• The Corner #51 - Whisky Tango Foxtrot

    Whisky Tango Foxtrot

    By Chip Barber (26 March 2010)

    Sometimes, despite our wishes to the contrary, stuff just doesn't mean a darn thing. Take, for example, my recent fondness for FSX and vows of fidelity towards it.

    If you are one who fancies the FSX missions, you may (or may not, who am I to make suppositions, or suppositories [word to the wise: do not ever confuse the two]?) enjoy many of the freeware ones that are all over the web. I've been fortunate enough to be involved with a freeware project along with a rather talented group of fellows: Ruud Faber, Francois Dumas, Jaap Van Hees and Justin Tyme. I have no idea how I was granted the good fortune to be caught up with such an august and accomplished group, but there you are. We all work together and come up with the "Beagle" missions here. Check them out! In my humble opinion, each one is better than the last, and the very first is pretty darn good.

    But know what? Once again, I have found myself walking... wait, that's not quite right. Running like a maniac with his hair on fire, to FS2004 again. Now I know we've whipped this dead horse to the point where all we're batting around is a pair of hooves. And certainly it is testament to my steadfast resolve, but off I go tottering in my pharmaceutical fogginess towards the "Nine" and away from the "Ten".

    Don't get me wrong, FSX is a beautiful piece of work. The differences between the two major FS players are well known to all, and I admit I do enjoy the various keystrokes unavailable in 9 (Yes, I know it is likely possible to manipulate keystrokes such that I'll have FSX functionality in FS2004. I'm just too damn lazy to do it) and miss them. But for me, being the type who will think nothing of mucking around with a panel.cfg or aircraft.cfg without making a copy first, FSX is just a tad too "twitchy". She is a fickle wench, who one moment really likes the fiddling I do, and the next truculently stamps her foot and hurls me to the desktop. Plus, and perhaps more annoyingly, much of the really really cool visuals cause a heat issue on some machines, with all those delightful spiky and geometrical textures that really take one back to the sixties (if you have to ask, you weren't there and likely will never fully appreciate the point). This patch of psychodelica is generally followed by a screen freeze and blue screen error. In the old days, we also saw those blue screen errors, but after those we generally awoke naked in a roomful of strangers... Aahh, the good old days.

    But anyhoo, I think we were talking about FSX, right? Sure. FS2004 is all fuzzy and cozy-warm. We can muck around with it. Cajole it and get it to do things it probably was never meant to do. FSX is the older, more mature version who is still willing to be touched "there", but more often that not, the results are not quite what was anticipated. I've never really gotten to the point where I am entirely comfortable making changes I would otherwise do with little or no thought. I think the main reason is because it can be such a pain to reinstall it. Entering all those stupid numbers, or heaven forbid, having to call and explain to some stupid voice recognition program that I am not busily selling my registration key online, but only a dummy who cannot help messing about with its kindred program causing it to melt down, necessitating my seventh delete/install cycle this month. Geez, I can't even do a repaint like I always did with FS2004! Call me a child, but I really enjoy creating my own little airline for FsPassengers and FSCaptain and then creating my own little paint scheme (truth to tell, I just erase the name on an aircraft and add my own). Silly, but somehow essential to my suspension of otherwise adult thought.

    You know, I've often wondered what my business partners would think of me if only they knew what I do with my spare time ... "So long authority over millions of dollars, hello authority over toilet tissue, and only a few rolls at a time." "Are you telling me the guy who is responsible for the majority of this hospital's malpractice claims spends his time playing make-believe pilot on a computer!?" Somehow, when put in these terms, I think of finding a nobler avocation. But honestly, I suspect that even if I have a desire to find something else to do, I'd end up flying my damn sim. I think this is a viral condition.

    I adore my brother in law. Joe is one cool cat. He is a self-made business man, also an MD, and is also multi-engine and passenger rated in turboprops, and also rated in single engine jet aircraft. Last Thanksgiving, I came home the proud owner of the Saitek X52 Pro. He felt it wasn't assisting him with his ground training. I felt quite righteous by taking it off his hands and sparing him the angst of either tossing it or doing the eBay thing. But now, he's told me he wishes to chuck his entire collection of flight simulation software and hardware. I'm not too sure what it is that is coming my way, but it will likely be of a fashion that would otherwise be far beyond my means. Whatta Guy!! I'll let you know once I get the big box from UPS! Thanks Joe!

    But anyhoo, I think we were talking about FSX, right? Sure. I think I've got FS2004 configured almost to where I like it. Here's what I'm messing with at the moment: PMDG 737-600; FsPassengers; FSCaptain; Wee Tune Beastie (a cool little program that streams SkyBlue Radio when you tune your COM 2 to 123.45); Radar Contact 4. I've created my own little airline I call AppleCore Air, imagining this is a subsidiary of some sort with Apple, the business created by The Beatles. In this way, I am able to justify flying the NG aircraft still attached to The Beatles. Otherwise, I'd be flying the Captain Sim 707 and a twin turboprop circa 1965. Oh yeah, also the Captain Sim 727. All the birds I use have an "AppleCore Air" on their fuselage. In some odd way, this legitimizes this silly childish fantasy of mine that I adore so much. One must do what one must in order to justify one's actions, eh?

    So I really can't do much if any of this stuff with FSX. I know the repaint thing is fairly easy to overcome. I've just been unmotivated to explore it. And I have done all the freebie missions for "Beagle". I really enjoy them, and enjoy doing my part of them tremendously. But lately it seems I'm just behind the curve when it comes to FSX. I know there are things I could be doing to improve matters, but as Elvis said, "...Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?" (He was a strange guy, Elvis...). Why bust a gut fiddling with 'X' when I know '9' so well? The mission thing is pretty damn close to all the incentive I need to make the effort. But then ... well, I'm a creature of habit. An old creature of habit. An old creature of habit sim pilot who is terribly comfortable with his favorite jets and FS add ons. Guilty as charged.

    So I ask myself: Whisky Tango Foxtrot, Amigo? Why this flip flop between Nine and Ten? I can't figure it out. But what I can figure out is that, for better or worse, my first and favorite hobby is flight simming in all its myriad forms. I like to do it. I like to write about it. And I especially like to clue you all in whenever I find something cool that I think you may appreciate. Check out Wee Tune Beastie by Haggis Software here. FsPassengers is here, and FSCaptain is here.

    And if you are interested, I've started a Facebook page at the insistence of my son-in-law Matthew here. I don't really know what it is all about, but Matthew is aging quickly as he attempts to explain it to me. As he says, it is a way for me to keep you all updated between "Corners", and also a way to keep in touch with all my FSBuddies. Feel free to stop by and do whatever it is one does on a Facebook page! Also a Twitter page here. I know even less about Twitter, so if you have any idea, do let me know. C'mon by and, um... Twit? That sounds a little bit too funky to consider.

    Three Green!

    Chip Barber
    [email protected]

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