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Wednesday, 1 January 2020 Dereel Images for 1 January 2020
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Another decade!
Topic: history, opinion Link here

2020 already! 50 years since the Epoch! My ninth calendar decade! How time flies.


Email server: worth the trouble?
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

A while back I got all the wrinkles sorted out in the email configuration on lax.lemis.com, my external server that also answers to the name www.lemis.com. It took hardly more than 3 months.

Why so long? I've been running an email server since March 1990, not quite 30 years. I've written a book including information on how to configure sendmail and (later edition) postfix. But somehow things are much more complicated now. Still, it's working.

Then I came into the office this morning and read:

66BFC285F3      747 Tue Dec 31 05:46:30  groggyhimself@lemis.com
(host mx01.t-online.de[194.25.134.72] refused to talk to me: 554 IP=45.32.70.18 - A problem occurred. (Ask your postmaster for help or to contact tosa@rx.t-online.de to clarify.) (BL))
                                         gabribohn@t-online.de

What's that? Clearly asking my postmaster is circular, and how can I send email if they're refusing to speak to me? But what does the message even mean? “A problem occurred”. Clearly a clever system. Did a bit of searching and found this page, which wasn't that much help, but gave me the option of filling out a web form to ask them to fix their configuration.

But wait, there's more:

Dec 31 05:46:36 lax postfix/smtp[35092]: D02D4285C6: to=<callum@dab.com>, relay=smtp2.dab.com[160.83.84.104]:25, delay=7.7, delays=0.21/0.01/7.4/0.07, dsn=4.7.1, status=SOFTBOUNCE (host smtp2.dab.com[160.83.84.104] said: 550 5.7.1 Rejected: 45.32.70.18 listed at http://www.mail-abuse.com/cgi-bin/lookup?ip_address=45.32.70.18 (in reply to MAIL FROM command))

Now isn't that a clearer message? Off to look at http://www.mail-abuse.com/cgi-bin/lookup?ip_address=45.32.70.18. Reputation: bad. So were all the adjacent addresses. OK, I can apply to have it taken off the list. Or can I? It seems that the owner of the address block has to do it, and that's Vultr. So I did it both ways: apply anyway, and raise a ticket with Vultr.

Quick reply from Vultr:

Thank you for your inquiry. Third party blacklists are free to add any IP addresses as they find necessary and we try to work with them in an attempt to remove our IPs in a timely manner.

For this specific list you will be required to do so as they require rDNS entries to be setup for the IP and will require your input as the mail server administrator.
https://spfbl.net/en/delist/

An alternative is to use a third party SMTP service such as Sendgrid or Mandrill.

That doesn't address my problem. The URL they mention is unrelated, and the reverse lookup records exist. It looks like a standard reply. And apart from the third party SMTP services, there's an alternative: forget Vultr and stick with RootBSD.

So maybe it's a good thing that I didn't close down the old server at the end of December, as I had planned. Changed my local configuration to point to that server, and the email went through.

Why is this so difficult? Should I maybe really use a third-party server? How about Aussie Broadband? The problem is that I then don't have access to the server logs. But it's tempting.

The good news: in the evening the block on the IP had been removed without comment, and also got mail from t-online confirming that the block had been removed, though it's not clear whether they did anything or it just worked because the block had been removed.


Where's that bushfire?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Yesterday's bushfire was only 1.6 km away. Or maybe it was 11 km. Or maybe one of three other places that they chose on the map.

Where was it really? Off down Mount Mercer Road (3 spottings) to take a look. Nothing to be seen. Even the real fire down the Mount Mercer-Shelford Road was barely visible. My guess is that there was only one, somewhere in the plantation timber about 4 km east of here. I wonder if there's a “satellite” view of the fire regions.


More uses for quail eggs
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Husfrusill this evening, with quail's eggs:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200101/big/Husfrusill.jpeg
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Thursday, 2 January 2020 Dereel Images for 2 January 2020
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Reducing bushfire danger
Topic: general, animals, opinion Link here

It's clear that this year will be one of the worst bushfire seasons ever. Normally the worst fires occur from mid-January to mid-February. It's only the beginning of January, and already it almost looks as if there's a single fire all the way from northern New South Wales to the Gippsland coast, about 1200 km long. It's comforting to see that Scott Morrison has received the reception he deserved when visiting the disaster area. Somehow he seems to be emulating his idol even in this kind of situation.

Fortunately we're not nearly as endangered here. But Yvonne is very nervous. Nevertheless, it took a certain amount of persuasion to get her to help remove the long grass to the west of the house, which poses the biggest danger in case of a fire round these ways. She had wanted to keep it for later in the season to save on hay. A lot of good that would be if it burns anyway and we end up living in a tent. So finally she got Chris Bahlo to bring over a few horses, who should get rid of it pretty quickly:


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She came with her sister Melanie, and later with still more horses, not to be left here:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200102/big/Chris-and-Melanie-Bahlo-6.jpeg
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Fixing spam blockages
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday's ticket response from Vultr didn't help much, but it did mention one thing:

For this specific list you will be required to do so as they require rDNS entries to be setup for the IP and will require your input as the mail server administrator.
https://spfbl.net/en/delist/

That's nonsensical for two reasons: firstly, the rDNS entries are there, and secondly they're Vultr's responsibility. But it was worth going to https://spfbl.net/en/delist/ to see what they say. Yes, no rDNS. Did they check? I did, and it was OK. But they say:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200102/big/spfbl-1-detail.png
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Suspicion? Suspicion? I suspect that somebody there can't pass the Turing test. But they offered to unblock it, first sending a badly formatted HTML message to postmaster@:

 
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Bloody CAPTCHA! But then, modulo a race condition, all worked well. So it seems that this particular crisis is over.

Or was it? Mail from Vultr asking me for a response to their message. What kind of response?

On Thursday,  2 January 2020 at  2:02:47 -0500, support@vultr.com wrote:
> Dear Customer,
>
> We are awaiting for your reply on this ticket:

OK, I'll bite.  What reply do you expect?  I don't see a question, and
your response doesn't really address my issue (which you neglect to
quote).  Based on your apparent lack of interest, I was considering
going elsewhere.

Ah, it seems that this was also just a standard action:

We were simply setting the ticket to feedback in the event that you had any other questions.  That being said, as was mentioned, our abuse team regularly submits de-blacklist requests for any affected IP ranges andshould do so to DUL as well. Please note that this typically takes time as we are at their mercy to de-blacklist and success is not guaranteed.

How could they have done this better? Customers don't have outgoing SMTP access by default. You have to ask for it. At this point it seems reasonable that they should point out this issue and either ensure that the IP is not blocked, or offer an alternative.


Android update
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

By coincidence, discovered that there was an Android update available for my mobile phone, to release 9.0 (with some silly epithet). OK, download and install. Somehow it went well, but when I tried to scroll the task list (or whatever it's called), it no longer worked. Ah, this is an undocumented user interface change: in release 8 you scrolled up and down, in release 9 it's left and right. That could be an improvement, but why don't you get told about these things?

The other difference I've noticed so far is definitely an improvement: the “Beep-BEEP Beep-BEEP” that I hear from time to time proves to be related to the text that lights up in dark grey on black, and then goes before I can recognize anything. Now it's light grey on black, and it may stay a little longer; in any case, I can now recognize it. Really important stuff like “You haven't used some apps in a while. Save 90 MB”.

Sorry, Android, that's not important, and how do you know my usage patterns? I expect software to stay where it is until I decide to get rid of it. Admittedly that can mean that I have 30 year old executables around on my real computers, but that's my choice.


Friday, 3 January 2020 Dereel Images for 3 January 2020
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Strelitzia: so nice, so nice, we do it twice
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Our Strelitzia nicolai continues to flower. Apart from the one blooming, there are two further buds under way. But I hadn't understood how the first flower was blooming. That became clearer today: it's two flowers!


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200104/big/Strelitzia-nicolai-4.jpeg
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I wonder how many there will be in total.

While outside, also did some work on the irrigation. It was necessary: some of the plants didn't have drippers, other drippers had exploded. And there's still more decay, like the Gallipoli rosemary, which I gave a generous application of fertilizer:


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Hopefully it'll survive.


Which camera for Yvonne?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

To my surprise, Yvonne really likes the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II that she has on loan from Chris Bahlo, even to the point of suspecting better image quality. Given that the sensor is the same as in her E-PM2, and she's using identically the same lenses, that's not very probable, unless it's the better image stabilization. But the camera's not for her: she needs something with a microphone input, and that means either an E-M5 or an E-M1. Which is better?

The E-M1 Mark II was the “flagship” model until last year, when it was replaced by the E-M1X. One of Yvonne's main criteria was small size, so that behemoth doesn't come into discussion. Here's a comparison of the models:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200103/big/camera-sizes.png
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I've already established that the E-M10 Mark II and the E-M5 Mark III are actually smaller than the E-PM2 with the clip-on viewfinder, and Yvonne has come to terms with the difference in weight between the E-M10 Mark II and the E-PM2. The E-M5 Mark III weighs 414 g, and the E-M10 Mark II weighs 390 g, so there's not much in it. But why not an E-M1 Mark II? Is it really that much bigger? I gave Yvonne my E-M1 Mark I to compare. No, sorry, too big.

Had some discussion about it on the Facebook M43 Tech Talk group, where Kev Russell pointed out that you can get an E-M1 Mark II body only fractionally above the price of an E-M5 Mark III. He also pointed to Olympus OM-D E-M5 III vs OM-D E-M1 II – The 10 Main Differences.

That's worth reading. Sum up the points:

  1. Design: larger built-in grip for the E-M1 II. They put this as an advantage for the E-M1, but clearly it speaks for the E-M5 in Yvonne's case.

  2. Memory card slots: 1 vs 2 Yawn. I have never used the second slot on my E-M1 Mark II.

  3. Battery: one of the very best inside the E-M1 II But that means buying another spare battery. The E-M5 uses the same batteries as the other smaller cameras, and we've never had issues with battery life. Advantage to the E-M5.

  4. Viewfinder: longer eyepoint, smaller magnification The longer eyepoint is actually an advantage for the E-M5. Yes, bigger image is better, but not such a deal. The eyepoint might really be an argument for the E-M5.

  5. Super Sonic Wave Filter: 30k vibration/s This, too, is an advantage for the E-M5: it's faster than older models, including the E-M1 Mark II. But it's not an important difference: I've never had issues with the SSWF on other Olympus cameras.

  6. Autofocus algorithm: something extra for the E-M5 III? This is an advantage for the E-M5, and it looks like it's a big one. Autofocus is still a serious issue for videos of horses, and the E-M5 Mark III could potentially get firmware upgrades to make it better still. At the worst, it's no worse than on the E-M1 Mark II.

  7. Video: Log profile for the E-M1 II Point to E-M1 Mark II, though I don't use it. It's probably worth looking at, though. This feature was introduced with a firmware update, so it's not beyond the bounds of possibility that the E-M5 could get it too.

  8. Continuous shooting speeds 30 frames per second full resolution for the E-M5 with electronic shutter, 60 for the E-M1. Clearly the E-M1 wins, but how often do you use that feature? 30 frames per second still blows nearly every competitor out of the water. And the rates with the mechanical shutter aren't bad: 10 fps vs. 15 fps.

  9. Bluetooth The E-M5 has it, the E-M1 doesn't. Who cares? Olympus has made the interface so painful that I don't use it.

And that's it. Where's number 10? No idea. That's all they wrote.

In summary: there's surprisingly little in favour of the E-M1 Mark II. I had expected more. What I see is (my view):

Of all those features, better autofocus is the most important to me.

And in one sense, one of my suspicions of a year ago is confirmed:

Somehow I'm left with the feeling that the E-M1X is an experiment: put in all the new features that they've been developing, and to hell with the size. See if it sells anyway; the success of the E-M1X will give them some ideas for what to do for the E-M1 Mark III.

That certainly applies to the autofocus. I just wasn't expecting it in the E-M5 Mark III. I wonder what the E-M1 Mark III will be like.


Daily email problem
Topic: technology Link here

And now I thought I had really fixed the email issues on the external server. But today Yvonne came to me and told me that somebody was getting email rejected:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200103/big/mail-bounce.png
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Of course the Facebook world drops important information like date and time. But it was easy enough to find in the server logs:

Jan  2 20:35:42 lax postfix/smtpd[10520]: NOQUEUE: reject: RCPT from delivery.mailspamprotection.com[198.143.161.18]: 550 5.7.1 <delivery.mailspamprotection.com[198.143.161.18]>: Client host rejected: 310 http://www.lemis.com/dontspam.html. Please use your ISP's mail server.; from=<info@militryequitation.com> to=<yvonne@lemis.com> proto=ESMTP helo=<delivery.mailspamprotection.com>

Yes, that's a bug, not a feature. Why is this person sending her email through a spam site? Did some checking without finding any evidence that it's on the level; they don't even seem to have a web site. Removed the block for the time being, but I'll have to keep an eye on it.

It's funny that I've been on both sides of spam rejection in the last couple of days.


Saturday, 4 January 2020 Dereel Images for 4 January 2020
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Disaster in Gippsland, confusion in Golden Plains
Topic: general, opinion Link here

The 2019–20 Australian bushfire season looks like beating all records. Black Saturday was bad enough, but Wikipedia tells me that “only” 4,500 km² were burnt. So far this season has accounted for 63,000 km², considerably bigger than Switzerland or Denmark, and about the size of Ireland, and we're far from over yet. Today was another bad day, with high winds and temperatures in the mid-40s.

But that's further east. We haven't seen much activity here yet. Woke up at 5:00 and smelt smoke, so checked the emergency services web site, which mentioned the fact, and that it came from from Gippsland, 350 km away.

By morning the smell was gone again. But the temperatures all day were like a roller-coaster (purple line):

Click to see larger image

In particular, the highest temperature was round 4:23, and the temperature dropped unevenly throughout the day. From our point of view, the temperature was also in a bearable range, a far cry from the 46.1° in Albury, which beat the previous record of 45.3° on 16 January 2019 (set less than a year ago) by 0.8°.


Water filter clogged
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Yvonne in early today saying that the bore water was not flowing well, and was the filter clogged? That could have been the case, except that I only cleaned it yesterday. But sure enough:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200104/big/Water-filter-2.jpeg
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That's different stuff from normal. It's slimy, effectively mud. Normally it's gritty. It also usually takes a week to require cleaning, and this built up in one day. What happened?


Sign of the times
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Bushfires are on everybody's minds, even on this magpie's:

zHzs-mlDXMY

The original video was posted on Facebook by the RFS Copacabana, and the noise the magpie making is a close approximation to the fire truck sirens.


Huevos a la tigre, revisited
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

A couple of years ago I came up with a variation on huevos a la Flamenca that I termed “Huevos a la tigre”. But it never quite worked out the way I wanted it.

Today we had a couple of eggs with broken yolks, and thus suitable neither for fried eggs. OK, another modification: instead of trying to fry the eggs, why not just mix them in with the other ingredients and then cook in an “Air fryer”? Did that, and they came out quite well. Here the experiments from 2 years ago, and then from today:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20180401/big/Huevos-a-la-tigre.jpeg
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Not surprisingly, it wasn't completely dry inside:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200104/big/Huevos-a-la-tigre-4.jpeg
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Is that the juice from the other ingredients, or uncooked egg? How can I tell? Why should I care?


