Return to flight sims?, SimHQ RSS feeds and Black Shark

Last weeks news that Microsoft had fired the entire MS Flight Sim development team, came as a shock to the entire Simulation community.Here is the staple Flight sim, one of Microsofts most succesfull products, and they decide to get rid of it. The sense of this has many analysts scratching their heads.

It does, however, present an interesting prospect. It means that for the next 3-4 years at least, the community and third-party products around MS Flight Sim will stabilize. That means that right now is a good time to go buy the last MS Flight sim product, FSX (Flight Simulator 10 )
Third-party add-on producers will be churning out a lot of products, now that they know the platform will not change for next few years.

I recently lamented what I perceived as the death of realistic combat flight sims, as I hardly ever heard mention of them in the mainstream gaming press.
I needed to look a little harder though, because as it turns out, there are in fact a LOT of products on the market right now, and more coming out in 2009. They are just not getting on the radar of the mainstream gaming press, and dont even seek to. They cater, as always to the nich market of sim enthusiasts.

Even a quick glance at a site such as SimHQ, shows that the market is, in fact,  alive and well.

SimHQ RSS Feeds

I am slowly adding in some RSS feeds of Sim sites to my Google Reader (check the combined feed out here
I noticed that SimHQ’s mainpage doesnt provide any RSS feeds, so I made my owning using Feed43.

RSS feed for SIMHQ Articles
RSS feed for SIMHQ Air and Land Combat News

These feeds are very ugly screen scrapes, so don’t be surprised if they are buggy. The feeds only contain a title and the link, and its not always obvious what the content is about specifically.

DCS: Black Shark

Today I saw another thing that got me very interested.
It seems the DCS, the Russian-based company behind the very excellent Lock-On Modern Air Combat, have just released “Black Shack”, the first part of what they are calling their “Digital Combat Simulator”, a platform that they will be releasing more add-on products for in future.

The “Black Shark” is the Nato codename for the Kamov Ka-50 gunship


It looks amazing, and brings back fond memories of Jane’s Longbow II, that I played to death so many years ago.
Check out the video below (if you cant see it, click here)

Fully interactive and highly realistic cockpit, super realistic flight model and avionics, see this page for details

In other words, there is a good chance that at some point in the next year, I will go out and get myself one of those Thrustmaster Cougar HOTAS sets, and dig right back into these sims!

Screentoaster test

I go an email a while back from Screentoaster, a startup that is producing a very easy to use, web-based product that allows you to capture screen imput with sound and video.
I registered and gave it a go this evening. Below is the result ( if you cant see the inbedded video below, click here )
The recording stopped halfway through, so you are warned. This was only a test though.

In the video below, I attempt to show of Microsoft Live mesh.

I am impressed so far. It works well, but the total upload is limited to 20mb, and how fast you use that up of course, depends on how large resolution you use, and if you include sound. Right now its not easy to see how much room you have, or to stop and start recordings on the fly. But this product is bran new, so it can only get better.
Give it a try yourself at

Government 2.0: The Rise of the Goverati

This Post was reposted from here

Shared by Jemimus

There are several aspects of the Obama presidency that excite me. This is probably the number 1 for me. – Seen on

Everyone knows how well Barack Obama’s presidential campaign made use of new media to raise money and market the candidate. We also know how big a role social technology played during inauguration week, from handheld flip HD footage appearing on network TV to people reporting on Twitter about what they liked and disliked. After President Obama took office, spirited debates proliferated in the blogosphere about whether or not is Web 2.0-enabled and what the role of President Obama’s CTO might be. But one striking trend has largely flown under the national radar: the rise of the goverati.


What is the goverati? It is made up of people with first-hand knowledge of how the government operates, who understand how to use social software to accomplish a variety of government missions, and who want to use that knowledge for the benefit of all.

The goverati includes not only government employees, but also people from think tanks, trade publications, and non-profits. And it includes high-profile thinkers outside of the government who have an interest in a more open, transparent, and efficient government; people such as Joe Trippi, Craig Newmark, and Tim O’Reilly. Using formal and informal social networks, the goverati is networking, sharing information, and changing how parts of the government interact with each other and with citizens.

About a week ago, President Obama issued a memo on this very topic. The memo, which affects all Executive Branch employees, has three main pillars: government should be more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. Social software will be part of an overall strategy to make this happen, spearheaded by the CTO, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the General Services Administration (GSA). The naming of a “New Media” czar, Macon Phillips, will no doubt push the process along and keep branches well informed.

There are many barriers to this kind of change, so many they would be overwhelming to list. But the changes that are happenening are being covered by the mainstream press, and they are being enacted mainly by — you guessed it — the goverati.

Case in point: webmasters. Numerous policies and customs restrict the government’s use of things like commercial websites to host video and cookies to track visitors. Insiders from across the government have written a number of white papers that explain the problems (without using jargon) and outline reasonable solutions (here’s one of those white papers).

Former CIO of the Department of Defense, Dr. Linton Wells II, often comments to me that battles in government are often won by the most persistent. And the goverati are certainly persistent. It knows that momentum and timing are on its side, and it is pressing its agenda on Washington.

But changing the government is not like changing Apple Computer. President Obama issuing a directive is not the same as Steve Jobs issuing one. It simply doesn’t work that way, for all kinds of reasons. To change government, you must be persistent, have a hook, and know when and how to leverage connections and power to “muscle” change. And there are usually competing factions, outside interests, political seasons, etc.; it’s a very delicate business.

But interestingly, just as the goverati is fighting for a more transparent, participatory, and collaborative government, it is also leveraging the social tools it loves so much to become a body more powerful than the sum of its parts. The informal Government 2.0 social network GovLoop was developed by a DHS employee in his spare time; in a few months, it has surged to over 5000 members. Intelink, the intelligence community’s internal social network and information hub, is awash in blogs and other communication about the topic. Events are sprouting up everywhere, most notably non-profit ones planned by insiders and advertised primarily by word of mouth.

The Sunlight Foundation, which uses the power of the Internet to shine light on the interplay of money, lobbying, and government, is hosting an unconference in late February called Transparency Camp, in which open-government advocates from all walks of life (tech, policy, non-profit, etc.) can talk across organizational and party lines in a casual atmosphere about new strategies for goverment transparency. It is sold out. This is exactly the kind of event you can expect the goverati in Washington and elsewhere to be holding in the next year as we transform President Obama’s memo into a reality within government.

Closer to home, three partners and I have recently established the Government 2.0 Club, modeled on Social Media Club. Government 2.0 Club will bring together thought leaders in government, academia, and industry from across the country to explore how social media and Web 2.0 technologies can create a more transparent, participatory, and collaborative government. Local “Clubs” will hopefully also sprout up to discuss issues specific to them. And the first Government 2.0 Camp is happening in Washingston in late March.

The excitement over new social technologies has not abated in Washington. Change is indeed on the way. The intriguing part is the mechanism by which it is happening. By using these social tools to network and share information among themselves, the goverati is helping to spread the use of these very tools throughout the government.

Mark Drapeau
Dr. Mark Drapeau is a biological scientist, government consultant, and author. He has a B.S. and
Ph.D. in animal behavior, conducted postdoctoral research on complex genomic and neural systems, and has published writing in Science,
Nature, Genome Research, American Scientist, the New York Times, the Washington Times, and other venues.


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