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.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Empire

I went to "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Empire", Friday night. Though not great, it was entertaining. If you like the original Mummy movies I would recommend going. I swear I saw a review that said Jet Li was a good actor recently. If you don't want those hopes dashed I would actually not recommend this movie. There are a few scenes where he just looks uncomfortable in his role.

The best part of the night though was the previews for both Harry Potter and the next James Bond movie. I have to say I'm getting back into movies again after a 10 year hiatus where the only movies I saw in theatre were the Lord of The Rings trilogy.

Driveway Turned Garden

Paradise Unpaved | Franke James

Lovely illustrated story about changing a hot, dry, bland, and environmentally unfriendly driveway into a lush paradise.

Okay I'm going overboard but check it out.

Peach Tea

When I went grocery shopping on Thursday, I needed some tea. I was not at my usual Cub, I had to go to Office Max so I ended up at the Apple Valley Cub. Unlike my normal store, they sell bulk tea there. I compared the prices and realized I needed to buy my tea in bulk from now on. It was on sale for 99 center per ounce, most bagged tea wasn't even 1 oz total weight and cost around 3-4 dollars.

I purchased a couple of different varieties. I bought some mint green tea. I love green tea and I had bought some Bigelow mint green tea recently and found it really refreshing. But the tea that I'm falling in love with is the summer peach tea. It is phenomenal, refreshing yet the tea flavor is very evident under the peach. It makes great iced tea. It seems to have a pretty high caffeine content for tea though, so be aware.

Cameron's Coffee - Bulk Teas

Chasing High Interest Rates: Via Get Rich Slowly

Ask the Readers: Should I Chase Higher Interest Rates? ∞ Get Rich Slowly.

Interesting post regarding looking for the best savings rate at various banks. I think it's fairly common sense for most people. The best information is toward the bottom of the post where JD lists the best interest rates at well known banks. Good information if you are looking to open a new savings account.

Quick App Recommendation

Well it's a bookmarklet to be honest, but it is an incredibly useful tool. I discovered it listening to This week in Tech at twit.tv.(Great Podcast by the Way) It is called SuperGenPass. It is a bookmarklet, which means that it is in your browsers bookmarks but instead of going to a web page, it performs an action.

This bookmarket allows you to generate random passwords using a word or phrase. Basically what you do is you choose a Master Password. Now when you visit a site you want to log into, you input your Master Password into the password field and click on the bookmarklet and it generates a random password. Now the great thing about this is that it allows you to use the same Master Password for all websites, but when it generates the random password it uses the domain you are at. In my blog's case it would use connermccall.com as part of the password creation process. Using a random test phrase as my master password, this bookmarklet generated this password 'zTew5ZoSsfjU'.

This means that you only need to remember your master password, but you can use original and secure passwords at all of your sites, and since it's a bookmarket, as long as you have access to your browser or the web, you can always recreate your passwords. This is a great way to increase your safety and security on the Internet, without causing much inconvienence, which really should be the point of all security software.

A Nation of ..

I was on CNN this morning and saw a poll asking "If you had the chance, would you want to go to the Olympics in Beijing?". I thought to myself, "If someone gave me a ticket and said go to China and watch the best athletes in the world perform, would I go? Well yeah I would go, in a hearbeat." So, doing something I don't normally do I clicked yes and then submitted my vote. Then I saw the results.

Votes 31% -Yes 69%-No

You are kidding me! 69% of readers would not want to go to the Olympics if they had the chance. I know the poll isn't scientific, but still, I would expect at least a 50/50 split on this. Do people really thing that by not going to the Olympics we are really going to change the Chinese government?

Cannon Valley Trail

This past weekend I kept myself pretty busy. First I went to the monthly meeting of Penguins Unbound. There, I listened to Paul Cutler give a talk on Foresight Linux. This was interesting and getting out and trying to become involved in the Linux community in the Twin Cities is definitely something that I am going to continue. Listening to someone who is involved in the decision making for a successful distribution was great and I felt that I have a better understanding of how much work goes into maintaining an established distribution.

