Cash For Clunkers Program

Subaru not qualified
Subaru not qualified

So, apparently today the government has  a program that will let you get a cash rebate if you trade in an old car for one that is newer and gets better gas mileage, up to $4,500 in some cases.  A free $4,500 towards the purchase of a new car is nothing to sneeze at so I went to the website to see if my car qualified for a trade in.  Apparently your car needs to be made within the last 25 years (since 1984) and its combined fuel economy needs to be 18 mpg or less.  My car passes the first test, it is a 1998 model, however, it just barely fails the second test.  My combined fuel economy is listed as 21 mpg (this is the average between city and highway).  So, basically, if I want to get a car with better fuel economy, I’m on my own.  Oh well, it was a nice idea.

WordPress, Hacking and Comments

My friend Mark Turner mentioned that he recently had his WordPress blog hacked by someone that used the ability to be able to log into his blog to upload a rootkit shell to his server.  While talking with him over email to get my account on his blog back up, I suggested to him that he look into what I’ve done with my blog: switch from using standard wordpress comments to using the Intense Debate plugin to handle all comments.  I found out about it from my friend Nick’s blog where he mentioned using it.  Intense Debate can import all your existing WordPress comments and then handle all new ones.  In addition, users can choose to have replies to their comments emailed to them.  Also, comments can be threaded so you can see how the conversation is flowing.  Overall, I think, it makes for a better commenting system than the default one that comes with WordPress.

But, the thing that is really applicable in Mark’s case is that by letting Intense Debate handle the comments, they also handle all the user accounts and you can turn off the ability for people to register for accounts locally on your WordPress instance.  So, where in Mark’s case people were able to compromise his system because they had registered an account on the system, this would not be a problem if he were using the ID plugin.

Anyway, I have absolutely no relationship with Intense Debate other than the fact that I use their WordPress plugin, but I do like it quite a bit and so thought I would post about it in case other people didn’t know about it.

Hubble Space Telescope

Generally, when I work I have streaming radio on in the background.  I generally listen to either my local NPR station or Pandora. Today, however, instead of radio, I’ve had NASA TV up in a little corner of my window watching the space shuttle astronauts in their first of several spacewalks to repair and rejuvenate the Hubble Space Telescope.  While the endless hours of it (the spacewalk itself was over seven hours) could be a bit boring, it was pretty cool to be able to glance over every now and then and get the same view the astronaut in space was getting (since they were feeding directly from his helmet camera).  In addition, NASA TV provided commentary that explained what each step the astronaut was doing which really helped to make sense of things.

The NASA astronauts will be doing several more spacewalks over the next few days as they continue working on Hubble.  Since this will be the last time anyone from earth visits Hubble,  they definitely want to make any and all repairs possible right now.  If you’ve got a good internet connection and are intersted in the space program, you might also find it interesting to throw up one of NASA TV’s video stream to listen to and glance over at during the day.

BarCampRDU 2009

For the last three years I’ve had a lot of fun attending and presenting at BarCampRDU. BarCamp is what’s known as an “unconference” where the entire content of the conference is organized the day of the event. Imagine, if you will, a conference crossed with a wiki and you’ve basically got BarCamp. The first two years of BarCampRDU I taught Juggling. Last year I simply attended. This year I’m not sure what I’ll do, but I’d like to present something. We’ll see. I’ve got three months to think about it. If you might be interested in attending BarCampRDU 2009, go register here. Unlike previous years, registration this year is not on the wiki. Instead, we’re using EventBrite this year. Registration is still free, but make sure to get in early before all 200 spots are gone!

Laptop Repair

So, after getting my laptop hard drive replaced last week, today I have an appointment at the Genius Bar to see about getting my top case and hopefully my battery replaced. This is the same repair jklGoDuke had done on her laptop last week. The Apple store at Crabtree Mall in Raleigh was able to perform the repair the same afternoon that we dropped off her laptop, so hopefully it will be able to do the same for me today. I’m definitely glad to be getting it repaired as my Applecare runs out this coming June. I’m starting to wonder just how much I might be able to get for my laptop if I were to sell it and put the money towards a new laptop. Of course, what I’d like to have is a 15 inch MacBook Pro but the $2000 price tag is fairly daunting. Still, it might be worth looking into. But, the first step is to get the cracks in the top case repaired and the battery replaced.

Laptop Hard Drive Restore

My replacement laptop drive arrived this evening. I went ahead and stopped DiskWarrior. It had been running for about 94 hours without finishing and, in fact, I had to shut down the computer to stop it. 🙁 Installing the new drive went quickly but in the process I noticed that my battery is just starting to bulge! J’s battery was bulging a lot more when she got it replaced on Tuesday but I’m thinking I don’t want to let this progress very far. I already wanted to take the MacBook in to fix cracks in the top case near the keyboard so I’ll try to take care of both problems at once.

In any case, the laptop is currently restoring from Time Machine backup and it looks like it’s going to take 10-12 hours. Apparently my last backup was on March 30 so I’ll lose a little over 2 weeks of data. Also since I didn’t get my iPhone until April 2 I’ll have to set that up again (and I’ll probably need to recreate my custom ringtones). Hopefully that won’t be too much of a problem.