Greg
animals language
brewing multimedia
cooking music
fiction opinion
gardening photography
general technology
history
Greg's diary
August 2011
Translate this page
Select day:
Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31
Select month in 2011:
Jan Feb Mar Apr
May Jun Jul Aug
Sep Oct Nov Dec
Today's diary entry
Diary index
About this diary
Previous month
Next month
Greg's home page
Greg's photos
Network link stats
Greg's other links
Copyright information
    
Groogle

Monday, 1 August 2011 Dereel Images for 1 August 2011
Top of page
next day
last day

Another day of photo processing
Topic: photography, technology Link here

Carried on with my panorama experiments again today. And it took another whole day! Part of that was just moving files around (and getting it wrong a couple of times), but also discovered another mistake I had made yesterday: I had not set the lens to its 9 mm focal length. The EXIF data tells me 10 mm, but which Hugin tells me was 10.38 mm. I'm assuming that Hugin gets this value from the relationship between image size and the total (360°) width. It starts with the value supplied by the EXIF data, but after alignment it changes the value. As a result, my verandah panorama failed completely: the upper and lower layer didn't overlap or even join, so I had to repeat the sequence. Interestingly, this time it reported 8.87 mm focal length, not 9. And this time it became clear that I should stick to 12 images, not 10. The image was no longer as high. Here two weeks ago and this week:


  This should be verandah-centre.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: verandah centre          Dimensions:          9183 x 5704, 7424 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 15 July 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 15 July 2011, small
Diary entry for Friday, 15 July 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be verandah-centre.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: verandah centre          Dimensions:          9137 x 5042, 7248 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 1 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 1 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 1 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

Still, putting the images through Olympus “Viewer” has its advantages. In particular, now that I have compensated for chromatic aberration, the details are much sharper. Here two weeks ago and today, at the top and just left of the centre:

 
This should be verandah-centre-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: verandah centre detail
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 30 kB
Dimensions of original: 600 x 450, 30 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Friday, 15 July 2011:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be verandah-centre-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: verandah centre detail
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 34 kB
Dimensions of original: 600 x 450, 34 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 1 August 2011:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry


Thermostat for seed trays
Topic: gardening Link here

My seed planting hasn't been overly successful. Even the seeds that say “plant in winter” aren't germinating at all well. I suppose it's clear why: the seeds in question came from Queensland, where even in the south-east (Brisbane) the average temperature is round 15° and the average low is round 10°. The instructions with the seeds presumably implied Queensland conditions. But in Ballarat it's the average high that's 10°, and I've already established that the low in the greenhouse can go to freezing. So: I need heating for the seed trays. I bought a thermostat on eBay a couple of weeks ago, and finally it has arrived. Wired it up and—it didn't work:


  This should be Thermostat-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Thermostat 1          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 944 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 1 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 1 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 1 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Thermostat-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Thermostat 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1168 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 1 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 1 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 1 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

The LED top left on the display shows that it should be cooling, but there's no voltage on the contacts. Contacted Peter Dilley, who was a little vague (it seems that he has bought two of them, and they were different from each other), but it suggested that I should look more carefully at the circuitry. Yes, the circuit on top of the thermostat (second image) is quite clear: it's just access to the relays. So I need to wire the power externally. And that's more complicated than it seems, since I need marginal additional hardware to complete the wiring, and this is in a moisture-prone area. I'll have to find some way to enclose the whole thing.


Tuesday, 2 August 2011 Dereel Images for 2 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Rat traps: waste of time
Topic: general, animals Link here

The rat trap in the garden shed was tripped again yesterday. And it failed:


 
This should be Rat-cage.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rat cage          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2048 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 2 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 2 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 2 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

The cage started to close, and the locking rod slid down, but too quickly. Instead of locking the cage shut, it wedged it open. That's a basic design defect. I've had these cages for nearly 2 months now, and I have only caught one rat that didn't get away again. They'll go back.


Seed tray heater
Topic: gardening Link here

More playing around with the thermostat today. Found a waterproof plastic food container just about the right size and put the thermostat in it:


 
This should be Thermostat-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Thermostat 1          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1216 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 2 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 2 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 2 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Thermostat-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Thermostat 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1072 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 2 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 2 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 2 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

Then I was able to put a 60W globe in a plastic container and layer the seed trays above:


  This should be Seed-tray-heater-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Seed tray heater 2          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1184 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 3 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 3 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 3 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Seed-tray-heater-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Seed tray heater 1          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1200 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 3 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 3 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 3 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

It's not pretty (somehow my things never are), but it works. I really should look for a lower-voltage heater, though. The globe is enclosed in a shield and a plastic bag, so it's unlikely that the contacts will get wet, but I'd be happier with a safer alternative.

As a result, was able to plant a whole lot of seeds: Aquilegia “McKanna Giants”, Primula x polyantha “Pacific giants mix”, Lavandula “Munstead Dwarf” and Brachyscome iberidifolia (blue Swan River daisy). Put that and the existing seed tray (where only 4 of 50 seeds had germinated) into the container, and we're away!


Australian census
Topic: general, opinion Link here

A woman from the Australian Bureau of Statistics came along today with census forms. She asked if I had seen TV or newspaper advertisements about it, and was puzzled that I hadn't, even when I told her that I don't watch advertising. But all she wanted was that I was expecting her.

Once again we can do the thing on line, which is a great advantage over filling out 1970s-syle OCR forms in BLOCK CAPITALS. Went to take a look. It certainly works better than last time—in particular, you can go back to change something on a previous page, which didn't work 10 years ago. But there are still some real strangenesses. I suppose it is considered good taste nowadays to limit the width of a form so that things like form numbers overflow into the next line or even a little further. The Check Letters here are part of the form number, but the second one has been moved out of the way:

 
This should be eCensus-1-detail.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: eCensus 1 detail
Dimensions: 635 x 198, 6 kB
Dimensions of original: 635 x 198, 6 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Tuesday, 2 August 2011:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

And today was 2 August 2011. The software should know that. But I get the question:

 
This should be eCensus-2-detail.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: eCensus 2 detail
Dimensions: 720 x 52, 4 kB
Dimensions of original: 720 x 52, 4 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Tuesday, 2 August 2011:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

The correct answer, of course, is 0. But let's guess they want the answer 2. I can always change it later if something unexpected crops up.

That was the first page. At the top of the second page, I get:

 
This should be eCensus-4.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: eCensus 4
Dimensions: 623 x 423, 30 kB
Dimensions of original: 623 x 423, 30 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Tuesday, 2 August 2011:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

What's question 8? I suppose it must be the address I gave on the previous page. But why not spell it out? Or just preload the form with it?

Then they want to know our ancestry. What is mine? Scottish, Irish, German. Or maybe Australian?

 
This should be eCensus-5.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: eCensus 5
Dimensions: 604 x 489, 26 kB
Dimensions of original: 604 x 489, 26 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Tuesday, 2 August 2011:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Australian? Do they mean aborigines? No, they'd (still) never call them just “Australian”. The politically correct term is “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander”, though that and should probably be or in this case. So what does this mean? I'd guess it means that somebody in the Census Bureau hasn't been thinking straight. That would also explain why they only want two ancestries, though it accepted my 3.

Filling out the details for Yvonne was interesting. A number of questions about our relationship. In the first, we establish that she's married to me. Then the second asks about her marital status. I should have entered “Never Married” or some such:

 
This should be eCensus-6.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: eCensus 6
Dimensions: 616 x 816, 38 kB
Dimensions of original: 616 x 816, 38 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Tuesday, 2 August 2011:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Then there's the question of country of birth. Yvonne was born in the city of Weimar, now part of the Federal Republic of Germany. But it wasn't that when she was born. Until 1990, it was in the German “Democratic” Republic (my quotes), which Wikipedia calls “East Germany”, a country that existed from 1949 to 1990, as if Weimar is no longer in East Germany. But that country was formed when Yvonne was 7 months old. Before that there was the Großdeutche Reich. But that ceased to exist in 1945, long before Yvonne was born.

In fact, Yvonne wasn't born in a country at all, just an occupation zone. But it seems that the Census Bureau expects you to be born in a country. So yet another “Other”:

 
This should be eCensus-7.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: eCensus 7
Dimensions: 611 x 399, 16 kB
Dimensions of original: 611 x 399, 16 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Tuesday, 2 August 2011:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

And then I was done. Submitted, and got the message “To protect the security of these entries, you can no longer change the form”. So if I spend the night away from home next week, there's no way to record the information. That would have been no problem for the paper form (about the only advantage, it seems). Why do people do these things?


Nutrient deficiency revisited
Topic: gardening Link here

After treating my Hibiscus rosa-sinensis with iron chelate, it's looking much happier. Here two weeks ago (first photo) and today:


  This should be Hibiscus-leaf.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hibiscus leaf          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1168 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 17 July 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 17 July 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 17 July 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Hibiscus-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hibiscus 3          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1296 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 3 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 3 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 3 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Hibiscus-4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hibiscus 4          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1136 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 3 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 3 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 3 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

I probably need to give it another round, but it's much better. But then I saw a repeat of a Gardening Australia programme from 2½ years ago (conveniently unseasonal), where I was shown this photo, discussing the leaves on the right.


  This should be Leaves.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Leaves          Dimensions:          1280 x 720, 576 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 2 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 2 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 2 August 2011

 

And according to that programme, this is nitrogen deficiency. What am I missing?


Wednesday, 3 August 2011 Dereel Images for 3 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Piccola gone missing
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Last night Piccola didn't come home for dinner. Not for the first time. We went out and looked for her in all the usual places, but couldn't find her. So we left the cat door in the laundry open and waited for her to come back.

Round 6:20 this morning I heard meowing outside. Typical of her to want to be let in when the cat door was open. But it wasn't Piccola, it was Lilac, apparently looking for Piccola. Up relatively early to help with the search, and finally Yvonne found her: in the (closed) garden shed, where we had looked twice the previous evening.

There are a number of things to note here:

Today she cooperated: she didn't want to go outside in the afternoon. But it's a big worry.


Seed tray heater experience
Topic: gardening Link here

During the night noticed that the globe in the seed tray heater seemed to be on all the time. Without going out there and checking the temperature, it's difficult to say whether it was too weak, or just enough. But probably it's no problem if the temperature drops a few degrees in the night. To be observed.


More planting and weeding
Topic: gardening Link here

The weather has been very mild lately. Last year the highest temperature in August was 19.3°. Today it was 22.9°, and in general the month has been much warmer than last year:

mysql> SELECT year(date), min(outside_temp), format(avg(outside_temp), 2), max(outside_temp)
    -> FROM observations
    -> WHERE month(date) = 8
    -> GROUP by year(date);
+------------+-------------------+-------------------+-------------------+
| year(date) | min(outside_temp) | avg(outside_temp) | max(outside_temp) |
+------------+-------------------+-------------------+-------------------+
|       2010 |               1.9 | 8.22              |              19.3 |
|       2011 |               6.5 | 14.22             |              22.9 |
+------------+-------------------+-------------------+-------------------+

It's very clear how much the outside weather conditions have to do with my willingness to work in the garden. Today I had hoped to be able to spray some weed killer, but unfortunately it was too windy for that. But the weather suggested that it's time to plant some of the plants I have in the greenhouse (especially since it's getting pretty full), so planted the Mandevilla laxa (or is that Mandevilla suaveolens?) and a Jasminum polyanthum round the east side of the rose arch, along with some sweet peas for more immediate results. I'm still wondering whether to add some Ipomoea (Morning Glory) there as well. Planting instructions are “Plant morning glory from seed no more than a week before your region's last frost date”. How do I know that? But it's probably safe now to plant them now in that location.

Also a bit of propagation: the potted Pelargoniums on the north verandah are looking pretty unhappy, so took some cuttings, which I'm confident will strike. I'm less confident about the Petunia branch that I somehow broke off in the greenhouse, but it'll be interesting to see what happens.

Then a bit of fertilizer, and did the whole bed between the east side of the house and the first path, and also the eastern side of the north bed. That took most of a 2½ kg bag. Looks like time to buy more fertilizer.

Also more weeding. I really need to get some mulch before I continue; pulling out big established weeds just leaves space for smaller ones to grow, and they're much more difficult to remove.


Thursday, 4 August 2011 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Little garden work
Topic: gardening Link here

The night before last the heater globe for the seed tray barely went out at all. Last night it barely went on, to the point where I had thought that something had failed. But no, just mild weather. It seems it was the warmest night on record in Melbourne, and here the temperature didn't go below 14.4°.

Somehow I've already run out of steam with my work in the garden. Got round to removing the last hop rhizome, so I could have done some weed spraying, but of course there was rain on the way. Also gave the hibiscus rosa-sinensis, lemon and camellia japonica another dose of iron chelate. And that was about all.


More USB death
Topic: multimedia, technology Link here

Doing my photo backups this afternoon was a problem. On connecting my external USB drive to teevee, I got lots of:

Aug  4 16:37:24 teevee kernel: uhub1: port 3 reset failed
Aug  4 16:37:55 teevee last message repeated 29 times
Aug  4 16:39:56 teevee last message repeated 114 times

I had to connect to a different USB connector before the drive was recognized.

That wasn't all, though. In the evening had trouble with the remote control, which was generating incorrect events, and the mouse started wandering round the screen. In the course of time things got progressively worse:

Aug  4 20:24:08 teevee kernel: uhid0: detached
Aug  4 20:24:19 teevee kernel: ukbd0: at uhub2 port 2 (addr 3) disconnected
Aug  4 20:24:19 teevee kernel: ukbd0: detached
Aug  4 20:24:19 teevee kernel: ums0: at uhub2 port 2 (addr 3) disconnected
Aug  4 20:24:19 teevee kernel: ums0: detached
Aug  4 20:24:27 teevee moused: unable to open /dev/ums0: No such file or directory
Aug  4 20:24:42 teevee kernel: uhub0: device problem (IOERROR), disabling port 3
Aug  4 20:24:42 teevee kernel: ukbd1: at uhub2 port 3 (addr 4) disconnected
Aug  4 20:24:42 teevee kernel: ukbd1: detached
Aug  4 20:24:42 teevee kernel: ums1: at uhub2 port 3 (addr 4) disconnected
Aug  4 20:24:42 teevee kernel: ums1: detached
Aug  4 20:24:50 teevee moused: unable to open /dev/ums1: No such file or directory
Aug  4 20:24:55 teevee kernel: uhub0: device problem (IOERROR), disabling port 2

Aug  4 20:27:58 teevee kernel: usb0: OHCI version 1.0, legacy support
Aug  4 20:27:58 teevee kernel: usb0: SMM does not respond, resetting
Aug  4 20:27:58 teevee kernel: usb0: <OHCI (generic) USB controller> on ohci0

In other words, over the course of a few hours, the entire USB subsystem died. This is the motherboard that was damaged by a power surge last month, so it's reasonable to assume that this is related. But why do so many motherboards have defective USB circuitry? The old ceeveear motherboard had a defect that caused disk blocks to be offset by 64 bytes, the USB system on my test box and a connected weather station died in another power failure, the USB subsystem on one of my laptops died a few months back, and dereel has some issues with USB as well. Are the current implementations simply not resilient enough?


