Beatle’s Blog: 2.0

Hey all,

After a few things distracted me from blogging for a while last spring, I got out of the habit that I hadn’t yet acquired (or something like that :-> ).  I’m going to give this blog thing another try but this time over here on Windows Live Spaces (because I can use the new Windows Live Writer software to edit the blogs).  I’ve reposted the few entries from my previous blog over on MSDN TechNet as entries prior to this one for historical purposes (including the original comments as intact as a cut and paste would leave them :-> ).

Lets see, a quick recap since my last post:

  • several FSX beta releases went out
  • lots of bugs were found and fixed
  • a demo version of FSX was released (a first for the Flight Sim franchise), in fact, even a beta version of the demo was released
  • final version of FSX was released
  • some stores put FSX on the shelf early
  • release day came and went :->
  • I joined a local 70’s, 80’s, 90’s cover band – Dirty Jack – playing keyboards
  • We played at The Loft here in Fredericksburg on Dec 14, 2006
  • We’ll be playing at Box Seats in both Stafford, VA and Massoponax, VA over the next 3 months, check the Dirty Jack Web Site for dates and locations if you live in the area.

Well, that about brings us up to date for now, hopefully I’ll be writing more often this time around :->

Tim "Beatle" Gregson

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Repost from old blog – Original Post Date: February 14, 2006

New FSX Screenshots are out

I know its been awhile since my last post, and I completely missed the first round of info we released at CES and the associated screenshots we released about that time.  But, we have some new screenshots out now, the first 3 new ones are available over at AVSIM .  Here’s a link to the discussion thread talking about the new screenshots.

I know I haven’t had much FS related on this blog, but I didn’t figure folks would be all that interested in changes to our dialog boxes (which is what I’m working on this version) :->.  I mean, how interesting is it to hear that our list controls now have the ability to display graphic images within the cells, or can have different colored text per line or per column, etc.  Useful stuff for us as we design the dialogs, but not exactly earth shattering info for you guys :->.  That and I can only talk about features, etc that have been publicly announced (which granted, doesn’t cover a whole lot just yet :->) further limiting what dialog/UI things I can talk about, even if anybody did find them interesting.

So, go check out those screenshots and I’ll se ya around.

 
Original Comments
# re: New FSX Screenshots are out

I for one am interested in your work, granted, not the most important part of the sim, but think of it this way…..The dialog boxes are the very first thing one would see when starting FS and so consider them a "window to a world" and yes, that DOES have impact!
I’m sure you’re doing great work, especially gfx within dialog boxes, as beforehand, it was sometimes like trying to ‘paint a room through a letterbox stuck on the door.’

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 1:51 AM by André Hedegaard

# re: New FSX Screenshots are out

Well I for one, am glad the reports of your demise were GREATLY overstated.LOL
 Denny

Thursday, February 16, 2006 10:56 AM by delta november

# re: New FSX Screenshots are out

Well, I’m very interested in how interaction with ATC might be improved.  I don’t like having to use the keyboard.  Any thoughts on adding mouse/wheel interaction to it?

Thursday, February 16, 2006 10:33 PM by Thomas Perry

# re: New FSX Screenshots are out

it’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it

Tuesday, February 21, 2006 9:09 AM by JayCee

# re: New FSX Screenshots are out

Hi,
Well, I think they are very important.  One of my favorite improvements in FS2004 was to be able to select the current Flight name in the Save dialog (to be able to overwrite an existing Flight).
I hope to see much more of that!
Thanks,

Wednesday, March 01, 2006 3:36 PM by tgibson


Repost from old blog – Original Post Date: December 04, 2005

 

Hey Look, Geometry really does come in handy in everyday life :->

First off, sorry for the rather large gap since my last post (to all 3 or so of you that aren’t related to me that read this :->). 

