Former Federal Reserve Official Apologizes for Quantative Easing

CNBC:

“My argument is not that QE was not at all useful,” he said on CNBC’s “Fast Money.”

“I believe that at the time, it was just one more tool that the Fed introduced to try to help the economy,” he said. “My point, ultimately, is the idea that very quickly into QE, it started becoming obvious that it wasn’t working in the way that it was supposed to.”

The article quotes someone from Rutgers Business School, who wonders what the end game for QE is going to be. The stock market – particularly the banks buying stock – is addicted to the easy money of QE. When can the Fed withdraw the money without crashing the markets?

One other point from the article – the rise in the stock market mostly benefited the already wealthy, including the banks. That was the indirect transfer of wealth.

Other transfers were more direct. The Fed bought up hundreds of billions in the banks’ bad mortgages (as opposed to underwater mortgages from the little guy). The Fed loaned money to banks at a low rate and banks used the money to buy Treasuries that paid a higher rate of interest. Some of that may have been by design, to repair the damage done by years of bad lending, but the net result was moral hazard and a massive transfer of wealth to the wealthiest.

Posted in Economics | Tagged , | Comments Off

Conversation about Opposite Day

7 YEAR OLD NATALIE: Can I?
ME: Nope. Sorry.
7 YEAR OLD NATALIE: Can I pleeease?
ME: Nope.
7 YEAR OLD NATALIE: Today is Opposite Day. If you say I can’t, that means I can.
ME: It’s Opposite Day?
7 YEAR OLD NATALIE: Uh huh.
ME: If it’s Opposite Day then if you say it’s Opposite Day that means it isn’t Opposite Day.
7 YEAR OLD NATALIE: That’s not fair.

Posted in Home Life | Tagged | Comments Off

QoTD – James Baldwin

“Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart, for his purity, by definition, is unassailable.”
  — James Baldwin

Posted in Quotes | 1 Comment

Meet the Beatles

Nine year old Katie has discovered the Beatles. Now she can listen to my Beatles albums and we can talk about those together. Beatlemania sure beats the heck out of Bieber Fever.

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Cloudflare Update Week 2

Last week saw a 17% increase in page speed compared to the control period before using Cloudflare. I had a feeling I wasn’t seeing the full speed boost. Because lesjones.com has so many pages and images, it seemed likely that Cloudflare hadn’t seen them yet, so it hadn’t cached them.

To solve that problem I ran a linkchecker that accessed every linked page and embedded image on the site. That seems to have helped. Compared to the control period, performance has improved 34%. For my site that’s an average load time that’s about 2.3 seconds faster. Not bad at all considering it took almost no effort.

 

Cloudflare Results in Google Analytics

One thing that concerns me is that the page load sample for last week was extremely small – just seven pages compared to 24 for the control period. For various reasons Google Analytics can’t* and doesn’t** collect page timings for all pages.

GA-Oct-24-page-load-sample

Both of those page load samples are very small as a percentage of traffic – just 0.45 for last week. At work the number is about 16%. I’m really not sure why the sample here is so small, but I’m going to continue the test for another week to be sure the results aren’t a fluke.

* From Google Analytics Help: “Site speed tracking occurs only for visits from those browsers that support the HTML5 Navigation Timing interface or have the Google Toolbar installed. Typically this includes: Chrome, Firefox 7 and above, Internet Explorer 9 and above, Android 4.0 browser and above, as well as earlier versions of Internet Explorer with the Google Toolbar installed.”

** That same help section says that “By default, a fixed 1% sampling of your site visitors make up the data pool from which the page timing metrics are derived.” However, that doesn’t match the numbers on this site or the one I manage at work.

Posted in Ecommerce, Tech | Tagged , | Comments Off

Word of the Day – Brigantine (Sailing)

From Wikipedia:


In sailing, a brigantine or hermaphrodite brig is a vessel with two masts, only the forward of which is square rigged.

Origins of the term

Originally the brigantine was a small ship carrying both oars and sails. It was a favorite of Mediterranean pirates and its name comes from the Italian word brigantino, meaning brigand, and applied by extension to his ship. By the 17th century the term meant a two-masted ship.[1] In the late 17th century, the Royal Navy used the term brigantine to refer to small two-masted vessels designed to be rowed as well as sailed, rigged with square rigs on the foremast and fore-and-aft rigging on the mainmast.

By the first half of the 18th century the word had evolved to refer not to a ship type name, but rather to a particular type of rigging: square rigged on the foremast and fore-and-aft rigged on the mainmast.[Note 1] The word “brig” is an 18th-century shortening of the word brigantine, which came to mean a vessel square-rigged on both masts.[1] The early Oxford English Dictionary (with citations from 1720 to 1854) still defined brig as being either identical to a brigantine, or alternatively, a vessel of similar sail plan to a modern brig. By the middle of the 19th century modern meanings had more or less stabilised, although purists continue to debate the exact differences, or lack of them, between brig, brigantine, and hermaphrodite brig in both English and American usage.


I ran across this one  in the lyrics of The Stone Roses’ “Waterfall.”

