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July 2023
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Saturday, 1 July 2023 Dereel Images for 1 July 2023
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The daily pain
Topic: health, general Link here

Are things getting better? On the whole, probably yes, but I was feeling anything but good this morning. My back seems to be only part of the problem. Maybe the vaccination was also part, and today I had to have a nap in the afternoon. But from then on things seemed bearable, and for the first time in 4 weeks I was able to take my house photos.


Sunday, 2 July 2023 Dereel Images for 2 July 2023
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Getting better?
Topic: health, food and drink, opinion Link here

Is my back getting better? Overnight I had some sharp stabbing pains in the inside of my thighs, which fortunately didn't last long. And during the day I wasn't as mobile as I was yesterday. But when I wasn't moving, I wasn't overly uncomfortable.

We even got as far as finally eating the fondue au fromage that we had intended at the beginning of last month. But after that I was so tired that I went to bed at only 20:00.


Panic!
Topic: technology Link here

Last night was the first of the month, the time for the level 0 (complete) dumps. But that can take some time, and this morning I found in the logs:

...
  DUMP: 82.77% done, finished in 1:34 at Sun Jul  2 06:35:54 2023
zstd: error 25 : Write error : cannot write compressed block
  DUMP: Broken pipe
  DUMP: The ENTIRE dump is aborted.

That must have been round 4:59, after 7½ hours of dumping. It's over NFS, and I've seen it before. Later I also got:

find: /videobackup: Input/output error
find: /eureka: Input/output error
find: /dump: Input/output error

Nothing for it, repeat the dump, even if it will run all day.

Off for breakfast, and when I got back I found a Boot: prompt on the display. What? But yes, eureka had panicked. Brought it back up relatively quickly, but fsck had issues with a number of disks: “Journal timestamp does not match fs mount time”. But that was harmless: it just needed to do a full fsck.

/Photos was different, though: fsck failed badly:

pid 64 (fsck_ufs), uid 0: exited on signal 11
ufs: /dev/ada1p1 (/Photos): EXITED WITH SIGNAL 11

That's an 8 TB file system, which would take a long time to check. So I temporarily took it out of /etc/fstab and brought the rest of the system up. Then I ran fsck, which took about 80 minutes, after which it wanted to start all over again. But finally it was done with only 3 errors.

Why did I have such carnage? The dump had some clues:

panic: cannot reassign paging buffer

Unread portion of the kernel message buffer:
(da2:umass-sim2:2:0:0): WRITE(16). CDB: 8a 00 00 00 00 03 ff 8b 3d e8 00 00 00 80 00 00
(da2:umass-sim2:2:0:0): CAM status: CCB request completed with an error
(da2:umass-sim2:2:0:0): Error 5, Retries exhausted
g_vfs_done():da2p1[WRITE(offset=8792175312896, length=131072)]error = 5
g_vfs_done():da2p1[WRITE(offset=8792175443968, length=131072)]error = 5
...
g_vfs_done():da2p1[WRITE(offset=8792182652928, length=131072)]error = 5
g_vfs_done():da2p1[WRITE(offset=41682944, length=10240)]error = 5
panic: cannot reassign paging buffer

There were about 64 errors from g_vfs_done. What went wrong there? /dev/da2 is the new backup disk that I bought only last month. Is it failing? Or is it a problem with the USB bus? The latter is quite possible, especially given that I had similar errors with the old /dump disk. It would be good to finally find a SCSI status decoder.


Monday, 3 July 2023 Dereel
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Another day's pain
Topic: health Link here

After yesterday's early night, I had expected to wake up early. But though I slept relatively well, I woke up later—over 12 hours' sleep. Maybe I needed it. I'm still feeling very tired.


VoIP on Android, again
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I'm still trying to work out how to set up CJ's VoIP lines with the least downtime and effort. Currently he has an account with Vonex, status unknown, and one with Aussie Broadband, which isn't programmed into his ATA. We need to do two things:

  1. Establish whether his existing ATA can be programmed to talk to Aussie, or whether it's locked in to Vonex, which would mean that it would need to be replaced.
  2. Actually perform the programming when the line is provisioned.

Each of these potentially requires me going to CJ's place to do the installation, more effort than I'm currently prepared to do.

But there's an alternative: use a mobile phone. I have hirse, the Redmi 9T that I have kept as a spare. Yes, he'd have to get a SIM card for it, but with VoIP he could connect his home phone line while waiting for me or for a new ATA.

But which app? I've had untold pain with Zoiper, which keeps changing its interface. Is there still no alternative?

Off searching the toy shop and found: yes, there are many. The most likely one seemed to be MizuDroid, so downloaded and installed that. In only 10 minutes I was able to type in the server name, user name and password for one of my unused lines. “User name or password mismatch”.

Try again. Same thing. MizuDroid is too polite to show the password, but after 3 replacement attempts, I'm pretty sure that I got it right at least once.

What's the problem? Is it really the user name and password, or something else? Changed the server name to something invalid, and yes, it reported unknown server. Tried the same combination on my home ATA. Worked fine. On the phone, changed the user name and password to that of the other unused line. Works! Put in user name and password for CJ. Works!

So at least we have something that CJ can use as a phone while we're waiting for the Final Solution. But why didn't it work with the first line? Is that maybe the issue I had with Zoiper last year? But I don't see any reason to try ZoiPer again. MizuDroid seems far saner.


Tuesday, 4 July 2023 Dereel
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The slow path to recovery
Topic: health Link here

Are things getting continually better? It's hard to say. I slept well, but somehow walking was more painful today. And I'm still so tired. Hopefully things will continue to improve.


More VoIP fun
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Yesterday's installation of MizuDroid on hirse got me thinking. What is cheaper, direct mobile telecommunications or VoIP on a mobile phone? The standard mobile tariff costs 15¢ per minute. VoIP costs 15¢ untimed for “landline” phones and 22¢ per minute for mobile. In all cases VoIP incurs an additional 6¢/MB for data. How long does that last? I have some recollection of 8 kB/s, so 1 MB would be 125 seconds, or about 2.5¢ per minute. So clearly it doesn't make sense to use VoIP for mobile calls, and even for “landline” calls it's only interesting for longer calls. But what about service numbers starting with 13? VoIP costs 35¢ untimed, while mobile costs 15¢ per minute. So it could be useful there.

And can I share my phone number with the home phone and a mobile phone? Tried it out. Yes! But only for outgoing calls. Calling back in gave an engaged status, even after I removed the configuration from the phone. I had to reboot the ATA to be able to call in again.

So: it looks like an interesting idea, but possibly not worth the pain.


Vonex: where's my money?
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Last Friday I finally gave in and sent Vonex a message containing my bank details, and asking them for an immediate transfer of the outstanding funds. No reply.

Then yesterday I received email from a Carmel, same email address:

We recently contacted you regarding your complaint about your refund,
but we are still awaiting a response.

Well, she should read the mail she has received (and of which their MTA confirmed delivery). Sent a message with the previous attached. No reaction.

OK, send another message, including Friday's message and delivery confirmation and waving the threat of a TIO complaint. And this time I got a phone call, although I had specifically asked them not to call. But she told me that she couldn't find any content in the message I sent.

What, can't she even read email? Into the office, pointed her at the messages, specifically the one I sent yesterday. No, she said, just something about delivery notification. Could I please send it to her personal mail ID? Did that, and she was able to read it!

What's wrong here? Did she get the wrong message? Their email system seems to be Microsoft-based, and they change a timestamp like Tue, 4 Jul 2023 14:19:46 +1000 to something like Jul 4, 2:19 PM, notably omitting the seconds. All it needs to do is to extract the attachments to give the DSN confirmation the same timestamp (was Tue, 4 Jul 2023 04:19:51 +0000), and then delete the first message because it was clearly a duplicate. Of course, I'll never know for sure.

OK, all is OK, and they'll process the refund. Will take 3 weeks.

3 weeks? I want the money today. She'll see what she can do, but it looks like I should really get the TIO involved again.

I suppose it's par for the course that the connection failed round about then. I could hear her speak, she couldn't hear me. Does that have anything to do with my messing around this afternoon? No, she confirmed in a follow-up email:

I'm sorry if we accidentally got disconnected because of an unplanned network enhancement.

Still, we're one step closer to be rid of Vonex.


Wednesday, 5 July 2023 Dereel
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Close to recovery
Topic: health, general Link here

Is my back getting better? I think so, but it's slow, and I still feel tired and unmotivated. Today I somehow managed to do nothing of interest, though I'm gradually getting round to cooking more interesting things.