Friday, 5 August 2011 Dereel → Geelong → Dereel Images for 5 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

New hardware for teevee
Topic: technology Link here

As a result of last night's failures, off to Geelong today to buy new hardware. Things are getting cheaper all the time. Got an AsRock N68VS3 motherboard, a Sempron LE-145 and 2 GB memory (the smallest they have!) for a total of $101. Also a display card in case the on-board graphics aren't good enough for teevee (otherwise Yvonne gets it) and a 5 port gigabit switch, the first ever.

Back home came the question: how do I do this? The old teevee still works, but the version of FreeBSD that it runs is 3 years old, and there's a good chance that some of today's new hardware is not supported in that version. But I also have patched versions of mplayer and lirc, and the patches will need to be applied to the latest versions, though it seems that my patches to lircd are in the FreeBSD port. I suppose I should put it in a different box and bring it up to speed before cutting over, but today I took the easy way out and did nothing.

I did put in the switch, however. The highest speeds I need are between ceeveear and teevee, where I have to transfer gigabytes of MPEG streams. It won't work yet, because the NIC on the old teevee is defective and has been replaced by an old Ethernet card. But it should work on ceeveear. Did it? How do you tell? On FreeBSD ifconfig tells you the operational mode of the interface:

dc0: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1500
        options=8<VLAN_MTU>
        ether 00:80:c6:f9:d3:fa
        inet 192.109.197.158 netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast 192.109.197.255
        media: Ethernet autoselect (100baseTX <full-duplex>)
        status: active

But Linux is less informative about that sort of thing. Instead we get statistics that in FreeBSD are supplied by netstat:

eth2      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 6c:f0:49:09:7a:4d
          inet addr:192.109.197.178  Bcast:192.109.197.255  Mask:255.255.255.0
          inet6 addr: fe80::6ef0:49ff:fe09:7a4d/64 Scope:Link
          UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST  MTU:1500  Metric:1
          RX packets:57226004 errors:0 dropped:2781794692 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:89286542 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
          RX bytes:4122994243 (4.1 GB)  TX bytes:1671465945 (1.6 GB)
          Interrupt:222 Base address:0xc000

On IRC, Alex Wilkinson pointed me to mii-tool, which does the trick, as long as you're root:

=== grog@cvr2 (/dev/pts/1) /recordings 8 -> mii-tool
SIOCGMIIPHY on 'eth0' failed: Operation not permitted
SIOCGMIIPHY on 'eth1' failed: Operation not permitted
SIOCGMIIPHY on 'eth2' failed: Operation not permitted
...
=== root@cvr2 (/dev/pts/0) /recordings 19 -> mii-tool
eth2: negotiated 1000baseT-FD flow-control, link ok

Geelong Botanic Gardens
Topic: gardening, photography Link here

While in Geelong, took a look at the Botanic [sic] Gardens, which I've never visited before. They're an interesting contrast to the Ballarat Botanical [sic] Gardens, and an indication of Victorian history. Today Geelong is the second largest city in Victoria, nearly 3 times the size of Ballarat, which is the third largest town. But the Botanic Gardens were created later, and they're considerably smaller than the Botanical Gardens. Clearly a reflection on the importance of Ballarat in the 19th century.

That doesn't make the Botanic Gardens worse, of course, but there's a very different feel about the place. The end of winter is not the best time to visit any gardens, though they had a number of nice Camellias:


  This should be Geelong-Botanic-Gardens-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Geelong Botanic Gardens 3          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2768 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 5 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 5 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Friday, 5 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

Also saw some familiar looking succulents. Last week I had flagged the succulent flower in the first image as “mystery”, though I was beginning to suspect that it was Aloe vera. The second photo, taken at the Gardens, is of various Aloe species, but looking at the Wikipedia page suggests that our Aloe is not the True Aloe. I wonder what it is.


  This should be Mystery-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Mystery 2          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1008 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 30 July 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 30 July 2011, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 30 July 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Geelong-Botanic-Gardens-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Geelong Botanic Gardens 1          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2320 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 5 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 5 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Friday, 5 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

And, of course, took some panoramas. The first one is of the central feature of the Gardens, but somehow it doesn't look very convincing:


  This should be Geelong-Botanic-Gardens-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Geelong Botanic Gardens 2          Dimensions:          9224 x 1972, 4528 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 5 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 5 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Friday, 5 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

  This should be Geelong-Botanic-Gardens-4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Geelong Botanic Gardens 4          Dimensions:          9226 x 1947, 4816 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 5 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 5 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Friday, 5 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

  This should be Geelong-Botanic-Gardens-5.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Geelong Botanic Gardens 5          Dimensions:          9225 x 1939, 3472 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 5 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 5 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Friday, 5 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 


Webmin as an MUA
Topic: technology Link here

Chris Yeardley has been sending messages to Yvonne using Webmin, mainly because it's the only option open to her some of the time. And Yvonne has been complaining that the text is truncated. Sure enough, it was. Looking in the mail spool, I saw, all on one line:

Oh crap!!! Dann schmier Dir mal was von der gruenen Pferdepaste auf die Rippen. Und ein Ibuprofen oder zwei werden auch nicht schaden. Ich hab auch eine aua Stelle auf dem rechten Rippenbogen (von gestern Abend). Aber mein Koerper ist da etwas haerter im Nehmen... Take it easy!!

But mutt doesn't see it that way:

Oh crap!!! Dann schmier Dir mal was von der gruenen Pferdepaste auf die Rippen. Und ein Ibuprofen oder zwei werden auch
+nicht schaden. Ich hab auch eine aua Stelle auf dem rechten Rippenbogen (von gestern Abend). Aber mein Koerper ist da
+etwas haerter im

What happened? Further investigation shows that this was quoted-printable text, and according to that page,

Lines of quoted-printable encoded data must not be longer than 76 characters. To satisfy this requirement without altering the encoded text, soft line breaks may be added as desired. A soft line break consists of an "=" at the end of an encoded line, and does not appear as a line break in the decoded text.

So clearly this is a bug in Webmin, and probably also in mutt. It truncates not to 76 characters but to 253, suspiciously close to the largest number you can fit in a byte.


ABC supports Real Audio again
Topic: multimedia, technology Link here

A few months ago I discovered that the Real Audio links on the ABC Classic FM radio web site no longer worked: they just timed out. Talking to a representative on the phone, discovered that they were planning to drop Real Audio, but the links are still on their web site. And now it works again—almost. The transmission rate is so slow that you can't listen online (the intention) but have to save it to disc first (probably not what they like).


Alternative heaters for seed trays
Topic: gardening Link here

Message from Tom Maynard about my seed tray heater. He suggests a heating pad, available on eBay for about $7—some time ago. It must really have been some time ago, because the cheapest I can find now cost about $35, twice the price of the thermostat. I can live without that.


This message sent from my real computer
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Lately I've been getting messages from people using mobile phones to send email. You can tell because the .sig contains the line

Sent from my mobile device

OK, I can do that too, so I added this line to my .sig:

Sent from my real computer

Tom Maynard didn't like that and thought it snobbish. Maybe he has a point. In any case, it's not intended to upset people, so I've now changed it to “Sent from my desktop computer”.


Saturday, 6 August 2011 Dereel Images for 6 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

New bed
Topic: general Link here

Yvonne has had problems with her water bed: a couple of days ago it sprung a small leak. We were able to fix it relatively easily, but she's worried that the bladder's days are numbered. Then somebody in Meredith offered a suitable bed on Freecycle, so off with Chris' trailer to pick it up.

I had barely got moving when the mattress started lifting itself, at only 20 to 30 km/h. I was prepared for that, of course, but it's amazing how much wind drag you get with trailers. Tightened a strap across the top and off home, keeping an eye in the rear view mirror. About 10 km before I got home, I glanced away, and the thing took that opportunity to slide out from under the strap, fly into the air and land on the road. It's amazing that that could happen at all. And of course the road was so narrow that I couldn't turn back. Finally made it back and took about 5 minutes to get the thing back into the trailer.

Once home, we had the problem: the water bed is still functional, so we had nowhere to put it. Finally ended up putting it next to a similar mattress in Chris' shipping container. Sometimes I wonder why we bother.


More panorama experiments
Topic: photography Link here

Today was house photo day again. It was supposed to rain, but in fact we had mainly sunshine until I started taking the photos. Then the sun went in in the middle of one sequence. Here the first and last images. The last is to the left of the first.


 
This should be garden-path-ne-0.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: garden path ne 0          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 7312 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 6 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 6 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 6 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be garden-path-ne-9.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: garden path ne 9          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 6720 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 6 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 6 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 6 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

Surprisingly, Hugin managed to smooth that out fairly well (left of image):


  This should be garden-path-ne.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: garden path ne          Dimensions:          9165 x 2771, 5920 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 6 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 6 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 6 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

I've made yet more changes. There was a discussion on the German Oly-e forum discussing the effect of multiple sequential exposures on shutter life, and on the recommendation of Reinhard Wagner I've changed from 5 fps to 4 fps for the bracketed exposures.

I'm taking the verandah in 30° increments again, but the other vertical ones in 36° increments. I've also decided that processing the raw images with Olympus “Viewer” is the way to go, even though it takes such a long time. The accuracy of the control point matches is significantly higher, and now I'm continuously getting “Very good fit” (average error of less than 1 pixel).

One result is that I don't really need to save the camera JPEG images of these photos. That doesn't really save any disk storage, unless I remove the JPEG output of “Viewer”, but it means I have more space on the memory card, and it also means that (at least so far) I don't end up having to wait for the camera to write to the card in the 10-shot sequences.

The results are looking better all the time, but there's still a way to go. And it takes such a long time that I only barely got finished before dinner.


Establishing real focal lengths
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Olympus is not very accurate about reporting focal lengths in its EXIF data. My Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm F2.8-4.0 SWD doesn't even report some integer focal lengths, such as 25 mm: there's nothing between 24.0 and 26.0 mm. That's a particular problem with wide angle lenses such as the Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm that I use to take my panoramas. But Hugin calculates the real focal length when presented with a 360° panorama.

How accurate are the calculations? I wondered if the discrepancy (reported focal lengths less than the 9 mm minimum of the lens) might the difference in aspect ratio. But that would mean that the discrepancy for horizontal and vertical orientation would go in opposite directions. And that doesn't seem to be the case. Here the reported focal lengths for the 360° panoramas:

Image       orientation       focal length
verandah-centre       vertical       8.86
garden-centre       vertical       8.89
garden-path-ne       vertical       8.84
garden-n       vertical       8.89
north-view-panorama       horizontal       8.92
garden-path-se       vertical       8.90
dam-panorama       horizontal       8.94

Yes, the reported focal lengths for horizontal orientation are higher than those of for vertical orientation. But any difference in angle would be much larger than that, in line with the ratios of width and height relative to full-frame sensors:

Sensor details:
Width:                           17.3 mm
Height:                          13.0 mm
Diagonal:                        21.6 mm
Area:                           224.9 mm²
Width ratio to full frame:        2.081
Height ratio to full frame:       1.846
Diagonal ratio to full frame:     1.999
Area ratio to full frame:         3.842

Focal length:                     9.00 mm
Horizontal FOV:                  87.73°
Diagonal FOV:                   100.49°
Vertical FOV:                    71.68°

The interesting values here are the 2.081 and 1.846, and any difference in field of view would have to be in the order of magnitude of the ratio between them. Also, Hugin reports a horizontal field of view of 72.4° for the vertical images (really the vertical field of view, where my program calculates 71.68°), and 88.2° for the horizontal photos (compared to 87.73°). So it does seem as if the real minimum focal length is closer to 8.9 mm:

Focal length:                     8.90 mm
Horizontal FOV:                  88.37°
Diagonal FOV:                   101.12°
Vertical FOV:                    72.28°

Possibly the discrepancies are due to distortion compensation, and maybe that's why the focal length seems shorter in the first place.


Web browsers: frustrated window managers?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've been using tabs with firefox now for some time. I still don't like them, but there isn't much choice. It's clear that firefox no longer handles windows even marginally well: it uses much more memory and crashes frequently. Tabs are irritating not just because of their nature but also the implementation: in particular, the tab bar is pretty useless when you have more than about 10 tabs. But there's a solution, a drop-down menu of course:

 
This should be firefox-tabs.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: firefox tabs
Dimensions: 565 x 412, 22 kB
Dimensions of original: 565 x 412, 22 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 6 August 2011:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

And that doesn't look bad. It's certainly better than the icons that you get for windows, all large and the same. It's also better than the solution I found, to hide the icon images, which causes firefox to display the icons as grey text boxes:

 
This should be firefox-text-icons.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: firefox text icons
Dimensions: 567 x 493, 16 kB
Dimensions of original: 567 x 493, 16 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 15 December 2008:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

But why a menu? Why not a separate window? Then it would be almost useful. But the real thing is that firefox wants to be a window manager. I see that others have come across this issue:

Mac/PC

To quote the title text:

It's fun to watch browsers fumblingly recapitulate the history of window management. Someday we'll have xmonad as a Firefox extension.

Sunday, 7 August 2011 Dereel Images for 7 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

More system installation pain
Topic: technology Link here

Started putting together the new hardware for teevee today. And right at the outset there was a surprise. I bought a Sempron 145, as the package and packaging clearly show:


 
This should be Sempron-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Sempron 2          Dimensions:          2372 x 3672, 2256 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 8 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 8 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 8 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Sempron-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Sempron 1          Dimensions:          2212 x 2044, 560 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 7 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 7 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 7 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

But when I brought it up, the BIOS claimed it was an Athlon II . So did FreeBSD:

CPU: AMD Athlon(tm) II X2 4450e Processor (2812.81-MHz K8-class CPU)
  Origin = "AuthenticAMD"  Id = 0x100f63  Family = 10  Model = 6  Stepping = 3
  Features=0x178bfbff<FPU,VME,DE,PSE,TSC,MSR,PAE,MCE,CX8,APIC,SEP,MTRR,PGE,MCA,CMOV,PAT, PSE36,CLFLUSH,MMX,FXSR,SSE,SSE2,HTT>
  Features2=0x802009<SSE3,MON,CX16,POPCNT>
  AMD Features=0xee500800<SYSCALL,NX,MMX+,FFXSR,Page1GB,RDTSCP,LM,3DNow!+,3DNow!>
  AMD Features2=0x37ff<LAHF,CMP,SVM,ExtAPIC,CR8,ABM,SSE4A,MAS,Prefetch,OSVW,IBS,SKINIT,WDT>
  TSC: P-state invariant
...
FreeBSD/SMP: Multiprocessor System Detected: 2 CPUs
FreeBSD/SMP: 1 package(s) x 2 core(s)
 cpu0 (BSP): APIC ID:  0
 cpu1 (AP): APIC ID:  1

cpuid also said the same:

Processor name string: AMD Athlon(tm) II X2 4450e Processor

So what is it? Is it possible that the Sempron 145 is really a rebadged Athlon II? Spent some time fruitlessly looking round the AMD web site for clues, but their “specs” didn't even specify the number of processors. Further investigation at http://www.cpubenchmark.net/ showed some interesting differences:

CPU       Freq       L1       L2       L3       Cores       CPU Mark
Athlon 64 3500+       2200       128       512       0       1       566
Sempron 145       2800       128       1024       0       1       910
Athlon X2 4450e       2300       128       512       0       2       1088

If the information is correct, the Sempron has 1 MB of L2 cache, while the Athlon only has 512 kB. But maybe that's per processor? It's interesting to note that the specs state that this processor runs at 2300 MHz, while all the information I get from the probes says that it runs at 2800 MHz. cpuid returns lots of details about the cache, but no total size, and I can't work out what it's trying to say. So I'm still not in the clear about what it really is. But it really does have two cores, and it's at least twice as fast as the old Athlon 64 it replaces.

