberg fails. The whole cornerstone and supposed “benefit” of Gutenberg’s design is its blocks. The blocks are also its biggest failing. Once you realize the blocks are mostly a gimmick… a pointless and a slow gimmick at that, you then realize Calypso was a much better, more advanced editor overall, particularly after using a Classic Block to blog even just one article.

Change for Change’s Sake

Here’s a problem that’s plagued the software industry for years, but in more recent times has become a big, big problem. With the rush to add new features, no one stops to review the changes for functionality. Product managers are entirely blinded by their job requirement to deliver something new all of the time. However, new isn’t always better and Gutenberg proves this one out in droves. Simply because someone believes a product can be better doesn’t mean that the software architects are smart or creative enough to craft that reality.

We must all accept that creating new things sometimes works and sometimes fails. More than that, we need to recognize a failure BEFORE we proceed down the path of creation. Part of that is in the “Proof of Concept” phase. This is the time when you build a mini-version of a concept to prove out its worth. It is typically at the “Proof of Concept” stage where we can identify success or failure.

Unfortunately, it seems that many companies blow right past the proof-of-concept stage and jump from on-paper design into full-bore development efforts. Without a proper design review by at least some stakeholders, there’s no way to know if the end result will be functional, useful or indeed solve any problems. This is exactly where Gutenberg sits.

While I can’t definitively state that the Gutenberg team blew past the proof-of-concept stage, it certainly seems that they did. Anyone reviewing Gutenberg’s blocks idea could have asked one simple question, “How exactly are blocks better than cut and paste?” The answer here is the key. Unfortunately, the actual answer to this question likely would have been political double-speak which doesn’t answer the question or it might end up being a bunch of statistical developer garbage not proving anything. The real answer is that this block system idea doesn’t actually improve blogging. In fact, it weighs down the blogging experience tremendously.

Instead of spending time writing, which is what we bloggers do (and actually want to do), we now spend more time playing Legos with the editor to determine which block fits where. As a blogger, an editor should work for us, not against us. Spending 1/3 of our time managing editor blocks means the loss of 1/3 of our time we could have been writing. Less time writing means less articles written.

Because blogging is about publishing information, speed is of utmost importance. Instead of fumbling around in clumsy blocks, we should spend our time formulating our thoughts and putting them down onto the page. For this reason, Gutenberg gets in our way, not out of our way.

At a Crossroads — Part II

Circling back around, we can now see exactly WHY WordPress.com is at a crossroads. The managers at WordPress.com need to ask this simple question, “What makes our bloggers happy?” The answer to this question is, “A better and faster editor.”

Are Gutenberg’s failings making bloggers happy? No. Since the answer to this question is “No”, WordPress.com managers need to realize there’s a problem afoot… a problem which can be solved. Nothing requires the WordPress.com platform to use Gutenberg… or at least the block portions of it. Because there exists a solution in the Classic Block, it would be simple to launch Gutenberg directly into a locked-in version of the Classic Block and not allow any further blocks to be created… essentially dumping the vast majority of Gutenberg.

This change reverts the editor back to Calypso and effectively does away with Gutenberg almost entirely. Though, this is a stop-gap measure. Eventually, the WordPress.com managers will need to remove Gutenberg entirely from the WordPress.com platform and replace it with a suitably faster and more streamlined editor, perhaps based on a better, updated version of Calypso. It’s time for this change. Why?

If the Gutenberg team cannot get a handle on crafting an editor that works after 3 years, then Gutenberg needs to be removed and replaced with an editor team actually willing to improve the blogging experience. WordPress.com needs to be able to justify its sales offerings, but it’s exceedingly difficult when you have what should be the cornerstone of the platform, the editor, working against you. This makes it exceedingly difficult for new would-be buyers to literally spend money for WordPress.com platform. Paying for an editor that barely works is insane. WordPress.com managers can’t be so blind as to not see this effect?

The bottom line is, how do you justify replacing an editor with an under 2 second launch time with an editor that now has a 10-20 second launch time? That’s taking steps backwards. How do you justify an editor that lags behind the keyboard typing by up to 12 seconds when the previous editor had no lag at all? Again, steps backwards. Isn’t the point in introducing new features to make a product better, faster and easier? Someone, somewhere must recognize this failure in Gutenberg besides me!! Honestly, it’s in the name of the product “WordPress”. How can we “press words” without an editor that “just works”?

WordPress.com, hear me, it’s time to make a change for the better. Dumping Gutenberg from the WordPress.com platform is your best hope for a brighter future at WordPress.com. As for the WordPress.org team, let them waddle in their own filth. If they want to drag that Gutenberg trash forward, that’s on them.

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Review: Is Fiverr a scam?

Posted in botch, business, scams by commorancy on October 8, 2021

conceptual photo of a money scam

Fiverr is one in a new generation on “Work for Hire” sites (sometimes known as freelancer sites) that have recently sprung up, while they’re also hoping to turn a big profit off of the backs of buyers and sellers. Let’s explore whether Fiverr is a scam or legitimate.

Work For Hire

While Fiverr might think it is something kind of special, it isn’t. There have been plenty of “Work For Hire” kinds of sites throughout the years going back to the early 2000s. There’s nothing really new about this kind of site.

To explain more, Fiverr’s “Work For Hire” marketplace has two distinct type of visitors: Buyers and Sellers. This means that a person visiting the site could be one or both of these roles.

As a buyer, you visit the site looking for a specific kind of service to buy. For example, maybe you would like to have someone write a blog article for you. You can then find an author/seller who is selling such a service, then contract their services at an agreed price, place an order, then wait for delivery of the article… at which time payment is due.

As a seller, you use your talents to place your authoring services up for sale and reap monetary rewards (such that they are) for providing a needed service to the buyer community.

It’s a reasonable idea and a potentially great business model, if such a site is correctly designed. Here’s where Fiverr fails hard.

Buyers

As with any site of this type (or really any site in general that offers logins and passwords), certain expectations are set (and must be met).  Any site with user logins must be willing to maintain and manage these user logins themselves, including appropriate application of Terms and Conditions by taking action against violators, abusers, harassers and scam artists. After all, it is Fiverr’s servers and system, therefore it falls on Fiverr to ensure users of the service act according to the Terms and Conditions while using that platform. This is a very basic expectation that all sites must meet.

For example, when you create a Google account, there’s an expectation that Google will both vet and maintain its new user signups appropriately. For the most part, Google does this well… except when the individual is under 13 years of age. That means that when Google identifies someone violating its rules of conduct (usually laid out in Terms and Conditions and/or Terms of Service documents or possibly other documents also), it will take action against a violating account up to and including termination from the service. However, Google has refrained from either detecting or deleting accounts created by users under the age of 13, for whatever questionable reason. I digress.

Along these same lines, Fiverr’s management is not only exceedingly naïve, they’re extremely inexperienced in running a user signup based platform like Fiverr and it shows. Why? Because the site’s weak signup system and rigid Terms and Conditions forces far too much of Fiverr’s buyer vetting work down upon its sellers. Instead of taking care to properly manage its buyers, it forces sellers to shoulder that responsibility and take this work onto themselves. As someone so rightly said, “Ain’t nobody got time for that”.

Sellers

As a seller, you would think that your primary job and focus is to sell your service to would-be buyers. While that is a portion of what a seller is expected to do on Fiverr, Fiverr’s unreasonable and overreaching Terms and Conditions require the seller to take on a whole lot more burden than they should, such as Buyer vetting, Buyer management and, yes, being “Academic Police”.

One egregious mistake in Fiverr’s Terms and Conditions is its overreaching “Academia” clause. One might think, shouldn’t we protect academic institutions and/or students? Well, no. Academic institutions are responsible for protecting themselves. Students are responsible for protecting their own best interests. It’s no one’s responsibility to protect any specific academic institution or student than that academic institution itself.

How does this impact sellers? Great question. Let’s get started answering this loaded question. There are 3,982 degree-granting institutions of higher learning as of 2020 according to US News. Nearly 4,000 institutions exist…. 4,000! That’s a lot.

This number is important to realize because Fiverr’s Terms and Conditions require sellers to become “academic police” for each and every one of those nearly 4,000 institutions of higher learning. Oh, but it gets so much worse.

Every single one of those institutions has by-laws and rules regarding code of academic conduct. Students attending are required to agree to that code of conduct upon enrolling in any one of those institutions. For example, rules against plagiarism is a typical code of conduct which may be found at many, if not most, of these institutions. It is beholden to the student to read, comprehend and understand this code of conduct for their specific institution upon enrollment.

However, for sellers on Fiverr, Fiverr’s Terms and Conditions effectively deputize sellers to become “academic police” for any or, indeed, all of these nearly 4,000 institutions of higher learning. This means that should a buyer show up at your seller doorstep, you must become responsible to make sure that buyer (who might be a student) isn’t violating a university’s academic code of conduct by buying something from you.

Not only that, Fiverr expects the seller to determine intent of every buyer… such as somehow magically deriving that a buyer is a student at one of those nearly 4,000 universities (or way less likely, even grade school), but also that the magically-derived “student” is buying the service with the INTENT of turning the resulting product in as their own work. Intent is something a seller cannot possibly determine or be expected to determine, let alone if the buyer is a student. Intent is difficult enough to determine and, more importantly, prove by defending and prosecuting attorneys in criminal court trials. How and, more importantly, WHY is a seller expected to determine intent for a site like Fiverr?

That’s like asking a gun dealer to be held responsible for intent of every gun sold. Thankfully, in the United States, there’s the PLCAA federal law that prevents this exact situation for gun dealers. Under the PLCAA, gun dealers cannot be held responsible for how a gun is used after it has been sold… which means, gun dealers cannot be held responsible for a buyer’s intent.

Fiverr’s Naïvety

Oh, it gets worse. Because there are so many institutions of higher learning not including grade schools, the seller would need to visit each and every one of those institutions of learning, THEN be required to read and understand each and every one of those rules of academic conduct for each of those ~4,000 institutions. That could take years. As I said, NAÏVE and insanely impractical.

Again, WHY is the seller responsible for this work? As a seller, I’m there to sell my services, not become police for for-profit higher education institutions.

Education Institutions

If schools have a problem with student conduct, that’s between the institution and the student. Fiverr, nor its sellers under it, has no role in this. That Fiverr has decided to take on the burden of becoming a police force for these mostly for-profit organizations is bewildering. Worse, that Fiverr expects the sellers to become that police is even more bewildering.

Work for Hire

In a discussion with a very naïve set of support representatives for Fiverr, a conversation ensued over this very same “academic police” issue. Essentially, the representative tried to make it seem like the seller is at fault by 1) not knowing the buyer is a student, 2) that a seller should know a student INTENDS to plagiarize and 3) that sellers are somehow responsible for that student’s plagiarism.

Let’s get one thing CRYSTAL clear. There’s no “plagiarism” under Work for Hire. The representative stated copyright infringement was also involved. There’s also no “copyright infringement” under Work for Hire. That’s not how Work for Hire copyrights work. If someone commissions and buys a work, such as writing a book, writing software code or any other software goods, as soon as the deal is closed, the delivered goods are considered as “Works Made For Hire”. The copyright office is very specific about this type of work and how copyrights apply to these works.

Works sold under “Works Made For Hire” see ALL copyrights turned over to the buyer as though the buyer created the work themselves. Meaning, as soon as the deal closes and those soft goods are delivered, the copyrights are fully, completely and legally owned 100% by the buyer. THIS is how “Works Made For Hire” copyright law works. From that link, here’s an excerpt that states that copyright law for  a “work” (when made for hire) applies…

When a certain type of work is created as a result of an express written agreement between the creator and a party specially ordering or commissioning it

That’s exactly what Fiverr does… allow for commissioning a work using express written agreements. Thus, all works delivered from Fiverr are considered as “Work for Hire” and, thus, all copyrights are owned by the buyer upon delivery.

Academia, Works for Hire and Fiverr

Unfortunately, these concepts are like oil and water. They don’t want to mix. Academia wants students to create their own works. However, “Work for Hireallows a student to buy a commissioned work, turn it in as their own work without legal issues and without plagiarism. Legally, under a “Work for Hire”, a student buyer owns the rights just as if they wrote it themselves. Therefore, no such plagiarism or copyright issues exist with “Work for Hire”. It might be an ethically poor choice on the student’s part and it might even deprive the student of much needed learning experience, but there’s nothing legally at fault here; not from the seller and not from the buyer.

Were the student to copy (not buy) a work from someone else and turn it in as their own, that’s plagiarism and copyright infringement. Keep in mind that plagiarism is not a ‘legal’ term. It’s an academic term typically bandied about when a student turns in a work they didn’t author themselves. However, commissioning someone and paying them for their efforts as a “Work for Hire” is not technically considered plagiarism and is most definitely not copyright infringement. While it might be ethically questionable for the student to take a “Work for Hire” route to complete an assignment, it doesn’t violate copyright laws and it isn’t plagiarism so long as the work was crafted by the seller as an “original work”.