10 years of photographic progress
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

The century's 20 years old, and Digital Photography Review has done a couple of articles on how things have changed in the past 10 years: the camera industry and technological advancements.

They're quite interesting, and they must be right, since they agree with my assessments. I've already observed that the pace of innovation is slowing, but it brings home to me that the first usable DSLRs came out only 20 years ago, but mirrorless cameras have been here for over 11. And 10 years ago it would have been unthinkable to use a 10 year old digital camera. Now I do it frequently with the Olympus E-30. Yes, it's not up to the standard of modern cameras, but it's quite usable for the purpose to which I put it.


Time to replace insulators
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Some of our electric fence insulators look like this:


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The wire going through them carries a voltage of about 5000 V. But one looks like this:


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And that's not good:


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Time for a new insulator.


Keep all photos?
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

I've gradually developed a basic rule with my photos: keep all photos, even those that don't appear to have any use. That fits in with my career in high availability computing, where any data loss is disaster. It also goes with a deep-set impression that I got watching Blow-up over 50 years ago. An important part of the story was an image that the photographer was going to discard, when he discovered that it contained a clue of a murder.

But sometimes I have to accept that not all data is holy. To get the photo of the spark on the insulator I used the E-M1 Mark II's stupidly named “Pro Capture” feature, where it records continually at 60 images per second and saves the most recent ones when the shutter is pressed. As a result I had a total of 100 images (2 GB) that all looked identical. Here some from the preview function of DxO PhotoLab:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200104/big/contacts.png
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Why should I keep them? I'm going to have to accept that they have to go.


Sunday, 5 January 2020 Dereel Images for 5 January 2020
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One? Two? Many!
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

I've been watching my Strelitzia nicolai buds for over a month, and finally one flowered:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20191229/big/Strelitzia-nicolai-5.jpeg
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One? No, a few days later I discovered that it had become two flowers:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200104/big/Strelitzia-nicolai-4.jpeg
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But that was last week. Now that bud has developed into 5 flowers, with more on the way:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200105/big/Strelitzia-nicolai-2.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200105/big/Strelitzia-nicolai-5.jpeg
Image title: Strelitzia nicolai 5          Dimensions:          5186 x 3888, 2485 kB
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Each of the two original flowers has another one, somewhat cramped, behind it. And the original bud has developed what looks like more to come:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200105/big/Strelitzia-nicolai-5.jpeg
Image title: Strelitzia nicolai 5          Dimensions:          5186 x 3888, 2485 kB
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And now the bud on the other side of the shrub is also flowering:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200105/big/Strelitzia-nicolai-11.jpeg
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That makes a Strelitzia reginae with its one or two flower look positively boring.


Preparing for World War III?
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

We've known for some time that Donald Trump is dangerous. But now he's resorting to assassination. Qasem Soleimani was probably not a good person, but he was high up in the Iranian government. His assassination would be like assassinating the US Secretary of Defense, a clear war crime. In addition, Sulemani was surprisingly popular in Iran. At the very least, his assassination had the advantage of drawing attention away from anti-government protests.

And of course the Iranian government has promised revenge. How? Almost anything they can do will lead to massive retaliation on the one hand and increased popularity of Trump. I don't know which is worse. But Darn Old “bring our troops home” Trump has brought the world closer to war than I can remember. When are they going to stop him?


New camera equipment: too hard
Topic: photography Link here

So currently Yvonne has a new tripod, new leveling base, and the loan of Chris Bahlo's OM-D E-M10 Mark II camera. Today she wanted to take some video in the arena. What did she take? The E-PM2 and a monopod to tie to a fencepost.

Why? She knows how to do that, and though it's more complicated and less secure, that wins. With a bit of persuasion she put a mounting plate on the camera and put it on the new tripod and (new) leveling base, not helped by the fact that the latter is clearly defective. It did the job, but it's clear that it will have to go back. Hopefully things will be better when the new equipment arrives.


Monday, 6 January 2020 Dereel Images for 6 January 2020
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Fixing the air conditioner
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

The Christmas break is over! Time to call Waldron and get them to repair our air conditioner. They open at 9:00, but I decided to call early and just keep retrying. Started at 8:29, and got an immediate answer from Steve (coincidentally the bloke who quoted us for hot water six months ago), who told us that they hadn't been informed, but that he would check.

He called back 2 hours later to tell me that I should contact Actron and discuss it with them. After an interminable wait (about 10 minutes) was connected with somebody whose name I didn't understand, who told me that the matter had been given to Metrol, their repairers in Ballarat. Metrol? Yes, M-e-t-h-r-o-l. Not Metroll? No, Met(h)rol, phone 5339 4900, mobile 0412 011 320. And they wouldn't get Waldron to do the work, though that would be my preference, unless they applied to do the job.

Called Steve back at Waldron, and he told me that it was too much trouble, and that really they didn't do repairs. This over 3 hours after my initial call! I was very satisfied with Waldron when they installed the system, but my recent encounters with them, including the hot water 6 months ago, have been much less positive.

OK, call 5339 4900. Boop-boop-boop-boop. What does that mean? Once upon a long time, the old mechanical exchanges generated noises like that to mean things like “engaged”, but they were country-specific, and MynEtfOne is too polite to use Australian tones, though they don't understand the fact. Was the number engaged, defective or just plain not connected? Tried with my mobile phone. No useful display, just “The number you are calling is not connected”.

That makes sense, and one point to either Android or (more likely) my mobile phone provider. In Germany, not the home of modern telephony, they've reported this specific problem with „Kein Anschiss unter dieser Nummer“ for decades. So why does MyNeTfOne not report it clearly?

OK, Google search for “Methrol Ballarat”. Nothing, just a guess at Metroll. Called Metroll just to be on the safe side, but of course they're into steel, not air conditioning. What kind of fly-by-night company is Methrol? Only a mobile phone? OK, try calling it and got an answering machine. Marvellous.

Shortly later, though, got a call back, not made easier by Android—see below—and was told that the company's name is really Mechtrol, and that they had to send two people out, and that's why it was taking longer. Suggested that I should talk to the techie, and she said yes, Mark would call back. He didn't.

How long should I wait? Once I established contact with (Helen at) Mechtrol, she sounded sensible enough, a far cry from the person at Actron, and considerably more helpful than Steve.


Daily Android pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Helen called back on my mobile phone, since that's the network she uses. Normally the call indication looks like this:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200107/big/Screenshot_20200107-120005.png
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But this one was different:

 
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This one's simulated, of course, so the caller (“Home”) is incorrect. OK, ACCEPT. Display changes, phone keeps ringing. I couldn't find any way to get back to answer the call, and in the end she hung up.

Dammit, what use is a phone if you can't answer it? Discussed the matter on IRC, and came up with numerous insights, including:

So: what do I do? Installing some kind of screen lock might be an idea, and I ended up by using the pattern lock, since it's the fastest to unlock. It's probably also a good idea to put the phone in my shirt pocket upside down, so that I don't accidentally press the power button (apparently called a “lock button” in Android-speak). And I should really consider whether a faster phone might be less pain. I'll wait for next time they're on special at ALDI.


Donations for bushfire victims
Topic: general, opinion Link here

The bushfires have given rise to a number of calls for donations, and in principle we're agreeable. There are two kinds: goods and money. Seven years ago we donated for the Dereel bushfire, and that was mainly old clothes and things.

But it seems that people in Gippsland don't want that sort of thing. Only food (canned and brand new, please), along with things for the horses that have survived. I'm a little sceptical: this is an ideal opportunity for scams. How about a reputable organization? Yvonne came up with Rotary International, which sounds good to me.

OK, off to donate some money. Ah, they won't take money from just anybody:

 
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You would think that they wouldn't put obstacles in the way of donations, wouldn't you? Peter Jeremy told me that the Red Cross has similar obstacles: they won't accept bank transfers. What do these people think?


Returning the leveling base
Topic: general, photography, opinion Link here

Another return to an eBay seller. It's like pulling teeth. OK, ask for a return:

The locking knob on the device doesn't work. Even when locked, it can be moved, making it useless.

This is my second ball head of this model. The first one works fine, so I have something to compare with. Please send me a return shipping label. If we can handle this refund within 5 working days, I shall order a new one from you.

Quick response: can you send us a video? Dammit, that's a lot to ask for, but since I've been meaning to try this sort of thing, tried anyway. This is my third attempt:

OdwEgg5fBm0

I couldn't attach it to the reply. It's 120 MB in size, though it could easily be trimmed by removing the start and end, where I had to walk to the camera to turn it on and off. But eBay limits videos to 5 MB, and I don't know how easy it would be to limit it. But what a horrible video! I have a new-found admiration for the people who do this on a daily basis.

More responses from the seller, offering me discounts starting at $15 and going up to $35, after which I responded:

Please refund $59.27. I will not answer any further attempts to limit your liability. I will, however, not buy from you again. If you don't refund the money by 10 January, I will ask eBay to intervene.

Their response? Increase the offer to $38. Somehow they're not listening.


New power supplier
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

My electricity retailer, Red Energy, annoyed me by raising prices, but not the feedin tariff. Last week I did some enquiry and came up with Elysian Energy, with whom I would have signed up if I had had clarification of a number of loose ends.

Called them up today and clarified: yes, prices have gone up since last week, and I really now have to pay the 20.24¢ per kWh, but no other charges. On top of that I get 15% discount for being a pensioner, something that miraculously means that I pay $230 per month instead of $280. At $280 per month I get 1200 kWh, corresponding to $242.88 at their tariff, so there's a connection charge of $1.237 per day in there.

It's not clear how the pensioner discount (something that Red Energy should also have applied) affects the matter, but ignoring that and looking at our last bill, which just arrived, it seems:

Item       Number       Red Energy       Elysian
Connection       90 (days)       106.43       111.33
Power (1)       1479 kWh       457.48       299.35
Power (2)       475 kWh       145.99       96.14
PV feedin       915 kWh       -109.80       -109.80
Total             600.10       397.02
POT discount             70.99
            529.11

That's clearly very much in favour of Elysian, especially when I consider that their prices are this year's prices, and Red Energy's prices are last year's prices. The pensioner discount can account for up to $150 more, though I suspect there are details there that need understanding, and it will probably be less.


Smoke haze
Topic: general Link here

The Gippsland bushfires are 400 km away, but smoke has once again found its way here, lowering the daily temperature by about 5° from what the Bureau of Meteorology forecast, and also greatly reducing our photovoltaic power generation. This afternoon it reminded me of the photos I posted last month. This is the sun shining through:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200106/big/Smoke-haze-3.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200106/big/Smoke-haze-4.jpeg
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That was taken at EV 15.6. My Analemma photos, like this one, are taken at EV 28 (10 of which contributed by the ND filter):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200101/big/Analemma-1.jpeg
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That represents an attenuation of 12.4 EV, or over 5,000: only 0.02% of the light made it through.

And the smoke is clear (no, hazy). Towards the evening it got much more pronounced. Here at 15:46 and again at 20:33:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200106/big/Smoke-haze-2.jpeg
Image title: Smoke haze 2          Dimensions:          5186 x 3653, 3412 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200106/big/Smoke-haze-10.jpeg
Image title: Smoke haze 10          Dimensions:          5184 x 3888, 2424 kB
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That's the sort of haze that we normally only see on TV.


Power surge kills UPS?
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Another grid power failure this evening at 21:18:29. Only two seconds, but round that time (probably exactly the same time) our horrible Eaton UPS powered itself down, taking down lagoon and teevee (which we were watching) with it. High time to find an electrician to fix it.


Tuesday, 7 January 2020 Dereel Images for 7 January 2020
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Fixing the air conditioner
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Nathan from Mechtrol called this morning and subsequently came out to take a look, with Tim, a sparky, in tow. Why? I told them what the problem was. Yes, they agreed, and they brought a couple of controller boards that they had lying around. But Actron, who also agreed in principle, wanted them to come out and take a look first.

Given that we were all in agreement, and they seemed to know what they were talking about, it took a look of discussion to come to the inevitable conclusion. In the process discovered a couple of interesting things: disconnect the internal control display, and it no longer turned off. It just showed a normal display. That suggests that there's nothing wrong with the internal controller, and something on the external controller board was confusing the internal display. And Nathan briefly saw a tiny LED light up, despite no other signs of life. They played around on the power module and decided that the transformer could be dead, which could be correct. I've never seen people measure things by the contacts on the electrolytic condensers before.

The controller boards they brought with them were of a different kind, so they have to order a new one. They're hoping to have it installed by the weekend.


Haze elimination with DxO
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

DxO PhotoLab has a function that seems to be appropriate at the moment: haze reduction. Tried it on yesterday evening's smoke haze photo. Here the comparison: no reduction, “20%”, “50%” and “100%” (run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200106/big/Smoke-haze-10.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200106/big/Smoke-haze-7.jpeg
Image title: Smoke haze 7          Dimensions:          5187 x 3888, 4176 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200106/big/Smoke-haze-8.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200106/big/Smoke-haze-9.jpeg
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Yes, the hills in the distance become more obvious, but it's not really very useful, and it's not clear why the images become progressively darker.


Still more mail pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Mail seems to be running smoothly now. But there's always an exception. Yvonne asked me today to check if something was wrong with an email she was expecting. Yes:

Jan  7 00:20:55 lax postfix/smtpd[69637]: warning: hostname sau-04a27-or.servercontrol.com.au does not resolve to address 180.92.199.61: hostname nor servname provided, or not known
Jan  7 00:20:55 lax postfix/smtpd[69637]: connect from unknown[180.92.199.61]
Jan  7 00:20:55 lax postfix/smtpd[69637]: NOQUEUE: reject: RCPT from unknown[180.92.199.61]: 450 4.7.25 Client host rejected: cannot find your hostname, [180.92.199.61]; from=<admin@reenactors.org.au> to=<ylehey@lemis.com> proto=ESMTP helo=<sau-80340-or.asimar.com.au>
Jan  7 00:20:55 lax postfix/smtpd[69637]: disconnect from unknown[180.92.199.61] ehlo=1 mail=1 rcpt=0/1 data=0/1 rset=1 quit=1 commands=4/6

A clear case of incorrect MUA or DNS configuration, and something that I should reject. But the message itself is important. What should I do? In dubio pro reo, I suppose.

How do you fix that? Add an entry in client-access allowing mail from that server. But that's not enough, because the check for broken DNS happens first. OK, change the order in /usr/local/etc/postfix/main.cf:

--- main.cf     2019/12/31 22:01:01     1.4
+++ main.cf     2020/01/07 06:04:56
@@ -763,6 +763,6 @@
 smtpd_helo_restrictions = permit_mynetworks, reject_invalid_hostname,
-       reject_non_fqdn_hostname, check_helo_access
        hash:/usr/local/etc/postfix/helo-access, check_helo_access
+       reject_non_fqdn_hostname, check_helo_access
        hash:/usr/local/etc/postfix/access, permit

And yes, I had check_helo_access there twice. Why? To be investigated, but if it works, don't fix it.

It didn't work!

