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Wednesday, 1 April 2020 Dereel Images for 1 April 2020
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PIXIO or Pixem?
Topic: photography, multimedia, opinion Link here

Chris Bahlo is interested in the PIXIO “Robot Cameraman”, and she asked me a number of questions yesterday, including whether she could use it with her Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II. That's a simple answer: Yvonne used it in January, and it worked well. The only issue is the sound, as I noted at the time: it doesn't have an input for external microphones. That's the only reason I bought the (much more expensive) E-M5 Mark III for Yvonne.

But Chris had considered using a mobile phone if the E-M10 wasn't compatible. That would require a PIXEM, so I took a look at that. It appears to be identical to the PIXIO except for the mount:

http://www.lemis.com/grog/Day/20200401/pixem-robot-cameraman.jpg

https://shop.movensee.com/img/cms/pixio_all_products.png

The PIXIO has firmware that controls the zoom of some Sony video cameras, clearly something that influences a significant part of the price. Like cameras derived from still cameras, mobile phones don't have an external zoom control—in fact, most if not all don't have zoom at all. But the PIXIO and PIXEM cost the same, and the only adaptation I see for mobile phones is the phone mount. And of course, getting back to the original issue, mobile phones don't have inputs for external microphones either, so there are only down sides.

But why vertical? It's clear that the normal way to hold a phone is vertical, to match the shape of a human face. But why do people take photos and videos that way? Particularly videos don't look good like that. Can't phones take landscape oriented images?

Off to try things out with my three mobile phones. I couldn't work out how to take videos with the Samsung GT-I9100T: the app seems similar to the other two, but I couldn't select the symbol for video. Potentially I'm missing some setting elsewhere, but the phone is 10 years old or so, and I couldn't be bothered. More to the point are the other two:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/65) ~/Photos/20200401/orig 903 -> mpid *.mp4 *.3gp
VID_20200401_174331.mp4 VIDEO:  [H264]  1920x1080  24bpp  29.583 fps  16816.4 kbps (2052.8 kbyte/s)
VID_20200401_174400.mp4 VIDEO:  [H264]  1920x1080  24bpp  29.583 fps  16846.7 kbps (2056.5 kbyte/s)
VID_20200401_174519.3gp VIDEO:  [MP4V]  1280x720  24bpp  29.537 fps  11357.0 kbps (1386.3 kbyte/s)
VID_20200401_174540.3gp VIDEO:  [MP4V]  1280x720  24bpp  29.537 fps  12399.7 kbps (1513.6 kbyte/s)

The Nokia 3 has a video resolution of 1280×720, while the Nokia 5.1 Pro has a resolution of 1920×1080—the first potential advantage of the 5.1, though of course I wouldn't use it except in an emergency. But why not 1080×720 in landscape mode? With mplayer the landscape versions displayed correctly, while the portrait clips were on their side. I don't even know how to correct that. So why do people predominantly take portrait clips?

And while I was at it, also took some photos. The Nokia 3 cheated by making a noise but not taking a photo, so I only got one. Attempts later were confusing: I seemed to get a thumbnail, but not a real photo. I'll need to check on that one later.

What I did get was:

Samsung I9100T:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200401/big/Samsung-I9100T-portrait.jpeg
Image title: Samsung I9100T portrait          Dimensions:          3264 x 2448, 1140 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200401/big/Samsung-I9100T-landscape.jpeg
Image title: Samsung I9100T landscape          Dimensions:          3264 x 2448, 1034 kB
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Nokia 3:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200401/big/Nokia-3-portrait.jpeg
Image title: Nokia 3 portrait          Dimensions:          2448 x 3264, 527 kB Display location on map
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Nokia 5.1 Pro:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200401/big/Nokia-5-1-portrait.jpeg
Image title: Nokia 5 1 portrait          Dimensions:          3120 x 4160, 1828 kB Display location on map
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200401/big/Nokia-5-1-landscape.jpeg
Image title: Nokia 5 1 landscape          Dimensions:          4160 x 3120, 2226 kB Display location on map
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It's interesting that the only image that wasn't rotated correctly was a portrait image from the I9100T. But its Exif data included:

Orientation                     : Rotate 90 CW

So arguably this was an issue with my workflow. But the others rotated the image automatically. The Nokia 5.1 Pro had no Orientation information in the Exif data, and the Nokia 3 had:

Orientation                     : Horizontal (normal)

A couple of other things of interest: despite the format of the phone itself, the images have a 4:3 aspect ratio, though the same sensor produces a 16:9 aspect ratio for the videos in the two that I was able to take. The other thing that is very obvious is the extreme difference in quality between the three phones. The Nokia 5.1 Pro is almost acceptable.

It wasn't until later that I noticed that I hadn't looked at the PIXEM images very carefully: yes, the predominant feature is vertical, but that's just to mount the phone horizontally. I also discovered that some mobile phones do indeed support zoom, and the PIXEM makers claim to support it, though they're very cagey about which phones: I couldn't find out which. And on closer examination the PIXEM does indeed mount the phone in landscape orientation:

https://shop.movensee.com/206-large_default/pixem-robot-cameraman.jpg

But those are just details, and I discovered them too late to make any difference.


More teevee pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

While playing around with the photos on teevee this afternoon, tried:

=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/8) /usr/src 23 -> emacs
(emacs:80274): dbind-WARNING **: 15:17:03.053: Error retrieving accessibility bus address: org.freedesktop.DBus.Error.NoReply: Did not receive a reply. Possible causes include: the remote application did not send a reply, the message bus security policy blocked the reply, the reply timeout expired, or the network connection was broken.

What's that? The DISPLAY was set to eureka:0.1, and it only happened with Emacs under root. And it only happened since the reboot yesterday.

It was repeatable, sort of. While scratching my head, this message appeared:

(emacs:80314): dbind-WARNING **: 15:21:08.304: Error retrieving accessibility bus address: org.freedesktop.DBus.Error.TimedOut: Failed to activate service 'org.a11y.Bus': timed out (service_start_timeout=120000ms)

After that, it worked. But what's the issue here? At which end? On the face of it, it appears to be an issue with D-bus, which I'd rather avoid, like all programs that only half think out colour schemes.


Thursday, 2 April 2020 Dereel Images for 2 April 2020
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Relativizing Android file access ease
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

Downloading yesterday's photos from the mobile phones was interesting. Mounting the file systems on teevee is clunky. I haven't found a way to integrate it into /etc/fstab, so I need to start things manually, not helped by at least flachmann continually disabling its FTP server.

But even when things were mounted correctly, I had difficulties:

=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/11) /flachmann/DCIM/Camera 27 -> l
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel   4,657,086  1 Apr 18:43 IMG_20200401_174318.jpg
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel   5,463,532  1 Apr 18:43 IMG_20200401_174323.jpg
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel  42,016,296  1 Apr 18:43 VID_20200401_174331.mp4
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel  34,467,850  1 Apr 18:44 VID_20200401_174400.mp4
=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/11) /flachmann/DCIM/Camera 28 -> mv * /Photos/grog/20200401/orig/
mv: fastcopy: read() failed: VID_20200401_174331.mp4: Input/output error
mv: fastcopy: read() failed: VID_20200401_174400.mp4: Input/output error
=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/11) /flachmann/DCIM/Camera 29 -> l
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel  42,016,296  1 Apr 18:43 VID_20200401_174331.mp4
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel  34,467,850  1 Apr 18:44 VID_20200401_174400.mp4

The problem was repeatable, but I was able to download the files with ftp. A problem with the FreeBSD-side software? Hard to say, especially with the unspecific error message. But I downloaded files of similar size from taskumatti with no difficulties:

=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/11) /taskumatti/DCIM/Camera 39 -> l
...
-rw-------  1 root  wheel  39,781,868 31 Jan 17:49 VID_20200131_164903.3gp
-rw-------  1 root  wheel  18,844,144  1 Apr 18:45 VID_20200401_174519.3gp
-rw-------  1 root  wheel  22,796,546  1 Apr 18:45 VID_20200401_174540.3gp

That was running WiFi FTP Server, while flachmann was running WiFi File Transfer in FTP mode. Maybe that points towards the problem, but since it's becoming clear that flachmann will be returned, I'm not too worried.

