Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Bitchin' session...

As some of you may know, we receive lots of customer support requests over our support emails, but from time to time, there are some who post cries for help in our forum over at AVSIM as well.

We try to be very understanding, even though most technical queries have been answered many times in the past and/or exist in our support Wiki (which anyone can add entries to, by the way - just use common sense when posting).

It rubs me the wrong way, though, when we get the occasional

"Hey guys, all of a sudden, my bladiblah.dll has started crashing with no reason asking to send an error report to Microsoft - why?"

Last time I threw the Tarot cards, I still could not predict the future, the Lotto numbers or whether AEK will ever be able to win another Greek Football championship, so I doubt anyone can claim they can give an answer to such a vague and abrupt question.

So - if you read this and you're one of our customers who experience such issues, try the following:

a) Think of what you may have changed "right before" this problem started occuring.

b) Read our Wiki

c) Contact our support, PROVIDING AS MUCH DETAIL AS POSSIBLE on which ones of our products you own, what other stuff you might have installed that could affect them etc.

d) Go to (a) above, as it's the most crucial.

e) When you solve your problem, if it didn't appear in our Wiki, ADD IT YOURSELF so you help others too, or tell us about it and we will!

Sorry about the rant, but... it just gets to me sometimes :-).

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Fly a kite? You wish!

The ONE day that everyone in Greece is out flying a kite, we get a seriously CAVOK day - I mean NO winds whatsoever!

And if you think I am desperate, I want to see YOU try to tell the kids that "no, it's not daddy's incompetence that can't get the kite to fly - it's the lack of wind!".

Yeah - they believed THAT!

PMDG GoFlight MCPPro Driver released!

It's official!

We released the PMDG GoFlight MCPPro driver interface, finally, after a very long wait. There's still an outstanding issue with the EFIS module support for it, but after a multitude of attempts to get GoFlight's feedback on what exactly they need to fix (most likely in their firmware, as Doyle Nickless mentioned in his emails to us), we didn't want to keep our customers waiting any longer.

So - any and all of you who already own a GoFlight MCP Pro hardware module (and possibly its EFIS accompanying hardware) can now enjoy full compatibility with the PMDG product line for FS2004 (737NG and 747-400 series, that is).

Friday, February 16, 2007

"All-in-one" multifunction printers/scanners/faxes...

I love them... they take up 1/4 of the space the equivalent devices used to take back in the old day. (Well, that's if you were required to have a printer, a scanner, a copier and a fax all in your office).

One question though: Did they HAVE to also subscribe to the "we break after a year and a half" category as well? They're almost cheap enough to replace that going through the trouble of crossing half of Athens in morning traffic, paying 80 Euros for service and worrying that they might break again in a year makes it almost not worth it, but... the bitter taste remains that "I am throwing out 4 devices because of a paper jam problem".

Ugh. Brave new world we live in, for sure.

Interesting thoughts...

I stumbled upon an article published in Computer World today, discussing why thinking of buying into IPOs can be a fool's errand (read here) and went to check up on the author... Steve Duplessie's blog can be found here.

Interesting thoughts... from an interesting author.

What SP1 should bring...

While I should probably disclose that we're under NDA and thus not permitted to speak about certain things, it's now common knowledge that the ACES group is coming out with a Service Pack for FSX. It's been mentioned by Phil Taylor, ACES' Senior PM for Graphics and Terrain, in his blog, among other places (I just thought of his as the "most official" for now). To that, I say YEAH! I am glad these guys "get it".

So - what should SP1 deliver that FSX lacks currently? (*My* wish list)

Well, from an end-user's perspective, I'd say performance is top on the list. There's a million reasons why it's really hard to redesign FSX to introduce "true multi-core" programming, so I am sure ACES devs are doing their best to wake the "other CPU dude" up from its deep slumber during FSX process execution.

Still on the end user's perspective, I'd say scenery comes as a close second. I know this is tied into performance, but there are some places in the world (Greece included) that look too much like the Sahara to be seriously considered as "better" from what was there in FS2004.

As a developer, though, I would wish for a more complete SDK, especially where SimConnect is concerned. The developer primarily responsible for SimConnect is a true wizard, in my eyes - I consider myself a "good programmer" and the logic behind the push/pull stuff he produced was simply exceptional, even though a bit hard to conceptualize / visualize and get used to. My wish? That it brings forward some sorely missing functionality where addon products are concerned (ClientData, weather radar functionality, etc.). After all, SimConnect was developed "for addon developers to use", so I am sure SP1 will bring out some new goodies we've been politely requesting for as long as FSX has been out. (Go ACES!)

There are other areas that need attention that I cannot discuss, due to the NDA, but suffice it to say, these guys must have been making strides so I am sure what we'll get come SP1 will make a big difference and everyone will suddenly start crying "FSX? more! gimme more!"

What I think? That I might just simply jump on that simulated MD-11 and fly to Seattle for a day or two when SP1 releases, for a celebratory touch-and-go at the Boeing field. All on VATSIM of course :-). Who knows - perhaps I might see Robert fly his 747-400X around for a couple test runs.