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Monday, 1 April 2024 Dereel Images for 1 April 2024
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distress: disaster?
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

Into the office first thing this morning and wanted to continue with yesterday's photo processing. That involves waking distress.lemis.com, the ThinkCentre running Microsoft, which is usually hibernated. That goes via rdesktop, so I first hear the sound of the DVD drive seeking.

But then nothing. More problems with this bloody Microsoft? No, the machine wasn't running at all. Even the power light was off.

More searching, and ultimately came to the conclusion that the box had some hardware failure. Not to worry, I have a number of these boxen. Took out the disk and put it in another one, same model. And it came up happily with no repairs needed: after all, it had been hibernated. Success!

Well, not so fast. When I started up DxO PhotoLab, it wanted me to enter the license key. Why? It's identically the same system that I have been using all along:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240401/big/DxO-1.png
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Huh? I have licensed the thing already. OK, dig out the license key and painstakingly type it in, something that I have hated for decades. And it worked, so clearly I didn't mistype.

But things still weren't right. My first task was to straighten this image:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240331/big/Wrong-Easter-Lamb-3-orig.jpeg
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Yes, it's on its side, but it takes a single keystroke (c-l) to fix that. The real issue, a little slower, is to get it exactly rectangular. That's straightforward. Select one of the almost descriptive symbols at the top of the window. But they were gone!

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240401/big/DxO-2.png
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They should look like this:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240401/big/DxO-4.png
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Why? Something in the back of my head said “ViewPoint”. Right, that could be it. Back to my list of keys, searched the DxO menus, and luckily found a Help item “DxO ViewPoint → Activate DxO ViewPoint”. And yes, that did it. But what a pain!

Still, “Perfectly Clear“ didn't want to be outdone. It, too, decided that I wasn't registered.

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240401/big/Perfectly-Clear-1.png
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But unlike DxO, it didn't give me the option to register! How do I register? It didn't offer the possibility. After some searching on the web, found a way: select the barely visible “About” towards the right at the bottom of the main window, which brings up this window:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240402/big/Perfectly-Clear-1.png
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OK, click on Activate. Yes, it comes up with another window that already knows the license key and email address:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240402/big/Perfectly-Clear-2.png
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But the “ACTIVATE” button was greyed out, and nothing that I could do persuaded it to let me submit the data! Off searching for answers, and finally found a way to send a message to their sales team (support has ended). “Please prove that you are human and fill out this CAPTCHA”! And yes, EyeQ, that's the correct information. See if I care. Clearly nobody can steal it.

Damn you, EyeQ, and all those who insult people like that. I won't fill out a CAPTCHA, ever again. Sent off a rather stiff email to support@eyeq.photos and sales@eyeq.photos, asking what to do and telling them what I thought of their attempts to insult their customers. And support@eyeq.photos bounced. Yes, my product has reached end of life (but should work for ever), but surely they have other customers.

And that was only half of the pain. What about Yvonne? She has always had issues; clearly Microsoft likes her no more than she likes Microsoft. But in fact things went relatively smoothly, once we persuaded the bloody thing to react at all. Trying from my system and a shell, I got

=== grog@hydra (/dev/pts/26) ~/Mail 79 -> rdesktop -u yvonne distress
ATTENTION! Found a certificate stored for host 'distress', but it does not match the certificate
received from server.
Review the following certificate info before you trust it to be added as an exception.
If you do not trust the certificate the connection atempt will be aborted:

    Subject: CN=distress
     Issuer: CN=distress
 Valid From: Sat Mar 30 13:06:41 2024
         To: Sun Sep 29 12:06:41 2024

  Certificate fingerprints:

       sha1: e5821dd31e6a4e640b95ee93a1ec815430fa7304
     sha256: edb83be75b8c33cb86e31fe2d40b1ce8fa95842e1f0e90216b024f5073407ebc

Do you trust this certificate (yes/no)? yes
Connection established using SSL.
disconnect: Logout initiated by user.
=== grog@hydra (/dev/pts/26) ~/Mail 80 -> rdesktop -u yvonne distress
Core(warning): Certificate received from server is NOT trusted by this system, an exception has been added by the user to trust this specific certificate.
Connection established using SSL.
Clipboard(error): xclip_handle_SelectionNotify(), unable to find a textual target to satisfy RDP clipboard text request
Protocol(warning): process_pdu_logon(), Unhandled login infotype 1

That must have something to do with the change in something, and by comparison it's acceptable. After a bit of playing around, things worked, but only when I wasn't already logged in. Previously it would produce a popup asking “shall I disconnect grog?”, but now it just silently fails. And it seems that it no longer goes to sleep, so I have to explicitly put it to sleep (which, I discover, works with just a handful of mouse gestures).

So: things are almost working again, when there should have been no problems whatsoever. But this is Microsoft. And why did the programs want revalidation now? It wasn't the disk; it came up out of hibernation as if nothing had happened. And it's barely the hardware. The new machine has a PCI graphics card in addition to the on-board graphics (it was once teevee.lemis.com), and it has only 16 GB of memory, and of course the Ethernet interface has a different MAC address, requiring updates to /etc/ethers:

--- ethers 2023/02/18 00:33:55 1.10
+++ ethers 2024/04/02 01:36:41
@@ -5,4 +5,4 @@
 6c:f0:49:09:7a:4d  teevee
 00:21:86:21:ab:7e  despair
 00:21:cc:d0:9e:0e  euroa
-44:39:c4:90:52:20  distress
+6c:0b:84:04:0a:5c  distress

But clearly there's something about the hardware environment that triggers the license check. What is it? And why? It would make more sense to store the activation information on the disk. As it is, there's clearly a loophole: change the hardware once a month and you can use DxO for free.

One thing's clear: I really need to migrate distress to a virtual machine, as I had planned when I built hydra. That way I'd save power, probably have more processing power, and I could work around this kind of pain.


Bibi castrated!
Topic: politics, general, fiction Link here

The news of the day: Bibi has been castrated! It seems that it was just completing the job started 11 years ago. As the punchline of an unrelated joke goes, would you eat that pig all at once?

Oh, and admire the delicacy of the reports. They've changed “castration” to “hernia operation”.


Whan that Aprille with his shoures sote
Topic: general, history, gardening, opinion Link here

Sixty years ago I was preparing for the GCE 'O' Level exams. One of the set works for English Literature was the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, and in a fit of misunderstanding I thought I could pass the exam by memorizing the entire prologue (I failed).

But the weather today reminded me of the first two lines:

Whan that Aprille with his shoures sote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote,

In modern English: when April with its sweet showers has pierced the drought of March to the root.

And somehow that seemed to fit. Here a photo taken this morning:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240401/big/Drought-of-March.jpeg
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According to the Bureau of Meteorology, 0.8 mm of rain over the whole month at Ballarat Aerodrome, the closest measuring station to us. By contrast, the average rainfall in March is 42 mm, and in April 51.2 mm.

But now it's April, and as if to honour Geoffrey Chaucer, it rained heavily. The Bureau measured 46.8 mm, 58 times as much in the whole of March, or 1,755 times the March daily average.

That's their view, of course, and they told me so:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240402/big/Double-rain.jpeg
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But despite their claims, that's the rainfall for Ballarat, not Dereel. We measured only 28 mm, still a welcome change and a refill for our water tanks. On the other hand, I measured 5 mm of rain last month.


Tuesday, 2 April 2024 Dereel Images for 2 April 2024
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Another disaster
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

Response from not one, but two people at EyeQ today, saying that the license details were correct, but because the product is no longer supported, they can't do anything about it. They did offer me a discounted upgrade to Radiant, the new replacement, but that would still cost money.

OK, one thing's for sure: changing hardware messes up licenses. So let's do what I had been planning all along and set up a virtual machine on hydra. What shall I call it? Yvonne was for discard or dismiss. She would have liked disgust too, but we've already had that one. But by the time I asked her, I had already started with the name disaster.lemis.com, so one of the next ones will be Yvonne's choice.

First step, of course: make a copy of distress' disk. Put it in dereel, which I haven't used for months, and do a dd, which went at the reassuring speed of about 103 MB/s, effectively wire speed.

