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A customer reported an error in the map used by Flight Simulator (microsoft.com)
773 points by Doubleguitars 65 days ago | hide | past | web | 231 comments | favorite

It's an everyday occurrence during the development of our app (Infinite Flight).

We often get customers complaining about a misplaced sticker on a livery, a missing exit door in a particular variant of a the 737-900... That type of stuff is easily verifiable. But for things like the airplane not behaving in a way they expect in certain conditions, or perhaps a wrong approach speed or angle, discussions usually start with: "We tuned the airplane based on information available to us at the time we built the airplane. We are happy to make any changes based on an actual report from one or more pilots flying on this airplane, or better yet, the aircraft manual if you can get your hands on one."

The discussion usually ends there :)

One we get often is about why it's possible to do a barrel roll in a jet liner in Infinite Flight. We simply point them to the video of that test pilot who did one in a 707 ;-)

Since a properly executed barrel roll can be a 1-G maneuver, it's technically possible in any aircraft.

The reason most aircraft are incapable of flying upside down isn't usually due to stresses on the airframe, it's because the fueling system relies on some form of force pushing the fuel through the bottom of the aircraft. A 1-G barrel roll does exactly that.

There's some interesting trickery done with carbureted aerobatic aircraft to let them fly upside down for an extended period of time, including special valves which shut off fuel flow to the bowls when gravity isn't in the direction they expect it to be, so the aircraft won't lose that fuel back into the fueling system (or out the top of the engine) and can run for a bit on that fuel in the carburetor bowls until the plane is righted.

>Since a properly executed barrel roll can be a 1-G maneuver, it's technically possible in any aircraft.

Although it's a low positive G maneuver it's not 1G, only straight and level flight is 1G, everything else requires a deviation from that to change direction. Wikipedia says it will vary between 0.5 to 3G throughout the maneuver which should be possible in almost all aircraft as it keeps fuel flowing and isn't a major stress on the airframe. It's probably even possible to do it at no more than 1.5G if you do it large enough so that it's even comfortable and not particularly noticeable for the passengers that don't look out the window.

A gentleman by the name of Bob Hoover would like a word with you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9pvG_ZSnCc

That demonstrates that there are no negative G forces. It doesn't demonstrate that it's 1G.

I'm a private pilot who has done aerobatics, exactly 1G doesn't work - and it's completely unnecessary (though you can stay pretty close to it, so that someone with their eyes closed would not know they were rolled).

But just about the video as "proof of 1G":

As long as you stay positive you are fine, even psychologically with passengers not used to it. The real turning point, in real effects as well as psychologically, is when you approach 0G, the feeling only starts at less than 0.5G when you begin to feel more and more weightless.

When you go even slightly negative it becomes a completely different matter, both in terms of real effects (fuel, oil, lose stuff flying around the cabin) as well as psychologically: Even though you made the harness extra tight with as much force as you could muster in preparation for an aerobatic flight with negative G forces, when you get here it feels as if you hang upside down in the harness and the seat is miles away from you, as if you dropped a few centimeters and now literally just hang in the airplane.

I (in my small and somewhat underpowered aircraft) go below 1G when I get close to the top, because if I tried to maintain 1G the nose of the airplane would have to drop (towards the earth in that position), and I want to keep that at a minimum, so that I don't end the roll with the nose in too much of a nose-down attitude from which I will have to pull out.

Here is an image from my flying some years ago, in a Grob 115C Acro (rented from Attitude Aviation, Livermore, CA, ca. 2002): http://i.imgur.com/Rd5VW3R.jpg (the inside of this airplane: http://i.imgur.com/4bwJn13.jpg)

EDIT: (after reading some comments) To me a roll is over when the airplane is back to straight and level, after 360 degrees. So my statements are for that interpretation of the word "roll". And my frame of reference for g-forces are the people on board the aircraft.

First, this video is amazing.

But as the video demonstrates quite well, the first phase of a barrel roll requires pitching up into a gentle climb. This is physically impossible without exceeding 1g at any point.

True. Needn't be much though: to put it into a 2 m/s climb (400 ft/min), you'd just need to hold 1.1 G over two seconds.

I love that video. I've got an autographed pencil sketch of Bob's P-51 (autographed by both the artist and Bob!). And while watching him fly, the only explanation I could come up with that explains how effortless he makes it look is that he was actually a bird in an earlier lifetime.

That's definitely a very cool video

Physicist here. There is no law of the universe that prevents flying an absolutely perfect 1G barrel roll. Maybe those numbers are assuming perfectly steady thrust and a constant angle of attack, or true circular motion? That's the best I can think of.

If you maintain exactly 1 gee, then the moment your lift vector deviates from vertical you'll begin to accelerate downward, since the vertical component of your lift vector will no longer cancel out all gravitational acceleration. At the end of the maneuver you're going straight and level again, which means the vertical velocity you built up needs to be eliminated. The only way to do this is by accelerating at more than one gee for some period of time.

You can stay arbitrarily close to 1 gee, given unlimited time and altitude, but you can't stay exactly at one gee throughout a barrel roll.

> At the end of the maneuver

Here's the difference, once the plane's wings are level with the horizon, the roll is considered to have been completed. The rest (regaining a stable pitch) is recovery.

Yes, you are correct that the aircraft's velocity is not maintainable after the maneuver has been completed, and must incur positive G forces to regain level flight, but it's not technically part of the barrel roll.

EDIT: As I noted in another response (in which I go into a lot more detail), the pilot probably doesn't even have to take any action to negate the downward velocity component; the change in the angle of attack (the angle at which the wing intersects with the airflow) would naturally increase the amount of lift being generated by the wing, at the cost of more drag.

I don't think that's quite right. A barrel roll is supposed to be entered and exited in level flight. But I think we both understand what's going on, so that's just a dispute over where to draw an arbitrary line!

Well actually...

I suppose it's high-school-physics possible to fly a 1 gee helical path (the "barrel roll") centered around an orbital zero-gee trajectory...

Imagine for a moment a zero gee orbital trajectory at a low enough altitude that you can still generate aerodynamic lift from the atmosphere. (Here we handwave away all the pesky frictional heating, because we're deep in the thought experiment world of perfectly spherical cows of uniform density.) Now imagine a helical "coil spring" shaped path with that orbital trajectory running through the center. "All" you need to do is get the diameter and spacing of those helical coils right so your acceleration around the coils needs to be 1G, while your averaged out path coincides with the orbital zero gee trajectory.


(An aircraft with sufficient speed, fuel capacity, heat shielding, and whatever else I've glossed over - is left as an exercise for the reader...)

I just thought of an easier (and probably achievable) thought experiment.

