Flight Data Log (FDL)
ver. 3.00 build: 040
release date: 21 Apr 2000
Created by: Mic Healey
email: michealey@planetmic.com
(c) Copyright Mic Healey 2000

Table of Contents
Application File Contents-2-
Program Overview-3-
How to Use-4-
Counters and SETDATA.EXE-5-
Temporal Sub-Space Transceiver-6-
Galactic Communications Consortium-7-
Types of Received GCC Transmissions-8-
Questions and Answers-9-
Legal (Mumbo Jumbo) Matters-10-
Program History-11-

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Hello Commander and welcome to the Flight Data Log (FDL). This simple application is designed to help you record, compile, and distribute your Frontier Elite II (or FFE), game play experiences. Please understand from the start that this is a "stand-alone" utility companion to Frontier. It does not directly interface with FE2's program files or saved game files. You - have to do a little work to utilize this... It is a tool.

Requirements: This is a retro-programmed DOS application. You may run it from the DOS prompt in DOS 5.0 or higher. Windows users may run this application from the DOS prompt within Windows, or outside if you wish. The program should run fine on anything from a 80386 on up.

TO RUN PROGRAM: Unzip all files into a separate directory. Change to that directory. Type FDL at the command prompt.


MD C:\FDL 'Makes a directory called FDL
MOVE FDL.ZIP C:\FDL 'Moves FDL.ZIP to FDL directory
FDL'Starts FDL

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CASH.DAT *        Data file with total cash information
FDL.EXE             Main -Flight Data Logbook- program
FDL-G5.EXE *     Title Screen executable
FDS.TXT             Flight Data Sheet, ASCII printable log entry form.
KILL.DAT *          Data file for total kill information
LOG.TXT             Logbook file, stored in ASCII format
MANUAL.HTM     This file in HTML4.0 format
MANUAL.TXT      This file in ASCII text format.
SETDATA.EXE     Small program to set Total Kill and Total Cash values.

* not for user access

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The program asks you a series of questions, then displays (optionally) a 'log entry'. Following your approval, the entry is recorded in a logbook file (LOG.TXT). Additional uses of the program, reopen the logbook and add entries to it. The resulting file is in standard ASCII format, thus can be utilized by nearly every medium or format without conversion.

In addition to logging navigational and comment data - FDL also will track your cash experience (profit or loss) and combat totals.

The easy to read format keeps a record of your travels throughout the galaxy. What makes the FDL even more special for you - is that the program provides for up to five comment lines per log entry. This allows you to describe what you have been up to - with a minimum of effort. The result for someone reading your log will be a nicely flowing sequence of events. In other words, a story outline.

If you are a Frontier Elite II veteran, you know there are many activities, things to do, places to visit, etc. - within the game world (galaxy). A player's "game-life" is often defined by the type of activity he pursues, (and where he pursues it) within the open format FE2 provides. The FDL is an attempt to standardize -a record of experiences- for conveyance; either perhaps to send to a friend, publish on a website, or simply keep for yourself to enhance the game play experience. It should also serve as a useful "writers-outline", should you wish to later expand your logbook entries into a full story format.

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There are a couple of ways to utilize the program...

(1) You can have it running on a nearby system or laptop - to the one you are playing FE2 on. In this situation you can simply make logbook entries in real time. Yes, finally -- a use for that old system, or ancient laptop with the 20 meg hard-drive... Just squeeze it into your work space and boot it up! This program needs no mouse, no sound card, no CD drive, not even a color monitor (though I recommend it). FDL will even run directly off a floppy disk. Its something new for something old...

(2) Method two involves keeping a Flight Data Sheet(FDS), manually - which you later input into FDL (when not playing FE2). This may be the most common choice for individuals with one system, but does involve a little extra effort. To help you with this task, a printable form: FDS.TXT is included with this application. Simply print off this form several times (3 entries may be added to each sheet) and fill it in as you play, later you can enter the data into FDL.

(3) There is a third option, that being multi-tasking the FDL and FE2 within Win3.1, or Win95/98. Feel free to go ahead and give this a go, it may work for you. However, this option will not be discussed in the initial release of this application due to its potential to become a problem for non-advanced Win3.1/Win95/98 OS users. Multi-tasking more than one MS-DOS application can be tricky.