Sellers Part II

With Fiverr, they’ve explicitly decided to place the burden of these “academically ethical” misdeeds onto the seller rather than onto the buyer / student. Let’s understand the problem here. Fiverr is not an academic institution. Fiverr, as far as I know, has no ties to academic institutions. Yet, Fiverr has crafted a Terms and Conditions policy that greatly benefits these for-profit academic institutions at the cost of requiring sellers to read and understand THOUSANDS of school policies to know if a potential buyer is violating any specific school policies.

WOW! Can you say, “overreaching?” I knew that you could. This situation is not only a ridiculous ask of sellers, it’s insanely complicated and time consuming and is highly unethical… all to sell a blog article, a work of fiction or a computer program on Fiverr?

None of this should be a seller responsibility. That’s Fiverr’s responsibility. A seller’s responsibility should end at selling their service. Violating school policies is the student’s responsibility to their school. The student agreed to their school’s conditions of attending that academic institution. The Fiverr seller plays no role in a student’s decisions. If a student intends or, indeed, violates a school’s enrollment conditions, that’s on the student to take the consequence. Fiverr should be completely hands-off of this process.

As I said, Fiverr’s management team is extremely naïve, gullible and unethical. That insane naïvety forces sellers to be incredibly overburdened as a long-arm-of-the-law for for-profit academic institutions combined with taking responsibility if a student violates a school’s academic policies. If an academic institution wants to task Fiverr sellers to become “academic police”, they can pay for that service like universities do for any other service.

Institutions of Higher Learning

Most higher education facilities (Universities and Colleges) are typically for-profit organizations. If they weren’t for-profit, they couldn’t keep the lights on, employ hundreds of instructors, janitors, staff AND buy desks, computers, buildings, land and so on. That Fiverr has taken the dubious and questionable step of writing into their Terms and Conditions a clause that favors these for-profit organizations is extremely questionable. Of course, one might ask, “Well, what about grade schools?”

Grade school is a whole separate bag and one where Fiverr shouldn’t actually ever see buyers for a number of reasons. The first and foremost reason is that grade school kids shouldn’t have credit cards to be able purchase items on Fiverr. The vast majority of grade school kids are at an age that prevents owning a credit card. A child might own a “learner” Visa debit card managed by their parents or perhaps a Visa gift card, but if Fiverr is accepting these payment cards without verifying age, Fiverr might be breaking other laws. For example, many grade school children are under the age of 13, which means that if Fiverr is allowing children under the age of 13 onto Fiverr’s platform, Fiverr is almost assuredly in violation of COPPA. Even minors under the age of 18 and who are still in grade school should be disallowed from making Fiverr purchases. In fact, only legal adults should be allowed to purchase services on Fiverr.

No, any application of “academic police” almost 100% both implies colleges and universities almost exclusively… which are most definitely for-profit organizations.

The above “academic police” situation would be tantamount to Fiverr adding a clause to its Terms and Conditions that holds sellers responsible for credit card fraud from buyers. Sellers aren’t “credit card police” any more than they should be “academic police”. Sellers have zero control over the payment system(s) that Fiverr employs and uses. Requiring such a condition for seller usage is not only backwater, it’s insanely stupid and definitely states exactly how inept the management team at Fiverr actually is.

Why would sellers be responsible for credit card fraud of a buyer when the seller has zero to do with that payment, that card or, indeed, the payment system? Sellers don’t get access to any of that card information. Thus, credit card management, just like academic management, is Fiverr’s responsibility.. and rightly it should be. It is on Fiverr to determine if a buyer is a student. It is on Fiverr to restrict and prevent purchases from students, not the seller.

If a seller is not a student at all and is not attending any academic institution, that seller holds exactly ZERO responsibility to any academic institution. Because Fiverr’s Terms and Conditions foists this agreement onto the seller is disingenuous, highly dubious, insanely stupid and, because of the time required to manage it, highly unethical. Everyone can understand the “credit card fraud” issue, so why is “academic fraud” any different here?

Low Wages

As a completely separate issue, but one that’s extremely relevant for sellers at Fiverr is how much money can a seller expect to make?

As a tech worker, the average wage to write code or build software, at least in the United States, is at typically between $30-70 per hour depending on experience, language, the type of code being written and so forth. That’s a lot for an hourly rate, but that’s the going rate in the United States.

Because far too many buyers on Fiverr are from Israel, Pakistan, India and other middle east countries where wages are very depressed, the expectation of costs of providing these services is extremely low. Meaning, instead of the normal going rate of ~$40 per hour, you’re expected to drop your fee down to $5 per project. Ironically, I think that’s why they named the site “Fiverr” because a “fiver” is all you’re going to get (less actually). I think you see the economic problem here. This brings me to my next point.

Commissions and Fees

Fiverr gets its money both coming and going. What that means is that for every “gig” sold (what they call a listing), Fiverr takes a 20% cut from both the buyer AND the seller separately. That’s a total of 40% cut for Fiverr from every single project sold. Let’s put a dollar value on that. For a $5 order, a seller will receive $4 with $1 going to Fiverr. A buyer will spend $6 to cover the $5 seller cost seeing $1 going to Fiverr. That’s a total of $2 that Fiverr made from that $5 sale.

This means for that $5, the seller doesn’t actually get $5, they get $4 (less after income taxes). You might spend 2 or more hours working on a project to receive less than $4? That’s way less than even minimum wage. So then, what’s the incentive to sell on Fiverr if nearly every buyer expects to spend $5 for almost any project? Yeah, that’s the real scam here.

Scam

Let’s get to the heart of the matter. Is Fiverr a scam? Clearly, Fiverr’s team is naïve and doesn’t understand the service they are offering. However, the overly expensive 40% commission that Fiverr takes combined with its overreaching Terms and Conditions, which is clearly designed to favor educational institutions over its sellers, and because the low price expectation from mostly middle east buyers leads the platform into extremely scam-ish territory.

Is it a scam? I don’t think the founders intended for it to be, but at this point it almost certainly is a scam. There are similar sites, like Upwork, that seemingly operate in a somewhat more legitimate way, yet those sites still choose to employ the overly high 40% commission system. However, because Upwork attracts more legitimate clientele over the “middle east crowd”, setting up listings on Upwork is more likely to lead to a better wage than when using Fiverr.

Bottom Line

Don’t go into Fiverr expecting to make a lot of money. Because of the mostly “middle east buyer crowd” who expects rock bottom prices that Fiverr seems to attract, because there’s few controls for sellers to protect themselves, because sellers must become “academic police” for for-profit educational institutions, because of the incredibly high 40% commission and because the actual income is so low, I’d class Fiverr as “mostly a scam”.

I strongly recommend avoiding this site unless Fiverr’s management team can get their act together and clean up all of these issues. Instead, if you’re looking for other “Work for Hire” type sites, try Upwork or CrowdSpring or, better, put your resume on LinkedIn and attempt to get legitimate actual employment with a real livable wage. However, if you enjoy frittering away literal hours of time for less than $5, then by all means head over to Fiverr.

Fallout 76: Best location to farm XP?

Posted in howto, video game by commorancy on October 5, 2021

11-25-2018_4-47-46_PM-3khkfghcMany people playing Fallout 76 are asking this specific question, specifically because nerfing has become so commonplace not just with weapons, but also spawning creatures and the reduction of XP received from creatures. Let’s explore.

The Whitespring

One of the staples for farming Experience Points (XP) in Fallout 76 has always been the Ghoul Run at The Whitespring (and the larger events like the Scorchbeast Queen). The plus with the Ghoul Run is that you’ll get a fair amount of XP out of the deal. The minus is that once you run it, it takes ages for the ghouls to respawn on the same server. This means you cannot continue to farm XP indefinitely. This slow respawn rate was intentionally changed to prevent players from farming this area constantly. However, you can mostly avoid this issue by server hopping. The other downside is that Bethesda has consistently and continually nerfed the XP received from killing high level ghouls. The amount of XP that can be had at The Whitespring Ghoul Run isn’t slouchy, but it’s nowhere near the levels that were formerly available when the game was new. You might have been able to level up once fully by a single Ghoul Run the first year the game was around. Today, it would take probably 10 runs to get the same amount of XP to level up.

This is why the Ghoul Run is still a decent run to do, but you can’t rely on it to take your character up to the next level quickly. Instead, there are other locations more suitable for high XP farming.

West Tek Research Center

With the addition of Steel Reign (part of the Steel Dawn series), a new location was opened at West Tek Research Center. This area is available via an elevator in the research wing of the facility. The area is named ‘FEV Production Facility’. Here’s the magic of this location. With the add on of this sublevel area, the interior of the entirety of West Tek Research Center is now farmable for XP infinitely.

Not only are the Super Mutants spawning at level 100 (mostly), they offer at least 300+ XP with every kill (as a base). The XP only goes up from here. This is at least twice the amount of XP you’ll receive from killing a high level ghoul at the Whitespring.

The important thing here is that once you’ve cleared out the upper level area of West Tek Research Center, you can then visit the FEV Production area and kill all the Supermutants down there. Be careful, though. The FEV area also spawns Supermutant Suiciders. Once you’ve cleared that area out, return to the upper floors and all of the Supermutants will have respawned yet again and you can clear the upper area out all over again.

Then, rinse and repeat. You can move between the lower FEV area and the upper research area then back. Every time you do this, each interior respawns all of the Supermutants again.

Better, each time I’ve done this, at least one Supermutant and/or Hound is a 2 or 3 star legendary. It’s not a lot of Legendary enemies, but they’re high level and multi-star. What this also means there’s no cooldown on the area at all. Just move back and forth between each of the areas and keep the kills going for as long as you want.

Effectively, West Tek Research center is the new XP run. You can farm XP here indefinitely when moving between these two interior spaces. This allows you to grind, grind, grind your way to leveling up quickly. This also quite useful when you’re wanting to complete the ‘Level Up’ challenges to gain S.C.O.R.E. points.

Increasing the XP bonus?

While 300 XP per kill isn’t too bad, you can really do much, much better at WestTek Research Center per Super Mutant kill. In fact, I’ve been able to achieve just over 1900 XP per kill for each level 100 Super Mutant! Because this area is instantly farmable non-stop, you can level up even your highest level character(s) around every 30-45 minutes. You’ll need a one or two shot per kill weapon, though, to achieve this level up speed. That’s a crap ton of XP in one or two shots. To achieve that ~1900, you’ll need to stack several XP boosters, combined with a Double XP weekend.

Basically, the XP bonus stack goes as follows:

Item Duration Bonus
Public Team XP Bonus
None Casual: +1 Intelligence (+4 for a fully bonded team)
Events:
+25% XP for Events (100% XP with 4 full bonds)
Hunting
: +25% XP for Legendary Kills (100% XP with 4 full bonds)
Roleplay: +1 Charisma (+4 for a fully bonded team)
Exploration: +1 Endurance (+4 for a fully bonded team)
Daily Ops: +25% XP for completing Daily Ops (100% XP with 4 full bonds)
ALL team types afford an XP bonus up to ~+2% XP with 4 bonds
Team required
Kindred Spirit (3h)
Lover’s Embrace (3h)
Well Rested (2h)
Rested (1h)
1, 2 or 3 hours +5% Extra XP for sleeping
Leader Bobblehead 1 hour +5% XP
Magazine Live and Love #8 1 hour +5% XP
Team required
Cranberry Relish
Tasty Squirrel Stew
1 hour +10% XP
Inspirational perk card None +5% XP for 1 star
+10% XP for 2 star
+15% XP for 3 star
Team required
4 Lunchboxes 1 hour / each +25% XP per Lunchbox. Max of 100% XP opening 4 Lunchboxes
Double XP Weekend Several Days +100% XP

Adding all of this up, that’s 2 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 10 + 15 + 100 + 100 ~= +242% XP. Unfortunately, this stacking math and Bethesda stacking math don’t always align in Fallout 76. Bethesda always math stacks to offer the least amount of bonus possible. Meaning, the stacking math I describe here might not be exactly what Bethesda uses to calculate the perk stack. Knowing Bethesda, it probably doesn’t work out perfectly like the math above. Regardless, this XP bonus stack shown above raises those base 300 XP Super Mutants to greater than 1900 XP per kill.

Without a Double XP Weekend, this halves the XP amount to around ~960 XP per kill. That’s still an excellent amount of XP per kill and can level almost any character up reasonably quickly, not to mention adding up all of those 100 extra S.C.O.R.E. points quickly.

Note that these are not the only foodstuffs in the game that offer bonus XP, but these above are the ones that offer the best bonus XP. This is the XP stack you’ll want to setup. Other foodstuffs offering bonus XP include Canned Meat Stew (+5% XP) and Cranberry Cobbler (+5% XP). Unfortunately, these only offer 5% bonus, so it’s better to craft Cranberry Relish or Tasty Squirrel Stew for the 10% XP it offers instead.

