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August 2020
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Saturday, 1 August 2020 Dereel Images for 1 August 2020
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Strange RCS message
Topic: technology Link here

Found a typo in my diary entry for 51 years ago today. OK, not a problem, check it out and fix it.

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/16) ~/public_html 198 -> co -l diary-aug1969.php
co: RCS file RCS/diary-aug1969.php,v is in use

Huh? What's that? I've been using RCS for 25 years now, but this is the first time that I've seen that message. Off to the web to look for answers, nothing really good, but it seems that there should be a lock file name enclosed in commas, or maybe starting with an underscore, somewhere, and that this file should be removed.

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/16) ~/public_html 199 -> locate diary-aug1969.php
/home/grog/public_html/diary-aug1969.php
/home/src/Sysconfig/eureka/MasterRCS/home/grog/public_html/RCS/diary-aug1969.php,v

Nothing there. Of course, locate is historical. By default it's rebuilt once a week, but I do it every night. So the missing file name could mean that it happened today. OK, look in likely places:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/16) ~/public_html 200 -> l _*
-rw-------  1 grog  lemis  98,304  1 Aug 15:36 _1cKgnvW
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/16) ~/public_html 201 -> l RCS/,*
-r--r--r--  1 grog  lemis  163,840  1 Aug 15:36 RCS/,diary-aug1969.php,
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/16) ~/public_html 202 ->

I didn't check the first file, though in retrospect it's interesting that it had roughly the same time stamp as the one I was looking for. But it seems that something went wrong with checkout, and that it only half got done. Removed the file and all was well.


A day for photography
Topic: photography, general, opinion Link here

Yvonne is using her PIXIO “Robot Cameraman” more and more. Today that was particularly obvious. As usually on a Saturday, I had also taken my house photos, and since the sun was shining, I did it round solar noon, the same time as I took my analemma photos.

The result was three different tripods in front of the house:


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From left to right, the tripod for the house photos, with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO, the tripod for the horse videos with the PIXIO, OM-D E-M5 Mark III and M.Zuiko Digital 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 II R, and the E-30 with the Zuiko Digital ED 9-18 mm f/4.0-5.6.


Sony HDR-CX405 results
Topic: Link here

Finally found time to look at the video clips that I took on Chris Bahlo's Sony HDR-CX405 yesterday. First, though, how do I get the videos off the camera? As on the Olympus cameras, all images are stored in a single directory (MP_ROOT\100ANV01). And that needs to start this silly PlayMemories program—not to use it; it's useless—but to set the camera USB connection into mass storage mode.

Did that: no clips! Searched the whole file system and found nothing obvious. But they had been displayed in “Windows Explorer” before I started PlayMemories. OK, stop it again, disconnect and reconnect the camera, and take a look:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200731/big/WE-1.png
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This time they're displayed in “subdirectories” with the date, a completely different organization from in the real file system. Why do they not store them that way in the first place?

OK, how do I get this onto a sane machine? “Copy” is what I need, but that's an old, worn-out magic word. I can't use CMD.EXE, because this thing isn't a file system. Off to search the web, and came up with this page.

TL;DR: there are four methods: drag and drop, cut and paste, use context menu or (the easiest) CMD.EXE. But somehow the first three didn't work for me: when I selected the files and tried to drag them, they were automatically deselected. But even if it had worked, what a way to work!

In the end, since I wanted the whole directory, went to the parent directory and copied that. Only 30 minutes for something that in the old days would have taken 10 seconds.

And what did they look like? Terrible! Yes, now the resolution is better, but it's still interlaced, and it shoves the fact into your face:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200801/big/Sony-HDR-CX405-1.jpeg
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These are slightly cropped, but immediately obvious when looking at the video. And yes, of course I can deinterlace them, but that's associated with a significant loss of quality, not what we need.

But why? I was sure I had set 50p. Still more head-scratching needed.

Other items of interest: the image gradation somehow seemed worse than the Olympus, though it's difficult to pin it down. But the image stabilization was better than I expected, probably on a par with the Olympus. At the very least I'd have to do some more rigorous comparisons.


