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.

Why the Timberwolves will Win 35-40 Games

If you are a Timberwolves fan, you probably consider them an irrelevant NBA team. Due to Kevin McHale's numerous mistakes as GM, the team was forced to trade away our biggest star, Kevin Garnett. McHale's trade created a championship team, unfortunately it was for the Boston Celtics and not for our hometown team.

The Wolves won 22 Games last year, 17 of those game in the second half of the season. If you watched any of the games, you saw a remarkable improvement in play. This was mostly due to a vastly improved defensive game. In fact I think the team could have won 30-35 games last year if it wasn't for poor outside shooting.

There is currently some debate on whether Kevin Love will be able to contribute immediately. I haven't been able to watch him since Summer League, but if those games are any indication, I think he will be able to. His lines in the pre-season have been below mediocre, but he did pull down 10 boards in the last game. I think Love will be okay, and if he gets to see time along side Al Jefferson things will only get better. Of course it could take 20-25 games for him to get comfortable with the pace of the regular season, but he'll figure it out, he's a smart player and will be a good fit for this team.

Of course no Wolves conversation is complete without discussing the main piece of the Kevin Garnett trade. Al Jefferson is one of the best young players in the game and he is only going to get better. Last you he put up some very good numbers. There is one thing to consider about Jefferson which makes me think he will really improve this year. Remember that he went straight from high-school to the NBA. He was one of the last players to do this. His draft class of 2005 was one year after LaBron James was drafted. James has become a perennial All-Star, but did take a few year to fully develop. Considering that Jefferson is a forward, and it isn't unusual for big men to take longer to develop in the NBA than guards, he could be poised for a break out year.

The Wolves also are getting a healthy Foye back. Now everyone knows McHale got caught flat-footed in the Roy-Foye trade, but Foye isn't a bad player. If he stays healthy he should be able to start 82 games this year. He is going to have to learn on the job, but the additional of two veteran guards in Ollie and Mike Miller should help. Foye has a great jumper, and with the offense running through Jefferson his passing won't be a liability. If he can put up 19 points and 7 assists per night we can consider this season a success for Foye.

Cory Brewers' jumper is another reason for hope. He appears to have worked on it all summer and this has definitely paid dividends. His range and accuracy seemed much better than last year. He even appears to have a three point shot. If Brewer is no longer a liability on the offensive end, he will get more minutes and will be able to defend the star forward and shooting guards in the league. Getting Brewer's defense for 35-38 minutes a game instead of 22 would be a huge benefit.

If our core has improved and the additions of Love and Miller can contribute, we can consider this off season a success. We've added an additional outside threat in Miller which should help Jefferson immensely. McCants, Foye, and Love also have great range, so when the three of them are in the game Jefferson has all sorts of target to hit out of the double team.

That is where the biggest improvement comes in. We got rid of the slow, poor shooting, and expensive Marko Jaric, and added Miller who has always been a terrific shooter. The Wolves outside shooting was our biggest liability last year during the second half. If we can make some three pointers and keep the defense honest against Jefferson, we'll reach my prediction of 35-40 games. I'll looking forward to tonight's game as the Timberwolves rebuilding period hits it's stride.

Addicted To Gaming

I consider myself a hybrid gamer. I can go for months without playing anything more than a flash game here and there. I may go to a friends house for a bit of Wii action but that is about the extent of my game playing. During these times, I will spend the evening working on a project and generally trying to be productive.

Unfortunately, I'm currently in the other mode of game playing, addiction. Gaming isn't a horrible addition, but I do let it get the better of me occasionally. I've learned to let these fazes have their way, knowing they will pass. The current phase started with the purchase of NBA 2K9 last week. Since then I've played 11 games in franchise mode. I've drastically cut down on my gym time and have barely attempted to write a blog post. I've been going to bed late and having to force myself to get up and go to work. Granted I'm still productive at work but outside of work productivity is non existent.

Sadly, I know it's only going to get worse. Today marks the release date for Fallout 3. The developers claim this game could contain 100+ hours of game play. I'm trying to convince myself not to purchase it, but as I've been following its development for over a year, I'm not sure I can. This game is going to make my current gaming obsession worse.

Let me be clear that I don't hate my gaming habits. I prefer playing video games to watching TV or movies. With gaming, I'm actively involved in the experience as opposed to TV where I just sit and absorb the entertainment. Unfortunately, this is why being a gamer can be so dangerous. A game for me can be incredibly addicting. I wait in anticipation to go home at the end of the day, go home and fire up the computer.

Luckily I'm old enough that my social life isn't impacted by my addition. If I have a social engagement to go to I will put down the controller to get ready and hang out with real people. I don't have a lot of social engagements during the week though, so I spend almost every evening playing games. I do have to say that I'm never bored during these stretches, but I definitely do not improve a single marketable skill set.

