• On An Older System - Series Introduction

    On An Older System - Series Introduction

    "On An Older System" - Series Introduction

    By Kenneth J. Kerr

    Hello there folks, and greetings from the snow-covered prairies of Saskatchewan, Canada. And, a most hearty welcome to a brand-new series of articles here on FlightSim.Com. My name is Kenneth J. Kerr, and I'll tell you a wee bit more about myself at the end of this article, because some of you with LONG memories might vaguely recognize my name!

    The "global title" of this ongoing series will be "On an older system" - And yes, that says it in a nutshell. You see, we flight-simmers are a funny bunch really. We've found ourselves a hobby that borders upon an obsession, and part of that obsession is the drive for perfection. And so, developers cater to that drive, and with each new add-on, or program update, the demands on our computers increase, and at some point we have to admit, "The old girl ain't what she used to be anymore!"

    And so, we decide we need a new machine. But here's the rub. Sure, we might consider buying something "affordable" to give us a reasonable boost in performance, but we know that a few years down the road (or less), we'll be facing the same challenge again. So, wanting to be proactive, we spec out the latest and greatest whizz-bang computer instead. "Let's get something that will handle whatever the industry might throw at us for the foreseeable future!" we think. Great idea, until we see the price tag. Oh the predicament. Spend some money on a temporary solution, or overspend and stress the old budget.

    That's when another light-bulb comes on. "Aha" we say. "I'll put up with the old machine for a while longer, and I'll save money for the new system. Might even get something better a year from now!"... That sounds reasonable, until life comes along. The car breaks down and demands a repair or replacement. The roof needs repairing on the house. The renters leave and you're suddenly paying that mortgage again... And those computer savings disappear in a fast hurry. In my case all three of these situations have hit me over the last three years!

    While a lot of our brethren can indeed buy a new system whenever they need it, I'm willing to bet that even more of us keep on making do with that ageing system for a little longer, and then longer, and longer still. If you can relate to this scenario, then this series is designed for you. You see, we'll be asking (and answering) the question, "Can you still have fun in this hobby with an older system?"

    So, what do I mean by saying an older system? That's like asking how long a piece of string is. There's no real definitive answer. Do you talk about RAM, or processors, or cores, or SSD's, or what? We could be here a long time going that route. So let's simply say this. If your system cannot handle Prepar3D after about version two, has no hope with the later X-Planes, and resorts to "slideshow-mode" when flying over a city... Then you have an older system. And if the latest aircraft releases (complete with super-detailed textures) bring on a bout of the stutters, then indeed you do have an older system.

    And yes, I do speak from personal experience here. My computer is about seven years old now. It's an i5 with a single core, an ATI video card with only 1 GB on it, and even mechanical drives! How the heck can I even enjoy flight simulation on this dinosaur? Well I do!... And that's what we're going to explore. How to still get a real buzz from this hobby when the old system looks like a fossil! Enjoyment? Absolutely. BUT, you've got to set some very important guidelines. Let's talk about them.

    1. You must have realistic expectations

    This is the foundational point. If you are running an older system, do not expect the latest add-ons to perform well. Heck, they might not even run at all! This is so important when we see adverts in magazines, or on web sites, or in YouTube, for those tempting new releases. It's like smelling the aroma of a juicy steak after going to the dentist! The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak! So don't throw insult after injury. By all means watch those videos and read those adverts, but quit torturing yourself with expectations that don't equate to your computer reality. Set the bar a little lower, or even a lot lower if you have to for now.

    2. You must find the compromise

    Related to the above is not only what you run on your computer, but also how you run it. Do not expect an old system to run your chosen flight sim with the sliders all the way to the right. Maybe you need to run with less autogen, perhaps detailed clouds are a pipe dream, and maybe you cannot fill your simulated skies with a gazillion airliners busily hopping from one mega-detailed airport to another. It's all about compromise. If you are unwilling to find the compromise and live with it, you will not enjoy the hobby on an older system.