VoIP recording software?
Topic: technology, multimedia, language, opinion Link here

Yesterday's fracas with Telstra left me wishing that I had had an audio transcript of the call. Surely that can't be difficult: in principle I could have sniffed the traffic with Wireshark, but that's a bit clunky. Aren't there any recording programs out there?

Yes, but it seems—paradoxically—mainly for Microsoft “Windows”. And there's an Open Source Audio Recorder offering a free 30-day trial. rms would love that and point out that “open source” is far from as obvious as “free software”.


Interpreting COVID-19 lockdown rules
Topic: health, general, opinion Link here

Not surprisingly, there were many reports of people disobeying the current lockdown rules. Or did they just not understand them?

To quote two such cases, as reported by Victoria's Police Minister Lisa Neville:

Can I be really clear, just in case there is any doubt at all, that there is absolutely no reason or need to drive from Melbourne to Wodonga to have a Big Mac.
That is one of the fines that was issued yesterday.

Well, yes, but do the regulations prohibit it? Probably: my understanding is that it is prohibited, because Wodonga is (a long way) outside the Melbourne exclusion zone. And you really can't say that the BigMac isn't available within the zone.

To be fair, I'm not sure that there is an exclusion zone. I certainly can't point to any regulation mentioning it. I've gone and checked again, but the more this thing progresses, the less sure I am of anything about these restrictions. They're getting more vague and confusing by the day.

But she goes on:

There is absolutely no reason to drive from Werribee out to Springvale to buy groceries.
Why would people think that is OK? They don't care, it can't be because people aren't aware of the rules.

I disagree. There is a good reason to go to Springvale to buy groceries: you can get things there that you can't get elsewhere, notably East Asian foodstuffs. I have even driven there from here (170 km, coincidentally past Werribee) for exactly that reason.

And why not? Both Werribee and Springvale are inside the exclusion zone. Yes, they're nearly 60 km apart, but I don't see anything in the rules that says that you have to buy within a certain distance of your home.

So, people: don't just complain. Write down sensible rules and make them clearly available. If you don't want people going long distances for groceries, set a limit. I can't see one at the moment.


Changing hand bandage
Topic: health, opinion Link here

I've had the same bandage on my left hand since Wednesday. It hasn't been causing any trouble, and I've had less pain from the hand than from the tetanus injection, but it's clearly time to change the bandage. It's not looking overly pretty:


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Somehow it doesn't cover the wound overly well. But there's more:


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The second photo shows how off-centre the bandage was. But how did the sutures bend like that? They should have been straight. And they no longer cover the wound properly. In fact, it looks as if one of them has disappeared altogether, though I thought that they were thinner. Something to do with the position of the wound?

Put a new bandage on, hopefully better centred, and despite the position it seems to stick. But we're not completely over with the bleeding:


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Cordon bleu revisited
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

We've cooked Cordon bleu a number of times recently, most recently in an “air fryer”. I decided that that was a mistake: fry in butter.

But how long? Tonight I gave it about 12 minutes, which seems reasonable. It wasn't until later that I discovered I had written 4-5 minutes per side in the recipe, so clearly it depends on the temperature. But being crumbed, it swallows a lot of butter. Next time I should weigh it.


Sunday, 2 August 2020 Dereel Images for 2 August 2020
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Still more Sony HDR-CX405 strangeness
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

Why did the the Sony HDR-CX405 switch to interlaced mode after I set it for 1080p the other day? Off to check, revealing even more strangeness.

Here's the Image Quality / Size menu:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200803/big/Sony-HDR-CX405-menu-3.jpeg
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Of these, only Frame Rate and Image Size have obvious meanings. Well, maybe. In fact, Image Size refers only to still images. So how do you select the image size?

I still don't know. Last week I selected it via REC Mode, but I discovered that the format I had selected was only interlaced. Yes, you can select 50p from the Frame Rate menu:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200803/big/Sony-HDR-CX405-menu-5.jpeg
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It accepts it, but when you exit the menu it sets it back to interlaced without any further indication.

Spent some time trying to understand the File Format menu:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200803/big/Sony-HDR-CX405-menu-6.jpeg
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More buzzwords. Yes, I can look them up in Wikipedia, but apart from that there's only guesswork and experimentation. So that's what I did, and I discovered:

  1. XAVC S HD only supports 50i.
  2. AVCHD only supports 50p.
  3. After selecting one of them, I can't find a way back to the REC Mode menu. That's why it's greyed out in these photos.