Thursday, 6 July 2023 Dereel
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A good night's sleep
Topic: health Link here

Things are definitely getting better. Last night I went to bed relatively early, slept wall and didn't wake up until 10:00, 12 hours later. How much of that is due to my convalescence and how much is due to the amitriptyline? I've been taking 2 pills before going to bed for the last week. Time to drop to one?


Online Unix
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Following a discussion on the Unix Heritage Society mailing list, discovered a free online Unix system, sdf.org, and signed up for it, just for fun.

What can I do with it? Precious little that I can't do more easily But a little bit of sniffing around showed:

faeroes:/sdf/udd/g/groggy> ps aux
You are on faeroes among 3241 users.  ('validate' to see usernames)
faeroes:/sdf/udd/g/groggy> uname -a
NetBSD faeroes 9.3 NetBSD 9.3 (GENERIC) #0: Thu Aug  4 15:30:37 UTC 2022  mkrepro@mkrepro.NetBSD.org:/usr/src/sys/arch/amd64/compile/GENERIC amd64
faeroes:/sdf/udd/g/groggy> date
Thu Jul  6 04:03:01 UTC 2023
faeroes:/sdf/udd/g/groggy> df -m
Filesystem    1M-blocks       Used      Avail %Cap Mounted on
/dev/wd0a         35011       3374      29886  10% /
mx1:/sdf       50968848    7027397   41393008  14% /sdf
ptyfs                 0          0          0 100% /dev/pts

A NetBSD box with 3241 users! I've never seen anything close to that before. And similarly, the main file system on the “box” has 51 TB of storage! What is it? Unfortunately, I couldn't find out. First I need to find somebody to validate me.


Commerce kills interoperability
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

From time to time I grumble about the death of the concept of interoperability. Individual communications are a good example. 30 years ago there was email and USENET news. And they were compatible: they used the same message format, and it was relatively easy to bounce a USENET news article via email.

Now USENET news is dead, and email seems to be on its last gasp. Earlier this week I found that Carmel from Vonex either couldn't read it, or that their ticketing system had corrupted it to the point of uselessness. Instead we have SMS, MMS, myriads of “Messengers”, Facebook and similar, Twitter, IRC and many more. The FreeBSD core team is, most definitely not unanimously, encouraging the use of a program call Mosaic, which shows its origins by living in the same space as NCSA Mosaic, but for which I can't find a URL. And there are many more.

What do they have in common? Most of them are incompatible with each other, though IRC and Mosaic have some compatibility. If somebody “texts” me (sends me an SMS or MMS), how do I save it? How do I reply to it via email? Ultimately it's a question of copy and paste, assuming that the underlying medium supports that sort of thing. And what advantage does each platform have? An opportunity for advertising seems to be right up the front.

So: what can we do? Elon Musk seems to be on the right path, killing off Twitter. But that's an advertising opportunity! Off goes Mark Zuckerberg and creates Yet Another communications application, Threads. What advantage does it have? Certainly not the name. I tried to install it on my phone and discovered that I had installed the wrong package. The correct one seems to be called Threads, an Instagram app. When I got the right one, it wasn't obvious how to use it, and certainly I can't see any advantage in doing so.

At the very least somebody should come up with a gateway application that can forward messages from one system to another. Will it happen? No, nobody who is financially involved wants it.


Friday, 7 July 2023 Dereel
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Recovering too fast?
Topic: health, opinion, general Link here

Last night I slept worse than on the previous few nights. It looks as if this amitriptyline does have an effect. I'll continue taking 2 tablets before bed for a few days yet.

And somehow that made for yet another day where I didn't do anything of use.


Israel: you must destroy them totally
Topic: history, politics, opinion Link here

Why are the Israelis mistreating the Palestinians so badly? It's an order from on high:

And the Lord, your God, will deliver them to you, and you shall smite them. You shall utterly destroy them; neither shall you make a covenant with them, nor be gracious to them.

And that's in the Torah. Devarim 7:2, called Deuteronomy in the Christian Bible.

That really seems to be what the current Israeli government plans. Why has nobody talked about this? Can't somebody bring the predicament into the present century?


Saturday, 8 July 2023 Dereel Images for 8 July 2023
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Antenna debugging
Topic: general, multimedia, opinion Link here

Woken up in the middle of the night with a hissing noise from my left. As I woke, it became clear that it was the radio that I have set for 6:55 every morning. But I should have had some kind of music, not hissing.

Gradually things dawned on me: the hissing was random noise. Why? Radio transmitter failed? Tried another station. Hissing across the board. Ah: the cleaner was here yesterday. Did she dislodge the antenna cable, conveniently located where you need to move the bed to access the socket? Put off until later.

Later I checked. No, the cable (thin black wire) was well anchored in the socket, even to the point of being able to take the weight of a lost power cable:


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OK, antenna issues? We had very heavy winds overnight, and I've had the antenna wiring dislodged before. Out to take a look:


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No, that all looks fine. Into the dining room to check the tuner there. No signal. So we've eliminated the receivers, but that's all. What about the TV? A barely recognizable signal, but clearly something was wrong. So it's probably the antenna amplifier. But where? Off to take a look at the feed-in beside the TV:


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That's the thin wire going into the antenna connector. All looks well, So what remains? Power supply to the amplifier (conveniently hidden behind the TV, where I had difficulty even without my present injuries) or the amplifier itself (in the ceiling). Dammit, I'm too old for this stuff. Get a specialist in. It's a good thing that we don't really need the antenna, since nearly all TV comes in via the Internet, and the only time I use radio is to listen to the 7:00 news every morning. I can adapt to that.

But first, check if the problem persists. No! It seems that there was some intermittent connection round the lounge room connector. All well. And it also goes to show that my guesses as to the cause (cleaner, heavy wind) were completely off track.


The daily pain
Topic: health Link here

Gradually things are looking better with my back. It's still painful, but it's no longer unbearable. In general it seems to be going as Heather predicted.

Roll on the end of next week.


House photos again
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I stopped taking my weekly house photos when I injured myself, but things are better now, so I took the normal sequence today.

But I had trouble with no fewer than 3 of the 6 views. It started with the first one, where I managed to hang the remote control cable in front of the lens:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230708/big/house-from-entrance-3.jpeg
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I noticed that in time, and I got a complete set of 6 images, but I wasn't able to stitch the panorama. It seems that the combination of wind, lack of distinguishing features and a slightly lower camera position (showing a tripod leg in the photo above) completely confused Hugin.

 
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Sunday, 9 July 2023 Dereel Images for 9 July 2023
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Coming back to normal
Topic: health, general Link here

No doubt about it: I'm finally feeling a lot better, and I spent some time catching up on things that I have let lie for the last month. But there's very little worth recording.


TMD 33F
Topic: history, opinion Link here

A few days ago I got a message from Jeroen Booij asking about a Unipower GT with the registration TMD 33F.

Huh? What's that? But a bit of a diary search came up with these photos, taken on 3 April 1970:


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It belonged to my friend Sonny Rajah, seen in the second photo. And Jeroen wanted to know what happened to it.

So I followed up with Sonny, who responded in a way reminiscent of Clancy of the Overflow: almost nothing at all about the car (“I should have kept it”), but a reminder of an incident that happened a year earlier, where we had tried to find a car for our mutual friend Jim McGibbon, a 1948 Citroën Traction Avant. The attempt ended in disaster near Dartmoor Prison, and Sonny tells me that he had never been so cold in all his life. Looking back, I'm left wondering how much I didn't record. What was he doing in the car?


Monday, 10 July 2023 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 10 July 2023
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16 years of Dereel
Topic: history, opinion Link here

Sixteen years ago today we moved to Kleins Road, and thus to Dereel. What a long time! It's nearly as long as the time we spent in Schellnhausen and Echunga together!


Monster in the paddock
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Yvonne came in early this morning with a strange looking beast:


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Elena had found it in the paddock near where the horses were fed, under a small pile of hay.

What is it? Further examination showed that it was only half the beast:


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But the hind legs and the fur looked very much like a cat.


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How did it get there? It couldn't have been our dogs. I suspected a fox, but that doesn't explain the hay. Hopefully it wasn't somebody's pet.


The daily pain
Topic: health, opinion Link here

No pills at all last night. And somehow it wasn't too bad, though I didn't sleep as well as the previous nights. This amitriptyline has a soporific effect.

Into town in the afternoon to finally see Dr. Paul Smith, whom I should have visited on the day I had the accident. Results of blood test and colonoscopy: nothing of interest. As expected, the polyp was benign. He discussed my current problems, but didn't really have any new insights. Still, good to know that all is as well as can be expected.


