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Monday, 1 February 2016 Dereel Images for 1 February 2016
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Where's my colonoscopy?
Topic: health, opinion Link here

It's been nearly 4 weeks since I applied for a colonoscopy. I had been told it would take 2 weeks, but so far I have heard nothing. Called up the Ballarat Base Hospital and was connected a couple of times before I reached the endoscopy unit (phone 5320 6949). There I reached a very disinterested Kate, who told me that they had a backlog because they had been shut down for three weeks over Christmas. On repeated questioning she finally looked up and found my records. “Open access”, whatever that means, and I would just have to wait for them to contact me. On further questioning, she suggested it could take 8 weeks.

I've had a very high opinion of the Base Hospital up to now. But she certainly helped change that. They've been in the news lately because of the poor (“soul-destroying”) workplace atmosphere. Is this another indication?

Called up my health insurance people and asked what cover I would get to go as a private patient. Just the excess of $250 that is printed on the card. And I could get treated quite quickly at St John of God or (particularly) the rather unclearly titled Ballarat Day Procedure Centre. Is it worth it? I have my teeth checked twice a year and pay about that much. If I don't have them checked, I risk losing a tooth. If I miss the colonoscopy, I risk losing my life. So it sounds like a good idea to go private.


Online concert bookings
Topic: technology, music, opinion Link here

So we've decided to go to the Kammerphilarmonie Köln concert on Friday. How do we get tickets? There are plenty of sites that sell them at different prices, or I can call up Her Majesty's Theatre and book them over the phone. The price is the same as on their web site.

My prejudices against broken web sites suggest that the phone is the better choice. But that's chickening out, so I braved the web site. My prejudices were confirmed. I had to register with the site with full address, email and password, and it didn't want to acccept my address:

 
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If these sites insist on checking the address, they should at least have the most up-to-date list of addresses. It's been over 18 months since the address was assigned, and it still doesn't show up.

And I was required to answer all sorts of questions, including what kind of music I liked (choice: Country and Western, POP, ROCK (their capitalization)). It's not the first time that the disjunction between web designer and client shows through.

Finally I had the tickets, and had to print them out. One document, so each ticket was on one side of the same sheet of paper. Hopefully that won't cause any problems.

And that are they playing? A Vivaldi bassoon concerto (typical duration 10 to 15 minutes), Mozart KV 191 (typically 20 minutes). I saw that on the flyer. And the rest of the two hour programme? I don't know how to find out in advance unless I go into town and find one of the flyers.


Finishing the mplayer mods
Topic: technology, multimedia, opinion Link here

I've been procrastinating in applying my patches to mplayer, but it's gradually time to do something. And once I had found what looked like the most recent patches, actually applying them wasn't that bad. And it worked! About the only modification I needed to make was to remove a rather unsuccessful attempt to measure time in files captured from an MPEG Transport Stream:

/*
 * grog, 2008/10/16 07:15:42
 * Calculate the elapsed time for a file.  We need this if we have
 * copied transport streams with nonsensical elapsed time values.
 */
double demuxer_calc_elapsed_time (demuxer_t *demuxer)
{
  double get_time_ans;
  sh_video_t *sh_video = demuxer->video->sh;
  sh_audio_t *sh_audio = demuxer->audio->sh;
  if (sh_video && sh_video->i_bps)
    get_time_ans = (double) (demuxer->filepos - demuxer->movi_start) / sh_video->i_bps;
  else if (sh_audio && sh_audio->i_bps)
    get_time_ans = (double) (demuxer->filepos - demuxer->movi_start) / sh_audio->i_bps;
  else
    get_time_ans=0;
  return get_time_ans;
}

The first attempt divides the file position by the byte rate of the stream. But for reasons I don't understand, this is frequently reported incorrectly by an order of magnitude, so the results were meaningless. And anyway, I almost never watch captured transport streams any more.

Next step: move to tiwi, the new TV machine, and try it there. That was less successful: once again X came up in 1024×768 mode. That was due to the el-cheapo KVM that I bought a couple of months ago, which doesn't pass EDID data. But I thought I had fixed that.

Next, the display was blank. Why? Wrong choice of video driver? Maybe. Yet another thing to compare. It might also have been related to the incorrect display resolution, but it should have handled that.

And finally, the remote control didn't work. Not a lirc problem this time, since irw did. It took me a lot more trawling in old diary entries to discover that lirc support is a build option for mplayer. And now I have built directly from source rather than via the FreeBSD ports framework, I'm not sure how to proceed. Probably I'm going to have to restructure again.


Emus in the wild?
Topic: animals Link here

Since moving to Stones Road, our dog-walking has decreased in frequency and distance. In Kleins Road we went twice a day for up to 1.5 km, but lately we're going only in the afternoon and usually less than 1 km.

Why? In Kleins Road we couldn't let the dogs run around outside, since it wasn't fenced. Now they can, so they need less walking. And the immediate vicinity of our house is all roads, while in Kleins Road we were quickly in the forest.

Today we decided to go into Enfield State Forest, for the first time since we got the car wedged in July 2014. Up to Westons Road, where we saw a surprising sight:


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Are there emus round here? Clearly there's one, but it seemed to be trying to get into the garden on the other side of the fence.

We went walking, in the process passing a strange sight:


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That's reminiscent of the trapped kangaroo that we saw on 18 June 2014, coincidentally only a few hundred metres away:


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Clearly today's one wasn't as lucky.

On the way back, more emus:


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Yvonne tells me that they really are pets, and they somehow got out. But I've also confirmed that their habitat includes this area, even if they're far less common than kangaroos.


Tuesday, 2 February 2016 Dereel
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Fixing video issues
Topic: multimedia, technology Link here

By the end of yesterday I had at least three remaining issues with tiwi: display resolution, lack of video with mplayer, and lack of lirc support. Spent today addressing them. The resolution issue was straightforward enough, just a mode line in the xorg.conf file. But the lack of display kept me going all day.

First question: is this a problem with mplayer or X? That's easy to check: display the output of a known good mplayer on tiwi:0, and display the output of my new mplayer, running on tiwi, on a display on eureka.

But the first part didn't work. The X server wasn't listening on TCP port x11. I've seen this before. At some point they changed startx to set the --nolisten-tcp option by default, and I had to hack it to get it to work. Now, however, it doesn't have that option at all. More RTFM, with not much information. I should have read my diary instead. The correct invocation is:

=== grog@tiwi (/dev/pts/3) ~ 1 -> startx -- -listen-tcp

After that, the comparisons ran smoothly. All mplayers could display on eureka:0, none could display on tiwi:0. So the problem is with the X server.

Workaround or fix? Workarounds might be easier. First option: there is more than one video output driver for mplayer. How do the others compare?

=== grog@tiwi (/dev/pts/2) ~ 1 -> /eureka/home/grog/src/ports/mplayer-export-2015-12-19/mplayer -vo help
MPlayer SVN-r37564-snapshot-3.4.1 (C) 2000-2015 MPlayer Team
Available video output drivers:
        xv      X11/Xv
        gl_nosw OpenGL no software rendering
        x11     X11 ( XImage/Shm )
        xover   General X11 driver for overlay capable video output drivers
        gl      OpenGL
        gl_tiled        X11 (OpenGL) - multiple textures version
        dga     DGA ( Direct Graphic Access V2.0 )
        matrixview      MatrixView (OpenGL)
        null    Null video output
        mpegpes MPEG-PES to DVB card
        yuv4mpeg        yuv4mpeg output for mjpegtools
        png     PNG file
        jpeg    JPEG file
        tga     Targa output
        pnm     PPM/PGM/PGMYUV file
        md5sum  md5sum of each frame

The one I was using (default) was xv. Most of the others turn out to be unsuited. The only ones left are x11 and gl. x11 works, but it can't scale, so when I set full screen, I still got the image in original size (typically 1280×720).

gl didn't work at all. I got a message saying that the glx module wasn't loaded. Took a look in xorg.conf:

Section "Module"
        Load  "glx"
EndSection

So what's the problem? /var/log/Xorg.0.log had the clue:

[1527969.556] (II) "glx" will be loaded. This was enabled by default and also specified in the config file.
[1527969.556] (II) LoadModule: "glx"
[1527969.556] (II) Loading /usr/local/lib/xorg/modules/extensions/libglx.so
[1527969.573] (II) Module glx: vendor="NVIDIA Corporation"
[1527969.573] compiled for 4.0.2, module version = 1.0.0
[1527969.573] Module class: X.Org Server Extension
[1527969.573] (II) NVIDIA GLX Module  304.128  Wed Aug 26 10:51:55 PDT 2015
...
[1527969.763] (EE) Failed to initialize GLX extension (Compatible NVIDIA X driver not found)

Why is it trying to load an nVidia module? This is an Intel chipset.

=== grog@tiwi (/dev/pts/3) ~ 4 -> locate libglx | xargs ls -l
lrwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel        11 29 Sep 21:27 /usr/local/lib/xorg/modules/extensions/.nvidia/libglx.so -> libglx.so.1
-r--r--r--  3 root  wheel  11708520 29 Sep 21:27 /usr/local/lib/xorg/modules/extensions/.nvidia/libglx.so.1
-r--r--r--  1 root  wheel    292344 12 Nov 12:18 /usr/local/lib/xorg/modules/extensions/.xorg/libglx.so
-r--r--r--  3 root  wheel  11708520 29 Sep 21:27 /usr/local/lib/xorg/modules/extensions/libglx.so
-r--r--r--  3 root  wheel  11708520 29 Sep 21:27 /usr/local/lib/xorg/modules/extensions/libglx.so.1

So it seems that the X server is loading /usr/local/lib/xorg/modules/extensions/libglx.so or /usr/local/lib/xorg/modules/extensions/libglx.so.1, and that's linked to /usr/local/lib/xorg/modules/extensions/.nvidia/libglx.so.1. There's also a much smaller /usr/local/lib/xorg/modules/extensions/.xorg/libglx.so, which is probably what it really wanted.

It seems that for some reason, probably related to the configuration on eureka, I have installed a number of nvidia* ports. Removed them again, and how about that, the removal process reinstated the old link to .xorg/libglx.so.

Tried starting mplayer with -vo gl, and this time it worked—at a snail's pace. top reported:

CPU: 87.4% user,  0.0% nice,  5.9% system,  1.2% interrupt,  5.5% idle

  PID USERNAME      THR PRI NICE   SIZE    RES STATE   C   TIME    WCPU COMMAND
74088 grog            3  97    0   331M   120M CPU0    0   1:36 177.34% mplayer

So back to seeing what's wrong with xv. Compared the output of mplayer on tiwi and on eureka. There's stuff in there like:

VO: [xv] 1280x696 => 1280x696 Planar YV12
[VO_XV] Shared memory not supported
Reverting to normal Xv.
[VO_XV] Shared memory not supported
Reverting to normal Xv.

But that's on both machines, so it's clearly not the issue. More googling. this page, apparently a copy of the mplayer documentation, tells me:

Load xvideo:

   X loads the XVideo extension, it's something like this:

(II) Loading extension XVideo

And that wasn't there. On the other hand, it wasn't on eureka either. Another dead end (and documentation error). But there's more:

  8.2.8. Intel cards

These cards can be found in many laptops. Recent Xorg is recommended.

To allow playback of DVD sized (and larger) content change your XF86Config/xorg.conf like this:

Section "Device"
    [...]
    Driver "intel"
    Option "LinearAlloc" "6144"
    [...]
EndSection

Lack of this option usually results in an error like

X11 error: BadAlloc (insufficient resources for operation)

when attempting to use -vo xv.

But I didn't get that message, so that, too, isn't the issue.

Next, I found this page, which also shows how much Linux flavours like Ubuntu are diverging from mainstream Unix (possibly taking the main stream with them). It's also an issue with mplayer and xv, though it's not clear how closely it relates to my problem. Still, it suggested a check:

=== grog@tiwi (/dev/pts/0) /src/DVDs 35 -> glxinfo | grep OpenGL
OpenGL vendor string: VMware, Inc.
OpenGL renderer string: Gallium 0.4 on llvmpipe (LLVM 3.6, 128 bits)
OpenGL core profile version string: 3.3 (Core Profile) Mesa 11.0.8
OpenGL core profile shading language version string: 3.30
OpenGL core profile context flags: (none)
OpenGL core profile profile mask: core profile
OpenGL core profile extensions:
OpenGL version string: 3.0 Mesa 11.0.8
OpenGL shading language version string: 1.30
OpenGL context flags: (none)
OpenGL extensions:
OpenGL ES profile version string: OpenGL ES 3.0 Mesa 11.0.8
OpenGL ES profile shading language version string: OpenGL ES GLSL ES 3.00
OpenGL ES profile extensions:

VMware? That's not what the page suggested, and it's not what I would have expected either. I don't even use VMware! What about stable?

=== grog@stable (/dev/pts/5) ~ 7 -> DISPLAY=:0 glxinfo | grep OpenGL
OpenGL vendor string: Intel Open Source Technology Center
OpenGL renderer string: Mesa DRI Intel(R) Q45/Q43
OpenGL version string: 2.1 Mesa 11.0.8
OpenGL shading language version string: 1.20
OpenGL extensions:
OpenGL ES profile version string: OpenGL ES 2.0 Mesa 11.0.8
OpenGL ES profile shading language version string: OpenGL ES GLSL ES 1.0.16
OpenGL ES profile extensions:

That's more like it, and also matches well with the description on the page. At least here I have something to go on. But where does it come from?

Then I got thinking. Why is GLX (or the gl driver) so slow? Only last month I reported that xv used only 4% CPU. So it must once have worked. Which machine? I didn't report. Tried it on stable, and everything worked.

So: what's the issue? Clearly it's some compatibility thing. Possibilities include different display hardware and configuration issues. The difference in OpenGL might be the clue. How do I track it down? stable and tiwi are both Lenovo ThinkCentres, and they both have integrated Intel GPUs. But they're not identical, and potentially there's an issue with the machine I chose for tiwi. But that's for tomorrow. It took me all day to get this far.


More fun with telemarketeers
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Eighteen months ago I described a trick to upset telemarketeers. What I've heard since then is that it had an immediate reaction from telemarketeer management. The drones have been instructed to never, never change the configuration of their phones on instruction over the phone.

Today I heard of another hack: a robot that recognizes spam calls and automatically handles them. This story in particular amused me.

How do you recognize spam calls in advance? The caller ID may give some clue, as the link describes. That's applicable to the USA, but here we get different things. Today I got a call from 0380801590, which, however, appears to be a valid number. A few days ago I got one showing the caller ID (spread over 2 lines on my phone):

V12810213900004
128102139000041

The number appears to be doubled. No idea what the V at the beginning means. Is this some feature of my telephone?


Wednesday, 3 February 2016 Dereel Images for 3 February 2016
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mplayer: Finally!
Topic: technology, multimedia Link here

I finished yesterday with the recognition that my issues with mplayer were related either to specific hardware or specific software. Which? Today I started by putting the disk from stable into the new tiwi machine and trying in that configuration. It worked. So it's not the hardware.

