I became a Private Pilot and this is my story: Part (1/2) in Singapore

I finally got my Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Private Pilot Certificate or Private Pilot License (PPL)! It seems so surreal, but I can actually fly a plane with my family and friends. This journey was almost a year in the making which I made immense sacrifices in time, money and much more. 

With my San Diego Flying Training International (SDFTI) instructors Charles and Luke on the Cessna 172R (N2441E) which I did my first lesson, solo and checkride on.

With my training buddy Davinder

Capt Kumeran from Flightschool.SG who gave me foundation training in the Redbird MCX simulator.

My journey is so long that I have to break it into 2 different blog posts:


I became a Private Pilot and this is my story: Part (2/2) in San Diego

This post continues from Part 1 of my Private Pilot training journey. This part details the flying portion I did in San Diego, USA. It’s divided into the following sections:

So let’s begin my journey!

Arrival in San Diego (14 Nov 2018)

Davinder and I managed to complete the local program so we took the plunge and made our way to San Diego.

Montgomery Gibbs Executive Airport (KMYF) as seen in our incoming flight to San Diego International Airport.

We finally set eyes on the airport that we will train at for the next 2.5 months!


Reflections after 2 weeks of PPL Training in the US

2 weeks ago, I put my life on hold in Singapore to come over to the birthplace of aviation to achieve a life-long dream to fly a plane.

As expected, learning to fly a plane is nowhere near as simple as just taking up car driving lessons for example. Behind the videos I have posted on social media so far of my practical lessons, hides the countless hours of mundane but very important theory lessons I have to attend.


Why I use the IBM Model M keyboard that is older than me?

The last primary keyboard I’ll use in my life might be the IBM Model M. It’ll probably last me the decades to the day that keyboards should become obsolete. – Kheng Meng, 2018

I just had to start my blog post with that self quote ^^^ but I’m pretty confident it’ll hold true for me. I have owned several keyboards so far and I have to say the Model M with its legendary buckling-spring switch is the one that fits my needs perfectly for the foreseeable future. This blog post was indeed also written on the Model M.

All the mechanical keyboards I have owned so far

From top-left anti-clockwise:

Manufacturer Model Manufacturing Date Keyswitch
Unicomp Spacesaver 104 Black 20 July 2011 Membrane Buckling Spring
Unicomp Spacesaver 104 White 8 June 2016 Membrane Buckling Spring
IBM Model F XT (variant for IBM 5155 Portable) Some time in 1984 Capacitive Buckling Spring
IBM Model M 19 May 1987 Membrane Buckling Spring
Lexmark Model M 3 Feb 1994 Membrane Buckling Spring
Filco Majestouch MINILA Air Some time in 2014 Cherry MX Brown

Note that Unicomp has renamed the “Spacesaver” product line to “Ultra Classic”.


A Science Project: “Make the 486 Great Again!” – Modern Linux in an ancient PC

What is the oldest x86 processor that is still supported by a modern Linux kernel in present time?

I asked the above quiz question during the Geekcamp tech conference in Nov 2017 during my emcee role. The theoretical answer as you can glean from the title of this post is the 486 which was first released in 1989. I determined that fact from this article where support for the 386 was dropped in Dec 2012.

To get you interested, here is the result of my effort.

The white smudge on the screen is not the camera’s fault, there is really a backlight problem with my old 19″ monitor.

You can skip to 11:39 when the boot completes.

00:00 to 00:46 – BIOS

00:46 to 11:39 – Bootup. It takes almost 11mins to bootup!

11:39 to 13:14 – System specs, IP info and ALSA mixer

13:14 to 15:00 – Playing music via Sound Blaster 16

15:00 to 17:25 – SSH while playing (stuttering) music in the background. With AlsaMixer adjusting volume.

17:25 to 17:48 – Opening a webpage hosted by nginx.

18:10 to 20:13 – Git clone a repo.

20:13 to 21:13 – Using Python 3.6.3

21:13 to 21:43 – Cleanup and issue shutdown command

21:43 to End – Shutdown. It takes 5.5 mins to shutdown!

Interested in how I got a modern Linux kernel 4.14.8 (released in December 2017) to run on this ancient PC? Read on!


My First Conference Emcee Experience

Yay, conference emcee achievement unlocked! Just completed my solo emcee role at GeekcampSG 2017!

With this I have completed the double trifecta of doing the roles of emcee, speaker and Engineers.SG recorder at both tech conferences and meetups.

Preparation for this role was quite a long time coming for me. I volunteered to be the Hackware meetup emcee for about 6 times to prepare for this. Even then, no amount of practice in small evening meetups can equal to emceeing for a conference 10 times the number of people that lasts the whole day.

Mandatory proof of doing the role.

Other than the sheer numbers and the usual task of introducing speakers, a conference emcee has extra challenges that I felt first-hand. But let me first mention the good stuff of being a conference emcee.


X commandments before finding a tech-cofounder/engineer

I’ve been approached several times by many people looking for tech-cofounders or engineers to help build a product based on an idea they had. After getting so many of them over the years, I decided to write this list of pointers based on the advice I have given to those who approached me.

So here are my X commandments you should do, think about or have an answer to before looking for that tech person:


First Flight Experience in a light plane (Socata TB10)

The first time I stepped on an airplane, I was 10 and was going to Australia with my family for a holiday. From then on, I always wondered what it was like to one day be the person flying the plane instead of being a passenger. Due to several decisions which I regret today like not joining the Youth Flying Club when I was younger, I never got the chance to do.

So when my friend Joyce told me her private pilot friend Roger will be going up to the skies with his plane, I jumped at the opportunity! It is not everyday that one will see a pilot controlling the very aircraft you are on and speaking to the air traffic controller in real time.

This is the plane, a Socata Tobago (TB) 10 co-owned by Roger. French-built, 13 years old and Malaysian registered (9M-prefix). It is operated under the Johor Flying Club at Senai Airport.