Random musings on whatever subject strikes my fancy, published every other day.

Tag: Introduction

Exam Time!

If you’re a student and you’re reading this, I just made you clench a little with that title, didn’t I?  Well, here’s some news you can use: it never really goes away.

Ten years ago next month, I sat for the CISSP exam.  Being a bit underemployed at the time, I had done little the preceding six weeks but study for it.  I had to travel to NYC for the exam, which was a non-trivial financial risk, but lack of confidence has never been my issue. Even the night before in the hotel, though, I sat doing flash cards of the Legal & Regulatory elements, which was the one area I felt needed boosting.  I could never get the hang of this due to its utter lack of internal logic or consistency.  This is what keeps the courts in business, I suppose.

I went into the exam with a strategy of sorts.  I was planning to give my brain “breaks” by doing 25 questions at a time, then reviewing those before moving on.  I was never worried about the time limits.  Right or wrong, I do these things quickly.  I have yet to hear the words “pencils down” in a test, and that goes all the way back to the PSATs in 1972.

So there I was doing this answer 25, check 25 routine… and I started to notice something.  The text of questions in the second half of the test started giving me clues to some answers I had not been so sure about in the first half.  I know for a fact that there are at least three questions I would have had dead wrong on my test that I was able to fix, thanks to clues in the “givens” of later questions.

The only time-related distress I’ve experienced in a test was on the CISM exam.  At that one, there’s one other CISM candidate among a gaggle of would-be CISA.  For no discernible reason, the proctor seats us next to each other.  We start the test at 9:00.  At about 10:10, I’m on question maybe 110 of 200… and doesn’t she close her book, go up front, hand in her paper and leave?!  This freaks me out in no small measure.  But to this day, I have no idea if she scored 100% or “no better than random”.  I just figure it has to be one of those two extremes.

This comes to mind because I have now started to hear the siren song of yet another certification exam, the CCSP.  It takes the same body of knowledge from the Cloud Security Alliance that went into the CCSK exam and adds continuing CPE requirements and renewal.  I have a feeling it will be better-recognized.  And hey, one thing I appear to be able to do well is take multiple-choice tests, so… why not?

Ingress Leveling and Badges (long)

In the first and second installments of this series I talked about all the operations players can perform in this game, and this final installment will give some details of how players move up through the sixteen levels of the game.

Player Level Requirements
All players start at Level 1.  Getting to Level 2 is very easy, a few portals captured, a couple of fields and you’re there.  Level 3 is a bit more of a climb but by getting to that point you can finally start to use some Bursters that do a bit of damage, and you’re also probably hooked on the game by then.  So you move on.

L1 = 0 AP
L2 = 2,500 AP
L3 = 20,000 AP
L4 = 70,000 AP
L5 = 150,000 AP
L6 = 300,000 AP
L7 = 600,000 AP
L8 = 1,200,000 AP

Hitting Level 8 is an important milestone because you can now use every item in the game.  Also, your XM bar capacity has gone from 3,000 at Level 1 by increments of 1,000 to 10,000.  Beyond Level 8, the increases will be in jumps of 1,500, not 1,000.  This tops out at 22,000 for Level 16.

In order to move up levels beyond 8, you need to start accumulating advanced levels of the various badges awarded for cumulative action in the game.  The requirements are:

L9 =  2,400,000 AP + 1 gold, 4 silver
L10 = 4,000,000 AP + 2 gold, 5 silver
L11 = 6,000,000 AP + 4 gold, 6 silver
L12 = 8,400,000 AP + 6 gold, 7 silver
L13 = 12,000,000 AP + 1 Platinum, 7 Gold
L14 = 17,000,000 AP + 2 Platinum, 7 Gold
L15 = 24,000,000 AP + 3 Platinum, 7 Gold
L16 = 40,000,000 AP + 2 Onyx, 4 Platinum, 7 Gold


This is a little less daunting than it might seem if you take into account the fact that any higher level badge also counts as all the lower levels for the same badge.  So for example, if you currently have Gold in Recharger and Trekker, plus Silver in Guardian, Illuminator and SpecOps, you have all the badge requirements for Level 10.  This is due to the fact that those two Golds also count as two of your five Silvers.
Badge Requirements
The badge (sometimes called “medal”) definitions and levels are:


Badge Name & Measure Bronze Silver Gold Platinum Onyx
Explorer – hack unique portals 100 1,000 2,000 10,000 30,000
Seer – discover and submit new portals 10 50 200 500 5,000
Trekker – kilometers walked 10 100 300 1,000 2,500
Builder – deploy resonators 2,000 10,000 30,000 100,000 200,000
Connector – link portals 50 1,000 5,000 25,000 100,000
Mind Controller – create control fields 100 500 2,000 10,000 40,000
Illuminator – Capture MUs in Control Fields 5,000 50,000 250,000 1,000,000 4,000,000
Recharger – Recharge portals (000s) 100 1,000 3,000 10,000 25,000
Liberator – Capture Portals 100 1,000 5,000 15,000 40,000
Pioneer – Capture unique portals 20 200 1,000 5,000 20,000
Engineer – mod portals 150 1,500 5,000 20,000 50,000
Purifier – Destroy enemy resonators 2,000 10,000 30,000 100,000 300,000
Guardian – control portal for consecutive days 3 10 20 90 150
SpecOps – Complete unique missions 5 25 100 200 500
Hacker – hack portals 2,000 10,000 30,000 100,000 200,000
Translator – Glyph Hack Points 200 2,000 6,000 20,000 50,000
Sojourner – Consecutive Days Hacking 15 30 60 180 360

A word or two about some of these:

  • Seer: When I started playing the turnaround time from submitting a suggested new portal to getting an answer from Niantic was fairly steady around three to four weeks.  Sometime in the months leading up to the iOS version of the game releasing (May-July ’14), the lead time started creeping up.  It’s now highly erratic and in the area of five to seven months.  Also erratic is the quality of review.  Junk portals are being approved while excellent public art is being rejected.  Sometimes the rejection reason is given, but more often it’s a simple boilerplate “does not meet our criteria.”  You can read the criteria in vain for anything that your portal submission misses.  To deal with what was obviously an unmanageable backlog, Niantic has stopped crediting new submissions (as of 2015-01-01) toward this badge.  Perhaps that is preparatory to canceling it or mothballing it entirely.  TL,DR; I do not recommend submitting new portals until the review process is improved.
  • Illuminator: When you make the third link completing a field, you get credit toward this badge for all the MUs enclosed by that field.  If you make several layers of an onion field, the MUs really add up.  I advise finding the active group of your team in your area and pitch in on some team operations that will make multi-thousand-MU fields.  Even Platinum level in this will be accessible to you pretty quickly.
  • Recharger: Another badge that’s very accessible to get to higher levels even for novice players.  Spend a rainy afternoon somewhere warm and dry with a hundred or so keys and power cubes from your travels.  All the XM points you expend recharging friendly portals count toward this badge, and it’s not at all challenging to rack up a million an hour.
  • Guardian: There is indeed one badge in the game that creates more complaining than Seer, and here it is.  This is the only badge where succeeding in making higher levels of this badge is almost completely out of your control.  What happens here is, you capture a portal, you become its owner, you place your resonators, you keep a key and you hope for the best.  If your portal gets attacked and taken down, you start all over.  Some players (who clearly need lives) monitor the comms using scripts that filter for news of a portal being taken over.  If it stays in one player’s ownership for close to 90 or 150 days, they send out alerts to other players like themselves who will then go out specifically to deny people the Guardian achievement.  Mind you, this accrues no benefit to them other than knowing it has caused someone else frustration.
  • SpecOps: A relatively new feature of the game is called Missions.  These are little side-quests created by other players that string together four or more portals (and possibly Field Trip waypoints (about which the less said the better, but if you must know start here)) into a kind of scavenger hunt that you can travel around and play.  Finishing a Mission you have never done before gives you a count toward this badge.  If you’re out playing anyway, the Portal card now has a Missions button that shows you any Missions of which the portal is a part.  Highly recommended.
  • Translator: Another side-game you can play as you hack portals, if you have time.  By long-pressing the Hack button instead of tapping it, you are brought into a new screen where you are shown a grid of 11 dots and then anywhere from one to five patterns of lines connecting the dots.  In the game’s story, these patterns are called Glyphs, and they represent the Shapers’ attempts to communicate with us.  Our task is to repeat the pattern(s) we have been shown to acknowledge the message. Successfully replicating even one Glyph gets you bonus items on the hack, while replicating all the Glyphs offered gets you points toward this badge.  The higher-level the portal, the more complex the Glyph-Hack and the more points it’s worth to succeed.  There are practice apps to help you get good at catching the Glyphs and reproducing them.  Apparently the idea is, each Glyph stands for a word or concept, and the sequences are “sentences” expressing ideas that the Shapers wish to communicate to us.  Well, the fact is, once you associate each pattern with a word it becomes easier to produce it again from memory.  Whether you think you have been “enlightened” or not is a separate matter.
  • Sojourner: Hack every day, never let 24 hours go by without hacking.  That’s all there is to this.  I think it was introduced to get people calmed down somewhat about the Guardian situation, since there’s clearly nothing Niantic can (or is willing to) do about the scummy characters described above.  I have found that the best and safest pattern to keep your progress going toward this badge is to make sure you hack sometime in the morning and sometime late in the afternoon.
So that’s it.  Aside from Niantic’s own site, I did a fair amount of the research I needed to do on Decode Ingress, which I recommend as a good reference site that is keeping itself pretty-well updated.
A final note: Niantic is in the process of rolling out a new game, called Endgame.  I don’t know about it, though.  It seems like a senseless time-suck.

