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Thursday, 1 April 2021 Dereel Images for 1 April 2021
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Another grid power outage
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Another grid power failure at 3:15 this morning, this time nearly 30 minutes. That's the situation that I hate: almost certainly the battery charge is between 30% and 40%, and if the air conditioner cuts in, it could completely drain the battery.

It didn't. At the beginning of the outage the state of charge was 36%, and it dropped to 30% by the end—exactly what it would have done if the power had not failed. But that's just because of the weather. I really should find a way to disable the air conditioner when there's a grid power failure.


Park landscapes?
Topic: photography, general, opinion Link here

For years, I admired wide park-like landscapes with rolling meadows and the occasional tree, such as you see in English films. Things got better when we moved to Australia, where we really did get that kind of layout in Wantadilla, and to a lesser extent in Kleins Road and even here. But the vegetation was different.

Today while walking the dog, Yvonne pointed out a small area at the beginning of Progress Road:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210401/big/Park-landscape-2.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210401/big/Park-landscape-1.jpeg
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Yes, of course it's not a park landscape, but it has some of the attributes. How can I take a photo that captures those attributes without showing how small it is?


Friday, 2 April 2021 Dereel
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More GPS investigations
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

One thing that became clear during my trip to Geelong on Tuesday was that the maps on my new GPS navigator were significantly out of date.

No worry, it was sold with lifetime map updates. So I contacted the seller, who sent me a strangely packed RAR archive containing images of how to set up the device.

Sorry, no go. Maps, please. Silence for a while, then

Thanks for your mail. You do not need to return this, or how about we refund you 30%?

The 30% off is not much use without up-to-date maps. But the real issue is: they don't have the map updates. That should be worth reporting to eBay.

As I noted when I bought this device, this is an application crying out for use with a mobile phone. OK, some discussion on IRC, yet again. And it seems that most people are content with Google Maps. Still, time to try Sygic again. It has newer maps, of course, dated January 2021. So download them and see if it can find Bunnings in Delacombe, a place that my new navigator doesn't know.

Yes, no problem. But it can't take me there. I couldn't even find a way to tell it to take me close to there; the touch screen doesn't seem to work. The best I could do (I didn't try) would be to guess an address nearby and get it to take me there (run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour):

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210403/big/Screenshot_20210402-154258-detail.png
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Now isn't that stupid!

What are these people thinking? Google Maps has no problem with the navigation, and Sygic looks relatively well equipped. But what good is a navigation app that can't take you where you want to go? Time to investigate further apps, maybe.


Network speeds
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Downloading the Sygic map update took nearly 2 hours. OK, it's big, a little over 900 MB. But my Internet link has a 25 Mb/s download speed, so it would be reasonable to expect a 2 MB/s download speed. That's about 7½ minutes. 2 hours corresponds to about 128 kB/s.

Try Ookla Speedtest. With its choice of speed test server, 1.33 Mb/s download (and 2.3 Mb/s up).

Some discussion on IRC. My cameras are also so glacially slow. And my 802.11 access point is cheap and nasty. Could it be that it's the bottleneck? Found the configuration screens relatively easily. No, it offers “Mixed 802.11b/g/n”. That should be good for 300 Mb/s, faster than the Internet link.

OK, how about a real computer? Speedtest hung “finding optimal server”. As I said on IRC, “Damn, there are a lot of servers out there!”. Finally found a use for fwaggle, my iMac, which can optionally connect via 802.11. 21.8 Mb/s down, 3.7 up. So clearly it's not the AP. But what is it? I really need another mobile phone to compare with it.


Saturday, 3 April 2021 Dereel Images for 3 April 2021
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More shed building?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

While walking the dog, saw this in front of Fiona Drayton's house:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210403/big/Shed-components-1.jpeg
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That looks like material to build a shed. And it matches the cleared area just inside the gate. That close to the road it's clear that she would have a permit. But this is Zincalume! Exactly what the council told us that we couldn't have close to the road! And this only 400 m from our property! I don't want to get Fiona into trouble, but if the council really allowed that, there's no way that they can insist that we use Colorbond.


More Abutilons
Topic: gardening Link here

Two of the Abutilon cuttings that we got at the end of January have struck, and only two months after cutting, one is flowering:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210403/big/Abutilon-1-DMap.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210403/big/Abutilon-2.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210403/big/Abutilon-3.jpeg
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That's amazingly fast.


GPS navigator update, revisited
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

More discussion with the seller of my GPS navigator. I rejected his offer of 30% off:

I don't want a discount, I want the maps that you promised me. If you can't deliver them, I don't need the unit at all.

To my surprise, I got a response:

We have already sent you the instruction and you need to click on the website to see this. You do not need to return this.

Yes, I received a RAR yesterday, but all I could extract was some images of the device. There was, however, a Microsoft “Excel” spreadsheet. I should at least try to read it.

It was like pulling teeth. First, how do you display these images? OpenOffice seems to be the best choice. And how about that, it displayed something:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210404/big/OOo-4.png
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What's that? Does it display any better with Microsoft? That way frustration lies, but with a bit of messing around I was able to watch a YouTube video:

Dated 2018, relating to a completely different device, and with comments:

Update: The company website is no longer available for map downloads. I have included a link to the newer version of this model, which will have the maps included.

But I couldn't find any link. The best I could find was in the original spreadsheet:

 
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That box is the cursor: the text overlaps multiple cells. But I couldn't find a way to select it. And whichever way you look at it, this is not the way to provide lifetime updates. It looks as if the data (if it proves to be correct) has been stolen.

This was in the evening in front of the TV. Mañana.


Sunday, 4 April 2021 Dereel Images for 4 April 2021
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The pain of macro photography
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Taking yesterday's photos of the Abutilon was not easy. I had to position the camera under the plant:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210404/big/Macro-setup-1.jpeg
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Now I need to set things for focus stacking. How do I do it?

  1. (The traditional way) Lie down on the floor and press the camera controls.
  2. Set up the camera the way I want it before mounting on the tripod.
  3. Use my mobile phone to control the camera.

I still don't understand why the remote control app is restricted to mobile phones: it uses 802.11 communications, so any computer should be sufficient. But it is so horribly difficult to use. Tried again today:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210404/big/Screenshot_20210404-144826-detail.png
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OK, I've seen that before. Somehow OI.Share doesn't understand Android networking. Go to Settings:

 
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So what's the problem? Apart from the reasonable assumption of bad program design, I don't know. I had to scan in the QR code to get the thing to communicate. And then, by accident, I switched to a different app, then back again. The whole thing all over again! That's just plain broken!

Carefully navigated the stepping stones, and finally got to the remote control view:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210404/big/Screenshot_20210404-144923.png
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All I have is the bare basics. If there's more somewhere, it's well hidden. Nothing that can remotely help me with focus stacking; in fact, it seems to turn focus stacking off (and insist on giving me JPEG images that I can't use).

People, there are so many things that can be done with these things, even using a mobile phone. Why throw them away?


GPS map updates, dammit!
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Yesterday the seller of my new GPS navigator told me that the file he sent me did indeed describe how to update the maps. The only problem was that the document was in a Microsoft proprietary format, and I didn't have the software to access it. OpenOffice couldn't make anything of it.

OK, what about Microsoft? Tried to access it there. It seems that Microsoft has a solution, “Excel” (another of those silly names). They have it, but I don't. But some time ago I downloaded a “free file viewer”, which showed me pretty much what OpenOffice did.

Dammit, as much as I hate doing so, I had no choice: I had to read the https://www.dropbox.com/s/z0wtzwhtjq8qyxw/AZ%202020.zip?dl=0 and type it in!

