User Alert! Avoid Password Problems: READ THIS!

We've chosen to make the final change for full multi-case account password support separate from actual CMS changes because it involves the strangeness of human perceptions. What? What kind of opening sentence is this? Here's the deal:

On October 31, we put the new 'Cloud" CMS server cluster online. It supports full upper- and lower-case account passwords. The old CMS servers did not.
Ok. For now this works with present gateway and client programs that were designed for compatibility with the old system. User passwords in accounts created before the change are stored using UPPERCASE alpha characters. Client and gateway programs (including the web site) automatically change a user's password entries to UPPERCASE characters then submit them to the CMS, which matches what's held in the CMS account. No problem.

Now we want to change clients and gateway programs to take full advantage of the multi-case password capability in the new CMS. Your passwords are pretty weak without it, and this is today's best practice. We could simply remove the automatic UP-casing that programs perform and all will be well, right? Not so fast.

The problem is that we get used to doing things one way and resist change. We need to recalibrate user's minds with what their passwords really are, so they use the tools we provide correctly. Example:

You created your account and entered password: "abc1234**$". It was changed automatically, then saved at the CMS as "ABC1234**$". You may or may not have understood that all passwords were in UPPERCASE. After that you got used to entering "abc1234**$", and even if you understood your password was correctly in uppercase, you soon forgot, and always entered "abc1234**$". It worked.

Now we remove automatic up-casing, and it throws an error: PASSWORD INCORRECT. Confusion. Rage. We're all human. Those who know what's going on will adapt and change. Most won't, at least not before tying up our meager support resources!

So, on January 31, 2018 we will be simultaneously releasing new client and gateway programs that fully support mixed-case account passwords. They will no longer automatically up-case your entry. You must know what your password really is. We've asked our third-party developers to do the same with their programs. Most will detect a password error and offer a helpful explanation of the change. Most will ask you to CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD, to help recalibrate your mind to what your password really is.

You'll be able to change your password--with full mixed-case support--at the log-in page [My account] https://winlink.org after January 30, 2018. The web site login form itself will also be changed on January 31st, so you'll need to enter your password WITH ALL CAPS if you get a password failure!

Meanwhile, if you continue to use an older version of a client program after January 31st, all should be well as long as you do not change your password! If you do, be sure to update your software, too!

This article is all the help we can offer if you get mixed up. We hope you understand.

--The Winlink Development Team

In your seasonal giving, please remember ARSFI.

Once again the year is coming to a close, and it is the season of giving to charities. For United States federal taxpayers, this means a tax deduction deadline is approaching as well. After December 31, you can not deduct a donation to the Amateur Radio Safety Foundation for the 2017 tax year. And if things go as they seem in Congress, perhaps never again.

ARSFI enjoys the financial support of about one fourth-to one third of Winlink's users. Conversely, besides generous gateway sysops, three quarters of all who use the Winlink Global Radio Email service don't participate to keep it running--in any way. If you are in this category, that's okay, but it does not help to pay the bills, now or into the future. Please consider making a small donation of whatever you can afford this year (tax deductible, for sure), or purchasing a $24 Winlink Express or WINMOR registration key for your software (check with your tax advisor about deductibility). You may not get the benefit of a tax deduction again.

Please go to https://arsfi.org to make easy donations or to purchase a registration key.

If you're among those generous contributors who have helped keep us on-air and on-line this year, thank you, sincerely. Without your financial contributions and the support from our dedicated gateway sysops, Winlink would not be the reliable global alternative for email without the internet that it is today. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Lor Kutchins, W3QA, NWL4KL
President,
Amateur Radio Safety Foundation, Inc.

For the entire Winlink Development Team

CMS Changes to AWS Cluster. Bye-Bye Wien, Perth, Halifax, SanDiego.

The Winlink Team (WDT) migrated the old familiar CMS servers to the new AWS 'Cloud' CMS on Tuesday, October 31, at 1600 UTC (Noon EDT).

