Updating the Site – Current WordPress Setup and Hosting

I was recently inspired to dust off this site and try and get into a regular cadence of posting.  About 6 months ago, this site got compromised as I had not remained diligent on updating the WordPress installation and plugins with the latest security patches. I was super busy at work and did not have time to figure out what was wrong so I just deleted the entire site until I could fix it. A couple weeks ago, I started with a fresh install of the latest version of WordPress 5.3, uploaded a backup copy of the database (backups are important!) to restore the existing content. WordPress does a good job of making this easy and I had the site back up and running pretty quickly.

Hosting –

I use for hosting the site and have been pretty pleased with the support they provide. I am on a basic shared hosting plan and once I implemented a few WordPress performance improvements the speed of the site is pretty good.

CDN – Cloudflare

Cloudflare is a reverse proxy service that offers a free tier that works well for personal sites like this. I used to use MaxCDN for standard CDN services but they moved to a per month subscription service so I am trying out Cloudflare to see how it performs. So far so good 😊

WordPress Plugins

I am only using a few plugins right now but some of them are very important:

  1. UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore
  2. Wordfence Security
  3. Jetpack by
  4. LiteSpeed Cache
  5. WordFence
  6. Yoast SEO
  7. MonsterInsights
  8. Cloudflare
  9. Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights
  10. Akismet Anti-Spam
  11. Classic Editor

I will do a detailed post in the future on why I am using each of them and the pros/cons of each.

WordPress Theme – Twenty Twenty

I installed the default twenty twenty theme and so far I am liking the clean layout and responsive design. I made a few small tweaks such as removing the background color but that was about it. I might try a few others but so far this is working for me!


Personal Technology

Upgrading to a 2013 Tesla Model S P85 CPO

Since I bought this car in 2016 a lot has changed with the Tesla CPO program so some of this is no longer valid on 2/3/20. After 4 years and 45k miles it is still the best car I have ever owned!

After driving my Nissan Leaf electric car for two years, I never wanted to go back to driving a gasoline powered car!  So when the lease was up on the Leaf I decided to upgrade to a used Tesla Model S.  This is the story of that purchase along with my feedback on the Tesla Certified Pre-Owned sales process which had a few bumps along the way.

Pre-Sales: A

A friend of mine has a Tesla Model S P85 that I took on a 50mi trip so I was pretty familiar with the driving experience. I ended up taking 2 short test drives one in a P85 and another in a 70D. Harry & Cale at the Decatur, Atlanta store were great and answered all my questions. After the test drive I decided that I wanted a P85, pano roof, tech package, black leather interior, any color except white or red, and my budget was mid $50’s. I would prefer the 19” wheels but would do 21’s if it had my other options. I stalked for the next two weeks waiting for the right car to come up. I also worked with Brent Seavy out of the Chicago store who helped me look on Tesla’s internal system. I realized quickly that the best cars go FAST (as in same day) so you have to be ready. Finally on 12/18 a car in San Francisco popped up on and I put my deposit down 30 minutes after it was posted to the site! Here are the specs:

2013 Tesla Model S P85 in Metallic Silver with 18,500 miles
Options: Pano | 21″ Silver Wheels | Black Performance Interior | Carbon Fiber | Twin Charger | Tech Package | Active Air Suspension | Sound Studio

Post Sales: C-

My Nissan LEAF lease was up at the end of December so I needed the car by Jan 4th.  I made this timeline clear to everybody at Tesla who I was working with and was told an early January delivery could be expected.  After my deposit was placed the early January estimate was confirmed again.  This is where the buying experience really goes south for Tesla.  What I came to find out is that Tesla lists the cars on the CPO site as soon as they take them in and not after they have gone through reconditioning!  I understand they are trying to manage cash flow with this approach but they should set the expectations on the CPO site that delivery will take 4-5 weeks and not “Buy Pre-Owned Today”.  With my previous CPO cars I drove them off the lot the same day.  Communication during this time period was also weak.  Not sure if the fault lies with the factory, San Francisco, or Atlanta.  My car did not enter re-conditioning until 12/31, shipped on 1/11, and I took delivery on 1/19.  During this time I ended up having to rent a car for two weeks which I was not exactly happy about.

Delivery: C+

I took delivery at the Marietta showroom. My biggest concern during this process was buying the car sight unseen without any pictures and no idea of the condition. I did receive a clean Carfax and was continually assured that the car would be in outstanding condition and would be the “best looking used car I had ever purchased”

I had a checklist of things in hand to go over and had also read a lot of the great advice from the Tesla forums of things to look over. Unfortunately I found a number of issues that frankly should have been caught well before I ever saw the car:

  1. 2 scratches that ran from the front driver side wheel 2 feet down the door!
  2. Chrome trim damage under the back bumper
  3. Chrome trim damage below the nosecone
  4. Paint wear on the back edge of the doors near the bottom
  5. Front passenger door handle not working
  6. Front hood needed an alignment
  7. Excessive wear/cracking on the driver’s seat
  8. Tear on the left side of the center console

Ugh. I debated not taking delivery but the service team documented all of the above and added it to the due bill and promised that it would all be taken care of.  I certainly took a leap of faith and decided to take delivery.  If I had to do it over again I probably should have just sucked it up and walked away until they got everything fixed.  Although the above list was disappointing, the rest of the car was in VERY good condition.  Overall paint condition was excellent, interior looked like nobody had sat in it other than the driver’s seat, new tires were put on, brakes and rotors did not have any corrosion etc.

