Blog

UPDATED: Free proxy list or paid?

Yes, paid proxies can be exceptionally stable and they're usually faster than the free ones.  They are vastly superior to the free ones when they work.  Looking at the failure modes, however:

You forget to pay your invoice or your card expires and they turn off your access.  You're stuck offline until you notice and find and fix the problem. 

The free ones just continue on if one gets turned off.  Lose one and the bot notices it's disconnected, it exits where the Director restarts it with another free proxy.

Your home IP address changes and the proxy provider decides to not let the new IP address in.  This happens more for some people than for others, some go YEARS without a change, some go days.

The free ones just continue on if your IP address changes.

Evony decides they're going to block all IPs whose reverse DNS resolves to proxy-XXX.proxyprovider.com

The free ones don't resolve backwards to something with "proxy" in it or "proxyprovider" so they cannot be blocked en masse.  They're also not in a block of IP addresses, they're scattered throughout the world one at a time.  If one gets blocked, the bot gets disconnected, notices it's disconnected and exits.  The Director launches it with a new proxy.

Your proxy provider gets hacked and forces password resets.  It happens, and has happened to someone in the forum and Skype room already.

The free ones don't require a password.

NEW: You have 5 or 10 profiles per proxy that you've paid for.  Evony lowers the limit to 3 per IP.

Well, once you notice that you have a bunch of accounts offline, you can go buy some more IP addresses.  With the proxylist instead of dedicated proxies, you only have one bot per IP address.

NEW:  Some proxies have bandwidth limits.  The bot EATS bandwidth.  If you notice that the bots start giving access denied errors or other weird errors in the middle of the month, it could be a bandwidth limit.

SSL Private Proxies does NOT have a bandwidth limit.  Watch which proxy provider you use if you want to use paid proxies.  Some do have limits.  It'd suck to be out an entire day (or more) until you notice that you've hit the wall with your proxy provider.  You can probably pay them more to get more bandwidth, but you have to hit the wall and be out of commission until you notice you have to pay more.

The free lists have their own problems:

You don't know who is running them, sometimes they don't even know themselves.

It's exceptionally unlikely someone is fishing (not phishing, that's something different) for Evony passwords; if it is really a bad guy running it, he's likely looking for bank or credit card info.  This is so very highly unlikely but make sure you don't use a username/password for Evony that can be tied to anything else.  If it gets compromised, you can reset your Evony password simply enough.  If you lose an alt permanently, so be it.

They're slower

Yep.

They die randomly

Yep.  They die, the bot notices and exits, the Director launches with a new one.

 

All in all, the paid ones are superior but they have failure modes that can knock you offline until you notice and correct the problem.  The free ones don't.  You have to update the free ones on a semi-regular basis.  If you have 20 alts regardless of server limits, even a limit of 3, you can get by with 6 good proxies.  Keep a list of 100. They're free.  At the end of a week, half of them may be dead.  So?  You still have 50 good ones.  That's way more than enough.  Thats way more than enough to run 150 alts.

All of that said, I'll throw some confusion out because I'm feeling ornery.  There's acually a few different flavors.

  1. Paid, dedicated proxies.  This is what most people refer to when they say they are buying a proxy.  You get one or more proxies from the proxy vendor and put them in. You have to manually pick X number of profiles per proxy they give you, then put the info into the profile details page of the Director.
  2. Free lists.  These are exceptionally easy to find and use.  There are some lists that are easier to use than others.  Some lists are available in the exact format you need with IP address and port specified separated by a colon, e.g. 111.222.333.444:8118, while others require copy-n-paste.  Either one works, one is easier to do is the only difference.  Most of the free proxy lists will give you literally thousands of proxies.
  3. Paid lists.  These are also easy to find with the added benefit that they are typically tested by the list provider more regularly.  Usually, when you get the list, they have a higher percentage that are still working.  They also usually come in the format you need without having to do anything further to it so they don't even require the copy-n-paste that some of the free lists do.

Options 2 and 3 are the ones I evangelize because they don't have the failure modes.  The only failure mode they really have is that every single proxy in the list could die.  Well, if you let that happen, you kind of deserve it.  It'd take months of neglect for a list of 100 to die completely.  Perhaps even longer since some proxies stay up for years.

 

Upgrade gives "invalid Windows executable"?

OK, so you did a Director upgrade and it's telling you that you have an invalid executable?  Well, there are about half a dozen very similar error messages that all reference an invalid executable.

