So today I arrived home safely, the only minor problem I guess is the slight jetlag I have now. It seems I am not that good anymore in sleeping in aircraft seats. Or maybe the fact that I left Seattle around 13:00 also has something to do with it, as at that time of day you are not so sleepy in general.
Looking back at the last two weeks it has been a fantastic trip. I have met so many people that I knew already from forums. Now I know the faces behind all of the problems that get discussed and I think that is really a good thing. And also the sightseeing in the area around Seattle was very nice, at least I have seen a little more than only the conference center.
Hopefully you will see the benefits of this trip in the community in
the times to come, as I learned a lot of interesting stuff and met a
lot of interesting people.
So now it is time to unpack all the stuff and hopefully I have some time afterwards to catch up with the emails and forums that are still waiting. But there is one thing more important to do this weekend and that is seeing my girlfriend again, that alone makes me very happy to be home now.
The DevCon and FanCon are now over for a few days already and since then I have been exploring the area around Seattle a bit more. On Monday I went to see Seattle Downtown and although it was a bit windy and wet, it was nice to walk through the city and feel the atmosphere a bit. In the afternoon I went to the Museum of History and Industry and I enjoyed the exhibition a lot. It basically tells the story of how the ciy developed since the first people came there and how the economy developed during that time (logging, gold rush, industry like Boeing, etc).
On Monday evening I met Bob Bernstein again (I had already met him during the DevCon). But this time he had invited me to his house, to have dinner together with his family. During the evening we had some interesting discussions about FS and scenery design in particular. All together I enjoyed this visit a lot, as it is also good to know what kind of person is behind a certain forum nickname.
On Tuesday I drove in the direction of the Olympic National Park and I am still there as I write this. The rainforest is really beautiful and I have enjoyed it a lot to walk around in the park. Of course I also had to check out the Pacific coast, but the waves were quite rough and there was a lot of wood on the beach. So I did not really feel the need to sit down there (maybe the temperature also had something to do with that).
Tonight I will have to pack my suitcase properly again, as tomorrow I will be flying back to the Netherlands. So this interesting trip has almost come to an end now. All together it has been a great trip until now, but I am also looking forward to go home again.
Today it was much more quiet on the FanCon, it seemed quite some people had already left. But this also had some advantages, for example that we could play a multiplayer Reno airrace mission with a group of developers. Although we could not do the mission in slew mode, it actually went quite well and it certainly was a lot of fun.
After attending a very good presentation by Bill Womack about the possibilities of the new FsX materials (I guess I should ask him to put that explaination on the Wiki as well), we decided to go out and doing something fun in the afternoon. We decided on going to the harbour of Seattle and taking a scenic flight with a floatplane of Kenmore Air. That was a lot of fun. although it was a little bit bumpy due to the strong winds out there. I guess this was a nice present to give myself on my birthday.
This week I also met Misho Katulic for the first time. Certainly among scenery designers he is best known for his TerraBuilder tool, but he also showed us his latest product TerraBuilder:Moon. This interesting addon will transform the FS world as you know it into the moon. So instead of flying around you local airport, so you try out to land on the moon. So I guess all space enthousiasts should check out the website of this new addon.
The 2nd and 3d day of the DevCon kept me quite busy, so I did not write a new blog posts about them. But I can tell you that those two days were great as well. Learned a lot and spoken to a lot of interesting people.
Yesterday was the 1st day of the Avsim FanCon and I enjoyed that a lot. There were quite some interesting presentations and I met more people that I know from the AvSim scenery design forums. It is so nice to have a face behind those forum user names now.
I also gave a presentation at the FanCon, about the evolution in scenery design over the last 10 years. Some time ago I realized that it is 10 years ago already that I started to make scenery for Fs5 and since then a lot has changed. So in the presentation I took an look at how the default scenery has changed between Fs5 and FsX. Of course this is quite a lot, in Fs5 we still had a flat, empy world. While in FsX we now have a realistic looking, living, populated world. Comparing screenshots of the same location in all those versions of FS gives a nice overview of the changes.
Besides the default scenery, I also took a look at how my own addon sceneries have evolved over time. It was quite fun to actually dig up the first addon I made for Fs5 again. With the help of a DOS emulator, I even got Fs5 with that addon to run again on my laptop. In the last part of my presentation I took a look at how the scenery design tools have evolved in those 10 years and you can be sure the changes are quite big. Some things have become easier, other things have become more complex now. But one thing is sure, in all those years we have had a lot of fun making addon scenery.
In the evening there was the AvSim Awards Banquet. They had two very interesting speakers, the first was a Boeing test pilot who gave a talk about the Boeing 747 Superfreighter that is used to transport parts of the 787. And the second speaker was Eric Lindbergh Jr. who talked about his own transatlantic flight and the XPrize foundation he is involved in. Both together this made the banquet very interesting.
So today was the first day of the DevCon, my main purpose of this travelling. On this blog I can not talk about all the actual stuff being discussed there, as we are under NDA for that. But I certainly did meet a lot of interesting people. I am sure I will forget to mention somebody here, so sorry if I forgot you.