Which software? I guessed something in /usr/local. The base systems are the same, so after replacing the original disks in their machines, I copied the entire /usr hierarchy from stable to tiwi (as /spool/usr), then rebooted and symlinked /spool/usr to /usr. And sure enough, that worked too. So all I needed was to put the hierarchy in the correct place and I was done.

Well, there are still some rough edges. The package database presumably has a different view of the world from what's really installed in this incarnation of /usr/local. But that should be easy enough to sort out.

So I have fixed two of the three issues I identified on Monday. The remaining one should be simple: get lirc to play nice with mplayer. First I needed to move the lirc configuration files from the old /usr/local/etc to the new one. In the process discovered something interesting:

=== root@tiwi (/dev/pts/1) /home/grog 1 -> /usr/local/sbin/lircd -n --driver=dvico --device=/dev/uhid0
lircd: lircd(dvico) ready, using /var/run/lirc/lircd
lircd: accepted new client on /var/run/lirc/lircd
lircd: initializing '/dev/uhid0'
lircd: unable to open '/dev/uhid0': No such file or directory (2)
lircd: WARNING: Failed to initialize hardware
lircd: removed client
lircd: accepted new client on /var/run/lirc/lircd
lircd: initializing '/dev/uhid0'

I had started lircd with the -n (“don't daemonize”) option, and that also caused it to break its vow of silence and say something. And it explained a problem I had had with the ktrace output: it doesn't try to open the USB device (/dev/uhid0) until it gets a client. The WARNING (really a fatal error) was because the receiver wasn't plugged in. It didn't return an error (or anything else, for that matter) to the client, though. The second time round I had plugged in the receiver, and it worked. But what horrible software that doesn't report this kind of error!

The next step was to reconfigure mplayer with the --enable-lircd option. Problem: it had already been configured that way. Tried a clean build anyway, and got a surprising error:

gmake -C ffmpeg libpostproc/libpostproc.a
gmake[1]: Entering directory '/home/grog/src/ports/mplayer-export-2015-12-19/ffmpeg'
tests/checkasm//Makefile:9: *** Too many open files.  Stop.
gmake[1]: Leaving directory '/home/grog/src/ports/mplayer-export-2015-12-19/ffmpeg'
Makefile:743: recipe for target 'ffmpeg/libpostproc/libpostproc.a' failed
gmake: *** [ffmpeg/libpostproc/libpostproc.a] Error 2

Too many open files? I've seen this before, and it wasn't nice. But on that occasion I got a kernel error message. This time I didn't, and the sysctls showed that I wasn't anywhere near the open file limit. And it happened on two different machines, so it seems that something was wrong with the Makefile.

OK, back to a question I had posed earlier: how do I reconcile the way I'm doing this with the FreeBSD ports framework? It looks as if the best way would be to generate patches for the FreeBSD port and add them to the files subdirectory. A little script to generate them, a single merge, and I was away.

And it worked. What a relief. It has only taken me a week.

What next? I'm still waiting for the tuner I bought over a month ago (and have decided to annul the transaction), but the old teevee doesn't have a tuner either. I could replace it. About the only other thing I need to do is to confirm that sound is working. And that's more logistics than software, I hope.


Thursday, 4 February 2016 Dereel
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tiwi: done!
Topic: technology, multimedia Link here

More work on tiwi today. Yesterday it was mainly working, but I had to check audio, ensure that it boots up cleanly, and move it to the lounge room. And clearly I needed to move the videos on teevee across to tiwi. Nothing very complicated, but lots of non-obvious details.

Syncing the videos was the most time-consuming. I had already done so last month, but since then new videos have arrived, of course. I used rsync last time, but didn't mention it in my diary. That's a mistake: every time I use rsync for something like this, I have a couple of false starts while I sort out options and whether path names should end in a /. Today I finally got it moving with:

=== grog@tiwi (/dev/pts/0) ~ 11 -> mailme rsync -av --delete-after teevee:/home/video/ /spool

That still took a couple of hours. The disk contains nearly 2 TB of data (values in MB):

=== grog@tiwi (/dev/pts/0) ~ 12 -> du -sc /spool/*
267487  /spool/Cooking
195324  /spool/Docco
11361   /spool/Gardening
13398   /spool/Horses
418     /spool/ISOs
610688  /spool/Images
3776    /spool/Lectures
8597    /spool/Loeschen
32969   /spool/Music
659279  /spool/Videos
8596    /spool/camera
1811887 total

Checking the audio meant crawling under the desk to disconnect the audio cable from eureka. Tested. Works.

Startup was another matter. For reasons I don't understand, I've been having problems with NFS since copying /usr from stable. I can't see a connection with the copy, but it seems to be a race condition between starting named and doing the mounts. I've seen this before in the past under other circumstances, and at the moment I just hope it'll go away.

And starting lircd? On teevee I was doing it manually using the deprecated /etc/rc.local, but nowadays the correct way to do it is with a script in /usr/local/etc. And sure enough, there's a lircd there. And true to the quality of the product, it's defective: there's no way to specify which driver. That should be in /etc/rc.conf:

lircd_enable=YES
lircd_driver=dvico
lircd_device=/dev/uhid0

But lircd_driver is my invention, and so far I haven't found out how to tell the script to look at it. Some other time; for now I've just hacked the script.

So: nothing left to stop me moving it. Added to the existing mess in the lounge room:


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That will all get hidden when the new TV cabinet arrives, but in the meantime the additional box is hardly noticeable. And then it dawned on me that the machine doesn't have an HDMI output. Connect with RGB only. And when I fired up X, I got a display that took up the left ⅔ of the screen, with a large black area on the right.

What went wrong there? Took a look in /var/log/Xorg.0.log and found:

[   439.858] (WW) EDID timing clock 148.50 exceeds claimed max 135MHz, fixing
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): EDID for output VGA1
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): Manufacturer: MST  Model: b01  Serial#: 1001
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): Year: 2007  Week: 0
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): EDID Version: 1.3
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): Analog Display Input,  Input Voltage Level: 0.700/0.700 V
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): Sync:  Separate
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): Max Image Size [cm]: horiz.: 70  vert.: 39
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): Gamma: 2.20
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): No DPMS capabilities specified; RGB/Color Display
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): First detailed timing is preferred mode
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): redX: 0.652 redY: 0.333   greenX: 0.275 greenY: 0.595
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): blueX: 0.143 blueY: 0.063   whiteX: 0.285 whiteY: 0.293
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): Supported established timings:
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): 720x400@70Hz
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): 640x480@60Hz
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): 800x600@60Hz
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): 1024x768@60Hz
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): 1280x1024@75Hz
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): Manufacturer's mask: 0
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): Supported standard timings:
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): #0: hsize: 1280  vsize 1024  refresh: 60  vid: 32897
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): Supported detailed timing:
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): clock: 148.5 MHz   Image Size:  331 x 186 mm
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): h_active: 1920  h_sync: 2008  h_sync_end 2052 h_blank_end 2200 h_border: 0
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): v_active: 1080  v_sync: 1084  v_sync_end 1089 v_blanking: 1125 v_border: 0
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): Supported detailed timing:
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): clock: 85.5 MHz   Image Size:  331 x 186 mm
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): h_active: 1360  h_sync: 1616  h_sync_end 1728 h_blank_end 1792 h_border: 0
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): v_active: 768  v_sync: 786  v_sync_end 792 v_blanking: 795 v_border: 0
[   439.858] (II) intel(0): Monitor name: MST Demo**
[   439.859] (II) intel(0): Ranges: V min: 56 V max: 70 Hz, H min: 14 H max: 91 kHz, PixClock max 149 MHz
[   439.859] (II) intel(0): EDID (in hex):
[   439.859] (II) intel(0): 00ffffffffffff003674010be9030000
[   439.859] (II) intel(0): 00110103684627780a1990a755469824
[   439.859] (II) intel(0): 10494ba1090081800101010101010101
[   439.859] (II) intel(0): 010101010101023a801871382d40582c
[   439.859] (II) intel(0): 45004bba1000001e662150b051001b30
[   439.859] (II) intel(0): 007026444bba1000001e000000fc004d
[   439.859] (II) intel(0): 53542044656d6f2a2a0a2020000000fd
[   439.859] (II) intel(0): 0038460e5b0d000a20202020202000f0
[   439.859] (II) intel(0): Printing probed modes for output VGA1
[   439.859] (II) intel(0): Modeline "1024x768"x60.0   65.00  1024 1048 1184 1344  768 771 777 806 -hsync -vsync (48.4 kHz e)
[   439.859] (II) intel(0): Modeline "800x600"x60.3   40.00  800 840 968 1056  600 601 605 628 +hsync +vsync (37.9 kHz e)
[   439.859] (II) intel(0): Modeline "800x600"x56.2   36.00  800 824 896 1024  600 601 603 625 +hsync +vsync (35.2 kHz e)
[   439.859] (II) intel(0): Modeline "848x480"x60.0   33.75  848 864 976 1088  480 486 494 517 +hsync +vsync (31.0 kHz e)
[   439.859] (II) intel(0): Modeline "640x480"x59.9   25.18  640 656 752 800  480 489 492 525 -hsync -vsync (31.5 kHz e)

So it didn't even want to give me 1920×1080! The only reason I got it at all was because I had put one in my xorg.conf. What did teevee say? Something completely different!

Started the X server with --logverbose 6, which gave me this in the Xorg.0.log:

(--) Feb 04 15:04:31 NVIDIA(0):   1920 x 1080 @ 60 Hz
(--) Feb 04 15:04:31 NVIDIA(0):     Pixel Clock      : 74.25 MHz
(--) Feb 04 15:04:31 NVIDIA(0):     HRes, HSyncStart : 1920, 2008
(--) Feb 04 15:04:31 NVIDIA(0):     HSyncEnd, HTotal : 2052, 2200
(--) Feb 04 15:04:31 NVIDIA(0):     VRes, VSyncStart : 1080, 1084
(--) Feb 04 15:04:31 NVIDIA(0):     VSyncEnd, VTotal : 1094, 1124
(--) Feb 04 15:04:31 NVIDIA(0):     H/V Polarity     : +/+
(--) Feb 04 15:04:31 NVIDIA(0):     Interlaced       : yes
(--) Feb 04 15:04:31 NVIDIA(0):     Image Size       : 708 mm x 398 mm

From that it was relatively straightforward to create a mode line for tiwi:

        Modeline      "1920x1080"  74.25  1920 2008 2052 2200  1080 1084 1094 1124

And then it worked. But why was this necessary? This output is very different from what teevee said when I got the TV. It seems that the TV returns different EDID on the RGB and HDMI inputs.

The surprises weren't over yet. No sound! But I had checked for that. Established that the mixer values were set far too low, but also that the sound chip doesn't output the same signal level as the old one.

That wasn't the only issue: watching streaming video showed significant performance issues, including tearing of the screen when panning. Is that the video chip or the processor? On the face of it, it looks as if it's the video, since the processor was only using about 30%.

All in all, the software update seems to have worked well, but the choice of machine may be sub-optimal. One option would be to recycle the current cvr2 once I have tuners on tiwi, and use that instead. From my recent comparison, updated with the new machine names:

Machine       Processor       Clock       CPUmark       Cores       Single thread
cvr2       AMD Athlon II X2 240       2.8 GHz       1640       2       934
tiwi       Intel Core 2 Duo E6550       2.33 GHz       1500       2       877
teevee       AMD Sempron 145       2.8 GHz       802       1       890

cvr2 is clearly faster, and it would also allow me to use the old nVidia card from teevee. I'll work on that premise for the while; for the moment I can put up with this incarnation of tiwi.


eBay: so nice, so nice, we do it twice
Topic: general, opinion Link here

I've been waiting for a number of overdue deliveries from eBay lately, so when one came with a non-recognizable tracking number (ending in SE, which suggested Sweden), I went off to Napoleons to pick it up. Surprise, surprise! A remote flash trigger! And it was really posted in Sweden (Malmö, on 19 January).

Yes, I ordered a flash trigger of this kind on 18 January, but I received it on 22 January (a surprisingly quick delivery). Why this one, and why from Sweden? There's no reference on the packaging, so there's not much I can do about the matter.


Friday, 5 February 2016 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 5 February 2016
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Sourdough demonstration
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I've promised Lorraine Carranza that I'd show her how I bake bread, and today was the day to start. I thought I'd bake a small loaf for her as well, using the “non-stick” pan that I used once a couple of years ago. In addition, I decided it would be a good idea to loosen up the (rye) flour before adding water.

That proved more complicated than I expected. I couldn't find the correct attachments for the (Kenwood) mixer, and when I finally added the water, it wouldn't mix properly. When I finally got it mixed, it became clear that the starter would overflow the bowl when it rose, so later I had to divide it into two parts. As a result, I had an opportunity to observe how it rose in the course of the day. I started at about 12:00. Here is the total starter round 16:50, by which time I had to divide it:


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By about 18:20, the hole in the main starter had filled in, and the smaller one had risen considerably:


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And only half an hour later, further noticeable changes had occurred:


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And by 22:30, we had:


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Camera strap woes
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

When you have a camera on a tripod, the neck strap is in the way, especially with panorama photography: it tends to wrap itself around the column of the tripod. So take it off.

How? It takes about 5 minutes to thread a modern camera strap, and I'm not too sure how many iterations they would survive. Why aren't there quick release clips? Two weeks ago I took delivery of some quick release clips, but they were enormous, and though they work, there must be something better:


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Then it occurred to me: for completely different reasons, Yvonne doesn't like standard camera straps, so she put together something out of a couple of old QANTAS lanyards:


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By coincidence she has what I've been looking for: an easily removable strap. Can you put the hooks on a normal strap? It turned out that she had more, so I cut two of them apart and put them on the old strap for her camera:


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Yes, that works, and it's not as obtrusive. But they're really too small and fiddly to open. There must be something in between.


Configuring aspell
Topic: technology Link here

Since a recent upgrade to Emacs my spell corrector hasn't been working, claiming that no dictionary was selected. If I tried to select one (ispell-change-directory), it claimed that the selected dictionary (british) didn't exist. Googling didn't help: this otherwise helpful article told me to do exactly what I was doing. Exceptionally, the normal documentation didn't go into intimate details of installation. Why couldn't I select a dictionary?

Finally I tried pkg:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/27) ~ 165 -> pkg info | grep spell
aspell-0.60.6.1_5              Spelling checker with better suggestion logic than ispell
de-aspell-20030222.1_1         Aspell German dictionary
hunspell-1.3.3                 Improved spell-checker for Hungarian and other languages
ispell-3.3.02_5                An interactive spelling checker for multiple languages

hunspell? German dictionary (and no English dictionary)? It seems that you now need to install the dictionaries separately. Did that, and all was well. But what a search!