Jan  7 05:58:19 lax postfix/smtpd[72447]: connect from mail.atrlinening.surf[5.44.46.46]
Jan  7 05:58:19 lax postfix/smtpd[72447]: warning: restriction check_helo_access: bad argument "reject_non_fqdn_hostname": need maptype:mapname
Jan  7 05:58:19 lax postfix/smtpd[72447]: NOQUEUE: reject: RCPT from mail.atrlinening.surf[5.44.46.46]: 451 4.3.5 Server configuration error; from=<life-line-screening-partner-greg=lemis.com@atrlinening.surf> to=<gregory@lemis.com> proto=ESMTP helo=<mail.atrlinening.surf>
Jan  7 05:58:20 lax postfix/cleanup[72450]: C5EBC28163: message-id=<20200107055820.C5EBC28163@lax.lemis.com>
Jan  7 05:58:20 lax postfix/smtpd[72447]: disconnect from mail.atrlinening.surf[5.44.46.46] ehlo=1 mail=2 rcpt=0/2 rset=1 quit=1 commands=5/7

What's wrong there? Nothing obvious. I should check, but for now it's more pain than I'm prepared to have. Reverted the change, and things worked again. And the message went through after all:

Jan  7 08:30:55 lax postfix/smtpd[73985]: D5D48280D4: client=unknown[180.92.199.61]
Jan  7 08:30:56 lax postfix/cleanup[73986]: D5D48280D4: message-id=<5e0eacc6ef7fa@reenactors.org.au>
Jan  7 08:30:56 lax postfix/qmgr[73643]: D5D48280D4: from=<admin@reenactors.org.au>, size=3496, nrcpt=1 (queue active)
Jan  7 08:30:56 lax postfix/smtpd[73985]: disconnect from unknown[180.92.199.61] ehlo=1 mail=1 rcpt=1 data=1 quit=1 commands=5
Jan  7 08:30:57 lax postfix/smtp[73987]: D5D48280D4: to=<ylehey@lemis.com>, relay=mx0.lemis.com[167.179.139.35]:25, delay=1.2, delays=0.16/0.01/0.59/0.41, dsn=2.0.0, status=sent (250 2.0.0 Ok: queued as C085226358B)
Jan  7 08:30:57 lax postfix/qmgr[73643]: D5D48280D4: removed

Why that? Did I misinterpret the sequence of checks, and did my mod in client-access take precedence? This was the first delivery attempt after I added the exception, so maybe.


More Android insights
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

One of the possibilities of fixing my Android phone problems was:

Tried that today. First called myself with the phone switched off:

 
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OK, that's normal enough. But when the phone is switched on, I get:

 
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That's what I got with Helen's call yesterday. And, sure enough, I can lose it. But Jamie Fraser was right with his suggestion: “swipe” down from the top and I get:

 
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Now wasn't that easy? One less smart.


Wednesday, 8 January 2020 Dereel Images for 8 January 2020
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End of the smoke haze
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

The smoke haze is gone, and it's sunny again. My photovoltaic summary reports show the effect:

 
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It's interesting to note how exactly the total daily generation comes to 50 kWh on a sunny day, in 3 of those 7 days. It's like that most of the time when the sun shines all day. The PV arrays have a total rated power of 10.8 kWh, and at this time of the year the solar day is 14½ hours long, so a simplistic calculation would expect over 150 kWh. But that would require the panels to be pointing directly at the sun all the time. As it is, 7.2 kWh (24 panels) face about 10° (E of N), and the other 3.6 kWh (12 panels) face about 280°, E of W. Calculating the effective exposure is something that I have so far not been able to do, especially since I don't have an exact value for the slope of the roof.


Elysian energy supply contract
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

The contract from Elysian Energy arrived today. A total of 58 pages. Do they really expect me to read that? I don't think so. Not even the basics are correct. From a draft that I need to refine:

I've read the Welcome Pack, and I have a number of issues that I'd like you to clarify:

To summarize: my understanding when signing up was that I would get the "Full House" as advertised on your web site at https://elysianenergy.com.au/electricity-plans/:

The Full House $280.00 Per month inc GST

Included Energy (kwh) 1,200

If you use more energy it will be charged at 20.240c kwh (incl. GST)

If you use less energy you will get a credit of 20.240c kwh (incl. GST) Solar Feed in Tariff, of 12.00 cents per kwh (exported)

The plan does not have a daily supply charge as this included in the plan amount (the estimated daily supply charge included in the plan is $112.171 per day).

My guess is that the “contract” is broken, and that I will, indeed, get my discount, based on the values specified on the web site. But they will change, and if I agree to a contract, it has to be correct. Why do people do these things?


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

When I bought the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III, they told me that I would be informed when it was shipped. By today, five days later, I had received no such information, so I contacted them and discovered that they had been out of stock (not surprisingly, at that price) and that the shipment from Olympus should arrive today. Then just a “security check” and they would send it.

What “security check”? Why only now? It proved to be a small deduction from my credit card. I was to contact them and tell them what it was, thus at least proving I had access to the bank account. But ANZ takes at least a day to update the online view of the credit card. Checked anyway. No mention of the sum. Dammit, call them up and ask.

This HORRIBLE voice non-recognition system again! And this time there was an incredible level of noise on the line: in the real sense of the term, low signal-to-noise ratio. After a couple of minutes swearing at it, I was connected to Iris, who wanted me to answer the usual “security” question: my date of birth (on the web), the password that I specified when I got the card in May 1997, but not the stupid “security questions” that they normally asked. And the sum deducted? $0.05, far less than the cost of the call.

How do I bypass the voice non-recognition system? Use the phone app! That's more secure: it stores your password in the phone. VOMIT!


Vomiting cats
Topic: animals Link here

Noise from behind my monitors today, not far from the place where Rani chose as a toilet a few years ago:


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Piccola had vomited up dry food. Why does she do this so often? And why did she choose that inaccessible and hard-to-clean place? I'm reminded of three German words: „Kacke“ (shit), „Katze“ (cat), „Kotze“ (vomit). Clearly there's a connection.


DLSR or “mirrorless”?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Canon has brought out a new camera, the EOS 1 DX Mark III (not only Olympus has such convoluted names). It's apparently very good at video, as this review asserts.

How do you take video with a DSLR? You don't, I claim. To see what you're taking with a DSLR, you need a mirror between the lens and the sensor. That doesn't work with video: inside any modern DSLR, a “mirrorless” camera is hiding. Callum Gibson didn't want to believe it, and I explained that the whole thing is just a question of viewfinders and autofocus. And sure enough, the article said as much:

And even though this is a big, double-grip DSLR, it functions as a highly capable mirrorless camera in Live View mode provided you've got the muscle to hold it out in front of you for extended periods of time.

The difference from a real EVIL camera is the EV: electronic viewfinder. Like EVIL cameras, you can see what the sensor sees on the rear display, but then you have to hold it away from you, and it's heavy: 1.44 kg for the body alone. If you look through the viewfinder, you're still in the old DSLR territory. Gradually I wonder why they still have the mirror.

A couple of other details are also interesting: the sensor resolution is “only” 20 MP. People have been decrying Olympus cameras for a long time because of their low resolution (now 20 MP). The Canon has a sensor 4 times the size, and it's their “flagship” product, and according to this comparison it could actually have marginally lower resolution than the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III. It seems that they've decided that 20 MP is enough. I haven't been able to find any high resolution mode (the E-M5 Mark III can take photos at up to 80 MP).

And what else? No image stabilization, fixed rear screen, 20 fps compared to 30 (or the 60 of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II). This isn't a matter of it being a DSLR; in this mode it's mirrorless too. And it's enormous:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200108/big/E-M5-III-EOS-1DX-III-1.png
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About the only thing that the DP Review specs comparison shows that's in favour of the Canon is that it can generate in-camera HEIF images. It seems that this is the up-and-coming replacement for JPEG. OK, fine. Either way I'd still take raw images and convert them in post-processing. Not a significant advantage for the Canon.

That doesn't mean that the Canon doesn't have advantages. Clearly it shows that you're a real man, and maybe that's really part of it. But at the very least the comparison pages need reworking to show what the real advantages are. At the very least I'd expect vastly better high-ISO image quality. Elsewhere I have heard that it has a 1000 Mb/s Ethernet connection, arguably better than USB. And potentially the sensor construction (with AF aids) is also interesting.


Thursday, 9 January 2020 Dereel Images for 9 January 2020
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Reconsidering Elysian Energy
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Finished off my draft email to Elysian Energy and sent it off, omitting to save a copy due to finger trouble. No reply today, of course. My guess is that for a company that wants to communicate by email, they probably don't monitor incoming email.

OK, tariffs have changed at the beginning of the year, since I got the last quote. How about seeing what things are like now. Off to Victorian Energy Compare again and got a new quote.

Was it different! Now Elysian are a long way from being best. That's Origin, not my favourite retailer. And they're offering a flat rate of 18.83¢ per kWh. Oh, not that flat after all: 45.53007¢ per kWh in the summer between 15:00 and 21:00. Savour that 0.00007¢—for a yearly consumption of 20 MW, 5 MW for 3 months, it represents a price difference of 0.35¢ if it applied at all times. In my case, it would mean very much less, because that's the time when I feed energy into the grid, not extract it. But clearly Origin have an interesting definition of “flat”.

And then there's Red Energy. This offer (“$2,850 per year”) differs vastly from the $3,480 that I was quoted last month. Somehow none of this seems to make any sense, and they don't make it easier by restricting navigation round the web site. Maybe I should just forget the whole thing; there's good reason to suspect that the tariff will change in a few months to recoup the loss leaders.


Another grid power failure
Topic: general Link here

Another grid power failure, only a second, at 21:26:36.


Friday, 10 January 2020 Dereel → Napoleons → Dereel Images for 10 January 2020
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Treasures in the garden
Topic: gardening, animals Link here

Mick Solly along today to do some weeding. It took him 5 hours, and he still wasn't finished. But he came up with some interesting things. First this:


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We're pretty sure that it's garlic. The whiter bulb at the bottom definitely is: it's from our pantry. The others look just the same, and Mick thinks that both of these are further instances:


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The one in the first photo (about 60 cm high) probably is, but I have my doubts about the 2.5 m tall one. The real questions are, how did they get there, and are they really garlic? It's hard to believe that they're not, and at one point I planned to plant garlic, but I don't recall actually doing so, but they're in many different places. The good news is that they clearly grew well.

The other discovery was less useful:


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That's after leaving it out overnight in the rain. When Mick found it, it was behind a flower pot on the verandah. But how did it get there, and why didn't Piccola care?


New camera and mountings
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Despite my expectations, Yvonne's new camera, an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III (serial number BJ8A08587) really did arrive this morning, only about 40 hours after being despatched. Off to Napoleons to pick it up, then back to play around with it. At the same time also picked up some Arca-Swiss mounting plates: I want to get rid of screw attachments altogether. The ones I chose are very small, and gratifyingly they fit on the cameras without obstructing the battery compartment:


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But somehow there's always a problem with these things. These ones have an tightening screw that goes below the base line, and it's not removable, so I wasn't able to screw it onto the leveling head. I worked around that by putting a macro rail in between:


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From bottom to top, the top of the leveling base, the rail, a new shoe, a new plate, and the PIXIO “Robot Cameraman”. Clearly that's not the optimum, but at least it works.

What did work well was the shoe on top of the PIXIO:


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Well, sort of. There's a basic problem with the Arca-Swiss mountings. Some have indents at each end, like in the image above, and the matching plates have screws that engage in these indents:


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That means that once they're in place, they can't just slide out. But there are two basic problems: first, not all shoes have this indent:


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And the other is that you have to insert the plate from above to get the far side screw over the middle of the shoe. So I've removed the screws (something that has clearly been intended) on one side from some of the plates, like the one on the camera above.

Another problem, particularly with the new plates, is the wire grip round the attaching screw:


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It's handy for tightening the screw when no tools are available, but it has a number of disadvantages: firstly, it's really difficult to get the thing tight enough, secondly it tends to hang down and make it more difficult to put the plate into the shoe. And on this particular plate it fouls the side of the plate if its folded down. So I've removed them.


Honey?
Topic: animals, food and drink, gardening, general, opinion Link here

Petra Gietz along today with a small pot of honey, and asked us to try it out. I don't know when I last tasted pure honey, but definitely not in the past year or two, possibly not in this millennium. It tasted alright. Yvonne told me that it tasted excellent.

And the reason for the tasting? That's part of the 15 kg of honey that Sean, a friend, collected from the hives he had put on her property—all in the last month! Petra gets 10%, still 1.5 kg and far more than she can use.

Sean is looking for new sites for his hives. The idea of bees sounds good to me, not just for the honey. But to my surprise, Yvonne resisted violently when Petra first told us of the idea: she's terrified of bees. Still, she's coming around, and I've promised to get Sean to remove them if the bees become a nuisance. But after all, we already have bees round here, and they haven't upset Yvonne yet.

On the way back from Napoleons dropped in to Petra's place and took a look:


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That's just after when the honey was taken, when they were understandably irritated, but it seems that that's about as much as you see of the bees.


Recognizing towns
Topic: general, opinion Link here

In most countries cities and towns are marked by a town sign on entry and maybe on exit. Here's a typical case from Germany:

Branchenbuch für Frankfurt am Main auf onlinestreet.de Branchenbuch für Frankfurt am Main auf onlinestreet.de

In Austria, of course, things are different, though the signs are equally recognizable. I found this one near the border with Germany and the Czech Republic fifteen years ago. The village is called „Dorf“ (“village”).


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There are good reasons for easily recognizable signs: apart from helping you know where you are, they can also have legal implications. In Germany when you pass a town sign, the speed limit automatically drops to 60 km/h, and when you leave (on normal roads) it goes back to 100 km/h.

And in Australia? Every shire council seems to have somebody to design a sign that is more artistic than informative. Here's what they (still) have in Napoleons:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200110/big/Napoleons-town-sign-2.jpeg
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At normal distances it's barely readable, and then you have to decode it. But never mind, in the next shire it'll be different, and soon it'll be different in the Golden Plains Shire as well. Here's what they have in Enfield, just down the road and in the same shire:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200110/big/Enfield-town-sign-1.jpeg
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Is that more readable? Yes, the name is, but how do you know that it's a town sign? And to read the name of the shire you really need to get out of the car and go up close.

Never mind, help is at hand. The example for Frankfurt am Main was from https://onlinestreet.de/strassen/ortsschild, where you can create your own sign, like this:

http://www.lemis.com/grog/Day/20200110/Napoleons.Golden+Plains+Shire.png http://www.lemis.com/grog/Day/20200110/Napoleons.Golden+Plains+Shire.ortsausgang.png


E-M5 Mark III configuration
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

The camera is very similar to the OM-D E-M1 and OM-D E-M1 Mark II that I already have, so there's not much in the way of surprises. First thing, of course: the settings. Through the menus and set the following:


A new camera for Yvonne
Topic: photography, general, opinion Link here

Yvonne didn't know that the camera was on its way, and I did most of the setup, and also the playing around with the Arca-Swiss hardware, before I told her anything about it. I even put the new camera in her camera bag, upside down, and showed her the attached plate and that it didn't foul the battery compartment:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200111/big/ARCA-Swiss-2.jpeg
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And she didn't notice that it was a different camera! Another successful surprise. She didn't notice until I asked her to mount the PIXIO “Robot Cameraman” stuff. But at least she was pleased, more so than I recall when she got the E-PM2 six years ago.


