This site functions as an archive of Conner's Blog, which was a blog from 2006-2014 located at http://connermccall.com. Images and links are likely to be broken.

On Defining Twitter Part Two

A few weeks ago, Kate Brodock and I got into a discussion regarding the definition of Twitter. It started as a back and forth on Twitter, and I put up a post and then she followed up with a post. This is my response to her post. The main argument I had put out is that defining Twitter is not only impossible it is also a bad idea. Though Kate seems to agree with me, she makes the point that in a business environment you sometimes are forced into defining sites. I have to concede this point to her, but I’m giving it one caveat. I don’t think you should categorize websites anymore. It’s not good business. Putting Twitter in the same category as Facebook or Blogging doesn’t work because it shares some of the same qualities as each site.

My idea would be to come up with a set of scales to put sites on. These scales should define things that are important to your business. Here are a few I thought of.

Trust - Can people trust what they get from the source? Facebook is great for this; you have to validate yourself before you create a page. Sending an email from your own domain is safe. Twitter is a little sketchy here, and I think we'll see this change in the near future as Twitter starts to monetize it's platform. IM is also a little sketchy, it's hard to validate you are who you say you are.

Timeliness - How quickly do people read your updates once posted? For Twitter, most users, if they respond or take action, will do so immediately. Email is usually a little slower, but for most users they probably read your message within the hour. This is tough to state unfortunately because everyone uses sites differently.

Message Lifetime - How long does a message exist? This isn't how long it actually stays around but how long from first sending the message can you expect people to still be viewing it. E-mail is indefinite as once it arrives in someone’s inbox they can take weeks to read it but it doesn't go away until they take an action on it. Twitter's messages can roll through the system and miss many eyes if they aren’t watching their feed.

Openness - Are your updates limited to just those that opt-in. Email updates only go to those who ask for them (or they should), IM is the same; Twitter on the other hand goes to those who want them but are public and can be seen by anyone. All three systems allow users to pass the messages to unsubscribed users, but Twitter allows anyone to find your updates at any time.

As I had written before I think we need to shy away from defining sites as social media, social networking, or blogging sites, because everything on the web is turning into a social network. If you don't believe me check out the Google Wave announcement from Google. Look at how it merges a myriad of sites/services and adds a social element to them. This is just one example, but as the web evolves having a strict system of categorization forces you to keep reviewing things every time the web evolves and either re-categorizing, redefining the categories, or creating new categories. Putting services on a sliding scale keeps you from redefining categories and allows you to just move the service up or down if the service changes.

This system has it’s flaws of course, it’s more complicated than dropping sites into categories. Putting sites on the scales is subject to opinion but at least you can look at a site in an instant and see where it falls for a specific task.

Chicken Curry

I have a confession to make, until last night I had never had curry in any form. There is no reason for this, other than just a lack of effort on my part. So yesterday I pursued my Joy of Cooking looking for new things to try before I went grocery shopping. I stumbled on a curry recipe and decided to give it a try.

After a marathon shopping session, due to the fact I hadn't done any serious grocery shopping in almost a month, I came home started dinner. I chose the chicken curry recipe. Overall things went pretty well but I did end up making a couple of mistakes. First I cooking the chicken and the onion together which apparently you are not supposed to do. Second I ended up accidentally buying vanilla yogurt instead of plain yogurt. This didn't seem to have any effect, thankfully.

So here is how I made curry, I had to make a few adaptations to the recipe but I was happy with the results.

First heat up appx. two tablespoons of oil, add the cut up chicken and an onion that has been thinly sliced. Once the chicken in browned I added two teaspoons each of minces garlic and minced ginger and a teaspoon of turmeric. After that I added come curry paste I had purchased at Lunds. I chose Patak's Biryani Curry paste, only because it's ingredients looked somewhat similar to the Garam Masala recipe in the cookbook. After mixing this in I put in a 1/2 cup of yogurt and let that simmer until it has reduced. Next I added a cup of water, 2 tablespoons of cilantro, a Serrano pepper I had cut and quartered and some salt.