Intel graphics: not the solution
Topic: technology, multimedia, opinion Link here

Left tiwi running overnight, mainly by accident. And today the display of a firefox browser was corrupted, apparently a font issue that I couldn't fix by changing tabs back and forth. Somehow the on-chip graphics just aren't up to an HD display. Maybe I should put the disk back in the old teevee machine until I can sort things out.


Kammerphilharmonie Köln
Topic: music, opinion Link here

Into Ballarat this evening to hear the Kammerphilarmonie Köln, anglicized as “Chamber Philharmonia Cologne”. What's a chamber philharmonia? What's a philharmonia, for that matter? It's not a word that OED knows, but I know it in the context of symphony orchestras. So I expected the chamber philharmonia to be a small symphony orchestra. In fact, it's an augmented string quintet: three violins instead of two, viola, cello, contrabass. And almost as a guest, Javier Pocovi Antuña on bassoon.

The concert wasn't where I thought it was going to be, across the road from PPT, but a bit further south in the Central Uniting Church, which is an unusual shape: as the history tells us, the current building was built in 1884 in “amphitheatre style seating”:


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The programme was unusual. No symphonies, of course. A Vivaldi violin concerto (RV 383, from “La stravaganza”), then the RV 484 bassoon concerto, where Javier Antuña looked decidedly uncomfortable:


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Then the Mozart divertimento KV 138. After the intermission the Pachelbel canon, then the Mozart bassoon concerto KV 191.

KV 191 is scored for 2 oboes, 2 horns, strings and solo bassoon. How do you play it without oboes and horns? At least partially, just ignore them. It didn't sound bad, and the cadenze were quite reasonable, though I heard a couple of notes that didn't land quite in pitch. Still, very pleasant.

They finished off with Paganini's “danza delle streghe”, a remarkably virtuosic piece. The Konzertmeister (concert master) Sergey Didorenko is really quite remarkable. I've never heard pizzicato done with the left hand before (pulling the fingers off the strings). Some of the high harmonics were not completely in tune, but I suspect that that's normal. He received great applause, and did an arrangement of Carmen (fantasia?) as an encore.

All in all, not quite what I was expecting, but quite pleasant.


I hate flash!
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Taking the photos of the camera clips required flash, but for once I had really big problems with the exposure, probably because of the contrast (bright clips, black camera body). And my flash triggers failed several times. Why? I suspect it's the low voltage at the contacts, nowadays round 5 V. The slightest bit of grease seems to make them not fire.

Later I took photos of the sourdough, mainly by available light. But after the concert, not enough light was available, so I used (on-camera) flash. What a disaster! Somehow I don't understand flash exposure, or it doesn't understand what I want. Set on P with fill-in flash it chose an exposure of 1/60s at f/2. How do you fix that? I set A and f/8, but it still wanted 1/60s. Why should I set manual exposure? In addition, I got a shadow on the bottom of most images, even at moderate distances:


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Part might be due to the length of the lens (Zuiko Digital ED 14-35mm f/2.0 SWD), but somehow the whole thing is just a mess. I've been using flash for years, and it still doesn't work the way I want it to.


Saturday, 6 February 2016 Dereel Images for 6 February 2016
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Bread demonstration, day 2
Topic: food and drink Link here

Lorraine along again today for the bread preparation. Everything went relatively smoothly, but somehow there didn't seem to be enough dough. It wasn't until the loaves were in the oven to rise that I realized I had forgotten the second portion of rye flour (about 8% of the total). Too late then, of course, and the bread was OK anyway, but it shows how difficult even a minor deviation from routine can be.


Curtains!
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Brian and Denise Mattei along in the afternoon to install the curtains.


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Ran into a surprising number of issues, including the inadequate width of the curtains and difficulties attaching the hooks. In the end it was done, but it took much longer than they had expected.

It's certainly different now, but it will take me a while to get used to them.


TV computer issues
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

Checking on yesterday's TV recording, discovered that cvr2, the recording machine, was down. It seems that it just hung some time after 21:00. And it seems that Linux machines are particularly laconic when it comes to logging. Why did it die? No idea. It came back up again with no difficulties. Hopefully a one-off occurrence.

As if that wasn't enough, had more trouble with tiwi. X came up in 1024×768 mode again. Why? An examination of the Xorg.0.log file was interesting: it didn't find any EDID data at all. Previously Xorg.0.log showed:

[  1555.381] (WW) EDID timing clock 148.50 exceeds claimed max 135MHz, fixing
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): EDID for output VGA1
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): Manufacturer: MST  Model: b01  Serial#: 1001
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): Year: 2007  Week: 0
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): EDID Version: 1.3
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): Analog Display Input,  Input Voltage Level: 0.700/0.700 V
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): Sync:  Separate
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): Max Image Size [cm]: horiz.: 70  vert.: 39
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): Gamma: 2.20
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): No DPMS capabilities specified; RGB/Color Display
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): First detailed timing is preferred mode
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): redX: 0.652 redY: 0.333   greenX: 0.275 greenY: 0.595
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): blueX: 0.143 blueY: 0.063   whiteX: 0.285 whiteY: 0.293
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): Supported established timings:
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): 720x400@70Hz
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): 640x480@60Hz
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): 800x600@60Hz
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): 1024x768@60Hz
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): 1280x1024@75Hz
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): Manufacturer's mask: 0
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): Supported standard timings:
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): #0: hsize: 1280  vsize 1024  refresh: 60  vid: 32897
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): Supported detailed timing:
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): clock: 148.5 MHz   Image Size:  331 x 186 mm
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): h_active: 1920  h_sync: 2008  h_sync_end 2052 h_blank_end 2200 h_border: 0
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): v_active: 1080  v_sync: 1084  v_sync_end 1089 v_blanking: 1125 v_border: 0
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): Supported detailed timing:
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): clock: 85.5 MHz   Image Size:  331 x 186 mm
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): h_active: 1360  h_sync: 1616  h_sync_end 1728 h_blank_end 1792 h_border: 0
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): v_active: 768  v_sync: 786  v_sync_end 792 v_blanking: 795 v_border: 0
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): Monitor name: MST Demo**
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): Ranges: V min: 56 V max: 70 Hz, H min: 14 H max: 91 kHz, PixClock max 149 MHz
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): EDID (in hex):
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): 00ffffffffffff003674010be9030000
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): 00110103684627780a1990a755469824
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): 10494ba1090081800101010101010101
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): 010101010101023a801871382d40582c
[  1555.381] (II) intel(0): 45004bba1000001e662150b051001b30
[  1555.382] (II) intel(0): 007026444bba1000001e000000fc004d
[  1555.382] (II) intel(0): 53542044656d6f2a2a0a2020000000fd
[  1555.382] (II) intel(0): 0038460e5b0d000a20202020202000f0
[  1555.382] (II) intel(0): Printing probed modes for output VGA1
[  1555.382] (II) intel(0): Modeline "1920x1080"x30.0   74.25  1920 2008 2052 2200  1080 1084 1094 1124 (33.8 kHz)
[  1555.382] (II) intel(0): Modeline "1024x768"x60.0   65.00  1024 1048 1184 1344  768 771 777 806 -hsync -vsync (48.4 kHz e)
[  1555.382] (II) intel(0): Modeline "800x600"x60.3   40.00  800 840 968 1056  600 601 605 628 +hsync +vsync (37.9 kHz e)
[  1555.382] (II) intel(0): Modeline "800x600"x56.2   36.00  800 824 896 1024  600 601 603 625 +hsync +vsync (35.2 kHz e)
[  1555.382] (II) intel(0): Modeline "848x480"x60.0   33.75  848 864 976 1088  480 486 494 517 +hsync +vsync (31.0 kHz e)
[  1555.382] (II) intel(0): Modeline "640x480"x59.9   25.18  640 656 752 800  480 489 492 525 -hsync -vsync (31.5 kHz e)

I suppose that's typical for el-cheapo EDIDs. I particularly like the monitor name. It's also interesting that the highest resolution given is 1280×1024. I had had to add 1920×1080 (the native resolution of the panel) manually. Based on this information, X chose:

[  1555.382] (II) intel(0): Using exact sizes for initial modes
[  1555.382] (II) intel(0): Output VGA1 using initial mode 1920x1080

Today, though, I got a completely different result:

[    75.432] (II) intel(0): EDID for output VGA1
[    75.433] (II) intel(0): Printing probed modes for output VGA1
[    75.433] (II) intel(0): Modeline "1920x1080"x30.0   74.25  1920 2008 2052 2200  1080 1084 1094 1124 (33.8 kHz)

All the EDID information is missing! But with exception of 1280×1024 (which was nonsense anyway), it came up with the same modes. Only:

[    75.433] (II) intel(0): Using exact sizes for initial modes
[    75.433] (II) intel(0): Output VGA1 using initial mode 1024x768

Why? And, more irritatingly, it wouldn't switch modes. I was stuck with 1024×768.

Doubtless there's a way round that, but it's clear that this box is not the right one for the new tiwi. As soon as I have time, I'll switch machines.


Sunday, 7 February 2016 Dereel Images for 7 February 2016
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Still more TV pain
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

Checking last night's recordings, discovered that cvr2 hung again. It was recording at the time, so I have an exact time when it happened: 2016-02-06 21:14:23.703343663. Unfortunately I don't have as good a time for the say before, but it was also some time after 21:00. About the only thing in /var/log/messages at least gives me a rough idea:

Feb  5 20:58:57 cvr2 -- MARK --
Feb  5 21:18:57 cvr2 -- MARK --
Feb  6 10:12:31 cvr2 syslogd 1.5.0#2ubuntu6: restart.

So it must have been some time between 21:18 and 21;29.

What's causing it? No log messages again, of course. The display was still working, but the keyboard didn't respond. Disk stuff? Copied the entire disk to /dev/null without error messages, though iostat shows that there were a couple of seconds where the transfer rate dropped sharply, possibly because of disk issues.

So how about the big system change that I had been thinking about? cvr2 in the old teevee, and tiwi from the ThinkCentre to the old cvr2? Started on that, in the process marvelling at the filth that was cvr2:


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Is that the reason for the hangs? Processor overheating? It's not impossible. Blew that out, then started on teevee. Only one PCI slot! So the tuners won't fit. I'll have to postpone that until the USB tuners finally arrive. Instead put the disk from tiwi into old teevee, along with 2 GB of RAM that I found lying around. The latter was important, because I got the feeling that the previous 1 GB memory wasn't enough.

And X wouldn't start! I had removed the nvidia driver. Put that back in and it seemed to work, though I first had to reconfigure audio—something that I had seen before. I needed the entry:

hw.snd.default_unit=0

And the volume is still too soft! Why is that the case on the same hardware? Has something changed in the drivers?

By comparison, this bug is relatively harmless:

ICY Info: StreamTitle='Johann Sebastian Bach - Klavierkonzert f-moll BWV 1056';
Exit before end: file position -1

MPlayer interrupted by signal 11 in module: key_events
- MPlayer crashed by bad usage of CPU/FPU/RAM.
  Recompile MPlayer with --enable-debug and make a 'gdb' backtrace and
  disassembly. Details in DOCS/HTML/en/bugreports_what.html#bugreports_crash.
- MPlayer crashed. This shouldn't happen.
  It can be a bug in the MPlayer code _or_ in your drivers _or_ in your
  gcc version. If you think it's MPlayer's fault, please read
  DOCS/HTML/en/bugreports.html and follow the instructions there. We can't and
  won't help unless you provide this information when reporting a possible bug.

It happens when stopping mplayer, and only with audio streams. It's not beyond the bounds of possibility that it's a bug in my patches to mplayer, since the second line indicates that it's trying to save the file position (of a stream).


NBN for the depressed
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Anita Maynard asked on Facebook today about getting NBN in her location, which is in a depression. Ended up going over to take a look there, and discovered that her husband Ken is the bloke who bought our pizza oven last year. Fortunately he's happy with it.

It seems that the National Broadband Network has been there a couple of times and established that he could get a signal if they found a way to mount the antenna about 10 m higher. Not really an issue, especially since Ken is good at that sort of thing, so he would build his own tower. About the only issue is knowing how high to make it. I agreed to give Aussie Broadband a call tomorrow and discuss it with them.


More camera problems
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Yvonne spent the day at a Gymkhana training session in Rokewood. She had prepared in advance with two full batteries and a couple of spare SDHC cards, but when she came back, she had only taken about 1 GB of photos: her camera had failed her. When she powered it on, there was no display, and it powered off in about 10 seconds.

Looking at it more carefully, the shutter was shut:


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How did that happen? Looks like premature shutter failure (only about 12,000 releases). The good news is that it's still under (2 year) warranty, since I bought it on 16 April 2014. So off to look for the invoice.

That was an HTML document, and it contained neither date nor serial number! That was on the warranty card, of course, but where was that? I don't pay much attention to them. So it looks as if I could have difficulty proving the purchase and eligibility for warranty.

And the alternative? The Olympus E-PM2 was extremely cheap, only $299 with lens. Even today you can't get a used one for that price. The cheapest I found on eBay was US $225, about $340, and the cheapest new Olympus camera I could find was an E-PL5 for $408, body only.

OK, we can afford that if we have to. But is that the best choice? Yvonne's biggest criterion was the size, which is why I chose the E-PM2. But it seems that it did not sell well. The cheap price I paid was a sell-off because nobody wanted the things, and there's no successor. The E-PM2 was introduced in September 2012, a long time ago by modern standards. In that time there have been three new cameras in the E-P and E-PL series. Went through the Olympus web site looking for the dimensions of those cameras they still choose to mention. The results:

Model       Width       Height       Depth       Volume       Weight
      (mm)       (mm)       (mm)       (cm³)       (g)
E-M1       130       93       63       497       769
E-M10       119       82       45       396       449
E-M10 mk2       119       83       46       390       463
E-M5       121       89       41       425       454
E-M5 mk2       123       85       44       469       467
E-P3       122       69       34       369       289
E-P5       122       68       37       420       313
E-PL5       110       63       38       325       268
E-PL7       114       67       38       357       295
E-PM2       109       64       33       269       238
Pen F       124       72       37       427       335

The one that comes closest in size to the E-PM2 is the E-PL5. But is it a good choice? There's also the E-PL6 (clearly the black sheep of the Olympus family, introduced in May 2013 and now being sold off cheap and not talked about on the site) and the E-PL7, introduced in August 2014. It should be time for an E-PL8. The problem with the E-PL7 is that it's a lot bigger than the E-PL5 (357 cm³ instead of 329 cm³). I suppose I should investigate more.


Monday, 8 February 2016 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 8 February 2016
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Camera repair clarification
Topic: photography Link here

Up bright and early this morning to sort out the repair to Yvonne's camera. First called digiDIRECT on 1 300 889 148 to speak with the support department. That failed for two reasons: first, I didn't get that option, only sales or individual shops. Chose sales and received a recorded message promising to call back. They didn't.

