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Friday, 1 July 2022 Dereel Images for 1 July 2022
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Android pain: Enough!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday I still had a few things to follow up.

First, of course, the issue of the GPS logger hanging. Tried again today, and it seems to work, at least sort of. I still get these “GPS paused” messages, but the logger continues. Still, this is an old app, no longer maintained. Maybe I should look for something that has adapted to the annoyances of modern Android.

And then there's Don't kill my app, which is quite a useful site. The home page shows rankings:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220701/big/Thumbsdown.png
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The maps of the Eastern USA are thumbs down. Xiaomi is not even the worst! It has a page with details and recommendations about Xiaomi, which states:

Traditionally, Xiaomi and their Android customization called MIUI belongs in the most troubled group on the market with respect to non-standard background process limitations and non-standard permissions. There are no APIs and no documentation for those extensions. In default settings, background processing simply does not work right and apps using them will break.

It includes information for the latest versions of MIUI, which still unfortunately don't seem to offer any new insights. About the only one that I hadn't already applied was a couple of innocuous-looking settings like “Show on Lock screen” and “Display pop-up windows”. Turned them on; we'll see if it makes any difference.


The arena: next date
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Today was the day that Troy Addicoat was due to start erecting the cover for the arena. Of course there was no sign of him. Called him up and heard “You must be a mind-reader. I was just looking for your number to call you”. Well, clearly he has the name stored in his phone, but quite possibly he was right. Now the date is firmer: Thursday, 7 July. And he wants to bring some equipment here earlier, which sounds reassuring.


Bloody me Putain!
Topic: politics, multimedia, opinion Link here

Problems recording Al Jazeera news today, so we had to watch it with a web browser, which is less easy to control, but it offers the dubious advantage of automatically generated subtitles, with an amazing number of errors. It doesn't even get the names of the reporters right all the time. But the one that stood out for me was:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220701/big/Bloody-me-Putain.png
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Deliberate error? No, I don't even think so. I think this is an instance of Hanlon's razor.


Saturday, 2 July 2022 Dereel Images for 2 July 2022
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Last Android experiments
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

One suggestion from Don't kill my app that I hadn't tried was a somewhat hidden animation showing how to turn off MIUI optimization. That produces a warning:


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OK, I can try it on enzian, the spare phone. Yes, indeed, things stopped working:

 
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Looking at the settings, Android decided to take the opportunity to revoke all permissions:

 
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Reinstate them and things worked, though it's not clear that it's any better than before. But why is this all so complicated?


git, the next pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

It doesn't look as if I am going to use android-file-transfer, but I should at least commit the patch that I made to make it even marginally useful. And how about that, my first commit to the FreeBSD Ports Collection since the migration to git. How hard can it be? git add, git commit and git push.

Oh. git commit fires up an editor to write the commit message. And for some reason it didn't like the emacsclient that I normally use for that. Note, change EDITOR to emacs, and continue.

Next, git push. Fail!

To gitrepo.freebsd.org:src.git
 ! [rejected]                  main -> main (fetch first)
error: failed to push some refs to 'gitrepo.freebsd.org:src.git'
hint: Updates were rejected because the remote contains work that you do
hint: not have locally. This is usually caused by another repository pushing
hint: to the same ref. You may want to first integrate the remote changes
hint: (e.g., 'git pull ...') before pushing again.
hint: See the 'Note about fast-forwards' in 'git push --help' for details.

My fault again: I had created a .git/config file implicitly with various arcane git invocations, when it would have been easier just to create the file. The result:

[remote "freebsd"]
fetch = +refs/notes/*:refs/notes/*
url = https://git.freebsd.org/ports.git
fetch = +refs/heads/*:refs/remotes/freebsd/*
pushurl = git@gitrepo.freebsd.org:src.git

I was trying to push to the src repository! My bad: I had made a mistake in the igitt script that set up the clone. OK, fix that and try again:

=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/1) /usr/ports/sysutils/android-file-transfer 132 -> git push
Enumerating objects: 9, done.
Counting objects: 100% (9/9), done.
Delta compression using up to 4 threads
Compressing objects: 100% (5/5), done.
Writing objects: 100% (6/6), 827 bytes | 206.00 KiB/s, done.
Total 6 (delta 2), reused 0 (delta 0), pack-reused 0
remote:
remote: ================================================================
remote: grog, you are pushing a commit
remote: whose first line does not start with the regular:
remote:         category/port: subject
remote: or
remote:         component: subject
remote:
remote: Please check that you really mean to do this, then use:
remote:         git push --push-option=confirm-subject
remote: ================================================================
remote:
To gitrepo.freebsd.org:ports.git
 ! [remote rejected]           main -> main (pre-receive hook declined)
error: failed to push some refs to 'gitrepo.freebsd.org:ports.git'

What does that mean? Presumably “a commit whose first line does not start...” refers to the commit message. How can I fix it? The commit in the repo is still present, and it no longer asks me to edit the commit message.

Once again I'm left with the feeling that this is an incredibly complex, fragile piece of software that, once broken, can't be fixed, and once again xkcd has the answer:

https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/git_2x.png

So I followed the instructions and cloned the repository again, ran all the myriad commands needed to bend it into shape, and compared with what I had:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/6) /src/FreeBSD/git/ports 25 -> diff -wu .git/config ../ports.0/.git/config
--- .git/config 2022-07-02 17:11:12.547041000 +1000
+++ ../ports.0/.git/config      2022-07-02 13:44:19.264427000 +1000
@@ -11,3 +11,6 @@
 [branch "main"]
        remote = freebsd
        merge = refs/heads/main
+[user]
+       name = Greg Lehey
+       email = groggy@FreeBSD.org

So somehow I had managed to miss my user details in the new checkout. That was a script that had to be performed on freefall.FreeBSD.org (why?). Still, it's simple enough to fix locally.

And so ends another day of extreme frustration.


Sunday, 3 July 2022 Dereel Images for 3 July 2022
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eBay does it again
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

I still don't have the instruction manual for my Kiev 3a. The seller went looking, found it, and sent it off to me: tracking number RH068040802UA. Good!

And then a message from eBay:

Return closed: RARE 1957! Kiev-3A Soviet 35 mm rangefinder camera Contax clone SN5729174

The return for RARE 1957! Kiev-3A Soviet 35 mm rangefinder camera Contax clone SN5729174 has been closed.

And that's all. No “by your leave”, and this time not even any information on why they had done it. Yes, I have the confirmation from Ukrposhta that they have received an item with that tracking number, delivered in Lviv 22, but eBay guarantees receipt, not postage. I've had this before, but on that occasion they were marginally more communicative, and the reverted their decision.

So what do I do? I now have a way to request a call without climbing through their maze of twisty little web pages, all different. Should I have it reinstated? There's another issue to think of: the Kiev was sent from, well, Kyiv, but the manual was sent, 3 months later, from Lviv. Has the seller fled Kyiv? I can imagine that things aren't easy for him, and he sounds honest enough. In all likelihood I will receive the manual in a couple of months' time. Do I want to keep the case open that long? On the other hand, eBay shouldn't be allowed to close cases without even consulting the buyer.


More Grevillea rosmarinifolia
Topic: gardening Link here

Seen walking the dogs today:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220703/big/Grevillea-rosmarinifolia-1.jpeg
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That's one of many Grevillea rosmarinifolia that grow up Stones Road towards Progress Road. But somehow they seem particularly vigourous this year.


More git pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday I ran into trouble trying to commit a patch to the FreeBSD Ports Collection. The heavy-handed solution: clone a new copy and start again. Andy Snow read yesterday's entry and told me that I can use git commit --amend, which potentially could have solved the problem.

OK, with a perfectly clean, up-to-date repo copy:

  1. Copy the patch to the tree.
  2. git add patch.
  3. git commit patch.
  4. git push.

And still the same message!

=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/2) /usr/ports/sysutils/android-file-transfer 71 -> git push
To gitrepo.freebsd.org:ports.git
 [rejected]                  main -> main (non-fast-forward)
error: failed to push some refs to 'gitrepo.freebsd.org:ports.git'
hint: Updates were rejected because the remote contains work that you do
hint: not have locally. This is usually caused by another repository pushing
hint: to the same ref. You may want to first integrate the remote changes
hint: (e.g., 'git pull ...') before pushing again.
hint: See the 'Note about fast-forwards' in 'git push --help' for details.

Oh. Without the emetic illegible colours, it's

=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/6) /src/FreeBSD/git/ports/sysutils/android-file-transfer 42 -> git push
To gitrepo.freebsd.org:ports.git
 ! [rejected]                  main -> main (fetch first)
error: failed to push some refs to 'gitrepo.freebsd.org:ports.git'
hint: Updates were rejected because the remote contains work that you do
hint: not have locally. This is usually caused by another repository pushing
hint: to the same ref. You may want to first integrate the remote changes
hint: (e.g., 'git pull ...') before pushing again.
hint: See the 'Note about fast-forwards' in 'git push --help' for details.

It's not the same message as yesterday. So it seems that there should be a step 0 above: git pull --ff-only. But I didn't discover that until later, due to these horrible half-colours. And WHY doesn't this bloody thing honour my ~/.gitconfig beseeching it to finally shut up? Over the course of time it has accumulated:

[color]
        ui = no
        ui = false
        all = false
        push = false
        branch = false
        diff = false
        interactive = false
        status = false
        log = false

What else do I need to do to finally shut the bloody thing up? In particular, you'd think that all = false would work.


Monday, 4 July 2022 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 4 July 2022
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Understanding git colours
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I lost a considerable amount of time yesterday because important parts of an error message were illegible. But why? I thought I had fixed worked around that problem. Off to check again.

Yes, this page (is it authoritative?) tells me:

Git automatically colors most of its output, but there’s a master switch if you don’t like this
behavior. To turn off all Git’s colored terminal output, do this:

$ git config --global color.ui false

No mention of the fact that this invocation really just sets entries in ~/.gitconfig. But I had already done that! What has changed? Unfortunately, I didn't have time to check.