What a mess! OK, I don't really care about the other REC Modes, which are even worse quality, and I hope that Chris doesn't either.

Off later to try out these settings with the horses. And the results? No time to look at them. Mañana.


Disaster!
Topic: health, general, opinion Link here

Despite the measures taken, the number of COVID-19 cases in Victoria continues to rise. On Thursday the government imposed “lockdown”, whatever that may mean, and I grumbled about the lack of precision in their statements and the lack of information on the web. My comments on the web site went without answer, as I had expected. And yesterday I questioned the illegality of going shopping in Springvale from Werribee: where are the distance limits?

But today we have something new. “Stage 4” (of course also not clearly defined) restrictions, including grocery shopping no more than 5 km away. That's reasonable, at least for Melbourne; round here the nearest supermarket is 28 km away. But what was it before? My guess is that they hadn't defined it, but expected people to adhere to some concept of locality anyway.

Round here, we're back to having “no visitors in the house”. Ah, but that's the way it was before, sort of. Changes to restrictions that apply to Greater Geelong and surrounds (not a title that would normally attract my attention; Geelong is 75 km away, compared to 30 to Ballarat) applies to me anyway, and it states:

  1. You can no longer have visitors to your home, except for necessary goods or services, care or other compassionate reasons, or work or education.
  2. You can still meet with up to 10 people in a public place in these areas, such as a park or cafe.
  3. Otherwise, the Stage 2 Stay Safe directions continue to apply in Greater Geelong and the surrounding areas.

Apart from the strange idea that going to cafes is safer than staying at home, does the exception include allowing the cleaners in? My interpretation is “yes”. And that page is still there, as of 3 August 2020, 13:20 (time zone defaults to UTC+10). But then there's this page, published on 2 August at 14:38, titled “Melbourne placed under stage 4 coronavirus lockdown, stage 3 for rest of Victoria as state of disaster declared”, which contains:

Regional Victoria will move to stage three restrictions from Thursday, meaning restaurants, cafes, bars and gyms will close from 11:59pm on Wednesday.

And what else does that mean? They don't say.

Off to the health.vic.gov.au site to see if they had improved anything. No, but I noticed the ability to submit feedback. So, at 15:55, I sent:

Please, PLEASE finally publish exact details of the lockdown restrictions.  I've just read the latest premier's statement, which refers to a previous statement, which refers to some nebulous "phase 2" and "phase 3" lockdowns, which I can't find anywhere.

How do you expect people to adhere to the restrictions if they don't know what they are?  Even now, it seems, you're allowed to go grocery shopping.  But yesterday somebody was fined for doing just that, simply because he/she drove 60 km to Springvale to do so.  I've been looking for some time to find whether there is a distance limit on where to shop for food.  There's a good reason to choose Springvale: foodstuffs (notably East Asian) are available there that aren't available elsewhere.  So if you don't want people to go that far, make it clear.

My suggestions:

1.  Write a clear, concise web page describing what people may and may not do, and KEEP IT UP TO DATE.
2.  Link to this page from http://health.vic.gov.au and other appropriate pages.
3.  Link to this page from ANY statement published about lockdown restrictions.

This will not only make life easier for the general population.  It will give a better legal framework for prosecuting offenders.

And I got a reply fairly quickly, at 07:28:33 +0000 (their choice of time zone). I had to fill out a form, of course, and so they got information that they quoted, like this:

Submitted on Sun, 08/02/2020 - 15:55

Submitted by: Anonymous

Submitted values are:
Email (required)
groggyhimself@lemis.com<mailto:groggyhimself@lemis.com>

Name (optional)
Greg Lehey

Postcode (optional)
3352

At least they had an (unspecified) Australian time zone there. But there's my name, so why “anonymous”?

The reply was not helpful:

We are working as quickly as possible to get the relevant information up - please see the new restrictions page to see what is now allowed - https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/updates/coronavirus-covid-19/premiers-statement-changes-melbournes-restrictions

Now isn't that helpful! As the URL indicates, it's not what I was asking for. In fact, it's what I was complaining about. And then they say:

You shouldn't be travelling more than 5km from your home unless you have certain needs.