Tried again with the Melbourne office on 9670 6901, but the line was dead: no kind of response. OK, how about Sydney on 02 9262 2330? First time round engaged, second time spoke to somebody who told me I'd have to call online sales on 9670 6901, which worked on the second attempt. Got put through to Adam, who confirmed the purchase on 16 April 2014 at 13:30, but couldn't send me an invoice because they have changed their accounting system since then.

Called up Olympus on 02 9886 3999 (a number they don't advertise) and spoke to John, who confirmed that the combination of invoice and credit card statement would be sufficient, and that the warranty cards aren't really of much use to anybody. I thought it prudent to note that under the circumstance they were the only proof that the camera I sent for repair was the one I bought on that occasion.

So printed out the documents, packed the camera, and off to Ballarat to post it. $8.25 with tracking number . Now hopefully they'll repair it more quickly than on previous occasions.


More hardware failure?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

While preparing Yvonne's camera for shipment, noted a couple of LEDs that were out when they should be on: Line 1 and Line 2 on my ATA. Discovered I couldn't communicate with it at all: it seemed to have failed.

They're not expensive—under $30—but where do I get an ATA in a hurry? Most are supplied, at elevated prices, by VoIP providers. MyNetFone offers an SPA122 for $69.95 and another $12.95 for postage, for example. And they seem to be remarkably unreliable. So quickly ordered another PAP2T.

Power cycled the box, started a trace and found, after a lot of failed ARP requests:

10:30:21.839411 ARP, Request who-has officephone.lemis.com tell eureka.lemis.com, length 28
10:30:22.841399 ARP, Request who-has officephone.lemis.com tell eureka.lemis.com, length 28
10:32:37.089384 ARP, Request who-has officephone.lemis.com tell officephone.lemis.com, length 46
10:32:37.340780 ARP, Request who-has officephone.lemis.com tell officephone.lemis.com, length 46
10:32:37.343440 ARP, Request who-has eureka.lemis.com tell officephone.lemis.com, length 46
10:32:37.343448 ARP, Reply eureka.lemis.com is-at bc:5f:f4:c9:9b:bf (oui Unknown), length 28
10:32:37.344191 IP officephone.lemis.com.59901 > eureka.lemis.com.syslog: [|syslog]
10:32:37.344347 IP officephone.lemis.com.59901 > eureka.lemis.com.syslog: [|syslog]
10:32:37.425891 IP officephone.lemis.com.63958 > eureka.lemis.com.domain: 1+ A? sip00.mynetfone.com.au. (40)
10:32:37.425950 IP eureka.lemis.com.domain > officephone.lemis.com.63958: 1 1/2/2 A 125.213.160.81 (128)

These ARP requests asking for the own IP address are presumably a signature of some kind of network stack. But there were a couple of syslog messages there. What did they say?

Feb  8 10:32:37 officephone System started: ip@192.109.197.226, reboot reason:H633a0176
Feb  8 10:32:37 officephone System started: ip@192.109.197.226, reboot reason:H633a0176

What does that mean? No idea, but at least it was working again. But not for long. A quarter of an hour later it rebooted again:

Feb  8 10:46:47 officephone System started: ip@192.109.197.226, reboot reason:C2000
Feb  8 10:46:47 officephone System started: ip@192.109.197.226, reboot reason:C2000

The traces looked the same as before, so it made sense to decode the reboot reason. Found this page with the codes. C2000 is deciphered as:

0x00002000 Using last good known IP and reboot after 30 minutes
0x00040000 WAN and LAN subnet conflict
0x00080000 TDM error

That doesn't look very plausible. It took a while to realize that the hex codes are in lower case, and the C meant “cold boot”. So the reboot cause is “Using last good known IP and reboot after 30 minutes”. What does that mean?

Looking at the log files, it seems that this has been going on for a while:

Jan 14 09:50:04 eureka grog: Restarting SMTP tunnel
Jan 14 09:53:34 192.109.197.226 System started: ip@192.109.197.226, reboot reason:C2000
Jan 14 09:53:34 192.109.197.226 System started: ip@192.109.197.226, reboot reason:C2000
...
Feb  6 10:59:15 officephone System started: ip@192.109.197.226, reboot reason:C2000
Feb  6 10:59:15 officephone System started: ip@192.109.197.226, reboot reason:C2000
Feb  6 11:13:24 officephone System started: ip@192.109.197.226, reboot reason:C2000
Feb  6 11:13:24 officephone System started: ip@192.109.197.226, reboot reason:C2000

The occurrence on 14 January 2016 was an isolated case, but from 6 February 2016 on it was quite regular. Is this maybe an issue with MyNetFone? Left a trace running, but it didn't really tell me very much:

11:53:16.392708 IP sip.cutyourphonebills.net.au.sip > officephone.lemis.com.sip: SIP, length: 452
11:53:16.419890 IP sip.cutyourphonebills.net.au.sip > officephone.lemis.com.sip-tls: SIP, length: 451
11:57:34.916365 ARP, Request who-has officephone.lemis.com tell officephone.lemis.com, length 46
11:57:35.167747 ARP, Request who-has officephone.lemis.com tell officephone.lemis.com, length 46
11:57:35.170457 ARP, Request who-has eureka.lemis.com tell officephone.lemis.com, length 46
11:57:35.170461 ARP, Reply eureka.lemis.com is-at bc:5f:f4:c9:9b:bf (oui Unknown), length 28
11:57:35.171216 IP officephone.lemis.com.8089 > eureka.lemis.com.syslog: [|syslog]
11:57:35.171345 IP officephone.lemis.com.8089 > eureka.lemis.com.syslog: [|syslog]

At 11:53 MyNetFone (with the amusing PTR record) was talking normally with the ATA. The next thing we know is a little bit over 4 minutes later after it completed its reboot. Why? Currently I'm scratching my head.

In passing, this might explain the lack of response to my call to digiDIRECT this morning.


Yet another hardware failure
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

When I went to Ballarat I took my Android tablet with me to try once again to get a sensible navigation application. In vain: the choice of route is still terrible. Going north along Peel St to the destination a few hundred metres ahead, it turned me right along Curtis St, past Bakery Hill, left into Humffray St and left again into Mair St:

 
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And of course I can no longer link to a Google Map, because my software isn't leet enough for them.

Back home, connected the table to the (USB) charger. Nothing. It seems that the connector has worn out. That's the second charger connector; the first one wore out within months. So the tablet is almost dead in the water—except that, with a bit of careful positioning, I can still get the first connector to work sometimes.

Why are all these hardware problems happening at once? And should I buy a new tablet? I've been so extremely disappointed in all aspects of Android that it hardly seems worthwhile. There's still the option of Apple, of course, but they're clearly for people who think completely differently from me. I doubt I'd find them any better, just more expensive.


More multimedia pain
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

In the evening, listening to radio on tiwi, with the screen powered down, when suddenly there was a loud hum and then nothing. Turned the screen on and saw:

Audio device got stuck!
Audio device got stuck!
Audio device got stuck!
Exit before end: file position -1

MPlayer interrupted by signal 11 in module: key_events
...

I've seen the crash before, but what's the “Audio device got stuck!”? In particular, it stayed stuck. Didn't have time to investigate then, and simply rebooted the machine, after which it worked again. But why are all these problems occurring now?


Breaking in to the neighbours
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Lorraine Carranza along today to tell us that her new neighbours (and the only other people living in Spearys Road) were trying to move in, but they had lost the key to the padlock chaining the entrance gate shut. Off with a pair of wire cutters, which worked far better than I expected. It's a good thing that Lorraine was there; basically I broken into a property to allow entrance to people I have never seen before.


Unusual chicken dish
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Chris Bahlo has been on a cookbook buying spree lately, and has lent us the books as she got them. I wasn't very impressed by the last one, but she brought another one, “Utterly delicious simple food” by Belinda Jeffery. Today Yvonne cooked a recipe with the somewhat ponderous title Prosciutto-wrapped chicken with lemons, spring onions and potatoes:


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Tuesday, 9 February 2016 Dereel Images for 9 February 2016
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NBN reception towers
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Had a chat with Kevin of Aussie Broadband today about erecting towers to connect to the National Broadband Network wireless service. He wasn't able to do anything himself, but he had a couple of good idea.

It seems that the NBN will accept a tower, but to get to the people who handle that you need some persistence. The big issue remains the height of the tower, of course. Make it 300 m high and you won't have a problem, except with the cost and the appearance. Clearly you don't want it any higher than necessary, and to find out what's necessary you need to measure signal strength. And it seems the installers have a hand-held device that can be used for that purpose. The only issue now is to find the installers. That's not easy, since they don't advertise their names. He mentioned the name Service Stream, but I still need to follow up that one.


“Fixing” the audio issues
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

Another problem with tiwi's audio today, this time playing a video. Again the message “Audio device got stuck!”, and couldn't get rid of it. Did a bit of googling and found this page, which suggests:

=== root@tiwi (/dev/pts/5) /home/grog 6 -> sysctl dev.hdac.0.polling=1
dev.hdac.0.polling: 0 -> 1

That works. But it's not a solution. It's a workaround, and the real issue seems to be that the device stops interrupting. Why? Do I care?


Wednesday, 10 February 2016 Dereel
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Tracing the ATA issue
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

My traces of the communication between ATA and eureka showed perfectly normal traffic followed by a reboot. But that was based on the IP address, and the reboot reason was specified was “Using last good known IP and reboot after 30 minutes”, that might not be enough. The dropouts continued, so I started another trace, this time looking for traffic related to the MAC address. And sure enough, that showed more information:

08:55:53.018742 bc:5f:f4:c9:9b:bf (oui Unknown) > 00:25:9b:6e:34:36 (oui Unknown), ethertype IPv4 (0x0800), length 495: sip.hostedphonesystem.net.au.sip > officephone.lemis.com.sip: SIP, length: 453
08:55:53.046585 bc:5f:f4:c9:9b:bf (oui Unknown) > 00:25:9b:6e:34:36 (oui Unknown), ethertype IPv4 (0x0800), length 495: sip.hostedphonesystem.net.au.sip > officephone.lemis.com.sip-tls: SIP, length: 453
08:56:04.211877 00:25:9b:6e:34:36 (oui Unknown) > Broadcast, ethertype IPv4 (0x0800), length 342: 0.0.0.0.bootpc > 255.255.255.255.bootps: BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:25:9b:6e:34:36 (oui Unknown), length 300
(9 more omitted)
09:00:10.489436 00:25:9b:6e:34:36 (oui Unknown) > Broadcast, ethertype ARP (0x0806), length 60: Request who-has officephone.lemis.com tell officephone.lemis.com, length 46
09:00:10.743485 00:25:9b:6e:34:36 (oui Unknown) > Broadcast, ethertype ARP (0x0806), length 60: Request who-has eureka.lemis.com tell officephone.lemis.com, length 46

So it seems that it wasn't getting a DHCP response, and it fell back to the last known good address. Up to a point, the reboot code now makes sense. But why a cold reboot, lasting 4 minutes, because of a DHCP issue? The mind boggles.

And why wasn't DHCP working? Checked and found that yes, indeed, eureka no longer had a dhcpd running. Checked the leases file. Where is that now? locate is your friend:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/20) ~ 185 -> locate leases | grep dhcp | xargs ls -lrtd
-r--r--r--  1 grog   92      3322 12 Sep  1998 /home/src/OpenBSD/ncvs/src/usr.sbin/dhcp/client/Attic/dhclient.leases.5,v
-r--r--r--  1 grog   lemis   2650 19 Jun  2001 /home/src/NetBSD/ncvs/src/usr.sbin/dhcp/client/Attic/dhclient.leases.cat5,v
...
-rw-r--r--  1 root   wheel   1669 17 Jun  2014 /home/var/db/dhcpd.leases
-rw-r--r--  1 dhcpd  dhcpd   4957 25 Nov 14:49 /home/var/db/db/dhcpd/dhcpd.leases
-rw-r--r--  1 dhcpd  dhcpd   5161 26 Jan 19:38 /home/var/db/dhcpd/dhcpd.leases

That's interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, it's clear that I have a lot of old cruft on the system. Secondly, the file seems to have moved around quite a bit in the course of time, notably from /var/db/dhcpd.leases to /var/db/dhcpd/dhcpd.leases. It's not clear how I ended up with a /home/var/db/db/dhcpd/dhcpd.leases, which seems Just Plain Wrong. And thirdly, the last update was over two weeks ago!

Why wasn't dhcpd running? Tried:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/20) /usr/ports/mail/mutt 178 -> service dhcpd restart
dhcpd does not exist in /etc/rc.d or the local startup
directories (/usr/local/etc/rc.d)
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/20) /usr/ports/mail/mutt 179 -> service dhcp restart
dhcp does not exist in /etc/rc.d or the local startup
directories (/usr/local/etc/rc.d)

Dammit, what's the package called?

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/20) /usr/ports/mail/mutt 180 -> pkg info dhcpd
pkg: No package(s) matching dhcpd
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/20) /usr/ports/mail/mutt 181 -> pkg info dhcp
pkg: No package(s) matching dhcp
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/20) /usr/ports/mail/mutt 182 -> pkg search dhcp
dhcp6-20080615_6               KAME DHCP6 client, server, and relay
dhcp_probe-1.3.0               Attempts to discover DHCP and BootP servers on a network
dhcpcd-6.10.1                  DHCP/IPv4LL/IPv6RS/DHCPv6 client
dhcpd-5.8.20151202             OpenBSD dhcp daemon
dhcpd-pools-2.28               Tool to analyze isc-dhcp pool usage based on leases
dhcpdump-1.8                   Decode and diagnose sniffed DHCP packets
dhcping-1.2                    Send DHCP request to DHCP server for monitoring purposes
dhcprelay-1.2_4                Lightweight DHCP Relay Agent with GIF tunnel support
dhcprelya-4.9                  Lightweight DHCP relay agent. Yandex edition
isc-dhcp41-client-4.1.e_3,2    The ISC Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol client
isc-dhcp41-relay-4.1.e_6,2     The ISC Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol relay
isc-dhcp41-server-4.1.e_10,2   The ISC Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol server
isc-dhcp42-client-4.2.8        The ISC Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol client
isc-dhcp42-relay-4.2.8         The ISC Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol relay
isc-dhcp42-server-4.2.8_1      ISC Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol server
isc-dhcp43-client-4.3.3P1_1    The ISC Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol client
isc-dhcp43-relay-4.3.3P1_1     The ISC Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol relay
isc-dhcp43-server-4.3.3P1_1    ISC Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol server
nagios-check_dhcp.pl-0.1       Check the availability of a DHCP server using unicast delivery
p5-Net-DHCP-0.696              DHCP set of classes designed to handle basic DHCP handling
p5-Net-DHCP-Watch-2.03_1       Class for monitoring a remote DHCPD server
p5-Net-DHCPClient-1.0_1        Perl implementation of a DHCP client API
p5-Text-DHCPLeases-1.0_1       Perl extension to parse DHCP leases file from ISC dhcpd
pxe-pdhcp-0.0.2007             Preboot Execution Environment server

Don't you love clearly named ports? The way I should have looked for it would be to look in the directory /usr/local/etc/rc.d/, which shows that I have isc-dhcpd installed. Restarted that and all was well.