The other issue was with the photos on taskumatti. As I noted yesterday, I only got one:

-rw-------  1 root  wheel   1,214,305  1 Apr 18:45 IMG_20200401_174512.jpg

That's the only one in /DCIM/Camera. But in /DCIM/.thumbnails, tastefully encoded with a different method, there's:

-rw-------  1 root  wheel      43,125  1 Apr 18:45 1585723535361.jpg
-rw-------  1 root  wheel      56,947  1 Apr 18:45 1585723558025.jpg
-rw-------  1 root  wheel      53,111  2 Apr 13:02 1585789336665.jpg
-rw-------  1 root  wheel      49,137  2 Apr 13:02 1585789343318.jpg

What are those numbers? They look like time_t timestamps, and they are, sort of. They appear to be milliseconds since the Epoch. Removing the last 3 digits, the first one has the time:

=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/11) /usr/src 60 -> date -r 1585723535
Wed  1 Apr 2020 17:45:35 AEDT

And sure enough, it's a thumbnail of the one image I got, /DCIM/CameraIMG_20200401_174512.jpg. But where did the other three go? They're the photos I tried to take, but they never got stored in /DCIM/Camera. Space constraints? No, I have 11 GB free. Did the server somehow set the permissions on /DCIM/Camera incorrectly? How do I find out. The good news is that I'd have to be in a real fix to want to take real photos with the phone.


More clematis
Topic: gardening Link here

My long-suffering clematis “General Sikorski” continues to recover:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200402/big/Clematis-1.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200402/big/Clematis-2.jpeg
Image title: Clematis 2          Dimensions:          5224 x 3888, 5344 kB
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Hopefully it will continue to recover.


Pregnant goldfish?
Topic: animals Link here

For some time, subjectively over a month, we've had our eye on this goldfish:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200402/big/Goldfish-detail.jpeg
Image title: Goldfish detail          Dimensions:          1549 x 1089, 279 kB
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Why is it so fat? Clearly it can't be pregnant, but do they fill up with eggs before releasing them? If so, this one must be good for hundreds of offspring. Or is it some disease?


Steak and kidney pie again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Individual steak and kidney pies for dinner this evening. I've been refining the baking time for some time: it needs to be well browned on the top, but the pastry in the form should also be cooked through. Last time I decided to cook at a lower temperature (190°) and with heat from below, and expected them to be ready in 20 to 30 minutes. After 16 minutes they looked like this:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200402/big/Steak-and-kidney-pie-1.jpeg
Image title: Steak and kidney pie 1          Dimensions:          3698 x 1480, 784 kB
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That's a long way from being cooked: the pastry is still translucent. So I changed to heat from above, still at 190°, and after 30 minutes had:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200402/big/Steak-and-kidney-pie-5.jpeg
Image title: Steak and kidney pie 5          Dimensions:          2709 x 2758, 1136 kB
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That's barely OK, and the pastry underneath, though better, was still not completely cooked. What do I do next time? 210° with circulation only?


Friday, 3 April 2020 Dereel Images for 3 April 2020
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SARS-CoV-2: A life changer?
Topic: health, general, opinion Link here

The progress (if that's an appropriate word) of SARS-CoV-2 and the associated COVID-19 has been amazing. Only a little over a month ago the WHO was saying that it could still be possible to avert a pandemic. Now half the world is locked at home. How different is that?

Well, for me, not at all. I've been voluntarily “locked at home” for nearly 30 years now, with the exception of the extensive travel that I did in the first half of that time. When I started working from home (15 January 1991), I thought that it would only be a matter of time before “everybody” did it. Well, clearly not people who have to interact with objects, which makes up a large proportion of the population. But most technical people can work from home. Think of call centres: wouldn't it be so much easier for them to work from home? But no, companies don't like the lack of supervision that that implies.

What I didn't expect, though, was that many people suffer when working from home. They miss the company. And that in modern times, when communications are so much easier!

But what about people who have to work on site? Next week Mick Solly is due to come and do the garden. Is he allowed to? Yvonne tells me that we're under “Stage 3” restrictions, whatever that means. This afternoon I spent something like 15 minutes trying to find out what that meant, in the process tripping over things like an ABC News article discussing what they could look like. But elsewhere I found references that suggest that they're in place, including on the ABC site.

But there must be some official site that states clearly what is allowed and what isn't. Went looking for a gov.au site, with low signal to noise ratio, like this one. With some further searching, found this page, which appears to be official, and is very specific in some cases—like the $1,652 on-the-spot-fines, which leave me wondering how they will be enforced if the person in question doesn't have $1,652 on the spot, and how they came to that strange sum (there's also $9,913 for businesses, which, by $1, isn't even exactly $1,652 × 6). On the other hand, it's vague in places where it's important. When are you allowed to leave your house? All they say is (layout and (lack of) punctuation original):

you should only be outside for one of the following 4 reasons:

What does that mean? Much of it is straightforward enough, but what are compassionate needs? How do I parse “exercise in compliance with the public gathering requirements”? I've never done exercise in any kind of compliance, and I can exercise my compliance at home if I wish to. What's “work”? I'd guess that Mick's work applies, especially since he's not exactly in contact with other people or places that could be infected.

And why did it take me 15 minutes to find even this minimal information? There should be a link to it (or, preferably, something better) on every page related to the outbreak.

And then I had heard of restrictions on interstate travel. Do they exist? If so, why aren't they mentioned? Potentially they're a federal restriction, but do I need to go looking for separate federal restrictions? What about in other states? Doubtless the restrictions are different. People, can't you even present the requirements clearly, completely and unambiguously? Instead we get silly terms like “stage 3”, which, as I have seen, can mean “You are not permitted to use water outside on the 31st day of the month”.


DPI debunked
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

One of the silliest pseudo-measurements that I have seen for photos is Dots per inch. Apart from enshrining archaic units of measure, it has no meaning for a digital image. But some people swear by it; I've seen claims that setting DPI correctly is the most important thing in photo processing.

Today I found a page that agrees with me wholeheartedly. It must be right!


Saturday, 4 April 2020 Dereel Images for 4 April 2020
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Miserable weather
Topic: general, Stones Road house, opinion Link here

The mild weather has finally given up. Got up this morning to find that 36 mm of rain had fallen overnight, making a total of 56 mm so far this month. And the door to the verandah had misted over, something that I had never seen in Germany, where it's much colder:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200404/big/Lounge-room-3.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200404/big/Lounge-room-3-detail.jpeg
Image title: Lounge room 3 detail          Dimensions:          1996 x 1615, 521 kB
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Thank you, JG King, for the antediluvian single-glazed panes.


Wide angle distortion
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

How do you take a really wide angle view of an area? The traditional approach is with a rectilinear lens like the M.Zuiko DIGITAL ED 7-14 mm f/2.8 PRO:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200404/big/Lounge-room-3.jpeg
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Yes, there's some distortion visible on the left, where the tops of the doors are higher than the bottom. But that only has a horizontal field of view of 72°. We can do better:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200404/big/Lounge-room-1.jpeg
Image title: Lounge room 1          Dimensions:          5184 x 3888, 4541 kB
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Yes, the field of view is much wider, at 95°. But oh, horror, that's a fisheye projection, full of curved lines!

OK, let's “defish”, converting most of it to rectilinear:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200404/big/Lounge-room-2.jpeg
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That's not distorted, right? Those three cabinets (left, middle, right) all really have the same width. There's a good reason why there are no really wide angle rectilinear lenses.

Of course, the correct approach is an equirectangular or cylindrical projection (taken later):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200405/big/lounge-room-fisheye.jpeg
Image title: lounge room fisheye          Dimensions:          8722 x 3597, 3982 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200405/big/lounge-room-rectilinear.jpeg
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Which was taken with which lens? The width shows it, not the perspective, which is the same. The first image was stitched from 3 images taken with the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO, and the second from 4 images taken with the M.Zuiko DIGITAL ED 7-14 mm f/2.8 PRO. But the native projection of the lens is no longer important.