Then create a new VirtualBox VM. Last time I tried this, I ran into confusion between hydra and eureka. But once I started the right version of VirtualBox (on hydra), and also discovered how to include a native disk image (it must have a name ending in .hdd), things went relatively smoothly, and soon I had it up and running. Microsoft didn't like the change of IP address, but it didn't know why, just “Windows can't find the problem”. People, “Windows” is the problem. And everything I tried Just Worked—quite a success story. Doubtless the devil is in the detail, and I'll find other issues.


50 years of microprocessors
Topic: history, technology, opinion Link here

It has been well over 50 years since Intel introduced its first microprocessor, but for me the first one was the 8008. Spent a while comparing it with my most recent processor:

Feature       I8008       Ryzen 7950X       factor
Introduction       April 1982       September 2022
Transistors       3,500       13,140,000       3750
CPUs       1       32       32
Clock speed       0.0005 GHz       4.5 GHz       9000
MIPS       0.03       220,000       7333333
Process size       10 μm       5 nm       2000
Die size       16 mm²       264 mm²       16.5

At first I was confused by the process size. 10 and 5? Oh, different units. The entire I8008 processor could be

And in the course of my investigations, came across this detailed description of the chip layout, which looks very interesting. I should read it some time.


Wednesday, 3 April 2024 Dereel Images for 3 April 2024
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Where's my New York Times?
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

No surprisingly, I got no response to my open letter to the New York Times. During the week they relent and keep their 1-800 phone number manned beyond dawn until 10:00 (in the morning), so called up there, where a grating artificial voice asked me for the 10 digit code. Huh? What's that?

Somehow worked past that and was connected to Robert, who told me that all was OK with my subscription. I explained (hopefully to his comprehension) that I wasn't getting any email. He said that he would contact technical support (medium wait), after which he said that I should now be receiving email. Despite my requests, he didn't say whether they had found any issue. So now I just need to wait


Netanyahu: Sorry, killed wrong aid workers
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

The world (or a any rate, USA, Canada, UK, Poland and Australia) are up in arms (no, that's an inappropriate metaphor) about the killing of 6 aid workers. Even Anthony Albanese got up on his hind legs and condemned the killing of Lalzawmi "Zomi" Frankcom. The Poles lamented the death of Damian_Sobol. The USA and Canada mournedJacob Flickinger. Nobody mentioned Saifeddin Issam Ayad Abutaha.

And for the first time ever, Bibi admitted a mistake. They had killed non-Palestinian aid workers! That can happen in war, especially if three separate cars in a convoy at some distance from another are targeted by precision missiles, but it should only happen to the Palestinians.

Bibi, does anybody outside Israel believe your drivel? You're actively engaging in genocide. This strike succeeded in removing 200 tons of greatly needed food from Gaza. To quote from this article

“This is not an isolated incident,” said U.N. humanitarian coordinator James McGoldrick, citing the killing of at least 196 humanitarian workers in the occupied West Bank and Gaza since October. “This is nearly three times the death toll recorded in any single conflict in a year.” The 196 includes more than 175 U.N. staffers, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said Tuesday.

When will people come to the recognition that Israel's barbarism is unacceptable and not even useful to them. No wonder Hamas attacked them. Not a justification, of course, but you can't make people like you by destroying them.


CJ off the air
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Mail from CJ Ellis today:

Hi Greg It seems that I have had no phone signals since we last spoke & you
had been in touch with Broadband  for me to be able to have message bank ..
I thought it might have been the storm that has stop my phone , from having
signals , but to even now there is nothing there .. Sorry to trouble you
,but it has been a saga with broadband since we have changed to them with
the phone service ..

What's wrong now? Clearly the loss of VoIP has nothing to do with the bad weather. Checked the status: both lines registered. Tried to call him. Nothing. After 2 minutes, the attempt timed out, but it should have given some other indication before that.

Dammit, call Aussie Broadband support again, and was connected to somebody who on asking admitted to the name Semanjit Kaur. Once again this incredible difficulty that all support personnel seem to have with handling calls on behalf of another customer. At least this time I'm on their list as an approved contact, but she had trouble with the phone number. I had a number ending in 3, from their web site and also my own records. She found the same number with a 2 in the last position.

More puzzling, then she decided that she had been looking in the wrong place and that the number I had was correct. For some reason she didn't try to call it. Instead she wanted to check the router configuration. Can't access it. Oh yes, I can. I'll update the dial plan.

I explained to her that the dial plan had nothing to do with incoming calls, but she thought it would help anyway. OK, but it meant getting CJ to power cycle the router, so that was all we could do. I sent a mail message to CJ explaining how to power cycle it, and that was all that we could do for today.

Does this really have to be this difficult?


Bigger disaster
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Carried on playing around with disaster.lemis.com today. It was my intention to use it seriously, and 1 CPU wouldn't cut it. But hydra has 32 logical CPUs, so we could easily allocate 8 to disaster. Did that, and fired up DxO PhotoLab. Please activate. OK, we're getting used to that. But when I tried to activate “ViewPoint”, it told me “too many activations”! Three activations on the same disk! Another support request, and all I could do for today.

But I did try processing Saturday's photos. 140 images processed in 5 minutes! 28 images per minute, where I previously only had about 5. That's really worthwhile. Only: for reasons I haven't understood, it uses stupid amounts of CPU time when idle. Here disaster and eureso (FreeBSD, reinstated to see if I could get it to work):

PID USERNAME    THR PRI NICE   SIZE    RES STATE    C   TIME    WCPU COMMAND
37150 grog         37  20    0    17G    17G select  28 493:14 241.39% VirtualBoxVM
37024 grog         32  20    0  2501M  2244M select   8   2:53   0.87% VirtualBoxVM

It wasn't like that all the time; it fluctuated wildly and dropped as low as 20%, still unreasonably high. But that's not that important: I can put it to sleep most of the time. Could it be something to do with GPU emulation?

During this time, the task manager showed something interesting:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240403/big/disaster-performance.png
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240403/big/disaster-performance-detail.png
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The top output coincided with the 0% usage, but for non-obvious reasons it was using up to 25% CPU, corresponding to 2 full CPUs. Why? Somehow this must have something to do with virtual machines.


Thursday, 4 April 2024 Dereel → Geelong → Dereel
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More Aussie VoIP pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So why didn't CJ Ellis contact me about the success of power cycling his modem? Checked the status page. Both phones not registered. Did something go wrong with the router? Is he maybe completely off the net?

What a time! I was in a hurry because of an appointment in Geelong, but called up Aussie support and was told that there was a two minute wait—every two minutes for 8 minutes. Finally I was connected with Pranil, who asked all sorts of questions that I didn't know (CJ's mobile phone number, for example, which for Aussie's purposes doesn't exist). Finally I got through to him that I just wanted to check whether CJ was on the net or not, but he kept returning to VoIP configuration. Finally he checked: yes, he was unable to establish contact with CJ's router. That probably means that it was off the air. What are you going to do about it? It looks like a misconfiguration on Aussie's part. Can somebody go on site? Sure, when do you want to go? Oh, they expect me to drive the 55 km and do the work! To fix something that they had done!

Yet Another formal complaint, correcting his text that referred to VoIP rather than the network link (“Internet”), with a request that this time they would send me the text of the complaint. And that would take up to ten days to resolve! He said that he would put it on priority, but that didn't help. 45 minutes on the phone for something that didn't even concern me.


Cataract surgery follow-up
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Off to Geelong today for another eye examination. It was much slower than last time, and it took over half an hour before Bridget, the orthopist, called me in. Before she got a chance to do anything, I mentioned the apparently incorrect focus of my right (“new”) eye. She checked me and found that yes, I had an offset of -0.5 dioptres spherically—almost exactly what I had guessed (well, -0.5 to -0.6). But she also found astigmatism of +1 dioptre at 100°. That doesn't match any miscalculation in the infinity point, and Bridget thought that it could be due to continuing inflammation of the eye. It seems that it takes 4 weeks for complete healing, thus presumably the timing of the drops.

It wasn't until we were done that I discovered that that was about all. Presumably she was there to measure my eye. But I had thought that today's appointment was a precursor to next week's operation on my left eye, when in fact they weren't interested in that at all.

Then, with the inevitable dilating drops, into see Shivesh Varma, David Fabinyi's locum tenens, the man with the handshake of steel. He put me through the usual tests, noted eye pressures of 12 mm Hg (left) and 13 mm (right), apparently excellent values. I mentioned the difference of focus, and he checked through the lists and came up with a value of -0.45 dioptres. I asked him to ensure that this didn't get applied to my left eye, and he said that he would ask David to call me before the procedure.

