Well, it certainly is good to be able to talk more about the project after all these long months. I'm finally getting re-aclimated to Seattle time after my trip. My first night home I began to really feel the travel during dinner and lasted no more than 30 seconds after my head hit the pillow.
The team has made great progress in the meantime. We took the first drop of processed rail data for North America from our data team just before I left. Since returning I've enjoyed loading up the sim, going to a random location, and driving along. The hunting and rocking of each car in the consist seems so real--just like I've seen in railfan video. The thing that's not quite real is the contour of the track. The first pass of data processing does not include normalizing the grade or curvature so the ride is more like a roller coaster at times than a rail simulator. Still, with derailment disabled, it makes for a fun tour of the countryside (we have no virtual motion sickness feature--yet). Since we inherited the new camera system from FSX I can create custom cameras attached to nearly any point on the train and experiment with different points of view. I particularly like a spot at the rear of the lead locomotive. It provides a good forward view and I can turn around to see the other locomotives and rolling stock bouncing and jostling as we move along. Good times.