As another mining expedition in w-space comes to an end, with more than a few jet-cans full of exotic ores transported back to the corporation's tower, a lone capsuleer appears on the local communication channel. In w-space, no one appears in the local channel until they openly broadcast, which is mostly the reason why ambushes can be quite so effective as there is no indication of anyone being in a system unless they choose to announce themselves—or make a mistake.
The capsuleer sends a salute and wishes someone, presumably us, good mining. It is fairly obvious that he has performed at least a rudimentary scan of the system and found the several ships we have been using to mine the ore, but what isn't clear to me is whether this message is meant sincerely or as a warning. It could be they have been monitoring us for a while but sees that we are disbanding the operation for the evening and are no longer a valid target, or instead they perhaps stumbled on the wormhole and popped in to see if the system has been taken or just to take a look.
'It was just a frigate', I get told, 'it's not likely to cause any problems on its own.' That's good to know, even if we are all safely back at the tower anyway, but as I had picked up the ship on the directional scanner it reminds me that I still lack sufficient ship identification skills to be considered useful. I can see the name of the ship type on the scanner but unless it happens to be Caldari in origin or a ship I have taken at least some interest in I am unlikely to know what sort of ship it is, and thus how big a threat it poses. There are so many frigates, cruisers and Tech II variants that it is perhaps no surprise that I cannot tell an ECM boat from a heavy assault cruiser, although that I run panicked from an industrial hauler on occasions is a little embarrassing.
I have my EVE Online Strategic Maps atlas, which is handy in quickly visualising short routes and the security status of constellations and systems, amongst other uses, but perhaps a good companion would be a Jane's Guide to the Starships of New Eden. A book detailing all of the ships designed and available would be a wonderful addition to a collector's library, as well as a useful tool. The ships could be collected by class, faction and function, with a full-colour image of the ship presented alongside multi-angle silhouettes, and accompanied by some history of the ship, as well as perhaps general fitting advice.
I would love to be able to flick through an EVE Online ship identification guide. It would be a nifty art book and an interesting way to learn to recognise names and classes of ships.