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J-20 and Carrier

Two symbols of China’s modernizing military, the J-20 stealth fighters escorting the Liaoning aircraft carrier, as featured in this computer generated image.

This week officers of the USAF officers gathered in at the Gaylord Hotel and Convention center for the Air Force Association’s annual Conference. Among the panels at #AFA2023 were generals speaking on “Fifth Generation” weapons and new stealth jet programs like the F-35. But perhaps they should have also shared the stage with leaders from China, which just showed off another new stealth jet prototype.

2023

The first images of the J-20 “2023” prototype/preproduction fighter shows it at the CAC factories, days before its first flight. Flying its seventh stealth fighter would give China the largest number of stealth fighters in the world after the United States.

Fifth generation fighters, like the American F-22 and F-35, Chinese J-20 and Russian PAK-FA, blend together supersonic endurance, stealth and sensor fusion as force multipliers against older fighters like the F-15 and Su-27. This week, Chengdu Aircraft Corporation, one of China’s top air manufacturers, rolled out “2023,” the seventh J-20 prototype/preproduction fighter since 2011. Flying seven fighters puts the J-20 ahead of the five PAK-FA fighters, the only other non-US flying fifth generation fighter.

A Stealthier Bumper

Compared to previous J-20s, “2023”‘s fuselage extends almost all the way to the engine’s exhaust nozzles. The trapezoidal booms on sides of the nozzles also reshaped, possibly to install rearwards facing radar or ECM equipment.

“2023”

The previous J-20 prototype “2023” (the sixth flying airframe) had exposed part of the engines between the fuselage and afterburning nozzles (the nozzles are also covered with a silvery material, likely to have some infrared signature suppression features).

DSI

“2023” rotates its large canards in this frontal shots, which also shows the large bumps on the inner vertical inside of the engine intakes. Those DSI bumps save weight, complexity and radar signature compared to moving air intake ramps. The apparent shape change of the 2023’s DSI suggests the possibility of new engines to power the fighter.

2023 in Flight

2023 made its first flight on December 19, 2014. At this point in the J-20’s development, the design is essentially fixed, though the AL-31 engines are likely to be swapped for more powerful Chinese WS-15 turbofans by 2023.

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Darwinai Emerges From Stealth With Powerful Design, Optimization And Explainability Platform For Deep Learning