Understanding COVID-19
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Coursera is offering a couple of free courses on COVID-19, both from Johns Hopkins University, the epicentre (note the modern word) of COVID-19 research. I signed up for COVID-19 epidemiology, which was due to start on 31 March, but I had difficulty accessing it. Finally yesterday evening I got a mail message:

From bounce@t.mail.coursera.org  Fri Apr  3 20:33:44 2020
Date: Fri, 03 Apr 2020 09:33:34 +0000

Welcome to Fighting COVID-19 with Epidemiology: A Johns Hopkins Teach-Out.

I'm so happy you will be joining us! The Teach-Out begins on March 31st at
10:00 AM EDT, but you can also join at any time after that.

So clearly they had some delays. Wouldn't it be nice so say so? Off to watch the course. I can forgive them for having a few rough edges, but somehow that went too far. One example, relating to monkey pox, specifically the 2003 Midwest monkeypox outbreak:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200404/big/COVID-10-1.png
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The material had already clarified that the categories are listed in order of seriousness: suspected, probable, confirmed. That makes perfect sense. But look at the criteria: a suspected case requires a fever and unexplained rash, and then at least two other symptoms. A probable case only requires a fever or a vesiculopustular rash! That doesn't make any sense—in fact, so little that I still can't decide what the correct criteria should be. Probably you need fever and a vesiculopustular rash for a probable case.

One bad mark. Later comes what appears to be an exercise:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200404/big/COVID-10-2.png
Image title: COVID 10 2          Dimensions:          1391 x 339, 49 kB
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What does ID mean? What relevance does the date have? What is today's date? Why so many patients with no symptoms of monkey pox, and none with the symptoms? Does this example even relate to monkey pox? He doesn't say. But that doesn't matter, because if it's an exercise, it's broken.

Should I continue? I'm very disappointed. Yes, things are hectic at the moment, but I would have expected more accuracy from Johns Hopkins.


Backing up videos
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

It's been just over 3 years since we gave up using broadcast TV and switched to the World-wide web. We quickly acquired a large collection of various series, mainly from German TV broadcasters. And since they have a tendency to broadcast repeats out of sequence, we kept the entire series even after we watched them.

That's a recipe for bloat. I started off with a 3 TB disk and then replaced it with (yet another) 8 TB disk. And it's filling up too.

Looking at the older series, it's clear that the resolution leaves something to be desired. 200 GB of films with a maximum resolution of 720x480, significantly below the resolution of standard TV broadcasts. Do we even want to watch something that fuzzy? Somehow 960×720 is the lowest acceptable resolution nowadays. We could probably delete the lot, but I hate doing that.

OK, dragged out a 2 TB external disk, one of my older photo backup disks. Surprisingly, there were 164 GB of files on the disk that aren't on my current disks. Hopefully they're just images that I have reprocessed, but how can I be sure? Went through them with

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~ 569 -> mklinks merge /Photos/grog /photobackup/Photos/grog

That replaced all identical files on the disk with symlinks to the version on disk, and it's what showed me the size of the differing files:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/65) ~ 1009 -> du -s /photobackup/Photos/
163850  /photobackup/Photos/

But how do I keep track of what I have backed up? I did this once before, and I don't know what happened to the disk.


Sunday, 5 April 2020 Dereel Images for 5 April 2020
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The pain of time change
Topic: general, photography, technology, opinion Link here

Daylight Saving Time ended today, time to put the clocks back. Now that even Microsoft understands DST, it's not as difficult as it used to be. But there were still 12 clocks to reset: the (conventional) oven, two microwave ovens, three analogue clocks and six cameras.

OK, three of the cameras have an 802.11 (“Wi-Fi”) link, and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III even has a Bluetooth link. With these links, at least in theory, you can set the time to a 1 second granularity simply by connecting. The other three can only set time to a granularity of 1 minute.

But how do you connect? Not for the first time I had problems. In the past I had established that it requires you to disconnect from any other 802.11 network, so you had to first go into the Settings menu, which conveniently hid all the saved connection information under “Saved networks”, though for some reason it was happy to display connection details for the photovoltaic inverter:

 
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I had hoped that the new Nokia 5.1 Plus might do better, but there was no difference. And this time I needed to type in the 8 digit “password” for each camera, something that I hadn't had to do before. There used to be some configuration parameter for that, but I get the impression that that was too convenient, and that they have removed it.

OK, select the Saved network. Cancel or Forget? People, are you trying to annoy me? I still haven't understood how to tell it to connect. Maybe it does it automatically in its own slow time. At some later point I was connected, but I still don't know how.

So: two cameras (OM-D E-M1 Mark I and E-M1 Mark II) updated. And the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III? I've done it before, but this time I couldn't find out how to start the “Wi-Fi” connection from the camera. OK, RTFM:

Select [Device Connection] in the > Playback Menu and press the Q button.

· You can also connect by tapping [loudspeaker symbol] D in the monitor.

Now isn't that obvious? Playback menu. Why didn't I think of that? More to the point, why is there no [loudspeaker symbol] D on the monitor? That corresponds to the WiFi on the other cameras. But it's not there. The manual doesn't explain how to display it again, and in the end I gave up and climbed down into the menus. After all, OI.Share is as good as useless for anything else: apart from the pain of setting it up, as well as losing connectivity to the rest of the world, it can't even take normal photos. It insists on JPEG in a different format from what it normally saves, even if I select raw images.

After that, things worked about as well as I could have hoped for. A quarter of an hour! Am I the only person who finds the functionality unacceptable?


Understanding Olympus functionality
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

As if I hadn't had enough pain with Olympus already today, found a message on the M43 Tech Talk Facebook group. A user had bought an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III and was complaining because he couldn't do focus confirmation the way he used to do on his Canon. It seems that on (at least some) Canons, if you push the AEL/AFL button equivalent while in manual mode, it enables something that will beep when some part (which?) of the image is in focus. Without focus peaking, that's not a bad function. But user wanted his E-M1 to do the same thing, and it seems that the E-M1 Mark III (and also the E-M1X, but not any other model) has a default setting to “mode 3”, which assigns autofocus to this button.

That's interesting in itself. A couple of months ago I noted that this mode 3 was very useful, and I have been using it forever. But user thinks it's wrong. That's not manual focus!

A lively discussion ensued, in which it became clear that I had to modify my focus assist page. But the most interesting thing, apart from the fact that user couldn't accept the fact that the AF mode is helpful, and that he can ignore it if he doesn't like it, is that Olympus seems to have decided to make mode 3 the default for newer cameras. Clearly user is in the minority, and that's understandable: if you don't want MF to have this added functionality, what do you allocate to that button?


Monday, 6 April 2020 Dereel Images for 6 April 2020
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Red Energy responds
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Call on the phone this morning from <mumble>, whose name, spelt out, proved to be Pratim, the complaints resolution man at Red Energy. He wanted to talk about the complaint I made to the ombudsman on Friday.

So why was he calling me? You would expect that he would have first read in the voluminous mail exchange that I wanted to communicate by email (that was one of the points I raised in my complaint), and the confirmation from the ombudsman included the text (no idea where the * come from):

*Preferred method of contact:* Email

But no, it seems that the mail he received from the ombudsman asked him to call me on the phone or send email. Sometimes I wonder what the purpose of these fields is.

Agreed that he would check the mail and then get back to me. At least he sounded a little more sensible than most of the people I've dealt with.

Only a little later he replied with an enormous PDF of my last bill—11 MB for 3 pages—and some indication that he had read my mail:

I have also requested your direct debit to be cancelled. Please note that if you wish to reinstate it we will require your consent which means a we will need to speak to you over the phone to obtain it.
Why phone? What is the purpose of doing everything by phone? Later I got another message telling me that they have applied the rates agreed (in other words, accepting my complaint), and mentioning a revised bill, to be received shortly, along with another indication that I would have to call on the phone to reinstate my direct debit authorization. No bill arrived today.
Repotting hibiscus
Topic: gardening Link here

I put a small pot with a cutting of my Hibiscus rosa-sinensis “Uncle Max” in Yvonne's bedroom a few months back. It liked the position, and has grown to over 2 metres, the tallest we've ever had:


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But it has never flowered, and clearly it needed repotting:


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Surprisingly, Yvonne didn't want it back, so now we have two hibiscus in the lounge room:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200407/big/Hibiscus-rosa-sinensis-5.jpeg
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The old one on the right is gradually recovering. It's nearly 12 years old now. How old do Hibiscus get?


