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Friday, 1 January 2021 Dereel Images for 1 January 2021
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The revenge of the tiger
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

The result of washing the dish from yesterday's huevos a la tigre:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210101/big/Tigres-revenge.jpeg
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Clearly it was overcooked. It took quite some scrubbing to clean out. Hopefully things will be better when I do them for a more normal time.


Microsoft problems: bloody Samba!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So what's going on with my SMB connection between distress (Microsoft 10) and my FreeBSD computers? Yesterday I established that it was related to the system not listening on port microsoft-ds (445). And that was almost certainly because I didn't tell inetd to listen on that port.

OK, clearly a configuration issue, probably because I've been dragging the same configuration with me for over 20 years, and in those days microsoft-ds probably wasn't used. In principle it seems that this would do the trick (last line, bold face):

# Enable the following two entries to enable samba startup from inetd
# (from the Samba documentation).  Enable the third entry to enable the swat
# samba configuration tool.
#
netbios-ssn stream      tcp     nowait          root    /usr/local/sbin/smbd    smbd
netbios-ns  dgram       udp     wait            root    /usr/local/sbin/nmbd    nmbd
swat        stream      tcp     nowait/400      root    /usr/local/sbin/swat    swat
microsoft-ds stream     tcp     nowait          root    /usr/local/sbin/smbd    smbd

But do I need special parameters? What else have I missed? Off to google for sample inetd.conf entries. And that was surprisingly difficult. Finally I found this page on samba.org with a chapter “Starting from inetd”. The sample entries?

Next, edit /etc/inetd.conf. Look for the following two lines and add them if they don't exist. If you already have smbd and nmbd lines in the file, edit them to point at the new smbd and nmbd you've installed. Your brand of Unix might use a slightly different syntax in this file; use the existing entries and the inetd.conf manual page as a guide:

netbios-ssn stream tcp nowait root /usr/local/samba/bin/smbd smbd
netbios-ns  dgram  udp wait   root /usr/local/samba/bin/nmbd nmbd

WRONG! That's exactly what I have (and in fact the nmbd line should only be one one system per LAN. Otherwise I get errors like this:

Jan  1 02:27:19 lagoon nmbd[2471]: [2021/01/01 02:27:19.307068,  0] ../../source3/nmbd/nmbd_namequery.c:109(query_name_response)
Jan  1 02:27:19 lagoon nmbd[2471]:   query_name_response: Multiple (2) responses received for a query on subnet 192.109.197.134 for name LEMIS<1d>.
Jan  1 02:27:19 lagoon nmbd[2471]:   This response was from IP 192.109.197.137, reporting an IP address of 192.109.197.137.

That was easy enough to fix: comment out the entry.

OK, there's no clear documentation on how to handle microsoft-ds. Possibly it's just as I wrote above, but is that correct? There's an obvious alternative: just start smbd manually. I had been starting it without parameters, but the documentation mentions -D without further comment. What's that? Start as a daemon. OK, that makes sense. Do that and try to map eureka:/Photos to P: on distress. Success!

Best to stop while I'm ahead, but what I see now is:


Saturday, 2 January 2021 Dereel Images for 2 January 2021
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Happy New Year!
Topic: music, multimedia, opinion Link here

It's now 2021 throughout the world. The New Year arrived in Hawai'i round 21:00, about the same time that the Vienna Philharmonic started their annual New Year's concert.

I particularly like the Vienna Philharmonic for the little details that most people would probably not notice:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210102/small/Wiener-Philharmoniker-2-detail.jpeg
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It's been nearly 60 years since I first listened to it, live in those days (and of course in black and white). Now we can download the entire concert, if we know where.

All German-speaking countries broadcast it. It was recorded by ORF, of course, and available on their TVThek (Austrian for „Mediathek“)—if you have an IP address that they recognize as Austrian.

Never mind, there are more. SRF (Switzerland) has it on their Mediathek, and clearly they're the better choice, since they have decent download speeds. So I downloaded it and... no commentary. Why? Is this political correctness (if you have a commentary in written German, you also need commentaries in French, Italian and Romansh)? OK, start over again with ZDF, which took 3 times as long to download and proved to be a smaller file:

-rw-r--r--  1 grog  wheel  2,951,065,299  2 Jan 11:56 Neujahrskonzert-der-Wiener-Philharmoniker-2021---Live-aus-Wien-20210101-111500.mp4
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  wheel  4,120,407,985  2 Jan 10:17 Sternstunde-Musik-Neujahrskonzert-der-Wiener-Philharmoniker-2021-0126714501.mp4

Is the ZDF version lower resolution? No, on the contrary:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/14) /src/Series/Neu 49 -> mpid *4
Neujahrskonzert-der-Wiener-Philharmoniker-2021---Live-aus-Wien-20210101-111500.mp4      VIDEO:  [H264]  1280x720  24bpp  50.000 fps  2435.4 kbps (297.3 kbyte/s)
Sternstunde-Musik-Neujahrskonzert-der-Wiener-Philharmoniker-2021-0126714501.mp4 VIDEO:  [H264]  1280x720  24bpp  25.000 fps  3500.6 kbps (427.3 kbyte/s)

The ZDF version is 720p50, while the SRF version is 720p25. Presumably there would be fewer artefacts in the SRF version, but we didn't see any in the ZDF version either.

But there was a big difference from previous years:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210102/small/Wiener-Philharmoniker-4.jpeg
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No audience! It seems that the restriction on audiences is only (currently) of short duration, until 6 January. But it brings things home.


Samba documentation again
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

While writing up yesterday's pain with Samba, noted this emblem at the top of the page

https://www.samba.org/samba/docs/using_samba/samba2_xs.gif

That's the title page of the O'Reilly book, Using Samba, 2nd Edition, February 2003—18 years ago! No wonder it's out of date.

Is that an excuse? It's an explanation, of course. But anything that old should come with obvious disclaimers. And it was the only thing I found on the Samba site that dealt with that configuration detail.


Processing photos with distress again
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

So now I can use distress again for my photo processing. All OK? Hardly.

First, while processing the weekly house photos, 66 out of 72 DxO PhotoLab conversions failed:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210102/small/DxO-1.png
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I've had problems in the past where a couple failed, but over 90%? Looking at the destination directory showed:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/37) ~/Photos/20210102 190 -> l orig/*f
...
-rwxr--r--  2 grog  wheel  121,228,768  2 Jan 12:41 orig/41026156_DxO.tiff
-rwxr--r--  2 grog  wheel  121,228,680  2 Jan 12:41 orig/41026157_DxO.tiff
-rwxr--r--  2 grog  wheel   29,483,408  2 Jan 13:05 orig/41026158_DxO.tiff
...
-rwxr--r--  2 grog  wheel   31,352,848  2 Jan 13:05 orig/41026165_DxO.tiff
-rwxr--r--  2 grog  wheel      836,624  2 Jan 13:06 orig/41026167_DxO.tiff
-rwxr--r--  2 grog  wheel   26,963,984  2 Jan 13:06 orig/41026168_DxO.tiff
-rwxr--r--  2 grog  wheel   33,032,464  2 Jan 13:06 orig/41026169_DxO.tiff
-rwxr--r--  2 grog  wheel            0  2 Jan 13:06 orig/41026174_DxO.tiff
-rwxr--r--  2 grog  wheel            0  2 Jan 13:07 orig/41026175_DxO.tiff

The first images were saved correctly (120 MB), but many of the rest were interrupted after a partial transfer. How did that happen?

A retry worked without any further problems. The problem happened some time between 12:41 (when the first 6 images were saved correctly) and 13:05 (where the first truncated images appeared). That in itself is a surprising length of time. One possibility might be that it was round the time that I changed /etc/inetd.conf on lagoon to no longer start nmbd. But the modification timestamp of that file is 13:14. Did I change it twice? There's no evidence to that effect. But the 26 minute gap suggests some kind of timeout.

If that wasn't enough, Ashampoo Photo Optimizer just hung after the first image while optimizing a group of photos. What went wrong there? I confirmed that it worked on dischord. Tried again with just one photo?


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210101/small/Ashampoo-1.png
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Read-only medium? Please God, no! How do I fix that? Confirmed that I could write to P: from distress. Wrong permissions? Yes, I know that that's a different error, but does Ashampoo?

After much messing around and trying to understand the horrible menu trees, discovered that the update that I had just installed had removed the pathname for saving the “before” images. Not reset to a default: it was empty. And this emptiness caused the save to fail, and the program (or programmer) decided that this must be a “read-only” condition, but was only prepared to divulge this claim when only a single image was being processed. Ugh!


ALDI salmon puffs
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Yvonne bought some “salmon puffs” from ALDI recently:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210103/small/Salmon-puffs.jpeg
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We tried them today. How about that, they look like on the illustration:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210102/small/Salmon-puffs.jpeg
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I did these in the “coffee machine” air fryer, where they took 20 minutes at 200° instead of the 12-15 minutes suggested for a convection oven, and still came out looking unevenly browned.

But the big detail: they were boring. Not even enough salt, let alone the promised herbs in the filling. Do people like this sort of thing?


Sunday, 3 January 2021 Dereel Images for 3 January 2021
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Bad language of 2020
Topic: language, opinion Link here

What a year last year was! And with it, of course, came a number of words that we had never used in that way before. Others have come up with lists, but they don't match my feelings. Here's what I see:


Cookery: plan ahead!
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

For this evening I had planned enchiladas. Not a problem, right? I have frozen pre-cooked chicken, even with epazote, plenty of masa. What else can we need?

Well, queso cotija, salsa roja or salsa verde—and, of course the chicken. I had none of those!

OK, how about prawns and squid. We have those.

Well, yes. But what about the other ingredients? At the very least we were missing celery and snow peas. Arguably we could have worked round that. But once I had thought of the dish as being relatively simple, and in fact there's a fair amount of work involved.

So we finished off the other half of the steak and kidney triangles that we made last year. Yes, now I'm sure: I prefer it as a pie. And Yvonne still likes it like that. But there's no reason not to make one of each next time round.


Monday, 4 January 2021 Dereel Images for 4 January 2021
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The limits of red-eye reduction
Topic: health, photography, opinion Link here

All my modern cameras and many of the flash units have a feature called red-eye reduction. It's supposed to avoid things like this (from the Wikipedia page):

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b3/BoldRedEye.JPG

In my experience it doesn't work very well. But today Yvonne came in with an example that blew it all out of the water:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210104/small/Red-eye-1.jpeg
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What's that? How did it happen? How dangerous is it? Off to the hospital first, ask questions later?

No, it didn't hurt, and it seemed to be limited to the white of the eye. OK, call up a doctor first. Paul Smith? No, he's an excellent doctor, but he seems to be on holiday all the time. Yvonne called up Health First and arranged for me to send the image. And unlike last month, the mail went through. Yvonne got a call from a Doctor Steve, who told her that it was a sub-conjunctival haemorrhage, and that a single incident wasn't serious. It seems that some forms of exertion can cause it. Of course, the Wikipedia page includes other potential causes, including being choked, ebola and leptospirosis.


Where's Paul?
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

It's been a week since Paul Gallagher should have arrived to do garden work, and exceptionally it's still moist enough for the lawn to grow. It's a new week now, and the Christmas break is over, but he still didn't show, nor did he answer his phone. Where is he?

Spread some fertilizer on the pot plants out on the verandah and also on the north side of the house.


The advantages of diaries
Topic: history, Stones Road house, photography, opinion Link here

I'm currently reading my diary of n years ago, were n is in 6 10 20 51 55. Why bother? In fact, it's quite interesting. The 6 years ago was because the Stones Road house was just nearing completion, and the 51 years was because I stopped keeping my paper diary a little over 50 years ago.

And how about that, a prediction of the future on 3 January 2011, comparing DSLRs and SLRs:

On the whole things are better now, but better viewfinders would still be a good idea. I don't think we'll see them on DSLRs; when they come, they'll be electronic.

That was nearly 3 years before the first mirrorless cameras with look-into viewfinders came out. They lived up to my expectation (focus peaking, magnification), but some people still claim that they're inferior.


Tuesday, 5 January 2021 Dereel Images for 5 January 2021
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Yvonne's eye progress
Topic: health Link here

The Wikipedia page on sub-conjunctival haemorrhage suggested that Yvonne's eye could take 2 weeks to heal. Time for a series of photos. Here yesterday and today:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210104/small/Red-eye-1.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210105/small/Yvonnes-eye-1.jpeg
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That looks better than I had expected.


More old diary insights
Topic: technology, history Link here

Only yesterday I noted the advantages of old diary entries. And then today I found one addressing the issue of inputting special characters into X clients. How do you enter a Σ or a °? Ten years ago I found one way: put them into a custom ~/.XCompose file.

But recently it stopped working. Why? My way of entering ° is Multi_key d e. But that stopped working on firefox, and I discovered that I could create it with Multi_key o o. Why? I was running firefox on dereel, because eureka is still so down-rev that many sites won't talk to its old, worn-out firefox. And I didn't have the file on dereel. Easily fixed. One more irritation eliminated.