New Start-Up Emerges Out of Canada’s AI Hotbed; Raises $3 Million in Seed Funding to Bring ‘AI building AI Platform’ to Market Waterloo, ON – September 18, 2023 – DarwinAI, a Waterloo, Canada startup creating next generation technologies for Artificial Intelligence development, announced today it is emerging out of stealth with $3M in seed funding — co-led by Obvious Ventures and iNovia Capital, and angels from the highly respected Creative Destruction Lab accelerator in Toronto. The team’s Generative Synthesis platform leverages AI to reduce the complexity and guesswork in designing efficient, high performance deep neural networks for real world applications. The value of deep learning, coupled with the fact that 40% of executives plan to increase their AI investments in H2 2023 (source: KPMG), is fueling adoption.  However, the complexity behind building, running and explaining deep neural networks is a problem most enterprises cannot solve without highly trained data scientists and skilled experts. To combat this complexity, DarwinAI uses AI itself to understand how a neural network works. The Generative Synthesis platform generates a compact network that maintains functional fidelity and provides explanations on network predictions, which is particularly important in regulated industries. DarwinAI was founded by a renowned team of Waterloo alumni, including Dr. Alexander Wong, a professor at the University of Waterloo, Sheldon Fernandez, co-founder of Infusion, a software consultancy firm that was acquired by Avanade last year and Arif Virani, a former McKinsey & Company technology consultant to Fortune 500 Companies. The Darwin platform has produced extremely impressive results.  For an image classification task, the company’s technology generated a deep neural network 4.5 times more computationally efficient than the one produced by Google’s popular AutoML and Learn2Compress platforms. The same technology also generated an optimized version of DetectNet, NVidia’s object detection network, 12 times smaller and 4 times faster than the original. Darwin’s unique approach also produced strong results during the proof-of-concept phase, enabling the generation of compact networks for clients across automotive, aerospace and consumer electronics industries that far outshine existing techniques.  The technology is particularly applicable in implementing AI at the ‘edge’. “From autonomous vehicles to mobile devices, we are seeing edge-based scenarios where AI is having a profound impact on business outcomes,” said Sheldon Fernandez, CEO of DarwinAI. “A critical challenge in this realm is designing these powerful networks to run in situations where computational and energy resources are limited.  To this end, our platform is much more than an optimization tool.  It allows engineers to collaborate with powerful AI to develop efficient and interpretable network models.” Generative Synthesis Platform: Model Design Optimization and Explainability Generative Synthesis is the byproduct of years of impressive scholarship from Dr. Wong’s team, whose previous accolades include two award-winning papers at workshops at the prestigious Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) conference in 2023 and 2023, respectively. This core technology, coupled with the academic team behind it, will be critical in ushering the company’s next-generation tooling. Antoine Nivard, principal at iNovia capital, Darwin’s other co-lead, was quick to tout the team’s academic prowess and the Canadian ecosystem that produced it. “Dr. Wong is a recognized authority in deep learning who has realized, practical AI solutions with resounding success,” said Nivard. “As a founding member of Waterloo’s AI Institute and Canada’s Research Chair in AI, Professor Wong exemplifies the talent emanating from Canada and the innovation that is capturing the attention of Silicon Valley.” The Generative Synthesis platform helps architects and developers design and build deep learning systems in the following ways: •  The engine uses Artificial Intelligence to obtain a foundational understanding of a neural network and then applies that understanding to generate a range of entirely new and unique networks based on user-defined requirements. •  The new networks are considerably smaller, infer faster and maintain the functionality accuracy of the original network. •  Designers collaborate and iterate with the Generative Synthesis platform to choose the right network for the task at hand (and can further generate additional networks based on finer requirements). •  The technology gives rise to ‘explainable’ deep learning whereby developers can understand, interpret, and defend the inner workings of a network and how it reaches its decisions – imperative for network debugging, design improvement, and addressing regulatory compliance. •  The platform runs natively in TensorFlow, the popular open source machine learning framework, and can thus be run on-premise in a customer’s private data center eliminating the need to share or upload sensitive data or proprietary models to a public cloud environment. “Our initial results are noteworthy” says Professor. Wong, “but it is important that we innovate relentlessly as we respond to our customers’ needs.  For me, success is Generative Synthesis enabling deep learning solutions across a variety of verticals – impactful applications that we can only dimly imagine today”.   About DarwinAI Founded by renowned academics at the University of Waterloo, DarwinAI’s Generative Synthesis technology represents the next evolution in AI development, demystifying the complexities of deep learning neural networks while unraveling their opaqueness.  Based on years of distinguished scholarship, the company’s patented platform enables deep learning optimization and explainability, with a special emphasis in enabling AI at the edge, where computational and energy resources are limited.  To learn more about DarwinAI, visit their website at Press Contact Frances Bigley Offleash PR

Flight Simulators: An Introduction

Think back to when you were younger, did you want to be a farmer, train driver, or even a pilot? If you’ve always wanted to see what it would be like, there is a simulator for just about everything these days. Whether you want to recapture a bit of that childhood dream, or even use it as a tool to progress your career, simulators are an appealing genre.

Flight simulators are some of the oldest and most evolved simulators you can get your hands on, with multiple iterations going back almost 40 years. There are simulators catered towards different users, flight styles, and even budgets.

With the highly anticipated Microsoft Flight Simulator 2023 on the way this year, we thought that now would be a great time to explore a bit of the history of flight simulators, the evolution of the games, and even the best hardware to play them on.

Microsoft Flight Simulator

One of the oldest flight simulators available is Microsoft Flight Simulator, which dates back to the early ’80s with the release of Flight Simulator 1.0. As you can see below, this simulator is pretty dated by today’s standards, but at the time it acted as a gateway into the world of aviation.

Microsoft continued to improve on this success with the release of Flight Simulator 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, 5.0, and 5.1. Each of these versions further refined the graphics, added additional aircraft, airports, and textures. Flight Simulator 5.1 also added the ability to have scenery libraries which included the use of satellite imagery when flying.

When Windows 95 was released, Microsoft also developed a version of its flight simulator for the platform. This featured a lot more 3D modeling, improved frame rates, and expanded scenery to outside of Europe and the USA.

During the 2000s, Microsoft developed Flight Simulator 2000, 2002, and most notably Flight Simulator X. These titles massively increased the number of airports in the game as well as adding more instruments found in real-life aircraft, including a GPS feature. Flight Simulator X even included multiplayer which allowed for two players to pilot the same plane as well as occupy control towers.

