The MyFlightBook thread

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by AggieMike88, Mar 17, 2016.

  1. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    Don't really mind, but...

    The "Download as Excel" function doesn't work right (Data doesn't update) in Excel 2016 for Mac. Perhaps expected, don't know... just mentioning it here.
    (CSV into Excel for Mac 2016 works fine, of course...)
    When you allow it to do the dynamic update, it asks for your MFB username and password, then drops down two lines in the spreadsheet below the header stuff, and stops.
    Suspect some difference between Mac Excel and PC Excel.

    Also ran into this: An airplane I flew in 1992 was a bog-standard Cessna 150F back then. Someone upgraded it with a 150 HP engine, and they've saved that aircraft as a C150F "150 HP" in the database. I actually submitted a change for it, because well... nobody cares if it's "150 HP", and that's not an aircraft type... it's also not 200 HP or anything that changes the aircraft significantly... but... it did bring up a theoretical question for you @EricBe -- what happens when someone does a Texas Taildragger conversion of one of these Cessnas? How will the shared airplane database handle that? Same tail number...
     
  2. EricBe

    EricBe Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I'm afraid I don't have Excel for Mac 2016, so I can't debug that for you directly, but it is a pretty different codebase so I wouldn't be surprised if it's a difference there. But I'd also check that you've enabled content and such (i.e., turned off the "ooh this came from the Internet it must be dangerous!!!" warnings it gives you); that's the main thing that comes to mind.

    For the aircraft thing: I have a tool to clone aircraft. It's admin only, for now at least, because my strong desire is to have shared aircraft as much as possible (several benefits, including crowdsourced images, maintenance, and clubs). But there are generally three scenarios where cloning an aircraft makes sense:
    • Registration gets re-assigned from one aircraft to another. (The most common one I've seen). E.g., N12345 used to be a Cessna 172, now it's a Boeing 737
    • Aircraft undergoes a substantial modification (your Cessna C-150 example), where it is not unreasonable to create a new version. Perhaps it went from steam gauge to glass, perhaps it is a mooney that had the missile conversion; anything where you might want to track "before" and "after" time separately
    • Aircraft that are chameleons. Which in practice boils down to "It's on floats for 6 months and on wheels for 6 months". So in this scenario, you might have two versions (one SEL and one SES) in your account side-by-side.
    When you view an aircraft (website only) that has clones, they show up in a section called "Other versions of this aircraft", along with two options: (a) you can switch over to the other version (this migrates your flights in the old one to the new one as well, or (b) you can add the new one, leaving your flights unaffected (good for the "chameleon" case).
     
  3. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    No problem on the Excel Mac thing... Yeah, you're correct, the first thing it asks you to allow is remote content.

    Cool on the aircraft thing...
     
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  4. BigBadLou

    BigBadLou Final Approach

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    Btw, not only is Eric a great guy with an awesome app, he is also very patient with us old farts who ask silly questions. He always comes back with a polite answer when he could simply say "it's in there, you're just blind". :D
    Thanks, Eric!! (for the app AND support)
     
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  5. deaston

    deaston Pre-Flight

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    I second all the kudos to EricBe and his awesome app. Thanks for providing this tool to the pilot community.

    A few thoughts/suggestions since you asked ;)

    1. You must have some level of "offline support" in the app because you allow adding new flights while disconnected and then they sync with the server on connection. Any chance you could go all the way with this feature and cache the latest copy of the logbook on the mobile device? I realize this probably creates some challenges in maintaining state information, but it is common for me to not have a data connection when I'm sitting in the hangar looking at logs. Adding is certainly the most likely scenario, but there are times when it would be nice to look back at my logs. Even a slightly outdated copy would be useful.

    2. All the additional "properties" are awesome. I consistently use 4 of them. I'd like a way to make those "defaults" for my profile. This would require an additional setting for each property to be maintained for each user's profile. It would save a bit of time in adding new flights, and it would display those fields when going back and editing/viewing flights.
     