Imagine a fighter jet flying circles around an airliner as it follows it along - with the fighter pilot flying at just the right radius and speed that it's accelerating at 1 gee for the turn (so they'd be "feeling" 2 gee as they pass under the airliner, and zero gee as they loop over the top of the airliner) using a helical "barrel roll" path - and at the same time "keeping up" with the airliner along it's path, so if you were sitting in the airliner looking out it'd look like the fighter was flying circles around the long axis of the fuselage.

Now imagine the fighter pilot does the same trick following the vomit comet - as it flies its parabolic arcs which gives it's occupants 20-30 secs or so of "zero gee".


However, if you keep flying 1G after exiting that parabolic barrel roll, you're going to make a hole in the ground. The vomit comet usually does a 3G pull up afterwards. You've got to exceed 1G, either to enter the parabolic arc from level flight, or to leave it to regain level flight, or more likely, both.

edit: I'm wrong, leaving this for posterity.

You're neglecting two potential sources of upward acceleration. One, the turn itself, or in other words air resistance: if you stop turning when you're pointed straight up, clearly you're going to go up, not down (at least to start with), which means the turn accelerated you upward. And two, any forward acceleration provided by the engine while "forward" isn't horizontal.

(I don't know enough about aerodynamics to actually determine how a barrel roll actually works, though, only enough to contradict your post :)

I'm not addressing any sources of acceleration. I'm only looking at the final acceleration vector. If the magnitude of that vector is 1 gee, then there are only two possibilities. One is that it perfectly opposes gravity, resulting in zero net acceleration. The other is that it doesn't perfectly oppose gravity, resulting in downward vertical acceleration. It is not possible for a 1 gee acceleration vector to result in upward vertical acceleration, regardless of what causes the acceleration.

Given that "1G" is here defined as "in the vertical plane of the aircraft", no it's not, unless you're willing to accept a permanent vertical delta-V (which, as a pilot, you aren't.)

You know of a path that keeps the acceleration 1G and pointing downwards at all times? Or you mean 1G in total acceleration that can point in any direction? I'd be curious to see a reasonable path for the second and don't see how the first can be possible (and 1G usually means more than just an acceleration vector of length 1 otherwise we wouldn't talk about negative G).

Nobody is talking about a gravity vector pointing towards the center of the earth during the entire maneuver. The implied assumption, I believe, is 1G towards the floor of the plane at all times.

This is quite easy to do when you realize that the plane can (and will) lose altitude and transfer ground-relative horizontal momentum for the vertical.

>Nobody is talking about a gravity vector pointing towards the center of the earth during the entire maneuver. The implied assumption, I believe, is 1G towards the floor of the plane at all times.

I mean downwards towards the floor of the plane of course, not the center of the earth. mikeash has already explained much better than I could why you can't keep 1G from the point of view of the passenger and do a normal barrel roll from/to level flight. It seems easy to have a path that does it if you allow it to finish in descending flight.

> You know of a path that keeps the acceleration 1G and pointing downwards at all times?

Yes, but you're not going to like the outcome.


Freefall is a 0G maneuver.

From your perspective, yes. But you're accelerating with 1G right up until you reach terminal velocity (or impact) unless you're in orbit.

Maneuvers are always from the reference frame of the passenger. If a passenger is feeling subjectively to be in 0G, it doesn't matter what their acceleration is compared to any fixed reference frame.

Or if you are just far enough away, with just enough lateral velocity, you keep missing the planet. Silly astronauts, can't even fall properly.

The second is an aileron roll done purely with the ailerons, engine and tail, not using the lift generated by the wings. Not all planes can do it because the engine needs to be very powerful to support horizontal flight, and the wings need a neutral airfoil shape to provide lift when upside down.

Trying to come up with a better explanation for the first.

EDIT: Try this on for size:

Given - the force imparted by the wings is 1G (enough to cancel the force of gravity), and will always be pointed straight through the roof of the aircraft. The pilot takes no action to increase the amount of lift. The G's are measured from the frame of reference of the passengers in respect to the aircraft. Rotational forces are not considered - most people are unable to kinesthetically perceive any rotation which occurs at less than 5 degrees per second, and don't realize that they could be upside down and still feeling like they're right side up. It's why instrument training involves so much instruction and reminders to trust the instruments, not your body.

The maneuver is initiated by rolling the plane (clockwise, with respect to the pilot) with the ailerons. Since no effort is made to change the amount of force being generated by the wings, the downward component of that thrust (as measured from an external reference point) will lessen, allowing the aircraft to start accelerating downwards while also accelerating to the right. The force felt by the passengers is still exactly 1G - the force created by the wings, and it is still pointed vertically through the plane. Since the downward component affects the passengers and plane equally, there is no measurable effect on the G forces with respect to the passenger's frame of reference.

The aircraft reaches 90 degrees, and is accelerating to the right at 1G, and downwards at 1G. The downward force is not felt by the passengers, again because their entire frame of reference is accelerating at the same speed, only the force pushing them into their seats.

The aircraft reaches 180 degrees, and is now accelerating at 2Gs downwards. Passengers are still feeling only 1G of pressure from the seat.

270 degrees - the acceleration to the left cancels out the previous acceleration to the right, passengers are still being just pushed into their seats.

360 degrees - the maneuver is complete. The plane is significantly lower and some distance to the "right" of its original position. Their velocity now includes a significant downwards component.

Now here's where things perhaps become a matter of semantics - pilots would consider the barrel roll to be completed at this point, and they simply need to recover from their new orientation. Of course, this will probably require little to no input from the pilot, it will simply happen naturally due to the changed angle of attack induced by the downward motion increasing the lift generated by the wing.

How do you ever ascend or descend without accelerating up or down?

It depends on your frame of reference. If you're on the space station, are you falling down with 1G of force? Yes, but so is everything else around you, so we consider this to be effectively weightlessness.

An aircraft which is freefalling will be experiencing 0G's in that downward direction, but if the aircraft's wings are creating 1G of force perpendicular to the force of gravity, the only forces experienced within the frame of reference of the aircraft is that 1G sideways.

I am not at all familiar with aircraft, but in the video were Tex Johnson talks about doing the barrel roll, he literally says it is a 1G maneuver.


I read something similar in John Boyd's biography (highly recommended) about the barrel roll as well. I assume they mean it can be done while keeping the plane in a 0.9-1.1G window or something along those lines. In other words in can be done in a way that if you closed the blinds on all the windows and did it in a commercial flight full of passengers no one would complain or even be able to tell.

That's not true. There will still be rotation that can be felt.

I had a beer with a B-1 Lancer pilot who was here on exercises many years ago. He said that on low level flight infiltration exercises, his normal method to go over ridge lines and small hills is to pull the aircraft gently up, roll it inverted and pull back while cresting the ridge, then roll upright once over.