Flight Simulator X also made its way onto Steam in 2014, re-released as Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition. This edition is updated to use Steam’s functionality and also allows for an incredible amount of content to be easily purchased and installed alongside its 24 aircraft.

Finally, the latest edition of Microsoft’s flight simulators is set to be released on August 18th, 2023. This title is set to simulate the entire Earth and recreates 3D models of buildings and geographical features.

Microsoft has said that Microsoft Flight Simulator 2023 will also feature more than 40,000 airports and over two million cities.

X-Plane

One of the main competitors of Microsoft’s flight simulator series is X-Plane. Originally released back in 1995, X-Plane is now on its 11th version and is well known for its realism and attention to detail.

Featuring an improved model of simulation for its aircraft, X-Plane quickly won over flight enthusiasts who strive for realism. X-Plane also allows pilots to connect with each other in multiplayer and has helped spawn a lot of tight-knit flying communities.

One downside with X-Plane (and many other flight simulators) is that although this is a great looking game, a lot of the scenery and files needed to make it look its best are only available as payware.

Prepar3D

Developed by Lockheed Martin, Prepar3D is a flight simulator that aims more towards the professional crowd. The official website states that it is “Ideal for commercial, academic, professional, or military instruction. Prepar3D can be used to quickly create learning scenarios anywhere in the virtual world”.

This simulator is often used by those training for their real-life pilot license, which speaks volumes for its realism. It’s not cheap though, a professional license will set you back $199.00, but you can pick up an academic license for $59.95.

FlightGear

If you’d like to get a taste for flying before jumping into a paid simulator, FlightGear is a free, open-source option that does a great job. Aiming to become a simulator used in academic environments, pilot training, and of course, a gaming environment, FlightGear features three different flight dynamic models to play around with.

There are over 20,000 accurate real-world airports, a detailed sky model, and even multi-screen support. Although it isn’t the best looking simulator on the market, it doesn’t look horrible and even has some fairly moderate hardware requirements.

Combat Flight Simulators

Moving on from traditional flight simulators, a lot of people fell in love with flight simulators first through a combat simulator. Offering a more fast-paced experience than a traditional flying simulator, combat flight simulators put you in the hot seat of some of the world’s quickest and most dangerous aircraft.

If you’re familiar with the Microsoft Flight Simulator series, they also offer the Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator series to try out – although it’s starting to show its age now.

One of the most popular games available at the moment is the IL-2 Sturmovik series. This is a World War II combat flight simulator with a focus on air battles from the Eastern front. Although this is a fairly old title, there have been numerous updates and content packs released that make it a joy to play today.

If you’re looking for more of a modern feel, Digital Combat Simulator is a realistic simulation of military aircraft which boasts some pretty impressive graphics. You can currently pick up a free version to try out which has a limited amount of vehicles and airspace. This is a continuously developed game that offers some of the most detailed military aircraft found in any sim.

You can typically find an air combat simulator for almost every major military conflict over the last 100 years. If you aren’t striving for simulation, some games such as Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X offer a more casual approach, without sacrificing any of the action.

Taking Your Simulation to the Next Level

If you’re pretty dedicated to simulators, you’ll have no doubt bought some type of peripheral in the past. There are steering wheels for racing games, rail controllers for train simulators, and of course, a whole load of options for the frequent fliers.

It is possible to experience a flight simulator with just a mouse and keyboard or even a controller, but this can quickly become frustrating and take away a lot of the enjoyment. Luckily there are some pretty cheap options available when it comes to joysticks.

At the most basic level, you can pick up a joystick or HOTAS (hands-on throttle-and-stick) for around $30 which will allow you to control your aircraft with more precision. Some will even have a separate throttle and most will give you a couple of buttons that you can map to functions such as flaps or trim.

As with most things though, the sky’s the limit. You can easily spend up to $500 on a decent joystick and the price starts to further increase if you opt to purchase a yoke and some rudder pedals. If you’re just starting out on your journey, don’t feel the need to splash out. You may want to save some of that money for DLC or different simulators.

Companies such as Thrustmaster, Logitech, and CH Products all offer great products suitable for different budget levels.

In most flight simulators, you can also pick up extra aircraft from third-party developers. This isn’t cheap, however. A lot of models easily match the price of the game and some can cost in excess of $100. You are paying for quality and attention to detail in these models though and they are definitely aimed towards a hardcore user.

