Still Flying!

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Still Flying!

Postby Steve Waite » Wed Jan 10, 2018 11:16 pm

I had a guy email yesterday saying he couldn't work out where the option is to install an AIRAC in IF so got a refund after less than 24 hours with it. He didn't even bother to email for help - just emailed to say he didn't understand it.

I'm offering very good help and support and he missed that deliberately. I've had only two like that in all the time IF has been available so it's a bit of a record and has such little problems the biggest event recently in the support forums was some tumbleweed blowing through it.

99% of help i'm giving is system related and a good thing is that IF sniffs it out if your setup is not up to it. It's not going to work if it cant use the sim or the system properly. There's a million things can stop it yet still proves utterly reliable - one of the best in that regard.

Remember that IF uses data in scenery and planes that even P3D doesn't need to run, so a poor addon can mean IF can't gleam enough information and might even cause issues with indexing. Anything like that can be fixed in a day and I'll get out a fix promptly.

Problems with odd scenery techniques have been handled with work around for several years and I've had only one issue with a certain scenery package in the last couple of years.

To get an understanding of the sandboxing, IF doesn't come with any information about planes and scenery. A typical situation faced by IF is knowing if the plane has floats so it can land on water. In these circumstances we have to help IF by setting the Water Surface checkbox. IF knows what FSX stock aircraft have floats and that's not simply done by pre-programming it in - the data is in the plane and IF finds out about floats, so other addons can provide the same information but unfortunately do not.

IF being the sandbox cannot always extract everything it requires from planes and scenery - if they work in the sim doesn't mean the are complete. Some airports have come out with incomplete records as well and work perfectly in the sim. But a machine reader like IF needs data to read or it makes it up.

Another aspect not realised about IF is that it analyses all waypoints in the AIRAC and fixes errors during the indexing process. With IF we fly all around the world but AIRAC types usually fly a few routes with well honed data and never see problems. With IF it would bring up support issues here pretty soon with just standard data.

Getting to know how to use a program can be hard. If we don't know where stuff is in a new program there's some leg work to do. Right-clicking on the first page of IF for the popup menu didn't occur to him though. Once a function has been found it's hard to forget so there's really only a very minor learning curve with IF per-se, the real learning curve is all in the flying and understanding the sim.

IF being a kind of sandbox program means we can do what we like and suffer the consequences. A simple analogy would be using a CAD program to design a house and put the roof lower than the walls, it doesn't work. But that's easy to spot. Setting up routes and aircraft parameters requires some thought and experience.

IF is made to work with planes not come out yet. So with IF we get an arbitrary performance setup and start with that. IF monitors the fuel used during the flight and we can set our range accordingly. The precision is homed in and we discover the true performance and economy of the sim model in the sim.

We can get an addon plane and Google up the fuel economy and range and have a look at the brochures - that's for the real plane - good luck with using that data for the model in the sim.

In real life the test pilot fly's the plane to ascertain the performance and the fuel requirements stem from those test flights.

Behold, that's exactly what we do in IF and it's not something I'm willing to give up. Flight simming seems useless flying around like a goldfish in a tank, look there's my new Posoidon addon scenery nestled in the weeds, looks great doesn't it? I like scenery but half a dozen airports does not make up for no IF.

Another thing i'm not willing to give up is the amazing IF routes, especially when it finds routes around mountains rather than going over the top. I hate simple join the dots routes and downloaded plans are pretty boring like that usually and unreliable ... loading GPS plan ... waypoints XYZ have been ignored, tut-tut!

Even so IFs routes are based on airways, so if it can find airways around the obstacle and the route is not too far in consequence it's going to look for those. Some of my most memorable flights are like that.

One last thing, IF isn't a mapping product there's loads of those, many free. It is a very small footprint, tiny deliverable, doesn't go online during the flight, occupies less RAM than an Explorer window and uses less than 1% of an HT logical processor during the flight. Sure the map page is grungy but it's a tiny jpg for a reason and it's only for getting an idea of where we are on the globe, we can use proper mapping apps for that online. Everything you see is done for a reason, if you want glossy showmanship in your frame get a painting. IF's development time is in the doing of sim stuff not for the looking at - same goes for the website. I'm not improving those all the time I can improve the guts of IF - glamour can wait. I'm not fooled by clever marketing hype and glossy adverts and so it seems are most of you guys.

I'm building a list of updates planned and what's most important. However I've been sidetracked lately on other complex material, but I'll be back 100% focussed on Flight SIms soon. Anything you want to add?

Happy new year and thanks to all you new IF chums. Don't hesitate to come and post your thoughts.
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Re: Still Flying!

Postby Steve Waite » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:05 pm

There's quite a lot of new users coming to the IF platform so let's take a look into some aspects of IF...

It is an Windows exe application and does not rely on .NET or C++ libraries. The file is complete with installer, uninstaller, low res screens, html help system and other documentation. It's all in that 10Mb exe. Whether it's in setup mode or in flight planning mode it is the same exe file. The installer mode makes files by extracting them into the setup location with its own compressor (not a bought in lib - it's proprietary -remember IF is only 10Mb including a dozen screens and help files) and making up other files programmatically from algorithms.