Now, for that Geometry reference…

I was up in Wilkes-Barre, PA over Thanksgiving helping my parents move furniture and boxes and whatnot around their new house (well, it’s an old house, but its new to them :->), they had just moved the weekend before Thanksgiving.  The previous owner of the house had finished the basement, but it has a really low ceiling (maybe 6′ 4" to 6′ 6").  They had some guys unload the truck for them and place most of the furniture, but when Mom showed me the basement, there was this white particle board shelf laying on its side.  When I asked where it needed to go, Mom said it was going to have to go back upstairs, because the movers couldn’t get it to stand up in the basement because of how low the ceiling was.  At first I just accepted that (since everytime I moved around I seemed to be hitting my hands on the ceiling, seemed reasonable to me :->), but I kept looking at the shelf and something in the back of my head kept saying there was something wrong here.  Eventually I realized what it was.  The shelf was laying on its side (this is a 6ft high by 2 ft wide by 9 inches deep shelf), and I suddenly asked, "Hey, when they tried to stand this shelf up, was it laying on its side like this?", and Mom said "Yes".  So I had the bright idea to lay the shelf on its back and then stand it up, and it JUST cleared the ceiling ( sqrt((72 * 72) + (9 * 9)) is less than sqrt((72 * 72) + (24 * 24)) ).

So, sometimes you really can use math in real life, thanks Mr Gower (my High School Freshman Year Geometry teacher).

And for those who think you have to be a math wiz to be a computer programmer, the above was more math than I generally use at work.  Of course, not much call for math when doing dialog boxes and UI widgets (except for converting to and from meters, feet, miles, etc – and we have utility functions that do that sort of stuff for us :->), lots of cajoling windows messages into the right function/handler, but not much math.  Which isn’t to say I’ve never used math for work, back in the old DOS days of FS4 and FS5, I used to do 2d graphics drivers, and for Tower I did some 3D to 2D point projection stuff (cylindrical projection to match the panoramic pictures we were using for our airport backdrops), so I did use some math then :-> 

I actually did do well in math in school, until Calc 2, which I took twice (at 2 different colleges) and got a C both times, at which point I decided me and math had gone far enough :->

All right, that’s enough for now, getting close to bed time here on the east coast, and according to the weather report, I might be waking up to white stuff on the ground.

 
Original Comments
# re: Hey Look, Geometry really does come in handy in everyday life :->

Speaking of UI widgets and windows; please, please, please, allow the auxilliary windows to scale to the resolution of the screen in the next version. My laptop is stuck at 1920 x 1200, and when I look at the login and map windows, etc of FS (IOW, non-flying windows), they are really small and hard to make out because they are stuck at 800×600 or something, and I have all this wasted black space that if the window could scale to the resolution of the screen I’d be able to see those little windows better. (<–fan of runon sentences). Or maybe you know of a switch I can throw to turn this kind of functionality on? I’ve tried everything. Scaling is turned on in my video card (nVidia 4200 Go 64 MB), I’ve tried it both on and off.
BTW, and you can tell everyone this, FS runs great on my Dell D800 1Gig Mem, 1.7 GHz PentiumM, 64MB nVidia 4200 go laptop. Thank you. It’s not easy to keep it that way (since I keep downloading more and more addons), and I often have to put blocks of ice under it to keep it cool enough to run fast, but, I am very happy with how it runs and am always amazed at what you can do with FS. I have done some simple scenery and aircraft panel design (to match that of my own plane and areas that I fly), and I also really appreciate that you all built FS to be expandable.
Thanks,
Thomas

Thursday, December 08, 2005 1:45 PM by Thomas Perry


Repost from old blog – Original Post Date: November 10, 2005

Department of Prognostication – The demise of Sony/BMG

OK, this may be more wishful thinking than prognostication :->.  Why am I predicting/wishing for the demise of Sony/BMG?  Well, if you haven’t already seen this elsewhere in the blogosphere, start with this article by Molly Wood on C|Net: http://www.cnet.com/4520-6033_1-6376177.html