    3. Bring the right attitude to the now moment

    Do I sound like a personal development author here? (Actually, I am!).. Well, the point is valid. Right now you only have the computer system that you have, so why invalidate the now moment by berating it? Bring the right attitude to the old system, and combine it with realistic expectations and compromises, and flight simming will still be a fun experience. The truth is this, "Your attitude determines your altitude." Set out to enjoy what you have within the limits of what your machine is capable of, and that attitude will still allow you to soar in those simulated skies. It's so easy to forget this, and yes, I've done that a few times too. "I'm an advisor Jim, not a guru!" (You can tell I've been binge-watching Star Trek the original series on Netflix).

    4. Pick the products wisely

    While you are biding your time waiting for that new machine, you will probably continue spending money on add-ons. However, you need to pick them wisely. Don't spend money on something that will run so poorly that it dumps on your attitude. Do your research, ask around. Similarly, buy something that will give you maximum enjoyment. Don't just buy something new for the sake of "getting your FS fix" through novelty. If you love a particular genre, buy something in that genre that works on your system. If general aviation is your thing, don't spend money on a high-flying complex tube-liner (that you might only use once) just to get the temporary satisfaction of something new. Be discerning, wise, selective, and even a little hesitant if need be.

    5. Be adventurous

    Never forget that the biggest part of the flight simulation experience occurs in your imagination. In fact, it is ALL imagination. Have you ever bought a toy for a child, and then watched in dismay as they had more fun with the box than they did with the toy itself? That's because their imagination is making something out of nothing. Well, we do the same thing with flight sim. No matter what system you have (the toy), regardless of the specific add-ons, the greatest part of the experience is what happens in your own mind. This means you are perfectly capable of finding ways to bring back the spirit of adventure to your flight simulation, even when using an older system.

    These five principles are worth keeping in mind and working within when you have an older system. And you know what? When you actually employ them, you might just find you can live with your old computer longer than you imagined. So with that introduction in place, let's talk about what you can and cannot expect from this series. Let's get the negative out of the way first. I am not going to school you on tweaking your old system for optimum performance. I have a hard enough time doing that to my own system that I'm now sitting in front of, so I'm certainly not going to enter the minefield of giving such advice to others "sight-unseen" as it were. You can also anticipate that I won't typically be reviewing the latest and greatest add-ons. Why would I review something that my own system cannot run? It would defeat the point.

    What then are the positives? I will indeed be doing some product reviews, but they might often be a new look at an older product. We have many many hundreds (thousands maybe?) of products available in the FlightSim.Com Store, and they go back quite a while. Chances are slim that everyone with an older computer has every one of those products, so such reviews might be a welcome eye opener for many. You can also expect me to share ideas on how to bring imagination into the loop. This can be great fun, but I'm not going to give away any spoilers here!

    But, I will tell you that most of my articles will use a good old boxed edition of... drum roll please... FSX. Yes, and why not, since Microsoft recently decided to take responsibility for their legacy product again. Besides, I do not use P3D, and cannot use the later X-Planes. And FS2004? Sorry, I got rid of that many years ago, and probably could not find the disks if I tried to. FSX is still my go-to sim, and I have thousands of dollars of add-ons for it already. But, there will be a new cat among the pigeons too! In addition to FSX, I'm also going to be reviewing my use of a fairly new simulator that actually runs as good as FSX does on my old system. Which one? Aerofly FS 2. I've been using it for two years now and have been blown away at what it can still do on my old fossil of a computer. But remember, whether FSX or AFS2, I will be working within the limits of realistic expectation and compromise.

    So that's about a wrap for this introductory article. The next one will feature a Just Flight product in FSX, and the one after that will take us into the Aerofly skies. Stay tuned, and I hope you'll enjoy these looks at flight simming "On an older system."

