" The best tip for improving your computing experience "

Without question the best tip I can give you, not only to improve your FS experience but Computing  in general, is to change to Windows XP.

Much has been written on this subject and a good deal of it is total rubbish. There is no doubt in the minds of those that really understand operating systems that Windows XP is the best there has been so far for a PC. It is more stable, utilises resources better, and generally runs much better. Plus for those that are afraid their old programs will not run, there is a built in "Compatibility Mode".

As a programmer, I push my systems to the limit and beyond, and in my opinion there is only one operating system to use on a PC and that is Windows XP.


" Overheating and Ventilation "

On the subject of graphics cards, I will give you a valuable WARNING. Most graphics cards these days come fitted with a substantial heat sink and fan, but YOU must give them a fair chance to work properly. I would always recommend that you leave at least one empty PCI slot next to the graphics card to ensure there is good air flow around the heat sink and  fan. If you put another card directly next to it, you are restricting the airflow and you are likely to "cook" the graphics card.   Expensive !!!  This is not an empty warning, I have seen this happen more than once.

Also while on the subject of heat or getting rid of it. Fitting extra fans to your PC case is a very good idea. My main FS machine for instance has FOUR case fans. Two sucking air in, and two blowing it out.

It is important that you think about where the fans are and which direction the air is flowing. What you are trying to achieve is a smooth flow of air over all the major components. So minimize the restrictions and blockages to that airflow, and think it out before you fit the fans. Normally speaking the main power supply (with either one or two fans) sucks air from inside the back portion of the case and then blows it out the back. Therefore it is a good idea for the case fan/s to suck air in at the front of the case and blow it out at the back of the case.

You can buy extra fans from most PC component suppliers and virtually all of them have an "arrow" marked on then, to indicate the direction of flow. If not, connect it up and test it.

Just remember, most things in the PC box generate heat, and if that heat cannot be conducted safely out of the box then it will overheat the components and present you with an expensive bill for repairs. Most PC component suppliers will not replace stuff that has been allowed to overheat, and they can always tell. Anyway it should not be a problem from now on :-)


" Speeding up FS2002 "

People often ask me how to best speed up the performance of their PC with FS ?? Now there is a question one could write a book on, but apart from the obvious, which is have a modern fast PC that is setup properly (which is rare), there are a couple of tips that can help.

FS is very demanding on system resources, and because of that we need to make sure that we have as many available as possible. RAM or system memory is vital, and to run FS properly I recommend a minimum 512 Mbs of the fastest RAM the PC will support. I know it will run on less, but not efficiently.

While on the subject of RAM and its use, it is pointless having 512 Mbs of it, if you also have a load of programs running in the background (those that appear in the bottom right hand corner of your start bar), each one takes up valuable resources. These should either not be run up or closed down with such a program as EnditAll or MSCONFIG.

Now to the subject of operating systems, in my opinion and that of any person that really understands an operating system, there is only one game in town, and that is Windows XP. Nothing else on a PC comes even close (including Windows 2000). XP is rock solid stable (like UNIX) and virtually never requires a REBOOT. My systems stay on 24/7 and get rebooted about every 7 - 10 days just for safety and not because they need to be. This compares with having to reboot 95, 98, 98SE or ME as many as 20- 30 times a day when developing FS software. From the FS users point of view, Windows XP releases system resources when it has finished with them not like the others (ie, every time a task is done or a window closed).

Putting Windows XP on a new system is very straightforward and drivers for most equipment is packed with XP. However if not, most manufacturers have drivers available. As for software, there are such things as "Compatibility Modes" in XP that let you use old software.

XP upgrades can be hassle, but the end result is worth the grief you might experience on route, and you might be lucky and get none.

Lastly, and this will cost you nothing. You need to set a permanent "Virtual Memory" (or swap/paging file, as it is called) of 1024 mbs ( 1 Gb ) on your fastest hard drive, to supplement your RAM.  ( necessary even with 512 mbs of RAM)


With Windows XP this is done through :-

Control Panel - System - Advanced - Performance - Advanced - Virtual Memory - Change, then set it in Custom Size. 

This should speed up your FS experience. However I do ask you, if you do not understand what is above. Please DO NOT email me for individual help, I do not have the time. Sorry !!


Tip of the Year ?? (Windows FONTS)

Are you wasting your system resources ??

Read this article and find out 

Click Here to download.



For those of you that do not know. With Windows 98, ME and XP , if you go to Start, Run, and type "MSCONFIG" return,  you are presented with a loading choice screen where you can decide what is and is not included when the system boots. Handle this with care, because you can cause funny things to happen. However learn how to use it and it is a very powerful tool. I would suggest that you only change things in the "Startup" tab first, and do not remove the tick from "Systray", "ScanRegistry", "TaskMonitor", and "RegisterDropHandler". You then are asked to reboot and the system will come up with only those things you have chosen.

Also see "EndItAll 2" in Utilities.


FS2000 System Crashes

I know some people, me included, have been experiencing some system crashes with FS2000. My experiences so far have proved that many things are causing this, but here are a few ideas that might help. 
  1. A clean Cold Boot is even more essential than with FS98.
  2. No other programs must be running in Windows.
  3. Windows 98se (Second Edition) seems more stable, XP is the best answer.
  4. A default panel should always be your startup panel.
  5. Sound Events seem to trigger crashes quite often (an old FS98 problem) So turn off things like Auto Weather report, by changing the COMS Frequency. Also turn off other unnecessary sounds.
  6. Don't be to eager to give a stream of commands to the simulator immediately it comes up. Let it get it's act together for a while.

I have personally found these things work for me, so it is worth giving them a try.


FS2000 will not run

I have noticed that in some configurations that FS2000 will not run, and tells you that the CD-ROM is not the proper one.

I have a machine here with a top of the range Yamaha 4416 Rewriter as the ONLY CD device in the PC. You can install FS2000 and when you try to run it, it refuses the proper CD Disc 1 suggesting it is not the proper disc.  No matter what you do it will not run FS2000.

My current thinking is that this has got to do with "Safe Disc" copy protection that is on the USA version of the software. 

I have no objection to "Safe Disc" stopping you copying the original CD, although I think not being able to make a backup is somewhat stupid, a situation we have had here in the UK for some time, but when you can't run the program with the original CD that is just ridiculous.

I have subsequently put a second CD-ROM drive in the offending machine and it runs perfectly. If anyone else has a similar problem let me know.