Dec 28, 2011

About that flying thing....

I realise that the premise of this blog was to be an account of my flying adventures and WoW shenanigans. I gave up the WoW (two whole months clean!) and have hit a bit of a snag with the flying.

The last entry I made after flying was my last proper commercial navigation flight. I have done one since and plan to do another soon but they are just going to be recency flights so I can keep my skill up.

Reason being is actually a little nugget of wisdom from a flight instructor. I cannot for the life of me remember what the exact wording is but it went along the lines of "Unless you can do it regularly, you are wasting your money at this point in your training."

Yes, it was crushing to hear. Unfortunately, I can understand why this is true. I spent so much time off from flying last year that my skills in commercial level navigation dropped significantly. When I started back flying this year, I did not account for the drop in skill so it came as a little bit of a rude shock when I jumped in the plane with an instructor and found that I just was not up to scratch. It knocked a rather large hole in my boat and it was filling up with water fast, so to speak.

It seems to be a common problem with those of us who do not come with a large trust account or rich parents. I met a guy at a friends party on Boxing Day and had a long (abliet drunk) discussion about the joys, trials and tribulations of flying. He has met a similar problem that I have. Commercial Nav exercises are bloody expensive to be able to do at the pace which is required. He did not get as far as I did, only being able to just get past his private ticket. Matt has been out of currency for the last 4 years which is really sad to see. He met the point of moving on with his life, to come back to his education at a later date when he is better set up to be able to meet the burden of paying for flying tuition.

Even TVSA (who do pilot training through FEE-HELP) want me to finish my commercial training before I move down there to study with them. It is giving me the shits at the moment!

So I have been concentrating on getting the rest of my life sorted out at the moment. The last three years have been more or less a suicide run at trying to force it through. Done through borrowed money and whatever is left after my bills have been paid. It has no doubt been an amazing and life changing journey and I would never change a damn thing for the world, neither is this the end of that journey. This is just a detour.

The flying will resume and with the GoPro camera, I will do more and more flying videos. One will be made every time I go for a flight, even if they are a little boring. I have a couple of 4wding videos to finish cutting together as well but trying to handle 10 hours of video and cut it down into a 5 min video is a little harder  than I thought. Not to mention this old computer is woefully inadequate for the task at hand!

My research to build a new one has finally come to a close. I know exactly what I want and I even have the slightly cheaper alternative also. In short I want to build a system around a GTX590 graphics card and an Intel i7 3930k CPU. That system is going to cost me around the 2.8k mark. If I change out the Motherboard, RAM and CPU to ones which suit an i7 2600k it brings it back to about the 2.2k mark. Both rather expensive options but needed for Diablo 3, video editing and triple screen Flight Simulator. I already have the screens for it too!
So that is most of the important stuff happening at the moment. I will leave you with the last flying video I made back in October.

Dec 24, 2011

Skyrim keeps on suprising me *SPOILERS*

SO I have finished the main questline and am faced with a choice. Kill a certain someone who has been nothing but helpful during the main quest line and have the blades back on side, or leave him alive and keep the Greybeards on side.

Usually when it comes to killing things in game, my moral compass is set to swing axe first, ask questions later. I like killing things, they give you loot rewards and makes you feel like the invicible badass you really are.

When I got the quest, I thought I could talk my way out of it and come out friends with everyone. Alas, this was overly optimistic and I found that I had to one or the other. I decided to do nothing and the Blades barely talk to me, the giant pricks. Once Alduin had met his end, I thought I would just suck it up and see how she went. So a Dragonrend, some wards and a couple axe swings later (and the awesome kill sequence), this (former) helper laid at my feet, dead.

I felt terrible.

Not only had this NPC helped me through my journey to kill the World Eater, he was wise enough to  understand the Blades point of view. Even agree with them on a level. It sounded like a well rationalised argument and even the Greybeards more or less said that the Blades were just overzealous dicks. Made them sound like the Thalmor (who I really detest and kill on sight).

I googled this and it seems that the moral dilemma is not unique to my own experience. Many people like this guy and have even gone as far as to say the Blades should die for being ignorant dicks. This is a community who are usually bent towards the "swing axe now, ask questions later" mantra I live by in game. Some even go so far as to mod the children so they can be killed too. Yet this noble NPC has made us pause and consider the kill and think about the morality of it. IF every NPC was as helpful, would it be as fun to clean out an entire town of its occupants??

It really suprised me the depth and the scope of this moral dilemma in a virtual world where killing is the norm and sentiment is rarely seen (except maybe for your favourite axe). On one hand, it makes me want to have more depth in the game so that I can talk out situations like these and form an alliance between the two factions. On the other hand, it is very true to life- some groups are unwavering in their wrong beliefs and those who are the victims of those wrong beliefs want no harm to come to the aggressors. It is just another aspect of this beautiful world that Bethesda have created for us. I can honestly say that I cannot get enough of exploring it. I would have put in 70 or 80 hours over the past month and I have only just finished the two main quest lines. There is a lot to go!

I think I am going to let him live for now. I need to have a really bad day to swing my moral compass towards "serial killer" before I can bring myself to bring my axe down on his head.

Dec 6, 2011

Videos, Skyrim, Xmas, Work -.-

Ok it has been a couple of months since my last entry. I left it on a little bit of am emo note too. Uncool of me I know! But a lot has been happening in the last couple of months. Namely work and Skyrim.

Skyrim is taking over my life in a way I can only equate to WoW. I never got this into Oblivion. I did with Morrowind however. I love how I can just strike out and make an adventure. I have walked across most of the map now and haven't finished either of the main questlines. The only ones I have completed to date are the Companions (just last night) and the Winterhold College.