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200407/big/Hibiscus-rosa-sinensis-7.jpeg
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It's the original that Uncle Max gave to me on my 60th birthday, so I don't want to just throw it out.


Tuesday, 7 April 2020 Dereel Images for 7 April 2020
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Updating eureka, attempt 15
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I last updated eureka, my main machine, well over 4 years ago:

FreeBSD eureka.lemis.com 10.2-STABLE FreeBSD 10.2-STABLE #2 r290972: Wed Nov 25 11:38:38 AEDT 2015     grog@stable.lemis.com:/usr/obj/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/10/sys/GENERIC  amd64

I've had a number of attempts to update it both before and after then, but there are a number of issues. Firstly, I hate to reboot. Now that we have the photovoltaic electricity installed, we no longer have power outages, and eureka has been up for 7 months, with promise of staying up much longer.

Then my X configuration is bizarre, and after 30 years of experience, X is still not as reliable as I would like. Upgrading my configuration to a new system has almost always given me issues, including last time.

Given the rarity of the event, should I perform hardware upgrades? eureka's motherboard is over 6 years old. If you believe Moore's law, modern processors should be 8 times as fast as then. Or is that 16 times? Depends on the law. But in fact there isn't that much difference. Yes, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X is the current top runner with 78,319 CPU marks (but only 2,607 per thread), compared to 6,881 for my Intel i7-4771 (which, I'm sure, was once rated only slightly below 10,000), but it wasn't the fastest in those days, just one that I considered affordable. The Threadripper costs $4,000, far more than what I would want to pay. And surprisingly the single thread rating of the Intel is 2,206, barely any different from the Threadripper. The fastest CPU under $400 US is currently another Threadripper, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1920X, rated at 24,489 CPU marks, not really worth the trouble. So I'll stick with the current processor and motherboard.

And what about disks? When I bought the current eureka, I included a 120 GB SSD for the root file system. There was no obvious difference in performance, and it died far too early. But clearly SSDs are the way of the future, and the prices have dropped significantly. It looks as if a 1 TB SSD would be a good idea: that would allow me to put just about everything I access frequently on the disk.

But looking at what's available, it seems that SATA SSDs (what I had last time) are a bad idea: they're limited to about 500 MB/s by the interface. The alternatives of PCIe and M.2, both of which can offer up to 4 GB/s.

M.2 requires dedicated slots on the motherboard, so that would require a different motherboard. But PCIe seems OK, and I have spare slots on the motherboard. But it's not clear that there's enough space between them and the graphics cards:


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That would require trying things out and being prepared to fail.

The real issue, though, is: how do I manage the upgrade so that I can continue to work even if something goes wrong? That's the real question. In the past, from 1992 until 2008, I ran two separate machines, joined together with x2x. That had the advantage that I never needed to take both systems down.

And maybe that's what I should be doing now. Many steps: split into two systems (in the process reviving dereel), upgrade dereel, upgrade eureka when dereel is working well, and at some later time put a 1 TB fast SSD in eureka. Motherboard upgrades postponed to some future date.

So today I found an old system (probably the old eureka) with an AMD Phenom 9550 and 6 GB of memory, and looked around for some spare disks with enough capacity. I have plenty of old disks, but most of them are small:


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To my surprise, I found 2 1 TB disks (one marked “flaky”), a 2 TB disk, a 3 TB disk and even a 6 TB disk, the last out of teevee only 10 months ago. It'll make a good second disk, which I can mount on eureka or dereel.

For today I took the good 1 TB disk, which proved to have come from lagoon, and booted it as eureso:

=== root@eureso (/dev/pts/1) ~ 55 -> df
Filesystem     1048576-blocks      Used     Avail Capacity  Mounted on
/dev/ada0p2            99,176    35,625    55,616    39%    /
/dev/ada0p4            99,176         0    91,242     0%    /destdir
/dev/ada0p5           705,709   180,997   468,255    28%    /home

OK, first copy the root file system from eureka to eureso. While that was running, though, decided that it was high time to start again from scratch. I've been updating the system on eureka for at least 13 years, and some parts possibly as long as 30 years (starting with allegro in May 1990). I've already established that there are some strangenesses in eureka's mail configuration that I can't work out: after removing all traces of some aliases from the configuration, the server still accepted mail for them. I can't even guess where the information is stored. So starting from scratch would fix this and potentially a number of other issues.


Wednesday, 8 April 2020 Dereel Images for 8 April 2020
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Dual server install, next step
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

As planned yesterday, continued with my installation of a second system. The machine was already running an old instance of lagoon, masquerading as eureso, and it had a complete copy of eureka's root file system on another partition. But that wasn't what I wanted: I wanted a clean new install.

How do you do that with FreeBSD? I used to give classes in this sort of thing, but they started with a boot floppy disk, something mercifully obsolete. Nowadays we have bootable DVD images and bootable memory sticks. But that's not what I want; I just wanted a bootable root file system, and there seems to be no way to download one.

So I downloaded a DVD image and created a new virtual machine, then copied the file system to my new machine.

Various things happened. My first attempt to reboot failed: instead of rebooting, it hung in the “beep” that precedes rebooting. Hardware issues? It wasn't made any easier by the fact that I had connected the display to my eureka:0.0 monitor, which switches back to a different input when a display goes away. So I have no idea.

Made some process, in the process coming to the realization that I had migrated to real hardware (especially if it's flaky) far too early: I don't really need to take that step until almost everything is installed. And when I looked later on and discovered that the system had hung again, I decided that it was time to give up. Tomorrow I continue with a VM, where I can make a number of clean snapshots.


Where's my electricity bill?
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Two days ago Red Energy accepted my complaint, told me a new sum and said that the adjusted invoice would be arriving soon. But so far nothing has arrived. A new message to their complaints person, and got a response telling me that it would be coming by snail mail. Also a response to my query about why I need to call up to reinstate the direct debit authority:

You can most certainly do it in writing or even online.

So why the repeated warning that I would have to make a phone call?


teevee crash!
Topic: technology, multimedia Link here

As if that wasn't enough, when I went into the lounge room to watch the news on teevee, it hung. Why? I couldn't get the firefox instance to stop. Into the office, where I could access teevee with no problems. The firefox process was stuck in a STOP state, something that I usually associate with a process dumping core. But I had disabled core dumps on teevee, and it was maxing out a processor core.

Dammit, restart the X server. But that was hanging too, waiting on some obscure kernel lock whose name I forgot to write down. A look at /var/log/messages showed:

Apr  8 17:04:05 teevee kernel: NVRM: GPU at PCI:0000:01:00: GPU-85983119-e9ef-ac66-6817-fbed5657b871
Apr  8 17:04:05 teevee kernel: NVRM: Xid (PCI:0000:01:00): 56, CMDre 00000001 00000094 00010049 00000007 00000000
Apr  8 17:04:05 teevee kernel: NVRM: Xid (PCI:0000:01:00): 56, CMDre 00000001 000000c0 0001004b 00000007 00000000
Apr  8 17:04:18 teevee kernel: NVRM: Xid (PCI:0000:01:00): 56, CMDre 00000000 0000045c 0001002c 00000007 00000000
Apr  8 17:04:18 teevee kernel: NVRM: Xid (PCI:0000:01:00): 56, CMDre 00000000 00000088 0001000a 00000007 00000000

Hardware problems? Probably. I wonder what it really means. But I just wanted to watch the news. Reboot the machine.

Oh. I still hadn't fixed the X configuration. OK, take a quick look, and decide that maybe it will work anyway. So I pressed the Big Red Button (black, power on/off) and rebooted.

Once again the automatic start of X failed, simply with the message that the server had stopped. OK, this time save the old log file to compare it with the new one. Start X manually. No problems. Remap the keyboard with the new, modified .xmodmap file. No problems.