As I feared, the software upgrade didn't go as smoothly as it should. The first step was to bring my 64 bit system up to date, which did go smoothly. Then I tried to upgrade the Ports Collection, which I'm beginning to hate with a vengeance. First enca, some obscure dependency, failed to build:

===>  Applying FreeBSD patches for enca-1.13
Ignoring previously applied (or reversed) patch.
3 out of 3 hunks ignored--saving rejects to Makefile.in.rej
=> Patch patch-Makefile.in failed to apply cleanly.
*** Error code 1

After a lot of searching, discovered that that was due to an identifier substitution. The patch contained an $Id$ string, and it had been changed on checkout:

@@ -15,7 +15,7 @@
 -@MAINTAINER_MODE_FALSE@SUBDIRS = tools script lib src devel-docs test
 +@MAINTAINER_MODE_FALSE@SUBDIRS = tools script lib src devel-docs

- # @(#) $Id: Makefile.am,v 1.35 2005/11/24 10:21:32 yeti Exp $
+ # @(#) $Id: patch-Makefile.in,v 1.6 2011/01/29 14:20:12 miwi Exp $
 -@MAINTAINER_MODE_TRUE@SUBDIRS = tools data script lib src devel-docs test
 +@MAINTAINER_MODE_TRUE@SUBDIRS = tools data script lib src devel-docs
  man_MANS = man/enca.1

That doesn't happen to others. What's different about my setup? In the end, installed it manually. It wasn't plain sailing after that: luminance failed with:

/usr/include/math.h:238: error: expected `)' before '/' token
/usr/include/math.h:322: error: expected `)' before '/' token
*** Error code 1

That looks like some header file error. I don't use luminance, and I really don't want to get involved, so I just skipped the port. Next I was told that I couldn't upgrade gcc 4.4 because it's deprecated. Installed gcc 4.7 instead. 20 years ago it took 90 minutes to install gcc. Now, with our faster processors and better optimization, it takes 100 minutes. What progress! Then I got stuck in a loop:

===>>> Port directory: /usr/ports/www/p5-libwww
===>>> Gathering dependency list for www/p5-libwww from ports
===>>> The dependency for net/p5-Net-HTTP
       seems to be handled by p5-libwww-5.837
===>>> Launching child to update p5-libwww-5.837 to p5-libwww-6.02_1
        p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837 >> p5-libwww-5.837

It seems that this one was my fault. I hadn't read /usr/ports/UPDATING:

20110711:
  AFFECTS: users of www/p5-libwww
  AUTHOR: mandree@FreeBSD.org

  portmaster cannot process the upgrade of www/p5-libwww from version
  5 to version 6. To upgrade p5-libwww, use portupgrade instead, or
  deinstall p5-libwww before reinstalling:

  If you use portmaster:
  # pkg_delete -f 'p5-libwww-5*' ; portmaster www/p5-libwww

  If you use portupgrade, no special treatment is necessary.

That certainly greatly detracts from using portmaster. But maybe trying to upgrade ports is too much pain in general. After that, ran into trouble building perl:

cd x2p; LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/src/FreeBSD/ports/lang/perl5.12/work/perl-5.12.4 make s2p
make: don't know how to make s2p. Stop

I've seen that before, only a couple of weeks ago, and the problem was due to a missing entry in /etc/make.conf. But it's there now, and the problem still occurred.

Round about here, by this time late in the afternoon, I gave up. This is just too much pain. This is a build box, so there's nothing in the way of just renaming the entire /usr/local hierarchy and starting again. Did that, accidentally stopped my su process, and... hung. I couldn't start anything any more because I no longer had my shell. A classic shoot-in-foot situation. Tried rebooting, and a problem that I had had earlier in the day became worse. The disk was connected by USB, and it didn't come online for mounting until after the bootstrap timed out on it, so I had to re-enter the boot path (ufs:/dev/da0s1a). But now that didn't work either. Somehow I have nothing but trouble with USB. So I'll take it out of the housing and connect it as SATA, which will hopefully work well. But that'll have to be tomorrow.


More north bed stuff
Topic: gardening Link here

Somehow the weather hasn't been as bad as forecast. We were supposed to have 7 days of rain (at least) starting yesterday, but in fact we only had 0.4 mm in the last two days. There was also almost no wind. If I had known that it wouldn't rain, I could have sprayed weeds, which are desperately in need of it. Instead did a bit of weeding and planted some more sweet peas and some Ipomoea (morning glories) round the rose arch. Also moved the “Monsieur Tillier” rose from the east garden to the north bed, between the “Gruß an Aachen” and the Rosa officinalis.


Monday, 8 August 2011 Dereel Images for 8 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Light frost
Topic: gardening Link here

The very lightest of frosts this morning. I saw a couple of ice crystals in the east garden, and that was it. Neither of the bird baths showed any evidence of ice.


System upgrade: the pain continues
Topic: technology Link here

On with the system upgrade today. Took the disk out of the housing and installed it in the machine, in itself not an easy action: the power supply didn't have any SATA connector, so I had to change it. Then on, and once again I ran into trouble with perl:

cd x2p; LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/src/FreeBSD/ports/lang/perl5.12/work/perl-5.12.4 make s2p
make: don't know how to make s2p. Stop

That's exactly the same as yesterday. But this time I didn't have anything installed, and the entry was present in /etc/make.conf. I really don't know what this is, but I consider it a bug. It worked on this same disk last month, and once before on initial install, so there must be something in the environment that is causing it. But what? The whole idea of the Ports Collection is that you shouldn't have to worry about porting details. And here it clearly fails.

But I've been there before, so once again off to the FreeBSD web site to look for a recent version. Finally found one: since last month they've updated the package, and today I got version 5.12.4. What a pain!

Clearly I need to provide for downloading packages. Currently I have three ports build targets.

Today I added a fourth target, packages, which fetches packages instead of trying to build them. It could replace the ports target for the problem ports. But that's for later. The rest of the day was spent building ports and watching them hang asking for configuration input.


Friends' Internet connection
Topic: gardening, technology Link here

Finally got round to finding out what kind of Internet connection the Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens have. That proved to be completely different from what I had been told: $39.95 for an ADSL line (512/128, 3 GB traffic limit), $17.60 for web hosting (I had been told about $50) and $5.50 for DNS hosting. Clearly we can get rid of the last two. But what about the ADSL connection? That sounds very expensive for such a slow line. But then I see that we're only using about 200 MB per month. And looking at Internode, their cheapest ADSL connections start at $49.95. Admittedly, that's for ADSL2+ with 30 GB, but we don't need that. But at least TransACT could increase the speed.

In general, TransACT is interesting. I know them from Canberra, and http://www.lemis.com/ is hosted there (where this morning there was a 5 hour network outage), but they only recently bought out Neighbourhood Cable, and the service is a little lopsided. For example, there's no information about the tariffs online, and even the person I spoke to didn't know how much traffic was included with the package: I had to find that out from the usage page. So: should we look for an alternative, or just stick with what we have?


Dòufu: stuffed
Topic: cooking Link here

Before Tuyết left, she bought a number of ingredients, including a block of dòufu (which people still insist on spelling “tofu”), and Chris gave it to me. I don't have much experience with the stuff except as a minor ingredient, but I found a recipe for Cantonese stuffed dòufu in “Pei Mei's Chinese Cook Book Volume I” (T & S Industrial Co. Ltd., Taipei, unknown year). Tried that tonight. Not a success. The most obvious thing was that this was the wrong kind of dòufu: I was supposed to cut a slit in the dòufu to stuff it, but it was so firm that I couldn't get anything into it. So I cut it up, layered it with the stuffing in a dish and baked it. Edible, but nothing I'd ever want to try again.


Tuesday, 9 August 2011 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Yahoo!: We don't want you
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

The current global economic turmoil had many of us watching the stock markets closely, and one of the sites I looked at was http://au.finance.yahoo.com/. Following some links that ultimately proved uninteresting, I found I had to sign in. Not a problem: I have a Yahoo! login, and the password is stored in my browser.

But that didn't work. Invalid password. Did I have my CAPS LOCK turned on? Clearly not, since the password included lower case letters, but that didn't stop me getting the message. So I went to password recovery. “What's your alternate email address?” Huh? I don't have one. What I do have are silly challenge/response questions like “Where did you spend your honeymoon?”. At least they had one user-defined question, the choice of which indicates that I've had problems here before:

Q: Can you think of a more stupid authentication?
A: No, you take the cake.

And after trying around a little more, including filling in some particularly emetic captchas, they locked my account for 24 hours. From the email I received:

On 09 August 2011, at 12:13, your account activity shows that you tried to recover your account password for Yahoo! ID angrygrog. You may reset your password on 10 August 2011, after 12:13 by answering the secret questions you chose for your account

Why can't they just send me my password?

Still, not a problem. Just sign up again, once I've found a user ID without digits which is “available”, whatever that means. I tried gurgled, Ihateyahoo, Ihateyahoobadly and Filth, all of which were “not available”. Finally I was granted filthyidiots. When I did, I was asked for an alternate email address. But it's optional, and I have too many email addresses out there already. Somehow this is just too much pain.


Pizza: finally acceptable
Topic: cooking Link here

I've spent years trying to make an acceptable pizza, with only moderate results. Today I tried again, this time giving it not only more time to rise after being rolled out, but also in an oven at 35°. Bingo! That's what we need. But of course, patting down the topping would crush it again, so I first baked the bases for 5 minutes alone, and then put on the topping. And now it's too thick for the pizza makers, of course. More things to think about.


Wednesday, 10 August 2011 Dereel Images for 10 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Possum traps to go back
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

So I've finally decided that the rat and possum traps are no use at all, and I'll send them back to get about half my money back, after paying for postage in both directions. There really should be a way to get it all back: the things aren't suited to what they were sold for. Up on the roof to bring down the possum trap, which confirmed my objections:


 
This should be Possum-trap.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Possum trap          Dimensions:          2816 x 2112, 752 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 10 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 10 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 10 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

Once again, although I had placed it on a flat surface, the locking rod had fallen down too fast and stopped the door from closing. What use is that?


Propagation and little more
Topic: gardening Link here

The weather is cool and moist again, and I didn't get round to doing very much. There's a lavender bush in the north bed that's just getting new growth, but it's too straggly, so it's slated for replacement by a similarly coloured salvia next month when the weather is marginally warmer. In the meantime, though, Yvonne expressed the wish to grow a lavender hedge in the south garden, so took some hardwood cuttings in the hope that they would strike.

Yvonne turned her attention to the Pelargoniums in the pots to the north of the house. They, too, looked pretty straggly, so they got the same treatment, to be replaced by some others from the greenhouse, including the Pelargonium “Rhodo” that we picked up as a cutting two years ago and which has proved to be somewhat sensitive. Hopefully it'll feel well here.


Getting multimedia software to work
Topic: technology, multimedia Link here

Finally my ports are all built on the new machine. I gave up on perl yesterday, and on Chromium (or is that chrome?) and nmap today, and the rest built, with some help. mpg23.el claimed to be broken:

===>  mpg123.el-1.52 is marked as broken: does not fetch.
*** Error code 1

That's wrong. Presumably at some time or another it applied, but after removing the BROKEN line from the Makefile it fetched and installed with no problems.

I installed perl and nmap from packages, and since I don't use chromium, I just took it out of the build. Am I done? I know that I'll have to patch mplayer, and my past extremely negative experience with lirc suggested that I'd have trouble there too. I wasn't disappointed. The test program irw produced no output whatsoever. It wasn't until I looked in /var/log/ and found a file /var/log/lircd that I found the error messages:

Aug 10 15:56:54 defake.lemis.com lircd: accepted new client on /var/run/lirc/lircd
Aug 10 15:56:54 defake.lemis.com lircd: could not get file information for /var/run/lirc/lirc
Aug 10 15:56:54 defake.lemis.com lircd: default_init(): No such file or directory
Aug 10 15:56:54 defake.lemis.com lircd: WARNING: Failed to initialize hardware

This is just as bad as it used to be. Why couldn't it get file information? Why is the function default_init() given as a file name? What hardware couldn't it initialize? Went looking in my log file, in the process tidying it up to modern format, but found no hints. Although I wrote a lot of detail, it clearly wasn't enough. Looks like I'll have to do more debugging to find what the process should report by itself. At least it was no surprise.


Thursday, 11 August 2011 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Yahoo! login again
Topic: technology Link here

Why didn't Yahoo! let me log in yesterday? This morning I tried again with the same user name and password, and it worked. And that before my 24 hours enforced lockout had expired. What can I say?


Progress with lirc
Topic: multimedia, technology Link here

Somehow I don't have the courage to open the cans of worms that are lirc and mplayer. With lircd, checked what I had on teevee. It wants startup parameters:

lircd  --driver=dvico --device=/dev/uhid0

Tried that, and there were no error messages any more. But irw still didn't return anything, though ktrace clearly showed that lircd received key events:

 83716 lircd    CALL  read(0x8,0x7fffffffe0d0,0x3)
 83716 lircd    GIO   fd 8 read 3 bytes
       0x0000 01fe 5b              |..[|

Tried the version I have on teevee, which surprisingly didn't have any library dependency issues. It worked:

=== root@defake (/dev/pts/0) /var/tmp 133 -> irw
42fe 00 start DVICO_MCE
53fe 00 down DVICO_MCE
5bfe 00 left DVICO_MCE
5ffe 00 right DVICO_MCE

The log entries were marginally different:

Aug 11 13:12:55 defake.lemis.com lircd: lircd(dvico) ready
Aug 11 13:13:09 defake.lemis.com lircd: accepted new client on /var/run/lirc/lircd
Aug 11 13:13:09 defake.lemis.com lircd: initializing '/dev/uhid0'

Now it's lircd(dvico) and not just lircd. It looks as if there's some difference in the port, and that possibly the non-functioning lircd was receiving the key codes and silently discarding them because it couldn't do anything with them. For once, this might be correct behaviour: I'm sure there are lots of erroneous events with infrared remote controls. And yes, I should look at it. How I'm looking forward to it.

mplayer is a different matter. I know I have to patch that, and, worse, I need to fix the patches. The issues centre round counting the playing time in copies of transport streams. They have running times that seem to wrap about every 26½ hours. Initially I started by noting the time at the beginning of the file and subtracting that from the playing time, adapting for wraparound. But then I had the issue of bit rate. Most seem to be round 10 Mb/s, but at least one stream (PRIME) reports rates like 91.67 Mb/s. That's clearly wrong, and it completely messes up timekeeping. On the other hand, mplayer plays at the correct speed, so the information must be stored elsewhere. I just need to find it. Am I looking forward to it.