The good news is that the result was indeed a ZIP archive of what appears to be the complete “disk” image of the navigator, in particular of course the maps:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/46) ~/Downloads 40 -> l AZ-2020.zip
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis  1,802,781,480  4 Apr 09:44 AZ-2020.zip
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/46) ~/Downloads 41 -> unzip -l AZ-2020.zip | less
...
  8860115  07-27-2019 18:14   AZ 2020/CONTENT/Map/Australia_HERE_Easy_2019.Q2_190612.hnr
  7206660  07-27-2019 18:15   AZ 2020/CONTENT/Map/Australia_HERE_Fast_2019.Q2_190612.hnr
  5869325  07-27-2019 18:15   AZ 2020/CONTENT/Map/Australia_HERE_Short_2019.Q2_190612.hnr
120695296  07-27-2019 18:15   AZ 2020/CONTENT/Map/Australia_R3_HERE_2019.Q2_190612.fbl
 15964160  07-27-2019 18:16   AZ 2020/CONTENT/Map/Australia_R3_HERE_2019.Q2_190612.fsp
...

Isn't unzip useful? It shows that the maps are nearly 2 years old. How much newer are they than the maps on my navigator?

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/3) ~ 610 -> mount -t msdos /dev/da5 /mnt
mount: Using "-t msdosfs", since "-t msdos" is deprecated.
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/3) ~ 611 -> l /mnt
total 1
drwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  8,192 13 Aug  2020 AZ 2020
drwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  8,192  5 Apr 02:34 System Volume Information
...
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/3) ~ 617 -> ls -lT /mnt/AZ\ 2020/CONTENT/Map/
total 197
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel    8860115 28 Jul 04:14:58 2019 Australia_HERE_Easy_2019.Q2_190612.hnr
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel    7206660 28 Jul 04:15:00 2019 Australia_HERE_Fast_2019.Q2_190612.hnr
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel    5869325 28 Jul 04:15:00 2019 Australia_HERE_Short_2019.Q2_190612.hnr
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  120695296 28 Jul 04:15:50 2019 Australia_R3_HERE_2019.Q2_190612.fbl
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel   15964160 28 Jul 04:16:12 2019 Australia_R3_HERE_2019.Q2_190612.fsp

They're identical!

120695296  07-27-2019 18:15   AZ 2020/CONTENT/Map/Australia_R3_HERE_2019.Q2_190612.fbl
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  120695296 28 Jul 04:15:50 2019 Australia_R3_HERE_2019.Q2_190612.fbl

So why the date difference? FAT file systems don't have absolute times, so the best workaround is to interpret them as UTC. And 18:15 (“we're too polite to display seconds”) UTC is 4:15 AEST (and the 50 seconds that unzip didn't display).

So:

  1. Although I specifically asked the seller before buying the item, his promise of “Lifetime Map” is incorrect.
  2. Looking at the archive, it would seem that these maps appear quarterly, and that this particular update is 2 years old.
  3. The seller is not able to provide a sane upgrade method. Sending a broken “Excel” spreadsheet in a format requiring a specific dearchiver is nothing short of insulting.
  4. The location of the archive suggests that it has been pirated.

So the fact remains: it goes back. Should I take further action?


A new dog for Yvonne
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

As I suspected, Yvonne is not happy with us only having one dog. Almost since Leonid died she has been looking for a replacement. Borzoi? That would be my choice. But no, she wants a whippet!

I don't have our whippets in the best of memory. They were timid and somehow frustrating. Why not a borzoi? Yvonne is getting old, and she has been through multiple injuries which have left her weakened. A whippet won't be such a strain on her frail body.

OK, let's think this through and see what's available. I did a bit of searching and didn't find much. Next dog show? No, she needs a new dog now, and there's this one in Mansfield.

As it happened, Mansfield is a place that I had been planning to visit, mainly because it was the location of Nevil Shute'sThe Far Country”. Why not plan a visit?

One reason is the timing. I would really want to read the book again: it contains many very specific locations, mainly between Mansfield and Merrijig. But for Yvonne's peace of mind we don't have that much time. In any case, it's a 3 hour drive each way, so we wouldn't have much time. So we decided to leave tomorrow early and see whether the dog is suitable.


Monday, 5 April 2021 Dereel → Broadford → Flowerdale → Mansfield → Dereel Images for 5 April 2021
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A day on the road
Topic: general, opinion Link here

As planned, off to Mansfield, leaving just before 8:00. I had decided to take the cross-country road to Broadford, which proved to be a mistake. Traffic was very slow, and we barely managed 80 km/h.

I had wanted to visit a couple of places from my childhood along the way: my mother grew up in Broadford, and my (great) aunt Anne was still living there in 1977. But since then I only went through once, in March 1987 with Yvonne, Yana and my father, and I barely recognized anything.

Today was the same: I really barely recognized the place. OK, on to Flowerdale, where our family used to run the pub. We were there in 1997 as well, and at the time I recognized the hotel (just about all there was to the place):

Today I didn't see anything remotely resembling what I recalled, maybe because we didn't go past the right places. But there, too, my memory failed me. Even the photo on the Wikipedia page doesn't match my recollection:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/ca/FlowerdaleHotel1.JPG

On through Yea, where I did recognize the place. It was pretty much just the main street. But today it was packed in one of the biggest traffic jams I've ever seen outside built-up areas. Found a way around it, probably saving 15 minutes in the process. No traffic on the other side, so it must have been a crash or something in the middle of town. But on the remainder of the way to Mansfield we saw heavy traffic, bordering on traffic jams.

Why? Easter Monday, the end not of just any long weekend, but the first since the end of the COVID-19 restrictions. Lots of campers and caravans, probably mainly visitors to Lake Eildon.

Finally in Mansfield, off to look for an ATM to get money to pay for the dog. The GPS navigator was the obvious thing to ask. How about that, ANZ Bank and Westpac in the main street, almost next door to each other. We identified ANZ first, and Yvonne off to get some money. But the ATM crashed: I forget the exact message, something about “unable to complete this transaction”. My guess is that it had run out of money over the long weekend.

OK, off to look for Westpac. No sign of it. 81 High Street. ANZ was 77. Based on our house numbering, 81 should be to the right of 77. But when I finally found a number on that side, it was lower. Back, but no sign of Westpac. Finally into a convenient pub, where they told me that Westpac shut down 3 years ago. So these two-year-old maps are at least 3 years out of date.

Finally found some money across the road at CBA, and on to find the dog, as it happened between Mansfield and Merrijig.

Bought the dog (more here) and discussed the return journey with Sally. My intention had been to go home by the freeway. I recalled from “The Far Country” that there was a road to further north. It made sense to go that way, since roads further south were closer to Melbourne, and my guess was that most of the traffic was headed there.

Two possibilities: via Euroa (closer, but twisty) or via Benalla (nice road). For the sake of the dog, we took the longer route, and he vomited twice on the way anyway.

Benalla is a long way further north. It took nearly 90 minutes by the time we were nearing Seymour (another place I remember from my childhood, about as far as the Black Stump). Another 2 hours to get home. Was it worth it? It probably would have taken that long via Yea, if traffic hadn't deteriorated.

But traffic had deteriorated. Shortly before Seymour the traffic stopped altogether. Not what I expected in Australia, not even on Easter Monday. There was an exit about 1 km further on, but by the time we got there, things were moving again, though only at round 40 km/h.

Only temporarily. Soon we were back to start-stop. OK, we still have the cross-country route. Took the next exit (Tallarook) and told the navigator to take us to Kilmore. Map looked OK, so on. But before I knew it, it had taken me to the slip road of the freeway, back into the traffic jam!