So why didn't it start automatically? Off to take a look at the log files:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/6) ~ 22 -> l -rt /var/log/Xorg*0408*
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel  43,858  8 Apr 17:03 /var/log/Xorg.0.log.old-20200408
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel  21,144  8 Apr 18:51 /var/log/Xorg.0.log-20200408

Oh. The old log file was the file from before the crash. What happened to the log file from the aborted automatic start? It seems that it didn't create one.

What is going on here?

In passing, took a look at the old log file to see whether it could help understand the hang. But no, there was just a disconnect/reconnect sequence, something that I have seen before, 777017 seconds (about 9 days) after the server was started. No idea how that relates to when the hang happened. Why does't X use clock times?


Supermoon!
Topic: photography, general, opinion Link here

This morning Jari Kirma posted a photo on IRC:

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/pt_byqBtRRqxDo6rAELlESoO2XdXhxsniN2Hve0AN1IK1riKXeJYnGnMYRHa5yMZ_EpefTlYlDl_G636c-bxIGND5pAWyW4OeAwBFi9UCkrQoFQjr3Kx-emrD-02dDWbzqO3hZk2MoM=w1206-h904-no

Nice photo. It wasn't until some hours later that I discovered that it was a supermoon, apparently the biggest for who knows how long.

That photo looks as if it was taken with a mobile phone; the moon is clear, but it doesn't exactly dominate the image. OK, in the evening, for some reason, the sky was relatively clear, and I was able to get some photos with a longer focus lens:


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But why is there chromatic aberration on the first image? It was centered, so normally any chromatic aberration would be the same on both sides, but here it's red on the bottom and blue on top. The moon was rising, but the shutter speed was 1/400 s, surely short enough to avoid any motion artefacts, and in any case, why should motion of that nature cause chromatic aberration?

The third photo shows a different problem: lack of dynamic range. It was exposed 11 EV more than the first image,but the trees in the foreground are still just silhouettes, and the moon is (obviously) overexposed. I should try some exposure bracketing if the weather is still acceptable tomorrow evening.

In passing, it's interesting that I can't detect any camera shake in the last image. The leaves are a particularly difficult subject in that regard. It was taken at 1/6 s with a focal length of 100 mm, which in this case corresponds to 200 mm “full frame”. My old rule of thumb told me that I would get camera shake below 1/200 s. Isn't image stabilization wonderful?


Thursday, 9 April 2020 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 9 April 2020
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dereel update
Topic: technology Link here

As planned, today I continued my installation on the virtual machine that I had set up to bootstrap the next dereel. Also created (yet another) page describing what needs to be done. That's a moving target. Today I started building the latest FreeBSD 12.1-STABLE, which ran for a surprising time—in fact, the rest of the day.

In the meantime, how do I reinstall the ports? pkg upgrade has its limitations: first, I've experienced repeatedly that it fails. And then there's the issue of whether I even need the ports. The alternative is to make a list of all installed ports, but install only those ports that I recognize. If something is missing, I can use the old list to guess what it might be.

OK,

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/19) ~ 14 -> mkdir public_html/HOWTO/portlists
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/19) ~ 15 -> pkg info > public_html/HOWTO/portlists/all-on-eureka-20200409

That gives me a list with entries like

trapproto-3.4.3                DEC-XTRAP extension headers
trousers-0.3.13_1              Open-source TCG Software Stack
twm-1.0.9                      Tab Window Manager for the X Window System
unzip-6.0_7                    List, test, and extract compressed files from a ZIP archive
urlview-0.9.20131021           URL extractor/launcher

Many problems here: I have no idea what trapproto and trousers are. twm is an ancient window manager that I almost certainly don't need. And what's unzip? It doesn't seem to actually create the archives. How does it relate to zip? The only one on that list that I definitely need is urlview, which makes up for a deficiency in mutt to identify URLs in an email message and get a web browser to display them. But do I need urlview-0.9.20131021? No, I want the current modern version. How do I install it? For most such things, pkg install urlview should do. In general, it would be a good idea to just remove the first hyphen and everything behind it, collapse the list to a single line and feed it to pkg install.

More tidying showed all sorts of things that definitely didn't need to be there any more, and maybe never needed to be there:

pilot-link-0.12.5_2,1          Suite of tools to connect and sync your Palm handheld
pt_BR-gimp-help-html-2.8.1_2   The GIMP User Manual in Brazilian Portuguese
ru-gimp-help-html-2.8.1_2      The GIMP User Manual in Russian
zh_CN-gimp-help-html-2.8.1_2   The GIMP User Manual in Simplified Chinese

I recall growling about GIMP in the past, but clearly pilot-link is a good example of why it's a good idea to install from scratch. It has way outlived its usefulness and the hardware; I don't think I've used it in the last 18 years.

On the other hand, there are others that are just plain confusing:

python-2.7_2,2                 The "meta-port" for the default version of Python interpreter
python2-2_3                    The "meta-port" for version 2 of the Python interpreter
python27-2.7.15                Interpreted object-oriented programming language
python3-3_3                    The "meta-port" for version 3 of the Python interpreter
python34-3.4.5                 Interpreted object-oriented programming language

Yes, there are at least two different flavours of python. But which two? And these names show another issue: which parts of the port name apply to the port itself, and which are version numbers? The simplistic idea of just truncating the names at the first hyphen is clearly not going to work. It also gives rise to names like:

mysql56
mysql56

That was once mysql56-client and mysql56-server. I'm left with an obsolete version number, but not the complete description.

And then there's stuff like:

tex-basic-engines-20150521     Basic TeX Engines
tex-kpathsea-6.2.1_1           Path searching library for TeX
tex-ptexenc-1.3.3_2            Library for Japanese pTeX and its tools
tex-texmflocal-1.9             Meta-port that creates a site-local $TEXMF directory
tex-web2c-20150521_1           TeX implementation translating WEB to C

Is the TeX port really called tex-basic-engines? You'd think people were trying to hide it.

In the end I created a short list packages.base with those packages that I recognized and wanted to install on the new system, along with a second file packages.maybe that might potentially be of interest.

Finally I reduced packages.base to something approaching port names and tried installing them, with the small optimization of installing X and Emacs first. Of course they didn't all exist, so pkg refused to install any of them:

===== Thu 9 Apr 2020 11:37:41 AEST on dereel: pkg install xorg emacs ImageMagick a2ps aalib apache apache24 audacity bind910 chromium cowsay cpuid curl dcraw dvd+rw espeak exif exifprobe exiv2 ffmpeg firefox fvwm ghostscript9 gimp gindent gv hugin kdenlive klondike lame lensfun lightzone linuxlibertine lsof lynx mencoder mplayer mpv mtools mutt mysql80-server nmap nvidia nvidia p5 patch pbzip2 php php56 php56 php56 php56 pidgin pigz portlint postfix procmail projectx qpopper rawtherapee rdesktop rsync rtorrent samba42 squid subversion sudo tightvnc transcode ufraw urlview vigra virtualbox virtualbox vlc vobcopy webcamd wget wireshark x264 x2x xcpustate xearth xev xfig xfstt xgc xhost xine xinit xinput xkbcomp xkbevd xkbutils xkeyboard xkill xlsatoms xlsclients xmag xmessage xmixer xmlcatmgr xmlcharent xmlprpr xmlrpc xmodmap xpat2 xpdf xpdfopen xpr xprop xproto xrandr xrdb xrefresh xset xsetmode xsetroot xterm xtrans xtset xv xvid xvidtune xvinfo xwd xwininfo xwud yajl youtube_dl zip zsh
Updating FreeBSD repository catalogue...
FreeBSD repository is up to date.
All repositories are up to date.
pkg: No packages available to install matching 'ImageMagick' have been found in the repositories
        1.84 real         0.01 user         0.00 sys

OK, find the names the hard way, one by one:

=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/2) ~ 3 -> for i in a2ps aalib apache apache24 audacity bind910 chromium cowsay cpuid curl dcraw dvd+rw  espeak exif exifprobe exiv2 ffmpeg firefox fvwm ghostscript9 gimp gindent gv hugin kdenlive klondike lame lensfun lightzone linuxlibertine lsof lynx mencoder mplayer mpv mtools mutt mysql80-server nmap nvidia nvidia p5 patch pbzip2 php php56 php56 php56 php56 pidgin pigz portlint postfix procmail projectx qpopper rawtherapee rdesktop rsync rtorrent samba42 squid subversion sudo tightvnc transcode ufraw urlview vigra virtualbox virtualbox vlc vobcopy webcamd wget wireshark x264 x2x xcpustate xearth xev xfig xfstt xgc xhost xine xinit xinput xkbcomp xkbevd xkbutils xkeyboard xkill xlsatoms xlsclients xmag xmessage xmixer xmlcatmgr xmlcharent xmlprpr xmlrpc xmodmap  xpat2 xpdf xpdfopen xpr xprop xproto xrandr xrdb xrefresh xset xsetmode xsetroot xterm xtrans xtset xv xvid xvidtune xvinfo xwd xwininfo xwud yajl youtube_dl zip zsh; do echo === $i; pkg search $i; done | tee -a Log.log

That gave me yet another long list to investigate. In the meantime, at least managed to install X and Emacs. Next in line was ImageMagick. But that failed because of the breakage with Emacs that I had run into last month: Emacs wants version 6, other programs want version 7. Started to rebuild Emacs without ImageMagick support, like I had done last month, but of course the build tools haven't been installed yet.

So where now? Defer ImageMagick and install those of the rest that will install cleanly, and return to ImageMagick after that.

But that's all for another day. I have other things to do.


More weed spraying
Topic: gardening Link here

Yvonne wanted to spray weeds on the only part of the property that she worries about, the arena, and maybe also the dog run. So today I showed her how to use the new spray unit, in the process spraying some tenacious sorrel round the rose garden. She decided against the dog run, which is finally responding to her last spray efforts, and did the arena. Only later did it occur to me that I had planned to spray the north bed too.


Ballarat in the time of COVID-19
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Mick Solly is coming tomorrow, Good Friday or no Good Friday, and I want him to replace the submersible drain pump in front of the house. So it would be a good idea to have a pump to install.

In principle I have one, but it's old, and since the previous one died (short circuit or similar) after not very long, it sounded like a better idea to buy a new one. So off to Bunnings.

How do you get in? Walked up to the entrance, and was turned away. Now it's only an exit:


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Why? In principle Bunnings have symmetrical entrances (the other one is visible in the background). So I went in that way anyway, and was chased out. Because of the virus. What does that mean? She couldn't explain either, but was becoming visibly distressed, so over to the other side, where they had cordoned the place off and made people go three times the distance past guide ropes that would be a perfect site for the virus to attach themselves to:


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I suppose that makes sense when they need to limit the number of people who can enter the premises at any one time. But that's not now, as the photo clearly shows. The guard on the right did lower the barrier to allow an employee to roll in some (uncleaned) trolleys, so why not leave it open until the sudden rush of customers happens, the one that has never happened since they opened the place? Somehow people seem to be reacting without thinking.

On then to ALDI, noting on the way that the lack of traffic and people in the streets that I noted three weeks ago has dissipated. Customer levels seemed normal both at Bunnings and at ALDI. But there's still no toilet paper, after well over a month. What are people doing with it? And even the cornflour that I was looking for was rationed:


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Not a serious problem. The last time we bought cornflour was a year or two ago, and it's gradually running out. I only needed 500 g.


Google gets on the bandwagon
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

It was bad enough that GIMP installed multiple copies of the documentation in different languages, but that was (probably) years ago, and they may have learnt since then. What's less understanding is why I continually get a ding-ding ding-ding on my mobile phones with silly questions like:

 
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Why do they do this? I never asked for it, and how many people need all three? It's painful enough entering English text on a mobile phone “keyboard”.


Quora: run by idiots or androids?
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

A few months ago I stopped answering questions on Quora because of their heavy-handed and non-transparent approach with perceived violations of their policy. I got the impression that the identification was done by computer programs, but that doesn't exonerate them for not responding to my complaint “appeal”.

Gradually I started answering a few questions, though nothing like the number I used to answer. Clearly too many. Today I received:

Quora Moderation collapsed your answer for violating a policy on Quora.
Your answer may need improvement

What's up now? The question was about visa regulations, and my answer said “don't ask Quora, ask the consulate”. What policy does that violate? But I'm allowed to “appeal”. Did that, and based on my previous experience not expecting any answer.

Submit an Appeal

Quora Moderation has flagged your answer as not complying with a policy on Quora: Your answer may need improvement Show details.

Your answer is currently hidden. If you'd like to make the answer visible again, you can edit your answer to conform to the policy, then submit an appeal below.

OK, I “appealed”, in a manner which they deserve:

People, what kind of stupidity is this? This is the only valid answer. This continual “may need improvement” and lack of response to this kind of “appeal” makes me wonder why I even bother with Quora. You’re certainly not doing anybody a favour with this kind of action. Has a human being even seen this? What policy have I violated? What would a good answer look like in your opinion?

I guessed that it was some automatic procedure, potentially an automatic response to something, which in turn might be a reader who didn't like it. They do the same with downvotes: one downvote and you're gone, no matter how serious or good your response may be.

But in the course of the evening another three “collapses” occurred, all about the same thing: questions about visas. Do they not like me saying “don't ask Quora”?

Another thing is that all of these answers were over 2 years old. Why now? Sometimes I wonder why I bother.


Friday, 10 April 2020 Dereel Images for 10 April 2020
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More garden spraying
Topic: gardening Link here

Mick Solly was a no-show today: his wife reminded him that it was Good Friday, and that they should visit graves of the departed. Understandable, though I don't know how that fits the current curfews.

But the weather was much better than forecast. They had talked of rain all day long, but in fact none came until the evening, and I had time in the morning to finish the weed spraying that I had forgotten yesterday.


Continued upgrade pain
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Yesterday Arstechnica published an article on installing FreeBSD. Various FreeBSD lists started discussing it, producing more text than I could handle at the moment. I skimmed through the article and recognized both things that I recognized and things that I didn't. It seems that the article was well-written and, though the author comes from the Linux camp, relatively objective. Things like “mouse doesn't work out of the box” are clearly wrong. Installing GNOME is, in my world, also wrong, but it should work, and the author had trouble with it.

On the other hand, some of it I can definitely relate to:

The apparent lack of a simple xorg package turns out to be a big, fat lie—if I had just typed pkg install xorg, it would have worked. But as I eventually discovered, pkg search doesn't return meta-packages. Yay.

Clearly I'm not a newbie to FreeBSD, and I'm not really installing for the first time, but all this should be easier. Today I spent almost the whole day writing up what I did yesterday. But I do think that it's worth going into this much detail; it may save me pain in the future.

What I did do: the kernel build failed after 11 hours with a spurious NFS write error (to the log file) that I've seen before, along with an error message that doesn't exactly match:

tee: Make.log.dereel: Input/output error
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/sys/amd64/vmm/amd/svm.c:47:10: fatal errortee: Make.log.dereel: Input/output error
: 'machine/reg.h' file not found
#include <machine/reg.h>
         ^~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1 error generated.
*** Error code 1
...
make: stopped in /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12
    39969.89 real     25871.58 user      3361.23 sys

That worked well enough when I restarted the build, not without being told off for remembering how to restart:

=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/0) /usr/src 16 -> Make -DNOCLEAN buildworld kernel
su: xtset: command not found
===== Fri 10 Apr 2020 09:42:08 AEST on dereel: Make -DNOCLEAN buildworld kernel
make[1]: "/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/Makefile.inc1" line 452: warning: NOCLEAN option is deprecated. Use NO_CLEAN instead.

But then it completed, and I was able to confirm that uname castration has proceeded even further:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/0) ~ 1 -> uname -a
FreeBSD dereel 12.1-STABLE FreeBSD 12.1-STABLE GENERIC  amd64

Previously it at least gave the revision number of the tree at the time of the build. Once again create /etc/src.conf (a name that seems to mean nothing):

# Don't drop build date, dammit!
# What a silly name for the knob.
# It's about as "intuitive" as the name of this file.
WITHOUT_REPRODUCIBLE_BUILD=dammit

But that wasn't all. When I create or modify a system file, I check it in with RCS. But there was none! It seems that they've removed this basic utility and made a port of it. Shades of Linux! At least the port installed simply.

