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.

Thoughts and Links 10/3/08 Edition

  1. I keep reading articles stating that we need a solution to increase spending to save the economy. Why can't people see that spending is what got us into this mess in the first place.
  2. I once had someone say the difference between people in Asia and America was that American's use credit, and people from Asian countries save before spending money. I said the Asian countries were smart, turns out they were.
  3. John Jansen declared the current crisis "the financial equivalent of the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution." That's pretty bad, and it is the rich that are getting killed, most average American's still haven't felt the pinch from this. Of course they were being pinched long before the markets started collapsing.
  4. Wells Fargo made a good move, funny how they have capital to make this move. I'm going out on a limb and saying some smart people must work for Wells Fargo.
  5. The bailout bill sucks, and it's even worse with the added pork. Good thing we have John McCain to tell us next week about how pork barrel spending is the reason we are in this mess. (He voted for the bill.)
  6. My new music player is Banshee. I switched after Amarok lost my database for the 10th time. I'm not quite as happy with the interface as I was with Amarok's, but at least it's stable.
  7. Twitter had more difficulty staying up during the VP debate then during the presidential debate. At one point I just got a server unreachable error instead of a Fail Whale. That was a shock.
  8. People keep writing about how Sarah Palin survived her debate against Biden. Unfortunately, the presidency isn't a play, you don't get to rehearse your lines. Yes I know Biden rehearsed to, but he at least could answer questions outside of his comfort zone. Palin went from mortgages to energy in one question in the span of 30 seconds.
  9. I'm leaving for the weekend today, I set my fantasy lineups and just hope that no major news breaks today or Saturday, could really use a win in both leagues.

An opportunity lost-A great season played

The Twins season ended last night in a 1-0 game against our biggest rival, the Chicago White Sox. It was a game that the Twins couldn't win. Neither team could get a hit, Chicago had 5, Twins 2, as both pitchers were phenomenal last night. The game came down to two plays, a play at the plate where A.J. tagged out Cuddyer to end the inning, and a one run blast from Jim Thome. It is games like this that highlight the Twins inability to hit home runs. We can generate 5-6 runs hitting singles and doubles, but when you can't get the bat on the ball, you have to be able to bring everyone home on one mistake, even if everyone is just you. It was a great game though, and I have to give credit to the Sox, they didn't let the sweep by us ruin their season, instead they went out and won three huge games in a row to make it to the playoffs.

I wanted to write a post about the season but the more I think about it the more I don't know what to write. It was a great season, the team exceeded expectation to such a high level it was incredible. Our new guys, Gomez, Span, and Casilla, are so much fun to watch, and our stars are some of the best in the game both on and off the field.

Instead, today I'm left feeling cheated by the organization. We were not expected to do anything this year. Instead we overachieved, played insanly good baseball, and did it in the perfect year. With the Tigers and the Indians down and the Sox injury riddled the majority of the year, this was the perfect opportunity to make the playoffs and make some noise. You saw this coming at the All-Star break and you could also tell that they could really use just one more piece.

Offensively, bringing in a bat at third base would have been nice, but where we really needed help was our bullpen. It wasn't deep enough to hold up once Neshek went down. It cost us the division. With a solid bullpen we would have most likely won at least 6 more games in the regular season, and Sox wouldn't have had a chance to win it all in a play in game. Instead the organization sat on their hands, did nothing at the deadline, and brought in aging everyday Eddy Guardaudo 2/3 of the way through. It wasn't enough and they cheated the fans and their players out of an opportunity to see what this team could do in the playoffs.

I'm not going to rant anymore this post, like I said this was a great season and this team is possibly my favorite team in any sport ever. I hope they re-sign Punto in the offseason, and hope they can bringing in a nice 20-25 homerun guy for third base. Shoring up the bullpen has to be the priority though, as offensivly we did have the 3rd highest scoring team in the league this year. I'll be cheering for them next year and hope we can have a season as magical as this one.

Thoughts and Links 9/30 Edition

With some McCain supporters trying to push the narrative that Obama is secretly a Muslim sleeper agent, why haven't I heard that McCain was brainwashed in Vietnam and will turn into a rogue president when he takes office.

