Pablo's Mission Planning Website
Greetings Mission Planners,
I know you look forward to it, but there will be no EUROPESAC CD in September. What's a "EUROPESAC CD? It's a (mostly) monthly CD that contains European Special Area Charts, i.e. LFC's (1:500K) and TFC's (1:250K). No new paper charts were delivered so no new digital version is coming.
Phishing Phun: If you're like me your inbox is full of Spam and emailed viruses. Recently a new type of "gotcha" appeared. Instead of a clumsily crafted message you get a well worded email that appears to be from your Bank, Credit Card company, Internet Service Provider (ISP) or internet retailer. A recent example told me my credit card had expired and I needed to provide my ISP with updated information. The email had been built to appear exactly like one Earthlink would send, including logos and links. The link to update the credit card info said "earthlink.net", but took you to a webpage in South Korea that mimicked Earthlink's site. The only clue was the web address listed at the top of the web browser didn't say Earthlink. Always be suspicious of anyone you don't know asking for personal or financial information. You wouldn't give information like that out to someone knocking on your front door or someone who cold-called you. Treat emailed requests for information the same way. If the request appears to be valid go to the company website yourself (i.e. don't click on the link in the email), log on and check your account status. Still not sure? Call the company directly on their 800 number. For more information see this article. For a free tool to show what website you're actually connected to check out SpoofStick - Available for Internet Explorer and Firefox.
Interested in being an NGA Geospatial Analyst with the Rangers at Fort Benning? Click here.
As a friendly reminder, PFPS stands for "Portable Flight Planning Software", not "System." While the detail may seem minor, it has major consequences. Systems typically include hardware and infrastructure, but PFPS is a software program like from MS Office, Adobe Acrobat or FormFlow.
NGA has produced CADRG Image City Map's (ICM's) that can be used in FalconView. ICM's are highly detailed imagery with a "burned on" overlay of roads, rivers, populated areas etc. The points of interest are marked by a number like "65", but without the legend there's no way to tell what an item is. Fortunately NGA's ICM CD's include a "Legends" folder with subdirectories for each "paper" ICM. For example on the Iraq ICM CD you'll find a subdirectory "\Legends\Baghdad". The legends from the paper map are stored as JPEG's that can be viewed and printed on any PC. The file named "xxxxxP1.JPG" is the cross reference for the numbered items on the map. Don't have the ICM CD you need? The JPEG files are so small they can easily be emailed to you from someone at home station, or downloaded from NGA's FTP site on the SIPRNET. If you're using an Air Force Geospatial Product Library (GPL) you'll find "virtual CD's" (folders that mirror the contents of each NGA CD) in a different GPL section. Print the JPEG legends you need and keep them nearby while planning. NGA has organized and named the legend files so they can be imported and used by automated systems (think "right click - Get Map Info"), but until someone provides funding the legends will remain on a scrap of paper taped to your monitor (if you're lucky).
Mission Planning Tip: Opening Files in TaskView
Opening ATO/ACO files isn't exactly a new feature, but there's a lot of "new and improved" ways to do it in TaskView 3.3.1. Sure, you can still use TaskView's File - Open command, but you'll be making things hard on yourself ...
You can download the ATO (Air Tasking Order) and ACO (Airspace Coordination Order) from the Air Operations Center's (AOC) SIPRNET website. Each ATO cycle has its own web page with links to download the ATO/ACO and the ATO/ACO changes. Right click on the "Base" ATO file and select "Save Target As":
If you prefer to left click you'll get the window below. Click on "Save" and you'll do the same thing:
You'll need to decide where to save your ATO and ACO files. If you're downloading the files for yourself then you can put them in the default ATO/ACO directory (\PFPS\Data\ATO_ACO), but after a few days with 10+ change's per ATO cycle it'll become harder and harder to find the current files. I recommend creating a subdirectory for each ATO cycle (just like the AOC has a separate webpage for each cycle) - makes it easy to find that cycle's files later. If you're putting the files on a network drive (where they can be used by everyone) do the same thing:
When the download is complete Windows will let you know...
If TaskView isn't running click on "Open" and TaskView will launch and load the ATO:
Now that you've got the ATO it's time to download and save the ACO:
Since you've already opened the ATO don't click "Open":
What happens if you do click "Open"? The ACO file will open in a new TaskView window, but you need the ATO and ACO together in one place so they can share data. Instead of clicking "Open" click on "Open Folder". Arrange the Windows desktop so the ATO/ACO folder and TaskView are both visible. Point to the ACO file, hold down the left mouse button, drag the file to TaskView then release the left mouse button:
What about ATO and ACO changes, and what about ATO/ACO files that have different extensions (.doc or .txt)? You can "drag and drop" 'em too:
Of course most people won't have to download the ATO/ACO files - someone else (likely you) will have already put them in a network folder. Browse to the network ATO/ACO folder, start TaskView and drag all the files for the ATO cycle onto TaskView:
TaskView is smart enough to open the files in the correct order:
The ease of opening multiple files in TaskView 3.3.1 is worth the price of admission.