Planning a mid to high end new Gaming PC build for MS Flight Simulator 2020

I’m excited about Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 that’s launching next month.

I’ve been and on and off flight simmer since first playing my first flight sims on a ZX81, ZX Spectrum, Atari ST, and almost all recent versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator.

FS 5.1, 2002, 2004, FSX and various add on scenery

While Flight Simulator X has been updated to easily install via Steam, it’s been 14 years since FSX was released… that’s a long time between releases, but that’s not my focus of this post. If I’m gonna play FS 2020 I’m going to need some new hardware.

I’ve been mainly a Playstation console gamer for the past few years, but for playing Elite Dangerous and a few other casual games, a 2008 Mac Pro with a GTX 750ti has been more than enough for casual gaming, but it’s far from the minimum requirements for the new FS 2020 release.

From: Microsoft (link)

So, the first question, the age old PC builder question: Intel or AMD? AMD Ryzen have a slight cost advantage for comparable performance right now. I’m not looking for i9, or i7 performance, so even a comparable Ryzen 7 seem more than I need, so I’m going for a (current) top end Ryzen 5, the 3600XT at approx $250.

Ok, going AMD, so what chipset? M450, M550, X570? The best comparison of these chipsets I’ve seen is here.

  • X570 has support for the newer/faster M.2 PCIe x4 SSDs and is the latest chipset for AMD CPUs, so for the sake or $50 difference of so between slightly older M550 chipsets and X570, I’m going with X570

For RAM, X570 mobos support upto 4000MHz DDR4 RAM and faster with Gen3 Ryzen CPUs. What’s interesting is the prices (understandably) increase with speed, so doing some quick lookups: for 2 x 8Gb

  • 3200: $69
  • 3333: $99
  • 3400: $104
  • 4133: $229
  • 4266: $239
  • 4333: $264
  • 4400: $348
  • 4500: $499

I was initially thinking fastest RAM as possible, but there’s some lofty premium for those fastest (overclocked?) speeds, so rather go for the fastest 16GB I think I’m either going to go with some 3200 or 3400 and jump to 32GB instead (which is the ideal spec).

For motherboards I’m considering:

ASUS AM4 TUF GAMING X570-Plus ATX Motherboard with PCIe 4.0, Dual M.2, 12+2 with Dr. MOS Power Stage, HDMI, DP, SATA 6Gb/s, USB 3.2 Gen 2 and Aura Sync RGB Lighting

  • dual M.2 PCIe v4 slots
  • DDR4 upto 4400 (DDR4 4400(O.C.)/ 3466(O.C.)/ 3400(O.C.)/ 3200(O.C.)/ 3000(O.C.)/ 2933(O.C.)/ 2800(O.C.)/ 2666/ 2400/ 2133 MHz )

I ruled out this alternative:

MSI X570-A PRO Motherboard AMD AM4 SATA 6Gb/s M.2 USB 3.2 Gen 2 HDMI ATX

  • has 2 M.2 slots but only one 1 PCIe v4, but the other is PCIe v3
  • DDR4 upto 4400

For storage, I’ve already committed to a motherboard with PCIe v4 support, so I’m going with Corsair Force MP600 M.2 2280 500GB PCI-Express Gen 4.0 x4 NVMe initially, then I could always add more later.

For PSU, I’m going with a 650w modular from EVGA which should be more than enough power with some to spare.

Ok, that’s it for now. Parts are ordered from Newegg to arrive sometime next week, more updates to come later.

Converting Mac OS 9 .pict screenshot files to jpegs

The Shift+Cmd+4 key combo is common from all the way back to Mac OS 9 (and maybe earlier?) to all Mac OS X and current MacOS versions and takes a screenshot of a selected area on the screen. On current MacOS versions the file saved to your desktop is in png format (Mac OS X versions around 10.4 saved screenshots in .tiff format), but on OS 9 it’s in a less common .pict format.

By today’s standards the .pict file format is even more unusual as it uses Classic Mac OS file system features called a ‘resource fork‘ and a ‘data fork’. The issue with copying these .pict files from a Classic Mac OS filesystem to a modern file system is described here – when you copy the file you get the ‘resource fork’ but lose the ‘data fork’, in this case losing most of the image file data. When I tried this and viewed or converted the file on MacOS each of the files only has a section of the image, or none at all.

To convert to a jpeg or other more commonly used format today, this post suggests using the Resize! app, which is still downloadable from

The trouble with this approach is if you’ve already copied the .pict files from OS 9 to a SMB network drive, you’ve already lost part of the file and it won’t convert as expected.

The best option as described in the first post is to convert to a jpeg or gif on OS 9 before moving elsewhere. I’ve seen posts suggesting to use Quicktime Viewer, but the version I have on mg G4 running OS 9.2.2 doesn’t have a Save As or Export feature, not that I could find anyway.

Instead what I found that worked for me was to download GraphicsConverter from Mac Garden here and use Save As changing the file extension to .jpg

Move MacOS Dock between monitors

When using multiple monitors on my Macs I would do this by mistake and thought it was some weird bug 🙂 Turns out, if you pull down your mouse at the bottom of the screen, this moves the Dock to that screen.

Useful when you use multiple monitors, annoying if you do it by accident and don’t know the feature exists 🙂

The spectrum of note taking options for software developers

All software developers should take notes. That’s a given. There’s far too much information we come across daily that it’s impossible to remember everything without taking notes.

Ok, so what approach should you take for your note taking? As software developers, building your own note taking app would be an interesting side project for learning a new language or framework. Before you jump to that extreme though, consider some of the simpler alternatives first.

Going from simpler to more complex, here’s some options:

  • A notebook
  • Index cards
  • Notes on loose sheets of paper, grouped by topic and filed in a folder, binder, or filing cabinet
  • Online note taking app: OneNote, EverNote
  • Note taking on a PDA (remember those?)
  • Hosted blog online (e.g. WordPress, Ghost)
  • Hosting your own blog online
  • Building your own blogging app