Fasnacht

When Fasnacht is active, there are lots of squirrels around. Take advantage of all of the extra squirrels and create Tasty Squirrel Stew for that 10% extra boost. Just remember, though, Tasty Squirrel Stew requires salt. You’ll need to hit up many diners, restaurants and kitchens to locate the amount of salt needed to craft all of that Tasty Squirrel Stew. In general, it’s a lot easier to source ingredients for crafting Cranberry Relish than it is for Tasty Squirrel Stew.

Cranberry Relish, for example, uses sugar. It’s very easy to craft sugar by picking a bunch of Snaptail Reed. Unfortunately, neither salt nor pepper cannot be crafted in Fallout 76. To find salt and pepper, this means lots and lots of scavenging places like the Whitespring Golf Club, all of the diners throughout Appalachia, every house with a kitchen, The General’s Steakhouse and even kitchens inside of bunkers, within the Enclave bunker, within the missile silo lunch rooms and even on picnic tables at Foundation. There are lots of kitchen locations all over the map where both salt and pepper spawn. Specifically, you want the salt and pepper shakers that are white and black, respectively. You don’t want the green salt and pepper shakers that are classed as “junk” and which can only be scrapped.

Additionally, salt and pepper containers only spawn once per 24 IRL hours. Once you’ve picked up salt and pepper containers at a location, you must wait a full 24 hours before the containers respawn.

Teams and Stacking

Keep in mind that Inspirational relies being on a public team and may or may not require 4 team members. It doesn’t matter which kind of team you create. You simply need to be on a public or private team.

Team Bonuses: There is an XP boost by joining any type of public team and establishing 4 bonds. Public team XP bonuses apply separately from the team goal. By joining a public team, such as a Casual team, in addition to the Intelligence boost, you’ll also receive an up to ~+2% XP boost for establishing 4 bonds. As I said above, this XP boost is separate from the team’s defined perk bonus such as Intelligence (Casual), Charisma (Roleplay) or XP boosts from Legendary Kills (Hunting). It’s definitely worthwhile joining public teams to gain this continuous small boost to your XP bonus. Note that this XP boost isn’t documented well and the amount of total bonus isn’t large, but a bonus is a bonus and every little bit adds up.

Also while you’re on a public team, take advantage of the Magazine and Bobblehead team bonuses. Stacking of shared Inspirational cards by multiple players while on a team may or may not work.

A note about foodstuffs. Only one foodstuff can be stacked at a time. If you eat Cranberry Relish, for example, you can’t add more XP by eating more foods, like Cranberry Cobbler (+5%) or Canned Meat Stew (+5% from Feed the People event). Eating any other foodstuff will replace the previous bonus with that new bonus. For example, if you eat Cranberry Relish and gain 10% XP, then eat Cranberry Cobbler, that 10% bonus will be replaced with a 5% bonus.

Yet, different classes of XP bonus items CAN be stacked like Bobbleheads can be stacked with Magazines, can be stacked with Foods and can be stacked with Lunchboxes. As long as each bonus item is of a different class, you can stack the XP up for a lot of bonus XP. Simply look at your character’s EFFECTS area to see how the stacking works.

With Magazines and Bobbleheads, you can extend the duration of these bonuses by using the Curator card. This perk card doubles the duration. If a Magazine normally lasts 1 hour, it will last for 2 hours with the Curator card. Unfortunately, there are no perk cards that increase the duration of Lunchboxes, Kindred Spirit or Food and Drink bonuses.

Finally, keep in mind that environmentally gained bonuses from sleeping, the bench press, the slot machine, the fortune teller, the punching bag or similar all disappear from your character should your character be forced to respawn. You’ll have to spend time reacquiring these environmental bonuses each time you respawn. This highly annoying issue is similar in frustration to dropped loot. Bethesda seems intent on making this game as frustrating as possible.

Dropped Loot

A caution is in order for this area. If one of the Super Mutants kills your character and you respawn, be sure to pick up your dropped loot instantly. If you fail to do this and transition to the other area using the elevator, the previous interior will be wiped and reset, which includes wiping and losing your dropped loot. Don’t expect your dropped loot to hang around after an interior resets.

Intelligence + Chems Debate

Some sites have debated that having higher intelligence offers better XP returned from killed creatures. I’ve personally not found this to be the case. I wear a full set of Unyielding armor which raises intelligence by +15 points and yet there’s no difference in XP on a kill with or without the armor.

Some have claimed that consuming Berry Mentats or other Intelligence boosting chems may offer better XP returned from kills. I’ve not tested using chems for this purpose, but it may be possible that the use of chems does offer some kind of random bonus to XP as either a bug or a misfeature in these game substances. Your mileage with using chems to boost XP may vary.

The Clock’s Ticking

Bethesda is very skittish when it comes to information like this. Therefore, the clock is ticking on the relevance of this information dated as of Oct 2021. Use this information while you can. Bethesda will ‘fix’ this area in a future update to prevent the above farming situation. As I said, use and enjoy the West Tek Research Center to farm loads of XP while you can. It won’t last.

In answer to the above question, if you’re looking for a reasonable place to continually farm high level enemies, legendaries and a decently high amount of XP per kill, West Tek Research Center is the place.

Good Luck

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Fallout 76: How to get Sludge Lung?

Posted in botch, video game, video game design by commorancy on October 3, 2021

Fallout 76_20191108124032One of the Atom Survival challenges in the game is to catch all of the diseases in the game, such as Sludge Lung and The Whoopsies. Each of these diseases are had by being exposed to certain things in the game. Let’s explore Sludge Lung and The Whoopsies, two of the most difficult diseases to achieve. Let’s explore.


Sludge Lung

Just above I said it is one of the “most difficult disease to achieve”. Oh, it’s not that hard to actually get Sludge Lung, but it is difficult to get Sludge Lung to count against the challenge objective. This is one of the most frustrating things about the challenge system in Fallout 76. You can do all of the right things and still not see the challenge marked as complete. Sludge Lung is one of these problematic achievements.

The easiest way to get Sludge Lung is to enter Belching Betty mine without a mask on. In fact, without a mask, you’re likely to get it instantly upon entering. That’s not the problem, however. Simply getting Sludge Lung doesn’t make it count toward the Survival challenge like it should. This is plainly a bug in Fallout 76. This bug has existed for going on at least 2 years now. You would think that Bethesda could fix a bug like this in 2 years. Yet, here we are and it’s still not fixed. In fact, there are other long unfixed bugs still present today that were in the game on day one of its release.

Fallout 76_20191114150545

Bethesda really has no desire to fix these long standing bugs. Instead, they prefer building and releasing expensive add-ons, like the now-defunct Survival World type, Vault 94 and even Nuclear Winter only to see these removed from the game months after introduction. These were expensive-to-build add-ons from a development perspective. We’re talking several months of design and coding only to be summarily dumped from the game without even so much as a farewell.

No, Bethesda can’t fix even the most simplest of bugs, like Sludge Lung counting towards a challenge, but they can spend months building an add-on that no one really wanted and which was proven out because it wasn’t played.

How to get Sludge Lung to count?

We now arrive at the heart of this article. Sludge Lung doesn’t count towards the challenge achievement after a player’s character contracts it. We know this. To get this disease to count towards the Survival challenge isn’t hard, but it also isn’t intuitive.

The easiest method is to immediately head over to Flatwoods after contracting Sludge Lung. There are three sleeping bags lying on the ground near or in Flatwoods. You may now even see where I’m going with this, so bear with me. There are two at the ghoul infested tent just across the field of Brahmin (near the Red Rocket) in Flatwoods proper. There is one more at located at the Overseer’s camp right across from The Wayward (just outside Flatwoods).

Lying on any of these sleeping bags on the ground may confer the Swamp Itch disease upon the player’s character. Why is this important? It’s important because the only way to get Sludge Lung to count is to immediately take on a new disease.

However, there’s a catch. As soon as the player character gets a disease, an invisible cooldown timer begins so that you can’t receive another new disease until that cooldown timer expires. However, server hopping immediately causes that timer to expire upon login to a new server.

This means that once you obtain Sludge Lung, you’ll need to server hop and then fast travel to Flatwoods to attempt to get Swamp Itch from a sleeping bag on the ground. However, Swamp Itch isn’t the only way, but it’s the fastest way. You can certainly try to find a diseased animal, creature or similar and get close enough to them to get their disease. However, you’ll need to be able to do this quickly as Sludge Lung heals and disappears quick… hence, the sleeping bag is the key to speed.

Sleeping Bags and Diseases

Once you have Sludge Lung, server hopped and are standing in front of a sleeping bag on the ground, hop into it. Make sure it’s not a sleeping bag in your camp. Camp sleeping bags on the ground in your camp may be considered “safe” by the game. Instead, use a world bag not located in your camp. These non-camp bags are always considered “unsafe”.

You may or may not get Swamp Itch on your first attempt. Sleeping in a ground mattress or sleeping bag doesn’t confer a high chance, just a chance to get a disease. However, if you do get Swamp Itch, it will happen almost instantly after lying down. No need to wait a while. If you don’t get it after lying down, stand back up and try again. Just keep trying over and over until you get it.

Once you get Swamp Itch, it will force the game to iterate through all of the current diseases your character presently has and update the challenge area. At that point, the game will notice you have Sludge Lung and mark that disease complete under the challenge. Why the game doesn’t do this iteration when you obtain Sludge Lung by itself, I’ve no idea. My guess is bad coding. There’s plenty of bad code in Fallout 76 and this area is no exception.

As I said, it doesn’t matter what other disease you obtain, you just need to get it before Sludge Lung wears off. For example, drinking Dirty Water can confer Dysentery upon the player’s character and that will also count. However, I’ve found that the chances of getting Dysentery from water is a whole lot less than getting Swamp Itch from a sleeping bag on the ground. Whatever disease you attempt to get while having Sludge Lung, you’ll need to do it quick before Sludge Lung wears off.

If Sludge Lung wears off before you can get a new disease, you’ll need to enter Belching Betty again, get Sludge Lung and start this process over again.

Once you get Swamp Itch in addition to Sludge Lung, the game will update that you have Sludge Lung and that challenge is marked as complete.

The Whoopsies

I could write a separate article on this disease and how to get it. However, I’ll just do it here. However, let me say that by far, The Whoopsies disease is the absolute most difficult disease to get in the game, but not for the same reason as Sludge Lung. There is only one enemy in the game that confers this disease upon the player and it’s exceedingly difficult to make this occur.

What enemy? Mirelurk Hatchlings. These creatures are only spawned from a Mirelurk Queen, one of the more difficult standard enemies in the game. While you can attempt to get The Whoopsies from any Diseased Mirelurk Hatchlings, the easiest location to do this is at Quarry X3 in the Cranberry Bog. This location has a half-round metal building located near the pond where a Mirelurk Queen spawns. You’ll use this building to help craft the situation needed.

The challenge is not to kill the queen while allowing hatchlings to continue to spawn. However, hatchlings don’t spawn often (about every 3-5 minutes) and when they do, the vast majority are not diseased. Only about one out of 10 spawned are diseased. Even then, a diseased hatchling might not confer the disease upon you even after attacking you repeatedly. Unlike diseased Ghouls, diseased Radstags, diseased Snallygasters and diseased Deathclaws which confer a disease instantly upon even getting close, hatchlings don’t confer a disease even after attacking multiple times.

The problem, even above their slowness in spawning, is that the hatchlings die on their own after attacking about 5-7 times. Corrected. As of January 2022, Bethesda seems to have fixed the hatchling dying problem. I was able to allow a diseased hatchling to repeatedly attack my character for up to 10 minutes or longer. This finally allowed my character to obtain The Whoopsies and close out this challenge. However there is still a need for the ….

Metal Building

The trick is to lure the queen next to the building and wait for the “pop” sound from the queen, indicating new hatchlings have spawned. You might need to venture out and let the hatchlings see you, but I’ve found they enter the building on their own. The queen can’t attack you easily inside the building, but the hatchlings can enter and begin attacking. You’ll want to kill all of the non-diseased hatchlings allowing only the diseased hatchlings to attack. You might get lucky and receive The Whoopsies quickly or you could be waiting for hours in that building standing around letting them attack you. You’ll want to carry a bunch of stimpaks or food to replenish your HP.

Make sure to remove any Perk cards that add disease resistance and also change to armor that doesn’t offer disease resistance. Using Radaway also helps because it reduces disease resistance by 50% for a period of time. However, none of this guarantees that any diseased hatchling will give you The Whoopsies quickly.