After we had left, got a phone call from him: in fact, my spherical correction is effectively 0 dioptres, since the cylindrical correction is +1 dioptre, giving a focus range from -0.5 to +0.5 dioptres. That's an interesting consideration; maybe things will clear up when the eye has finished healing. In the meantime, of course, there's the question of where the -0.45 dioptres comes from. Still worth a talk with David, though I really don't want to wait until the right eye has finished healing.


More Aussie pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Back home at 15:00 and tried to catch up with the day's work. First this diary. I was in the middle of describing yesterday's pain with CJ's phone when the doorbell rang. CJ, with a car full of hardware. It seems that he didn't just power cycle the router, he disconnected a number of cables. Did he put them back correctly?

Anyway, took the router in and connected it to dereel, which is seeing more use lately. All works, the phones register, as the Aussie status page shows. And I still can't call in! So effectively we're where we were before I called Aussie the first time.

More investigations: I can make some outgoing calls. I could call my mobile phone, but not my “home phone” (also VoIP with Aussie Broadband). So something is still wrong. What do I do now? Postpone. Sorry, CJ, I know that you went with Aussie on my recommendation (something that I will never do to anybody again), but I don't have time. Leave the hardware here and I'll look at it tomorrow.

But there are so many things that don't make sense here. I need to add to this list as I discover them:


named death
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

As if I didn't have enough to do, after CJ left I discovered that I hadn't received any external mail for nearly 6 hours. Local mail was still coming through, so checked things on lax.lemis.com (also mail.lemis.com). At first sight things looked OK. Nothing queued bar the usual messages from MAILER_DAEMON to non-responsive spam sites, maillog showed the usual rejections because of name lookup issues. Sent a message from freebsd.org. It didn't arrive!

A bit more searching and I discovered that all DNS lookups were failing: named had stopped. Why? No idea, except that I added disaster.lemis.com to the configuration yesterday. Nomen est omen? Restarted and things worked normally. Another thing to check on when I have time.


Friday, 5 April 2024 Dereel Images for 5 April 2024
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Aussie: no support any more!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So what's wrong with CJ's VoIP service? The obvious thing to do would be to try it on my own ATA and see what happened. And indeed, it still didn't work. The same symptoms: call in rang, but the caller got a busy signal, and it stopped trying to call after a few seconds. Clearly a service configuration issue.

So I sent Aussie a summary of what has happened so far, and then called them at 14:20, and was connected to a very quiet Mohammed after only 4 minutes. The same old pain, at least 10 minutes of identification before we even got started. But Mohammed couldn't find the message I sent. What address did I use? support@aussiebb.com.au. Ah, that's an old, worn-out magic word. Now I should send support requests to accounts@aussiebroadband.com.au. OK, did that, but where did the first message go?

While waiting for the new message to arrive, asked why I hadn't had a confirmation of my complaint. It seems that they sent it to CJ, who is off the air!

Finally I got a response to my first support request:

Date: Fri,  5 Apr 2024 03:27:48 +0000 (UTC)
<support@aussiebb.net>: host smtp1.wide.net.au[121.200.0.25] said: 550 5.1.1
    <support@aussiebb.net>: Recipient address rejected: User unknown in local
    recipient table (in reply to RCPT TO command)

Return-Path: <grog@lemis.com>
Received: from eureka.lemis.com (121-200-11-253.79c80b.mel.nbn.aussiebb.net [121.200.11.253])
        by lax.lemis.com (Postfix) with ESMTP id 3B3A328088
        for <support@aussiebb.net>; Fri,  5 Apr 2024 03:18:11 +0000 (UTC)

On the one hand, that's symptomatic of what has become of Aussie: no support any more. But look at the times! It took over 9 minutes for their mail system to reject the message!

So he read the email and asked for CJ's email address, which is a little difficult for non-native English speakers (though Mohammed spoke excellent English). He decided to test the connection on their “test bench”, whatever that may mean. And it passed. So it must be the router.

What router? This line was configured on my ATA. I tried to make it clear to him that if the problem moves with the service and not with the ATA, it must be a configuration problem with the service, not the ATA. But I failed. He kept asking his “level 2” people, who presumably have little more understanding than he. And this despite the request in my email:

Please forward this to your VoIP specialists.

He went through all sorts of rigmaroles, including another video view of the ATA configuration screen. I've seen this before, so I put the phone on a tripod, at which point it obligingly rebooted.

More talking, and at some point he said that the service couldn't work at my address because VoIP is tied to the Internet service. That's nonsense of course, and I tried to explain to him how VoIP works. I don't think I succeeded.

Then he went back to the ATA configuration screen. It has frozen, he said. Clearly he had never seen things on a tripod before.

After understanding that, he created a new service with the same number, so all I had to do was type in the new password. It ended in l, but he had read it as 1. And it registered anyway, or at least the ATA claimed that it did. Can I factory reset the ATA? Emphatic NO! Somehow I can't get it into their heads that the problem can't be with the ATA, and think of the damage it would do.

In the end, we agreed that CJ would pick up the equipment and take it home with him, and that they would mess with the configuration there—he still thinks that it's an ATA configuration issue!. But at least it gets it out of my hair.

Still, I could give CJ one of my spare VoIP lines to tide him over. Took a look at his router again. Both lines registered! Tried them out. Yes, they work! And so does the one I have on my ATA.

How can that happen? My best guess is that somebody at Aussie fixed things without telling me. Still, clearly good news. CJ came and picked up his hardware and went home. Called me at 18:45. Both lines down! In addition, I checked my lines. Now the one I had turned off for the ATA test is showing the same symptoms: call in rings, but the caller gets busy signal. And call out works.

What does all this mean? It could be that Mohammed was correct after all: the VoIP configuration depends on the IP address, maybe a misguided attempt to lessen abuse. That would also explain why I was never able to configure Aussie VoIP on my mobile phone. All of this points to a configuration issue on the SIP server or proxy, which happen to be the same machine. Still, sufficient to the day is the evil thereof. So far this week I must have spent at least 8 hours fighting this problem, and all sorts of other things have had to wait as a result.


disaster processing photos
Topic: photography, technology Link here

disaster.lemis.com seems to work well now, though I still need to confirm my software licenses. But one was a surprise:

 
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“Perfectly Clear“ has decided that it's licensed after all! I need to tread carefully now to ensure that it doesn't change its mind.


Saturday, 6 April 2024 Dereel Images for 6 April 2024
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Aussie: You are not worthy
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Another day half wasted trying to get Aussie Broadband to fix their configuration problem. Once again a message explaining the situation and asking them to do something about it.

Then called up Aussie, and for a change I was connected to an Australian, Harrison. He wasn't the brightest: I gave him the details at the outset, but he wanted to hear my date of birth no less than three times and CJ's address twice. After a quarter of an hour he still had not managed to identify me, and I asked to be connected to his supervisor.

After a few minutes I was connected to Paul, who also couldn't find the message I sent. I suggested that they had serious problems with their email system and he agreed, yes, the system isn't logical. But even after he found it, and asking my date of birth another 3 times and CJ's address at least once, he refused me access. He wouldn't even admit that they had a customer called CJ Ellis, and he couldn't give me any details—even not why he didn't like my credentials. The privacy laws prohibit that. He would also not tell me where I could turn to solve the problem at hand. In the end, after 42 minutes, I hung up. Aussie (represented by Paul, surname protected for privacy reasons) has refused support for reasons that they don't want to divulge.

So what went wrong there? Did something in their system raise a red flag? Or, more likely, is he completely incompetent and unable to find his way round Aussie's support infrastructure? I think I'd go for the second choice. I thought of calling up again and seeing if the next “consultant” could find his way round the system better. But I couldn't stand the pain. Instead I sent CJ an email:

I've spent another 1½ hours today trying to resolve your phone problems. Unfortunately, today they have decided to refuse to let me work on your behalf. I spent 45 minutes on the phone today and was brushed off by a supervisor who didn't like something about my credentials, but who was too polite to say what.

So: I don't know where to go from here. Your lines are still down, and Aussie is too proud to do anything about it. The best you can do is send them an email and tell them what you think.

Sorry that I recommended Aussie to you. I won't do that to anybody again. My only excuse is that they once used to be a good company, but they're doing everything they can to change that. I'll look for an alternative VoIP service for you.