Apparently, Sony has come up with yet another stupid, ill-thought out (at least from the consumers standpoint, I’m sure it meets all of their requirements :->) DRM scheme to keep us from exercising our Fair-Use rights to the CD music we buy (in fact, the CDs come with a EULA that basically states that, like computer software, you are only licensing the right to use the music on the CD, not buying the CD outright).  The truly nasty part of this DRM scheme is that is uses a "root-kit" in order to hide the files used to implement the DRM scheme, and according to reports on the net, the hidden DRM software also "phones home" to Sony, sending along what CD and track you are playing and the IP address of the computer that is playing it.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, attempting to remove this malware from your computer can permanently trash your Windows OS install from a minimum of disabling the CD-ROM drive in your computer up to causing the computer not to be able to reboot anymore.  Also, the root-kit that they install can be used by other malware-types to hide their own files without them even having to ship/install their own rootkit on your computer.

From what I’ve read, its quite likely that this DRM scheme will be found to violate several existing US and international computer fraud statutes – I find it humorous that in Sony’s attempts to keep us from breaking the law, they have resorted to breaking the law themselves, and hope that if they are found to be breaking the law the various courts go after them with gusto :-> (apparently there is already investigation underway in Italy relating to this).

So, when shopping for CD’s for your loved ones this holiday season (or personal/home electronics devices for that matter), "Just Say No" to Sony/BMG.

Well, enough ranting for now :->, I should get back to work.

 
 
Original Comments
# re: Department of Prognostication – The demise of Sony/BMG

I think the situation is horrible, but I honestly believe that Sony is mostly guilty of ignorance, as opposed to malice.
Sony isn’t a software company. They probably knew they wanted some kind of DRM protect, they licensed the software to do it, and away they shipped.
I believe they’re most likely guilty of not completely understanding the situation they got themselves in.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 5:53 PM by Vincent

# fxwzdu6@mail.ru

ringtones free

Thursday, July 06, 2006 4:49 PM by fxwzdu6@mail.ru

# hsr9tau@dmoz.org

funny ringtones

Sunday, August 20, 2006 1:51 AM by hsr9tau@dmoz.org


Repost from old blog – Original Post Date: October 26, 2005

I’m Bbbbaaaaaccccckkkkk

[ and they gave me a blog – what were they thinking :-> ]

Hey Everyone,  Welcome to my blog. 

First things, who the heck is this guy :->

Name: Tim Gregson

Position: Software Developer – Microsoft Flight Simulator

Location: Fredericksburg, VA

History:

  • 1990 – 1995 Worked at Bruce Artwick Organization (BAO) on FS4 SGA addon, Tower (Consumer and Pro versions), ported FS5 and SS1 to run on Japanese hardware/OS
  • 1995 – 1999  Moved to MS when they acquired BAO, worked on FS95, FS98, FS2000 (also created the FRATE, ADVSTART, and ORDISP addons for FS95/FS98 :->)
  • 1999 – 2001  Decided I wanted to do some hardware level work for a while, so I moved to the Windows CE Core OS Drivers team
  • 2001 – 2002  Wanted to move to Virginia to be closer to my kids, moved to the MSTV group because they would let me work from home.
  • 2002 – 2004  Took a couple of years off
  • 2004 – 2005  Rejoined the FS team as a contractor (working from my home)
  • 2005 – ?        Hired back on with the FS team as a full time MS employee again (still working from my home)

And now on with the blog

Let me start by saying, things are a lot different at MS these days compared to 10 years ago. 

When MS acquired BAO in ’95, I had been hanging around the FSFORUM on Compuserve (you all remember CIS & FSFORUM don’t ya :->) for over a year and would get the occasional "worried looks" from management when they found out I had been posting on various on-line sites (CIS, MSN Forum, AVSIM.COM, SIMFLIGHT.COM, etc ) – of course, these worried looks led to some of the management types starting to frequent the same on-line sites (the paranoid in me thinks they were checking up on me, but for whatever reason, at least they showed up :->).