Can Your System Handle a Simulator?

If we take another quick look at the upcoming Microsoft Flight Simulator 2023 trailer, we can see that it is a pretty impressive looking game. With so much rendered and calculated at any one time, this can start to take a toll on your system.

You will be able to turn some of these features down, reduce graphics and objects or even tone down the realism settings if needed. However, with a few simple upgrades, you should be able to get the most out of your simulator.

You’ll want to focus on your processor and graphics card as a priority for flight simulators. Although Microsoft has stated that their 2023 flight simulator won’t be as resource heavy as those in the past, you’ll still want a decent PC if you’re planning on playing other intensive simulators.

Unfortunately, a lot of simulators don’t use multi-threading to the best of its ability at the moment, but a decent AMD Ryzen processor with a high core count would make a good starting point for any Flight Simulator build.

Pair this with a graphics card with a decent amount of VRAM and a system with at least 16 GB of RAM and you should be in for a comfortable flight. If you’d like some ideas on where to get started with your upgrade, why not check out some of our build guides?

Final Word

Flight Simulators are a perfect way to spend a couple of hours flying through the clouds. We hope this introduction to flight simulators has helped you pick out one to try next or even given you some tips on upgrading your PC for the latest flight sims.

With the launch of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2023 coming in just a few short weeks, we can’t wait to see what it’ll be like. At first glance, the graphics look exceptional so you’ll definitely want to take a look at the system requirements for those before purchasing to get the most out of the game.

Scriptation Aims To Make Hollywood Paperless

Scriptation Aims to Make Hollywood Paperless BU alums’ new annotation app promises to end “script change hell”

Scriptation, a digital script annotation and distribution app, was created by BU alums Zakary Selbert (Questrom’05) (left), and Steven Vitolo (COM’05) (center). The company is run by Selbert, chief investment officer, Vitolo, chief executive officer, and Alexandra Diantgikis (COM’15), marketing and social media manager (right). Photo by Patrick Strattner

Steven Vitolo was working as a script coordinator on a television pilot in 2013 when he had a revelation. “We had two weeks before we started shooting, and every night there were revisions, so every night I was putting out a full 50-page script that would then be printed out for 100-plus people. And I’m like, this is crazy how much paper we’re going through. We’re writing the script digitally, why are we then reading it on paper?”

“I am not the first person you would think of as a green, sustainability person, which shows you how insane the waste is,” says Vitolo (COM’05), CEO of Scriptation LLC, a privately held company that has attracted well-known Hollywood names as investors, like Emmy-nominated actor-director Rob Morrow.

Vitolo founded the company in 2013 with Zakary Selbert (Questrom’05), Scriptation’s chief investment officer, and Felipe Mendez, chief technology officer. Vitolo and Selbert had friends in common at BU, but didn’t actually meet until they both were living in Los Angeles. Also on the staff are marketing and social media manager Alexandra Diantgikis (COM’15) and software engineers on contract.

The annotation app allows users to easily transfer their script notes to subsequent drafts without having to copy them over—and over, and over. The Scriptation website promises that it will end “script change hell.”

For the last two TV seasons, Vitolo has been talking up the app in his job as script coordinator for the ABC hit comedy Blackish. “The thing I’m really proud of,” he says, “is that every time somebody would move to Scriptation, they would tell the production coordinator, ‘Take me off your distribution list, I just want electronic copies.’ We went from 100 people on paper to 80 to 70—I don’t know what the final number was. But we saved tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of sheets of paper.”

Word of mouth about the app spread, and now other shows and studios have begun to use it as well. One veteran writer calls it a game-changer.

Most scripts for TV dramas and comedies are written on computer, in Final Draft or a similar program, and then printed out or exported as .pdf files for distribution. While Scriptation isn’t the first to attempt to take the distribution process digital, it’s come up with fixes to some issues that plagued previous efforts.

“I’m insane how much I mark up scripts,” says Morrow, the star of TV shows like Northern Exposure and Numb3rs and films like Quiz Show. He’s currently appearing in the NBC drama Chicago PD. As an actor, “as soon as I start working on a project, I start writing in the margins,” he says. “I write all kinds of notes, some of which I never refer to again, but it’s the way I enter into the world of the story.”