I think the G1 appears too small in all of it's photos. I was concerned it was much to small but once I saw the dimensions it is actually similar to the iPhone. T-Mobile needs to make sure photos compare the G1 favorably to the iPhone. G1 Dimensions (4.60” x 2.16” x 0.62”) iPhone dimensions(4.5" x 2.4" x 0.46")

The Bailout failure was not a terrible thing, the plan wasn't the best we could come up with. Hopefully congress takes the time to develop a plan that benefits everyone.

Either the markets are not efficient or the concern for the markets is exaggerated. If you listened to the experts and the media, if the market was truly efficient, the DOW should be much lower than it is right now.

McCain continues to look erratic, while Obama demonstrated an inability to take the lead when he was asked to. Neither candidate did themselves any favors this week. With a president who is not only a lame duck but dead duck we need the candidates to show what they are made of, both failed.

If you are under 40 you shouldn't be worried about yourself, worry about the generation who is looking to retire in the next 5-10 years. They are going to have a hard time doing so unless things turn around very quickly.

The Bailout Implosion

Don't get me wrong I don't like the idea of the bailout, but the more I read the more I realize we need to do something. Maybe the deal on the table wasn't the right thing, but read this quote. From the NYtimes.

Mr. McCain had already met with House Republicans to hear their concerns. He later said on ABC that he had known going into the White House that “there never was a deal,” but he kept that sentiment to himself.


McCain knew but didn't say anything, and people are really going to vote for him. This man has absolutly no leadership capabilities, we can't afford to have him in the White House. Whether the republicans are right about this plan or not I really don't care at this point, but why waste everyone's time. McCain should have stood up and said, "wait, this isn't going to work so let's sit back down and keep working on this thing." Instead he walked into the meeting which appeared to many participants to be the final step before voting, and apparently stood idely by as the negotiations imploded. I wouldn't let this man run a 2 star diner, let alone the U.S. Government.

The Twins Do it Again

I'm currently in shock. Tonight's game started out innocently enough, the Twins took a 1 run lead, and then things imploded. Slowey gets knocked around concluding with getting hit by a ball in the forearm, ending his night. His wild throw with that injured forearm ended up costing two runs. The White Sox were up 6-1, then suddenly chip, chip, chip, we were down by 1. Then Gomez and Span do their thing, and it was tied.

Good lord what a finish, after they play their game and advance Punto to 3rd by a sacrifice and a steal, Cassila knocks a bloop hit into centerfield to WIN THE GAME. what a night, don't expect much from me tomorrow becuase I'm drained. All I know is we are ahead by a 1/2 game in the Central, we are at home against the Royals. You can bet I will be cheering for the Indians all weekend.

Update

If you visit this site you have probably noticed a fairly major redesign. I spent a month working on this design and I hope you like it. I have tested it fairly extensivly in Firefox and Chrome. I know there are a few oddities in IE6 and hope to get those ironed out in the next few weeks.

A few other things I want to mention. The categories and pages menu are now drop down menus on the top menu bar. Ads have been removed for now. Also you will see a new item in the sidebar called 'My Web Activity," this is a widget that gets it information from Profilactic.com. This is a great site that aggregates activity from all over the web. I have also added the ability to subscribe to my posts via email. You can input your email address in the sidebar and be updated whenever I post. (Edit: This plugin appears to be broken, if you wish to get added to the mailing list please send an email to posts@connermccall.com. Sorry for the inconvenience.)

One other item of note, my comment line now states that it wants you to join others that have been wrong. This doesn't mean I think you are all wrong, instead it's a homage to one of my favorite xkcd comics. I appreciate all of my readers and hope that no one is offended. If you are, well please refer to the comment line on on my posts ;).

The site is XHTML 1.0 valid except for a few random bits of widget code. The framework is based on YUI which is Yahoo!'s user interface library. Nothing else too exciting to see here, I'll probably be making a few minor adjustments as things proceed, but please drop a note in the comments if anything is too out of wack.

The Surprising Twins and Fall Beer

This is my favorite time of the year. The weather outside is beautiful, cool, and crisp. You can spend the day outside without a jacket, yet at night it cools down and your bedroom can be almost cold, which is perfect for sleeping. The trees are turning and if you have a reason to head up to northern Minnesota, photo opportunities are not difficult to find(of course this is always the case). This all means winter is coming, but by choosing to live in Minnesota it comes with the territory.