Yana returns
Topic: general, animals Link here

Our daughter Yana returned today for a bizarre reason: two cats had adopted her in Adelaide, much to the displeasure of her own cat. And she couldn't find anywhere in Adelaide who wanted to have them. In the end Petra Gietz found somebody to take them in Ballarat, so she embarked on a 1200 km to give them away, staying the night here in the process.


New masa
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Yana brought a lot of food with her, including masa flour, which I wanted for Mexican tortillas. To my surprise, she brought something I had never seen before:


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What's that? It calls itself “masa multipreparacion (de maiz amarillo)”, and not “masa harina”. And the purpose also didn't include tortillas:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230711/big/Donarepa-masa-3.jpeg
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On the other hand, it looks more authentically Spanish than most of the masa harina I have had. More investigation shows that it comes from Colombia, and it's intended for making arepas, something I had never heard of. Yana had, along with yet another kind of tortilla, from Panama, for which we found this video:

They're deep fried! All interesting, but can you make Mexican tortillas out of the flour? It's pre-cooked, while Mexican masa harina is nixtamalized. More searching, and didn't find any suggestion that it wouldn't work.


Tortillas: Ask the AI pages
Topic: technology, language, food and drink, opinion Link here

OK, if I can't find anything obvious on Google, can one of the AI bots help? Asked the same question of ChatGPT and Google Bard: “Can I make Mexican tortillas from Doñarepa masa?”. The answers were interesting:

ChatGPT

Hi! Yes, you can definitely make Mexican tortillas with Doñarepa. Doñarepa is a brand of pre-cooked cornmeal that is commonly used to make traditional Latin American dishes such as arepas and empanadas. However, it can also be used to make tortillas. To make tortillas with Doñarepa, you would typically mix the cornmeal with water and a pinch of salt to form a dough. Then, you would shape the dough into small balls and flatten them into thin rounds. Finally, you would cook the tortillas on a hot griddle or skillet until they are slightly browned and cooked through. Enjoy your homemade Mexican tortillas!

That seems reasonable, if a bit basic. It applies equally well to masa harina, except for the acknowledgement that it's not really intended for tortillas.

Bard, try 1

Yes, you can make Mexican tortillas with Doñarepa. Doñarepa is a brand of pre-made masa that is made from corn flour, water, and lime. It is a good substitute for fresh masa if you do not have time to make your own. To make Mexican tortillas with Doñarepa, you will need:
    1 package of Doñarepa masa
    1/2 teaspoon of salt
    1/4 cup of warm water
    A comal or large skillet

Yes, Bard is experimental, and it shows. It claims that the masa includes lime, which is part of the nixtamalization process. And it wants a whole packet of masa (presumably 1 kg) and ¼ cup (60 ml) of water! It goes on to mention 12 equal pieces of dough, which would correspond to 300 g of masa flour.

But there are two alternatives:

Bard, try 2:

Pretty similar, but:

Yes, you can make Mexican tortillas with DoñaRepa. DoñaRepa is a brand of pre-made masa harina, which is a type of corn flour that is used to make tortillas. To make Mexican tortillas with DoñaRepa, you will need the following ingredients:

    1 cup DoñaRepa masa harina
    1/2 cup warm water
    1/4 teaspoon salt
In a medium bowl, combine the masa harina, water, and salt. Mix the ingredients together until they form a dough. Knead the dough for 5-7 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. ...

This time DoñaRepa has been camel-cased, and also suddenly masa harina. And they want 1 cup (how much is that? 150 g?), but to make up for that ½ cup of water. And from that I'm supposed to make 12 tortillas. The proportions are all over the place.

Bard, try 3

This one was pretty much the same as try 2, except that the quantities have changed again:


    1 cup Doñarepa masa harina
    1 cup warm water
    1 teaspoon salt

And it still wants to make 12 tortillas out of this quantity, even stipulating a (relatively correct) 6" (15 cm) diameter. Clearly Bard's quantities are even worse than most recipes.

Still, the bottom line seems to be that I can probably make Mexican tortillas out of the stuff. Huevos rancheros for breakfast tomorrow!


Tuesday, 11 July 2023 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 11 July 2023
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Back: not there yet
Topic: health, opinion Link here

The second night without painkillers was worse than the first. I think I'm going to have to take them for another few days at least.

In the afternoon into town to see Heather Dalman, who is happy with my progress. No more appointments necessary unless something goes wrong. But clearly I'm going to need the full 6 weeks to recover.


Huevos rancheros with Doñarepa
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

As planned, huevos rancheros for breakfast today, with tortillas made from Doñarepa. The first issue, of course, was to guess the flour to water proportion. Started with 1:1.5, which almost worked. I made one tortilla like that and then added water to the rest to bring it up to 1:1.6.

It feels completely different to masa harina, somewhat gritty—and that for flour which claims to be super-smooth. But I was able to form the tortillas with no trouble, and they baked normally. About the only difference was that they tended to inflate, and they were soft enough to tear:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230711/big/Donarepa-tortilla-2.jpeg
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But I've had that with masa harina too. And unlike makki atta, it tastes pretty much the same as masa harina. So now I just need to explore the real purpose, making arepas.


Digital photography, 15 years on
Topic: photography, history, opinion Link here

I've had my Olympus digital cameras for nearly 16 years. In that time, in particular the first 6 years, lots of things have changed. Fifteen years ago I grumbled about the poor sensitivity of the camera compared to my analogue cameras of the 1960s, using these two photos as comparison (first with flash, second with available light and highest sensitivity):


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That really doesn't look good. At the time, the Olympus E-510 had a maximum sensitivity of 1600/33° ISO, and that's what I used. And the only lens I had at the time had a maximum aperture of f/3.5. By contrast, I had used films with sensitivities of up to 3200/36° ISO, and I had a lens with f/1.4 aperture.

And now? My current Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II has a maximum sensitivity of 25,000/45°, and for low light I could use the Voigtländer Nokton 25 mm f/0.95. That would give me 4 EV advantage over the maximum I ever tried in the 1960s.

Of course, those photos were taken without any postprocessing. How would my modern techniques improve things? Here they are after processing with DxO PhotoLab and “Perfectly Clear“:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20080712/big/chris-1-optimized.jpeg
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Not much better. In particular, the available light one still has a strong colour cast that I can't get rid of. That's at least because I only took JPEG images at the time, and DxO is not very interested in correcting them. But it's interesting to note how much better the exposure is. Clearly the E-510 auto-exposure wasn't the best.


Wednesday, 12 July 2023 Dereel Images for 12 July 2023
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The daily pain
Topic: health, opinion Link here

I was back on the amitriptyline overnight, and maybe it made some difference, but it's hard to be sure with the slow pace of recovery. Still, it's clearly getting better.


Baking bread again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

One of the things that I had stopped doing as a result of my injury was baking bread; instead we bought bread from the supermarkets. That in itself was interesting: I started baking bread nearly 15 years ago because I couldn't get any good commercially baked bread, but recently Yvonne had found no fewer than two different kinds from Coles (“Sourdough Vienna” and “Sourdough Rye”), which aren't too bad. Still, I prefer my bread, and today I was well enough to continue, after a little over a month. The difference was clear. After nearly 3 months the starter had gone grey on the surface:


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Is that still usable? I have some recollection that various web sites say yes, that's normal. Scraped the surface away and used the rest; we'll seen in a couple of days.


20th century film effects
Topic: multimedia, photography, opinion Link here

Watched South Pacific on TV this evening. It was made in 1958 and was supposed to be technologically advanced for the time (Todd-AO). We've seen it before, but a different version which had been “recovered”. This one had reasonable colour representation, but the special effects were limited to filters: changing the colour and colour balance and saturation. By modern standards it looked rather primitive.


Thursday, 13 July 2023 Dereel
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Recovery: setback?
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Somehow I didn't feel overly well today. My leg ached more than yesterday, and I didn't do very much. Hopefully this will soon be over.


Electricity prices
Topic: general, opinion Link here

I've been reading sensationalist newspaper reports that electricity prices will go up substantially soon—one report claimed that they would go up by up to 50% for some people. Clearly that's an extreme case, and they referred to people who were paying round 18¢ per kWh, far below anything that I have seen recently.

But then today I received email from my electricity supplier. “Your prices are going up from 22.11¢ to 32.426¢ per kWh”—an increase of 46.7%! To make up for it, they're dropping the feed-in credit from 6.2¢/kWh to 5.5¢. I really hadn't expected that. They helpfully added an estimate for next year: it would cost me $1,144.65 more per year, or $3.14 more per day. What they didn't include was an apology for the necessity, nor even the reasoning.