E-M5 Mark III: First impressions
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

The new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III has one thing in common with almost all the previous 9 Olympus models that I have received (including Chris Bahlo's OM-D E-M10 Mark II). I had never seen one before. The only exception was my second E-30. But based on the E-M10 I had a fairly good expectation, and it was largely fulfilled.

On the positive side, it's nice and small. I still feel that the E-M1s are too big, something with which many people disagree. But I have to admit that the lump on the front right of the E-M1s is good when using big lenses.

Minor nits are:

Doubtless there's more, but on the whole it's just what I expected.


DxO: Sting in the tail
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

So Yvonne took a couple of really forgettable photos with her new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III:


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Put them into DxO PhotoLab, and what do we see?

This image cannot be processed since its EXIF data cannot be read or is corrupted.

Huh? What went wrong there? Checked the Exif data: nothing wrong, as expected. More DxO Exif processing breakage? I've seen plenty in the past. Does it do that with JPEG images as well? No, there it just says that the camera isn't supported.

Ah, but it is. You just need to upgrade to PhotoLab 3, which also requires upgrading to Microsoft “Windows” 10, which requires upgrading eureka to support the latest version of Samba (or at least a more recent one)—a can of worms that will also cost me $69. Thank you, DxO.

But what if we tell DxO that the camera is an OM-D E-M1 Mark II?

exiftool -overwrite_original_in_place -model="E-M1MarkII" orig/61100001.ORF

Sure enough, that did the trick. Suddenly DxO can handle it, and of course the lens corrections work. Sent off a ticket to DxO, but I have little hope that they will fix it.


The daily email problem
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Mail from Yvonne in the course of the day:

   ----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----
<gabi.reichelt@reicheltconsult.de>
    (reason: 550-Sender verification is required but failed. (ID:550:0:5)

Huh? What does that mean? How I wish that MUAs would report problems correctly. Further investigation showed that lagoon is still running sendmail, and that it's delivering directly. Given prior experience, I'm surprised that she hasn't run into trouble earlier.

OK, what to do? I don't want to go through the whole postfix setup again. How do you set a relay host in sendmail? Simple:

--- sendmail.cf 2019/11/01 04:32:27 1.1
+++ sendmail.cf 2020/01/09 22:55:33
@@ -108,7 +108,7 @@
 # "Smart" relay host (may be null)
-DS
+DSmx1

And that worked. Given the pain I've had with postfix recently, it's like a breath of fresh air.

But it didn't help. Yes, the mail went via mx1, but it still bounced:

Jan 10 00:10:44 lax postfix/qmgr[73643]: E84C9281B5: from=<grog@lagoon.lemis.com>, size=12655, nrcpt=1 (queue active)
Jan 10 00:10:56 lax postfix/smtp[16905]: E84C9281B5: to=<gabi.reichelt@reicheltconsult.de>, relay=mx0.reicheltconsult.de[80.237.138.5]:25, delay=13, delays=0.45/0.01/1.8/10, dsn=5.0.0, status=bounced (host mx0.reicheltconsult.de[80.237.138.5] said: 550-Sender verification is required but failed. (ID:550:0:5 550 (mi031.mc1.hosteurope.de)): grog@lagoon.lemis.com (in reply to MAIL FROM command))

What's going on there? Mail from eureka works. What's special about lagoon?


Saturday, 11 January 2020 Dereel Images for 11 January 2020
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Fixing email bounces
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So far I've established that reichertconsult.de accepts mail from eureka.lemis.com, but not from lagoon.lemis.com. Why? Looking at the headers, messages from eureka or teevee have:

From: groggyhimself@lemis.com

And messages from lagoon have:

From: groggyhimself@lagoon.lemis.com

Why? And should that make a difference? It's ugly, so let's get rid of it. Looking through sendmail.cf no longer looked as easy, so back to the source of all wisdom, “The Complete FreeBSD” (in this case, third edition, since after that I switched to postfix). There I read:

By default, sendmail accepts mail sent to the local system only, and in the headers it sends out, it shows the name of the local system. This can be a problem if your local system is, say, presto.example.org, and it doesn't run an incoming mail server. Mail replies won't get back. As we discussed above, you typically need to tell sendmail to masquerade as example.org, the domain name. In /etc/mail/sendmail.cf, find the following line in find the line beginning with DM and add the masquerade name:
# who I masquerade as (null for no masquerading) (see also $=M)
DMexample.org

One of the nice things about CFBSD is that I wrote it to solve problems that I had encountered. But this was the Third Edition, and the chapter was last updated on 17 May 1999. Searching sendmail.cf showed no DM setting. I put one in anyway, and it ignored it.

Dammit, not such a breath of fresh air after all! Stop sendmail, discover that postfix was also running (how can that work?). There the setting is:

# The myorigin parameter specifies the domain that locally-posted
# mail appears to come from. The default is to append $myhostname,
# which is fine for small sites.  If you run a domain with multiple
# machines, you should (1) change this to $mydomain and (2) set up
# a domain-wide alias database that aliases each user to
# user@that.users.mailhost.
#
# For the sake of consistency between sender and recipient addresses,
# myorigin also specifies the default domain name that is appended
# to recipient addresses that have no @domain part.
#
# myorigin = $myhostname
# myorigin = $mydomain

That makes perfect sense. But on all systems myorigin wasn't defined. OK, set it. No difference! I could put anything I liked in there and it would still send mail from lagoon.lemis.com. Tried it on teevee. All worked as expected. Tried teevee's main.cf. Broke:

Jan 11 12:51:22 lagoon sendmail[24602]: 00C1pMNB024602: from=grog, size=30, class=0, nrcpts=1, msgid=<202001120151.00C1pMNB024602@lagoon.lemis.com>, relay=groggyhimself@localhost
Jan 11 12:51:22 lagoon postfix/smtpd[24603]: connect from localhost[127.0.0.1]
Jan 11 12:51:23 lagoon postfix/smtpd[24603]: NOQUEUE: reject: RCPT from localhost[127.0.0.1]: 451 4.3.5 <groggyhimself@lagoon.lemis.com>: Recipient address rejected: Server configuration problem; from=<groggyhimself@lagoon.lemis.com> to=<groggyhimself@lagoon.lemis.com> proto=ESMTP helo=<lagoon.lemis.com>
Jan 11 12:51:23 lagoon sendmail[24602]: 00C1pMNB024602: to=grog, ctladdr=grog (1004/1000), delay=00:00:01, xdelay=00:00:01, mailer=relay, pri=30030, relay=[127.0.0.1] [127.0.0.1], dsn=4.3.5, stat=Deferred: 451 4.3.5 <groggyhimself@lagoon.lemis.com>: Recipient address rejected: Server configuration problem
Jan 11 12:51:23 lagoon postfix/smtpd[24603]: disconnect from localhost[127.0.0.1] ehlo=1 mail=1 rcpt=0/1 data=0/1 rset=1 quit=1 commands=4/6

What configuration problem? It doesn't say. There's no reference to teevee in the file, and it works fine on teevee. More to the point, though, it's still appending @lagoon.lemis.com to the whole thing. It's beginning to look like this is external to postfix, potentially related to the fact that the system somehow was also running sendmail.

Why is email so hard lately?


Curry pierogi again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Curry pierogi for dinner again today, the first time in 18 months:


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Followed the recipe and put in 50 g of curry paste, but it was far too little. Increased to 100 g, which was barely enough. I was using “Ayam” rendang paste (clearly not for chicken). I would have thought that that would be plenty, but next time we could even consider 150 g.


Sunday, 12 January 2020 Dereel Images for 12 January 2020
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Video with the E-M5 Mark III
Topic: photography, multimedia, opinion Link here

One of the reasons that I bought the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III was for better autofocus, particularly when taking video. Today I did some samples with the E-PM2 and the E-M5 Mark III. The results seem to confirm that the E-M5 Mark III is much better:

p1cgrlb38nQ

ECiC2NnEJQU

But that's only part of the picture. So far I haven't found a way to display the focus points on videos, but in each case the cameras badly lost the plot, with the “focus point” wandering off to the corners of the image. That's without the normal issue of somebody standing in the middle and obscuring the rider, and in the case of the E-M5 Mark III it's particularly disappointing because I had told it to concentrate on the centre. This should really be the simplest scenario.

That's not directly an issue with the E-M5 Mark III: all Olympus cameras seem to do this. I was just hoping that things would gradually get better, but I'm in for a longer wait, it seems.

In passing, it's interesting that the 1080p60 clips from the E-M5 Mark III are slightly smaller than the 1080p30 clips from the E-PM2. I must have selected a lower image quality, but looking at them (without YouTube compression) doesn't show any obvious image quality issues.

The other thing that I was expecting was the stability of the image. Last week I took this clip hand-held with the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, and I was pleasantly impressed by the stability.

M8rubxF57V4

I was expecting the same of the E-M5 Mark III, and I got it. But I got it from the E-PM2 as well! Clearly this isn't the issue that I thought it was.


Showing flower colours
Topic: photography, gardening, opinion Link here

This wildflower is blooming all round Bliss Road and Harrisons Road:


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What flowers? It's just a green bush! Well, no:


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The issue is that you can't see it in the first image. Why not? They're very obvious to the naked eye: they jump out at you. It must have something to do with the size of the flowers on the screen. But even when I expand it to natural size, the colours aren't obvious.


Monday, 13 January 2020 Dereel Images for 13 January 2020
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Air conditioner: 22 days and counting
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Our air conditioner still hasn't been repaired. Called up Nathan and he told me that the part should be arriving today, and that they're planning to go to Colac tomorrow, so they'd drop in on the way. And sure enough, in the evening I received an SMS (apparently without attempt to call me) to say that they had the part and would be round tomorrow at 8:30 to install it. Why do I get the feeling that it has been there for a while and they just haven't been able to put the installation into their schedule?


Elysian: answer, please!
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

I've now sent two letters to Elysian Energy about their contract, and had no response. Why do they encourage use of email if they don't want to respond? Sent another, more strongly worded message today, setting a deadline of this weekend, and at least got confirmation that it had been forwarded to the correct department. Still, it's convenient to hold on to log messages:

Jan 13 05:01:57 lax postfix/qmgr[73643]: 5C11A27F7C: from=<groggyhimself@lemis.com>, size=4933, nrcpt=1 (queue active)
Jan 13 05:02:01 lax postfix/smtp[88225]: 5C11A27F7C: to=<service@elysianenergy.com.au>, relay=elysianenergy-com-au.mail.protection.outlook.com[104.47.117.36]:25, delay=4.1, delays=0.52/0/0.63/2.9, dsn=2.6.0, status=sent (250 2.6.0 <20200113050156.GA20341@eureka.lemis.com> [InternalId=31967441584495, Hostname=MEAPR01MB2535.ausprd01.prod.outlook.com] 13375 bytes in 0.139, 93.853 KB/sec Queued mail for delivery)

I don't like that domain name outlook.com.


Quick release camera straps
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Yvonne's new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III came with a typical camera strap, the kind that takes 5 to 10 minutes to attach. Clearly not a real option if you don't want it on all the time, and it's a real pain on a tripod when you need to rotate it, like with panoramas or the PIXIO “Robot Cameraman”. But what do people use? For the past four years I've been using this kind of hook, taken from a label lanyard:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20160205/big/Hook-4.jpeg
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But like all such hooks, it seems, they're too big, and they scratch the camera body:


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Surely there's an alternative, but searching camera catalogues and eBay didn't help much. Asked on the Facebook M43 Tech Talk group and got a few suggestions, none quite what I was looking for: they leave a tail hanging off either side of the camera, and while that tail is relatively easy to remove and replace, it makes things slower. And some are ridiculously expensive, round $40. But it looks as if I'll have to try some.


Tuesday, 14 January 2020 Dereel Images for 14 January 2020
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More grid power failures
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Multiple short grid power failures this morning between 00:42:32 and 00:45:02. How should I count them? The inverter noted 5 separate failures with durations between 1 second and 44 seconds. It's probably easier just to consider them as one failure with duration 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

Later in the morning, the office UPS cut in. Out to check the switchboard: yes, the non-UPS RCD had tripped. It took two attempts to persuade it to stay on again.

That's enough. Finally got round to calling Nat McKay, one of the electricians whom Steve White recommended, and asked him to do the outstanding electrical work. He's clearly of a very different kind from Steve, whom I had been trying to get to come for a year or so: he'll be along tomorrow morning to take a look.


Air conditioning: fixed!
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Nathan and Tim along this morning at 8:30, as promised, and installed the new CPU board for the air conditioner. Was that all that was wrong? Yes! It works again, after 23 days without an air conditioner! About the most surprising thing was that the display on the board was blue, not red:


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It's amazing how difficult these displays are to read.

Why did the techies always come in pairs? I had suspected that there was some work regulation, but no, Tim is an (apparently very capable) apprentice, so it was part of his training.

While here, Nathan took a look at the Levante LEV18 air conditioner. 5.5 kW, you say? That should be enough to cool this room. A far cry from my measurements, where the best it managed was to briefly drop the temperature from 31.8° to 28.9° 2.7 m directly in front of the unit. That's wrong, he said, and measured the outgoing air temperature: 12°, as I had already measured. It shouldn't be above 6°.

OK, that's comforting to know that an expert agrees with me. What's the alternative? A “split system” would cost over $3000 to install, he says. Is that worth it? I don't want to go another 3 weeks in the middle of the summer without cooling, and the installation needs to already be in place when it happens.


Wednesday, 15 January 2020 Dereel Images for 15 January 2020
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More electrical fun
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Nat McKay along this morning to take a look at the electrics. Yes, all can be done, probably in about 2 weeks' time.

And not a minute too soon. The RCD tripped again today, not once, but twice. On the second occasion I couldn't get it back on again. Moved eureka and its UPS from that circuit to another. Still didn't work. Finally disconnected the pump in front of the house, and I was able to set it again. Was the pump the reason? It would make sense, but a lot of these things are sensitive to the phase of the moon, so I'll check again tomorrow.


The down side of air conditioning
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

So now the air conditioner is working again, and life is comfortable. But the difference in power consumption is clear. Here the last week:

 
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The last two days show the clear use of the air conditioner.


Elysian replies
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Sent off a fourth reminder to Elysian Energy today, reminding them of the impending deadline, rejecting their broken contract, and specifying my understanding of the situation, to which I will consider them bound if they don't respond:

I reject your written contract and expect you to abide by the telephonic agreement, which is echoed on your web site at https://elysianenergy.com.au/electricity-plans/:

If you supply me power without any further communication, I will consider myself and you to be obliged under these conditions.

To their credit, they did reply this time. They're apparently reviewing the telephone records, as if that would bring any surprises, but they did describe what a “controlled load” is, apparently without noting that it should be described in the contract. And apart from this impenetrable statement, that was all:

Further to the below for the compare website to generate a quote and compare your rates a supply charge is generated.

I suppose I'm going to have to wait for their reply, if there is one.


Mouse issues
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've had difficulties with computer mice literally for decades. As described a couple of years ago, there are issues with spurious key press events when changing X screens. In the case of the Logitech M705 MARATHON mouse, these frequently result in texts being pasted in unrelated windows. The most embarrassing cases are when I publish sensitive information, like in April 2001, when I accidentally published the password to the FreeBSD-announce mailing list.

But it hasn't stopped. I suspect that it's the mouse driver, but I failed completely to make sense of the code—maybe a reason that the bug has lived so long.