Further, if you do manage to get The Whoopsies and you find that it doesn’t count under the challenge, you’ll need to follow the same instructions as above by server hopping, then attempting to get another disease, like Swamp Itch, from a mattress to force the game to count The Whoopsies as part of the challenge. However, when my character got The Whoopsies, it counted instantly. No problems with this challenge, unlike Sludge Lung above.

As I said, The Whoopsies is the absolute most difficult disease to obtain in the game, bar none. It is likely to be the only disease you don’t have… unless you accidentally received it from a hatchling during a random Mirelurk Queen encounter. The likelihood of that happening is extremely low during the course of random play.

Good Luck!

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10 Best Ways to Make Money in GTA Online

Posted in howto, tips, video gaming by commorancy on July 19, 2021

Unlike Grand Theft Auto V, where lots of money is thrown the player’s way all the way to the end of the game, Grand Theft Auto Online isn’t at all like this. Let’s explore the top ways to make money in GTA Online. Before we get started, let’s clarify several issues.

Daily versus In-Game Day

There is some confusion with GTAO using the word, “daily”. The game world has a day that lasts around an hour of real world play time. Then, there’s an actual in-real-life (IRL) day.

The use of the word ‘Daily’ below in the Type area means 24 real world hours must pass before that challenge or event resets in the game world. The challenges do not reset based on the in-game day, but instead reset based on waiting a full 24 clock-on-the-wall hours from the last time you played it.

You can specifically see this timer when you visit the Lucky Wheel at the Casino. However, other events which also require a 24 hour waiting period do not have visible timers. Instead, you must remember the last time you completed that specific event to know when you can play it again.

Costly Purchases

Unfortunately, too many activities in Grand Theft Auto Online require spending significant amounts of GTA$ to unlock access to those missions and areas (i.e., Cayo Perico Island). Once unlocked, you can then run those missions and make whatever money is given. However, the game is severely lopsided with too many of these missions and areas, such as Heists, falling into this category. What this all means? It means that Rockstar requires that you spend millions in GTA$ to gain back only a fraction of that money after completing the missions. This article intends to focus on the easiest ways to make money including ways that are entirely free (no costs involved), which don’t cost too much and/or ways that return a significant or passive amount of GTA$ for any money spent.

Any mission or activity which requires you to become a VIP, CEO or Motorcycle Club President (MCP) means you’ll need to purchase at least one of a VIP organization, an Executive Office (CEO) or a Motorcycle Clubhouse (MCP). All of these require at least GTA$1,000,000, with the VIP option being the worst deal in the game as you get no property out of the deal. If you’re going to pay at least GTA$1 million, you might as well get property out of the deal.

For activities in GTAO which primarily seek to take your GTA$, these are mentioned at the bottom of this article. Though, these activities aren’t worth playing simply to make money and should be avoided for that purpose. These up-front cost missions should only be played for their entertainment value… and only if you have the spare millions of GTA$ needed to unlock them. However, you don’t need to pay to unlock these expensive missions. There are plenty of activities which will yield GTA$ without paying anything.

Update for June 2022

Rockstar has permanently upped the ante for the Nightclub daily payout. Instead of the pittance of GTA$10,000 per in-game day, the game is now paying a whopping GTA$50,000 per day with a maximum safe capacity now at GTA$210,000. Normally, we would only see this kind of bonus as a short term weekly promotion. It seems that Rockstar has upped this payout permanently (or at least as permanently as Rockstar’s payouts can be… which probably means that it was a mistake and once Rockstar notices it, it will go back to GTA$10,000 per day). For now, gain from this while it lasts. So far, it’s lasted quite a while.

Is this update worth buying a Nightclub? Yes. In fact, I definitely recommend this purchase as the first property after purchasing an MC, VIP or CEO property. At GTA$50,000 per in-game day, you could see your Nightclub purchase refunded in around 30 in-game days assuming the Nightclub costs around GTA$1.5 million. In real world time and at 48 minutes IRL per in-game day, that would mean ~24 real life hours to see a GTA$1.5 million payout. If you play 4 hours a day, that’s around 6 days to recoup the cost of the Nightclub. After that, all money is bonus.

Tuners UpdateReduced Payouts

After the Tuners update rolled on July 20th, 2021, many payouts (including the nightclub missions) seem to have been reduced. This article is intended as reference, but know that with every update that Rockstar rolls, Rockstar can reduce payouts on any of what’s documented below without warning, as is the case with Simeon’s request and Nightclub missions. Simeon’s car request formerly offered up GTA$20,000 per car prior to Tuners, but has since been reduced on some cars to GTA$15,000 after this update. Rockstar just can’t seem to get enough of continually screwing us over.

Legend

The legend includes a Difficulty Level that ranges from 1 (Easy) to 5 (Medium) to 10 (Hard). The rest that appear in the legend are self-explanatory.

With these problems clarified, let’s start making some entirely free GTA$ starting with the best first …

1. Spin the Lucky Wheel

Lucky Wheel

The first way to earn money in GTA online is by spinning the Lucky Wheel every day in the Diamond Casino. This activity costs nothing.

Landing on the GTA$50,000 spot each day for 7 days will net you a cool GTA$350,000 a week. Performing this activity for a full 31 days will net you GTA$1,550,000. How do you land this spot every day? The simplest way is to close the application before the wheel stops spinning. Once you know the wheel is not landing on GTA$50,000 (easy to see), close out, then reload into the game and try spinning again. There are also other money spots on the wheel such as 25,000 casino chips (which can be converted to GTA$), GTA$30,000, GTA$40,000 and others. While the highest is GTA$50,000, landing on any of these money spots is free money. Take advantage.

The best thing about this activity is that you don’t have to spend any money or perform any silly activities to get this free money, but you do have to sometimes restart the app several times before you can land on the exact spot, which takes a bit of time.

Cost: Free
Type: Free Money, Daily, Recurring
Reward: up to GTA$50,000 max depending on which space you land
Difficulty Level: 1 (Easy)

2. Simeon

This free activity appears once per day. Simeon will send you a text to locate one of several cars from his list. It can take about 30-45 minutes real play time before Simeon’s text pops up. If you’ve waited that long without a text, this likely means it hasn’t been a full 24 hours since the last time you performed this activity. These cars range in cost and only one of those listed cars will reward a maximum of ~GTA$20,000 (some cars reduced to $15k after Tuners update July 20th, 2021). Locate the highest cost car in the list, lose the 2 wanted stars, take it to Los Santos Customs and paint it for free. Then, drop it off at Simeon’s dock warehouse garage to pick up your free ~GTA$20,000 (or whatever you find your car is worth). This one only appears every 24 hours, like spinning the wheel.

Enus Super Diamond parked at The Diamond Casino

If you do Simeon’s text mission every day, in 31 days you’ll have made GTA$620,000. The challenge with this mission is in finding the car Simeon wants. The biggest hint I can give is try looking at the Diamond Casino parking lot. At least 2 times out of 5, you’ll find his highest priced car parked there, just waiting to steal.

Note, this one can be tricky. The game’s car spawning mechanic doesn’t sync up with this quest and won’t always spawn the cars Simeon wants. This means you can literally spend hours waiting on specific cars to spawn. Sometimes, the cars are readily available at a parking lot, sometimes you can drive around for hours looking. If after driving around for about 5-10 minutes without success, I recommend logging out and logging into a new server and waiting for Simeon to text you his newest list again. Moving to a new server can sometimes make this quest easier and faster. It’s worth noting that whatever it costs to repair the car at Los Santos Customs, after being chased by the cops, will be reimbursed to you upon turning the vehicle in. You don’t need to treat the car with kid gloves when heading over to Los Santos Customs. Once you’ve repaired and painted the car, then yes, you’ll want to be careful when driving over to Simeon’s warehouse at the docks.

Cost: Free
Type: Active Income, Daily, Recurring
Reward: Max GTA$20,000 + repair costs reimbursed per day, depends on which car you drop off.
Difficulty Level: 3 (Medium… depends on whether cars spawn + must get rid of a 2 star wanted status + must drive car safely to the docks without damage)

Correction: I have since found that even though some cars have had their take reduced to GTA$15,000, some have not. The maximum is still GTA$20,000 + repair costs if you choose the correct car.

3. Stealing Cars

This is a free activity that can be had once per day. As in the game’s name as Grand Theft Auto, stealing random cars off of the street and driving them to Los Santos Customs can net you between GTA$3,000 to GTA$9,000 per car, depending on the car model you sell. You can only sell one car per day. While this isn’t a whole lot of money each time, it’s still enough that it’s worth doing for some quick cash.

Cost: Free
Type: Active Income, Daily, Recurring
Reward: Up to GTA$9,000 per day depending on which car you drop off
Difficulty Level: 1 (Easy)

4. Robbing Convenience Marts

This is a free activity. While this activity can be a bit more on the fun side, it isn’t without its downsides. The difficulty isn’t so much with holding up the store, but that the maximum money you’ll get from each store is maxed at around GTA$1,000. That amount of money almost seems not worth the hassle, except there are 19 stores that you can hit up around the map to net somewhere close to GTA$19,000 per day. Not the best haul in this list, but it’s decent.

Cost: Free
Type: Active Income, Daily, Recurring
Reward: Up to GTA$1,000 per store with 19 stores
Difficulty Level: 3 (Mostly easy, but will need a decent getaway car)

5. Gang Attacks

Gang attacks appear as a large red circular area on the mini map and full sized map. These activities have you take down a bunch of thugs in that area. Upon successful gang attack completion, you receive 500 RP. Where you make your payout here is looting all of the gang bodies and the weapon crates. Gang members may drop between GTA$20-50 each. Each weapon crate drops GTA$500. Most areas have around 5 crates or more. The crates can total at least GTA$2,500 + whatever money you can loot off of the gang members.

Cost: Free
Type: Active, Daily, Recurring, Multiple map areas, Time Suck
Reward: ~GTA$2,500 + loot + 500 RP * ~36 Gang areas on the map >= GTA$90,000 per day
Difficulty Level: 6-8 (Medium hard, requires ammo, decent shooting skills and persistence)

6. Visit the Casino Cashier

This one offers free money every day. Visiting the casino cashier allows you to pick up 1000 visitor bonus casino chips every single day. You can cash these chips out to GTA$ at any time. This one is down the list because it doesn’t offer a lot per day, but it is free money with no catch. Like the Lucky Wheel, this one also takes a full 24 hours before it resets. If you do this one just after spinning the wheel, the Lucky Wheel timer can be used to cover both activities.

Cost: Free
Type: Recurring, Daily
Reward: 1000 chips daily or GTA$70,000 every 7 days or GTA$300,000 every 30 days
Difficulty Level: 1 (Easy)

7. Freemode Events

To participate in Freemode events, you’ll need to play in public servers. Private servers of any type do not spawn Freemode events. These events are random in type and require specific things, like opening a parachute closest to the ground. Whomever does this the best gets first place and the highest prize.

Cost: Free
Type: Multiplayer, Recurring, Random throughout the day
Reward: GTA$18,000+ to a little more than GTA$20,000
Difficulty Level: Depends on the event
and how many participate

8. Hidden Caches

Kosatka

Here’s another treasure hunt that was introduced as part of Cayo Perico. This is similar to the treasure hunt that’s also available on Cayo Perico Island (see below), except this hunt is much, much better for GTA$ and doesn’t require purchasing the expensive Kosatka Submarine. In this case, there are 10 hidden caches to find and because there are so many and because these caches can be found daily, it’s makes the list at spot 8. However, there are 100 locations from which those 10 caches can spawn, making it a medium difficulty event. This means you’ll need to check a lot of different locations to find all 10. The caches can be picked up inside or outside of a vehicle. This means you can use an underwater vehicle, like the Toreador, if you have one or you can use a scuba diving suit, your choice. If your vehicle has a sonar (i.e., you have bought the Kosatka), the sonar will make it somewhat faster to find all 10.

This one rewards GTA$7,500 and 500 RP for each cache found. Finding all 10, you will net GTA$75,000 and 5,000 RP. The caches reset daily, allowing you to pick up that GTA$75,000 each day. In 7 days, that’s GTA$525,000. In 28 days, that’s GTA$2.1 million. That’s a lot of GTA$ to get if you do it every day for a month. In fact this one is far easier than doing the Daily Objectives and awards more GTA$ in 28 days, though less RP at 140,000.

Cost: Free
Type: Daily, Recurring
Difficulty Level: 5 (Medium — must be tenacious)
Reward: GTA$7,500 + 500 RP per cache (10x = $75,000 + 5,000 RP per day)

Income which requires a purchase….

Here are the final two of our top 10, but these require buying properties to gain a daily income. These final two are included in this top 10 list because these are the only properties you can own in GTA Online that produce truly passive income.