Since it installs in its own folder and creates its own User mode folder for saving settings and flights, it knows what it is doing and knows what your OS is and so on. Someone actually thought the setup had not worked as it didn't ask any questions and did it really fast. He said he hadn't yet gone further to double click the icon and found it all worked beautifully when he did. He got in touch to let me know since being so frustrated with other stuff requiring all manner of user messing to install and run - stuff far simpler than IF.

IF's been designed to run without elevated privileges for secure sites like business and universities, there are quite a few copies out there. Only in setup mode does IF ask to elevate privileges. Incidentally, if we must run the sim as admin, instead run IF as admin by setting the checkbox in the icon, and that way in turn IF starts the sim in admin mode.

IF scans the scenery for many reasons. The sim scans the scenery every time it starts, it is however only pulling very light information from the files. None the less, the loading time of the sim grows with the amount of scenery we install. With IF we scan it once after any changes and it creates an abstracted navdata-set, far more data than in an AIRAC from NavDataPro or Navigraph.

The data is an abstraction of combined from scenery and AIRAC (if we choose it), or we can use fsAerodata (not much around makes plans from the actual fsAerodata navdataset they supply but IF does) .

The abstract IF navdata also contains a specially prepared subset of data to help with finding routes. The IF routes form this extra complexity because it also includes geophysical data which the routes rely on, especially for low flyers. If the classic route finding algorithms come to mind to solutions like the travelling salesman problem, that's piffling compared to the complexity behind IF's proprietary algorithm - only IF has this advanced route finder, by the way, it's not bought-in, you can't buy it. It is likely the most sophisticated commercial app handling AIRAC data available on the PC as far as I can find out.
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Re: Still Flying!

Postby Steve Waite » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:22 pm

Some rush into things and miss-judge without care, like our chum this week had IF an hour and binned it.

IF moves on from apps that we choose "Save-As" when we export a route. Seems pretty basic to have to choose where to save a file each time. Instead in IF we set up export objects that do all the work from then on.

IF comes with a set of very low res screens to reduce the delivery cost (although we can drop our own hi-res artwork onto IF) and does things quite differently so as to automate our workflow.

Those of us looking for a glossy product we are used to are in for a shock, there's nothing to lure you, no fancy stuff, other than what you really-really want - the tech. Once we get into IF we find it's making it all seem way too easy. I can guarantee that what IF does is not at all easy but it runs so sweet it makes it look like it must be doing something easy. You won't see a commercial app that compares to IF because it's not economically viable.
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Re: Still Flying!

Postby Steve Waite » Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:17 am

Right so you've installed P3D and now you want to know how well it works. Got IFPro? Good, then you enable the Sim Data Recording and framerate logging (Records page popup menu - SimData Recording, values) and uncheck all the items except framerate, average fps, fps-delta, quality and delta.Q. Also we can set an amount of time before recording commences, allowing the sim to stabilise over 30 seconds might show different results.

The graphs only show five items for clarity so it's easiest to select only the five you want in the first place.

Get a scenario set up that represents your usual flying and save the flight. Now by restoring the saved flight - say it's on autopilot, you can have it run for say two minutes and pause (Settings page, in-flight timers). End the flight and before leaving the de-brief, right click for the popup and choose the graph.

Now you can see how the sim is performing in real data.
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Re: Still Flying!

Postby Steve Waite » Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:24 am

We can simply restart the saved flight and let it go, it pauses after a few minutes and we can compare graphs. The graphs appear in a browser window so they can be left open to compare.

Only Ideal Flight provides this facility - guaranteed repeatability with a full-on setup combining weather and AI traffic that's the same each time - worth some $$, I would not hesitate to purchase this on its own. :mrgreen:
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Re: Still Flying!

Postby Steve Waite » Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:37 am

So our chum that binned IF because it's got low res screens (smallest memory footprint on the PC and GPU I could do in IF) imagine how galling to make such a low resource product then get some smart guy mail you to say it's not a glossy looking as other product is a shame but honestly - it was really because he was so impatient he couldn't find the popup menu for pointing the folder picker at the base folder of his PMDG - and that's knowing how to use WIndows per-se, my only concern is he's missing out:

C:\Program Files\Lockheed Martin\Prepar3D v4\PMDG\NavData

So we point IFPro at that folder and it picks up the AIRAC and assimilates it with the sim scenery for perfect plans. Because IFPro goes to random locations it simply must have reliable data. The navdata abstraction engine combines the AIRAC, the sim Navdata or fsAerodata, and the geophysical data from a DEM.

Now when we make plans for our PMDG they all work flawlessly because the plans are made with the PMDG dataset itself. How good is that!

See the options for navdata in the Startup Page popup menu.
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Re: Still Flying!

Postby caphpn » Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:47 am

Steve, I just wanted to say that you are top notch. I have ran into problems a few times and ALWAYS without fail you have provided me help and got me up and running again. I'm at the point I won't fly if I can't use my IF. It has been an absolutely pleasant journey and I'll support your work anyway I can. Thanks so much!
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Re: Still Flying!

Postby Steve Waite » Tue Feb 20, 2018 4:55 am

I appreciate your kind words especially going to the trouble of coming in just to say that. I'm working on IF again now as been busy on other stuff. So cleaning up interface glitches that annoy me as I didn't see was too busy flying not looking at how it's operating. Keep an eye out for preview build 02 and let me know anything you need.

Much thanks
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