Bloody GPS navigator! No, in fact the real issue is the primitive map view. It looked as if it were taking me across country, but in fact it's normally faster by the freeway. I had to disable freeway routes, and then things were OK.

And how about that, from then on things were OK. Very little traffic, and it took us to the Western Freeway at Bacchus Marsh, which was also only lightly trafficed. About the only thing of interest was when we wanted to fill up. We had paid $1.279 per litre in Ballarat in the morning, but we needed petrol round Gisborne, where we had the choice of $1.679 or $1.699 per litre, over 30% more! Made it on to Bacchus Marsh, 30 km further on, where the prices were a more civil $1.339. How can they get that much money for it? Were they nearly empty and trying to make a quick buck?

Back home, had the opportunity to look at the route and the statistics. We had left at 7:55 and got home at 17:35, 9 hours and 34 minutes, of which we had spent less than 40 minutes getting money and dog. Total distance 707 km. The detour via Benalla added 63 km to the journey; Euroa would have been only 23. And the cross-country stretch saved us only 18 km. But why should I have to get home to find that out? GPS navigation has been round for 20 years. It should be better by now.


Cooking with Beer
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Listening to the radio at the beginning of our journey, they had a special guest on the programme: Maggie Beer, a TV cook.

I'm not very convinced by any celebrity cooks, but I thought that Maggie Beer was quite acceptable. Until today. She gave her view of cooking pasta: lots of boiling water (of course), but whatever you do, don't add the salt until it's boiling.

Why not? I didn't quite understand. Did it not salt as well if added earlier? Or was it the need for the boiling water to foam when the salt was added? It gave me the impression that she confused it with the need to only add salt later when cooking dried beans.

And when it's done, whatever you do, don't rinse it with water! Again, I didn't understand the reasoning. Just drain it in a colander and let it cool down (merrily cooking further in the process). And it won't stick together if you then add oil! So you add oil, possibly falsifying the taste, just to make up for not rinsing the noodles when done.

Fortunately, she didn't stay long. I couldn't have put up with much more of that nonsense.


Black Peter!
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

In Mansfield, found the location of the dog breeders with little difficulty (the GPS wanted to take us further east, but only by 70 m). What we didn't get to see were the breeders themselves: they had been away for the weekend and had asked a friend, Sally Reeve, to handle things for them.

Here are Mum (Australian Staghound) and Dad (Whippet):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210405/big/Mummy-2.jpeg
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There were a total of two dogs and a bitch for sale. Yvonne had more or less made up her mind before we left, and all that we needed was a quick check of dentition. It didn't take long. I started taking photos almost as soon as we got out of the car. The first photo was taken at 12:30:11:


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The last one, already in the car to leave, was taken at 12:47:33, less than 20 minutes later:


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And then we were off on our excruciating journey home, during which the dog vomited 3 times. But we needed time to find a name for him. Yvonne wanted to call him Nemo, but we've already had a dog by that name. I suggested that since whippets are English, we should give him a real English name like Algernon, which Yvonne didn't like for some time. “Nigel” didn't occur to me until much later.

Polo? Pedro? Paulo? Pablo? We decided against Paulo because nobody round here would pronounce it right. Polo is a game, not a name. So Pedro or Paulo? It wasn't until I thought of the German card game „Schwarzer Peter“, which is also a well-known saying, that we decided that it would have to be Pedro (negro).

Back home. How would our animals (Nikolai and Piccola) receive him? Surprisingly well: I wasn't so worried about Niko, but Piccola accepted him almost from the beginning, giving him a quick tattoo on his nose to show who was boss. And he adapted surprisingly quickly to the household, especially considering that he had spent all his life in a kennel.

In passing, why are all the puppies black? I wish I knew. But I know that with cats, blue (the sire's colour) is recessive, so if the dam didn't carry it, that could give rise to black. But that addresses only a single gene. I wonder what colours the dam carries.

And why did Yvonne want specifically a black dog? I don't understand that. When we got our borzois, almost all black and white, she was unhappy with the colour and wanted a brown one.


Tuesday, 6 April 2021 Dereel Images for 6 April 2021
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Catching up
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Yesterday we were away from home all day long. It shows in the little things, like our power consumption:

http://www.lemis.com/grog/Day/20210407/Power-use.png

And of course I had lots of catching up to do. Somehow my days are completely taken up with day-to-day activities.


No Easter music
Topic: music, opinion Link here

Last weekend was Easter, one of the holiest feasts of the Christians. For me, it's the time to hear some good music. But this Easter there was none at all, neither on ABC Classic nor on Radio Swiss Classic.

Why?


Getting to know Pedro
Topic: animals, general, opinion Link here

Spent a lot of the day getting to know Pedro, who has so far proved to be surprisingly easy to integrate. About the only difficulty I had was to get good photos of him. Even walking on a line—for the first time ever—went by with little in the way of difficulties:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210406/big/Pedro-Yvonne-Nikolai-3.jpeg
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About the only unexpected thing is that he seems to be fixating on me, which will need to change. We've decided that he can't be a lap dog, not just because it would be unfair on Nikolai, but because he's going to get considerably bigger. So in the evening he ended up lying on my feet, because Yvonne lies back on a recliner. And when I leave my armchair, Pedro takes over:


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But that, too, he will learn.


USB hang
Topic: technology, photography Link here

Yvonne off to take some photos at Chris Bahlo's place, leaving Pedro behind to do so. Back home, she had trouble: she couldn't connect her camera to her computer, lagoon. The “One Moment...” display appeared, but it didn't go away.

I've seen that before. Poor connection of the USB cable. Tried again. Nothing. Finally tried it on eureka. No problems.

That's at least a partial relief. If the connector on the camera were damaged, the repair would probably cost most than a replacement computer. But what is it? Defective port? Looked for another one, but they were all in use. I must consider getting a hub.

How about asking usbconfig? It didn't do what I expected. In fact, it didn't do anything: it hung on startup, even usbconfig -h, which should just print help text. OK, what's it doing?

=== grog@lagoon (/dev/pts/5) /Photos/yvonne/20210328 20 -> ps alx | grep usb
   0    15     0   0 -68  0       0     240 -        DL    -      15:08.73 [usb]
   0   784   684   0  20  0   11056    2132 USB conf S+    6       0:00.00 usbconfig -h

What's holding the USB conf lock? I couldn't find anything. I suppose the good news is that it's probably not a hardware issue, but the bad news is that I'll have to reboot lagoon. Mañana, when Yvonne is out shopping.


Wednesday, 7 April 2021 Dereel Images for 7 April 2021
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Acclimatizing Pedro
Topic: animals Link here

Pedro has been with us for two days now. He's enjoying himself:


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One problem: he can get under the gates between the front and the back of the house, and also to the road. Hopefully that will go away soon when he grows a bit.

And house training is still not as successful as it could be, especially since he seems to want to go in the middle of the night. But that, too, will pass.


247 vaccinations done!
Topic: health, opinion Link here

The COVID-19 vaccinations in Australia are off to a slow start. I forget what (relatively small) number should have been performed by now, but the news tells us: 247 vaccinations in Victoria on Saturday. No, not 247,000. Only 247. By contrast, in the USA on the same calendar day there were over 4,000,000 vaccinations.

Of course, there's an explanation: Victoria is far smaller than the USA. The USA has about 330,000,000 inhabitants, and Victoria has only 6,680,000. If Victoria were as populous as the USA, those 247 vaccinations would have increased to a whopping 12,202, over 0.3% as much per capita as in the USA.

We're proud of our medical infrastructure in Australia, and Australia isn't the only country struggling with the vaccination programme. Credit where credit's due: Biden has really got things moving.


