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February 2017
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Wednesday, 1 February 2017 Dereel Images for 1 February 2017
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Catch-up day
Topic: general Link here

Somehow I didn't get much done today. Much of the time was spent completing my (preliminary) analysis of the lens comparisons I did yesterday. But I suppose I don't always have to do something important.


Understanding EXIF lens coding
Topic: photography Link here

My new 15 mm lens is a (Panasonic) Leica Summilux, but the EXIF data claim that it's a DJI MFT 15mm F1.7 ASPH. Interestingly, DxO Optics “Pro” recognizes it as a Summilux. How does it know?

A bit more investigation shows that there's a lot of relevant stuff in the EXIF data:

0x0201 Lens Type                       : Unknown (8 01 10)
0x0202 Lens Serial Number              : 75SIC307120N
0x0204 Lens Firmware Version           : 1.000
0x020b Lens Properties                 : 0x4180
0x0403 Conversion Lens                 :
0xa432 Lens Info                       : 15mm f/1.7
0xa434 Lens Model                      : DJI MFT 15mm F1.7 ASPH
     - Lens ID                         : DJI MFT 15mm F1.7 ASPH

The numbers on the left are the tag numbers, unfortunately without any structural information. 0x0201, the Lens Type, is in the Olympus Equipment Tags section (see perldoc Image::ExifTool::TagNames for more information), and it seems that this is what DxO looks at. Lens Model is in the main tags list, and it appears irrelevant. Independently of the Lens Model string, it displays:

 
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I don't have an original Summilux 15/1.7 to compare with, but for the Summilux 25/1.4 it displays:

 
This should be DxO-info-25.png.  Is it missing?
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That's not what the lens reports, which is LEICA DG SUMMILUX 25/F1.4. Instead, it seems to come from the file c:\Users\grog\AppData\Local\DxO_Labs\DxO OpticsPro 11\CAFList110.db, apparently a list with data for all known lenses, 8 MB in size. But this is just for display purposes: it doesn't change the Lens Model string in the output EXIF.

The other thing of interest there is tag 0x020b, “Lens Properties”, apparently a bit map. I wonder what wisdom is stored there.


Thursday, 2 February 2017 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel
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Another GTT
Topic: health Link here

Into town this morning for yet another blood test—also the signal that I'm allowed to drink alcohol again—and another Glucose Tolerance Test. Normally you only need one, and I had one ten years ago, and failed. In all likelihood it'll just be another wasted 2 hours.


How to answer a phone call
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

While waiting for my Glucose Tolerance Test, a call came in on my Android phone. Pressed on the green phone emblem. Nothing. Tried again. Nothing. Hit it as hard as I dared. Nothing.

The call was from Yvonne, so I called her back with no problems. But why couldn't I answer it? Do I first have to unlock the phone? You don't need that with the iPhone, and it really doesn't make sense. It's also (superficially) undocumented.

I've been using phones for over 60 years, and computers for nearly 40. There must be something seriously wrong if I can't answer a phone call. Of course, it doesn't help that I can't try it out at home.

Later Callum Gibson reminded me of what I think I had already discovered, but then forgotten: of course you don't simply press on the icon: you swipe. That's clearly so intuitive that I had already forgotten it. What a violation of POLA!


Trump: I don't need no steenking allies
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

The Australian media have been full of a rather strange news item for the past few days: having failed to offload the inmates of their prison camps in Nauru and Manus Island to Asian countries, it seems that the Australian Government made an arrangement with the US Government to transfer 1,250 inmates to the USA.

That's clearly not the direction that Donald Trump is aiming for. Most of the prisoners were refugees from his Bad Seven countries (Muslim, and of no economic value to the USA). But still, they said, they would hono(u)r the deal.

Well, until details emerged of a phone call between Trump and Malcolm Turnbull, the current Prime Minister of Australia. It's still not clear where the information came from—it was, after all, confidential, one of a number of calls that Trump had made that day to world leaders. But once again it showed Trump from the side we're coming to expect: once again he bragged about the magnitude of his electoral college win—clearly nothing more than drawing attention to a deficiency in the US electoral system. And he termed the call “this was the worst by far”. How could Australia expect the USA to take 2,000 prisoners from Australia (in the process confirming my suspicion that he is mathematically challenged)? And he terminated the call after only 25 out of a scheduled 60 minutes.

From an Australian perspective, it's difficult to assess the impact of this call. For Turnbull, not a man I admire, it has the advantage of positioning him as the winner, almost a statesman. But the foreign press pounced on it: it was front page news on the major US newspapers, and people drew attention to the fact that Australia is one of the staunchest allies of the USA. It would be easy to wonder how long that will last, but in all probability it'll last longer than Trump.

In that connection, it's interesting to note what the Iranis are doing. Launching a missile seems to be a silly thing to do at this juncture, even if (as seems probable to me) it was not in contravention of their international agreements, which puts them one step ahead of the current USA government. After Trump's vague threats, the boiled down to:

A top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Thursday that Iran would not be intimidated by threats from “an inexperienced person.”

Or maybe. While following up links, they changed. But who knows, they will probably return.

The real problem I see is that this kind of needling could prompt Trump to declare war on Iran. That makes no sense at all, and it would further damage the image of the USA in the region, but why should that stop him?


Keep out the terrorists!
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

You don't need to be a genius to understand that Donald Trump's rejection of immigration (from Muslim countries of no economic advantage to the USA) is misplaced. All these two-year olds and pregnant women! Who knows what they could do? Clearly Trump doesn't. Here a statistic from Statista:


Friday, 3 February 2017 Dereel Images for 3 February 2017
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More politics
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Somehow US politics isn't letting up, including from the amazing amount of satire, like this. And it seems that White House staff are also less than satisfied, to judge by the amount of leaked information, including details of the call between Donald Trump and Malcolm Turnbull. But what really got me, on the news, was Trump standing up on his hind legs and proclaiming “We will not allow a beachhead of intolerance to spread in our nation”.

A first indication that he may soon abdicate? No, it seems that it is his concept of ensuring religious freedom. Clearly after alternative facts, he has alternative tolerance.

But then the New York Times reports that the Trump administration has asked the government of Israel to put on hold their plans to expand their illegal settlements in Palestine. That's the first good news I've heard in a while, but how long will it last? And why has it only been reported by the New York Times?


Saturday, 4 February 2017 Dereel Images for 4 February 2017
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Iran Trumped?
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

As was to be expected, the United States of America have imposed sanctions on Iran for their missile test. Or did they? No, at least in part it's because of their perceived support for terrorism. Tit for tat. Nothing to do with the nuclear deal, like the missile launch wasn't.

In fact, this makes a whole lot of sense. I had already opined that the Irani action was not a good idea. I really can't imagine that Donald Trump was behind it: he would have been far less subtle. The real question is to what extent Iran is supporting terrorism, to what extent it is trying to even things out in the region, and to what extent it is fighting its private battle with Saudi Arabia. But the Saudis are our friends, right? And the Iranis are our enemies? That's what both governments and press tell us, unless it's alternate governments like Russia or alternate new sources like Aljazeera (the latter of which doesn't really voice an opinion). And of course all the terrorist attacks in the West have come from Iran, right? In fact, though it's possible some were, I can't think of a single example. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia has been implicated in many.


HDR software pain
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

House photo day today, and for a change I decided to try HDR Projects 4 again. After the pain 6 months ago, I had more or less given up on it, but maybe there are advantages anyway.

Once again the disadvantages prevailed. This stupid “automatic recognition” of image groups just doesn't work at all. Here what it found in today's images:

 
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Yes, I can't read it either. But you wouldn't want to use more than 30% of a full screen display, would you? This image is made out of 11 individual images, and thus misses out at least one image of a group. But it's clear to the naked eye that the recognition doesn't work at all. And the result is nonsense:


This should be house-from-ssw-2-0-0_sw-2-0-1___w-0-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: house from ssw 2 0 0_sw 2 0 1___w 0 2          Dimensions:          4009 x 2826, 3802 kB
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But I knew that, and there's a workaround. Here's my current work flow:

  1. Read in photos and convert with DxO Optics “Pro”.
  2. Edit multishot file to match images, run make housephotos to create the Makehouse file. Add to Makejpeg.
  3. Make convert HDR4.
  4. On dischord, start HDR Projects. Select “Batch Procssing”, “Three image grouping”, “16 bit TIFF” and 360° panorama, none of which it is prepared to remember.
  5. Select “Custom garden-photos-set” for processing.
  6. Press “Start”. It does remember the last working directory, and It shows two file selection windows, both empty, one for the source and one for the destination. Pressing “Select Folder” allows it to continue and (at least here) do the right thing.
  7. When done, fromHDR

And that worked, sort of. The images are still really gaudy, and the heuristics in fromHDR (I think) are broken. Spent some time looking at that, but didn't have time to finish it.

How do real people do this stuff? My guess is that it would have landed in the “too hard” basket long before my problems surfaced.


Rediscovering chicken biriani
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I have a recipe for chicken biriani, but the last time I updated it was 15 August 2005, though the commit log suggests that I haven't made the dish since 13 December 2002, over 14 years ago. In that time, I've changed many things: the quantities are still in things like spoons, the page format was antiquated, and I got the distinct impression that the quantities were wrong. 1 kg chicken and only 300 g rice? That can't be right. In that case, I increased to 400 g rice.

The results? Not bad, but far too much (I should have seen that), and in proportion not enough rice. The recipe required serious updating.


Trump: evening entertainment
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Chris Bahlo still doesn't have an National Broadband Network connection, so she couldn't watch some of the satirical stuff that is surfacing about Donald Trump. In particular, http://everysecondcounts.eu/ is collecting a series of “OK, USA first, but us second” clips. The ones I like best are from Holland, Germany and Switzerland:

In passing, it's interesting to note that the German clip was presented by Jan Böhmermann, now exonerated from his accusations of insulting Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the president of Turkey.

I can't recall any other politician who has given us so much amusement.


Sunday, 5 February 2017 Dereel
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Breakfast party
Topic: food and drink, general, opinion Link here

Nele Kömle along today, for the first time in years without son Nelson: he's off in New Zealand with his father. Instead she brought Christine, a German girl from Trier, her current working visitor.

In the past we've always fed her when she comes, initially in the evening, when she didn't live that far away. But since she has moved to Gavroc, 120 km away, that's no longer so easy. So for a while we served lunch, something that we no longer eat. Today we went a step further and served breakfast (or is that brunch?), round midday.