  6. EricBe

    EricBe Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thanks for the kind words!
    1) I don't really have any offline support to speak of other than a queue of pending flights. The logic for currency computations and totals is actually fairly complex and doesn't work without a full data set, so I'd have to replicate all of that code and make sure you have all of that data on the device...and even then, it could be out of date so I could be misleading. I really optimized the apps for data entry and quick access, the website does the heavy lifting and the computation. (It also means I can roll out new functionality and bug fixes without having to update apps.) So it would be a pretty significant redesign and make the app a lot bigger and slower (and then there's all the potential sync issues like what happens if you modify the same flight in two places), so I made the decision early on not to do that. BUT....one thing you can do is set up your account to save to dropbox/onedrive/googledrive and at any time you can manually sync a copy to these cloud drives (not a bad idea anyhow, just as a form of backup), and you can then access the spreadsheet of your flights on your device. No currency/totals when you do that, but the raw data is there.

    2) On the website, your previously used properties automatically show up, and there is an option (under Preferences) to "blacklist" ones you don't use often. On iOS (iPhone and iPad), if you press-and-hold a property, it will get a yellow star and "stick" to the new flight page. You can press-and-hold to remove it from that page as well.
     
  7. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    I did not know this! Awesome! I'm gonna to "star" my favorite ones right now!
     
  8. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    I noticed a Flight Property of Combat time...

    Do our military aviators actually record this time?
     
  9. deaston

    deaston Pre-Flight

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    1. Understood. Not worth the effort..
    2. Very cool!

    Thanks
     
  10. EricBe

    EricBe Pre-takeoff checklist

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    At least some do. As of yesterday, I have 115 users who have recorded some amount of combat time in 6,387 flights. And 12 users have recorded combat support time in 192 flights.
     
  11. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    Interesting!

    Really shows off the utility of your product for all pilots, not just us GA propeller heads.
     
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  12. Soldier64

    Soldier64 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I have logged all of my combat time. I only use MyFlightBook for my GA flying, but I do log it on my -12s (Army flight record) and in my helicopter logbook.
     
  13. arnoha

    arnoha Cleared for Takeoff

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    Eric, fantastic product. Especially given the price! I've made a donation, but it's amazing that you can provide this amount of functionality with no ads and no charge.

    Speaking of which...

    I'm curious as to your model for this. You've made indications on the site that you intend neither ads nor subscriptions. So, the question is two-fold, (if it's not too prying...feel free to ignore the questions if they are):

    1. How do you intend to continue funding the product? Will donations really be enough?

    2. What about feature growth? At some point, growth will necessitate ongoing work just to keep up with scale, stagnating feature growth. Do you intend mitigations to that? Open source, plug-ins, APIs, etc.

    Thanks for a great product!
     
  14. EricBe

    EricBe Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Thanks for the kind words! I should clarify: I never said there were no ads. And indeed there are ads on many of the public (no login required) pages of the website. I just really downplay the ads because I think the experience & functionality are way more important and ads can very often detract from that. I earn literally ~$100/year from the ads on the site. It's simply not significant. (Donations are dramatically more than that, thankfully)

    Anyhow...you asked a couple of legitimate questions
    1. Donations are currently more than enough to cover my out-of-pocket expenses (mostly hosting). They don't even begin to cover my time, but that's OK, because if I were trying to make a living with this I'd have declared bankruptcy (or prostituted the experience to monetization) a long time ago. I don't want to discourage anybody from donating, but I also don't want anybody to worry that a failure to donate will leave me homeless on the street. Call it shareware: if you feel you're getting value from it, please donate. If not - or if you can't afford it, or if you don't think it's value is at par with the donating levels - then please continue to use it for free, that's totally fine with me. I'd far rather have gobs of people using MyFlightbook and not make any money off of it than make a (very modest) sum from a small group of paying "customers." I want this to continue to be a fun project, not a job, so I want happy users, not "customers."
    2. Far too late for that - it's "necessitated ongoing work" for a long time. :) I would like to open-source this, actually - not because I don't have bandwidth or that I don't still have tremendous joy from working on it (I have both!), but because I want to make sure it survives if I get hit by a bus*, and don't want to stress when I take the occasional off-grid vacation. The main challenges in that for me has primarily been around the fact that this isn't software (Linux is open source, everybody runs their own copy of it), it's a service. So, for example, someone needs to be watching the email feed for forgotten passwords, or notifications of changes to model or aircraft definitions (which can affect multiple users), or notice if the site goes down, etc. I've built up a fair amount of institutional knowledge that I need to, well, institutionalize. The service actually has a whole suite of admin tools that you've never seen, but which deal with things like two people creating duplicate definitions of a C-172, or deleting somebody's account if they want to close it (or flights if they accidentally imported their flights twice), or impersonating a user to help troubleshoot issues, or viewing all sorts of site statistics, or editing the FAQ, etc. These tools require a bit of expertise to use correctly and I just haven't trained anybody yet in how to use them.