This time of year also means some other things, hockey season is just around the corner, the NBA season is starting soon, football season is already here, and baseball is entering the final weeks. This year the Minnesota Twins have been a huge surprise. As it's been dubbed here it is "The Summer of Stun" The Twins had traded off their best pitcher, Johan Santana and lost Torrii Hunter to free agency. No one expected much from them, .500 wouldn't have caused anyone to stress. Instead the Twins shocked us all. They kept winning, and kept winning. In the division the Indians and Tigers kept losing, none of this was expected. Halfway through the season the fans started to realize that if we could keep pace with the powerhouse White Sox we would have a chance at winning the division and making it to the playoffs.

If you follow the Twins you know that this week they play the White Sox in what is as big a series as any series in the playoffs. If the Twins win all three we will be leading the division heading into the final 3 games of the season, we wouldn't be in the playoffs yet, but the chances would increase dramaticly. Last nights game was huge, the Twins looked like they had until the last 4-5 weeks of the season. Running the bases correctly, hitting with runners in scoring positions, and completing the perfect suicide squeeze. We won 9-3 and went into tonight feeling good. As I write this post, they are up 3-1 and are making the White Sox's best pitcher look mediocre. As a fan you have to love this series, it's a hated rival, it's a home game, and everyone has to remember 2006 when we beat the Sox and saw the Royals win to clinch the division on the last day of the season. As a player they have to be happy, and even if they were to lose, the fans, though dissapointed in the loss, won't be upset becuase they overshot their expectations for the season by so much.

The other great this about this season is the trickling into the liquor stores of the brewery's seasonal beers. Spring sees the release of the summer seasonals but for me fall and winter brews are by far the best of the two. With Octoberfest fast approaching, you can find more and more Octoberfest beers. Currently I'm enjoying Schell's Octoberfest, an excellent beer that is perfect for the cool evening. It has a great hoppy flavor that isn't overwelling yet is very complex. Personally I give this beer a 4.5/5. The last beer I purchased was Point Brewery's Oktoberfest. This was another very good beer, it's not quite as flavorful as the Schell, but it is a very good beer. Though not quite as good as the Schell, I would rate it a 4/5.

Speaking of beer, I'm dry so I'm going to conclude this post. Remember, cheer for the Twins and go grab a six pack of a fall season, you won't be dissapointed.

As I was finishing this Cory Koskie was on with Dick and Bert on FSN talking about his injury. His story is gut-wrenching and I want to point you to the event he was promoting which is happing in October 4th.

UPdate 9/24/08 9:55pm: The Twins Won tonight 3-2, pulling to within a 1/2 game of the White Sox. Great game.

Site Redesign Update

I wanted to give a quick update on my new site redesign. It has been a long process, but I finally have something I'm happy with. I currently only have the initial design done, There is still a bit of work to do styling the individual posts and sidebar items. Then I need to develop the comment and 404 pages. Happily things should move quickly now that I have a primary design done. Here is a screenshot for your viewing pleasure.

The Social Web, an Introduction

The Internet is a wondeful thing. Everyday, millions of people launch a web browser, go online and consume information in vast amounts. They socialize using e-mail and post to their friends walls on Facebook. But the web is becoming so much more and I want to point out a few tools and site than everyone should use.

The point of these sites is to utilize the web as a social medium instead of a consumable product. Learning to comment, communicate, and participate is not only fun, but you will get a much deeper experience every time you log on.

Let's start with my current favorite web app, Twitter. When you first sign up, you are presented with a box asking the question "What are you doing?". Looking at this you would think Twitter is like Facebook status messages. It is so much more than that though. The best way to learn about Twitter is to watch this video. I use Twitter for many things: I keep up on the latest news, discover interesting websites, follow games, get fantasy football advice, connect with people who share my interests, and get questions answered.