    Author Kenneth J. Kerr

    Now, before I go, I promised I'd say something about myself. If you've been around flight sim for more than two decades, my name might have vaguely rang a distant bell. (Probably not!). I have been flight simming for 33 years, and I was actually in correspondence with Nels Anderson when he was just setting up FlightSim.Com. We were both flying PA-28's in real life at that time, and we shared an interest in flight simulation of course. Back then we were both on Compuserve's flight sim forums, and I had just started developing some of the first independent add-ons for the Microsoft platform. My first efforts were panels for FS4 and FS5. "Visually Incredible Panels" is what I called them. Later, a few designers started contributing corresponding aircraft, and eventually "The VIP Group" evolved. We had some of the first boxed products to be marketed by Just Flight (then called "The Associates" or "The Producers"), and also some of the first boxed products sold through PC Aviator. My company ran from 1994 to around 2001, and then for multiple reasons, it ceased operations and closed. Some of you may still have old copies of "VIP Classic Wings" gathering dust in your attic! Well, that's ancient history, but I have never left flight simulation as a hobby. I hate to think how many thousands of hours I have logged in the virtual skies in 33 years! Yes... It is an obsession isn't it?

    See you next time!

    Regards
    Kenneth J. Kerr


    25 Comments
    1. rudys's Avatar
      rudys -
      What a welcome article! Thought everyone went to the latest and supposedly greatest new FS systems. I for one am also a lone wolf having flown corporate aircraft in conjunction with my job of 46 years and have now accumulated triple of my actual flying hours to the Microsoft FS world and loving my Steam Version of FSX. I too do not have the financial ability to keep up with computers, but am very happy with my I5 4 stage processor, and my Gigabyte GTX-980 Vidio Card. I use 3 monitors and all is great. My favorite aircraft still is the LJ-45 as I have 1200+ hrs flying the Lear 24 with the DeHoward wing mod. Anyway, loved your article and looking forward to more from you. Thanks RS
    1. moneta's Avatar
      moneta -
      Hi Ken, it’s a pleasure to hear news from you again, if you like to have a brief talk about “old times” call me in private (mail, fb, instagram etc)
      Regards AngeloM
    1. dels's Avatar
      dels -
      A brilliant article! It's given me hope for my older system.
      Del
    1. SeanG's Avatar
      SeanG -
      Well.... there's a name from my hazy memory! I am fairly confident I have some of your products lurking in my collection, and I too was around the Compuserve forums way back when the internet seemed a scary place!
      I completely agree with you on your point about the magic being in your imagination, not necessarily bound to the latest and greatest hardware or software. I recall some amazing experiences in FS98, and even further back in FS2 which were only amazing because of the time and place, not the computer that was running, or the simulator software.

      I still run FS9 in my 737 home cockpit, despite being able to run newer stuff, FS9 is still doing the job for me

      Looking forward to the next in your series

      SeanG
    1. gippslandblanik1's Avatar
      gippslandblanik1 -
      Thanks Ken for the great article! I look forward to the rest in your series. Best wishes, Max
    1. hanswerner's Avatar
      hanswerner -
      Thanks Ken for bringing back memories that were almost gone. I too was on Compuserve then. Oh boy, those were the days. I started flightsimming with FS4 "pimped up" with some "huge" downloaded files and my parents almost kicked me out, because our phone bills suddenly were sheer astronomical at those times. No flat rates in Austria at those times yet … :-)
      Looking forward to your next article.
      Greetings from LOWG, Werner
    1. KennethKerr's Avatar
      KennethKerr -
      Quote Originally Posted by rudys View Post
      What a welcome article! Thought everyone went to the latest and supposedly greatest new FS systems. I for one am also a lone wolf having flown corporate aircraft in conjunction with my job of 46 years and have now accumulated triple of my actual flying hours to the Microsoft FS world and loving my Steam Version of FSX. I too do not have the financial ability to keep up with computers, but am very happy with my I5 4 stage processor, and my Gigabyte GTX-980 Vidio Card. I use 3 monitors and all is great. My favorite aircraft still is the LJ-45 as I have 1200+ hrs flying the Lear 24 with the DeHoward wing mod. Anyway, loved your article and looking forward to more from you. Thanks RS
      Thank you for the feedback RS. I am working on the next article this week, and there will be a lot of "heart and soul" in this one!