Riding clinic: not too late after all
Topic: health, general, animals, opinion Link here

Yvonne has another cold. That happens from time to time, like (I suppose) with most people The most surprising thing is probably that I never catch it from her.

Did I say “never”? Well, almost never. Three years ago she managed it, but I think it must be the only time in the last 50 years when I have caught a cold. Still, Yvonne found that it wasn't as bad as most colds, and we had hope that it would gradually improve over the next few days.

But then she came into my office with a bombshell:


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A live RAT! Only later did I discover that her cold had been going since Thursday last week, and that two days before—the day after she left here, Anke Hawke had reported coming down with COVID-19. It seems reasonable to assume that Yvonne caught it during last weekend's riding clinic, and if that's the case, a number of others might have done so too.

Nothing for it, off to Ballarat for a PCR test:


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And now? I'm pretty sure that Yvonne is infected, and despite lack of symptoms I probably am too. One week with no contact to anybody, even to go shopping. A good thing that we have plenty of stuff in the freezers.


Rugging the horses
Topic: animals, photography Link here

Every evening in winter Yvonne rugs the horses. She doesn't need my help, but today I went along just in case she won't be able to do it tomorrow. More photos:


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She's teaching Carlotta to stick out her tongue, but she managed to avoid doing it every time I tried:


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Time to try out Olympus “Pro Capture”.


Tuesday, 5 July 2022 Dereel Images for 5 July 2022
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First Camellia meets last rose
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Seen in front of the house today:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220705/big/Camellia-japonica-3.jpeg
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That's the first Camellia japonica flower of spring, almost hidden near the ground. And there are still roses from autumn:


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Catching Carlotta's tongue
Topic: animals, photography, opinion Link here

Yesterday's attempts at getting Carlotta to stick out her tongue were a complete failure. As planned, along again today with my camera set to “Pro Capture”, and got a number of photos—a total of 229 of them in 55 seconds. How do I process them? It seems ridiculous to process them all. Let Yvonne decide! For the time being, these should do (run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220705/big/Carlotta-sticks-out-tongue-3.jpeg
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Wednesday, 6 July 2022 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 6 July 2022
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Unexpected visitors
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Up round 8:30 this morning to find an unexpected sight:


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When I got there, the gate was shut. Troy Addicoat and his crew, a day early! That's the best news I've heard for a while. And they stuck at it all day, with the exception of Troy, who had a meeting in town. By evening we had at least some semblance of a structure:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220706/big/Erecting-shed-20.jpeg
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Troy tells me that they'll continue on Friday and finish on Monday.


COVID-19: Good news, bad news
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Where are the results of my PCR test? They were due 24 to 36 hours from the date of the test, which translates to 14:00 yesterday to 2:00 this morning. OK, clearly they won't call in the middle of the night, but by midday I thought it worth calling. Date of birth, please? Ah, yes, you tested negative, and you were called yesterday and told so.

Where do they get that idea? Anyway, “negative” has a positive ring to itself. The bad news, of course, was that Yvonne is positive, as we had assumed. Still, she's still not worse than with a normal cold, so we can hope that the worst is over.


Shopping in Ballarat
Topic: general, opinion Link here

One of the consequences of the results of our PCR tests is that I can go shopping: Wednesday is “our” (Yvonne's) shopping day, but today she can't go herself.

Coles Supermarkets have just overhauled their supermarket in Sebastopol, so took the opportunity to go and see what they had on offer. The place is certainly a lot more spacious than the old place:


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I was hoping for some interesting special offers, but I was disappointed. About the only things I found were purple cauliflower, which looks like it is infected by fungus:


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One interesting thing is their solution to having shopping carts stolen:


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Somehow I'm tempted to steal one to investigate how it works, and whether it can easily be overridden.

At Sinclair Meats I only had dog bones to pick up, and a good thing too. Steaks are now running at round $50 per kg:


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I wonder how much Putin is to blame for that.

Other surprises at ALDI. Chicken thighs are more expensive than breast, and they have sillily named sausage: “Chorizo Salami”, whatever that may mean, along with “German-style Kransky”. The “Chorizo Salami” was also on sale at Coles, so maybe it's a new invention.

And at Woolworths the eternal fight with their toilets:


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The biggest problem in getting the key was finding the unmarked customer service desk, which looked just like another checkout. And the door wasn't even locked.

Woolworths checkout has not got any better. I had bought 7 bottles of juice, and they still want me to scan Every Single Bottle individually, and then “bag” it, whatever that means. An exhortation to waste more single-use plastic? And for some reason the override worked at a snail's pace:


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The second photo shows the PoS terminal in limbo, waiting to display a selection box. After the third bottle I gave up, expressed disgust to the attendant and checked out at the customer service desk.

There's an obvious way to speed things up, of course: don't scan all the bottles. What are Woolworths thinking? The remind me that there's more than one meaning to PoS.


Thursday, 7 July 2022 Dereel Images for 7 July 2022
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COVID-19?
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Woke up in the middle of a night with a bit of pain on my palate. Had I been snoring? But it went away, or rather, moved round my nasal cavity and gradually worked its way down to my throat.

COVID-19? It doesn't seem typical. Apart from the nose and throat issues I didn't feel unwell, had no temperature. Only I felt very cold when we went out to walk the dogs. A very minor attack, maybe? I suppose I should have tested myself, but somehow I couldn't be bothered, and since we need to isolate for Yvonne, there seemed to be no need.


Bad dogs!
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

The people who started erecting the shed yesterday left a couple of boxes of screws outside the gate. Bad idea:


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The dogs enjoyed it, though. And it looks as if no damage was done beyond the mess.


Friday, 8 July 2022 Dereel Images for 8 July 2022
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COVID-19?
Topic: health Link here

There's no doubt about it, I have some throat infection. But what? Basically it's just a sore throat, and otherwise I seem to be fine. Spent some time comparing with what happened 3 years ago. One thing is clear: on that occasion medical assistance wasn't up to scratch, and I was given medications that certainly didn't help and may have made things worse.

One difference is the “green slime” that I had last time. Not this time. I cough, I have some phlegm, but it's colourless. And about the only thing that worked last time was Bisolvon, and that's what I'm using now.

And Yvonne? A different story. Her cold symptoms are waning, but now she feels very weak and tired, something that our Doctor, Paul Smith, also reported. Hopefully it'll go by soon.


Where's Troy?
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Troy Addicoat was due to arrive here this morning to continue erection of the shed. I was expecting him at 8:30 or so, like on Wednesday. But he needed to pick up some equipment, so it would be reasonable for him to arrive later. Come 10:40 it seemed a bit late, so I sent him an SMS. Quick reply: truck bogged down. Two hours later: not today, his father-in-law is dying:


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That's clearly the father of his divorced wife. It sounds too much like “my grandmother just died” to be plausible. What makes more sense is that if he's hiring machinery, he wants a whole day's work out of it, which makes Monday more sensible. But how can I believe anything he tells me?


More mail problems
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Tried to send a message to the FreeBSD lists via Aussie Broadband today, not for the first time. But this time I didn't get through:

<freebsd-hackers@freebsd.org>: host mx1.freebsd.org[96.47.72.80] said:
    550-5.7.1 Service unavailable; client [121.200.0.94] blocked using
    DNS-based denylists 550 5.7.1 in case of permanent delivery errors (e.g.
    5XX SMTP errors) please send your problem report from a non-blocked
    location (e.g. gmail/yahoo) to postmaster@FreeBSD.org and include the
    following information: time (Jul 07 23:26:28) and client (121.200.0.94).
    (in reply to RCPT TO command)

Huh? 121.200.0.94 is smtp03.aussiebb.com.au.. They shouldn't be blacklisted. OK, Philip Paeps has been doing some mail system upgrades, and he is (almost) in our time zone (Hong Kong), so I sent him mail.

And then I had a second issue sending mail directly from my mutt to mx1.freebsd.org:

SMTP session failed: 550 5.7.1 in case of permanent delivery errors (e.g. 5XX SMTP errors) please send your problem report from a non-blocked location (e.g. gmail/yahoo) to postmaster@FreeBS

That, too, used to work.

Philip responded quickly. Aussie Broadband was a configuration error, and my means of communicating with the FreeBSD mail servers wasn't completely kosher and has now gone away. Instead we (mainly Philip) worked out a way of sending SSL mail to the preferred server smtp.freebsd.org. First, get a Kerberos password, like I did last month:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/1) ~ 1 -> ssh kpasswd.freebsd.org
Your new, ready to forget, password:         Uive3a(X
Your new, ready to forget, mail password:    wieC?3ze7iHga7foi]xei[ghi}i

Then add these entries to ~/.muttrc:

set smtp_pass=wieC?3ze7iHga7foi]xei[ghi}i
set smtp_url="smtps://groggyhimself%2Fmail@smtp.freebsd.org:465"

The mail password, despite being far longer, is weaker in scope (only works for email) and thus preferable. And the %2F is magic: it should be a slash (/), but mutt interprets that as part of a URL.

And now that works. All I need to do is to find out how to do this only when I'm sending with my FreeBSD address.


Email and SMS: from the sublime to the ridiculous
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

One of the reasons that I don't like SMS is that I don't know when they arrive. For reasons I don't understand, although I have sounds turned on for just about everything, I don't hear anything when they arrived. Given Troy Addicoat's predilection for SMS, it's time that I followed through.

Much discussion on IRC. Andrew Perry pointed me on the right track. No, it's not Settings/Sound & vibration, it's also not in the settings for Messages. It's in Settings/Notifications & Control centre/App notifications. Then search for the app (Messages) and enable “Allow playing sound”.

Now why didn't I think of that?