He said he is experienced enough to maintain 1.0 to 1.5G throughout the manoeuvre, and the most of the time, the weapons guys in the back of the plane who are usually 'heads down' and don't have big windows to look out of, don't even realise they were inverted for 10 to 15 seconds.

He said he has a standing wager with them when they land, and if the back seaters can accurately tell him how many ridgelines they crested inverted correctly, he buys them a beer. He told me he hardly ever has to buy.

We humans are pretty funny. The sensitivity comes a lot from what the eyes see, the hands feel and what we expect to happen from what the experience tells us (stick movement and such). Only a small ammount of it comes from the inner ear balance sense.

Try standing on one leg. Then close your eyes. Or try walking in a very dark but not completely black room. And then close your eyes. Your balance sense might tell you very strange things and if you haven't trained for this, you might fall.

Below a certain threshold, somewhere near 5 degrees a second, your inner ear can not sense the rotation. It's why you need instruments when flying without visual cues.

Oh, it can also tell you you're tumbling wildly when you are actually going completely straight. Really disorienting.

> everything else requires a deviation from that to change direction

Well, kinda. The trick is that you have 1G downwards constantly, which can be reduced by initiating a descent at the same time you introduce other directional changes. Rotation (the major component of a barrel roll) does not impart G forces, as recognized by the term.

I'm sure few to zero pilots who can keep it at 1G exactly throughout the maneuver, but it is at least theoretically possible (so long as you don't mind losing altitude via the maneuver).

>Well, kinda. The trick is that you have 1G downwards constantly, which can be reduced by initiating a descent at the same time you introduce other directional changes.

This isn't possible. In straight and level flight you are experiencing 1G acceleration. To be able to change the plane's orientation in any way you need to impart some acceleration to it and thus deviate from the 1G. For example initiating a descent requires an acceleration downwards which will be felt by the passengers as less than 1G. If you finesse it enough and do it big and wide enough you can probably maintain it within a tolerance for what we consider to be 1G but it's not possible to stay at 1G exactly.

In any realistic scenario it's of course only possible to stay within some threshold around 1G. But why would it be theoretically impossible? If I drop the nose down slightly I reduce downward forces to say 0.95G. In the same manouver I accelerate left with 0.31G. Since 0.95^2 + 0.31^2 = 1^2, I still have a net force of 1G on the aircraft. In theory it should be possible to compute a path that keeps me at exactly 1G at all times.

You can indeed, in theory, start a descent while maintaining exactly 1 gee. But you can't stop that descent without exceeding 1 gee. The best you can do is to maintain your current vertical velocity.

I understand 1G as also requiring the vector to be pointing down on the aircraft. If you allow it to point in any direction as long as the vector has length 1 passengers will notice and not all mechanical parts will be guaranteed to work so the fact that it's technically 1G is not enough to guarantee any airplane can do it. I think that's not the usual definition of 1G either as we even talk about negative Gs (and airframes are particularly sensitive to them) which wouldn't make sense in that case.

But it would be cool to see if there's a theoretical path that we can recognize as a barrel roll than keeps exactly 1G of acceleration in any direction needed.

What he's saying is possible, but it wouldn't be a barrel roll anymore.

You can experience 1G while banked 90 degrees by pulling up slightly. However, the plane will be losing altitude as the wings are not generating lift.

Once you are banked 90 degrees you can do that but how do you get to that bank while maintaining 1G pointing towards the floor at all times?

By smoothly transitioning into the turn as you roll. The simple act of rolling the aircraft doesn't change the amount of lift being generated towards the roof of the aircraft. In fact, if you don't increase that force intentionally, you will turn and lose altitude.

I don't think this is correct. There's a constant 1G force; you can adjust for the difference necessary in angular momentum as you turn. Sure you won't be perfectly level in the same way have a constant rotational velocity would be but it's still a barrel roll.

Of course, it would point in a different direction, but the magnitude would be 1G.

Hell, i think you could easily develop an intuition for it.

The 1G is from the frame of reference of the passenger. Gravity's effects are essentially nil for the passengers (and the aircraft itself), since everything in the aircraft is accelerating in the same way at the same time. You only really feel the force of the lift generated by the wings.

electrical planes don't have this problem.

Nor do fuel injected engines, nor jet engines.

Electrical planes have a weight issue with the need for batteries (or humongous wings covered with solar panels). Petroleum products, for better or worse, still have a huge advantage in the energy/weight department.

How does the fuel get from the tank to the jet or fuel injected engine when the pickup is on the bottom of the now upside-down tank?

There are ways to ensure fuel delivery, but the problem certainly isn't unique to carbureted engines, only the particular issue of managing the fuel in the carburetor bowl.

In "toy planes" we (used to) use "clunk tanks", where the fuel pickup is a piece of flexible tube with a weight on the end, so no matter what orientation the airframe is in, the "sloshed fuel" and the fuel pickup end up in the same place (near enough). For aggressively aerobatic model planes (like control line combat wings) a pressurised fuel bladder was sometimes used (made, back in my childhood, we made these from baby pacifiers!)

Note: this is a couple or more decades old knowledge... Modern electric powered rc planes and builders don't have this problem to deal with.

The issue is a non issue. For ages in planes, race cars, etc we have had fuel cells. A few types exist, from just adding more baffles and pickups with vapor locks, to fuel bags (no air to make it to pickup) or the more modern foam matrices that use capilary effect.

As I said. There are ways to combat the problem, but the above comment that it did not apply to jet engines or fuel injected engines did not take into consideration the requirement that the entire fuel system be able to operate at low or negative G's

Boeing also did a near-vertical take off in the 787 during their initial tests (and a few times after at air shows) This video [1] from a past Paris air show, shows a 787 ready for a delivery to Vietnam Airlines doing a very aggressive & short (but not vertical take off). Pretty ballsy to do such a thing in such an expensive jet that's on its way to delivery to a client.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5_8D8HCnS4

According to comments, it was nowhere near vertical, which is why they didn't show it from a side angle. Apparently indicator light goes off at 30 degrees, indicating imminent engine stall.

I'm assuming you mean angle of attack, not flight path angle. The aircraft could certainly be capable of a 60 degree climb until it slowed down enough that it couldn't maintain a low enough angle of attack. It probably could only sustain something less than a 30 degree climbing flight path angle (while empty), as that would be pushing the limit of the thrust to weight ratio. That being said cameras can be used in ways that make things look much more dramatic than they actually were.

As a side note, at 30 degrees AoA the aircraft will not be able to continue flying anyway, the wings will have stalled well before that, and the pilot would be made painfully aware of this fact through stick shakers, aural warnings, and very rough tail buffet.

I'm a flight test engineer, so this stuff is what I get to do for work! :)

The video is filmed from a distance using a long telephoto lens, compressing the perspective. The 2011 movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy used the trick in a similar scene to a great dramatic effect [1].