There isn't a special version of the Director for your version of Windows.  One version of the Director runs on all versions of Windows (and on Linux and Mac using Wine but that's a different story).

What's happening is the Director is trying to download the new version of itself but something is getting in the way.  99% of the time, it's one of those dumb Windows firewall things that decided that http://sumrandomguy.com isn't big enough so they are protecting you from my site.  Director tries to download its upgraded version but the firewall blocks it and says "Nope.  Not gonna let you do that."  The Director creates a new file with what it just downloaded so now instead of a new file with the Director in it, it's got a new file with "Nope.  Not gonna let you do that." which, obviously, isn't a valid Windows application.  

Tell your Windows firewall to be nice to the sumrandomguy.com website.  I don't know how to do that, you're the one running the thing and it's yours.  You have to figure it out.  I don't run them because they offer absolutely zero benefit and tons of problems (such as this one).

"Invalid Executable" means "Your firewall is a big fat meanie."

ProxyList Support in the Director

NEW UPDATE AT THE BOTTOM including a security note

OK.  I did it.  I was hoping it wouldn't come to this but it has.  I've added ProxyList support to the Director.  This is for Neatbot ONLY!  It also requires a VIP version, sorry.  Go donate the measly amount and get VIP or use a proxifier program.  There is documentation on the forums.  It's a ton more complicated but it will work.  Search for proxifier (or, you know, support Neatbot by donating and getting the VIP and test builds).

I DO NOT SUPPORT PROXYLISTS.  You have to get your own.  Whichever one you get is yours.  Good luck with all that.  I have my own list that I use and like.  I will not share my list.  There are many like it but this one is mine.  I have named it BettyLou.

OK, you need a list with one proxy server per line.  It can be in any format Neatbot accepts for the proxy server.  Some examples.

123.444.222.111:8080
http://111.222.333.444:8118
ss5://user762:password123@123.45.67.89:1080
ss4://122.221.111.222:1010

You can mix-n-match.  It doesn't matter.  Any format that the bot accepts can be in this file.

Choose a ProxyFile from the Director's Tools menu.  Turn on the option to use a ProxyList.  Done.  Every time you launch a profile, the Director will randomly choose one of those proxies from the list and pass it to the bot.

CAVEAT regarding proxy lists.  Not all proxies in a list work.  Mine has about a 50% success rate.  That means 50% of the time when I launch a bot, it pulls a bad proxy.  You can overcome that or at least get by it by adding:

-logintimeout 180

to the Director's custom parameters.  That means the bot will try for 3 minutes to get a connection, then will give up and exit.  The Director will notice that the bot has exited and restart it, trying a new proxy server from the list.  Odd are that it'll eventually find a good one.

Proxies on the proxy list also die without warning.  Most of the proxies on the lists are servers that were never intended to be used publically.  Their owner just misconfigured it, someone stumbled upon it and added it to the list.  Once they discover their mistake, they turn it off.  Use the Director's restart schedule and restart the bot regularly.  If you get disconnected, it will only stay disconnected until the next restart schedule.

WARNING: Using proxies that are not meant to be used may be illegal in your country or district.  Make sure you use only legitimate proxies.  

WARNING number 2:  Evony hates proxies.  Either they'll learn the error of their ways and kill off the connection limits or they'll just go on a massive screaming ban rage.  The second option would be bad for business, though.

UPDATED NOTES
A proxy still is limited to 20 (or whatever number Evony is enforcing) connections.  If you have a couple, plus all of your alliance-mates have a couple on it, it'll max out the connections.  

My recommendation is to get your own proxy list.  Don't get one and have all of your alliance use the same list.  If you do share a list, have someone in charge of breaking it up into pieces so you don't all use the same list.

This is not a permanent solution, I hope.  I'm hoping Evony realizes this solution is not a solution.  It is so easy to get around that the only people limited are their core players.  The ones who are in it for the fun.  Those who are willing to spend money on a good proxy list will be able to run as many bots as they want.  This new feature isn't even necessary.  There are proxifiers that have been used for a long time.  They are not stopping the massive multi-accounters because those folks have always been willing to do what it takes to multi-account.

I think massive multi-accounting is insane and absolutely hate it.  I wish those folks would stop doing it.  It's bad for the server since it's not even close to being fun going against someone like that.  It also harms the server performance.  I wish honor would overtake their desire to massively multi-account. It probably won't, though.  