By the look of our logs, 99.9 percent of users are using the system without issues. All changes have proven to be invisible (totally transparent) and present no problems for most users. There are always exceptions, however. Here are the issues affecting selected users that we've seen so far:

1) You will not be able to connect using telnet with a third-party program set to use an IP-numbered CMS address. You must use a fully qualified domain name in telnet settings. Now that we're post-change, we recommend 'cms.winlink.org' as a setting that will work into the future. Old CMS names will also work for at least one year after the transition, and will be phased out slowly as we detect their lack of use. These include 'server.winlink.org', 'perth.winlink.org', 'halifax.winlink.org', 'wien.winlink.org', 'sandiego.winlink.org', and a few others.

2) Although the change is totally transparent, this does not fool intelligent humans. Knowing about a change, we expect to see the change appearing in our program logs and displays! But unless you're using an updated client or gateway program or have already made changes as suggested above to a third party program, you will continue to make connections labeled by your program with the old names. You're really connecting to the new CMS cluster, but your old program is masking that (lying). Don't be confused! Just watch for a program update, and get it, or change your configuration if the program leaves it up to you. This goes for all programs until they are updated, including utilities like RMS Link Test.exe.

3) Also, the new CMS cluster is sensitive to both upper- and lower-case passwords for accounts. The old CMS was not. Your account, if already established on the old CMS, will always use upper case alpha characters in usernames (call signs) and passwords. Applications that connect to the old CMS, including this web site, often eased the user experience by accepting either, and then converted your input to upper case before submitting to the CMS. Accordingly, if your account is already established on the old CMS and was transitioned, be sure to use UPPER CASE alpha characters if you find your application is getting rejected when you try inputting lower case characters. This includes our new webmail app. If you can't make it work after trying the possibilities, contact a Winlink administrator, or post on the support reflector. This has nothing to do with the common Telnet 'password' CMSTELNET, used in manual Telnet configurations in Airmail and other programs.

4) We have discovered a bug in our new CMS code that caused a disconnect when resuming partial message transfers. The CMS would send the following during a connection:

FS YNY!500 [or similar]
*** Rejected 1 messages as duplicates.
*** Receiving 1VKOPWJODQ0T
*** Disconnected at 2017/11/02 18:45:21

*** Disconnect reported.

There is a CMS fix in place, being tested now. Reports requested.

5) We found a bug, fixed in the next version of Paclink, that caused telnet connections on the new CMS to fail with "***Telnet access code does not match - Disconnecting" when a MARS service code was used in the program. The workaround until the new version is released is to use a different service code, i.e. PUBLIC.

6) If you saved mail in folders on the old webmail app, it was not migrated to the new webmail app on the new system, nor will it be. We found that users did not manage their saved mail and generally never accessed it. It has not been destroyed. If you have something very important to recover, please contact us and we will locate it and send it to you.

7) Iridium GO users with RMS Express will need to update to Express version 1.5.9.4 and Iridium GO firmware version 1.5.2 to use a fix for a problem making Telnet connections to the new servers through our load balancer.

8) Users who have embedded Winlink maps or data in their own web pages will generally continue to pull from our servers without a problem because we have set redirects on the old servers. In embedded position reports that use the query string '?callsign=xxxx', the query string is not supplied to the new servers. For long-term reliability and complete compatibility, all users of embedded Winlink maps or data must update their web code to use new URLs. See the new URLs on the position reports page. Application developers using the Winlink API should contact your WDT contact for in-depth information about changes.

9) The web app called Sysop's Message Monitor returned the message "Unable to validate access to this application". This was a bug in the web site code that is now fixed.

Although the new servers have been under Beta test for a very long time, and a full-scale test was successful last summer, it's impossible to anticipate all issues with a complex system like Winlink. We will appreciate your reporting odd behavior to the Winlink-programs-group at google groups if you see anything questionable. You can navigate there with a click.

--The Winlink Development Team

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