What went wrong here? As I said to CJ, once they were a good ISP. Now they've become inefficient bureaucrats who would make Telstra envious. And of course the faults haven't been fixed. But why did this happen? It happened to Internode, also once a bright star in the ISP sky. As Simon Hackett put it, How to ignore a customer without even trying. Ironically, that experience drove him to Aussie. I wonder if he's still as happy with them now. I note that the problems I have now are similar to what I complained about last September, just worse. And the solutions that I mention would still apply. The only thing that I would add is that support people seem to be set to believe that all problems are misconfiguration of customer hardware, even when there's hard evidence to the contrary. Yes, it's difficult to find good support personnel, but that's what escalation procedures are for.

So: what do I do now? I should drop Aussie like a hot potato, but who knows if there's a better ISP? And how do I get my /24 routed? But it does look like a good idea to look for a better VoIP supplier. Mañana.


disaster? despise!
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

Yvonne had some photos to process yesterday, and she did it ondisaster, which worked well. I checked the processing times, and they seemed significantly faster than her normal processing on distress, but I forgot to write them down—something like one photo per minute, because all her photos are done with DxO PhotoLab's DeepPRIME feature. But that increase in processing speed didn't seem as dramatic as I had noticed

But why limit myself to 8 CPUs? hydra has 32 logical CPUs. I could easily increase the number on distress to 16.

And, probably, invalidate my license keys. OK, how about cloning it? And yes, that's easy. Shut down the machine, right click on it, select Clone and follow the instructions. And without much ado I had a new machine, which Yvonne decided to call despise.lemis.com. But DxO PhotoLab decided that my license key was invalid, and so did Microsoft. I have DxO's license key written down, and their support team was relatively responsive with the key for “ViewPoint” (which I haven't applied yet), so once I'm happy we could stick with despise.

And how did Yvonne go? Worked out of the box modulo setting DxO in 30 day trial mode. And it was much faster. The only issue was memory: it only had 16 GB of memory, and running 14 concurrent conversions (the maximum) it was hitting memory limits. So I should probably add another 8 GB of memory.

My own access to the machine was less satisfactory:

=== grog@hydra (/dev/pts/29) ~/Photos/20240405 942 -> /home/local/bin/dordesktop despise 3790x2110+0 &
Connecting to despise

ATTENTION! The server uses and invalid security certificate which can not be trusted for
the following identified reasons(s);
...

Do you trust this certificate (yes/no)? Core(error): Failed to read response from stdin
Segmentation fault (core dumped)
Disconnected from despise, status 139

And that was repeatable. rdesktop really dumped core for no obvious reason. But that, too, will find a solution.


Sunday, 7 April 2024 Dereel Images for 7 April 2024
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DST ends
Topic: general, photography, technology, opinion Link here

Daylight Saving Time ended today. Lots of clocks to change, including my cameras.

In days gone by I have used this horrible OI.Share, mobile phone app to set the time on the OM-D cameras. But it's such a pain. It has the advantage of setting it almost exactly correct (why do mobile phones, which use NTP, still have times that vary by a couple of seconds?). But is it that important? Yvonne's Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III proved to be 3 minutes fast. That's 1 second per day since DST started, but should I (or Yvonne) constantly reset it? I'd be for resetting only when it really makes sense, and then I can do it with programs after the event, like this case 14 years ago


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Setting the time manually was so much faster, though several cameras managed to change 2 hours instead of one, presumably a key bounce issue. What I did discover, however, was that the date on the E-30 was wrong. Some time last month it seems that it decided that the month was December, as the mdir output shows:

53102888 ORF  10993760 2024-03-10  13:25
53102889 ORF  13378519 2024-03-10  13:25
53152890 ORF  10993854 2024-03-15  13:25
53152891 ORF  13225868 2024-03-15  13:25
53162892 ORF  10993377 2024-03-16  13:25

Was it only the month? The time shows 13:25 every time, mean solar noon, so it probably was. I wonder how that happened. But the camera is now over 15 years old, so I'll just keep my eye on the date when I turn it on.


More fun with Aussie
Topic: technology, language, opinion Link here

To my surprise, three messages from Aussie Broadband support accounts today. One was a boilerplate acknowledgement that I had complained about not being allowed access to CJ's account yesterday with no suggestion about what went wrong, just suggesting that CJ should authorize me, something that happened in July last year. So I sent a reply asking in particular:

Please respond and tell me:

1.  What aspect of my identification does not meet your approval.
2.  Why your support staff have so far agreed that I am a
    representative.
3.  Where these privacy laws are stated.
4.  What makes you think that name, address and date of birth are any
    kind of evidence of the identity of the caller.  All of this is
    available on the web.

I also noted that I would raise this matter with the TIO.

And then there was another message addressed to the same thread, but referring to the VoIP issue. The final message was more to the point:

Unfortunately we are unable to access the modem as our logs are show a
connection to a dell devices at the moment.

Are you able to confirm the Ethernet coming from the NBN box is connected to
the WAN port on the modem.

This silly “modem” word again. Clearly he's talking about the Netcomm router. But that does look strange. CJ's machine is made by Dell (how did they identify it? MAC address?). Has he wired it up wrong? Sent him off a message:

You'll have seen this message below, which I copied you on.  I think
they're still barking up the wrong tree, but one thing makes me
wonder: they talk about seeing a Dell device.  Your computer is Dell,
right?  Are you sure you connected the cables up correctly?  As I said:

> 1.  NTD connected to a Netcomm router (via Ethernet, of course).
> 2.  Router connected to a Microsoft computer and two phones.

In English: the box on the wall is connected to the red connector on
the router.  The computer is connected to one of the yellow connectors
on the router.  Is this what you have done?  If not:

1.  Write down how you connected the cables, and tell me by email.
2.  Fix it.

This should be done as quickly as possible.

And the response? A total of three, all saying nothing and not answering what I thought were clear instructions, except to say that he had connected the computer directly to the NTD to get any connection at all, and that the phones (on the router) were still not working. By the end of the day we still had nothing. I'm beginning to think that the current issues are of CJ's making.

Later in the day, another message from Aussie:

In a fixed wireless setup, the NBN box/NTD/Network terminal device, often gets
called the modem.

I assume that this is a response to my reply quoted above:

> There is no modem.  I haven't checked personally, but what I
> understand is:
>
> 1.  NTD connected to a Netcomm router (via Ethernet, of course).
> 2.  Router connected to a Microsoft computer and two phones.

Clearly the second responder misunderstood. The first called the router a “modem”. The second called the NTD a “modem”. What better example of why you shouldn't use inappropriate terms?


Baked chicken thighs again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Baked chicken thighs again today. We did them two months ago in the “hair dryer” air fryer, and they came out more or less as planned: meat temperature 78° after 21 minutes at 210°:


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But they seemed to have required a higher meat temperature. OK, as planned, this time 30 minutes to achieve 82°.

That took 13 minutes, and the thighs didn't look as brown as they could. Clearly I had placed the temperature probe in the wrong place. Turned off the thermometer and went by eye, stopping when they seemed OK:


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That was after about 18 minutes! And certainly they were cooked enough. The thermometer showed a temperature round 95°. They tasted fine, but I'm still dissatisfied. Why the difference? These thighs were smaller, but that wouldn't significantly affect the time it took to brown them. Maybe the start temperature (21°)? I didn't note it last time.


Monday, 8 April 2024 Dereel Images for 8 April 2024
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VoIP problems: resolved!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Mail from CJ Ellis this morning:

Good morning Greg .good news , the phone is working It seems that their
message bank is now working properly for me , but I am 26 in the que , I am
hope to get a message bank on the phone as it was as I wanted in the first
place with themm .. Sore y for all you troubles with them ... It was good
to get to the computer to find all the lights working on the router & the
phone working ..

What does that mean? It's certainly not an answer to my questions. My best guess is that he finally plugged the thing in, and it worked.

CJ, I've spent the best part of a week trying to work around Aussie Broadband to solve the problems. The last two days, including the extreme annoyance of not being able to authenticate myself, were only due to you not following instructions. Sorry, my good will is exhausted. Next time find somebody else to solve your perceived issues.

That still leaves a question open: my second phone line (the one listed in the phone book) no longer works, showing the same symptoms that CJ's did (can call out, incoming calls ring but return a busy signal to the caller). At first I thought that it was directly related to reconfiguring the ATA, but quite possibly it's been like that for a long time. I only have the phone to collect voice messages, and for that Aussie is particularly useless: there's no way to find if you have voice mail except by calling the voice mail number. So an alternative might be a less painful way to fix it.