I must say that I am rather disappointed in how short those two quest lines were. I was expecting more. At least with Oblivion's faction quests you had to travel to each city to earn rep with that chapter before becoming the Chief (Ie the mages guild - they are the laziest bastards....). I guess there are probably more quests I am yet to discover by talking to all of the people Jorrvaskr or the College but for the most part they seem to be little side quests without a lot of story impact.

Also a little disappointed with turning into a Werewolf. It is certainly awesome but it is way too easy to be overwhelmed and killed. If you have not tried it out yet- do not even bother turning into one unless you are hunting people (not Draugr, beasts or anything). People are the only ones you can consume to increase both your health and your time in Beast Form. So if you think for one moment you will be able to ROFLSTOMP your way through a dungeon full of Draugr and spiders- think again! You will soon be utilising the sprint ability to preserve the last sliver of health until such time as you change back into your regular form!

Aside from those two little gripes, I love the game and have not had (noticable) issues with any of the bugs people are claiming ruin the play experience. Just epic dragon killing, axe wielding, fireshooting awesomeness. There is one "bug" I hope stays in the game because it is hilarious though. When I first found a giant's camp, I immediately wanted to take them on. I thought they would have some epic loot (turns out their loot is pretty crappy) and so I thought a couple of bowshots, a few swings of the axe and they would fall over dead.


I took a tree/club to the face as soon as I closed to melee range with the first one. Then I was flying across the map. I laughed my ass off and it didn't get old! Well no-one LIKES being killed but if I was to be killed, I would hope that it would look as awesome as taking a treeclub to the face and flying off into the atmosphere! Things like this add to the fun aspect of the game, even if they are unintended. Those who say it destroys the immersion and the experience can just go and start adventuring IRL for all I care! It isn't a simulator- it's a game!

I did manage to get my beloved Super Mega Edition of the game. There will be documenting photos coming in a seperate post. Courtesy of the online ordering from EbGames, I managed to get one of the few bundles left and now have Anduin staring menacingly at me from my bookshelf as I butcher his brethren throughout Skyrim's landscape. Sometimes multiple at a time.

I do love how they have redone the combat in the game now. I use more spells and archery than I ever have before! In my epic battle against two dragons, I would have become dinner were it not for dual casting healing spells through flame breath! I find myself constantly using spells so that I can level up their respective schools and make them more efficient but it just takes so long! Extra armour, Wards, Shields, Damage spells - that is where the fun is! I rarely use magelights or crap but anything to make me last longer in combat is fine by me! It is where I put all of my talent points. Oh and smithing. I am determined to finally make myself a set of dragonscale armour and a set of dragonplate for my offsider.

Lydia didn't last too long unfortunately. She had this awkward habit of getting the the way of my attacks and well... she got cooked with a bunch of Vampires I was flaming... at the time I just shrugged it off and figured I would get a new one from the Jarl next time I was in town. Then I forgot about her until I was crawling through Mzulft during the College questline. By the time I found out that I couldnt get Lydia back (or replace her) it was too late to revert to an earlier save. So I made three or four trips out of the bloody place laden down with Dwarven metal which I melted down into bars. I picked up some dude I beat in a fistfight instead. He seems to be better at not dying and not getting in my way. Plus if he dies, I have to lug out an entire set of Orcish Armour and his weaponry which I crafted and improved for him! I will be pissed....

On other fronts, my collection of tech for flying is almost completed! I just got my 32gb SD card and a few more accessories to get for my GoPro and I will be ready for anything! I want to get my Aero rating done soon so I can (legally) make a video of it and post it up here. Its going to be sweet!! The unfortunate thing is that I have realised that even with two jobs, I cannot earn enough, fast enough to do proper Navs to finish off my CPL. I haven't had another Nav in nearly two months because the stress of watching the money tick away with the VDO is killing my performance! Its terrible and I know I should be doing better. Hopefully a few job opportunities come to fruition and I will hit the ground running again!

Oct 4, 2011

Busy and Stressful - The dark before the dawn?

So life is a little busier than usual at the moment.

Two jobs, four days of flying over the weekend, birthday party this weekend (which isn't even my own) and then either Oktoberfest in Brisbane or #OccupyBrisbane protest the following weekend. I seriously do not have the money for everything and am struggling time wise. Yet I am still making blog posts. There is something very therapeutic about it all really.

This weekend of flying has been by far the most stressful experience of my flying career to date. I do not know why but my standards have dropped sharply over the past month since my last couple of flights. I was not at a commercial standard at the beginning of September, but it just seems that I have taken a major step backwards somewhere along the lines. It could be that the stress is getting to me but it just seems that things are not sticking as they should be, that things that I once knew rather well just are not coming back to me as quickly as expected.

Friday was an abomination. It was turbulent but I should not have had the problems with handling that I had. Things went south as soon as I started the engine. Mental flow checklists were out of order and disjoineted, as was my pax brief and after take off checks. I stuffed up radio calls. Worse than usual. I got to the first point and couldnt see the damn objective- mind you it was a 15-20 meter tower on a side of a hill sandwiched right up against Amberly CTR so it was not the easiest objective to find. Once I saw it, I tried and failed at holding over the top of it. Could not hold my altitude to save myself, didnt configure the plane correctly for slow speed orbiting and was too preoccupied with what was coming next that I did not keep my mind on what I needed to do at that point in time. It was like I was trying to get a private license all over again. It was terribly demoralizing and I bailed on the flight. Still took a couple of hours to get back to Redcliffe though and still was expensive. I cancelled the night flight I was supposed to take also.

Saturday and Sunday had some briefs and remedial training to try and fix up what was wrong with my technique, yet with work and sleep I did not have the time to do the study required. It was almost a complete waste of my time, the instructors time and of my money. And I got chewed out a bit over it also.