      Regards,

      Kenneth

      (By the way... Miriam is my wife's name. Back in the VIP days, I wanted to go on the forums anonymously, so my account was set up with her name!.. Neer changed it!)
    1. KennethKerr's Avatar
      KennethKerr -
      Quote Originally Posted by moneta View Post
      Hi Ken, it’s a pleasure to hear news from you again, if you like to have a brief talk about “old times” call me in private (mail, fb, instagram etc)
      Regards AngeloM
      WOW... Hello my old friend! It is good to hear from you Angelo. Yes, I know the posting uses my wife's name, but I set it up that way waaaay back in the VIP days to remain anonymous on the forum! I will contact you privately to catch up on the decades..

      Regards
      Kenneth
    1. KennethKerr's Avatar
      KennethKerr -
      Quote Originally Posted by dels View Post
      A brilliant article! It's given me hope for my older system.
      Del
      Hello Del, thank you for the feedback. Better to have hope for the old system we can use now, than to hold back in a flight sim void only hoping for a new system!

      Regards
      Kenneth

      (Ps, I set up my flightsim account decades ago with my wife's name to stay anonymous in forums! Never changed it!)
    1. KennethKerr's Avatar
      KennethKerr -
      Quote Originally Posted by SeanG View Post
      Well.... there's a name from my hazy memory! I am fairly confident I have some of your products lurking in my collection, and I too was around the Compuserve forums way back when the internet seemed a scary place!
      I completely agree with you on your point about the magic being in your imagination, not necessarily bound to the latest and greatest hardware or software. I recall some amazing experiences in FS98, and even further back in FS2 which were only amazing because of the time and place, not the computer that was running, or the simulator software.

      I still run FS9 in my 737 home cockpit, despite being able to run newer stuff, FS9 is still doing the job for me

      Looking forward to the next in your series

      SeanG
      Hello Sean,

      I still have the old boxes of products for nostalgia too! Cannot believe how long ago that is. Anyway, If I still had FS9 I would write some articles for it too, but alas I don't. So, maybe when my FSX articles mention imagination, you can port the principles over to your FS9 experience regardless. I built several home cockpits over the years for FS9 too, my best being...... No..... I will save that for the next article now being written (LOL).

      Regards
      Kenneth

      (Ps... All those years ago, when I set up my Flightsim.com account, I used my wife's name to stay anonymous on the forums. Daft move, and never changed it!... That's why the reply says "Miriam")
    1. KennethKerr's Avatar
      KennethKerr -
      Quote Originally Posted by gippslandblanik1 View Post
      Thanks Ken for the great article! I look forward to the rest in your series. Best wishes, Max
      Greetings Max

      Thank you for your reply. The next article is already in the works!

