the end of an era?

The recent Microsoft announcement about layoffs, has particular interest to me. I first started flight training in 2000, and did my C172 PPL at my local airport. I don't fly much in the real world these days, but I do "play" simulator flying, using MS Flight Simulator X - a fantastic and very close to the real thing, if you add in things like live ATC through the VATSIM network, scenery addons, aircraft, etc. It's a great world, and you can make it as real as you like.

The recent announcement by Microsoft:

"This is a landmark day in Flight Simulation, as Microsoft announces the layoffs of 5,000 employees, as well of the closure of it's ACES Studio on Friday.

ACES, home of Microsoft's PC games division, was best known as the developer of the popular 'Flight Simulator' series. As of this time, it is unclear if this will result in the end of the series, but early reports claim that it is. We will do our best to stay on top of this situation as it unfolds.

For those of us in the FSX world, this means that Microsoft is basically killing the line, the longest flight simulator family of release in the world of personal computers.

Some in the community are hoping that some other game publisher takes over the line. Others yet, are suggesting that if the line does not get picked up by another game publisher, that they not let the platform die by way of releasing it to the community - open sourcing the codebase basically. I doubt this will happen. The most likely scenario is that one of the big publishers (Activitision, Ubisoft, EA, etc) will end up taking over the codebase and the developers, testers, creative people, etc.

Let's hope MS doesn't let this wonderful product go the way of the dodo bird. It would be a real shame.

Merry Xmas

Or, to my Spanish speaking family and friends, Feliz Navidad.

It's been a pretty interesting year to say the least. Looks like 2009 will be even more volatile and unstable from a markets and work perspective for many. It's exactly in times like these that you realize just how little importance material and wasteful things are. What matters is family, friends and being healthy to enjoy life to the fullest. These are the things that should matter in life.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Years.


born-again iPhoner

I have been saved, washed in the blood of the iPhone... well, that's a bit of an exaggeration.

But even Richard Dawkins would be hard-pressed to convince me that a higher life-force was not behind the creation of this wonderful device, dubbed the Jesus Phone by my early convert friends. Steve Jobs, the new Messiah?

Anyhow, this is a little story of how after many months of saying the iPhone is not good, not cool, not worth the $, not better then the BlackBerry - how I finally saw the light!

I have been using a BlackBerry since they first came out, my latest was a purchase of the Bold a few weeks ago. The local Rogers (phone carrier in Canada that does GSM) let me buy it on a 'trial' run and compare it to the iPhone. Very nice sales guys. The idea was, take each device for a trial run, then come back and take the one you love most.

I went in with the prejudice that the Bold would win hands down. In fact, I have to say the Bold is by far the BEST BlackBerry ever built. The Storm sucks from all the reviews I've read. RIM just doesn't have the cool design, the cool interface, nor the cool platform (Apple/OSX). RIM should focus solely on the professional business crowd, the lawyers and Gov. people who have all standardized on the BB platform. For this crowd, an iPhone won't cut it.

After my trial with the Bold, it was on to the iPhone. Compared to the Bold, I had an amazing initial experience. In 5 minutes I had all my contacts, email accounts all sync'd up and setup for use on my iPhone through the native sync in iTunes. This is the biggest gripe i've always had with BB's - their Mac support was useless.

Emailing is not as easy as on the BB. GMail sucks for push mail on the iPhone, which is what I use. On the BB, at least the internet mail setup would poll every 5 minutes then push it down to you - a semi-real time push mail solution to GMail. No such luck on the iPhone. That is the only negative part of the iPhone experience. It's all the other stuff it does that made me choose it over the Bold:

- sync of my favorite Podcasts daily
- sync of my favorite iPod format movies and TV shows. I get to watch some great stuff on the train each morning. I hardly notice the 25 minute subway in each morning as I'm usually laughing myself giddy watching an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm or an episode of Frontline.
- music sync in iTunes
- Apps. This is one area iPhone kills all competitors. There are so many cool, paid and free app's for this device. How can anyone catch them with this head start? Android has a chance I think, but it will be a while yet.

So I ended up keeping, and loving the Jesus Phone - Richard Dawkins, try one, you might just become a believer again!

11/11 - Stopping to Remember

Today is Remembrance Day - a day when we're supposed to stop and remember those who served and continue to serve in the armed forces. I have always wanted to go and watch a Remembrance Day ceremony, and today was the day I finally stopped everything else I was doing to actually go. Toronto hosts several ceremonies, the largest one would be at Queens Park, the Provincial Legislature. Canada has lost a lot of soldiers in Afghanistan, and being able to attend a Remembrance Day while Canada is involved in active armed conflict has more meaning then ever.

It was a moving event, especially seeing 2 of the few remaining WW1 veterans still alive - bused in for the event from Sunnybrook Hospital where there is a dedicated Veterans retirement and care facility.

The canon salute, was incredibly loud, and shook you to the core. I can't imagine what it must have felt like in the middle of battle to hear and feel those shock waves over your body. Just standing 20 meters from one was incredibly loud and awe inspiring. The smell of gun powder, it's overwhelming.

I took some photos of the day. I'm glad I finally got to see one of these ceremonies. My father was an officer in the Army. Although he didn't see any 'action', he certainly saw his share of evil during the days of military rule in Uruguay in the 70's.

Next year I will attend the largest of these events in Canada - at the Ottawa War Memorial.

WSO2 ESB upcoming webinar

If you're interested in hearing how you can use the WSO2 ESB to put together a real-world integration scenario that brings in things like an ESB and BPM - come check out the webinar.

I'm presenting on Tuesday @ 2:00 PM. More info here.

Mashup - "bad boy!" says Southwest Airlines

I wrote about Jonathan Marsh and a Mashup he put together to help get premier seating allocation on Southwest flights. Well, it didn't take long for the 'Brand Protection' Police from Southwest to issue a 'Cease and Desist' letter to WSO2. Seems this mashup violates the terms of use for their website. Can someone tell a third-party how their website is to be used, really? I can browse to any site I feel like, and use it any way I feel like. Who can tell me otherwise? If they expose things on the web, then it's fair game for anyone to make use of it, any way they want. Anyhow, that's another issue.

Check out the letter and Jonathan's reply here. Don't despair, if you're a frequent Southwest traveller, just download WSO2 Mashup, and deploy the mashup on your own local server! Hint - cache: into Google should get what you want.

fly Southwest? WSO2 Mashup can help you!

Jonathan Marsh recently published a Mashup on our site, which will help you a lot if you're a frequent Southwest Airlines traveller. Check out the details of how this mashup works on his blog. You can really beat the queues by using this service!

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