More Aussie Broadband pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Response from Aussie Broadband support accounts to my authentication questions yesterday. No attempt to address my issues, just

I strongly suggest you contact our team on 1300 880 905 with CJ so we can
arrange a solution to this issue.

And I explained why that won't work 2 days ago. OK, up a notch:

Please note the TIO deadline tomorrow and forward this matter to your
complaints team.  I expect to see a complaint number with details (not
just asterisks) by this evening.

And I got a complaint number **16941085**, with no text. Sigh.


Green coffee water tank
Topic: food and drink Link here

We've had our coffee machine for over 4 years now, and modulo routine annoyance with “descaling” (not needed for rainwater), it works well. But in the last couple of days the water tank looks like this:


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What causes that? Is it indicative of something in our water tanks?


despise performance comparison
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Comparison of photo processing times using DxO PhotoLab DeepPRIME:

Machine       Number       Time       Time/photo
despise       133       41:20       19..5 s
distress       29       33:32       70.0 s
distress       34       37:26       66.1 s

I think we can accept that that's considerably faster. And I was able to activate both DxO PhotoLab and “ViewPoint”. That just leaves “Windows” itself, and for that I need to find what I have done with the license key.

All perfect? Not quite. Why does this system use so much CPU time when idle?

  PID USERNAME    THR PRI NICE   SIZE    RES STATE    C   TIME    WCPU COMMAND
56239 grog         45  20    0    25G    25G select   9  69.5H 254.78% VirtualBoxVM

Is this maybe typical of Microsoft? It's not a big deal, since I can put it to sleep when I don't need it, but it would be interesting to understand.


Tuesday, 9 April 2024 Dereel
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More power problems
Topic: general Link here

After cleaning my teeth last night, put my toothbrush on its charger. The charge light didn't go on. Another dead toothbrush? Took it into Yvonne's bathroom and tried it on the charger there. Still no light. Replaced Yvonne's toothbrush. No light.

Oh. Into the garage and to the switchboard. Circuit breaker tripped. Turned it on and heard a beep not far away. What's that? But yes, now both toothbrushes charged.

But this morning it had failed again, and this time it stayed failed. OK, what's on this circuit? Guest bedroom, laundry (including a freezer, the source of the beep), and outside, of course, the sewage pump and the bore water pump. The latter two seem the most likely cause, particularly given the borderline waterproof connections used for external power points in Australia. Disconnected them and turned the breaker on again. It stayed on.

So one of the exterior pumps is involved. Which? It's a borderline issue, so I left them disconnected all day, and we had no further issues. Tomorrow I can start reconnecting.


Aussie complaints make contact
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Mail from Aussie Broadband about my complaint. In summary:

Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention regarding the difficulties you've encountered
with unauthorized access to the account. We understand the importance of addressing this matter
promptly and appreciate your patience as we work to find a resolution.

As per the guidelines outlined by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), our
company is required to adhere to strict customer identity authentication rules to safeguard the
privacy and security of our customers' information. This includes verifying all points of
identification to ensure compliance with privacy laws.

For more information on ACMA's customer identity authentication rules, please visit the following
link: [https://www.acma.gov.au/customer-identity-authentication-rules]

At this stage, we have marked your complaint as resolved, as we are following the prescribed rules
and procedures for customer privacy and safety. We appreciate your understanding of our position on
this matter.

Is there anything in there that suggests that they have even read the complaint? Despite multiple requests they certainly haven't sent me the text, and they have addressed none of the issues. Is Aussie staffed by morons?

About the only thing of interest is the link https://www.acma.gov.au/customer-identity-authentication-rules. I followed it and found nothing to support their actions or claims. It was interesting, though: it refers to “high-risk customer transactions”, which include:

Depending on the services you provide, you may identify more high-risk transactions than just those listed above.

Clearly this is a different category of transaction from reporting a fault. But Aussie demands this authentication before even knowing what the matter is. And what about this stupid “give me your name, address and date of birth”? The rules, only for high-risk customer transactions, are:

3. Implement MFA for high-risk customer transactions. An example of MFA where a requesting person initiates a high-risk customer transaction is:

  1. an account username and password, and
  2. a unique verification code or secure link, sent to the customer’s mobile number or validated mobile application.

No mention of date of birth. User name and password. And under the circumstances they mention, multi-factor authentication is acceptable.

So: Aussie doesn't have a leg to stand on. I sent them a corresponding answer, reminding them of this evening's TIO deadline.

And I got another reply, talking about how their support people had done everything correctly. Huh? What does that have to do with authentication? Replied accordingly, reminding them that I still hadn't seen the text of the complaint. It wasn't until later that I discovered that this was a response to the other complaint that I had initiated on Thursday. Once again I think they got the wrong end of the stick, but without the text of the complaint it's hard to say who is to blame.

Preparing the TIO complaint

So what do I say to the TIO? Clearly this needs preparation. What I see is:

Is there more? To be considered.


Cataracts: next step
Topic: health Link here

Call from David Fabinyi today about the intraocular lens for my left eye. It seems that when combined with a vitrectomy, some residual astigmatism can remain, and the accuracy of focus can vary depending on the results of the operation. Makes perfect sense, but it's not quite what I heard on our first appointment.

Based on what they've seen, I probably have some corneal astigmatism, and for the left eye he has chosen a Toric IOL with focus at infinity. That all sounds very good, and it confirms the validity of my decision to have my right (non-dominant) eye first. So the procedure can continue on Thursday as planned.

In passing, it seems that they have a whole stock of IOLs, and the can return what they don't need. David had a choice of two for me, and we'll discuss it before the procedure on Thursday. He mentioned the purchase prices that they pay are in the order of $400 to $800, but he estimates that the manufacturing cost is much lower.


18 years of blog!
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Mail from LiveJournal today, enclosing (if that's the word) a “virtual gift” for being with them for 18 years. That was a reaction to people calling my diary a “blog”, and it was very short-lived, round 2 days. I seem to have barely mentioned it in my diary.


Wednesday, 10 April 2024 Dereel Images for 10 April 2024
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Aussie Broadband: Go away
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Another message from Aussie Broadband complaints today. It seems that they have completely misunderstood the complaint, something that could only have happened if they had read neither the complaint nor my messages. But the content is amazing:

I understand your concern at this point in time. However, what you are
requesting is not something we can accommodate. I have reached out to our
compliance team for further input.

He understands my concern? There's no evidence whatsoever of that. And why can't he “accommodate” what “I am requesting”? My guess is because he has so little understanding of the issue that he can't do anything.

As per our ACMA complaint guidelines, we may take up to 10 days for further
response. If this complaint goes to the TIO, it is still within the ideal time
frame.

“We are fully bureaucracy compliant”.

Alternatively, if you are not happy with our policy, and since you are not in
a lock-in contract, you may look for an ISP which suits your needs in regards
to your privacy.

“We won't fix the problem. Go away”. But the interesting thing is “your needs in regards to your privacy”. Clearly he has understood nothing.

How do you complain about a complaints person who doesn't do his job?


Authenticating calls
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Returning to the issue of authentication, I have had contact with three different health service providers this week: Specsavers, St John of God in Geelong and Health First. All accepted my call without identification, at least once: on calling back to Health First, I was asked for the inevitable date of birth.

Why not the others? Because they recognized my phone number. Health First did that once too, but they “up”graded their booking software. Specsavers knew all my data without having to ask. And the things that they were doing were more “high risk” than anything I do with Aussie. And Aussie of all people should be able to identify the phone, since it's with them.

On the other hand, I read an article today about a person scammed out of $10,000 with a related exploit, one of the high risk transactions explicitly mentioned in the ACMA guidelines: a SIM swap. I haven't finished analysing the somewhat confused article, but it seems that the victim made two mistakes:

But clearly that's another issue altogether. And even if they had received a positive reply, what does that mean? As the article states,

ETEL said it sent a unique verification code via SMS to ensure the customer seeking to port their phone number was in possession of the device (my emphasis).

And how does that help identify the customer? To me, it does suggest a lot of caution in choosing a new RSP, however (not that Optus would have come close to being a choice).