This isn't a cry for help, it is an acknowledgement of a habit. I've learned to enjoy these times because once this phase passes I won't touch a video game for months. In fact, even if I'm bored and want to play a game I will not be able to. I'll start it up and then quit ten minutes later as I just can't get engaged no matter how great the game is. So bear with me for the next few weeks, I'll soon be back to writing again.

Maketing Gems - Linode.com

This post on Tombuntu, regarding the sites server move included a link to Linode.com. They are a hosting provider, offered virtual servers running on Xen. On top of being a very reasonably priced, they have a done a very good job marketing themselves to their target users. Unlike most hosting providers, their home page isn't flashy web 2.0ish or chock full of ads for their various services. The pricing structure on the home page is the price per month, not the price you will pay per month if you sign a 5-year contract. It is a very clean, simple, and refreshing site.

I wouldn't just write about their site, but I found something that put this over the top for me. On the features page I found this gem. "The Finnix recovery distribution occupies no disk on your Linode account and is useful for recovering from screw ups." This might not be the most professional language to use, but it's refreshing to see a company just come out and admit that yes you will "screw up" and here is the tool we provide to fix it.

Disclaimer: This is not a recommendation of Linode.com's services. I have no experience using Linode and know no one that has. Please do your own research before purchasing services from any hosting provider.

Thoughts and Links 10/24 Edition

  • If you happen to live in Minnesota and have a chance to try Brau Brothers Brewing Co's Whirly Bird Oatmeal Stout do so immediatly.
  • I also have to recommend Flying Dog Brewery's Dogtoberfest
  • If you missed it, NBA 2k9 shipped without as product key. This left many gamers(including me) unable to descend into unproductive gaming binges as soon as they would like.
  • Chapstick is an odd but very necessary invention
  • If you use Twitter, try out twinfluence. I'm currently ranked #47 out of 50 in social capital.
  • Join the movement, Chipotle needs to begin serving breakfast.
  • If you run Windows, please update now. A major bug has been found.
  • I'm endorsing working out on Friday afternoons, it is painful to enter the gym, but you leave knowing the weekend will be good.
  • I have to add another MN blog to my list of those I read. NPR's Newscut is a daily visit. I also recommend following @bcollinsmn.
  • Only ten days left until election day, I'm moving into the no main-stream media bunker until 5:00 pm on 11/4.
  • The right has gone completely mad, first they mail out a scare tactic piece basically calling Obama a terrorist and linking him to 9/11, and then Ashley Todd fakes an attack by an Obama supporter.
  • Bring some fun to your office next week. You've been Booed.

Everyone have a great weekend, and remember to look both ways when jaywalking.

Can I get a Pause Button with That

Would a pause button be a great feature on some webapps? RSS readers would greatly benefit from this. As I'm writing this post there is currently a Woot Off in progress. This means that my RSS feed from Woot gets about 30-40 items every 4-5 hours. It would be great if I could just hit pause and then it skips the items that occur during the time period I specify.

Twitter would also benefit from this. I follow many people who live twitter confences and other events that do not interest me. This information fills up my Twitter client and I sometimes miss other tweets that interest me. The only solution I have is to unfollow the offending party and then remember to follow them again the next day. This is clunky and the ability to skip updates from individual users for a period of time would be a great feature.

Any other web applications that could use a pause button?

Screw Copyright Law Let's Pirate Everything

I went out today and purchased NBA 2k9 for the PC. I hadn't played a basketball game in years and was really looking forward to a night of being unproductive. Well those plans have failed. It seems 2Ksports , the publisher of the game shipped the games without a product key. So I sit here with a game I spent $20 on and no way to install it. According to this page at 2KSports they will have a solution by the end of the day. Along with that page there is a 7 page thread on the 2Ksports forum with people stating they have the same issue.

First this is not just a mistake this is a total and complete screw up at every level. The company just created a pretty massive PR nightmare. I haven't tried calling, but from what I read in the thread they are not answering the phones and even when someone does no solution is presented. Second, not one representative of 2Ksports replied to the thread. They have the tool right there to help answer questions and instead they just give a vague response on their homepage stating they are working on the problem.

I'm giving them until 7 o'clock and if a solution has not presented itself I'm going to return the game and will never purchase a 2Ksports game again. Sadly if I would have pirated the game I would be playing it right now and would not have this problem. When will companies realize that copy protection rarely creates sales it just hinders those it makes.

Update 6:54: It appears a solution is in place and should be working within the next 24 hours. Still not great and of course no apology has really been issued. 2K Sports could turn this into a good thing by possibly releasing some sort of special content for the PC version as an apology. Instead I'm sure they will just release the fix and move on.