Yes, it's clear that price increases were coming, but it's still a surprise that they were so sudden and so large. But looking round the world, we're still way behind Europe (USD 0.55 in Germany,USD 0.41 in the UK, compared to USD 0.25 here). And those figures were from last year, when our price was USD 0.17 per kWh. Presumably prices will go up elsewhere as well.

And of course this changes the economics of the computers I run. It's looking more and more like a single system with much memory and virtual machines.


Friday, 14 July 2023 Dereel Images for 14 July 2023
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Pain insights?
Topic: health, opinion Link here

My leg pain is still there, and it doesn't seem to be getting obviously less. Or is it? After hobbling around for a while, tried standing up straight. A little pain, but it became less. Clearly Heather had a reason to ask me to stand up straight and walk a lot.


Replacing the float valve
Topic: general, gardening, opinion Link here

Jarrod from UPI along today to finally replace the float valve in the horse trough. He made quick work of it; most of the time was just refilling the trough. The pain of accessing the thing was simple: empty the trough and turn it on its side:


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That's the old valve; my legs gave out before he put the new one in, but it was significantly larger. He believes that it won't be a problem, though.

The obvious question is: what was wrong with the old valve? I had expected an old-fashioned ball on a brass stalk, but this is relatively short, sturdy, and of plastic, and it doesn't look damaged. But it's held in place only by the feed-in pipe. Twist that and it will jam.

And that, I suspect, is the real issue. These problems started after the trough was moved, and while reconnecting the water pipe, the feed-in pipe was twisted a little. The result: it jams. No need for a new float.

At least, that's a valid hypothesis. The bill, nearly $300, shows that the bulk of the price was travel and work. We might have saved round $90 by fixing the location of the old float, but we might have incurred a similar sum if it had proved not to be the case.


Origins of spam
Topic: language, multimedia, technology, general, opinion Link here

Watching South Pacific the other day, I noticed a interesting detail:


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That was made in 1958, long before the current use of the word “spam” to mean unwanted digital information. Checked in the OED to be sure. Yes, the earliest use seems to come from 1991, though there's no reference to Monty Python, unlike Wikipedia. So: what does it mean?

By chance, I was playing around with various “Artificial Intelligence” sites, so I asked Bard and ChatAI. That proved to be useful. The question was “What did the word "spam" mean in the 1958 movie "South Pacific"?”, and Bard came up with some quite interesting information:

In the 1958 movie "South Pacific," the word "spam" meant canned meat. The movie was set during World War II, and Spam was a popular food item among American soldiers. In the movie, the character of Nellie Forbush sings a song called "I'm in Love with a Wonderful Guy," in which she sings about how her boyfriend loves Spam. The line "He loves Spam, I love Spam, we're a Spam loving twosome" became a popular catchphrase, and helped to popularize Spam even further.

The word "spam" has since come to have a wider meaning, referring to any unsolicited or unwanted electronic messages. However, the original meaning of the word, as used in "South Pacific," is still its most common meaning in the Pacific Islands. In fact, Spam is still a popular food item in many parts of the Pacific, and is often used in local dishes.

Here are some other examples of how the word "spam" was used in the movie "South Pacific":

"I'm so glad you like Spam. I brought a whole case of it with me."
"Spam is the best thing since sliced bread."
"I could eat Spam every day of the week."

The word "spam" was used in a positive way in the movie "South Pacific." It was seen as a delicious and versatile food item that was enjoyed by many people. Today, the word "spam" has a more negative connotation, but it still retains its original meaning in the Pacific Islands.

ChatAI was less helpful:

Hi! In the 1958 movie "South Pacific," the word "spam" referred to a canned meat product made from pork shoulder and ham. It was a popular food item during World War II and was often used as a staple in military rations. In the movie, the character Luther Billis sings a song called "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair," where he humorously replaces the word "man" with "spam" to create a playful and catchy tune. This usage of "spam" in the movie was meant to add a comedic element to the song.

So that was really genuinely useful information, and it shows that I didn't understand all of the dialogue. But there are still issues, in particular that there are no references. A similar Google search would have pointed to the sources of the information. Still, it looks like an interesting alternative to conventional search engines.


Saturday, 15 July 2023 Dereel Images for 15 July 2023
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The slow recovery
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Are things getting better? I wish I knew. It's certainly not happening quickly.


More panorama fun
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

House photos again today, and once again I had issues with the stitching—only 3 of 6 views stitched automatically, and I had to play around with the other three. Does this have something to do with the slightly lower viewpoint? It doesn't seem to. But somehow the control point detector gets confused if it has to find control points between all components. If I do them incrementally, first 2, then 3 and so on, they frequently work as expected.

And now there's a new option on the horizon: Luminar Neo is coming out with a panorama extension. Along with their HDR extension, it could take over the work I currently do with Hugin and Photomatix. Spent some time in the afternoon looking at three video clips demonstrating the Beta version: this one, this one and this one.

The last goes into the most detail, though I really needed to watch them all to get an overview, and even then it didn't answer all my questions. On the positive side, it seems to happen automatically, and possibly much faster than with Hugin. But what happens if it doesn't work automatically, like three of today's panoramas?

One thing that is definitely new: it can also make panoramas from video clips. It's not clear how flexible it is: all the clips show how they can repeat features (people, for example) that appear in multiple positions into the output panorama. The way it is done seems simple, but it suggests that there's no way to include or exclude specific parts of an image into the output, like I did here years ago:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20100418/big/Mongolian-hordes-try3.jpeg
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Still, I'll have to wait another few days until the first “final” version is released. The good news is that I get it for free.


Sunday, 16 July 2023 Dereel
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CJ's ATA, next try
Topic: technology Link here

So, after some consideration designed to limit effort on my part, today I made another try at reprogramming CJ Ellis' ATA. Last time things failed because I couldn't talk to the box, but it's fairly clear that it should be accessed via the local interface. Quick reconfiguration of bde, the laptop, in the process discovering that I had apparently mapped the Ctrl key out of existence, and CJ came over.

Yes! I can talk to it. But that's exactly what I tried last time, and it didn't work then. But the joy was short-lived: it wouldn't accept my password. Why not? These boxen come by default with user and password admin. Tried everything I could think of, but without luck. Looking at when he got it, it looks like it has been supplied pre-configured and locked.

Dammit, there must be a way to reset it. Yes, there is, reset the device:

Connect an analog phone to the ATA device and access the IVR by pressing the asterisk key four times: ****

Press the appropriate code to reset the unit:

But what will that do with the other functions, like connect to the Internet? My guess is that it will still work, but I don't want to have to pick up the pieces if it doesn't. So it looks like the best choice, from my point of view, is to get a new ATA. CJ seems happy with that, but I'm not.


Jenny's Lammtopf, yet again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

„Jennys Lammtopf“ for dinner tonight, lamb and risoni. Somehow the quantities are still not right. More thought required, but there should be more lamb. For now I've increased the quantity by 50%.


Monday, 17 July 2023 Dereel
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Recovery not so fast after all
Topic: health, opinion Link here

A couple of days ago I thought that the worst of my back recovery was behind me. And yes, it was, but it's not improving as well as I had hoped. Woke up in the middle of the night with considerable pain. Was that only the lower dose of amitriptyline (one tablet instead of two)? It looks like I'll have to go and talk to Heather tomorrow after all.


No hunger?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Lately I've found that some breakfast dishes are too much for me. My hunger has been decreasing, and maybe I should be aiming for about ¾ of the amount of food for breakfast. For some reason curry laksa is particularly filling.