Today, though, I had had enough, and went back to one of the old Jenkins mice that had been waiting for me under screen :0.3. Yes, for the moment things look better.


Another grid power failure
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Somehow Powercor must have felt left out of all the electrical stuff today, so there was another one second grid power failure at 19:39:39.


Thursday, 16 January 2020 Dereel Images for 16 January 2020
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Davey visits again
Topic: animals Link here

Kim Stanley is back at work (and she can touch her toes, something that I've never been able to do), so she brought her dog Davey along to spend the day today. I can see this becoming a frequent occurrence.


Old fogey works around mouse problems
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday I switched mice because of issues when changing screens. Things changed, but they're not fixed. The Jenkins mouse doesn't divulge passwords, but it does frequently select large parts of a window when deiconfiying it. Does this relate to multiple screens? I don't know. At some point I suspect the mouse driver; potentially the mice are noisy (part of being wireless?), and the driver should only accept a “key press” if it stays for more than a minimum period of time (milliseconds?). Maybe I should have another look at that mouse driver.

The feedback on IRC was interesting: I must be the last person using such old-fashioned software, X with multiple screens, let alone networking (something that I use a lot). It's insecure. What, inside your own local network?

Does the bug even have to do with multiple screens? Who knows? But why should multiple screens be old-fashioned? Maybe because there are bugs in the implementation, and the easy way out is to “deprecate” (“to pray for deliverance from”) the feature? That way stupidity lies.

Callum Gibson even pointed me to The real story behind Wayland and X , a video which I haven't looked at yet (45 minutes long). It's by Daniel Stone, apparently an X developer, though I've never heard of him. At the text states:

The X Window System has served UNIX and its derivatives admirably for longer than the presenter has been alive.

The description text doesn't mention multiple screens, though it does state “if you said that X's network transparency is a benefit, please come see this to hear about how that's totally wrong”. I should look at it, of course, if only to understand what constraints gave rise to that claim, but it's not clear that it has much bearing on the present issue.

More generally, I'm used to people telling me that my attitudes are old-fashioned. Sometimes they're even correct, but it seems to me that they're often just finding a convenient excuse for not having to think about my reasoning. Mobile phones, for example. I still can't find the messages that appear on my phone when the display is off. Since Android 9.0 they're at least legible if you see them before they disappear. But they're so brief that I can't even pull my phone out of my shirt pocket before they're gone, never to be seen again. That's progress?

In fact, I'm not an opponent of mobile phones. I got my first phone 30 years ago, before anybody else I knew had one. My issues are more specific, like the problem with the ephemeral messages or interpretation of screens like this:

 
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The content of the message is clear. But which is the one that I just received? When did I even receive the others? Which way round is it sorted?

Aah, an Android user knows instinctively. 10:00 means that it was received at 10:00, just like Saturday, 1 Jun. means... what? Checking with cal confirms that it was, indeed, Saturday 1 June 2019. And Monday, 29 Jul. means Monday, 29 July 2019, so the sort order is (surprisingly) chronological.

But why do they truncate? Why do they omit the year? Why do they omit the date today? Why is it impossible to get a basic Android display that shows seconds? In each case, there's plenty of space. Even the header on the page, showing the time to be 10:02, is too polite to show a date, so I only have the file name of the screenshot (Screenshot_20200114-100202.png) to tell me the date (and, as it turns out, the seconds). That stupidity is what annoys me. Does that make me old-fashioned?


Another grid power failure
Topic: Stones Road house, general, technology, opinion Link here

Another grid power failure today, probably 1 second at 10:27:04. For some reason my system didn't update the database from 10:25:14 until 10:27:58:

mysql> select * from powerstats where tstamp > "2020-01-16 10:25:12" limit 10;
+---------------------+-----------------+------+----------+--------+----------------------+------+------+---------+--------+-------+--------+-------------------+------+------+------+
| tstamp              | Id              | Pac  | SetPoint | Alarms | Status               | SOC  | VBat | PacGrid | PacBat | PacPV | FromPV | Codes             | W1   | W2   | W3   |
+---------------------+-----------------+------+----------+--------+----------------------+------+------+---------+--------+-------+--------+-------------------+------+------+------+
| 2020-01-16 10:25:13 | 127.0.0.1:502:1 | 1003 |        0 |      0 | On-grid              |   73 |  267 |       0 |    185 |   818 | 0      |                   |   -1 |    0 |    0 |
| 2020-01-16 10:25:14 | 127.0.0.1:502:1 |  975 |        0 |      0 | On-grid              |   73 |  267 |       0 |    134 |   859 | 0      |                   |  -15 |    0 |    0 |
| 2020-01-16 10:27:58 | 127.0.0.1:502:1 |  871 |        0 |      0 | Waiting to connect t |   73 |  268 |       0 |     77 |   813 | 0      | 00-00 00-00 00-10 |    0 |    0 |    0 |
| 2020-01-16 10:27:59 | 127.0.0.1:502:1 |  888 |        0 |      0 | Waiting to connect t |   73 |  268 |       0 |     72 |   816 | 0      |                   |    0 |    0 |    0 |
| 2020-01-16 10:28:01 | 127.0.0.1:502:1 |  897 |        0 |      0 | Waiting to connect t |   73 |  268 |       0 |     74 |   803 | 0      | 00-00 00-00 00-10 |    0 |    0 |    0 |
| 2020-01-16 10:28:02 | 127.0.0.1:502:1 |  896 |        0 |      0 | Waiting to connect t |   73 |  268 |       0 |     79 |   817 | 0      | 00-00 00-00 00-10 |    0 |    0 |    0 |
| 2020-01-16 10:28:03 | 127.0.0.1:502:1 |  884 |        0 |      0 | Waiting to connect t |   73 |  268 |       0 |     65 |   819 | 0      | 00-00 00-00 00-10 |    0 |    0 |    0 |
| 2020-01-16 10:28:04 | 127.0.0.1:502:1 |   23 |        0 |      0 | On-grid              |   73 |  267 |       0 |   -828 |   851 | 0      | 00-00 00-00 00-10 |  896 |    0 |    0 |
| 2020-01-16 10:28:05 | 127.0.0.1:502:1 |   34 |        0 |      0 | On-grid              |   73 |  267 |       0 |   -823 |   857 | 0      | 00-00 00-00 00-10 |  895 |    0 |    0 |
| 2020-01-16 10:28:06 | 127.0.0.1:502:1 |   45 |        0 |      0 | On-grid              |   73 |  267 |       0 |   -806 |   851 | 0      | 00-00 00-00 00-10 |  859 |    0 |    0 |
+---------------------+-----------------+------+----------+--------+----------------------+------+------+---------+--------+-------+--------+-------------------+------+------+------+
10 rows in set (0.00 sec)

I can't see that that's related to the grid outage.


Controlling the air conditioner
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

The last few days have shown how much power the air conditioner uses. This concerned me since before we installed the photovoltaic system, and I'm still not happy. On the one hand, it makes perfect sense to power the air conditioner from the PV system: under many circumstances the highest power usage corresponds with the highest generation from the PV array. But what happens if the grid power fails in the middle of the night, where the battery charge is also the lowest, and the air conditioner turns on? It drains the battery, and everything turns off.

There's an obvious solution to the issue: make PV power to the air conditioner dependent on availability of the grid. A simple relay would do it. A refinement would be to override the relay: under normal circumstances a grid power failure would remove power to the air conditioner. That covers the middle-of-the-night scenario. But for the hot, sunny summer's day scenario, it would be nice to override it. Are there no such things available? Yes, says Nat McKay. Today he called me and asked what kind of extension power board I would choose for the 5 slot wide relay.

What? Surely you don't need anything that big. We have 2 slots free, and we're gaining another 4 slots by removing the global RCDs. Off to look, hampered by lack of knowledge of the terminology, but came up with at least a “Finder DPNC Non-Latching Relay DIN Rail, 240V ac Coil, 25 A”, part number 22.32.0.230.4420, which is rated for 230 V AC. Unfortunately the 25 A is correct. I need a 32 A switch, and the next size, which handles 40 A, has four switch contacts. But the 22.32.0.230.4420 has two contacts, presumably intended for different circuits. If we wire them in parallel, that should give a 50 A rating, more than enough. It looks as if we'll have to keep the circuit breaker anyway, since it doesn't offer that function. Time to talk to Nat? Or look further?


Smoke haze eases
Topic: general Link here

The weather has changed again, and the air has cleared up. Here yesterday and today:


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Friday, 17 January 2020 Dereel
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Garden work
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Mick Solly, the gardener, along again this morning. On the positive side he significantly removed many weeds, and the place looks the better for it. On the negative side he sprayed the arena and the front of the house with weed spray, draining the battery of the sprayer until it was completely discharged—and then left the thing turned on. By the time I found it and put it on charge, it showed a voltage of 2.6 V, and no longer charged. That's the second dead weed sprayer in a little over 2 years. Clearly Mick isn't the bloke to spray weeds, but I never found time. Yvonne has offered to do so, as long as the thing weighs less. That might be the best choice.


Understanding Wayland
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

As planned, took a look at The real story behind Wayland and X , a video presented by Daniel Stone at linux.conf.au in Canberra in 2013. It was quite a disappointment. There was no description of functionality differences at all. Does Wayland support multiple screens? My guess is yes, but it's just a guess. Does Wayland support networking? Hard to say. The talk was somewhat rambling, and it pointed at known weaknesses in the X implementation, but it somewhat overstated the case. They were trying to get Wayland to the performance level of VNC. But VNC has terrible graphics performance, way behind X.

More to the point, the video is 7 years old. Why haven't we heard more?


Saturday, 18 January 2020 Dereel Images for 18 January 2020
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Migrating DNS to new server
Topic: technology Link here

There's not very much left on oldwww.lemis.com. I really should migrate the remainder before the end of the month. The big one is DNS, and in principle that's relatively simple.

Or is it? The configuration files have now completed their wandering through the directory hierarchy, it seems, from /etc/namedb/ via /var/named/etc/namedb to /usr/local/etc/namedb, and of course sample configuration files have been installed in /usr/local/etc/namedb. They're probably needed, as I noted when I checked named.conf:

; DNS resource files for lemis.com
; Greg Lehey, LEMIS, 21 January 1995
; $Id: diary-jan2020.php,v 1.38 2020/02/17 02:09:48 grog Exp $

Is that date correct? I first registered lemis.com on 18 January 1997, and the first revision of the zone file is dated some time in 2002; before that I didn't keep it under revision control. But it almost seems that I got the year wrong in the header. Still, it makes a nice story, and clearly I should have waited a couple of days to be able to celebrate the 25th anniversary. And equally clearly it makes sense to go through the whole file and check what dead wood there is there. What I found was:

Apart from that I removed old CNAMEs and some other stuff. I have long forgotten what this was all about, but blame helps:

1.2   (grog 12-May-03): microsoft    IN CNAME        panic           ; horrible kludge for forwarding mail
1.39  (grog 20-Mar-05): firefly      IN CNAME        mojave

About the most obvious thing is that I have a long-standing tradition of disparaging names for Microsoft machines.

Similar considerations applied to db.narrawin.com, which is much smaller. And named.conf? Things have changed there, and I started looking at the sample file provided, but my eyes went funny. In the end, I just tidied up the old one:

Then there's www.lyrebirdtruffles.com.au, which is run via an external name server which I can't access. Chris Bahlo will have to do that, and by chance (nowadays it's only by chance) she was here for dinner this evening, so she'll get to it.

Startup was relatively smooth. I had the permissions set wrongly (owned by root), and I forgot a file, but after fixing that and Andy's forwarders, all was well. But sometimes I wonder about the messages that named outputs:

Jan 18 06:49:31 lax named[50419]: zone 0.0.127.in-addr.arpa/IN: loading from master file localhost.reverse failed: file not found
Jan 18 06:49:31 lax named[50419]: zone 0.0.127.in-addr.arpa/IN: not loaded due to errors.
Jan 18 06:49:31 lax named[50419]: all zones loaded
Jan 18 06:49:31 lax named[50419]: running

Are we done? No. This server is running in isolation, and it's not visible anywhere else. When I'm happy, I'll copy the files to eureka, and then they will propagate elsewhere. And then I'll need to update the glue records. Anything else?


Sunday, 19 January 2020 Dereel Images for 19 January 2020
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PIXIO pain
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Yvonne has had both her PIXIO “Robot Cameraman” and her new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III for a while now, but for some reason she has never used them together.

Today was the day. Put things on the tripod, turn PIXIO on... nothing! The LEDs didn't even go on.

This is ridiculous. It's bad enough when a device has such flaky charging electronics that it starts to discharge as soon as you disconnect the charger, and you have to stop it discharging by turning it on and then off again. But I did all that rigmarole, and it still discharged in a week or two. Apprehensive of dead batteries, connected it up to the charger again, but my fears were unfounded.

So: it's clear that this charging issue is a serious bug. But does power cycling stop it from discharging, or just slow it down?


Elysian Energy: complaint
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

As I feared, Elysian Energy did not respond to my formal complaint by the deadline of the end of last week. Time for the threatened complaint.

To whom do I complain? The obvious thing would be to look on the Victorian Energy Compare site, but there was nothing obvious. OK, search for “Victoria Energy Complaints”, which took me to an organization with the obvious name EWOV, which proves to be an acronym for “Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria”. They have a complaint form that makes assumptions about things you might want to say, including how you found them (“web search” is not an answer) and the names of the companies. Couldn't find Elysian there. But I couldn't find any electricity supplier there. Ah, only members. Who's a member? All of them. Just not in the list on their web site. OK, select Powercor, who, in this instance anyway, is innocent and not in a position to cause contractual issues. Finally got round to putting in my complaint:

(What is your complaint?)

The complaint is against Elysian Energy, a member of your scheme, but your web system does not allow me to choose them.

I am trying to sign up with Elysian, but they sent me a contract that does not match what I was told on the phone. I have now contacted them 4 times over the last 10 days, asking them to correct the contract, but they have not done so, though I have had a couple of responses saying "we're looking at it".

(What outcome would you like?)

Send me a contract that matches what I was told when signing up.


Hainan chicken rice again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I've been meaning to cook Hainan chicken rice for some time now, but then I looked at the recipe and discovered that it needed pandan leaf, something that I had forgotten. And we were out of pandan leaf.

OK, fixed that. It's not easy to find, but by chance it seems that Fruit Shack in Howitt St has it. Bought a chicken, and away. But somehow the recipe didn't seem right. Did I really ever make it like this? Neither Wendy Hutton's “Singapore Food” nor Grant Creative Cuisine mention pandan.

Yes, it seems, over 5 years ago, and the pandan came from a third recipe, though since then I've seen it in many other places.

Went according last time's recipe: 2 hours or so at 65°, then legs and wings another hour at 80°. The results were not spectacular, and I get the feeling that 65° is too cool. The breast (sliced off the body) was OK, but a few hours later the remainder looked like this:


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Yes, it's probably edible, but it happened to such an extent that I put it in the freezer to ensure that it didn't go bad. If I make this dish again (and based on today's results, that's a big if), I think I'll do it at 70° rather than 65°.


Monday, 20 January 2020 Dereel Images for 20 January 2020
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More E-M5 Mark III experience
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Gradually Yvonne has been using her Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III more, but today she asked me to take some photos for her.