Update 7:12 The fix is in, after uninstalling Steam and then restarting the installation of NBA 2k9 things seem to be working. Good that they got the fix out the door within 24 hours. This is still another in a long line of things that show copy protection doesn't work. It is either broken within 24 hours or just doesn't work.

Minnesota Blogs I'm Currently Reading

As I continue my adventures with Twitter, I have focused a fair amount of my following on fellow Minnesotans. Due to this, I have slowly amassed a collection of blogs either written by a Minnesotan or are written about Minnesota. Here is a rundown of these blogs and a few thoughts.

  • Lazy Lightning - This blog is written by a South Metro Resident Bill Roehl. It focuses on a variety of subjects regarding the Southern Metro. Some of Bill's best posts in my opinion are his restaurant reviews which are a great source for those looking to try some new eats.
  • Erik Michael Photography - This is a photo blog published by one of my college friends. He is a great outdoor and motor sports photographer and though he publishes infrequently, it is always worth the wait.
  • Girl Friday - The tag line is "Confessions of a Minneapolis Concierge." Posts about restaurants, style, and events. Sometimes off topic and always entertaining.
  • Growing Communities of Scientists - Blog written by a teacher at a Minneapolis High School who is working on creating a Linux Thin Client computer lab for his science class room. I'm currently working with him to get the project up and running.
  • Just a Cool Cat - A blog by a St. Paul resident, I have not been subscribed to it for very long, but this post alone made me add it to my feed list.
  • Meg's Single Step - MegCanada is one of my favorite twitter users.
  • Minneapolis Met Blog - Locally focused news by local bloggers. Good source for local events and opinion.
  • Mmmmm, Dinner - Kassie's recipes have been starred numerous times in Google Reader, unfortunately I have yet to try them. They do look wonderful though.
  • MN Headhunter - Local jobs and job tips.
  • MOA Blog - Discovered this blog recently. Interesting tidbits about the Mall of America. Even if I avoid the MOA as much as possible it is fun to read an obsessive visitors take.
  • Overheard In Minneapolis - A site cataloging odd things overheard in Minneapolis. Subscribe and increase your laugher quota for the day.
  • Swirlspice - Another wonderful Twitter user who I find intelligent, informative, and sometimes hysterically funny. @swirlspice
  • The Deets - Another Minneapolis blog I just subscribed to. Interesting so far and I expect it to continue.
  • The Waiting Line - Generally a photo blog. Wr3n is another of my favorite twitterers.
  • This is Why I love Minneapolis - It's all in the name, interesting tidbits and news from Minneapolis and sometimes St. Paul.
  • Twin City Sidewalks - A blog talking about and photographing sidewalks. More interesting than you think.

I should also mention the Star Tribune's Timberwolves blog and also Twins Fix. They are currently the only sports blogs I follow, but as the NBA and MLB seasons get into full swing I will be searching out additional sites.

So now you have my current Minnesota reading list. Feel free to share any other Minnesota blogs that you read in the comments.

Reestablishing the Reality of Risk

During my roundup of the debate post, I took an exception to comments made by Biden in the VP debate and to McCain's new housing plan. Each talked about taking home loans that were on the verge of foreclosure and allowing renegotiation of the terms to lower the interest rate and the principle. I wanted expand on my thoughts in this post.

My issue with Biden and McCain's plans is due to lowering the principle. I have no problem with bankruptcy judges having authority to lower the interest rate on a loan. That makes sense, especially with the predatory lending and the bad loans people took on. Additionally, if banks continue to pay the price for foreclosures the economic crisis will continue for far longer. On the other hand, the thought of people being able to lower the principle owed on their loans is ridiculous. The argument seems to be that since home values have decreased so much, it is only fair to allow people to pay what their home is worth now instead of the agreed upon purchase price. This is frightening to me.

I'm not sure if this has ever been allowed before. I did a search but could not come up with any historical cases. However, I will admit, my research skills may not be up to the task. I could see this happening in the days of the hometown bank when the mortgage stayed with the initial lender. In that case, the borrower would work directly with the loan owner. The resulting agreement would have been beneficial to both parties. Today on the other hand, due in part to deregulation, we don’t know who the loan holder is in most cases. To solve this problem, under either the McCain or Biden proposal the government will step in and renegotiate the terms of the loans. Without the lenders input these negotiations will be one sided, and will benefit the borrowers who didn't educate themselves before making a the purchase. Due to their bad decision, instead of being punished, they will receive a benefit. In the case of someone who purchased a home for $300,000 two years ago, whose house is now worth $250,000, they get the benefit of a $50,000 payment on their principle--for free. Now once the market turns around and that home regains value, they are making an extra $50,000 on the home.