Video overflow
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

I now have over 13 TB of videos and similar files on tiwi:

=== grog@tiwi (/dev/pts/13) /spool/Series 19 -> df -c /spool /VB2
Filesystem  1048576-blocks      Used   Avail Capacity  Mounted on
/dev/ada0p4      7,567,870  7,416,233  75,958    99%    /spool
/dev/da0p1       5,722,572  5,447,435 217,911    96%    /VB2
total           13,290,443 12,863,669 293,870    98%

They're spread over 2 disks, and moving things around isn't easy. In particular, most files have two names, one in the directory where I watch them, and one in a parallel directory Already. I watch the episodes from the first directory and then delete them. They remain in Already:

=== grog@tiwi (/dev/pts/6) ~ 194 -> ls -il, /spool/Series/30-min/Servant-of-the-people/01/ /spool/Already/Series/30-min/Servant-of-the-people/01/
/spool/Already/Series/30-min/Servant-of-the-people/01/:
total 6908
3950081 -rw-r--r--  1 grog  home  533,145,683  8 Apr  2022 01-01_-_Pilot.mp4
3950082 -rw-r--r--  1 grog  home  300,212,123  8 Apr  2022 01-02.mp4
...
3950088 -rw-r--r--  1 grog  home  299,599,044  8 Apr  2022 01-08.mp4
3950089 -rw-r--r--  2 grog  home  296,914,813  8 Apr  2022 01-09.mp4
3950090 -rw-r--r--  2 grog  home  316,958,514  8 Apr  2022 01-10.mp4

/spool/Series/30-min/Servant-of-the-people/01/:
total 4328
3950089 -rw-r--r--  2 grog  home  296,914,813  8 Apr  2022 01-09.mp4
3950090 -rw-r--r--  2 grog  home  316,958,514  8 Apr  2022 01-10.mp4

That works fine under normal circumstances. But what if I decide to move the files to another disk? If I just copy them across, I get two sets of files, not the one set with two names for each file. And that's disastrous for space usage; this directory alone would use another 4.3 GB.

What's the solution? I had one decades ago: Vinum. That's water under the bridge now, but ZFS should be able to do the same thing—if I can get my head around it. In the meantime I'm thinking of various workarounds, one of which is tar. Maybe rsync can do it too. But what a pain it is!


Tuesday, 18 July 2023 Dereel
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Still more pain!
Topic: health, opinion, food and drink Link here

Somehow the expected health improvement has slowed down. It has now been over 6 weeks since my first back pain, and it should have been all but over by now. But last night, as the night before, I was in considerable pain.

I had an appointment with Heather Dalman this afternoon, and arrived 45 minutes too early (5 minutes leeway, 40 minutes because I got the time wrong. Is that enough time to do my shopping at the Fruit Shack on the other side of town? Yes! It takes 8 minutes each way to get there and back, and I got my shopping done in 17 minutes.

Heather is still relatively happy with my progress, but then it's not her pain. A few exercises to do, and another appointment at the beginning of September.


Car problems?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

How do I get to my appointments this week? By car, of course, and I can now drive. Yvonne's car is a safer bet, since it has automatic transmission, so I don't need to use my left leg. But there's another reason: will my car even start? The last time I drove it was on 9 May, 10 weeks ago. Is the battery still strong enough to start it?

No. That's OK today, but tomorrow Yvonne will need her car. Fortunately I found the battery charger; hopefully it will work.


Wednesday, 19 July 2023 Dereel → Sebastopol → Dereel
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More air conditioner issues
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Woke up in the morning to hear a continuous loud machine noise outside the bedroom window. Air conditioner? It sounded similar, but it was too loud. Out to take a look. The temperature in the lounge room, set to 20°, was only 18.5°, and it didn't seem to be heating.

Damn! Mechanical problems this time? Turned the unit off, washed and dressed, and out to take a look. Nothing obvious. Turned it on again, and it ran normally. So at least it seems that the compressor isn't damaged.

What could it be? It was quite cold last night, a minimum temperature of -0.5°, so the unit went through a de-icing phase at least once. Could it be that it somehow got stuck? It doesn't explain the noise, but then if the compressor isn't damaged, I don't know what could explain it. Called up Tony Nesci, who agreed that it could be something to do with the de-icing, and if it happened again I should call him.


Another haircut
Topic: general Link here

One of the things I dropped when I injured my back was an appointment for a haircut, conveniently on the same day. Finally into town today to catch up on that. The good news at the start was that my car started immediately after the battery charge. And getting to the hairdressers took even less time than I thought, only 19 minutes.


An ATA for CJ
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Called up Aussie Broadband this morning to arrange for a new Analogue Telephone Adapter for CJ Ellis. But I couldn't authenticate myself! Yes, I had my own details, they know (I think) that I have authority to do things on CJ's behalf. But I needed to give his street address to prove who I am!

What nonsense! Samuel, the consultant, tells me that it's a legal requirement. If it is, it's a particularly stupid one. I didn't think of it at the time, but of course it's in the telephone directory. When are the Powers That Be going to come into the 21st century when it comes to security? As it was, I had to hang up and ask CJ (by email).


Thursday, 20 July 2023 Dereel
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Back pain: progress?
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Another bad night with “leg” pain, but during the course of the day things got better, and by evening I was feeling relatively good. I suppose it's just a coincidence that this happened exactly 6 weeks after my injury.


More kitchen experiments
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

A couple of days ago I received a recipe for “Home style Tofu”. It looked interesting enough, and I have some dofu waiting in the fridge, so I decided to try using the dofu as a substitute for chicken in my fake Phat Thai. The big difference was that the dofu is cut into thin slices and browned in the frying pan.

The result? Not spectacular. The dofu was too dry. I think this really needs a lot of sauce, so I'll try something closer to the original recipe next time.

In the evening, Yvonne made some hamburgers. What, no garlic? No, too difficult to peel lots of garlic and make into a paste.

But now we have garlic paste in jars, the best thing since sliced bread. Put in 20 g (in 1 kg of beef) just for the fun of it. It certainly didn't taste bad, but I think it could have been even more.


Friday, 21 July 2023 Dereel Images for 21 July 2023
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Garden flowers in mid-winter
Topic: gardening Link here

It's a month after the June equinox, and thus the middle of winter, time for the monthly garden flower photos.

There's not much to see in the middle of winter, of course, though it's when the last rose of summer meets the first daffodil of spring:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230721/big/Rose-2.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230721/big/Daffodils.jpeg
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To my disappointment, our Alyogyne huegelii has fallen over:


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Looking at the remains, it seems that Bryan Ross has a hand in this one. He cut it back to the ground a couple of years ago, and it seems that only some of the weaker branches survived, but they weren't enough to support it. Maybe its time to replace it.

For some reason our lime tree has produced a large number of limes:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230721/big/Lime.jpeg
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Unfortunately, they're almost completely dry. I should pay more attention to the irrigation.

The Abutilon that we grew from cuttings 2½ years ago is finally doing surprisingly well:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230721/big/Abutilon-2.jpeg
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In the spring it wasn't, and I seriously thought it was going to die. This time I suspect too much water.

The Strelitzia reginae that has been here for as long as us is now looking happier, probably because of attention from gardeners:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230721/big/Strelitzia-regina.jpeg
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Hopefully we'll see some flowers in the spring.

The Vinca minor that I had so carefully removed a couple of years ago are now back:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230721/big/Vinca-minor.jpeg
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Given the difficulty of getting anything to survive here, I think I'll leave it.

We still have a solitary Grevillea in the driveway that hasn't died on us:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230721/big/Grevillea-1.jpeg
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CJ's ATA, next attempt
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

CJ Ellis tells me that he has now contacted Aussie Broadband and authorized me to act on his behalf. So at 11:37 I called up Aussie and tried to arrange for a new Analogue Telephone Adapter. “You are in position 25 in the queue”. No offer to call back this time—that didn't come until I had been waiting for 4½ minutes.

Call back at 11:59. Please identify yourself. Explained the situation, but it seems it was too complicated for the consultant, who told me he would have to investigate and call me back later. Maybe his lunch time?

Round 14:15, I decided that something had gone wrong. Another call, and this time got the offer to call back. That happened at 14:25, where I spent s full 8 minutes identifying myself before being told that I aws at the wrong department. I don't want sales, I want technical support, because they have to set up the ATA. With bad grace he agreed to connect me. After 10 minutes the line went dead.

However, at 14:46 I got a call on my mobile phone from a woman with a strong US American accent claiming to be from Aussie. And how about that, she was able to authenticate herself with the password I had given them. I still needed to authenticate myself, and then she decided that I couldn't order the ATA for CJ. He had to do that himself, by phone. And yes, she didn't seem to find that this was a deadlock.

I asked her to escalate the matter, and she put me on hold for a while, then said that I couldn't do it because I was given authority only for technical matters, and there was no way to change that. The only person who could speak on his behalf for other matters was Sue Morse, who has long since left the area. Still, if she can call in and give the OK, I can at least set up the technical specifications. I wanted a replacement for a Cisco SPA112. Sorry, we don't do Cisco. Yes, I explained, that's why I'm looking for a replacement. It took some time to explain to her that I was looking for functional replacement. That proves to be not a Grandstream device, but a Netcomm NF20MESH, which goes far beyond the SPA112: it has a switch (4 outputs) and Wi-Fi as well, and it costs $179 and $15 postage. Still, the important thing is that it's supported.