And when Morrow’s directing a show, he fills script pages with diagrams and shot ideas and notes to himself about things he wants his actors to do when the cameras start rolling. Prior to Scriptation, he says, every time a rewrite was delivered, he had to copy his notes by hand to the new pages, which he calls “a nightmare, and as a director, it’s really a nightmare, because your time is so crucial.”

“For years I’d been thinking, there’s gotta be something, and I asked my assistant and she turned me on to Scriptation,” Morrow says. “I was acting on Designated Survivor then, and I loved it. And then I thought, let me see if I can use it as a director on The Fosters, created by Peter Paige (CFA’91), assuming I would bail at some point in preproduction because I’d get overwhelmed with glitches, but I got through the whole production and didn’t have one problem. Scriptation was like a godsend to me.”

Besides the notes transfer, Scriptation has managed to leap another big hurdle: security. Leaked or stolen scripts can be a real problem for production companies and networks trying to avoid spoilers. When Vitolo and company pitched the app to studios, hoping to get whole productions on board in one fell swoop, security was the main requirement. The company has just released Scriptation Studio, which ramps up the distribution side of the platform by encrypting the documents and giving studios control over user access.

“From the Studio end we can tell if you even take a screenshot, which is admittedly creepy,” Vitolo says with a laugh. “And if your iPad is stolen or someone gets fired and goes rogue, we can instantly disable Scriptation on that device.”

Social media has also had a role in spreading the word about the app. Vitolo says actor Craig Bierko (UnREAL), an avid fan of the app, coined the hashtag #ScriptationNation, and they immediately adopted it.

Producer Clara George, who’s currently working on the Syfy series The Magicians, is another convert. She heard about Scriptation when a few people on a previous job downloaded it, and now she promotes its use on each new production.

“There’ve been a lot of script apps that have all fallen short of what producers actually need,” George says. She’s found Scriptation useful for other documents, such as budgets and schedules, and with it, she says, “I’ve gone from literally a four-inch-thick binder full of pages for each hour of television to maybe five pieces of paper.”

Steven Vitolo will speak about Scriptation and Hollywood’s paper problem this weekend at the daylong Sustainable Production Forum at the Vancouver International Film Festival. 

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Best Flight Sim Joystick (X

Best Flight Sim Joystick (X-Plane, DCS World, FS2023)

Take to the virtual skies with more than an Xbox game controller as your co-pilot.

Paul McNally

Great leaps and bounds have been made in recent years to make flight simulators more accessible to everybody. Gone are the days you would have to read a 500-page manual before even being able to take off, but one thing hasn’t changed much – they are still a pain to have fun with if you only have a keyboard and mouse at your disposal. With Flight Simulator 2023 coming to the Xbox it has meant Microsoft has had to do a lot of serious work on its mega-sim to get it controller-ready.

For sure plenty of players will be trying it out with a controller, but it is only once you have experienced playing a flight sim (or even a space sim like Elite Dangerous with a Yoke (and you can find our best ones here) or a HOTAS can you fully appreciate the feeling of soaring through the virtual skies.

To read a full review of the VelocityOne Flightstick, find it here.

Products at a Glance

The thing is that most accessories, and peripherals such as joysticks, yokes, rudder pedals, and the like tend to cost a pretty penny. And, unlike buying a new controller, can’t really be used for any other type of game. So it’s a bit of a niche purchase and you have to make sure you a) are going to use it long term, and b) spend the right amount of money in the first place.

With that in mind, we have dug deep to find the best five joysticks out there today across a whole spectrum of budgets and features. There really is something for everybody in here – well everybody looking to buy a joystick at any rate. Let’s crack on.

Our Recommended

Best Flight Sim Joystick (X-Plane, DCS World, FS2023)

1

PROS

Great starter stick

Reasonably priced for what you get

you won’t feel the need up upgrade it quickly

CONS

Only easily availble in moire expensive flavor (with the throttle)

Orange detailing spoils the look a bit

You are going to see the name Thrustmaster appear a lot on this page. The company has been around in the flight seem scene for many, many years and seemingly is no reaching the top of the game. The clumsily named Thrustmaster T16000M HOTAS is absolutely brilliant in every department as a starter stick apart from its name. The HOTAS will serve you equally well in Flight Simulator 2023 and DCS World as it will in Elite Dangerous or Star Citizen. It’s been a tough time for gamers looking to buy peripherals for flight sims due to combined problem of the sudden popularity and general supply shortages of, well, just about everything across the board. this means that although the joystick on its own is, in theory, a purchasable peripheral, it’s nigh on possible to pick it up without the throttle as well, which pushes the price up, but, well you will also have a throttle for your flight sim which is great.

