Pablo's Mission Planning Website
Greetings Mission Planners,
On the SRTM News Front, NASA and the USGS have released the SRTM data (not in DTED format) on the internet. Details are available at http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/srtm/.
The July EChum is available here. No DAFIF updates for now.
Mission Planning Tip: PFPS Defaults
You go to a great deal of trouble to setup the defaults for PFPS and FalconView. You set the default aircraft, airbase, doghouse type, forms, chart scales, fonts etc. , but when you turn around everything's been reset to 'Generic Aircraft' and 'KVPS'. What up?
PFPS stores defaults in three different locations and each location behaves differently. The way defaults work today is under scrutiny and there's hope that some of these problems can be addressed in version 4.x and JMPS 1.3, but only if you tell your Service/MAJCOM that this stuff matters!.
Windows Registry Software Settings - HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\PFPS
Before Windows 95 each program stored its settings in individual ini (initialization) files. This led to a plethora of ini files stuck all over. In Windows 95, MS tried to rationalize the settings by placing them in a consolidated file, the Windows Registry. The Registry has several areas. The HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE area has settings that apply to a particular computer and are persistent for all users. Items that PFPS stores in this part of the registry include:
If you add a map data path and someone else logs on, that map data path is still on the FalconView list.
PFPS Routesvr.mdb ( in the \PFPS\Data\Defaults Directory)
The Routesvr file contains defaults associated with the route server. These are the nuts and bolts defaults for a particular aircraft, i.e. weight limits, speed limits, default fuel load, default cargo/SCL load, default Hemisphere for coordinate entry etc. These defaults are specific to each individual aircraft. If you have the C-130 default coordinates set up for North and East (N/E) and switch aircraft to the MH-53M, the defaults will return to North and West (N/W - the default default for these values). Does this really make sense? Well no, but that's the way it was coded a long time ago.
The Routesvr settings are persistent between users. After you setup your aircraft defaults you can copy the routesvr.mdb file to move the settings, but be careful! The format of the Routesvr.mdb file changes between each version of PFPS so only copy between the same version of PFPS (i.e. 3.2 to 3.2, 3.3 to 3.3 etc.). Remember you'll overwrite the defaults on any machine you copy the file to.
PFPS Update 1.2 (and beyond) automates copying the Routesvr.mdb file between PC's. First switch to advanced mode:
Now check "Defaults" and the source machine's routesvr.mdb file will be copied over to replace the one in PFPS Update's destination path:
If you see any PFPS delivery defaults for aircraft that are incorrect, send your feedback to the 46TS. They can adjust the delivery default values in future versions of PFPS/JMPS after checking that your suggested values are within the limits of the FPM (Flight Performance Model) and receiving independent confirmation that your suggested values are commonly agreed on within your fleet.
Windows Registry User Settings - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\PFPS
The vast majority of the PFPS defaults are found here in the Current User section of the registry. The defaults include (but aren't limited to):
This list only scratches the surface of what's stored in this section of the registry. Each setting will be specific to the user who logged on. To put it another way, each user will have to set up their own options on each machine they logon to.
Example: You deploy to Base X. The first thing you do is launch CFPS System Admin and change the default airfield to your new ICAO. Pilot Pete logs in, starts a new route and finds the first point is still set to your "old" home station. Newguy Ned arrives in the squadron and logs onto the Mission Planning Computers. All of his defaults are set to factory delivery (Generic Aircraft, Eglin etc.) so you spend the next 15 minutes trying to set him up with the Squadron defaults. Despite your best efforts, you have to spend the next month fixing other 'things' that come up when he's planning.
Windows 2000/XP Issues With PFPS 3.1.2 (which no US Agency should be using)
With Windows 2000, Microsoft locked down access to the values stored in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE section of the registry. By default only administrators and power users can make changes. With PFPS 3.1.2 (isn't supposed to happen in PFPS 3.2 and beyond) this seriously messes up PFPS unless you're logged in as the administrator or power user. You can't add (or delete) FalconView map data paths, you can't change the local point file, you can't turn on/off negative fuel calculations etc. Fortunately there's a way around the problem.
Have an administrator log on to the computer and run "regedt32" - this should not be confused with the normal "regedit" used to edit the registry. FYI, you can get the "Run" dialog to appear really quick by pressing the funky "Windows" key and the "R" key at the same time, i.e. "Windows-R".
Browse to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\PFPS section and select Security -Permissions from the menu:.
Change the permissions to give any 'User' full access to these registry keys. This lets normal users make changes to the PFPS section of the registry:
What happened in PFPS 3.2? When you install PFPS 3.2 you also set the registry permissions appropriately - however there have been reports of the same problems occurring with PFPS 3.2 on some machines. What's likely happening is a default security setting is being reapplied to all the keys and short circuiting the "fix" that the PFPS 3.2 install had implemented. If this is happening to you then explain your problem to your system administrator so they can determine why/how the PFPS Permissions are being overridden. The same fix discussed above will work for PFPS 3.2 if necessary. Be sure your Administrator understands it's much more secure to change registry permissions for a small section of the registry than to give every user Local Administrator privileges.
Is this is security problem/violation? I can't see how. All the user can do is make changes to the PFPS section of the registry - the same permissions they had in WinNT.
Setting Up a Default Profile
You'll have to be an Administrator, or have one to help to do this trick. Create a new user profile (user = pfpsgeneric). Log in under the new profile. Set up PFPS like you'd want it to run for any new users.
Windows NT: Under C:\winnt\profiles there is a Default User profile. There should also be a folder for the new person you just created (pfpsgeneric). Copy the contents of this new profile into the Default User profile.
Windows 2000/XP: In the "C:\Documents and Settings" folder there's a Default User profile. Copy the contents of the pfpsgeneric profile to the default user profile in the same directory.
Now each time Windows creates a new profile the PFPS defaults now contained in the Default User profile. Unfortunately this trick doesn't work for people who've already logged onto a computer.
The Future of Defaults
This tip may look very familiar to some of you since I plagiarized most of it from a tip I wrote in December 2001. Unfortunately the default situation hasn't improved much since then. The root cause of the problem is Windows itself. Microsoft designed Windows to adjust for each individual so everyone can have Windows the way they want, with their own desktop, own documents, own email folders and own program settings. Another way to say this is that Microsoft doesn't want some idiot logging onto "your" computer and screwing up your stuff beyond recognition.
Unfortunately this is exactly the way we don't want things in Mission Planning. We want the one smart person to setup the PFPS defaults and have them apply no matter who logs on.
The only good news is we now know exactly how to fix the problem. Instead of having the preferences tied to a Windows logon let the user create different "profiles" that could be selected from inside PFPS. You might have a "Cross Country" profile, a "Low Level" profile, a "BFM" profile etc. When you selected a profile your defaults would be adjusted to the settings you'd previously saved. The profiles could be copied between machines so you'd only have to set them up once, and only on one machine. If someone screwed up the defaults you'd copy over the default file you kept stashed on the network or on your thumb drive. Unfortunately there's no money to actually do any of this. Time for the bakesale...
Next time I'll talk about how you can use PFPS Update to get around some of these problems.