Monday (yesterday) was terrible also -but there was some improvement to be had. The plane was due for a 50 hourly oil change and check so that made me late right from the start. I had the plan and everything done with plenty of time and sat down reading the club's ops manual for a bit. Once the prescribed time for pickup came around, I went to grab the plane from the maintainence mob but still ended up sitting out the front for 10 mins. So much for prompt service. Got stuck behind a beginner student learning to refill a plane at the bowser for another 10 minutes after that so by the time I got into the plane and was ready for takeoff, I had missed my slot time for Brisbane Airport. No big deal, these things happen. The problem was when I was doing my runups and the instructor asked me about the oil in the engine - which I never checked on account of personally picking it up from the maintainers. This is of course a major no no. So I got chewed out by the instructor. Then I was made to check the oil myself, on the taxiway and consequently made myself late for the next slot time that I was given. This caused me to be chewed out by the controller at Brisbane for missing two slot times - and then a further chewing out from the instructor.

Needless to say I was feeling pretty shit about the whole flight by then and questioning my skills as a pilot, my knowledge and my career choice. The past month has been the first time in three years that I have questioned if I have made the right decision to follow my dreams and become a commercial pilot. It is a definite low point in my journey. But there have been other aviators throughout history to struggle with money and performance issues. One of which was Sir Charles Kingsford Smith. So the show must go on and I need to apply myself further to reach my goals.

The rest of the flight was a struggle - after already becoming overly stressed in the beginning of the flight, I became distracted and it ended up with me becoming lost just west of Mundubbera. A 1 in 60 check put me slightly too far to the east of my desired target and without realising this at a very distinctive land feature I ended up about 10 miles to the east, unsure of where I was and so stressed that I could not pull myself out of it without prompting from the instructor. Had I have been alone I would have been reduced to flying east until I hit a landmark I recognised or until I hit coast. I landed in Mundubbera and had a chat with the instructor. It did help clear my mind a little and the leg from Mundubbera to Kingaroy and on to home was a lot better - until I ended up being cut off by a line of thunderstorms.

I managed this part of the flight OK as it was fairly close to the area I live in and I could pick out landmarks such as Somerset Dam, Wivenhoe Dam and the Glasshouse Mountains pretty easily. The diversion around the storms added about another half hour to the flight which I certainly was not happy about. Better than dying though. Got back on the ground to another chewing out by my instructor for not studying enough for his liking over the weekend and not improving enough. It is good that I have expectations put on me and that he is pushing me to get better at managing the flight but by that stage I just wanted to go home and sleep. I was stuffed, stressed and kind of depressed.

I have a lot of notes on what I need to study and I need to get that squared away before turning up there again for another flight. But I still plan to get it done in a couple weeks and get back to flying. Any longer and any progress I may have made this weekend will be lost.

Tomorrow is my 24th birthday. 24, living at home and still not where I need to be. This has been a rather depressive post but it is reflecting my thoughts at the moment. I never thought I would be where I am today (the good bits that is) but I always thought that I would be settled in my career and be ready to settle down with a girl, get a house and start on a couple of kids. It is a little sobering to realise that for that to happen, I have 12 months from tomorrow. I haven't even bothered trying to organise a party. Just a family gig at home.

The little I have played of Gears 3 has been awesome. I love how Epic have made you happy to see a swarm of Locust bearing down on you - because god damn are the Lambent that much more annoying! I cannot wait to finish campaign and get into some online matches. I severely doubt I will have the time this summer to play all the games I want to get into - let alone have the spare coin to be able to purchase them!

Oct 1, 2011

Warning. Photo spew incoming

 Yeah I know. Its a bit much. But hey- I am too lazy at the moment to post something else

Sep 21, 2011

Summer of Gaming!

Just a quick note about the beginning of the summer of Gaming 2011.

I try and pick up the special editions where I can. Steadily building up a catalogue for my games room/man cave. I had one in the last place I was living and it was heaven. Every man needs a man cave when living with his partner. It gives you space to just be you - your style, your way and its physically definable. Believe me it needs to be a room otherwise everything just encroaches into it (and even then it can be hard to keep it as man space).

Other big titles that I want to get my hands on are Skyrim, Modern Warfare 3 and Halo Anniversary. The two former I want the collectors editions of and Halo just because I love the original. If it comes with a collectors edition Ill be all over it. I just love all the stuff you get.

Like the Legendary Halo:Reach . It would have to be the best to date, as far as collectors editions go. In game items, the statue and Dr Halsey's book in that large carry case were just brilliant. It all was put in context of the game too. It wasn't just a collectors edition - you were sent the package from an ONI storage facility to study and catalogue the contents (or something like that). It was awesome.

I have heard that Skyrim comes with a large cloth map of the region, artwork and a large statue of a dragon. But its not coming to Australia. Fuck you Bethesda you giant assholes.

Infinity Ward decided against anything special for MW3 like the night vision goggles that came with MW2. Instead, Activision is pushing their COD Elite network down consumers throats. Deeply disappointed that they have decided to follow this path. Quite frankly I think Elite is a load of crap that they are pursuing just to eke out the last dollar from the franchise which has already made them millions.

My hope holds out for Diablo 3 and Mass Effect 3 coming out with something awesome. I do love my collectibles. So much so, that since dragging home my Lancer the other night, I found out EB Games online had Gears 3 Epic editions still. So I have ditched the game I had on order, kept the Lancer and ordered the Epic edition from EB! The Marcus statue, all of his fathers medals and story material as well as the game... But I have to wait for shipping.