This "solution" isn't going to fix the problem.  It will make it worse.  Those big guys will still do their thing.  They will have less opposition, though, as the others get frustrated and quit.

What is the solution, you ask?  Get around the limits to show that it's trivial to do.  Also, and more importantly, boycott to show them that this "solution" is unacceptable.  Both things must go on, in my ever so humble opinion.

Any Evony reps want to talk, you know where to find me.  I'm sure there are more realistic options. Some of them were even documented in previous posts right here.  

SECURITY NOTE:  You really should read my other articles about the inherent dangers of proxy use but here's a summary.  You are sending a third party all traffic between you and Evony.  That includes your login details.  The implications should be clear.  That said, nothing in the Director nor the mainstream bots send your login details to anyone but Evony unless you use a proxy in which case it sends it there before going to Evony.

New option being tested - Bot Launch Throttle

  • Written by Sum Random Guy on Monday 10 March 2014 in the category Default with the tags , .

There's a new sherriff in town.  Wait, no there isn't.  Same old Director but he has a new trick.  

Bot Launch Throttle

It's off by default but you can turn this nifty little feature on using the File menu option.  If there's a checkmark beside Max Launch Throttle, it's turned on.  If there is no checkmark, it's turned off.

This little feature throttles the number of bots launched within a given time period.  This does NOTHING about disconnects and reconnects, don't even ask me for it.  It doesn't do that.

It is very useful, though.  Say you restart your computer.  The Director will dutifully go through and start all of your bots like it should.  That kills my computer.  I only want it to launch a maximum of 5 bots at a time, then wait a bit and launch a couple more, then wait, etc.  That's what this does.  Perfect!

There are some defaults.  I like the defaults.  I highly suggest you learn to like the defaults.  You can change them but I won't help you figure out the best setting because I think the best setting is what I set for the defaults.  

It will launch a maximum of 5 bots at startup. It'll wait 90 seconds, then it'll let another 3 in.  Every 90 seconds, it'll let 3 more in.  Yay.

If you feel you MUST change the values, they are MaxLaunchBatch, LaunchClearSeconds, LaunchClearNum.  You break it, you get to keep all the pieces.  I don't want them back.

Notes:

This does NOTHING about network disconnects and reconnects.  It is not intended to and will not do anything about it.

This does not impact the login times, i.e. the delay that you have set.  It merely throttles the launching of the bots.

This does not impact the disconnect/reconnect cycle.

This will make it where you have bots offline for a period of time because it's only allowing a few in at a time.  It's supposed to do that.

If you stop a bunch of bots and let it automatically relaunch them, it'll throttle them down.  That's what it's supposed to do.

You can launch a billion bots manually with no throttle; this only impacts the autolaunch function when the Director notices the bot is not running.

This will not change the behavior you see when you get disconnected.

 

Betas aren't for everyone

Over the last two days, I've released a few beta versions of the Director.  Beta versions aren't for everyone.


Who are they for?

Well, they're for people who can handle change.  People who know how to download the new betas without handholding because you'll have to do it more often than non-beta participants.  

Most importantly, they're for people who can provide useful feedback.  "This sucks, how do I go back to the old version." is not helpful.  "I'm having a problem with a change, here is what it is doing but I thought it would do this other thing." That's helpful.  "You suck, DIE IN A FIRE!!!!!!1111!!" That's slightly less helpful than the first one, but it clearly gives me some direction about what you are after.

Participate in betas if you're willing to provide constructive criticism and can provide beta testing.  Don't do it if you're not willing to try new things.  Betas are new.  If you don't do change well, you won't like betas.

File | Participate in betas

Set that how you wish.

What is a Virtual Machine?

A VM or "virtual machine" is a type of computer program that creates an emulated software environment. Not that any real person actually knows what that means.

Think of it as a sort of a computer that runs on another computer. You can run multiple "virtual machines" on a single computer; then you give access to individual "VM" to all your clients or employees. Busy executives like yourself love VMs because it saves them so much money on hardware; why waste money on 100 servers when you can just buy one and make it look like you have 100 computers! All your peons down in IT would probably recommend against running it on Windows8, but that's just because they like running complicated things like Linux. Windows 8 can handle VMs just fine, and - thanks to its colorful and touch-friendly interface - it's so easy to use that you can fire all those overpaid geeks and have your secretary handle everything for you. Think of the cost savings!