      Best Regards,

      Kenneth

      (Ps... I set up my Flightsim account years ago with my wife's name, a daft and unnecessary move to stay anonymous in those early VIP years! 0- Hence a reply from "Miriam")
    1. piet06273's Avatar
      piet06273 -
      Everything in the article applies to me too. Due to no funds and no space I am convicted to FS9 for the rest of my live. Started FS5 on my AT WIN 3 first Internet in an Internet cafe, copying files all night from Avsim and burning it on a CD for USD 6,50 then Unzip at home. Now: I7 GTX1050 8GB keyboard , D:\FS9 FSGlobalX FScene Ult terrain USA CAN EUR. PMDG 737 PSS 757 777 JF Flying clubX FSbuild FSNav I run everything maxed only AITraffic half. No stutters , hicks , everything buttersmooth except for the densest of places . So I say I am blessed and more than happy !!! with FS9 for the rest of my live .
      I fly GA 50 miles or PSS B777 FMC EHAM to KORD with same pleasure.
      I have reinstalled my FS9 at least 50 or more times in the past.
      I really enjoy doing that as a way to clean up old stuf and start from scratch again. Complete reinstall takes me a day and I keep a notepad Log of the steps I follow that suit my system best so I have my own complete reinstall manual from formatting , defrag install , scenery layer set up to the last add-on.
      Only real problem I have is that the original MS FS9 disks are bad bad quality. My Disk 4 will no longer reinstall it stops at 86% and I can only do : 'Skip'.
      The installation thank heaven will than complete but after decompressing and scenery set up I find that 'Australia' is not installed 1 grey Continent. Fortunately I have been able to copy the Australia Zip from Disk 4 to my HD and I can reinstall it from there. Just wondering ? Are all your FS9 disks still in good order?
      best regards Peter Bootes Amsterdam Netherlands
    1. KennethKerr's Avatar
      KennethKerr -
      Thanks to Nels Anderson for changing the name on my account. As mentioned in the early replies, for decades I'd had it set up in my wife's name (Miriam) to have some level of anonymity when my flight sim company was going strong. This afternoon Nels changed it for me (at my request)... I can now answer you as myself! - Kenneth J Kerr
    1. KennethKerr's Avatar
      KennethKerr -
      Quote Originally Posted by piet06273 View Post
      Everything in the article applies to me too. Due to no funds and no space I am convicted to FS9 for the rest of my live. Started FS5 on my AT WIN 3 first Internet in an Internet cafe, copying files all night from Avsim and burning it on a CD for USD 6,50 then Unzip at home. Now: I7 GTX1050 8GB keyboard , D:\FS9 FSGlobalX FScene Ult terrain USA CAN EUR. PMDG 737 PSS 757 777 JF Flying clubX FSbuild FSNav I run everything maxed only AITraffic half. No stutters , hicks , everything buttersmooth except for the densest of places . So I say I am blessed and more than happy !!! with FS9 for the rest of my live .
      I fly GA 50 miles or PSS B777 FMC EHAM to KORD with same pleasure.
      I have reinstalled my FS9 at least 50 or more times in the past.
      I really enjoy doing that as a way to clean up old stuf and start from scratch again. Complete reinstall takes me a day and I keep a notepad Log of the steps I follow that suit my system best so I have my own complete reinstall manual from formatting , defrag install , scenery layer set up to the last add-on.
      Only real problem I have is that the original MS FS9 disks are bad bad quality. My Disk 4 will no longer reinstall it stops at 86% and I can only do : 'Skip'.
      The installation thank heaven will than complete but after decompressing and scenery set up I find that 'Australia' is not installed 1 grey Continent. Fortunately I have been able to copy the Australia Zip from Disk 4 to my HD and I can reinstall it from there. Just wondering ? Are all your FS9 disks still in good order?
      best regards Peter Bootes Amsterdam Netherlands
      Hello Peter.

      Sadly, I no longer have my FS9 disks. I finally remembered this afternoon that I gave them to a friend about four years ago! So, the oldest Microsoft product I'll use in reviews will be FSX. Having said that, the "imagination factor" is indeed applicable to any sim platform we use. Glad you are happy with your set up. I do recall having smoother performance in FS9 than I have in FSX on this system as well.

      Regards
      - Kenneth
    1. KennethKerr's Avatar
      KennethKerr -
      Quote Originally Posted by hanswerner View Post
      Thanks Ken for bringing back memories that were almost gone. I too was on Compuserve then. Oh boy, those were the days. I started flightsimming with FS4 "pimped up" with some "huge" downloaded files and my parents almost kicked me out, because our phone bills suddenly were sheer astronomical at those times. No flat rates in Austria at those times yet … :-)
      Looking forward to your next article.
      Greetings from LOWG, Werner
      Greetings back to you from my nearest ICAO.... CJQ3 Look it up, it's a long way from you, and a whole other world from the Austrian countryside. In fact, sometimes my download speeds are so slow out here that I feel I'm back on dial up! My next article is in the works. Maybe I'll even fly out of Graz for part of it? (If I have a half-decent scenery of course).