Update: There has been one new property added that also adds passive income, although very little per day at around $500. This new property is the Agency. This is the Franklin Clinton and Partner property. It isn’t included in the top 10 because these two below are still the highest paying for passive income in the game. The Agency’s passive income is too low to be of any real value. The game claims that if you do Security missions that the daily income increases. Unfortunately, I’ve not found that to be the case. I’ve done at least 20-30 of the Security missions and the daily income remains at a low $500 per day.

9. Nightclub Promotion

As of June 2022, the daily nightclub payout has been increased to GTA$50,000 per day. The safe capacity has also been increased to GTA$210,000. Nightclub ownership activities have now moved into the top spot for residual income from a property purchase.

Because this activity still requires investment, it has moved up one place to 9. However, because of the GTA$50,000 per day income, owning a nightclub is now the #1 activity to do once you can afford this property purchase. In other words, this is the recommended first property to purchase (after buying an executive suite to be CEO) and to milk for cash once you have grinded enough GTA$ from the top free list above. With this new increased in-game daily payout, in 4 hours of play, you can earn GTA$200,000 for mostly doing nothing.

Owning a nightclub is a property type that you must purchase before you can reap the passive monetary rewards. However, this property comes with a catch. To make the maximum money per day (GTA$10,000 now raised to GTA$50,000), you’ll need to complete various Nightclub management missions. These activities promote the nightclub and keep the club full. So long as the nightclub remains full of people and the popularity progress-bar is filled, the nightclub will earn you GTA$50,000 per day doing next to nothing. As the club popularity decreases and the popularity bar dips, so does the income. However, you will also need to invest in the nightclub security to drastically slow down the loss of income each in-game day.

Like arcades, nightclubs cost around GTA$1.5 million depending on the property. However, once you own it, it is guaranteed to generate some amount of passive income. If you do nothing and choose not to promote the club, the club still produces a minimum amount of passive daily income, maybe GTA$1,000 per day or possibly higher.

You’ll also net various amounts of GTA$ from 2,500 to 5,000 for each successful promotion activity completed, such as putting up posters yields GTA$5,000 and a small amount of RP on completion.

Note that to run nightclub missions, you need to become CEO, which also costs GTA$. To become CEO, you’ll need to buy an Executive Office or pick one up in the Criminal Enterprise Starter Pack. Becoming VIP or MC might also work, but these also cost GTA$ to buy into.

Cost: GTA$1-2 million depending on property + GTA$1-2 million for Executive Office to be CEO
Type: Active or Passive Income, Daily, Recurring
Passive Income: GTA$50,000 per day down to GTA$1,000 per day depending on popularity.
Mission Reward: GTA$2,500 to GTA$5,000 + RP depending on promotional activity

Safe Capacity: GTA$210,000
Difficulty Level: 1 (Easy) to 3 (Medium) depending on activity

10. Arcade

Owning an arcade requires buying it with GTA$. The cost to buy an Arcade is around GTA$1,300,000. However, Rockstar regularly puts properties on heavy discount throughout the game. At a 40-50% discount, you might spend as little as GTA$500,000 to get a property.

Sometimes you can even get some properties included in a bundle or possibly free from Rockstar promotions. Bundles such as in the Criminal Enterprise Starter Pack (CESP), which costs somewhere between USD$10-$20, includes a bunch of properties, weapons, vehicles, outfits and tattoos… including a bonus of GTA$1,000,000. This bundle might also be included with the purchase of certain game versions. Take advantage of freebies included with such bundles if you can afford them.

For example, the CESP bundle includes the following properties:

  • Maze Bank West Executive Office — No Garage w/o GTA$
  • Paleto Forest Gunrunning Bunker — 1 Car Garage
  • Senora Desert Counterfeit Cash Factory (must be a motorclub president)
  • Great Chaparral Biker Clubhouse — 17 Bike Garage (10 for you, 1 each for 7 members)
  • 1561 San Vitas Street Apartment — 2 Car Garage
  • 1337 Exceptionalists Way — 10 Car Garage

However, CESP doesn’t include an Arcade property. Take advantage of the property discounts when they roll around each week, which may include discounts for an Arcade, a Hangar and Nightclub properties.

Keep in mind that owning properties isn’t without cost. Every property you buy has a daily payment that is subtracted at the end of each game world day from your GTA$ (about every hour of play). This means that you won’t make exactly GTA$5,000 per day… it’ll be more like GTA$4,500 after daily expenses are subtracted for that specific property. You will see the full GTA$5,000 deposited into the safe and the daily expenses are subtracted separately.

However, you don’t have to do anything to get that income. It rolls in without even being there and I’m not even sure you have to buy arcade machines either. Just be sure to stop by and pick the money up before the safe fills up. Yes, you must stop by the arcade to pick it up. You also have to remain online for a full in-game day for the money to show up.

Finally, it’s worth noting that unlike GTA V, you cannot own multiple businesses like arcades or nightclubs as you might expect. In GTA Online, you can own one of each type of business property including the executive office, arcade, nightclub, hangar and motorcycle clubhouse. Garages and apartments are the exception which you are allowed to own up to 6, excluding garages attached to businesses like the executive office, casino penthouse, arcades, nightclubs, bunkers and facilities. For completion’s sake, you can also only own one each of these vehicles including the Super Yacht, Kosatka, Mobile Operations Center, Terrorbyte and Avenger.

If you attempt to buy a second “one-only” property or you’ve used up your 6 slots, the game will apply credit from your old property towards your new purchase so that you only pay the diffence in price between the first and second. If the new property is less costly than the old one, you’ll get money back. Note that freebie properties might not offer a trade-in allowance towards a new property.

Cost: Minimum GTA$1,300,000 for Arcade (may be able to get one free)
Type: Passive Income, Daily, Recurring
Passive Income: GTA$5,000 per day

Active Income: None
Difficulty Level: 1 (Easy)

Runners Up

Here are some other runner up events and activities that didn’t make the top 10 but are well worth considering, especially the 2022 Payphone Hits as part of the Agency.

Franklin’s Quests (First Runner Up)

[Updated 3/20/2022] I’ve been thinking a lot about this recent addition and I’ve come to the conclusion that this Agency addition is way better than I had originally thought and is pretty much better than any other update for money making purposes. In fact, it’s so great, I would bump The Agency update into the number 10 position if not for one thing (well, a couple). It costs a LOT of cash to buy an Agency plus it costs to buy an Executive Suite and it offers very little passive income in return per day. The passive income isn’t where you make money.

It’s the Payphone Hits which can definitely net a crap ton of GTA$ in very little time. In fact, Payphone Hits can make you so much money so rapidly, that it will pay for the cost of the Agency property in ~30 Payphone Hits (less when they boost the return). After that payback time, it’s all profit. With Payphone Hits, you can make around 6 hits per hour. Meaning, in about 5 hours of doing nothing but Payphone hits all returning $85,000 per pop, these will completely pay for the Agency. It will take an additional 2-3 hours of Payphone Hits to pay for the Executive Suite. That’s literally about 1 or 2 days of play. If you spread it out, that’s at most several days. After you’ve paid for all of these expensive investments, these Payhone Hits will continue to make you loads of cash. This is one of the best money making inclusions Rockstar has yet included.

That’s not to say that Heists and other activities won’t net you larger sums, but those activities are multistep, cost money up front, complicated and easily fail. The Payphone Hits are easy to do, one tracked, cost nothing (other than owning an Agency), take only a few minutes to complete and, once you get the hang of them, are almost impossible to fail. You can also do as many of these in a day as you want. There is no limit, for now. Take advantage before Rockstar places a cap on how many of these you can do in a day.

[Updated: 3/11/2022] I’ve been remiss in updating this article, but here’s the 2022 update including Franklin’s new quests. Franklin’s quests cost around GTA$2.2 million because you have to buy into the new Agency property. Like the Auto Shop addition just before this one, you must pay to unlock the Franklin quests by buying a property. For that money and property, however, you will also unlock 20 new garage spaces. If you’re like me, forever running out of new car spaces, getting a new 20 car garage is a pretty sweet deal. However, it also means shelling out around GTA$2 million… a lot of grinding.

The biggest deal unlocked with Franklin’s quests, besides the property, is Dr. Dre’s quests. Though, Dre’s quests aren’t the best way to make money from this update. No, it’s the Payphone Hits!

Dr. Dre

I’m including the Dr. Dre quests here because it’s technically part of Franklin’s quests. Dr. Dre’s quests only unlock after you run at least one Security mission, which requires being a CEO, MC or VIP.

However, know that Dr. Dre’s quest line is like the Heists… effectively one time, but restartable. Yes, you can do them over again, but must start from the beginning. The haul for these quests is decent, but I don’t at all recommend these for ongoing money making opportunities due to the complexities of Dre’s quests. For each mission, you’ll earn GTA$100k. For completing the entire Dr. Dre quests, you’ll earn GTA$1 million. It’s a decent haul, but the missions are not simple and may require trying multiple times if you’re doing it alone. These quests are also easy to fail.

Cost: GTA$2.2 million to buy an Agency PLUS Buying a VIP, CEO or MC property
Type: Not Free, Restartable One-Off
Reward: GTA$100,000 per mission + GTA$1,000,000 for completing them all

Agency Security Quests

These missions require that you to become a CEO, VIP or MC to complete them. This means you will need to purchase a VIP pass, a Motorcycle Club (MC) or an Executive Suite (CEO) before you can run these. One of these costs around GTA$1 million to GTA$1.5 million depending, but you only need one. This is in addition to cost of purchasing the Agency to get access to Franklin.

Franklin offers your character multiple types of agency Security Missions from protecting supplies, to stealing items, to protecting a person, to stealing vehicles. Each of these missions earns you a random amount of GTA$ decided by the computer system on your Agency desk. Whatever the computer says the mission will earn, that’s what it earns. It typically ranges from about GTA$33k to GTA$64k. It depends on the mission and what the game decides that mission is worth.

The Agency Security Missions are decent hauls, but the missions can sometimes go south easily. If you fail a mission, that mission disappears from the computer and cannot be repeated. It will be replaced with a new mission, usually offering a much smaller haul. Because of the randomness with these agency quests, the complexity of them combined with the ease for which they can fail, I don’t recommend these for ongoing cash grabs in the game. There’s also a cooldown timer between each quest.

You can do them, but know that they aren’t always worth the time and effort for the money return involved. Do them for fun, not for profit.

Cost: GTA$2.2 million to buy an Agency PLUS Buying a VIP, CEO or MC property
Type: Not Free, Recurring
Reward: GTA$33k to GTA$64k

Payphone Hits

These quests are where the GTA$ are. Not only do Payphone hits not require being a CEO, MC or VIP to run them, when you complete the Bonus, you will get an extra GTA$70,000 for a total of GTA$85,000 for each successful hit completed. You can even run these in Invite Only Sessions to avoid interaction with other players. Because there’s no limit in how many you can do of these in a day, doing 10 will net you GTA$850,000. Doing 12 will earn you, GTA$1,020,000. Keep in mind that it takes a minimum of about 10 minutes per hit, that means it will take you about 120 minutes (2 hours) to earn GTA$1 million. There is a cooldown timer on these hits, but this can be avoided if you save immediately after receiving your cash by changing your outfit, then killing and restarting the game. However, doing this means you have to wait through the very long game restart process (around 4 minutes to load and another 2 minutes to get online). After that, it takes another 4 minutes to complete a hit. That totals right around 10 minutes per restart and Payphone Hit. This means you can complete about 6 per hour netting you $510,000 per hour of play.

Occasionally, Rockstar increases this bonus by 50% earning you GTA$105,000 as Bonus and GTA$22,500 for base fee, for a total of GTA$127,500 per successful hit. This will net you GTA$1 million a whole lot faster (in about an hour).

Hits consists of 5 types:

  • The Cofounder — This type of hit requires you visit a motel, wait for him to check out, then perform the action required to take him out such as a sticky bomb on the car or using a scoped weapon to blow the engine.
  • The Tech Entrepreneur — This type of hit requires a taxi cab. You pick up a cab at the designated location, then drive the Tech Entrepreneur to the location required and do the deed by drowning or the scrapyard.
  • The Judge — This type of hit requires visiting the golf course. You will do away with her by golf club, running her over with a cart or blowing her up with a sticky bomb.
  • The Popstar — This type of hit requires you to chase the popstar in the car and take them out with a specific method, like chasing them in a cop car to intimidate them, taking them out Vagos style with a driveby or using a truck cab to ram them into submission.
  • The Trolls — The Trolls are 4 hits. You must visit all 4 locations and take out the trolls with various criteria, such as in 7 minutes, using headshots or running them over in a vehicle.
  • The CEO — This mission requires taking out a CEO playing construction worker. The mission will require you to use various construction equipment to take him out, like blowing up a gas tank, dropping a container on him or triggering a dozer to run him over.

Two additional missions exists, but only if you are logged in as a CEO or MC and have two people. All of these missions are most easily launched by calling Franklin from the contact on your phone. Though, you can also wait until Franklin randomly launches one. Using the phone makes these missions the fastest to get started, because you don’t need to visit the Agency computer at the office.