Rebooting lagoon
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Rebooted lagoon today as planned, and sure enough, the USB problem went away. And Microsoft raised its ugly head. Can't mount \\lagoon\Photos: “drive in use” or some such nonsense. It proved that this time the cause was that Samba hadn't been started after reboot. That's a configuration error that I don't quite understand: I had an old version of the config file /etc/rc.conf. But wouldn't it have been so much easier if that message had said “NO RESPONSE FROM \\LAGOON”?


Thursday, 8 April 2021 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 8 April 2021
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Doctor's appointment
Topic: health Link here

Into town this afternoon to see Dr. Paul Smith. Health First have expanded: they used to be on the first floor, and there were two different pharmacies downstairs, but it doesn't seem to have been worth their while. Now Health First have expanded to take up both floors. Paul is now downstairs, and to compensate for the additional space, his own room is only about half the size of the old one.

No blood tests to talk about today: they forgot to get the pathology request for me. Somehow we got through half an hour anyway.

And when I got home, I got a call from Specsavers to tell me that my new glasses were ready for pickup. They really could have called earlier. But then, once again they didn't notice that I'm due for a visual field test, which requires an appointment. So I'll have to go in again on Tuesday.


Health First: Signs of the times
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Why did the pharmacies downstairs from Health First close down? One potential reason was that Health First made a better offer for the space. But that would only explain one of the pharmacies. The second, UFS, was only there for a year or so.

Another explanation might be that the location is inconvenient. It's not that difficult to get a parking space: there's free parking across the road in Central Square. But I find it takes me about 10 minutes longer to get there than to most places in Ballarat. And like Central Square itself, it seems that the middle of town is atrophying. Clearly Health First finds the location good, but visits there tend to take longer than visits to a pharmacy. Another sign of what the future of the Internet brings?


New ATA, first impressions
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

On the way home, picked up the Grandstream HT802 Analogue telephone adapter that I bought last week. No instructions at all! It appears to be from a bulk pack, and it came really with only a power supply and an Ethernet cable.

Never mind, I had already downloaded the PDF of the administration guide, which had been suitably confusing. It's amazing how many apparently obscure settings that these ATAs have. Still, I've been there before. Let's try without the instructions.

Connect up. IP address? Guess DHCP:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/36) ~ 1672 -> arp -a
...
silberapfel.lemis.com (192.109.197.238) at c0:74:ad:37:66:d8 on em0 expires in 1181 seconds [ethernet]

silberapfel was Chris Bahlo's old Apple laptop, the one that died and that I gave to Jamie Fraser in exchange for fwaggle. Clearly this is something new. And sure enough, http://silberapfel.lemis.com gave me a status menu and the option to configure the thing.

What do I need? From Aussie Broadband:

Your VoIP number is 035318....
Proxy Server: AussieBB.nms1.voice.wide.net.au
Registrar Server: AussieBB.nms1.voice.wide.net.au
Outbound Proxy: AussieBB.nms1.voice.wide.net.au
Port: 5060
Authentication Username: same8digits
Authentication Password: fooblah
Caller ID Name: same8digits
Caller ID Number: same8digits

Clearly the last four lines have been changed for my protection, but it's interesting to note that three of the entries are the same. But how much help is it? The menu entries don't match. My guess:

HT802       Aussie
Primary SIP Server       Proxy Server
Local SIP Port       Port
Authenticate ID       Authentication Username
Authenticate Password       Authentication Password

So I put all that in, and also (rather unnecessarily) set the NTP server to eureka. Rebooted the device, and... Status: Not Registered.

OK, what now? What do the log messages say? What log messages? Oh, set the log server to eureka and log level to EXTRA DEBUG, whatever that means. Reboot. And sure enough I got a whole lot of messages:

Apr  8 16:32:34 silberapfel HT802 [c0:74:ad:37:66:d8] [1.0.21.4] nvram_data: no new data saved, no need to flush flash
Apr  8 16:33:10 silberapfel dropbearNot backgrounding
Apr  8 16:33:38 silberapfel crondcrond (busybox 1.15.3) started, log level 8
Apr  8 16:33:40 silberapfel mini_httpdbind 0.0.0.0 - Address already in use
Apr  8 16:33:40 silberapfel mini_httpdstarted as root without requesting chroot(), warning only
Apr  8 16:33:40 silberapfel mini_httpdmini_httpd/1.30 26Oct2018 starting on HT8XX, port 80
Apr  8 16:33:48 silberapfel DDNS is disabled
Apr  8 16:33:55 silberapfel PROVISION:  1617863635.670686 could not download https://fm.grandstream.com/gs/cfgc074ad3766d8
Apr  8 16:33:55 silberapfel PROVISION:  1617863635.674121 unable to download config data
Apr  8 16:33:55 silberapfel PROVISION:  1617863635.690570 config update not completed
Apr  8 16:33:59 silberapfel PROVISION:  1617863639.535570 could not download https://fm.grandstream.com/gs/cfgc074ad3766d8.xml
Apr  8 16:33:59 silberapfel PROVISION:  1617863639.537837 unable to download config data
Apr  8 16:33:59 silberapfel PROVISION:  1617863639.562631 config update not completed
Apr  8 16:34:01 silberapfel crondUSER root pid 1302 cmd /etc/rc.d/init.d/ntpc restart &
Apr  8 16:34:01 silberapfel crondUSER root pid 1303 cmd /sbin/user_data save &
Apr  8 16:34:01 silberapfel crondUSER root pid 1304 cmd /sbin/nvram_data commit &
Apr  8 16:34:02 silberapfel PROVISION:  1617863642.059040 could not download https://fm.grandstream.com/gs/cfg.xml
Apr  8 16:34:02 silberapfel PROVISION:  1617863642.140095 unable to download config data
Apr  8 16:34:02 silberapfel nvram_data: no new data saved, no need to flush flash
Apr  8 16:34:02 silberapfel PROVISION:  1617863642.797578 config update not completed
Apr  8 16:34:03 silberapfel user_data: Saving User Data...
Apr  8 16:34:06 silberapfel user_data: Saving User Data... Done
Apr  8 16:34:06 silberapfel user_data: Blocks Used ( 0 / 128 )
Apr  8 16:34:11 silberapfel PROVISION:  1617863651.989409 could not download https://fm.grandstream.com/gs/cfght802.xml
Apr  8 16:34:11 silberapfel PROVISION:  1617863651.991463 unable to download config data
Apr  8 16:34:12 silberapfel PROVISION:  1617863652.007609 config update not completed
Apr  8 16:34:16 silberapfel PROVISION:  1617863656.416752 could not download https://fm.grandstream.com/gs/ht802fw.bin
Apr  8 16:34:16 silberapfel PROVISION:  1617863656.420636 unable to download firmware header
Apr  8 16:34:16 silberapfel PROVISION:  1617863656.486668 No image downloaded

The first thing to note is that their claim of 30 second boot time is wildly optimistic. The first log message was before boot (clearly not worth mentioning for EXTRA DEBUG). The term “dropbear” is also interesting.

But what are these PROVISIONING messages?