But why did dhcpd stop? It was clearly some time on 26 January 2016. Looking in the log files, I find:

Jan 26 19:41:42 eureka pkg: isc-dhcp41-server upgraded: 4.1.e_9,2 -> 4.1.e_10,2

Wow! pkg upgrade stops dhcpd and doesn't tell you. Looking at the upgrade log, I see:

[168/189] Upgrading isc-dhcp41-server from 4.1.e_9,2 to 4.1.e_10,2...
Stopping dhcpd.
Waiting for PIDS: 1805.
==> You should manually remove the "dhcpd" user.
===> Creating users and/or groups.
Using existing group 'dhcpd'.
Using existing user 'dhcpd'.
[168/189] Extracting isc-dhcp41-server-4.1.e_10,2: .......... done
...
Message from isc-dhcp41-server-4.1.e_10,2:
****  To setup dhcpd, please edit /usr/local/etc/dhcpd.conf.

****  This port installs dhcp daemon, but doesn't invoke dhcpd by default. If
      you want to invoke dhcpd at startup, put these lines into /etc/rc.conf.

            dhcpd_enable="YES"                          # dhcpd enabled?
...

There's a lot more stuff in there, but it makes it clear that it happens because the port was removed and then replaced. In particular, /etc/rc.conf contains the correct information. Is it practicable to restart the service after upgrade? If not, there should be some way to draw attention to it. The upgrade log is 1,604 lines long, and there's a temptation to just let it scroll off the screen. From now on I'll read it more carefully.


Power fluctuation
Topic: general Link here

Round 10:20 this morning the UPS screamed, and the printer woke up and grumbled to itself. Power failure? No, the ovens were still on, and no circuit breakers had tripped. It seems that it must have been some very short transient or overvoltage on the line.


Hacking security
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

Over the years I have written my own scripts to display my photos on the web. Compared to commercially available scripts, they have the advantage that I can modify them to suit my tastes, including displaying with more images and less clutter. They also allow me to include photos on other web pages, such as this diary, using the same interface.

But now Yvonne had a dilemma: she has been training a horse who shall be not only nameless, but also invisible. And of course she has taken a lot of photos, which she wants to share with Chris Bahlo and the owner, but nobody else.

How do you do that? Separate page, protected by an .htaccess file? That doesn't fit into my hierarchy (one directory per day). I can hack it, of course, but is there another way?

First, how secure should it be? We're not hiding state secrets here, just images that should be kept confidential. And the .htaccess approach shows an upper limit on how secure it can be: not very.

I already have a similar thing in place for this diary, where some articles and texts are only displayed locally in our household network. That would work for the photos too, as far as Yvonne is concerned, but it doesn't share them with Chris and the owner.

OK, how about tagging the image names and requiring a special parameter to the request, something like http://www.lemis.com/yvonne/photos/Photos.php?dirdate=20160209&password=foo? Store a password somewhere inaccessible, and the photos can be displayed for remote clients if they know the password. Otherwise there's no message, but you just see the public images.

That seemed straightforward enough, and it was. About 10 lines of code, put a ? in front of the file names of the images that should be suppressed, and everything worked. Well, for me. For some reason it didn't work as well for Yvonne. In particular, although she has a zoom lens, she prefers to take all photos at 14 mm focal length and crop them. Apart from the inevitable loss of resolution, this means different aspect ratios. But the images were displayed at the standard aspect ratio, something like the first image in this faked example:

faked example
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And there were other issues. This naming problem required changes in many places. Another good idea that ended up dragging in lots of complications. Time to reconsider. Two file lists, depending on whether you're authenticated or not?


Thursday, 11 February 2016 Dereel Images for 11 February 2016
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HTML authentication revisited
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Discussion on IRC today about yesterday's HTML authentication system. Andy Snow commented:

selective htaccess probably wouldn't have been any more lines of code, but probably would have needd more reading of docs :)

Well, yes, guilty as charged. I shouldn't be reinventing the wheel. So I (later) read the documentation. As I feared, it doesn't really address my issue. I want to allow access to multiple images without authentication; I only want to enable access to the others for certain people, and I don't want to advertise the fact. And the documentation suggests that I shouldn't be using .htaccess anyway, since I have access to the main configuration file. On the other hand, the idea of updating the main configuration file for every directory with special requirements horrifies me.

Jamie Fraser also came up with this page explaining various authentication methods with PHP. But both methods have the disadvantage that the casual user becomes aware of the “secure” content, and has to make a choice about it. It should be an informed and voluntary action, which my method provides. Maybe there's another solution, but for the moment I don't see it.


Air conditioner bugs
Topic: general, technology Link here

Our air conditioner works relatively well, especially compared to our last installation. In particular, the temperature regulation is good. But the control unit has a number of strangenesses that lead to the conclusion that the programmers didn't really consider all possibilities:


Truites meunières
Topic: food and drink Link here

Truites meunières for dinner today: trout with their skin on, rolled in flour and fried. Yvonne likes to add slivers of almond. Today she peeled off the skin and put them on the flesh of the trout:


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An interesting idea, but not as good as we had thought: the almond really goes with the skin, not the flesh.


Moonrise
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

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That wasn't as simple as it looked. Getting the exposure right was trial-and-error. Here are shots starting without exposure compensation, then underexposing in steps of 1 EV:


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Friday, 12 February 2016 Dereel Images for 12 February 2016
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Australia Post delivery times
Topic: general Link here

On Monday I drove into Ballarat specifically to post Yvonne's camera so that it could be repaired more quickly. Based on my previous experience, it should have arrived in Sydney two days ago. Did it? I have a tracking number:


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And Australia Post offers a tracking service on its home page. Entered the number and got:

 
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It had replaced the spaces in the tracking numbers and treated each as a separate tracking number! What kind of brain damage can make people do that? This is the tracking number exactly as it was supplied by Australia Post! And the spaces presumably perform a certain level of error checking: if you put them in the wrong place, clearly there's something wrong. Still, they offer to find out more about what “Invalid tracking ID” means:

 
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The tracking status 'invalid tracking ID' could mean:

Was this answer helpful?

Clearly the biggest reason is missing: their site can't parse tracking numbers. This appears to be a deliberate decision, but why? Yet another indication of the mental gap between the company and their web programmers. Selected ”not helpful” and was asked for input in another hallmark of leet web programmers, the too small and too short input window:

 
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That's all I could enter, so I had to start again, referring to this article. Doubtless the only positive effect will be that I have been able to let off steam.

Finally mutilated the tracking number to match the web programmers' expectations and got:

 
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Four days and still not there! In practice, that's a week! I should have chosen express post, but I had forgotten that Australia Post has halved its speed recently. And, of course, another upside-down list.


Little garden work
Topic: gardening Link here

We've been doing almost nothing about the garden lately. I'm still waiting for Yvonne to decide how to refine the current structure, and in the meantime there's not much to do. But the cuttings we propagated earlier in the year aren't doing very well, so it seems to be a good time to plant them. Planted the 2 remaining Solanum laxum, and also repotted a couple of pot plants, a Croton and another plant whose name I forget, but which is probably past it anyway. Also potted a Euphorbia that the Marriott's brought by recently. It should be in the ground, but first we need to decide where.


Diet change, status report
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Gradually I'm getting used to not having any lunch. A good, relatively late breakfast and normal evening meal seem to be enough. At least I'm not getting ravenously hungry in mid-afternoon, but it does leave a bit of an empty feeling.

This evening grilled lamb kidneys on skewers:


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The kidneys were nicely done, but both capsicum and onions were underdone. I don't see how I can fix that except by leaving the ingredients out. And no, no recipe for this one. The photo is effectively the recipe.


Saturday, 13 February 2016 Dereel Images for 13 February 2016
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Sous vide defrosted sous vide
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Nine months ago I cooked a leg of lamb sous vide. It wasn't overly spectacular, but it wasn't bad. And it was far too much for the three of us, so I froze the rest. We decided to eat it today. How do you defrost it? Sous vide, of course. Tried it at 55°, one degree less than the last time, but the result was still significantly darker in colour; no pink at all. It was certainly edible, but as Yvonne said, « À ne pas repeter ». The rest will go into a cassoulet, so it has at least some advantage.


“Windows” 93%
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Andy Farkas posted this link. Somehow it addresses some of my prejudices.


Sasha
Topic: animals, gardening Link here

We feed the dogs from elevated stands, which some people claim is a precaution against bloat. But when we give them bones to chew, they usually lie down in the grass and chew them. Not so Sasha:


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Another bushfire
Topic: general, opinion, technology Link here

Another bushfire reported this afternoon, about 5 km ESE of here. The good news: nobody in Dereel was in danger. How did I find out? From Facebook, of course. If I had a SIM in my tablet and mobile phone coverage, I could run an App on the tablet. But what a way to communicate! The emergency services explicitly do not offer an email notification service.

OK, we know the URL for the bushfire web site. It's http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/incidents/incident_summary.htm or maybe http://www.dse.vic.gov.au/DSE/nrenfoe.nsf/LinkView/519C51D981DAE41FCA257257000A5163DC25C965BDA0CAF5CA2573B400013504, and I ranted about it 7 years ago. Oh. No. It's gone, and it's clearly not important enough for them to include a redirect. After all, it's nothing important, only people's lives and property at stake. But I discovered that three years ago: the new site is http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/warnings-restrictions/warnings-and-incidents/. Oh, no, it has moved again, and the page still doesn't redirect, though it does refer to http://emergency.vic.gov.au/, but that isn't really a bushfire information site. It includes other things of no interest to me, like car accidents. But it also suggests other sources of information: Facebook, Twitter and the old favourites, radio and telephone.

But how do you get informed without polling? Radio and the information line are clearly out of the question, and the information line can't handle being continually polled by tens of thousands of people. So the only options are Facebook and Twitter, of which they say:

Social media updates

CFA's social media channels are only monitored during business hours and major emergencies.

Still, if I like the Facebook page, I can get notifications, right? Better than nothing. But what a horrible thought to have to sign up to a third-party overseas social media site to get information!

OK, what about the quality of the information? In parallel, on one of the many Dereel-oriented Facebook groups, it was clear that there was a lot of confusion. Here some random comments in roughly chronological order:

im from napoleons can someone tell me which way the fire is heading please

If they are blocking Ferrers rd does that mean they want us to evacuate now. I am down where the creek crosses Ferrers rd.

A police man rang me 15mins ago & said don't worry its going east. Told me 2 stay home

Ok thanks, the car and van are loaded and ready to go.

Is Dereel still ok?

There is a small sized grassfire travelling fast in a south easterly direction from Tippetts Rd towards Gumley Rd, between the Dereel-Mt Mercer Rd & Grahams Rd.

Has dereel been evacuated

Where is grahams road?

Can somebody please tell me if this fire is heading towards Rokewood way? Just wondering as my grandmother lives in Rokewood.

Wear is that what are sorrow ding areas

It took me a while to understand this. My best bet is “Where is that? What are surrounding areas?”.

Where is this

it says 4 trucks on the advice the forgot tbe 0

I think the 4 truck one is the first issued one for tippets rd and now they are updating the Dereel one instead so one says 4 for tippets and 40 for Dereel one

Statement:theres 2 advices
Response: One is DELWP the other is CFA. Add them together and that tells you how many appliances are there

I can not open the Google link The link doesn't show on an apple product ie iPhone or iPad

Which direction is it heading?

The fire ready app is a huge let down, it's says a lot of things that arnt there, got computer on and have emergency Victoria website which is better than all of them

Why so much confusion? Most of that information should have been on the emergency services page. Well, I was confused too. Chris Bahlo (web programmer) had no difficulty. But the application is all over the place, and you have to really dig to find the information you're looking for. Looking at the application, it opens like this:


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That includes half of New South Wales and 95% of the population of South Australia. One of the incidents shown here is in South Australia, and two are in New South Wales. Why? It claims to be a Victorian Government site. And what do all those symbols mean? You can vaguely recognize fire symbols. Then there is confusion (represented by the confusion symbol symbol), radioactive waste (represented by the radioactive waste symbol ), mining (represented by the mining symbol ), information (represented by the information symbol symbol) and extruders (represented by the extruder symbol symbol). What do they really mean? Running the cursor over them gives you insight: the web programmers haven't considered it necessary for a popup. Presumably it's obvious the them. In fact, the symbols are “other”, “hazardous material”, “tree down”, and “wind”. There's also a car accident symbol that I couldn't find on this map.

What's “other”? They don't know either:

 
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And that's really the only information available on this map. But once you've zoomed there, there's no way to return to the original map. It remembers it until you choose something else. How? I thought that the only way was to manually zoom back out again, but in fact you can select “Zoom to state”, which takes you back to a different view on the left-hand panel:


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Why that? In the process of showing this non-information, the page has switched from “Warnings” to “Incidents”.

But the important one is the bushfire, of course. On Facebook they also posted images, some unintentionally inaccessible, but these ones from 7 News give an idea:

Nine News also posted this report

So let's follow the track through the web site. As above, I arrived at a map of the whole of south-east Australia. Clicking on the information symbol , I get this information:


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Wait, that looks completely different! Yes, it is. That's what I see on tiwi. It also has a 1920×1080 display (count them pixels), but for some reason this is the way the page displays on it, and I can't convince it to display any better. By contrast, on eureka, with the same software, I got the image above. Still, it's (barely) legible. For the sake of comprehensibility I'll switch to eureka for the remaining images.

A couple of points, though: the left panel tells me that there is one bushfire, but the map shows two. And there's nothing here to suggest that this is information; the term used is “incident”. So what is the real meaning of information symbol ?

Clicking on the blue “Advice” area gives me marginal supplementary information:


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These two panels are both on the same page, but they contain marginally different information. So why do I need to click on the advice to see that? And where are the details? Ah, for that you need to click Yet Again on the i on the left-hand “Advice”:


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Why can't they show that on the very first page? It's clear from the reactions on Facebook that many people are unable to navigate the site. I suppose the rationale is that it's too long. But that's because it's repetitive (repeats the location), and it includes a lot of boilerplate. The important information is in the detail image above, and the first paragraph could be removed, making it even smaller. And if this popup can have a vertical scroll bar, so can the left hand panel.

Then there's a question of accuracy. It's difficult to tell when the updates took place unless you see them immediately and have an accurate watch. This image shows three different issues (not counting the display scale):


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First, two bushfires are mentioned. Why? It was explained on Facebook: two different government departments processed them: CFA and the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning. But that's silly: it's duplication of effort, where I strongly suspect people are understaffed, and it's confusing.