Once you have all the ingredients going, you let that simmer covered for about 30-40 minutes until the chicken is done. Remove the chicken, and if you wish you can boil the sauce until it thickens. Serve over rice.

I can't say I was blown away, but I was not disappointing. I plan on working on this again and hopefully perfecting it. My next goal is to find somewhere that serves some traditional curry so I know what it's supposed to taste like.

Thoughts, Links, and Photos 5/29 Edition

It's Friday, I have the day off and instead of going fishing, photo hunting, or sitting on a patio with a drink all day I have to go furniture shopping. I need a couch so I can invite people over so I can cook things and not eat it all myself.

  • Via Emily, a tutorial on how to pet your cat. If you don't own a cat you probably won't understand.
  • Kottke posts this link to an article on how introverts travel. I loved it because it described my travel methods quite well.
  • We finally figure out what you see when you die. Yes that is a cat on a keyboard in space.
  • If someone was to buy this for me I would bake them a pizza.
  • I love Minneapolis for many reasons, but the combo of the River, the Parks, and the Skyline is high on the list.

  • Via Eyeteeth, an artist has redone the Wu-Tang Clan's covers. I've always been a fan of the Wu, and now I'd willing show off their CDs.
  • Pancakes on heads make for great art.
  • This one didn't turn out nearly as well as I hoped it would, and the wood ducks I saw were a complete failure. Still it was pretty cool just how close I was able to get to this guy.

  • XKCD sums up why driving to bars sucks. Someone always brings a goat.
  • We had Bike to Work week in Minneapolis a few weeks ago, Bob Collins of MPR rode to work and filmed the endeavor. I rode that route one time when I lived in Woodbury, I don't think I would have been able to work afterwards.
  • Finally Doniree asked what you will never outgrow and I realized that I'm always excited when I see big machines. This crane just off the river in Minneapolis is just one example.

Well that's it for me, I'm off to find myself some furniture. Have a great weekend all.

An Interview with Your Host

I have 3 drafts I want to publish, but all are below even my quality assurance guidelines. So I engaged the services of Frank Allen to interview me.

Frank Allen: What is one thing your readers have to know about you?

Conner: I have no idea what I'm doing. Day in and day out I'm just making things up. Of course that's not just on this blog, but pretty much everything I do.

FA: What is your favorite music?

C: It's impossible to say, it changes weekly, daily, sometimes even minutely. Of course if it's on the Current I'm usually ok with it.

FA: Minutely? Is that even a word?

C: If it wasn't a second ago, it is now.

FA: What scares you?

C: I'm only afraid of a few things. Heights and scorpions are two big ones. Also trapper keepers are a bit nerve racking. All that organization in a small package, creepy.

FA: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what five things would you most want with you?

C: Assuming this is somewhere tropical where food isn't too difficult to come by, I would say one good pot, and one good frying pan. The all three books from the Lord of the Rings in one book, The Worst Case Scenario Guidebook, and a pack of Charmin from Costco

FA: Whole Wheat or White?

C: White Pasta and Whole Wheat Bread

FA: What influenced you the most growing up?

C: My parents had a big impact and growing up in a town of 200 people and graduating with six other kids in my class had a big impact on how I see the world.

FA: Do you have a favorite color?

C: Currently it's #6bb8ee

FA: Favorite food?

C: Lasagna, though tacos come in a close second.

FA: Favorite author?

C: Again, this isn't really possible for me to answer. Right now it wavers between David Weber and Neal Stephenson.

FA: Favorite Drink?

C: Ooh this is a tough one, and totally depends on my mood. Lemonade is my favorite non-alcoholic beverage. For alcoholic it's has to be a Surly Bender, and it only loses to Surly Furious because my stomach hates Furious.

FA: What's your favorite thing to cook?

