Gilbert Arizona School Official Looses Job Due To SETI@Home

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The Arizona Republic has an story about Brad Niesluchowski who worked for the Higley Unified School District and was fired for installing SETI@home, among other things. He appears to be some sort of administrator. There appear to be other charges including stolen equipment and failure to train other staff.

Higley officials so far estimate the damages, energy usage and equipment losses linked to Niesluchowski at $1.2 million to $1.6 million.

Higley officials said the SETI program requires wattage to run, and therefore was an extra burden on computer processors and power usage. They allege several computer processors would burn out sooner than expected, and the SETI program’s operation raised utility costs.

They don’t go into specific on how much extra it cost the school district to run SETI@Home but I have to question if it was really significant amount of power. Perhaps the school district and news site are over emphasizing the use of SETI@Home as part of the excuse to fire fire him.

When SETI@Home first came out, there was a lot of competition and I installed it on every computer I could find. Today I don’t care but I could see how it was its easy to install everywhere.

Update 12/05/09: Berkley’s Eric Korpela releases “FAQ and comments about the Higley School District controversy“. He indicates a lot of bad reporting and I agree.

My 1997 Ford Ranger Qualifies For The Car Allowance Rebate System (Cash For Clunkers)

There is nothing wrong with my 1997 Ford Ranger except that it’s getting up there in age (kind of like me). Since it’s my only vehicle I am always concerned about total failure or some expensive repairs that could be more than the value of my truck. I’m very interested in what the government’s CAR Allowance Rebate System (formally known as Cash for Clunkers) could do.

Cars.gov has the requirements for the program:

  • Your vehicle must be less than 25 years old on the trade-in date
  • Only purchase or lease of new vehicles qualify
  • Generally, trade-in vehicles must get 18 or less MPG (some very large pick-up trucks and cargo vans have different requirements)
  • Trade-in vehicles must be registered and insured continuously for the full year preceding the trade-in
  • You don’t need a voucher, dealers will apply a credit at purchase
  • Program runs through Nov 1, 2009 or when the funds are exhausted, whichever comes first.
  • The program requires the scrapping of your eligible trade-in vehicle, and that the dealer disclose to you an estimate of the scrap value of your trade-in. The scrap value, however minimal, will be in addition to the rebate, and not in place of the rebate.

According to the fueleconomy.gov website, my 1997 Ford Ranger qualifies for the gas efficiently requirements because they say it gets an combined gas miles of 16 MPG.

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I was surprised to see that the EPA says my truck gets such low gas milage. I can get at least 18 MPG in town and 22 MPG on the freeway. I was also surprised when I compared my 1997 model with a 2009 Ford Ranger that the 2009 model gets 1 MPG less.

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If I were to replace my vehicle under the CARS program, I wouldn’t replace it with a super fuel efficient vehicle. I would need to replace it with another truck (yes I do actually use my truck as a truck and utility vehicle). This doesn’t help me very much because nearly every new truck gets nearly the same gas mileage as mine. I compared my truck to a variety of similar trucks. I could find two that met the mileage requirements and only one actually qualified.

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The 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 15 Hybrid 4 wheel drive qualifies on the gas miles requirements as it gets 20 MPG. But for some reason it is a Category 2 or Category 3 truck and I cannot trade in my truck for own of those. I don’t know what they category requirements are but seems kind of silly on the surface.

The second possibility is the 2009 Toyota Tacoma 4 wheel drive. It barely gets 2 MPG more than my current truck netting me $3500 in rebate. Is it really worth it for me to trade in my perfectly good working truck for a new one?

Kelly Blue Book says it’s worth about $3000 in trade in value. CARS is not saving me much on the trade in. A new Toyota pickup will be about $26,000 leaving me for about $23,000. That runs just under $400 a month depending on financing.

I just don’t think it’s worth it to trade in a perfectly good pickup that may or may not have problems in the immediate future for a $400 a month payment.

Sitemeter Issues Fixed

Sitemeter has received some unwanted attention this weekend when their tracking code was causing crashing on Internet Explorer 6 and 7. They have fixed the issues according to their weblog.

The problem was related to some work we were doing on the backend system for our upcoming website launch.

We’ve identified and resolved two separate but related issues –

1 – IE Users viewing pages – There was a problem with users who placed their SiteMeter tracking code outside of their HTML Body Tag. Because of the changes we made this created a failure for visitors viewing sites using Internet Explorer 7.

2 – Accessing SiteMeter and Stats – Individuals trying to access or view their SiteMeter stats by clicking on their SiteMeter logo/icons were unable to gain access. This again appears to have affected only individuals using IE7.

At this time both problems have been fixed and our services are fully operational.

For those who removed the SiteMeter code from your pages please be assured that the problem has been resolved and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.

I also use Sitemeter code on my site but I stopped worrying about IE 6 working with my site a long time ago.

First Space Launch Successful From Spaceport America

The first successful launch from spaceport america occurred today.

The rocket launched amid clear weather conditions from Upland, between Las Cruces and Truth or Consequences. The rocket contained the ashes of hundreds of people, among them, James Doohan, the actor who played “scotty” in the popular “Star Trek” series. Also on board were the ashes of L. Gordon Cooper, who was one of NASA’s original Mercury astronauts.

The first launch was a failure, this one had to be successful since it carried the remains of lots of people, including James Doohan “Scotty” from Star Trek.

Biosphere 2: Now It Can Be Yours

Biosphere 2, that lovable Earth environment within Earth environment is for sale. Bioshphere 2 is located in Oracle, Arizona. How much? Well they don’t seem to be saying. But it cost the current developer 200 million dollars to get it to where it is now so, uh, you will need a few million.

If you don’t recall, the whole idea in the Biosphere was to encapulate humans in a earth like bubble and see if the could manage the production of food, water and oxygen like one might do on mars or other inhospitable planet. That didn’t work out too well and they had to get help from “the outside”. Some saw that as a utter and complete failure, some saw it as a learning experience. I agree with the former. They did this 3 times.

I would also like to note that it’s annoying that their website resized the browser to full screen for no apparent reason.