And after another kernel build, install and reboot things looked sane:

FreeBSD dereel 12.1-STABLE FreeBSD 12.1-STABLE #2: Fri Apr 10 10:49:21 AEST 2020     grog@dereel:/usr/obj/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/amd64.amd64/sys/GENERIC  amd64

OK, on with ports installed. Next was ImageMagick. But the ports are too polite to use such a straightforward name. Instead I had to search for it:

=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/2) ~ 8 -> pkg search ImageMagick
ImageMagick6-6.9.10.90,1       Image processing tools (legacy version)
ImageMagick6-nox11-6.9.10.90,1 Image processing tools (legacy version)
ImageMagick7-7.0.9.20          Image processing tools
ImageMagick7-nox11-7.0.9.20    Image processing tools
...

OK, ImageMagick7 it is. In a moment of madness I tried to install it, well knowing that Emacs didn't like it. But how about that, not the complaint I expected:

<code><font color="blue">=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/2)</font> <font color="red">~</font> <font color="blue">9</font> -&gt; <b><tt>pkg install ImageMagick7</tt></b></code>
Updating FreeBSD repository catalogue...
FreeBSD repository is up to date.
All repositories are up to date.
The following 1 package(s) will be affected (of 0 checked):

New packages to be INSTALLED:
        ImageMagick7: 7.0.9.20

...
Proceed with this action? [y/N]: y
[1/1] Fetching ImageMagick7-7.0.9.20.txz: 100%    8 MiB 465.4kB/s    00:18
pkg: cached package ImageMagick7-7.0.9.20: size mismatch, fetching from remote
Fetching ImageMagick7-7.0.9.20.txz: 100%    8 MiB   1.2MB/s    00:07
pkg: cached package ImageMagick7-7.0.9.20: size mismatch, cannot continue
Consider running 'pkg update -f'

Huh? This pkg database was virgin only a couple of days ago. OK, pkg update -f it is, and sure enough,

=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/2) ~ 13 -> pkg install ImageMagick7
The following 2 package(s) will be affected (of 0 checked):

New packages to be INSTALLED:
        ImageMagick7: 7.0.9.20

Installed packages to be REINSTALLED:
        ImageMagick6-6.9.10.90,1

Number of packages to be installed: 1
Number of packages to be reinstalled: 1

Huh? Where did this ImageMagick6-6.9.10.90,1 come from? OK, let's see what happens:

Proceed with this action? [y/N]: y
[1/1] Fetching ImageMagick6-6.9.10.90,1.txz: 100%    7 MiB 277.8kB/s    00:27
[1/2] Deinstalling ImageMagick6-6.9.10.90,1...
[1/2] Deleting files for ImageMagick6-6.9.10.90,1: 100%
[2/2] Installing ImageMagick7-7.0.9.20...
[2/2] Extracting ImageMagick7-7.0.9.20: 100%
[2/2] Installing ImageMagick6-6.9.10.90,1...
pkg: ImageMagick6-6.9.10.90,1 conflicts with ImageMagick7-7.0.9.20 (installs files into the same place).  Problematic file: /usr/local/bin/Magick++-config

Well, isn't that clever? It tried to install two conflicting packages. That's enough for me.


Saturday, 11 April 2020 Dereel Images for 11 April 2020
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The daily ports grind
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

OK, where did I get to yesterday? I couldn't look in the diary entry, because I hadn't written it yet. What's in the log file?

=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/3) /var/cache 3 -> emacs Log.log
ld-elf.so.1: Shared object "libMagickWand-6.so.6" not found, required by "emacs"

Damn! That ImageMagick installation failed, but it left me without dependencies for Emacs. The quick answer was to reinstall Emacs, but that wasn't a real option yet.

So: install all the ports that would install easily:

for i in a2ps aalib apache audacity bind916 chromium cowsay cpuid curl dcraw dvd+rw  espeak exif exifprobe exiv2 ffmpeg firefox fvwm ghostscript9 gimp gindent gv hugin kdenlive klondike lame lensfun lightzone linuxlibertine lsof lynx mencoder mplayer mpv mtools mutt mysql80-server nmap nvidia nvidia p5 patch pbzip2 php pidgin pigz portlint postfix procmail projectx qpopper rawtherapee rdesktop rsync rtorrent samba42 squid subversion sudo tightvnc transcode ufraw urlview vigra virtualbox virtualbox vlc vobcopy webcamd wget wireshark x264 x2x xcpustate xearth xev xfig xfstt xgc xhost xine xinit xinput xkbcomp xkbevd xkbutils xkeyboard xkill xlsatoms xlsclients xmag xmessage xmixer xmlcatmgr xmlcharent xmlprpr xmlrpc xmodmap  xpat2 xpdf xpdfopen xpr xprop xproto xrandr xrdb xrefresh xset xsetmode xsetroot xterm xtrans xtset xv xvid xvidtune xvinfo xwd xwininfo xwud yajl youtube_dl zip zsh; do echo === $i; pkg install -y $i; done |  tee -a /var/tmp/portinstall

That seemed to install quite a few ports, so I left it at that. I can check the log file tomorrow. Instead, went back to Emacs. Build from source without ImageMagick. That wasn't completely straightforward: help2man, whatever that is, failed:

===>  Configuring for help2man-1.47.13
env: ./configure: No such file or directory
===>  Script "configure" failed unexpectedly.

This just Should Not Happen. Installed the help2man package, and had no further problems. And the result worked, as before. Now I can remove ImageMagic6 and install ImageMagick7:

=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/3) /usr/ports/editors/emacs 35 -> pkg remove ImageMagick6
...
[1/1] Deinstalling ImageMagick6-6.9.10.90,1...
[1/1] Deleting files for ImageMagick6-6.9.10.90,1: 100%
=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/3) /usr/ports/editors/emacs 36 -> pkg install ImageMagick7
...
The following 3 package(s) will be affected (of 0 checked):

New packages to be INSTALLED:
        ImageMagick6-nox11: 6.9.10.90,1
        ImageMagick7: 7.0.9.20
        libwmf-nox11: 0.2.8.4_15

Number of packages to be installed: 3

The process will require 56 MiB more space.
8 MiB to be downloaded.

Huh? That's not what it said last time. And what's libwmf anyway? OK, try it and see:

Wonderful. What now? Try to remove the nox11 (pronounced “No X11”) version. Not there, so try to install it:

=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/3) /usr/ports/editors/emacs 37 -> pkg delete libwmf-nox11-0.2.8.4_15
No packages matched for pattern 'libwmf-nox11-0.2.8.4_15'
=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/3) /usr/ports/editors/emacs 38 -> pkg install libwmf-nox11-0.2.8.4_15
pkg: transcode has a missing dependency: lame
pkg: mencoder has a missing dependency: lame
Checking integrity... done (2 conflicting)
  - libwmf-nox11-0.2.8.4_15 conflicts with libwmf-0.2.8.4_15 on /usr/local/bin/libwmf-config
  - libwmf-nox11-0.2.8.4_15 conflicts with libwmf-0.2.8.4_15 on /usr/local/bin/libwmf-config
Checking integrity... done (1 conflicting)
  - ImageMagick6-nox11-6.9.10.90,1 conflicts with ImageMagick6-6.9.10.90,1 on /usr/local/bin/Magick++-config
Checking integrity... done (0 conflicting)
The following 8 package(s) will be affected (of 0 checked):

Installed packages to be REMOVED:
        gimp: 2.10.18,2
        gimp-app: 2.10.18_1,1
        gimp-gutenprint: 5.3.3
        libwmf: 0.2.8.4_15
        py27-gimp: 2.10.18_1

New packages to be INSTALLED:
        ImageMagick6-nox11: 6.9.10.90,1
        libwmf-nox11: 0.2.8.4_15

Installed packages to be REINSTALLED:
        flac-1.3.3

Proceed with this action? [y/N]:

In passing, it's interesting to note these lame dependencies. lame doesn't mean that they're lame; it's the name of the package. I've seen it for some time, so it seems to be a bug in the lame port.