Previous WOTDImage Macro

Posted in Word of the Day | 1 Comment

Cloudflare One Week Update

Last week I routed the lesjones.com domain through Cloudflare. Their service serves as a content delivery network (CDN). They have locations around the world and can deliver files faster than my one location.

When a browser requests a file, Cloudflare fetch the file from my site and caches it. The next time the file is requested it comes from Cloudflare instead of my site. Their servers and Internet connectivity are faster than mine, so visitors get the file faster. The caching also reduces the number of requests my website has to handle, which should increase the speed of the website for other tasks.

www_google_com_analytics_web__hl=en#report_content-site-speed-overview_a124590w148298p100625___u_date00=20131009&_u_dat

One week later, total page transfer time (the page plus the images) across the entire site is a little faster, about 17%. Roughly the entire 1 second load time speed up looks to be the average server response time.

Question is, is the change in page load time a fluke not related to the CDN/Cloudflare change? Or did relieving my website from serving all of those files free it up to serve out pages faster? It’s hard to say. I’m going to keep running Cloudflare for a few weeks to get a better idea.

Cache misses

I’m going to try something to see if I can improve the performance. I’ve got a big site with a lot of posts and images. Many of them may not have been requested yet. Cloudflare probably has just a fraction of the images cached. When those files are requested, Cloudflare doesn’t have them (what’s called a cache miss) meaning they’re still having to download them from the website for the first time.

To get all of the files  in the cache I’m running a link check this morning. The linkchecker will access all of the links and embedded images on the site, which will prime the cache.

Posted in Tech | 1 Comment

This Is Your Train on Drugs – Sydney and Minnesota Zoos Mothball Monorails

WiredAnother ‘Outdated’ Monorail Bites the Dust:

First, the pylons of Sydney’s monorail came tumbling down. Now, the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley, MN has shuttered its aging monorail for good.

The troubled traincars took their last loop around the zoo campus on September 2, and now the zoo has announced the line won’t run ever again.

“It was an outdated system that had reached the end of its useful life,” spokeswoman Kelly Lessard told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Back in 2011, the train stalled, leaving passengers stranded 18 feet above ground. Firefighters rescued them with ladders when they couldn’t get the monorail running again.

Maintenance on a 34-year-old system was certainly an issue. But the biggest problem with the zoo monorail was that it didn’t have any stops along its route. Instead, it looped around the zoo, and those on board could only catch glimpses of animals as it drove past.

That’s the problem with trains. They stop at a fixed number of places which are set in stone when the train is built.

Meanwhile, buses can stop at any number of places and their routes and stops can be changed as demands change. Buses good. Trains bad.

Posted in Economics | Tagged | Comments Off

45 year old spoiler alert!

45 year old spoiler alert! Charlton Heston didn’t land on an alien planet. It’s really Earth after apes have taken over.

Posted in Funny Ha-Ha | Tagged | Comments Off

Turning on Cloudflare

Speed is good – there are plenty of studies linking server speed and sales conversions on e-commerce sites. I’ve set a goal of getting our average page load time below three seconds as measured by Google Analytics.

One way to speed up a website is to use a Content Delivery Network (CDN). CDNs use a number of techniques to speed up content delivery.

CDNs have locations around the world, hence the network part of the name. When a file is requested the CDN determines the quickest path to get the file to the user, based on their location and network path. CDNs also tend to be lightning fast in terms of DNS response, redirect time, server response time, and Internet connection speed.

I’ve been making baby steps towards using a CDN at the e-commerce website I manage. With just some small changes the speed difference has been tremendous. The CDN is delivering static files like images, JavaScripts, and CSS files two, three, four times faster than we can. Besides delivering files faster, the CDN is offloading those requests from our server and Internet connection to theirs. That should make the server respond better to the requests it’s still handling, such as dynamic pages.

Right now we’re just using the CDN to serve out header and footer template images – things like the logo, navigation buttons, and CSS and Javascripts that are common to most pages. To really take advantage of the CDN we need to use it to serve product images, of which we have many thousands and which account for the majority of our downloads. The challenge is that as new products are created and new product images are uploaded, we’d need some way to make sure the new images are synced with the CDN.

One way to sync them is to select a CDN that supports caching reverse proxy. We upload the image. Our e-commerce system will put it in the right directories on our servers, such as/images/product/image.jpg. We change our templates to call the images from the CDN instead of our server using the same directory path, such as http://www.cdn.com/images/product/image.jpg. The first time the file is requested from the CDN it will realize it doesn’t have it, then look for the file on our website in the same directory. From then on the CDN caches the file and serves the file from its own servers.

Another way to move all of the images to the CDN is CloudFlare. Instead of changing URLs and uploading files, you just change your domain records to point your domain’s IP address to CloudFlare. All requests for anything on your site goes through CloudFlare. They cache the content that comes from your site and then serve it out over their CDN the next time it’s requested. All of your URLs stay exactly the same. The basic plan is free. Paid plans add some interesting features, like DDoS protection, additional speed enhancements, and mobile optimization.