Got her to take a complaint: firstly, there is no good reason to require a phone call from the subscriber, and secondly it's just plain stupid not to be able to remove the “technical support only” flag from my authority. Judging by the way she laboured over the concepts, I'm sure that she put something else in there. And of course she wasn't able to send me a copy of the complaint, so all I have is the number **15531323** (why do they always put ** in their messages?), with no details whatsoever. I had hoped that Aussie would have got better since the last matter.

Sent a mail message to CJ asking him to contact Sue. Surprise, surprise: in the evening he called me on the phone from his Vonex number, which has already been ported to Aussie. He tells me that he called Aussie and gave them exactly the details they were asking for. So what's the problem? He said that he had asked them to contact me, but they didn't today.


Trough float: evidence
Topic: gardening, general, opinion Link here

Last week we had the float valve replaced in the horse trough. I had wondered whether it had only been twisted, but Jarrod took the float with him.

I wanted to take a look at it, so on Wednesday Yvonne picked it up and brought it back again:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230721/big/Float-2.jpeg
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That's a view aligned as it should be inside the trough. But look at that dirty part: that's left behind by the water. And it's at an angle of 45°! No wonder it couldn't work properly: it had to bind on the sides.

Oh. Looking back at the photos I took last week, the float looked like this:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230714/big/Float-valve-2.jpeg
Image title: Float valve 2          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 5912 kB
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The one that Yvonne brought home wasn't ours. But clearly it had the same problem, so you'd expect the pump people to know of the issue and check for it before replacing it.


Saturday, 22 July 2023 Dereel Images for 22 July 2023
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Luminar panorama extension
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday was the release date for the panorama extension that Skylum had announced for Luminar Neo. No mail, which isn't like Skylum. Off to take a look: yes, it's available. Want to install? Yes, of course.

What should I expect? Probably nothing like what I have now. I take weekly panoramas of the outside of my house, and that seemed a good thing to compare. My procedure is:

  1. Take 6 views of 6 locations, spaced at 60°, with my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED Fisheye PRO.. Each view consists of 3 exposure bracketed images with exposures roughly +4.7 EV, +1.7 EV and -1.3 EV from normal. Here, for example, one location (east of the house) from last weekend:

     
    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-0+0EV-0.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 0+0EV 0
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    Dimensions: 130 x 173, 11 kB
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-0+1EV-0.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 0+1EV 0
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    Dimensions: 130 x 173, 8 kB
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-0-1EV-0.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 0 1EV 0
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    Dimensions: 130 x 173, 10 kB
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-1+0EV-0.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 1+0EV 0
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    Dimensions: 130 x 173, 12 kB
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-1+1EV-0.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 1+1EV 0
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    Dimensions: 130 x 173, 9 kB
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-1-1EV-0.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 1 1EV 0
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-2+0EV-0.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 2+0EV 0
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    Dimensions: 130 x 173, 11 kB
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-2+1EV-0.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 2+1EV 0
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    Dimensions: 130 x 173, 8 kB
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-2-1EV-0.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 2 1EV 0
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    Dimensions: 130 x 173, 10 kB
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-3+0EV-0.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 3+0EV 0
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    Dimensions: 130 x 173, 11 kB
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-3+1EV-0.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 3+1EV 0
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    Dimensions: 130 x 173, 8 kB
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-3-1EV-0.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 3 1EV 0
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    Dimensions: 130 x 173, 11 kB
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-4+0EV-0.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 4+0EV 0
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    Dimensions: 130 x 173, 12 kB
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-4+1EV-0.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 4+1EV 0
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    Dimensions: 130 x 173, 8 kB
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-4-1EV-0.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 4 1EV 0
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-5+0EV-0.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 5+0EV 0
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-5+1EV-0.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 5+1EV 0
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-5-1EV-0.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 5 1EV 0
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  2. Convert the raw images to TIFF with DxO PhotoLab.

  3. Produce HDR images of each group of 3, using Photomatix:

     
    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-0.jpeg
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-1.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 1
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-2.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 2
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-3.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 3
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-4.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 4
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    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-5.jpeg
    Image title: e from house 5
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  4. Stitch them together with Hugin:


    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house.jpeg
    Image title: e from house          Dimensions:          15096 x 4606, 17859 kB
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I have scripts that do most of the grunt work for me, so I really only need to fire them up and then touch up the panorama before stitching. That works fine most of the time. So why do I need Luminar's panorama feature? Firstly, that “most of the time”. Frequently something goes wrong and I have considerable difficulty stitching the panoramas. And it's not overly fast. So it would be interesting to see how Luminar stacks up, especially since I get it for free with my subscription.

OK, fire up Luminar. And it shows all sorts of images in the “Catalog” view, including last week's component images. For some reason, though, they're displayed very dark:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230721/big/Luminar-1.png
Image title: Luminar 1          Dimensions:          2522 x 1416, 1667 kB
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This is step 4 of the procedure above. Drag six images to the “Panorama” area and stitch:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230721/big/Luminar-3.png
Image title: Luminar 3          Dimensions:          1097 x 678, 464 kB
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At this point I didn't find a way to straighten the panorama, I could drag, move and rotate the image, but not straighten it. Since this was a test I tried saving anyway. It got put in a directory called Panorama Stitching, as advertised. But where? My source photos were in (from Microsoft viewpoint) P:\Photos\6-HDR. But there was nothing new in P:\Photos. I had to display in the Microsoft file browser to discover that the directory was C:\Users\grog\Pictures\Panorama Stitching. Maybe that's normal for Microsoft, but it makes it difficult to access from a real computer.

OK, what's in the image? Nothing! But that's not surprising for a TIFF image with 66,566 bytes. Clearly something has gone wrong, but what? I didn't receive any error messages.

Another attempt? Yes, but I lost all the corrections I had made. And it still didn't work. Another empty TIFF file. In each case file tells me:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/16) ~/Photos/20230715 225 -> file ~/house*
/home/grog/house-from-entrance-5+0EV_+1EV_-1EV_panorama (1).tif: TIFF image data, little-endian, direntries=22, height=100, bps=278, compression=none, PhotometricIntepretation=RGB, orientation=upper-left, width=100
/home/grog/house-from-entrance-5+0EV_+1EV_-1EV_panorama.tif:     TIFF image data, little-endian, direntries=22, height=100, bps=278, compression=none, PhotometricIntepretation=RGB, orientation=upper-left, width=100

OK, maybe this is because I was using TIFF images. What about JPEG? Create new files and see what it does, this time with the files that I showed above. Yes, it assembled them, sort of:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230721/big/Luminar-6.png
Image title: Luminar 6          Dimensions:          859 x 294, 289 kB
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But the panorama is incomplete. It should be 360°, but the last part is missing, and the aspect ratio is incorrect. And when I try to stitch it, I get an empty image again, without any error message. About the only difference is that the file is now 94,612 bytes in size, and it's still a TIFF file.

How about trying with fewer images? Only 3 images still gave the same problem, but with two images I finally got a result. In the meantime I found that I can reshape the image, but only by reducing the size and employing a fair amount of guesswork:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230721/big/Luminar-5.png
Image title: Luminar 5          Dimensions:          1073 x 673, 21 kB
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That barely recognizable blob below the middle of the screen is the image. So, finally:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230721/big/e-from-house-2_panorama.jpeg
Image title: e from house 2_panorama          Dimensions:          1713 x 1440, 411 kB
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That's still badly curved, at least because it's almost impossible to straighten it with such a tiny image. But there's a strange detail there. Here a section from the middle of the image above, in two different magnifications:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230721/big/e-from-house-2_panorama-detail.jpeg
Image title: e from house 2_panorama detail
Complete exposure details
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230721/big/e-from-house-2_panorama-detail-2.jpeg
Image title: e from house 2_panorama detail 2
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What's that curved stuff? It's not there in the original, and the version stitched with Hugin looks normal:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-detail.jpeg
Image title: e from house detail
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230715/big/e-from-house-detail-2.jpeg
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This must be some issue with the stitching algorithm, though I can't make up my mind what.

In other words, in its present form, the functionality is useless:

In summary, I'm quite disappointed. Maybe I'll attract the attention of the Skylum developers, in which case we might together be able to work out a solution to the issues. After all, this is the very first release.


Sunday, 23 July 2023 Dereel Images for 23 July 2023
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Metaday
Topic: general Link here

Another day spent mainly doing things that I don't normally report: writing my diary.


Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for dinner this evening, something that we don't eat that often. Once again cooking times are an issue. I've more or less settled on a final temperature of 62° for the beef (“rare”), bu I was somewhat unnerved when my meat thermometer suggested exactly that temperature: normally I find that they set the temperature too high.