The stick is ergonomic and has plenty of triggers, hats, and inputs but we found the orange plastic a strange choice but it doesn’t make any real difference, other than giving the stick a more gamey look than you might appreciate.

2

PROS

Modern design

Modular for both left and right handers

CONS

Difficult to find in stock

Great for airliners, not so much for fighters

Thrustmaster’s latest foray into flight sticks is this licensed Airbus controller. In 2023 it announced a partnership to bring branded products to the flight sim marketplace and the opening release is this great stick modeled on the actual sticks found in the Airbus 320 and 320neo. 17 assignable buttons, hats, and switches all make this a worthy competitor to the above, especially if you are intending to fly jetliners in Flight Simulator 2023 rather than fighter jets in DCS World. One of the most standout features is that the stick can be modified with a screwdriver for both left and right-hand use, this is a pretty unique feature and a great touch. You can pair it up with the matching Airbus throttle (assuming you can find it to buy anywhere).

The Officer Pack listed above bundles the two together and is the best opportunity at the moment to actually get your hands on one.

3

PROS

Sturdy as the real thing

All-metal construction

Plenty of inputs

CONS

Designed to be incorporated into a larger setup

Expensive

I remember the Warthog being released around the same time as I was really into Elite Dangerous and looking for a stick but couldn’t really justify its premium price at the time to play a single game. I always looked on admiringly though at its metal construction and even the fact it doesn’t actually come with a base and is intended to be screwed down into your own setup. this obviously risks taking a product for a niche market and making it even, er nicher. That should be a word.

It is based on the plane of the same name – the A-10 and oozes quality and should last a lifetime of flying. 19 action buttons, two POV hats, and plenty more to recommend it. Just make sure it covers all the bases you need before jumping in.

4

PROS

Cheap and cheerful

Rudimentary throttle control

Lots of buttons

CONS

You aren’t saving the planet with this much plastic

Won’t survive a lot of bashing around

You simply don’t need to spend hundreds at the outset when you are unsure whether you are going to get the right amount of use out of a flight simulator joystick. The T.Flight Stick X, once again from Thrustmaster is the baby sibling to our first choice item here and can be picked up for around $40 which is insane when you think how much a standard games controller can cost you these days. No, it doesn’t have the durability of something like the Warthog above, but you wouldn’t really expect it to. It’s considerably plastic feeling with plenty of plastic buttons for your inputs. There’s a slider on the base, that while a bit scratchy, is used as your throttle.

A serious deadzone in the center of the stick can be modded to be better if you are prepared to crack it open, but if you can live it it you will still find it about a million times better than not using any joystick at all!

At this price, it’s a serious contender if you aren’t sure how hard the flight sim bug will bite.

5

Logitech G Extreme 3D Pro Joystick

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PROS

Little risk to try out joystick flying

Capable and better than not using it!

CONS

Big deadzone

Plastic and lightweight.

We finally get to a stick that isn’t made by Thrustmaster but rather the other bastion of flight simulator peripherals – Logitech. In our other flight sim pages, we have raved about the Logitech G / Saitek collaborations but it is fair to say this stick is squarely aimed at the budget market like the stick above.

The Extreme 3D has a grand name but at a cost of around $30 – although even it is not immune from scalpers tax at the moment. This is not meant as a slur in any way but there really is nothing remarkable about this joystick. It does what it is supposed to for as little investment as possible. If you are looking for a low-risk / low-cost way to get into the flight simulator ecosystem then ta-daaa.

If you think of it as simply a better way of trying out Flight Simulator 2023 then you will be fine – of course, if you decide the game is for you this is quickly going to go onto eBay and be replaced with something more substantial so it might not turn out to be as cheap in the long run as you expected.

What other accessories do you need to play a flight sim?

If you want to play Microsoft Flight Simulator 2023, you technically don’t need any accessories to get your flight airborne. However, as previously mentioned, by not utilizing the plethora of accessories on the market such as yokes and joysticks, you simply won’t be getting the full experience. We recommend at least picking up a joystick at a minimum as you’ll get some feel of what real flying is like without spending hundreds of dollars.

What is the best flight simulator?