Program Flow

When you first start FDL, you will see the title screen, which will automatically advance to the Selection Menu Screen. (The title screen is displayed for about 5 seconds, if you want to express through it, simply press any key.)

At the Selection Menu you have five choices:

  1. Make an entry to the Logbook.
  2. Close and exit the Logbook.
  3. View your logbook, (Returns you to the Selection Menu after)
  4. Activate Temporal Sub-Space Transceiver.
  5. Deactivate Temporal Sub-Space Transceiver.

I realize you just did a -What???- with choices (4) and (5)... more on the Temporal Sub-Space Transceiver (TSST) later.

After entering a selection, the program continues. If you see the message "Redo from Start", you are probably not paying attention...read the instructions before you input... and input only from the choice options.


You will be asked the following questions:

Stardate: Format should be: 01-Jan-3201 (Same as in the game)

You may also append a time for example: 01-Jan-3201 12:15 GMT

Location: The location information is particular. You will be asked the following:

  1. Are you at a Starport? -or-
  2. Are You Landed Rough on the Surface of a Planet or Moon?
  3. or, Are you In Space relative to some object...
  4. If near a planetary body surface: Planet/Moon Name, Altitude, and & Velocity. Additionally you may reference the targeted object (either a starport or another ship) and its distance from it.
  5. Is this Log entry from the same location as the previous?

So, you should keep a record of:

A note on starport names: The TSST is rather particular with starport names. You should enter them e-x-a-c-t-l-y as they are written in the game. Also, you should use its full name for orbiting spaceports, and include the type - see below:

Example for orbiting or in space spaceports:

Example for planet based starports:

(Actually, you can input the data in any fashion you like. However, the TSST and the GCC require the data to be in a particular format for evaluation. Huh - you say? ...More on this below.)

In addition to the above, entering the starport type can add quite a bit of texture to your log and helps solidify places for the reader.

Star System Name:

The program next asks you the NAME of the star system you are in. Again, make sure you enter the name, EXACTLY as it appears in the FE2, including capitalization and spacing. The program will then ask you to supply to it some exact information regarding that system within the game...

(example of input: -1,0,3)

Every star system in FE2 is displayed on the galactic map. The galactic map uses a straight forward: X,Y (positive/negative ) grid system to chart star systems positions on it, with sector 0,0 being Sol. Sectors to the left and below Sol are negative; those to the right and above Sol have positive numbers. In addition to the Galactic Map Sector Code, there is one other crucial bit of information which is a little buried in the game...

That info. is the System Number. Each system, within any given sector is awarded a system number. To find the system number for the system you are in follow this procedure:

  1. From within the game, bring up the Galactic Map (F2).
  2. Center the map on the system you would like the information for. When a system is selected, its star is highlighted in green.
  3. Next, press (F6) to get the System Info. Screen and menu options.
  4. Last, press (F8) to get the Government Information Screen: This screen supplies:

One nice feature of FDL is that it will remember the star system you are in on the second or more passes through the program after start. So, if you have more than one entry to make from the same system - before jumping out - you will not have to enter the same star system information repeatedly (while FDL is active). Additionally, Option -5- from the Location Entry Type Selection Menu allows for easy recall of locational data for additional log entries from the exact same preceding location (also after program start).

The location/geographical data is now complete.

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FDL tracks two pieces of data from the game. Your Total Cash and your Total Combat Kills. The first time you utilize FDL it does not know what your cash or kills are currently at... Thus, you will proceed forward from default values of zero for each. However, if you are currently playing a game (and most of you will be) you can bring over your actual cash and combat kill values easily with a small auxiliary program included in this application called SETDATA.EXE.

SETDATA.EXE will set the counters for your current Cash and Kills. The current cash is easily attained within FE2 from your current game position, on one of several ship information screens. Please note that FDL will only handle an integer or whole number for the cash tracking routine. Thus, simply round up or down if your current cash value has a decimal component.

The Total Kills number is a bit of guess work however... Frontier Elite II keeps your total kills not as an absolute number, but as a rating. If you are within a particular range - you have that rating name. Below is a listing of ratings and their corresponding number of kills.

Mostly Harmless4
Below Average16
Above Average64

Within FE2, at the Commander Information screen (F3), you can get your current, rating. You can use this as your default starting number. The next time you move up a level (check often... if doing combat; and sometimes following a --Right On Commander-- notification) you can reset the kills with SETDATA.EXE to the near exact number. Running SETDATA.EXE is simple. Just type SETDATA at the command prompt, and answer the questions. Note: please do not use any commas in your responses.

