• The Corner #41 - The Joy of a Coordinated Turn

    The Joy of a Coordinated Turn

    By Chip Barber (9 September 2008)

    This is profoundly stupid. Let me set the stage for our little adventure. Hmmm... where to begin. Surely, what happens within the drama of my life must be of equal interest to you as it is to me, no? Whatta bunch of crap.

    But for serious, what I am experienceing is truly odd. You see, and not to go so far back as to describe that spank on my bottom that brought about my first breath, but perhaps a bit later on. So I realized, perhaps three weeks or so ago, give or take a little, that I was going to have to bite the proverbial bullet (a lead bullet, I believe, which may explain all these weird dreams...) and *gulp* become ONE with FSX.

    Ick.

    Regretfully, I have found that throughout my myriad of projects about which I sufficiently whined until the developers grew weary of me and granted me admittance just to get me to shut up, that the momentum is shifting. You heard it right. It seems our precious FS2004 world is no longer the fair haired child, The One Who Could Do No Wrong. For some odd reason, the developers have (this just kills me) turned their sights upon FSX. Or as I like to call it, Flying Somewhat eXcruciatingly.

    So I faced a dilemma. Crawl into my terribly comfortable FS2004 world and, like my Yorkies at bed time, walk in an ever-diminishing circle until I collapse and sleep blissfully. With precious little to do in the way of helping out developers while padding my overstuffed hard drives with free payware. Or, I could go completely against the grain and spend a little more time with FSX. I'm pretty sure they call that a "no brainer".

    Of course, you just know what happens next. It's just that, like, my old machine is totally inadequate. It is so, like, 20 minutes ago. I mean, get real, people. (Did I tell you my daughter is, totally, like going to school from home?)

    But anyway, yeah, FSX patched and stitched and running on nearly zero sliders still ran like poop. Can't beta test like that! So what is a developer's helper to do? Right! I invested in a new machine!

    Now, I'll not be mentioning any manufacturers. Suffice it to say I decided the most prudent thing to do was to save a little coin (hell, I've got all this FSX add-on stuff to buy!) and go with a name brand other than that which I have known since day one. Clever huh? ... Idiot.

    So I got "THE BEAST". First thing I did was add FSX. Now, understand, this beast is a screamer. Think of Clare Torrey singing The Great Gig in the Sky on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album, and you'll get the idea. Ridiculously fast machine. And FSX just hummed right along. Even with what little cool add-on stuff I have so far added, with the sliders maxed and FSP set to 24, and I mean everything maxed out, I was averaging 23.8. And smooth? Like a newborn baby's bottom. (Can I say that without running risk of the pedphilia police getting aroused?) With this, I now understood what all the fuss was about. FSX on a machine with the cojones to run it, is quite beautiful, even with default scenery! A VFR flyer's dream!

    And when I put on FS2004? Bring a tear to your eye, man. Perfection. FPS? Locked on 24 FPS tighter than a clam's butt. Perfomance? Imagine Marcel Marceau on speed. Nuance in flight sim. I kid you not. You could see aircraft beginning to think of making a turn in response to your almost control input. Poetry in motion. Make you cry tears of unmitigated joy.

    Then all hell broke loose.

    Imagine being on your very first tandem skydive, being in the middle of freefall, and hearing your dive master say "Uh oh".

    It could have been a virus. It could have been Vista. We'll never know for sure. What I do know is that, FS2004 starting doing things. Weird things. Unnatural things. Things that were just ... wrong. Irrational. Contrary. I'd have half a 2D instrument panel of the default 172, and above that, just scenery. Lovely scenery, yes. And what was worse, the gauges themselves were mocking me. My former love, FS2004, was actually deregating me, right there in my own bedroom (it's where the computer is, don't be disgusting). I'd no sooner release the brakes and advance the throttle, when that truncated part of the panel that remained visible (if not significantly shorter) had the nerve to display gauges that were reacting to the motion relating to my inputs, but (and this is where things started to get really spooky) the outside view remained static! Egads!

    Eight. Count 'em, eight. Not nine. Not eleven. I did the old delete/reinstall cycle eight times. Granted, a few of those times I'd failed to recall deleting the 9.1 patch first, an FSFaux Pax if there there was one. I'd gone so far as to delete all remnant of FS2004 from what was becoming this ugly brute of a machine. Even checked the registry (which is really really scary). Same result.

    Finally in frustration, I did the reformat trick, and got this walking advertisement for a Mac machine to the condition she was in when I made the poor decision to take the big box into the house. Installed FS2004 fresh and pristine.

    AND THE SAME THING HAPPENED AGAIN.

    Then I could not access the internet. And my mail was beginning to get a little bit wonky. And I picked up the phone and said "Remove this beast from my presence forthwith". I'll keep the printer and the monitor, cause I really really like them, but the CPU and all that resides within her must go, immediately.

    But not until I try this just one more time.

    I then ordered a new machine, with XP rather than Vista, and I'll be talking about that upon receipt and only after using it for at least a good hour. It's even faster than this one is (yes, this evil machine is currently permitting me to use the Word program, but I will not be in the least bit surprised should I find this deleted in the morning). My buddy Greg, who knows about these things, has compared this Blight of a Machine to that which he will be sending me, and says my new machine will make this one seem like a "pocket calculator". Sort of has a nice ring to it, no?

    But the turn coordination thing. You know, it's funny. It's now Sunday evening (and way past my bedtime, by the way) and I face the prospect of returning this hulking moster of contrary circuitry on Tuesday (definitely not going so see this saved tomorrow morning when I log on... ). And as I face the certainty of at least ten days without any flight simming at all, I figured I'd just take FS2004 for a spin, just one more time.

    The problem, whatever it is, persists. But only in Windowed mode (which is my preferred modus operandi, and don't write and tell me my E-PPL is revoked just because I don't use full window mode like you do. So there, too). So in full screen mode, I took the default Piper J-3 Cub on the default flight around the default Hawaiian Islands. In the virtual cockpit (which I have come to appreciate by virtue of using FSX). What a delight!

    No, really. After all this time, I'm using default everything, and having the time of my life! So much so, in fact, that I hiked up the sim speed to 8X (the Cub is a slow little booger, more of a "Bug Pusher-Out-of-the Way" rather than a Bug Masher) and practiced doing coordinated turns. I think I understand the principle of it now, what with gravity pulling the ball towards the inside or lower wing of the turn, and centrifugal force pulling the ball to the outside, upper wing of the turn. Then, applying just enough rudder, the turn was coordinated when the stupid ball stayed within the little marker on the ball thingy on the panel. Outrageous! Can't figure out why it's important, but it is tres' cool.

    Then, I cut the throttle and did a circular descent onto the final of some little fly speck airstrip and actually greased the landing. Then, I took off again and, well, just had the time of my life. And I think not only learned a thing or two about basic flight, but really came to appreciate just what Microsoft has given to us.

    And so, dear friends, I face the final day before being shut off entirely from my little e-world in which I have my E-PPL tag. I for one intend to spend it within the joy of VFR flight in FS2004 full screen mode, and maybe the same in FSX just because it looks so darn good.

    Unless of course this computer from hell has other ideas.

    Three Green!

    Chip Barber
    [email protected]


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