That was probably worthwhile. Once again I found things to change: this “Rec View”, a silly term describing the time to display the previous image on the LCD after taking it. The idea is good for people still in the analogue mindset: show the image so that you can evaluate it. When taking multiple shots, it gets in the way of the viewfinder. We've already seen this with Chris Bahlo's camera 2 years ago. Die!

But this thing also does “Wi-Fi”, right? No, it doesn't. None of them do networking, only a point-to-point link to a mobile telephone. I've tried the Olympus OI.Share app on my E-M1s, and I never cease to be amazed by how bad it is. The only thing that it's useful for is setting the time on the camera clock.

OK, let's see how it works on the E-M5 Mark III. How do you turn it on? On the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II there's a clear Wi-Fi symbol at top left of the viewfinder:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200121/big/Olympus-E-M1-II-4.jpeg
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And on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III? Not there. Does the thing have network link connectivity, or did I misunderstand? Through the instruction manual. “WiFi” not found. Fool! It's “Wi-Fi”. And selecting it is simple:


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What's http://www.lemis.com/grog/Photos/20200120/big/Oly-instructions-2.png ? Where is it? It's certainly not on the menu screen (“Super Control Panel”), which is considerably simpler than on the E-M1 Mark II:


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Another mystery for me to chase up.

OK, select from a deep menu, scan the QR code and see:

 
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Why? There can only be one? I already had two cameras “registered” (in other words, OI.Share knows the serial number and password), but it seems that the E-M1 is gone, possibly after the last Android update. OK, humour it and “Register” it:


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What does that mean? Apart from the syntax error, what “built-in Wi-Fi camera”? OK, Start Setup and watch it connect via Bluetooth rather than Wi-Fi. And yes, I was able to take a perfectly useless photo of the kind that I always seem to end up with with OI.Share:

Oh. No photo. I'm sure it's there, but none of the “tools” supplied by Android can help me find it. Mañana.

OK, it works, and it set the time correctly, about the only thing that it appears to be good for. But what about my E-M1 Mark II, the one that I had to “remove"? Does it still know about it? Apparently not. I had to go through this silly QR code scan again, another couple of minutes. OK, let's look at the photos on the camera:

 
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Huh? Ah, we don't look at no steenking Olympus raw images. There are no “JPG" images on the card. So: tough luck.

Do people really use this junk? Why?


Tuesday, 21 January 2020 Dereel → Enfield → Dereel Images for 21 January 2020
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Another grid power failure
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Another one-second grid power failure this morning at 2:57:33.


Inspecting beehives
Topic: animals, food and drink, general Link here

Last week Petra Gietz volunteered me to watch Sean Coleman check the beehives that he had put on her property, and which I had photographed earlier in the month. I'm not sure why, but it sounded like an interesting idea, so over there this afternoon to take a look.


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Sean was very good at describing exactly what he was doing, what he was seeing, and why. I took lots of photos, not helped by the protective clothing. Here are some that seem to capture things best:


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Looking down at the hive entrance. Don't stand in their way: they don't like it.


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This is the barrier between the bottom half of the hive and the top. Both halves seem to collect honey, but the queen needs to be kept in the bottom half. The grille on the left of the second photo does that: it seems to be coarse enough to allow worker bees through, but not enough to allow the queen through.


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Here's a board pretty much full of honey. It must weigh about 1.5 kg, much more than an empty one (of which I didn't take a useful photo).


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And this in the middle, apparently, is a freshly hatched bee, probably from this morning. I have difficulty telling them apart. The grey area at the left is Sean's glove pointing at it.

The background to this whole thing was that we're thinking of letting him put a couple of hives on our property. That won't involve us in any work, just giving him access to the hives, and we get 10% of the yield. This year this looks like being a bumper harvest; our cut, even at this late stage, could be 2 kg. But it seems that the seasons are very varied, and of course it depends on what the bees find. First thing is to convince Yvonne.


Wednesday, 22 January 2020 Dereel Images for 22 January 2020
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Electricity suppliers: all cowboys?
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Call on the phone this morning asking about my transfer of electricity supply contract to Elysian Energy. Finally a sign of life! But no, it was Abby of Red Energy, who speaks with an Indian accent and spells his name Abhi, a name that I thought was pronounced completely differently.

Why do you want to leave us? You've been with us since 2007. Don't you like our prices? We've written an offer on your last three bills. Just call us up and we'll reconsider.

Why should I call them up? If they have better prices, why don't they tell me about them? Ah, you just need to call us up.

After a couple of iterations of this, he finally came up with a different “plan”. In principle just 20% cheaper, no other details. And as a special “thank you” he would take $50 off the last bill and apply the rates retroactively. In addition he would take note of my concession card and attempt to have that applied retroactively as well. Why wasn't my concession card on record? Oh, it was, but just for Kleins Road. When we moved here it wasn't carried over.

All that would still come in more expensive than Elysian (about 24.4¢ per kWh compared to 20.24¢), but he suggested that Elysian's prices wouldn't last long. He could be right at that: my experience two weeks ago suggests that people change the offers frequently and substantially. Given the trouble that I have already had with Elysian already (still no reply to my messages), I decided to stay with them. Abhi says that he will contact them and confirm cancellation of the agreement, but to be on the safe side, I also sent off a message to that effect, asking for confirmation of receipt. I have that, of course, just not from them:

Jan 22 04:44:10 lax postfix/smtp[42203]: CAF7028151: to=<service@elysianenergy.com.au>, relay=elysianenergy-com-au.mail.protection.outlook.com[104.47.116.36]:25, delay=3.6, delays=0.52/0.01/0.63/2.5, dsn=2.6.0, status=sent (250 2.6.0 <20200122044406.GA1387@eureka.lemis.com> [InternalId=4771708669483, Hostname=MEXPR01MB0677.ausprd01.prod.outlook.com] 16803 bytes in 0.147, 111.249 KB/sec Queued mail for delivery)

But wait, there's more! While checking the mail logs, found this:

Jan 22 00:04:46 lax postfix/smtpd[38895]: warning: hostname 193-114-151-190.tpgi.com.au does not resolve to address 193.114.151.190: hostname nor servname provided, or not known
Jan 22 00:04:46 lax postfix/smtpd[38895]: connect from unknown[193.114.151.190]
Jan 22 00:04:46 lax postfix/smtpd[38895]: NOQUEUE: reject: RCPT from unknown[193.114.151.190]: 450 4.7.25 Client host rejected: cannot find your hostname, [193.114.151.190]; from=<caseinfo@ewov.com.au> to=<elysian@lemis.com> proto=ESMTP helo=<EWOV-EXCH01.ewov.local.org>

That's a message trying to be delivered from a misconfigured Mail Transfer Agent. Look at that mess! It's saying “ELHO EWOV-EXCH01.ewov.local.org”. What kind of host name is that? And it's really a TPG address. In reality it's almost certainly from the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria. How can professional companies still make such a mess?

More to the point, what do I do? Disable the check? No, that way madness lies. Since I've cancelled the contract anyway, the complaint is no longer so important. But how can so many players all make such a mess?


Garden flowers in mid-summer
Topic: gardening, general, opinion Link here

A month after the solstice, time for garden photos. Last month I was still concerned about some trees, notably the Schinus molle (pepper tree) and the Curry tree. We're not out of the woods yet, but things are looking better. Here's the pepper tree last month and now:


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The Box elder that we had thought dead is recovering. Again last month and now:


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The curry tree has also recovered, though somewhat unevenly. Again last month and now:


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The upper branch is not dead, but not much seems to have happened, but the lower one is progressing nicely.

The indoor Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is still not looking overly happy, and I think some of the branches have really died off. But the interesting part is the leaves. The part that hasn't died has blotchy leaves that suggest that it wasn't getting enough fertilizer:


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I've fertilized it, and the new growth on the sick branches is looking much greener:


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So I'm hoping that the new growth will be better from now on.

The Hibiscus syriacus are also flowering better than in previous years:


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I've been following the Strelitzia nicolai on a daily basis, but it has still not flowered completely, though some of the first flowers are gradually fading. Here's the current situation:


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Last month I noted how the succulent garden in the north-east of the north garden has progressed, but it's doing much better still. Once again last month and now:


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The individual succulents are flowering more than I ever recall:


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Of the other dry climate flowers, the Leucospermum cordifolium has finished flowering, not really reaching its potential I thought:


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I suspect that it, too, could do with fertilizer, despite the conventional wisdom “don't fertilize Proteaceae“.

But the Kniphofia continues to come with new flower spikes:


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One of the grass plants in front of the verandah is flowering:


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Nothing very interesting in itself, but the flowers look just like an Agapanthus, which is also flowering at the moment:


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Is the grass a kind of Agapanthus? It's much smaller

The Buddlejas are in flower again:


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Nothing unusual in that, but it's nice to see that they're flowering well. In Kleins Road they grew profusely, but this is the only one that has survived since we moved here nearly 5 years ago.

Then there are the Mirabilis jalapa that grow in front of the house:


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They're really remarkable. I have done absolutely nothing to cultivate them; in fact, I didn't really want them there any more. But they self-seed profusely and grow with neither water nor fertilizer.

An interesting detail is the name that I've heard them called, “four o'clock flower”. Allegedly they only flower round 16:00. But I haven't seen that: these photos were taken at 9:06, and by afternoon they had shut again. Does it maybe depend on the time zone? At least it seems correct that they don't flower all day long.


More OI.Share fun
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

On Monday I established that just about the only use of Olympus' OI.Share app was to set the time on the camera, and even that was painful. But wait: what about video? One issue with the PIXIO “Robot Cameraman” is that you can't easily start and finish recording from horseback. Can OI.Share do that?

Yes! Well, in its normal broken way:

 
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So you buy an expensive camera capable of 60p and even 120p, and then you use a broken toy app on a toy phone to castrate it again. Ugh!


Thursday, 23 January 2020 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 23 January 2020
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EWOV responds
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Call from somebody at the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria this morning to tell me that they had given Elysian Energy until tomorrow evening to respond to my complaint. Good to hear; I wonder if they'll do anything.

Mentioned the mail configuration errors. “Ah, our messages often end up in your spam folder. Take a look there”. I had to go to considerable lengths to explain that this was a configuration problem on their mail servers—maybe terms she hadn't heard of—and get her to agree to forward the message to their postmaster. I wonder if she will.


PV recalibration again
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Once again my solar electricity system is effectively offline, calibrating its batteries. By the time I saw it this morning it had been going on for over 12 hours and was on its second iteration. But it went on all day! When I went to bed it had finished the third iteration. Was it back to normal or on its fourth iteration? Somehow there's something wrong here.


Off to Ballarat again
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Into town early this morning to have yet another blood test, this time at Dorevitch in Victoria Street. Normally I get seen to very quickly there, but this time it took nearly 20 minutes before it was my turn, and to irritate me further, the phlebotomist, Helen, decided that my name was Geoffrey, and continued to call me that after I had pointed out what my real name was. Should I go there again? The waiting times can be varied, and last time I was at Health First I was seen to immediately. So maybe I should try them again next time.


The not-so-good guys
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Then on to The Good Guys to arrange the return of the air conditioner. Megan wasn't there, and another assistant took my details, and after the third attempt managed to find my receipt in their system. Yes, bring it in, we'll take a look at it, and decide whether we can repair that.

Sorry, wrong answer. Please call a manager. She (Pearl) came relatively quickly and told me the same thing. I explained the details, that I had discussed the matter with Megan on 29 December and agreed that I would get the opinion of the air conditioner repairer, and that he had taken his time to arrive. Pearl's question: “Why are you only bringing it back now?”. Sometimes I get the feeling that people just don't listen. There was one further person there, who asked me if I had put water in the thing, but the other two left me with the feeling that they weren't thinking.

Left in a decidedly bad mood. I suppose we'll have to go through the rigmarole, but I can see that they're going to say “it works, keep it”, and I'll have to go through a lot of trouble to get it returned. Not the Good Guys that I have known in the past. Maybe they think that I never intended to keep it, and now that the house air conditioner is fixed, I just want to return it.


Water pump fail
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

We had a surprising amount of rain over the last 24 hours, about 39 mm if I believe the more optimistic rain gauge. And so the sump in front of the house is nearly full, because I had turned off the drain pump to dry out the cables and hopefully “fix” the current leak. Connected it back up again today. Click! RCD trip. Looks like the pump insulation has failed. I wonder if that can be fixed at a reasonable price.

Now to look for the other one that should be in the shed.


The regular NBN outage
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

I had already had enough fun with various technical problems today, so of course the National Broadband Network had to chip in to make the day perfect, with a 111 minute outage in the middle of the day. Sadly I'm coming to accept them.


Friday, 24 January 2020 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 24 January 2020
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More recalibration problems
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Up this morning to see what my PV inverter was doing.

mysql> select tstamp, Status from powerstats where tstamp > "2020-01-24 08" limit 10;
+---------------------+----------------------+
| tstamp              | Status               |
+---------------------+----------------------+
| 2020-01-24 08:00:01 | On-grid (calibrating |
| 2020-01-24 08:00:02 | On-grid (calibrating |
...

That's 36 hours! It started at:

| 2020-01-22 20:04:28 | On-grid              |
| 2020-01-22 20:04:30 | On-grid (calibrating |

So what's the issue? Is this intentional? Does it indicate a defective battery? A software issue? A lot depends on what Ingeteam intended. A number of questions come to mind:

A bit of web searching came up with this document, which is interesting for a number of reasons. It shows that it is restricted to exactly my combination of inverter and battery:

BYD implemented a new battery capacity calibration system to improve the measuring and control of the state of charge of the battery. This newest feature was also implemented and certified within the Ingeteam inverter.

The other interesting thing is the date: 27 March 2019, only three weeks before my system was installed. So I'm an early adopter, and a software issue seems very plausible.

As it happened, I discovered that there was a newer version:

 
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Isn't that the same firmware ID? Or is it the first 0AM172B16A22? OK, download and install that. I was pretty sure that it would happen without interrupting power to the house, and I was right. After flashing and rebooting, it continued as if nothing had happened—including continuing the calibration! Only now the firmware version changed from AAX1055AI to AAX1055AL.

OK, that's enough. I lost an estimated 20 kWh of power yesterday with this stuff. If (presumably hot) rebooting isn't enough, how about a cold start? Disconnect the inverter from the system, then remove all inputs, in the process noting that the switches on the side of the battery don't seem to disconnect it from the inverter. After that, of course the inverter powers down. Power back on, note the status “Emergency battery charge” appear briefly, then things went back to normal, and the thing started charging again. No mention of “Emergency battery charge” in the log.

But I did get an “Ingecon alarm” mail message. One? Six of them, dated between 08:49:19 and 08:51:34. The last two read:

      Serial number     Start                   End                          Description                    Type
(E10017220395)  1/24/2020 8:48:33 AM    1/24/2020 8:50:03 AM    Communication Error with the BMS        Immediate notification

The other four didn't specify an end time.


Returning the air conditioner
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

After yesterday's pain at The Good Guys, it was clear that, pain or not, I should return the Levante LEV18 air conditioner as quickly as possible. So we packed it into the car, in the process noting that there was no water to drain from the unit. In the process, got a shot showing how difficult the thing is to access:


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Off to Ballarat, having my hair cut on the way. They were waiting for me: person number 3 from yesterday took one look at me and called the department manager, James, who appears not to have been there yesterday. I wanted to talk to Megan, but she was “not available”.