More thoughts on astigmatism
Topic: health, opinion Link here

So it seems that I have some corneal astigmatism, something that nobody told me about until I found out last week. But 1 dioptre? That seems a little unusual. Off looking for my prescriptions, and came up with this one from January 2021:

Eye       Spherical       Cylindrical       Axis       Near-add
R       +2.25       -1.25       115°       +2.50
L       +2.00       -0.50       105°       +2.50

Now it's 1 D at 100°. And the left eye has less. But that was total astigmatism, not just corneal astigmatism. And in passing, is there any difference between +2 spherical and -0.5 cylindrical on the one hand and +1.5 spherical and +0.5 cylindrical on the other hand? Or is it just the way things get measured?


Thursday, 11 April 2024 Dereel → Geelong → Dereel Images for 11 April 2024
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The other eye
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Off to Geelong this morning, once again very early, to have my other (left) eye rebuilt. To my surprise, a large number of the people involved recognized me. The first was Roxy, who took this photo of my dilated left pupil:


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What a good example of mobile phone photography! Two other nurses also recognized me. I'm impressed.

It would be easy to say that “everything went the same way as last time”, but that's not quite correct. Somehow it took a lot longer today, not during the procedure, but beforehand. The result was that I was there for 3½ hours, while last time it was only 2 hours, 20 minutes. But I didn't notice that until I compared my times.

The procedure was as before, except that this time I was fitted with a Toric IOL. As I had discovered, part of the procedure involves marking the orientation of the eyeball while the patient is sitting up, since it may rotate when lying down. But I wasn't expecting David Fabinyi to poke me in the eye with what looked like a felt-tipped pen. Of course the anaesthetics did their job, so it wasn't that painful.

He also gave me more details of the IOL: -0.06 dioptre spherical, 1 dioptre cylindrical. I forgot to ask about the axis, but that's quite strong compared to the prescription I got in 2021. But that's the difference between the cornea and the complete eye, maybe.

And why -0.06 dioptres cylindrical? The target would have been -0.25 dioptres (4 m, a good hyperfocal distance, but they only come in steps of 0.25 dioptres, so the next one would have been 0.31 dioptres. Assuming the hyperfocal distance of 4 m (± 0.25 dioptres depth of focus), that would give me a maximum sharp distance of about 16 m. As it is, I will have a close distance of 3.2 m. And the other eye is more myopic, so it's not a big deal.

The procedure itself was different, too. First Liam Broad, the anaesthetist, decided to put the cannula in my elbow, since it had been so painful last time. And this time there was much more light, though once again I didn't notice being moved into the operating theatre. And the visual effects were very different: instead of random geometric shapes, I saw four pillars arranged in a square. They moved and changed shape, but the arrangement was still the same. David says that this might be a reaction to the anaesthetic, which this time seemed to be stronger than last time.

Then back home, and this time I read the instructions: remove the eye cover at 18:00. Here before and after:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240411/big/Greg-5.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240411/big/Gregs-eye-2.jpeg
Image title: Gregs eye 2          Dimensions:          3636 x 2978, 863 kB
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And things looked very strange. A bubble in my field of view, of course, this time mercifully smaller. But I had forgotten how obtrusive it was. And everything looked so bright! I could barely stand looking at the TV. The image must have been equivalent to 2 to 3 EV more than the right eye. Also not very sharp, and with a pronounced magenta cast, and the images was considerably lower than the image from the right eye, and I couldn't correct it. But that's early days, and presumably it will improve.


AAMI never gives up
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Surprising spam today:

Subject: M07956723
Message-ID: <SYBPR01MB452222792EC4FAB1D0E1BAC1AE052@SYBPR01MB4522.ausprd01.prod.outlook.com>

Good Afternoon,

Please be advised we have provided our assessment report and quote to substantiate  our demands  that was a result of

Of an accident that you are liable for. Our costs were  assessed and Approved by a licensed professional motor vehicle assessor.

Find attached our final letter of demand and advise your intentions within 7 days.

Somebody who had read my entries on the AAMI matter last year and wanted to cash in? Checked the headers. No, this abortion of a message really came from AAMI. And once again they have not responded to my questions, nor provided any proof (including the claimed assessment report). Instead they once again provided irrelevant photos, and also a screen shot of my article on the subject at the time, which pretty much disproves their claims. But why now? Is the “final” letter of demand a glimmer of hope that they will then let the matter rest? I have little hope.


Bloody Microsoft again!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Now that it doesn't use any significant power, I have taken the easy way out and let despise.lemis.com (Microsoft “Windows” 10) carry on running. Bad idea. Microsoft did its usual update without asking me, and after that “Perfectly Clear“ didn't want to know about registration. Back to where I was at the beginning of the month.

Grrr! But despise is a virtual machine, and I do backups religiously. Can I revert to the state of yesterday evening? No, it seems. Restoring the backup was trivial, but every attempt to restart it failed with VERR_ACCESS_DENIED. But not only despise: all VMs. More searching, and found what I've seen before less than a month ago: I need to be in the voxusers group.

But aren't I? Schrödinger's cat: yes, I'm in the /etc/group entry, but the shell I was running was started longer ago (4 January). So I had to start an xterm from a fresh login, and then it worked. And yes, Perfectly Clear was still enabled at that time. So: keep snapshots. If things go wrong, just revert to them.

Who needs Microsoft updates anyway?


Friday, 12 April 2024 Dereel → Geelong → Dereel Images for 12 April 2024
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Audrey Herbert turns 100 years old
Topic: history Link here

It's been 100 years since the birth of my mother, Audrey Lehey née Herbert. And, of course, five years since she died. Once again: how time flies! And how the world has changed since her birth.


Eye checkup
Topic: health Link here

Into Geelong again this morning to have my eye operation checked. Since yesterday my vision has improved considerably, though it's still not as good as the right eye. But now I have something to compare, and it's good to see the gradual improvement.

And the strangeness yesterday evening, the magenta colour cast and excessive brightness? Probably a reaction to the anaesthetic, which can take up to 12 hours to dissipate.

Then back home in time for breakfast. An hour's drive to Geelong, 10 minutes wait, 5 minutes consultation, and an hour back again.


Reprocessing old photos
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Fifteen years ago I spent a lot of time comparing photo processing. A lot has changed since then. In particular, I was concerned with gradation, and I took a lot of photos with different camera settings. I made a comparison between “muted” and “vivid” profiles, which showed no obvious difference. I thought that I had not understood that “muted” and “vivid”, like many of the settings, only applied to the in-camera JPEG images. But that's not the case: these were JPEGs (which I took alongside the raw images), and there was really almost no difference (run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20090412/big/soft-thumbnail.jpeg
Image title: soft thumbnail          Dimensions:          1600 x 1200, 448 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20090412/big/vivid-thumbnail.jpeg
Image title: vivid thumbnail          Dimensions:          1600 x 1200, 457 kB
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There's really almost no differencd. What does the Exif data say? Here the relevant difference between “muted” (-) and “vivid” (+):

-Custom Saturation               : 0 (min -5, max 5)
+Custom Saturation               : 1 (min -5, max 5)
-Contrast Setting                : -1 (min -5, max 5)
-Sharpness Setting               : -2 (min -5, max 5)
+Contrast Setting                : 0 (min -5, max 5)
+Sharpness Setting               : 0 (min -5, max 5)
-Picture Mode                    : Muted
+Picture Mode                    : Vivid
-Contrast                        : Low
-Saturation                      : Normal
-Sharpness                       : Soft
+Contrast                        : Normal
+Saturation                      : High
+Sharpness                       : Normal

I wonder if it's still that bad.

Still, that's not the sort of thing I do any more. Here's a more typical image, which I chose because it showed the worst gradation at the time. Here the best I made then. First a conversion with UFRaw, then an unspecified “optimization”, probably Ashampoo photo optimizer, that seems only to have made things worse, then a conversion with Olympus “Master”, which at least corrected the geometry and made it marginally better (again, run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20090412/big/Pattern-ufraw-default-settings.jpeg
Image title: Pattern ufraw default settings          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 1705 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20090412/big/Optimized-Pattern-ufraw-default-settings.jpeg
Image title: Optimized Pattern ufraw default settings          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 1885 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20090412/big/Pattern-olympus-converted.jpeg
Image title: Pattern olympus converted          Dimensions:          3648 x 2736, 1956 kB
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I've progressed since then. Here the best I made then (the Olympus “Master" image), then as processed with my standard “Myset” profile with DxO PhotoLab, then that image further enhanced by “Perfectly Clear“ (again, run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20090412/big/Pattern-olympus-converted.jpeg
Image title: Pattern olympus converted          Dimensions:          3648 x 2736, 1956 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20090412/big/Pattern-DxO-Myset.jpeg
Image title: Optimized vivid thumbnail          Dimensions:          1600 x 1200, 478 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20090412/big/Pattern-DxO-Myset-PC.jpeg
Image title: Optimized vivid thumbnail          Dimensions:          1600 x 1200, 478 kB
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This is pretty much my standard processing. If I cared enough, I might be able to improve the image further. But it does partially explain why it took me so long to raw images.


