Sunday, March 11, 2007


It's always been one of my goals to become a pilot. Yeah, I know...doesn't quite fit in with the whole lower consumption thing. But, there it is nonetheless. I want to fly.

Years ago, I bought Microsoft Flight Simulator. I went through the supplied training course, read the training ebook, and learned the instruments. I was actually able to fly! Sort-of. Virtually speaking. I've purchased every version of MS Flight Simulator since 1998. I have to admit, that's one product Microsoft has done a good job on. Well, at least the company they acquired that makes it.

When I started using Linux, I still wanted to use Flight Simulator. I found that another company, FlightGear Flight Simulator makes and open source version.

Being an Open Source project, companies that want to modify the product for their own uses are able to do so. Some companies have used FlightGear to design state-of-the-art training equipment.
While equipment like this isn't cheap, it's far cheaper than a plane, safer to train in, and far safer to practice major malfunction recovery. While you can do things like this with a commercially available product like Microsoft, just try getting open permission to design and use it how you want.

In my last post, I described how other people take what's already available, make a few changes, and make it their own. This is how innovation has been done since man was able to innovate. Some companies, like Lego have embraced this. They fought it at first, even to the point of pursuing legal cases. But, they eventually saw the value in open innovation, and not only allowed users to hack their Lego Mindstorms product, but encourage them to do just that.

By allowing users to openly take FlightGear, hack it up, turn it into something different, better, stronger, faster, the product is able to progress at a faster rate than if it was a commercial product. FlightGear is now used in major universities as a research and training tool.

Anyway, I'd had trouble getting FlightGear to load on my Ubuntu Desktop. I'm not sure if it had to do with the technical specs of the machine, or with the Dapper Drake 6.06 version. I hadn't bothered with it for a few month, and wondered if it would work on my laptop with the Edgy Eft 6.10 version. I found the package in Synaptic, loaded it up, started the program, and I was taking off. It even recognized my flight stick. The program is only as good as the machine it's on. While it looks pretty good to me, I understand it looks even better on a machine with a high-end graphic card. I'm more concerned with learning how to fly than with how it looks when I do, so I probably won't bother to get a newer, better card.

In Other News
Today, we put together a desk for Nancy's mom. She has desks in her home, but most were antique, and didn't fit her computer well. Now, Mrs. Wayman can actually see the screen she's working on.
Now, Mrs. Wayman can read her granddaughters, Amy and Laura's blogs. Nancy's too. In a few months, she'll probably have her own blog.

We also took the dogs to the dog park today. Chili got to meet, greet, and play with a little Australian Cattle Dog puppy. It was probably the first creature who's ever understood and cooperated with Chili's style of play. Maybe, same for the puppy. Herding behavior is hardwired in ACD's and you can't untrain it. They are their happiest when they are doing their 'job'; herding cattle. Chili, and the little ACD pup, Greta had a great time.

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