More About Ingress (long)

UPDATED August 1, 2015 for SoftBank Ultra-Links

In my first post about Ingress, I introduced the basic principles of the game and I surveyed what I think a novice player needs to know about hacking portals and deploying resonators.  Today I will continue with a discussion of the remaining in-game operations you can perform.  The final installment will discuss player levels, and the assortment of achievement badges that are required for players to advance beyond Level 8.  Careful: that one might get a bit opinionated.

Modding is the action of adding items to a portal (which must be your team’s color) to improve its performance in various ways.  Each portal has four slots for mods.  A player may only have two mods on a portal at a time.

Portal Shields: Passive defense for your portals.  Shields and linking are the two things that make portals more resistant to attack than they would be otherwise.  Two good shields and three links will combine to make your portal over 90% resistant to attack.

Heat Sinks: Heat Sinks cause the portal to “cool down” quicker after being hacked so the player can hack again.  Multi-Hacks: Portals can only be hacked by a given player four times every four hours, and then will “burn out” unless one or more Multi-Hacks are applied.  More than one Heat Sink or Multi-Hack can be combined on the same portal but the incremental effectiveness of the second or third goes down at an alarming rate.  I don’t recommend this except in very specialized situations.  (Google “Ingress flash farming” if you’re curious.)

Link Amps: extend the distance limit of links that can be made.  Rightly famous throughout the player community as being pretty useless, since the allowable distances without this mod are more than adequate.
UPDATE: In June ’15, a new type of Link Amp called SoftBank UltraLink (SBUL) was introduced.  These do in fact have a use that can help an everyday player: they will allow more than the default 8 outbound links from the portal.  Each SBUL added to a portal adds an allowable 8 more outbound links.

Turrets: These items increase the probability that the enemy hacking or attacking your portal will be counter-attacked.  Should that attack occur, Force Amps will increase the intensity with which your portal will attack.

Once a mod is on a portal, only an enemy attack on that portal can remove it.  With their tight damage radius, Ultra-Strikes are often used for this purpose; by standing at the exact location of the portal and firing, a player can blast mods off with minimal or no damage to resonators.  That is, as long as the resonators are deployed a reasonable distance from the portal itself.

Consider this scenario: My friend and I find a green Level 8 portal (P8), near a bar, with a good radius to its resonator deployment.  We check its mods.  If they are not heat sinks and multi-hacks, we will stand on the portal itself and fire Ultra-Strikes until the mod slots are empty.  Hopefully, we can do this without destroying any of the R8s deployed on the portal (it’s OK if they take some damage).  Then one of us will use an ADA to flip the portal from green to blue.  Using a virus has the happy side effect of repairing any damage to the resonators; they are restored to 100%.  Finally, we will each add a heat sink and a multi-hack.  Then we settle down with a couple of drinks and hack that baby ’til burnout, which will last at least an hour, or until we can no longer find the buttonsh on the shhcannerrr I know it was shomewhere around here.