Then the usual problems with X. In the process, discovered:

X.Org X Server 1.7.7
Release Date: 2010-05-04
X Protocol Version 11, Revision 0
Build Operating System: FreeBSD 8.2-STABLE amd64
Current Operating System: FreeBSD defake.lemis.com 8.2-STABLE FreeBSD 8.2-STABLE #1 r224689M: Sun Aug  7 13:42:27 EST 2011     grog@defake.lemis.com:/usr/obj/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/8/sys/DEREEL amd64
Build Date: 08 August 2011  11:59:37AM

The X server is 16 months old! And, conveniently, its revision number bears no relationship to the revision number of the X release. It seems that this is X.org 7.5.1, but the server has the revision number 1.7.7. The current release is 7.6, and the current server is 1.9.3. Why are we so far behind? It seems that X.org is making X progressively less portable, something I've noted before. But Martin Wilke had the current version running months ago, and it still hasn't been committed. This should be a real alarm signal for the project, but the typical attitude is “submit patches”. Why? I can go and install Linux and it Just Works.


Ballarat Gardens in Spring, from the inside
Topic: gardening, technology Link here

For the past two years we've visited the Ballarat Gardens in Spring, but this year I seem to be involved in the organization. Today I received a PDF for proof-reading from Elizabeth Gilfillan, who also wants it on the Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens web site. That's a problem for an unexpected reason: currently the home page is fairly strongly structured, and there's no place for this sort of thing.

Spent much of the day playing around with the home page, which didn't pass the W3.org validation test, and also put together a Google map of the locations. Now to work out how to put the stuff up on the web. The technology is there—for me at least: how do you do real revision control in the Microsoft space? But the real issue is to get things to look right.

Also tried without much success was to make a map of the open gardens for my GPS navigator. The user POIs appear to get stored in a single file iGo8/save/user.upoi (yes, on the navigator they're something like iGo8\save\user.upoi or IGO8\SAVE\USER.UPOI, but I don't look at them like that). It's in plain text, and so I was able to experiment and come up with some entries like:

24|Aall mine.Miscellaneous|Geelong Botanic Gardens||-38.149037|144.376841|_a**||_avi||3219|East Geelong, VIC|Botanic Drive||||
26|Ballarat gardens in Spring|The White House Garden||-37.561814|143.848775|_a**||_avi||3350|Ballarat Cbd, VIC|Errard Street S|8|A medium sized formal garden was established by David &amp; Jennifer O’Sullivan during the drought in 2006 after the removal of most of the plantings. Inspired by the famous Sissinghurst in Kent, the garden has a geometric layout with axes bordered by trees and shrubs ending at various focal points. Species planted include; Manchurian Pears, Portuguese Laurel, Margaret Merrill Roses and English Lavender to name a few.  OPEN: Saturday & Sunday 10am to 4pm  ADMISSION: $5||
27|Ballarat gardens in Spring|Don and Barbara Dean||-37.550996|143.862373|_a**||_avi||3350|Soldiers Hill, VIC|Ligar Street|505|||

From this, I can discern the format of the entries. Clearly the fields are delimited by |, and they appear to be:

  1. A sequence number, possibly non-contiguous (I don't seem to have an entry 25). It's not clear what good this is, but if the navigator cares about it, it would make merging files (probably much) more difficult for people in the Microsoft space.

  2. POI group and subgroup, separated by a period. Spaces are allowed in the group names.

  3. Entry title.

  4. I don't know what this is, since it's always empty. I don't see anything corresponding in the display.

  5. Latitude of location, in decimal.

  6. Longitude of location, in decimal.

  7. This looks like some kind of flag. In all entries I have, it's _a**.

  8. Another field that's always empty.

  9. This looks like another kind of flag. In all entries I have, it's _avi.

  10. Another field that's always empty.

  11. Post code.

  12. State and location (“Suburb” in Australian bureaucratese), though they're a little lax with this (“Western Plains”).

  13. Street.

  14. Street number.

  15. Description. This is the one I was hoping to use to convey information, but it's limited to a single display line. Entry 26 displays as:

    A medium sized formal garden was established by David & Jennifer...
  16. Another field that's always empty.

  17. Telephone number.

There are also other formats, such as KML. That would be useful, because then I could import a Google map, but I haven't worked out how to do that yet.


Friday, 12 August 2011 Dereel Images for 12 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Analysing the Friends' PDFs
Topic: technology, gardening Link here

The Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens put out a quarterly newsletter, currently only in PDF form. It really should be in HTML, but so far I've met with some resistance to the idea. But this quarter's edition had problems with image resolution. I have a copy of the original images, and they're pretty tiny. For example, this one (on the left) was only 320×240. That's full size below. I was going to say “don't shrink your photos so much, use a larger image”, but looking at it, it didn't look as bad as when it was printed. So I took another look at the PDF, something with which I have little experience. Finally Peter Jeremy pointed me at pdfimages, part of the xpdf distribution. That gave me the second image, shrunk from an already tiny 320×240 to only 120x90 (second image). At any normal size (third image) that's just a jumble of pixels. Web browsers do a better job than most of blurring it so that they're not visible:

Original image Published image Enlarged published image

But how did it happen? I've already noticed a tendency with the Friends to use tiny images—wouldn't you think that this is a good example where you want really high resolution?—but this looks like an inadvertent problem with the publishing software, Apple “Pages” (a name presumably chosen to make it easy to find web pages referring to it, or maybe to beat Microsoft at their own game). I have no idea how to use “Pages”. I don't have access to it (it's licenseware, of course), and apart from Helen, nobody has it. My searches on the web brought few useful results. What do we do now?


Firefox: What You See Is More Than You Get
Topic: technology, opinion, animals Link here

Finally got round to packing up the possum and rat traps to send them back. Printed out the return address from my eBay messages. Well, a good part of it. firefox adapted to my output format and printed a whole lot of nothing on the left and truncated both the right margin and the end of the message. I can't show that detail because it contains confidential information, but the following section illustrates the problem. The display format is bad enough, but the print format is useless:


  This should be What-you-see.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: What you see          Dimensions:          1240 x 92, 6 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 12 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 12 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Friday, 12 August 2011

 
  This should be What-you-get.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: What you get          Dimensions:          816 x 95, 4 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 12 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 12 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Friday, 12 August 2011

 
Time to transplant cuttings
Topic: gardening Link here

Over the last few months I've made a number of cuttings, and a good proportion of them have taken. But lately they don't seem to have been doing as well. The cold? You'd think so. But in a number of cases the real issue was that they had outgrown the containers I had put them in. I had put a number of Jasminum polyanthum and Lonicera japonica in old toilet roll cores, and on investigation discovered that the Lonicera in particular had grown roots out the bottom and all over the container I had put it in. Some are now looking so unhappy that I don't know if they'll survive. The jasmine is doing better, but it too needed transplanting. Gradually I'm running out of pots.

A number of the Solanum laxum that Yvonne brought back from Albury two months ago are also looking reasonably happy. They were planted in plastic tubes, and a couple of roots were coming out of the bottom—the correct time to replant. But how? It's impossible to remove the plants from the tubes without damaging the roots. Managed a few, but it's clear that the toilet rolls are superior here, not to mention cheaper. Also transplanted a final petunia and chrysanthemum from a seed tray to a pot. The same problem exists there. I think it's time to use egg cartons for seeds.

Also discovered that we had had three different types of Pelargonium in the pots to the north of the house. I had taken cuttings of a red one and a white one, but there are two different red ones with different leaves. Made more cuttings of the one with patterned leaves. We should really have enough now.

Also planted the Clematis maximowicziana that we bought at Lambley Nursery three months ago. I had been intending to keep it until the beginning of spring, but it, too, was growing roots out of its pot. So planted it in the middle of the mesh fence in front of the garage.


Electrifying Nemo
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Nemo ran away again today towards the Lagoon. This time Yvonne saw no kangaroos, but they could have been there. Gradually we're coming to the conclusion that we should get a radio-controlled electric collar for such occasions. Dog trainers frown on them, and with good reason, but if it's the choice between that and having Nemo's guts torn out by a kangaroo, I'd go for the collar. Did a bit of investigation on eBay, but didn't find anything useful


ALDI Teppanyaki grill
Topic: cooking, opinion Link here

Yvonne brought back a Teppanyaki grill from ALDI today. We're hoping it might be good for things like Bulgogi as well. The instructions (“The temperature of accessible surfaces may be high when the appliance is operating. Do not touch hot surfaces, ...”) also included “Turn the temperature control knob to maximum and let the grill heat up for a few minutes”. Did that, and the grill made some very loud cracking noises, and the heating element bent the cooking surface. Is that to be expected? Or is it defective? I'll assume the latter, though the advice to let it run dry at full heat for “a few” minutes is probably not as sound as it should be.


Vietnamese fish
Topic: cooking, opinion Link here

Chris Yeardley has lent me a number of cookbooks that Tuyết bought and then left behind. One—strangely—is Vietnamese, “Little Vietnam” by Nhut Huynh (Lantern, Melbourne, 2009), and Yvonne has been looking at some of the recipes. Today tried a deep-fried whole fish with lemon grass and onion coating.

Not good. The original called for a fish like Snapper, but all Yvonne could get was Leatherjacket, which are much smaller. And how do you deep fry something with a loose coating on it? Looking at the photo in the cookbook, I think you cheat. You deep fry first (in a wok) and then gather all the washed-off marinade and put it back on top of the fish. I didn't think of that until I was nearly done, and instead tried ladling the fat gently over the fish so as not to dislodge the coating. The result was unevenly cooked fish and overcooked coating. In addition, I think we should remove leatherjacket from our list of fishes. It has little taste and little flesh. It's not expensive by weight, but I suspect it is expensive by weight of the flesh.


Saturday, 13 August 2011 Dereel Images for 13 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Friends resolution problems explained
Topic: technology, gardening Link here

I've established that the resolution problems in Wellingtonia, the newsletter of the Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, were due to some processing step, but what? Andy Snow came up with the answer:

When the image quality is set to best, the resolution of images isn’t scaled down. When the image quality is set to better, images are downsampled to 150 dpi. When the image quality is set to good, images are downsampled to 72 dpi.

72 dpi! What's “good” about that? Even low-resolution faxes have 99 dpi. But it looks like we have found our problem and the way to fix it.


Bulgogi on Teppanyaki grill
Topic: cooking, opinion Link here

As planned, had bulgogi for dinner today. Yvonne was in town and came home with another Teppanyaki grill, and I was able to confirm that the cooking surface was completely flat—until I turned it on. It didn't distort as much as the other one, but it's still clearly an issue.


  This should be Bulgogi-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Bulgogi 3          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1520 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 13 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 13 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 13 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

The real problem, though, is that there's too much hysteresis in the thermostat. It must correspond to about 30°: when it turns off, I need to turn the (uncalibrated) temperature scale through about 90° to get it to come on again. And that causes the juices to bleed out of the meat, of course:


  This should be Bulgogi-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Bulgogi 1          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2528 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 13 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 13 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 13 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

So: another device made useless by minor technical details. Sometimes I really think that the best thing about ALDI is their returns policy.


Sunday, 14 August 2011 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Freecycle: worth what you pay
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Yvonne saw an advertisement in Freecycle today:

I have a solid timber tv cabinet with glass doors either side of the tv space. It will not fit into my place and needs to go asap.

That sounded interesting, not for a TV (we don't have one), but for storage. Called up the owner and arranged to come and take a look—in Learmonth, over 50 km away. Chris Yeardley needed her trailer in the afternoon, so set off right away. Finally got there—despite the GPS navigator, which put the street 100 m further down the main road—and took a look at the cabinet. Heavy, not overly pretty, but in rather poor condition. After the bed last weekend, I decided that we could do without it. Over 100 km of elevated fuel consumption (due to the trailer) for nothing.


Shopping at Bunnings
Topic: general Link here

On the way home, dropped in at Bunnings and bought various odds and ends. Looked for a replacement for the door latch that failed last month, and to my immense surprise found an exact match for only $5.95. That's much easier and better than I had feared. Also bought a large, flat polypropylene container for raising seeds in, and also a rat trap and mouse trap.


Dead Joey
Topic: animals Link here

While picking up the trailer this morning, Yvonne made a startling discovery, only a few metres from Chris' house:


  This should be Joey-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Joey 2          Dimensions:          4000 x 3000, 1728 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 15 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 15 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 15 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

That's a Joey, a baby kangaroo, about 60 cm long. It looks as if it still belongs in the pouch, but there was no sign of the mother. The missing rear quarters are due to Vito, Chris' dog; when we first saw it, it was intact, but my horrible Nikon “Coolpix” L1 had once again drained its batteries after only a few photos, so Yvonne took the photos a day later.


Garden frustrations
Topic: gardening Link here

Back home, planned to plant some more seeds, now that I have somewhere to put them. But the weather was warm, sunny and windstill—just the kind of weather I needed to spray some weeds. Got out the spray unit, strapped it on my back, pressed the tap on the wand and—the wand had split lengthways, and the spray came out all over the place. Found another spray wand—in fact, the original one that came with the unit, complete with silly double spray jet—and put that on. Strapped on my back, pumped the pump and—got spray all the way down my back. It seems that the pump leaks when it's operated. What a pain! Now I'm going to have to try to take it back after nearly a month.

On to plant the seeds: Gaillardia pulchella “Red plume”, Gypsophila paniculata “Baby's breath” (not a name I would have chosen) and Cosmos sulphureus “Sunny yellow”. Here photos from Wikimedia:

Gaillardia pulchella Gypsophila paniculata Cosmos sulphureus

The photos look significantly different from the photos on the seed packets. The Gaillardia packet shows bright red flowers with a much more compact shape. Judging by the name, the Cosmos should be sulphur-yellow, and that's what's shown on the packet. We'll see when they bloom.

The petunias I planted four months ago are now looking happy and growing quickly, so decided to plant a number of them. Planted Petunia “Super colour parade”, Petunia “Burgundy star” and Petunia “Dreams patriot”. All of these got their own egg carton (and thus nominally 12 plants of each). Planting petunia seed is a real pain: they can't weigh more than about 50 µg each, and the “Burgundy star” just disappeared when I tried to plant it. I'm not sure it didn't blow away. The other two were coated in some flaky yellow coating, and I'm relatively sure that they made it to the planting mix.

I had planned to put the heating equipment in the new box and keep other, more developed seedlings in the old one. But removing the old box proved fatal: there were bricks inside, and the exposure to sunlight had deteriorated the point that when I picked it up, it fell apart, in the process breaking a branch of a Bougainvillea. So much for that, and three new toilet rolls with Bougainvillea shoots in them.


Useless mousetrap
Topic: general, animals, opinion Link here

The mousetraps I bought were another issue. We spent a lot of time looking at them before buying. Many are just poison dispensers, and we don't want that. I'm also no long too keen on the live catch variety: what do you do with the animal? Normal mouse traps don't seem very effective, and the cages are clearly a waste of time.

But there are others, the “humane” ones where the component “human” seems to be most important: the main advantage is that you don't have to see the animal. Then there are ones which kill the animal with an electric shock, or by strangling it with a rubber ring. The electric ones sound the best to me, but they didn't have them there. After a lot of deliberation, bought a strangler and a “revolver”, which catches the mouse by revolving a drum which ensures it can't get out again:


 
This should be Mouse-trap-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Mouse trap 2          Dimensions:          2562 x 2733, 944 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 15 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 15 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 15 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

Spent some time trying to work out how to use the thing, helpfully assisted by the instructions that were stuck on the back and referred to components under the instructions. To look at them, you first need to destroy the instructions:


  This should be Mouse-trap-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Mouse trap 3          Dimensions:          2268 x 2720, 976 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 15 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 15 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 15 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Mouse-trap-4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Mouse trap 4          Dimensions:          2392 x 2712, 944 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 15 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 15 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 15 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

Finally worked out how to do it. The cover in the middle of the back is for bait. And how do you get the mouse out again? After piecing the bits of the instructions together, I found out how. You don't: after you throw the trap away. What use is that? I hope I can get them to take it back in the condition it's in.