Fast Forward 10 years (man, I’m getting old :->), and now the management types actually send us email encouraging us to visit the various FS-related web sites, start our own Blogs (like this one), go to the trade shows where FS has a booth, etc.

A very nice change in attitude.  Now I see phrases like "How will this effect our customers", "How will the customer expect this to work", etc in emails and "hallway meetings".  Even the template we use for design/change proposals for new versions has a field to list direct customer benefits of this new design/change.  Not that we didn’t care about the user 10 years ago, we did :->, it just wasn’t as universally applied to the decision making process as it is these days.  This is good for ya’ll (the users) and its good for us (the developers/testers/designers/artists/etc).

What is this blog going to be about

I honestly don’t know :->.  Probably some musings on being a telecommuter (which I love being, by the way, and more groups at MicroSoft need to consider this option :->), the Joys of Long Distance Driving Trips (OK, most folks would probably consider these to be mind numbingly boring – my Mom included – but I enjoy them; I’ve been averaging between 2 and 3 driving trips a year from Fredericksburg, VA to Redmond, WA since I moved here in ’01), maybe some fun things I’ve found you can do with C#/.Net (if you were wondering, this is what I spent those 2 years I was "semi-retired" (sounds better than unemployed :->) playing with), anything techy/geeky/nerdy is probably fair game at some point :->, oh, and yeah, I might talk about things Flight Sim from time to time :->. 

Eventually I may even figure out how to use the tools available to make this blog page look nicer (a little paint on that wall, some nice curtains, maybe a throw rug :->).

Wrap Up

Before I wrap this up for today and get back to writing code :->, just wanted to say a quick Hi to all my old friends in the FS OnLine Community (you know who you are :->) and sorry I sorta dissappeared off the face of the web for 5 years, and also a quick Hello to any new friends out there :->.

Tim "Beatle" Gregson

 

Original Comments

# re: I’m Bbbbaaaaaccccckkkkk

Hi Tim,
Glad you have joined the FS "blogosphere" that is suddenly booming. 🙂 And you’re telecommuting …. VERY interesting 🙂
Best regards,
O

Thursday, October 27, 2005 7:26 AM by OwenHewitt

# re: I’m Bbbbaaaaaccccckkkkk

Allow me to also welcome you to the 21st century… 😉
Bill Leaming
Eaglesoft DG

Saturday, November 12, 2005 12:19 PM by n4gix

# re: I’m Bbbbaaaaaccccckkkkk

I LOVED Tower.. played it for days and days when it came out.  It’d be awesome if someone updated it with shiny new graphics.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006 5:18 AM by Glenn Turner

# re: I’m Bbbbaaaaaccccckkkkk

Great to see your name again.  Your mentioning the old FSFORUM really opened up memories.  I do miss all the old gang…
Are ya going to be working with the FS10 group?
Best regards,
Bill

Saturday, May 06, 2006 12:44 PM by Bill Cline

# re: I’m Bbbbaaaaaccccckkkkk

i have the old version of tower from bao , great game, but it doesnt run under my Pentium IV with win XP PRO. hOW I CAN UPGRADE IT… IS THERE A PATCH, A WEBSITE…SOMETHING?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006 2:27 PM by EDDIE

# re: I’m Bbbbaaaaaccccckkkkk

Hi Tim,
I like very much the sim TOWER! I’m playing it now for ages, but i would like to start my own airport now (European airport).
I have already a panoramic view of that airport(360°) but i can’t make it work. i’m a little bit stuck with the HEX part (ref url http://hangar.simradar.com/2970)
Can you please put me on the correct way, so tht i can continue making this airport work?
I’m not very familiar with those HEX programs 😐
Thanks so much and don’t hesitate to contact me on my mail.
Rgds,
David (Malkovich_45@hotmail.com)

Thursday, May 18, 2006 11:54 AM by David