Still, I stayed at that temperature. 880 g took 47 minutes at 180°, or 53 minutes per kilogram. I left the probe in the meat while it rested, and after 20 minutes the temperature had gone up to 62°! Still, the result looked exactly like I wanted it to be:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230723/big/Roast-beef.jpeg
Image title: Roast beef          Dimensions:          5206 x 3888, 4133 kB
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And the Yorkshire pudding? Made according to the same recipe as always, and it blew up as it always does:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230723/big/Yorkshire-pudding-2.jpeg
Image title: Yorkshire pudding 2          Dimensions:          5186 x 3888, 5061 kB
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But after it cooled down, it was almost completely flat. My recollection from my childhood is that it should end up like a cake. I wonder if I should be making it deeper.


Monday, 24 July 2023 Dereel
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More overnight pain
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Last night I tried again to sleep without any help from amitriptyline. Not good. I don't have any real pain in my leg any more, but it's still uncomfortable. I'm all but out of the pills, so arranged for a new script that I can pick up tomorrow.


More garden work
Topic: gardening Link here

Jess Mellington along today to do some work in the garden. It's certainly in need of it, and she didn't really have enough time to do much. Hopefully things will look better before the weeds take off in spring.


Source IP address
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Now that I have my /24 address block routed here, I have no need for Network Address Translation (NAT) any more. Without it, every machine on the local network can communicate with the global Internet using its own address.

Every machine? No, there's one exception: eureka.lemis.com, address 192.109.197.137. That's the machine connected directly to the network link. Here a somewhat abbreviated ifconfig output:

em0: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1500
   ether bc:5f:f4:c9:9b:bf
   inet 192.109.197.137 netmask 0xffffff80 broadcast 192.109.197.255
   media: Ethernet autoselect (1000baseT <full-duplex>)
   status: active
xl0: flags=8943<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,PROMISC,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1500
   ether 00:50:da:cf:07:35
   inet 121.200.11.253 netmask 0xfffffc00 broadcast 121.200.11.255
   media: Ethernet autoselect (100baseTX <full-duplex>)
   status: active

Where does that 121.200.11.253 come from on interface xl0? It's supplied by Aussie Broadband's DHCP server. So every packet originating on eureka goes out with that address.

That's not just untidy, it can be a real problem: many authentication methods are based on the IP address. 121.200.11.253 might be rejected where 192.109.197.137 would be accepted. It's not an issue when accepting a connection: then it uses the address supplied by the remote end. I need a way to tell the IP stack to use 192.109.197.137 when establishing contact.

How can I do that? Add a second address, of course:

inet 121.200.11.253 netmask 0xfffffc00 broadcast 121.200.11.255
inet 192.109.197.137 netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast 192.109.197.255

But that doesn't help. The packets still go out with the primary address. And if I remove the primary address, the line goes dead. What else can I do? Some discussion, a couple of links, like this one, which came up with the disappointing result

In the end I think that FreeBSD just lacks the support for manually selecting the preferred source address, and a NAT seems the cleanest solution.

Surely there must be a cleaner way. How about something like this, seen from the output side of ifconfig:

xl0: flags=8943<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,PROMISC,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1500
  ether 00:50:da:cf:07:35
  inet 121.200.11.253 netmask 0xfffffc00 broadcast 121.200.11.255
  inet 192.109.197.137 src-addr netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast 192.109.197.255
  media: Ethernet autoselect (100baseTX <full-duplex>)
  status: active

Arguably the attribute should have a better name than src-addr, but the principle is the same: set a bit in the interface configuration telling it which address to use for establishing connections. Maybe it would be cleaner and more efficient to have a field containing the outgoing address. How hard can it be?

Off looking at the latest sources, not helped by the fact that the TAGS target in /usr/src/sys/Makefile doesn't include all the files needed, and I spent far too much time looking for a definition of if_addr_t, which proved to be a typedef pointing into some parser header file.

Gave up on that and off to look at my 25 year old copy of TCP/IP Illustrated, where I found what I was looking on page 70 ff of volume 2. Maybe I should look at the old code as well, before it got modified for many modern issues. At least that way I would understand it.


Tuesday, 25 July 2023 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel
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Dentist again
Topic: health Link here

Off to Ballarat today for a six-monthly dental check. It didn't go quite the way I expected. Mario had received the report from Peter Apostolopoulos about my appointment three months ago, in particular the object that he had removed from under the gums. He took his own look and decided to dig deeper, requiring anaesthetic, again not the most pleasant experience. He found nothing, so hopefully that's over. But he also found a deep pouch (7 mm) round my top left wisdom tooth, which nobody had found before. Cleaned up a bit, but he wants to see me again in 3 months.

On the way back, picked up my script from the doctor's, which went far better than I had expected, and then to the new UFS building opposite ALDI in Sebastopol. They have a drive-in prescription pickup, which sounded interesting in view of the normal 10 minute delay in having prescriptions filled.

But first I needed to find it. Drove into the entrance and found myself in a car park. No indication of a drive-in dispensary. Round the corner to the exit, and there was a window with a sign saying that I shouldn't drive past. And how about that, somebody came, took my script and told me to drive to the next window. And there they had the goods relatively quickly, 2 minutes at the most.

The good thing is that it's far faster than it used to be. Is that because of some computer help (direct access to prescription details, for example) to print out the labels? But they need better signage. I nearly drove out again. And the whole time nobody else was there. What happens if 6 people show up at once? There's not enough space for the cars to wait. And when paying (by credit card), the nurse held the card reader out on a stick for me to wave my card past. How long is it going to be before somebody grabs the reader and absconds with it?


X sues Elon Musk
Topic: technology, fiction, opinion Link here

Elon Musk has done some strange things in the last year or so, but now he's being sued for trademark violation. He has changed the name of the social network (if that's the word) Twitter to X. But X has been the trademark of X.org for decades. How can he get away with it? Even the logos look similar:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/90/X.Org_Logo.svg/375px-X.Org_Logo.svg.png https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/ce/X_logo_2023.svg

No wonder X.org has sued him. Now a “billion” or two in compensation would go a long way to pay for some much needed development work.


Wednesday, 26 July 2023 Dereel
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The nightly pain
Topic: health, opinion Link here

After yesterday's negative experience without overnight painkillers, I took two (20 mg total) amitriptyline tablets last night. Not a silver bullet, though things were better than before. Should I take more? Not yet, I think.


Australian tax office fraud
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Big news today: ATO reveals more than $557 million claimed by fraudsters exploiting security loophole.

Who would have thought that? Remember, you saw it here first. And only a couple of weeks later I was involved in this kind of scam with the the ATO. Despite all my attempts to persuade them, they didn't follow up. As I said at the time,

I'm at a loss for words. How does the government get away with this level of stupidity?


CJ's ATA, next step
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

So is CJ Ellis' ATA on its way? No response to my last email, so I called up. Voice menu gave me the choice of selection 2 for orders in progress or 3 for technical support. Clearly 2 is the selection. But after 5 minutes of talking to Georgia, she told me that it was a support issue and put me through to somebody who clearly had no understanding. At one point he said that the “modem” had been sent, but then changed his mind.

For more information, he needed further identification: he wanted to send me a PIN, which he called a 6-digit code. What phone number? He didn't want to say, but I got it out of him: CJ's phone number! After some discussion, he said he would send it to my email address. Then he went quiet, and finally the line went dead. No callback. That's the second time this has happened in a week.

While I was trying to reestablish connection, got another email from Karen at the complaints department, saying that CJ had indeed contacted them last Friday, and that she was disappointed that the “modem” hadn't been sent then, but that now all was on its way, though she was concerned that only one line might be configured, since that's all that their forms allow.

And when I finally reestablished connection with support, this time with Scott, clearly a Scot, who finally gave me some useful information and confirmed that the thing would be on its way, fully configured, and that with any luck CJ would have it on Friday. That's the best I've heard in a while. I hope it's correct.


Thursday, 27 July 2023 Dereel Images for 27 July 2023
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Stranger at the door
Topic: general, animals Link here

In the early afternoon the doorbell rang. Out to see somebody whom I didn't recognize, not easy against the sun. “Hey, do you remember me?”. And to my surprise, I did. It was Diane Turner, formerly Lehey, the ex-wife of my cousin Mick. I hadn't seen her for over 20 years, and I had no idea that she was in the area.

She didn't stay long, just long enough to go walking the dogs. For some reason Larissa decided to try her out and lie down on the ground:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230727/big/Diane-Larissa-6.jpeg
Image title: Diane Larissa 6          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 5689 kB
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She hasn't done that for over a year, but she kept trying until I took the lead.