Linking & Fields
Among the most important things you can do in the game is link portals to one another.  This apparently simple act is the seed of all that is really larger-scale fun in the game.  Requirements for linking are (deceptively) simple.  You need:

  • Possession of the portals at each end of the prospective link by your team (not necessarily you personally, just the right color).
  • For each portal to have all eight resonators.
  • To be in hacking range of one of the two portals (we’ll call it the origin).
  • To be less than the maximum linking distance from the distant (target) portal.  Maximum distances vary with the level of the target, but at 100 KM for just a P5 they are usually adequate for all but the most humongous fields.
  • To have a portal key for the target.  Be careful if that is a key you need for keeping the target recharged; unlike recharging, linking will consume the key.  Have a spare!
  • To have a line of sight (on the Great Circle route if that matters at your distance) to the target portal with no other links of either color crossing the path.  Links are not allowed to cross one another under any circumstances.  If you see a link crossing another, you are seeing a bug in the software.
  • For there to be fewer than 8* pre-existing outbound links from your origin portal.  Which links are outbound?  You get to guess, unless you use IITC.  And IITC is nominally a TOS violation and can theoretically get you banned from the game.
    * – unless increased by the use of SBULs, see above.

Luckily, this is one area where the scanner will do most of the work for you.  Stand in range of the desired origin and tap LINK on its portal info card.  The scanner will rummage through all your keys (those not in capsules) and offer you a flipbook of any portals to which you can legally make outbound links at that moment.  Pick one and it is done.

Now think about your high-school geometry.  For the purpose of this discussion, assume the surface of the planet is a plane; in every important respect here, the game’s behavior is unaffected by the fact that it is not.  By linking, you have just defined a line segment; a one-dimensional object.  The next step is to define a two-dimensional object, a polygon.  In fact, it’s going to be the simplest of polygons, a triangle.  When you complete a triangle of links among three portals, subject to all the rules for linking that I outlined above, you will see it fill in with a haze in your team’s color.  You will be told that you have created a Control Field and how many “MU” it controls.   This stand for “mind units” and it’s roughly calculated by the surface area of the field you made times the average population density under it.  That gets rolled up for local and worldwide totals every five hours and produces the big numbers on the scoreboard and in your scanner’s welcome message.  And to play and enjoy the game you may safely ignore it completely.

There are some restrictions on what can happen inside fields.  For one thing, new links may not be created if the origin portal is inside a field (regardless of color).  So fields can be layered over one another – which runs up the MU score, because each layer counts all the MUs in its area again.  But to do this, you have to start from the innermost layer and work outward.  This is called “onioning”.

This topic can quickly become very complex, and it’s not something I am going to cover in a blog post that is already too long.  It’s also the aspect of the game that spins up some of the biggest operations of team-play, with fearsomely complicated logistics and enormous butt-hurt from the opposing-team players.  ‘Nuff said about that for now; if you get into Ingress at all, you’ll find out and if you don’t, it won’t matter.

There are three weapons classes you can use to attack enemy portals.  Bursters, Ultra-Strikes and viruses.  Bursters and Ultra-Strikes do increasing damage, over an increasing radius, with their increasing levels.  They currently exist up to Level 8.  It’s best to fire up to Level 5 Bursters (B5s) near the resonators you are targeting.  B6 – B8 have enough effective radius to do the best damage from the portal itself, unless all the surviving resonators are on one side.

Ultra-Strikes need to be fired directly on top of the item you wish to damage or they have almost no effect.  This is annoying among tall buildings because there is often a 3-5 second lag between your Fire command and its occurrence, and during that time your device’s GPS reading can easily drift 15 feet or more.  I feel I’m having a “good day” with Ultra-Strikes if I can get 50% of them to hit something.

Unlike almost every other action in the game, deploying a virus gains you absolutely no AP.  It does, however, look wicked cool in the scanner.  That’s probably my favorite animation in the game.  And yes, I said, “wicked cool.”  I’m old.  Deal with it.  In fact, I have been all but told outright that I am too old to play Ingress… but that’s a story for another time.