Trump: We don't need no steenking judiciary
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

So finally a James Robart US Federal Judge has done what others should have done before, and completely blocked Donald Trump's rejection of immigration (from Muslim countries of no economic advantage to the USA). I saw part of the trial on TV, and it was interesting to note that the attorney from the US Department of Justice wasn't able to answer the question as to how many terrorists attacks had been committed on US soil by people from the countries in question since 11 September 2001. She wasn't able to answer. But Judge Robarts was: none.

As the law provides, appeals are allowed, and the first took place and was rejected. But clearly this is just the first step.

Bravo to the USA for having such provisions! Not even the President is beyond the law. Well, that's what the law says. What does the President say?

What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?

And this is a person who swore an oath of allegiance to the constitution? Insulting judges, in this case even one appointed by a previous (Republican) president? Complaining about a rule in the constitution that is showing its worth now more than ever? Ugh!


Monday, 6 February 2017 Dereel → Napoleons → Dereel Images for 6 February 2017
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Australia Post at its best
Topic: photography, general, opinion Link here

Last Monday I bought a new weather station. And finally today I got a parcel notification, so off to Napoleons to pick it up.

Only it wasn't a weather station. It was some negative sleeves that had been sent from the United Kingdom on 27 January, 3 days earlier (and 11 days after purchase, coincidentally from eBay seller roxy*books, better known for selling lenses at 5 times the list price). So what has Australia Post been doing with my weather station? It's only 114 km from Melbourne to Napoleons. A persistent snail would have been faster.


Programming style
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

The background of my weather station: when we moved to Stones Road, I left the old weather station behind, not a good idea. It wouldn't have been so difficult to remove the external parts, and I doubt that Barry Ryan uses it. Still, I needed a new one, and it was time.

I bought a station that looks like my old one, since I have software for it. But Daniel O'Connor has a similar weather station, which he runs with pywws. His unit is a WH3080, and it seems that it returns additional information, including insolation.

OK, he has the source, even if it's in Python. So I downloaded the software and went looking for something compared to my data record definition:

struct wh1080_readings
{                                               /* offset: */
  uint8_t last_save_mins;                       /* 0: last save minutes (?) */
  uint8_t inside_humidity;                      /* 1: humidity in percent */
  int16_t inside_temp;                          /* 2: inside temperature, °C/10 */
  uint8_t outside_humidity;                     /* 4: humidity in percent */
  int16_t outside_temp;                         /* 5: outside temperature, °C/10 */
  uint16_t pressure;                            /* 7: absolute pressure, hPa / 10 */
  uint8_t wind_speed;                           /* 9: wind speed in m/s/10, up to 25.5 m/s */
  uint8_t wind_gust;                            /* 10: wind gust speed in m/s/10, up to 25.5 m/s */
  char mumble1;                                 /* 11: apparently unused byte */
  /*
   * wind direction is a number between 0 and 15, repesenting increments of
   * 22.5°.  It may also have the value 0x80 if there's no wind at all.
   */
  uint8_t wind_direction;                       /* 12: */
  /*
   * Rainfall is measured in units of 0.3 mm, and the value returned is a
   * counter.  There's only real rainfall if the value returned here is
   * different from the previous reading.
   */
  uint16_t rain;                                /* 13: */
  char mumble2;                                 /* 15: pad to 16 bytes */
} __packed;

What does a python header file look like? I don't know: I didn't find one. When I finally found the definition, it wasn't of the input record at all, but of an internal representation, round line 667 of src/pywws/WeatherStation.py:

    # Tables of "meanings" for raw weather station data. Each key
    # specifies an (offset, type, multiplier) tuple that is understood
    # by _decode.
    # depends on weather station type
    _reading_format = {}
    _reading_format['1080'] = {
        'delay'        : (0, 'ub', None),
        'hum_in'       : (1, 'ub', None),
        'temp_in'      : (2, 'ss', 0.1),
        'hum_out'      : (4, 'ub', None),
        'temp_out'     : (5, 'ss', 0.1),
        'abs_pressure' : (7, 'us', 0.1),
        'wind_ave'     : (9, 'wa', 0.1),
        'wind_gust'    : (10, 'wg', 0.1),
        'wind_dir'     : (12, 'ub', None),
        'rain'         : (13, 'us', 0.3),
        'status'       : (15, 'pb', None),
        }
    _reading_format['3080'] = {
        'illuminance' : (16, 'u3', 0.1),
        'uv'          : (19, 'ub', None),
        }

Comparing the two wasn't too difficult, especially since I already have comments describing the records. They seem to have recognized the purpose of the structure member mumble2, which I didn't understand. What's the meaning? Ah, that's in the program text:

def decode_status(status):
    result = {}
    for key, mask in (('invalid_wind_dir', 0x800),
                      ('rain_overflow',    0x080),
                      ('lost_connection',  0x040),
                      ('unknown',          0x73f),
                      ):
        result[key] = status & mask
    return result

From my perspective, this is all wrong. You define your data interfaces carefully, then you write code to process it. Is this the modern way?


Processing HDR images
Topic: photography, technology Link here

I still haven't found a tidy way to process my HDR images with HDR Projects 4. The automatic recognition of sequences is terminally broken, and the output names that it creates are bizarre to say the least. It wasn't helped by the fact that some of my file names were subsets of others, for example:

-rwxr--r--  4 grog  wheel  3,925,810  4 Feb 12:52:17 2017 C/house-from-ssw-2+0EV.jpeg
-rwxr--r--  4 grog  wheel  2,015,461  4 Feb 12:52:17 2017 C/house-from-ssw-2+1EV.jpeg
-rwxr--r--  4 grog  wheel  4,873,120  4 Feb 12:53:36 2017 C/house-from-ssw-2-0+0EV.jpeg
-rwxr--r--  4 grog  wheel  3,729,439  4 Feb 12:53:37 2017 C/house-from-ssw-2-0+1EV.jpeg
-rwxr--r--  4 grog  wheel  4,969,964  4 Feb 12:53:36 2017 C/house-from-ssw-2-0-1EV.jpeg
-rwxr--r--  4 grog  wheel  5,286,033  4 Feb 12:53:40 2017 C/house-from-ssw-2-1+0EV.jpeg
-rwxr--r--  4 grog  wheel  3,626,215  4 Feb 12:53:40 2017 C/house-from-ssw-2-1+1EV.jpeg
-rwxr--r--  4 grog  wheel  4,798,127  4 Feb 12:53:40 2017 C/house-from-ssw-2-1-1EV.jpeg
-rwxr--r--  4 grog  wheel  4,963,459  4 Feb 12:52:17 2017 C/house-from-ssw-2-1EV.jpeg

This represents three images with the base names house-from-ssw-2, house-from-ssw-2-0 and house-from-ssw-2-1. But when sorted by name, as above, the last component image of house-from-ssw-2 is after the other two, and HDR Projects merrily merges them in the wrong sequence. A real operating system could list them by modification timestamp, but I can't do that here.

After a lot of messing around, came up with the following scheme:

Create a link file name starting with the numeric time_t timestamp, for example:

-rwxr--r--  4 grog  wheel  4,873,120  4 Feb 12:53 1486173216-house-from-ssw-2-0-0.jpg
-rwxr--r--  4 grog  wheel  4,969,964  4 Feb 12:53 1486173216-house-from-ssw-2-0-1.jpg
-rwxr--r--  4 grog  wheel  3,729,439  4 Feb 12:53 1486173217-house-from-ssw-2-0-2.jpg

This ensures that the files are in the correct sequence, and it works.

The next problem, however, was the output file name. In this case, the time stamp of the third image was one second later, and this causes HDR Projects to create an even more bizarre name. Here two result files from above:

-rwxr--r--  1 grog  wheel  101,711,563  6 Feb 10:49 /Photos/6-HDR4-grog/1486173137-house-from-ssw-2-0_1_2.tiff
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  wheel  106,758,005  6 Feb 10:49 /Photos/6-HDR4-grog/1486173216-house-from-ssw-2-0-0_6-house-from-ssw-2-0-1_7-house-from-ssw-2-0-2.tiff

So I had to fake it: if the time stamp increments by one second only, ignore it and use the initial time stamp. That worked, and I was just left with renaming the images back to something more legible. Strip time stamp again, along with the underscores and things, and I end up with:

-rwxr--r--  1 grog  wheel  101,734,290  7 Feb 10:49 house-from-ssw-2-HDR
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  wheel  106,781,469  7 Feb 10:49 house-from-ssw-2-0-HDR

After that, I didn't have the energy to handle processing these new names. Ideally it should be the same as for the output files with my old processing method, so that I can use the same scripts to stitch them.

Sometimes I think commercial software is more of a pain than it's worth.


Tuesday, 7 February 2017 Dereel
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The future of software support
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Seen on IRC today:

If you have updated the firmware and the error recurs please contact Dell Technical Support via Twitter.

It seems that it's genuine. What a way to supply detailed information, stack traces and dumps!

O tempora! O mores!


HDR Projects tamed, sort of
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Spent far too much time today completing the scripts I needed to make panoramas using the output from HDR Projects 4. It works, but I still have the issue with excessive saturation.

And then I discovered that there is a new version out, HDR Projects 5, conveniently with the same URL as version 4. Why didn't they tell me? It has all sorts of marvellous additions, maybe, for an upgrade price only round 4 times what I paid for the previous version. No explicit comparison with the previous version. Still, maybe they have fixed a couple of bugs along the way. There's a free trial version, of course, so I tried that for comparison.

Result: I can't tell any difference. All the previous bugs are still there. About the only thing I discovered was another button that I hadn't noticed before, “HDR Default Settings”. My previous images were created with “Entropy (soft)” (!), but there's also an “Entropy (very soft)”, so I tried that. Here the comparison, first my standard procedure, then HDR 4 with “Entropy (soft)”, then HDR 5 with “Entropy (very soft)”. Run the cursor over either image to compare with the partner, and click to see a larger version:


This should be house-from-n-0.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: house from n 0          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 2017 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 4 February 2017, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 4 February 2017, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 4 February 2017 Complete exposure details

 
This should be house-from-n-0-HDR.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: house from n 0 HDR          Dimensions:          4601 x 3448, 2227 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 4 February 2017, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 4 February 2017, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 4 February 2017 Complete exposure details

 
This should be house-from-n-0-HDR5.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: house from n 0 HDR5          Dimensions:          4599 x 3447, 2341 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 4 February 2017, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 4 February 2017, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 4 February 2017 Complete exposure details

 

I'm sure that the only difference between the results from versions 4 and 5 (apart from the “watermark”) is in the default setting “very soft”. The best you can say is that it's coming closer to normal. But I don't need an upgrade for that, and though it's gaudier, the gradation is now worse than my old version.

Time for a review page.


