Navigating the I-94 Emergency Route

miqrogroove
2012-06-17T01:52:54+00:00
A portion of the map of I-94 Emergency Route between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, Michigan.

E-Route Map Preview

The I-94 Emergency Route in Michigan, also known as Emergency Interstate 94, is a series of public highways that parallel I-94 across most of southern Michigan.  It is sometimes necessary to use this second route due to accidents, planned lane closures, or other traffic jams.  Without the secondary highway, the alternatives would involve driving on gravel roads or going far off course to get to a different freeway.  On the other hand, with a parallel highway available, getting around problems on the road should be easy.

In theory, this is a great system of redundancy for transportation.  But in practice, nobody actually knows where the Emergency Route is located!  That’s because the route was never published on any road map.  Ask any road warrior of southwest Michigan about the Emergency Route, and they will probably tell you about the times when they had to get off the Interstate and try to find their way through scenery of unfamiliar farms and small towns.  That’s what it feels like during the day, with plenty of gas in the tank.  Attempt this at night, and it becomes too intimidating for most drivers.

A favorite story of my own is about the night I was driving west from Ann Arbor in moderate Art Fair traffic.  There was a major accident near Exit 139 and I encountered a total closure of the westbound side of the Interstate at that point.  I knew all I had to do was turn south and then find my way back to the Interstate farther west where it was still open.  I might have been the only person around who knew how to do this, though.  Nobody was smart enough to follow me on my detour, and when I rejoined the westbound lanes, I was the only driver on that side for miles.  Even the truckers were turning around and heading back east.

To make commuting easier, I created my own map of I-94 to keep in the car with me.  I’m going to share it now for personal use by fellow drivers.

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17 Jun 2012

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Places To Go

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Don’t Use min-width Media Queries

miqrogroove
2012-03-16T01:31:24+00:00
Opera Mini Screen Shot

Mobile Friendly

Two weeks ago, I tried to point out a shortcoming of example CSS code over at the Opera.com website.

The point in question was the use of the “min-width Media Query” which I felt was incompatible with Internet Explorer.

Since this is tricky to describe without drawing a picture, I decided to set up a few sample web pages here to serve as a live demonstration of the problem.

The demo is: My min-width Media Query Test Case

For readers uninterested in the demo or the raw code, I am providing a set of screen shots below to fully illustrate the results.

My scenario begins with a page that looks fine in most browsers, but renders poorly in Opera Mini, a mobile web browser.

In an attempt to make the page mobile friendly, I used the min-width CSS media query to cause Opera Mini to ignore parts of the code.  Unfortunately, this rendered poorly in Internet Explorer 8 and older versions.

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16 Mar 2012

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Systems Engineering

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XMB Forum Offline

miqrogroove
2012-02-01T14:52:47+00:00
XMB Logo

XMB

The open source community website for eXtreme Message Board forum software went down Friday afternoon.  It is now going on two days of down time, and has been replaced by an “Apache 2 Test Page.”

I wanted to share the news and offer a place for comments.  I am one of the more active members of the community and already received some inquiries about this.

My position as a volunteer developer actually does not include administration of the xmbforum.com server computer.  I was informed yesterday that the server was no longer running and would be restored from a backup copy.  However, there is no current estimate for when the restoration will be done.

Update: A new server has been established at www.xmbforum2.com

22 Jan 2012

Category:
Website Updates

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Photo Privacy Broken on Facebook Timeline

miqrogroove
2012-01-10T16:31:14+00:00
Facebook Profile with sensitive areas blurred

My Public Profile Should Not Look Like This

Have you ever added one of your photos to a Facebook group?  If yes, you might want to delete your photo albums right now.  I discovered today that the Facebook privacy settings for photos do not work.

Inspired by a discussion about social media I heard on NPR, I went into Facebook to do a thorough check and re-check of all of my privacy settings.  Guess what?