In the process, noted that it seems that each client reads the file when started.


Leonid: further problems
Topic: health, animals, opinion Link here

Yvonne off with Leonid to Melissa Wisbey today for some osteotherapy. Melissa discovered a lump above his elbow and suggested that we get a vet to look at it, so Yvonne off into town.

She wasn't gone long, but returned in tears: it's a tumour, and based on the speed with which it has grown it's probably malignant. What can we do? Cutting it out is an option, but will that help? Chemotherapy for a dog? Yes, it's done, but how will it affect him? And how long would he have to live if we do the operation? He's nearly 7 now; maybe we should just let him live as long as he's not in pain, and then put him down.

That's always the issue with dogs. We expect to outlive them, but it's always sad when we do, and this time it was quite unexpected.


Where's Paul, again
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Still no response from Paul Gallagher. No worries: he's with Jim's Mowing, and they have a phone number I can call, 131 546. After an interminable wait I was connected to somebody to whom I explained that he hadn't shown last week, and that he hadn't returned my calls. She checked: he's not working at the moment. What does that mean? He's not taking new customers.

Should I explain to her that I wasn't a new customer? No, I had already done that. But she promised that Eric, local manager, would contact me today or tomorrow.

He didn't. The whole matter greatly lessens my opinion of Jim's Mowing.

Counting the days
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Seen on Quora:

http://www.lemis.com/grog/Day/20210105/Trumped.jpeg


Wednesday, 6 January 2021 Dereel Images for 6 January 2021
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Leonid: what to do?
Topic: animals, health, opinion Link here

So it looks like Leonid has some kind of cancerous growth on his right foreleg. What do we do about it?

Called up Melissa Wisbey and discussed the matter with her. She confirmed that the lump wasn't there last time she saw him (3 weeks ago), so it grew quite quickly. She said that if it were her dog, she would do the operation. Pene Kirk (via Facebook) is concerned about what his quality of life would be like after the operation, though she seems to think that the leg would be amputated. She wanted to know whether it's an osteosarcoma or a fibrosarcoma.

In the late afternoon, Stewart Greedy, the vet, called up, and we had a long discussion. It seems that it's probably not attached to the bone (thus presumably a fibrosarcoma, not an osteosarcoma, though I didn't have the names at hand to ask him), and that it should be possible to remove it without amputation. He agreed that amputation would be a great problem for a dog of that size. And he hopes that Leo would have a considerable life ahead of him once it's over. He didn't think that euthanasia was appropriate at this stage. And despite the proximity, he doesn't see any relationship between the arthritis and the tumour.

So: what do we do? Leo will be 7 years old next month, and his arthritis would remain. What happens if we do nothing and let him live as long as he is comfortable? Will the tumour continue to grow, or will it stop? Stewart says that it could go either way. Much thinking to do.


Loeffler? Perdue!
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Today (or really yesterday; the USA is a day behind) was the Senate election runoff in the US state of Georgia (a place that I had always confused with the state of Georgia in my youth).

Why should I care? It could have implications round the world. If both seats moved from the Republicans to the Democrats, the Democrats would have balance of power in both houses of Congress and also in the presidency.

It was a long shot, and I started watching the results almost as soon as polling closed. They looked encouraging: both Democrat candidates (what are their names? Onoff? Warlock?) had round 65% of the votes.

Oh. Out of 10% counted. It seems that there's—once again—a big rift between city and country, and in the course of the afternoon the relationships came much close and even still changed hands. But by evening the battle between Kelly Loeffler and Raphael Warnock had been decided: as they would say in French, Kelly Loeffler: perdue. Warnock had won. And that shows one of the advantages of the Republican candidates: the names are easier to remember. „Loeffler“ is “spooner” in German, and « perdue » is (feminine) French for “lost”. By chance, the last “street” address I ever had (where “Street” or “Road” was in the name), and also our first own house, was Loefflerstraße 63, Friedrichsfeld, from 1979 to 1982:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/19790401/small/Friedrichsfeld-2.jpeg
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Observing honeyeaters
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

We've noted that wattlebirds have shown a particular interest in the Kniphofia just outside the dining room window, so I have put a camera (Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark I with the Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400 mm f/4.0-6.3 on the dining room table. Today we had a visitor: not a wattlebird, but a New Holland Honeyeater:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210106/small/Honeyeater-8.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210106/small/Honeyeater-10.jpeg
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It didn't seem very hungry. It sat motionless on the stem in the first image (a Canna) for quite some time, and we were concerned that it might have been sick, but then it hopped to one of the Kniphofia stems and picking around a bit. Then it flew off, and another one came by. “There can only be one”? It didn't eat either.


Thursday, 7 January 2021 Dereel Images for 7 January 2021
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Perdue? Perdu!
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

I had little hope that both senate seats in the Georgia runoff elections would go to the Democrats, but it happened. The Democrats now have balance of power in both houses of Congress and also in the presidency.

Did I say presidency? That's fake news! But a (somewhat) different topic.


A historic day in the USA
Topic: politics, history, opinion Link here

Today (well, yesterday, since it was in the USA) was the day that US Congress counted and approved the electoral votes for the presidential elections. A pure formality, and deathly boring.

Well, for the most part. The introduction was something that no living person has ever seen:

https://www.theblogger.in/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/in-pictures-the-storming-of-the-us-capitol-building.jpg https://i.dawn.com/primary/2021/01/5ff66b8249709.jpg

What's that? That's the “demonstration” (Mike Pence called it an insurrection) instigated by that enemy of the people, Donald Trump. It was so unexpected that the police couldn't stop it, though with the help of the National Guard they got it under control, but not before 4 people died: one shot dead (very few by US standards, it seems) and the other 3 because of “medical emergency”, not a term that I would apply to death.

And still some Republicans senators objected to the count, though there wasn't nigh as many as there was a while ago. The motions were defeated, of course, but I wonder how the senators and representatives will fare once this horror is over.

I'm still trying to come to terms with what has happened. Somehow this is all horribly reminiscent of 85 years ago when Hitler manipulated his followers in a similar manner. It's a good thing that there are less than 2 weeks before Trump leaves office, but that's plenty of time for him to do more damage. Some people, even his own, are already talking about invoking the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and removing him immediately.


Vaccinations for Australians
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Australia has done relatively well in the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic: 28,568 cases (1.1‰), 909 deaths (35 ppm), only 2 of which were in the last 4 months. The USA has had more deaths per capita in the last week than Australia throughout the pandemic. Currently 35 cases in hospital, none in intensive care, none on ventilators. Factor in the almost 0 deaths from influenza and we might actually be better off than in previous years.

So it's not surprising that vaccinations are off to a slow start. We weren't even supposed to start until March or April. But a couple of recent incidents have brought the issue forward. Today I read a report:

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia's first coronavirus vaccinations could commence as soon as mid-February.

He said the government aimed to have four million Australians vaccinated by the end of March, with a target to roll out 80,000 vaccinations a week by mid- to late-February.

OK, let's think about this. 80,000 per week? And he wants to get 4 million people vaccinated? That looks like 50 weeks to me. Was he really talking about March 2022? Or, considering that each person needs 2 vaccinations, March 2023?


Friday, 8 January 2021 Dereel Images for 8 January 2021
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Storming the Capitol: the aftermath
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Yesterday's storming of the US Capitol has taken centre stage, sidelining even things like the “Coronavirus. I, too, am still trying to understand. Was the police force more sympathetic to the right-wing terrorists storming the Capitol than they were towards relatively peaceful “Black Lives Matter” demonstrations 6 months ago? You can (maybe) forgive them for not expecting what happened, but once the National Guard came on the scenes you'd expect that they would all be arrested and placed in cages, like they do to otherwise innocent illegal immigrants. But no, only about 80 were arrested. Why?

Did I say terrorist? Yes. By the FBI definition, that's exactly what they were:

Violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.

And what about removing Donald Trump from office? The Democrats wanted Mike Pence to invoke the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and remove him immediately. That would have required a majority of the Cabinet to agree, not made easier by the immediate resignation of at least two members. And it seems that Pence was not available to talk to Nancy Pelosi on the phone. First they made her wait 25 minutes, and then said that he wasn't available.

But that doesn't seem to be aimed at Pelosi. We've been bombarded with news flashes all day, but one name was missing: Pence. Has he gone into hiding?

So what now? Impeachment? It's a bit late to start that again, and I can hear the echos of Trump saying “I was the best president the US has ever had. I was the only one to be impeached twice”.

The satire sites had a field day, of course:

One thing's for sure: Joe Biden is facing a tough start to his presidency.


Tidying up old junk
Topic: general, multimedia Link here

Request on Freecycle today: somebody in Snake Valley looking for an old radio and amplifier.

I can do that! I still have the unit that I picked up, also from Freecycle, 2½ years ago So I answered, and he came along and picked it up. Can I convince him to take more? Yes, the old TV antenna and two old spray units. I even managed to find the charger for the battery-operated one.

We can do more of this. I suppose I should offer the old gas range and UPS on Freecycle. They're worth a few bob.


Surprise lilies
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Wandering round the garden and finding still more leaks in the irrigation system, I came across this flower:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210108/small/Lily-3.jpeg
Image title: Lily 3
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210108/small/Lily-1.jpeg
Image title: Lily 1
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It's surprisingly large, nearly 20 cm across, and I can't recall having seen it before. Did it not flower last year? I don't see anything in the monthly flower photos.


Saturday, 9 January 2021 Dereel Images for 9 January 2021
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Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Pre-prepared Phở for breakfast today, from “Mr Chen”:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210109/small/Mr-Chen-1.png
Image title: Mr Chen 1
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I've had it before, but apparently not mentioned it. It's confusing: broth for the Phở, rather unnecessary rice sticks, and dried herbs. Now wouldn't it be a good idea to be able to buy just the broth (which, in this case, didn't taste overly like the way I recall it)?

And in this case I got my choice (or maybe no choice) of rice sticks:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210109/small/Pho-3.jpeg
Image title: Pho 3
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I don't suppose it makes much difference.

In passing, “Phở” is an irritating word. How do I search my diary for it? “Pho” is much easier for that.


Still more panorama mods
Topic: photography Link here

I've been taking panoramic photos for 12½ years now. It took me a while to understand the mounting hardware needed to keep the entrance pupil in the same place, not helped by the industry or the available documentation, but by 4 years later (and over 8 years ago) I had pretty much the equipment I'm still using.

But there were still issues with the bracket obscuring the field of view, causing suffering five years ago. And then I bought a M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO and discovered that I had to move the rail further forward, fouling the camera against the side of the L bracket:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210110/small/Panorama-bracket-8.jpeg
Image title: Panorama bracket 8
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210110/small/Panorama-bracket-2.jpeg
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OK, not a problem: turn the rail around so that the L bracket is on the other side:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210110/small/Panorama-bracket-12.jpeg
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I had done that almost as soon as I got the lens. But now the adjusting knobs of the bottom rail get in the way of the picture when the camera is tilted down:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210110/small/Panorama-bracket-13.jpeg
Image title: Panorama bracket 13
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I hadn't taken many photos like that, so until today I hadn't done anything about it. But it's clear that that also needs to be changed round. In fact, this photo was taken after the change. It required removing a rather silly level at the end of the rail:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20151108/small/Pano-rail-5.jpeg
Image title: Pano rail 5
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It wasn't that big a job (far less than writing it up). But it's amazing how long it takes to get things right. And in passing, it's interesting to note that the green colour of the fluid in the level (fluorescein?) has completely faded.


Preparing for honeyeater photos
Topic: photography, animals, opinion Link here

For the past few days I have had my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark I with the Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400 mm f/4.0-6.3 on the dining room table waiting for the return of the New Holland Honeyeater. So of course it hasn't come back.

But there's a basic issue with the exposure: I'm taking the photo from inside the house, and the background is very bright. How do I balance the exposure? One obvious thing is to use the studio flash in that room. Tried some trial exposures today. At least during the daytime, not encouraging. Here first the photos without flash:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210109/small/Flash-test-4.jpeg
Image title: Flash test 4
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210109/small/Flash-test-5.jpeg
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With flash there was a change, but not a great one:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210109/small/Flash-test-2.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210109/small/Flash-test-3.jpeg
Image title: Flash test 3
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That's during the daytime, of course. In the evening it would be different. In particular, though, the honeyeaters don't come at night.


Sunday, 10 January 2021 Dereel Images for 10 January 2021
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Choice of camera
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

To take yesterday's photos of the panorama I took the Olympus E-PM2 and the Panasonic Lumix G 20 mm f/1.7. Clearly I couldn't use the OM-D E-M1 Mark II (that's what I was taking the photos of), and the OM-D E-M1 Mark I was in the dining room. And after all, the image quality is pretty much the same.

But the results were less than satisfactory, and I had to repeat most of the photos with the E-M1 Mark I and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100 mm f/4.0 IS PRO. Here a comparison, first E-PM2 and then E-M1:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210110/small/Panorama-bracket-1.jpeg
Image title: Panorama bracket 1
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210110/small/Panorama-bracket-7.jpeg
Image title: Panorama bracket 7
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Here the short focal length (20 mm) of the Lumix lens bit me. I got the rotator OK, but I'm looking up at the camera. The second time round I was much further away, with the lens set at 100 mm.