Then there are the times? When were these incident reports issued? Looking at the (page) update date at bottom right, round 21:34 and “about” 20:12. But the last bulletin was issued at 19:00, so what do these updates mean?

Then there's the address. There is no TIPPETS RD! It's Tippets Lane. Yes, in this case it's clear enough, but I've seen others where things are completely confusing. Surely people can check reports for consistency. That's not the job of the fire crews: they have enough real work to do. But surely peoples' lives are worth a little more effort.

Chris thought that I was getting worked up about nothing, but I disagree. On the one hand, there was never a threat to us, but how were we to find that out? And this is literally a matter of life and death. The authorities should be ashamed of themselves; in some countries people could be tried for criminal negligence.

Chris asked me how I would improve it. That's not a thing that I can answer off the top of my head, though it's easy to improve on any of the versions I've seen over the last 8 years. The following sequence is in procedural order, not order of importance:

There's plenty more, of course, but it beggars belief that 7 years after Black Saturday the information systems are still so inadequate.


Rearranging dining room plants
Topic: Stones Road house, gardening, animals, opinion Link here

Gradually the dining room is becoming more habitable. Today we rearranged some of the plants, in the process moving the low table to a less obtrusive place:


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This photo was taken the following day, and the plant on the small table on the left has a Hibiscus on it. Originally we had put it on the ground, but that enabled a problem:


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Hopefully Sasha will finally learn to behave himself.


Sunday, 14 February 2016 Dereel Images for 14 February 2016
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Bushfire, day 2
Topic: general, opinion, technology Link here

The bushfire may have been relatively harmless, but it took the crews a long time to contain it. How long? That depends. 24 hours after the fire was reported, the CFA and the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning still had different views of what was going on:

 
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None of the details match! Not even whether the fire is under control or not! The status was like that for most of the day. And we can be completely sure that it's only one bushfire. When will they get their act together?

Also, as promised, received Facebook messages from the CFA group:

You are receiving this email because you've listed CFA (Country Fire Authority) as a close friend.

https://www.facebook.com/n/?cfavic%2Fposts%2F10154020973764416&aref=1455410706647277&medium=email&mid=52bafec96061bG56717402G52bb0362c08edG378G6726&bcode=1.1455413514.AbnBFgND5wHPLfSU&n_m=farcebluk%40lemis.com

Thanks,
The Facebook Team

And that's all! No information about the content; for that I had to display it in a browser and press “View Post” to see that it had nothing to do with me. OK, Facebook probably can't cater for a Subject: line, but couldn't there be a summary in the post?


Garden in late summer
Topic: gardening Link here

Mid-month again, the last month in summer. The garden has not improved. All our Salvia microphyllas seem to have died, and the Cycad that we brought from Kleins Road seems to have as well:


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Why? They're getting water, and even if they weren't getting much fertilizer, they shouldn't all die. Is there something wrong with the soil? Others, like this Nandina domestica, are also clearly struggling:


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A couple of Tropaeolum are flowering, as are a couple of (but not all) roses:


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A Tropaeolum isn't anything to write home about, except it's the only one that made it this far.

On the other hand, a couple of plants are doing better than expected, including this Coleonema pulchrum and the Fuchsia:


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And one of the pink lilies that Yvonne dislikes so much turned out to be something else:


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And these pretty yellow wildflowers seem to be completely at home (of course):


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Now that autumn is on its way, we're planning new plantings. I think we should get a few cubic metres of good soil to plant them in.


Monday, 15 February 2016 Dereel
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Bushfire, day 3
Topic: general, opinion, technology Link here

Mail from Daniel Nebdal today, pointing out that there is an explanation for the symbols on the emergency services web site. What I saw was only the tip of the iceberg: there are a total of 50 of them! Some, like “Aircraft Accident”, “Animal Plague” and “Plant Health”, are unlikely, but “Advice” and “All Clear” are not—and they use the same symbol for both: information symbol , which I had thought meant “Information”. And what's an animal plague, anyway? There's already a separate symbol for “Animal Health”. Foot-and-mouth disease? No, it's:

Reported location of an insect plague such as locusts. Read more

Only the link doesn't know either.

Apart from that, more confusion on Facebook:

Ok, I've just had another fire advice and I'm in town again. Anyone have any info??? Is it the the same one that has taken off again.

There was an updated advice issued for the Dereel-Mt Mercer fire, just a few minutes ago. There are no other fires on the map.

There is reported fire activity in the Dereel area and the fire is currently under control.

This is crazy!!!

all it was - was a message to tell us the fire has been controlled thats all

What's all that about? I received a message yesterday telling me the fire was under control, and I published corresponding information in my diary. And I hadn't received the message in question: it arrived about 10 minutes later, and it didn't seem to be any different from yesterday's message. Piecing things together, it seems that the messages go out to mobile phone apps first, then to Facebook, and then to the emergency web site. And two days after reporting two bushfires, they have finally consolidated them. And that's what generated the message; the content was unchanged. No wonder people were confused.


Understanding XCompose
Topic: technology Link here

One of the lesser-known features of X is the Compose key. Press it and then enter specific key combinations, and it will generate characters not directly available on the keyboard. For example, with my US-style keyboard I can generate the Greek letter Λ with the combination *L, or ڦ with the combination X06a7. In general all UTF-8 characters can be generated by entering X and the 4 digit hex code, though clearly the other method is easier—if you know the combination.

But how do I know the combinations? Five years ago, a certain Pmarin sent me details, along with a link to a table which proved to be not completely accurate. At the time I thought it was part of Plan 9 from User Space. I used the table for some time until it went away, and since then I've been relying on memory.

The combinations aren't completely intuitive. Greek Ε is formed with the combination *E, and in general the combinations starting with * are Greek letters. Cyrillic letters start with @ instead, but Cyrillic Е is created with @@E. On the other hand, Cyrillic Б is created with @B. How can you remember these things?

Reading the .XCompose file is painful:

<Multi_key> <at> <S> <C> : "Щ" U0429
<Multi_key> <O> <asterisk> : "⊛" U229B

Time for some creative editing, resulting in this page, which works in its current form, though clearly it can do with improvement.


Tuesday, 16 February 2016 Dereel Images for 16 February 2016
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Change of diet: not there yet
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

We've been trying to change our diet lately to accommodate heavier breakfasts. The easiest way seems to be to eliminate lunch. After all, with a breakfast (brunch?) at 10:00 and evening meal at 19:00, we're going 15 hours without food overnight, so we don't really need to break the 9 hours in the middle.

But try telling that to our stomachs. Today's breakfast wasn't as heavy, and by 15:00 my stomach was hanging on the ground. Peanut time, which made a mockery of the attempt to eliminate the midday meal. Time for reconsideration.


Weeding
Topic: gardening Link here

Somehow I'm just not gardening at all any more. And the weeds are taking advantage. Got round to pulling out some of the more obnoxious ones today and throwing them out with the rubbish, nearly filling the rubbish bin.


Kangaroos: that way!
Topic: animals, photography Link here

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RACV: You're too young to drive!
Topic: general, opinion Link here

We have our cars insured with the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV). Recently they've changed their terms so that if we have two cars insured rather than one, we receive a 10% discount on both premiums. But we didn't: the cars were insured in different names.

Not a problem: change the policies to be in both names. I did it over the phone in only 30 minutes a few days back. The new policies showed the 10% discount, but they had also (presumably accidentally) changed details about the registered drivers: I've been driving for 50 years (since I was 17 years old), and Yvonne for 38, but they had us both in there for 40. I have to report that, since the conditions of insurance require them to be correct.

Another phone call. Yes, no problem with Yvonne, but I'm only entered for 49 years. Why? Because in Victoria you can't get a driver license until you're 18. That in itself is surprising—in South Australia it's 16½, and in New South Wales it's 17. And what difference does it make what the regulations are in Victoria? Was that even the age 50 years ago? And did Yana break the law when she drove to Bendigo at the age of 17?

Some programming decisions are really strange.


Wednesday, 17 February 2016 Dereel → Bannockburn → Dereel Images for 17 February 2016
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Leonid: dietary indiscretion
Topic: animals Link here

Got up this morning to discover that Leonid had been vomiting copiously and repeatedly since 4:00. Yvonne had had little sleep as a result, and he was still looking very sorry for himself. Vet time, and we got an appointment in Bannockburn at 9:45. That didn't leave much time to get there, since it's 55 km and 45 minutes.

Took all three dogs to be on the safe side, but only took Leo inside. By that time he was looking a lot perkier. Alex took a look at him and a sample of his “vomit”, which looked to me like pure horse droppings. Alex agreed: a “dietary indiscretion”. But he had an elevated temperature, and his stomach was still tense, so he got a whole load of medication. 2 hours, 110 km and $150!


Rice paper spring rolls
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Last week Yvonne bought some rice paper intended for spring rolls. Clearly it had been so long since we last used them that she forgot that we already had lots of them:


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Why didn't we use them? It was so fiddly handling the paper. It's fine when it's dry, but to use it you soak them in water, which makes them soft and sticky. Checked in my Vietnamese cookbooks (the concept comes from Việt Nam), but I couldn't find any recipes at all, let alone ideas of how to handle them. In the end took a Chinese recipe for the filling.

The results were less than satisfactory. I had originally intended to wrap the rolls at the table, but things were too sticky for that. So I laid them on grilles after soaking:


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I transferred them to a plastic chopping board to fill them, and then from there to a plate. It sort of worked, though one roll burst. The total result was still underwhelming:


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I suspect that part of the problem is that they're not supposed to be made that way. Probably much smaller, wrapped several times, and deep-fried. As it was, there was just too little rice paper. We could almost have done without it. Next time real spring roll wrappers.


Thursday, 18 February 2016 Dereel Images for 18 February 2016
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Draining the soil
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Summer's nearly over, and in the winter we'll have significant wetness to the east of the house. I have a groundwater pump to pump it out, but first we need a pit to put it in and some construction to ensure that it doesn't cave in. CJ Ellis had the idea of using a small plastic dustbin, so we got one, and today he came along to install it.

Things didn't go as planned. The hole wasn't the problem:


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But how do we get the solenoid in the box, and what do we cover it with? The least objectionable colour that Yvonne had found was bright purple:


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I can't imagine what the other colours must have looked like, but I certainly don't want that sticking out of the ground. In addition, it proved that the thing wasn't high enough. My idea of a wooden box sounded better, so after an hour or so of head-scratching we gave up. I'll see if Mick and Mike can't build a box for me.


Gate emblem
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

A long time ago Yvonne bought a metal relief image of a horse, which she wanted to put next to the front door. The problem there is that it can't be seen from any distance, since this silly rendered pillar is in the way. So the obvious thing is to put it on the pillar. How hard can it be to drill two holes into masonry and screw the relief to it?

As it turned out, bloody impossible. After an hour, I gave up. The hole on the left was no problem, taking only a couple of seconds. But there's something apparently along the whole right-hand side that resists all kinds of drill bits. All I ended up doing was scarring the rendering on the pillar, with a hole only 6 mm deep (the depth of the render). I managed to get the thing up with one screw and a plug on the other side:


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What a pain! What a waste of time! And why didn't it work? I was using a hammer drill and both masonry and metal drill bits. And my recollection is that the inside is just brickwork, as these photos from last year (indirectly) show:


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So why can't I drill through it? Inadequate bits? It's not beyond the bounds of possibility that they reinforced the corners with some metal profile, but then it would have been on both sides, and my metal bits would have gone through.

In the afternoon Yvonne improved on my mounting, but not by much:


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Chicken wings for breakfast
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

So what do I eat with my East Asian style breakfast? Nasi lemak is my normal choice, but a bit of variety is a good thing. One thing that occurs to me is dried fish and chicken wings.

Yvonne bought some dried fish at the Filipinos in Howitt Street yesterday. It seems that the owner was overjoyed that we'd eat dried fish for breakfast, and gave her a few tips. And chicken wings? I have not one but two recipes already, but they're marinated in soya sauce and honey, which doesn't seem right for breakfast. Went looking for recipes, but they're all like my existing recipes, so I tried faking my own. Minimal marinade, cooked sous-vide for 4 hours at 75°, to be deep fried at some later point, probably just before serving. We'll see how that works out.


Hibiscus again
Topic: gardening, photography Link here

We've turned our Hibiscus rosa-sinensis pot plant around, which really lightens up the dining room:


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Finally the correct lighting
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I've had almost nothing but trouble with flash illumination over the past few years, but this idea of putting two remote-controlled studio flashes in the corners of the dining room looks like it's finally working, as the photos above show. Time to get another one for the lounge room.


Friday, 19 February 2016 Dereel Images for 19 February 2016
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One step forward, two steps back
Topic: gardening, animals, general, opinion Link here

Yesterday we at least had a pit for our groundwater drainage, and we had a couple of nice Hibiscus flowers. This morning things looked very different:


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What happened? We had had to disconnect the irrigation line to dig the pit, and we forgot to replace one clip after reconnecting it. The overpressure in the system did the rest.

And Sasha still loves flowers. We can't leave him alone for a moment. Today I came in and found a big stuffed toy had been de-stuffed. But for once it looks as if Sasha wasn't the culprit. Here's Nikolai a little later:


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Maintaining food reserves
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Finding ingredients for the various cuisines that we cook isn't easy in Australia. For that matter, it hasn't been easy anywhere I live. The easy-to-find ingredients vary by location, but I don't know where I can find them all. As a result we tend to stockpile ingredients that we find.

Mah mee for dinner tonight, something so variable that I haven't even written a recipe. Dried mushrooms? Sure, but what kind? Went looking for dried mushrooms and found them in two different places—something I'm trying to clamp down on—along with lots of different dried seaweed:


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Some of the (unopened) seaweed had expired years ago, like this yucky nori (expired 31 December 2003):


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That's for sushi, which is now readily available pre-made—thus presumably the reason that we hadn't used it. There was also an opened package. Both were strangely brown. Is that an indication of age, or is it normal, or does it change when wet? We'll never know: despite my hate of throwing things away, it got binned.

And what about the Chinese noodles? We didn't have any, so we had to use spaghetti instead. But which?


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What's the difference between “Spaghetti” and “Egg spaghetti”? My guess is age of the packaging. And how old is this (unopened) stuff?


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OK, arguably it doesn't make much difference, since I let things expire anyway. But it would have been nice to know the claimed expiration dates, and in any case I thought that there were laws about this stuff. In the end I decided that 10:41 could be older than 18:34, so took that. On the other hand, of course, it could be that L2076 is older than L2212. You can't win.