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(Ready to take a leap of faith? Okay, here we go...)

Congratulations Commander, incorporated into the FDL is a Temporal Sub-Space Transceiver or TSST. From the Selection Menu, the transceiver can be brought On-Line (option 4) or deactivated (returned to its default condition when you start the program) Off-Line (option 5).

When On-Line, the transceiver will up-link a copy of your current log entry (after approval) to the nearest Galactic Communications Consortium (GCC) relay buoy. These relay buoys (or comm nodes as they are sometimes referred to) utilize the latest advances in multi-dimension spatial temporal technology to transmit your log entry quickly across the immense distances between star systems and into that particular star system which is noted within your logbook entry.

Your logbook entry transmission is then received by the local GCC comm node, and forwarded to the nearest GCC office within that system. There, system government officials, and or, the local GCC representative in that system, will review the content of your log entry.

Depending on a variety of factors such as (but not limited to): the star system receiving your entry, the content of your message (regarding new kills or cash profits/loss), the location data within your entry, the nature and performance of those reviewing your log entry, and or - the policies of the local government with respect to the GCC and its initiative, you - MAY - receive a reply.

This response, if received, will be automatically appended to your stored logbook file, preceded by the comment... RECEIVED TRANSMISSION:

The unique nature of the temporal sub-space transmission creates a phased time dilation effect to incoming transmissions (or replies). Though difficult to fully comprehend (to those not versed in multi-dimension non-linear phased temporal mechanics), responses are often received at relay buoys seemingly -before- the initial log transmission are up-linked. Due to this situation, a reply may be stored in a comm node's message cache, pending the appropriate initialization activity. - Confusing I know.

The end result however is quite nice, as you will experience - no time delay - waiting for a reply. If you receive a response, it will be appended and stored to your logbook immediately after you first input the entry. If you hear an additional audio chime, to that of the typical audio feedback pending log entry acceptance, you will know a transmission has been received. To review a received transmission, simply open and read your logbook (option 3 or 6 at the selection menu) expressing forward to the desired date.

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You are undoubtedly curious as to what is the GCC and its initiative. So.. I will take a moment here to fill you in a bit (If you are aware, or part of the GCC, you may choose to skip this section).

The Galactic Communications Consortium grew out of the Royal Wayward Society of Rogue Travelers (RWSRT) - a three century old organization based in London, on Old Earth and established in the year 2893. The RWSRT provided funds, available through general application to the secretary, whereby social establishments could be created and supported for the recreational utilization of its members; throughout colonized systems in the Core sectors. The concept was a success and these establishments, known as "Commander's Clubs", began to spread to distant spaceports, even gaining acceptance in Imperial space. The clubs supported rogue pilots, and their endeavors. Ultimately, these places became filled with many an interesting character... and their tales.

One of the evolving duties of the RWSRT became keeping records of these unique individuals; their travels, stories, experiences, and lives as they crossed the cosmos. Initially, much of the information was collected by "word of mouth" within the Commander's Clubs by RWSRT "Watchers" - as they were know... but this soon proved unmanageable. A new method of gathering and reviewing data had to be created.

Meanwhile, as the volume of stories continued to grow, so did the assets of the RWSRT. It seemed that a majority of rogue pilots, having no true home or family, willed their estates directly to the society and the Commander's Club establishments. With the addition of the RWSRT approved "Pilot's Lounge", Commander's Club - variant - in 3197 (a club format which provided female companions for visiting lonely members), incoming assets though willed donations simply went - ballistic.

Late in the Fall of 3199 (too late to be included in your manual's printing, Commander), the RWSRT, created a subsidiary non-profit organization called the Galactic Communications Consortium(GCC). Using the RWSRT's deep pockets, the GCC has begun deploying highly advanced communication relay buoys throughout the core systems and beyond... GCC's objective is to utilize this network to keep in contact with its members and record their travels. Unfortunately, politics being a fact of human life, the GCC has had to allow local system government access to this network - in return for allowing placement of comm nodes within their systems. The GCC Network is a developing system... you will have to wait to see what happens next.

So, what started as simply "writing down of the tale" has become the impetus for the advent of interstellar sub-space communications.

Cool huh?