As a first step, I’m going to try CloudFlare here on the blog. I use Dreamhost Web hosting and you can literally enable CloudFlare on Dreamhost accounts with a click of a button. (Go to the Dreamhost Control Panel, click Manage Domains, and click the Edit button next to the domain you want to accelerate with CloudFlare.)

CloudFlare on Dreamhost

Don’t take this post as an endorsement of CloudFlare, BTW. I haven’t used them yet, so I have no idea how they’ll perform. I’m just sharing the process and letting you know why the blog may behave a little differently the next few days. Or maybe it won’t behave any differently at all. The only way to find out is to try.

CloudFlare is turned on … now.

Resources

Selecting the Right CDN for YOUR Website

Improving page speed: CDN vs Squid/Varnish/nginx/mod_proxy 

Apache – Forward and Reverse Proxy

“Real World” Performance Comparison of CDN (Content Delivery Network) Providers

Best Way to Compare CDN Performance?
2013 Best Small Business CDN Reviews and Comparisons

Posted in Ecommerce, Tech | 1 Comment

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN DAY 4

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN DAY 4 – Lord Humongous and his motorcycle horde reign terror on the wastelands, seizing what precious little gasoline remains.

Judicial Watch Files FOIA for Information Related to Closing of WWII Memorial

McDonald’s Employee Admits Being Paid $15 to Protest WW2 Veterans

Posted in Funny Ha-Ha | Comments Off

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN DAY 2

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN DAY 2 – Has anyone else resorted to cannibalism already?

I predict the government shutdown will cause just as much mayhem and breakdown of society as the sequester didn’t.

Posted in Funny Ha-Ha | Comments Off

And Tennessee Fans Laughed and Laughed

Lane Kiffin Fired as USC Trojans Head Coach.

You know that feeling when a girlfriend dumps you for another guy, then that guy dumps her? That feeling of vindication and justice where the universe is back on track? Yeah, this is just like that.

Previously

Posted in East Tennessee | 7 Comments

Happy 9th Birthday, Katie

Hi, Katie. Another year, and another post so that when you’re grown up you can read this and remember what your early years were like.

Legos

This was the year of Legos. We went to Legoland Atlanta and a Lego build day. Your mom entered you in the Lego contest at the fair and you won second place.

Winning 2nd Place at TVA&I Fair

Miner 49er at Legoland Atlanta

You have a lot to proud of this year. You made a perfect score in math on the TCAPs. You can came in second in the Academic Olympics for reading. You and Natalie were on Charles West’s Blue Dogs soccer team and went undefeated for the season.

This is something you might forget. At Lake Hills summer camp you made this bracelet and gave it to me for Father’s Day. I loved it. I wore it all summer. I put it in the cigarbox where I keep things I want to save.

I want to tell you a story for your birthday. This one is about your grandmother Dorothy.

I don’t know if you know this, but grandma Dorothy was an orphan. Her mother, Fanny McCosh, died when she was very young. Her father, Wiley Everett, worked for TVA and had to travel for work. Her brothers and sisters were older and could take care of themselves – kids back then had to be a lot more self sufficient than they do now.

Her father didn’t think they could take care of grandma Dorothy because she was so young then. He placed her in the orphanage in Maryville. A family in Walland, the Whiteheads, adopted her. You know my cousin Johnny and his wife Tina and son Caleb. They’re Whiteheads.

One of things I did for money in high school and college was to cut grass. For a while I took care of the lawn at the Mill House in Walland. It was an old brick mansion that had been converted to a restaurant.

I have a specific memory of working there. I owned a Sony Walkman (a brand of cassette player), but I couldn’t hear it over the sound of the mower, so I’d sort of sing songs, or remember songs, in my head as I worked. I remember very clearly thinking through REM’s “Welcome to the Occupation” while mowing the grass at the Mill House. I also recall taking the money I made there one day and going to the store and buying a Levi’s blue jean jacket.

One day I told mom that I was doing some work for the Mill House. That’s when she told me that she had worked there as a girl, when it was still someone’s home. She did work for families here and there to earn money. She used to walk to that house and work in the kitchen and make pies.

I thought you’d like that story.

Your mom and dad love you, kiddo.

Charleston, SC

Charleston, SC

Mast General Store

Moon Pie Store in Charleston, SC

Posted in Family Tree - Jones Side, Home Life | Comments Off

Word of the Day – Image Macro

This is one of those words that most people don’t know, even though they know the thing.

Wikipedia:


The term “image macro” originated on forum websites including that of Something Awful.[2][non-primary source needed] The name derived from the fact that the ‘macros’ were a short bit of text a user could enter that the forum software would automatically parse and expand into the code for a pre-defined image,[2] relating to the computer science topic of a macro, defined as “a rule or pattern that specifies how a certain input sequence (often a sequence of characters) should be mapped to an output sequence (also often a sequence of characters) according to a defined procedure.”

Beginning in 2007, lolcats and similar image macros (a form of Internet phenomena) spread beyond the initial communities who created them and became widely popular.[1]


In other words, it’s one of these …

Dark Side

 

 

 

 

 

 

Previous WOTDReynolds’ Law and Murray’s Third Law

Posted in Star Wars, Word of the Day | 2 Comments