And then there was the issue of depth of field:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210110/small/Panorama-bracket-4.jpeg
Image title: Panorama bracket 4
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210110/small/Panorama-bracket-12.jpeg
Image title: Panorama bracket 12
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210110/small/Panorama-bracket-4-detail.jpeg
Image title: Panorama bracket 4 detail
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210110/small/Panorama-bracket-12-detail.jpeg
Image title: Panorama bracket 12 detail
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The fuzzy appearance isn't the fault of the lens. I took the E-PM2 photos with available light, at full aperture f/1.7. The stupid horizontally mounted compass was perfectly sharp, but the camera was further away. After seeing the results, I changed a few other things, including taking the E-M1 photos with flash, which also greatly improved the appearance. But why didn't I see the unsharpness earlier? Because I was using the LCD monitor viewfinder. It really doesn't work as well as the “EVF”.

So: I could probably have done the better photos with the E-PM2 as well, but I would have needed a longer lens, a viewfinder and a flash trigger. And they don't all fit on the camera!


Putting Microsoft to sleep
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Interesting question on Quora today: Did Windows remove the sleep mode. That's quite relevant to me, since I haven't been able to get distress, my Microsoft “Windows” 10 box, to sleep.

But the answer (now thoughtfully downvoted) referred to hibernating, not sleeping. A bit of searching found the answer anyway. The problem was that I was looking in the wrong place. SHUTDOWN/H will hibernate, but there's no corresponding option for “sleep”. Instead you need to open the menu at the bottom of the screen, select ⏼ (IO), find “Sleep” in the new menu, and click on it. Clearly much friendlier than using old-fashioned commands.

To prove the point, the instructions for enabling hibernation show how difficult command input is under Microsoft:

How to make hibernation available

  1. Press the Windows button on the keyboard to open Start menu or Start screen.
  2. Search for cmd. In the search results list, right-click Command Prompt, and then select Run as Administrator.
  3. When you are prompted by User Account Control, select Continue.
  4. At the command prompt, type powercfg.exe /hibernate on, and then press Enter.
  5. Type exit, and then press Enter to close the Command Prompt window.

Isn't it easy to make simple things complicated? And why do they have two different ways to do things? They could easily have tied the menu tree climbing to the SHUTDOWN command. But it also shows to me how unintuitive I find the Microsoft environment.


Leonid: operation yes or no?
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

After my discussion on the phone with Stewart Greedy on Wednesday, we decided to go ahead with the operation, and we have an appointment for Monday week. But Yvonne continued discussing the matter with her friends, and both Pene Kirk and Judy Lannen advise against it. So we're still not sure if he will be operated or not.

One of the issues is his age: he'll be 7 years old next month. How old do Borzois get, asked Juha Kupiainen. 10 years, I said. But it's good to check. Google says 7-10 years. Wikipedia says 10-12 years. That's a big difference, though the fine print reads “Median lifespan based on a UK Kennel Club survey is 9 years 1 month.”


Friends
Topic: animals Link here

Piccola seems to prefer Nikolai to Leonid, but recently she's been with Leo more:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210110/small/Leonid-Piccola-2.jpeg
Image title: Leonid Piccola 2
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Does she sense something?


Chilorio
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I've been planning something pseudo-mexican for some time, but things like enchiladas and burritos are too US American and messy for my liking. How about some filling that you just roll up in a tortilla?

Off looking, and found a recipe for chilorio in “Mexico: The beautiful cookbook”. Like all such books, it's a pain: measured in spoons and things, and the quantities of spices appeared improbably low. In the end guessed what they meant and multiplied it by 3, with good results. Yvonne thought that it was spot-on, but I'm left wondering if it shouldn't be even more.


More flowers
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Not everything in the garden is dying. Our Leucospermum cordifolium seems to have reacted well to the fertilizer I gave it in the winter:

And more of the lilies that I noted on Friday are now flowering:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210110/small/Lilies-1.jpeg
Image title: Lilies 1
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210110/small/Lilies-2.jpeg
Image title: Lilies 2
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Sunset
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Nice cloud colour at sunset this evening:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210110/small/Sunset-2.jpeg
Image title: Sunset 2
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Only it was almost impossible to capture an image. This one required a maximum of colour accentuation in postprocessing, and even then it didn't do justice to the original.


Broken glasses!
Topic: health, general Link here

While taking the photos of the sunset, for some reason I put my glasses on my armchair. Returned, sat down, ...

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210111/small/Spectacles-5.jpeg
Image title: Spectacles 5
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210111/small/Spectacles-1.jpeg
Image title: Spectacles 1
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210111/small/Spectacles-2.jpeg
Image title: Spectacles 2
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210111/small/Spectacles-3.jpeg
Image title: Spectacles 3
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210111/small/Spectacles-4.jpeg
Image title: Spectacles 4
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Specsavers sent me a reminder for an eye test a few days ago. I think I'll have to take it up.


The day of the 5 cameras
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

55 years ago I started carrying a second camera, and continued doing so until most of my camera equipment was stolen in Milano in ten years later. In those days it made sense to have a second camera, since things like film type and sensitivity varied and couldn't be swapped easily.

More by accretion than by design, we now have 6 Olympus cameras: my OM-D E-M1 Mark II and Yvonne's OM-D E-M5 Mark III. Then there's the E-M1 Mark I, the predecessor to the E-M1 Mark II, which I kept because I thought it could come in useful sometimes (it does).

Apart from the OM-Ds, there's Yvonne's old camera, the E-PM2, which I'm now carrying with me in my handbag, and the E-PM1, which I used to use for this purpose until Yvonne got her new one.

And finally there's the (second) E-30, which I use only for the Analemma photo series that I've been taking for nearly 1½ years.

The funny thing is, with the exception of the E-PM1, we really use all these cameras. In fact, I used all 5 today: as mentioned above, the E-PM2 and the E-M1 Mark I for the panorama bracket photos, the E-M1 Mark II for the flower and sunset photos, the E-30 for (of course) the analemma photos, and the E-M5 Mark III for the photos of Piccola and Leonid, since it was easier to get at without disturbing them.


Monday, 11 January 2021 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 11 January 2021
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Gardening again
Topic: gardening Link here

Paul Gallagher around today to mow the lawn and continue weeding, two weeks after he had been due. It showed: we had more grass in the garden than I have ever seen in January. Here part of the north garden a year ago and two days ago:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200111/small/House-n-e.jpeg
Image title: House n e
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210109/small/House-n-e.jpeg
Image title: House n e
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Paul had got an unwelcome Christmas present, a case of gastroenteritis from his nephew, and had apparently been out of commission for two weeks, though I have my suspicions that the time was really shorter, and it doesn't explain why he didn't reply to my phone calls. As a result, he wasn't able to stay as long as needed (and certainly not helped by the 37° temperatures). It looks like it will be a while before we get the garden into the condition that we would like.


Eye test again
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Into town to Specsavers this afternoon for an eye test and to see if they could repair my old glasses. As I feared, no chance of repairing the old glasses.

The eye test was interesting. It included a hearing test (listen for faint tones drowned out by the loud ambient noise), which (they say) was successful, though it seems that it was prepared to show higher frequencies than I detected. Then the eye test, and a photo of my retinae, one of which showed a pale patch which the optometrist thought could be indicative of a loss of peripheral vision. So in to have a visual field test, which came out with mixed results: right eye no problem, left eye showed a loss to the right (fortunately in the area covered by the right eye). He thought that it might be related to tiredness, which is quite a possibility. We'll repeat when I pick up the glasses.

And then the eternal search for frames. Some for “$149 for two pairs”, some, almost identical, for $249. And none like the ones I had (which they had supplied two years ago). Finally selected a single pair of $249 glasses. $420! I will never understand their pricing, though clearly the prices are for normal lenses and not multifocals, and also don't include the all-important nonreflective coating.

It wasn't until I left that I realized that he hadn't checked my computer glasses. Should I worry?


Tuesday, 12 January 2021 Dereel Images for 12 January 2021
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Bibimbap: worth the trouble?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Bibimbap for breakfast again today:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210112/small/Bibimbap-2.jpeg
Image title: Bibimbap 2
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I wonder why. It's horribly complicated to make, I don't have a number of the ingredients, and it's not overly interesting. To make matters worse today, I forgot the sauce.


Rotated photos
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

While looking at old photos today, came across this thoroughly forgettable image:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20180522/small/Yvonne-Piccola-rotated.jpeg
Image title: Yvonne Piccola
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It would be bad enough the right way round:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20180522/small/Yvonne-Piccola.jpeg
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It was taken with the old Samsung GT-I9100T mobile phone, and intended to show that even that camera could take better photos than this, which we had received a day earlier:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20180521/small/Sofa-bed-2.jpeg
Image title: Sofa bed 2
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But why was it rotated? And why was it distorted?

Comparing web browsers, it seems that firefox has started honouring the Orientation tag in the Exif data, something that it never used to do. I had processed the photo and changed the orientation to portrait, but I hadn't changed the Exif data, and the dimensions on the web site were correct for the rotated image, so the external dimensions didn't change.

How do I fix it?

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/27) ~/Photos/20180522 863 -> exiftool -orientation=horizontal Yvonne-Piccola.jpeg

But how many photos are affected? Not the ones processed with DxO PhotoLab, it seems, but there are plenty of others like this one that weren't. Time to go through my entire collection and see what's affected.


Old photos: still no magic bullet
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

It's been over 12 years since we last had a dinner party for my family. Today I stumbled over the photos again and marvelled, not for the first time, about how had they were.

At the time I had only just started processing raw images, and I was using ufraw. I was clearly not happy with the results, and I tried at least twice to fix things. Here's a photo with which I was particularly unhappy:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20080928/small/celebration-7-ufraw.jpeg
Image title: celebration 7 ufraw
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20080928/small/celebration-7-try2.jpeg
Image title: celebration 7 try2
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20080928/small/celebration-7-try3.jpeg
Image title: celebration 7 try3
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On the face of it, the middle one is the best. My shirt is black, after all. But surely I can do better nowadays with my current workflow. Here's the result compared to the previous best (run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour):

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20080928/small/celebration-7-try2.jpeg
Image title: celebration 7 try2
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20080928/small/celebration-7.jpeg
Image title: celebration 7
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The gradation is better, and the halos are gone, but it's still not good, and the shirt has got paler. An issue with the camera, maybe? This was the Olympus E-510 with the Zuiko Digital ED 12-60 mm f/2.8-4.0 SWD. What would it have looked like with a different camera?


Wednesday, 13 January 2021 Dereel → Cape Clear → Dereel Images for 13 January 2021
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Investigating Leonid's growth
Topic: health, animals Link here

Off to Cape Clear this afternoon for Pene Kirk to perform a biopsy on Leonid's lump in his leg:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210113/small/Leonid-biopsy-6.jpeg
Image title: Leonid biopsy 6
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210113/small/Leonid-biopsy-10.jpeg
Image title: Leonid biopsy 10
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210113/small/Leonid-biopsy-36.jpeg
Image title: Leonid biopsy 36
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210113/small/Leonid-biopsy-54.jpeg
Image title: Leonid biopsy 54
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The lump proved to be surprisingly hard, more like cartilage than anything else. We'll know more about its nature next week after the pathological investigation, but Pene is sure that it is malignant, and almost certainly some kind of fibrosarcoma.


Phantom files
Topic: technology Link here

While backing up my photos today, came across this strange information:

...
2-grog/.nfs.d7ef1349.29924.4
2-grog/.nfs.d7ef3635.29924.4
2-grog/.nfs.d7ef5a7a.29924.4
...

What are they? /Photos/2-grog/ is a staging directory that I use to make life with Microsoft bearable: put the files I need to process there and run a Microsoft-space program always against the same directory so that I don't have to climb trees directory for directory. The software (in this case DxO PhotoLab) is set to write its results back to the same directory.

But what does that have to do with NFS? I'm using SMB with Samba. Still, some of those timestamps look interesting:

  -rwxr--r--   1 grog  wheel      9304  2 Jan 13:04 .nfs.d7ef5a7a.29924.4
  -rwxr--r--   1 grog  wheel      9304  2 Jan 13:04 .nfs.d7ef3635.29924.4
  -rwxr--r--   1 grog  wheel      9304  2 Jan 13:04 .nfs.d7ef1349.29924.4

Looking back, I found this article. The times match exactly: conversion stopped on 2 January at 12:41, and from 13:05 on I had truncated files.

But what does that have to do with NFS? And it seems that there are many more files there that I can't explain, some dating back as far as August 2013. But on that occasion, as on the others (all more recently in this month), I hadn't noticed any file loss. So at best there's only a partial relationship.


Thursday, 14 January 2021 Dereel Images for 14 January 2021
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Reheating Mexican food
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

On Sunday we ate Mexican-inspired food, including tortillas and frijoles refritos. I made enough for a breakfast of huevos rancheros for Tuesday.