Monday, 15 August 2011 Dereel Images for 15 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Replacing teevee: the next unsteady steps
Topic: technology Link here

I've been dragging my feet on the new replacement teevee, and I know why. I really don't want to have to look into the mplayer code again, and the prospect of patching lirc doesn't fill me with joy either. But there are other things to do.

Currently I've been building and testing things on defake.lemis.com, a clone of dereel.lemis.com that I've dedicated to keeping one step ahead of the real machine. And as a result I've pointed it via NFS to the same /home file system. That proves to have its issues: I've already come to the conclusion that “system” files that belong to a specific machine should be on /home and not /usr (in my case, the root file system), so I've split the subdirectories of /var (also on the root file system) between /var and /home/var, depending on whether they relate to the operating system or the installation.

But now I have the same situation on defake, so in particular /var/log is in the same place for both machines, and so we have two syslogds writing to the same files, and two newsyslogs playing around with them. I suspect that that is the reason why postfix on dereel stopped logging at midnight (rotate time) in the last couple of days.

Up to now I have divided my file systems to recognize three sources of non-user data:

  1. The base system, including the Ports Collection, on the root file system.

  2. Data relating to the system, such as the log files, on /home. A lot of the information in /etc really belongs in this category too, but that's not possible, and it detracts from my method.

  3. User data, including other software. I used to put my own programs in /usr/local as well as the Ports Collection, and it has caused quite a mess. Now I'm putting them in a parallel hierarchy /home/local instead.

The problem is that I'm putting both user data and system data on /home. I really don't want another file system, but the conflict is clear, and I still haven't quite decided how to handle it cleanly. One option is to have separate /home file systems and have symbolic links to user data on a separate, shared file system. But that's ugly.

Instead, played around with other things. Do I need the same configuration on every machine? I've already noted that /etc is really installation specific, not operating system specific, and I'm gradually running into problems there. Got the keyboard, mouse and X working (in the process noting that hald hadn't been started, despite the entry in /etc/rc.conf), and confirmed that the base mplayer worked (though lirc didn't, presumably because of missing configuration files). Now I need to fork tv2 from defake, requiring a new disk. That should be GPT, I suppose. How do you boot from a GPT disk? I don't know, but I have a number of documentation links. Something for tomorrow.


Feeding Nemo: the web approach
Topic: animals, technology, opinion Link here

I'm participating in an online survey (really a 9-day “diary”) on how we feed our dog Nemo. The question of feeding is important, and almost nobody does it right. Yvonne has been following a book Give Your Dog a Bone by Ian Billinghurst, which advocates food as close to what wild dogs would eat. That means no cooking, no processed food, bones (clearly), and fresh vegetables. Yvonne feeds him like this:

The result is a well-nourished dog with spectacularly good teeth:


  This should be Nemo-4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Nemo 4          Dimensions:          2929 x 2118, 1328 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 16 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 16 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 16 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Nemo-6.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Nemo 6          Dimensions:          3577 x 2304, 1152 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 16 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 16 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 16 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

What does this have to do with the survey? Almost nothing. And that's the problem. Presumably the survey is being done for a manufacturer of pet food, but it jumps to conclusions: food comes in cans and is measured in cups. Yes, they allow you to specify “home-cooked” [sic] food, but it's almost impossible to specify the ingredients we use (“other”). And how many cups of bone does he get for lunch? No idea, even if you specify what size of cup you mean.

But why should the manufacturers care about oddballs like Yvonne and myself? Because it's natural nutrition which (as good as) all vets accept as being superior. The first food manufacturer who offers fresh, uncooked dog food is liable to make a killing. But by staying inside the box and not even considering such possibilities, they lose.

Of course, there are typical web site issues involved too. The survey has been going for 3 days now. On the first attempt, it hung itself up with a message like “This survey is unavailable. Try again soon”, which I suspect means “It's dead, Jim, but somebody will come and work out what's wrong some time”. It took three days and a message from me before it got fixed. And then I find I can't just enter times like 13:00 and 18:00. Instead I have to select the hour from a menu and the minute from another menu. And the second time round, I can't select the same minute as the first:

 
This should be not-on-the-hour.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: not on the hour
Dimensions: 248 x 651, 16 kB
Dimensions of original: 248 x 651, 16 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 15 August 2011:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Is it so difficult to allow the user to enter the time and write a little JavaScript function to parse them? Or do the WebMasters really think that the average user is so illiterate that he can't type them in?


Tuesday, 16 August 2011 Dereel Images for 16 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

More teevee progress
Topic: multimedia, technology Link here

Somehow I can't get myself to continue with the installation of the new teevee, but I have to do something. Managed to make a bootable GPT disk, which requires a separate boot partition. Wrote a script to do my default partition. The whole thing looks like this:

gpart destroy -F $DRIVE
# Create GPT
gpart create -s gpt $DRIVE
# p1
gpart add -s 64k -t freebsd-boot $DRIVE
# Install boot loader.  Note that -i is the partition number :-(
gpart bootcode -b /boot/pmbr -p /boot/gptboot -i 1 $DRIVE
# First root file system, p2
gpart add -s 41943040 -t freebsd-ufs $DRIVE
# Swap, p3
gpart add -s 10g -t freebsd-swap $DRIVE
# Second root file system, p4
gpart add -s 41943040 -t freebsd-ufs $DRIVE
# /home file system, p5
gpart add -t freebsd-ufs $DRIVE

That worked well, though I still need to get used to the idea that I no longer have partition letters. My partitions are:

=>       34  312581741  ad0  GPT  (149G)
         34        128    1  freebsd-boot  (64k)              boot partition with fake MBR
        162   41943040    2  freebsd-ufs  (20G)               First root file system
   41943202   20971520    3  freebsd-swap  (10G)              swap
   62914722   41943040    4  freebsd-ufs  (20G)               Second root file system
  104857762  207724013    5  freebsd-ufs  (99G)               /home file system

It would have been easier to read if the numbers under ad0 were written in canonical form as ad0p1 to ad0p5.

Next step is to untangle the mess that I have on teevee. I wanted to procrastinate, but spoke on IRC with Jürgen Lock, who wanted me to look more closely at the lirc issues. That was interesting: it seems that the entire config file parsing has changed. In my old /etc/lircd.conf I had keycodes like this small excerpt:

      begin codes
          1                        0x11
          2                        0x12
          power                    0x0A
          pcoff                    0x0C
          camera                   0x1A
          record                   0x1B

But the example file /usr/local/share/examples/lirc/remotes/dvico/lircd.conf.fusionHDTV has:

      begin codes
          KEY_1                        0x00000000000011F9
          KEY_2                        0x00000000000012F9
          KEY_POWER                    0x0000000000000AF9
          pcoff                    0x0000000000000CF9
          KEY_CAMERA                   0x0000000000001AF9
          KEY_RECORD                   0x0000000000001BF9

At least I can see a certain similarity there. The codes just have an 0xf9 at the end of them. But maybe it's this alternative, rearranged to make comparison more difficult:

      begin codes
          tv_onoff                 0x0000000000FE4600
          1                        0x0000000000FE0B00
          2                        0x0000000000FE1700
      end codes

This particular example doesn't seem to contain the other three keys, though it's not clear whether tc_onoff corresponds to KEY_POWER or pcoff. And even after removing the invariant 0xfe..00, there's little similarity. Or maybe it's this, where the invariant has been removed:

      begin codes
          tv_onoff                 0x46
          1                        0x0B
          2                        0x17
          rec                      0x01
          power_onoff              0x4e
      end codes

Is this a different remote control? Tried running the supplied program irrecord, and once I understood how it worked, got Yet Another selection:

      begin codes
          KEY_1                    0x00000B 0xFFFF0B
          KEY_2                    0x000017 0xFFFF17

I didn't try any further, but it's clear that this sixth different mapping is closer to the last two of the examples than to the first two, though it doesn't directly correspond to either of them. So it's not the remote control: it responds correctly to the old config file with the old lircd, but with the new lirc it seems to want codes that are in no way related to the old ones. What kind of mess is this?

At least mplayer worked well enough. Almost:

[vdpau] Error when calling vdp_device_create_x11: 1

How do I work out what that is?

And as if I didn't have enough to do, people started talking about xbmc, Yet Another “Media player and entertainment hub”. It seems that Jürgen and Daniel O'Connor use it, and though people (probably rightly) doubted that I would like it, I thought it was worth installing. And of course ran into problems with the Ports Collection. Apart from those which are understandable, such as dependency on ffmpeg built without support for VDPAU, there were others that I couldn't be bothered to look at:

cc -I../../include -D_THREAD_SAFE -I/usr/local/include   -I/usr/local/include -O2 -pipe -fno-strict-aliasing -Wall -Wmissing-prototypes -std=c99 -ffast-math -fno-strict-aliasing  -fPIC  -DUSE_X86_64_ASM -DHAVE_POSIX_MEMALIGN -DUSE_XCB -DPTHREADS -DUSE_EXTERNAL_DXTN_LIB=1 -DIN_DRI_DRIVER -DHAVE_ALIAS -DGLX_INDIRECT_RENDERING -DGLX_DIRECT_RENDERING -pthread -L/usr/local/lib glxpixmap.c -L../../lib -lGL  -lm -o glxpixmap
/var/tmp//ccHaEqSD.o(.text+0x1c5): In function `main':
: undefined reference to `glXCreateGLXPixmapMESA'
gmake[2]: *** [glxpixmap] Error 1
gmake[2]: Leaving directory `/src/FreeBSD/ports/graphics/mesa-demos/work/Mesa-7.4.4/progs/xdemos'

Why do I need a demonstration program anyway? Installed it with pkg-add -r and all was well.

Running xbmc was not as bad as I had feared. Potentially it could be useful, but it looks like another program that wants to take over my life. I'll try it in more detail once I have the other stuff installed.


More seedlings
Topic: gardening Link here

I still need to plant a lot of sweet peas and morning glories. Neither like to be transplanted, so the instructions are to plant directly into the bed. I've had difficulties with that in the past, and it occurs to me that the egg carton solution effectively eliminates transplantation: the whole thing goes into the ground without disturbing the roots. Is that enough? I'll find out: I planted two kinds of morning glories (“Heavenly blue” and “Flying saucer”) and two kinds of sweet peas (“Cupani” and “nannydawn”, the latter named after the seller of an unspecified kind that I bought on eBay). We'll see how they go.

Yvonne also more than joined in the fun and mowed the lawn. As soon as it gets dry enough, I must finally finish things in the ex-cathedral.


The Myth of DPI
Topic: gardening, photography, opinion, technology Link here

As part of the discussion about the low-resolution images in Wellingtonia, Jenny Burrell came up with an interesting link about the The Myth of DPI. The word should get around more.


A new sweet and sour fish
Topic: cooking Link here

I've been cooking the same version of sweet and sour fish for nearly 40 years now, so long that I had forgotten that I had it online. This evening we wanted to do it again, and I did some research. In the process, I decided that some things need changing. In the old days I always used bamboo shoots, and the only fresh vegetables were some red capsicum. Other recipes, such as Pei Mei, want snow peas and things. Did some experimentation, which showed that I still need to frob the quantities, but I'm not quite ready to publish a new recipe yet.


Wednesday, 17 August 2011 Dereel Images for 17 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

More teevee progress
Topic: multimedia, technology Link here

Continued working on the teevee upgrade today. For some reason, the machine was coming up without NFS-mounted file systems, which really messes things up. Put a mount -t nfs -a in /etc/rc.local, to no avail. Then I put in a second, with a sleep 5 in between. Success!


 
This should be NFS-mount-failure.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: NFS mount failure          Dimensions:          3560 x 2160, 1104 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 17 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 17 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 17 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

Somehow it takes the NIC several seconds to come online, as the link state changed to UP indicates. That wasn't the only NIC problem: while testing, copying between cvr2 and teevee (the old machines) ground to a halt. After rebooting teevee (with the old dc0 NIC) to no avail, changed back to the old 100 Mb/s switch, but cvr2 didn't want to know—not even after a reboot. It wouldn't reconnect to the net until I put the 1000 Mb/s switch back in circuit. Has it somehow stored the configuration so that it will no longer negotiate?

Discovered not one but two reasons why mplayer wouldn't work with the remote control: it was built without lirc support, and the lirc config file has moved from /etc/lircrc to /usr/local/etc/lircrc. After fixing that, all was well.

Also had fun with X. Although I had told it specifically to select a resolution of 1280×720 only, it came up with 1280×1024, not even a 4×3 aspect ratio. Why? I've been using X for over 20 years now, and it still manages to surprise me.

With some difficulty found out that the nVidia display chip on the motherboard doesn't support VDPAU, and the PCIe card that I bought last week does—that was half to be expected. That means that I can't put it in Yvonne's machine, though. On the other hand, that was just to work around a full-screen bug in X, or maybe in mplayer, and the new motherboard doesn't trigger that. So I'll give Yvonne the new motherboard and use her motherboard for teevee—apart from that issue, they're pretty much identical.

So the only real thing I need to do is to is merge my mplayer patches, made no easy by the mess I left last time I applied them. Spent quite a bit of time identifying changes, and left the pain of merging them into a much newer version of mplayer until another day.


Thursday, 18 August 2011 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Into town
Topic: general, gardening Link here

It's getting to the stage now when leaving Dereel is a noteworthy event. One such was today, when I had an appointment with Peter O'Connell to discuss the woeful state of the economy. On the way stopped in at ALDI in Sebastopol to return a bumper crop of goods, along with a sheet of paper describing the reasons. It took them quite a while to process the returns. Jo, the assistant manager called to do the processing, took the sheet of paper, but her attitude suggested that it probably landed in the waste paper basket.

Talking to Peter brought nothing new. Fortunately for us, Australian interest rates are relatively high, and most of my investments are in cash. For the foreseeable future, it's “wait and see”.

Then on to Bunnings, where I returned the leaky spray unit and the mouse trap—they didn't seem to care that the instructions have been torn off. Back to look for another spray unit, and found a returned Hills unit with apparently some defect in the pump connections: the handle was completely loose, and there was no obvious connection to the pump. Still, Hills have a good reputation, and they have a number of accessories, so in the end bought a new 12 litre unit ($50, and $10 less than a 16 litre unit—why?).


Writing newsletters with user-friendly software
Topic: gardening, technology Link here

After lunch went to visit Helen Vincent, who does the newsletter for the Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens. I had already prepared for that by putting my ssh keys on a USB stick. There's a problem there: what file system? Clearly UFS is out of the question for non-BSD systems, including Apple I suppose, so I formatted it as FAT32. But FAT doesn't have permissions. So what I got was:

=== grog@boskoop (/dev/ttyp4) ~ 2 -> ssh-add /Volumes/GROGSSTICK/.ssh/id_rsa
@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
@         WARNING: UNPROTECTED PRIVATE KEY FILE!          @
@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
Permissions 0777 for '/Volumes/GROGSSTICK/.ssh/id_rsa' are too open.
It is recommended that your private key files are NOT accessible by others.
This private key will be ignored.