[1] https://petapixel.com/2016/01/25/this-dramatic-shot-was-done...

Is that a scene that makes more sense in context? Out of context, I'm having somewhat of a hard time distinguishing it from a bad composition.

One of the characters is trying to get information out of the other by threatening him with being put on the plane, which, it's implied, would take him to an extremely disagreeable destination.

(Unintentionally reduced spoilers due to having forgotten many details of the film.)

Such a good film and book. Oldman plays an impressive smiley

Yes. The staring man (Smiley, played by Gary Oldman) is looking for a spy in his organization. The man being stared at is worried that Smiley is going to kill him (by putting him on the plane). The audience feels the same anxiety by proxy, because it appears that the actors are about to be hit by the propellers.

Look again at the actors. Smiley never stops studying the others' face, while the other looks scared, nervous, shifty, and guilty the entire time. Even without context you should be able to pick up that Smiley is cool as ice, and that the other man has something to hide.

Might have as well been filmed in front of a projection of that plane landing - it looks that way in the beginning anyway.

I think you are referring to the "Pitch Limit Indicator". This is not exactly a light, it's two yellow bars superimposed on the artificial horizon.

The PLI is capped at 30 degrees pitch, but that does not mean that the plane would stall at 30 degrees. You could climb much steeper than that if you had enough speed:

> However, the PLI also is limited to 30 deg of pitch attitude, regardless of AOA. If AOA or AOA margin to stick shaker were to be used as the first and primary focus of the flight crew during windshear escape or terrain avoidance procedures, extremely high pitch attitudes could be reached before stall warning if the maneuver is entered with sufficient speed. Therefore, the PLI shows the lesser of either margin to stick shaker, or 30 deg of pitch. (http://www.boeing.com/commercial/aeromagazine/aero_12/attack...)

Nevertheless, at least according to some Wired article, one of these steep takeoffs was done at a little under 30 degrees. (https://www.wired.com/2014/07/watch-test-pilots-push-the-new...) I guess the pilots use the PLI to judge their pitch attitude.


Boeing also released a video of the pilots rehearsing the routine. There's an overhead view of the takeoff - that's a lot steeper than 30 degrees, unless it's a perspective trick.

EDIT: 50-55 degrees seems to the actual pitch angle.

One of the videos I saw of the test planes appeared to be well above 60 degrees. Agreed, not vertical, but far more vertical than a standard airliner. Also, they only maintain the aggressive angle of attack for a very short time, which may lead credence to an engine stall, or an imminent engine stall.

What do you mean engine stall?

As long are you have enough thrust, airspeed and no system preventing you to go above a certain pitch or AOA, then the plane should fly just fine...

Excessive AOA causes streamline detachments in the diffuser that cause compressor stall: http://www.free-online-private-pilot-ground-school.com/image...

Right, but there's no excessive AOA here... except during recovery maybe but I doubt they let it go that high...

Please state clearly and plainly that it is your assertion, as a claimed expert pilot and aerospace engineer, that a stock 787 as shown has enough thrust to achieve vertical flight, as you are strongly implying in your comment. Thank you.

I mean the engine stalls, from lack of thrust, and airspeed. A 787 has about a 1:2 thrust to weight ratio. It's not a fighter jet.

Also how about a C-27J doing both a backflip and an aileron roll: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTn6JiU2J6U

or a C-130 taking off and landing on an aircraft carrier: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ar-poc38C84

isn't modern flight awesome?

Like the video of the Los Angeles class submarine emergency surfacing, those make me wonder how much junk was flying around the cabin.

Are you thinking of this one? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOqalX5FJ2c

Yes. I have a cousin who was stationed on a ballistic missile sub; I keep meaning to ask him how much crockery they had left after that.

The sub is actually already rigged to keep most loose things under control even under normal running... with any advance warning (most emergency blows are planned ;-) everyone has the time to secure things in lockers etc.

That said, standing on a vinyl tiled deck in the peak angle point of one is a trip!


Did you just copy and paste the top comment from the youtube video?

So, did you ever actually get accurate reports from pilots and make changes to the behaviour?

Yes we did, we actually have plenty of airline pilots in the community who have given feedback we incorporated into the sim.

Wait what? "THE NEXT GENERATION FLIGHT SIMULATOR" as per your web site - but you're ios/android mobile game.

I wonder what systems do you really simulate.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Bvhov0nxPQ That one?

The loss of altitude the moment the wings are vertical is crazy.

>The discussion usually ends there :)

Personally don't think this should be a point of pride.

If we get a strange claim like "The 737 at MLW should have a stable approach speed of 170kts, with 70% N1 and 5 degrees of pitch", then asking for a source of information seems pretty reasonable here...

They usually don't find it because it is based on "shower curtain" type of sources. ("my brother told me", or "this other sim behaves this way")

I do - surely you know how much time is wasted on pointless and unmotivated debates (e.g. on whether or not an airliner can do a barrel roll)

Reminds me of the funniest thing i ever read on the internet. I once played FS with a realism mod that would simulate passenger needs. One day someone appeared on our "virtual airline" forum asking for help:

" Hit severe turbulance over seattle on route to alaska. Didnt have seatbelt sign on. One dead, several injured. Am playing in-flight movie but passengers still angry. Should i serve meal early or wait until closer to destination?"

This quote was stolen from the comments section on the original article by Brian_EE

"I wonder how realistic the operations of the virtual airlines are. In the game, do you get to have local police come on your plane and beat up your passengers and drag them off before you take off on your flight route?"

FS is pilot-focused. They dont simulate the exciting world of ticket counters and baggage limits. But there is probably a german sim that, from the makers of AirportSimulator (see nerdcubed's coverage of that series). German simulators are a strange market niche.

I haven't wasted enough time on the United incident, but I would guess that the pilot did get involved at some point. They have, similar to a ship's captain, a legal status that goes beyond that of, say, a bus driver. I don't think the cabin crew would invite police onboard without the captain's approval.

And, while I am German, I have not seen Ryanair Checkin Simulator 2000. I'll have to check the section behind the curtain, though. May have been x-rated for excessive violence and unsatisfactory kink.

Of course, it's easy to create it yourself in Simulator Simulator 2017 if you have the "Extreme Queuing (Britain)" expansion pack.

I've also wondered about the pilots during the United incident, and media coverage has been strangely quiet on that topic.

The executive summary of the incident seems to be that there just weren't any adults in the room. One can easily picture gate agents, flight attendants, and the aviation department staff involved basically feeling that they must follow instructions, being worried about breaking policies, being written up, whatever.

You'd hope that if the whole thing were put in front of a pilot, they'd perhaps take a more wholistic, pragmatic, problem-solving view, and try a few other options first. Seems like almost anything would have been better - talking to the passengers, getting everybody to leave the plane and reboard / sort it out in the terminal, cancelling the flight, getting a bigger plane, putting the airline staff on a different airline, anything. If a pilot couldn't come up with a better solution to something like this, I'd worry how they'd fare in the air with a mechanical emergency.

