A Word on Online Security

December, 1, 2020 by

This isn’t our normal type of post, but given recent events within small portions of the Infinite Flight community we thought it would be a good idea to put together a simple list of things that can improve the security of your online accounts.

1. Enable 2-Factor Authentication. This is #1 because it is one of the easiest but also the most effective. Most websites support using SMS codes, email codes, and authenticator apps. When you go to log in, a code will be texted or emailed to you or will appear in your authenticator. This code is then used to log in. This means that unless someone has access to your texts, emails, or phone, they can’t get into your account. Discord, Slack, the Infinite Flight Community Forum, Google, Facebook, Instagram, and many other apps support 2FA. We actually made it a mandatory requirement on our Slack workplace.

2. Use strong and unique passwords. A strong password is something like [email protected]$**[email protected]$ or 95639156^!6%1 – something that can’t be guessed. Also use a different password for every site, so if an someone gains access to one account, they can’t pivot to others.

3. Use a proper Password Manager. This goes hand-in-hand with strong and unique passwords. Password Managers such as BitWarden (I use this one), 1Password, and LastPass are all good password managers. Ones built into browsers are often not secure – they store passwords locally on your device (often unencrypted) and don’t have any sort of protection against attackers with access to your computer.

If you have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

Low Expectations

November, 30, 2020 by

A lot of people will tell you that you should have low expectations so you’re not disappointed, but I’m here to tell you why that’s wrong.

If you have low expectations of your own performance, you’re not pushing yourself to do better. If you have low expectations of others’ performance, you can’t help them do better.

You should always have high expectations, and help yourself and others to achieve them.

Mess Up in Training

November, 26, 2020 by

Mess up in training, and don’t be afraid to. Training is where you’re meant to mess up, so if you have a few terrain busts or you forget a pattern entry, don’t sweat it – no harm done as long as you learn from it.

Traffic Will Come

November, 25, 2020 by

If you just keep controlling, eventually there will be traffic, regardless of airport size. All it takes is a couple of people to spawn in and a few more to follow suit and you’ve got yourself something to do. Never underestimate smaller airports.

BUMF

November, 14, 2020 by

Previously, we wrote about the C-FLAPS mnemonic to check if you are on an unstable approach. Another great one is BUMF, used to prepare a GA aircraft for landing.

B: Brakes ensure no malfunction by pressing on the brake pedals
U: Undercarriage – Lower it and check there’s no damage
M: Mixture – Lean
F: Fuel – Check you have a workable quantity

The Infinite Flight Live Heatmap

November, 13, 2020 by

Recently, I decided to create a heatmap of all flights on Infinite Flight’s Expert Server over a 24 hour period initially, then a 7-day period. To get this data, I fetched location data from the New Live API every 10 minutes.

Heatmaps were something I hadn’t done before. Originally, I was going to generate a single image in Node. However, after exploring how this could work, I decided it would be easier and have a better result to do it using Leaflet and heatmap.js. Having worked with Leaflet before, it wasn’t long before I had a nice map on a webpage running locally.

It looked cool, but something was off. The color was not based on the traffic density in that area. Instead, each aircraft produced a small red dot that was (to an extent) independent. After some tinkering, I found this was a gimmick of heatmap.js and was happening because I loaded the data after the configuration. Heatmap has getters and setters for all properties, so it was easy enough from here to just set the configuration after adding the data.

I also made an animation using a library for the creator of heatmap.js. More or less, it just rewrote the data every half second, which presented some performance issues. To fix this, I just unset variables here and there to free up some memory.

The full result is available here.

It’s not worth low-quality service

November, 8, 2020 by

Controlling is fun, but there are times where you have to remember there’s someone else receiving the commands you send. It’s not worth opening all stations at the hub airport in peak time just to show people you can. The quality of your services will inevitably go down, and it’s not worth ruining the experience for the sake of your ego. It’s not worth accidentally issuing a Level 3 to the wrong person because you want that promotion to Officer. It’s not worth crashing someone into a mountain because you were watching YouTube while controlling.

IFATC’s move to Discord and what it means for you

October, 28, 2020 by

As many people are now aware, the Infinite Flight ATC team has moved to Discord from Slack, for communications. Here are two reasons why.