Apr  8 16:33:55 silberapfel PROVISION:  1617863635.670686 could not download https://fm.grandstream.com/gs/cfgc074ad3766d8

Why couldn't it download the data? And why does it want it, anyway? Off to check network connectivity. It has an ssh interface which proves to be a particularly primitive BusyBox:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/36) ~ 1652 -> ssh admin@silberapfel
Grandstream HT802 Command Shell Copyright 2006-2020
admin@silberapfel.lemis.com's password:
GS> ifconfig
Invalid command. Type "help" for a complete list of commands.
GS> help
Supported commands:
    config  -- Configure the device
    status  -- Show device status
    upgrade -- Upgrade the device
    reboot  -- Reboot the device
    reset 0  -- Factory   reset
    reset 1  -- ISP  Data reset
    reset 2  -- VOIP Data reset
    help    -- Show this help text
    exit    -- Exit this command shell
GS> status
Product Model: HT802
MAC Address: c0:74:ad:37:66:d8
Network:
    IPv4 Address -- 192.109.197.238
    IPv6 Address --
    Netmask    -- 255.255.255.0
    Gateway    -- 192.109.197.137
    DNS Server -- 192.109.197.137
Hardware Version: V1.6A Part Number -- 9610003716A
Software Versions:
    Program -- 1.0.21.4
    Boot    -- 1.0.21.2
    Core    -- 1.0.21.1
    Base    -- 1.0.21.3
Port Status:
    Port 1: On Hook     Not Registered
    Port 2: On Hook     Not Registered
System uptime: 229
System load: 1.73, 1.06, 0.44
Memory Usage: 23257088/2273280/0/1617920

No way to ping, but since it recognized the name eureka.lemis.com, DNS must be working, and the gateway address is correct, so that should be working.

My guess is that it is set to download its configuration from a default external source. Do I want to investigate further, or first RTFM?


Friday, 9 April 2021 Dereel Images for 9 April 2021
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More Pedro acclimatization
Topic: animals Link here

Pedro continues to acclimatize, and he's playing with Nikolai:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210409/big/Pedro-Nikolai-16.jpeg
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He's (unfortunately) not housetrained yet, but there are indications that he's getting there. Yvonne has been able to get him to defecate and urinate on command, which I found impressive. It seems, though, that she has been doing this with other dogs for 50 years, and I never noticed.


Gardeners again
Topic: gardening Link here

Nathan and Bianca along today to do some more gardening. Bryan, who had announced it, didn't show himself. Gradually things are looking better.


ATA installation
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Yesterday's less-than-successful attempts at configuring my new Grandstream HT802 Analogue telephone adapter had a clear message: RTFM. So started with that today.

Not much success. There was nothing in the manual that suggested that I should do anything different. I was left with two clues: firstly, the default port number in the configuration was 5062, not 5060. Why? That's the port number of the server, and it's almost invariably 5060. And then there was this firmware download thing that I had noticed in the log messages. That was clear. The ADVANCED SETTINGS menu (why do these people always shout?) included:

 
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Reset that, remember to both save and to reboot (another 2 minutes), and it no longer tries. But why is it set up to try to load firmware that isn't available?

Apart from that, nothing in the instructions deviated from my guess yesterday. So why doesn't it work? More to the point, how do I find out? Checked the Aussie Broadband web site, which is particularly broken with regards to VoIP (in particular, no links). With Google's help, found a setup guide, which firefox lost again. But it doesn't refer at all to the Grandstream device that they supply, only some other device.

OK, looks like a support call. But it would be good to check alternatives. Fire up Wireshark and see what happens:


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How I love Wireshark. I can't even copy the text anywhere. But the error code “403 Forbidden” clearly points to something that Aussie should be able to explain.

On the other hand, I know that it works with the Linksys PAP2. Well, the first account does. This was the second account, and on the second line of the Grandstream HT802. Is the account maybe not set up correctly? Does it work on the PAP2? Off, configure, fix finger trouble, ... yes, the second account works on the the second line of the PAP2. OK, that points to the HT802. Does MyNetFone work on the HT802? Yes.

But first, there are other options. What about trying it on the first line of the HT802? Set that up and... success!

What's going on here? Clearly it's an Aussie Broadband problem. Clearly also now (Friday, 16:00) is a bad time to call them. But now, coincidentally, I have what I want: Aussie and MyNetFone on the HT802. So I can remove the PAP2 and forget the whole thing. I really should contact them and find out what's wrong, but there's no urgency any more. And looking through their offerings, I'm not sure that I want to switch from MyNetFone. It's only about $5 a month difference, and so far Aussie's offering doesn't seem to be well rounded. Where's voice mail? Yes, it's there, but no evidence that they can send it as email. How do I transfer a number to them? Again, maybe it's possible, but the documentation is missing. I need to think out what other functionality I need.

And the HT802? There's nothing about it that makes me prefer it to the PAP2. The menus are even more irritating, and the box looks like a toy:

http://www.grandstream.com/sites/default/files/styles/product_470x470/public/Products/ht802_front_website_0.jpg

What's not clear from that image is how bright these LEDs are. They're irritatingly bright, even when you're not looking at them. But it works, and the sound quality is better than my old, worn-out PAP2.


Saturday, 10 April 2021 Dereel Images for 10 April 2021
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Spam: can't be delivered?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Received this morning:

 
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That's clearly fake. I don't create messages like that. But looking at the text version, I saw something very different:

This is the mail system at host lax.lemis.com.

I'm sorry to have to inform you that your message could not
be delivered to one or more recipients. It's attached below.

For further assistance, please send mail to postmaster.

If you do so, please include this problem report. You can
delete your own text from the attached returned message.

                   The mail system

<freebsdg@lemis.com>: host mx0.lemis.com[121.200.11.253] said: 550 5.1.1
    <freebsdg@lemis.com>: Recipient address rejected: User unknown in local
    recipient table (in reply to RCPT TO command)

That does come from my system.

It took a while to sink in that the “non-deliverable” spam message was itself non-deliverable. It was sent to a non-existent address. I wonder how many more messages freebsdg@lemis.com will get now that I have mentioned it in this diary.


A clematis!
Topic: gardening Link here

After nearly destroying the Clematis “Edo Murasaki” last May, I've been paying close attention to its condition. It flowered almost continuously through the summer and into the autumn, though it has now finished flowering.

The “General Sikorski” suffered no such problem, but it has barely flowered, possibly because of irrigation issues. But today we finally have a sickly-looking flower:


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Can we improve on that next season?


A harness for Pedro
Topic: animals Link here

Pedro is still very active, and though he's quickly adapting to a line, he still runs off and is restrained by the line. That can't do his neck good, so now Yvonne has adapted Nemo's old harness for him:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210410/big/Pedro-7.jpeg
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Sunday, 11 April 2021 Dereel Images for 11 April 2021
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Slow day
Topic: general, opinion Link here

For the last three weeks I seem to be behind on normal daily activities, as this diary shows. But today, finally, I had nothing to do. Spent it catching up on my mail.


rms: PC victim?
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

rms is a unique person. He shows little interest in conforming to social norms, but he has produced some remarkable changes in the way the computer industry works. He's an excellent example of Shaw's claim “all progress depends on the unreasonable man”.

A couple of years ago he offended the sensitivities of the current politically correct US society by defending Marvin Minsky against accusations of sexual assault. This article shows the US-centric nature of the criticism:

“I think it is morally absurd to define “rape” in a way that depends on minor details such as which country it was in or whether the victim was 18 years old or 17.”

Yes, the concept of statutory rape is an arbitrary one. In most countries the age is 16. Even in the USA it's not uniform. In particular, in Massachusetts it's 16, so if Minsky had sex with a 17-year-old there, it wouldn't have been statutory rape. So: was she willing? I have no idea. But the idea that no 17-year-old woman would be willing to have sex is just nonsense. And I can certainly imagine situations where a group of them would find it interesting to have sex with men much older, especially if they're rich and famous. So I have to agree with rms' opinions here, though as usual he wasn't politically correct.