My uninformed guess is that the pilots had no idea of the details of what was going on. They were probably in the cockpit with the door closed preparing for their part of the flight. No doubt they were kept informed of the situation, but it was probably vague generalities like, "We need to bump four passengers so we can deadhead crew, we should have you ready to go in 15 minutes." And next thing the poor pilots know, they have a starring role in a lawsuit.

I think that's quite possible, and I'd like to believe that's what happened. I guess there must be a cockpit voice recording somewhere - I wonder if that will ever come out, or if people need to die for that to happen.

I'm still kind of skeptical that the pilots could be completely oblivious about it though. You'd think that if something is serious enough for a flight attendant or gate agent to call law enforcement, and get them onto the plane, then they'd tell the pilot about it too, if only as a courtesy or practical measure so they're not surprised about the noise or banging on the door. Also, at some point the pilots are going to have manifests of passengers vs crew, and that would change, so you'd think they'd see that happening, since the plane was fully boarded it seems possible they'd have had the first manifest, and wonder about / be annoyed about late changes. Or, maybe they'd simply see the law enforcement folks get on, or hear the call on the intercom / radio, etc.

I'm more inclined to think that the situation was misrepresented to them ("we have an unruly passenger, but we're taking care of it"), and they took it at face value without asking any questions. Will be interesting to see what comes out.

Actually, they were not United pilots, but pilots for Republic Airlines which was operating the United flight. The United Pilots union issued an angry statement, as unions are wont to do. [0,1]

[0] http://www.businessinsider.com/united-airlines-pilots-letter...

[1] [Video] http://www.msn.com/en-us/tv/video/united-pilots-issue-statem...

Sorry if this is a sidetrack but thinking about weird simulators reminded me of a "simulator" of sort that I ran into way back when. It involved getting individuals in a town to do various tasks by manipulating their vices and virtues.

This sounds like real life to me.

I'd love to see "German Simulator 2017". Maybe it could be a day in the life of a simulator programmer.

Reply to myself, but I just rewatched nercubed's airport simulator vids. This is what I was talking about re German simulators:



I remember googling furiously once I discovered Euro Truck Simulator to confirm it wasn't some Steam Greenlight prank...

I heard that game has some cult followers in Korea. Some gamers buy steering wheels and gears, put on the monitor a sticker saying "Freight Union", wear fingerless gloves and a red Freight Union vest, and start driving while listening to radio...

I've played it for a bit, I can see the appeal. For a game it (IMO) gets very old very quickly though, not much progression in it.

Used to have a different game back in the day, Hard Truck iirc, which was a lot more game-y - areas you couldn't reach with the one truck, offroad sections, truck racing, etc. Very satisfying at the time.

"Papers, Please" is kind of close


I found Papers, Please to be a really fascinating game. I've been on a indie binge lately (Firewatch is another recent favorite) and I felt Papers, Please had a really great story that a lot of indie games are missing. Plenty of options and tough choices to make, with different outcomes for everything.

I also appreciated that I could walk away at any point and pick it up later. I didn't feel "trapped" having to finish a mission like too many AAA games. Well worth the ten bucks in my opinion.

only if they resist lawful orders

Dying to know which part of that whole debacle was lawful.

Take it from a lawyer: Do not argue with them. Pilots and ship captains are special. Their word is law. You can sue them afterwards, you can report them to police and they could be charged if they had no good reason to order your removal. But at that moment on that plane they are kings. If a pilot wants you off you have to get off. Once the pilot requested police help there was nothing that man could have done to stay aboard.

They should not have treated him in that way, they should not have been violent, but so long as the pilot wanted him off he was obligated.

Untrue in my jurisdiction and likely others. We have a limited range of circumstances in which the pilot in charge (or their delegates viz. cabin crew) may compel disembarkation. Drunkenness or presenting a safety risk are on that list. Overbooking is not.

So no, I won't "take it from a lawyer".

So then one possible course of action in case of post-boarding overbooking would be free drinks until enough passengers are sufficiently drunk to be removed? One more for the endless list of less bad things that could have been done instead at the United incident.

That's isnt the same thing. The pilot can be incorrect. Him ordering your removal can be a criminal act. Him ordering you off could see him put in jail. There were cases about this decades ago (think white captains refusing black passengers). That doesn't mean that a passenger can stay once ordered off. Whether the removal order is legal or not comes afterwards.

You can beat the rap, you can't beat the ride.

Anything that causes a delay can be a potential safety risk

Like trying to throw someone already boarded out of the plane, involving security officers, police, violence and broken teeth? Yes, I would definitely say that that kind of behaviour was a really outrageous safety risk. The pilot, accordingly to your narrative, should have thrown out of the aircraft all the crew and whoever was involved in this gigantic fuck up to avoid a very serious safety risk.

Take it from a lawyer: Do not argue with them. Pilots and ship captains are special. Their word is law.

A lot of those rules kick in only after the door is closed, or when the aircraft pulls back from the gate.

True, but a pilot can leverage that later power by not taking posession of the plane. Door stays open, airline cancels flight and everyone is now a trespassor and must get off.

You still don't get to "beat them up"

So is there a simulation of a legal system also? How will it determine lawfulness?

Is this a reference to United Airlines? It's funny its going viral in all sorts of places! There was a comment here that was since deleted https://aviation.stackexchange.com/a/37169 about carpets and being dragged off the plane.

This reminds me of a story I read in PCGamer long ago (I tried searching for the article, but I don't even know if it was published online). The author got into their seat for a flight, next to someone with a gaming laptop running a flight simulator. They chatted about video games for a while, and the gamer explains that they like to set up the simulator to play the same flight they are currently taking, and try to take off and land at the same time.

About halfway through the flight, the gamer remarks that the pilot is wrong, and not taking the best route for the flight. The flight sim path and real plane are going in slightly different directions. They try to tell a flight attendant who assures them know "the pilot knows what they're doing." The remaining half of the flight they complained to either the author or other attendants, acting like they knew more than the staff.

They never got to finish their flight-sim though, because the real plane landed 20 minutes ahead of schedule. I guess the pilot did take a different path after all!

Actually I just remembered an even more relevant funny story. One of the services I maintain at my job is a list of airport locations and their names in various languages (for airlines to use) among other details. I get so many requests to change things from airlines that don't understand basic geography or even where they fly.

My favorite is when a customer was raising hell because London International Airport (YXU) wasn't appearing under the city listing for London, UK and demanding it be added immediately. I had to tell them you don't fly there... it's located in Canada.

I used to work in travel - and there's always stories of people who think "Sydney NS" and "Sydney NSW" are near enough - the first is in Nova Scotia in Canada, which is quite a long way from the Sydney in New South Wales in Australia...