Dal: a hard nut to crack
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Time to make some new dal, something that I don't do very often. Today, for some reason, it didn't go as smoothly as usual. Normally I use equal quantities of mung dal, tur dal and masur dal. Today I used green/grey lentils (don't know an Indian name) instead of the mung dal, but otherwise things were much the same.

But some of the dal remained uncooked, even after hours. It wasn't the green/grey dal, but the tur dal. Why? Are they too old?


Wednesday, 8 February 2017 Dereel Images for 8 February 2017
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More power issues
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Today it was Yvonne who pointed out to me that we had had a short power failure overnight, apparently at 0:02. I suppose we can live with that.

In the evening, though, the UPS in my office cut in. Low voltage again: 211 V. Should I report it? Last time they expended a lot of effort doing nothing of use, and tomorrow there's a short scheduled power outage (15 minute window) that I suspect is related to the matter, so this time I didn't report it.


New weather station
Topic: general, politics, technology, opinion Link here

Finally my new weather station has made it from Melbourne to Napoleons, in only 8 days! It used to take 2 days. Coincidentally there was a report in the news that the CEO of Australia Post earns $5.6 million including bonuses, roughly 10 times what the Prime Minister earns. Is there a connection?

The unit itself seems to be well-nigh identical to the one I bought nearly 8 years ago. Even the bizarre cable lengths and two-part mounting pipe haven't changed. Only this time did it occur to me that, though the wind direction sensor needs to be aligned, there's no way of stopping the two parts of the pipe from rotating relative to each other. Here the old and new stations mounted:


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Next, since my software talks to Wunderground, I had to register a new weather station. Somehow this site annoys me. Since I last signed up, they have dropped modern units in favour of mediæval ones. I had to enter altitude in feet! That really requires a calculator, for no good reason. And then I had other stange fields to fill in: Neighborhood [sic] and two other fields: Website and URL. What does that mean? I was also no longer able to report my weather station name, and it was unable to determine the time zone based on my geographical location. Why not? At least partially because it doesn't want to know about the Australia/Melbourne time zone. I had to enter Australia/Sydney.

And the software? I wrote it myself, so it must be right. First, recompile, marvelling at the warnings (time_t is long, not int). But it couldn't find the device. Different IDs? No, no change. The whole loop searching USB devices didn't find any device. I had to run it as root.

And then, after sorting out a new station ID, it ran into a loop. Further investigation showed that it was trying to read page 0 from the station, and the magic numbers didn't agree. I had:

#define WH1080_PAGE0_MAGIC1A              0xffffffffffffaa55ull
#define WH1080_PAGE0_MAGIC1B              0xffffffffffaaaa55ull
#define WH1080_PAGE0_MAGIC2               0xffffffffffffffffull

And the data I read in ended in 0xaa55, but the rest was different. Why? One part could be a misassumption about the length of the magic number (0xaa55 is quite common), but I have other code that I can compare with, once I get used to looking at python. Enough for one day.


Tough dal
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

My dal was still crunchy this morning. That should at least have been long enough soaking, so I cooked it for another hour. Still crunchy. Put it in the oven and baked for another 3 hours. Still crunchy. This must have something to do with the ingredients. It's not too bad, so I'll have to put up with it.


Thursday, 9 February 2017 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 9 February 2017
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More weather station stuff
Topic: technology, general Link here

On with the weather station software today. After setting the magic numbers to 16 bits, everything just worked. For at least 10 minutes. And then I ran into the problems I had always had with the old unit: non-recoverable EBUSY on reading the unit. So once again I have to crash and restart the program.

That's no worse than it ever was, but why? Daniel O'Connor is running pywws and doesn't report that kind of problem. I need to investigate what the difference is.


Planned power outage
Topic: general Link here

Power outage almost as planned today. The window was 10:30 to 10:45, and the outage was from 10:35 to 10:46.

But I have a generator, right? Yes, in fact I have two. But I couldn't get the things to run. They both did the same thing: started happily enough, spluttered for a while, then stopped. Repeatable. There's petrol there, all the connections seem correct. Low oil level? You'd think that would be easy enough to check, but in fact it's almost impossible thanks to the stupid design. I'll have to check it some time, but in any case the outage was short enough that the UPSs were able to hold out.


Health checks: the verdict
Topic: health Link here

Into town in the afternoon to hear the results of my various health checks. Almost perfect! Well, certainly much better than before, so it looks as if my low-alcohol regime is here to stay. And I failed the Glucose Tolerance Test, as I had expected, but only just. Here the results for this month and ten years ago:

Date       Limit       7 June 2007       2 February 2017
1 h       11.0       17.0       11.2
2 h       8.0       11.7       7.3

That's quite a surprising difference. What caused it?

While in town, also picked up my new glasses. Yes, they're better in mid-range vision, and pretty much unchanged for near and far. But what really surprised me was that I found them so strange when I walked out of the shop, though it didn't last long. Clearly eyes do a lot of adaptation to new glasses.


Another new dog?
Topic: animals Link here

On the way back home from Ballarat, found a toy poodle walking down the Ballarat-Colac road about 5 km from the turnoff into Grassy Gully Road. Not a good place for him, so I stopped and called him. He had a collar, so I put him in the car and headed off home, slightly concerned that maybe he lived just round the corner. But he still shouldn't have been there.

On the corner of Grassy Gully Road, saw a car coming out. What are the chances that it had anything to do with the dog? Pretty much 0, but not quite. So I waved and stopped the car. Sure enough, she was looking for a little black poodle, so I was able to reunite them. Turned out that she was the wife of Steve, the bloke who towed us out of Westons Road 2½ years ago.


eBay failure
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

I've been planning to rearrange my monitors for some time, but there are various issues with the connections between display cards and monitors, both because of the length and because of the kind of cable. In particular, the 27" monitor requires a dual link DVI cable, and the one I have is too short for where I want to put it.

So a couple of weeks ago I ordered a 3 m cable on eBay, and yesterday it arrived. For a dual link cable it was remarkably thin, and it didn't work. On checking I discovered that only 12 of the pins were connected, not even the single pin for analogue return. I suspect that it works for single-link connections, but that doesn't help me. Fail.

I've had discussions about el-cheapo stuff on eBay over the years. In this case it failed, but there have been remarkably few such failures. On the whole I think I should stick to my approach, but certainly seller gogo-life goes onto my black list.


Amazing image recognition
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

I was quite impressed by this report: under circumstances that probably need more scrutiny, this software makes the second image column out of the first:

Image

My best guess is that it's not very general, but it's impressive all the same.


Friday, 10 February 2017 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 10 February 2017
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Eureka again
Topic: general Link here

Off today to the Eureka Village Hostel and the Geoffrey Cutter Centre with Nikolai, Sasha and Yvonne. Once again there weren't many people in Eureka seemed to be out, and I was finished relatively quickly, and again spent a lot of time with Yvonne in Geoffrey Cutter.


More weather station fun
Topic: technology Link here

Not only had I forgotten how flaky the transmission from my weather station was, it seems that the software has also forgotten its sanity checks. Once again I was getting outside temperatures of -3276.7° and rainfall of similar negative values. I fixed worked around that all years ago. When I have a little time I'll have to check if I have the right version of the software.


Yet another NBN outage!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

The Australian National Broadband Network may be modern, and it's certainly an order of magnitude faster than anything I have ever had before, but reliability? Not up to scratch. A quick search of my diary shows prolonged outages on 1 June 2014 (1 hour), 29 October 2014 (10 hours), 19 February 2015 (40 minutes), 12 March 2015 (“all day”), 27 October 2015 (40 minutes) 30 November 2015 (multiple short outages). Today we had another outage, from 13:48:03 to 17:08:22. This time it seemed that the issue could have been with the registration: the NTD showed normal status, but there was no response to the DHCP requests.

How can we get this fixed?


More power supply issues
Topic: general, opinion Link here

A couple of days ago I noted low power supply voltage again, only 211 V (the acceptable range is 218 V to 253 V). But then came the planned outage, presumably to do some corrective maintenance, so I didn't report it.

Then today the UPS cut in again. 205 V! But it didn't stay that way:


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OK, that needs reporting, so I did. And some time later the power failed altogether. Sigh Why do these things all happen together, and when my generators are non-functional?

Outside and found a van from Powercor in front of the front door, engine still running. He hadn't bothered to inform us of his arrival, had take a look inside the meter box and accidentally tripped the main switch. Back on and all was well.

And of course he didn't find anything. By the time he arrived, the voltage was back to an almost too exactly normal 230 V. Like his colleagues, he assumed that it was another consumer taking lots of power. I mentioned that in every case it had happened in late afternoon on a hot day, and he promptly decided it must be an illicit drug lab. Why at this time of the day? Ah, he didn't know about that. When they got home?

It's worth thinking through the idea of a drug lab, not helped by my lack of knowledge of what is needed. For me, electricity suggests light, which suggests plants—almost certainly marijuana. But why spend lots of money on power when there's bright sunshine outside, not to mention lots of space?

More to the point, though: how much power would you need to draw the power down by 40 V? His hair drier (8 A) managed 2 V, so it would need at least 160 A to drop the voltage by that much. And no property round here has a power connection offering anything like that much power; most, like us, have no more than 50 A. Still, it's clearly an issue that they are clearly intent on following up on. From my point of view, it's time to think about monitoring the UPS.


Saturday, 11 February 2017 Dereel Images for 11 February 2017
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Home alone
Topic: general Link here

Yvonne off with Chris Bahlo and Margaret Swan today to a horse clinic with Arne Koets in Smythes Creek, leaving me to prepare the dinner. That was Indian (Margaret is vegetarian), and though most dishes were in the deep freeze, it kept me going for much of the afternoon.


HDR Projects: still not there
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

After spending considerable time this week trying to tame HDR Projects, all seemed right for my house photos today. Today there was no sun and thus much less contrast, but that shouldn't make such a difference. I followed the workflow that I had established earlier in the week, but the results didn't come out quite as I expected. The grass areas are particularly obvious. Run the cursor over either image to compare with the partner, and click to see a larger version:


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What went wrong there? Why is it so difficult to get this software to produce usable results?


Trump: entertainer
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

You can say what you will about Donald Trump, and most people do, but he's certainly making his presence felt. And I think he must be the most satirized ridiculed political person I have ever come across. We normally never watch TV after dinner. but the recent spate of “Want to be second” video clips kept us busy for a second Saturday evening watching them. Unfortunately the everysecondcounts web site is a real pain, and they're missing a number of clips, so it's time to make own collection, which I'll complete in the next day or so.


Sunday, 12 February 2017 Dereel → Smythes Creek → Dereel Images for 12 February 2017
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Arne Koets clinic
Topic: animals, photography Link here

Off to Smythes Creek this morning to take some photos of Yvonne and Arne Koets during the clinic. A couple of days ago people were complaining about the heat, and in New South Wales they had the hottest day on record—claims of up to 47.6°. But here it didn't manage over 13°, and it was distinctly chilly.