But that was years ago, and gradually things calmed down. He was stripped of various offices at the time, but now he has been reinstated More recently a discussion went through the FreeBSD mailing lists: “should I mention my affiliation when signing this open letter?” calling for his removal from the board of the Free Software Foundation. The letter is long and repetitive, and it refers to a long and repetitive list of accusations and opinions. The more important nes are:

He has shown himself to be misogynist, ableist, and transphobic, among other serious accusations of impropriety. These sorts of beliefs have no place in the free software, digital rights, and tech communities.

I had to look up the term “ableist”, a US American neologism like “transphobic”. It's an adjectival form of “ableism”, which means (OED)

Discrimination in favour of able-bodied people; prejudice against or disregard of the needs of disabled people.

Yes, these concepts have no place in “the free software, digital rights, and tech communities”. They're completely irrelevant there.

It goes into the Minsky issue with lots of vague claims with links that I wouldn't see as confirming the expressed opinion. One example:

He compares United States law to Sudanese law in saying that “US laws that define ‘rape’ to include voluntary sex with under N years of age (where N varies)” and that “both laws falsify the meaning of ‘rape.’”

In fact, the article diametrically opposes the two laws:

I expect that Sudanese law defines "rape" to exclude rape by the husband. That's comparable to US laws that define "rape" to include voluntary sex with under N years of age (where N varies). Both laws falsify the meaning of "rape".

I can only think that this claim in the open letter was deliberately misleading.

But we've been through this a hundred times before. What else?

In 2015 and 2016 RMS made three posts on his website about Down’s syndrome. He recommended that, should someone find out they are pregnant and the child tests positive for Down’s syndrome “the right course of action for the woman is to terminate the pregnancy.”

For once, rms is in agreement with the majority of society. The whole point of an amniocentesis is to identify such defects and give the mother the option to abort. But this, it seems, is their argument to accuse him of “ableism”.

It gets worse:

RMS has spent years on a campaign against using people’s correct pronouns. This is poorly disguised transphobia. In the original publication of the GNU Kind Communication Guidelines, he said “there are various ways to express gender neutrality in third-person singular pronouns in English; you do not have to use ‘they.’”

Aaargh! If there's one thing that I hate, it's politically correct incorrect grammar. What's a “correct pronoun”? I think I'll go for „er“ for me. “They” is plural, so it's incorrect grammar to use it with a singular noun. “He/she” is ugly, but correct. But English and its predecessors have been around for millennia, and people have been happy to use “he” in this case where the specific person is not clear.

I'm with rms all the way on this one. I'm surprised that the authors of the letter even use terms like “woman”, which implies a difference from a “man” (and which is masculine in grammatical gender). Why not just person (which, incidentally, is feminine)? And “transphobia”? That implies that trans people (whoever they may be. Is it politically correct to mention them?) are different from other people.

So what remains? rms was typically insensitive in his remarks about Minsky. People got overly excited about it because it was the mood of the moment. But the other things? They say more about the authors of the letter than they do about rms. May this horrible political correctness come to an end! I'm reminded of “It makes a fellow proud to be a solider” by Tom Lehrer (whom rms may know):


The pain of printers
Topic: technology, food and drink, opinion Link here

Yvonne cooked „Rinderrlouladen“ (beef olives) for dinner this evening. For some reason she didn't use our existing recipe, but found this recipe. Would I print it out, please?

Why can't she do it herself? Well, her firefox didn't offer her the option, just print to file. OK, take a look. 31 pages! No, let's trim that. But while looking at the print preview, I discovered that the images were missing. Why? Try with Chromium. Same thing. Try with Microsoft. Same thing. At least Microsoft knew exactly what printer it was printing to, which puts it ahead of any of the FreeBSD systems: Brother HL-3170CDW. But it still refused to print double-sided.

I've been fighting printers on private computers for over 40 years now. Why is it still such a pain?


Monday, 12 April 2021 Dereel Images for 12 April 2021
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Training Pedro
Topic: animals Link here

Yvonne has decided to train Pedro to walk better on harness, using Clicker training:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210412/big/Pedro-1.jpeg
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It might still be a while before he stops doing things like this:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210412/big/Pedro-8.jpeg
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Bureaucrats: the French are best
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Yvonne received a strange letter today:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210412/big/Retraite-2.png
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It relates to proof that she's still alive (« Certificat de vie » or “Certificate of life”, as they translate it). That's understandable, and we go through this three times a year, two for German pensions and one for this French pension.

But not only has she supplied the evidence, they confirm it:

You have recently responded to a request for indispensable proof for the payment of your retirement paid by one or more French régimes. We have received your documents, but they do not permit us to confirm the continuance of payment of your retirement, which has been suspended by the following French régime:

L'Assurance retraite (retirement insurance)

To regularize your situation without delay, you must return to as as quickly as possible:

The attached certificate of life, completed and signed by the competent local authority of your country of residence...

What went wrong there? They confirm that they have received the documents from last time. What were they?


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210412/big/Retraite-1.png
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Exactly the same documents! And they weren't the first: on that occasion they also said that they have received them, but don't like the look of them. So what hope do we have that it will work this time? I've seen incompetence before, but this beats them all.


More photo rights
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Another email today asking for permission to use a photo on my web site. This time it's different. It's not decades old, only two years:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20180306/big/Box-Hill-Centre.jpeg
Image title: Box Hill Centre          Dimensions:          6344 x 2824, 4949 kB
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That's the Box Hill shopping centre. Isn't it ugly? It's one of the panoramas I made the first time I went to Melbourne after buying the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO.

Can I improve on it? Tried processing the component images, with both fisheye and rectilinear projection. No improvement. About the only thing it showed is how much more natural the fisheye projection looks than rectilinear. Here one image in both projections:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20180306/big/Box-Hill-Centre-1.jpeg
Image title: Box Hill Centre 1          Dimensions:          5184 x 3888, 5007 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20180306/big/Box-Hill-Centre-R-1.jpeg
Image title: Box Hill Centre R 1          Dimensions:          6980 x 3888, 4159 kB
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And that's despite some truncation of the rectilinear version.


Tuesday, 13 April 2021 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 13 April 2021
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New glasses
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Into Ballarat yet again to pick up my new glasses and complete the visual field test that I started three months ago. This is now the sixth time I've been there instead of the two that one would expect: 11 January, 26 January, 27 January, 11 February, 26 March and today.

Got there on time, 13:45, and was told that my appointment was not until 14:50! Once again a mixup. Asked for the manager, and in the meantime picked up my glasses, which were as I ordered them.

While I was there, Dean, the head optometrist, came along and I told him of my pain. He didn't seem to understand: he compared their communication problems with the problems doctors have choosing optimal antibiotics. As I said, I don't know whether he didn't understand what I said, or whether he was trying to change the subject. In any case, I don't see him planning to do anything beyond placating me. He did suggest that some of his female staff felt threatened by me, for reasons that I really don't understand. I disagreed with them, yes, but I did nothing that I could consider remotely threatening.

One detail, which I suppose is indicative: no, Scott, who took the order for the reading glasses in late January, wasn't directly responsible for the incorrect prescription. He's not allowed to do that. He would have passed the request on to an optometrist. Presumably the issue was with communication: I had asked for the same near adjustment as my last reading glasses (which were 1.25 dioptres stronger, 80 cm). And without explanation I was given 2.5 dioptres, 40 cm. Surely that can't be their standard practice.

Finally had the visual field test, left eye only. Optometrist left the room, and Dean returned to give me the verdict. Was it that bad? No, 100%. I have the impression that they were expecting some complaint for me if my eyes weren't perfect. Somehow they really don't understand the issue.