Dozens of photos I have on my Timeline are now publicly available.  >:{  Every one of those photos is set to “Friends” only privacy.  When I click the “View As…” option and then “Public”, all of those photos are now appearing on my public Timeline profile.

To confirm this, I registered a fake account that has no friends.  I viewed my own profile using that new account and a different web browser.  When I scrolled down far enough on the Timeline, my old photos started showing up to this newly registered user!

The fake user gets nothing by clicking on the “Photos” section near the top, suggesting this bug is specific to the new Timeline profile feature.

In an unsuccessful attempt to hide the photos, I used my real account to reset the album privacy to “Only Me”.  At this point, the photos were still appearing in the public preview as well as the fake account viewing my real profile.

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10 Jan 2012

Category:
Security

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Server Monitoring Through DD-WRT

miqrogroove
2013-08-18T19:09:04+00:00
DD-WRT Commands screen with a server monitoring script.

Powerful Little Script

Happy New Year!  I’m kicking off my 2012 blog entries with a fun little hack for Linksys routers.

There are plenty of articles on the web about using DD-WRT to enable router monitoring.  I decided to turn this idea on its head and use my router for server monitoring!  When I realized DD-WRT comes with a sendmail command, I knew this was going to be quick and easy to set up.

This is great for anyone who would like their celly to light up as soon as something goes wrong with an important computer or website.  All of the needed software is already built in to compatible routers, so there is no need to purchase or install a dedicated monitoring system on a separate computer.

By following these easy steps, you can create your own reliable monitoring service.

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1 Jan 2012

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Systems Engineering

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SSDI Gone in Censorship Scandal

miqrogroove
2011-12-27T16:46:19+00:00
Screen shot of the SSDI website.

SSDI, Rest in Peace

Massive Loss to Genealogists Everywhere

In my ongoing research of personal genealogy and family history, I can honestly say that no single record set had been more valuable to me than the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) database that was freely available on the RootsWeb website.  I attributed no less than 193 individual citations to this database, just in my own family tree.

While conducting such research during this winter break, I was shocked to see this message appear on RootsWeb:

Due to sensitivities around the information in this database, the Social Security Death Index collection is not available.

I was further shocked to learn that this database take down was initiated by the United States Senate.  I cannot avoid decrying censorship.  The SSDI has become a national treasure of historical information, and to even propose blocking its public use is a violation of our guaranteed freedoms.

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27 Dec 2011

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Opinion

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PERT Chart With Nodes

miqrogroove
2011-12-05T18:21:33+00:00
PERT chart with nodes and a single task

PERT Chart

Visio 2010 is a great tool for designing PERT charts.  Since it lacks some of the shapes needed to easily add and connect nodes with other PERT items, I came up with a few tools to make it easier.

My step-by-step tutorial explains how to create nodes and connections that work seamlessly.  After completing these steps, you will have three new shapes to work with:

PERT Node, PERT Connector, and PERT Task.

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2 Dec 2011

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Systems Engineering

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Windows VPN Keep Alive

miqrogroove
2011-10-10T13:16:24+00:00
Batch file properties window.

Batch Shortcut

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:

  1. Set the VPN “idle time before hanging up” period to “5 minutes” instead of “never.”  This forces Windows to properly reflect any disconnection.
  2. Create a new batch file, which I have provided below.
  3. Edit the batch file to match the name and address of your connection.
  4. Create a desktop shortcut to the batch file.
  5. Edit the shortcut properties so that the batch automatically runs minimized with a nice icon.

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1 Nov 2011

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Systems Engineering

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Visio Shapes and Dashed Lines

miqrogroove
2012-11-20T19:32:14+00:00
Navigating the options: More Shapes > Visio Extras > Callouts

Shapes Menus

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.

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6 Oct 2011

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Systems Engineering

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Windows VPN Requires NTLMv1

miqrogroove
2015-08-28T20:36:06+00:00
LAN Manager authentication level set to Send NTLMv2 response onlyrefuse LM

Solution Screenshot

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.

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3 Sep 2011

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Systems Engineering

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