The site said shipping on release day, so I figured I will get it by Friday at least. On Tuesday, I receive an email saying that it wont ship till Thursday at best! Seriously pissed off! I was hoping to smash it out this weekend with a mate but oh well. It isnt going anywhere and I just have to avoid all reviews and spoilers.

Not that it needs to be said but...

P.S. There is also this piece of Awesomesauce. Its not a collectors edition but it is still sweet. Its Cole Train in his Thrashball kit.

Sep 7, 2011

Steampunk, Flying and ... stuff.

I have had a bit of a look at Steampunk lately. Mostly because some of the fashion is badass. Also Victorian era clothes were just so much classier than today's. These days if you get around in a suit people look at you funny. Even in the office where I work we wear business pants and shirts - as soon as the jacket comes on you are out of place. What would happen if a vest was thrown into the mix? Or a pocket watch? I think they would blow up or something.

But steampunk isn't just dressing up in old school clothing. Its putting a different spin on it all. Its difficult for me to put a definite label on it, a proper description. I have never read any Jules Vern or H.G. Wells- who have been credited as the creators of steampunk. I should fix that before attempting (and failing) to wax eloquent about it.

Older styles interest me on the whole. Like 1920's barnstormers. Tiger Moths, badass flight jackets, caps, goggles and silk scarves! Times were simpler- no shitty CASA telling you where and how to fly, no RA-Aus cowboys to worry about. Just flying from town to town, making your living from aerobatic shows. 1920's Mobsters - pinstripe suits, awesome hats, a huge cigar and a cheesy fake Bronx accent. These are looks which have a lot more class than todays social norm. I tend to go for the (untorn) dark jeans, t-shirt (ironed, clean, also untorn) and awesome military style jacket look. It just isn't as daggy as some of the guys getting around at the moment with their pants hanging down under their arse, or skinny leg jeans. Its just not a real masculine look. In my opinion anyway.

I am currently looking at some ways of videoing my exploits in aircraft. So far my best bet is the GoPro HD Hero Camera. It allows me to strap it or hook it just about anywhere to record my flights. I'm thinking that it would be a good idea for me to strap it to my head and use it to breakdown flights I have done. Both as a record of what I do, where I can improve and also to past together some awesome flying videos for here. Aside from my first two (now outdated thanks to Cataclysm) hunter videos, I really have not explored video blogging at all.

Yesterday would have been one of the perfect times for it. I was flying relatively low over the Brisbane CBD doing a mock up photography charter. Being so close and having that view of Brisbane was wonderful and being able to record that would have been brilliant.

There is also something like this:

Making my own videos for study purposes. The RAAF 2FTS pilots use this as a training too to memorise the startup procedure for the PC-9/A. Regardless if it is for study or for entertainment value, this is something I really want to get in on.

In other news I am taking hiatus from WoW again. It takes too much time to be raid ready. It sucks even more now they restrict the dungeon finder to average ilvl - it makes gearing up so much slower. But not only that I farmed up a good deal of the mats for Witch-Hunter's Harvester the other weekend - it took TWO WHOLE DAYS! Even then that was just the levelling of my blacksmithing and trying to farm at least some of the volatile elements required for both the weapon itself and the truegold transmutes. Truegold transmutes suck. Titansteel was bad in that you could not get any multiple procs (unlike transmute master) but having to find alchemists with a spare CD who are also a transmute master is a pain in the ass! At least now I am geared enough for Firelands, got all the dailies out of the way and I can come back to it at any time and slot into the guild raids. Even though the guild has some absolute tards in it now. /wrists

The reason I am having a break is simply because of two jobs and study taking up all my time. I am getting close to the end of the commercial pilots license and study is a priority. Right now I am listening to Sydney International's LiveATC.Net feed to try and ingrain the standard phraseologies into my head. I will probably listen to it at work too with the new Android App.

That is all.

Aug 31, 2011


I think I need a notepad for the random thoughts that pop into my head during the day. Seriously, when I am at work or out and about I think of all kinds of crap to write about on here. Once I get home and get (some) stuff squared away, I go blank.

So today I am just going to make some dot points of things that make me want to rant. I might come back to them at another time.

WoW takes up too much time to be able to be a casual player - I don't care what Blizz says.

Mainstream journalists know nothing about aviation. It makes me angry every time they push their poor research, lack of understanding and invalid opinions on the general populace, who take their word as law and become more afraid of flying or think pilots are whinging, whining, greedy jerks.

I listened to the Kyle and Jackie-O show on the way home from gym tonight (Australian radio show) and there was some poor woman, mother of a 12 yr old and a 10 yr old , whose deadshit husband came out and said he has been cheating on her for the past 18 months WITH A BUNCH OF MEN. What did listeners say? Majority came out with "its hard for him, be supportive if you love him" and other sentiments along those lines. Not one caller (that I heard or was allowed on the air) said anything about how WRONG it is that this guy was CHEATING on her! Imagine if he wasn't getting it on with a bunch of blokes in a sauna and instead was getting it on with a bunch of women in a sauna? I would guarantee at least 95% of people would call him a cheating, lying bastard and advise her to dump his ass. But because he is "going through a bi phase" its ok to cheat on the mother of your children with a bunch of dudes. So wrong.

Database analysis/management/input/ whatever the hell it is that I actually do at work is BORING. I swear my brain is going to get sick of it, detach itself and go find somewhere else to live at times.

Flying Tailwheel aircraft is WAY too much fun

I got tingles when I saw the trailer for Final Fantasy XIII: 2 (henceforth known as FFXIII2) yet the Halo 4 trailer left me nonplussed on account of them milking it for at least another two after that.

Girls are too much of a good distraction. They are so much worse than games when it comes to being addicted to them...

Money is the devil. Starting up another second job from tomorrow. At another bottle shop.