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Though initially the exclusive realm of the GCC, the network is quickly becoming a valued means of communication between star systems and ships throughout known space. As such, you should expect to receive a variety of messages. These can originate from local governments or spaceports. Officials, individuals, and GCC reps who have access the system can send you a message. Also, there is a variety of automated traffic which may occur under certain conditions. Remember, to receive a transmission, the Temporal Sub-Space Transceiver (TSST) must be active or On-Line... when you input the log entry. Also, note: having the TSST active is in no way a guarantee you will receive a signal... its a big galaxy.

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Why did you make this thing?

I actually wanted this myself - so I could write a bit, but play the game more. I think this is a nice compromise to writing full blown illustrated, animated fiction like that of Commander Mic's Logbook.

Do you know that keeping the Flight Data Sheets is work?

Yeah, it is a little bit of work, but I think you will find... its worth it. Remember, they do not have to be neat or clean, FDL will do that for you. Just scribble down what you need for later and keep on playing.

What good is all this log keeping anyway?

Well, you are recording your efforts for posterity and fame. Further, While you are indeed making your very own FE2 fiction, you are also doing something that real travelers have done for thousands of years. Keeping a log has long been as important to the traveler, almost as much as the journey itself. Also, FDL makes you focus a bit on where you are in the FE2 galaxy. This focus and record keeping will help you create a more solid "mental construct" of the FE2 game world. Further, you can extend that fantasy to the real night sky. For example, using real starmaps to find star systems you virtually visit in FE2 and which now appear in your neato log file. It will all work to make it -more real- for you.

How can I edit my log file?

No problem, simply open it with a word processor or even better simply type: EDIT LOG.TXT at the DOS prompt. If you do use a word processor, make sure you resave LOG.TXT as MS-DOS text without formatting.

Where is this EDIT program you keep mentioning?

EDIT.COM is located in the Windows 95/98 secret DOS directory. It is found within the: C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND sub-directory or as it is now called, a folder. To use EDIT.COM with any text file, you can either move a copy of EDIT.COM to the directory where the file resides, or edit your AUTOEXEC.BAT file (located in the root directory). Open the AUTOEXEC.BAT file and add the following PATH command: PATH=C:\WINDOWS;C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND. Then, when you type "edit" from any directory, EDIT.COM will start. It's nifty.

My log file is getting huge. How can I start a new log file?

Rename the LOG.TXT file something else. Start FDL and add and entry. A new LOG.TXT will be created. Note: Menu select number -3- will not work when you first do this, as there is no file yet to read.

I have the TSST On-Line, yet I am not receiving any transmissions.

There is a random factor in most TSST routines. Also, since this is an initial release, the GCC does not have comm nodes in too many systems yet. If you are not getting any reply, try doing things in and around the Sol System.

I am thinking about turning my log into a webpage. How can it do it?

Just about the easiest way to change a LOG.TXT file into HTML is by using the <PRE> syntax. This will maintain the proper spacing as well as the presentation of any ASCII artwork you have received through TSST. The format for a simple page appears below:

<!-- Paste in your complete logbook file HERE -->

Can you program further versions of the FDL to feature GCC routines that reference, me, my friends and or websites, favorite places, etc.

Yes, this is possible. Further issues of the FDL could greatly enhance GCC communications, etc.

Is this program freeware, and in the public domain?

No, it is not. This program is 'commentware'. You pay for this software by writing the author a little post and hopefully say something constructive regarding the effort. If you fail to do this... and use it, you are a thief.

Will this program continue to be commentware, even if you spend countless future hours on this and include all sorts of routines from everybody who thinks they're a player in alt.fan.geek?

No, it would probably become shareware if that was the case - of which I sincerely doubt.

How come you did not write this thing for Windows?

The program is written in QBASIC and compiled into an executable with FIRSTBAS compiler, produced by PowerBasic. The result is a nice small little package. To do the same with Visual Basic (VB6) code for Win95/98, this simple little program would be several megs. Besides QBASIC is a great little powerful language, ideal for individuals learning or in my case re-learning programming code.

Gee, could I have your source code and build upon your work? I would give you credit of course...

Ahhhh, no.

This is no big deal, I can simply use Access or something to do the same thing...

Yes, you could. But in its current form, it is quite useful by anyone who has a PC system. Windows or no Windows, you can utilize it, and as mentioned above, its nice and small - so easy to download, upload, etc.

