Category Archives: About

Cascades: Not Just a Pretty Mountain Range

Not being a network or IT professional I am sometimes forced to listen to people who supposedly know more than I do.� I’ve been wanting to add wireless capability to my existing wired home network.� Our current router had a lot of configuration data in it for servers operated by Agent Archangel so the plan would be to add another router to the system so we wouldn’t have to bring the crack team network offline.� The sales associate at Fry’s electronics informed me that the only way it would be possible to keep my current router would be if I purchased a wireless access point (WAP).� For those who don’t know, a WAP costs more than it’s wireless router counterpart and has much less functionality.� It’s basically a wireless router & switch only without the router & switch part.� Why anyone would pay that much for a device that does so little is beyond me.

Anyway, on a whim I decided to try it�(since I�was�pretty sure the concept should work)�and went and purchased a Linksys WRT350N Wireless-N Router.� I disabled the DHCP and gave the router a new IP address compatible with our network and then plugged one of it’s local LAN ports to one of the local LAN ports on the existing router.� Voila!� I now had a working wireless network connection.�

The magical networking term that describes what I did is “cascading routers” and you can cascade many routers together (this was all news to me).� For some reason I was only able to find this information on the Linksys support site after I knew what the term was.� I swear it wasn’t there before I knew it.

Coming Soon: The Crack Team 2.0

Yeah, I haven’t been terribly attentive to the site lately, and nobody else has been picking up the slack (you slackers!). The main reason is that I have been investigating upgrading the blog software, and I’ve decided on WordPress (what, you thought I ran out of things to say?).

For authors, the change will be pretty mind-blowing. I don’t anticipate it to a big adjustment, it will just be easier to do certain things, and will have a lot more potential for kick ass features. One of the WordPress idioms (or that of certain themes) is the “aside”. This is basically a real quick post, just 1-3 lines or so, to give people a heads up. We write some serious content here, and I’d like think that some of it is of journalistic quality (I won’t pontificate on the journal). But that also brings a certain intimidation factor, you feel like you have to write a whole article, edit it, proofread it a couple times, etc. Asides take the onus off the writing process, so you can just write stuff like:

X-Men: The Last Stand was outstanding. Yes, you should see it, and yes, in the theatre! Make it a good one!

See how easy that was? Let’s face it, you don’t need a whole review for a movie like X-Men; people on the fence just want to know it lives up to the hype (it does), and those on the other side of the fence won’t be convinced by your review. They also don’t read this blog, because it would steal time from reading, and eating pudding. In short, an aside is something you might preface with “BTW…”. (In fact, putting any post in the BTW category – and only that category – will render it as an aside.) Asides can also have comments, so it’s a quick conversation starter. I’ve often said you should post anything you would email or forward to more than one person, and now that can include quick links.

“Pages” are another WordPress benefit. They are separate from posts, but just as easy to create, and perfect for more permanent content. A prime example is Agent (author) pages – each agent can now write his own bio, and include a link to his personal post archive. If you have Rhapsody, Netflix, flickr, or accounts, it should be easy to include content from those in your page… I originally envisioned this site as an awesome knowledgebase of things we thought kicked ass. Pages allow us to slap together an article collaboratively. Best Restaurants. Best TV Shows. Best Movies. Best Albums. Lists are simple and powerful, and as team members of The Crack Team, we have an obligation to the public to disseminate such vital knowledge. We are saving lives.

There might be other cool features, check out the WordPress site (esp. themes and plugins) and let me know what you think. It may take some doing, but a lot more should be possible.

Also, I’ve started to set up “professional” blogs for various people, including Hulagun, Mystery, Masterchief, ThinkTank1, and myself. These are blogs to discuss serious topics related to your profession, and have domains like It’s stuff you want your name attached to, and while it probably could go here, I know that few of you who read this are really interested in my take on software development and its industry. If you are, good news, I’m creating a blog for that! And Hulagun will talk about design, Mystery, the entertainment industry, Masterchief, robotics, etc. Anyways, if you are interested, please tell me now whlie I’m setting things up.