Note, for missions that require you to pick up a taxi or police cruiser, you don’t need to wait for the message. Go to the taxi location near the Casino or to the Chili restaurant or similar. For the police cruisers, they will spawn sometimes at a location closest to the Popstar’s car. Though, not always. Once you locate a cruiser, you may find yourself driving all over Los Santos go get to where the Popstar is.

Bugs exist here. If you are using a Deluxo, any Trolls Bonus will fail if you accidentally run them over in that specific car. Meaning, if you are given the criteria to run the Trolls over in a Vehicle, don’t do it in a Deluxo. Choose another car. However, even if you’re running a different Bonus requirement and accidentally run a Troll over in the Deluxo, that bonus will also fail even if unrelated. This bug has been reported. Note, this issue may affect all types of special weapons vehicles like the Toreador and the Stromberg.

Bugs in the GPS leading to the Scrapyard (The Tech Entrepreneur) and the door of the Von Crastenberg Richman (also The Tech Entrepreneur) is inaccurate. If you follow the GPS, it will lead you incorrectly. You will need to find these two locations on your own and remember how to get there when these mission requirements appear.

A bug exists with The Judge missions. All of The Judge missions occur at the golf course. If you fail to change into the Golf Outfit and Golf Club, the mission bonus will automatically fail even if you successfully do what the bonus requires.

A bug exists with The CEO. If you accidentally wander too close to the construction site, this will disrupt The CEO’s walking path. Once this occurs, there’s no way to recover to receive the bonus. He simply won’t resume his walking path once disrupted. In fact, any targets that follow a walking path will fail to recover that walking path if they are disrupted. However, some targets that lose their walking path can still see a successful bonus, it’ll just be a whole lot more difficult. However, The CEO will fail the bonus because he won’t line up with the requirements.

One last thing about these Payphone Hits is that they’re not all equal in time and effort. Some hits are way more complex than others. For example, one of the Popstar hits requires taking him out in drive-by style using a Vagos wagon. Shooting while driving in this game is, at best, a miss affair. While it is possible to do it, it’s not easy nor is it accurate. Another more complicated hit is The Judge hit that requires taking her out with a sticky bomb planted somewhere close to her on the golf course. That’s next to impossible to do. Anytime you get close to her and take out any kind of weapon, her goons start firing on you. That spooks her and she runs away, failing the “sticky bomb” Bonus. If she runs away with either of the other requirements, it is possible to get the bonus. When these overly complex missions appear, I kill the game instantly and try again. There’s no reason to do these complex missions when most of the rest of the missions are straightforward and relatively easy.

Complicated Hit Example

As an example of a complicated and time consuming hit, one of the The Judge hits requires you do it with a sticky bomb at a specific hole on the golf course. This one is so specific about where and how you must do it, you are required to know the golf course like the back of your hand. The one thing Rockstar forgets is that even if you play the golf course through, the game takes control over which hole you’re on and automatically transports you to the next one after completion.

You don’t get the benefit of actually walking from hole to hole yourself. This means that even if you play the golf course, you still don’t get to know the course. You get to know the holes specifically, but not where they are located on the property. To run this specific sticky bomb mission, that means you’ll need to spend time at the golf course learning exactly where each of the holes are, how they are laid out and how to get to each one of them. That’s something you must do on your own, wasting a lot of time in the process. Oh, and once you get onto the property, knowing which hole is which is not terribly easy to determine. As I said above, some hits are way more complicated and time consume than others. I don’t even get why Rockstar would think people could actually perform this hit. Yet, it’s included in the batch of hits. I always drop from this one when it appears. I don’t have the time to scour the golf course to find exactly where hole 3 is or hole 6 or any other hole.

Cost: GTA$2.2 million to buy an Agency (may require VIP, MC or CEO first time to unlock)
Type: Not Free, Recurring
Reward: GTA$22,500 to GTA$85,000 each hit depending on bonus success

The best of all of the above are most definitely the Payphone hits. However, I can’t remember if the game requires completion of at least one Security contract and/or Dr. Dre’s missions to unlock the Payphone Hits. If so, that means you will need to invest in CEO, MC or VIP to unlock these Payphone Hit missions. I’m assuming it does. These expensive investments is why the Franklin missions failed to make the top 10, even though the Payphone Hits net a lot of GTA$ quickly.

For the Payphone Hits alone, however, this is the reason the Franklin section has been placed immediately below #10 as the first runner up.

Auto Repair Shop + Los Santos Car Meetup

This brand new addition arrived as of July 20th, 2021. Two new features have been introduced into GTAO. The first is the Los Santos Car Meetup. This is a large warehouse building where players can meet and show off their cars, but unfortunately only one car at a time. As you show off and mod your car, your Meetup reputation points will increase. These reputation points are separate from standard RP. There are 32 parking spaces in the warehouse where cars can be parked. There’s also an indoor track that can be raced. The second is the Auto Repair shop, which you have to buy.

To begin this whole deal, once you get inside of the meetup building, you’ll meet with Mimi (the organizer) who introduces you to Sessanta and KDJ. Sessanta and KDJ want to open an auto repair and modification shop with you. However, Rockstar leaves it up to you to buy this new business location in the game. To buy an auto repair shop, you’ll need to visit Maze Bank Foreclosures. Here, you’ll find several locations which you can purchase. As of now and with Prime Gaming, one of the locations (Strawberry) is free to obtain, the rest cost around GTA$1.5 to 1.9 million. If you have Prime Gaming, grab the freebie now before Rockstar kills the promotion. Without Prime Gaming, you’ll have to pay.

Once you own an auto repair shop, like most other Heist operations, there’s a contract job board. To access it, you’ll need to become a CEO. Here’s the expensive catch.

To become CEO, you’ll need to own an Executive Office Suite (~GTA$1,000,000, see below OR ~USD$20 to buy the Criminal Enterprise Starter Pack, see Arcade above). See, I told you that Rockstar gets you to spend massive amounts of GTA$ all over the place in this game.

The first job given by Sessanta is to rescue Sessanta’s car from the impound lot at the police station, the same car you first saw her in at the meetup. This is a fairly difficult mission because you have to mow down a bunch of cops at the impound lot. However, as soon as you arrive there, you get a 3 star wanted rating causing even more cops to swarm. Suffice it to say, you’ll need to grab the car as fast as possible and attempt to lose the wanted status quickly. Once you do this, bring it back to the auto repair shop and the actual jobs begin on the job board.

There are three ways to make money with the auto repair shop. The first is to perform the job board contract jobs. The second is to wait for customers to arrive to have their cars repaired and modded. The third way is to complete one contract to unlock specific wanted cars to jack and return for GTA$, like Simeon’s request above. Here’s where the second way gets convoluted.

Repairing and modding cars forces you to pay out some amount of GTA$ from your own pocket which will get reimbursed by the customer plus their service fee on top. I’ve done two of these. The first one was -GTA$50,000 to repair and +GTA$30,000 as the car repair payment, for a total of +GTA$80,000 once the car is delivered. The second car was -GTA$20,000 to repair and +GTA$20,000 as payment, for a total of +GTA$40,000 once delivered. If the car is delivered damaged, the game reduces the amount you get paid. You’ll need to have at least GTA$100,000 in your account if you intend to run these repair jobs.

However, Rockstar failed us with this new feature because I’d like to have an Open sign that I can turn on and off. If I don’t want the jobs to appear at all, I’d like to turn off the Open sign and prevent Sessanta from calling me with new jobs.

As for the contract jobs, KDJ takes a 10% cut of whatever payment amount is offered. Note that all of the contract jobs are reasonably complicated and difficult to complete when playing solo. However, they can be completed solo, but you’ll have to play them multiple times learning strategies via trial and error. The three jobs that appear for me are as high as GTA$185,000 and as low as GTA$170,000. I have personally confirmed that KDJ’s cut is, in fact, 10%. You definitely will not get the amount listed on the job board. For a GTA$178,000 job, I got GTA$160,200 + another $75,000 about one minute later for some odd reason. Maybe Rockstar is offering up a bonus for the first contract completed? *shrug*

For car repairs and mods, you do get the full amount listed on the job order. You just have to be sure to follow the instructions on the bottom of the screen to do exactly what the customer requests. If you choose to place random mods on the car, the customer likely won’t pay you for them. Also, if you choose not to hire a tech, you’ll have to deliver the cars yourself. If you hire a tech, you’re going to see a higher daily fee to pay the staff at the auto repair garage. These jobs appear several times in the same day. These are not limited to one repair per 24 IRL hours… yet. If you buy a second lift (GTA$650,000), you can repair two cars at the same time and double your income.

Note that the auto repair shop doubles as a new 10 car garage. Getting a new 10 car garage for free (with Prime Gaming) is a pretty sweet deal. Also note that if you buy any add-on decorations for the auto repair shop, they will not show up until you complete Sessanta’s first mission to rescue Sessanta’s ride from the impound lot (assuming everyone gets this same mission as the first mission).

There’s also one more way to make additional GTA$ from the auto repair shop:

Once you have completed at least one contract from the board, the game unlocks a list of wanted vehicles that can be searched for, jacked and sold in similar form to Simeon. I’m not yet certain what the payouts for these are, but since you’re delivering to the docks, it is likely the same payout (max GTA$20,000 per car) as it is for Simeon… and this is probably the reason Simeon’s payout dropped. In fact, it is the same payout amount (GTA$20,000) as you get from Simeon’s car request. It does say you get a bonus if you deliver all on the board, but this is almost impossible to do. This also illustrates why it’s important to read the loading screens.

Difficulty

Attempting to locate each of the 10 cars each day is about as easy as completing the Daily Objectives for 31 days. Some cars are highlighted with a blue dot on the minimap. Cars that are “standard spawn” must be found and jacked in the normal way. Because of this harem-scarem means to locate the cars, you can’t rely on any one specific method. It also means you have to be super great a spotting specific cars by make, which is tricky enough in itself. Waiting for the blue dots for the ‘special’ cars to show up is near impossible. In fact, because other blue dots show up which aren’t related to this, you can literally spin your wheels doing unrelated tasks. Rockstar has made this task as difficult as possible and only 24 hours in which to complete it.

It’s great that this chalkboard car search is daily in that you the chance to get up to GTA$200,000 (plus bonus if you get all 10) per day doing this, but you can spend many, many hours looking for those 10 cars. Worse, the chalkboard can change out from under you when those 24 hours are up without you knowing… all while searching for a car that’s no longer on the board.

Note also that Simeon’s car quest and the Auto Shop car quest can conflict, requesting the same vehicle. This means you’ll need to make a choice to whom you intend to deliver. It also means that you’ll need to find that same car a second time for whichever one you didn’t fulfill. This is frustrating. Sometimes you find cars for both Simeon and the Auto Shop at the same lot. Again, you’ll have to choose which car to jack and deliver. The problem is, when you come back, the game will have despawned those other cars and respawned something else. That means you’ll have to go looking again. Also frustrating.

Tricks

One trick that sometimes works in finding one of the 10 cars is going in and out of the garage at the casino. When you enter the garage and then exit, the parking lot will respawn with all new cars. Occasionally, a blue dot will spawn there in the parking lot. The blue dot sometimes spawns in a space to the right of the the exit across from Downtown Cab, Co. This is probably the fastest way to get the parking lot to respawn with new cars. That doesn’t mean you’ll get a blue dot, but occasionally you might.

Bugs

There are a number of bugs with the auto repair shop. If you drive a car into the garage, you will be unable to repair a waiting car or even repair your own cars. The controller option never appears. You’ll need to exit the shop by walking out, then reenter to fix this problem. Another bug has just surfaced today, July 24th, 2021. If you attempt to deliver a car and enter the yellow ring, the ending does not complete. With this one, I thought that killing and restarting the game might help. It doesn’t. When I did that, the car was back at the repair shop awaiting delivery again. I tried delivery for a second time that took me to a new location, but the car still wouldn’t deliver. It seems that the game progress gets stuck when you can’t deliver the car.

Not getting jobs? Don’t stay inside of your Auto Repair shop or Sessanta can’t text you to give you car repair jobs. The game seems intent on avoiding refreshing the Auto Repair shop (required to put a car on the lift) with you in it. If you’ve been wondering why you haven’t been called for repair jobs and you’ve been working in the repair shop, that’s why. Also, you can’t cancel contract jobs while inside of the Auto Repair shop. To cancel a contract job, you need exit to call Sessanta. You can only call her outside of the repair shop. If you try to call Sessanta inside of the shop, you’ll get a busy signal.

There’s also some dumb logic when performing repairs… for example, the customer might request Secondary color bumpers or Secondary hood options, yet there’s no way to paint the car with a secondary paint job. All cars currently paint all surfaces the same color even if the car supports primary and secondary paint colors. What’s the point in requesting ‘secondary’ anything if you can’t paint the car with a secondary paint?