You merged without saving your goals

I wrote this for the last merge. I'll post it here ahead of time. Pretend this post doesn't exist until tomorrow.

Inevitably there will be a bunch of people that didn't believe us when we said back up your goals. They're sad now. The universe weeps for them.

But wait! You can point them here! This will confuse and bedazzle them. It will say "I told you so" in a friendly way. But, it'll help them get their goals back. Keep this link. We'll be needing it for the next couple days. I'm just going to keep it on my paste clipboard permanently so I can paste it in to the Skype room a couple dozen times. :)

___
OK, that's a bummer. You can still get them but it will take a bit of work.

Go here:
http://forum.neatportal.com/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=69

It'll tell you where your goals live. Inside that directory, you'll find a bunch of .sol files. The ones you are after are named cityXXXXXX.sol where XXXXX is your OLD city IDs (behind the scenes numbers used by the server but which make no sense to anyone). Open those up using Notepad or, even better, an application called .minerva which you can find by Googling for it. Guess which city it belongs to and copy-n-paste them into your new bot profile.

Good luck and may the Force be with you. Live long and prosper.

So your server is merging

OK, you're merging. Yay!

You must back up your goals to a text file or be prepared to recreate them. As with all merges, there are lots of folks with grand plans to keep their goals without having to copy-n-paste them. Sorry. It's not going to work. You have one option. Copy-n-paste your goals out into a separate document. That's it.

Can't you just keep the old server name? No. Though the client is OK with it, the bot isn't. Also, the goals are saved in a directory with the server name in it but it's also saved in a file with the city ID. The city ID will change. INVALID PLAN.

Can't I just use the Director to make a backup and restore the backup? No. The city ID is changing. You'd be restoring with the old city IDs. The Director can't know old city ID 123 is new city ID 444. INVALID PLAN.

Can't I just keep the bot running while the merge happens? Nope. I don't even know how to explain the myriad ways this won't help. INVALID PLAN.

So what can I do? Your only option.... The only thing that will work.... Copy-n-paste your goals out of the bot into a file somewhere. Paste them back in when you log in after the merger. That's the only thing that will work. VALID PLAN!

Battle on, warriors.

Lag and the server time difference on login

There's a lot of confusion about the number the bot gives you when you log in showing the server time difference.  It is frequently confused with "lag."

10:23:34 PlayerName logged in successfully (122334), server time difference is -15.066s

That tells you that my clock is 15.066 seconds off from what the server thinks the time is.  It doesn't tell you anything about lag.  It merely tells you that our clocks are different by 15 seconds.  

Lag is delay.  Lag is the time between when the bot issues a command and when the server actually acts upon that command.  If the network is very busy or the server is very busy, it could take a long time between those events.  I've seen 30 seconds on very busy servers sometimes.  Fortunately, that's rare but it does happen.  Most of the time, a second to ten seconds is what you'll experience.  Lag means that the bot issues the "close the gates, please" when you tell it to but sometimes the server doesn't even know you asked it to do that for up to 10 seconds.  Make sure you set your gate config high enough so you know the server has time to act upon it.

Now, back to the server time difference.  It is NOT lag.  It has no impact on lag.  It is not an indicator of how much lag there is.  It just says that the server is synchronizing their clocks with the Atomic Clocks but your computer is off from that.  What does it hurt?  Nothing.  The bot adds that time in to its calculations.  When you log in or refresh, the bot gets the time difference and just adds it to its calculations.  You can be a week off (604,800) seconds without harming anything.  I've seen one guy running an entire YEAR off because he didn't realize his computer was set behind by a year.  No harm done. The bot is smart enough to handle that.  IT MEANS NOTHING.  You can ignore it.  Don't compare it with others, it means nothing.

Now, if you adjust your clock while the bot is running, the bot will be using the old number in its calculations and it will be off.  That will harm something.  Just make sure if you reset your computer's time while the bot is running, either restart the bot or hit the reset button on the top-left of the bot to make it recalculate those numbers.

So.  Long and short of it...  If you have a really low number or a really high number, it means nothing.  Absolutely positively nothing.  It does not tell you anything except that if you use your computer to alert you that a TV show is about to start, you may miss the beginning of it.  It doesn't do anything to the bot.

Easy-Hide-IP - Anonymous surfing, encrypted connections, over 700 ips in 13 countriesspace