That is all for now.

Aug 17, 2011

It's a public holiday, but...

But instead of spending a glorious day of gaming, flying or drinking... I am studying!

Yes studying for the inevitable flying, but study nonetheless! I have always detested it. All through school, my short tenure with a university and even in flight school I always have been a poor self studier. I got by purely on what I could soak up in class and the odd moment of clarity when I could be bothered to sit down and read a textbook.

But now I can't get away with just a "pass". Aviation is this strange world where you need to be perfect. If you aren't, well.... We only have to look to the worst disasters in Aviation to see what happens when you are not perfect. So this means that every question I got wrong on an exam must now be answered correctly, general aircraft knowledge, procedures and knowledge of the rules will be tested. All before stepping foot into the aircraft.

Welcome to a pilot's flight test.

The last major one I did was about two years ago now, that being my Private Pilot's License. The ground component equates to more or less a verbal swordfight. An hour of prodding and defending your position with the weapon of choice your own knowledge. So after that you feel a little stressed, a little mentally drained and hopefully more than a little relieved that is over. I always thought that the ground component is the hardest.

The actual flight is not as bad. It consists of general handling of the aircraft ( steep turns, low level flight, precautionary searches and circuits), Basic instrument flight (where they ake sure you can't see out of the windshield and try to more or less make you sick and disoriented, then see how you fare under those conditions) and finally navigation skills.

If you answer wrongly in the ground component, the testing officer will try to use socratic reasoning to bring about a correct answer but if you are just stumped on critical knowledge, the test ends right there. If you stuff up in the aircraft- the testing officer can either not tell you until you are on the ground, or tell you in the air, giving you the option to save some cash and head straight home.

The two tests I have coming up are the Night Rating test (which is not that bad) and the Commercial Pilot's license test. The CPL test is a big one for me. 7 exams worth of incorrect answers to rectify, plus general knowledge component and what it means to be a commercial pilot vs a private pilot. I did ok on my exams but it is still a lot to study for. Having not flown much in the past two years is certainly counting against me also - things that were just second nature, ingrained in my head are now harder to recall, if I can at all. My in flight skills have deteriorated also, but not that badly that I will need tens of hours of retraining. I can still pump out a mean diversion when needed!

So today I am studying for my Night Rating pre test (well once I finish procrastinating with this blog) and also in the course of that covering some of the knowledge for my CPL test which hopefully will be coming up in the next two weeks. I would love to bust out some WoW (there is soloing and PuGs to be done!), attempting to finish Duke or LA Noire or even just floundering around in StarCraft II. I love flying more than anything but study just sucks so hard- I swear I must have ADD or something because my attention span when it comes to study is almost nil. However give me a wikipedia article on a WWII aerial battle, aircraft or something like that and I can read it for ages!

I really am a poor student.

Aug 13, 2011

So its Wednesday...

Its midweek and I am sitting at my desk listening to podcasts. I love podcasts. I mostly listen to flying, gaming or tech podcasts. It helps pass the time, keeps me sane and helps keep me up to date with what is happening in the world of Aviation.
I need more Aussie ones though. Plane Crazy Down Under is brilliant but since Steve and Grant have jobs and lives outside of podcasting, there are some weeks without any content!
Airplane Geeks and Uncontrolled Airspace help but not all of what they speak about is relevant to the Australian Aviator. But they are good to listen to because of their group dynamics and the stories about flying from another part of the world.
The other ones I listen to are This Week in Computer Hardware, All About Android, Hunting Party Podcast and the Rooster Teeth podcast The Drunk Tank.

This Week in Computer Hardware and All About Android are netcasts from America. Keeping up to date with what is happening with computer hardware and Android development is ESSENTIAL for me haha. I thrive on it.
Hunting Party Podcast is produced by Euripides from OutDPS!, Darkbrew from TheBrewHall and Frostheim from the WHU. It a nice weekly update on hunters in WoW, what blue posts effect us, theorycrafting, gear and random awesomeness that the class is capable of.
The Drunk Tank is a mish mash of just about anything that has happened in the world. They reckon its a gaming podcast but it is a lot more diverse than that. The cast changes often depending on who is available in the office. It is mostly just fun to listen to them.

Lately life has been work (with associated podcasts in my ears), gym when I can be bothered and gaming. I am actually getting right back into WoW. I am just about geared enough for Firelands Raid but I doubt I will get to raid it. The dailies are getting boring and repetitive and the hour it takes to run ZA/ZG with a PuG is painful.
I have been collecting rare pets though which is just really the Pokemon syndrome manifesting itself. Its fun when you get a few hits in a night but having to wait for days for a spawn sucks.
I tried PVP but found I sucked hardcore as both BM and SV so now I need to look at MM for it.
I am raiding BH and doing heroics as MM now and I am by far stripping the DPS i was putting out as SV or BM. It really is much easier to handle the MM rotation. I hated it at first when ICC released but soon came to love it. Readiness gives great burst potential! SV is just so freakin random, I have issues with focus. I either have too little to refresh black arrow or I get a lock and load proc which makes me have too much! And BM is fun with big red pet and the exotic pets (which I now have a few of) but Kill Command SUCKS. There is nothing worse than having to wait for my pet to reach the boss/mob before I can let off a KC. Even if I anticipate the tank pulling, its an inexact science. I love my rare exotic pets and my big red pet but it just is too much of a pain in the ass. I have found that I can plan my focus a lot more with MM because of Chimera Shot. With my latency, 10 sec is how long it takes me to cast 2 steady shot, an arcane, 2 steady shot and then have Chimera come off CD. So it works well. There is about a half second spare at times if I get the latency down but that just means that if Aimed Shot procs, I can get it away WITH an arcane and only push back Chimera a half second. 12k DPS in SV/BM has turned into 16-18k with MM in heroics. Im happy with it.