Hah. The Y prefix alone should've been a tip off. I don't know a darned thing about air travel but I know Canada is stuck with the Y.

I think technically Canada is stuck with the "C" prefix (vs. "K" for USA) eg. CYVR, CYUL, CYXX

We also have airports with "CZ" (eg. CZBB).

I am not sure what the difference (if any) between CZ vs. CY codes is. Probably just sticking with convention (begin with Y or Z because everyone else does).

Yes, the entirety of C is currently allocated to Canada[1]. The parent comments were talking about IATA codes, though, which aren't allocated by prefix.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Civil_Aviation_O...

While IATA codes do not require a consistent prefix, all the Canadian airports start with Y:


Interesting. I still see Canadian airports starting with Z.

But Y is heavily Canadian. We should all just start our own airport. Sounds like a good way to learn about naming. I imagine we will want an airport code staring with YC, so it'll have to be in Canada :P

Perhaps they had watched a bit too much MST3K https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqrJOdWdJFo&feature=youtu.be... 416- Fire Maidens of Outer Space

> I had to tell them you don't fly there... it's located in Canada.

The worst part is that after you land at YXU you're in London, Ontario.

(I lived near YXU for three years).

Very frequently high altitude winds are used by airlines. It means that you are taking a path that looks sub-optimal for still air perspective but with wind added it is better.

This is even taken into account when loading fuel. The savings are enormous compared to ignoring this. It's both fuel saved to burn and fuel saved to haul.

I can't imagine the kind of person who would try to argue with an actual commercial pilot in-flight based on their assumptions about a video game.

Lucky you - I find it only too easy to imagine!

I've flown between the USA and China several times, and each time it seems the route is at least slightly different. I've seen the Shanghai->Newark flight range from directly over the north pole, then coming down over upstate NY; to going over Japan, just south of Alaska, and paralleling the Canadian border. So there's clearly not a single correct route.

My neighbor at the time was a commercial pilot, and I asked him about the difference. He says that anything else that the airline or anybody else tells you ahead of time is only tentative. The final call on the route is made by the pilot on departure. He's considering things like wind speed and direction along the way, weather along the route, and weather at potential intermediate airports should an emergency arise.

Bonus fact. He told me that he dislikes flying the newer Boeings because of the location of the cupholder. On other planes it's closer to the plane's major axis, but these planes put them farther away. This has the effect of magnifying the plane's motion, and leads to coffee spills.

If I was that pilot and had somehow heard of that going on, I would have made sure to land 20 minutes early... somehow

Not funny but sort of relevant. Here in Ireland we just had an air disaster - an air sea rescue helicopter crashed into an island off the west coast and all aboard were killed. The accident investigation has determined that the island was not registered on the aircraft's mapping system.

This is why every air craft comes equipped with a set of MKII eyeballs. Not trying to make light of it, or anything, but this is a prime example of why good vision is a requirement of any pilot. Not familiar with this incident or whether it was night-time or during inclement weather.

Regardless of the circumstance, my apologies & condolences to the friends & family of the crew and any passengers. From your short description, this seems like an easily avoided accident and I hope actions are being taken to prevent a recurrence.

I would put the Bayesian prior for the probability that an air sea rescue helicopter is operating in bad weather with poor visibility at "Pretty damned high".

I don't think good vision is going to be much of a factor when it comes to not crashing into an island. You can spot islands at close range about as well with 20/40 vision as you can with 20/10 vision. Neither one is going to help you spot unlit terrain at night (as happened here).

According to the recovered black box recordings, one of the crew did see the island, but not soon enough.

Probably the most shocking part is that there was a lighthouse on this island, which was operational at the time. This is shocking both because it should have been blindingly obvious to the pilot and crew that they were flying toward a lighthouse, and also that an island significant enough to have a lighthouse on it would not be on a digital mapping system. It's on Google maps - https://goo.gl/maps/Xdt7rzUErX42, even has photos and information. This is not some insignificant rock

How an aircraft mapping system can have such a huge omission is just mind-blowing

To be clear, the deficiency was in a warning system database of 3D elevation geometry (the EGPWS) not a "mapping system".

Something that is geographically notable but quite small, vertical and isolated (like Rockall) may very well also be omitted from that version of the EGPWS database.

NB Blackrock is a designated navigational waypoint on the standard charts etc. which is why they were flying straight toward it on autopilot.

> Something that is geographically notable but quite small, vertical and isolated (like Rockall) may very well also be omitted from that version of the EGPWS database.

Why are "small" and "isolated" good criteria for omitting something from a database of elevation geometry? It's evidently big enough to crash into and cause loss of life.

I'm not suggesting that those are criteria, just possible contributing factors. (And I'm not trying to exonerate the suppliers. We'll see what the final report says.)

If the source is some kind of DEM (digital elevation model) data, it will be a raster of elevation values at some limited resolution, so necessarily just samples of elevation. With a relatively small island/rock, the full height could be missed, and possibly then even further reduced by filtering (i.e. smoothing of DEM values, either in the process of measurement or some kind of processing). That likelihood is hinted at by this quote from the manufacturer:

"Honeywell’s terrain data is sourced from our supplier [named supplier]. It is a digitized topographic map derived data set. It does not include Black Rock. We have looked at alternate sources, including SRTM and ASTER. While Black Rock is present in these alternate data sets, the actual altitude of Black Rock is considerably higher than what is indicated in these alternate data sets."

The data sources they refer to: http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/srtm/ https://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/gdem.asp

Again, not coming to any conclusions from this.

Lighthouses are built for ships, not helicopters though. You can have a landmass that would be rather significant for a ship but not at all significant for an airplane or helicopter; think a reef or ridge which never rises above the waves.

It was a SAR mission, flying low at night. I'm not a pilot, but eyeballs may not have been much use.

Preliminary accident report is at [1].

[1] http://www.aaiu.ie/sites/default/files/report-attachments/RE...

>This is why every air craft comes equipped with a set of MKII eyeballs.

What was the the MKI?

Urban Dictionary comes to the rescue: "Mk1 Eyeballs: Unaided vision. Commonly used by military internet know it alls to confuse people in an argument." I don't know whether MkII is an upgrade to aided vision or just a new version of the confusion.


Curb feelers?

Nah, I am going to go with Optically tested and Corrected vision. A uniquely human trait.

That's what's usually called a Mk1 eyeball, but the OP said the Mk2 eyeball so I'm curious what he considers the predecessor.

probably just a mistake.

Very sad.

> In relation to Black Rock and its Lighthouse the EGPWS manufacturer informed the Investigation that “The lighthouse obstacle is not in the obstacle database and the terrain of the island is not in our terrain database.”