Food suppliers in Ballarat
Topic: food and drink Link here

Completely coincidentally, today I went looking for local suppliers of ingredients for various Asian cuisines. We know about “the Filipinos” (Ballarat Asian Groceries) in Howitt Street, of course, where Yvonne went shopping on Wednesday. There's also Masala Valley, who used to have a good choice of ingredients, but now seem to have limited themselves to the restaurant side of things. But while searching for a URL for the Filipinos, found a couple of other addresses: Sai's Little India at 8 Little Bridge Street—where we frequently pass—and World Wide Spices (also apparently Indian) at 33 Armstrong Street, also not far away. And then there's Indian & Asian Groceries (SS Traders) at 210 Dana Street. I wonder if they're really there, and if so, whether they have a useful range of ingredients. It's a pity they're all Indian or similar; there are a couple of holes in the supply chain representing Indonesia and Korea.


Saturday, 20 February 2016 Dereel Images for 20 February 2016
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Pessimizing search engines
Topic: music, multimedia, opinion Link here

I've already commented about the limitations of the Naxos Music Library search engine, which mars an otherwise excellent service. But they've managed to build on it. Today I went looking for Franz Schubert's “Marches Militaires”. Number 1 is well-known, but where are the other two? I still don't know if they're in the collection or not. Here's my attempt to find them:


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They've replaced the one-line-per-disk index with a formatted view with more information, including the amazing number of false positives. In this case it has found only 15 hits, but it has squeezed them into an artifically small window with scroll bar, with no obvious option to return to the old format. How do you handle hundreds of hits like that?

And then there are the names, written in a completely confusing format:

 
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I found nearly 200 lesser-known relatives of favourite composers, including Abe Chopin, Felix Schumann, Gabriel Wagner, Gaetano Strauss II, Giacomo Sibelius, James William Tchaikovsky, Jeremiah Beethoven, Leon Mendelssohn, Leonard B. Bach, Ludwig van Elgar, Percy Strauss (I and II), Pyotr Il'yich Mendelssohn, Ralph Verdi, Richard Boccherini, Samuel Berlioz, Sergey Vaughan Williams and Wolfgang Amadeus Rachmaninov. I may not have found my music, but at least there were some entertaining names.


Yvonne on Keldan
Topic: animals, photography Link here

Yvonne was riding Keldan in the arena today. Time for a few photos with my new Zuiko Digital ED 35-100mm f/2.0 telephoto lens:


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E-M1 viewfinder: burnt again!
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I shouldn't have taken those photos of Yvonne. Stopped to talk to her, and of course the lens (nearly 2 kg of it) pulled the camera downwards. And within a few seconds I had burnt the viewfinder again! Grrr!

The camera's out of warranty now, but this particular item was repaired last July. How long is the warranty on repairs? Probably 6 months, so that I have lost again. But following up on various forum posts, notably this one, suggest that Olympus have opted to replace damaged viewfinders rather than to fix the problem. I wonder if that goes beyond the end of the warranty.

Here's another thread and yet another.


Build problems
Topic: technology Link here

Ran a fairly normal system build on stable today. Or at least, I thought so. And then things began to hang, repeatedly. Looking at the ps output on a repeat attempt, I saw:

=== grog@stable (/dev/pts/2) ~ 20 -> ps wlt1
 UID   PID  PPID CPU PRI NI   VSZ   RSS MWCHAN   STAT TT     TIME COMMAND
   0 55691 36392   0  20  0 12368  1944 piperd   I+    1  0:00.10 tee -a Make.log
   0 55694 55690   0  26  0 12372  1948 wait     I+    1  0:00.00 /usr/bin/time -l make kernel -DNOCLEAN
   0 55695 55694   0  52  0  9116   888 wait     I+    1  0:00.00 make kernel -DNOCLEAN
   0 55700 55695   0  52  0  9116  1468 wait     I+    1  0:00.01 make -m /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/10/share/mk -f Makefile.inc1
   0 62264 55700   0  52  0 21404 13328 wait     I+    1  0:00.32 make -I /Photos/Tools -D NOCLEAN -m /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/
   0 62277 62264   0  52  0 17100  2468 wait     I+    1  0:00.00 /bin/sh -e -c make -V CFILES_NOZFS -V SYSTEM_CFILES -V GEN_CFILES
   0 62279 62277   0  52  0 12380  2140 wait     I+    1  0:00.00 xargs mkdep -a -f .newdep -O2 -pipe -fno-strict-aliasing -std=c99
   0 62291 62279   0  52  0 17100  2760 wait     I+    1  0:00.01 /bin/sh - /usr/bin/mkdep -O2 -pipe -fno-strict-aliasing -std=c99
   0 62292 62291   0  52  0 37124 30700 wait     S+    1  0:25.64 cc -E -M -O2 -pipe -fno-strict-aliasing -std=c99 -g -Wall -Wredun
   0 62438 62292   0  52  0 33012 26156 newnfsre D+    1  0:00.01 /usr/obj/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/10/tmp/usr/bin/cc -cc1 -trip

That last process is typical: 0.01 s CPU time used, not currently using any, and waiting on newnfsre. Clearly it's an NFS-related issue, but what? In the end gave up and copied the source tree to local disk and repeated. That worked, but after rebooting the installworld failed because crt0.o couldn't be found. Why? A repeat worked.


Cassoulet revisited
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Cassoulet for dinner today, and a chance to reconsider the cooking times. I started this recipe nearly 10 years ago, and from time to time I've wondered if I have not been allocating too much time to cooking the beans. Today I confirmed it: with “new” (i.e. only recently dried) beans I needed little over an hour, and my recipe needed considerable adjustment. I'm clearly not done yet, but at least Yvonne said—for the first time—that she liked it, and followed up by eating a surprising amount of it.


Indian groceries revisited
Topic: food and drink, general Link here

Chris was here this evening, and had read yesterday's article about groceries in Ballarat, and confirmed the concern I expressed: “I wonder if they're really there”. It seems that World Wide Spices are no longer at the specified address: it's now a Spanish restaurant that she frequents.


Studio flash in the lounge room
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

The studio flash in the dining room has proven to be useful. How about in the lounge (video) room? Put one of my new 400 J units in there to try it out, set to 100 J, which gave me an average aperture of f/5.6 and a recycle time round 1 s. As a result I took lots of photos, round 140 of them. I'll leave it to Yvonne to decide which she likes, but they all seemed to be acceptably exposed, except for the one that I took before the flash had recycled. Even that, amazingly, wasn't completely unrecognizable:


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That must have been underexposed by at least 8 EV.


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Sunday, 21 February 2016 Dereel Images for 21 February 2016
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More Sasha destruction
Topic: animals Link here

Hibiscus must taste really good. Sasha can't keep away from them. Here's what I found him eating when I got up this morning:


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Yvonne put up a barrier:


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Hopefully that will stop him.


More burst hoses
Topic: gardening, general Link here

Things didn't improve from there. Looking outside the front door I found:


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Despite the plastic clips holding the hose in place, the hose had been blown off the connector. Grrr! Replaced and tightened the clip tighter. Maybe wiring isn't such a bad idea after all.


What price an IP address?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

IPv6 has been around for nearly 20 years, and in the early days we thought that it would quickly displace IPv4. But it hasn't. Most ISPs still don't support it, and though I could use it in my house network, I don't, mainly because of an overly pedantic concern about efficiency (IPv6 headers are considerably larger than IPv4 headers).

Now that the IPv4 address space is depleted, a market has arisen for IP addresses. Today I received a mail message offering to buy my excess IP addresses for the princely sum of $3 each, independent of quantity. I'm not interested, but it got me thinking: how much is an IPv4 address worth? And what do you do with a single IP address? As usual, Wikipedia has content about the subject, but the question of prices doesn't arise.


Murraya flowers
Topic: gardening Link here

Nearly 6 years ago Peter Jeremy brought me some cuttings of a Murraya koenigii, better known as Curry tree. They didn't do very well. A month later many were looking unhappy, and ultimately only one survived. And it has had a pretty checquered history. In January 2011 it finally started to grow, though it took another year to increase in size significantly, and it wasn't until March 2013 that it started looking like a tree:


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In January 2013 it had an infestation of scale insects, and some time in summer 2013 it got attacked by a virulent tomato vine, and after removal it looked like this:


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And this spring I put it out in the sun, which proved too strong for it, so it came back inside. It then got another insect attack, and it's only just recovering now. But it seems a lot happier:


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It is now flowering, for the first time ever:


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The flowers are about 1 cm across, and the buds look like this:


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Focus stacking for real
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

The new firmware 4.0 for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 includes support for focus bracketing and focus stacking. What's the difference? I went into more detail a couple of months ago, but basically bracketing takes a variable number of photos for processing later. Stacking takes exactly 8 images, saves them for processing later, but also creates a composite JPEG image of the lot.

At the time I tried a couple of experiments, which didn't work because one of the programs didn't like the input. I know what do to about that: it's just a SMOP. But I hadn't got round to it.

One of the restrictions of either feature is that it only works with Micro Four thirds lenses, and stacking only works with exactly 3 of them: the M.Zuiko 12-40 mm f/2.8 “Pro”, the M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 “Pro” and the M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro. I had the first, but clearly it's the 60 mm macro that is most use in such circumstances, so I bought one last month.

And now I have finally got round to using it for focus bracketing and stacking, with the Murraya koenigii as a subject. I took a total of 92 shots, including those generated by the camera, but didn't get round to processing them; that'll be fun for another time.

But unlike the last time, the out-of-camera photos weren't too bad. But in the process I learnt a number of things:

The exposure is really strange. A number the images came out underexposed. At first I thought that this was due to the shutter speed limitations, but that's not that simple. I started taking the photos with aperture priority exposure, f/8. The first photo that looked underexposed was this one:


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That was taken with standard settings, with a shutter speed of 1/8 s, but maybe the 1:1 extension of the lens (which swallows 2 stops) brought the lighting to the point where the camera could no longer expose it correctly, and of course it was far too polite to tell me so. So I tried again with 1 EV more exposure:


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That actually does look better exposed, but in fact it's the same: both are EV 9.0. The camera appears to have ignored the exposure compensation. I can't explain why it looks brighter; maybe light from outside was brighter. Both were taken with the ISO sensitivity set to the standard 24°/200. Tried again with automatic ISO, which chose 33°/1600, 1/15.


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That's overly bright, because I still had the +1 EV exposure compensation. Removed it and set the aperture to f/11, to which the camera responded with ISO 32°/1250 and 1/15 s exposure (EV 10.8, 1 EV less, as was to be expected):


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Is that good enough? Hard to say. Tried another one at 24°/200 and f/6.3 and got this one, which looks pretty much the same:


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That's pretty much the same, but noticeably better exposed than the first image in this series, though in fact there's only ⅔ EV difference. I'm left wondering whether there is some other magic going on behind the scenes.


Monday, 22 February 2016 Dereel Images for 22 February 2016
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Olympus in denial
Topic: photography, general, opinion Link here

So somehow I need to convince Olympus to repair my camera although it's out of warranty. How do I do that? Clearly careful planning is of advantage. Called up Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 81 81 and spoke to Sonya, who told me a number of interesting things. First, as I might have expected, the repair done last year has no effect on the expiry of the warranty: it could have been done at the end of November for all the difference it would make.

On the other hand, something very interesting: there's the normal 2 year warranty required by law, but also a second implied warranty regulated by section 54 of the Consumer Law. Trimming to the relevant essentials, it says:

If a person supplies, in trade or commerce, goods to a consumer, there is a guarantee that the goods are of acceptable quality.

Goods are of acceptable quality if they are as fit for all the purposes for which goods of that kind are commonly supplied, free from defects, safe and durable.

OK, that's clearly effective, in particular the question of durability. Armed with that, called up Olympus support on 02 9886 3999 and spoke to John, not the first time in this month. When I described the problem, his first question was whether I wore glasses. I said yes, and he told me that they had had a couple of damaged viewfinders, but that there was no design defect. When I pointed out to him that there were multiple threads on the subject, and that Olympus Europe had admitted a defect and had intended to find a fix for the problem, but had opted for a repair instead, he asked me to forward him information to repairs@olympusimaging.com.au.

So a lot of digging, during which I found even more information, including this one which implicates him by name.

So what's going on here? It seems that they're doing everything they can to block the issue. This post shows that Olympus representatives have pretended not to know about the problem, and that's the impression John gave me. As I commented last year, they didn't even warn me about how easy it is to damage the viewfinder. This image shows it:

Burnt E-M1 viewfinder

One second in the sunshine! And when you think about it, it must really be that short. None of the images I've seen show points, just random curves. Here's what mine looked like last time:


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I can't show what it looks like now, not until Yvonne's camera is back from repairs, but that doesn't happen from “leaving camera on open sun”, as the repair report claimed. It's using the camera under normal circumstances. As Ray, the original poster of the thread I mentioned above states:

Now that goes against the grain of anything to do with photography, as sunlight has been the raison d’être for photography and, for a camera that is advertised as an ‘all weather’ camera, it’s the height of irony that you have to be cautious (to the point of being paranoid) when using it in sunlight.

Sent out a few feelers, but it's looking as if there will have to be at least a complaint to CVA before they do anything.

In passing, somewhere I saw a suggestion that the manufacturer is responsible for postage both ways during the warranty period. Next time I contact CVA I should check on that. I've already had to send cameras in for repair three times, and somehow my goodwill towards Olympus is wearing thin.


Tuesday, 23 February 2016 Dereel Images for 23 February 2016
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Documenting the Oly viewfinder problem
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Yesterday I established that a large number of Olympus OM-D E-M1 owners are affected by the burnt viewfinder syndrome.

I thought I had written a separate page on this topic, but I can no longer find it.

Overnight heard from Daniel Bradley, the person who did the experiment, including quotes from Olympus Europe.

I had promised to forward this proof to Olympus Australia, but some of the information I received shows that they have already been informed but pretend not to have. What do I say? “You're pretending not to know about the problem”? In the end I was more diplomatic, but it looks like it's time to make a demand: honour the requirements of section 54 of the Consumer Law and replace the viewfinder for free.

Coincidentally, saw a rumour suggesting that the replacement for the E-M1 could be just around the corner. Under those circumstances I could wait until then and then have the E-M1 repaired just before selling it.

The real issue, though, is how long this all takes! It took me several hours, effectively all day. But I think it's worth it to present things correctly.


Wednesday, 24 February 2016 Dereel
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20 years of CFBSD
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Diary entry for today:

Feb 24  "Installing and running FreeBSD" submitted for publication, 1996

That was the first edition of what was to become “The Complete FreeBSD”. Twenty years! Time flies when you're having fun. I tried to find a machine-readable version, but it seems that it's gone. I have everything in RCS, but the build system was baroque and fragile, and the likelihood of being able to build it now is pretty remote.


Yvonne loses a filling
Topic: health, general Link here

At breakfast this morning, Yvonne lost a filling on a front tooth. Amazingly, she was able to get it seen to in the afternoon, but it looks like there's more to come. Another round of dental treatment, including a checkup for me.


More on focus stacking
Topic: photography Link here

Trawling through photography forums, found this article about focus stacking on the Olympus OM-D E-M1. It's long, and I haven't finished reading it, but it looks good. It's interesting that he, too, started his tests with photos of coins.


