UPS Replacement and APCUPSD for Windows

After replacing a UPS device, Windows may automatically delete the APCUPSD USB driver.  When the computer boots up, the tray icon status will say “Network Error” and three errors will be logged in the Windows Event Viewer.

To restore APCUPSD to online status, simply re-install the USB driver by following the manual installation instructions.  That information can be found in the program directory.  For example, C:\Program Files\apcupsd\driver\install.txt  In a nutshell, you need to look in the system’s Device Manager.  If there is an item in the Human Interface Devices group named “American Power Conversion USB UPS” then the desired driver is missing.  Right click that item, click “Update driver” and then pick the correct driver.

After restoring the driver, restart the APCUPSD service by using the “Start Apcupsd” shortcut in the Start menu, or by using the Services administrative tool.

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Merry Christmas

Screen shot showing with the Christmas 2012 theme.In celebration of winter break, I decided to change my website’s blue marble theme to a deck-the-halls / red glow motif.

May the warm colors bring you a festive mood!

Credit for the background image goes to AreteStock at DeviantArt.  She has generously licensed her work for free use.

Also new here is the upgraded WordPress 3.5, to which I made some small but very important contributions.  Any WordPress author should be happy to know that I found and patched a bug that prior to version 3.5 caused WordPress to say your draft work had been saved automatically, when in fact WordPress was automatically discarding your work all along.  I first noticed the bug in September when my website ate a fairly long article to which I had devoted some hours.  I resolved the bug in the new version by removing the code that was causing the problem.

While tinkering with themes and WordPress, I also adjusted the printer styles so that it will be easier to print articles from this website.

Happy Holidays!

Galileo Offline Maps

Galileo Offline Maps logo screen shot
It’s free on iOS devices.

Galileo is my favorite GPS moving map for driving unfamiliar roads.  It’s installed on my iPad, which is much easier to carry and charge in the car than a laptop GPS system.

Here are a few pros and cons to this application, as well as a comparison to ForeFlight and Apple Maps.  Why these three choices?  Among the many mapping applications I’ve looked at and tried out, these are the only three  I still have on my iPad.


  • Quick start up.
  • Fast and smooth panning and zooming.
  • Intuitive map caching.
  • Try before you buy.  All except a few features work in the free version.
  • Uses the best maps, and you can edit them if they need changes.

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Retina Gravatars

I’ve released a new HiDPI Gravatars plugin for WordPress.  This is a slick website add-on for the iPad/iPhone audience, and future high-resolution displays.  Download the plugin here.

In addition to my regular blogging homework, I am doing some coding behind the scenes to make sure my classmates will be able to easily read and respond to articles using mobile devices and the latest web browsers.  HiDPI support is one of the main new features of the upcoming WordPress 3.5.  When I found out the Gravatar feature won’t be upgraded in the next version, I decided to write my own solution.

I also updated my Simple Short Links plugin, so if you want to share this article with a friend, you can also send this shorter address,

Split Tunnel VPN, Part 2

Diagram of the split tunnel VPN configuration that does not require static routing
Updated Split Tunnel Design

Two years ago, I devised a Windows XP split tunneling solution that involved static routing.  That solution had the advantage of being cheap, but also had the disadvantage of scaling poorly with any number of client computers.

Now I have a second solution that eliminates the static routing problems.

While researching new VPN security issues recently, I came across an obscure piece of information about the Windows VPN client.  It is nestled cryptically in this one sentence from a Microsoft whitepaper:

When the Use default gateway on remote network check box is cleared, a default route is not created, however, a route corresponding to the Internet address class of the assigned IP address is created.

Absent any other explanation, that sentence requires some mental gymnastics to understand.  Allow me to help with this.

Continue reading Split Tunnel VPN, Part 2

How to Secure a Windows VPN with PEAP

Authentication Methods page in the RRAS Remote Access Policy Wizard
Setting up PEAP

In light of last month’s announcement by Moxie Marlinspike and David Hulton that they developed a method for decrypting Windows VPN traffic in under 24 hours, it is now important to stop using MS-CHAPv2 as a means of authenticating VPN passwords.

There is a relatively simple fix for this.  Microsoft VPN servers have the ability to authenticate passwords using another protocol called PEAP, also known as PEAP-EAP-MSCHAPv2.  The only reason one might avoid using PEAP in the first place is that the Microsoft documentation is confusing and describes a requirement for Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) deployment.  The PKI as described in Deploying Remote Access VPNs requires anywhere from one to three servers just to issue certificates.  However, it only specifies the PKI requirement for a slightly different protocol called EAP-TLS.