The venue offered its own specific challenges: it was open from all sides, making automatic exposure very difficult. In retrospect I should maybe have chosen manual exposure, but instead I used spot exposure, which worked much of the time. I used the Zuiko Digital ED 35-100mm f/2.0 on the E-M1 and the Summilux 25 mm f/1.4 on the E-PM1. Some of the photos didn't turn out too badly:


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It may have been all at a walk, but it was tiring nonetheless:


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Debugging weather station
Topic: technology Link here

It rained today:

Click to see larger image

A total of about 2 mm, mainly in the morning. Where did my weather station get the idea that there was so much rain in the afternoon? Poor contacts? Just more flakiness? A bug in my software (perish the thought!)? I'll have to keep an eye on it, but not today.


Jägerschnitzel
Topic: food and drink Link here

A fairly common German dish is Jägerschnitzel (“hunter's schnitzel”), pork schnitzel with a mushroom sauce. It's so German that I was surprised to discover that the sauce is French in origin (« sauce chasseur », or “hunter's sauce”). Not a bad idea for a change, and a week or two ago Yvonne made one that didn't seem quite the way I recall it. So today it was my turn. Once again the luck of the draw on the web, and I based my recipe on this recipe, this overview and this recipe, none of which was overly convincing.

My own recipe wasn't perfect either—I hadn't compensated enough for the quantities in the base recipes. But it wasn't bad, and next time it should be a lot better.


Monday, 13 February 2017 Dereel Images for 13 February 2017
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Wix: your instant website
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Watching Aljazeera News on YouTube is getting more reliable, but there's a down side: commercials. One of the most popular ones is “You need a web site” from a company who clearly doesn't do business in Germany.

I suppose they're right. I do need a web site. But then, I've had one for over 20 years. Still, it's free, so why not try it out? And since it's modern, I don't need (nor find) any documentation. Just fire away:

 
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What kind of web site? In 20 years I never thought of that. Still, none of the categories apply, so I selected “Other”. Next I get:


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What are Wix ADI and Wix Editor? No idea, and they're not telling me. Select “Editor”, and next I need a website template. Again, no idea what it all means. Online Language Course? Boutique La Firm? But after a bit of messing around I get a suggestion:

 
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Look at that rendering! Round about here I found that I had an almost complete disconnect from the whole concept. I wonder who actually uses the service, and how they make money out of it.


Bread: new insights?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

For some time I've been having trouble with my bread not rising well. And it also seems a bit dry. So how about a bit more water? This time I added 11% more water and tried like that. It rose well, up to a point, but still not as much as it has done in the past. I need to leave the bread to rest before eating, so it'll be a day or two before I find what it tastes like.


Understanding weather station errors
Topic: general, technology Link here

Why did my weather station report so much rainfall yesterday? Sometimes it's not a software issue, as I discovered:


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That's the rain gauge hanging down in the middle. No need to guess when that happened.


Tuesday, 14 February 2017 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 14 February 2017
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More shopping
Topic: general Link here

Into Ballarat today mainly to have a haircut, which was long overdue. Also took the generators for inspection, but couldn't find Brad, who wasn't where I had understood him to be.

That was a problem, since I also wanted to pick up a used movable air conditioner for Chris Bahlo. How could I get it into the back of the car with the generators already there?

Easily, as it turned out. There was plenty of space. Allan (who sold us the air conditioner) recognized the generators as coming from ALDI, and commented that they were quite good little units, but that they didn't like having the petrol left in the tank.

And that's exactly one of the potential reasons that I had thought out for why they didn't run. OK, without spending a lot of money, how about draining the petrol and trying with fresh petrol? That's not really a solution, of course, since it means refuelling the things when you're in a hurry to turn them on, and raises the question about what to do with the drained petrol. But at least it could give me an indication of whether that's the problem, and time to consider why it should be a problem.

Petrol for four-stroke engines doesn't contain any heavier components, so it can't be sedimentation or similar. Could the lighter fractions evaporate? That's quite possible. Driving to town and back again was enough to notice that a strong smell of petrol emanates from the devices. Maybe covering the filler cap when not in use would make a difference.

Chris was with Arne Koets again, this time at Kryal Castle with Yvonne and Margaret Swan, where they were apparently engaged in historical European martial arts. Photos to follow, but it was an ideal time to drop the air conditioner off at her place, since she didn't know about it: nothing like a surprise. Thus past the ferocious dog (Nina, who previously was very friendly, but now was doing guard duty in front of the house), and into the lounge room:


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We still need to see what her solar electricity setup thinks of it.


New bread: too soft?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Ate the first of the new loaf of bread this evening. Not an unqualified success:


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At least part of the problem was the blunt blade of the bread cutter, but it's also decidedly softer than previous loaves.


Trump: the beginning of the end?
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

So today, finally, after a whole 24 days of the Trump Administration, the first serious problem occurs: his National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has resigned, by far the shortest-lived adviser:

Why? Contact with the enemy. It's not clear that he divulged any important information, but covering up after the event didn't help. And the way things are being handled, this looks like the beginning of a big unravelling. It seems that Trump has difficulty finding people who are prepared to “work” with him, and with whom he is prepared to work. Who will replace Flynn in the long term?

Other presidents traditionally have 100 days to establish themselves. In Trump's case, it looks like every 10 days bring something new.


AusPost: 8 days. Austria Post: 8 days
Topic: general, opinion Link here

On the way back home this afternoon, picked up a saddle for Yvonne. It was posted in Linz 8 days ago:

 
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Eight days. That's almost the same as what happened last week. Australia Post took 8 days to get a parcel from Melbourne to Napoleons. Austria Post took marginally less (10 hours time difference) to get a parcel from the other side of the world.

Bravo, Australia Post.


Targeted spam: escalation
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Today some SEO spam slipped by the filters. Not the end of the world, but the content amazed me:

<FONT face="Microsoft Sans Serif">Good evening,</FONT> ^M
<P><FONT face="Microsoft Sans Serif">I was wondering if there was an&nbsp;opportunity to <U>work together</U> to promote your business online - seeing that </FONT><FONT face="Microsoft Sans Serif"><FONT color=blue>Google.com.au</FONT> has&nbsp;your website&nbsp;<STRONG>http://www.lemis.com/grog/diary-feb2001.php&nbsp;</STRONG>indexed in position&nbsp;<STRONG><EM>10</EM>&nbsp;</STRONG> for the search term&nbsp;<STRONG>"Snow shovels in Canberra"</STRONG>.</FONT></P>^M

That's the start of the message, clearly invalid markup and requiring fonts that I neither have nor desire. Even quoting it here uncorrected would cause the page to fail the validity checkers. It's more readable as:

I was wondering if there was an opportunity to work together to promote your business online - seeing that Google.com.au has your website  http://www.lemis.com/grog/diary-feb2001.php  indexed in position  10   for the search term  "Snow shovels in Canberra" .

Not a single link in the noisily marked up text, and a mention of a 15 year old page. I was going to say “with no reference to snow shovels”, but that's not quite correct:


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Is all this stuff generated automatically by non-standards-compliant software?


Wednesday, 15 February 2017 Dereel Images for 15 February 2017
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Setting EXIF date
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

Yvonne took 336 photos yesterday with two cameras, along with a number of long videos, filling up two SD Cards and draining a battery in the process. Problem: the battery was in the E-PM1, which forgets the date after a battery change. So all her photos after that came out dated 1 January of a year I forget.

Problem? The photos are still there. But they're out of order, not a small thing given the number of photos. She had a good idea where they fitted between the photos taken with the other camera (E-PM2), so all we needed to do was set the date in the EXIF data.

How? We have a Microsoft box to process the photos, so it made sense to find a Microsoft space program to do the conversion. Unfortunately DxO Optics “Pro” doesn't perform that function—the only EXIF parameters it will set are Author and Copyright. So off with Google, and found a number.

First I looked at EXIF Date Changer, clearly intended to do exactly what I wanted. But it either costs $20—something that would require quite a justification—or it can't support RAW, nor a number of raw formats (not including ORF).

OK, there are many others. Next I found EXIF Pilot. What URL? I'm still not sure. I found https://exif-pilot.en.softonic.com/, https://exif-pilot.en.softonic.com/download, http://www.softpedia.com/get/Multimedia/Graphic/Digital-Photo-Tools/Exif-Pilot.shtml and others. All had multiple download buttons, and all except one (I forget which, and I want it to say that way) wanted to download completely unrelated software. Ugh!

Finally I downloaded it, and found a typical Microsoft space program. Monkey tree on the left, file list in the middle, info about the image on the right, possibly truncated as here:


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It's also slower even than most Microsoft space programs; it took a couple of minutes to produce this list.

How do you set the date? Simple. First, click on the “Exif” tab below the truncated image. You get:

 
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Click on the green icon to the right of the “Date Time Original” box (which on careful examination proves to represent a clock) and get another window, which mercifully follows the system date format:

 
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Now you just need to click on hour, minute, and second individually in any order to set the values:

 
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Straightforward, isn't it? Do that for every image, and you're done!

That is, unless you lose your mind first. What a pain! What a Microsoft!

So I went and frobbed the PHP script that I wrote last August for setting EXIF data. Now all I need to do is add this in the Makejpeg file:

P1013674 Arne-Chris-7 0 t 14:25

The first two parameters are the base name of the file and the name that it will be on the web. The third parameter, for hysterical raisins, is a rotation to apply, now largely obsolete. The next is a parameter (t) specifying “set the time to next argument, and the date to the date implied in the directory”. So all you need to do is add the date parameter and run the script into a shell. Done! The whole thing, including updating the script, took less time than writing this diary entry.

Now clearly this is a kludge. But why not? Not everything needs complete generality. This kludge has already saved more time than it took, and it promises even more.


Unripe tomatoes
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Last winter Chris Bahlo had a lot of unripe tomatoes left over. I hate throwing things away, so I asked her to bring them over here, about 2½ kg of tomatoes in varying stages of ripeness and putrefaction. I froze what was usable, taking up space in the freezer that considerably irritated Yvonne. Finally it's time to do something about it (and no, it seems that Chris hasn't grown any tomatoes this year).

What to do? After thawing them out, they lost a large quantity of liquid (probably a Good Thing), and I was left with just over 1 kg. Fried 225 g of onions and 15 g garlic in oil, then puréed the tomatoes and added them, along with 15 g salt. To my surprise, the result looked quite acceptable:


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What do I do with it now? It should be a basis for something.