Tuesday? For various reasons it dragged out until yesterday evening (for leftovers) and this morning (for the eggs). How did the food fare?

The tortillas, left in their serving box, got somewhat hard. I ran water over them and left them to soak before heating them in a microwave oven. The result: quite acceptable yesterday evening, though the rolled-up taco fell apart. But that happens with fresh tortillas too, though it didn't with the ones we ate on Sunday.

This morning I used even more water and heated longer (30 s at 1.2 kW for 2 tortillas), and they came out almost as if they were fresh.

The frijoles refritos were even better: add a little water, heat them up, and they were indistinguishable from “fresh”.


distress crash
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Into the office this morning to process some photos, and found that distress, my Microsoft “Windows” 10 box, had apparently crashed and rebooted during the night:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/37) ~/Photos/20210113 449 -> date; ruptime
Thu 14 Jan 2021 09:45:23 AEDT
dischord                 down    3+21:13
distress                   up      13:59,     0 users,  load 0.00, 0.00, 0.00

How did that happen? How do I find out? First, of course, I establish contact with the machine:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210114/small/Microsoft-setup-1.png
Image title: Microsoft setup 1
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Setting up your device? Idiot! Don't you know that it's a computer? Did something go completely wrong? And all these silly settings:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210114/small/Microsoft-setup-1-detail-1.png
Image title: Microsoft setup 1 detail 1          Dimensions:          889 x 304, 116 kB
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OK, Microsoft, I'll bite. Where do I touch my computer? What do I smile at? You're supposed to know what you're running on. What is this nonsense?


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210114/small/Microsoft-setup-1-detail-3.png
Image title: Microsoft setup 1 detail 3          Dimensions:          1029 x 262, 125 kB
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Now how does that work? Do I even want to know? Presumably I must use only Microsoft “devices”. Nonsense!


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210114/small/Microsoft-setup-1-detail-4.png
Image title: Microsoft setup 1 detail 4          Dimensions:          894 x 302, 145 kB
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I can't even be bothered to look at this one. “Premium Office apps”. Clearly it costs money. As a FreeBSD developer I already have a free subscription to some Microsoft service which offers me lots of stuff, and I couldn't be bothered to access it. And security? I already have FreeBSD.


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210114/small/Microsoft-setup-1-detail-5.png
Image title: Microsoft setup 1 detail 5          Dimensions:          922 x 293, 154 kB
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“More secure in the cloud with OneDrive”. Somehow that's an oxymoron. If you want data to be secure, you don't make them Internet-accessible.


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210114/small/Microsoft-setup-1-detail-2.png
Image title: Microsoft setup 1 detail 2          Dimensions:          1072 x 252, 122 kB
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I was going to say something nasty about this one too, but it occurred to me that it could be useful. I fear that it could involve lots of tree climbing, but I should take a closer look, some other time.

But why did the system crash in the first place? Ah, not a bug, a feature:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210114/small/Microsoft-setup-2-detail.png
Image title: Microsoft setup 2 detail          Dimensions:          1617 x 167, 107 kB
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Without so much as a by-your-leave, it had simply installed updates and rebooted. I thought I had prohibited that. How I hate Microsoft!


eureso again
Topic: technology Link here

My system upgrade ground to a halt, not for the first time, a month ago. I ran into an unexpected feature (yes, really) of VirtualBox that gave me what looked like inconsistent disk images. I'm sure that I can work around it, and the feature itself (different views of the same disk on different VMs) can be very useful, but here it's just another way to shoot myself in the foot.

So, how about a real computer? Looking around, I was surprised to discover that I have no fewer than 8 ThinkCentre boxes. Five are in use, one appears to be dead, but that still leaves two. So today I grabbed one of them, put a disk in it, and investigated what I need to do to carry on with last month's image.

The biggest problem was that the disk image is 30 GB in size, and the disk I chose had only 20 GB:

=== root@tiwi (/dev/pts/4) ~ 2 -> gpart show
=>       40  976773088  ada0  GPT  (466G)
         40        128     1  freebsd-boot  (64K)
        168   41943040     2  freebsd-ufs  (20G)
   41943208   20971520     3  freebsd-swap  (10G)
   62914728   41943040     4  freebsd-ufs  (20G)
  104857768  871915360     5  freebsd-ufs  (416G)

That's my typical partition layout: boot partition, root file system, swap, alternate root file system and rest of disk for /home. How do I fix that?

For the moment, 20 GB is enough for /home. So I moved what I needed there. Now I need to remove partition 5 (that's the single digit column in the middle) and create a 30 GB partition there.

And then there's the next problem: the boot partition is only 64 kB in size. As I discovered six months ago, that's not enough. I might be able to fake it on this system, but eureka also only has 64 kB. Probably the best choice is to buy another SSD for the root file system.


Android messages: caught in the act
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Over the past few weeks, these irritating “here now and gone forever” messages on my phone have become fewer. But today one appeared just as I happened to be looking at the phone. It was from VicEmergency, about which I have complained in the past. Something about Covid, but I didn't have time to read the rest.

Somehow that's typical of the app. It's supposed to inform me about emergencies, notably bushfires, not ongoing incidents. But could it be that it was too polite to send to my Messages tab, and wanted to display it itself? Fired up the app, which is as useless as it has ever been, and indeed I saw a warning about COVID-19—from two days ago! Nothing newer!

What a USELESS waste of time!


Friday, 15 January 2021 Dereel Images for 15 January 2021
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Anatomy of a power failure
Topic: Stones Road house, general, technology, opinion Link here

In the early afternoon my office UPS beeped once. I've heard that before: it often happens when there's a grid power failure. Why? I wish I knew; maybe a slow cutover to battery power?

Out to confirm: yes, the power was out. It started at 13:46:29, and continued long enough for me to investigate. Check the Powercor outage map, the one that displays a map of all of Victoria, 95% of populated South Australia and half of New South Wales, and always insists on going back to that view. Zoom in. Yes, a large pink-shaded area round Ballarat, going about as far as Buninyong. Nothing round our way. Click on the symbols. Nothing useful happens.

OK, report online. “We are aware of an outage in your area” (“but are too polite to mention it on the map”?). And how about that, a while later the area from Ballarat to here and on to Rokewood went blue. Click on the area. Still nothing happens. What do the colours mean? Click on “Legend” at bottom left:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210115/small/Powercor-1.png
Image title: Powercor 1
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Ah, think outside the box:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210115/small/Powercor-1-detail.png
Image title: Powercor 1 detail          Dimensions:          861 x 314, 76 kB
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Pink means “200 + Customers off supply”, and blue is between 50 and 200. Presumably less than 50 customers is not worth worrying about. And how many of us were off supply in blue Dereel? 254. Sigh.

OK, look at the list. Yes, problem being identified (a text meaning “We're working on it, but can't be bothered to update the status”), location Sutton Street, Delacombe. Good, in town. So they'll look at it fast.

Checked the status later. Estimated restoration 17:00, location Learmonth St. Buninyong. Were there two outages? No, it had changed for all locations.

Still later looked again. Now it's at Geelong Road, Mount Helen! Doesn't that inspire confidence? No wonder the status was still “Under investigation”. They're still trying to find where it happened.

The good news was that the power came back, with a hiccough, at 15:35:52. The battery was 100% charged, the sun was shining, and the inverter started using grid power:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210115/small/power-generation.png
Image title: power generation
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What caused that? Round 17:50 it was about 10 kW. The inverter can only provide 6 kW, and that came almost entirely from the PV panels, so it's understandable that the rest had to come from the grid. But why? What was using 10 kW?

The power failed again at 16:57:19, almost as if to justify Powercor's claim of power restoration at 17:00. I didn't even notice until the next day.

Of course I was informed about the outage. At 14:58:16 I got a message from Ingeteam telling me that the power had been “out of range” for over an hour, starting at “1/15/2021 1:46:40 PM”. I've grumbled about the format in the past, but why the 11 second discrepancy in the start time? It didn't seem to bother sending me an “end of alarm” message this time, though it used to in the past.

And after jumping through a few hoops, including sending a confirmation code to my mobile phone, Powercor also informed me of the end of the outage, at 15:41 (Android doesn't believe in seconds). Like the message from VicEmergency, it gave a brief 1 second display and then went away again. But unlike VicEmergency, it put the message in my Messages tab, where I would expect it. So so far it seems that this confusion is VicEmergency's fault.


eureso upgrade
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Continued with eureso today. The disk image that I copied from the stable12 VM booted happily, though I ran into a couple of minor issues. First, my intention is to have as good as the same configuration files for both eureso and eureka. /etc/rc.conf contains:

FORREAL=0
if [ $FORREAL -eq 0 ]; then
  hostname="eureso.lemis.com"
  hostip=192.109.197.143
  defaultrouter="192.109.197.137"
else
  hostname="eureka.lemis.com"
  hostip=192.109.197.137
fi

All I need to do, I thought, was change FORREAL from 0 to 1 or back. But life isn't that simple. At the very least I need a different /etc/fstab. And then there are things like multiple nmbd processes: I need a different /etc/inetd.conf. What else?

Apart from that, a more obvious problem: I didn't have enough space to build a world. All day and I ended up with a full file system. Still, I'm back on familiar territory again.


Saturday, 16 January 2021 Dereel Images for 16 January 2021
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eureso upgrade, day 3
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Into the office this morning. The build, now with /usr/obj NFS mounted, almost worked. But then, towards the end of the kernel build, I saw something I've never seen before:

===> Ports module x11/nvidia-driver (all)
cd ${PORTSDIR:-/usr/ports}/x11/nvidia-driver; env  -u CC  -u CXX  -u CPP  -u MAKESYSPATH  -u MK_AUTO_OBJ  -u MAKEOBJDIR  MAKEFLAGS="-I /Photos/Tools -D NOCLEAN -I /Photos/Tools -D NOCLEAN -D NO_MODULES_OBJ .MAKE.LEVEL.ENV=MAKELEVEL KERNEL=kernel TARGET=amd64 TARGET_ARCH=amd64"  SYSDIR=/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/sys  PATH=/home/src/eureso/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/amd64.amd64/tmp/legacy/usr/sbin:/home/src/eureso/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/amd64.amd64/tmp/legacy/usr/bin:/home/src/eureso/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/amd64.amd64/tmp/legacy/bin:/home/src/eureso/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/amd64.amd64/tmp/usr/sbin:/home/src/eureso/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/amd64.amd64/tmp/usr/bin:/sbin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/local/sbin  SRC_BASE=/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12  OSVERSION=1202504  WRKDIRPREFIX=/home/src/eureso/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/amd64.amd64/sys/GENERIC make -B clean build
pkg-static: Warning: Major OS version upgrade detected.  Running "pkg-static install -f pkg" recommended
===>  Cleaning for nvidia-driver-440.100_1
===>  nvidia-driver-440.100_1 pkg(8) must be version 1.15.9 or greater, but
you have 1.10.5. You must upgrade the ports-mgmt/pkg port first.
*** Error code 1

Yes, it's not surprising that I would need to upgrade the nvidia-driver. And that's a port, and I first need to get my ports sorted out. But before I can do that I need to build a new kernel. Vicious circle.

OK, the current kernel's less than 2 months old. It'll probably do. So start the eternal ports upgrade. Will it finish today?

Yes, indeed:

=== root@eureso (/dev/pts/1) /usr/src 22 -> pkg-static install -f pkg
pkg-static: Warning: Major OS version upgrade detected.  Running "pkg-static install -f pkg" recommended
Updating FreeBSD repository catalogue...
pkg-static: repository meta /var/db/pkg/FreeBSD.meta has wrong version 2
pkg-static: Repository FreeBSD load error: meta cannot be loaded No error: 0
Fetching meta.txz: 100%    916 B   0.9kB/s    00:01
pkg-static: repository meta /var/db/pkg/FreeBSD.meta has wrong version 2
repository FreeBSD has no meta file, using default settings
Fetching packagesite.txz: 100%    6 MiB 582.8kB/s    00:11
pkg-static: repository meta /var/db/pkg/FreeBSD.meta has wrong version 2
pkg-static: Repository FreeBSD load error: meta cannot be loaded No error: 0
Unable to open created repository FreeBSD
Unable to update repository FreeBSD
Error updating repositories!

That wasn't the first attempt: that was pkg upgrade pkg. But clearly the exact invocation wasn't the issue. I'm dead in the water. What do I do now? Yes, I can throw away the ports, all 1,200 odd of them, but that way madness lies.

Sent a message to freebsd-ports@freebsd.org, and how about that, got a reply from Kyle Evans within 20 minutes. It's obvious:

pkg bootstrap -f

And how about that, it did. After that, the expected (and here heavily truncated):


The following 1349 package(s) will be affected (of 0 checked):

Installed packages to be REMOVED:
        ImageMagick: 6.9.5.7,1
        bind910: 9.10.4P3
        emacs24: 24.5_3,3
        python34: 3.4.5
        samba42: 4.2.14

Number of packages to be removed: 120
Number of packages to be installed: 289
Number of packages to be upgraded: 792
Number of packages to be reinstalled: 148

The process will require 3 GiB more space.
3 GiB to be downloaded.