I told James the story all over again. “It should be able to cool that space standing on its head”. Admittedly I hadn't tried that, but clearly he wasn't expecting it to be so bad either. But when we brought it in and I showed that it did, indeed, emit cold air, he didn't understand the problem. “Not enough cooling power” wasn't in his list of defects. And of course the display model behaved roughly the same. And the high air temperature didn't interest him: the air temperature from these things doesn't have to be the same as for “split systems”. Why not? The only issue would be different coolants, but he didn't have much information about that.

A few iterations of the discussion and he went to his computer and started a problem identification program specifically for this model. Describe problem. Does it run? Can the problem easily be reproduced? (No). And finally it came up with “replace unit”. Don't worry, said James, “replace” can also mean “refund”. And he refunded the price.

A bit of discussion about putting a “split system”. $880 for the simplest installation, and he thought that I would need a 7 kW system (presumably an understandable bit of CYA there), which would cost another $1900, so pretty much the same ball park as Nathan suggested last week, and hard for me to justify financially.

Only later did something occur to me: the cooling power of the air conditioner depends on the air temperature difference and the volume of air that it emits. We've already established that a real air conditioner emits air round 6°, and this thing emits air closer to 15°. So to cool to a realistic 24°, the Levante would require twice as much air flow. But looking at the output grille, it's only about a quarter of the size of the grille for a 5 kW “split system”. Yes, maybe has somewhat higher air flow, but certainly not 8 times the amount. That suggests to me that they know that it can't deliver the cooling power.


Fruit shack upgrade
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

On the way home, dropped in at the Fruit Shack in Howitt St. A couple of days ago Yvonne found my favourite Dofu puffs there, and she told me that they had lots more stuff there. And indeed it has changed considerably. It now has much of the stuff that I have previously only been able to find in Geelong. Hopefully it will stay that way. Interestingly, the place was full of Chinese schoolboys today, apparently buying foodstuffs to cook. I wouldn't have expected that, but maybe it's related to Chinese New Year (tomorrow).


Smart Home meets Delacombe Town Centre
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

After that dropped into Bunnings in Delacombe Town Centre, partially looking for clips for my camera strap. I had been told that they had them, but not here. And this is, I'm told, Bunnings' biggest shop of all.

What they did have was an advertisement:


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I suppose that's inevitable. Will we really live in a future where a smart phone is central to our lives?


Elysian responds
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Round 17:30 looked at my phone and discovered that I had missed a call at 15:56. And of course I had to fight my way through unclear menus to listen to an almost unintelligible voice mail message. Elysian Energy calling about my complaint, one hour before the deadline set by Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria. Please call back.

No, sorry, people, you've had 10 days to respond to my emails, and this issue requires an answer in writing. I don't want to have to put up with talking to you, especially as your phone system seems so flaky (I also had difficulties when I signed up).


More phone smart
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Why did I miss the phone call from Elysian Energy? I had the phone in my pocket at the time, with the ring tone set to ”loud”. Test it. Nothing, just a vibration.

Dammit, what's wrong with the thing now? Fought my way through the menus, in the process discovering a couple of short cuts that could be useful in the future:

 
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But it didn't tell me how to allow it to ring again, and I couldn't get it to do so. Lots of fighting the system with increasingly loud cursing, and ultimately came to the conclusion that the upgrade to Android 9 had disabled my custom ring tone, but only when called. I could select the built-in tones and they would ring, but though setting the custom tone worked normally, it didn't ring.

Oh smart!


Saturday, 25 January 2020 Dereel Images for 25 January 2020
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Another grid power failure
Topic: general Link here

Another grid power failure this morning at 2:05:40, again only one second. Maybe I should stop recording anything under 3 seconds.


Slow migration from old server
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I really need to get off the old server by the end of the month. I've been meaning to do it since August last year, but this time I wanted to do it right and without pain.

Today I started the name server on the new server (lax.lemis.com). Worked fine. I thought. But then I saw:

Jan 25 05:44:17 lax postfix/smtpd[1576]: connect from unknown[96.47.72.81]
Jan 25 05:44:18 lax postfix/smtpd[1576]: NOQUEUE: reject: RCPT from unknown[96.47.72.81]: 450 4.7.25 Client host rejected: cannot find your hostname, [96.47.72.81]; from=<grog@freebsd.org> to=<grog@lemis.com> proto=ESMTP helo=<mx2.freebsd.org>

Huh? FreeBSD does the right thing. Why couldn't it find the PTR record for 96.47.72.81? Works fine here:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/57) ~ 71 -> host 96.47.72.81
81.72.47.96.in-addr.arpa domain name pointer mx2.freebsd.org.

But it didn't work on lax. After a hurried return to the server on oldwww, discovered, in named.conf:

options {
        directory "/usr/local/etc/namedb";
        resolver-query-timeout 30;
        forwarders {
// RootBSD
              208.79.80.18;
              208.79.80.244;
            };
};

And of course those forwarders didn't respond to lax. Change to the correct forwarder and all was well.

So: what's left on oldwww? Web server stopped. Mail server stopped. ftp server still running for the one invisible file that it might serve. And

=== root@oldwww (/dev/pts/1) /var/log 83 -> ps aux
USER    PID  %CPU %MEM   VSZ  RSS TT  STAT STARTED          TIME COMMAND
root     11 200.0  0.0     0   32  -  RL   11Aug18 1098412:59.23 [idle]
...
root  35931   0.0  0.0 84872  108  -  Is   23Nov19       0:00.03 sshd: root [priv] (sshd)
sshd  35932   0.0  0.0     0    0  -  Z    23Nov19       0:00.01 <defunct>
root  45019   0.0  0.0 82812  108  -  Is   18Nov19       0:00.02 sshd: root [priv] (sshd)
sshd  45020   0.0  0.0     0    0  -  Z    18Nov19       0:00.01 <defunct>
...

Look at the CPU time for the idle process: about 763 days, somewhat over 2 years.

There must have been 80 sshd processes. That's a known problem: the associated daemon doesn't die on disconnection, and they need to be shot down from time to time. There must have been 80 of them. OK, the easiest way is with killall:

=== root@oldwww (/dev/pts/1) /var/log 85 -> killall sshd
Connection to oldwww.lemis.com closed by remote host.
Connection to oldwww.lemis.com closed.
Disconnected at Sat 25 Jan 2020 15:53:09 AEDT
ssh: connect to host oldwww.lemis.com port 22: Connection refused

Oh. Yes, it's clear that I shot down my session too, but I thought that inetd listened on port ssh and fired up an sshd when needed, so the script should have reconnected. But no, it seems that I start it independently, and now I've just sawn off the branch I was sitting on. No ssh access to oldwww any more.

But that's OK. Use the “system console” function, in this case a really VNC connection. Got the connection up and running, and typed in service ssd start. Dammit, typo. Back and insert the h. But it wouldn't: I couldn't enter h!

OK, try a different browser. Error 1006!

Dammit, this is exactly the problem I had two years ago. Nothing for it: enter a ticket (”high priority, can't access server”, response time 2 to 4 hours). By the time I went to bed, 5½ hours later, I had had no response beyond the automatic “ticket received, will be looked at” email.

This was one of the reasons I started thinking about migrating my service. It seems that they still haven't fixed the problem. There are also other reasons to leave: despite the name under which I've signed up (RootBSD) they're clearly no longer a BSD operation. A number of the functions they offer on the support pages are marked “Linux only”, and there's no corresponding functionality for BSD. And of course the slow response doesn't help either.

So what's left running on oldwww?

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/57) ~/Documentation/Language 66 -> nmap oldwww
Nmap scan report for oldwww (208.86.226.86)
Not shown: 995 closed ports
PORT      STATE SERVICE
21/tcp    open  ftp
53/tcp    open  domain
79/tcp    open  finger
995/tcp   open  pop3s
10000/tcp open  snet-sensor-mgmt

Once I have DNS server updates sorted out, I can cut the last connection.


Dim Sum?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

We had planned trout for dinner tonight, but Yvonne couldn't find any in town, so given that it was Chinese New Year we ate the Dim Sum package that I bought in town yesterday:


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Steam or deep fry? That should depend on the items. But the instructions were not specific, just gave times for both. In the end I steamed mine and deep fried the ones for Yvonne:


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I still think that steamed is better, but the deep fried ones were acceptable.


Flash pain, installment 4711
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

While taking the photos of the Dim Sum, ended up with this photo:


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The shadow at the bottom is my own; I'm still missing the second flash unit in the kitchen. But the one at the top is indicative of wrong shutter speed. Only it wasn't: the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II has a flash sync speed of 1/250 s (interestingly less than the 1/320 s of its predecessor). And that's what I took it at.

Try again: no flash! And when I reseated the trigger and tried again, things worked normally. So maybe this shadow was indicative of a contact problem, of which there are far too many.


Sunday, 26 January 2020 Dereel Images for 26 January 2020
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More PIXIO fun
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

For one reason and another it's been a while since we last used the PIXIO “Robot Cameraman”. A week ago we tried, but it had self-discharged despite my attempts to work around the charging bug. Clearly this thing needs recharging on a regular basis, even if it's not in use.

Today we tried again. Put the beacons in place, turn them on, put the PIXIO in place, turn it on. Blinking green light, and it won't go on properly.

Damn! What's wrong with the thing now? In to read the instructions and the troubleshooting information, all of which assumed that the thing was running. Finally, in some completely unlikely place, I discovered the answer: that's a feature, not a bug! It doesn't light constantly at all. Back out and set it up, and it worked:


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Well, for a while until it lost track of Yvonne again, as it had done two months ago. How did I fix it then? I didn't describe it very well. Repositioned again today with what I recalled, and it worked. But it's clear that we need a HOWTO with photos of the details. Any time now.


RootBSD problem solution
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Response to yesterday's ticket from RootBSDNetActuate today:

I was able to login to VNC without issue and run service sshd restart. I was unable to replicate your problem unfortunately with VNC. My recommendation is to try logging into VNC in a private or incognito window as something may be cached.

And indeed the sshd service was running again. But no, it couldn't be cached information. I had tried this on many different browsers on different systems, on one of which I had reset all cache content, and it's a problem that I had reported two years ago.

But maybe it works now? Tried again, running on Chrome, and exactly the same thing happened. Maybe an issue with BSD (nomen non est omen)? Tried it with Microsoft. Success! Tried to type something into the console, and I got the error 1006 again.

Damn! But then the input echoed on the other console, running on BSD! I've never seen anything like that before, but it confirms my suspicion that something is very wrong with the web application.

Even apart from this issue, there's a question of responsiveness. This was a “system down, won't come up” situation (even if in this case the customer could hardly scream for blood), for which they offer a response within two hours. Even medium (”Application or O/S level issue (able to connect to server)” to use their description) had a response time of 2-6 hours. And it took them over 7½ hours to respond.

Even that is nothing, though, compared to the request I put through several months back to change the reverse DNS for the server. It still hasn't been done. They don't need to any more; the server is as good as dead.


Unhappy Fuchsias
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Somehow the plants in the hanging baskets in the house entrance are not doing well:


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The side pointing to the light is alright, but the other side is dying. Not enough light? It looks like it, though I'm surprised.


Kebabs again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Kebabs for dinner tonight, in two separate courses. First prawns, then beef/lamb:


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I still haven't found a good time for the beef/lamb in the air fryer. Today I gave it 9 minutes at 230°, and the meat was still overdone. But the vegetables weren't, and I'm beginning to wonder if this is the way I should be preparing them.


New dog bed
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

MJ Wisbey, Yvonne's supplier of duck eggs, has had a big dog die, and she wanted to get rid of its bed. So Yvonne inherited it, and Leonid at any rate likes it:


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Why do they let their heads hang over the edge?


Monday, 27 January 2020 Dereel Images for 27 January 2020
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Brunch with Lorraine
Topic: general, food and drink Link here

Lorraine Carranza along this morning for brunch (huevos rancheros). We haven't seen much of her lately. For reference: healthy appetite, enjoyed all components, including tortillas, frijoles refritos and chilis. Two eggs.


Server migration: next step
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

OK, time to finalize the name server migration. I have a name server running on lax.lemis.com, but the world doesn't know about it. What do I need to do?

First, of course, copy the zone files to the existing master name server, currently ns1.lemis.com. And when I activate it, the master name server ceases to be a visible name server at all, though it will still allow zone transfers.

What about the other name servers, ns2.lemis.com, ns4.lemis.com and ns6.gandi.net? ns6.gandi.net is clearly a slave, but I'm not even sure about the other two. And how do they know where the masters are? The configuration that I know typically has IP addresses, something like:

zone "lemis.com" {
        type slave;
//                 ns1           ns2          ns4            oldwww
        masters {45.32.70.18; 203.11.71.1; 62.13.128.200; 208.86.226.86; };
        file "db.lemis.com";
};

And for some reason all the slaves get mentioned in the masters entry, making it impossible for me to see whether they're really masters or slaves.

But what happens if the master IP address goes away? Presumably the others no longer get updated.

And ns6.gandi.net? No idea where it gets the zone from, but it does. Does it poll, maybe? Or does it get it from another, more generous server?

OK, I need to update the allow-transfer list, not only here, but on ns2 and ns4 as well. Contact my people there. In the meantime they can get it from oldwww.

OK, do that, and all worked nicely. Same for narrawin.com. Check that mail goes through to Chris. No!

I'm sorry to have to inform you that your message could not
be delivered to one or more recipients. It's attached below.

<chris@narrawin.com>: Host or domain name not found. Name service error for
    name=mx2.lemis.com type=AAAA: Host not found

Huh? I had changed the MX for narrawin.com to mx1.lemis.com, which works fine. Ah, but narrawin.com RRs have a TTL of 1 day, and lemis.com has 15 minutes. So the test message I sent (not the first) had mx2.lemis.com there for the next day or so. Back and re-added mx2 (now with the new address) to the lemis.com zone, and after a while things settled down. But it's not beyond the bounds of possibility that some mail bounced, and there's no way to know whether it did or not.


Tuesday, 28 January 2020 Dereel Images for 28 January 2020
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DNS: Done?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So now the 24 hour TTL for narrawin.com has expired, and I can update the zone files to point only to the new systems. While I'm at it I should add ffm.lemis.com, on which I can also run a name server.

And the others? Took a look at the configuration on ozlabs.org, which looked like nothing I have ever seen before. Stephen Rothwell explained: my configuration is in my own directory hierarchy in ~/etc/bind/, and I can maintain it myself.