  1. More features. Discord offers a range of features that are made specifically for gamers. Things such as user roles, welcome screens, advanced moderation tools, channel permissions and much more.
  2. The Slack Terms of Service requires that all users be 16 years or older. The IFATC has a minimum requirement of 14 years or older, and due to the fact that the audience of Infinite Flight tends to be younger, moving to Discord was considered to be a better option than increasing the age requirement to meet Slack’s requirements. Discord’s age requirement varies depending on the country you live in, but the minimum age requirement in the vast majority of the world is 13 years or older. The IFATC is an official entity of Infinite Flight, hence the move to remain fully compliant.

Big changes like this can be challenging but this will allow the IFATC to grow even further while providing more cool features. The team has now fully made the move and resumed smoothly without any disturbances to operations.

What about trolls?

It’s a common myth that Discord is full of troll users. Under the correct circumstances this is can be true to an extent, but well moderated servers that have strict rules on invite links are near impossible to spam or otherwise troll. The leadership within the IFATC have fully thought this through. Tyler Shelton, the ATC Community Manager, remarked that this move “was months in the making”. The IFATC remains to be a safe space for Infinite Flight controllers across the globe.

Will there be voice channels?

The IFATC plans to implement voice channels for controller communications while controlling, for use in training sessions, and testing in the near future. There has been no indication that the use of these voice channels for controlling or other uses will be mandatory and no member will be forced to use them. Text channels will still always be available.

Do I as a local trainee have anything to worry about?

No, nothing to worry about. You may want to check if you still meet the requirements to join because as I said, some countries have different age restrictions to use Discord. If you have any concerns or questions, contact your recruiter.

What is the IFATC Education Group doing?

As you know, our group uses Slack and will continue to for team wide communication. Since our writing and video editing team’s minimum age requirement is 16 years of age or older, we are in the clear. Our community was also in the clear, but we’ve decided to move to our blog to be able reach even more people. We’re happy to report that we’ve successfully fully made the move.

We elected to use our blog because it will allow us to broaden our audience even further with less friction to join in. There is no sign up process to participate, zero. There’s no age requirement. You can join in the conversation from any part of the world. It’s easier to share. Tons of positives with this move. We’ve successfully had two fantastic AMA’s on our blog to test the whole process, you can read them here and here.

For those that are in our Slack already, they will be allowed to stay and we’ve turned the general area into more of a VIP chatroom for our most engaged followers. Our Slack will now remain invite only for our team and group members only, for the foreseeable future.

Big bonus. Our group has now also created a Discord bot that you can add to your server. Go here to learn how to add our Slack or Discord bot to your workplace or server.

How do Controllers On-Guard Aircraft in the Real World?

October, 21, 2020 by

In Infinite Flight, if someone doesn’t tune into your frequency you just tap on their aircraft on the map then Send On Guard Warning. Some may think this is a concept exclusive to IF, but this is not the case.

In the real world, all aircraft are tuned to a certain frequency at all times. This frequency is 121.5 MHz and is the international distress frequency. If a controller wishes to On-Guard an aircraft, they tune to this frequency and transmit the same message we hear in IF “ABC123, you’re in an active airspace, please contact Melbourne Center on 127.0”.

An example of this being used in real life is MH370. When the flight never contacted Ho Chi Minh Center on that fateful night, attempts were made to reach the pilots on the distress frequency.

AMA With Philippe Rollin

August, 30, 2020 by

We had an AMA “Ask Me Anything” with Philippe Rollin, Infinite Flight Co-Founder and Developer, where the members in our group got a chance to ask him questions, live. Here are all of the questions and answers from our members and Philippe.


How did you and Laura become code buddies and how long did it take to make Infinite Flight before it was first announced?
We kind of knew each other from engineering school (Paris, I was a year ahead). We ended up in the same company in the US (NVIDIA) and became friends here. Laura was already working on a flight simulator on and off and when Microsoft decided to cancel Flight Simulator in 2009 we joined forces.
It took us about 6 months from 1 code commit to release on Windows Phone in March 2010.