Strange as this may seem, I have talked to several players who gave up the game after only a few days, and it was because of recharging.  Here’s the deal: you go out, you find — or make — some grey portal.  You deploy the first, and then all eight resonators on it.  Congratulations, this portal is now yours!  It’ll have your handle right there where it says Owner: and everything!  But even if it doesn’t get attacked by enemy team members, it will not remain yours unless you take care of it.  Without any intervention, portals will lose 15% of the XM charge on their resonators every 24 hours.  And if they get to zero, they’re done.  They go grey again.  This is why you have to keep portal keys of the portals you care about.  Having the key in your inventory (and not in a capsule) allows you to recharge the portal’s XM from your XM bar any time, from anywhere (within reason).  If you are in range of the portal such that you could hack, link, mod or deploy on it, you can also recharge it even without a key.A L1 player can recharge a portal up to 250 kilometers away, and this goes up linearly with your player level, up to 4000 KM for a level 16 player.  There’s a drop in the efficiency of recharging with distance, 1% for every (5 * player-level) kilometers away.  So a L8 player can recharge a portal 640 KM away with 84% efficiency, which means every 1000 XM she puts into recharging will replenish the resonators 840.  When that efficiency decrease passes 50% you can no longer recharge at all, and that is how the maximum distances for recharging are defined.
Recycling is the process of destroying items in your inventory and reclaiming them as XM, which goes to refill your scanner’s energy bar.  There is a limit of ~2000 items on what you can carry, so sometimes recycling less-vital items is a good way to keep yourself some headroom, especially if you are farming and getting better stuff.  Recycling junky items and remotely recharging portals I care about is absolutely not the worst way I have ever spent a rainy Saturday afternoon hour or two on my couch.  Just be careful to use Power Cubes; never recycle those.  There’s no cure for how stupid it makes you feel, to have recycled a Power Cube.  Never mind how I know this.  Just… never mind!
There are two main reasons for dropping items.  One is, to give them to another player.  The other is, just to get rid of them when you can’t even be bothered to recycle them.  Equipment exchanges are common when planning larger operations, or just to help out a fellow player who’s short of this & that.  For most items, Capsules make this much easier than it used to be.  Somehow, though, the incredible challenge of giving us a way to handle Portal Keys with some ease continues to elude the brain trust at Niantic.
Next installment: Leveling, Badges, and miscellany

Ingress: Basics (geeky and long… and yet… only the first installment…)

UPDATED August 1, 2015 for new item types

Ingress is a game that was introduced by Niantic Labs (an internal start-up of Google) in November, 2012.  At first I avoided it as it seemed a senseless time-suck, but in mid-2013 my daughter convinced me to try it out.  It took about 15 minutes to get me hooked.  Jill was all of 7 minutes behind me on that.

The principles of Ingress are simple.  The driver of the backstory is: aliens (“Shapers”) are arriving to save/improve humanity.  Their main raw material for this task is an otherworldly substance call Exotic Matter (XM for short).  XM enters our world through Portals – which correspond to real-world locations.  Landmarks, public art, historical markers, houses of worship, post offices, libraries and more can all be portals.

Humanity has to decide: whether to accept the help from the Shapers and become improved as a species, or whether to tell them to bugger off and go our own way, for good or ill.  The players who decide to go with the Shapers are known in game as “Enlightened,” and their characteristic color is green.  Those who do not wish to be “Shaped” (myself included) are known as “Resistance.”  Our color is blue.  We call the other team, Toads or Frogs.  They call us Smurfs.

The gameplay takes place in an app on your phone (Android or iPhone) called the Scanner.  The scanner overlays the map of your location with a view of the portals nearby, as well as any links or fields currently existing.  Portals, links and fields present in the color of the team that owns them at the moment.

When new players begin, they focus on accumulating Access Points (AP) by playing the game and performing various operations related to portals.  With minor exceptions, all of these operations require you to be within about 30 metres of the portal.  This is not a sitting-on-your-couch-and-mashing-buttons game; this is a getting-outside-in-the-world-and-moving game!  One of the greatest tools you can obtain for this game is a bicycle.