But my forwarding to real email still doesn't work. I had installed something to forward SMSs, and initially at any rate it worked. What was it called? Off looking. Why is it so difficult to identify Android apps? They seem to have different names depending on how you look at them. Found what I had, and discovered that the “free trial” of the advanced features (something they hadn't told me about) had expired, so I needed to set things up again.

More messing around. Set up email account? “Use this only if you know what SMTP is”. Yes, I know what SMTP is, and have done for 30 years. Does the app author know?


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Those are the default settings. What do they have to do with SMTP? And where's the field for the email address? Filled out as best I could, and it didn't work. Why? Ah, we're too polite to tell you the mess you made.

Why is this all so difficult?


Saturday, 9 July 2022 Dereel Images for 9 July 2022
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Throat issues, day 3
Topic: health, opinion Link here

I still have a sore throat, and phlegm makes me cough, but it's clearly getting better. COVID-19? If so, it's a really mild case. But I'm more inclined to think that it's the kind of throat infection that I have had from time to time.

While digging under the washbasin in the bathroom, found a pack of Strepsils. I must have bought them three years ago when I had the last infection. This time I read the package:

The efficacy of an antibacterial agent in lozenges in reducing the severity or duration of throat infections has not been clinically established.

Now that's a statement. You can be sure that it hasn't been for want of trying! From my point of view, I thought it might stop the urge to cough, though I find the things unpleasant (sweet, menthol). But things were looking up, and in the end I didn't take any.


Gun violence: me too!
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Gun violence, usually mass murders, is the flavour of the year, mainly in the USA. But we're seeing cases in countries where there is no such tradition. Why was there a mass shooting in Copenhagen recently? Why did somebody assassinate Shinzo Abe? It's not just the availability of guns: the man who killed Abe had to build his own. But continual media coverage of mass shootings must excite a number of unstable people. Can't they just shut up with the reporting?


Sunday, 10 July 2022 Dereel Images for 10 July 2022
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Intrusive Android apps
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I still don't have a functional SMS-to-email converter. Yesterday I tried Auto forward SMS to PC/phone, which didn't do what I expected. But it wanted to take over my life, and it wouldn't take “no” for an answer!


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Tried selecting “System launcher”, which gave me an alternative root screen, one in which I couldn't find the app to remove it; presumably it had been hidden. In the end I had to reboot the phone, twice because the first attempt didn't work, and finally remove the app before it raised its ugly head again. Why do people make things like that? Are there really people who find SMS the most important function of a mobile phone?


New ALDI “air fryer”
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

On Wednesday I picked up a couple of special offers at ALDI: new shower heads and an “air fryer” that I had been trying to get for some time, but which was always sold out when I got there. This time there were plenty, and a woman saw the thing in my cart and commented on how good they were, that she had had one for a long time and even bought a second one for her daughter. I think she was a little taken aback when I said that one of the best things about it was that I could return it.

Why another “air fryer”? This one looks more like a conventional oven:


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It promises to be better than the ones we already have, especially since it includes a pizza stone and should thus be capable of making pizzas. And, as usual, the advertising tells me almost nothing of what I wanted to know.

The instruction manual was sobering. Maximum temperature, even for pizzas, 200°. And the instructions on how to make pizzas show that they have no idea what the stone is for: prepare the pizza on the (cold) stone and then put it in the oven at a temperature between 60° and 200° for a time between 1 and 90 minutes, without fan assist. The default is only 190° for 16 minutes. Clearly whoever wrote this has no idea of pizzas. Almost everything in their procedure is detrimental to the pizza.

Still, how does it work with other foods? Today I tried it out with some tanduri-marinated chicken. Using the controls is non-intuitive: there are in fact only two, the big knobs on either side. And there's no indication about whether it's up to temperature. After about 15 minutes, the time I had established on previous occasions, things looked OK, so I served. Barely cooked.

So what advantage does it have? The ALDI 60 day no-questions-asked return guarantee. I'll take advantage of it. But I'm very disappointed; I had hoped that this thing could be useful.


Monday, 11 July 2022 Dereel Images for 11 July 2022
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Where's Troy, next instalment
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

On Friday Troy Addicoat promised me that he would be here today. Was he? No!

This is getting beyond a joke (in fact, it was never a joke). Shortly before midday I sent another couple of SMSs (note: you can't press Return when sending an SMS with Microsoft; it takes it as “send”) giving him time until the end of the week to have things finished. And how about that, again an almost immediate reply: “We are on our way be there in about an hour”.

And he was, along with the scissor lift for which I had had to pay $1000 hire. It turns out that it belongs to him!

They got started pretty quickly, and put the roof trusses in for the eastern half:


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For some reason, the rear column for the next truss hadn't been put in place—they did that at the end. But still, by evening they had half the roof in place:


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Even more encouraging, they left the truck and the scissor lift behind:


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A good indication that they'll be here tomorrow too.


COVID-19!
Topic: health, general, opinion Link here

My sore throat is gradually subsiding, and I'm feeling almost normal again. What was it? COVID-19? The symptoms don't match, but the circumstances do, and after all we have another 3 RATs. OK, try the first one.


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Huh? What does that mean? Surely there are meaningful instructions inside.

You'd hope so, wouldn't you? What I got was:


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That's a single A4 sheet, thoughtfully in 6 pt text rather than the 4 pt obligatory text on the other side. OK, let's start:

So clearly the test is positive. But why should I not read the result after 20 minutes? Watched for the rest of the day, during which the indicators hardly changed. Here after 2 minutes, after 15 minutes and after 6½ hours (run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour):


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And somehow this “biosafety” makes no sense. If I blow my nose I collect 1000 times as much material as with the test, and I just throw the handkerchief away. What's so dangerous about the swab?

At the end, it seems that these mushrooms in step 2 of the instructions for illiterates are supposed to be nostrils. And somehow it seems in keeping that the punched hole in the packaging is considerably too big to hold the specimen tube:


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You'd think that such a mass-produced item wouldn't have such rough corners.


Tuesday, 12 July 2022 Dereel Images for 12 July 2022
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Shed erection, day 3
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Two people arrived here this morning to continue work on the arena shed. They weren't the fastest. By the time they left in mid-afternoon, they had mounted a couple more members on the east end, and placed a couple of diagonal braces:


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Still, there's good hope that it will be done by the end of the week.


Rose hips for Larissa
Topic: health, animals, technology, opinion Link here

Yvonne has been recommended a product called Rosehipvital, which claims to be a natural cure for Larissa's hip problems (will they start to grow roses?).

I was dubious, but to my surprise Pene Kirk suggested testing the stuff. It comes with a 50% off offer, important in view of the price ($100 odd for 500 g, enough for about 6 weeks' treatment). That actually makes it more expensive than the medication we're currently giving her. But OK, for Yvonne's sake if not for Lara's. Off, “Buy it now”. $109.95, please.

Huh? What about the 50% discount? No mention any more. Ask the chatbot?

 
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OK, not a worry, it's currently 14:51 on Tuesday. Your reply, please?

It did show up later, in a different popup. Use the code CANINE50 at checkout. And that worked. But I'm reminded that web sales are still anything but mature.


Cooking disaster
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I may have COVID-19, and Yvonne should now no longer be infections (so much so that they don't even want to test her again). But it's still Yvonne who is feeling under the weather, and this evening she only wanted to eat potato salad.

What can I eat? We have lots of leftovers in the fridge, but they're dimensioned for 2 people. All I found was some stuffed peppers, a stuffed courgette and a piece of unidentified ham. OK, the new “air fryer” was still on the work area, so how about using that to grill the courgette? Yes, it worked, more than well enough:


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That was after about 10 minutes; based on Sunday's experience I hadn't expected any browning at all.

And how do I get it off the grille? Badly:


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Somehow it hasn't been a good day.


Wednesday, 13 July 2022 Dereel Images for 13 July 2022
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Shed construction, day 4
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Shed construction continued today, this time with Troy and his partner as well. Reassuring news: we'll be able to use the shed over the weekend. I don't know if it's related, but things seemed to go faster. Now we have the entire rear wall of the shad clad, and they're working on the west wall:


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It seems that the concrete blocks don't quite line up:


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I wonder how they'll address that issue.


Spring on its way
Topic: gardening Link here

More “spring” flowers today: another Camellia japonica and the first Narcissus:


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Thursday, 14 July 2022 Dereel Images for 14 July 2022
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More dry omelettes
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Yvonne had another broken egg yolk today, and by coincidence I was able to use it for a “dry omelette”, made without oil.

I've been working on the details for some time, most recently four months ago. The main issue was that the omelette cooks unevenly, becoming crisp in the middle before it's cooked on the edge. Last time I tried a “halo”, but it didn't work:


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But the middle is now accessible. Once it's cooked, lift it:


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That allows me to cook the edges completely and lift it out of the pan in once piece, leaving (almost) nothing behind:


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A minor issue was that it was a little thick, but there's an obvious solution to that one.


Shed construction, next step
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Yvonne has seen an issue with the shed, the diagonal braces at the north-east corner:


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That's a perfect shape for catching horses' hooves in. What can we do about it? The obvious thing to do was to go to Chris Bahlo's and see what she did. After all, she doesn't have them at all.

Oh:


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But there's a difference. Her shed is built differently, and there's no space between the wall cladding and the bracing:


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She has also put various things up against the wall, not to protect the horses, but to protect people's knees:


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Back home, and there's a much simpler solution. The braces were needed only for erection, and once the surveyor has accepted the structure, they can remove them. They're only kept in place by a few screws. Troy was interested, though, that the braces were against the cladding in Chris' shed, and after looking again, I can see his point: they're there to steady the columns, so they're in the wrong place.

Construction continued all day—after all, it was supposed to be finished today. But no, now it's not even tomorrow: it's Monday. No using the shed at the weekend.