How’s Project Metal [going]?
Long road still ahead. It is basically changing a plane engine while the plane is flying.

You can read more about Project Metal here.

What’s your favorite food?
All the ones I shouldn’t have.

What Gaming PC do you have?
I have 2, one Intel i9 and one AMD Threadripper. Intel is fitted with a 2080 RTX and 64GB of RAM, the AMD with an older 1080 Ti and 128GB of RAM (because it is used for scenery processing).

Picture this – you have a team of 50 developers and unlimited money. Your goal is to create a fully functioning space sim. How would you do it? What would you want it to be?
“Fully functioning” is subjective; it means something different for everyone. I would build the tools to scale but start releasing just 1 planet and build over time using community feedback. This type of games (much like IF) are never ending so it is better to have a narrow focus.

Open world story driven games (Horizon ZD, etc) or linear/level-based ones (TLoU, etc). Why?
I have Horizon but haven’t finished it yet. I absolutely love TLoU and Uncharted series, best story telling in games (better than Horizon imho).

When you first started in Infinite Flight, did you feel like you wanted to contribute 100% effort into it? Or you wanted it to be a side project you want to do and work on something else?
It was a side project at first; Laura was the optimistic one; I was more cautious with my optimism since the mobile market can be very volatile. We quickly realize we had something special though.

Did you ever think that Infinite Flight would get this popular?
Honestly no, but I am happy it did.

I’m always fascinated how much effort you developers put into Infinite Flight. What motivates you to work on Infinite Flight? Do you ever get bored of it?
Working on a ton of different things all the time. Not working for anyone else. Some tasks are boring but as long as I am learning something, it is fun.

What do you hope for the future of Infinite Flight?
Release ALL THE THINGS.

Why is it that we rarely see you flying?
I don’t have the same passion for the flying part of aviation than Laura (or most other staff member) but I love the field and the amount of knowledge it requires.

There’s been an issue in Infinite Flight since the release of Global, namely that airports and airplanes are visible through terrain? What’s the technical challenge in fixing an issue like this and might Project Metal offer some help here?
It was actually there before global too IIRC. It has to do with the virtually infinite view distance we offer in IF (more than any other sim, even MSFS2020). It is a side effect of the choices we made to make that possible. It is fixable, we just haven’t gotten around to it. The focus is indeed on Project Metal for anything Graphics Related. It should help in the sense that we will have more options to fix it.

What’s your favorite cookie type?
The ones my partner makes; she makes mean chocolate chip cookies with a few toffee pieces that are to die for (soft on the inside).

Was it the ultimate goal from the beginning to create a simulator with global scenery and airports instead of regions?
We quickly [realized] the limit of regions and wanted to bring a full simulator experience to mobile.

How long have you planned to switch from OpenGL ES to Metal?
A couple years on and off but this has now been my focus since the beginning of the year.

Have you ever been approached by another company to buy Infinite Flight?
Yes but we were not interested.

How did your passion for planes start?
Playing F/A-18 Hornet from Graphics Simulation.

Do you like pizza?
Absolutely! Best pizza in San Francisco (at least for me) for those interested.

What’s the end goal with Project Metal?
Making it easier to experiment and release new graphics features.

What was your expectations when you and Laura first started?
Free ourselves from Corporate America. More seriously, we didn’t have set expectation, we were just excited to work on something we were passionate about.

What is a good way to get into programming?
Find something simple you want to build/do that require some programming and use online resources (tutorials, etc.) to achieve your goal. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but having a specific goal help a lot with focus, especially when there are SO MUCH stuff you can learn.

What is a good way to learn C#?
Find something fun you want to build in C#, and do it using online tutorials. There are so many resources online now. (in my time I had to go to the library to find a book to learn, and it was in a language I didn’t speak at the time)

How did you get into programming and aviation?
Programming, my dad brought an old computer home and I was curious. Aviation, mostly through Laura but I was a big fan of old military sims.

Is Infinite Flight your full time job or do you have another job?
IF is our full time job.

Your name sounds french, are you?
oui.

In your opinion what was the most difficult aspect to cope with or add when working with infinite flight over these years and why?
Global was difficult because we started not knowing at all where to start. Also it was a big investment for the company but thankfully it paid off.