The available portal operations are:

  • Hacking: When you encounter a portal in the scanner, you move close enough to it to get it in range and click the Hack button.  The portal responds to this by giving you a randomly selected handful of items you can use for other operations.  It will also (almost surely) give you a Portal Key to itself if you don’t already have one.  If the portal is owned by the enemy faction, it may attack you, draining some of the XM from your energy bar.  When that gets to zero you have to replenish it or your scanner is disabled.  Hacking enemy portals gets you some AP to make up for the damage you took.  Friendly portals are hacked for no AP, but also with no danger of attack.  You get items either way.  Item classes include:
    • Portal Keys: These give you a remote connection to a portal, allowing the two things you can do without being in range, linking and recharging.
    • Resonators: Defensive items that are placed on portals to claim them for one faction and defend them against attacks from the other faction.   Resonators come in levels 1 to 8.  A player has to attain at least the level in the game of the resonator they wish to deploy; so for example,a Level 5 player may not deploy any Level 6 through 8 resonators yet. The higher the level of the resonator, the stronger defense it provides against enemy attacks.
    • Bursters & Ultra-Strikes: Weapons that are fired against enemy portals to break down their defenses.  Also come in levels 1 to 8, also require the player to attain at least the game level of the burster they wish to fire.  Bursters have a wide radius that can extend beyond the usual 30 metres: the higher level the burster, the wider, up to about 175 metres for Level 8.   Ultra-Strikes of all levels have a tiny effective radius (a metre or two) but they are impressively powerful within that radius.  They are useful for surgical-precision operations, not general attacks.  When they were first introduced, Ultra-Strikes would only be provided by portals to players using Motorola phones, but this restriction has been lifted after enough complaints from the existing player community.
    • Power Cubes: Containers of XM you can use to refill your scanner’s energy bar.  These come in levels 1-8, and the same player-level restriction applies as with bursters and resonators.  You can also replenish your scanner’s energy by schlorping up XM you will find near portals, or by recycling any other items in your inventory.
    • Heat Sinks: Portals can only be hacked by a given player every 5 minutes, unless Heat Sinks are applied.  In which case they “cool down” quicker.  Heat Sinks come in Common, Rare and Very Rare.  The less common, the more effective,
    • Multi-Hacks: Portals can only be hacked by a given player four times every four hours, unless Multi-Hacks are applied.  In which case, the number of hacks per four-hour period goes up by four, eight or twelve depending on whether we have a Common, Rare or Very Rare variety of Multi-Hack.
    • Link Amps: Portals can be linked to other portals (more about this in the next installment) and there is a distance limit to this linking based on portal level.  Link Amps extend the distance limit.  Link Amps are famous throughout the player community as being really pretty useless, since the allowable distances are truly more than adequate without them.
      UPDATE: In June ’15, Niantic introduced the new SoftBank Ultra-Link (SBUL).  These are more powerful Link Amps that also have an actual useful property for the everyday player.  Each SBUL added to a portal increases the number of outbound links that can be sent, by 8.  A portal with all four mod slots populated by SBULs would allow 40 outbound links.
    • Force Amps: These are defensive armament.  They increase the intensity with which your portal will attack an enemy player should the enemy player hack or fire weapons at it.  These attacks occur randomly with a base probability, which you can increase by applying…
    • Turrets: These items increase the probability that the enemy hacking or attacking your portal will be counter-attacked.
    • Portal Shields: Passive defense for your portals.  Shields and linking are the two things that make portals more resistant to attack than they would be otherwise.  Shields come in four varieties: Common, Rare, Very Rare and AXA.  AXA shields are both rarer and stronger than any others, and exist due to an advertising deal between Niantic and AXA Advisors (no link for meaningless ad tie-ins).  Shields and links to other portals can combine to make your portal up to about 95% resistant to attack, but a determined player firing anything from Level 6 weapons on up will eventually get it down.  And moreover, there is no defense at all against…
    • Viruses: these super-rare items come in two varieties.  ADA will turn a green portal blue, and Jarvis will turn a blue portal green.  By the way, there are tactical reasons for players of either faction to do either of these things, so do not think that Jarvis viruses are only useful to Enlightened players while ADAs are only desirable to Resistance.  To use a virus, you have to have as much XM in your energy bar as 1000x the level of the portal e.g., 6000 to flip a Level 6 portal.  Once a virus has been used on a portal, another one cannot be used for one hour.
