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Good Reads
Bitter Pill

march 2006

Kids Are Different When Dad Is In The Room

August 5, 2008 6:29 PM

This is a scene from Kids In the Hall: Brain Candy, a fantastic movie. Pay attention to the guy sitting at the table. Priceless.


For some reason, the video doesn't show up embedded...Follow the link...

Board Meeting

Why [IT] Matters

August 5, 2008 6:26 PM

For the past several months, I've been trying to get a section of the good ol' .Com-o de Izeon (The .com of izeon, get it?) up and running that contained a completely opinionated view of my world as it applies to Corporate America.

As many of you who have read this for a while (or those who know me in general) may realize is that I have a lot of varied interests, and despite not being as seasoned (read: old) as some of you, I've certainly seen my share of stuff in this world. I'm one who uses analogies and pop culture references a lot at work to help others understand what I'm trying to explain in terms we all may know. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't, but at least I try.

I've been trying to figure out how to take that same use of analogies and apply it to more complex things. I've decided to break it up in to sections of interest or experience, and then take several topics within that and how I think it applies to the business world.

I give you:

Why [IT] Matters

Where [IT] is a variety of things.

In an effort to not be too selfish, I have two guest authors lined up as well, both of whom I've worked with in the past. I will look forward to their contributions!

I hope you all enjoy it, and if you don't, well, watch Napoleon Dynamite more so when I ask you for chapstick in a meeting, you know I'm joking.

OK, Maybe Now...

August 4, 2008 3:44 AM

Installed the new version of Flight Simulator which supports photo-real resolutions an order of magnitude more detailed.

The image below is at 16 times the resolution, good enough to see the markings on the road.

NOW I'm not sure anything is missing...

As Real As It Gets?

August 3, 2008 12:41 PM

For years I've had my PC set up to do pretty intricate flight simulation. As the years have gone on, I've slowly worked on making the flight simulation experience a bit more real. PC hardware gets faster, graphics cards get better, and each new succession of simulation software gets more and more realistic.

I originally had a nice combat style joystick and an older version of flight simulator. It got me plenty far, but eventually I realized that a very limited set of aircraft actually have full-on HOTAS (Hands On Throttle And Stick) controls. Hmmm...

Something was missing...

About four years ago, I finally broke down and bought a flight yoke, which acts as the "steering wheel" of a plane, and rudder pedals, which steer the plane on the ground and control the left-to-right movement in the air. The difference in controls is amazing compared to even that of a complicated joystick I had set up prior. The coordination of flight controls and the ability to properly handle the aircraft in a crosswind is something that can only be replicated with the right controls. The difference is nothing short of amazing.

But something was still missing...

The problem with looking at a monitor is that your field of view is extremely limited. In a real plane, when you turn your head to the left, you can see what's to the left. You can glance down quickly and check your gauges. In a simulator, changing the view, while not overly difficult, is still a pretty tedious task compared to the thoughtlessness of real life. So I found some software online that would help, but no hardware was readily available for the software. Out came the soldering iron, some high-intensity LEDs, and a web cam. Sure enough, I now have head-tracking built-in. When my head turns left, the view does too. I can look down and check my gauges while on approach, and glance back up to check where the runway is.

But something was still missing...

After setting it up, the PC I had just didn't have the horsepower to handle the head tracking and the simulation software, both of which are rather intensive pieces of code. So, keeping within a 500 dollar budget, I ordered parts from New Egg and began building my own PC. After a few nights of construction, I had a custom PC, purpose-built to do nothing but flight simulation. And for $500? Get out of town.

But something was still missing...

The skies seemed mighty lonely. In a very short search of web sites, I came upon a site that takes actual flight plans from the airlines and extremely well detailed models of the airline aircraft and loads them into Flight Simulator. As I live next to the airport, I decided to test it. As I listened to Flight Simulator clear Northwest 41 from Amsterdam to land, sure enough, an A330 (they only fly to AMS, London, and Hawaii) cruised by overhead. All within a minute or two.

But something was still missing...

Even after cranking up the graphics on the new PC to levels of detail I was surprised to see, along with a miriad of new air traffic, I was still disappointed that the flight simulation softwares still use "auto generated terrain" to cover the majority of the Earth. It's pretty simple why they do it: Do you know how much data photo imagery of Earth actually is? Yikes. Try shipping that on a DVD. Well, after a few months of futzing with my new USI Minneapolis Wireless Internet, I finally have it running at a steady 3mbps, plenty to support a new plugin for MS Flight Simulator called Tiles Proxy. What it does is download satellite imagery from Google Earth (and other providers) streaming on the fly to cover the area you fly in with photo-real terrain. I just finished installing and setting it up about an hour ago.

The end result is the three pictures you see above.

In the first, You can see Lake Nokomis just below the aircraft, complete with the Cedar Avenue Causeway. Hiawatha Golf Course is even right below the wing! In the distance, you see Interstate 35W and Hiawatha Avenue converge on downtown Minneapolis. You can even make out each-and-every ball field at Bossen Park, just a stone's throw from my house.

In the middle picture, you can see the Minnesota River Valley just south of the Mall of America, which is just behind the tail of the aircraft. You can see the Cedar Avenue bridge over the river, and even the commercial areas that parallel the 494 corridor.

In the bottom picture, you see the Lindbergh Terminal at Minneapolis/St. Paul international Airport. You can see the parking structure and each-and-every gate of MSP modeled accurately, including the correct gates for different airlines.

After flying for about 45 minutes this evening, complete with flight yoke and rudder pedals, with near real-time air traffic, all while flying over photo-real scenery which I can look down at with a twist of my head, all running extremely smooth on a fantastic PC...

I'm for the first time starting to wonder if nothing is missing...

Hard to see the image above? Check out the full-size images of each one:

Minneapolis, MN
Bloomington, MN
Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport


This is the word barf of a guy named Bob (Ethics major turned Software Engineer) who lives in Minneapolis.

Email me. Buy some photo gallery prints. Do whatever.

Looking for foil pictures? They are here.

Unfoiled, The Movie

Why [IT] Matters
My Life Applied to Corporate America

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