You know, you're right. This is a great little program and a neat idea. Why don't you try to sell it or go straight to the shareware offer?

Oh please. Do you know how many folks on the planet are really into Frontier enough to actually find this thing useful? Probably about 100, including you! I would have to charge a lot of money just to pay myself something for my time. No, get real, we're part of a -unique- group.

Can I put this program on "my" website and offer it for download?

When you download this application from -my- website, you are being given one, and only one - "End Users License". If someone you speak with would like the program also, please direct them to my website (where you should have found it). So, the answer to the above question is: NO. You may not place this program on your website for download. You may, offer a link to my page where it resides.

How can I get publishing rights, so I can legally offer this application on my website for download?

Ahh, I see you have been reading the preceding answer... If you have the idea that you would like to offer the FDL on your website for download, you are requesting a "Publishing License". At this time I am not offering any publishing licenses. Please contact me if you are sincerely interested.

I see you keep upgrading FDL. I have downloaded the lastest copy, but am not sure how to upgrade my program while keeping my current kill data, cash data, and existing log.

To ugrade your existing FDL application, copy the following files to a seperate directory other than FDL: LOG.TXT, CASH.DAT, KILL.DAT. You may then delete the all files in the FDL directory. Next copy in the new FDL.ZIP file to the FDL directory and unzip. Lastly, move or copy the three files above from the stored directory back into the FDL directory and let them overwrite the newer files. Your FDL is now upgraded.

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Legal (Mumbo Jumbo) Matters

The author accepts no liability for any damage, either direct or consequential, no matter how it comes down. By installing or running this software you agree to these conditions. The author disclaims all warranties as to this software, whether express or implied, including without limitation any implied warranties of merchantability, or fitness for a particular purpose. As the end user (You), are totally responsible for this program and what it does. By using this software, you agree to all of the terms and conditions in this document.

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Program History

28 Aug 1996:
First idea for program and basic routines. (concept shelved)
08 Feb 2000:
Program development begins.
20 Mar 2000:
Initial Release version. FDL ver. 1.00 Build 033
25 Mar 2000:
FDL offered at web site. FDL.ZIP
30 Mar 2000: FDL ver. 1.00 Build 034
uploaded to web site. fixed problem with line break ASCii characters in LOG.TXT file showing up as a series of AAAAAAAAAAAA.
02 Apr 2000: FDL ver. 2.00 Build 037
Large revision to program. Routine added for detailed log entry: Near Planetary Body Surface - with altitude and speed data, as well as targeted info. collected. (aka: STOTT-R1) FDS.TXT rewritten and reformatted to support new routine above. FDS.TXT removal of extended ASCii characters which do not display correctly in Windows95/98. MANUAL.TXT rewritten to support new version and Program History section started. MANUAL.HTM rewritten to support new version and Program History section started. On line version of MANUAL.HTM (FE-FDL02.HTM) also updated to support new version.
04 Apr 2000: FDL ver. 2.00 Build 038
Small but useful change of syntax for Starport entries. Starports in orbit, no longer have the "starport" word affixed after the name. Example: before entries appeared as - Biggs High: orbital trading post Starport. With revision - Biggs High: orbital trading post. The "starport" word is still affixed to surface bases. (revision: STOTT-R2)
19 Apr 2000: FDL ver. 2.00 Build 039
Small clarification to cash entry routine. Cash tracking is designed to support the long integers of Commanders with big ships and deep pockets. The trade off to this is that fractional number components beyond the decimal point are not tracked. Please see Section -5- for new additional info.
21 Apr 2000: FDL ver. 3.00 Build 040
After utilizing FDL myself recently, I decided to implement the following changes. First, I have adopted the same Stardate format as the game. Previous versions of FDL had no hyphen between the month and year. As the game does indeed have this, I thought it would be easier to stick to convention. Thus, 01-Jan 3201, is now: 01-Jan-3201. The big improvement to FDL (causing a ver. number to change) is the addition of a new labor saving option from the Entry Location Type Selection Menu. New Option -5- will ease tedium and repetition when multiple log entries are made while at the same location. See Section -4- of this document for additional information. Finally, there has been some small improvements to the display within the Comment Collection Routine and a new question and answer added to Section -9- of this document; dealing with how to upgrade your existing FDL.

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