By evening we had:


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Admire the Colorbond™ sheeting, for which we were forced to pay nearly $3000, at the end. It's invisible from almost anywhere, and the matching gutters in the second image look completely out of place.


Are we having fun yet?
Topic: technology, history, opinion Link here

While looking for something completely different, found an article draft for Daemon News: “Are we having fun yet?”, coincidentally about the FreeBSD Core Team. It's interesting for a number of reasons:

Spent some time (far too much time) tidying it up. There must be a better way, particularly since there are probably a number of other articles to go with it.

The real thing is the content. I'm still trying to compare the view then with today's view. Not all has improved since then.


Another dead battery
Topic: photography Link here

It's been nearly 12 years since I had significant problems with aftermarket batteries for my Olympus E-30, and since then I've been keeping a charge history page. And it's becoming clear that the batteries that I bought for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II on 17 December 2013 are reaching the ends of their lives. Battery 2 died on 3 April 2022, and today battery 4, normally discharged, couldn't be charged again. That leaves only batteries 1 (original) and 3 (aftermarket).

Do I need a new one? There's every reason to believe that battery 3 will follow its partners, and then I would only have one. Strangely, I'm using the E-M1 more recently: it's pretty much as good as the E-M1 Mark II, and it's convenient not to have to change lenses and settings all the time. So yes, time for a new battery for a 9-year-old camera.


Friday, 15 July 2022 Dereel Images for 15 July 2022
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Forgetfulness: old age or lack of attention?
Topic: food and drink, general, health, opinion Link here

A phone call on Yvonne's phone interrupted my mail reading before breakfast. A good thing, too. In the kitchen I found:


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Once that had been a Mi Udang soup. I had forgotten to turn off the pot after bringing it to the boil. Damn! It looks like the pot is also ruined.


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Getting too old for it? Every time something like this happens, that's a cause to worry whether my mind is fading. But no, looking back, I've been doing silly things like this all my life. It's nothing to do with age.

But why? Is it just me, or is there something about cooking that leads people to forget things?


Shed erection, day 6 of 3
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

As decided yesterday, Troy and partner weren't here today; they just sent the same two people who appeared so slow on Tuesday. They didn't seem to be any faster today. Here's what it looked at the end of the day (second set of images), compared with yesterday:


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The only obvious difference is that the west wall is now complete. There are a few other details, like “wiring” about a third of the roof:


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And gradually it's visible from the road, though not very much so:


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Saturday, 16 July 2022 Dereel Images for 16 July 2022
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Lost Larissa
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

A surprising sight early this morning:


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How did Larissa get out of the compound? My best bet is that it was wind that opened the gate enough for her to slip through, but could it be something else? In any case, she couldn't find her way back in again, so maybe that's a lesson for her.


Power what?
Topic: Stones Road house, technology, opinion Link here

In early afternoon I heard a beep from multiple sources. Power failure? No, everything was still on. Well, almost everything. eureka, my main machine, protected by a UPS as well as the PV system, had reset.

Why? Is there something wrong with the UPS? Should I get rid of it? On other occasions it has proved to be useful. And maybe the real issue was a power surge, against which for some reason the PV system doesn't protect.


Understanding USB hubs
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

In October last year I bought and then “returned” a device sold as a USB 3.0 hub, which however only worked in USB 2 mode. As a result, I connected my 4 backup disks to the 4 USB 3.0 ports on the motherboard.

That's not convenient. Where do I connect my cameras? Firstly, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II has a USB 3.0 connection, and the others have a different cable. So I ended up connecting them to dereel, also not really convenient. In the meantime it occurred to me that the backup disks don't really need USB 3.0: the backups run in the middle of the night, so 40 MB/s is enough. And the seller had refunded my money, but he never sent me a shipping label for the device, so I still have it.

The hubs have another advantage: each port is switched. So on rebooting I can turn them all off and turn them on one at a time, thus eliminating the race condition that can cause the disks to come up in random order. And then I can connect the E-M1 Mark II to a dedicated USB 3.0 port.

Looking at the probe messages, though, I saw something interesting:

Jul 16 14:51:24 eureka kernel: da0: 400.000MB/s transfers
Jul 16 14:51:28 eureka kernel: da1: 40.000MB/s transfers
Jul 16 14:51:37 eureka kernel: da2: 40.000MB/s transfers
Jul 16 14:51:40 eureka kernel: da3: 40.000MB/s transfers
Jul 16 15:00:41 eureka kernel: da4: 40.000MB/s transfers

Those device numbers map directly to the ports on the hub. They're all USB 3.0 devices, but only the first probed as such. Could that be what the seller meant when he wrote this?

The product has four ports and seven ports. There is only one 3.0 interface for the four ports, and 2.0 for the others. The seven ports have four 3.0 interfaces, and the other is 2.0.

It doesn't quite match, but maybe it means that one of the first four ports can be USB 3.0, and that's all. Still, it'll do for now.


Gratin dauphinois again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Gratin dauphinois for dinner tonight:


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In the past I've had issues with the potatoes not being completely cooked. Today it got 65 minutes cooking time instead of the 50 that seem to be “normal”. And it still wasn't soggy. But somehow there seems to have been something missing, maybe salt. More recipe changes.


Sunday, 17 July 2022 Dereel
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Credit card payments: the pain
Topic: general, opinion Link here

How do you pay for things on the Web? That's what PayPal is for, of course. But there are alternatives: direct credit card payment, cash transfers or direct bank debit.

Each of these has its issues:

But “Wise” (a not very clever name for a financial institution, who clearly thought that the old name “Transferwise” gave away too much information about what they were), and who supply the credit card that is expiring, offer a “digital card”. OK, they're free, so I can get one. Just these horrible SMS confirmation codes—at almost every window change!

Oh. The digital cards expire too. My best guess is that it's a throwaway card number, like my throwaway email addresses. So while it's useful for some things, it doesn't help here. There's nothing for it: I need to maintain a list of credit card numbers and URLs of associated account change pages.


Monday, 18 July 2022 Dereel Images for 18 July 2022
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Where's Troy?
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Troy Addicoat had told me on Thursday that he would complete the shed today. No such luck: nobody showed up.

Yes, we had had 7 mm of rain overnight. Is that enough? His machinery is still here, so I still have some hope that he will be finished by the weekend. But that's two weeks later than he had planned when he finally started work. We'll see what tomorrow brings.


FreeBSD: User friendly?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

One accusation that we sometimes see is that FreeBSD is not newcomer-friendly. We've been discussing this on the core team, but we're far from any agreement on details.

OK, it's been a year or two since I first installed FreeBSD, but it's worth revisiting. And how about a comparison with Linux? Which distribution? Last time I looked (decades ago) the favourite was Ubuntu. So download a DVD and install it on a spare disk.

First install FreeBSD on half the disk. It works. How do I start X? No idea. Well, I have more than an idea, but the installation program stops way short of such details.

Next, install Ubuntu. Instructions? Who reads instructions? Off it went, apparently trying to saw the DVD drive apart, all the time showing a pretty but meaningless display. But after about 15 minutes I got a real display:


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“Failed to start installer”. That sounds dangerous. But then it came up with a bright purple display that emphasized why I don't like preimposed “desktops”:


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I was able to start the “terminal” window, but it showed that I had no disk! There weren't even any device entries for disks. It took some searching to discover that so far it had only booted! I had to click on this intuitive icon, which means “Install Ubuntu”:

 
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OK, install things, another very long time. But then, it was installing everything to make a complete system. After an hour or so it was done. Reboot. And the old race condition of ejecting the DVD before the system reboots from it.

But Ubuntu had another trick in store. It let me eject the DVD before it was finished! And it wasn't happy with the result:


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Oh. Reboot?


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Damn! Where do I have a floppy disk? And a floppy disk drive, for that matter. Nothing for it, reinstall. But no, now it didn't like the partitioning scheme any more. Start by reinstalling FreeBSD? No, not even that worked:


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I'm dead in the water! And why doesn't it work any more? It was quite happy before.

Yes, there are plenty of ways to recover. But first I want to understand how Ubuntu managed to make such a mess of my disk. And why did it allow me to eject the DVD while it was still in use? I've never seen that before. Now I know that I don't need to eject it; the install program does that when it's finished. But how was I to know that?


Tuesday, 19 July 2022 Dereel Images for 19 July 2022
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Another pump failure
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

We've been living in Stones Road for over 7 years now, and somehow it shows: things are starting to fall apart. The door handle to the laundry is failing, and it looks like I'll have to replace it with the same cheap and nasty kind because Australian door fittings are not standardized.

But then we discovered a strange noise from the house water pump, as if it had gravel inside it. Broken impeller blade? It still works, but for how long? It leaks when running:


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It, too, is 7 years old—I thought. But checking back, it seems that it was a replacement for one that failed in January 2018. And it already has one repair behind it, less than 3½ years ago. Looking back over the years, it seems that house water pumps are particularly unreliable. This is the third failure since we've been here, and it wasn't much better in Wantadilla and Kleins Road. OK, get UPI to come and replace it; maybe we can repair the old one and have it on standby for when the new one fails.

And of course that didn't happen today. At least the pump carried on running.


Disk failure!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

The first thing I do every morning is to look at the output of overnight backups. Today didn't look good:

...
MediathekView/Watzmann-ermittelt/Folge 6_ Inkognito-20220123-123000.mp4
IO error encountered -- skipping file deletion

OK, that's rsync, which considers things like a broken symlink to be an I/O error. But the system log was more specific:

Jul 19 04:25:36 teevee kernel: ahcich1: Timeout on slot 12 port 0
Jul 19 04:28:30 teevee kernel: ahcich1: is 00000000 cs 00000000 ss 0003f000 rs 0003f000 tfd 40 serr 00000000 cmd 0000d217
Jul 19 04:28:30 teevee kernel: (ada0:ahcich1:0:0:0): READ_FPDMA_QUEUED. ACB: 60 00 a8 88 f2 40 27 03 00 01 00 00
Jul 19 04:28:30 teevee kernel: (ada0:ahcich1:0:0:0): CAM status: Command timeout
Jul 19 04:28:30 teevee kernel: (ada0:ahcich1:0:0:0): Retrying command, 3 more tries remain
Jul 19 04:28:30 teevee kernel: swap_pager: indefinite wait buffer: bufobj: 0, blkno: 435569, size: 4096
...