A decade ago the USS San Francisco (submarine) drove full speed into a seamount (underwater mountain). One person died, almost everyone else was injured, and the entire front was ripped off but she did not sink.

The cause was a blind over-reliance on a single chart which did not show any navigation hazards in the area. Other charts available to the crew had indications of the presence of a seamount.


> The preliminary report by AAIU investigators found that the helicopter had hit the island, which was not registered in the craft's mapping system and was only identified by a crew member only 13 seconds before impact.


There was a plane that crashed into the ground because the pilots were used to warnings when landing in airports in Poland that weren't on the plane's mapping system, so when it wasn't crying wolf…

That's hysterical. Flight Simulator was an incredible product back in the day. My father was a weather, IFR[0] certified small plane pilot.

He used MS Flight Simulator to train to get his license back after several years of having let it lapse and to train for his IFR certification. To this day, other than watching him play Pac Man at K-Mart in the 80s, I had not before, nor since, seen him play any video game on his home PC.

[0] Most small plane pilots have basic licenses - VFR - or Visual Flight Rules. IFR is for pilots who have instrument ratings. It's not all-together rare, but not necessarily common and is usually reserved for pilots who fly in a more professional capacity, as my father did. He was certified to fly a single engine aircraft (he flew a Cherokee -- 6?) and had more hours on him some years than some commercial pilots.

I pretty much only play X-Plane as well. Don't really play any of the other games anymore. X-Plane is probably the only game I played that has over 300 hours.

Shower curtains are often terrible. My periodic table shower curtain is a jarringly awful mixture of Arial and Helvetica: http://fanf.livejournal.com/147327.html

> livejournal.com

Now THAT is a domain I haven't seen in a long, long time.

How is that even possible? I mean, unless it's intentional.

Possibly some of the elements react differently with the water, soap, etc. in the shower.

The information was copy-pasted with a "smart" formatting tool.

Eh, that doesn't explain how the letters in the same element name end up having different font...

It's very impressive to me that Microsoft took the technical details of Flight Simulator so seriously that it fielded questions from customers like this. What's doubly more impressive is that Bill Gates got directly involved with what is essentially a bug report.

I don't know how true this is, but FlightSim was kept alive way longer than economically feasible because Bill Gates personally kept it alive.

Then they sold it, and the new owner is now pulling a Train Simulator and going for thousands of dollars of DLC on Steam, which will likely kill the entire modding community that kept FSX alive once they realize they can sell it on Steam. Kind of sad to watch such a historical product be squeezed for the last dollars in slow motion.

X-Plane 11 looks absolutely fantastic, thankfully. Might be about time to pay FSX a final salute, and nice to support X-Plane as a reward for standing up to patent trolls.

There's actually two living forks. One is Dovetail Games' FSX: Steam Edition which you're talking about. The other is Prepar3d, sold by Lockheed. The license stipulates that it is "not for entertainment purposes", but otherwise it's basically just a port of FSX that works better in modern systems.

> "not for entertainment purposes"

That's kind of a weird stipulation: fun is prohibited.

The general consensus among the flight sim community is that their license from Microsoft forbade them selling it as a video game, to avoid them competing with first Microsoft and later Dovetail.

There's actually a reason for that: Microsoft had a separate product called ESP [1] that was based on the Flight Simulator codebase that was marketed as a platform for doing industrial training simulations.

Development stopped with the dissolution of ACES, the Flight Simulator team, but Lockheed acquired rights to continue to develop MS ESP, which eventually became Lockheed's Prepare3d [2].

[1] https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc526948.aspx

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Flight_Simulator#Clo...

Licensing is weird sometimes.

Can confirm. XP11 is amazing. Though be prepared to pay a lot for addons.

It's one of the oldest Microsoft products that's not Office or OS-based. Truly amazing how much time they've invested in it over the decades. I wonder how much code from the 1980s is still shipping.

> It's one of the oldest Microsoft products that's not Office or OS-based.

It's older than any of the Office components, too.

Yeah, looks like the core code dates from 1977 (!) and Microsoft acquired it in 1981. That's a heck of a legacy.

Definitely is quite a legacy. I didn't realize it went back that far, but I do recall it running on DOS. Only had one brief go at it on a friend's computer in the late 80s. Don't recall being very good at it. As I recall, it wasn't very friendly to mistakes, especially on landing. I remember crashing a lot.

I had a version for C-64 in high school. Taking off and landing was about all you could do, given the graphics.

Yeah, I played Atari ST version and it was a blast. Gorgeous filled polygons, up to 4 simultaneous 3D views, weather conditions, stunt flying... However this is off-topic as only PC versions were made by Microsoft.

It even lives inside Office as an easter egg:


Not anymore. Around the turn of the century Microsoft adopted a strict no Easter eggs policy as part of their trustworthy computing initiative.

> What's doubly more impressive is that Bill Gates got directly involved with what is essentially a bug report

The reason why Ctrl-F means forward and not search in Outlook is bug report from Gates.

[1] https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20140715-00/?p=...

Thanks, Bill, for an accumulated days and days of wasted productivity over the decades...

complaining about wasted productivity, while commenting on HN

To be fair, which side companies take on international disputes (in this case a border) sometimes matters. e.g. all the craziness over Taiwan being part of China or not.

MS has had to take actions over border disputes in the past. Original releases of Windows 95 included a map that you could use to select/show your timezone. There was a dispute over the Pakistan/India border, and MS opted to later remove the map than attempt to correct it.

He didn't get directly involved; he forwarded a misrouted message to the relevant team.

The executives who are famous for e-mail (Bill Gates, Gabe Newell, Steve Jobs) are famous because they know exactly to whom to forward the mail.

It's interesting certainly, but should we be impressed here? In the end, the team's time was wasted and a nonsense issue was escalated to the CEO.

They fielded the question and did a lot of work because they cared about the quality and details of their product at a level that I would agree with OP was impressive.

That it turned out to be a nonsense issue is immaterial to that judgement.

There are exemplary aspects to the story, but I think the only real lesson to be learned is "don't blindly spend a bunch of time/effort on an issue unless we're sure it's actually important".

Chasing bugs is a pain in the ass, and most of them are nonsense.

This kind of story makes it worthwhile, though. At the end of the day, you go home laughing instead of crying.

escalated to the richest person on Earth.

The story may be a bit exaggerated for entertainment purposes, but this seems like a classic case of "try to fix first, ask questions later". They could have saved a lot of time by asking the customer for clarification first.

Totally this. Funny story, but if it's real this only talks of Microsoft's incompetence rather than the customers.

This reminds me of a story I remember hearing a few times as a child:

During WW2, British, and later, American forces set up base in Iceland. On some of the maps they had created, items of note had been added with symbols. This included lighthouses and there were little lighthouse symbols littered around the coast. However for some reason there also was a lighthouse symbol in the middle of the Icelandic highlands, far from any seashore.

