All posts by Paul Ewert

After an introduction to SharePoint of "give me column-level security" in 2007, Paul Ewert has worn many SharePoint hats. He is presently a Sr. Dev Engineer at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A problem-solver at heart, Paul enjoys using his innate characteristics of diligence, determination, and technical analysis to create unique SharePoint solutions and share the discoveries that make us all more productive.

Park Clear of Highway

With the big storm coming in tomorrow, it’s a good time to remind everyone to park well off the highway. Snow plows will be coming through the canyon a lot tomorrow. As of this afternoon, several cars were parked along the highway which could be cited. If you park–or are parked–along the highway, make sure you are at least four feet away from the white line at the edge of the lane. Any closer and you will likely be seen as a hinderance to the plow drivers and may be ticketed.

Gate PINs Dead

Please don’t hate me. The gate software had a hidden secret the bit us this weekend. I’m still bleeding tears. Most of the PIN codes expired Saturday night (please at least read the red “good news” below).

I know, I reassured you this would not happen. I tested it multiple times using my own PIN code. I don’t know why the gate decided to do something different, but I do know how it did it. Before I dive into that—which most of you probably don’t care about, but I feel compelled to share—let me talk about where we go from here.

What now?

I am working with our gate installer—and potentially the software provider—to try to bring back the PIN codes. I spent five hours yesterday attempting three different solutions which all worked as tested them, but failed when I tried to implement them for everyone.

The good news: As of today (about 11:30 today, to be precise; due to mailings we put together on Saturday), all Association members have been mailed at least one key card. All key cards, fobs, and transmitters still work just fine. They were unaffected. We do have some PIN codes which still work (primarily our backup codes).

If you need to use a PIN in the next few weeks (this should be very few people), please contact Alicia, Angela, or Karl (see Contacts page) for a PIN code that still works. I will personally contact each person who has already contacted me (via email) with plans to use their PINs in the next few weeks. If you don’t hear from me via email by tomorrow, please reach out to me at beaverspringsranchassoc­@­gmail.com (please remember to type this address, not copy/paste).

How did this happen? (For the technically curious, and against advise at least one other person. If you’re not technically minded, I don’t recommend reading the rest of this post.)

I’m a software engineer of 13 years by trade. That means I know a lot more about software than the average Joe. It just so happens that the gate software is written in the same programming language and database software I use on the job.

When I first uploaded all the Association members to the gate software back in early October, I included a unique PIN number (the one sent to Association members by mail or email) along with the December 15, 2018, 10:00 PM, expiration date as per the decisions made by the Board. A few days later—after the October 6 letters were all sent—I noticed that the software had put the expiration date on the users. This meant all people were going to expire on December 15. Not good! I subsequently removed all the user expiration dates. Had I not, nobody except the admins would have been able to use the gate after the expiration date—PIN code or otherwise (on the bright side, I averted this disaster :->).

The gate software’s hidden secret was that it also put the December 15 expiration date on the PINs. Something it does not show in the software. When I removed the user expiration dates, it left the PIN expiration dates. The software provides no way to see this or change it.

When things went koo-koo yesterday, I dove into the software’s databases (something rarely recommended by software manufacturers) and found the hidden PIN expiration dates. Unfortunately, it was too late to change them. An earlier test which would be more supported by the manufacturer had shown I could remove all the PINs and then reset them in a two-step process. Step two, unfortunately, failed after I removed the expired PINs. Thus, I had no data left to simply change the expiration dates.

Overall, the gate simply refused and overrode my commands to re-set your original PIN numbers.

So, without going further into the details of my five-hour ordeal, the short of the matter is that we got hosed by the gate software. I did something the manufacturer obviously hasn’t thoroughly tested. I have a call in to our installer and may even be contacting the software manufacturer, myself. I have no idea if we’ll be able to restore all the old PIN codes.