Thursday, 16 February 2017 Dereel Images for 16 February 2017
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Laksa
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

More curry laksa for breakfast today, this time with Tean's Gourmet cooking paste. It's surprisingly similar to the “MARION'S KITCHEN” paste from ALDI. About the biggest difference is that they don't supply the coconut cream.

Results? Not bad. Now I can write up the recipe, even if it is subject to change.


Garden flowers in late summer
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Summer is drawing to a close, time for photos of flowers in late summer.

The summer started out with insufficient irrigation. That changed, but not enough for everything to catch up. There are signs, though, that things are improving. In particular, the roses are coming up well:


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Various other plants are also coming along, noticeably the Banksia, which had been struggling before:


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The Senna and the Buddlejas are also doing better than I had expected. Here the Senna in late November, early January and today:


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The comparison photos of the Buddlejas are unfortunately not convincing, but at least they have grown out of their protective plastic cover. Here one example:


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The Carpobrotus in the central island in the driveway are also coming along well. Here's a comparison only 26 days apart:


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The Metrosideros excelsa hasn't grown very much, but it's developing a number of buds:


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On the other hand, the ferns aren't looking very happy:


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I've been spraying them from above, and I suspect that the minerals in the water aren't do the foliage any good. Next year they get watered from below again.


Making America less safe again
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

You've got to say one thing about Donald Trump: he sticks to his stupid claims. Today, during an appearance with Benyamin Netanyahu, he retracted the US insistence on the two-state solution. Idiot! Surely even he can see that the current Israeli actions are in the interest of neither Israel nor Palestine. And they're certainly not in the interests of the USA. If there's anything more likely to inspire “Islamist” terrorism against the USA, I can't think of it.

Apart from that, ridicule prevails. Somebody vandalized modified the Wikipedia page Puppet. Jamie Fraser told me about it on IRC, and I went to show it to Yvonne. But by that time Jamie had “fixed” it. The right thing to do, of course, but I wish he had waited.

And then there's a web site with the unsavoury name whatthefuckjusthappenedtoday that carries a better chronology of Trump's problems than I could.


E-M1 Mark II?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

A couple of weeks ago DxO published reports on the best zoom lenses and the best prime lenses for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. Clearly they have tested them, so sooner or later the modules should become available. Today I checked, and once again the automatic check had failed: yes, support is available, so spent some some downloading the new version of DxO Optics “Pro” and the modules for my lenses.

That was one of the the two triggers for me to buy the camera. The other was a special offer like they did with the Olympus OM-D E-M1. But so far there's no sign of that. And unlike last time, the prices here are (barely) not lower than in the USA. So what do I do? Somehow I'm still uncomfortable with the idea of spending $2,750 on a camera. But my experience has shown—sadly—that the 2 year warranty is well worth while. So for the moment I'll just keep an eye on what's being offered.


Friday, 17 February 2017 Dereel Images for 17 February 2017
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Understanding US politics
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

One of the most horrifying things that Donald Trump has done was to retract his support for the two-state solution, as I mentioned yesterday. And of course there was a lot of feedback in the news media I watch, Deutsche Welle and Aljazeera.

I also receive daily mailings from leading US newspapers, in particular the Washington Post and the New York Times. What did they have to say about it? Fake News! Well, they did mention it, but clearly it wasn't of interest to either newspaper.

But there are media in other parts of the world, and there were followups. Here what Trump said, and what Nikki Haley said:

Trump: “I’m looking at two-state and one-state. And I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one.”

Haley: "First of all, the two-state solution is what we support. Anybody that wants to say the United States does not support the two-state solution - that would be an error,"

That's only marginally not a contradiction. But it scares me less than the fact that the whole issue doesn't seem to be of interest to people in the USA.

In that connection, it's interesting to look at this statistic from Statista:

I would never have expected them to put Iran in place number two, and countries like Saudi Arabia way down the list, behind Russia and Palestine.


Nose to the grindstone
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Sometimes I wonder what comfort is for dogs:


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Curry tree, seven years on
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Seven years ago Peter Jeremy gave me some suckers from a Murraya koenigii, more commonly known as curry tree. Only one of them survived, and it has had a hard time of it. Recently Peter wanted a photo, so here it is:


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Of course, that's the good view. Closer up it's clear what damage the mites did:


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More flash strangenesses
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

While taking photos of the curry tree, ran into a surprise. Two ostensibly identical images turned out very differently:


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What went wrong there? The problem is indicative of flash shots taken with too high a shutter speed. The camera has a flash shutter speed rating of 1/320 s, but these were taken at 1/250 s. On the other hand, when I dropped the speed to 1/125 s, the image was correct.

What causes that? There are a number of possibilities, all of which suggest a random glitch:

The real question, though, is: how can I tell?


Saturday, 18 February 2017 Dereel Images for 18 February 2017
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Film durability
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Kodachrome has a great reputation for colour stability, and my own films from the 1960s confirm this. But today I had a different issue: when were the photos taken? In the process discovered that many of the scanned slides had been done with the ill-fated Canon 9900F scanner. Time to rescan. And then I discovered that one film, taken between September and November 1968, hadn't been developed until November 1969. And on the whole the photos weren't too bad.


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More recently (like only about 25 years ago) I made the same mistake, but the films didn't take it at all well.

Apart from that, I note how terrible many of my photos are, with noticeable camera shake, poor composition and focus:


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Possibly the focus issues were due to me taking the photo at f/1.4. One of the things that people forget nowadays is that even with manual exposure, one knows the shutter speed and aperture. In those days you had to look at the camera to see what you had set.


Trump: ridiculous
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Somehow the Trump stupidity is coming in smaller doses. Overall it doesn't seem to have become any less: there are more smaller things.

But why does he keep harping on his election victory and inauguration? Nobody accurately counted the inauguration crowds, but the election results are beyond dispute, in particular that he gained a majority in the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote.

But now he's talking about a “landslide” in the Electoral College. Why? First, who cares? He got elected. And secondly, it's Just Plain Wrong. Statista summarizes:

One thing that doesn't let up is the ridicule. Someone on Reddit has come up with Tiny Trumps, better summarized in this report:

Doubtless that will hit him where it hurts.


Sunday, 19 February 2017 Dereel Images for 19 February 2017
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More scanning old slides
Topic: photography, history, opinion Link here

Spent much of the day rescanning old slides from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Most of them have been scanned already, but badly, with the Canon 9900F scanner. Now that I have the corresponding diary entries online, I know more accurately when the photos were taken. For example, this photo was taken on 23 March 1970, something that I couldn't have determined without the diary:


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And now I can also create at least partial EXIF data (in the process discovering that Ashampoo Photo Optimizer loses EXIF comments).

Somehow, though, I still can't get really good results from the scanner, as this image shows:


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It's supposed to handle 16/48 bit colour, but it seems that the colour balance veers off to blue in the shadows. I could lighten the shadows, but it would just look silly, though it does reveal further details, like the registration plate:


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And for some reason it's difficult to find such straightforward conversions (“remove 1% blue across the board”).


Monday, 20 February 2017 Dereel Images for 20 February 2017
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Still more photo scanning
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

More photo scanning and processing today. It takes forever! I thought that the scanning itself (about 4 minutes per slide) would be the most of it, but finding the date taken and frobbing the EXIF data is also painful. I ended up digging out my old slide viewer, something that I thought I would never use again:


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And then there are decisions to make: the slides are scanned in TIFF format, which, at 36 MB each, is too large to keep. Convert to PNG? OK, that lowers it to about 9 MB. Should I put the images on the web as PNG or JPEG? It seems that I can attach EXIF data to PNG, though it's not clear that it's kosher.

Of course, looking back to my diary entries of 50 years ago, I see that things did take such a long time, especially in the darkroom. It's just that I have refined my methods to the point where I can get things done much faster. I wonder how long it takes people trapped in the Microsoft space.

For the time being I'm leaving the images as PNGs. It's not clear that I won't have to revisit the whole damn thing and do them in JPEG.


Depth of field revisited
Topic: photography, general, opinion, technology Link here

Mail from dpreview today: they have collected a page titled Photography fundamentals explained. They're usually good value, so I went and took a look. The page clearly needs work: the first article is (currently) titled “Sources of noise part two”, and the title of the page itself is probably misleading. Certainly not something I could point a beginner at to learn about photography.

One article in particular was titled What is equivalence and why should I care?. Good question, at least the first half. But it explains: “Equivalence, at its most simple, is a way of comparing different formats (sensor sizes) on a common basis.”. Well, not exactly a dictionary definition, but when I say that my Leica Summilux 25 mm f/1.4 is equivalent to a 50 mm f/1.4 Summilux on a full-frame camera, I'm using that definition. About the only thing I can fault in the description is that they don't go into aspect ratio. Here a comparison for a Micro Four Thirds camera with the 25 mm lens and a full-frame camera with a 50 mm lens:

Sensor format:       4/3       FT
Focal length:       25.00 mm       50.00 mm
Horizontal FOV:       38.17°       39.60°
Diagonal FOV:       46.81°       46.79°
Vertical FOV:       29.15°       26.99°

The diagonal fields of view are pretty much identical, but there are noticeable differences in the horizontal and vertical fields of view. In particular, this can make a difference when taking panoramas.

But the main gist of the article was about “equivalent aperture”. And somehow I'm not happy with the term. It's time for me to write my own page on the subject, which will (hopefully) grow.

So what's wrong with the DPreview page? The choice of aperture has two effects: it controls the amount of light entering the camera, and it modifies depth of field. Like so many others, this doesn't make a clear enough distinction between these two functions, and in my opinion it overemphasizes depth of field.

In particular: for exposure, there's already a clear definition of “equivalent aperture”: in more conventional terms, it would be called “relative aperture”, the diameter of the aperture as a fraction of the focal length. For example, a 25 mm aperture in a 100 mm lens is ¼ of the focal length, or f/4, where f represents the focal length. In other words, exactly what we used to have until people forgot what it meant and renamed it F4 (an “F-number”). No need for any further “equivalent”.

And then there's depth of field. That's a much more complicated matter. The first question is: how sharp is unsharp? That's defined as a circle of confusion, but what? In general it is chosen relative to the sensor size. My calculator currently uses a default circle of confusion of 8 μm, which in four-thirds measurements is about 1/2150 of the sensor width (17.3 mm).

The only parameters that enter into the depth-of-field equation are focal length, aperture, focus and circle of confusion. Keep them constant and increase the image size, say from four-thirds to “full frame”, and what happens? Nothing. But if you look at the circle of confusion as a fraction of the frame size, then things change. 1/2000 of 36 mm (width of a full frame) is 18 μm. And that makes a difference if you're looking at the entire frame. The comparison photos on page 3 show the big picture nicely. But that's not depth of field. It's extent of unsharpness, and it results from (effectively) viewing the full frame image from double the distance.