Finding rwhod
Topic: technology Link here

despise.lemis.com is now running as well as you can expect of a Microsoft system, but I'm still running into this irritating loss of rwhod on reboot. Last time I noted issues, but not how to fix it. What I need to do is:

  1. Start CMD.EXE as administrator with c-s-mouse1.
  2. cd to \Program Files—(x86)/rwho.
  3. Try running rwhod.
  4. If this fails, find RWHODINSTALLER.EXE, which is somewhere else, location not divulged. This time I didn't need it.
  5. From past experience, RWHODINSTALLER.EXE can fail with permissions issues. Rename the old \Program Files—(x86)/rwho/rwhod to something expressing your opinion of Microsoft and try again.

In passing, discovered Yet Another strangeness in Microsoft: as administrator, NET USE claims that there are no network “shares”. As normal user all works well.


The dangers of one-eyedness
Topic: health, general Link here

Tried to pour myself a glass of wine this evening. Not for the first time, it didn't quite work:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240412/big/Spilt-wine.jpeg
Image title: Spilt wine          Dimensions:          3888 x 3888, 4527 kB
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This, too, will pass.


Saturday, 13 April 2024 Dereel Images for 13 April 2024
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Floaters again
Topic: health Link here

One of the first things that I noticed when I opened my eye after the rebuild of my right eye was the surprising number of floaters. And with the left eye there were none.

But that has changed. Like with the right eye, they have changed in shape, tending towards strands. That's clearly transient: I can't notice any floaters in my right eye any more, so these will almost certainly go away too.


A cat cage
Topic: general, animals Link here

Jesse Walsh gave us the contact details of Cassie Clarke in Corindhap, who has a an external cat cage. Off this afternoon to take a look.

I was mainly interested in the details, to the point that I forgot to take a photo of the entire cage. How cat-proof is it? I think it will be sufficient:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240413/big/Cat-cage-1.jpeg
Image title: Cat cage 1          Dimensions:          3456 x 4610, 5679 kB Display location on map
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240413/big/Cat-cage-4.jpeg
Image title: Cat cage 4          Dimensions:          3456 x 4610, 4068 kB Display location on map
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Dereel bushfire aftermath
Topic: general Link here

On the way home, drove down Swamp Road to see what the bushfire had done. A lot of burning, of course, but it seems that none of the trees had been burnt down.:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240413/big/Bushfire-aftermath-1.jpeg
Image title: Bushfire aftermath 1          Dimensions:          11177 x 2798, 17950 kB Display location on map
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Somehow it's all to close to “home”. Here a corner of a walk we used to take with the dogs:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240413/big/Bushfire-aftermath-2.jpeg
Image title: Bushfire aftermath 2          Dimensions:          4742 x 3456, 8002 kB Display location on map
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And this tree, I think, shows the remains of the Amyema pendula that is on the Wikipedia page (here my original), and what I think are the remains of the same bush today:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20121130/big/Amyema-pendula-6.jpeg
Image title: Amyema pendula 6          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 2848 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240413/big/Amyema-pendula.jpeg
Image title: Amyema pendula          Dimensions:          3457 x 4608, 8266 kB Display location on map
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And here a sign where I cut open my finger trying to hold back Nikolai nine years ago. It's not damaged, but it's good for orientation. Here in 2015 and now:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20150115/big/Sign-1.jpeg
Image title: Sign 1          Dimensions:          4608 x 3457, 4640 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240413/big/Bushfire-aftermath-7.jpeg
Image title: Bushfire aftermath 7          Dimensions:          4608 x 3458, 7516 kB Display location on map
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despise photo processing times
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

House photo day today, a total of 111 images to convert. And despise did it in 3 minutes, 50 seconds, an average speed of 2.07 s per photo. That's far better than I have ever seen.

But then I converted another 17 images from the afternoon. 1 minute, 30 seconds, or 5.3 seconds per image. Why? My guess is that there's some amazing inefficiency in DxO PhotoLab that applies at the start of every processing batch. Even the values given are inaccurate: it can take up to 15 seconds after pressing “export” before it even starts. Still, a great improvement over the other machines.


Sunday, 14 April 2024 Dereel Images for 14 April 2024
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Manipulating data in the Microsoft space
Topic: technology Link here

I've been running autocutsel for a while now, and it works, up to a point. If I copy something on Microsoft, it automatically updates the clipboard on the machine that runs the rdesktop. If I mark text on an xterm, it also appears in the clipboard. But it doesn't change the cutbuffer in any way, and that's not what I understand from the documentation:

When the clipboard is changed, it updates the cutbuffer. When the cutbuffer is changed, it owns the clipboard selection. The cutbuffer and clipboard selection are always synchronized.

There's this word “own” that I don't understand. But I do understand “always synchronized”, and that's not what I see. Is this a bug, a misdocumentation, or what?


How to save an SMS
Topic: technology Link here

I've been trying for years to find a way to save or copy an SMS. Based on my almost complete lack of success, you'd think that somebody wanted to avoid it. Even the mobile phone apps that promise to save or forward them don't work for me.

But finally I've found a way to at least save the text, if not the metadata:

  1. Start Microsoft “PhoneLink” and display the message.
  2. Select text. This only works with the text itself, not the rest of the display.
  3. Copy to clipboard with c-c.
  4. Mark text in xclipboard on the host machine.
  5. Save!

Simple, isn't it. You have to love Microsoft.


Understanding depth of focus
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

One of the things I learnt as part of my cataract operation was the term depth of focus. I know that, right? No, what I know and use is depth of field. And while they're closely related, there's a subtle difference: depth of field is measured in distances, the closest and furthest distance in acceptable focus when you focus on a specific point. I've known this for ever, at least since I started using cameras 60 years ago. The lenses had a depth-of-field scale on the lens, here a Diaxette that looks just like the one I had at the time:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240415/big/Diaxette-Cassar-lens.jpeg
Image title: Diaxette Cassar lens          Dimensions:          3798 x 2540, 2312 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240415/big/Diaxette-Cassar-lens-detail.jpeg
Image title: Diaxette Cassar lens detail          Dimensions:          2235 x 627, 280 kB
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The top (black) scale is distance, in feet, and the lower (red) scale is depth of field. Here the focus is set to 30 ft (10 m), and the scale shows a depth of field from a little over 20 ft to a little below 60 ft at f/2.8, or 14 ft to beyond ∞ at f/8.

The devil's in the detail, of course, and 14 years ago I found the contradictions enough that I wrote my own program to calculate depth of field.

The problem with depth of field is that it depends on the distance. Depth of focus is measured in dioptres, the correction needed to move the edges of acceptable focus to the prime focus. And that makes sense: it's independent of the distance.

Or is that the definition? The Wikipedia page is currently very vague:

Depth of focus can have two slightly different meanings. The first is the distance over which the image plane can be displaced while a single object plane remains in acceptably sharp focus; the second is the image-side conjugate of depth of field. With the first meaning, the depth of focus is symmetrical about the image plane; with the second, the depth of focus is slightly greater on the far side of the image plane.

The first definition looks like the inverse of depth of field: instead of measuring the subject distance, it measures the object distance. And clearly the claim that the depth of focus is symmetrical is just plain false. At 1:1 magnification the values are the same. And the “second definition” seems to be the same thing. Without formulae the whole thing is too fuzzy to understand. But the formulae presented are just plain wrong: they're formulae for depth of field. The page also stated:

While depth of field is generally measured in macroscopic units such as meters and feet, depth of focus is typically measured in microscopic units such as fractions of a millimeter or thousandths of an inch.

That's clearly only part of the statement, of course. In optometry depth of focus is usually measured in dioptres, so I said so.