Friday, 28 July 2023 Dereel
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More air conditioner problems?
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Got up this morning and heard the air conditioner making a lot of noise. Was this a repeat of the issue last week? Not quite. It wasn't as loud, and when I checked the temperatures, the lounge room temperature, set to 20.0°, was at 20.7°, and it was still heating. Last week it was 18.5°. But that's wrong too; the unit usually keeps to 0.1° to 0.2° of the set temperature. And the lowest temperature last night was 9.9°, so the unit wouldn't have needed to de-ice this time.

Again, power cycle. And it came up normally again, with considerably less noise. So what's the issue? It's pointing to yet more electronics problems.


Lazy day
Topic: health, general, opinion Link here

Somehow I'm completely lacking in motivation lately. Is it a consequence of my back injury? Despite everything I've done, I'm still waking up with discomfort in my leg, and despite sleeping nearly 11 hours, I'm still tired. Hopefully it's not an indication that something else is brewing.


Saturday, 29 July 2023 Dereel Images for 29 July 2023
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2000 days and counting
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Seen this morning on ffm.lemis.com:

=== grog@ffm (/dev/pts/0) ~ 62 -> date; uptime
Sat Jul 29 00:07:25 UTC 2023
12:07AM  up 2000 days,  9:10, 2 users, load averages: 0.50, 0.43, 0.40

Yes, I know there are systems that have been running without reboot for far more than 2000 days (a little short of 5½ years). A few months ago hubble had 4766 days, and it would now be 4897 days. But I've never had that before. Putting that into perspective, it's more than the whole time I worked with Tandem systems at Karstadt, during which the systems went down on a regular if infrequent basis for software updates.


AI
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Why did Elon Musk change the name of Twitter to X? We already have an X, and this just confuses things. In particular, Twitter users used to tweet. What do X.com users do?

OK, a good question for the latest batch of language synthesizers (“AI”). I tried exactly that text. Here the results:

ChatGPT

Hi! X.com users engage in a variety of activities depending on the context of X.com. X.com could refer to a specific website or platform, so without more information, it's difficult to provide a specific answer. However, users on many websites typically engage in activities such as posting content, interacting with other users, sharing information, participating in discussions, or even making purchases. If you can provide more details about X.com, I can give you a more accurate answer.

In other words, “no idea”, including what the question was. ChatGPT also excelled itself in a Quora answer:

Which countries have the most time zones overlapping with Russia's 11 time zones?

There are currently only two countries that have time zones that overlap with Russia's 11 time zones. These countries are Kazakhstan and Belarus.

That's just plain wrong, of course. Dozens of time zones overlap Russia's time zones. I wonder what assumption it was making.

Bard

X.com users used to do banking, investing, and other financial transactions. They could open checking and savings accounts, invest in stocks and bonds, and get mortgages and other loans. They could also send money to other people using X.com's online payment system.

X.com was founded by Elon Musk in 1999. It merged with PayPal in 2000, and the two companies operated under the PayPal name until 2010. Today, PayPal is one of the most popular online payment systems in the world.

So, what do X.com users do today? They use PayPal. The X.com website is no longer active, but the PayPal website still offers all of the same features and services that X.com did.

Well, at least that's interesting, though the answer also shows a lack of understanding. Could it be that I jumped to conclusions that the new site is called X.com? No, that takes me straight to a Twitter that tells me that it's really called X.

Yes, I suppose the current generation of “AI” sites could pass the Turing test, but they're still far from intelligent.


Malaysia for the Malays!
Topic: politics, history, opinion Link here

While on Twitter X, found a tweet from Mahathir Mohamad, the ex-prime minister of Malaysia:

  1. Malays appreciate the contribution to development made by the migrants and their descendants.
  2. But they have been amply rewarded through the returns from their enterprises.
  3. They have become millionaires and billionaires. Most have overcome the initial poverty of their early days.
  4. They cannot claim that because they had contributed this is now their country.

What kind of racist nonsense is that? Has he lost his marbles? He is 98 years old, after all Clearly he is referring to the substantial Chinese (25%) and Indian (7%) population of Malaysia, very few of whom have become rich. But their forebears have been there for hundreds of years, and one of them was Mahathir's (Indian) grandfather. The general response was very negative. I suggested that Malaysia really belonged to the Orang Asli, since the Malays themselves arrived on the Malay Peninsula (West Malaysia) between 800 and 500 years ago.

But what was the point of the tweet? Is that really what Mahathir believes? Or is he going round the twist, or has somebody compromised his account?


Sunday, 30 July 2023 Dereel Images for 30 July 2023
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Noodles reconsidered
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I eat a lot of noodles. In general there's not much you can do wrong with them, but one variable is the cooking time. Written on the package? Sometimes, and on rare occasions it's even correct. So I've been keeping a cooking times page for a couple of years.

For breakfast, I cooked some Chef Lo noodles. No need to check, I know that they need 2 minutes. So I cooked them like that, and they were OK.

Only later did I check: in the page I had written 4 minutes. Sure, I can change that, but why the difference? Am I getting more used to noodles al dente? Is there maybe not much difference after 2 or 4 minutes? Or is it a new batch? No, it's not a new batch. There are something like 50 portions in the package, and I only bought them 10 months ago (6 weeks before the “best by” date, as I now notice):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220902/big/Chef-Lo-noodles-2.jpeg
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So I should be careful with the other times that I have noted.

And then in the evening we had a new kind of noodle:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230730/big/Woolworths-spiral-noodles-1.jpeg
Image title: Woolworths spiral noodles 1          Dimensions:          5199 x 3888, 7218 kB
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OK, 10 minutes it says. Other similar noodles (Remano) require 11 minutes, so it could be correct. But after 8½ minutes I checked and found that they were disintegrating. Maybe 7 minutes would be better


Still more panorama pain
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday was the day for the weekly house photos, but I didn't get finished: one of the panoramas didn't work. I had taken it in bright sunshine, requiring shading to do the job well, but I forgot to take an unshaded version of one view, resulting in a black segment in the sky:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230729/big/house-from-entrance-bis.jpeg
Image title: house from entrance bis          Dimensions:          15110 x 5342, 21427 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230729/big/house-from-entrance-bis-detail.jpeg
Image title: house from entrance bis detail          Dimensions:          2049 x 2043, 454 kB
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I had noticed that before I finished processing, so I repeated the whole thing. In the meantime the sun had gone in, so I only needed 6 images. But Hugin couldn't join two of them, and nothing I tried would convince it to accept the photos. I've seen this before, but not for some time.

OK, I have two sets of images, and one closes. How about joining them all and then discarding the first set? Not even that worked! There's more experimentation to be done, but for the moment I have given up.


Monday, 31 July 2023 Dereel
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Android reset
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

For reasons I haven't understood, enzian.lemis.com, our spare mobile phone (a Xiaomi Redmi 9A) has been glacially slow for most of the time we have had it, and it seems to be getting even slower. Recently I wanted to start a calculator app on it, but after I got tired waiting, I started it on my “real” phone (Redmi 9T). And after that was displaying, I finally got a display on enzian. It must have taken 20 seconds.

OK, some configuration issue? Some app that ties it in knots? Why not wipe it clean and reinstall everything?

One good reason is because it's so much pain. Yes, straightforward enough. SettingsAbout PhoneFactory Reset. “Enter your password for account 65597587”.

Oh. What's that? It must be this strange MIUI thing. I didn't realize that it would be needed when I set it up, and I have no idea what the password is. Is there another way? Yes, via a back door.

And that worked, also at a snail's pace. But it lied: after the system finally came up, it didn't want to do anything until I entered the password. But this time it gave me the option of sending a PIN to the phone number associated with the device, something like +614*****026. . That's Yvonne's phone, which makes sense given that I had originally bought it for her. So I got it to send the PIN, and all was well. But what would have happened if I hadn't had Yvonne's number? All this stuff is far more difficult than it should be, though clearly the pain makes it very difficult for somebody to steal the phone.

And the results? Yes, the phone is much faster now, though it's still no ball of fire. My guess is that it has something to do with the GPS receiver, since that's about all that I have running.


Do you have a comment about something I have written? This is a diary, not a “blog”, and there is deliberately no provision for directly adding comments. It's also not a vehicle for third-party content. But I welcome feedback and try to reply to all messages I receive. See the diary overview for more details. If you do send me a message relating to something I have written, please indicate whether you'd prefer me not to mention your name. Otherwise I'll assume that it's OK to do so.


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