But I expected that, especially removing Emacs. Let it run, which continued for the rest of the day.


Honeyeaters
Topic: animals Link here

Gradually I'm getting some usable photos of the New Holland Honeyeaters that feed on the Kniphofia outside the dining room window:

 
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firefox will help!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I'm still suffering from slow performance from web browsers. firefox thinks so too, and offered to help.

OK, I know what the real problem is, but it would be interesting to see what it wants to do. But I never expected this:


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Throw out all customizations! All my settings! All the things I've worked to carefully get the thing to be halfway usable and less painful! These people need their heads read.


Sunday, 17 January 2021 Dereel Images for 17 January 2021
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More eureso pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Some time in the early hours of this morning my port upgrade completed. Well, it stopped running:

[8/1417] Upgrading gstreamer1-plugins from 1.8.0 to 1.16.2_2...
pkg: gstreamer1-plugins-1.16.2_2 conflicts with gstreamer1-plugins-bad-1.8.0_1 (installs files into the same place).  Problematic file: /usr/local/include/gstreamer-1.0/gst/audio/gstaudioaggregator.h

I had expected that. Somehow I had 26 gstreamer-related ports installed, including

gstreamer-0.10.36_4            Development framework for creating media applications
gstreamer-ffmpeg-0.10.13_4     GStreamer plug-in for manipulating MPEG video streams
gstreamer1-1.8.0               Media applications framework

OK, take note of the fact and remove them all. Well, maybe only gstreamer-0.10.36_4. But of course, that wouldn't work without removing another 55 ports, including gnuplot, Hugin, Opera and what looked like most of KDE. OK, note them and continue.

Next failure:

[554/1304] Installing linux_base-c7-7.8.2003_1...
Cannot install package: kernel missing 64-bit Linux support
pkg: PRE-INSTALL script failed
ld-elf.so.1: Shared object "libicuuc.so.57" not found, required by "sendmail"
You have new mail in /var/mail/grog

How about that, there are now two linux KLDs: linux and linux64. OK, I can load them, then continue. But what's that error about libicuuc.so.57? And why sendmail?

Left it running for a while, then decided to start a new xterm on eureso. Nothing happened. OK, ssh:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/37) ~ 551 -> ssh eureso
ld-elf.so.1: Undefined symbol "rl_filename_rewrite_hook" referenced from COPY relocation in /usr/local/bin/bash
Connection to eureso.lemis.com closed.
Disconnected at Sun 17 Jan 2021 16:05:53 AEDT

Oh. What went wrong there? Clearly we need a shell. How about just removing bash and reinstalling it?

   ...
Proceed with this action? [y/N]: y
[1/1] Installing bash-5.1.4_1...
[1/1] Extracting bash-5.1.4_1: 100%
=== root@eureso (/dev/pts/1) /usr/ports/shells/bash 90 -> bash
ld-elf.so.1: Undefined symbol "rl_filename_rewrite_hook" referenced from COPY relocation in /usr/local/bin/bash

Damn! Things are really messed up. Build from source?

cc -shared -Wl,-soname,cut  -Wl,-export-dynamic -fstack-protector-strong  -o cut cut.o
Segmentation fault (core dumped)
mkdir /home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/shells/bash/work/stage/usr/local/lib/bash
Segmentation fault (core dumped)
*** Error code 139

Once again I'm dead in the water.

One thing is clear: just upgrading eureka or eureso just Doesn't Work. What do I do now? The best thing seems to be to start with no ports at all and build them all from source, like some people have been advising me. But first I need to think that through. What exactly do I remove? /var/db/cache contains packages, which I don't need any more, but they're convenient to have in case I change my mind. What about /var/db/pkg? And how does this differ from the approach I started with dereel over 9 months ago?

How frustrating this is!


Fake fake tagine
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

We've got lots of stuff floating around that we don't seem to be able to get rid of: beef cubes in the deep freezer, hundreds of nuts and dried fruit in the fridge. So how about my fake tagine? After all, a tagine sounds like the best thing to make to use up that kind of odds and ends, including a courgette that Yvonne bought a couple of weeks ago, and which, despite a valiant struggle, was gradually giving up the ghost.

So it was. But I hadn't checked that I had all ingredients. In particular, we don't have any dried chick peas any more, and I needed 300 g. I found 130 g of cooked chick peas in the freezer, but that's only about 20% of what we needed. We were also out of ras-el-hanout, and I ended up substituting a number of other random spices that we had floating around: La kama, Harira (really the name of a dish, not a spice) and some cinnamon powder that some misguided visitor had brought us. In the process, I also doubled the quantities of spices and also ginger and garlic. It wasn't until later that I compare with other recipes and discovered, for example, that I could have used cumminseed and cinnamon instead.

Next problem: how do I heat the tagine? Last time we still had a gas stove. Now we only have the induction cooker and the emergency gas stove, which isn't really big enough, and the tagine is made of non-induction-capable aluminium. Clearly it's high time to order a heating pad for such events, and I did, but of course it'll be a while before it arrives.

OK, how about a metal pan in between, like this paellera?

 
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Yes, it worked, sort of, but it didn't seem to do the paellera much good, and to get a gentle bubbling I had to set the power rating to 7, which is probably round 800 W, heating the surroundings more than the tagine. So I ended up putting it on the small gas burner, which produced the same result when turned down far below minimum.

And how did it taste?

 
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Very good, better than I ever remember it before. My guess is that the greater quantity of spices made the difference. Here's a comparison with the base recipe:

quantity       quantity       ingredient
(recipe)       (actual)
1 kg       1 kg       meat (beef or lamb), cut into 3-4 cm “cubes”
10 g       20 g       ginger, finely chopped
20 g       40 g       garlic, pressed
10 g             ras el-hanout
      10 g       “Harira”
      5 g       cinnamon powder
      5 g       la kama
300 g       60 g       chick peas
            oil for frying
5 g       5 g       cinnamon stick
400 g       400 g       tinned tomatoes
80 g       80 g       honey
30 g       28 g       salt
0.5 g             saffron
400 g       400 g       potato, in about 10 pieces
250 g       250 g       carrot, in about 10 pieces
125 g       125 g       dried apricots
225 g       460 g       courgette, in thick slices
200 g             aubergine, in thick slices
      260 g       carrots
      390 g       prunes
      80 g?       almonds
      50 g?       pistachios

Monday, 18 January 2021 Dereel Images for 18 January 2021
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The revenge of Microsoft
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yvonne in to my office with a problem: distress, the Microsoft “Windows” 10 box, wouldn't talk to her, something to do with all slots being full. Sure enough, it was repeatable.

Bloody Microsoft! Does this have something to do with the unsolicited upgrade last week? Probably. In to my office to check. Worked fine for me. Simulate Yvonne's environment and try again. Long delay while it logged her in and did whatever else Microsoft does when it starts up. But it worked. Back to her office. Worked.

So what went wrong? She had to log in, but the first couple of times around we didn't get that far. But it seems to be related to logging in, which only happens once per reboot. I should at least have kept track of the exact message.


Tuesday, 19 January 2021 Dereel Images for 19 January 2021
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Next system upgrade attempt
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

As part of my migration attempts for eureso, brought dereel up to date: new kernel, new userland, update ports.

It almost worked:


[43/194] Installing librsvg2-rust-2.50.2...
pkg: librsvg2-rust-2.50.2 conflicts with librsvg2-2.40.21 (installs files into the same place).  Problematic file: /usr/local/bin/rsvg-convert

There's too much of that kind of thing. OK, it looks like librsvg2-rust-2.50.2 should win, so let's remove the other:

=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/0) /home/grog 2 -> Log pkg delete librsvg2-2.40.21
===== Tue 19 Jan 2021 12:37:08 AEDT on dereel: pkg delete librsvg2-2.40.21
Installed packages to be REMOVED:
        ImageMagick7: 7.0.10.24
        audacity: 2.4.2_2
        chromium: 84.0.4147.135
        darktable: 3.2.1_3
        emacs: 27.1_1,3
        firefox: 84.0.1,2
        gimp: 2.10.20_1,2
        gtk3: 3.24.23_1
        gtkmm30: 3.24.2
        handbrake: 1.3.3_1
        hugin: 2020.0

Number of packages to be removed: 23

Those were only the ones that I recognized, and it includes about every port I use on the machine. No way I'm going to do that. So I just restarted the pkg upgrade, and how about that: it worked!

But then I discovered that the source tree hadn't been updated in weeks. It's easy enough to guess why: the FreeBSD project is moving from subversion to Git.


Making friends^W acquaintance with git
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So I have to finally use Git to update my software. I really wish they hadn't done it, but I'm going to have to come to terms with it.

OK, where's the docco? I had saved some mail messages on the subject for later perusal. Now's the time. 529 messages! There must be a simpler way. Peter Jeremy has been there before me (and grumbled mightily). Ask on IRC.

No Peter, but Andy Snow came up with this summary, which refers to Warner Losh's git primer, the one that he had sent to me some months ago.

OK, follow that:

cd /usr/src
REPO=https://github.com/freebsd/freebsd.git
git clone $REPO -b stable/12

Nothing happened. Oh, yes, I was just looking in the wrong place. Lots of network traffic, and after 25 minutes I had a tree /usr/src/freebsd, 3.3 GB in size.

But no history! What use is that? Daniel O'Connor came up with an alternative way, described in this document. It's also by Warner Losh, but completely different, and refers to different repositories.

But wait, there's more. Callum Gibson came up with this page, from which I derived the invocation:

REPO=ssh://git@gitrepo.FreeBSD.org/src.git
git clone $REPO

That's the main FreeBSD source repository, for registered developers only. And it said something as it worked:

Warning: Permanently added 'gitrepo.freebsd.org' (ECDSA) to the list of known hosts.
remote: Enumerating objects: 433625, done.
remote: Counting objects: 100% (433625/433625), done.

It also checked out into a directory src/, more like I would have expected, and there seems to be some kind of history involved. So: all OK? Not quite.

First, how do I find the version number? Looking at bin/ls/ls.c, the last svn version has:

__FBSDID("$FreeBSD: head/bin/ls/ls.c 368467 2020-12-08 23:38:26Z bdrewery $");

And the git version?

__FBSDID("$FreeBSD$");

So we've lost a lot of information. Ah, says Jamie Fraser, that's an old, worn-out way of looking at things. Just

=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/2) /usr/src/src/bin/ls 6 -> git log -n 1 ls.c
ESC[33mcommit 3fee777ec5a2e91ffbd9b396e99edae386eb150eESC[m
Author: Stefan EÃ<9F>er <se@FreeBSD.org>
Date:   Sat Dec 26 22:10:54 2020 +0100

    Simplify LS_COLWIDTHS processing
    ...

Now isn't that helpful? One program invocation to do what you could previous do with a single glance. And whether I want it or not, I get both terminal control codes and a pager that doesn't understand them, thus the vomit round the meaningless commit identifier that bears no relationship to previous or subsequent commits. Clearly a modern program.

Still, the good news is: it works. But wouldn't clear documentation have been a good idea?


Next Android challenge
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

We're off to Melbourne for the first time in well over 2 years on Thursday, so time to program a map into my GPS navigator. First, though, an overview with Google Maps. That was straightforward enough, and it offered to send it to my Nokia 3 phone (or, as it chooses to call it, my HMD Global TA-1020).

OK, that makes sense. Do it! And how about that, the phone buzzed, and that was that. No popup. Do I have to “open” “Maps”? Tried that. No route. Looking around at various options, I discovered that it had noted all my waypoints, and would happily take me to any of them. But no route!

I'll never understand these things.


Little garden work
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

My attempts at growing chilis and tomatoes from seed have been particularly unsuccessful this year. The tomatoes have barely any fruit at all, and the very first ones are becoming ripe:

 
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The chilis are even worse. One each of the chile serrano and árbol have died:

 
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210119/small/Chile-arbol-2.jpeg
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But the other árbol looks healthy enough:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210119/small/Chile-arbol-1.jpeg
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And the remaining serrano even has a flower, unlike its mate that I planted some months back. So I planted it in the same bed. Here the new one on the right, the left one, barely alive, on the left:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210120/small/Chile-serrano-3.jpeg
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Sometimes I wonder why I bother.


Wednesday, 20 January 2021 Dereel Images for 20 January 2021
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Network failure!
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Came into the office this morning to find that we had been off the net for nearly and hour between 6:48 and 7:45.

That used to be nothing worth mentioning here: it happened all the time. It wasn't a scheduled National Broadband Network outage, and it was the longest in nearly a year.

OK, outages can happen, and this one didn't worry me overly. But that in itself is an indication of how things are improving. Hopefully it will stay that way.

In this case, Andy Snow tells me that the outage affected the whole state (of Victoria). What, NBN? No, Aussie Broadband. Why them? Everybody uses them, it seems.

