April, 2007:

April Poker Update

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Since I’m not likely to be playing tonight, I can post my April Poker results now.

I invested (risked) a total of $352 during the month. I played in 24 tournaments. 16 were 1-table Hold’Em tourneys for $11 each, and 8 were multi-table Omaha Hi/Lo tourneys for $22 each. Without attempting to, I ended up spending exactly the same amount on 1-table Hold’Em as I did on multi-table Omaha.

Bottom line was ugly: -$94.80 for the month. Clearly, this month, I am glad I wasn’t doing this for a living. 😉

That said, I actually played well this month, and better than I’ve been in a while. I’ve learned that no one wants to hear about “bad beats” and “bad luck”, and honestly, it doesn’t bug me when it happens to me anywhere near what it used to, so I don’t even have the need to “get it off my chest” like I used to. Suffice it to say that there were a few key plays that made the difference between a plus month and a minus one…

Here is a highlight of the month: The multi-table Omaha games average around 80 players with the top 10 getting prize money. Out of the 8 that I played, I only made the money once. I came 7th, and received $110 for my $22 in that one. That said, I also finished 13th once, and 12th once, so I am getting close frequently enough that it’s not a waste to be playing in these tourneys.

Anyway, once I get started on poker I can write forever, I’ll leave it at that. Last statistic is that I played those 24 tourneys over 11 days, so that’s still 19 days this month where I didn’t play a single second of poker. Gotta retire soon, so I can get my playing time up. 😉

Harry Connick Jr.

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After going on and on about all of the live music we’ve taken in lately, friends of ours surprised us with tickets to see Harry Connick Jr. this past Saturday night at Radio City Music Hall.

Neither Lois and I were particularly familiar with him. We both knew he had an exceptional voice, and we’ve seen him act as well (mostly in Will and Grace on TV). I thought of him as a “crooner”, a modern-day Frank Sinatra.

We were definitely looking forward to the experience, but neither of us was excited from a musical perspective. We were extremely excited about spending the time with our friends, and weren’t disappointed in that regard.

The evening started at the Peking Duck House. ‘Nuff said about that. 🙂

The concert was wonderful. Radio City Music Hall is a fantastic place. We were in nose-bleed territory, but still enjoyed everything. There was an 11-piece “big band” playing with him, and they were amazing. For roughly half the show, two other Jazz stars played with them, Leroy Jones and Lucien Barbarin.

Now for the star. Harry Connick Jr. was great. His voice was as good as expected, but neither of us realized he was such a talented pianist. Moreover, his charm is infectious, and when he talked to the crowd, he was mesmerizing. There were lots of other wonderful touches on the night (including a proposal from one of his trombone players to his girlfriend, now fiancee) 😉 and his daughters dancing on the stage with him during the finale.

Anyway, we’re now officially fans of his, and can’t thank our friends enough!

Christening a new server

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I’ve been quiet lately, not because I had nothing to say, or no time to say it, but I’ve been busy building a new server. I didn’t want to post to the old one, once I got the blogging software running on the new one, with the database correctly migrated over. Since that was an early accomplishment, blogging just had to wait.

Anyway, 95% of my services are now on the new server. That’s the subject of either a very long post, or a number of long posts 😉 but I’ll save that for some other time.

This is just the christening of the server in a public forum, with this short post. 🙂

Networking mystery solved!

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I run my own server for a variety of things, and I’m the SA (SysAdmin). I get a kick out of it, so I don’t find it to be a grind.

One of the things that I run is a Jabber server. On my laptop, I use GAIM to connect to it. I’ve been running it for a long time, and for the most part, I really like GAIM as a client, and Jabber as a service. Unfortunately, if I’m on for my typical 12 hour day, GAIM will lose it’s connection to my server at least 10 times. It reconnects within a few seconds, but every one on my buddy list sees me “flapping” (logging off and then back on).

It has been really annoying, but I never spent even one minute trying to track it down. I assumed that either GAIM was flakey, or the Jabber server I was running was flakey, etc.

For many reasons (most of them more paranoid than sound), I have strongly resisted running IMAP as my main email protocol. As a result, I use POP to retrieve my emails, and back up my files on to external USB disks. For those of you who have read my past posts, you’ll know that I spent an absurd amount of time playing with SPAM filtering over the past 1-2 months.

As a result, I ended up with a rhythm that I like. All suspicious mail gets auto-filtered into IMAP folders (yes, IMAP, because it’s not intended to stay on the server), and all good mail continues to be polled and pulled continuously via POP. Whenever I want to check on my spam, I open up the IMAP folders, scan them quickly, and either dispose of the spam permanently, or drag a good email into my inbox, etc.