Got back home and checked my calendar. Oh. My mistake. The appointment was really at 14:50. Should I apologize? No, I don't think so. Most of my complaint was about prior occasions, and the discrepancy was just the reason that I finally asked for a manager.


Disabling customers
Topic: general, opinion Link here

While in town, dropped in at Bunnings, where I found this sign on the toilet:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210413/big/Toilet-sign.jpeg
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No, that's not the invalid toilet: it's for normal customers. I wonder what the significance of the crutches is.


GPS navigator, continued
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

The seller of my GPS navigator still hasn't accepted that he can't supply what he promised, lifetime map updates. But he's coming closer. At the beginning of the month he sent me a well-obfuscated link to a Zip archive on Dropbox, which contained the same maps I already had. After a couple more exchanges he sent me another message, half in Chinese, which with some coaxing downloaded a newer RAR archive with maps dated 13 October 2020.

Is that the latest? Maybe. But once again there's this Q2 in the file name, which suggests that they could be issued quarterly, in which case it's at least 2, when not 3, quarters out of date. And of course it doesn't address the “lifetime” option. He offered a 10% discount on the purchase price. That's an insult, considering that he had already offered 30% before putting me through this pain. I had responded with an offer of 50% on condition of a new update next year.

Instead of addressing that, he sent me Yet Another Dropbox Link to a ZIP archive with maps dated 2 March. But the devil's in the detail. Here the latest archive and the previous one, listed by unzip and unrar respectively:

121902592  03-02-2021 10:41   AZ 2021/CONTENT/map/Australia_HERE_2020.Q2_200720.fbl
    ..A.... 121902592  2020-10-13 11:22  igo8/content/map/Australia_HERE_2020.Q2_200720.fbl

Yes, the modification timestamp is different, but the name and the size are both the same. A check with cmp confirmed it: the files are identical.

I wonder how much of this the seller understands. Probably he has taken the advertising material, including the “lifetime updates”, from his supplier, and he's now desperately trying to salvage the case. But sorry, I bought this item because of the promise of updates, and he can't deliver. For 50% off and the hope of another update next year, I could put up with it: after all, some day GPS navigation technology must improve, whether it's with yet another of these devices or something on mobile phones that really works.


Bratwurst, next attempt
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I've been making bratwurst for years now, and I'm quite happy with the composition. But the skins (“casings”) are a different matter: there are real gut casings, which are hard to work with, hard to get, and expensive. And then there are collagen casings, which are none of these.

Clearly collagen is the way to go. But they split! I assume it's because I put raw meat into them and then cook it later. Potentially the freezing in between could be an issue too. How do I work around it? Cook the meat gently before frying? That has worked, up to a point, a couple of times. But how? Time to keep better records.

Today I cooked the sausages in the microwave oven at 500 W for 4 minutes. Too long:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210413/big/Bratwust-1.jpeg
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Wednesday, 14 April 2021 Dereel Images for 14 April 2021
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Natural eggs
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Our local supplier of eggs insists on selling them dirty:


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The reason: washing them does more harm than good, and after all they're protected by the shell. But not always. Looking more closely,


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210414/big/Eggs-2.jpeg
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That's for Pedro. But in passing: how do the eggs get that dirty in the first place?


Where's Pedro?
Topic: animals, photography, opinion Link here

Our lounge room isn't very exciting. Seen from the perspective of the TV:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210414/big/Hidden-Pedro-1.jpeg
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Piccola and Yvonne are evident. I'm behind the camera. Nikolai is behind the couch to the left. And Pedro? He's there:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210414/big/Hidden-Pedro-5-detail.jpeg
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He shouldn't be, of course, and we'll have to teach him not to go there. But this also shows the effectiveness of photo postprocessing.


Spathiphyllum flowers
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

We've had a Spathiphyllum plant for twelve years. I can count on the fingers of one hand, and not in binary, how many times it has flowered:

23 November 2015:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20151124/big/Spathiphyllum.jpeg
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15 November 2016:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20161115/big/Spathiphyllum.jpeg
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19 May 2020


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200520/big/Spathiphyllum-2.jpeg
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But it's coming again:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210414/big/Spathiphyllum-1.jpeg
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Interestingly, it's coming from a leaf that looks as if it was dying off:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210414/big/Spathiphyllum-3.jpeg
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In the past I have trimmed that kind of leaf off. Is that one of the reasons why it flowers so seldom?


Flash, yet again
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I've been taking fewer and fewer photos with on-camera flash. The studio flash units dotted round the house work well, and I'm glad I have them. But when it comes to on-camera, despite over 50 years' experience, I still have problems. The photos of the Spathiphyllum called out for a ring flash or similar. Not a problem, in principle. I have three: the first was a cheap unit, the “Viltrox JY-670 Macro Ring Lite”. Since then I have spent nearly $1,000 on two more units, both with TTL flash measurement: the Olympus STF-8 and the mecablitz 15 MS-1. And I've had problems with both: the Olympus is such a pain to set up that I sometimes don't bother, and the mecablitz has significant issues with vignetting. Both seem hit-or-miss with exposure.

So today I needed an on-lens flash. Which did I choose? The manual Viltrox. But first I did some basic guide number measurements. At ½ rating (which I seem to use most of the time), 200/24° ISO and 50 cm distance I get f/22. That's a guide number of 11. And that should be enough for most photos. So I used this when taking the Spathiphyllum, and how about that, it worked first time. It makes me wonder why I spent so much money on expensive and hard-to-use automatic flash units.

In passing, one issue that applies to them all: they attach using a ring that screws into the filter thread of the lens. And each has its own rings and filter thread sizes. The macro lenses have a filter thread of 46 mm, which I can use with a filter adapter, but my standard “always on” lens is the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100 mm f/4.0 IS PRO with a 72 mm filter, and none of the flashes will adapt to that. There are many solutions, of course, in particular the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60 mm f/2.8-4 with a 62 mm thread, but there's better: the otherwise useless (Four Thirds) Zuiko Digital ED 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 that came with my second Olympus E-30. It has a 58 mm thread, and I can just leave the ring on it, making things faster when I want to use it.


Thursday, 15 April 2021 Dereel Images for 15 April 2021
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Morning ritual
Topic: animals Link here

Pedro is particularly active early in the morning, and gradually Nikolai is getting involved:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210415/big/Nikolai-Pedro-2-detail-2.jpeg
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Improving dog photos
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Taking the photos of the dogs has shown the limitations of the technology. The photos above look OK at first sight, but they're not exactly sharp:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210415/big/Nikolai-Pedro-4-detail-2.jpeg
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Maybe this is the first time that I need shutter priority autoexposure.


Hainan chicken rice revisited
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

A few months ago I made some Hainan chicken rice. I wasn't very happy with the result, but we had plenty taking up space in the freezer, so today was the day.

More investigation, and found this article in the Singapore infopedia, which calls it “Hainanese chicken rice”. Still, it's a (Singapore) government-run site, so it should be relatively trustworthy. There are some details that I hadn't seen before, such as frying the dry rice (beras) in fat before cooking, reminiscent of ghee rice, prior to cooking, and also steaming rather than poaching the chicken. It also doesn't mention daun pandan. But the most interesting thing is how new it is:

The Hainanese chicken rice dish is said to have taken root in areas like Middle Road, Purvis Street and Koek Road more than 60 years ago.

That kind of text doesn't age ell, of course, but counting from here, that would be 1961, long after I was first in the area. There was a reference on the statement, but it just brings me to an empty page with the easy-to-miss information:

Note: This article may only be viewed from the multimedia stations at NLB Libraries.

So why do they even bother to format the page? But the article is dated 18 August 2009, so the 60 years suggest a time closer to when I was born.

