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MacBook Pro vs. Dell E1705

I recently purchased a new Dell Inspiron E1705 machine. It's got a nice intel dual core processor, 1GB of fast RAM, a 60GBSATA hard drive, and most importantly a bright 17" screen. Fancy smancy.

At the time I was debating about getting a MacBook pro - basically the same set of specifications, but about $1000 more money.

One concern I had about the Dell was I heard that their support had gotten worse recently, so I purchased the extra 2 year support contract.

I really wanted a Mac - the OS features are great now that they've got BSD underneath it all and with Intel processors it seemed like it would be speedy yet battery friendly. Turns out that MacBook owners are not the happiest bunch of folks.

First, I read about how crappy apple support can be which is really sad. If it were the Dell he would have known that he was purchasing a specific level of support. My level of support - for something like $70 - got me 2 years of next day on site service. I have a problem, I call, I run through troubleshooting over the phone, if it's still busted (like his) someone is in my house the next day to fix it. None of this "sorry, genius bar is busy goofing off".

I've also read about heat problems on the MacBooks - those are pretty standard complaints about it at this point including this guys point that if you don't have a lap tray it will burn your nuts. Sweet.

Finally, today I got sent a link to this video of a MacBook Pro that refuses to come out of sleep. The best thing about that video - it's hosted on a homepage. Priceless.

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Improve Drupal Without Any Work

Lots of times people will ask open source projects how they can help if they aren't a coder. Generally every person can review documentation, help with translations to other languages, maybe donate some money, help with bug triage, and of course do person-to-person evangelism.

feedback loops

Feedback loops are the system where feedback about an item is given back to the originator of that item. So, at a restaurant the feedback loop might be from the chef's meal, to your table, to your comment to the waiter, back to the chef. That is fairly tight and it helps the restaurant become better.

In fast food restaurants the feedback loop is long - the chef prepares the food, you get it at the drive through, you eat it, and then maybe a week later you mention to the drive through attendant what you think about the food. She has no idea who your chef was last time and can't do anything about it. This is a "large" feedback loop and is not constructive.

Generally speaking, it's better to have a tight feedback loop

Helping Drupal by closing a feedback loops

In the case of Drupal, a quick change in your module configuration helps the Drupal developers know the most popular modules and themes. Knowing the most popular modules and themes in turn lets developers know where to spend more of their time in debugging, adding features, and improving code. The system works by sending a message back to the server letting the server know which modules and themes are enabled, a little bit about the number of users and visitors your site has, and your email address/site slogan/mission. This information is only used in aggregate to help guide resources. Currently, the subject of which modules are used is hard to guess - modules are frequently downloaded, tested out, and discarded so download numbers are unrelaible. This system is a vast improvement on the "download frequency" test.

In a patch to the welcome message, Khalid Baheyeldin of 2bits Drupal consulting has provided these instructions on the welcome page to urge users to enable this feature. It's possible that in future versions it will be enabled by default.

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Denver Residential Block Beautification Program

The Denver Residential Block Beautification Program is a grant system for public area improvements within certain neighborhoods.

Eligibility Areas

The program is available to residential blocks with 51 percent or more of the residents are low or moderate income based upon census block group data. The actual monetary threshold is not stated in the informational brochure that I have. The neighborhoods that are eligible coincide with neighborhoods I recognize from Piton foundation maps that have recently had ~25% of residents under the poverty line. So, it's basically a way for poor people in poor neighborhoods to get some grant money to improve the public lands on their street. Examples of the public land are the curbs, sidewalks, and the "street lawn" which is the area of plantings that is between the curb and the sidewalk.

Eligible projects

Eligible projects include a variety of things such as sidewalk replacement where there are cracks, curb cuts to make sidewalks more wheelchair and stroller accessible, and to either install or remove trees from the street lawn.

You can also get the city to install sod in your street lawn. You can not get the city to install other plants in the street lawn.

This is the "Denver" residential program, but the use of the word "Denver" in the title is about the end of the regional personalization that was given to this program. Denver is a dessert. Sod is not a good idea. If you go to the Denver Water site you can see that the major issue for them is water conservation. They have articles on the limit for number of days watering per week, about "Xeriscape" a type of gardening in low water environments that was invented specifically for the Colorado dessert environment, and rebates for the purchase of new "low water use" systems.

So, while the folks at Denver Water are trying to figure out how to motivate customers to use less water, the folks in the Block Beautification Program are working to make sure each resident uses more water than necessary.

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Denver International Program

There is an organization called Denver International Program that seems to be related to the University of Denver. They offer a variety of services for adult professionals from other countries to come to Denver, have a homestay, and be mentored by a local business.

Seeing as how Nikki and I and our businesses are focused on international trade, cultural literacy, and community this seems like a great organization.

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crazy browser stuff

EDIT: like this? Digg it.

I get asked questions - and now I'm answering them here to share the knowledge beyond the emails.

Today one of my coffee group reported the following:

1. He was trying to sign up for {online service} and was asked the usual

information and also he birth date and sex (not gender, as that only

applies to language usage).

2. He questioned the need for this and tried to submit the request

without it. He was rejected and told to fill out those boxes.

3. He called the {online service} and was told that they do not request that

info, that his browser had added it to their website. He was told that

if he did not believe them, he could try logging on to their website

through another browser and see.

4. He tried using MSN and IE and, lo and behold, the questions were

not there. They had been there when he used AOL.

Our question to you: Is this possible? How can this be?

This is interesting, and very possible.


There was clearly something malicious going on that didn't involve the {online service} system. It could have been an extra entry in his hosts file or it could have been some software that watches your browser and whenever you type in {online service} it adds in some extra fields and redirects the form to somewhere else. The malicious software could have gotten there from hundreds of different ways including security flaws in IE and/or Windows. It could have gotten there because this person downloaded some "fun" software for their machine and installed that (and the fun software had malicious software inside it).

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