Service/Post Delivery: A+

Tesla got me booked into service a few days later to start working on things.  The valet service was great!  They had the car for almost a week to take care of #1-5 with most of the time spent at the body shop taking care of the scratches.  When I got the car back I was 100% satisfied with the work.  The paint issues were all addressed, the chrome pieces were replaced, handle replaced, the hood alignment was much better. I took some detailed pictures that day so if you want to see the condition of the car you can see them all here:

For #7 and #8 they needed to order some parts that came in this week and today they replaced the torn center console part and the lower portion of the driver’s seat. Now that the driver seat has been replaced the interior looks brand new!

Overall: A

Tesla certainly has some room for improvement here but overall the final condition of the car was much better than any of my prior CPO’s. It took them exactly 2 months from the time I ordered the car to deliver it in final condition but it has been worth the wait!



Updated to WordPress 2.7 & The iNova Theme

I have freshened things up around here and switched over to the iNova theme for WordPress. My old K2 theme has not seen a lot of development lately and I like the clean layout of iNova.

I also upgraded to WordPress 2.7 and love it!  They have made some great improvements to the usability but the best feature by far is the auto-update functionality!  I was using TypePad for some corporate blogs because updating WordPress was always a pain. Now that updates can happen in the background I highly recommend WordPress for all your blogging needs!


Take Back Your Inbox From Spam!

I recently talked about how to take back your mailbox from junk mail. Today’s post is to talk about how to do the same for your email!

I registered back in 1998.  Back then, SPAM was not the problem it is today. I had used my andrew at andrewknight address for years.  I had given it out to hundreds of people and organizations and quietly over time it had started collecting a lot of spam.

At the end of 2005 I tried using some spam filters but found that I was missing some legitimate emails and I was still getting spam in my inbox. The solution? Create an e-mail alias system for all my e-mail. Here is how it works:

1) Create a new email address that you only give to friends and family.  This is a painful step as you need to update your contacts but I found that people caught on quickly.

2) Keep your current e-mail on for about a month and then turn it off. This will force people to start using your new email.

3) Now to the alias part. For EVERY website or company that needs your email address create a unique email address to use.  Currently I have over 350 of these!

The beauty of this system is that if an address ever starts getting spam on it you can simply turn off that email. You will also know who the culprit is so you can “plug the hole”. I did this recently with 2 of my emails that started getting SPAM on them.  One was website at and godaddy at Both were published on the web and the spammers picked up on them.

I have used this system for the past 3 years and I highly recommend it for taking back control of your inbox!


Switching Webhosting to

After a short stint with Dreamhost I am moving over to Steadfast Networks for hosting my sites. I really liked the Dreamhost control panel and getting my sites setup and configured was easy but the server I was running on was sooooooooo slow! The billing disaster in January also did not help things! So I headed over to Web Hosting Talk to read some of the reviews and look for a new host. The hosting business is full of “fly by night” kind of folks so it was important to get some objective 3rd party opinions. The wealth of information on WHT is awesome! I decided to go in a different direction and look for a smaller well respected company that does not offer 1 million Terabytes of space for $10 a month. After reading the reviews I settled on a shared hosting plan from Steadfast. So far I have been really impressed.  The sites are much faster and the support tickets I submitted were handled almost instantly with 100% resolution! For a simple blog like this speed is not all that important but when you are playing around with a resource hog like Magento it makes a big difference!

I just switched the DNS so we should be live on the new server shortly!


Dreamhost Hosting

With my move to working more with php and ruby on rails I decided to ditch my windows hosting and move over to Unix and Apache. Most of the active open source projects run better on Apache and the mod_rewrite module is essential for creating easy search engine friendly links. I took a look at a bunch of different providers but settled on Dreamhost. They offer a ton of features for $11 a month and lit looks like they have a pretty good reputation. So far the migration has gone smoothly and everything is up and running. You can get a $50 discount on new hosting contracts if you use promo code: MYDREAM50


Open Source Software

Before I started working for Home Depot I was an ASP developer for Gardener’s Supply and Burton Snowboards. I drank a lot of Microsoft kool-aid in those days and was an early adopter of Since I was using Microsoft tools at work I never paid attention to any of the open source projects going on in PHP and more recently Ruby on Rails. It was not until I installed WordPress for this blog did I realize how far these applications had come! So I have ditched my Microsoft allegiance and have started working with some great open source projects like modX and Magento. I am exited to start learning some of these new tools and to start working with PHP and Ruby. My first project was to convert my basic consulting website template over to PHP 🙂


New Tag: Web Applications

The buzz in 2007 was all about web apps. Taking things that traditional desktop software handled and moving them online and enabling people to access them anywhere. I have created a new tag called web applications and will be posting some reviews that highlight the very best. Here are some links to 2 past reviews I did:

Blogging: WordPress is Awesome

Photo Sharing: Smugmug Photo Sharing


WordPress is Awesome!

WordPress is the blogging software I am using for this blog. I had dinner last week with Sam Decker at eTail and he told me to go with WordPress or Typepad, WordPress is free so I thought I would try it out first.

All I can say is WOW! These guys know what they are doing. I read through the setup instructions and was VERY skeptical of the 5 minute install claim but I had it up and running in 5 minutes! I think I had never paid attention to WordPress because it is a PHP/MySQL solution. I was a Microsoft ASP developer for 5 years and never played around with PHP so it was never on my radar.

After getting the base install up and running I added on a few other helpful plugins like Google Analytics and Akismet. The neat thing about WordPress is that there is such a great development community to extend and customize the application. I am going to have to break open the code and learn PHP so I can do some customizations. So far I am super impressed!