That looks like a failing disk. And of course I have a replacement waiting, if not ready. Spent most of the day trying to rsync the contents across, not helped by further I/O errors. And only then did it occur to me that I already have a backup that is only one day old. So I synced that first, and then the updates of the last 24 hours. And that took the whole day, apart from also putting paid to yesterday's comparisons between FreeBSD and Ubuntu, since it was the same machine.


Shed construction, day 8 of 3
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Troy Addicoat back today, along with wife and child:


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It's amazing to see how much faster things happen when he's on site. But they still didn't manage to finish the roofing. By evening we had about 65% done:


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Troy won't be here tomorrow.. He thinks that his people will finish things tomorrow. I'd be very surprised.

And then there's the issue of the differing height in the corners, up to 60 cm. That's not Troy's problem, but it does need attention. Troy is ready to do the work, but he's not the cheapest (nor, of course, the most reliable), so I gave Warrick Pitcher a call. He tells me that it has to be that way so that the water can run off. I have my grave doubts; yet another thing to follow up on.


Moiré!
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

One thing I can't fix is extreme Moiré when taking photos of screens. This one shows an extreme form of the problem:


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Yes, I can improve on that, but I can't get rid of it. Programs like DxO PhotoLab promise to fix it, but they don't seem to deliver. Surely there must be some software that addresses the problem. It would seem that “Perfectly Clear“ should address the issue too, but I can't find any mention of the issue. It seems to be more tailored towards portraits and landscapes.


Wednesday, 20 July 2022 Dereel Images for 20 July 2022
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A new house water pump
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Woken on the dot of 8:00 by the phone this morning, but by the time I got out, they had hung up, and there was just somebody waiting at the gate. That proved to be Clarry, one of the people who work for Troy Addicoat, and who apparently didn't know the trick to open it.

Voice mail. Jarrod from UPI. Finally got back to him, and he showed up round 9:00 with a new pump, a “FRANKLIN 3MH4 PRESS CONTROL MULTI-STAGE PRESSURE PUMP”, along with two thick manuals in 17 languages:


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He listened to the old pump, confirmed that he couldn't do anything with it there, so he changed pumps and left again. Later he called back and confirmed what I had expected: one impeller broken, two damaged, leaking gasket. Repair $310. Should I do it? Yes, he thought, “it's a nice little pump”. And it's a good idea to have one in reserve for the next failure, which seems inevitable.

And why did it fail? Jarrod thinks that it might have turned on and off too much, maybe because of the leaks. Potentially the leaks are the result of a poor repair a couple of years ago, but it doesn't inspire confidence.

The new pump is considerably stronger than the old one, and it's obvious from the water flow. That alone might make it worthwhile.


Another power interruption
Topic: Stones Road house, technology, opinion Link here

Just as I was talking on the phone to Jarrod, another beep, and my office computers reset. That's exactly what happened on Saturday. Once again only the devices connected to the UPS were affected.

What is it? Really a power surge? The inverter logs didn't show anything. In any case, for the time being at any rate, I've taken the UPS out of circuit. Hopefully I won't end up with multiple blown power supplies.

One issue I didn't expect: I couldn't bring eureka up cleanly because the photo backup disk wasn't there. Today is the day that Yvonne swaps the disk with the one we keep at Chris Bahlo's place, and thus neither was here. I think that that will happen seldom enough that I won't change my methods.


The shed: day 8 of 3
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Troy Addicoat was not here today. Apart from Clarry, two others arrived, notably Mitch, with whom I spoke later. They got started as slowly as ever, but they really did have just about everything finished by evening. Only the skylights were an issue:


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My photo processing software tells me that it absorbs about 3 stops, or 90% of the light. We don't need skylights like that!

As if that wasn't bad enough, we only received three of them. I'm sure I paid for 6, but I couldn't find the invoice. Finally Yvonne called John Hoffman of Eureka Garages and Sheds, who sent us a copy of the invoice. Yes, six sheets. So now another delay, just before the whole thing is finally finished! And I have to rely on John to get the stuff on time.

Will this never end?

In the afternoon Chris Bahlo came over and took a look at the surface. Yes, her surface isn't completely horizontal either, but not nearly as much as ours. So if Warrick isn't interested in doing the thing, it looks like another job for Will Tattnell.


Are you really alive?
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

The annual pension increase from the Deutsche Rentenversicherung (pension fund) today. The good news: my monthly pension has increased by 30,94 €. The bad news: it has been offset by the drop in the exchange rate for the Euro, so in real terms I'm getting round AUD 55 less per month.

And of course there's the annual „Lebensbescheinigung“, which they translate in different places as “Life Certificate” or “Proof of life”. We're used to that: go to a total stranger at the police station in Ballarat and show my driver license. Get a signature and send it off. I can't get one from my doctor; what would he know?

But this year it's different. I can do it with a mobile phone app, they say. Just download POSTIDENT and “scan the personal QR code—at the top-right of this letter—with your camera”.

Presumably they mean the mobile phone camera. OK, do that:


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Huh? What transaction number? I checked the letter again. No mention of a transaction number. Take a photo of the QR code?


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That looks good, but that's after it displays a transient “No transaction number found”.

Try to scan with Google Lens? It just starts the app.

Is this a problem with the English version of the app? I would far rather have had it in German, but no, it refuses to change to anything except the language that is set in the phone settings.

It's not clear that the results will even be accepted. The instructions continue:

You will then be asked to take a picture of the front and reverse of your official ID document, ....

OK, Renten Service [sic], you do know that I'm not German, right? Here it is:


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The problem is, there is no such thing as an official ID document in Australia. People use driver licenses, but they're not official. So there's every reason to believe that they will reject the results if I find a way to produce them.

I had my doubts about the usability of this app, but this is just plain stupid. I'm alive, but I'm not so sure about the people who wrote this app.


Thursday, 21 July 2022 Dereel Images for 21 July 2022
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Finally! Flounder for KL Mee
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

One of the less usual ingredients in some recipes for KL Hokkien Mee is called “flounder”. As I noted in the recipe, that doesn't seem to match anything I know in Malaysia, and I substituted Ikan bilis for it for a while until I decided that it really didn't add much.

But while tidying out my pantry, I found this:


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Dried flounder! And clearly Chinese. OK, why not try it?


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Oh. Not flaky, the way I thought. And on closer examination I saw:


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So not today. Still, something to experiment with.


Shed: day 9 of 3
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

What do we do about the incorrect skylights for the shed? Troy tried to find some in Ballarat, but they weren't available in the length we needed. He also recommended “opal”, not colourless, because they let in less ultraviolet light and keep the shed cooler. I think he didn't factor in the fact that two sides are open, and the shed is shaded by trees.

So contact John Hoffman. Sent him an email, and he called back asking exactly the questions I had answered in the email. He told me that I had ordered dark skylights, and I said no, I wanted colourless skylights. “Are you calling me a liar?”. No, just stating that what I got was not what I asked for. How can I know that? I sent him an email. OK, he'll replace them, but only with colourless, not opal. How does he get his old ones back? His problem.

Later Troy came along and did some tidy-up work with Mitch and Clarry.


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Somehow it took another whole day, and they still haven't picked up the scissor lift and crane.


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

More examination of yesterday's problems with POSTIDENT. Why is it such a complete failure? I followed the instructions exactly, but I couldn't even go to the URL specified in the QR code: it automatically diverted to the app.

OK, what happens with a phone without the app? Tried with enzian—it's good to have a spare mobile phone around—and got to the web site, where I was asked to enter my name and email address. And how about that, without any further checking I was sent email with details of how to proceed. So maybe there is hope yet. But not today.


What's that resin?
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

While walking the dogs, saw this on a eucalypt:


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Clearly some kind of resin, but it's particularly hard and brittle, and not at all sticky. Brought some home for closer examination.


Friday, 22 July 2022 Dereel Images for 22 July 2022
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POSTIDENT answers
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

I've already established that the POSTIDENT app is useless, at least for the purposes for which it was recommended to me. The instructions say:

  1. Download the POSTIDENT app...
  2. Scan your personal QR code - tat the top right of this letter - with your camera.

But that doesn't work. The app doesn't recognize the QR code. So I gave it a review with 1 star (because I can't give less):

Funktioniert nicht wie beschrieben, erkennt QR codes nicht (ohne App werden sie einwandfrei erkannt), besteht darauf, auf Englisch anzuzeigen. Ich kann den App einfach nicht benutzen. Ich gehe davon aus, dass das Problem durch Fehlkommunikation zwischen Post und DRV enstanden ist.

But then I saw other reviews, notably this one (which, for some reason, still gave 2 stars):

Not working as intended. Scanning proof of life QR in app does not work (as expected). Scanning QR with other apps (tried three) takes me straight to this app, but without code. Had to use another phone without this app to scan the QR. This took me to the POSTIDENT website where I had to log in with full name and email address to receive my 12 character case ID. This I had to transfer to the app to work. Very convoluted process and surely causing a lot of frustration to a lot of people.

Exactly my problem. So clearly Deutsche Post DHL, apparently the author. will fix it. No:

Hello Volker Haring! Scanning the QR code, on the letter to provide proof of life, must not be done with the Postident app. Scan the code on the letter with a standard QR code scanner (own app/integrated camera function). You will then receive a 12-digit transaction number on the website, which you transfer to the Postident app. Your POSTIDENT Team

What's wrong with this response?

