IFATC Education Group Bot Updates

September, 3, 2021 by

I recently updated the IFATC Education Group Bot to use a shiny new Discord feature that we all remember from the days of Slack – Slash Commands. The way Discord does Slash commands is relatively similar to Slack, but with one key difference – options. In Slack, when you used a Slash Commands it could be difficult to know how to format your message if it used parameters like a search query. Discord has one-uped Slack here in my opinion, providing a clean interface to see what options need to be provided for a command to work, and making it easy for apps to access those options. Anyway, here’s what changed for the bot.

  • a!feed is now /feed
  • a!latest is now /latest
  • a!search is now /search (use this to try out options!)
  • a!help is now /ifatceg-help
  • For IFATC folks – a!sanitize is now /sanitize
  • The bot will now show as offline more often than not, but it is still listening for your commands and responding, as well as creating feed posts
  • The feed time has changed – the bot now checks for new IFATC Education Group posts every 6 hours at 0000Z, 0600Z, 1200Z, and 1800Z.

All feeds that were on the old system have been moved over. Enjoy!

Kai Malcom is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. Kai is an IFATC Specialist, student pilot, web developer and third-party developer.

How I created the most popular VA system for Infinite Flight

May, 22, 2021 by

In early 2020, back when the coronavirus was little more than a news story out of China, I started work on the project that would become the most popular Virtual Airline system for Infinite Flight. At first it was just a shiny new Crew Center for the VA I was CEO of at the time (VGVA), however as time went on it occurred to me that other VAs could benefit from this system as much as my own.

When lockdown hit in March last year, I decided it was time to start working on this for real. I have a thing with my projects where I try to learn something out of each major project I do. Although initially I wanted to push further my knowledge of PHP – a general purpose scripting language made for the web – I later decided this would be a perfect opportunity to learn a language I’d been eyeing for a while – C# (C Sharp).

I took a crash course on the basics of C# on YouTube then proceeded to learn about Web Development in C# with a similarly useful YouTube series. While it was very messy at first, these 2 playlists got me going on v1 of VANet. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t fast, but it worked… just.

After a few weeks of most-of-the-time (like full-time, but not) work and a bit of help from Cameron, I had made a pretty good start on the backend system. At that point I decided it was time to start working on the Crew Center itself. I knew I wanted it based on the VGVA Crew Center but not much apart from that. I put out a call in the IFVARB Slack and was very lucky to have Lucas, better known as rebal15, reach out to me. Over the weeks and months that followed he rewrote much of the behind the scenes system from the VGVA Crew Center, and I soon joined in and we both worked pretty tirelessly to get v1 out to the world, then coordinated to post IFC threads at the exact same time for both VANet (the backend system) and Flare (the Crew Center).

Now, 6 months later, I am working on updates to both systems in order to take them into the future. VANet 2 recently came out, reworking the we handle everything on the backend, and next up is Flare 1.3, which will add themes, among other things. Long term, the plan is to merge VANet and Flare to create one unified product and a zero-setup, cloud-hosted, Crew Center.

If you’re interested in VANet, check out https://vanet.app. If you’d like to see where development is going, take a look at our public roadmap.

Kai Malcom is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. Kai is an IFATC Specialist, student pilot, web developer and third-party developer.

Staying Motivated

December, 21, 2020 by

Motivation to control is a challenge for many controllers, veteran specialists in particular. A good way to stay motivated is to set a goal. Identify places you could’ve done better and work to make sure your next session is better. Just keep working towards that perfect session, and you’ll not only motivated to control, but the quality of your controlling will also improve.

Kai Malcom is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. Kai is an IFATC Specialist, student pilot, web developer and third-party developer.

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.

Kai Malcom is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. Kai is an IFATC Specialist, student pilot, web developer and third-party developer.

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.

Kai Malcom is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. Kai is an IFATC Specialist, student pilot, web developer and third-party developer.

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.

Kai Malcom is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. Kai is an IFATC Specialist, student pilot, web developer and third-party developer.

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.

Kai Malcom is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. Kai is an IFATC Specialist, student pilot, web developer and third-party developer.

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

Kai Malcom is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. Kai is an IFATC Specialist, student pilot, web developer and third-party developer.

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.

Kai Malcom is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. Kai is an IFATC Specialist, student pilot, web developer and third-party developer.

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.

Kai Malcom is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. Kai is an IFATC Specialist, student pilot, web developer and third-party developer.