Jul 4, 2011

LA Noire, the uncertain future and flying

So I picked up L.A. Noire the other week, unfortunately I have not spent a lot of time with it. It is definitely a game I wish to spend some more time with, even if it doesn't quite live up to expectations.

I haven't had a lot of experience with the Noire genre but I can see how it can be the base of a compelling story. I can also see how you don't find a lot of games in this genre. L.A. Noire brings something new to the table to try and make it work though. The animators hook up actors to facial mapping tech. I don't know much about it but it works bloody well in bringing fluid motion and a lot of expression to the characters faces. THis is supposed to be used to help the player figure out if a witness is lying, telling the truth or trying to hide it. Subtle facial hints like looking away, hunched shoulders, worried looks and their general mood are all supposed to help you tell if they are telling the truth or lying. It doesn't. I don't know how many times I have picked either doubt or lie when they had shifty eyes - only to have the wrong one and have the line of questioning stricken from the list! Don't let NPC's have shifty eyes when they are telling the truth!

Most of the time you are doubting the witness because it just looks bad for them, and then they get the shifty eyes going and you think you have caught them out. You more or less call them a lying SOB and then it all goes to hell. Seriously awesome mechanic, but its poor acting. Maybe I just suck at reading people, but I have heard similar things from others I know who have played it.

I really love the game though, it has a lot of flavour and it keeps you playing - it is just plain different from other sandbox games. Most of the side quests I do end up with bad guys in body bags though. I wish there was a way to control the outcome of them a little more. It seems to end out shoot the bastard running, shoot the bastard shooting at you or shoot the bastard holding a gun to a bystanders head. Then the bodybag scene. It is fairly standard with sandbox games to have repetitive side quests. But like I said- I enjoy the game.

Four years ago, I was a high school dropout working a crap job in a bottle shop and doing nothing with my life. Now, I am close to finishing a Commercial Pilot's License but still far from the goal of being a professional pilot- a CPL lets you work but it doesnt get you a job. At the moment I stand on a set of forks in the road, I have no idea which way to go. To stay with my current job, working towards my goal of becoming a professional pilot or to apply for a job in aviation but on the other side of the fence- government regulation. Working for CASA as a PA to one of the senior managers in the Operations Division. I don't know where it will take me, I don't know if it is worth asking for referees from my current job to apply for the new one - if I do not get the job with CASA, I cast doubt in the minds of my managers about how long I plan to stick around.

The move to the CASA job sounds like a pretty straightforward one- better pay, chance of networking within the aviation industry, a better understanding of the governing body of Aviation in Australia and just a change of pace from my job. I would be an overglorified secretary when it comes down to it but it would be an experience. What stands in my way is that I have not had any experience as a PA and they want someone who has experience already. For an entry level job. I perform similar duties just in the day to day of my current job but it isnt the same. So it will be a gamble to apply for it from the get go- and I need referees from my current workplace to be able to have any chance at all. At the end of the day I need to nut up or shut up. Indecisiveness is a folly of mine at times. Where will either decision lead? Take the safe road and just keep working where I am or go out on a limb and risk it?

On a less introspective note, I have completed the command time component of my commercial pilot's license. It was an awesome flight. Took a mate of mine up with me. Checked out the sinkhole at Inskip Point, up over Fraser Island and Hervey Bay, Gin Gin, Mundubbera, Dalby, low level over Wivenhoe and Somerset Dams and then back to Redcliffe. Some rubbish weather around but for the most part it was clear and fine. 8500ft for most of the way out west. Fought a stiff headwind for some part of it but it was smooth and clear which made it a great. At the end of it, found that I had hit the 70 hours PIC milestone and was pretty stoked. I only have 4 hours or so of instrument time then I have to demonstrate my abilities to an instructor to give me a reccommendation. I am nervous about it because I still feel rusty, each of the flights I have done so far have jogged a bit of my memory of what I used to know right off the bat while I was at Avondale. But I will find out what they think I need to improve on once I go for a nav with an instructor. It will be the end of a chapter of my training, and the start of a new one. Again another choice- check out FlyTigerWorld down in Torquay in Victoria and see if they are still employing and if they are get my tailwheel, aerobatics and jump pilot qualifications to apply for it. Or on the other hand knuckle down and start on a multi engine instrument rating. It is a tough choice and one I will have to make soon.

Jun 13, 2011

Old Friends

I love old friends. You know those people that you have known for YEARS and you don't always keep in contact with and you just pick up where you left off. New adventures with old memories and you even manage to relive the old times if you are lucky.

I am having that experience with Duke Nukem Forever. Its old Duke, with new features. But before going into why I love the new Duke, I want to mention why I love old Duke.

Duke Nukem (the first one) would have been one of the very first games I ever touched. Ever. I think Sonic the Hedgehog might have come a close second. But that side scrolling blonde guy with a big gun killing robots was my first real video game experience. And it was awesome. It kept me coming back for more every time. Eventually I finished the game (I think) and it was rewarding. For a 7 year old it was epic. It was a lot more involved than Sonic the Hedgehog was anyway. The platforming was less about speed and luck and more about timing, environment and if you had the right boots on. Upgrades kept you searching the levels rather than just trying to blow through them. Well that and the fact you needed keys to access some areas of the level. It offered more of a challenge and less twitchy responsiveness.

Duke Nukem II was less awesome for me. By the time I found it and played it I had already experienced DOOM, Wolfenstein 3D and also Descent. Being 6 years old when it was released, I didn't exactly have disposable income or anything. Either way by the time I found Duke II and played it (about '96 or '97), I had already played a couple of 3D FPS games. So the side scroller wasn't really "doing it" for me. It was still fun but I just never played much of it.