Wow, that’s quite the question and the answer all depends on whether, for your gaming experience, you want to be a civilian-style pilot or start buzzing around in military jets. The main game for the former at the moment is undoubtedly the poster boy that is Microsoft Flight Simulator 2023, although X-Plane 11 is still highly thought of.

For all things military then check out DCS World. It’s free to get into but if you want to fly the good stuff it can get expensive real fast!

How much is a flight simulator?

So you really want to get into them eh? Many flight sims such DCS World or War Thunder (though some would argue that’s not an out and out sim) offer a free tier to snare you in. Games such as Microsoft Flight Simulator 2023 cost upwards of $50 but can be played for ‘free’ if you an Xbox Game Pass (Ultimate for the PC version) or regular for the newly released Xbox version. Xbox Game Pass is a ridiculously good deal at the best of times but if you want to try a flight simulator, well it’s just paid for itself, hasn’t it?

Our Verdict

Editor’s Choice

Thrustmaster T16000M HOTAS – Joystick and Throttle

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It was actually a pretty close decision between the T16000M and the Airbus joysticks but while the Airbus one feels right for airlines, the Thrustmaster feels right no matter what aircraft you choose so it wins the day. it’s a modern stick that has a loyal following and the cost is not so high as to be off-putting. The biggest deal is being able to find one to buy, but if you see one available then you snap it up immediately.

Ubuntu Aims For Linux Desktop Unity

The next release of Ubuntu Linux could have a very different interface than regular Linux desktop users are used to seeing. Ubuntu Founder Mark Shuttleworth today announced that the Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwal release would use the Unity interface as its default Linux desktop shell. To date, Unity has been available to Ubuntu users as a netbook-focused user interface.

Shuttleworth announced the dramatic change at the Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS), which kicked off today in Florida. In addition to the new desktop, Shuttleworth also announced a new effort to enable Ubuntu users to sponsor open source projects with financial donations. Shuttleworth’s overall goal is to continue to improve the quality of Ubuntu Linux as well as the broader ecosystem of open source projects on which it relies.

The move to Unity on the desktop will provide Ubuntu users that have 3D capable hardware with a new desktop experience that is different than the typical GNOME desktop. Though Unity is not technically part of the GNOME project, Shuttleworth noted that Unity is a shell for GNOME and it will run all the same applications that run on GNOME today. He also stressed that Ubuntu remains committed to GNOME, and the move to use Unity for Ubuntu 11.04 should be seen in a positive light.

“We’re working hard to re-assure folks in the GNOME community that our intent is to continue to support the values of GNOME as a project,” Shuttleworth said during a press conference.

Shuttleworth added that Ubuntu today puts a tremendous amount of effort into the GNOME project. Unity in some respects is a competitive effort to the GNOME Shell project which is expected to debut in the GNOME 3 release in 2011.

“The shell is simply the piece that is used for launching applications and for switching between running applications,” Shuttleworth said. “All of the applications are the same. There are developers within GNOME that just focus on GNOME Shell and that’s the piece that we won’t be integrating, but the rest of GNOME will fit perfectly into the Unity environment.”

Shuttleworth noted that Ubuntu developers have participated in the GNOME Shell effort, though they have taken a divergent view on a number of issues including how application menus should appear in the system. As well, Shuttleworth said that GNOME Shell has taken some technical decisions in its stack that do not align with Ubuntu’s direction. Lastly, Shuttleworth said that GNOME Shell is not yet a technology that is ready for wide usage.

“GNOME Shell is somewhat behind and we couldn’t ship it in this release,” Shuttleworth said. “We needed a solution now.”

Shuttleworth also dismissed any notion that Unity could lead to an open core model for Ubuntu where proprietary software is baked into versions of the Unity interface.

“We have absolutely no plans for any proprietary extensions to Unity,” Shuttleworth said.

Funding Open Source Software

With the 11.04 release, Shuttleworth also expects to debut a new system that will enable Ubuntu users to sponsor open source software projects with financial donations. The new sponsorship system will be built into the Ubuntu Software Center which was recently expanded in the 10.10 release, to enable users to purchase commercial software.

“In general we have a policy that where we are benefitting from open source and we can attribute that benefit to a particular upstream project, we share the benefits with those upstream projects,” Shuttleworth said. “This is a general mechanism for individuals to support projects and we will provide a mechanism for that flow to happen.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at chúng tôi the news service of chúng tôi the network for technology professionals.

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