C: Pizza! Ever since I started making my own crust I love trying to create new things. Of course going back to sausage and pepperoni occasionally is fun to.

FA: If you could choose one type of weather what would it be like?

C: 78 degrees, sunny, with a light cool breeze, and cooling off to at least 55 at night.

Wednesday Where? #24

So last week we had two correct guesses almost immediately. The building was the church at St Charles Borromeo off of Stinson Blvd in Minneapolis.

I'm late this week, but I am getting this up, we have another church. I'm not sure if it will be quite as easy as last week, but hey it may be.

Guess away and be sure to tune in next week for even more guessing fun.

Memorial Day Weekend

I love three day weekends. This one was definitely a great one. The weather was great and I kept busy doing things I love. My Friday was spent at work of course, but afterwards I got home, walked to the library to pick up a book that was being held for me and then I biked down to First Avenue.

Side Note: Since I moved to Uptown, I hadn't tried biking to downtown Minneapolis. After Friday night I'll never go any other way. It took me ten minutes to get to First Avenue, and it should have taken me five. It would have taken twenty minutes to drive there and park and it would have cost a lot more.

First Avenue was hosting Rock for Pussy which was a David Bowie tribute concert. It was a benefit to raise money for the Minnesota Valley Humane shelter. It was a lot more fun that I had expected and I really enjoyed myself. I ended up hanging out with Art and Emily, and meeting a few of her friends, including Stephanie (who's blog I've been reading for a while). Stephanie informed me the grilled cheese at First Ave is delicious, and I take her food opinions seriously, as she writes about bacon weekly. I didn't try it that night, but I intend on returning and giving it a try.

Side Note #2: Emily's friend Molly asked me to inform my readers that she recycles. There was a conversation preceding this, but I had consumed a few too many adult beverages at this point and it's too blurry to recount accurately.

I headed home early because Saturday I headed up north to a friend's cabin for a few days. The weekend was spent fishing, drinking, sitting by the fire, and enjoying as much of the perfect weather as possible. I managed to win boche ball and won two straight games of cards. I only mention because winning lawn and card games is something I never do.

I should probably also mention that I took some photos.

This fawn was laying right next to the road when we were just getting to the cabin. Don't worry, it's mother came back and saved it later.

There were a few hummingbirds flying around the cabin. I probably took fifty photos. Hummingbirds are awesome.

I managed to snap this shot on our way into the lake we were fishing on. Who doesn't love loons?

Finally, while were were fishing we saw some people bowfishing. I was hoping to snap a photo of them actually trying to get a fish, but I settled for this. It was a 20+ pound buffalo fish thye caught before we showed up. I don't know if I've ever seen a fish that large in real life.

On Monday we headed home fairly early and I spent the afternoon relaxing. I got Chipotle for dinner and vegged out in front of my computer watching my new summer TV show In Plain Sight. Overall the weekend was a smashing success, and I'm looking forward to a nice short four day week.

Side Note #3: For some reason this year it hit me that I haven't attended a Memorial Day ceremony in much too long. I used to attend the one in my hometown nearly every year. I even read a poem I had published one year. I think I need to remedy this next year. Sometimes we forget why we get three day weekends.

Herb Garden Update One

If you don't remember, I started a small garden in my dining room a little over a week ago. I thought I would share a quick update, because not only has it grown, it's also expanded quite a bit. Things started to sprout very quickly. Before that happened though, I went to the farmers market on Saturday and ended up picking up a few herbs that had been started for me. I picked up mint, thyme, and garlic chives.

I thought these fit in well with my current lineup of herbs. A few of the seedlings had started by this point, the basil was doing extremely well. Here is a photo on the seventh day.

I've discovered that some of the jars I used aren't really suitable for growing. The jars like the one the basil in are the best as they are wide mouth and don't have a lip underneath. You can't really see it in this photo of the oregano, but I had quite a few sprouts underneath this lip. I'm not sure what will happen with those, but I'm worried it may cause some problems.