How do I get around that? The only way I can think of is to copy the whole thing to the local machine, set the permissions and try again. But that's somewhat self-defeating.

At Helen's, generated a keypair and copied the public key back to my stick, then looked at the photo publishing path. Helen takes photos with her camera, copies them to her Apple with iPhoto, and then drags from iPhoto to “Pages”. Jenny Burrell had suspected that iPhoto was downscaling the images, and she could be right. I established that the photo that I looked at last week was in fact taken at the resolution of 2592×1944, but it seems that iPhoto scaled it down to 320×240 before mailing it to me. We've established that “Pages” also downscales dramatically unless you tell it to use “best” quality—but that's what Helen did. So at the moment, until I analyse the problem in more detail, I suspect that the dragging from iPhoto to “Pages” is what is causing the problems.


Updating Yvonne's computer
Topic: multimedia, technology Link here

Back home, got round to switching Yvonne's computer to the new motherboard. For once, things Just Worked. Change the Device entry in /etc/X11/xorg.conf, and we're away. It's nice that some things work so easily.


Friday, 19 August 2011 Dereel Images for 19 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Ballarat Courier interested in phone tower
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Call from Jennifer Greive of the Ballarat Courier today. It seems that the issues surrounding the Dereel mobile phone tower are arousing interest further afield. It'll be interesting to see whether they actually publish an article, and if so, what comes of it.


Patching mplayer
Topic: multimedia, technology Link here

Finally drummed up the courage to start applying my patches to mplayer today, after finally locating what I think is the correct version. They're against version 1.0pre8, and what I have now is 1.0rc2: after 11 years it is asymptotically approaching release 1.0. I decided to apply the patches manually rather than using patch, and this proved to be a good choice. That way I had the ability to review the code itself, not to mention changes in the base mplayer code. They have almost discovered one of my patches: the length of the on-screen display was too short. So my patch had:

+#define OSD_TEXT_LEN 128
 static void update_osd_msg(void) {
     mp_osd_msg_t *msg;
-    static char osd_text[64] = "";
-    static char osd_text_timer[64];
+    static char osd_text[OSD_TEXT_LEN] = "";
+    static char osd_text_timer[OSD_TEXT_LEN];

In the new version they have:

    static char osd_text[128] = "";
    static char osd_text_timer[128];

And, just to prove how fragile manifest constants are, the code goes on to write:

        if(strcmp(osd_text,osd_text_timer)) {
            strncpy(osd_text, osd_text_timer, 63);

This code also contains formatting so bizarre that it took me a while to realize that it is valid C:

            strncpy((char*)osd_text, msg->msg, 127);
            if(mpctx->sh_video) vo_osd_changed(OSDTYPE_OSD); else
            if(term_osd) mp_msg(MSGT_CPLAYER,MSGL_STATUS,"%s%s\n",term_osd_esc,msg->msg);

Got as far as patching the files in the top level directory. There's more to do in some of the library code, but that was as much as I could stand.


Apple “Pages”: forensics
Topic: technology, gardening Link here

For yesterday's diary I was about to write, of “Pages”, that it uses a proprietary format. But that's prejudice, and it's a good thing to check. So I read a “Pages” document into Emacs, and to my surprise got:

M Filemode      Length  Date         Time      File
- ----------  --------  -----------  --------  -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  -rw-rw-rw-       437  18-Aug-2011  14:31:48  buildVersionHistory.plist
  -rw-rw-rw-     29009  18-Aug-2011  14:31:50  .iWTrash/00000001
...
  -rw-rw-rw-      8688  18-Aug-2011  14:26:02  MARIA-1.jpg
  -rw-rw-rw-    101363  18-Aug-2011  14:31:48  QuickLook/Thumbnail.jpg
  -rw-rw-rw-    415712  18-Aug-2011  14:31:48  QuickLook/Preview.pdf
  -rw-rw-rw-   1585057  18-Aug-2011  14:31:48  index.xml
- ----------  --------  -----------  --------  -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
               2613045                         26 files

%%-  Spring-2011.pages   All (31,0)  (Zip-Archive Narrow)--11:08AM 1.21 Mail-------------

So, at the top level at any rate, it is a relatively open format. It proves that the text is in the file index.xml, which, like OpenOffice before it, is a two-line monstrosity with second line over 1.5 MB in size that brings Emacs to its knees trying to parse it:

<sl:document xmlns:sfa="http://developer.apple.com/namespaces/sfa" xmlns:sf="http://developer.apple.com/namespaces/sf" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xmlns:sl="http://developer.apple.com/namespaces/sl" sl:version="92008102400"...

But the fact that it contains the images means that I can look at them directly. The file MARIA-1.jpg is the photo that I was looking at the other day. And clearly from the size (8,688 bytes) it's already compressed: as can be expected, it's 120×90 pixels. So: although you can destroy the quality of your images by selecting “good” image quality, it's not the only way. The images in iPhoto had the correct resolution; the images in “Pages” after dragging the image were converted to small postage stamps. Was it the dragging? It looks like it. I'm sure that there are other ways to import images.

And then I got mail from Michael in South Australia, the one without a surname, telling me exactly the opposite. He was able to drag images from iPhoto to “Pages” with no loss in resolution. So I'm still in the dark.


Back to weeding
Topic: gardening Link here

The weather is showing signs of picking up, so it's back to weeding. It's still too moist to spray the garden, but the weather forecast suggests things will look up. In the meantime, back to the area round the bird bath, doing about 1 m² in an hour. There must be an easier way to keep weeds at bay.


7mate: Unsloved mystery
Topic: multimedia, opinion Link here

Watching TV on 7mate today. I hate commercials and the other interruptions to the programme that they include—you'd think they were trying to annoy you. But this one caught my eye:


  This should be Unsloved.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Unsloved          Dimensions:          1280 x 720, 352 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 19 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 19 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Friday, 19 August 2011

   
This should be Unsloved-detail.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Unsloved detail
Dimensions: 655 x 258, 78 kB
Dimensions of original: 655 x 258, 78 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Friday, 19 August 2011:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Is it so difficult to spell things correctly? Or is it an indication of their mentality?


Saturday, 20 August 2011 Dereel Images for 20 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Weekly photos: the time it takes
Topic: photography, technology Link here

In the past couple of weeks I've been trying a new approach to my weekly photos: I take them in raw format and use Olympus “Viewer” to convert them to JPEG, in the process correcting chromatic aberration and lens distortion. The results are clearly better: now all my control points get a “very good” rating. But the time!

Today I started the photos at 9:05, stopped for breakfast, and was finished by 9:52. Then I had to read the files in, all 5.6 GB of them, which was done by 10:19. Then extracting thumbnails from the images, making “contact prints” to confirm what I had taken, and ran another script to choose which photos to merge and what to call them.

All that was done by about 10:45, after which I had to run Viewer, which runs under Microsoft in a VM. That take over 30 seconds per image, and today I had 311 images, so I considered adding CPUs to the VM. But that didn't work because my system BIOS wasn't set up to handle it (AMD-V not set), and I didn't want to reboot just for that. Maybe things will work better with the new machine, which is almost ready to go now.

Finally, round 14:00, the conversions were done and I started the HDR merge script and then the stitching. Today was sunny, which meant masking out the sun, and the first panorama wasn't finished until 2 hours later. And that went on until 18:30, when Chris arrived for dinner. I still had one photo to go—after over 9 hours! Hopefully I can get more speed out of the new machine.


House photos: new view?
Topic: photography Link here

The photos weren't all about processing. More and more they're becoming increasingly large panoramas. So far I've been taking two separate and relatively small panoramas from almost the same position:


 
This should be house-nw.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: house nw          Dimensions:          3482 x 2005, 1728 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 20 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 20 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 20 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be garden-se.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: garden se          Dimensions:          5141 x 2766, 3184 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 20 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 20 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 20 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

In principle I could merge them:


  This should be garden-NE.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: garden NE          Dimensions:          7305 x 2819, 4624 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 20 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 20 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 20 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

I still don't know if that's a good idea. The exposure for the two individual panoramas is quite different (about 1 EV), and the combined version compresses the left-hand side to a surprising degree.


Patching mplayer
Topic: technology, multimedia Link here

While I was waiting, finished patching mplayer and tried compiling. Surprise! It worked. The only issue is that the font sizes aren't what I wanted: they're far too big. But that may be as simple as installing the correct fonts.


Sunday, 21 August 2011 Dereel Images for 21 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Network problems, not Optus' fault
Topic: technology Link here

Finally finished my house photos today and started uploading them to the external site—at a snail's pace:

20110820/big/garden-centre.jpeg
     7350157 100%   12.88kB/s    0:09:17 (xfer#15, to-check=33/50)
20110820/big/garden-n.jpeg
     6976128 100%   14.29kB/s    0:07:56 (xfer#16, to-check=32/50)
20110820/big/garden-path-ne.jpeg
     6622813 100%   13.50kB/s    0:07:59 (xfer#17, to-check=31/50)
20110820/big/garden-path-se.jpeg
     6999010 100%   14.18kB/s    0:08:02 (xfer#18, to-check=30/50)

Normally I would get about 60 to 100 kB/s upload. Looking at my net statistics, it seems that this had been going on for about 36 hours:

Day/20110822/3glinkstats-week.big.png

Discussing it on IRC, Jürgen Lock thought I might be stuck in UMTS mode. But that wasn't the case. I looked more carefully and discovered that the mode was HSDPA. Why that? It should have been HSPA. Congestion is one thing, but running in the wrong transfer mode is something completely different. And of course I could call up Internode support, but they'd just want me to pop the modem. So I did that, and it came back in HSPA mode, without even killing TCP sessions. Somehow these toy modems are just too flaky. It's also interesting to note how much slower HSDPA feels than HSPA, even though the downlink speed is presumably the same.


How the times change
Topic: technology Link here

Started a shell today and got the following fortune:

Just about every computer on the market today runs Unix, except the Mac
(and nobody cares about it).
                -- Bill Joy 6/21/85

Now isn't that ironic?


Finally spraying the weeds
Topic: gardening Link here

The weather is getting better again, almost spring-like. Today we had a top temperature of 23.2°, compared to a maximum of 19.3° for the whole of August last year. It was sunny with little wind—just the weather for spraying weeds. Put together my new sprayer, in the process discovering a potential cause for the returned item I saw on Thursday: the instructions, though voluminous, don't tell you how to assemble it. You have to work that out from the diagrams. In addition, the thing seems to be designed for left-handers. I at any rate want the pump handle in the left hand and the spray wand in the right, and to do that I had to reassemble it. In the process I also discovered that there was no reason to believe that the one I saw on Thursday was defective.

Still, the thing works well, and I ended up spraying about 25 litres of herbicide round most of the house. Hopefully I'll get a chance to do another couple of rounds in the next month or so.


Monday, 22 August 2011 Dereel Images for 22 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Installing Adobe Flash on FreeBSD
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

While trying the new TV machine today, checked something that I had noticed earlier: Flash wasn't working. It seems that my ports infrastructure checked for the presence of the wrong file. That's straightforward enough, and within a few minutes I had Flash installed.

Well, it was on the machine. firefox still claimed that it wasn't installed. It seems that the port installation only does part of the job. The important incantation to tell firefox that it's there is missing:

nspluginwrapper -v -i /usr/local/lib/npapi/linux-f10-flashplugin/libflashplayer.so

That's version-specific, of course. All the more reason to have it in the port, or at least have the port tell you about it via the pkg-message file.

In fact, there's an easier way:

nspluginwrapper -v -a -i


Fixing mplayer fonts
Topic: multimedia, technology Link here

Continued my search for the reasons behind the mplayer font problems today. What I wanted were fonts like the ones I use at the moment:


 
This should be mplayer-old.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: mplayer old          Dimensions:          1280 x 720, 256 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 22 August 2011

 

Instead, what I got was this, about 4 times the size:


  This should be mplayer-new.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: mplayer new          Dimensions:          1290 x 746, 288 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 22 August 2011

 

Reading the mplayer man “page” (currently 9151 lines, or about 153 pages), it's clear that the fonts should be in ~/.mplayer/font:

       -font <path to font.desc file, path to font  (FreeType),  font  pattern
       (Fontconfig)>

              Search for the OSD/SUB fonts in an  alternative  directory  (de-
              fault  for  normal fonts: ~/.mplayer/font/font.desc, default for
              FreeType fonts: ~/.mplayer/subfont.ttf).
              NOTE: With FreeType, this option determines the path to the text
              font file.  With Fontconfig, this option determines the Fontcon-
              fig font pattern.

Checked that, and the fonts were identical. Ran mplayer under ktrace and confirmed that it didn't go anywhere near ~/.mplayer/font. Instead it went through hundreds of XML font description files. So maybe it's doing the FreeType thing. But what is FreeType? The man page doesn't elaborate. Checked the config.h and found:

#define CONFIG_FONTCONFIG 1
#define CONFIG_FREETYPE 1

Set those values to 0 and rebuilt mplayer from scratch. No difference. It almost looks as if they're being ignored.

Finally found another section in the man page:

       -subfont-osd-scale <0-100> (FreeType only)
              Sets the autoscale coefficient of the OSD elements (default: 6).

What does that mean? Played around with it, and sure enough, I was able to reduce the size of the fonts, to roughly what I wanted (scale 1). Even the next step (2) is much bigger:


  This should be mplayer-fixed.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: mplayer fixed          Dimensions:          1290 x 746, 272 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 22 August 2011

 
  This should be mplayer-2.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: mplayer 2          Dimensions:          1290 x 746, 288 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 22 August 2011

 

In fact, it seems that the scale factor is completely out of whack. It reaches maximum size by 20 at the latest, and increasing it further to 50 makes no difference:


  This should be mplayer-20.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: mplayer 20          Dimensions:          1290 x 746, 288 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 22 August 2011

 
  This should be mplayer-50.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: mplayer 50          Dimensions:          1290 x 746, 288 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 22 August 2011

 

Still, one further problem solved. It only took a couple of hours.


Spring on the way
Topic: gardening Link here

Another nice day today, with plenty of sun and almost no wind. The Eucalyptus and Acacias are in flower:


  This should be Eucalypt.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Eucalypt          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 2960 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 22 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Wattle.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wattle          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 3104 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 22 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

For the first time this year, we had lunch on the verandah, though it was a little on the cool side. And then in the afternoon I found something that I had never seen before:


  This should be Iris-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Iris 3          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1408 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 22 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

It's clearly an Iris, but of a kind I don't know. It's one of many growing down the east path in the eastern part of the garden. Further research show that it's an Iris japonica variegata that we bought it in Melbourne at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show on 1 April 2009 and planted it in the then-new succulent garden to the north of the verandah, where it grew but didn't flower. Then we replanted them in the present position last July. Again they grew but didn't flower. Now we have lots of buds coming. This is just the first.