  1. It contradicts the instructions I received.
  2. It doesn't address the report that this workaround doesn't work. As the review stated, You can't use the camera to scan the QR code, because it takes you to the app.
  3. It doesn't explain why it doesn't work as described.
  4. It doesn't give any indication that they intend to fix the problem, nor even that they recognize a problem.

So I rewrote my review, greatly hampered by the 500 character limitation and automatic removal of line breaks:

Für den digitalen Lebensnachweis funktioniert diese App nicht. Entgegen der Anleitung erkennt sie QR codes nicht. Die Antworten von Deutsche Post DHL sind gleich einer Pleiteerklärung: „Das Scannen des QR-Codes, auf dem Brief zur Erbringung des Lebensnachweises, darf nicht mit der Postident-App erfolgen.“ Das ist aber genau das, was die Anleitung verlangt. Und warum nicht? Weil die App kaputt ist? Ich kann nicht mal mehr mit der Kamera scannen, weil ich dann gleich zur App geführt werde.

In English:

This app does not work for the digital proof of life. Contrary to the instructions it doesn't recognize QR codes. The answers from Deutsche Post DHL are like a declaration of bankruptcy: “The QR code on the proof of life letter must not be scanned with the Postident app”. But that's exactly what the instructions require. And why not? Because the app is broken? I can't even scan with my camera, while it brings me back to the app.

Garden flowers in mid-winter
Topic: gardening Link here

It's mid-winter, time for the monthly flower photos. There's not much to report. The roses have been pruned for once, so there are only a couple left over, and the first spring flowers are showing:


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And the Aloes in the succulent garden are preparing flowers, as is the Strelitzia nicolai:


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The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is doing about as well as I expected:


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That bud will almost certainly not flower, but for a relatively cool winter so far it's not looking too bad. I really need to find somebody to drain the garden in spring.

And the Alyogyne huegelii that Bryan Ross so mutilated is finally coming back in the middle of winter:


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The Camellia japonica looks as sick as it always has, but it's still flowering, apparently earlier than in previous years:


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In previous years I didn't bother watering the Fuchsias in the winter. This year I have done, for all the difference it makes. Here last month and today:


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The Abutilon that I grew from cuttings last year is still flowering; it doesn't seem to have stopped since I planted it:


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We also have a number of wildflowers (“weeds”), including these:


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The first looks like a daisy, but I can't recall having seen them here before. And this one most certainly is a weed:


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That's a stinging nettle, brought in with an oak sapling barely visible in front of it.


Olympus shutter count
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Another battery needed recharging today. I note the number of photos taken since the battery was inserted. But how? Based on the numbers that the camera assigns to the files. And that's inaccurate, not only because of videos, but because it can be reset.

The camera keeps internal statistics, well hidden from the owner of the camera, but of course people have found out the method to access them. So out of curiosity I checked today and got:

Parameter       Meaning       E-M1 Mark I       E-M1 Mark II
R       Shutter releases       49616       47624
      file numbers             58652
S       Flash fires       1839       891
M       Sensor clean?       0       0
U       USF activations       11558       10235
V             0       0
B             22760       18698

That's interesting because the shutter counts are so close together. The count for the E-M1 Mark II significantly less than the file numbers, presumably because of videos and electronic shutter photos. But I only used the E-M1 Mark I for a little over 3 years before I got the E-M1 Mark II, and I've had that for over 5 years. The other interesting thing is how little I take flash photos any more.


Saturday, 23 July 2022 Dereel Images for 23 July 2022
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Arena: First use
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

So now the arena cover (“shed”) is almost done, with only the skylights missing:


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Yvonne can use it!


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Hopefully we'll soon jump the final hurdle.


Vertical panoramas again
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Over 10 years ago I did a lot of thinking about whether to take panoramic photos in vertical or horizontal orientation. The traditional answer is “vertical”, but clearly it depends on the lens and the angle of view that you want. In the end I decided that horizontal fitted my lens and my subjects better, notably the weekly house photos. But today I had another issue, the new arena. There I needed a larger vertical angle of view:


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And while I was at it, I did the normal house photos in that orientation too. The result? I needed to crop them at top and bottom. So yes, there's no particular reason for vertical orientation, at least for most of the panoramas.


POSTIDENT fix?
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Response to my criticism from Deutsche Post DHL today:

Hallo Greg Lehey! Es tut uns leid, wenn Sie unzufrieden sind, wir arbeiten bereits an einer Lösung zu Ihrem Problem. Ihr POSTIDENT Team.

In English:

We're sorry if you're dissatisfied, we're already working on a solution to your problem.

Hopefully it's a solution to the problem. But I also looked at a message I received a couple of days ago, which led me to this page, which states:

If you reside in Australia, Chile, Canada, Kosovo, South Africa, Thailand or Ukraine, you are eligible to participate this year in our digital proof of life pilot project. The new service allows you to provide the required proof of life digitally using POSTIDENT by photo.

So, a pilot project for a small number of countries without any obvious connection. And it links to more details of what documents are accepted. For Australia, ID card, passport and Driver license:


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ID card? What that? It doesn't exist! And the instructions are clear: front and rear of the document, so according to that requirement this passport photo would really be sufficient:


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OK, pilot project, but this sounds more like a case of “It compiles! Ship it!”. The instructions still contain the same sequence that has been shown not to work.


Sunday, 24 July 2022 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 24 July 2022
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Ballarat Sunday Market again
Topic: general, food and drink, opinion Link here

Yvonne wanted to go to the Ballarat Sunday Market today, mainly to buy potato dumplings in cooking bags. I thought that we might also find some plants for the garden, so off we went, misled by Google Maps, who don't know where the entrance is.

What a let down! The place was almost empty:


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No plants worth mentioning, and though the Dutch stand was open (the only one in the second image), they didn't have the dumplings. Is this atypical? It seems that things weren't much better last time. There was certainly more in earlier days, but I didn't take photos. Is this the result of COVID-19 or a general shift in community habits?

But by pure chance we came across this:


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Just what we were looking for! They're wheels for sack trolleys, and recently I had not one, but two with a damaged inner tube. Yes, I can have them repaired, but the costs would be between $30 and $45 per wheel, and that grates. These wheels were $20 complete! And some are solid rubber, so they can't go flat. Bought one of those; hopefully it will fit.


Australian ID card?
Topic: politics, general, opinion Link here

Jamie Fraser read my article about POSTIDENT, which claims to accept Australia ID cards. And there is no such thing.

Oh yes there is, says Jamie. And to a certain extent he's correct. Not one, but many, summarized at Identity documents of Australia. In Victoria it's the immediately understandable Proof of age card. And there are weird things like the Australian Document of Identity, required only for travel to Norfolk Island.

So yes, Jamie is right. I wonder how many of these the authors of POSTIDENT know about, let alone really accept.


Cracking the tiwi character issue
Topic: technology Link here

It has been several months since I ran into trouble installing software on tiwi, the replacement for teevee: xterms have an issue with the character set. Despite everything I do, the bindings like Alt-F (word forward in bash ) don't work correctly. Over the months I have established:

  1. When I start an xterm with bash on tiwi, Alt-F is interpreted as something else, effectively capitalization. Some other key combinations seem ineffective.

  2. When I connect to tiwi via ssh, things work normally. So it can't have anything to do directly with bash.

  3. So environment issues? I had already established that XTERM_LOCALE was different, but changing it didn't help.

  4. Today I discovered that the character display is also incorrect. Even with the environment set correctly, I get things like this (first line) with file names containing ISO 8859 characters, while from ssh I get the second line:

    -rw-r--r--  2 grog  home  871,316,116  9 Jun 10:05 02-01-Entscheidung-f rs-Leben--1--20220611-192500.mp4
    -rw-r--r--  2 grog  home  871,316,116  9 Jun 10:05 02-01-Entscheidung-fürs-Leben--1--20220611-192500.mp4

    Even more to the point, the character isn't suppressed, just not displayed. Copying and pasting the first line gives:

    -rw-r--r--  2 grog  home  871,316,116  9 Jun 10:05 02-01-Entscheidung-f�rs-Leben--1--20220611-192500.mp4
  5. So: start an xterm from this misbehaving xterm and try again. It works! So there's something about the way the xterm is started that is the problem. Somewhere the window manager is looking suspicious. But why? I use the same configuration files for all local systems. But at least it's an indication of where to look for the problem.


Monday, 25 July 2022 Dereel Images for 25 July 2022
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Dan Murphy's: Hanlon's razor?
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Received an interesting offer in the (e)mail recently:

 
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Oettinger beer for only $48 for a slab. In Australia, that's cheap. And we buy it regularly, so it makes sense to buy a few. Click on “Add to cart”:

 
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Huh? Suddenly it's $3 more expensive. That's dishonest! Checking, there were indications that the prices differ from place to place. But they know my location. It's at top right in the initial offer:

 
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What do I do? It's still $3 cheaper than the normal sale price. But this sort of thing should be prohibited. While fuming, discovered this near the second price:

 
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Thornleigh? Where's Thornleigh? 1000 km away! How did they make that mistake in mid-flight?

OK, change back to Ballarat. Sorry, no can do. Specify one of these:

 
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Ballarat East? Ballarat North? There's only one Dan Murphy's in Ballarat (Central). OK, enter it:

 
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And now it knows the real outlets. But why does it think that it's 5.52 km from Ballarat Central? There's something seriously broken here.

The good news is: yes, the beer is $48 per slab here. And the normal price is $50.99, 1 ¢ less than the “special” in Thornleigh.

Things weren't over. Paying was also unclear; at first it looked as if I should pay on pickup, which would make sense. But no, just a clever web designer expecting the customers to think the way he does.

What an example of Hanlon's razor!