This is unfair to the millions of borrowers who purchased a home they could afford. They will see their neighbors who were on the verge of foreclosure keep their homes. This is a good thing of course, but when they go to sell their home, they will be put in a situation where those around them can afford to chop $50,000 off their selling price without losing money. Responsible borrowers will be punished for their neighbors irresponsibility.

This country is treading down a very dangerous path if we keep bailing out those that make these kinds of mistakes. For a capitalist economy to function we need risk to come with a cost if something goes wrong. And today it's even more important that home buying is included in that. It is unfortunate that Americans spent the last 25 years telling their children that a home is basically at 100% safe investment. It seems most of my generation was taught that you are always better off buying then renting. Unfortunately, that isn’t always true and purchasing a home is a risk. It may have been a safer risk then purchasing stocks for random IPO's but it was still a risk. There is no such thing as a 100% risk free investment. Putting your money in US treasury bonds or into a savings account is close but even that carries a small risk. Unfortunately, as our tax dollars continue to go toward saving those who lose money when taking a risk, we are sending a message to everyone to continue taking on absurd risks without concern. It appears the worse that can happen is falling into taxpayer-funded safety net. Or, even better, in the case of the housing plan that McCain and Biden proposed, a government mandated profit.

I understand that we need work hard at trying to keep people in their homes. With that though we need to impose a level of responsibility on the borrower. They negotiated the purchase price and they signed a contract agreeing to that price. If we can lower their interest rates to something very close to the current market and allow them to keep their homes go for it. If they can't keep their home without lowering the principle, then unfortunately they shouldn't have been in that house to start with. The citizens of this country need to step up and start taking responsibility for the direction we are heading. Let it start with paying back our debts.

A New Direction

I'm changing the direction of my blog. I'm going to move all my tech related content to a new site where I plan to write more. This new blog is currently in development and should go live sometime late October to mid November. Second I'm going to publish here a lot less. I currently publish about once every 2-3 days. Fortunatly, I have come to the realization that my writing skills are extremely rusty. I plan on writing less but also writing longer more thoroughly researched and thought out posts. I hope to publish once every 7-10 days for now and increase frequency as I regain my writing skills. I hope that those that frequent my blog will stick with me through this transition. If you can stand my writing now, it should only improve.

Observations and Thoughts on the 2nd Presidential Debate

First two things I need to disclose, I didn't watch the second presidential debate as intently as I watched the first presidential debate or the VP debate. I actually participated in a fantasy basketball draft at the start of the debate. Still, I want to make a some observations. Second, if you don't read my blog, I am an Obama supporter. I'm not overly happy with some of the things he's done, but he has my support.

Alan, I would order the secretary of the treasury to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of those homes -- at the diminished value of those homes and let people be able to make those -- be able to make those payments and stay in their homes.

  • And here is Biden during the VP debate. Source

Number two, with regard to bankruptcy now, Gwen, what we should be doing now -- and Barack Obama and I support it -- we should be allowing bankruptcy courts to be able to re-adjust not just the interest rate you're paying on your mortgage to be able to stay in your home, but be able to adjust the principal that you owe, the principal that you owe.

  • I am in agreement that we should allow renegotiation of interest rates. This would help everyone by allowing the banks to make some money on the loan instead of nothing when the home goes into foreclosure. I completely disagree with the idea of changing the principle owed on a loan. I would write more but this feels like a post itself.
  • Anyone who pays attention to body language can tell that McCain has very little respect for Obama. Obama doesn't appear to greatly respect McCain either, but it doesn't seem as though Obama considers McCain unworthy of his respect.
  • Did I mention that Obama really needs to learn to stop talking once in a while.
  • Obama gave two answers I really liked. He stated that health care should be a right which I am in 100% agreement of. He also commented that Americans are going to have to make sacrifices to get through the current crisis. I was not alive during the Korean war or Vietnam and haven't spent much time reading about that time period, but I know during both World Wars Americans went without a lot of things. We are fighting two wars right now, maybe it's time us non-military families sacrificed something other than being able to drive 200 miles for $20.
  • Tom Brokaw came across as a high school English teacher. Yes, the candidates agreed to the rules, but I would have rather seen both of them go at each other for the entire 90 minutes on one issue then hear Brokaw cry when they didn't listen to him.

I'm not going to spend hours tearing the debate apart, you can find that all over the web. These are just a few things that I either thought about or noticed last night. For a running tally of my thoughts, please visit my Twitter page. I didn't tweet a ton during the debate, but one tweet stood out to me. I said Brokaw impressed me, he did at the time, but as I thought about it more I changed my opinion.

Please remember everything you read here are my opinions. Please find out the facts before you make your decision on how to vote November 4th. This election is too important to be uninformed.