    *A good friend of mine who is both a pilot and a far superior software guy than I am is co-admin with me and would be my backup, but he also would have a steep learning curve.
     
  15. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    Sooooo, where can one purchase ball caps with the MFB logo embroidered on them?
     
  16. arnoha

    arnoha Cleared for Takeoff

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    Certainly, the open-source model would be a challenge. It would basically involve separating the service from the software, open sourcing the software, then controlling the patches, releases, and distribution model. Granted, for most folks, that part is a hell of a lot less fun than coding in features. The same model as, say, Wikipedia and MediaWiki. Might be able to work out the admin stuff similarly, though that's certainly a bigger challenge. If you take European logins, that gets even more challenging due to the PII rules.

    On the other hand, I'd love to be able to throw patches at it to get the features I want!
     
  17. EricBe

    EricBe Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Indeed. The software can have multiple instances, but you need a single instance of the production site. I actually have quite a few European users, and one of them (a very nice fellow from Germany) decided on his own to write the PDF functionality that's now live on the site (my first foray into open sourcing functionality). That works as a federated service - his code is completely independent: when you click for a PDF file, I shoot your data to a service he's running and he shoots a PDF back. It's great because he wrote it in Python and Tex (two languages with which I have no experience), and neither of us had to learn the other's codebase to make it work. That's another potential hybrid model...
     
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  18. arnoha

    arnoha Cleared for Takeoff

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    API model can definitely work for some things. I wonder if it would work for what I want. I'd love to be able to ask the system for insights and be able to get them. Like, which aircraft models fly the most? And it what situations? Single ownership, partners, rentals? What sort of weather results in people actually choosing to fly? How does rental/ownership cost associate with flying frequency?

    That stuff is clearly outside the scope of product as it is right now. From a technical standpoint, an API interface would work nicely. Kinda falls down on the privacy standpoint, though, as all the logbook info from all users would have to be shipped to the outside service to be crunched. There's the scale issue with the ETL but also the privacy issue with the PII.

    Sorry, just thinking out loud. I'm not actually asking for any of this.
     
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  19. EricBe

    EricBe Pre-takeoff checklist

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  20. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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  21. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    FWIW @EricBe , I know of at least one similar software model to yours where the software was so good, nearly everyone in a particular hobby was using it or at least had heard of it and was considering using it. The author passed away, and in his will he "left" this closed-source application to a couple of folks he trusted would guide it correctly.

    It was nearly instantly "monetized" and while folks whined a bit at first, it was done to free up one of those two people from their day job (both the people he left it to had little time available compared to the original author who was retired -- so something had to "give" to keep the software going.

    They kept the original version at the point of the author's death free, and the one guy went to work using some of the money the original author left at his death to care for the software to make it through a few months while he added great new features, so that people wanted to upgrade to the pay version.

    The two of them did a great job, and the software is still alive today with significant updates regularly (paid) after the logical author has been dead for at least a decade.

    The conversion to payware had more to do with making sure the software was left to someone with a vision for it, more than people actually complained. And they can always use the ancient free version still to this day if they care to.

    You could think up something similar and get it on paper somewhere in case of the "hit by a bus" think. He was hit by cancer, not a bus -- quite a bit more common, I suppose. :)
     
  22. EricBe

    EricBe Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yeah, I don't have a problem with monetization per se. I'm a capitalist. This space feels to me like jazz or restaurants: the best way to end up with a small fortune writing aviation software? Start with a large fortune. (Well, that and my motivation here is to give back and to have fun writing code, so I don't want it to feel like a job.) But I do have a few paid features on MyFlightbook to help (a) pay for hosting costs, and (b) ensure that there is friction for anything that could drive capacity or other costs (especially if unbounded). So I can't promise that everything on MyFlightbook will always be free because that's already not the case. But I can promise that the core functionality - the stuff that is free today - will remain free even if something happens. That is indeed written down.
     
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  23. Gucci Pilot

    Gucci Pilot Pattern Altitude

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    Just curious @EricBe, is there a list of the possible "Achievements"?
     