40 years!
Topic: history, general Link here

Forty years ago I met a certain Yvonne Ködderitzsch, and we hit it off immediately. We still do, although we're now more than twice as old. How times have changed! We've been in Australia for more than half that time, and in Dereel for nearly a third of it.


xterms: another surprise
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So why are the xterms on tiwi started with a UTF-8 locale? Tried again today and noted that, in fact, I didn't have X running on tiwi. OK, start it and check. The xterms were normal! So the whole issue revolves around xterms started remotely. That's partially good news: I can (finally!) use it to replace teevee without running into the problem. But I still don't understand what's making the difference. I start the xterms from an fvwm2 menu:

+ "tiwi" Exec ssh -A tiwi /usr/local/bin/xterm -name "xterm-lx" -bg BlanchedAlmond -s -sl 2048 -sb -ls -j -rw -display eureka:0.0 -geometry 90x50+53+0 -fn 10x20 -e /usr/local/bin/bash &

And the entries for other systems are almost identical; in fact I generate them from a script, changing only the client and server names. So what is there in that that makes tiwi stand out? I'm baffled.


Tuesday, 26 July 2022 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 26 July 2022
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Dentist again
Topic: health, general, opinion Link here

Off to Ballarat today to have my 6-monthly dental checkup. It seemed rather more superficial than in the past, but no less painful: in fact, he somehow managed to find a very sensitive spot at a wisdom tooth at the right side of my lower jaw. He didn't think it unusual, strangely.

While in town, also picked up the beer that I bought from Dan Murphy's yesterday. To my surprise, and in contrast to last time, everything went smoothly.


Understanding X fonts, 32 years on
Topic: technology Link here

I've been using X since at least April 1990, and in general I think I understand it pretty well. But my recent issues with tiwi still confuse me. Then today I ran into a different issue: Tobias Berner has written a script that uses specific UTF-8 characters that my system doesn't display:

Since they're UTF-8, it's not surprising that they won't display correctly in an xterm, but then there's uxterm. And it displays:

State    Tally                Own Vote
           6,  0,  0,  3
           5,  0,  1,  3

Look OK? Well, no, half of it is missing. It should look like this:

State    Tally                   Own Vote
🔓       👍 6, 👎 0, 💁 0, 💤 3  👍
🔓       👍 5, 👎 0, 💁 1, 💤 3  👍

But uxterm can't display it, though it does keep the characters: you can cut and paste them and get them back again. And Emacs sees them but can't interpret them, so there I get:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220726/big/vote.png
Image title: vote
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We've had some discussion but come up with no silver bullet. I ran into similar issues 10 years ago, but somehow the insights that I gained there don't help much. The real surprise is that the characters display correctly on my instance of firefox, so clearly I have the fonts installed somewhere. So why do Emacs and uxterm not display them? It would be good to be able to find which fonts display which parts of the UTF-8 code space, and which fonts a specific program is using.


Wednesday, 27 July 2022 Dereel
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Nobody loves a Praktica
Topic: history, photography, opinion Link here

One of the more interesting cameras in my collection is the Contax D, the first real single-lens reflex camera with a pentaprism.


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210907/big/Contax-D-1.jpeg
Image title: Contax D 1          Dimensions:          4878 x 3151, 1073 kB
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Well. The first camera was called a Contax S, and the Contax D came out a few years later. The difference? The inscription on the pentaprism. Mine has the letters VEB (Volkseigener Betrieb, “people's own company”) under the Zeiss Ikon logo. Here a Contax S type C from somewhere on the web:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210907/big/Contax-S-with-cocked-self-timer.jpeg
Image title: Contax S with cocked self timer
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In passing, the cocked self-timer is due to a misunderstanding: this appears to be the first camera with a self-timer lever in that position, but there's no release button. It's easy to get the impression that it's stuck, but in fact you just need to press on the axis of the lever to start the timer. Both the author of the Contax S photo and I (at the time) didn't know that.

But one thing is missing on my Contax D: the lens. In those days it would have been a 5 cm f/2.8 Tessar, one of the two really classic lenses (the other is the Elmar, which I also don't have). I had a Tessar years ago, but presumably it was one of the many things stolen from my car in Milano on 26 September 1976:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/19651001/big/Tessar.jpeg
Image title: Tessar          Dimensions:          1458 x 1459, 748 kB
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So I've been looking for a Tessar with M42 mount at a reasonable price. I haven't bothered with an Elmar: like all Leitz products, it has an implicit 0 added at the end of the price. A couple of weeks ago I found a Praktica super TL with a 50 mm f/2.8 Tessar on eBay. OK, buy it if the price is right. That turned out to be $36, the second-lowest price I have paid on eBay for a used camera (the first was a Praktica Nova with defective shutter for $5).

It arrived today:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220728/big/Praktica-Tessar.jpeg
Image title: Praktica Tessar          Dimensions:          4391 x 3444, 4072 kB
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It appears to be similar in specifications to the Pentax Spotmatic, only with a top shutter speed of 1/500 s and without a self-timer. This is an almost direct descendent of the Contax S, which had a self-timer and 1/1000 s top shutter speed. In 20 years the only obvious improvement was the TTL metering. And somehow it's bulkier and uglier.

In particular, though, the lens is bulkier. Both of these lenses are 50 mm f/2.8, and they should be about the same size, but the difference is significant:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220728/big/Contax-Tessar-2-detail.jpeg
Image title: Contax Tessar 2 detail          Dimensions:          4266 x 3219, 1833 kB
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In addition, this silly striped pattern just doesn't work. So I think that, for the time being, I'll leave the Cassar on the Contax.

This also gives me a problem: I now have 21 cameras in my collection, and only space for 20:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220728/big/Camera-collection-3.jpeg
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The Diaxette is behind the Praktica Super TL. Clearly the trend is towards a fifth shelf.


AusPost: Random numbers?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Yesterday I wondered what had happened to the camera battery that I had bought on the 14th. What does the tracking say? Summarized:

Date       Action       Location       Delay
14 July       Purchased       Croydon Park NSW
15 July       Auspost received       Croydon Park NSW       1 day
19 July       Processed       Strahfield NSW       4 days
22 July       Arrived       Dandenong VIC       3 days
22 July       Arrived       Wendouree

And that was all! This is a letter! Was it because of the danger of Lithium batteries? But when I went back to check again, I found an additional item:

Date       Action       Location       Delay
26 July       Delivered, “left in a safe place”       Dereel VIC       4 days

And yes, there it was in the letter box. But why did it take them 11 days? It wasn't the danger; that hadn't been mentioned on the envelope.

Then today, still puzzling, I received another notification. The Praktica super TL that I bought on Sunday had arrived. Two days transit from Kingston, ACT. A package, not a letter. That seems reasonable enough for modern times. But why the extreme difference in times?


Automated install continued
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Continued on my project to install FreeBSD systems “automatically”, using settings common to all the secondary systems in the household network. The biggest issue was starting, and that gradually seems to be past.

One of the issues I've run into again and again over the years was postfix. That should be trivial: save the configuration from teevee and replicate it on other systems (in this case tiwi), replacing system names where necessary (here they weren't).

The results: didn't work!

Jul 27 16:38:00 tiwi postfix/smtpd[23853]: NOQUEUE: reject: RCPT from localhost[127.0.0.1]: 451 4.3.5 <grog@tiwi.lemis.com>: Recipient address rejected: Server configuration problem; from=<grog@tiwi.lemis.com> to=<grog@tiwi.lemis.com> proto=ESMTP helo=<tiwi.lemis.com>

Why? The configuration files should have sent it to eureka, like they do on teevee. Just as I think I'm beginning to understand postfix, it stabs me in the back again.


More X pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

More investigation of yesterday's problems with X fonts led to the interesting discovery that these are oversized fonts, and that there are some special hacks to get them to display. This also applies to Chinese fonts, it seems, but they work fine with uxterm and Emacs. So until proof of the contrary it appears to be a font issue.

But wait, there's more! One of the really infuriating issues I have with X is when a modifier key gets out of sync. Normally, it seems, it's NumLock: it remains “pressed” when I don't touch it, and it becomes “unpressed” when I press it. There seems to be no way to recover from it. I could unmap the key, of course, but that doesn't necessarily help: I've had similar issues with the CapsLock key, which I have really unmapped. There is then no way to recover except to restart X.

But why should NumLock be a modifier key at all? I should be able to remove it from the modifier list. But how? The down side of 32 years of X rears its ugly head: I have forgotten, and I need to retrace my steps.


Thursday, 28 July 2022 Dereel → Napoleons → Dereel Images for 28 July 2022
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The shed: next step
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

The remaining skylights for the arena shed arrived today, and they took the old ones with them, thus relieving us and presumably John Hoffman. Troy Addicoat was also in contact: he'll be here tomorrow to install them, and the building inspector will be here on Monday to approve the construction. And then we'll be done! Clearly it was a good idea to withhold the last $1000 until the thing is completely finished and approved.


Unnecessary journey
Topic: general, food and drink Link here

Notification in the mail today: wine from South Australia has arrived at the post office. No worry, we can pick it up next week.

But we need red wine tonight! And I don't want to drink any of the few remaining bottles we have at home. OK, off on a 35 km journey anyway to pick it up. Somehow that seems wrong.


Friday, 29 July 2022 Dereel Images for 29 July 2022
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Arena shed, the final day
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Troy Addicoat promised to come today to install the skylights in the shed in preparation for the inspection on Monday. He didn't. So at 16:30 I sent an SMS:

Problems? Do you want to postpone the inspection due on Monday?

Almost immediately I got a response:

They have made it for Tuesday will be there Monday morning

Oh well. There's still that $1000 dangling in front of his face.


Postfix fixed^W worked around
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

What's wrong with my postfix installation on tiwi? The identical configuration works on teevee, and there's no host name dependency anywhere. Have I missed out a configuration file? More searching through /etc and specially /etc/mail. Comparing with the settings on dereel, it seems that postfix has weaned itself a little more from sendmail, after only 20 years. /etc/rc.conf has removed these references:

# This is for postfix!
postfix_enable="YES"
sendmail_enable="YES"
sendmail_flags="-bd"
sendmail_outbound_enable="NO"
sendmail_submit_enable="NO"
sendmail_msp_queue_enable="NO"

In fact, I don't thing that the last three settings ever had any effect in postfix. But that's one of the puzzles in the current setup.