Further reading of the Wikipedia page contradicts the content of this page, however. It poaches the chicken and uses pandan. It also puts the origin a little further back, during the Japanese occupation, well before my time.


Friday, 16 April 2021 Dereel Images for 16 April 2021
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Net outage!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

While writing up my diary today, we had a net outage. I suppose it's indicative of how much I use the Internet that I noticed within a minute of the occurrence, before my monitor scripts did.

So, what is it? The NTD showed normal status. ifconfig said that the link was up. tcpdump showed data going out, nothing coming in.

In the past I've had trouble with DHCP. Restart dhcpd? No change.

OK, first wait. Do some household work. Come back. Still down.

Does Aussie Broadband know about this? I could call them, of course, but the only functional phone I have is a real “smart” phone, and that's not overly suitable for waiting for a long time to get to the front of the queue.

OK, I have four VoIP accounts and only two in use. Why not use Zoiper? Well, one reason is because the last time I used it was over 7 years ago, and it seemed to be on my first Android tablet. I've had at least 2 other phones in the meantime.

OK, install. “Can't access Internet”. Fool! I specifically enabled mobile data just for that purpose. But no, I still have a WiFi connection, and it tried that first, even if there's no connection to the Internet. First I had to disable WiFi! And this after over 30 years of experience with the Internet!

In the meantime, bring my documentation about the VoIP accounts up to date. Which account do I have on my ATA? Checked. No response from the ATA.

Huh? What does the ATA (on the local network) have to do with the network outage? arp showed nothing obvious, but then a log message:

Apr 16 13:29:46 dhcp-232 (null) 1618543786.136358 SIPRecord::writeSIPFile, No space! current file size =25483bytes, need extra 769 bytes.

That message looks strangely like a VoIP status message, something to look at in itself. But dhcp-232? That's 192.109.197.232, not the previous IP 192.109.197.238. I've seldom seen dhcpd change IPs on an existing device, but clearly it has done it now. Change to static address (homephone.lemis.com, 192.109.197.162) and get the info.

Back to the phone. Setup:

What's that? I have a number, a password and a SIP server address? Put in a user name (groggyhimself@aussiebroadbnd.com.au, all at the excruciating pace of a nontactile glass keyboard), but of course there was no password. OK, select “forgot password”. It erased my painfully typed user name! AAARGH!

Forget that. I have a special app “My Aussie” or some such for reporting this kind of thing. Fire up. Enter user name. Which? It should remember this stuff. More excruciating “keyboard” input. Password? Forgotten again. But somewhere while messing around with this abomination, it remembered. Log in. “Unscheduled Outage”:

 
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I noticed the outage at 13:22:51. It seems that it took them over 40 minutes to notice (“02:03:07PM”). Do they really take so long to find out? Details? I need to select them separately:

 
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OK, which is it? Do we have an outage, or has it been fixed? I have an outage!

Oh. Exactly as I read this message, the connection came back:


1618543371 1618546866   3495  0.001 # 16 April 2021 13:22:51 16 April 2021 14:21:06

3495 seconds, or 58 minutes. I wonder if the outage would have been shorter if they had noticed earlier. It was the worst outage we've had in the last 14 months. Was it even an National Broadband Network outage? ISPs have been known to have problems too.

But it didn't all come back. I still had no phones. Problems with the IP address of the ATA? No, with DHCP: I had set manual configuration, but only set the IP address, not DNS server and gateway.


New lens
Topic: photography Link here

Received Yet Another lens today, an Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-200 mm f/3.5-6.3 super zoom lens, serial number 350104535.

Why? I've had the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150 mm f/4.0-5.6 for nearly 7 years, and I don't use it that much. But now we have Pedro, and it proves to be useful to have a lens that can change focal length over a wide range, so I've been using it again. But I've run out of length on a number of occasions

In passing, it's interesting to consider that the 16⅔ zoom ratio covers the angles of all lenses that I had from 1964 to 1978, when I bought the 18 mm Sigma. Until then I had only 28 mm to 400 mm (corresponding to 14 to 200 mm on the Micro Four Thirds system).


Saturday, 17 April 2021 Dereel Images for 17 April 2021
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Panorama strangenesses
Topic: photography, general, opinion Link here

Saturday is house photo day, where I take my panoramas round the outside of the house. It's a routine business, and I normally don't mention it any more. But today I had an issue I didn't understand. The automatic detection made a real mess of this panorama:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210417/big/garden-nw-try-1.jpeg
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After some experimentation, I traced it to this pair of images:


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They're almost identical. The one with my hand in front of the lens was to block out the sun to avoid the flare that is visible in the shade area on the other image. During stitching I then mask parts of each image. And of course the control point detector had no difficulty in aligning the images: the maximum error was 0.19 pixel, which is as good as I have seen. When I started with other images and added these last, the result was as I would have expected:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210417/big/garden-nw.jpeg
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So what caused it? Was Hugin looking at some other parameters that confused it?


Gold!
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

A bloke came past the house this afternoon asking after one of our neighbours, the one who lives three doors down between Progress Road and Spearys Road, opposite Fiona Drayton's property. We have never met her, though we had seen her dog. But not recently. The bloke, whose name proved to be Rick, tells me that the place is empty, and that she had been old and of ill health, so it seems reasonable that she has left for a nursing home or worse. Fiona doesn't know what happened to her either.

The reason he was looking for her? In the past, and with her permission, he had found gold on her property. That doesn't surprise me. I'm sure that there's plenty of gold around on our property too, and Rick agreed. But he gave me some details that I hadn't realized: first, there could be quite a bit of gold, up to $2000 or so worth on our property. It seems that in the 19th century the diggers only took the easy pickings—stones that were noticeably heavier (and thus contained lots of gold), or which showed gold when crushed. They weren't in a position to wash the gold, so they just left the stones on the surface, where they're easy pickings for people with modern equipment. That could be just the kind of stone that prevented the burial of Leonid at the end of last month:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210331/big/Second-hole-4.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210331/big/Second-hole-4-detail.jpeg
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So he's planning to come by some time and see what he finds. He offered to split 50/50; I'm happy enough with that, but I should check what the going rates are. My main interest is simply to find anything.


A new keyboard
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I'm very fussy when it comes to computer keyboards. For decades I used Northgate OmniKey keyboards, manufactured in about 1990. The important thing about them was the pad of function keys to the main keyboard, something that the page I reference doesn't display at all:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20090717/big/Omnikey-keyboard.jpeg
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By 2012 they had all become worn enough that I needed a replacement, and in May 2012 I bought a Sun Type 7 instead. It took a bit of getting used to, but proved to have the advantage of even more function keys: there is also a row at the top, which I have mapped to F21 to F32. They're hard to get to, but for some things they're useful.

But now, after not even 9 years, the keyboard is wearing out: the a key doesn't always work. I can still use it, but it's irritating, and the writing is on the wll: I need a new keyboard.

But even the Type 7 are hard to find. Some of the prices, even for used keyboards, are just plain ridiculous. With postage I can pay up to $290 US for a used keyboard! It looks as if I will be in for quite a search.


eBay refund
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

I've been negotiating with the seller of my new GPS navigator for 2 weeks, during which time he kept coming up with new links of dubious legality. In the end I offered to pay 50% of the total price if he would be able to supply me new maps next year. More discussion, suggestion that they would take it back if I paid the postage and took responsibility for the resale. No way, of course.

And then, out of the blue, a refund. I can keep the device. I almost feel that I have cheated them, though of course they could have taken my last offer. I wonder if they read it. Maybe they really won't be able to deliver a map update next year.


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