The explanation was that this supposed lighthouse was by the volcano Askja, who's largest crater is called "Víti" (Hell), while the Icelandic word for lighthouse is "viti". Since English doesn't have the accented letter "í", they would have been spelled the same in English.

I could have sworn this was a true story up until now when I tried to find sources for it, but came up empty. In any case it makes for a good story.

Given that an incorrect map caused Windows 95 to be banned from the whole of India, it's understandable that BillG was worried about an incorrect border :)

Story here:


Not really incorrect, just disputed.

This is how Google handles disputes (give everyone what they want) http://slightlywarped.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/google-...

I would prefer they'd show actual reality on the ground instead of trying to win political points though - for the sake of people who're actually trying to use it for navigation.

Yeah, I'm not sure how travel in the affected areas worked, but if I'm travelling in an area occupied by Pakistan, I want it to show Pakistan on the map. If I'm stopped while visiting that region, I'm sure I'm not going to get any brownie points for showing the Pakistani military an Indian visa.

Elsewhere, driving into a wrong area might cost you your life. Specifically not referring to particular areas to avoid offtopic flame war, but other apps would alert you about it - but not Google Maps.

Sometimes they don't have a choice - they have to comply with local regulations.

Does anyone know why Microsoft killed off Flight Simulator?

I really liked that product, and it has the legacy of being one of Microsoft's oldest product lines.

There's also a very vibrant community about adding mods and additions onto Flight Simulator, I'm really curious as to why it was killed off. Was the the Flight Sim team really that big of a drain on Microsoft's balance sheet?

Just really sad about spending hours on a product dying off... :(

> Does anyone know why Microsoft killed off Flight Simulator?

From an external perspective, it seems most likely due to IEB's leadership at the time wanting to focus all their resources behind the upcoming Xbox One, in hopes they could replicate the success of the Xbox 360, and the misguided belief that PC gaming was dying out.

Neither of those bets worked out particularly well for them.

> Was the the Flight Sim team really that big of a drain on Microsoft's balance sheet?

Rumor has it that it consistently turned a small but not insignificant profit.

Probably a combination of Microsoft's exit from pc game development along with aircraft manufacturers realising they can charge for license fees, especially as the gap between hobbyist and professional flight sims narrowed (to the point that Lockheed sell MS Flight Simulator as a professional sim)


Apparently it's budget cut, which is weird since we know MS are always swimming in cash...

Speaking of flight simulator war stories... A friend once smashed into a giant wall during take-off in a flight simulator he was testing, since the runway in question crossed either the equator or the null Meridian, and the cumulative altitude rounding errors caused a sizable discontinuity.

I hope that you mean Greenwich, aka meridian zero rather than null meridian. I don't really think that the latter exists unless you are an old C programmer flying quite high right now.

Heh. I hadn't realized that the German usage in this case did not transfer directly into English. Yes, I meant the prime / Greenwich meridian.

I worked in the mapping (GIS) pipeline for MS Flight Simulator. The amount of tools we wrote just for QA was on par with what countries use for their census (I also worked on those st ESRI). I try to be of the philosophy of love and obsess about your customers, but every industry has fellows like this that make you question your beliefs. Still love them though... (mostly)

How many thousands of dollars could MS have saved if they had asked that question first?

I love the Boeing management anecdote being referenced in comparison to Bill Gates nudging you off'f an email he receives![0]

Great nugget to pull out if you have a manager with a penchant for stating the obvious!

[0] - https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/20100705-00/?p=...

Because the customer is always right.

"The customer is frequently misinformed." - More realistic variation I came across, can't remember attribution, paraphrased anyway.

"The customer hired you for a reason." Make their needs a priority and don't talk to them like they're idiots, but by all means recognize when you're the expert who needs to make the right things happen for them to be successful.

"There are some customers you just don't want." The 80/20 offhand calculation of 80% of obligations can be traced to 20% of customers is pertinent.

Or, as I learned over time, trying to save a drowning person without the help of a flotation device just might pull you down into the abyss as well, good intentions not withstanding.

The version I preferred was "the customer is not always right, but has a right to be heard".

Next bug report, "non-existent islands shown off the coast of Australia" - http://worldmapswithout.nz

This reminds me of the story of the navy ship and the lighthouse.

This made me laugh

clearly fake 'cause bill gates doesn't email with under a billion worth people.

This shows poor leadership by Bill Gates. Did he not value his team's time?

This is not a Flight Simulator story. This is an end-user that cannot separate software from reality. Similar to the just released Facebook AR Studio, I've spent time in "personalizing technologies" which manipulate imagery of people. The types of bug reports common to that type of work reveals the lack of understanding everyday people have with their own vision system and how basic physics in the world work. It's hard to describe the disconnect some have in their relationship with software - almost like it's a magical authority to them. Cartoon effects like classic loony tunes bombs and dazed-dizzy-stars scare some people as if the effects are real.

How does this even matter or is relevant at all? I'm confused it received upvotes. Am I missing something?

There is humor in the disparity between the resources and people marshalled to resolve the issue (including Bill Gates himself) and the humble origin of the issue, a shower curtain.

Sometimes, when your customer has your CEO's e-mail address, it takes a while to figure out your customer has experienced so much of Tae Kwan Leap so soon.


The why the customer believes it to be a bug can be more important than the bug's description.

Do you think that there could be people on HN who have worked in software development and dealt with spurious requests from users?

Preach it! Humor should be disallowed on HN. I come here for uberserious discussion only.

Or uplyfting insights.

Hey, we've got company: in the MS blog's comments, there's a fellow who archly informs the peasants that "I usually archive & star (bookmark) articles that have an amazingly interesting or peculiar technical aspects. With this one, I’ll gladly make an exception."

Dammit, Raymond Chen is out of pocket for a refund on that guy's subscription.

> I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. This was unexpected and rather difficult. There was some scattered clapping, but most of them were trying to work it out and see if it came to a compliment.


> Dammit, Raymond Chen is out of pocket for a refund on that guy's subscription.

?!? That sounded like a positive review from somebody who liked the article. He says it's neither amazingly interesting nor technical, but still good enough to bookmark.

Woah, I misread it too and in retrospective, it looks like an honest mistake to make. That pessage could mean the both things (could give positive or negative intent). I wonder what other such good examples can be. And does such phenomenon is called with some name?

It's called a backhanded compliment.

I think you're misreading that, seems to me he means he'll make an exception and bookmark this article despite it not being technical because he enjoyed the story.

I was expecting some report of an obscure border dispute. Loved how this one ended.

Bonus points that it was written by Raymond Chen, I am a longtime fan of his writing.

Raymond Chen's war stories from the Windows era are fun reads. I'd guess many of these upvotes are for the author rather than this story.

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