More rechargeable battery issues
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

The batteries in Yvonne's mouse are discharged, as indicated by a warning light (!). No problem. That's why we have rechargeables (NiMH). But lately, mainly out of interest, I've been measuring the voltages after discharge. In this case it was 2 AAA batteries. One was down to 1.062 V, which was really low. But the other was reading -0.062V!

OK, it's clear that unbalanced batteries can cause the weakest to fail, but a negative voltage? In addition, these were almost new. But you can't return rechargeable batteries, even if they don't meet ALDI's stringent quality standards. More generally, though, my measurements show that a battery pair never discharges equally. That's the best reason I can see to replace rechargeable batteries as soon as they show the first signs of discharge.


Thursday, 25 February 2016 Dereel Images for 25 February 2016
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Power failure woes
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Only one letter in the letterbox today: Powercor announced Yet Another scheduled outage. That's about the fourth since we moved here less than 10 months ago! Why so many? There are now more scheduled outages than unscheduled outages.

And only shortly afterwards, all my monitors went dead. The computer was still running, but it's on a local UPS. So it looked as if the power from the UPS in the shed had failed. Out to check the switchboard in the garage, on the way confirming that I couldn't see anything in the microwave oven display (which Jim Lannen has connected to the same RCD). But none of the breakers had tripped. Could the UPS itself have failed? Out into the shed, groveled on the floor (I must really find a better place for the thing) and confirmed that it seemed to be working.

Back into the office, and the right-hand monitor (connected by HDMI) was displaying the typical HDMI blue screen. Power back? That doesn't make sense; the monitors would have been off. Then it occurred to me: screen saver. But this time I was so attuned to power failures that I automatically thought I had another.

And the microwave oven? I looked at the wrong angle and just saw reflections. It was running the whole time. The power of suggestion.

But that wasn't all. At 22:14 we really did have a short power failure.


Spam: Blödmann!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

More malicious spam today, with a twist:

From: Fermin Lynn <LynnFermin3010@chello.nl>
To: bloedmann <bloedmann@lemis.com>
Subject: Invoice 26885012

Dear bloedmann,

Please review theattached copy of your Invoice (number: IN26885012) for an amount of $549.42.

[-- Attachment #2: invoice_copy_26885012.zip --]
[-- Type: application/zip, Encoding: base64, Size: 3.0K --]

„Blödmann“ is a German term of abuse which http://dict.leo.org/ende/ translates as buffoon, imbecile, goon, twerp, wally, dimwit, git, dweeb or dumbass. How did I get it? My choice of email address. In my virtual file I find:

# www.serif.com
bloedmann@lemis.com           groggyhimself@lemis.com

I don't recall why I used that particular name, but it probably reflects on the company web site. And now there's another reason. Goodbye, serif.com.


More studio flash woes
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

The photos I took in the lounge room on Saturday came out relatively well, particularly from the viewpoint of exposure. So it makes sense to install a dedicated studio flash there. On the other hand, the battery-powered flash trigger receivers are a pain. First you need to remember to turn them on and off, and secondly they seem to need a well-charged battery to work well. Neither is the case with the mains-powered trigger I bought last year. So how about another couple of them? Went looking and discovered that the cheapest come with trigger transmitters as well, which may or may not be compatible with the ones I have now. But that's not important, so I ordered two. That will make a total of four receivers (one battery-powered) and five transmitters. Under some bizarre set of circumstances, that might even be useful.

And the studio flash? On Saturday I used a single 400 J unit set to 100 J. Surprisingly, I can't find any units that weak any more. The weakest (and cheapest) I could find was 150 J, and now even that is no longer on offer. The current low-end is a 180 J. OK, more light isn't a problem, and it can reduce the recycling time if I run it at below the maximum output.

But then I looked more carefully at the photo:

 
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Look at the power connector. It's one of these mini things. What are they called? After 30 minutes of looking in the wrong places on the web, asked on IRC. The connectors are all IEC 60320 standard. This socket is C7, and the connector on the flash trigger (and nearly any normal cable) is C14. Where do I find an adapter?

After looking for a while, gave up, but Callum Gibson came up with an adapter from the UK for £2.79 including postage. Is it worth it? Maybe. But I'm wondering if it wouldn't be tidier just to buy a flash with a normal C13 power socket.


Ant macros
Topic: photography, animals, opinion Link here

One of the joys of living in the country is finding things like this in the bedroom:


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It's about 3 cm long. I caught it, cooled it down in the fridge, and then tried to take photos of it. It didn't really want to stay still, and I didn't really get any good photos of it. There won't be any more: I didn't want to keep it until it died, so I let it go. But it would be nice to work out how to take good photos of these things.


Friday, 26 February 2016 Dereel Images for 26 February 2016
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More horsey stuff
Topic: general, animals Link here

Yvonne is going to a clinic about training horses with a garrocha, which proves to mean a pole, such as those used in pole vaulting. That's what she was practicing last weekend with a makeshift pole:


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To quote Chris Bahlo, who, it seems, advertised the event only on Facebook:

February 2016 Workshop with Davyd Castro

Davyd is a rider, trainer and teacher specialising in classical equitation. He studied horsemanship at the School of Equestrian Art of the Republica of Argentina. From his time as a gaucho in Argentina, he brings a love of traditional training and equipment. He is a goldmine of information on equestrian history, equipment, training and riding and a superb horseman.

For many years, he ran A la Castina in Sydney, where he bred Andalusian Horses, did displays and schooled horses and riders. Together with Birte Junck, he founded Ritter & Amazone Pty Ltd, located in the Hawkesbury Valley. As well as training and teaching classical dressage, they sell baroque and traditional equipment and provide consulting services. They support and teach members of the Australian College of Historic Equitation an actively participate in medieval re-enactments.

Davyd and Birte will be in Victoria in late February to run a garrocha clinic at Kryal Castle and Unicorn Park. Following on, Davyd will be running a workshop at Narrawin Stud (Dereel) for one day on Monday 29th February. The topic for the day is lateral work, but he is happy to to help riders with whatever they wish to work on. This is a rare opportunity to work with Davyd and Birte. If you are interested in classical dressage or want to refine your riding skills, you should not miss this workshop!

Costs are $240 per rider (max 5 riders, 2 places already taken) or $35 per person for fence sitters. Refreshments and light lunch will be provided. Please contact Chris on 0428 647 137 for more info and to secure your place.

The clinic is to be held in Scotsburn by Davyd Castro, who will be staying here with his partner Birte Junck, so Yvonne is rotating. The course starts today with a short evening discussion, then goes on for Saturday and Sunday, finally ending up here for another session on Monday. I'm reminded of Der Ring des Nibelungen.

There's surprisingly little to be found on the web about the topic. About the only site I could find is this one. It's in Australia (in fact in Broadford, not far from here and where my mother grew up), and contains the most marvellously truncated picture gallery, though the full-size photos aren't. It seems to be unrelated to Davyd.

Things started in the early morning with an unrelated visit, which kept her going most of the morning, and then in late afternoon she, Chris Bahlo and Margaret Swan went off to Kryal Castle for the first session. They came back late, and had to get up early tomorrow morning. I'm certainly happy I'm not going with them.


TV Recoding errors: why?
Topic: multimedia, opinion Link here

Since moving to Stones Road, our TV reception has been much better, but not perfect. I'm still keeping my list of recoding errors. It doesn't explain the situation, but there are a couple of things to observe. Firstly, I record the news from Deutsche Welle every morning at 10:30, and it's more likely to have recoding errors than most other programmes. Presumably it has something to do with the time of day, but what?

And then about 10 days ago things went to hell. From 16 February to 21 February I recorded 14 programmes, 10 of which had recoding errors, up to 63 of them in one case. 13 of these, including all the bad ones, were on SBS HD (channel 2030). I was beginning to get used to it, but since then there have been no more problems.

What causes that? It could be SBS' fault, but given the lack of recordings on other channels it's hard to say. And why did it stop again?


eBay studio flash puzzles
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Somehow product searches on eBay are non-deterministic. A couple of days ago I found a 150 J studio flash for about $65. Then yesterday I couldn't find it any more. Today I went looking and found it again—not a new one, but the same one I saw 2 days ago. And now, writing up this article, I can't find it again.

Then, of course, there's the pricing, which seems completely random. The seller estores_au offers two Godox units: a 160 J “Mini Pioneer” for $89.99, or a 120 J “Mini Pioneer” for $90.88. What's the difference? If you look at the photos they provide, nothing. Clearly some of the photos are the same for each unit, and with the exception of the power output, the specs are the same for both units.

But wait! There's more! For $2.20 more I can get a 200 J “Mini Pioneer” from a different seller. That's interesting because Godox doesn't want to know about it, but clearly a higher output is better because you can turn it down and get faster recycle times.

Looking up just a little more, though, I found Yet Another Godox (why do they make so many different models?), a 300 J SMART 300SDI. It seems a little cleverer: the power adjustments include LED feedback, and the modeling light changes along with the output power setting. Most importantly it can be set to ignore pre-flash triggering. So in the end I bought it—from the same people who took forever to deliver last month. It's interesting to compare the prices: $109.78 for the 300 J model, $199.99 for the 400 J models. And I thought (and still think) that the latter price was good. They confirmed having shipped at 19:25, but this time they didn't make the mistake of leaving a tracking number.


Joule or Watt: the difference
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

For reasons I don't understand, people have difficulties distinguishing Kilowatt hours and Kilowatts. And to make it easier to get confused, many people use the term Watt second instead of the correct Joule.

That's particularly confusing with studio flash equipment. According to the web site, the Godox 300DI has a power output of 300 WS [sic] and a modeling lamp of 75 WS, fully ¼ of the flash output.

That's nonsense, of course. The output of the lamp is Watt, not Watt seconds Joules, and the exposure you'd need from the modelling lamp is much longer. But you can calculate the output of a flash in Watts. My 400 J flashes output that power in 1/800 s, making 320 kW. That's actually an amazingly high value, but it might help put the output of LED lights into perspective.


Evaporation in the fridge
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Round about the time we moved house, I was puzzled by the discrepancy between the weight of sourdough starters when I put them in the fridge and what they weighed 6 weeks later when I used them. I wondered whether the loss of weight was due to fermentation or evaporation.

For a while I put a similar package of plain water in at the same time and weighed it again when I took out the starter. The results were inconclusive, and I stopped again. But today I found a water container that I had put in the fridge on 23 May 2015. When I put it in, it weighed 161.6 g. Now it weighed 151.2 g. So there was significant evaporation, rather more than 1 g per month. That's in keeping with what I found last year. Potentially I could put in a sourdough starter for a year as well, but there's every reason to believe that weight loss due to fermentation changes over time.


Saturday, 27 February 2016 Dereel → Clarendon → Dereel Images for 27 February 2016
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Day 2: Die Walküre
Topic: animals, general Link here

Yvonne off at the crack of dawn this morning to head to Clarendon, near Scotsburn, for the first real day of her Garrocha clinic. I took the opportunity for a long sleep-in and a quiet day, until I headed off there myself in the afternoon. I arrived at the appointed time, but I was only just in time: they stopped early and went into some discussion. Here a taste, coincidentally with Yvonne and Chris Bahlo:


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The way to Clarendon went through the area that was hit by bushfires in December. In fact, the reports were that an equestrian centre was destroyed in the flames. This was Unicorn Park, where the clinic is being held. It was as good as unscathed, though the entrance shows how close it came:


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The riding arena is behind the trees in the middle. I assume that my difficulties in finding the place (no sign telling me which way to go) were because the sign was destroyed in the fire.

On the way home, more evidence of the bushfire:


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The trees are badly charred, but already recovering well:


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Also drove down Tippetts Lane, where the last Dereel bushfire occurred, but there was almost nothing to be seen.


More hot water supply problems
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Back home, out to let the dogs in, and saw a jet of water squirting out of the hot water system. That's the second failure, and we haven't even been here 10 months! Further investigation showed that it was an insulated, braided hose at the bottom of the system, connecting two external connections, and it had burst:


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What to do? The very first thing was to turn off the pump, of course. And how to replace the hose? It was 16:30 on a Saturday, and most plumbing supplies would be closed. Waiting until Monday sounded like a bad idea, so in the end I called up Ballarat Emergency Plumbing (now isn't that a sensible name, for once? It's almost exactly what I typed in to Google). Within 2 hours, James was there with a replacement and a bill for $200. Under the circumstances, I'm happy to pay that.

Now to see how to reclaim the money from the installers. I'm not sure I can, but I'll certainly give it a try. One question that might be relevant is: what is this hose doing there in the first place? It looks like the connectors might be for some external device, and that the hose is just a dummy connection that doesn't belong to the heating system itself. But why rubber when everything else is copper? It's quite possible that it will need replacement again. Possibly the bore water is part of the problem. I asked James about this, but he was confident that there would be no more problems.


Quesadillas sin queso
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Yvonne off again in the evening for a clinic dinner at the Zaragosa restaurant (or is it just a Tapas bar?). The name looks strange enough, and I had looked at the menu and decided not to come. Apart from Tapas, most of the food is Tex-Mex. It seems that that was the right choice: Yvonne ate a Quesadilla, she says, but there was no cheese in it! Looking through the reviews, it seems that my prejudice wasn't unjustified.


Sunday, 28 February 2016 Dereel Images for 28 February 2016
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Day 3: Siegfried, el gaucho
Topic: animals Link here

Yvonne off in a clatter to the second day of the Garrocha clinic this morning. I turned up at 11:00 as planned to take some photos of people riding, but in fact it turned out to be a question-and-answer session, and the only riding was done by Davyd and Birte:


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Still, very interesting. In passing I finally got to use my Zuiko Digital 35-100 mm f/2 in earnest—no less than 318 photos, mainly at f/2.


Panorama limits
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Peter Jeremy comments that this photo, taken yesterday, doesn't say very much:


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He's right, of course. Maybe this kind of 360° panorama is just not appropriate. Today (and before Peter's comment), I tried another, more limited panorama, from the Mount Mercer wind farm on the left (south-west), through the bushfire devastation in the middle to Mount Buninyong on the right (north):


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According to the (not very accurate) EXIF data, that's 150° horizontally and 30° vertically. But the only thing that can (just) be seen is Mount Buninyong. It needs lots of enlarging to see the others, like this view of the wind farm:


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And the scale pushes the limits of the resolution of the lens.

The bushfire damage is even harder to depict. I'll leave it for another day.


Sasha's first swim
Topic: animals Link here

How do you take 3 dogs for a walk when there's only one person? I've managed it in the past, but it's complicated, especially if all three are on long leads. So today I planned to take them for a walk in the part of our property from which they are usually fenced off. And down the end I found a souvenir of the kangaroos:


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Another bloody broken wire! Why can't they jump high enough (or, preferably, not make it in at all)?

No horses there today, of course: they're all at the clinic. So the dogs were able to run around at will:


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Finally, of course, they ended up in the dam, Sasha for the first time:


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