Duke Nukem 3D was the shit. He had lept out of his 2D-ness with a kick ass attitude and so many age inappropraite things for a 10 year old. Yeah, at the time I had enough sense to not let my parents know that i was watching pixellated boobies being shaken at me in a game. And to be honest, the adult content of the game brought a lot of humour to it. It wasn't the stoic space marine fighting on his own, it was Duke Nukem, narcissistic, crude and very much full of his own persona. There was no putting yourself in a nameless hero's shoes. You WERE Duke Nukem. And you kicked ass when you were out of bubble gum. The one liners really did add to the character. Everyone would have had a giggle when you tried to play with the pinball machine and have Duke come out with "Hmmm, don't have time to play with myself". In my limited knowledge of gaming history, I am pretty sure that is the first time players came up against something like this. I know I never experienced a game like it until this point. And honestly there are not a lot of games out there that have a main character with such an out there, egotistical, crude personality.

Duke 3D was awesome. You had a jetpack. You could swim. The level design was not like DOOM where you were bound to running around and jumping. If you couldn't get somewhere, chances are you needed a jetpack. Or a set of SCUBA gear. When you shot an alien with the RPG or other explosive device- they EXPLODED in a mess of body parts and blood! Yet it still had the essentials of a 90's FPS game- an insane amount of weaponry (see for a demonstration of how insane it really is), keyed gates which hinder your progress, powerups (yeah steroids are so much better than the DOOM "Beserker Box") and plenty of enemies to shoot up. It left an impression. Could have been my young age though.

Duke Nukem Forever took long enough! Development fail. But its certainly the next stage for Duke. Graphics aren't as good as they could be. And that was my first impression. They are certainly better than Duke 3D but they aren't as polished as say, Halo:Reach, Call of Duty and certainly are so far behind a game like Final Fantasy XIII (which is just beautiful graphics wise). Honestly it was a little bit of a let down. I realise that 2K and Gearbox picked it up from a long list of developers who already put work into it, and I really don't know how much they used in the game. But considering both of these companies have had a lot of experience with games in the past, I expected a little more. Its not supposed to be "clean" graphics wise and its certainly not bad, but its a little pixellated in spots.

It is still the same Duke though. Its funny as hell and it is still hanging shit on other games. Notably is one of the Earth Defense Force soldiers offering Duke some "Green Power Armour" which looks a lot like Master Chiefs MJOLNIR armour from Halo. To this offer, Duke scoffs saying "Power Armour is for pussies" You cannot help but laugh. Its funny as. Trash talking, one liners, dirty women doing dirty deeds and the "Titty City" level- its all Duke. I am still playing with it so I can't really say too much about it. It is still well worth looking into.

With a seemingly endless development of Duke Nukem Forever, they seem to have done pretty well to update a mid 90's FPS into a modern FPS, complete with vehicles and aerial units adding to the realism of the environment. But is still the same Duke, slightly different voice from the 90's Duke (hey- hes 16 years older now...), it still feels like the same game. I am definitely enjoying it that's for sure!

May 28, 2011

Back to business

Relationships are like flowers. Some bloom slowly, others fast. Some are beautiful, others stink. Overall- they all come to an end. Whether its a breakup, divorce or a death it all sucks just as hard - you just need to pick up the pieces and move on.

So if you haven't picked up on it yet, yes I am back to the single life. Back at home with my parents for the time being and while that may suck just a bit I have found the silver lining. Games and Flying. I no longer have the financial, time or commitment responsibilities of living in your own home with a partner and her child which means I have a lot more time and money to concentrate on getting my flying career started and kick back with a cold one and some games!

I have my eye on LA Noire at the moment. From the reviews I have heard it is slow and somewhat repetitive, but if I wanted something fast paced I would get a racing game or load up Halo or COD. What fascinates me about this game is the level of detail they have gone into for it. Mapping the voice actors faces so that when the deliver their lines and get into character- the are recording their facial expression as well. This leads to one of their main point in the game - interrogation and more realisitic on screen performances from the characters. I give this a big plus. And also its new intellectual property. For too long we have had too many sequels. Mass Effect, Halo, Star Wars, Call of Duty, Medal of Honour, Assassins Creed - all big names, all of them sell video games and all of them have made millions for their developers. But they aren't "new".

 They reuse the old characters, bring in a couple new ones, update gameplay and give you the next installment in the canon of that universe. But they usually dont bring a lot of "new" to the table. Sure Halo 3 was the first Halo game for the 360, Mass Effect 2 did away with the item upgrade process and Gears of War 2 let you use enemies as shields. Halo 3 didn't bring much to the actual game play except add in the equipment and talked itself up a lot. I loved the game and even bought the Legendary Edition with the Spartan helmet- but it didnt give me the same level of amazement and awe that the original Halo: Combat Evolved gave me when I first encountered the Flood, when I saw what happened to Keyes and the climactic race against the clock to escape the Pillar of Autumn. In fact, Halo 3 borrowed a lot of the final sequence from Halo: CE just removed the timer and gave you more things to fall off. Gears 2 was just like Gears 1 with a bit more vehicles, meat shields and really not much else. Mass Effect 2 was brilliant don't get me wrong- but I kinda liked to mess around with my weapons and armour. I love the RPG element to it, enhancing, buying and selling and creating armour and guns to suit my playstyle, my group type and give me a level of personalisation that ME2 just didnt give me. Sure you can change the colour and look of the armour to a certain extent but its still the same armour. LA Noire will be something NEW and the level of immersion I am expecting from actually having to pay attention to the witnesses facial expressions will no doubt fascinate me to the level of which the hidden blade did in Assassin's Creed. You know you rampaged around just killing people indiscriminately with that bad boy. Don't deny it.