Which needs? Where's that in the link they sent? Does it even apply to me? No, according to what information I have found: it applies only to Melbourne, and they have my post code, so they should have known that.

Discussed the matter on IRC, with a surprising lack of understanding on the part of the others. They pointed to further URLs with snippets of information: https://www.abc.net.au/news/story-streams/coronavirus/, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-02/victorias-latest-coronavirus-restrictions-explained/12516182, https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorias-restriction-levels-covid-19, https://www.vic.gov.au/coronavirus-covid-19-restrictions-victoria...

Why is it so hard just to keep an up-to-date summary and point to it from everywhere that mentions the issue? Disaster indeed, but one that could be easily fixed.

I won't even start on formulation issues like “You can not” instead of “You may not”, or “Coronavirus” instead of COVID-19.


Spraying weeds
Topic: gardening Link here

Nice weather today, so out to finally spray some of the weeds that are popping up. Managed the bed to the south of house and the “garden” to the north.


Monday, 3 August 2020 Dereel Images for 3 August 2020
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Present from Piccola
Topic: general, animals Link here

Piccola has been tending to put on weight lately, so we've put her on a diet. That has done her good, less so the mice that have infested the garage. But today, after her frugal breakfast and subsequent walk outside, Yvonne found:


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A present? A thrown gauntlet? Not even Nikolai wanted to eat it.


Too many tropaeolums
Topic: general, animals, opinion Link here

Spring is just around the corner, and new plants are coming up. In front of the music room we have an issue: the whole bed is covered in tropaeolums (tropaeola?). But other plants are struggling to get out:


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Tore some of them out, stepped into the bed and... fell into the hole for the water extraction pump, up to my knee. Fool! I knew that it was there, and that I had left the lid off to observe it better. That's it in the front of the first photo. Time to replace it and nurse my bruises.


Sony HDR-CX405, the last
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

Finally got round to looking at the video clips that I took with the Sony HDR-CX405 yesterday.

First: where are the files? Well, this time there was only one. Copied it from the fake directory 2020-08-02 to eureka, where it showed itself as:

-r-xr--r--     1 grog    wheel  736,886,784  3 Aug 12:33 20200802134529.MTS

That file name looks like a date YYYYMMDDHHMMSS. But it doesn't match the timestamp of the file. Presumably Microsoft's “copy” function is too polite to maintain the original timestamp. Further checking with PlayMemories showed that yes, indeed, it's the timestamp relating to the recording time (presumably the end of the recording), which could be useful in some bizarre circumstances.

While searching, also found the name that it uses in USB mode. With the fake MTP file system, it's 20200802134529.MTS, as above. But internally, as the USB mode reveals, it's \PRIVATE\AVCHD\BDMV\STREAM\00013.MTS! Why PRIVATE? If there's one thing you want to be able to find on the device, it's the videos you've just taken!

While I was searching, accidentally clicked on the image, started a program that was too polite to state its name, and took forever to display. Isn't Microsoft fun?

So now I had the clip that I was looking for. As might be expected, it was better than the previous ones. But somehow it lacked the crispness of the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III videos taken at the same time. It also showed pronounced flare: Yvonne had placed the camera so that it pointed towards the sun. Yes, it was in the shade of the trees, but enough sunlight got through. And it made itself more unpleasantly visible than with the Olympus (last image):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200803/big/Sony-HDR-CX405-screenshot-3.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200802/big/E-M5-Mark-III-screenshot-1.jpeg
Image title: E M5 Mark III screenshot 1          Dimensions:          1920 x 1080, 355 kB
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And yes, this particular Olympus shot doesn't look good. But that's not typical.

And what do these buzzwords mean? Found this page, really about the Sony A7, which confuses me all the more:

AVCHD looks similar to XAVC S, and if you just want to upload the video straight away it might be okay. There are three disadvantages to AVCHD:

  • Poor audio codec
  • Harder to edit
  • Doesn’t grade very well

There are two ‘advantages’:

  • It’s half the data rate, therefore half the storage.
  • You don’t need an SDXC card for it, you can use SDHC cards (32GB and lower).