How times have changed since I first encountered them over 13 years ago, when they still styled themselves “.Aussie Broadband”!


Flowers in mid-summer
Topic: Stones Road house, gardening, opinion Link here

It's a month past the summer solstice, time for the monthly garden flower photos.

It's been a cool, moist summer so far, but gradually it's getting warmer, and the paddocks look more like what you'd expect of an Australian summer:

 
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Gradually I'm losing interest in gardening. When we were in Kleins Road things grew well, but just keeping things alive is a challenge. I've given up on the Paulownia kawakamii: it died a month or two after barely reaching a height of 70 cm. It should have been 5 m high a couple of years ago. And the Corymbia ficifolia that looked so happy last year is just barely alive:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210120/small/Corymbia-ficifolia.jpeg
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On the other hand, the Schinus molle that was looking unhappy a couple of months seems to have picked up. Here 3 months ago and now:

 
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And even the Box Elder, presumed dead, is trying to fight its way out of the weeds:

 
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The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis in the north garden has recovered well enough:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210120/small/Hibiscus-rosa-sinensis.jpeg
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It's better protected than before, but it took a very long time to recover from the winter, and it sounds like a good idea to protect it from the next winter. And, of course, take some cuttings.

The Clematis “Edo Murasaki” continues to flower through the time when it should be dormant:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210120/small/Clematis-1.jpeg
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The hanging baskets in the house entrance are a mixed bag. One of the fuchsias is doing fine, while the other one and the Maidenhair fern have had it:

 
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The gazanias are flowering better than in recent months:

 
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I suspect that the sunshine has something to do with it. Normally I look for overcast weather for the photos, because they give the best lighting, but today I didn't have the choice.

The Leucospermum cordifolium is still flowering, doing much better than in previous years:

 
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And while most plants in the north side of the north garden have died (with the notable exceptions of the Banksia and the Eremophila nivea), the blue salvias that we got from Lorraine Carranza have really taken off:

 
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They're annual, unlike the other salvias, and maybe that's how they survive.

And that's the trick, I think. I should plant more bulbs and tubers. What happened to our alstroemerias? That would be a good choice.


Understanding Android, once more
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So what went wrong with sending my route to my mobile phone? It's looking more and more like there's something wrong with the phone, or that there's some strange configuration issue.

Discussed it on IRC, which was illuminating. I was expecting either a message or a direct invocation of Google Maps. But no, fool, it's a Notification. And while there are icons for phone, messages and contacts, you need a Completely Different Interface for Notifications: steal (or as the US Americans say, swipe) the phone from the top and you'll see your Notifications. And sure enough, there it was, waiting to be collected.

But then it occurred to me: I've been here before. Or have I? There was some issue a year ago. But that was in a different context. As Jamie Fraser says, it pays to look at Notifications on a frequent basis.


Microsoft? Linux? FreeBSD?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Discussing with Jamie Fraser on IRC today:

<groggyhimself> Did anybody hear the rumour that there won't be a Microsoft 11?
<groggyhimself> That they'll migrate to Linux instead?
<jf> that sounds like horseshit to me
<groggyhimself> Very possible.
<jf> i've heard that they're going to keep doing rolling updates for windows 10
<groggyhimself> I saw it in passing and wondered if there could be an element of truth in it.
<jf> but i honestly am not even sure where they go from here, with the exception of
 office there's not much besides inertia tethering a lot of folks to microsoft
 products
<jf> (for the home anyway, for business it's a different kettle of fish)
<groggyhimself> And marketing?
<jf> groggyhimself: has their marketing been effective? AFAIK it hasn't
<Docon> lol linux kernel for MS is insanity
<jf> everyone loved windows 7, everyone hated 8 and 10
<Docon> I like windows 10..
<groggyhimself> jf: That's why their market share is behind FreeBSD.
<Docon> although some aspects are a bit annoying for sure
<groggyhimself> *Some aspects*?
<groggyhimself> The good news is that you can usually get things to work if you're adept at
 jumping through hoops.
<jf> groggyhimself: not sure if you're talking about windows or freebsd there tbh :p
<Docon> groggyhimself: it doesn't seem any different to windows 7 in that respect..
* groggyhimself smacks jf.
<jf> groggyhimself: am i wrong? :P or do you not have pages and pages on your diary of the
 pain you're going through just trying to get halfway recent software on your
 machine?

There's a valid point there: yes, I have untold pain keeping FreeBSD systems up to date. I don't have (quite) as much pain with Microsoft. Why not?

There are a number of reasons:

  1. I don't have nearly as much software running on Microsoft.
  2. I don't keep Microsoft machines running as long as I do FreeBSD machines. My oldest Microsoft machine is dischord, which is not older than 7 years, though it's not clear that it's the same machine that I'm running today. My FreeBSD installation goes back (via BSD/OS and Interactive Unix) to 1990, over 30 years. That was one of the things that I wanted to change 9 months ago.
  3. I'm much more demanding when it comes to my FreeBSD installation.
  4. A lot of the pain is self-inflicted: I'm trying to work out a sensible upgrade strategy. So far that has failed, but I have no hope of a sensible strategy with Microsoft, so I don't even try.

So in summary, I set higher standards for FreeBSD. But could it be that Microsoft still has better upgrade procedures? It's hard to say: it doesn't do anything with third party software, and on FreeBSD that's nearly all of the pain.


Thursday, 21 January 2021 Dereel → Melbourne → Gisborne → Dereel Images for 21 January 2021
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Trump gone!
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Donald Trump (for whom I have evolved the keyboard short cut m-*) is gone! Heavens be praised! It seems that the whole world (with the exception of the US rednecks) has breathed a collective sigh of relief. And Joe Biden's inauguration passed peacefully and without incident. It'll take a while for reality to sink in, and of course for us to see whether Biden is as good a president as he appears to be so far. The problem is that almost anybody would look good after Trump.

Trump has one distinction, though: I don't see myself thinking out a keyboard abbreviation for Biden.


The spook is over
Topic: politics, language, opinion Link here

Donald Trump is gone! As I said to Yvonne this morning, „Der Spuk ist vorbei“ (German, “the spook has passed”).

Huh? Somehow it doesn't make sense in English. Google Translate doesn't help, and I'm left wonder what exactly „Spuk“ means. All my dictionaries say that „Spuk“ and “spook” (pronounced almost the same way) have the same meaning, and OED confirms that both words have a common (Low German) ancestry.

Does it make sense in German? Absolutely. Later in the day I heard a very pointed but good commentary by Stefan Niemann; “What a day! One of the biggest con men in history has had to leave the White House. The inglorious tenure of an impossible president is finally over”. Later: “If Biden and Harris want to free their country from the nationalist spook...”. So somehow the word has the sense “intangible threat” in German.


Off to Melbourne again
Topic: general, food and drink, animals, opinion Link here

Off to Melbourne today for the first time in 2¼ years. When we moved here, we had assumed that we would go there more often, but each visit has proved to be a real pain. And we only went to the Victoria Market and Casa Iberica in Fitzroy. Total shopping time about 80 minutes.

But somehow things aren't the way they used to be. I found what I was looking for in the Victoria Market, but Yvonne's favourite Polish shop hadn't had a delivery yet this year, and they were out of most of the things she was looking for. And like Casa Iberica, it seems that they have reduced their floor area.

At Casa Iberica they only had one kind of real masa harina, sold in packages of 1.8 lb or 816 g (why?).

 
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They no longer have their own masa, and everything else was this pale, insipid stuff, as if colour were bad. The woman running the place didn't speak English very well, and we had difficulty finding other items. And to crown it all, I later discovered that I had forgotten the chorizos, the main reason I had wanted to go there.


GPS pain, yet again
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Finding my way to Melbourne is pretty straightforward, though I always run into issues from leaving the freeway (where?) to getting the the Victoria Market. But now I have my route in my phone, and I have a backup in my old, worn-out GPS navigator.

Both failed completely. Today was bright sunshine, and the position of the navigator (difficult to change) reflected the sunshine on my left wrist. I couldn't see anything. And the phone had forgotten all about my route! OK, back to Notifications. But those were yesterday's Notifications. Who cares about them? So the phone had deleted them.

OK, enter manually. At least it knew roughly where I wanted to go (south car park), but the roughness was in fact at the eastern entry. And for that journey it wanted to take me along 2 km of toll freeway (what an oxymoron!), when in fact I wanted another exit. OK, ignored the request to turn off, and continued. So many turnoffs in so short a distance! “Turn left, then turn left”. Where? 100 m makes the difference between being at the market and the Shrine of Remembrance. In the end I gave up and went the way I recalled, obviously not correctly. We got there, but not exactly by the most direct method. I thought I had a GPS log, but it seems that my phone had a blackout during that period, so I'm not longer sure where I went. But my best bet was that I went like this:

The mistake I made was to turn left into King St instead of William St. That alone wouldn't have been too bad, but I think missed the turn into Dudley St and had to turn back. The more obvious way would have been this:

In fact the way I went was only 900 m longer, but the uncertainty was really annoying.

Getting on to Casa Iberica was similar. It's only 2.5 km away, but the direct way goes down Victoria St, which is usually terribly congested:

OK, I know my way round the area. Up Elizabeth St, cross Victoria St and turn right onto Queensberry St, then down to the Exhibition Gardens (which prove to really be called Carlton Gardens), left on Drummond St and right at the north end of the gardens.

Oh. No right turn at Queensberry St. That's reflected in the map above, but of course I couldn't see that. OK, up to the roundabout at the beginning of Flemington Road. Traffic light, 1 minute. 90° turn. Traffic light, 1 minute. 90° turn. Traffic light, 1 minute. 90° turn. Traffic light, 1 minute. 90° turn. 5 minutes just to get round the bloody roundabout, while my Google Maps had a fit: Turn left! Turn right! Go north (this on a display with no compass directions)! Go south! Go north-west! In fact go in every direction except east.

Queensberry St was relatively quiet, as I had expected, but then I missed my turn at the north end of the gardens and went all the way to Faraday St, which seemed far too far. More messing around without any help from either navigator until we finally made it to Casa Iberica.

What a mess! But I wasn't done. 100 m after the destination, the app told me “your destination is on the left”. Another few minutes driving back.

After that, on to Gisborne to pick up Yvonne's new riding vest from Michelle Nichols. That's not the first time we've had fun with GPS round Gisborne, but Michelle has made it more fun by moving again. Two years ago we had issues with dropouts with my dedicated GPS navigator (the same one I still have). Last September my phone gave out and didn't know where it was.

And today? The GPS navigator didn't know about the new freeway construction north-west of Melbourne, and wanted me to take some unnecessary diversion. I ignored that, and we made it to Gisborne with no trouble. But the navigator forgot to tell me to exit the freeway.

Oh, with good reason: I should have left at Gisborne North, not Gisborne. If I had been able to see the display, I would have seen that. Never mind, after a kick my phone started navigating again, and took me to a destination that was open paddock. A call to Michelle clarified where she was:


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This one seems to have been Google Maps' fault: my old GPS navigator didn't know street number 59. But Google Maps took me to somewhere round 500 m away.

So what's wrong with this?


Sausage skins
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

One of the things that we bought in Melbourne was a lot of meat for making Bratwurst (a kind of German sausage). For that, of course, we need skins, called “casings” in the trade, and Yvonne had bought some in Ballarat yesterday.

But they were the wrong size, 32 to 35 mm instead of the 28 mm that we need. Why? I had called up the supplier and established that, despite what they had told me on Monday, they didn't have “hog casings” (in other words, pig intestines) in that size, only 32/35 mm:

 
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And apart from the fact that they looked very different, they're too big. So we arranged to return them, and located some 28 mm hog casings at Sinclair Meats—an unspecified length “good for 5 to 7 kg” for the princely sum of $30, which we picked up on the way home.

I can get them online for $20, but then we have the issue of postage, which brings them to pretty much the same price. So we bought them—if they make the 7.8 kg that we will have, it will be nearly $0.40 per sausage, or $4 per kilogram, just for the casings! And what will happen if we don't have enough? When returning the oversize casings, we picked up some 28 mm collagen casings, just in case, “only” $25 for enough for probably 30 kg—still round $0.12 per sausage.

You can buy sausages for round $4 a kg. After taking off the price of the casings, how much is the content worth? But then, we know why we make our own.


Bread modifications
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

A couple of days ago I baked a new loaf of bread, something that I do about every 3 to 4 weeks. This time, though, the dough looked firmer, maybe because of evaporation of moisture in the flour, which has been open for many months. OK, take 25 ml of water and add until the dough looks better. 15 ml. And just for the fun of it, throw in the other 10 ml.

The dough was just as easy to handle (not very, due to the high rye content, which makes it sticky), but it rose much faster, 3 hours 40 minutes instead of 5 hours, and that despite a lower initial water temperature. Is that related to the extra water?


Friday, 22 January 2021 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 22 January 2021
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Diary catchup
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Two days of diary to write today, and both of them longer than usual. It took me all day, with interruptions, and I didn't finish.