  24. EricBe

    EricBe Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Well, I suppose a list *does* exist, but disclosing it would, IMO, take some of the fun out of unlocking them. :)
     
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  25. BigBadLou

    BigBadLou Final Approach

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    Not a bad idea, I too would purchase one to help support the great tool.
     
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  26. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    @EricBe - How do I enter intersections (such as SLUGG or SASIE) into the route box in MFB? I know navaids such as VOR's need the @ sign, but tried that with the intersection name and no joy.
     
  27. EricBe

    EricBe Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The "@" prefix simply tells the system to pick a navaid if there is ambiguity between a navaid and an airport; it's not actually necessary if there is no ambiguity. I don't have a default set of intersections in the database (which is why SLUGG and SASIE don't work, with or without the @ prefix), but you can add them. Go to "Add/Edit Airports" under the "Airports" tab on the website and you can create a fix for SLUGG or SASIE. Since these are 5 letter codes, they shouldn't conflict with any airport so you shouldn't even need the @ prefix.
     
  28. BigBadLou

    BigBadLou Final Approach

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    This reminds me that I need to go add the missing @ to the navaids in my flight paths. Otherwise some of my flights seem to have covered tens of thousands of miles in an hour or two. :)
     
  29. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    @EricBe, the following is an excerpt from the AOPA FAQ page in the PBOR2 stuff that passed Thr Senate today and is headed for POTUS signature. It mentions keeping logbook entries of our Doctor visit(s) and online aeromedical factors training.

    Do you see providing a something in MFB that will make such record keeping a simple task?

     
  30. EricBe

    EricBe Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yeah, I think I'll absolutely want to be able to track that in some manner; would wait until i's are dotted and t's crossed (i.e., the "fat lady singing" here is POTUS signature), but it should be fairly straightforward to support.
     
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  31. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The original "I don't know it all" of aviation.
    An idea for this then might be accessing the camera so we can photograph the form our doc filled out and signed.

    Then an upload of the PDF of the completed quiz results.
     
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  32. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Or maybe replicate the form within MFB, allow the doc to tick check boxes, and have a signature box for his finger or stylus.
     
  33. EricBe

    EricBe Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yeah, I think I'll absolutely want to
    Can already do that with the website (go to Endorsements under the Training tab with your phone/tablet). So main thing is integrating that in with the app, but I also would want to have a way to tell the system that you did it (like you do with the medical today on the Profile tab) so that you can be reminded.
     
  34. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Cool, looking forward to it.
     
  35. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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    I love MFB. I even did the spreadsheet thing and imported everything from my paper logbooks. When I fly a glider, I have my flight tracker with me, and I like that I can attach the telemetry to my log entries. I might be missing it, but I could not find a place to upload telemetry data in the app. It would also be cool if the app could read a telemetry file and autopopulate log entries.
     
  36. EricBe

    EricBe Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Hi, Lindberg. The iOS app can in fact autopopulate from data, but you have to push the data to the app rather than pull it from the app. (Doh, of course, totally obvious, right? :) Ummm...well, not, but it's sorta the idom in which iOS works)

    For example, if you log the flight with Bad Elf (which I sometimes do myself), you can send the GPX or the KML (tap the standard iOS "send" icon that is in the upper-right corner and there is a "Copy to MyFlightbook" option) to the app, which will then ask if you want to initialize a flight from it. Make sure autodect is on!

    Or, just use the app itself to autodetect and record.

    Or, you can also use the website, even from a mobile device (but obviuosly, that's outside of the app).

    Hope that helps!
     
  37. EricBe

    EricBe Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Here's this from AOPA: "Although the extension only keeps the FAA running through September 2017, the medical reforms are permanent, and the FAA now has one year to develop and enact rules that align with the reforms. Pilots will not be allowed to fly under the reforms until the FAA has completed its rulemaking or the one-year time limit has elapsed, whichever comes first. The FAA has not yet said when it will begin the rulemaking process or what form that process will take."

    So POTUS signing actually isn't quite enough to implement this. :) But I can't imagine it will be that hard to do; all the infrastructure I need is in place...
     
  38. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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    Can this work on Android as well?
     
  39. EricBe

    EricBe Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Not at the moment, I'm afraid. It's on my list.
     
  40. LDJones

    LDJones Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Kudos to Eric for a recent update to MyFlightbook. When I renewed my CFI this week I noticed the 8710 form had changed. I sent him a copy of the new format and he's already incorporated the revised format into the MyFlightbook 8710 form.

    Thanks, Eric!
     
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