Of course I can't just let things go, I'm always looking to improve. So after wandering through Target's gardening section I came across these brightly colored pots for $6. I was going to buy two to transplant the starter herbs from the market but realized I had some seeds I still needed to plant. I put the thyme and mint in the same pot and put the rosemary next to some marjoram. The pot with nothing in it right now has cilantro and spearmint. Finally, I finished a jar of pickles last night, and also moved some coffee beans that were in another jar into a plastic container. These got more oregano and parsley.

Things are still sitting on my kitchen table as I haven't found a shelving solution I like. I'm happy with the progress. Hopefully I can learn to leave things alone and just enjoy the growth, but I don't expect that to happen.

Remember, you can follow the progress of the garden at my Herb Garden set on Flickr.

Chicken, Bacon, and Asparagus Pizza

It's still asparagus season which means every time I walk into the Wedge or go to the Farmers Market I'm tempted to buy a bundle of green. My first bunch was turned into a delicious stir fry type dinner, steamed it, and added it to an omelet. The question was what to do with the second bundle.

Monday was a brutal day and I decided I needed pizza. I wasn't really in the mood for anything traditional though so I went over what was in my fridge. I had bacon, chicken, peppers, and asparagus which sounded like a pretty good combo. So after mixing up a batch of pizza dough and setting it to rise, I ran off to The Wedge for a few necessary ingredients. I added mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, and feta to my ingredients.

After getting home, I started chopping up some of the veggies and cooking the chicken. I'm slowly becoming obsessed with the chicken from The Wedge. I buy the bone in breasts and they are not only huge, but incredibly tasty.

After doing a bit of knife work, it was time to roll out the dough. This went pretty well and nothing is quite as nice as crust topped with sauce.

Add toppings: Asparagus, onion, chicken, bacon, bannana peppers, and mushrooms.

Next I topped with cheese, a combo of fresh mozzarella, crumbled feta, and grated parmesean.

This is where disaster struck. I didn't take any photos as I was too busy trying to solve my mistake. I had put the dough on my work surface to top, but made the mistake of not putting down flour or corn meal. Unfortunately, I don't have the appropriate tools to scrape the dough off the work surface so moving the pizza onto my baking stone was a disaster. I had toppings on the floor, the counter and cooking on the pre-heated pizza stone. It turned the beautiful looking pizza you see above into something from a pizza horror film.

Of course it was still tasty, and I did have two crusts available so I redeemed myself with the next pizza.

Just looking at that makes me hungry for the leftovers sitting in my lunch bag.

Wednesday Where #23

I have no idea how this is still going on, and I'm not talking about this feature but my blog. I've launched and killed too many sites and none of them have survived as long as this single feature has. So thanks for making this site fun.

First, last weeks Where? was guessed pretty closely, the bridge is actually located over Minnehaha creek, due north of Lake Nokomis. Unfortunately, Google maps doesn't let me see the trail so I can't give a link to the exact location. Maybe if I take a bike ride that direction when the weather isn't 95+ I'll get a photo of a better view.

This week is a neat building I came across during the last week. I was working at the time and when I pulled off to the side of the road to snap this photo, I looked over and saw a lady sitting on her front porch staring at me. Of course I had the Current playing a bit too loud and I'm fumbling with a camera. Since I have a big company logo on the side of my car, I wonder what she thought?

You have to love the blue sky and green grass framing the building, right?

A New Project

There is a bunch of stuff in the pipeline, another writeup about defining Twitter, an update on my herb garden, and a bunch of photos from the Lyn-Lake street fest. Unfortunately, said street fest has me out of commission today, I barely made it through work and am not doing anything tonight. Still, even utter exhaustion can't keep my hostility at bay. So today after reading one to many stupid quotes, unnecessary articles, and being just annoyed with written media in general I decided to launch a new project.

I'm announcing the launch of Ludicrous. The goal is short posts highlighting absurdity in written media. I hope you enjoy.