Blue dots and chalkboard cars bug. I’ve had this bug happen to me almost every single time I’ve played. I’ve found up to 6 cars on the chalkboard, but as few as one. Yet, after traversing the entire map from top to bottom, the game will not reveal any further cars via blue dots from the board. Even if the remaining cars are specialty cars that require a blue dot, no blue dot ever spawns anywhere on the map. This bug makes it impossible to complete collecting all 10 of the cars on the chalkboard.

Cost: Property is Free (with Prime Gaming) + cost of whatever decorations added to Repair Shop
Type: Mission Based + Intraday Recurring car repair jobs,
Passive Income: None
Active Income: Job based (around GTA$100,000 or so), Car repair (GTA$20,000 to GTA$30,000) per car
Difficulty Level: 3 (Somewhat difficult)

Daily Cost: Minimum GTA$250, more with staff

Rockstar Newswire and Loading Screens

Each week beginning on Thursday, a new Rockstar Newswire is released offering all of that week’s newest promotions and activities. Many of these activities also appear as messages on the loading screen.

Be sure to read each of these loading screens carefully. For example, the week this article is written, Rockstar is offering 2X GTA$ and RP on new survival map challenges. Participating in these new survival events during this week will earn you 2X GTA$ and RP plus a bonus of GTA$100,000 simply for participating in a Survival. Reading these screens closely can help you nab $100,000 or more simply by doing whatever Rockstar is requesting. Usually, it’s not hard to do what they’re asking you to do.

However, sometimes Rockstar might require the purchase of a Mobile Operations Center, a Terrorbyte or an Avenger, which can negate the GTA$ bonus. If you know you don’t have the vehicles needed to get the bonus, then skip it. By simply being required to participate, such as the Survival Challenge above, its easy to nab that GTA$100,000.

Type: Free
Difficulty Level: Depends, usually easy
Reward: Depends

Daily Objectives

This free activity is just barely a runner up because while the payout is big, it is incredibly difficult and you need to be level 15 or higher. However, you can make some serious bank if you’re tenacious. This one requires performing 3 Daily Objectives for 28 consecutive days. Some of the objectives can be extremely obscure, difficult to do, take a lot of time, dependent on challenges that may not appear and/or require loads of cash to complete (like Complete a Heist Setup). For these complicated reasons, it’s not included in the top 10. If you’re tenacious and willing to attempt the objectives each day, you can earn some serious bank after 28 days. If you miss a day or cannot perform one of the objectives, you lose the streak and must start over. To perform each daily objective, you’ll need to read the objectives closely.

Note that you can effectively change two of your three daily objectives by launching into GTAO, then immediately checking your current objectives in the character menu. The bottom two are not set in stone if it’s a new day. If you don’t like the bottom two objectives, kill the game and restart.

Keep restarting the game until you get two objectives you can perform, like Visit the Casino OR Relax in a hot tub OR Mod a car. Once you’ve got two objectives you like, modify your character’s appearance by wearing glasses. This will force a cloud save and lock the objectives in. Make sure to read the Daily Objectives closely, otherwise you might be stuck with objectives you cannot complete. Don’t hesitate long. You’ll only get a few minutes before the game automatically performs a cloud save and then those objectives are locked in for that day.

The topmost objective is always set in stone for the day by Rockstar. You’ll have to perform this one whether you want to or not. Examples. If you don’t own a hangar, you can’t perform an objective like Modify an aircraft at your hangar. Rockstar might also set the objective as Complete a Heist Setup. If you’re already past all of your setups, the only way to complete that objective is to join another player who hasn’t yet done it.

Progressive Rewards

  • 1 day of objectives will earn you GTA$30,000 and 5,000 RP (28x = GTA$840,000 + 140,000 RP)
  • 7 days (week) worth will earn you GTA$150,000 and 20,000 RP (4x = GTA$600,000 + 80,000 RP)
  • 28 days (month) worth will earn you GTA$500,000 and 50,000 RP

In 28 days, you earn (D) GTA$840,000 + (W) GTA$600,000 + (M) GTA$500,000 = GTA$1.94 million + 270,000 RP

As implied above, some objectives can appear that are impossible to complete either because you can’t afford to buy something or because you’re past that part of the heist. This can cause failure when attempting to do this for 28 days, thus making this challenge quite difficult.

Cost: Free
Reward: GTA$30,000 to GTA$1.94 million depending on how many you perform daily + 5000+ RP
Difficulty Level: 10 (Hard) — requires performing challenges for 28 days straight, though you can still get the daily challenge reward even if you miss a day in between.

Level to Complete: Rank 15 or higher

Cayo Perico Treasure Hunt Challenge

This is a runner up because it requires significant cash outlay and is not super easy to do. However, it offers okay payout. This means that even though it will cost you a lot to unlock, you can keep doing these treasure hunts daily until you’ve recovered whatever it’s worth to you. Before I get into the hunt, let me explain the costs.

To unlock Cayo Perico Island, you’ll need to buy the Kosatka submarine from Warstock Cache and Carry to launch the mission to take you to this new island. This sub costs GTA$2,200,000 base price. If you wait for Rockstar to slash the price, you can get it for around GTA$1 million, which is what I paid when I bought it on sale. Because of the daily treasure hunt, it’s worth the GTA$1 million (on sale) investment to buy the Kosatka. Buying it for the Heist? Not so much.

Now, onto the treasure hunt. There are 10 possible treasure chest locations across Cayo Perico Island. There are 5 locations on land and 5 underwater, all dotted around the island. You’ll need to check many of the locations until you find the two available treasure chests. You can only open two per day. Opening up both treasure chests yields GTA$15,000 per chest for a maximum of GTA$30,000 per day. That’s a reasonable amount of GTA$ income, which is why it is included here.

Rockstar has even been known to 2X these daily challenges, doubling the GTA$ to 60,000 per day for up to 7 days.

Cost: Kosatka costs around GTA$2.2 million
Type: Active Income, Daily, Recurring, Time Suck Activity
Reward: Up to GTA$30,000 per day or GTA$210,000 every 7 days or GTA$900,000 every 30 days
Difficulty Level: 5 (Medium — must scout many locations to find two) … must be tenacious

Character Bounties

These are separate from the Bounty Missions described below. This activity costs nothing to the player and is somewhat easy to get. A character bounty is had when you steal a car and someone unknown puts a bounty on you. These are easy money and may be worth trying to get, but they don’t pay much and can be slightly difficult to find…. which is the reason it didn’t make the top 10. A bounty reward can range from GTA$1,000 to GTA$3,000. If you end up with a bounty and want that money, you’ll need to move to a private server so other players don’t try to collect on it. Then wait out one full in-game day on that private server (about an hour of play time). At the end of that day, you’ll be paid the amount of the bounty. You’ll need to play on a private server or with trusted friends until the bounty pays out.

Typically, these bounties will appear when you steal expensive cars parked on the side of a road. One vehicle that always gives up a bounty is the Sprunk Extreme van, which you can’t keep or own. This van is a trap and always issues a bounty. If you see this van, steal it, get the bounty and hide out on a private server for one full in-game day to collect the bounty. Though, there are plenty of other expensive cars which can also turn a bounty. The more expensive the vehicle is, the more likely the owner will put a high bounty on you.

Note that bounties hang around on your character until either another player collects on it in a public server or one full in-game day passes and you get the money. Also note that only one bounty can be active at a time. Can’t get greedy with this one.

Cost: Free
Type: Active, Recurring
Reward: GTA$1,000 to GTA$3,000
Difficulty Level: 1 (Easy, so long as you hang out on a private server until you get paid)

Good Sport

Here’s another runner up that didn’t make the grade, but is worth realizing that it exists. This one is a periodic GTA$2,000 that is given to the player for keeping up Good Behavior. I’m not completely certain what all triggers ‘bad behavior’ and prevents this award, but I believe it is related to the character’s mental state. If you start mowing down civilians on the sidewalk with your car, for example, this raises the character’s mental state and may forfeit the Good Behavior award. This one doesn’t seem to award once per day. It seems to award the player this money at random times while playing.

Cost: Free
Type: Active, Recurring, Unpredictable
Reward: GTA$2,000
Difficulty Level: depends on how you play GTAO

Sleeping Bums

Sleeping Bum

This runner up is one that likely only shows up after you have visited Cayo Perico island. This, in turn, means you will need to own the Kosatka Submarine (see above).

How it works. Occasionally, the game will tell you that you have found a small key which is useful on Cayo Perico island. When you see this message, that means there’s a blue dot somewhere near you. Once you find the blue dot on the minimap, go to it and there will be a sleeping drunk bum. Loot the bum and you’ll get some GTA$. I’ve gotten up to GTA$7007 from looting, but the amount varies.

Cost: Requires Kosatka and visiting Cayo Perico island
Type: Random, Recurring
Reward: Varies, but can be up to GTA$8000 or possibly higher
Difficulty Level: 1 (Easy)

Amazon Prime Gaming

Owning this type of membership offers freebies each and every month. However, to gain this freebie, you’ll need to subscribe to Amazon Prime. If you own this membership, you’ll link your Rockstar account to your Amazon Prime Gaming account once and each month Rockstar will offer various freebies and discounts for this linkage.

For a while, Rockstar was offering up GTA$1,000,000 each month at GTA$200,000 each week with the fourth week culminating in a payment of GTA$400,000. Recently, this has been reduced to GTA$100,000 a week for a total of GTA$400,000 each month. I don’t know if the last week culminates in an extra $100,000 as there has been no mention of this by Rockstar. In fact, there was no mention of the reduction of this Prime Gaming benefit.

Cost: Amazon Prime membership (USD$12.99 a month or USD$119 a year)
Type: Passive only
Reward: Up to GTA$400,000 a month
Difficulty level: N/A
Caveat: This benefit can be discontinued or altered at any time by Rockstar without warning

Additional ways

These didn’t make the cut for reasons listed below. However, they are still valid for making at least some money in the game. These events are free to participate, but may require the use of weapons, armor or the purchase of expensive cars (racing), specific ammo or expensive weapons to win.

Survival Events

I hesitate to include these events because they require crap tons of ammo (which you have to buy) and, in the end, net very little in the way of cash. In other words, you may spend more on ammo to win the event than you’ll get back from surviving it. However, I’ve included it because these jobs are open and available all of the time. You can join a survival job at any time. The longer you last, the more money you’ll make, but only to a point. Keep in mind that surviving a long time doesn’t necessarily net you more GTA$ in the way you might think. You’ll get whatever you get from the survival event, which includes both RP and limited GTA$, maybe around GTA$3,500 or so max.

Cost: Free
Type: Multiplayer Active, Recurring, Available all of the time
Reward: Depends on many factors, but usually no more than GTA$3,500 on average.

Racing

Racing events can net you some GTA$, but typically you’ll need a decently fast car if you hope to win and win max bank. This means either buying an expensive Supercar from Legendary Motorsports or being lucky enough to win one from the Lucky Wheel podium. Racing is included because occasionally Rockstar will introduce a new racing type into the game and to promote it, they will award GTA$100,000 or more simply by participating.

Cost: Dependent on car needed
Reward: Limited GTA$ depending on placing, but probably no more than GTA$5,000
Notes: Sometimes newly introduced events will offer a large award for participating.

PlayStation 4 Promotion

While Rockstar readies GTA Online for play on the PS5, they are giving GTA$1,000,000 each month to PS4 members who also have PlayStation Plus. In order to play GTA Online, you need PlayStation Plus for the network access. The way to obtain this money changed in April, now requiring each player to head to the PlayStation store to claim the GTA$1,000,000 on the first of each month until the PS5 version of GTAO becomes available.

GTAO on the PS5 may release as soon as August or September 2021, so this promotion may end very soon. This one is only included here now because it’s still active for a limited time. Note, if you’re logged into GTAO when you head to the store and claim it, you’ll have to log out and back in to see your GTA$ update.

Cost: Requires PlayStation Plus subscription and a PS4
Reward: GTA$1,000,000 monthly

Gambling at the Casino

This one is not included in the top 10 because casino gambling is too risky for several reasons. I didn’t include this one in the ‘avoid’ area below because it is possible to win. It also takes GTA$ converted to Chips to make a bet and you can easily lose it all.

The problem with winning in the casino is that Rockstar monitors large wins coming out of the casino. If Rockstar determines you cheated to win, they can take all of your money away or outright ban you from the game. Be careful when attempting to win large bets in the casino. For this reason, I don’t recommend trying to gamble at the casino other than with the smallest bets (i.e., less than 100 chips). Even then, play only a little, win only a little and walk away. If you press your luck and win a large pot, Rockstar may flag your account for cheating.