The second part of my day was taken up by driving to Cannon Falls and biking the Cannon Valley Trial. It was great, the trail is well maintained, there are a ton of rest stops along the way, and it's tree covered so you don't get fried when you forget sunscreen, as I did. When I started the riding I planned on going about 15 miles and turning around, thinking that 30 miles would be about all I could do, but by the time I hit 15 miles I decided to just continue to the end. So I ended up riding 40 miles total on Saturday. I was exhausted at the end of it, but it was a great way to spend the afternoon. If you are in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, I highly recommend making the trip to Red Wing or Cannon Falls and taking the trail. It is $3 for a wheel pass, but it's worth every penny.

Conky with Compiz

Yesterday I wrote about compiling conky from source. Today I want to give a quick rundown on how I set up conky to run with Compiz Fusion with multiple desktops.

First, this doesn't work perfectly, unfortunately conky uses pseudo transparency, which means it draws it's own background. This means that if you run one conky instance it will draw the first background it finds. Which is fine until you use multiple background. This causes conky to have the first desktops background on any other desktops you move to. Looks kind of funny.

First a caveat, by using this method you will no longer have desktop icons. If this is a problem for you, this method won't be your best solution.

First the windows settings in my conkyrc:

own_window yes
own_window_hints undecorated
own_window_type normal
own_window_transparent no

This lets conky draw inside it's own window, does not show borders, and draws a background.
Second you should Nautilus from drawing your desktop. This is also what keeps you from having icons. Run
gconf and go to apps>nautilus>preferences and unpick "show_desktop"

At this point you could quit, but conky will be in your taskbar, and won't have transparency. So the next step is to make changes to your compiz settings. Go to System>Preferences>CompizConfig Settings Manager. (If you do not have this entry run sudo apt-get compizconfig-settings-manager)

First go to Window Management and select Window Rules. In each of the following boxes add the following entry "class=Conky". Skip Taskbar, Skip Pager, Below, Sticky, None movable windows, Non resizable windows, Non minimizable windows, Non Maximizable windows, None closable windows, and No Focus. This will force conky to remain below your windows and sit on all desktops.

Next set some transparency. Click back, then General Options. Choose the Opacity Settings Tab, and choose New under Window Opacities. Under the option Opacity windows put class=Conky. For the window values I use 50, but you can play with this until it suits you.

Now conky should meld well with your desktop, and allow you to have different backgrounds on each desktop.

Build Conky From Source in Ubuntu

I've been using conky for about a week now, and I kept noticing that it would use approximatly 1-5% of my cpu quite frequently. Not that I don't have the cpu cycles to spare, but that seemed a little goofy. I messed around with the .conkyrc configuration file but it still seemed to take up a bit too much of my cpu.

Falling back to my days of Gentoo, I decided that the best thing to try would be to build conky from source. Here are the steps I took on Ubuntu 8.04 amd64. First I downloaded the source, this should be done from conky's website. I downloaded the latest version which is 1.5. Then I extracted the source file I downloaded the .tar.bz file so I used the following command.

tar -xjf conky-1.6.0.tar.bz2

I then moved into the directory created using cd

cd conky-1.6.0/

These are the configure options I used.

./configure --enable-wlan --enable-nvidia --enable-rss --enable-network

Conky's configure is excellent, it runs quickly and gives you a list of all the options that have been enabled. Review this file and be sure that everything you want conky to be able to do is enabled.

Then run the compile

make

Then Install

sudo make install

There you are done and you should find conky runs smoother on your system. Of course this isn't guaranteed but it can't hurt.

Shrimp Tacos

I was craving tacos on Wednesday, which is my weekly grocery day. It happened to be that my grocery store has shrimp on sale for a reasonable price so I decided to make tacos using shrimp. This is the recipe that I came up with.

I serve these cold, but you could definitely heat up the shrimp and beans. They are super easy and helped me up my protein intake, which was really causing problems for me.

  • Flat Out Wraps - I like these due to their high fiber content
  • Cooked Shrimp - Any size will do, I like smaller sized shrimp as I feel like you get more per serving
  • Black Beans - I would recommend preparing them yourself if you have the time and inclination
  • Salsa
  • Spinach - Lettuce will work to, but spinach just has so much more nutritional value
  • Lime Wedges
  • Sour Cream
  • Cheese - I use sharp cheddar as it requires less to achieve the right flavor

They are very simple, I season the shrimp with cajun spice and assemble the tacos. Before rolling I squeeze the lime wedge over the top, this really helps bring out the flavors of the beans and spice. I use full flavor sour cream and just use a small amount, you could omit it but I have a weakness for sour cream.