Alstroemerias!
Topic: gardening, general Link here

One of my thoughts on Wednesday was to plant some alstroemerias. And how about that, today on Freecycle somebody (Lynn) had alstroemeria tubers to give away in Ballarat. I didn't have any time, but there were other things to do in Ballarat as well, so off to pick them up, along with a couple of ferns and what she tells me is a snowdrop bulb, though it looks more like a tulip to me.

On the way there had a haircut—Kerry is really getting old, and it might have been no coincidence that the shop was empty when I arrived. It took him 5 minutes to get out of his armchair, and the cut was definitely not the best I have ever had:

 
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I've been going there for nearly 14 years now, and I feel a bit sorry for him, but I think his time is probably up.

On the way home, picked up no less than 3 parcels from the Napoleons post office, including an “Induction Hob Cooktop Convert”, a device to put between an induction cooktop and non-inductive cookware. Just what we need to heat the caquelon for tomorrow's planned fondue au fromage.


Cockatoos
Topic: animals, photography Link here

I'm still waiting for a Wattle bird to return to the kniphofias outside the dining room, so when a swarm of sulphur-crested cockatoos went past this evening, I was ready for them:

 
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Interestingly, again it's a mixture of sulphur-crested cockatoos and long-billed corellas:

 
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Wasting water
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

One of the minor irritations about our domestic water situation is that the pump is only just strong enough to supply the house. Turn two taps on and the volume drops.

While brushing my teeth this evening I noticed the reduced volume. But it stayed that while for some time, and Yvonne wasn't using any water.

Oh. This morning I started filling the goldfish trough round the verandah. And I forgot to turn it off! It had been running for 12 hours instead of the planned 20 minutes. Out to turn it off, and checked the tanks. One was turned off, fortunately, so even if I had left it run all night, we would probably have had enough water:

The other one was only ⅓ full. How full had it been before? My guess would be about 90%. So I wasted something like 15 m³ of water. Grrr. Time for a timer on that tap.


Saturday, 23 January 2021 Dereel Images for 23 January 2021
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dereel issues
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I'm still running firefox on dereel until I can finally update eureka. But in the past couple of days I've come into the office to find all windows from dereel on eureka:0 closed, including firefox.

Why? dereel was still running, and I was able to restart the xterms and firefox without difficulty. And there were no messages in the system logs.

Nothing for it: start firefox from a vty. That way, when it dies, I'll see something. In fact, I'll see plenty without it crashing. firefox grumbles to itself more than I do, though usually it goes into the bit bucket.


Fondue again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Fondue de/au fromage for dinner again, with some of the large quantities of cheese that I bought in Melbourne on Thursday. 2.7 kg of Gruyère, $135 worth, along with a kilogram of Appenzeller:

 
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First, cut it up. Oh:

 
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Comté! Yes, you can make fondue from that too, but it's not as good. And I have 2.7 kg of the stuff!

Sure, accidents can happen, but in this case they're particularly bad. If I lived nearby, I would have taken it back and got the right thing, but that's clearly not an option here: just getting there would cost a good fraction of the price of the cheese. Yvonne came up with a good workaround: we buy Gruyère in Ballarat and make fondue with the three cheeses. But today we had to put up with the Comté.

That wasn't the only thing that was different. Today we tried out the new induction adapter for non-magnetic pots to warm up the fondue:

 
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After my first experience with an induction cooker, I was cautious:

 
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So I used the old, chipped caquelon:

 
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Things worked fine, and I can't yet determine any difference from heating an induction-ready pot. That may come.

And how was the fondue? OK, but the Comté seems to be lacking in the aroma that is typical of Gruyère, and it separated a lot of fat. Acceptable, but far from what I had promised myself.


teevee hang
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

While cooking dinner, I had the recipe displayed on the TV. But when I looked back a little later, the display was plain white, and I couldn't get any response from teevee, the computer driving it.

A quick check showed: yes, it had hung. No response over the net. The Big Red Button worked, and after rebooting there was no evidence of any issues, including not in the log files.

Computers crash, of course, but this one seems surprising. Until proof of something else, it must be hardware.


Sunday, 24 January 2021 Dereel Images for 24 January 2021
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Caught: dereel problem
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Into the office this morning to find windows from dereel on eureka gone again. What did the console say?

 
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Most of that is firefox grumbling to itself, but what's this ECONNRESET?


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That doesn't make much sense, but at least I know what it was. In passing, this is yet another situation showing how silly it is to have text on a black background, especially dark blue.

Things were slightly different this time, though, possibly because the starting terminal didn't go away:


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It lied, of course. I selected “restore all current tabs”, but it only did some; I had to repeat in other tabs. And this is a modern browser!


Making Bratwurst again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Finally got round to making Bratwurst from the sausage ingredients that we bought on Thursday. It was the largest amount that we have ever made, a total of 7.76 kg of meat, and coincidentally almost exactly a 2:1 ratio (more exactly 2.026:1). Made a point of taking photos of every step, starting with the ingredients:

 
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There was enough meat to do it in two steps, and I still got the bowls pretty full:

 
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And only then did I think to look for the casings. Not even Yvonne could find them! We had two different kinds; surely we couldn't have lost both of them. Frantic checking in the car fridge, but finally found them in two different places: the hog casings need to be refrigerated, but the collagen ones don't.

And then the fun with the new, easier-to-use hog casings on a stick:

 
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We couldn't even get them onto the nozzle! Oh. I had chosen the wrong nozzle, the 24 mm one instead of the 20 mm one. After changing that, we were at least able to get the casing over the nozzle. But it was still extremely difficult to push on. With a combination of water, oil and brute force, we finally managed it after only 20 minutes:

 
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Even filling the sausages was an issue: at one point one burst because it couldn't pull the casing off the nozzle. Poured water over the remainder, and it didn't happen again. My guess is that these casings need soaking in water before use, something that we hadn't been told. Conventional hog casings are salted and require soaking to remove the salt, so it wouldn't happen with them.

As if that weren't enough, the gasket in the sausage machine tore:

 
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Panic? Not quite. We got a spare with the machine, and we were even able to find it. But we have only used the machine 3 or 4 times. Is it normal that the gaskets fail? Or should I avoid putting it in the dish washer?

In total, we filled 73 sausages from the casings, and we still had a lot of filling left over. A good thing that I bought those collagen casings, which went on without any problem at all.

 
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We got another 22 sausages in the collagen casings, a total of 95, the most ever:

 
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And that took us almost exactly 2 hours, a sixth of which was spent fighting these hog casings. How much did it cost us? From recollection:

Item       Price       Weight       Total       Percentage       Per sausage
Pork shoulder       7.99       5.196       41.52       38.6       0.4235
Pork belly       13.99       2.565       35.88       33.4       0.3777
Casings       30.00             30.00       27.9       0.4110       for 73 sausages
Total             7.761       107.49             1.13
Per kilogram                               13.78

That's not really complete, since it doesn't include the collagen casings. But it's really amazing how expensive the hog casings are. Still, it's a price of $13.78 per kg, compared to which makes for a price per kilogram of $13.78, compared to Sinclair Meats' current price of $5.99 for BBQ Sausages and $19.99 for rump steak But we know why we choose to make them ourselves.

What did we forget to photograph? Actually cranking the meat into the casings. There's an obvious reason for that: we were both busy and with greasy hands.


Proof of the sausage
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

What did we eat for dinner tonight? Bratwurst, of course, but also the remaining chicken things that we bought on Thursday.

The problem with collagen casings is that they split. I have never been able to avoid it. As I wrote eight years ago, there seem to be numerous reasons why this should happen:

Most of these don't seem to apply, but how about “cooked too quickly” or “put in a hot pan”? We can easily address the latter, and I did, and I also tried to cook them really slowly. The result:

 
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My guess is something else altogether: when they come into the pan, most sausages are pre-cooked. Ours are raw. And I'm guessing that collagen casings just Don't Work for raw filling, which changes in shape considerably when cooking.

The results were as expected for the sausages. This time I cooked the chicken thumbs (what are they really called?) less, and they looked good:

 
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But they tasted completely boring, somehow more so than on Thursday. We can do better. Why is there so much insipid food on the market?

We still have 19 collagen sausages over. Next time I'll try grilling or something similar. But I no longer have much hope, especially after reading this diary article: I've tried this before.


Monday, 25 January 2021 Dereel Images for 25 January 2021
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PV maximum charge
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Our photovoltaic panels are rated at at total of 10.8 kW. But that's a simplistic way of looking at things: when the sun shines directly on them, they should manage that much. Two arrays (7.2 kW) face 11°, and the other array (3.6 kW) faces 281°. And then there's the issue of elevation, for which I need to know the inclination of the roof.

I've been watching the PV statistics for a couple of months ago. The documentation I had received suggested an equivalent of 3.5 hours of “sunshine” output per day, in other words 37.8 kWh. During the winter we got nothing like that, but what about in the summer? So far the maximum we have had per day is round 51 kWh.

Should that have been at the solstice? Not necessarily. On 21 December the elevation at azimuth 11° was 75°, far higher than the normal of the panels. Today, over a month after the solstice, I noted a power of 7.07 kW coming from the panels.

What's the maximum I have had? Why have I been sniffing the inverter information for the past nearly 2 years? A bit of querying showed that I've had up to a peak of 11.122 kW, on 3 December 2019 at 13:32:58 And I've had over 10 kW from early October to early March. I suppose that at least means that the panels are working correctly: the maximum was close to apparent solar noon, so the western panels contributed almost nothing.


Spare ribs sous vide
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I'm gradually getting through the meat we bought on Thursday. Still 2.4 kg of pork ribs, something that I'm already regretting. That's 3 double portions. Freeze two, prepare the third for cooking sous vide.

Why sous vide? There's lots of gristle and cartilage in the things, and I want to break them down. Two years ago I tried a recipe in an “air fryer”, and the results (like almost everything in an “air fryer”, I fear) were less than spectacular, in particular neither juicy nor falling off the bone.

What recipe? Started far too late and had to hurry. Decided on this recipe for “Sous-Vide Char Siu-Style Chinese Baby Back Ribs”, which still looks very US American to me, down to these stupid volumetric measurements which elicited considerable grumbling while preparing the marinade. Finally I had this recipe, which will grow:

 
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Next, how long and how hot should I cook them? Various recipes ranged from 61° to 79°. My guess would have been round 70°, but the recipe I chose recommended me to set my ”Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker to 167ºF (75ºC)“. OK, I can forgive them for this advertising, since it's the Anova site, but then I read:

You’ve probably seen plenty of sous vide rib recipes that call for cooking them 12 hours, even 24 hours. But – let’s face it, we’re all pressed for time. If you’re under deadlines at work, have a dog to walk and yourself to take care of (imagine that!) – you likely don’t have an entire day to spend making finger-licking good ribs. .... And all it takes is about 4 hours.

In other words, they cheat. This isn't sous-vide at all. And if you don't have time to make them properly, there's a simple answer: don't make them at all. It's also hard to understand the rationale: once the ribs are in the cooker, it doesn't make any difference whether you cook them for 4 or 24 hours: they're just there. And even if you cook them for only 4 hours, that means starting at least 5 hours in advance. If you have a normal daytime job, it wouldn't work; but 24 hours would.

So I set the non-precision ALDI sous-vide cooker to 70°, put the bag in and went to bed.


Tuesday, 26 January 2021 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 26 January 2021
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Tortillas again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Huevos rancheros for breakfast this morning, as usual on a Tuesday. And an opportunity to try the new masa from Casa Iberica.

Oh. It's exactly the same as the masa I've been using since October, at least the yellow version. Here last October and now:

 
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Somehow I had had the impression that I was still using Masa lista, but that's a long way in the past.

So: it's still a problem. Last time I found that the quantities were all wrong, to the point that I had to add more masa to get the consistency right, but for some reason I didn't note it in this diary. This time I decided tried with less water: 1:1.5 instead of 1:1.8. Still too moist, though I was able to form one tortilla like that. Took the rest, added 2.2 g, and all seemed OK: a ratio of 1.38:1, the least I have ever seen.

And the tortillas look funny. They have dark spots in them, and I'm left with the feeling that they haven't been milled properly:

 
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And I have 5 packets (4.8 kg) of it! Somehow we really haven't been very lucky with our shopping in Melbourne last week. About the only thing that seems to have been both good and necessary was the Appenzeller cheese.


Leonid's biopsy results
Topic: health, animals Link here

The results of the biopsy that we had done on Leonid two weeks ago should have been back this time last week. But it wasn't until today that we finally got them. Diagnosis: fibrosarcoma, as we had thought. To quote Pene:

Locally very invasive and difficult to remove (regrowth very likely), but rarely metastasize elsewhere in body.

So we'll keep him alive as long as he's comfortable. It's quite possible that he'll live to the “average” 9 years, 2 months.


New glasses
Topic: health, general, opinion Link here

Call during breakfast this morning: the glasses that were scheduled to arrive next week are ready for pickup today—despite it being Australia Day. Into town in the afternoon, as arranged. They were shut! So why did they tell me I could pick them up then?