If you can add or rework one aircraft in or to the Infinite Flight fleet what would it be and why?
Concorde of course, though I wouldn’t look forward to [implementing] all those gauges.

What are some challenges that arose from creating Infinite Flight? What was difficult? What was surprisingly easy?
Global was complex because we didn’t know where to start. UI is often overlooked and extremely complex to get right. We have to deal with different resolutions and screen density. Trying to fit all that information on small screens is not an easy task. I do believe we are doing a decent job there but there is always room for improvement.

Has Infinite Flight already surpassed your expectations of a perfect mobile flight sim? Or do you still think there’s work to be done? What I mean is, is this what you envisioned when you first came up with the idea?
Far from it. There is always work to be done on flight sims.

If you were to remove one feature from Infinite Flight, what would you remove and why. Maybe a feature you thought would work differently?
Interesting question! Maybe I would remove many legacy aircraft and focus on a small set until we figure out all the technical challenges to have all the feature we want. When we add a new aircraft feature, updating all the aircraft we have is a complex process.

How does it feel to know that you didn’t just co-create a simulator, you also co-created a community of aviation enthusiasts?
To me personally that is the best part of this job, especially when I get to meet some of you at the few events we did (and hopefully in the future as well).

How long would Project Metal take to complete if the game was to be put on standby while you guys work on it?
Hard to tell. At some point we will all have to work on it to fix all the various issues that will surely pop up.

What is the thing you want the most to accomplish with IF?
Make everyone in the community happy, though it might be an impossible task.

How much of coding Infinite Flight do you do in a day and how many bugs do you encounter each day?
Varies, 6-8 hours, sometimes more, lot of it is research too. Bugs are part of the job but I have no idea how many per day.

Do you see the price of subscription going up as more people and features come into the game?
No. I think our pricing model is fair and sustainable for us for the foreseeable future.

Where do you see Infinite Flight going?
As far as we can take it.

Do you see Flight Development Studios expanding past Infinite Flight?
There is so much to do in a flight sim that I don’t think we would have the time for another project unless IF dies off and we need to do something else. Our technology could be used for all kind of sims that require an entire seamless planet.

Is legacy code a problem in the current development pipeline of Infinite Flight?
Absolutely; some part of our code is now 10yo, it makes it harder to change but we are learning to make that less of an issue.

How [do you] manage and not loose motivation while doing long programming projects?

Long walks by the beach and baking bread.

What is the plan for the next 10 years of Infinite Flight and will there be any sort of celebration for this year?
We tend to take it one release at a time. We mostly go where the community is taking us.

If you were trapped on a deserted island and you had to pick a community member to team up and survive with, who would you pick and why would it be me?
Is your name Damian?

While hard at work, how easily do you loose focus?
Squirrel!

Who likes unicorns more? You or Misha?
The fact that Misha looks like a unicorn should answer that question (all love Misha).

Do you like attending events and connecting with members (like EAA AirAdventure)?
I love to meet community members at events. It is harder for me to connect online but I love to talk to people face to face and listen to their stories and how they came to IF. Hopefully we can do more events in the future.

Why work for Infinite Flight when you could work for a larger company?
Simply because Laura and I created Infinite Flight and we wouldn’t want to work for anyone else, even for a million dollars.

I’m currently studying Business Administration but I’m really interested in coding as well. No experience though. I’m thinking about switching my studies to Computer Science. Is this something you can recommend or would rather learn coding on your own instead of studying it?
I think coding schools like Lamda and Holberton are a good way to quickly see if you are interested without wasting a huge amount of time/money in the process.

Companies are changing and what school you went to doesn’t matter as much as real world experience.
As I mentioned in another reply, focus on what you want to build instead of how you build it, especially when starting. It is easy to get lost in the mass of knowledge.


We would like to thank Philippe for taking the time to answer all of our questions. I feel we got to know him a lot more. Best questions as of yet from everyone in the group. You can download Infinite Flight on the App Store and Google Play Store. Follow Infinite Flight on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

If you’d like to join in discussions such as this with like-minded people like yourself and experts, I’d encourage you to join our group here.