Clearly this doesn't relate to the HDR-CX405, but it's not clear why the data rates are the other way round on this camera.


Olympus edge conditions
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

I've had my “new” Olympus E-30 for just over a year (in fact, the beginning of August has been a time for buying cameras over the decades). I only use it for my analemma photography series, and for the fun of it I didn't delete the images from the CF card, just to see how long it would last. It's a 4 GB card, and the pair of images I take amount to about 25 MB per pair, so I'd expect it to last for about 160 pairs.

Today I was nearly there: only 30 MB left on the card. Took the first image. 10 MB. “Card full”! Why?

...
58021542 ORF  13142830 2020-08-02  12:25
58031543 ORF  10993858 2020-08-03  12:25
      337 files       3 973 199 392 bytes

Total files listed:
      341 files       3 973 199 392 bytes
                         19 595 264 bytes free

My best guesses are that either the camera first writes the image to the card and then compresses it, or that it checks free space based on a worst-case scenario. In any case, my fault, missed the image pair. And my guess of 160 pairs (320 files) was pretty close to the mark.


Time to finish dereel
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Somehow I've had lots of things to do lately, and one of the multitude of things I have left unfinished was the installation of dereel, my second desktop machine.

But time has made it more urgent: for reasons I don't understand, a number of sites no longer want to talk to the firefox version on eureka. Time to continue with installing dereel.

In principle, the next step is simple: install multi-monitor X on dereel and join it to eureka with x2x. I've been using X on the desktop for over 30 years, and I published my first article on how to configure it over 27 years ago. What's the problem?

Two issues: hardware and software. Where do I connect the outputs from the card (an old Nvidia GeForce GT 710 (or GK208; for some reason they all have two names)? It has three outputs D-Sub, DVI and HDMI, but I only have one spare monitor. Never mind, I have monitors with multiple inputs, and coincidentally the two leftmost of the existing 4 have a spare DVI and HDMI input. The one I've been using for testing can thus have the D-Sub connector. The only issue was that that's the output I had connected to distress; I'll have to add a card with DVI output to distress, just because of that.

The other issue was the cables. Do I have the right kind and the right length? Once again, somewhat to my surprise, yes. Connected them up, just for the fun typed startx and... it worked! Out of the box. And it ran on all three monitors.

Well, almost. I ended up with a single display across all three screens, and of course the chances of them being in the right order were 5:1 against, but it worked. And when I inserted a dongle for a wireless mouse, that worked too. That's so different from the pain I've been through in recent years.

So now I have 5 monitors again, for the first time in 13 years:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200804/big/Office.jpeg
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From left to right:

Monitor       Resolution       Input       System
Acer G246HL       1920x1080       D-Sub       dereel:0.0
            DVI       distress (to be completed)
            HDMI       not connected
BenQ GW2265       1920x1080       D-Sub       eureka:0.0
            DVI       dereel:0.1
BenQ E2200HD       1920x1080       DVI       eureka:0.1
            HDMI       dereel:0.2
            D-Sub       not connected
FRT DIGITAL       2560x1440       DVI       eureka:0.2
BenQ G2400W       1920x1200       DVI       dischord
            HDMI       eureka:0.3
            D-Sub       not connected

So not only do I have four machines connected, I have three inputs free.

But things aren't as good as they might seem. eureka has 4 display outputs and dereel has 3. That means that I could connect another two monitors and use them all—if I could find a use for them. In the meantime, I suppose I should start a new server on eureka talking just to the rightmost two monitors. And switching the inputs is a different pain for each monitor. The BenQ GW2265 in particular reverts to DVI when the D-Sub input goes away (screen saving in particular). It doesn't revert when only the D-Sub input returns.

Still, more progress than I had expected. At the very least it shows that the card can really drive three monitors. Now to tidy up the configurations for both systems.


Covered riding arena: progress?
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

It's been several days since I called the Golden Plains Council and left a message with Rob[iy]n about updating our planning permit. No reply. Tried again today and was connected to Sandra, who suspects that it's too late to update it, but will see what she can do, and will call back by Wednesday at the latest.


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