Slow germination
Topic: gardening Link here

The warm weather may have another effect. It's been 3 weeks since I set up my heated germination box, and so far only about 15 seeds (out of 132) have germinated. One of the few germinating seeds looks like it's going to die again. So maybe I'm keeping them too warm: in the daytime the temperatures can rise to over 30°, mainly, it seems, because of the box (clearly the heater doesn't run at those temperatures—that's what the thermostat's for). So I've removed the ones that have germinated. To be observed.

Also took some cuttings of a Marguerite daisy that was damaged in the recent winds, and also of Erysimum cheiri that we planted in the north bed and which have never been very happy. In addition, transplanted the Japanese maple that my uncle Max gave me for my 60th birthday. In the three years that I have had it, it has barely grown at all, and I suspect it doesn't like the position (middle of east garden). Now it's where the “Gruß an Aachen” rose used to be, to the south of the same garden.


Tuesday, 23 August 2011 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

mplayer insights
Topic: multimedia, technology Link here

To write my diary entry for yesterday I had to make a number of screen shots of mplayer screens. It wasn't easy: I only had working versions on particular machines, and running mplayer across the network caused significant delays. On one occasion I had a completely different image displayed for the time and file position in the on-screen display. On that occasion mplayer told me that it had a 6 second discrepancy between audio and video. And that's a clue: the file positions I report are the position of the last block read. They get buffered internally, so what you see isn't what appears at that position in the stream. That's particularly clear from these two images. The circle in the first is larger, indicating (in this scene) that the actual image is later in the stream:


  This should be mplayer-old.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: mplayer old          Dimensions:          1280 x 720, 256 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 22 August 2011

 
  This should be mplayer-fixed.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: mplayer fixed          Dimensions:          1290 x 746, 272 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 22 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 22 August 2011

 

That's only part of the story, though: in many cases, the file position appears to be too early in the stream, not too late. My hacks at the time were pretty primitive, and I should really analyze the code more carefully.

Apart from that, made little progress with the new teevee machine. Somehow my version control (using RCS) is far too fragile, and I keep including files from the wrong system. I should rethink things completely.


Mystery succulent
Topic: gardening Link here

We still have a number of Australian native plants in pots that we brought with us from Wantadilla, and which we intend to plant Real Soon Now. A number of them have weeds, including this one, which only shows up in the Wantadilla pots:


  This should be Succulent.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Succulent          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1376 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 24 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

There are a number of them, which I planted in egg cartons. Currently they're about 1.5 cm across, but who knows how big they might get. I wonder what it is. I can't imagine that it's a weed, and I can't recall seeing anything like that at Wantadilla.

Despite all that needs to be done, didn't do anything significant in the garden.


Wednesday, 24 August 2011 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 24 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Medical checkup—finally
Topic: general Link here

It's been over 18 months since I last went to a “quarterly” medical checkup. The main reason was my intense dislike of the Eureka Medical Centre, coupled with general laziness. Recently Chris Yeardley gave me the address of the new Tristar clinic in Ballarat (1010A Sturt St). They do “Bulk billing” and they make appointments—exactly what I was looking for.

Today into town for a haircut and my first appointment. The place is much smaller than Eureka, particularly the waiting room. But that's not surprising, since people have appointments, so you don't have as many people waiting around. Looking at the size of the waiting room at Eureka, it's interesting to wonder whether they're really saving anything by not making appointments.

My appointment was with Dr Mina Gurgius. Definitely a different person from Neil Philips, and a lot more thorough, it seems. I need to record my blood pressure for a week, and when I drew attention to a reddish patch on my forehead, which has been there for a while, he decided to do a punch biopsy to find out what it was; I had expected a trial with some antimycotic. Is that more attention to detail, or just a way to improve their returns? Difficult to say; I'll reserve judgement for now.


Panoramas of Botanical Gardens
Topic: photography, gardening, technology Link here

While in town, to the Ballarat Botanical Gardens to take some photos. The weather was right, and there were few people around, though not as few as I managed to get in my panoramas.

Back home, the processing once again took forever. In addition, I had made a mistake with one of the panoramas, and another one, for some reason, just wouldn't generate control points. Nothing looked wrong with the images, but the result was completely ridiculous:


  This should be Botanical-gardens-3-bad.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Botanical gardens 3 bad          Dimensions:          5646 x 1759, 1808 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 24 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

What caused that? I really have no idea. Setting manual control points didn't help either. But I also didn't have time to look at it.

Apart from that, though, got some useful images:


  This should be Botanical-gardens-4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Botanical gardens 4          Dimensions:          9194 x 2140, 3408 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 24 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

  This should be Botanical-gardens-5.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Botanical gardens 5          Dimensions:          9170 x 2653, 7120 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 24 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 


Thursday, 25 August 2011 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 25 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Back to the doctor
Topic: general Link here

Up early this morning to go to Ballarat for a blood test. How I hate that! It's bad enough to go without breakfast for half an hour or so, but it takes that long just to get to Ballarat, and when I was there things went at a snail's pace. Finally had all the blood taken at about 9:45, 2 hours after getting up.

And then it occurred to me that I had forgotten my biopsy. With a bit of investigation, discovered that it was the doctor who was to do that, and that I should have registered. Much more work than I had thought just to remove a small piece of skin. Doctor, two nurses, disclaimer form (may leave a scar, potentially could get inflamed), local anaesthetic, suture, antibiotics for a week. And all that for a 2 mm hole in my head. If I had had a similar wound while working round the house, I would have put some disinfectant on it and left it to heal.

In any case, all was over and done with by 10:20, and finally I got my breakfast.


Stitching the Statuary Pavilion panorama
Topic: photography, technology Link here

Back home and attended again to the panorama that didn't work yesterday, inside the Statuary Pavilion of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens. Nothing I could do would get anything close to proper stitching. In fact, the preview window looked even worse than the image I stitched yesterday, the mean error was 19.1 pixels, and the maximum was 42.5:


  This should be Hugin-preview-detail.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hugin preview detail          Dimensions:          1879 x 788, 720 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 24 August 2011

 

Finally, in the assumption that one of the images must be wrong, started in the middle with just the third and fourth of these individual images:


  This should be Botanical-gardens-3-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Botanical gardens 3 2          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 5120 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 24 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Botanical-gardens-3-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Botanical gardens 3 3          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 5008 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 24 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

The URLs of the full-sized images are http://www.lemis.com/grog/Photos/20110824/big/Botanical-gardens-3-0.jpeg to http://www.lemis.com/grog/Photos/20110824/big/Botanical-gardens-3-6.jpeg.

That worked:


  This should be Hugin-preview-3.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hugin preview 3          Dimensions:          1156 x 938, 1776 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 24 August 2011

 

Then I added images left and right, waiting to see where it broke. But it didn't. Out of the box I got an average error of 1.1 pixels and a maximum of 9.3; the latter proved to be moving things outside the pavilion. With a little playing around, I ended up with an average error of 0.9 and a maximum of 2.2. The difference in appearance is immediate:


  This should be Botanical-gardens-3-bad.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Botanical gardens 3 bad          Dimensions:          5646 x 1759, 1808 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 24 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

  This should be Botanical-gardens-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Botanical gardens 3          Dimensions:          6733 x 2558, 2672 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 24 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

So what caused the problem? I still don't know. I think it must be a bug in hugin: the only way to get it to work was to start hugin afresh and add the images a few at a time. After getting the broken image, there was no way to recover without restarting hugin. Just removing all except images 2 and 3 didn't give the same result:


  This should be Hugin-preview-2-detail.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hugin preview 2 detail          Dimensions:          1214 x 940, 1264 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 24 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 24 August 2011

 


Friday, 26 August 2011 Dereel Images for 26 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

American Express: surpassing incompetence
Topic: general, opinion Link here

A bill in the post today, from American Express:


  This should be Amexco.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Amexco          Dimensions:          2478 x 3482, 3840 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 26 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 26 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Friday, 26 August 2011

 

On the face of it, nothing unusual. But earlier this year I went through a whole rigmarole of complaints, culminating in an apology and confirmation that my card had been cancelled, and that I had no obligations to them any more.

So what do I do now? Call them and point that out to them? That way madness lies, and there's no reason to believe that the next call to their help line would be the first one to be handled correctly. Wait and see? They may try to debit the money from my bank account, although I have written confirmation that the direct debit authority has been cancelled. But then, I have written confirmation that the account has been cancelled. I suppose if I have to contact them, it should be from a position of strength. So I'll make a note to check my bank account just after the due date. And if they do, there will be a formal complaint to the regulatory authorities.

The incident had one positive outcome, though: to find the confirmation letter from American Express I had to search through the mess in my office (and that part of the mess that had spread into Yvonne's office), so decided it was high time to tidy up. I'm not done, but things look a lot better.


Seed raising: too hot or too cold?
Topic: gardening Link here

Some more of my recently planted seeds are germinating, but today I discovered that all but one of the seedlings that had germinated by last week had died. Why? Too cold overnight? Too hot in the daytime? Too much sun? The greenhouse is probably not the best place to do this kind of work.

Also started preparations for overhauling the sprinkler system. There are many new plants that need drippers, and also a number of leaks in the system. Got as far as writing down what needs to be done, and then the next sunny day I need to get down to doing it.


Internode doesn't talk to Wikipedia
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Got some timeouts while trying to access Wikipedia today. A bit of checking proved that it was not so much a routing problem as extreme congestion, and that it was limited to my connection to the net, via Internode: a traceroute stopped at this point:

 6  te0-3-0-938.bdr1.lon1.internode.on.net (203.16.211.97)  379.576 ms  420.108 ms  379.563 ms
 7  linx.lhrx.hgtn.net (195.66.224.194)  389.673 ms  398.889 ms  389.633 ms

Called up, left a message that I was having problems accessing Wikipedia, but not other web sites, and that I could access Wikipedia from other places. Got a call back: “So, you're having trouble browsing, are you?”. Explained again what I had said on the phone, and the consultant said “hold on a bit”. Then nothing. “Where did the traceroute stop?” “I'm just loading the site”. It proved that he didn't know how to invoke traceroute, and that he was running a Microsoft platform. Told him how to do it—at least he listened and did it—and he confirmed that yes, he too had the problem. Asked him to report it to the network people, but he thought that it was unlikely, since it was outside their network. I don't think it's as simple as that: that's the first hop away from their network. But he said he would contact them, and of course the problem went away (quite some time) later. It's difficult to know whether my call had any effect or not.


Saturday, 27 August 2011 Dereel Images for 27 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

The new Dereel market
Topic: general, gardening Link here

Another nice sunny day today, and Yvonne wanted to go to the Dereel market. We've been there before, but this time we received advertising for it. To our surprise, it was no longer at the hall, but on the site of the old Dereel shop on the main Colac to Ballarat road. It was also much larger than previous ones. Did a bit of looking around and came along with a total of 17 of plants for a surprisingly low $32. The photos below are from Wikipedia.

Spent some time in the garden trying to work out where to put everything, and came to some kind of agreement, though I'm still wondering about the butterfly tree. Most of the plants are in tubestock, of course, so decided to repot into larger pots and leave them there until they're a little more robust.

Also moved the seed tray to the verandah, as planned. Simple, right? Take the heater out, transport tray and heater/cable assembly separately, and reassemble on the verandah. Well, no. This horrible construction of the greenhouse bit me again: to get the cable into the greenhouse I had had to put it behind the sliding door. And that meant removing the door stops in the middle of the top rail both to put it in and to get it out. And the nuts of the stops have been put in a position where you can't get a spanner round them: the profile is bent directly below the nut. The spanner can only get in from the side, so it can't grip. It took me 10 minutes to finally unscrew the thing, and after I was done, I only did it up hand-tight. Who designed this thing?


Finding Times Square
Topic: multimedia, general, opinion Link here

Watching Quantum Leap on TV today, for the first time. One of the scenes purportedly played in Times Square in New York City. Interestingly, the shadows showed that the sun was shining from the north—or so I thought. But checking is better. What are Google Maps for? After spending 10 minutes looking, I'm beginning to wonder. I couldn't find Times Square, one of the most famous places in the world. Just searching for “Times Square” gives you the Information Centre. Times Square itself isn't marked. From W 47th St to Broadway is apparently a distance of 1.5 miles. But they cross each other in Times Square! It took me quite a bit of investigation to discover that my recollection of Times Square was inverted by 180° (incidentally vindicating the sun's direction in that scene), but to do that I had to literally get out there with Street View and look for myself. Surely they can do better than that.


Sunday, 28 August 2011 Dereel Images for 28 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Too many open files!
Topic: technology Link here

Into the office this morning and tried to reply to a mail message. But I got an error message, something like “Can't create temporary file”. Sounded like a full file system, something that doesn't often happen. What does df say?

=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/18) ~ 4 -> df
/libexec/ld-elf.so.1: Cannot open "/lib/libutil.so.8"

That looked bad. Had I destroyed the contents of /libexec?

=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/18) ~ 5 -> ls /libexec
/libexec/ld-elf.so.1: Shared object "libutil.so.7" not found, required by "ls"

Interesting that there are two different versions of libutil there. How do you debug something like that? But then I saw, in a log window:

Aug 28 09:18:47 dereel postfix/trivial-rewrite[84714]: fatal: kqueue: Too many open files in system

OK. What opens lots of files? I guessed at firefox and shot down all the instances I had running. No change. Emacs? No change. It occurs to me that I don't really have any good idea what processes open lots of files. MySQL? Possibly under some circumstances, but not here. Despite shooting down lots of processes, including X, I could still not open files as myself, only as root—a good reason, in my book at any rate, to have an open shell hiding somewhere (su or sudo wouldn't have worked either).

Looking at the log files showed that it had started at 22:30 yesterday evening:

Aug 27 22:30:04 dereel kernel: kern.maxfiles limit exceeded by uid 53, please see tuning(7).

User 53 governs port 53: it's bind, just there to run named. So I shot it down, but it made no difference. But then I saw:

Aug 28 00:15:05 dereel postfix/bounce[76737]: fatal: kqueue: Too many open files in system
Aug 28 00:15:05 dereel kernel: kern.maxfiles limit exceeded by uid 1004, please see tuning(7).
Aug 28 00:15:07 dereel kernel: kern.maxfiles limit exceeded by uid 125, please see tuning(7).
Aug 28 00:15:08 dereel kernel: kern.maxfiles limit exceeded by uid 560, please see tuning(7).

It's clear that these are the victims and not necessarily the culprits.

Despite everything, I couldn't free things. In the end, rebooted the machine—I hate doing that, but I needed to remove a disk and a disk controller anyway, and it was bound to fix the problem. It did, of course, and in the aftermath I could see when each component died: postfix at 0:15, my weather station software at 02:52:59, mysqld round 9:00. So all of these were presumably not the culprits. I wonder how to find out next time, and to monitor the situation so that it won't happen again.