Cost: Chips to bet
Type: Recurring
Reward: Whatever you win
Risks: Can be suspected of cheating and lose all money or be banned from the game

One Off Activities

Rockstar includes a few one-off activities which are worth doing because you can net a decent amount of cash from each of them. These are not included in the top 10 above because they cannot be performed more than once.

Bounty Missions

A random NPC named Maude will ask you to help her with some bounties. As a result, you will receive GTA$300,000 and the Stone Hatchet for returning the bounties to Maude alive. Returning them dead yields less. There are 5 bounties to be had.

Cost: Free
Type: One off
Reward: GTA$300,000 + Stone Hatchet

Rampage

Stone Hatchet

This next activity requires using the Stone Hatchet that you got from Maude’s quests. Once you kill 25 NPCs while in Rampage mode using the Stone Hatchet, you will receive GTA$250,000. You must do this rampage specifically with the Stone Hatchet. There are other hatchets in the game, but only the Stone Hatchet unlocks this reward. Make sure you have the correct hatchet equipped.

Cost: Free
Type: One off
Reward: GTA$250,000

Golden Revolver

Golden Revolver

This is a cross promotion for Red Dead Online. To receive the Golden Revolver, you’ll need to start with a treasure hunt email. This will lead you to 4 different clues which, if correctly decoded, will reveal a chest containing the Golden Revolver.

Once obtained, you can then jump right into the Golden Revolver headshot kills challenge. Once you have killed 25 NPCs with headshots using the Golden Revolver, you’ll receive GTA$250,000.

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Cost: Free
Type: One off
Reward: Golden Revolver + GTA$250,000

Radio Signal Jammer

There are 50 radio jammers placed on various tall radio towers and buildings. This is part of the Casino Heist. These look like small black boxes with a red light and an antenna on top. These also beep so you can hear them at a distance. Once you destroy all 50 radio jammers, the game unlocks a person useful to the Casino Heist. That’s not really the money reason to do this challenge. By destroying all jammers you’ll net GTA$150,000 and 50,000 RP.

Cost: Free
Type: One off
Reward: GTA$150,000 + 50,000 RP

Avoid these activities….

Most of what’s listed below are one-time and/or overly-complex activities. This means that once you complete those specific missions, you either can’t do them again or you must start over from the very beginning and do all steps again. You can also participate as a team member in a friend’s unfinished heist or mission if you need to do a specific step quickly. This top 10 list was designed to include easy and quick money making opportunities that can be repeated every day, which these below most certainly are not. This section isn’t meant to imply that you can’t enjoy these activities for the entertainment value, just don’t do them in hopes of making money in the game.

Heists

Heists are some of the most expensive and complex ways to make income in the game. Why? Because Rockstar requires that you buy very, very expensive real estate, boats, equipment, personnel and trucks to support the heist. All told, you’ll end up spending GTA$3-5 million (or more) in buying random in-game junk, just to net GTA$300,000 – GTA$500,000 back from the heist. You won’t make back even a fraction of what you spent to buy that boat, truck, warehouse, safecracker tools AND bunker. However, you can do it all again, but you’ll likely have to spend for at least tools, people and random junk running the heist for a second or third time.

Heists, while they may be fun when played in groups, are the worst ways to make money in the game.

Cost: Depends on Heist, but no less than GTA$3-5 million
Passive Income: None
Heist Reward: A paltry GTA$300,000 to GTA$500,000 max.

Galaxy Super Yacht

The Super Yacht is a waste of money. Sure, the captain of the yacht offers up some missions, but like Heists above, you must sink at least GTA$6,000,000 into the thing to get a couple hundred thousand out of it. Don’t buy this thing for the mission reward money. However, there are six missions which can be performed only once.

Cost: The Super Yacht begins at GTA$6,000,000 and is rarely ever discounted more than 10%
Passive Income: None
Active Income: Around GTA$30,000 per mission

Reward: Captain’s Outfit after completing all 6 missions
Daily Cost: GTA$1,000

Bunker Missions

Like Heists, you have to first invest in a bunker property, which is costly. Once you do this, you have to keep resupplying the bunker with more and more materials until you max out the products storage area. Then, you can take those products, load them into a crap vehicle and drive them across the map to the delivery location.

The problem is, bunker missions can only be performed in public servers. This means you’ll need to endure other players who are told you are moving goods and basically where you are on the map. Other players can come screw with you and those goods.

Once sold, you’ll get a fraction of the value because, in typical Rockstar fashion, they always skim GTA$ right off the top to keep you from getting as much as it says the goods are worth. Honestly, this one is too much of a hassle and costs too much money simply to net GTA$100,000 (or less). There are easier ways to get that amount of GTA$… see above.

Cost: Bunker cost begins at GTA$2 million, but you may be able to get it included in some bundles
Type: Recurring
Passive Income: None
Active Income: Requires carrying good across the map on a public server.
Reward: Some percentage of the value of the goods, if successful

Daily Cost: GTA$7,800

Note, the maintenance cost for owning a bunker is whopping GTA$7,800 per in-game day, but only if you’re actively CEO. Make sure to ‘retire’ as CEO before the day ends to avoid paying this stupid fee. This is the only maintenance fee you can avoid paying in this way. Also note, moving Bunker goods across the map requires at least two people to drive two separate delivery cars… it cannot be done solo.

Nightclub Goods

For the same reason as Bunker Missions, moving these goods has the same problem… public server, public announcement and players can screw with you. On top of that, your nightclub manager takes a cut leaving you with 10% less than what the goods are worth.

Cost: Nightclub costs around GTA$2,000,000 to own, plus maintenance costs.
Type: Active, Recurring
Passive Club Income: GTA$10,000 down to GTA$1,000 depending on whether the club is promoted
Reward: Depends on amount of goods sold, less 10% to Tony

Daily Cost: GTA$800 to GTA$2,250

Simeon Premium Deluxe Repo Cars

These missions are entirely multiplayer missions. If you can get a team of only your friends, it might be fun. If you are matched with randoms, likely there will be one who will torpedo the whole mission.

Cost: Requires multiplayer session with randoms. I’ve tried playing several times and each time the mission fails due to some random torpedoing it.
Type: Multiplayer, Recurring
Reward: Depends, but not as much as you’d hope.

Casino Penthouse

To own the Casino Penthouse, it costs GTA$1.5 million to GTA$6.5 million depending on which features you choose to buy. However, along with owning the casino penthouse, you’ll unlock missions from Agatha Baker, the casino manager. There are 6 casino missions that, when completed, will reward you with $GTA100,000 and the Enus Paragon R Armored version, which you pick up at the docks.

Cost: GTA$1.5 million to GTA$6.5 million
Type: Once Only
Reward: GTA$100,000 and Enus Paragon R Armored

Daily Cost: GTA$500 to GTA$1,350

Executive Suite Cargo Missions

Like most money making activities in the GTA Online world, for these you’ll need to invest in an Executive Office Suite, a cargo storage warehouse and probably several other things. All told, you’ll spend at least GTA$3-5 million (probably more) to net maybe GTA$100,000 every week or so. For example, the high value car cargo missions allow you to steal expensive cars, then store in them in the cargo warehouse. You can sell them immediately. The thing is, even though the car may be worth GTA$1.5 million, the maximum you’ll get by selling the best of them is GTA$80,000. In fact, it’s so little money and because it’s a real hassle, it’s not really worth the effort.

Cost: Executive Office (~GTA$1,000,000 or USD$20 for CESP) and Cargo and Crate Warehouse … ~GTA$5-7 million total
Passive Income: None
Active Income: Limited by Rockstar’s stupidity

Daily Cost: GTA$800 to GTA$950

50 Stunt Jumps

Don’t bother with this activity if you’re looking for GTA$. The only reason to do this one is if you’re trying for the Collectibles trophy. There are 50 stunt jumps all over the map. However, completing each jump only earns a tiny amount of RP. At 1, 5 and 25 jumps, these will unlock paint jobs at Los Santos Customs. This activity rewards no GTA$ at all.

Type: Free
Cost: None
Rewards: Only RP and Unlocked paint jobs

Stretching your GTA$ farther

As has been hinted all throughout this article, it’s better to wait for Rockstar to put vehicles, properties, weapons, armor and even outfits on sale. Each week, Rockstar chooses various items to discount. Some discounts are given straight up to all players. Extra discounts are given by linking your Amazon Prime account to Rockstar. These discounts never overlap, but do run concurrently with one another. For example, Rockstar typically puts properties or property features on sale regularly and then simultaneously discounts vehicles via the Prime Gaming benefits. However, when Rockstar puts properties on sale, they typically do not discount a property’s sub-features, which is a little frustrating.

For example, when Executive Offices are discounted, the Executive Office garages and the Cargo Warehouses are not discounted. This means, you’ll need to wait for the garages and warehouses to go on sale separately. This means you’ll need to wait until Rockstar puts those specific properties and features on sale, which might occur months apart.

For vehicles such as the Kosatka, Avenger, Terrorbyte and Mobile Operations Center, you’ll also find only one of these on sale at a time. Typically when a vehicle is discounted, its renovation features are not, though rarely they might discount both. You have to check.

When you find one of these vehicles heavily discounted, such as the Kosatka priced around $GTA1 million, you gotta jump on the deal quickly because it won’t come around again for at least 6-12 months.

Reviewing this article, you might notice I have a lot of these very expensive items in the game. I didn’t pay full price for any of them. I’ve been buying all of these items slowly on discount when the discounts occur. Some of the vehicles, I’ve won off of the podium, such as the Toreador, though I paid for the Stromberg, but on sale. However, I have been waiting for some vehicles to go on sale for several years, such as the Vigilante and the Oppressor. This is the only downside to waiting. However, waiting for discounts means you can stretch your GTA$ much, much farther and you get way more for less money.

That’s also how I afforded the Penthouse suite at the Casino. I first waited for the property to go on sale and spent about GTA$1 million. Then, I waited for each of the renovation features to discount and purchased those while also discounted. All told, I spent just over GTA$3 million to unlock all Penthouse features.

I’ve also specifically waited for many of the Super Cars to show up on the Lucky Wheel podium to win rather than spending GTA$2-4 million on each vehicle. Though, when I have occasionally purchased Super Cars, they have also been close to 50% off.

I know it can be difficult to wait, but waiting is far better than spending twice as much for in-game stuff that may never even be used. For example, the Avenger, Terrorbyte and Mobile Operation Center and even the Kosatka vehicles are a major waste of money. It’s a good thing I bought all of them when heavily discounted. In fact, I’ve never even used the Avenger, Terrorbyte or Mobile Operations Center. I also have a lot of vehicles I rarely ever use. My most used vehicle is the Deluxo, which I also won off of the podium.

Winning cars and using Rockstar’s discounts is the best way to stretch your GTA$ much farther. Also, take full advantage of any freebies Rockstar gives, particularly money giveaways for event participation.

Overall

There are other activities not mentioned above which can yield various amounts of GTA$, like the impossibly stupid flying missions at Los Santos Airport flying school, which yield insulting amounts of GTA$ once each impossibly hard and useless test is completed. Unfortunately, the rest in the game are not really worth mentioning, like RC car races.

One thing Rockstar needed to add to GTAO was way more passive income features from purchasing and owning properties. For example, every owned property should offer some level of passive income… at least enough to cover the daily expenses.

Overall, Rockstar pretty much failed us with Grand Theft Auto Online. While GTA V’s in-game money balance was decent, all of that was removed from GTA Online. What’s left is a basic shell that teases the player by handing out a pittance of money each day here and there. Even the Heists in GTA V offered up a decent sized reward. In GTAO, the Heist rewards are entirely insulting after spending millions buying all of the garbage needed to complete it. The best use of money in GTA Online is buying the cars. However, if you wait long enough you can win most of them off of the Lucky Wheel at the Casino, not pay anything for them… the best way to get most expensive cars in this game.

What you can’t win off of the Lucky Wheel podium are vehicles like the Kosatka, the Mobile Operations Center, the Super Yacht, the Avenger and the Terrorbyte. What’s worse is that the MOC, the Avenger and the Terrorbyte are all effectively the same vehicle, each in a different class. It’s such a waste of GTA$ buying the same thing multiple times.

Worse, these mobile weapon-and-vehicle workshops only work on weaponized vehicles. Even though these mobile workshops allow similar customization features as Los Santos Customs, these mobile workshops can’t modify regular vehicles… thus rendering the convenience of paying for these mobile workshops pointless. Rockstar just doesn’t seem to get that the usefulness of these mobile ‘Los Santos Customs’ workshops is the fact that you can modify your cars anywhere you choose rather than spending time driving the car over to an LSC. As expensive as these mobile workshops are, why wouldn’t you allow us to modify any vehicle in that mobile vehicle workshop?

What difference does it make if we modify our car in our Avenger or at Los Santos Customs? We’re still going to pay the price for each mod.

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