When I first started, it worked fine. Then I started doing it for Lois as well (with equally good results). After a week or two, IMAP started hanging relatively frequently. It always worked, but it was way more annoying than the GAIM disconnect/reconnect dance. In the case of IMAP, I was actively clicking on something because I was ready to process it, and the hangs (even if they were only 30 seconds in length) were killing me!

So, I googled a bit, and discovered a likely culprit. Courier-imap (which I have been very happy with forever) has a configuration variable that by default, only permits 4 simultaneous connections from a single IP. Of course, since I was NAT’ed, all of my connections were coming from the same IP. I was proud of myself for finding this, and I upped the variable and restarted Courier-imap. It seemed to work. However, after a few days (and perhaps more folders and clicks), it started to reliably hang again.

I upgraded to the latest Courier-imap with no change. This was too maddening. So, I started watching the /var/log/messages file. When I was hanging, I was seeing a number of IPTABLES log messages being spewed. It turns out that packets from my laptop were being dropped (rejected!). Huh? My firewall is supposed to let me in, not keep me out!

So, the specific packets were dropped for being in the state “NewNotSyn” (you can google it yourself if you care) 😉

After some serious googling, it turns out that this is a known problem in two frequent configurations:

  1. Two firewalls in between the client and application (this is true for me)
  2. Microsoft Networking being the client, with Linux being the server (oops, that’s me too).

So, after changing my firewall config a bit, IMAP never hangs any longer (yeah, that’s right, never). As a bonus, in three days since I’ve made the change, GAIM has only flapped once (perhaps twice). GAIM still seems overly sensitive to any network hiccup, but it’s clear that the dropped packets were killing GAIM, whereas Thunderbird’s IMAP implementation kept trying relentlessly, and eventually always reconnected…

Whew. If I hadn’t started mucking with spam filters, then I wouldn’t have started using IMAP, then I wouldn’t have started hanging on IMAP, then I wouldn’t have discovered the dropped packets, and I wouldn’t have solved my long-standing, long-suffering GAIM problem.

Another happy ending. 🙂

The Allman Brothers Band

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OK, so last night was the night. My friend and I went to see the Allman Brothers Band (ABB) at the Beacon Theater. Previously, the only other time I was at the Beacon was for Dave Koz on Valentine’s Day. That show was awesome, but the acoustics were horrible. I suspected it was the sound guy, doing a terrible job at the sound board, and not the theater.

I was right 🙂

The acoustics for ABB were fantastic. As I described it to Lois (for those you of you read this post, you’ll recall that Lois went with my friend’s wife to see a different show last night), with the music wailing, one of the three drummers pulled out a tambourine, and when he tapped it (that’s right, not beat the hell out of it), you could hear the tiny symbols crystal clearly. We were sitting in the last row in the orchestra. Wow.

So, I truly enjoyed the show, and wasn’t disappointed at all. That said, two things to note on the negative side, even though they were minor in comparison with my overall enjoyment:

  1. We had to stand for nearly 90% of the show. When everyone else stands, you stand, or you may as well be home listening to your CD’s. It’s not that I get tired (I’m in pretty good shape), but I just prefer to enjoy the show while seated. Oh well, the energy level was good enough to carry me through (on stage, and in the crowd as well!).
  2. By any measure, ABB is noted primarily for the dueling lead guitars. The two guys currently fulfilling that role are no slouches (Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks), in fact, they are obviously talented. That said, they aren’t even remotely close to Duane Allman (deceased in 1971) and Dickie Betts (still playing, but no longer with ABB). I never saw Duane play, but I have seen Dickey live. Live at the Filmore East is one of my favorite albums, so I also know how Duane played.

They opened with a famous song, and I realized the difference in the guitarists right away. But, song number 2 was Statesboro Blues (one of their best), and in that one, the difference was stunning. Still, the song was fantastic, and their riffs outstanding, just not perfect. 😉

Aside from the guitars, the other thing that I always credit ABB with is a driving percussion section. They are one of the few bands with 3 full-time drummers. They are awesome, and I found myself concentrating on them a lot during the evening. They also had 2 guest drummers sit in on a few songs. On one of them, it was 4 drummers playing alone on stage, and it was mesmerizing!

Finally, the base player (Oteil Burbridge) was amazing.

All-in-all, a really fun night, that will be long remembered.