Somebody your own size
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Seen walking the dogs today:

 
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Life yet in the Corymbia
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

After walking the dogs today, discovered this:

 
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That's the Corymbia ficifolia that has been looking so unhappy. Now it has suddenly developed new growth. Why? Paul Gallagher was here yesterday and did some trimming, including the weeds round the base of this tree. But surely that can't have been the cause; even if it was root competition, the reaction would have been far too fast. In any case, it's good to see, and hopefully it will continue.


Wednesday, 27 January 2021 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 27 January 2021
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Four o'clock flower?
Topic: gardening, animals Link here

The mirabilis jalapa are flowering again:

 
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It seems that a common name for this flower is “four o'clock flower”, because they allegedly flower round 16:00. But not round here. This photo was taken at 9:07, and in the afternoon they're closed. I'm wondering if this is some American description, and that the flowers round the world flower at the same time: the time of the photo corresponds to 16:07 North American Central Time Zone.


Finally my new glasses
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Called up SpecSavers first thing this morning and spoke to Adam, who told me that they had closed at 14:00 yesterday afternoon, something that the person who called yesterday hadn't told me: I had arrived at 15:30.

But he also confirmed that my glasses were really there, so in in the afternoon to pick them up. Yes, they're OK, but somehow there were a number of issues with the reading glasses that had been forgotten last time. I was left with the impression that the person who dealt with me wasn't the brightest or the most experienced. He suggested that my normal multifocals would be completely adequate for computer work, contradicting every optician I have met, and also my own experience. And he should have seen that I had had reading glasses before, and of course it's in their interest to sell me another pair.

He claimed that the best choice for the reading glasses would be the $39 range, like I had last time in 2017. But they weren't the el-cheapo range: the frame was identical to the frame of the other pair that I had damaged.

Still, off to see what the $39 range frames are like. Almost identical to the $249 range that I had chosen for my normal glasses! OK, choose one. Do I want anti-reflective coating? Of course, I always do. No, he said, I didn't 4 years ago. Wrong: they were coated.

So we went for that: $36 (after discount!) for the frames and lenses, and $52.50 for the coating. How does that work? He promised me that the price would have been identical if I had purchased both pairs at the same time, but based on the other things he said, I have my doubts. Still, not worth worrying about.

At the end I asked for a printout of my prescription. He printed out a blank form and had to fill it out by hand:

      Spherical       Cylindrical       Axis       Near-add
R       +2.25       -1.25       115°       +2.50
L       +2.00       -0.50       105°       +2.50

And he forgot that I was supposed to have a repeat peripheral vision test. No worry, I'll do it when I pick up these glasses and hopefully get somebody more competent to deal with me.


More house dwellers
Topic: animals, general Link here

Found in Yvonne's bedroom today:

 
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That's a huntsman spider, of course? How do we get it down? Put that into the “too hard” basket, and in the course of the day it went away by itself.


More furniture
Topic: general, opinion Link here

I'm quite happy with the lounge room suite that we bought three years ago, but for some reason Yvonne wanted a cover. It arrived today:

 
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Spare ribs sous vide: the proof
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

As planned on Monday, ate the sous-vide spare ribs today. I had cooked them at 70° for about 20 hours and then stored them, still in the bag, in the fridge. Today I heated them for 5 minutes at 230° in the “hair dryer” “air fryer”, after which we had:

 
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And as hoped, the consistency was just what I was hoping for. Even Yvonne was happy, in marked contrast to last time. They were juicy but not slimy, and the meat (mainly) fell off the bone.

How could they be improved? The obvious consideration is the cooking temperature; the time makes little difference. Lower the temperature and the meat might be even more tender, but then there would be issues getting it off the bone. On the whole I think I'll leave it as it is for next time. Maybe less heating in the hair dryer could improve things.

And the marinade? Too sweet (the US American influence, I suspect) and not spicy enough. I wonder whether I should do away with sugar and honey altogether next time, and maybe double things like five spice powder.

At the end, we had bones left over, of course:

 
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My plate was on the left, Yvonne's on the right. And no, that's no indication that she didn't like them, just how little she eats.


Thursday, 28 January 2021 Dereel Images for 28 January 2021
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Another battery calibration
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Another month gone by, another PV system battery calibration. Last month it went on for ever, but today it was relatively short: started at 6:00 and was done by 14:26.


Planning permit confusion
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Call from Linda Swift next door today: they had received from the council a notification of receipt for the planning permit that we had applied for in November.

 
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Why now? And why send it to the Swifts instead of us?

Linda put it in our letter box, along with the envelope that showed it was clearly addressed to them, not us. We've been living here for nearly 6 years now, and it's over 7 years since we stopped being “Lot 2, Stones Road” and became 29 Stones Road. And what does this say about privacy? And why “The responsible authority will not decide on the application before 14 days have elapsed from the date of this notice”? Haven't we been waiting long enough already?

I don't want to rock the boat, so I put the thing on hold while I consider what to do, but I'm not happy.


Recovering from Melbourne
Topic: food and drink, general, opinion Link here

It's been a week since we went shopping in Melbourne, and things are only just back to normal.

Finally got the last things out of the outside deep freezer and packed them (tightly!) into the other three freezers. We're done!

Oh. We still have sliced cheese. We'll have to get rid of that over the weekend.

In the evening we ate some of the sardines that Yvonne bought. Found a nice Spanish marinade including pimentón, a kind of mild chili from La Vera with a distinctly smoky flavour.

But I know that now. It seems that what I bought (« Las Novios », picante) was neither from La Vera nor smoky in flavour. It was just plain chili powder, unsuited for the dish and nothing that I didn't already have.

Somehow that trip was a real waste of time.


Friday, 29 January 2021 Dereel Images for 29 January 2021
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Rain!
Topic: general, opinion Link here

The end of January and the beginning of February are the hottest time of year, normally. But what's normal about the weather in Victoria? This has been a funny year, and there have been very few hot days. Today we reached a maximum of 25°, along with 45.3 mm of rain over the course of the day. Even in South Australia they have had flash flooding in a month when there's usually no rain at all.

When I got up in the morning, the garden was partially submerged, and it looked as if our extractor pump had failed:

 
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But no, it was still working fine:

 
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It seems that the real issue is that the water can't flow into the sump quickly enough.

The good news, of course, is that our water tanks are now again full to overflowing:

 
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I hadn't expected that to happen so soon.


More spiders
Topic: animals Link here

We still hadn't removed the Huntsman spider from wherever it had gone when Petra came up with this specimen:

 
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What is it? No idea, but it seems to be carrying a large number of eggs in a sac:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210129/small/Spider-9.jpeg
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TTL flash revisited
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

My experiences with on-camera flash have been consistently negative for over 50 years. It seems that just about any kind of lighting is better, and I've complained particularly about TTL flash.

But today I had to decide how to photograph the spider. The obvious choice was the mecablitz 15 MS-1, so I tried that. And how about that, it worked, sort of:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210129/small/Spider-10.jpeg
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It's still clear that it isn't a ring flash. But then, neither is the Olympus STF-8. Somehow I can't win.


Recovering eucalypts
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

A couple of days ago I noted that our Corymbia ficifolia is producing new growth after languishing since winter. Why? I still don't know. But today, while walking the dogs, I found this:

 
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No, it's unlikely to be a Corymbia ficifolia, but it's clearly some kind of eucalypt. And it, too, has new growth.

Can that mean that some eucalypts don't start growing until mid- to late summer? An interesting hypothesis, anyway. Back home, took some more detailed photos of the Corymbia:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210129/small/Corymbia-ficifolia-1.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210129/small/Corymbia-ficifolia-4.jpeg
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It's hard to compare with Tuesday's photo, but maybe I'll find some changes in the future.


Saturday, 30 January 2021 Dereel Images for 30 January 2021
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Garage sales again
Topic: general, gardening, opinion Link here

Julie Donaghy has arranged another multi-town garage sale, ranging nearly 50 km from Napoleons and even Garibaldi to Rokewood. Yvonne once again wanted to go and see some of them.

So off first to the end of Stones Road to the Nyaris, who once again were holding a sale, and once again we found nothing. Then on to another next-but one neighbour, also about 1 km away at the other end of Grassy Gully Road. Yvonne found nothing, but I found a book “Home Butchering and Meat Preservation” which might have some interesting content, though the poor quality black-and-white photos don't look encouraging, and it's from the USA, so the terminology may not match local usage.

And then Yvonne saw this bush:

 
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Clearly an Abutilon, one that she liked. They offered us some cuttings, so now we have:

 
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210130/small/Abutilon-4.jpeg
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On to other planned destinations, including (less planned) the Dereel Hall:

 
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Then to a place in Tantaus Road, which also had nothing of interest.

Status: 6 sales, one book. The next one was in Garibaldi, 30 km away. No, Yvonne had had enough: back home for breakfast.


Latest GPS pain
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Last time I used my GPS navigators I had pain because I couldn't read the display. Today the weather was more like winter, and there was no issue with seeing the display. But of course the directions were approximate, up to 200 m away from the real location. That's more of a pain than it seems: I had about 10 destinations. Normally the navigator removes the destination from the route one I go there—if I go there. Without going to exactly where the navigator wanted me to go, I had to edit the route every time to remove the destination.

And the old navigator took forever to find its GPS location again, even after only sleeping. After driving from the very end of Ferrers Road to Farley Road, a distance of over 5 km, it still hadn't found its bearings. And that repeated on the way to Tantaus Road.

OK, heading north on Kleins Road, fire up Sygic. Please turn around and drive 3 times as far as necessary, to an approximate address that spans the road:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210130/small/Screenshot_20210130-101901.png
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Should I buy a better phone or a new navigator? The latter is more promising and would cost an order of magnitude less.


Raclette again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Raclette again for dinner tonight. Not a complicated dish. About the only issue is the choice of cheese, which should be firm enough to brown without melting away completely. We've found various cheeses locally, but when I was in Melbourne, I bought some cheese aimed specifically for raclette.

Not a success. The cheese looks like Havarti, not the best choice:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210130/small/Raclette-1.jpeg
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Somehow everything seems to have gone wrong with that trip.


Sunday, 31 January 2021 Dereel Images for 31 January 2021
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Visit from Jamie Fraser
Topic: general Link here

Jamie Fraser along today to say hello and deliver an Apple iMac, and got my old, defective Apple laptop in return. At least this time, unlike the recent visit of Alastair Boyanich, we got photos:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/yvonne/Photos/20210131/small/Greg-and-Jamie-1.jpeg
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New Apple
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I fired up the Apple before Jamie left, in the dining room. Ethernet cable? No, with some puzzling I discovered that it would connect to my 802.11 network if I just gave it the SSID: it had the choice of our network or the photovoltaic inverter, which for some reason also wanted to be an access point.

That worked fine, and we got talking about microwave ovens. OK, I've never had real issues with them interfering with 802.11, but it was the obvious time to check. The access point is directly behind one microwave oven, so I put some water in and heated it at full 1.1 kW. A ping on the new machine continued as if nothing had happened. So much for problems with microwave ovens.

Jamie had originally got the iMac because it had had a disk failure, and the previous owner had not been able to integrate the new disk into the software—an amusing incident, given that Larry McVoy had been sounding off this morning about the FreeBSD installation program on the Unix Heritage Society mailing list, claiming that Linux and Microsoft were miles ahead. Yes, he didn't mention Apple, but there was an implication.

So what do I do with it now? Integrate it into the network, of course. The first issue was the monitor, which doubles as a mirror (extreme left):

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210201/small/New-Apple-1.jpeg
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It's not clear from those photos that the bright aluminium strip at the bottom of the device is quite irritating. And it seems that they're still making them that way. It'll have to be moved elsewhere.

OK, ssh to it? Not a hope: it doesn't have ssh. Somewhere (probably in this diary) I have information about how to set it up, but I didn't have time today.

OK, how about upgrading the system? There must be plenty of updates waiting. Off to look at the System Preferences window:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210201/small/Apple-System-Preferences-2.jpeg
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Oh. Change position:

 
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That's better. But where's “System Update” or “System Upgrade” or whatever? Just intrinsically meaningless icons like “Mission Control”, “Spotlight”, “Siri” and “Time Machine”. Gone are the days where Apple could advertise “The computer you learn in a morning”. Off to ask Google, which brought me macOS - How to Upgrade - Apple (AU). That sounds right.

Go to Software Update in System Preferences to find macOS Big Sur. Click Upgrade Now and follow the onscreen instructions.

OK, I'm game. How do I do that? FOOL. That's only for Catalina or Mojave, 10.15 or 10.14. If you’re running any release from macOS 10.13 to 10.9, you can upgrade to macOS Big Sur from the App Store.

Aaargh! The store that insists on storing the details of a valid credit card! Do I even want to try? But later I was looking in “About this Mac” and found a link to “System upgrade”. Somehow these menus aren't as intuitive as one might think. But at the very least I discovered that the system is “High Sierra” 10.13.6, the “device” was made in “Mid 2011”, and that it's some variety of Core i5 2.5 GHz.


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