I enjoy the one-click facility for connecting to my VPN in Windows XP. It gets the job done, but I sometimes struggle with the famous dead connection bug. This is a very common problem in Windows that causes the VPN to become unresponsive after two to five minutes of inactivity, even though the status still says “Connected.”
I created a one-click solution for both connecting and maintaining a VPN. Setting it up is simple. It involves just these steps, which I will explain below:
Set the VPN “idle time before hanging up” period to “5 minutes” instead of “never.” This forces Windows to properly reflect any disconnection.
Create a new batch file, which I have provided below.
Edit the batch file to match the name and address of your connection.
Create a desktop shortcut to the batch file.
Edit the shortcut properties so that the batch automatically runs minimized with a nice icon.
My Flight Operations professor would like his students to create procedural flow diagrams in Visio 2010 using comment boxes with both solid lines and dashed connectors. This turns out to be easier said than done because the latest version of Visio has line style “effects” that globally override any dashed connectors. We can create the comment boxes easily, but how do we get them to automatically show up with specific connector formats?
The answer is to create a custom shape using a connector that is not styled.
My step-by-step instructions will guide you through a procedure to achieve that outcome. I am providing screen shots as a visual aid, though a corresponding flow chart can be provided as needed.
I’ve stumbled upon a seemingly undocumented authentication error in the Windows VPN system.
Error 691: Access was denied because the username and/or password was invalid on the domain.
This can be caused simply by elevating the VPN server’s LM authentication level to 5, which refuses the NTLM protocol. According to KB823659 requiring NTLMv2 should not break Windows XP connections unless older systems are involved. However, this configuration does cause client and server authentication errors.
What’s big and slow and rarely ever useful? For one thing, the software that comes with every desktop-grade Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) made by APC. This isn’t news. I know APC would like nothing more than to have me buy a more expensive piece of hardware that I don’t need, just to get the useful software that I do need.
Enter APCUPSD with USB support for Windows. It’s free. It’s open source. It’s probably not supported by APC, but if you’ve ever tried to get tech support for a desktop-grade APC unit that was connected to a server, you already know APC isn’t going to help you with computer problems. This free piece of software makes my UPS more useful than just a battery with a power switch. Now I can have my server send a text message to my mobile phone whenever a blackout strikes my area. I can see live power management statistics from any web browser in the world, including the one on my phone. I have fewer things to monitor with regard to uptime, and I love it.