As far as my flying is going, it seems that I am cursed. I keep working on beautiful blue sky days and have bookings on days with horrible amounts of cloud, rain and wind. Last weekend I was forced to just do a few circuits at 500' for a check ride on a R182. Couldnt get any higher than that. This weekend looks to be better but still cloudy. Yesterday (Friday) was clear, light wind and just a nice comfortable 22 degrees. Could not have asked for a better flying day. Today the cloud base looks to be around the 3000 - 5000' base mark which is still flyable but just doesnt give the smooth ride and excellent view that 8000 or 9000' gives you. It is a shame but it is out of my control.

I have a job I am aiming for at least. Advertised in the paper and online, there is a mob down in Victoria who do aerobatic joy flights in Tiger Moths as well as scenic flights and parachuting along the Great Ocean Road. Sounds like a brilliant first job. Won't be huge hours but it will be fun and it is a start. Without having to quit my job and do an instructors rating. Win.

May 4, 2011

More old flying notes and Tamworth tie up.

 So it is march and again I have forgotten about the blog. A bit has happened since the last time I wrote. First of all the largest change to my life since I started to pursue my flying career. I am a full time step dad for my partner's daughter. It has been a bit of a change to say the least. But a couple months of living with the two of them and I hope that I am living up to the job description. Little A can be a barrel of laughs most of the time, but like all four year olds, the tantrums, drama and the mucking up can get a little wearing. Gotta just suck it up like all men do at one point in their lives. Most of the time it is a lot of fun though. Kids are always wanting to play and have fun. Helps to stop you taking yourself too seriously (I hope).

But back to the flying. I went to Tamworth with the RAAF for flight screening. It was the most amazing two weeks of my life. Two weeks worth of a job interview sounds daunting right? Wrong. The last two days suck but up until that point it is just you, a bunch of guys (and girls) who all love flying as much as I do and getting up every morning to go flying and learn more about it. First thing I realised was that the accuracy expectation was so much higher than civil GA flying. Holy crap it was like learning to fly all over again. Chances are that it was just how slack I had gotten myself since leaving Avondale. But the way they want you to fly the aircraft is so methodical. You don't just turn base. RPPT- Roll 20 degress AOB, Power 15" MAP, Prop Full Fine, Trim 2 sec left 2 sec back. It is almost surgical in its presicion. Aerobatics was just the icing on the cake. Not only were complicated sets of aero's demonstrated but I was taught the loop, barrel roll, inverted flight, slow roll and aileron roll. I loved every minute of it and cannot wait until I can justify getting my aero rating!

In the end I didn't make the cut. I feel a little cheated that the last instructor blew so much hot air up my ass that I thought I was a sure thing and then the flying results show a fail mark. How are you meant to improve on aspects of your flying if you are under the impression what you are doing in spot on? I was shattered and it is a dream I will again follow once I am able. 3 years. Its a long time and a lot will happen in that time but I swear I will try again.

So now it is May. It is has been about a year since I started this blog? Holy crap. Anyway, Tamworth was amazing, and I still months later hate the fact that I was not selected. One saving grace is that none of the other applicants who got through flight screening have heard back from the ADF yet, so it would have been trading one type of pain for another. I am back to flying GA again, got my bankloan approved and have already racked up about 5 more solo hours. Only about 10 to go and another 5 or so instrument hours then I am legally allowed to sit my flight test. I do not think I am ready for it though. I need to get a lot more skill back before I am back to my Avondale level of skill.

Here is one more post from my first few lessons flying.

Ok so its been a while since I wrote anything about my flying. Not much happened though... did straight and level, turning, climbing and descending. All pretty standard stuff and i passed it all. Turns irritated me though- thought i wasnt gonna pass that one cuz my rudder coordination was way out. Instructor passed me though. This last weekend though was cool as. I did stalls!

Stalls are when there isnt enough airflow hitting the wings properly and cant hold the plane in the air. When you have wings clean (no flaps and no turning) you reduce power and pull back on the yoke to retain altitude.eventually you are too steep and too slow so the nose drops. To recover you release some elevator pressure and increase throttle to full. Easy as and you only lose 50 feet or so.

The next bit was more fun. Incipient stalls!!!
Check that out its more or less what I did. Scared myself shitless!

I gotta go to bed so ill finish this another time damn 4am wake ups...

ok now its the 12th and got home from another lesson- more on that soon. back to stalls. I managed to recover from them within the appropriate limits so if anyone wants to come flying know that if something happens and we stall i can bring it back and keep flying :D After a few more stalls went back to the circuit area and I got to do a couple circuits- first landings of mine were horrible but Im still alive so that counts for something.

On to todays lesson. Got to fly around inthe back seat of a 172 for free for half an hour for another pilot to get used to flying them around with passengers in it- nice cruisy. he was a good pilot but the crosswind made his landings a bit bumpy. Then came my turn- I can fly a plane well- take offs are great, I can fly straight and level, getting the rudder balance on the turns almost perfect and manage to make the correct radio calls at the appropriate times. But landing in a crosswind is a bitch. You have to fly at an angle so you fly straight- sounds weird but you get the feel of it pretty quick. But coming on to final (which is the approach to landing) you track towards the runway but then when you get close enough you have to kill the throttle, pull back on the stick and get the plane straight without being blown off the runway- hard stuff. Havent got it perfect yet but I can land without crashing or doing damage. I will get there. Im taking bookings already for people who want to come up when i earn my GFPT (first license). Bed time again- cant believe i agreed to saturday work.... money is so good and pays for more flying so i shouldnt complain