Stay tuned for more…

Preventing Spam on MT 2.6

Getting a little fed up with cleaning up spam on the blog (although MT Blacklist helps a ton), I whipped up some SQL to turn off trackback pings and comments on older blog messages. I figure if nobody comments within 90 days of a post, it probably won’t happen by anyone I care to hear from. I’m using MySQL 4.1 and Movable Type 2.661, and this is what I did:

mysql> use your_mt_database_name;
mysql> update mt_entry
-> set entry_allow_pings=0 , entry_allow_comments=2
-> WHERE DATE_SUB(CURDATE(),INTERVAL 90 DAY) >= entry_created_on;

Just change the 90 in the WHERE clause to shorten or lengthen the comment/trackback grace period.

Oh, and don’t forget (like I did) to do a Rebuild of all files. Sometimes I forget this is static content.

The Crack Team Starts a WAR!

We’re trying something new here. Sometimes folks forget that, while I do most of the posting, this is a group blog. Any member of The Crack Team is welcome – nay, encouraged! – to participate. So I am starting a formal weblog author rotation (WAR) to improve participation.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp The WAR is an ordered list of authors. Each day, the next author on the list must post an article. He may post more if he wants, on any author’s day, but they won’t count towards his future days (you can’t post three articles and sit out the next two WAR cycles). When the WAR is over, it’s back to author #1 (me) and starts again. This way has new content every day. Each new author added gives the rest an extra day to post, lowering everyone’s committment. However, I have a hunch authors will respond by posting more often on “off days”.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp I’d like to note that I am asking for an official committment, which is designed in part to encourage authors to write more. Many of us are interested in writing, but sometimes need a kick in the pants to do so. So every day you’re late, you will be fined $50 by The Crack Team. Just kidding! You just owe us another article. Again, this is just to encourage your writing, and make sure we have fresh content.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp Speaking of content, we’re looking for original thought. Some have said that the blogosphere is divided between linkers and thinkers. There is nothing wrong with linking sites, but it should be accompanied by opinion or commentary. If you just don’t have much to say about it (and granted, some things speak for themselves), save it for your extra posts. It’s difficult to create objective criteria for this, beyond “your articles must be x lines long”, which I think is silly. Use your best judgement.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp One last thing to encourage you to sign on: this is an anonymous weblog. There is no published NOC list for The Crack Team. This grants you a precious freedom, especially when talking about your employer. Of course, I’m happy to link your codename to your website or email if you like (although the latter will surely get you lots of spam).

Here are the agents currently involved in the WAR effort:


And We’re Back!

So there’s been a paucity of posts since my whirlwind romance with World of Warcraft. Alas, the infatuation has faded. I still play, and plan to for some time, but its hold over me has been broken. I think I first realized this the weekend I spent more time reading about J2EE than playing. There have been other things on the plate, and I wasn’t sure how to get back into this. Mind you, this is still a group blog, nobody else was prevented from writing here. Of course, nobody’s prevented from reading, either, but that doesn’t stop them. (I am a master of circular logic).

Anyway, Blizzard released a game patch, which means my big set of community-created addons (Cosmos) has probably been broken, and it will take a couple days to fix it. Luckily, my characters will be gaining rest bonus (extra xp for time spent away from the game, basically rewarding you for not using their servers while still paying them money). So no big loss, and I’ll again be suckling at the teat of mother Blizzard in a few days time. ‘Til then, I write!

Server Upgrade

Over the weekend, I installed a 200GB hard drive (8MB cache, 7200RPM, $70 after MIR). This is primarily a backup drive, so I set up a couple cron jobs to manage this. Mail and web content will be copied daily, and home directories will be copied weekly. If you need daily backups of your directories, you should be able to add your own crontab entry. The home directories are backed up to /backup/home/.