But at least we now have an indication of why this strange behaviour occurs: it seems that GIMP wants ImageMagick6 too. That's bad. I've already commented that Emacs doesn't really need ImageMagick, but GIMP most certainly does. Surely it should be the latest version.

OK,

=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/3) /usr/ports/editors/emacs 39 -> pkg delete gimp
[1/1] Deinstalling gimp-2.10.18,2...
=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/3) /usr/ports/editors/emacs 40 -> pkg install ImageMagick7
Checking integrity... done (1 conflicting)
  - ImageMagick6-6.9.10.90,1 conflicts with ImageMagick7-7.0.9.20 on /usr/local/bin/Magick++-config
Checking integrity... done (4 conflicting)
  - libwmf-nox11-0.2.8.4_15 conflicts with libwmf-0.2.8.4_15 on /usr/local/bin/libwmf-config
  - libwmf-nox11-0.2.8.4_15 conflicts with libwmf-0.2.8.4_15 on /usr/local/bin/libwmf-config
  - ImageMagick6-nox11-6.9.10.90,1 conflicts with ImageMagick7-7.0.9.20 on /usr/local/bin/Magick++-config
  - ImageMagick6-nox11-6.9.10.90,1 conflicts with ImageMagick6-6.9.10.90,1 on /usr/local/bin/Magick-config
Checking integrity... done (0 conflicting)
The following 2 package(s) will be affected (of 0 checked):

Installed packages to be REMOVED:
        emacs: 26.3_3,3

New packages to be INSTALLED:
        ImageMagick7: 7.0.9.20

Dammit, I've built Emacs without ImageMagick dependencies. It seems that the information didn't make it to the package database. That's bad from a consistency viewpoint, but I can live with it. I'm even still in the Emacs ports directory, so after pkg deletes Emacs, all I need is:

=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/3) /usr/ports/editors/emacs 41 -> make install
=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/3) /usr/ports/editors/emacs 42 -> emacs
su: emacs: command not found

Dammit, I've just removed Emacs. But the ports tree doesn't know about it. OK,

=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/3) /usr/ports/editors/emacs 43 -> make deinstall reinstall
===>  Deinstalling for emacs
===>   emacs not installed, skipping
===>  Deinstalling for emacs
===>   emacs not installed, skipping          why twice?
...
===>   Registering installation for emacs-26.3_3,3
(emacs-26.3_3,3) /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/editors/emacs/work-full/stage//usr/local/bin/emacs-26.3 - required shared library libMagickWand-6.so.6 not found
(emacs-26.3_3,3) /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/editors/emacs/work-full/stage//usr/local/bin/emacs-26.3 - required shared library libMagickCore-6.so.6 not found
Installing emacs-26.3_3,3...

Somehow there's something seriously wrong with the consistency between packages and ports. But why doesn't Emacs build with ImageMagick7? Time to investigate. Change the Makefile:

--- Makefile (revision 531446)
+++ Makefile (working copy)
@@ -176,7 +176,7 @@
 M17N_IMPLIES= XFT
 M17N_LIB_DEPENDS= libm17n.so:devel/m17n-lib
 M17N_CONFIGURE_WITH= m17n-flt
-MAGICK_LIB_DEPENDS= libMagickCore-6.so:graphics/ImageMagick6
+MAGICK_LIB_DEPENDS= libMagickCore-7.so:graphics/ImageMagick7

Why, doesn't it build with ImageMagick7? It built fine and worked. The real question is why it failed last month. But first, asked on IRC, and Juha Kupiainen built from source with that patch, noting that it installed ImageMagick7 even with make all.

So: next to try it out on teevee again. But that was enough pain for one day.


What is ISO, part 36
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

A year ago I mused about the meaning of “ISO”, really meaning the ISO standards for digital camera sensor sensitivity. Now DPReview has come up with a pair of articles (well, at least the first one). So far no deep insights, but at least no nonsense. They're a little too hands-off with their description of how the standard (they chose ISO 12232:2019) applies to camera hardware. Maybe the second article will be closer to reality. About the only thing that I did learn was two TLAs: SOS and REI. SOS (Standard Output Sensitivity) is more standardized: it describes the exposure needed to get “an sRGB JPEG with lightness values of 118 from a middle grey target”. The lightness value is simply the value of the pixel.

Why 118? I still don't completely understand. JPEGs have pixel values from 0 to 255, so a half-full (or half-empty) pixel would have a value of 128. But I seem to recall that JPEGs consider any value over 250 to be burnt out. That would still leave the mid point at 125, even if you ignore the noisy low values. Possibly the text of the standard (unfortunately not freely available) would clarify it. But that definition is very different from the film definitions, which describe the threshold where any image information occurs.

The other thing of interest is that the standard specifically refers to JPEG images. This implies that raw images don't have an intrinsic ISO value; you can create 5 different JPEG images with different ISO values from the same raw image. Somehow this suggests to me that there's something basically wrong in the definitions. A JPEG is a derived image, not one that the camera produces automatically.


Sunday, 12 April 2020 Dereel Images for 12 April 2020
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Busy day
Topic: general Link here

Up early this morning: Mick Solly was coming, possibly as early as 8:00, to do the garden, Easter Sunday or no Easter Sunday. And CJ Ellis was coming to put in a couple of gates.

8:00 came. 9:00 came. All day went by. No Mick. He didn't show up at all. Where is he? I suppose I should give him a call, but normally he's very good with calling if he can't make it. Did he leave a message on my phone? Yes!

 
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Oh. Look at that date. That must have been the person from Elysian Energy who ignored my wishes and called me on the phone, triggering a search for the cause of the non-ringing phone. Time to tidy things up. And no sign of Mick.

CJ along as planned and put in a couple of posts:


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In principle we also wanted to put gates on them, but various things got in the way: the soil is very moist, we didn't have the correct fittings, and we also needed to install the electric gate opener, which requires other tools and a whole amount of guesswork, since the (relatively detailed) instruction manual doesn't match what I received. So we deferred the rest until later in the week.


Slow cooker galbi jjim (갈비찜)
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I'm subscribed to a number of email recipe lists, and recently I received one from Sue (apparently without further names) of My Korean Kitchen: Slow Cooker Korean Short Ribs, a translation of galbi jjim (갈비찜).

It looked interesting, and in particular it seemed that it would be something that wouldn't offend Yvonne's far too European taste. So I asked her to get some short beef ribs, and today I started the task of 8 hours' cooking.

The ribs were interesting. They looked almost nothing like the ones that Sue used (though she's in Brisbane).

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They were also amazingly expensive, $17 per kg. I wouldn't have expected them to be over $10.

OK, prepare as the recipe, trying to interpret things like cups and Tbsps and things. It didn't occur to me until much later that this was an “Australian” recipe, so the cups were round 4% more, and the Tbsps were ⅓ more than the correspondingly name US “units”. And how much ¼ cup of brown sugar is is mainly guesswork; I tried measuring and decided that it was about 110 g, but those were based on US cups.

Ended up by choosing nearly double the quantity of ingredients for the sauce, since my ribs had so much more meat on them, and they also weighed a little more. Ultimately I used:

Main

quantity       ingredient       step
1.75 kg       beef short ribs       1
785 g       carrots       1

Marinade (sauce)

quantity       ingredient       step
120 g       Apple       1
100 g       Pear       1
140 g       Onion       1
290 g       Water       1
5 g       Chicken stock powder       1
220 g       Light soya sauce       1
110 g       Brown sugar       1
64 g       Honey       1
40 g       Garlic       1
23 g       Ginger       1
68 g       Rice wine       1
10 g       Sesame oil       1
10       Peppercorns       1

Many of these choices depended on what I had. The original wanted “baby potatoes”, but it proved to be the only recipe I found that used potatoes, and since I had just the right quantity of carrots, I used them instead. The original wanted an “Asian” or Williams pear, but there was also mention of red apples. The water and stock powder were instead of beef stock, which I proved not to have. Ginger wasn't in the original recipe, but I had seen it in others, and it seemed the right thing to do.

OK, put it in my sous-vide machine, which also lays claim to be a slow cooker:


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