And there's the point. We don't just have exposure and depth of field. We have deliberate unsharpness as well, and that's not the same thing as depth of field. I need to think more about this, but one thing's clear: take, say, an Olympus E-1 (horizontal resolution 2,560 pixels, or 6.75 μm per pixel) and a Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II in high resolution mode (horizontal resolution 10,368 pixels, or 1.67 μm per pixel), and you have an argument for completely different depths of field, even though the sensor size is the same.


Dry rain
Topic: technology, general Link here

7.7 mm rain overnight. But that's only what the old, outdated rain gauges said. My new weather station knew better: 0.3 mm.

What went wrong there? I know these things are inaccurate, but this effectively fits the definition of non-functional. If it hadn't been for the 0.3 mm (smallest increment) I would have thought that the rain gauge is completely broken. As it is, it's only 96% broken.


Tuesday, 21 February 2017 Dereel Images for 21 February 2017
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A new camera again
Topic: photography Link here

Today one of my saved eBay searches paid off. The going rate for an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is round AUD 2,750 (about USD 2,110), but today I found one with Australian warranty for AUD 2,487, including postage. That's equivalent to USD 1,908. A quick check round the world showed only one camera cheaper than that, USD 1,889 (AUD 2,460). But that's without an Australian warranty, and with USD 59 shipping, so for me it's more expensive anyway. Clearly now's the time to buy.

But how do I pay for it? I barely have that much money in all my accounts, and if I spent it, I wouldn't have anything to live on for the rest of the month. But that's what credit cards are for, right? Unfortunately, eBay charges extra for credit cards. OK, find the seller's real shop and buy directly. The eBay name is excess_camera_gear (not exactly a reassuring name), and a quick search came up with (wait for it) http://www.excesscameragear.com.au/. Sure enough, they had it there, at the same price, and it only took me 20 minutes to work out how to navigate their web site (hint: they don't have a button labelled “check out now”; you have to look for the shopping cart symbol). And of course I had to create a password conforming to their concept of security:

 
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And there they wanted AUD 5 postage, though they save on eBay fees!

OK, call them up. Oops, no phone number. Send them email. Oops, no email, just a web form. And I got no reply.

OK, what about PayPal and credit cards? What does it cost? Couldn't find anything definitive in their What are the fees for PayPal accounts? page. It states:

It's free to use PayPal to purchase goods or services.

Does that mean credit cards too? Elsewhere it says:

There is a fee to send money as a personal payment using a debit card or credit card.

Is that enough? I don't trust them that far, especially after a particularly spectacular failure ten years ago. OK, call them up. For that I was issued a one-time code which I had to enter. Spoke to mumble, who repeated her name as Jedda, and told her the situation: I wanted to buy an item on eBay and book the sum from my credit card, because there wasn't enough money in the primary account. She told me that the rules were to take from the first account in the list and only choose the next if the funds weren't available. And yes, no fees for credit card.

Wonderful. And what about the dishonour fee? She didn't give me a clear answer; I suspect that she didn't know the term, and that it wasn't in her script. But she explained how to work around it: after selecting “pay now”, I would be given a review page, and there I could change the payment method. OK, sounds good. To be on the safe side, I repeated the procedure: I press pay now, am provided with a page that I accept, then go to a review page, change the payment method, and I'm away. She confirmed and gave me a reference number.

Off to buy the camera. Selected PayPal, pressed “pay now”:

 
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No choice of anything. So where did it deduct the money from? My bank showed no activity on either account, and if PayPal has a page that shows where it deducted money, it's well hidden. But the camera was sent, so PayPal must have told the seller it was paid for.

What's wrong with this situation?

  1. PayPal's personnel is not adequately educated.
  2. There's no way of finding out where PayPal has deducted the money from.
  3. There's no way to change things. By evening there was no evidence of activity in my account, so there would have been plenty of time to change things.

All in all, I still don't trust PayPal.

Posted the information about the camera to the Australian M43 Facebook group. In the course of the discussion, discovered that the price had gone up. They had had 5 to sell, and I got the first one; the others had been marked up to AUD 2,499.


Brunch with Lorraine
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Call from Lorraine Caranza this morning at 11:39 asking “Are you coming?”. Oh. She had invited us to brunch on 7 March, two weeks today, and at the time I had wondered whether that was the correct date. No, some misunderstanding: was supposed to be today at 11:00.

No point going over then: we had already eaten. So we arranged to go over at 18:00 for the latest brunch of my life:


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Wednesday, 22 February 2017 Dereel Images for 22 February 2017
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PayPal problems again
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

First thing this morning, checked my bank balance: -$1,964.44! Despite my efforts, PayPal had deducted from my bank account—and the bank had honoured the charge!

What do do? I had my virtual paper trail, but it's good to be in a position of strength, so I first called Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 81 81 and spoke to Greg, who told me they weren't responsible for this kind of issue: that's the Financial Ombudsman on 1300 780 808. Another 1300 number, one of the most expensive I can call. Asked him for a “landline” number and was given 1800 367 287. It wasn't until later that I looked at the web site and found the number +61 3 9613 7366 “(charges apply)”. In fact, it's exactly the opposite: for me that number is free. When will people realize that the 13 and 1300 numbers are no longer the best choice for many people?

Decided to leave that and call the bank (on +61 3 9683 9999), where I spoke to Thomas and told him that I had not authorized the deduction. He was prepared to reverse it. There should be no charges, but if there were, I should contact them again.

Then called PayPal after getting another one-off reference number, and spoke to Lyle, who established that the problem was that I had “one-touch” set for my eBay purchases. Yes, I recall that, and that at the time it took forever for them to get it to work right. He reset it for me. This raises a number of questions:

I asked him what to do about the fact that I had cancelled the deduction from the bank, but he didn't seem to understand: he kept saying that the sum had been paid, so I had nothing to worry about, and I should contact the merchant if I had any further issues. Finally he gave me a reference number and connected me to Steve, who seemed more on the ball. In the end he decided that when the payment was refused, it would automatically be deducted from the next available source, in this case the credit card, so nothing more needed to be done. At any rate they wouldn't assume foul play on my part. The only thing that he didn't want to do was to give me a reference number, which PayPal doesn't do. I gave him the last one and he understood, updated the records pointing to his internal ID and gave me a reference number quite similar to the last.

He also observed that I had been a PayPal customer for a long time, apparently one of the longest-standing customers. How long? I didn't recall, and the web site is suitably vague (“Joined in 2001”), but saved mail tells me that I joined on 13 December 2001, somewhat more than 15 years. You can tell how old the mail is: in plain text only, correctly formatted and with a sensible line length. How times have changed!

Steve suggested that I must know my way round the web site well by now, so I pointed out my issues finding where the money was deducted. Ah, yes, they've rearranged the site, and dumbed it down. He had a couple of ideas of where to start searching, but nothing definite. Still, nice to find a human behind this telephone wall.


Where's my camera?
Topic: general, photography, technology Link here

My camera comes with a tracking number, of course, and eBay will get the status for you. Some of the time. What I got was:

Error
Please contact the StarTrack Service Desk on 1800 028 361 and quote reference # 585ff7b324518e2a.

64 bits hexadecimal! Was it maybe a transient error? Hard to say: I tried twice more and got:

Please contact the StarTrack Service Desk on 1800 028 361 and quote reference # cd6fba3c201d8e57.
Please contact the StarTrack Service Desk on 1800 028 361 and quote reference # f153a59e694e2866.

So I called the number and after a couple of minutes of menu selections was connected to somebody who told me to ignore the hex code, and told me it was because they had had trouble with Telstra. Far be it from me to exonerate Telstra, but that's clearly not the reason. She wanted great detail before she would track the package for me. On the one hand that makes sense, but if their web site had been working, it would have provided the information without further authentication.

The good news: the camera is in Ballarat already, and will be delivered here to Dereel on Friday. I'm more than sceptical: if it got from Sydney to Ballarat overnight, why should it not be delivered tomorrow? A good reason is that in the past they have never delivered here, despite claims to the contrary on every occasion. It also seems improbable that it should not take 2 days from Ballarat to Dereel or Napoleons. But we'll see. I'm relatively impressed that they got the camera from Sydney to Ballarat in 18 hours.


Rearranging monitors
Topic: technology Link here

Finally received a dual-link DVI cable for my monitors, after the abortive attempt two weeks ago. It cost 3 times as much, but it looks right, and yes, it works.

Spent far too much time reconfiguring X for the new setup (exchange screens 2 and 3). There's really something strange about the configuration for server 1, and I still don't have it right, though it's more a cosmetic issue than anything else.


JPEG after all
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

There's a problem with the PNG images of my old photos: they replace older JPEGs, and old searches fail. After some consideration, I've decided to do them in JPEG after all, which along with discarding some intermediate images has the interesting side effect of reducing the storage requirements by nearly 90%.


High cat
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Rani continues to be a challenge, certainly a very different temperament to the Siamese and Burmese to which we are used. We should have been warned by the photos we were sent when we bought her:

 
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That was Kito, the cat that Chris Bahlo got. But today we had a similar experience with Rani:


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I really wish Australian houses weren't so open.


Trump resigns
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Quote from Donald Trump today:

We have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred.

Does this mean that he's preparing to step down?


Thursday, 23 February 2017 Dereel Images for 23 February 2017
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Paying for camera, day 3
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Checked my bank balance again today. $6.00 overdraft fee. OK, as suggested, call up the bank, fighting my way again through the stupid voice menu, and after 2 minutes got to Cheryl, who promised to forward a complaint, and suggested that I try hitting 0 and # until the thing gives up.

She reverted the charge with no issues, so the only issue was the time I had to expend. And no sign of a booking from PayPal on my credit card. But later I got a message from them:

Resolve your negative PayPal balance

You made a payment on 20 February 2017 to . We weren't able to debit the amount from your bank account because there were insufficient funds.

As a result, your PayPal balance is now negative. Please resolve your negative balance by adding funds to your account as soon as possible.

And yes, the name of the recipient was really empty. Why didn't they take the funds from the next in line? Took a look at my PayPal account, but that showed that my account was balanced, and that the sum had been deducted. From where? It doesn't say, of course, so I have no way of checking whether they have their money or not. None of my bank accounts showed a change, but that's normal enough. But certainly this issue has further lowered my opinion of PayPal.


StarTrack? Cosmic implosion
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

I have established that my camera made it to Ballarat sometime yesterday, so tried once again to find out where it was. Another attempt to track it failed with another 64 bit random error number.