    • Capsules: These are containers that can hold any of the other objects.  Useful for passing objects between players — before capsules were introduced you had to do this one item at a time.  Capsules hold up to 100 items, and no, you can’t put capsules in capsules.  These are also useful if you want to accumulate multiple keys of the same portal quickly.
      UPDATE: In June ’15, a new kind of capsule was introduced, called MUFG Capsule.  They are red, not gray.  MUFG capsules are interest-bearing, which for practical purposes means you will occasionally get additional items of the types you place in there.  For example, I placed a Jarvis and an ADA in mine, and so far I have harvested two additional Jarvis and one ADA.  The duplication takes place randomly, and sometimes not at all.  It’s worth placing one of each type of item you’d like more of into your MUFG capsule and then check it every couple of days.
      If you have a key of a portal you’re hacking, it’s highly unlikely you’ll get another on that hack.  If you don’t, it’s pretty likely that you will get another.  If you load the key(s) you already have into a capsule, the scanner treats it as if you don’t have one, because items in a capsule are not available for in-game use until they are unloaded.By now you have seen several unexplained reference to portal levels… read on!
  • Capturing & Upgrading:  Or more generally, deploying resonators.  When you encounter a portal, it may be your faction’s color, the enemy faction’s color, or grey.  Grey means it is neutral, and available for capture.  Successfully attacking an enemy portal until all its defenses are destroyed also turns the portal grey.  At this point, the player goes into the Deploy submenu and starts placing resonators on the portal.
    • New players often make the mistake of standing close to the portal while placing resonators — this makes them much easier to destroy because more of them can be closer to the detonation point of enemy weapons.  The desirable method is to find a place to stand that places the portal just at the edge of your scanner range – denoted by a gold-colored circle around your icon in the scanner.  This maximizes the distance from the portal that the resonators are placed.
    • Portals can hold eight resonators.  You get extra AP for placing the first resonator on a grey portal, this is how it is officially captured for your team, and your name goes on it as the “owner”.
    • You will find that aside from Level 1 resonators, each player can only place a limited number of a given level resonator on a portal.  If you are a Level 8 or higher player you can place one each Level 8 and 7 resonators (we call them R8 and R7), two R6, two R5, four R4, R3 or R2.  Or you can fill all eight slots with R1s if you want.
    • The levels of all the resonators deployed on a portal determine the level of the portal itself, as follows.  Add up the levels of the resonators on a portal and divide by eight, then round down to the next integer.  That is the level of the portal (unless it’s 0, because the lowest portal is still a Level 1).  So if I go to a grey portal and place one R8, one R7, two R6s, two R5s and two R4s on it, I have created a Level 5 portal (45/8=5.625 which rounds down to 5).
    • The level of a portal determines the level of the stuff you get from it when hacking.  But only to the integer: two portals that are 6.875 (rounded to 6) and 6.00 (rounded not at all) will give the same stuff over time.  Only once that 6.875 gets an upgrade to 7.00, then does it start giving out higher-level stuff.
    • You can replace a lower level resonator with a higher, as long as the restrictions above aren’t broken.  Portals can be higher than level 5 — up to level 8 with multiple players working on them.  It takes eight R8s to make a Level 8 portal, currently the highest level a portal can be.  That usually requires eight players, but a person who uses a virus owns everything on the portal, regardless of the restrictions.
    • You also get some extra AP for placing the eighth and last resonator — this unlocks the Linking operation.
Next post: Modding, Linking & Fields, Attacking, Recharging, Recycling, Dropping.
Final post: Leveling & Badges & stuff.  Oh my!

Updated 3/25 to add the descriptions of Capsules and Portal Keys.

“Hello World”

When you’re learning a new programming language, something like this is usually the first working program you write.

      PRINT *, "Hello World!"

If you don’t recognize Fortran IV, I can’t blame you but that’s approximately where I started.

“Hello World” programs are a near-universal fixture of introductions to programming languages. They serve to get the new user of the language used to the basic mechanics of preparing source code, compiling, and executing a working program. All while not overwhelming the student (or hobbyist) with too much intricacy.

And with that, you understand why this is the first of what I hope will be at least daily blog posts.

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