So: clearly the Wikipedia page is almost useless. What else is there? The first hit on Google tells me:

In optometry depth of focus is usually measured in dioptres.

That's quite impressive. It's a reference to what I wrote in Wikipedia only a few hours earlier. And clearly it's useless for confirming my claims. How about Gemini?

Q: How do I calculate depth of focus in dioptres?
A: Depth of focus (DOF) isn't directly calculated in diopters. DOF is typically measured in linear units like millimeters or feet https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depth_of_field.

That's a quote from an older version of the Wikipedia page! And it uses the term “DOF”, which I always took to mean depth of field. But there are others who disagree. This article, from the US National Institutes of Health, writes:

In theory, only one plane or surface of world can be in focus at one time. However, the eye exhibits a certain tolerance to out-of-focus images, a feature that is known as depth-of-focus (DOF). The corresponding distance range in which the objects are seen “clearly” is known as depth-of-field (DOFi).

Somehow the term NIH sounds appropriate.

And there's more. This paper goes into some detail, and maybe it contains all that I need to know. It refers to human eyes, and interestingly (on page 830) it comes up with a depth of focus of 0.1 dioptre for adult humans. I just need to read it more carefully.

In summary, I'm just as confused as I was at the beginning. I need to check my maths, but it seems that the concepts are poorly understood, and measuring depth of focus in dioptres is really independent of the subject (or object) distance. That's why depth of field scaled work. But measuring the depth of focus by distances from the sensor is not distance independent. Eyes are a special case because the sensor is always at the same distance from the entrance pupil. But even there, the linear depth of focus should not be symmetrical, which should be particularly apparent when using strong auxiliary lenses (say +20 dioptres, bring focus to 5 cm).


Off the net again!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Idly checking ping times today brought a failure: I couldn't ping eureka.lemis.com from lax.lemis.com. Nor anywhere else, for that matter.

Firewall problem? No, a traceroute stopped much earlier than that. Is there something wrong? The block has been routed here for nearly a year, and in May last year I confirmed:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/24) ~ 33 -> whois -h whois.cymru.com " -v 192.109.197.0"
AS      | IP               | BGP Prefix          | CC | Registry | Allocated  | AS Name
NA      | 192.109.197.0    | NA                  | AU | ripencc  | 1991-05-01 | NA
4764    | 192.109.197.0    | 192.109.197.0/24    | AU | ripencc  | 1991-05-01 | WIDEBAND-AS-AP Aussie Broadband, AU

And what do I have now?

=== root@lax (/dev/pts/7) ~ 90 -> whois -h whois.cymru.com " -v 192.109.197.0"
AS      | IP               | BGP Prefix          | CC | Registry | Allocated  | AS Name
NA      | 192.109.197.0    | NA                  | AU | ripencc  | 1991-05-01 | NA

Gone! An easy enough bug to fix, I suppose. But it means dealing with Aussie Broadband “support” again. The first part (after authenticating myself) will be to explain to the first level support person what I'm talking about. The horror!


Monday, 15 April 2024 Dereel Images for 15 April 2024
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Pixel depth of digital cameras
Topic: photography Link here

One of the important parameters of a digital camera is the pixel depth, which determines the dynamic range of the sensor. Fifteen years ago I wrote “I gather that my Olympus [E-510] has only 10 bit pixels”.

Is that correct? Today I went searching and came up with a blank. The best specs page I could find is this page, but it, too, is too polite to say. Why are people not interested? It has much more of a bearing on the image quality than the number of pixels.


How to copy SMS, again
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Callum Gibson read my article on how to save an SMS. He has a simpler method: Google messages. That way you don't need Microsoft, just a web browser.

OK, sounds interesting. Off to take a look, but instead of https://messages.google.com/ I was redirected to https://www.android.com/google-messages/. Funny, says Callum, “it works for me”. Still, the page is clearly related, full of advertisements and content unrelated to what I'm looking for, like “With Google Messages, you can customize your experience, ensure private conversations, and enjoy the latest AI features.”. Dammit, all I want to do is to save an SMS with its metadata, like you can do with any sane MUA with a single click!

First, of course, I have to install Google Messages on my phone. Good news: it's compatible with all my “devices” (which in this context I think means “phones”). OK, install. I was given a single line choice of which “device”:

 
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Damn, that's my old phone, the one I just use for experiments. Ah, but single line windows are modern. Click and you get:

 
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Sometimes I despair. OK, click on the second one, and receive the information that the app will soon be installed. Wait a while. Nothing. While I was looking, discovered this comment about the app:

December 30, 2019
I still don't know what good this app is, but I can never find answers to the noises that are bugging me.

And that was what I wrote on the following day. Further investigation shows that it was already installed on the phone, and it's the standard messages app that I use. Why didn't Google say so? They're supposed to keep track.

So: what next? I couldn't find anything to tell me what to do. Finally, though, found my way through the maze. You have to be logged in to Google to even get the correct link! And that told me the way through the maze of menus on my phone: click on the image of myself (currently) at top right and select Device pairing, which tells me to go to https://messages.google.com/web. And there I get a QR Code and instructions:


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Problem: there is no QR code scanner on the phone:


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I couldn't find a way to use the code. But I did have the option of signing in, and suddenly that worked,

And the results? It looks surprisingly like Microsoft's PhoneLink. But it does have the advantage that I don't have to fire up a Microsoft machine to access it.

So, next step: save the messages. Why would you want to do that?, says Callum. But yes, you can back them up—to Google Drive, the storage medium that has caused me so much pain in the past. And doubtless the format would be unwieldy.

And at the end, I also understood the comment I made five years ago: the thing keeps dinging at me, the noise it makes when a notification arrives. But all I find is information that my phone is linked to a web browser.

So what's wrong here? Clearly the ability to save messages to Google Drive could be useful to some people. But why can't I save them on the current machine? Once again other people are making decisions for me, not the ones I want. It would be so simple just to save the messages, metadata and all, but modern web and mobile phone software seems to ignore the obvious and want to run before it can walk.

So, a comparison of the methods:

      Microsoft PhoneLink       Google Messages
1       Start Microsoft “PhoneLink” and display the message.       Pair phone with https://messages.google.com/web
2       Select text.       Go to https://messages.google.com/web and display message
3       Copy to clipboard with c-c.       Select text.
4       Mark text in xclipboard on the host machine.       Mark text in xclipboard.
5       Save!       Save!

So yes, it could be easier if it weren't for the fact that I have to explicitly pair and unpair. But the noise it keeps making means that I have to unpair when I'm not using it. Why can't they have a button to turn the noise off?

In passing, Callum mentioned another app, SMG Backup and Restore. It still just copies to Google Drive.


Double bubble
Topic: health Link here

The bubble in my eye is gradually getting smaller, not as fast as I had hoped. This evening, though, I had two after the evening eyedrops! One was the normal bubble, and the other one was a tiny bubble about 5% of the size of the main one. It hung around for an hour or two before disappearing again.

How did that happen? My guess is that one of the floaters kept it from joining the main bubble.


Tuesday, 16 April 2024 Dereel Images for 16 April 2024
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Solving the routing issue
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I should have called Aussie Broadband yesterday about the routing problems that I discovered on Sunday. But I dreaded the encounter, so I put it off.

But it had to be done, and today I called up and was connected relatively quickly to Ashika, who of course didn't understand. What kind of router do I have installed? She could only see one IP address. I tried to explain, and she decided to escalate to “level 2” after only 3 minutes. And after a total of 5 minutes, the call was done: she would send me an email, to which I should reply with the problem details.

That's actually quite reasonable, and quite a difference from recent encounters. But how do I explain in a manner that will get the problem involved? Ask an expert.

That had the rather interesting side effect that he contacted people he knew at Aussie, and within 18 minutes they had fixed the problem (stuff left behind after a configuration upgrade). Score 1 for friends.


Eye progress
Topic: health Link here

I had hoped that the bubble in my eye would be gone by now, but no such luck. It's getting smaller, and on a couple of occasions I got a smaller one that then went away again. But by evening it was still not gone.


Do you have a comment about something I have written? This is a diary, not a “blog”, and there is deliberately no provision for directly adding comments. It's also not a vehicle for third-party content. But I welcome feedback and try to reply to all messages I receive. See the diary overview for more details. If you do send me a message relating to something I have written, please indicate whether you'd prefer me not to mention your name. Otherwise I'll assume that it's OK to do so.


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