Flowers at the end of winter
Topic: gardening Link here

It's the last Sunday of the month (and of winter), so took my monthly flower photos. On the whole, things look better than this time last year. Most of the flowers are the same, of course, but there have been a couple of differences. We have a number of Acacias, some new, some not so new, which are flowering for the first time. Here one of the dark-leafed variety of Acacia baileyanas that we bought last spring, an Acacia paradoxa that we brought with us from Wantadilla, and one of the Acacia myrtifolias that we planted between the car parking space and the house, and which have been growing very slowly:


  This should be Acacia-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Acacia 2          Dimensions:          4096 x 3084, 1792 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Acacia-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Acacia 3          Dimensions:          4096 x 3084, 1792 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Acacia-myrtifolia-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Acacia myrtifolia 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1216 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

Other plants to flower for the first time are the Aloe that I've already mentioned, the Callistemon “Mary MacKillop” that we bought 2½ years ago and the Japanese Iris that we bought at about the same time:


  This should be Aloe.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Aloe          Dimensions:          3084 x 4096, 2016 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Callistemon-Mary_MacKillop.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Callistemon Mary_MacKillop          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1296 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Iris-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Iris 3          Dimensions:          4096 x 3084, 1120 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

Also from about that time are the first two Grevilleas, to the north-east of the house, while the others are about a year old and to the south:


  This should be Grevillea-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Grevillea 1          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1168 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Grevillea-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Grevillea 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1264 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Grevillea-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Grevillea 3          Dimensions:          4096 x 3084, 1584 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Grevillea-5.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Grevillea 5          Dimensions:          4096 x 3084, 1344 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

The Gazanias are looking particularly happy this year:


  This should be Gazania-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Gazania 1          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1008 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Gazania-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Gazania 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1488 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Gazania-6.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Gazania 6          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1616 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

So are the Hellebores. Not only are they blooming profusely, but they're self-seeding a surprising number of seedlings.


  This should be Hellebore-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hellebore 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1184 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Hellebore-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hellebore 3          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1296 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Hellebore-4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hellebore 4          Dimensions:          4096 x 3084, 1648 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Hellebores-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hellebores 1          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 3392 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 29 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 29 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 29 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Hellebores-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hellebores 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1936 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 29 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 29 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 29 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

The Sparaxis are also in full bloom—I think. In the past I've called them Freesias, and though the two-toned flowers are almost certainly Sparaxis, I'm not sure that the pale yellow one isn't a Freesia.


  This should be Sparaxis-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Sparaxis 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1248 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Sparaxis-5.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Sparaxis 5          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 992 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Sparaxis-6.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Sparaxis 6          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1200 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Sparaxis-7.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Sparaxis 7          Dimensions:          4096 x 3084, 1264 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Sparaxis-8.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Sparaxis 8          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1168 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

The Veltheimia viridifolia is also blooming for the first time. Unfortunately, it's pink, and I don't know whether we want to keep it:


  This should be Veltheimia-viridifolia.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Veltheimia viridifolia          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1120 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

The Echium that we bought last spring has been growing happily, and is now showing promise of blooming:


  This should be Echium.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Echium          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1520 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

And despite my concerns that I wouldn't have any rosebud left at the end of winter, it looks as if I'll have the best one yet. The pink rose in the north bed always kept its buds the longest, but I removed it a month ago. But now one of the Iceberg roses on the south side of the verandah has a couple of buds. Here photos from 17 August 2009, 29 August 2010 and today:


  This should be rose-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: rose 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 784 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 17 August 2009, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 17 August 2009, small
Diary entry for Monday, 17 August 2009 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Rose.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rose          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1776 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 29 August 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 29 August 2010, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 29 August 2010 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Rosa-iceberg.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rosa iceberg          Dimensions:          4096 x 3084, 1504 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 28 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 28 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

Olympus battery life revisited
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

While taking the photos this morning, the battery in my camera ran out. I had a lot of trouble with batteries a year ago, and since then I've been keeping records of how many photos each battery needs before recharge. The battery that ran out today was the original battery that came with my camera; all the other ones are replacement batteries from eBay. This one managed 2209 shots (including some with flash), by far the highest number I've ever had. The highest I've ever had with replacement batteries was 1319 photos, and the one I put in now (“number 8”) has never managed more than 990. Clearly the Olympus batteries are better. But they're also about 5 times the price, so per shot the eBay batteries are a better choice.


Monday, 29 August 2011 Dereel Images for 29 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Credit card security increased
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Yvonne back from shopping today with a slip that she had been given at the cashiers:


  This should be Credit-card-insecurity.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Credit card insecurity          Dimensions:          1243 x 1741, 1280 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 29 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 29 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Monday, 29 August 2011

 

A new secure initiative from the credit card industry! That must be good, and it's easier too. No security check of any kind for purchases under $35. Now isn't that “secure”? And what happens if you lose your card and somebody finds it and goes on a spending spree of $34 a time? Simple (their capitalization):

Every cardholder should take good care of their Credit Card. Remember if you lose it; report it to your Bank immediately. By doing this you will not be respsonsible for any unauthorised transactions.

So: remove security checks, pass the buck to the customer, and everybody's happy. Are they complete morons?

It seems it has been like this in the USA for a long time. Of course, security there is laxer anyway; I've already noticed that nobody looks at the signatures in the USA. But they do here, and this is just one more issue which weakens an already extremely poor level of security.

In the discussion (on IRC), Callum Gibson came up with this page on the state of affairs in the USA. I wonder when people will come to their senses.


Tackling the sprinkler system
Topic: gardening Link here

Started working on the sprinkler system today. There are a few repairs and a number of new drippers to attach. Made one repair and one new dripper, and it started to rain. So much for that.


National Broadband Network: Fixed radio
Topic: technology Link here

Phone call from Bryan Scott of the National Broadband Network today. They're thinking of installing a fixed wireless network node in Dereel. They've already been past here (Kleins Road) and taken a look, and unlike Optus, they seem to think that our property would be a good place to place the tower. He wasn't able to give any details, but he'll be sending some by mail. Ironically, I think it was Wendy McClelland's defamation that gave them my address.

So we could see fixed wireless from the National Broadband Network here in the foreseeable future. The coverage map stops just short of here, but it's very much on the cards that we'll get something here too. But what is it? Scoured the NBN web site and found no mention of the technology. Finally called their “Solutions Centre” on 1800 881 816 and spoke to Steven, who confirmed that I wouldn't find anything on the web site. Apparently the wireless would be comparable to current 3G wireless, 12 Mb/s (never mind that Telstra advertises 21 Mb/s, something he didn't know). So will that really buy us anything? It looks like they first have to get their act together. You'd hope that they would at least use the latest (LTE) technology, which would give us 100 Mb/s. That would be worthwhile enough.


Catching open files
Topic: technology Link here

Mail from Michael Hughes today, asking why I didn't use lsof to inspect the file opens during yesterday's problems. Simple: I didn't think of it. Tried it out today and got some interesting results:

=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/10) ~ 35 -> lsof | grep ^named | wc -l
     161
=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/10) ~ 36 -> lsof | grep ^firefox | wc -l
   14656
=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/10) ~ 37 -> P=`lsof | awk '{print $1}' | sort -u`
=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/10) ~ 38 -> for p in $P; do echo -n $p; lsof | grep ^$p | wc -l; done | sort -n -r +1
firefox-b   14646
httpd    2130
gam_serve    1887
mysql    1551
mysqld    1530
console-k     702
xterm     573
plugin-co     462
VirtualBo     416
emacs     398
...

So my suspicions weren't that far off the mark. But I need to examine the output of lsof more carefully: some of these are pipes, and it seems likely that it counts file opens once for each thread in a multi-threaded process such as firefox.


Tuesday, 30 August 2011 Dereel Images for 30 August 2011
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Spring round the corner
Topic: gardening Link here

Finally got round to looking at the sprinklers today, not before time. Despite the relatively cool, moist weather, there hasn't been much rain, and the ground is drying out.

What a pain these sprinklers are! They get overgrown, of course, so I have to continually dig up the drippers to see if they're working, and far too often they are not. I've given up on one brand, which looks good, but which clogs up very easily. I recently bought a different brand that can be easily disassembled for cleaning, but today I discovered that some of the brand new ones were delivering far more water than the 4 l/h that they claim. I didn't measure it, but I'd guess it would be more like 20 l/h. I wonder if they're making assumptions about the water pressure.

With the sprinklers working more or less, got round to planting some of the plants that have been waiting: a Pelargonium “Rhodo” grown from cuttings, in the north bed:


  This should be Pelargonium-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Pelargonium 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2592 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 31 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 31 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 31 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

That still needs lots of weeding, which will have to wait until we have some mulch. So I just weeded in the immediate vicinity, in the process finding a number of self-sown Tropaeolums, which I put in the bed around the southern fence, along with the Hardenbergia violacea that we bought on Saturday and a Jasminum polyanthum that I had grown from cuttings:


  This should be Hardenbergia.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hardenbergia          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 2416 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 30 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 30 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 30 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Jasmine.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Jasmine          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 2176 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 30 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 30 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 30 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

Also planted some red Cannas in the bed to the north of the fence, and the mystery plant that we bought on Australia Day, the one that is supposed to repel animals:


  This should be Mystery-plant.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Mystery plant          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2176 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 31 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 31 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 31 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

I had intended to plant more flowers in the north bed, in particular petunias and daisies, but we really need to mulch them first. Time to get moving.


Kangaroos around the house again
Topic: animals Link here

It seems that this is the time of the year when kangaroos come closer to the house, which is a danger for Nemo. Normally I just chase them off, but today I got a couple of photos first:


  This should be Kangaroos-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Kangaroos 3          Dimensions:          3853 x 2658, 2288 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 30 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 30 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 30 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Kangaroos-6.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Kangaroos 6          Dimensions:          4096 x 2541, 2352 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 30 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 30 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 30 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Kangaroos-12.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Kangaroos 12          Dimensions:          4096 x 2376, 2160 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 30 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 30 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 30 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

Language problems?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Watching a TV programme about the ex-DDR this evening, and saw this image:


  This should be Warehouse.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Warehouse          Dimensions:          1280 x 720, 608 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 30 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 30 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 30 August 2011

 

At top left there's a sign “Warehouse”. Does that look like a warehouse? My guess is that it's a department store: the German name is Warenhaus. And to complete the picture, department stores do need warehouses to back them up. In German they're called Lager, which means “store”.


Open files: alternatives to lsof
Topic: technology Link here

Discussed the extreme number of opens on IRC today, and Callum Gibson pointed out that there's also fstat, part of the base system. And it tells a very different story:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/16) ~ 36 -> lsof | grep ^firefox | wc -l
   15157
=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/16) ~ 37 -> fstat | grep firefox | wc -l
     212

It also shows file descriptor numbers, so I can confirm that this process really does have (almost) this many files open:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/16) ~ 38 -> fstat | grep gam_server | wc -l
    1871
=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/16) ~ 39 -> fstat | less
USER     CMD          PID   FD MOUNT      INUM MODE         SZ|DV R/W
...
grog     firefox-bin 11159   91 /home    40510180 -rw-r--r--    2048 rw
grog     gam_server  9849 root /             2 drwxr-xr-x    1024  r
grog     gam_server  9849   wd /home    40438784 drwxr-xr-x   42496  r
grog     gam_server  9849 text /        854817 -r-xr-xr-x   61008  r
grog     gam_server  9849    0 /dev         17 crw-rw-rw-    null  r
grog     gam_server  9849    1 /dev         17 crw-rw-rw-    null  w
...
grog     gam_server  9849 1833 /home    40442508 -rw-------    4849  r
grog     gam_server  9849 1834 /home    40442639 -rw-------    1265  r

What's gam_server? Looking through the Ports Collection, it seems to be part of gamin:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/16) ~ 40 -> pkg_info -W /usr/local/libexec/gam_server
/usr/local/libexec/gam_server was installed by package gamin-0.1.10_4

What do I need that for? And why does it open so many files?


Wednesday, 31 August 2011 Dereel Images for 31 August 2011
Top of page
previous day

To the doctor again
Topic: general Link here

Off to the doctor this morning for a number of things. The results of the biopsy were interesting: solar keratosis, which could be a precursor to skin cancer. So it'll be cryosurgically removed. Somehow I have a vague recollection of a similar operation already. I wonder if it was the same place.

Also got the results of my blood tests. Parts of them were excellent: my blood sugar hasn't changed, and I learnt a new word: “euglycaemic”, which is also new to my spelling checker. But the other results weren't as good, in particular cholesterol and blood pressure, so it looks like I'll be on medication for the foreseeable future, and that I'll also need a change of diet.

While in town, also picked up some sprinkler parts at Bunnings. Drippers are really works of the devil. There are so many kinds, some intended for specific pressures (100 kPa seems typical, though I found some rated for 300 kPa), and some with inbuilt pressure compensation. My pump cycles between 250 and 400 kPa, so I suppose the overpressure is the reason for the inaccurate delivery. So I have the choice: buy the pressure compensating ones (which would require effectively replacing everything else I have) or a pressure reducing valve, which would kill off the rotary sprinklers. In any case, they didn't have anything appropriate: the only reducing valves are intended to fit taps. So didn't buy very much; I'll visit Midland Irrigation some time soon

Then to the car parts place in Sebastopol to get a new battery for my car. The old one had failed spectacularly earlier this week: despite overnight charge, it wasn't able to turn the engine over at all. I've seldom seen such a sudden and complete failure.


Warenhaus or Warehouse?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

While at Bunnings, noted an interesting thing: they call themselves “Bunnings Warehouse”. That's somehow relevant to yesterday's musings on German and English word usage. But Bunnings really is structured something like a warehouse, so maybe that's the image they want to project.

But then I got home and Peter Jeremy had been doing some investigation and came up with the name “Oasis Warehouse”, which seems to be a couple of names used by a company with a surprisingly poor web presence. I can't be bothered to dig through all the news articles and prophecies of doom which seem to make up most of the search hits, but it does seem that the name originated in an English-speaking country, so my assumptions appear to be wrong.


Maintaining records
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Sometimes I think I write too much in this diary. But it seems to pay off. How old was that battery that died on me? I was pretty sure that I bought it since moving here (just over 4 years ago), but a search through the diary showed nothing. On the other hand, we keep a record of our expenditure, so I was able to find:

mysql> select * from expenditure where purpose like "%battery%";
+------+------------+----------+------------------------------+--------+-------+
| id   | date       | category | purpose                      | sum    | gst   |
+------+------------+----------+------------------------------+--------+-------+
|  362 | 2007-07-31 | c        | Car battery                  |  71.00 |  6.45 |

Yes, it doesn't say “Magna”, but other circumstances confirm it. Still, it should be in my diary (and now it is). It also showed that the price has gone up by $15 in the last 4 years.


Autumn meets spring
Topic: gardening Link here

Today's the last day of winter, and indeed I've kept at least one rosebud to see us into spring. And in the other seasonal direction, our first tulips are coming out:


 
This should be Rosa-Iceberg.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rosa Iceberg          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1184 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 31 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 31 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 31 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Tulip-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Tulip 3          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1616 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 31 August 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 31 August 2011, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 31 August 2011 Complete exposure details

 

The Clematis which intertwine with the roses are also coming back strongly, particularly the Clematis “vagabond”:


  This should be Clematis-vagabond.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Clematis vagabond          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 864 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 28 November 2009, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 28 November 2009, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 28 November 2009 Complete exposure details

 

We planted them nearly two years ago, and they didn't come very well; like the rose, they probably suffered from the leaching of the rain water in the area before we installed the down pipe. Some of the shoots are pointing in the wrong direction, so cut them off and stuck them in some tubes. We'll see if they strike.


Top of page Previous month Greg's home page Today's diary entry Next month Greg's photos Copyright information

Valid XHTML 1.0!

$Id: diary-aug2011.php,v 1.65 2013/07/11 00:41:07 grog Exp $