For example I met Bob Bernstein and Bill Womack, two people I know for years already from different internet fora for scenery designers. It was really nice to talk with them in person. I also met different users of the FSDeveloper website, luckily most recognised me from my avatar photo. I also met with Russell, the author of FSX Planner and we had some very interesting talk about his tool and scenery development in general.
And of course I should not forget to mention all the people from the ACES team I talked with during they day. Being able to talk so easily with them about things that we (as the community) think are important is a great benefit of an event like this.
I also gave my presentation today, or maybe I should say presentations as I had two different subjects to talk on. The first part of my presentation was about the FSDeveloper community and how we try to support other addon developers with the forum, wiki, etc. The second part of the presentation dealt with the OpenFlight conversions I have worked on in the past. Or maybe that is even more an example, my talk was more about the possibilities for conversion in general.
Today I went to the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field in Seattle. I have seen quite some aviation musea by now (for example Duxford in the UK, Aviodrome in the Netherlands), but this one also has a very good collection. And also the volunteers working there are very friendly and have great stories to tell you about the aircraft.
Besides all the “usual” pieces that you will find in almost every aviation museum (like a DC-3, Piper Cub, etc) there were also a lot of pieces that made the visit very interesting. For example there was a section about the US air mail history (very interesting for an European like me). And also in the sections about the First and Second World War I spend quite some time. They had a really good mix between talking about the aircraft and about the pilots flying them in those sections. In the Second World War section especially the part about the war in the Pacific interested me, as that part usually gets less attention in Europe.
All those old aircraft with their beautifull piston engines interest me a lot, but in the museum they also had some very interesting modern pieces like a SR-71 and a Concorde. Although I have been in the Concorde at Duxford before, it surprised me again how narrow that cabin actually is. Another interesting piece was the old Air Force One 707, with most of the interior still in place as well.
And being in Seattle (and on Boeing Field) there was a section about the history of Boeing as well of course. That section was in the origional “Red Barn” where the Boeing Company started a long time ago. It was very interesting to see the kind of tools they used back then to make an aircraft. Especially when you compare it to the things I saw yesterday at the assembly line of the 777.
This afternoon I arrived at the Hilton hotel in Bellevue where the actual DevCon and FanConf conferences will be held. The DevCon will be starting tomorrow and I will also have to give my presentation on the first day. So I guess I will do a last dry-run in my hotel room tonight. I must say I am really looking forward to meet all those people I know from the internet in real tomorrow.
Today I visited the Future of Flight Center and took the Boeing Tour. The center itself has a nice display that explains the history of the Boeing civil aircraft and also shows you something about the materials used, the engines, etc. This all is mixed up with a lot of videos and other interactive displays, they sure know well how to present things. And if they had a change to write down that their aircraft are better than Airbus, they certainly did so on the information panels. The only negative thing for me was that, being an aeronautical engineer, there was not so much new for me to learn there.
After that I took the Boeing Tour, where you get to visit the assembly lines of the 777 and 787. Maybe visit is a bit of a big word, as you are standing on a balcony with a good overview only. Once again the information provided was not very deep (I mean the length of the aircraft I can also lookup myself on the internet), but probably the more technical things I am interesting in would scare away most other visitors. But just seeing how these aircraft are made is very impression, that alone is worth the visit I would say.
After that I decided to try to go to downtown Seattle, to see if there was anything worth seeing there. But unfortunately I never really got there. Once I got near the city center, I tried to find a place to park the car. That did not really work out as I expected (busy traffic, probably some lack of preparation on my side), in the end I got lost and was quite far from the city center again. At that moment I had lost my interest to try again to find a parking place, so I decided to go back to the hotel. I guess I can better use this afternoon to work on the presentation for the AvSim FanConf after all.
So the daylight saving time ended today in the US. That was a little bit of a surprise to me, as it already ended last week in Europe. This explains why there was only 8 hours time difference with the Netherlands when I arrived yesterday. At least this meant the day was a bit longer than I expected.
I decided to drive a bit around to enjoy the landscape, so I drove in the direction of the North Cascades National Park. Once I reached the park I walked around at various places, to enjoy the forest, river, etc. I must say the nature is very nice there. What also surprised me was how little people you find walking along those trial as well. Most people I came across where walking with their dogs, but just people walking a bit around seems not so common here.
Right now I will try to find some dinner and hopefully I can work a bit on my presentation for the AvSim FanConf afterwards. Unfortunately I was a bit busy the last weeks, so that presenation is not fully ready. But I still have a week to finish it, so I am not stressed up yet.
Here I am, sitting in Seattle with a jetlag behind my laptop. Today I flew from Amsterdam to Seattle with Northwest Airlines, so that I can attend the DevConf and FanConf events next week. But the first few days I will use to see a bit of the surrounding. I will try to post on this blog regularly while I am here, but only if I have experienced somthing interesting of course.