To get started with Twitter, sign up, and start looking for people to follow. Start with me first. I go by the name sloped on Twitter. View to my profile and click follow. Now you can see my updates on the public tab. I also recommend doing a search for your location using the search box on top of the page. It's a good way to find local users to follow and befriend. The last place I am going to recommend is twitterholic. This site shows the top users on Twitter by follower. There is a good chance that if someone has many followers they are doing something interesting. Try following a few of them and see what you think, you can always unfollow if you aren't happy with their tweets. .

The next app that I am going to recommend is Google Reader. GoogleReader is an RSS reader. View a quick introduction to Google Reader here. For those of you who don't know what RSS is, this video is a must see. What RSS does is allows you to pull content from a variety of sources across the web. There are many different readers available, but the benefit of Google Reader is the ability to share items you find interesting. This allows you to push items to your friends using RSS to, allowing them to read them at their leisure. It is a much more productive way of dealing with information then emailing your friends and family links. To subscribe to my shared items on Google Reader go here.

The final social service that I want to talk about is actually a service many of you probably already use. During the recent site redesign, Facebook released a great new featured called import. Import allows you to take your activity across the web and put it on your wall easily. As you can see you have a variety of options as to what you can import. I currently import my flickr photos, blog posts, delicious bookmarks, last.fm songs, and google reader shared items. This is a great way to keep your friends and family up to date on what you are currently interested in.

This feature is what convinced me that I liked the new Facebook design. Though it is different, I think the inclusion of options like this allows you to share more with your friends and family.

The beauty of these tools is that the more you use them the more content you start to get from other users. I have cut down my feeds in GoogleReader as I use Twitter more. I find more interesting content from the people I follow. As more of you friends on Facebook begin to share more content you discover more information, more songs, and see more of their photos. Add in the multitude of discussions you can have and suddenly you are not only more informed but you are finding out things about people you never would have before.

The Perfect Linux Server Part 1

Designing the perfect Linux Server isn't difficult, it can be time consuming but with a plan, you should be able to get everything running quickly. This post will lay out the groundwork of what services the server should provide and how we divide it up among our virtual machines.

The main services that I want the server to provide are web, ssh, mail transport, dns-caching, and file serving. Some additional, but non-essential tasks could be bittorrent, ftp, streaming media, and VPN. Of course their are a ton of things you could add to this list, but these are the services I feel are the most useful.

The next step is to list the applications that we will need to run to accomplish these tasks.

  • Web Server
    • Apache
    • Mysql or other database is usually necessary
    • PHP
  • SSH Access
    • open-ssh
  • Mail Transport
    • I use Qmail, but there are many options
  • Dns Caching
    • I prefer Tiny-DNS, Bind is also a good choice
  • File Server
    • Samba
  • Bittorrent
    • rtorrent
  • FTP
    • I use SSH for file transfers and you should to
  • Streaming Media
    • Lots of options, ampache and Jinzora are who popular ones.
  • VPN
    • OpenVPN

Some other services that I install to keep an eye on things

  • Munin
  • Nagios

So how do we divide these systems up. The choice is yours, but for this tutorial I am going to use the following setup.

  • Zeus: Domain0. This is the top level system that all other servers run on top of
    • Xen
    • Qmail-send
    • Munin-node
    • SSH
  • Pegasus: Web Server
    • Apache
    • PHP5
    • Mysql-Server
    • Qmail-send
    • Munin-node
    • SSH
  • Hades: File Server
    • Samba
    • rtorrent - This makes the most sense here as we will want to access the files downloaded from other systems
    • Qmail-send
    • Munin-node
    • SSH
  • Athena: Monitoring and support services
    • Tiny-DNS
    • Apache - To allow for remote viewing of system status
    • Munin
    • Munin-node
    • Nagios
    • Qmail-send
    • OpenVPN

A few things that I need to point out in regards to this list. First, I actually installed Samba on Pegasus(Web Server) so I can edit my development files dirctly. You could host things on Hades and just mount the share under your web root if you wished. It also would make sense to do all development on a seperate server, I don't due to the limitations of having one IP address.

A few other points, I don't actually run an SMTP server on any of my servers. I use Google apps to receive and store my mail. Qmail is only installed to send mail from the servers. It is trivial to install qmail-smtp to allow you to receive mail. Another change that I would make if I had better hardware would be to seperate the system running apache from the system running MySQL. This is mainly a security enhancement but is not extremely important.