Can this be the interface from eBay? If so, of course, it should be able to recover, but the system is clearly badly written. So I went straight to https://startrack.com.au/ and entered 5ZQ7580. Bingo!

 
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In passing, it's worth admiring how they mutilated the tracking number:

 
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And it's delivered!

 
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My suspicions yesterday were confirmed: despite claims to the contrary, they did not deliver it to me. But why in the name of God did they deliver it to Wendouree, on the other side of Ballarat? Did they deliver it to Wendouree? Worth calling them first before going there to find a tracking error. But I couldn't find a post office in Coronet Street, not even (according to Google Maps) the house numbers 13-15. The closest I found, from Street View, was:


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That's not a post office. OK, time to call StarTrack again, at 12:02. Once again I was put into a hold loop and offered a call back when somebody was available. They even repeated the phone number from which the call was recorded: 2880144000.

Huh? That has nothing to do with my real phone number. It happened yesterday too, but then I was only able to confirm that it wasn't the correct number, and thought that it might be a MyNetFone internal number. But no, nothing to do with that either. Until proof of the contrary, it's a bug.

Got my call back quite quickly, at 12:06. Having to give all my personal details gradually gets on my nerves. You don't need that for the web site (not even the silly box “I am not a robot” if you know the final URL (https://sttrackandtrace.startrack.com.au/5ZQ75803). And she couldn't give the phone number of the post office. In fact, she couldn't give me anything at all: she had to refer it to an Investigator, who would call me back within the hour. She gave me a reference number, which under the circumstances sounded like a good idea.

Clearly this is One Broken System. On a hunch, out to the letter box, where sure enough, I had a note to pick up an item 5ZQ75803 from Napoleons post office. By 13:00 no Investigator had called back, so off to Napoleons to pick it up. Finally got it at 13:24, less than 44 hours after it had been sent. If their tracking had worked, I could have picked it up nearly 4 hours (or 9%) earlier.

I never received a call back from an Investigator. I was going to call and complain, but when I returned I found:

 
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From a transit point of view, that's quite respectable. From a tracking point of view, it's a total disaster:

Star Track indeed! I think I can safely award it a prize for the worst tracking I have seen. About the only thing in its favour is that the list is in chronological order.


Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II: first impressions
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

So finally I have my new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. I had so much to do that I haven't really had time to look at it. Here some first impressions:

In the past I have complained about the inadequate instruction manuals for Olympus cameras. This time it's different: it doesn't have any instructions. Well, a “quick start” in three languages. After stripping the obligatory safety notices for other countries, I was left with exactly 16 pages of generic information with references to page numbers outside the document. Olympus, you're claiming that this is a professional level camera, and you're certainly charging accordingly. The very least you could do would be to supply an instruction manual!

First thing was to charge the battery, of course. I don't need an instruction manual for that. Connected it up and the LED started to flash. On my old cameras, that's a code meaning “battery defective”. Maybe I do need an instruction manual after all. Yes, sure enough, on this camera it means “charging, less than 50% charge”. What a violation of POLA!


E-M1 on strike
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I didn't have time to set up my new camera, so when we went walking with the dogs, I took my old Olympus OM-D E-M1. And sure enough, we saw a heron that has been round the dam lately. Turned the camera on and... nothing. The battery was completely dead, something that I don't normally experience.

What caused that? It recharged normally, but died after only 166 photos, much less than normal. On the other hand, looking back at previous charges, it had previously delivered (in chronological sequence) 493, 202 and 156 images, though in each case there was still some life left. So maybe it is dying after all. The replacement batteries were a lot cheaper than the original Olympus batteries (by a factor of 3 or 4), but they never delivered the same charge, and maybe they're reaching the end of their life.


More thoughts on baked beans
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Made more baked beans today, with further modifications to the recipe:

quantity       ingredient       step
375 g       dried white beans       1
      water       1
240 g       onion       2
63 g       oil for frying       2
240 g       tinned tomatoes (400 g can)       3
50 g       tomato purée       3
1 g       dried oregano       3
2 g       dried rosemary       3
1 g       dried thyme       3
200 ml       water       3
10 g       beef stock powder       4
10 g       salt       4

Preparation

  1. Soften the beans by soaking overnight.
  2. Purée the onions in a cooking pot large enough for the beans. Fry in oil until barely brown.,
  3. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the salt, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Add salt, continue to simmer until cooked, ...

The quantity of oil was more than I had planned (the remainder of what was in the bottle), but I decided to leave it like that to see how it turned out. The tomato paste was more because it was a complete sachet, and the water was less because it seemed like a good idea.

But the beans didn't get soft! Is that the difference between soaking overnight and a 2 hour soak in initially boiling water? Part of that is because I don't have anything to gently simmer a large pot. The induction cooker is too hot or too cold, the medium burner on the gas stove is too hot, even at minimum, and the small burner heats too small an area, cooking in the middle and leaving cool on the edges. Decided to leave it for the day and continue tomorrow in the oven.


Friday, 24 February 2017 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 24 February 2017
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Eureka Village again
Topic: general, animals Link here

Off today to the Eureka Village Hostel and the Geoffrey Cutter Centre with Nikolai, Sasha and Yvonne. This is becoming quite routine now, including the fact that I usually finish faster than Yvonne. Much of this is probably because my people are more mobile than Yvonne's, and when the weather is good, many are not there.


Dogs in town
Topic: animals Link here

Our dogs have all been to the aged care facilities, but they haven't been many other places where there are lots of people. So after the visit, took them for a walk down Bridge Mall, where they found numerous good smells:


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They behaved themselves well, and this time not many people paid attention.


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There were some other people with a couple of dogs, fortunately tied up—one, I think a Golden Retriever, barked furiously at them, and they didn't pay any attention. At the end Yvonne went into a new art shop, while I stayed outside with the dogs, and then a couple of people came to look at them—one a volunteer for Delta, who will be in Geelong with her dog for accreditation in the near future.


Receiving calls with an iPhone
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've had difficulty receiving calls with my iPhone in the past, so on the way into Ballarat today I asked Yvonne to call me on the phone (in my pocket). Diverted to voice mail. It worked later when we got into town. Why? There are numerous valid reasons, but I'll have to research them.

Wasn't life simple before smart phones?


Is my E-M1 Mark II genuine?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I'm really quite upset about the lack of a manual for my expensive new camera. And the pitiful “Basic Manual” has no references to Australia, but plenty to the USA. Is it maybe not a genuine Australian-registered item after all, despite the warranty certificate?

Called up Olympus Australia and spoke to Kelly, who didn't really want to know. Yes, maybe it doesn't have an Australian warranty. I should talk to the supplier about that. That's a lot of help: they have already said that it's genuine. So she went looking for the name of the supplier. Nope, no Excess Camera Gear on their books.

I pressed the point, and she commented that they no longer supply instruction manuals. They're on the CD that comes with the camera. But I got no CD, and both the “basic manual” and the “instruction manual” (from the web) don't mention one in the list of items in the box. But that doesn't necessarily mean anything: they also don't mention the booklet or the warranty certificate. So I suspect that Kelly is wrong in her assumption.

She went on to say that this decision was for cost reasons, and if I wanted a printed manual, there are plenty of companies who would print it for me. So this is standard Olympus policy! Shame on them! And what a stupid excuse! The “basic manual” in fact is 100 pages long, because it's in 3 languages. That's more than half the length of the horribly inadequate “instruction manual”. In addition, leaving out instructions is liable to increase the number of support calls trying to find out how to use the damn thing, and also increase the number of people who just can't be bothered and sell the thing again, thus limiting their sales. In any case, it's no excuse, and I asked her to take a formal complaint. “But we'll have to send it to Japan”. Fine. I think every purchaser should file such a complaint.

Finally, after I insisted, she went and checked the serial number. Yes, it's Australian stock. Why didn't she just do that 10 minutes earlier? And if they can confirm like that, why do they need the warranty certificate (which can be forged) when sending cameras in for repair?

Next was online registration of the camera (serial number BHUA20626; does this mean that it's only the 626th off the assembly line?). I don't know why I bother. It hasn't helped in the past when I sent cameras in for repair, and there's no evidence that they use the information for anything. In addition, the page is really pretty useless. First you need to select a category (they also do audio and binoculars, for example), and select what they allow you to set. But it wasn't there!

 
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They also had a category “Digital SLR”. The camera isn't an SLR, of course, but the URL doesn't seem to want to know: http://asia.olympus-imaging.com/product/dslr/em1mk2/. So I checked that. But yes, they were really only DSLRs. Finally I found the correct selection: Compact System Cameras. Not a term I've seen very often; why do they do that?

Things weren't over. I was asked to answer a questionnaire. Why did I buy it? The fact that I already had an Olympus camera apparently didn't occur to them. And then they wanted to know how many cameras I have. Good question. Do they mean all, only digital cameras, not mobile phones, only ones I use? After a bit of reflection, I discover I have a total of about 16 cameras: three old film cameras, four old compact digital cameras, an old and dead Canon 20D DSLR, about four mobile phones and—of most interest to Olympus—four Olympus E-series cameras. Which should I count?

It turns out it doesn't matter. I have the choice of one, two, three or many other. Do they really think that nobody has more than three? I wonder what (if anything) they do with this information.


Getting to know the E-M1 Mark II
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I've had my new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II for over a day, and I still haven't taken a photo with it. Part of the problem is just setting it up right, and spent some time adapting my E-M1 settings page to the E-M1 Mark II. And even then I wasn't successful. Olympus has three different ways of doing most things, and I can't find how to set the display to show settings one at a time at the bottom of the page.

OK, how did I do it with the Mark I? I don't know! There's something to do with the mouth symbol button that switches it between that and the “Super Control Panel”. But on the Mark I it doesn't work they way the “instructions” say. For the time being, I have to give up on that one and use the “super control panel”.

Other random things I note: the focus really does seem to be faster with Four Thirds system lenses, and the tripod mount is in a very different place, offset by fully 12 mm along the lens axis from the position of the Mark I. That makes a significant difference for my panorama photos, and meant reworking my entrance pupils page.


Saturday, 25 February 2017 Dereel Images for 25 February 2017
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E-M1 Mark II: finally!
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Saturday is house photo day, and now I have the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, so finally I got round to using it.

Things didn't start off well. Part of the setup is to attach the wireless remote shutter release. But it no longer fits! It fits into the USB connector of the older bodies (all five that I have had), but the Mark II has a different USB 3 connector. So I had to use the shutter manually.