OK, start again. No change. And still these log messages from a “sendmail” in the log file:

Dammit, what about the configuration on dereel? Compared the main.cf files and found many differences, all apparently cosmetic. OK, try it anyway. It works!

So what's the difference? I really don't know, and I really don't know if this is the solution or only a partial workaround. One thing that worries me is the first line in this log sequence:

Jul 29 13:37:04 tiwi sendmail[1266]: 26T3b4ct001266: from=grog, size=31, class=0, nrcpts=1, msgid=<202207290337.26T3b4ct001266@tiwi.lemis.com>, relay=root@localhost
Jul 29 13:37:04 tiwi postfix/smtpd[1267]: connect from localhost[127.0.0.1]
Jul 29 13:37:04 tiwi postfix/smtpd[1267]: 88E202376C9: client=localhost[127.0.0.1]
Jul 29 13:37:04 tiwi postfix/cleanup[1270]: 88E202376C9: message-id=<202207290337.26T3b4ct001266@tiwi.lemis.com>
Jul 29 13:37:04 tiwi sendmail[1266]: 26T3b4ct001266: to=grog, ctladdr=grog (1004/1000), delay=00:00:00, xdelay=00:00:00, mailer=relay, pri=30031, relay=[127.0.0.1] [127.0.0.1], dsn=2.0.0, stat=Sent (Ok: queued as 88E202376C9)
Jul 29 13:37:04 tiwi postfix/smtpd[1267]: disconnect from localhost[127.0.0.1] ehlo=1 mail=1 rcpt=1 data=1 quit=1 commands=5
Jul 29 13:37:04 tiwi postfix/qmgr[1258]: 88E202376C9: from=<grog@tiwi.lemis.com>, size=551, nrcpt=1 (queue active)
Jul 29 13:37:04 tiwi postfix/smtp[1271]: 88E202376C9: to=<grog@tiwi.lemis.com>, relay=eureka.lemis.com[192.109.197.137]:25, delay=0.25, delays=0.13/0.01/0.01/0.1, dsn=2.0.0, status=sent (250 2.0.0 Ok: queued as B6A0D2635BA)
Jul 29 13:37:04 tiwi postfix/qmgr[1258]: 88E202376C9: removed

It looks as if somehow I'm still starting sendmail, which then queues it and hands it over to postfix. The sequence of entries doesn't have to be correct; it's possible that sendmail has done its thing before postfix starts, but postfix publishes first.

So I'm by no means sure that this is correct. Still, the proof of the pudding is in the mail delivery, and it got delivered.

So did dozens of messages from the past few days. That's all the more surprising since mqueue consistently told me that there was no queued mail.

Why did Venema have to try to symbiose sendmail and postfix?


Saturday, 30 July 2022 Dereel Images for 30 July 2022
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Camera jammed!
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

While taking my house photos today, I wanted to check the last image. Press the “display” button. No reaction! Tried lots of other things. Some worked normally, some didn't respond at all: MENU, OK, INFO.

Huh? Turned off the camera and back on again. No change.. Change from C1 to P profile. No change. Turn off, remove the battery, replace. No change.

And then I saw it: I had a remote control receiver on the camera, and the indicator light was showing green. So was the remote control itself. Normally the receiver shows a slow red “blip”, while the control shows nothing.

How did this happen? I don't know, but when I played around with it it started behaving again. And the camera was normal.

So: another gotcha to bear in mind. I still don't know what was up with the remote control. It has various settings, and possibly one of them latched “on”, but I was unable to repeat it. But who would have expected it to have that effect?


Voigtländer maximum aperture
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I don't use my Voigtländer Nokton 25 mm f/0.95 lens very often. It is optically not as good as the Leica Summilux 25 mm f/1.4, and it is all-manual, making me wonder just how well I manage to get things in focus. Its only advantage is that very wide aperture, effectively 1 stop (and a bit more “because we can”) more than the Summilux.

But is it? Today I took some otherwise forgettable photos of my suffering Corymbia ficifolia with the intention of blurring the background without blurring the leaves that weren't exactly on the focal plane. Exposures, chosen by the camera, were 1/16000 at f/0.95, 1/8000 at f/2, 1/4000 at f/2.8 and 1/2000 at f/4 (run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220730/big/Corymbia-ficifolia-1.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220730/big/Corymbia-ficifolia-2.jpeg
Image title: Corymbia ficifolia 2          Dimensions:          3456 x 4608, 6141 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220730/big/Corymbia-ficifolia-3.jpeg
Image title: Corymbia ficifolia 3          Dimensions:          3456 x 4608, 6061 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220730/big/Corymbia-ficifolia-4.jpeg
Image title: Corymbia ficifolia 4          Dimensions:          3456 x 4608, 6089 kB
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What's wrong there? The exposure for f/0.95 should have been 1/32000. Did the camera miscalculate? It's hard to see a 1 EV difference after processing. But today I wanted to align the photos with Hugin. And after first adding the necessary Exif data and then loading the images I saw:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220730/big/Hugin-1.png
Image title: Hugin 1          Dimensions:          1883 x 776, 2980 kB
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That shows the images before alignment, in the order shown above. Hugin takes the aperture into account and highlights the remaining images because of this discrepancy. So it's not just my impression: the lens really doesn't deliver at f/0.95.

But is that incorrect aperture or extreme vignetting? The lens has considerable vignetting wide open, but the real issue is the depth of field; clearly at that aperture the shutter speed isn't an issue, unless it requires a shorter time than the camera can deliver. I need to do some comparative experiments with the Summilux.


Spring on its way?
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

It was a very cold night by Australian standards: -2.6°. And it (and probably the previous day, -0.7°) shows. The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis that was still showing buds a couple of weeks ago is now suffering:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220730/big/Hibiscus-1.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220730/big/Hibiscus-2.jpeg
Image title: Hibiscus 2          Dimensions:          4610 x 3456, 4250 kB
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Hopefully it won't cause any lasting damage.

On the other hand, while walking the dogs, we saw the first Pterostylis of spring. They're still small, but I should take a macro lens with me when I go walking.


postfix/sendmail: latest discovery
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Why do tiwi and dereel start sendmail when sending mail? eureka doesn't. Somehow this whole “pretend to be sendmail” is going too far.

In fact, it doesn't start sendmail at all. It starts mailwrapper:

4824928 lrwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel     11 27 May  2020 /usr/sbin/sendmail -> mailwrapper

And what does mailwrapper do? It starts sendmail! Details in /etc/mailer/mailer.conf:

# Execute the "real" sendmail program, named /usr/libexec/sendmail/sendmail
...
sendmail        /usr/libexec/sendmail/sendmail
...

So how do we get postfix at all? What does eureka do? Also sendmail! Just with a little difference:

# Execute the Postfix sendmail program, named /usr/local/sbin/sendmail
sendmail        /usr/local/sbin/sendmail
...

It's the different path name that counts, not the name of the program. This is postfix, not sendmail!

Reading the man page for mailwrapper explains some of this nonsense:

Once upon time, the only Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) software easily avail- able was "sendmail". This famous MTA was written by Eric Allman and first appeared in 4.1BSD. The legacy of this MTA affected most Mail User Agents (MUAs) such as mail(1); the path and calling conventions expected by "sendmail" were compiled in.
...

BUGS

The entire reason this program exists is a crock. Instead, a command for how to submit mail should be standardized, and all the "behave differently if invoked with a different name" behavior of things like mailq(1) should go away.

Somehow the workaround is worse than a real bug fix.


Sunday, 31 July 2022 Dereel Images for 31 July 2022
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Air conditioner problems reconsidered
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

It's been over a year since we started having trouble with our house air conditioner, and 6 months since Atmos promised to send somebody around to look at it. I didn't press the issue, firstly because the unit seems to be working acceptably at the moment, and secondly because the error message (E25: Ambient Temperature not updated) made sense neither to me nor to Tony at Atmos. But the recent night with -2.6° temperatures made it more urgent. It occurred to me that once the fans made a lot of noise, and now they don't.

I measured the air flow through the reverse air duct 7 years ago and measured an average reading of 2 m/s. What's it like now? Barely measurable, between 0 and 0.1 m/s, almost nothing. So clearly something's wrong there. Not the filters, as Tony had suspected, and the fans are running, so presumably something's blocked. At the very least it's easier to isolate than a random vague error message.


Second Pterostylis of spring
Topic: gardening Link here

Walked the dogs in the “house forest” at the west of the property today, for the first time in a long time. And yes, the first Pterostylis are flowering there too:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220731/big/Pterostylis-3.jpeg
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Also a strange mushroom that I may not even have noticed if it had not been broken open:


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Horses and dogs together
Topic: animals, general, opinion Link here

Yvonne has been worried for some time about how the dogs and horses would get on with each other, and has been very careful to ensure that they don't get together. Sometimes I think her concerns are overstated:


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Roast turkey breast revisited
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

1½ years ago we cooked a turkey breast roast, and we've found a way that we both like: eat it once, maybe twice, for dinner, and slice the rest for Abendbrot. So last Christmas I bought one for round this time of year.

Cooking times? Temperatures? How about that, according to my notes just as written on the package! But this time things didn't go the same way. Previously it took 90 minutes at 170° to reach 82° meat temperature. This time it was 73° after 100 minutes, and despite my precautions barely browned. Increase the temperature to 200°, turn on the grill. After 120 minutes it had reached 80°, enough for the end pieces that we ate tonight. At least it was browned enough:


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I left the temperature probe in the meat after carving. It reached 81°, but that was all. Why the big difference?


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