Took a look. Yes, indeed, the cruft of decades:

=== grog@bilbo (/dev/pts/1) ~/etc/bind 114 -> l -rt
total 1
-rw-r--r-- 1 grog bind   522 Jun 29  2008 db.vinum.org
-rw-r--r-- 1 grog bind   744 Jun 29  2008 db.begemot.org
-rw-r--r-- 1 grog bind  5869 Jun 29  2008 db.groogle.net
-rw-r--r-- 1 grog grog   832 Jun 30  2008 named.conf-slave-narrawin
-rw-r--r-- 1 bind bind  6292 Jun 20  2013 db.lemis.com.old
-rw-r--r-- 1 grog grog  6651 Mar 11  2014 lemishosts.reverse
-rw-r--r-- 1 grog grog 10259 Apr  9  2014 db.lemis.com.from.slash.etc.bind
-rw-r--r-- 1 grog bind   600 Apr 10  2014 db.dunham.org
-r--r--r-- 1 grog grog   666 Apr 10  2014 db.aeon-systems.net
-rw-r--r-- 1 grog bind   515 Apr 10  2014 db.spe.austin.tx.us
-rw-r--r-- 1 grog bind   521 Apr 10  2014 db.hotdogs.tx
-rw-r--r-- 1 grog grog   677 Apr 10  2014 db.gunspringperuvians.com
-rw-r--r-- 1 bind bind   500 Apr 11  2014 db.fbbg.org.au
-rw-r--r-- 1 bind bind  5817 May 12  2014 db-sXR8XduB
-rw-r--r-- 1 bind bind   539 May 12  2014 db-1oohw1DL
-rw-r--r-- 1 bind bind   574 May 12  2014 db-6VqMVZZv
-r--r--r-- 1 root root   776 Mar 26  2015 named.conf.pre-sfr
-rw-r--r-- 1 bind bind   590 Jan 27 16:56 db.pasocentral.org

What are those zones? I recognize most of them, but groogle.net didn't ring any bells. It appears to be a duplicate of my lemis.com zone as of 12 years or so ago. 5 July 2007, a few days before we left Wantadilla. And many of the domains are defunct.

OK, update named.conf and I'm done, right? Reloading named (or whatever they call it on Linux) brought lots of messages, but none relating to lemis.com or narrawin.com. Only later did Stephen send me a message with log messages. The good news:

Jan 28 14:38:48 bilbo named[6425]: zone lemis.com/IN: serial number (2020012701) received from master 45.32.70.18#53 < ours (2020012702)
Jan 28 14:38:48 bilbo named[6425]: zone lemis.com/IN: serial number (2017120101) received from master 45.63.116.55#53 < ours (2020012702)
Jan 28 14:46:24 bilbo named[6425]: transfer of 'lemis.com/IN' from 45.32.70.18#53: connected using 203.11.71.1#45759

But then there was this:

Jan 28 14:35:56 bilbo named[6425]: zone narrawin.com/IN: refresh: unexpected rcode (REFUSED) from master 45.63.116.55#53 (source 203.11.71.1#0)
Jan 28 14:35:56 bilbo named[6425]: transfer of 'narrawin.com/IN' from 45.63.116.55#53: connected using 203.11.71.1#53741
Jan 28 14:35:57 bilbo named[6425]: transfer of 'narrawin.com/IN' from 45.63.116.55#53: resetting
Jan 28 14:35:57 bilbo named[6425]: transfer of 'narrawin.com/IN' from 45.63.116.55#53: connected using 203.11.71.1#35203
Jan 28 14:35:57 bilbo named[6425]: transfer of 'narrawin.com/IN' from 45.63.116.55#53: failed while receiving responses: REFUSED
Jan 28 14:35:57 bilbo named[6425]: transfer of 'narrawin.com/IN' from 45.63.116.55#53: Transfer status: REFUSED

First thought: why is it trying to load from 45.63.116.55? That's ffm.lemis.com, and there's not even a name server running there. Ah, but there was, and it seems that it serves lemis.com and not narrawin.com. OK, update named.conf on lax. Will that do it? Stupidly, I forgot to reset the TTL for narrawin.com (currently 24 hours) to something shorter, so I can check tomorrow. What I discovered, though, is that despite the messages, the name server did update the zone, so at least partially this is just noise.


Goodbye horses
Topic: animals, general, opinion Link here

We've had horses round the house for nearly 30 years, since we moved into the house in Schellnhausen. But Yvonne has been worried about bushfires, and so she arranged with Chris Bahlo to put the horses on Chris' property until the end of the summer. For the first time in a generation we have no horses on our property.


Programmer's ABCs
Topic: technology, history, opinion Link here

Decades ago I read Datamation, which I found to be quite a good magazine for its time. And over the years it contained a number of humorous articles, one of which I tried to reconstruct at Programmer's ABCs.

And now somebody has scanned in what appear to be all issues, and I can complete the ABCs. I recalled most of them relatively well, but it's amazing how many details I forgot on the way.


What purpose core dumps?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

firefox is a remarkably unreliable program, like all other web browsers that I know. On teevee I have come to the practice of restarting it every day. But how? It seems that the best choice is simply to (X terminology) destroy it, which sends a SIGQUIT (I think).

Problem: that generates a core dump. In the good old days we just let it happen. But firefox is a modern program. No simple 60 MB core files for it, not like Emacs. It regularly generates multi-gigabyte core files, in the process swapping in all the useless crud that the VM system has carefully tucked away, and leaving a file that nobody in his right mind wants to look at. The whole thing can take 10 minutes, during which time it seems to overwrite the core dump several times, and only then can I start a new instance. But even that is nothing compared to Java (programming language):

-rw-------     1 grog    lemis  9,345,228,800 27 Oct 09:30 java.core

And why? Who looks at these things, especially if they're generated by a stripped executable? The days when a casual look at a core file could give any useful information are long gone. By default core dumps are currently enabled on FreeBSD, but I think the default should be:

=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/13) ~ 15 -> sysctl kern.coredump=0
kern.coredump: 1 -> 0

In this connection I'm reminded of another Datamation poem, this time from the April 1975 edition:

On either side the printer lie
Fat stacks of paper six feet high
That stun the mind abnd blur the eye,
And lo!  Still more comes streaming by,
  A fresh SYSABEND dump.
Ye printer clackth merrily
"Compleccioun code is 043"
Alack!  What can the matter be
  That made SYSABEND dump?
My TCAM hath no MCP?
My data cannot OPENed be?
Consult my neighbourhood SE?
The devil take thy dam and thee,
  Thou vile SYSABEND dump!
Assemble modules on the fly
And link for yet another try.
With SUPERZAP a patch apply,
  This time THOU SHALT NOT DUMP!
. . .
On either side the printer lie
Fat stacks of paper twelve feet high
That blow the mind and blast the eye.
Gadzooks!  How shrill yon varlet's cry
As sixteen megabytes go by
  In yet another dump.

Only 16 MB! How much paper would you need for 3 GB? In passing, how much paper would a 16 MB dump generate? I never analysed IBM dumps (and in any case, SYSABEND is over the top; SYSUDUMP would have been more sensible and much smaller), but my recollection was that the dump was printed in hexadecimal and EBCDIC, 8 words to a line. Maybe it was 12, but that doesn't make much difference.

So a 60 line page would contain 480 words or 2 kB. 16 MB would require 8,000 pages. My guess recollection is that a box of paper contained 2000 pages and was 25 cm high, so that would make a metre. Modern printer paper (individual paper sheets, 500 to a package) are 24 cm high for a pack of 5, so that seems reasonable. And that java dump would have produced about 580 m of paper.


Solving the VNC console issue
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Mark Price of RootBSDNetActuate added to yesterday's ticket, again suggesting I look at proxies. Discussed the matter at length on IRC, and in the end came to the conclusion that yes, it could be part of the problem, if the client didn't uniquely identify itself. But I don't use a proxy on the browser I use for that purpose.

OK, which browsers use the local proxy http://cache.lemis.com/? Not the one I normally use for this sort of thing. So I tried again. And it worked, and I was able to enter a large number of the letters in the alphabet, 20 out of 26, more than in the original Latin alphabet. Who could ask for more?

 
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I could. That's not enough. A number of special characters also didn't echo. I still have bad dreams about this sort of thing, where keyboards only have some of the necessary letters. What about Chrome? It doesn't work, but does it use a proxy? How do I find out? It's too polite to offer you confusing things like proxy configuration. OK, back to basics. Checked on dischord. Yes, goes via cache.lemis.com. OK, we can turn that off. And how about that, it works, and I can enter all characters.

This is still a bug in the application, I claim. It doesn't have any way to distinguish clients behind a proxy. And I really don't understand the echo issue, but it's repeatable.


Electricity woes: not over
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

A couple of paper mails today, one from the Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria and one from Red energy. The former confirmed what I had been told on the phone, and the latter was roughly a summary of what Abhi had told me on the phone last week, and for which I had asked for a written confirmation. Somehow we're going round in circles. OK, email and see what happens.

While I was at it, signed up for their electronic interface. Not a positive impression. First I had to fight may way through multiple CAPTCHAs, including words that don't occur in English (and Yvonne didn't know: “Crosswalk”, nothing to do with the Stations of the Cross, though somehow the experience made it seem appropriate), and at the end of it it told me that my account (which has existed since 11 July 2007) was balanced and had no entries.

I would far rather communicate with companies by email and electronic means. But I don't, and this experience shows why.

And then email from Elysian, apologizing for the phone call last week, and apparently blissfully ignorant of the 8 or so emails that I had sent them. I'll deal with them some other time.


Wednesday, 29 January 2020 Dereel Images for 29 January 2020
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Winding down RootBSD
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So finally everything seems to be working with the server migration. I still need to keep my eye on DNS, but it's working. Time for a final backup, which took barely 10 minutes:

real    9m24.397s
user    6m30.093s
sys     0m53.825s

And then move it to lax:

=== grog@oldwww (/dev/pts/3) ~ 1 -> time scp /oldwww.tar.gz  lax:
oldwww.tar.gz           100% 1991MB  24.6MB/s   01:21

real    1m23.426s
user    0m16.129s
sys     0m9.901s

Nearly 7 times as fast! I keep forgetting how fast modern networks are. They have already overtaken disks in many areas.

And then the final shutdown. Somehow I'm sad. I've had an instance running with RootBSD and then NetActuate for over over 11½ years, and this instance had been running for nearly 2 years. But it had to go, and if anything does go wrong, I still have a couple of days where I can reboot it.


Thursday, 30 January 2020 Dereel Images for 30 January 2020
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Finishing the electrical work
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Nat McKay, Dave and Jack along today as arranged to finish off the electrical work, involving a couple of hours with no power to the house, while they tore the switchboard apart:


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But Nat arranged temporary power for eureka:


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The switchboard is now in its fourth iteration, with only three of the original switches still in place: the main switch on the left and the third and fourth from the right (with the red legend underneath, showing that they're for the air conditioner and oven). Here before (April 2016) and after:


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Air conditioner? Weren't they supposed to put in a relay to disconnect it on grid failure? Yes, and they brought a relay with them, coincidentally one from Schneider Electric very similar to the one that Oliver Musch had researched for me in Germany:


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But Dave had his concerns about duty cycle, something that none of the data sheets mention. That's related to a concern that I had about the power that the relay coil uses: 1.1 VA, which seems remarkably high. A lot of discussion about how to adapt other equipment to do the job, but somehow this is a straightforward situation that should already have a solution. For today we postponed things.

And finally we have the induction cooktop wired up correctly! Now I can cook with 3.5 kW power, which brings things to the boil in an impressively short time. And Yvonne has a light in her tack room:


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Tomorrow Jack will come and install the outside light in front of the garage, and then we'll be done!

In passing, Nat told me that photovoltaic systems in Victoria are not allowed to supply power to the house if there is no battery and no grid. Why? He blames it on Powercor. But I'm sure that I've run the system in that configuration. Look: disconnect the batteries. PV system continues to supply power. Disconnect the grid. Fail! Nat was right. I suppose it doesn't directly affect me, but I'm still astounded.


New house electrical circuits
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

What do all the circuits do? They're pretty much the same as the old ones, but they coalesced the two light circuits to one, and they found two separate circuits connected to one of the non-UPS circuit breakers, so they split them up. And somehow I managed to confuse things anyway (turning power off to eureka's UPS), so it's worth noting a partial layout:

1: Light, all house (ex UPS)
2: Power, Greg office (ex UPS)
3: Power, lounge, Yvonne (ex UPS)
4: Shed
5: Kitchen, pantry, Greg office, lounge, dining room
6:
7:
8: Cooktop
9: Air conditioner
10: Oven
11: Inverter in
12: Inverter out

More to come.


Restarting the systems
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Part of the electrical work involved powering off everything except eureka, including teevee and lagoon, which, accidentally, didn't happen cleanly. They also didn't come up cleanly. teevee had a dirty /spool file system, with a ghost file flying around dated round 19 December 2019, six weeks ago. Why was it still there? fsck fixed it, but it shouldn't have been necessary.

lagoon came up fine, but I couldn't start X:

[    22.677] (II) NVIDIA(0): Virtual screen size determined to be 640 x 480
[    22.677] (WW) NVIDIA(0): Unable to get display device for DPI computation.
[    22.677] (==) NVIDIA(0): DPI set to (75, 75); computed from built-in default
[    22.677] (--) Depth 24 pixmap format is 32 bpp

Problems with the Nvidia kernel modules? Yes, nvidia.ko was loaded, but nvidia-modeset.ko wasn't. Did I forget it in /boot/loader.conf? No, it's there. Why wasn't it loaded? A fresh reboot fixed it, but it shouldn't have been necessary.


More finishing touches on external servers
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So now I only have two external servers, lax.lemis.com and ffm.lemis.com. Took a look at the DNS configuration on ffm and found that it was a master (but not visible to anywhere on the Internet). OK, it seems better to have only one master, and that should be lax. Tweaked the ffm configuration, and all worked. But it's not saving the zone file. Why not?

And then, on lax, saw:

Jan 30 01:18:51 lax ftpd[90419]: FTP LOGIN FAILED FROM 180.114.37.233
Jan 30 01:18:54 lax ftpd[90420]: FTP LOGIN FAILED FROM 180.114.37.233
Jan 30 01:18:55 lax ftpd[90421]: FTP LOGIN FAILED FROM 180.114.37.233
...

Yes, they can't do anything, but maybe it's time to disable ftp. Somehow it's an old, worn-out protocol.


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

Tony Northrup has done a 100 minute video about the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, and it seemed worth looking at.

Why? I have had a Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II for nearly three years, and I haven't had a very high opinion of Tony (see this entry for example). But this one is only moderately technical, and he's not out of his depth. On the other hand, he goes through a lot of the stuff that I have forgotten about. In addition, it's interesting to see how the camera compares with Yvonne's new Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III (quite closely, in fact).

One of the things that I never found to be any use was the “digital teleconverter”, an in-camera cropping function. Tried one photo with it today, just for the fun of it:


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That was taken with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100 mm f/4.0 IS PRO set to 12 mm. Does that photo look like it was taken at 24 mm focal length? No, the field of view is clearly consistent with 12 mm. It's also not what I saw in the viewfinder.

Is there a cropped JPEG image? No, nothing else at all. Potentially there's something hidden in the Exif data that says it was taken with the “digital teleconverter” setting, but I can't find it, and neither can DxO PhotoLab. That makes it worse than useless.


Friday, 31 January 2020 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 31 January 2020
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Electrics: done?
Topic: Stones Road house, general, gardening, opinion Link here

I've been keeping an eye on the sprinklers lately, so out at about 7:50 to take a look at circuit 4, which runs between 7:00 and 8:00. Nothing!

In the office, checked for the sprinkler relay. No ping response. Out to the shed:


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Everything disconnected. OK, connect up and run the sprinkler. That had its advantages. It showed a number of damaged parts of the system:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200131/big/Sprinkler-system-3.jpeg <