To be clear, PEAP does not require a full-blown PKI or even an internal Certificate Authority.  You can, in fact, use the same certificate that has been, or would be, issued to a web server for SSL encryption.  There is no reason to add a second certificate just for a VPN server.  This also means there is no investment required in PKI if a free certificate issuer is used, such as

Below is a brief tutorial for configuring an existing RRAS installation with PEAP-MS-CHAPv2.

Continue reading How to Secure a Windows VPN with PEAP

Facebook Disables Options, Floods News Feed

The News Feed settings menu.
These Don’t Work Anymore

Facebook recently rolled out changes to its News Feed feature, making it controversial and difficult to use again.

  • When your friends click “Like” on an item posted by someone who is a stranger to you, that story is now added to your News Feed.
  • These “Like” stories now comprise the majority of News Feed items, flooding the home page with irrelevant images and branding.
  • The settings that were designed to remove these stories no longer work.

When I log in to Facebook now, I am bombarded by photographs posted by people I have never heard of in my life.  My friends are clicking the “Like” button on these photos, causing them to appear on my News Feed.

What this problem means for me is that even though my friends sometimes exercise good taste, we do not have the same taste.  The images in my News Feed now frequently contain profanity, political messages, corporate branding, and other unwanted or randomly useless information.

And it’s not just me.  The News Feed became such an annoyance yesterday that I wrote about it on my Facebook profile, which quickly received replies from friends having the same problem.

In the past, unwanted posts could be permanently blocked by adjusting the feed settings.  Now Facebook has gone too far.  They have broken all of the settings listed under “What types of updates” to receive from friends.  Even though I have “Comments and Likes” turned off for many of my friends, I am still getting a flood of their unwanted activity updates.

Continue reading Facebook Disables Options, Floods News Feed

Radar Loop of $25 Million Wind Storm

Thumbnail preview of the radar.
Centered on the Battle Creek Airport

Ever wonder what happened to that storm from last year?  Well, the trees have been removed and the damage repaired.  I heard the storm caused over $25 million worth of damage but was not classified as a tornado.  When a twister touches down on the earth, trees end up thrown in every direction.  If that type of wreckage is not found, then the storm is merely a severe wind event.  Still, it only takes one look at a storm like this to know to stay out of its way.

I recently familiarized myself with the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in the hope that I could find an easy way to grab a local 24-hour radar loop.  I didn’t really find what I was looking for because the NCDC Archive is more vast than fast.  While I was experimenting, I grabbed the data for this memorable day back in 2011 and put together a nice animation from it.

My Radar Loop From May 29, 2011 (5 MB animated GIF)

You may be unfamiliar with this type of radar, so I will point out a few of the cool things that can be seen here.

This is a “radial velocity” loop, which has different coloring from a typical “reflectivity” radar image.  Instead of showing where the rain clouds are located, this imagery shows how fast the rain clouds are moving by putting brighter colors on faster clouds.  This is useful for distinguishing strong storms and tornadoes from an average thunderstorm.  Otherwise, they would all have the same reflectivity and look identical to each other on the usual radar.

Radial velocity works perfectly for this particular storm for two reasons:  1. The storm is moving from west to east and, 2. The storm is positioned due south of the radar station as it forms.  This sets up a right angle between the storm’s overall motion and the radar beam, causing any wind shear within the storm to appear in full contrasting colors on the image.  As the storm moves toward the east sector of the radar scope, the angle of the radar beam changes, causing the color contrast to gradually decrease.  The maximum value recorded on this loop was +40 m/s, meaning 90 miles per hour away from the station!

White Templates for GoodNotes

Screen shot of the template import screen in GoodNotes.
Template Import

I’m playing with a note taking application for iPad called GoodNotes. It has a lot of potential to help replace notebooks for homework. It requires some customization because the default templates have a beige background. Beige is easier to look at on a bright computer screen, but it is impractical when printing. The built-in solution seems to be to export “notes only”. However, I have mixed feelings about printing handwritten notes from lined paper that has no lines.

Here are my customized templates, based on the built-in options, with the background color removed for better printing.

iPad-Size Templates

Portrait Landscape
PDFRuled (lined paper) PDFLandscape Ruled
PDFSquared (graph paper) PDFLandscape Squared
PDFMusic (staff paper) PDFLandscape Music
PDFBlank PDFLandscape Blank
PDFWide Ruled PDFManuscript Ruled
PDFDouble Ruled

Continue reading White Templates for GoodNotes