Then there's the issue of the position of the tripod mount. I've already established that it's 12 mm further forward than on the Mark I, but it's also offset slightly to the side—enough for it not to fit on the rail properly. A mounting screw that wasn't previously an issue now offsets the body sideways. Not a big issue (I can remove it), but another surprise. And the difference in the tripod mount position had another effect: the side rail sticks further into the image. Here last week (Mark I) and today:


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The end of the rail is visible on bottom right of both images, but it's now much more pronounced. Fortunately Hugin ignores it. Today's photo also shows my shadow, needed because of the issue with the remote control. The tripod is behind the shadow of a tree, so it's not visible.

And then there's the images themselves. This camera can take up to 60 full-resolution (20 MP) images per second. But like its predecessor, it won't do that for HDR images: there it wants to use the mechanical shutter (why?), so it takes “only” 15 images a second. The sound is quite impressive, though; it's significantly quieter than the Mark I, and the difference in rate is also very obvious. Not surprisingly, there was no difference in the processing.


More flowers
Topic: gardening Link here

One of the plants that we brought with us to Stones Road was a Hedychium gardnerianum, which for years I have confused with a species of Helichrysum. We planted it next to the cannas, but unlike the cannas it barely grew, and didn't flower.

Until today:


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And the Tropaeolum near the water tank that has been struggling all year (including last winter) has finally produced a single flower:


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They're not exactly difficult plants to grow. Why were they so reticent? Partially water (a problem now solved), but has the soil something to do with it? We've been here for nearly 2 years; hopefully the garden will take off soon.


Wireless remote control
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Reading the online “instructions” for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II (the toy guide only has an invalid pointer), found that the camera has a dedicated input for a shutter remote control, something that sounds financially suboptimal. It requires a dedicated remote control from Olympus, the RM-CB2 Remote Cable, with the information that it is a “mini-plug type (2.5Φ)”.

I suppose that means a 2.5 mm phone plug. That's very plausible. On closer examination, that's the connector to my remote control:


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So all I need is a short cable with 2.5 mm connector at each end. That must be available, right? Off to eBay to take a look. Yes, 2.5 mm cables available starting at $1 including postage. Oh, but the other end is 3.5 mm. Always! I finally found a single cable with 2.5 mm connectors at each end—and it was 5 m long, clearly not what I need here.

What do I do? I don't even know how many contacts the connector should have. My guess is that the 3 contact connector on my remote control is only there because nobody does 2 contact connectors any more, so it should work. But do I look for a pre-made cable or build one myself? In the Good Old Days, it was cheaper to build one yourself, but nowadays that wisdom no longer holds.


Horse photos with the E-M1 Mark II
Topic: photography, animals, opinion Link here

What's the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II like for horse photos? The 15 shots per second should be useful in looking at gaits. So I took a series of photos at the highest mechanical repeat rate of 15 fps. It wasn't fast enough. Here three successive photos:


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There is only one intermediate photo per leg change. More to the point, though, in this second I only got 8 images. Why? I can go up to 60 images per second with the electronic shutter, and some time I will, though I'm mainly concerned about the data flood that it entails. Do I stay true to form and keep every image? That's 1.2 GB per second!


Australia Post delivery issues
Topic: politics Link here

It seems that I'm not the only person to have issues with Australia Post charges and delivery times:

Ahmed Fahour Actually Quit Australia Post Years Ago. But His Resignation Letter Only Arrived Today

Interestingly, this is also the first I had heard of the resignation, though I had commented about the affair a couple of weeks ago.


Sunday, 26 February 2017 Dereel Images for 26 February 2017
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More E-MI Mark II discoveries
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Didn't do much with my new camera today: I was too busy checking things, and I still haven't really explored the new features. About the only thing I have decided is that I need better instructions. And if nobody else does them, maybe it's time for me to do so. Started working on a framework, but it'll be a long time before they're finished, if ever.

I've already established compatibility issues with the remote flash trigger. Are there others? Last month I found that the Olympus VF-2 viewfinder fits the E-M1, giving it the choice of no less than 3 viewfinders:


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It even has a use: as a viewfinder from above in situations that are too bright for the LED screen. Does it work on the Mark II? No! It fits into the accessory port between the flash shoe and the real viewfinder:

 
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And the Mark II doesn't have an accessory port:

 
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So that doesn't work. And neither do the other accessories for the port, notably the toy flash units, but also the PENPAL, a device for sending mutilated images via Bluetooth (“The image size can be selected from 640x480 (default setting), 1280x960 and 1920x1440”). That almost makes Olympus' broken wireless networking look good, and it's not surprising that the Mark II doesn't support it. On the positive side, it meant that the Mark II came with a more flexible and powerful external flash. I never used the toy flashes, so the only real impact is the viewfinder.

And the remote shutter release? How does it work, anyway? Found a splitter cable and tried both the output of the remote shutter:


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I couldn't measure any output from the shutter release, but there was no measurable resistance from the camera contacts either. I wonder how this thing really works. Then I found a couple of threads on the subject. This one confirmed that the standard connectors for Canon cameras work, though another (which I can no longer find) claimed that a similar cable for Panasonic cameras doesn't work. In passing, also discovered the real reason for the three contact plug:

The ring closest to cable is ground, 2nd ring (middle) is focus and the tip is shutter release.

OK, off searching eBay. Yes, they're available, but the lengths vary widely. More investigation needed.

In passing, it seems that the very cheapest cable ($2.55), is only just cheaper than the cheapest (cabled) remote control ($2.71). Cables can cost me up to $12 or so, and the wireless remote controls are a little over $20. I couldn't find an Olympus RM-CB2 Remote Cable on eBay, presumably because at its recommended price of $79 it just doesn't sell. Why does Olympus even bother to make it?


Monday, 27 February 2017 Dereel Images for 27 February 2017
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PayPal deductions
Topic: general, technology Link here

After last week's débacle with PayPal, I've been keeping an eye on the transaction. On Thursday, I got an email telling me that my account was negative, and that I should do something about it. But the account showed that was balanced, and there was no evidence that the money had been deducted from any of my bank accounts. And that's the way it was until today, so I sent them a message via their internal system pointing out the issue and asking them to contact me. The say that they'll take up to 24 hours to respond, so I'll wait for that.

And then Callum Gibson pointed out something to me. You can find the transaction booking details if you know how. Here's the entry in question:

 
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You have to know that the text “Payment” is a link, and it shows this and more:

 
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Well hidden! Even the people at PayPal didn't know about it. It's also somewhat clunky: it's really a lot of work to see the details of all transactions. And apart from that, there was no such deduction from my credit card.

But things didn't stop there. On Wednesday Lyle claimed to have reset my “one-touch” pay on eBay, so I checked that. No difference:


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But looking more carefully, there's a more obvious link on the left: “Change”. And how about that, with that you can change the payment source. Why didn't I see that? To be fair, once again nobody at PayPal knew it either. But this saga seems to have a positive side: now I know how to do it. And, so far at least, I seem to have gained the best part of $2,500.


Getting to know the E-M1 Mark II
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Gradually I'm getting round to investigating the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. What can it do so much better than the Mark I? The things I see are:

Yesterday I had tried some really slow images, like this one taken at 2 seconds exposure:


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Yes, not completely sharp,but not bad. The smearing is due to the cat moving, not the camera. But there's a serious problem with this photo: I had grabbed the wrong camera, and this was taken with the E-M1 Mark I. I'll repeat that some other time.

So which should I try next? “Better” and “faster” are hard to quantify. So I decided to try out high resolution mode. Page 99 of the “instructions” refers mainly to page 46, which contains only a reference to page 48, which contains some information, but not really enough:

Choose from JPEG (50M F or 25M F) and JPEG+RAW modes. When image quality is set to RAW+JPEG, the camera saves a single RAW image (extension ".ORI") before combining it with the high resolution shooting. Pre-combination RAW images can only be played back on the software that comes with this camera.

If that were correct, the raw images would be useless: Olympus no longer supplies software with the camera. And it's saying a lot to claim that other software can't process the images, though probably at the moment that's the case. But how do I choose? They don't say. It wasn't until after I took my photos and found the raw images missing that I found, in another place:

After setting high resolution shooting, you can select the image quality of the high resolution shooting using image quality mode (P. 55, 88).

And that relates to the standard menu settings that chooses between raw and JPEG, and also sets the size and quality of the JPEGs. Now isn't that tacky! Yes, it's directly related, but to use the menus properly you first need to deselect hi-res mode, go back into the menu system, set quality for normal images, then select hi-res mode and do it all over again. I hope that will change with the next firmware update.

Took my photos, comparing all four camera bodies. They still need processing, but the first thing I see is that I underestimated the resolution of even the E-PM1:


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And I didn't get any raw images because of the strange menu system. Another thing to repeat some time. Still, the high resolution mode does seem to have made a difference. Here images in normal (20 MP) mode and 50 MP:

 
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In passing, it's interesting to note that I had been listening to the wrong reports about the high resolution mode. I had heard something about 80 MP, but it seems that the maximum (currently) is 50 MP. They're known to be still working on it, so that could change. But why do they offer a 25 MP mode? That doesn't seem to be worth the effort when the native resolution is 20 MP.


Networking with E-M1 Mark II
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Another thing to check was whether Olympus has improved the “wireless networking” capability. No. This time I was completely unable to connect to my iPhone. That's probably me losing my way on the stepping stones, not the camera. It worked on the Samsung phone after the usual pain.

When will they get it right?


Tuesday, 28 February 2017 Dereel Images for 28 February 2017
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Emacs on Multics
Topic: technology, history Link here

Seen on the Unix Heritage Society mailing list today: an interesting document about Emacs on Multics.

Do I care about Multics? Not overly, but this is one of the most comprehensive documents I've seen written about Emacs before 1980.


Video with E-M1 Mark II
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

My new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II does video. I don't. But today once again I ran into a particularly irritating bug in DxO Optics “Pro”: when I have a large number of images and want to deselect one, it repositions the view of the images, and I have to reposition. For Every Single Image.

How do you describe that? A video would be good. So I took a video:

It wasn't until later that I noticed a number of issues, by which time I didn't care any more:

That's not a disadvantage of the camera, of course, but it makes me wonder if I really need 4K video. It also shows the importance of careful setup. It's relatively straightforward to reshape a photo, but how do you do it with videos?


Finally! A Buddleja!
Topic: gardening, Stones Road house Link here

In Kleins Road we had a number of Buddlejas which flowered from January to July. We took cuttings with us, but none of them survived. A few months back Yvonne took some more cuttings and propagated them in pots. They didn't do well, and about half of them died, including—as it turned out—all of the dark blue Buddleja davidii cultivars. Yvonne wanted to plant them in the soil—in the middle of summer! I was against it, but since they weren't doing well, I agreed.

It was the right choice. Today, on the last day of summer, we finally have the first flowers:


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And we've been here nearly two years!


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