      Regards
      Kenneth
    1. zswobbie1's Avatar
      zswobbie1 -
      Now that you have a fresh FS9 install, copy that to a portable drive to have a backup. Don't forget the flights in My Documents as well.

      Once you have done that, you can always create multiple installs as well.
    1. gippslandblanik1's Avatar
      gippslandblanik1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by piet06273 View Post
      Everything in the article applies to me too. Due to no funds and no space I am convicted to FS9 for the rest of my live. Started FS5 on my AT WIN 3 first Internet in an Internet cafe, copying files all night from Avsim and burning it on a CD for USD 6,50 then Unzip at home. Now: I7 GTX1050 8GB keyboard , D:\FS9 FSGlobalX FScene Ult terrain USA CAN EUR. PMDG 737 PSS 757 777 JF Flying clubX FSbuild FSNav I run everything maxed only AITraffic half. No stutters , hicks , everything buttersmooth except for the densest of places . So I say I am blessed and more than happy !!! with FS9 for the rest of my live .
      I fly GA 50 miles or PSS B777 FMC EHAM to KORD with same pleasure.
      I have reinstalled my FS9 at least 50 or more times in the past.
      I really enjoy doing that as a way to clean up old stuf and start from scratch again. Complete reinstall takes me a day and I keep a notepad Log of the steps I follow that suit my system best so I have my own complete reinstall manual from formatting , defrag install , scenery layer set up to the last add-on.
      Only real problem I have is that the original MS FS9 disks are bad bad quality. My Disk 4 will no longer reinstall it stops at 86% and I can only do : 'Skip'.
      The installation thank heaven will than complete but after decompressing and scenery set up I find that 'Australia' is not installed 1 grey Continent. Fortunately I have been able to copy the Australia Zip from Disk 4 to my HD and I can reinstall it from there. Just wondering ? Are all your FS9 disks still in good order?
      best regards Peter Bootes Amsterdam Netherlands
      Hi Peter, I have a FS9 disk set in good condition that I no longer use and would be happy to give it to you. My wife and I are on an extended camping trip in our travel trailer and won't be back home till February 2020 and I can send it to you then. Email me your address at [email protected] Best wishes, Max
    1. vflight2's Avatar
      vflight2 -
      Good to meet another clansman. I wanted to say many thanks for the help you have brought me (old system 80.6); I sorely needed the altitude adjustment and my Windows 7 computer system running older than old Pentium 3 chips is still my standby at least for another year or two. I look forward to future articles on this subject, thanks again and Hail: Bruce Artwick!
      D. Carr
    1. brian_eckard@live.com's Avatar
      [email protected] -
      Hi Ken, I'm looking forward to your article series! I tend to keep my computers until they just don't run any longer. I started flight simming with my Commodore 64, C128, and then moved to a 486 PC when FS5 came out. What an improvement! I'm currently running FSX and recently started to upgrade its graphics using the Orbx scenery. My machine is a laptop with an i5 with a Nvidia graphics card, though the video card has less than a gig memory on it. When I buy a new machine, my budget stays at about $800. Nice thing about technology is that when something newer comes out, the surpassed technology tends to drop into the $800 price range. My current set up runs FSX pretty good so I'm hanging in there with it. My current system is 6 years old now. I remember your VIP panels. I believe I even bought some. I've been on FlightSim.com as a member since my FS5 days. Best Regards --Brian
    1. KennethKerr's Avatar
      KennethKerr -
      Quote Originally Posted by vflight2 View Post
      Good to meet another clansman. I wanted to say many thanks for the help you have brought me (old system 80.6); I sorely needed the altitude adjustment and my Windows 7 computer system running older than old Pentium 3 chips is still my standby at least for another year or two. I look forward to future articles on this subject, thanks again and Hail: Bruce Artwick!
      D. Carr
      Aha... A Carr, yes indeed, the same roots! And this reply may be "Sero sed Sereo" (Our clan motto.. "Late but in earnest"). Thank you for your comments, and I hope the articles will indeed inspire.

      Regards
      Kenneth
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