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June 2015
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Monday, 1 June 2015 Dereel Images for 1 June 2015
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Winter comes
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

First day of winter, and it shows. I don't have a weather station up and running yet, and the outside temperature minimum was only about 3°, but we had frost outside in the paddocks. And the house took several hours to come up to temperature. Time for an RTFM in the air conditioner manual.


Destructive dogs
Topic: animals, gardening Link here

This morning, a number of our newly planted saplings were missing most of their trunk:


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Who was it? We suspect Leonid. Yet more things to keep them away from. We're getting CJ to put in another fence anyway, and that will keep them out of that area, but now it's becoming more urgent. For the while they'll still have access to the main garden, including the shade area, but Yvonne has taken precautions against that:


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Still more moving
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Over to Kleins Road again today with Chris Bahlo's trailer, and brought mainly garden stuff. We looked inside the house, but it's really depressing. On the other hand, it's high time we got the stuff out, so I've made a target of 5 boxes a day until it's all out. I wonder if I'll make it.


Hibiscus and citrus
Topic: gardening Link here

Some of the pot plants that we brought over from Kleins Road were the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, a lemon and a lime. They've been in the open, which so far has not been a problem, but who knows how cold they got last night? The hibiscus looks less than happy, and I suspect it's in for another round of shedding all its leaves.


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We don't intend to have a greenhouse in Stones Road, so for the time being, at any rate, it'll stay indoors. So will the citrus.


Adele Pinto
Topic: history, general Link here

Call on the phone today from Adele Pinto . Who? I never knew her surname, but she worked for my mother in Kuala Lumpur from 1965 to 1968. I haven't found a reference to her in my diary yet, but there's a lot that still needs to be entered.

Indeed. On 1 February 2016 I entered my diary for 8 June 1968 and found that it was her wedding day. Unfortunately the entries are in German, such bad German that I have decided not to make them public.

How did she find me? Google, of course. She was really looking for my mother, but she keeps a very low profile on the web.


Adjusting the gas stove
Topic: general, opinion Link here

I've already commented on the bad adjustment of the gas stove:


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Apart from that, there's almost no difference between maximum and minimum on any of the flames. After three weeks, still hasn't been fixed. I had to simmer a sauce today, so took a closer look at the stove. The jet is clearly visible under the burner:


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Took the small one out. 0.9 mm—exactly the size of the jet for the big burner. So I took the one out of the big burner to exchange them. But that should have been 0.55 mm, and in fact it was 0.7 mm, the size for the “medium” burner.

What about adjusting the minimum flame? Again, under the knobs there are two clearly visible screws:


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But they don't seem to turn, and the view is nothing like what is described in the manual:

 
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So we still need somebody to come.


Tuesday, 2 June 2015 Dereel → Snake Valley → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 2 June 2015
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Adjusting the gas stove
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Yesterday I established that I couldn't adjust my gas stove myself, and finally got in contact with Karen of Ballarat Gas & Plumbing, who told me they could fit me in next Thursday. That's unacceptable; not their problem, but it's been four weeks already since handover, and Duncan was talking of having the outstanding issues fixed within a week.

Karen wanted the serial number of the stove. No idea why, but it's on a label on the underside of the unit. How do you read that? It's too cramped to get a head in there, and looking at an angle it's almost illegible. Time for a photo. And even that was difficult because I couldn't use the viewfinder. It wasn't until later that it occurred to me that I could use a mirror or connect the camera via an 802.11 link. As it was, I tried a number of guesses:


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I could have probably extracted the label from the first image, but finally I found something better:


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And then Yvonne told me we were out of gas! How did that happen? We have another bottle, but do we also have a leak?


Finishing the concreting
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Brett and Craig along today and did some tidying up round the verandah. A good thing too: it's holding up a lot of other things we want to do. They took most of their machinery, but not all of it:


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They've covered over the troughs in the hope that they'll dry out by Thursday, so that they can paint them with waterproof paint:


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Curtains
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

We still don't have curtains for the house, and it's uncomfortable. Into town today to look for curtains. Got as far as Ballarat Blinds & Curtains, where we saw a lot of things that looked OK, and prices that didn't. Curtains for a single medium-sized window (2 m wide) cost between $500 and $800. We can't afford that until we've sold Kleins Road. Hopefully that will happen soon.


Wednesday, 3 June 2015 Dereel Images for 3 June 2015
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What's that parcel?
Topic: general Link here

On the way back from Ballarat yesterday, we picked up a couple of parcels from the post office in Napoleons. One was an eBay item, but the other made no sense at all:


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What's that? The content was the little box at bottom right (second image), with four small squares in it. Today I rang up the mighty apes and asked what it was. They were a little confused and apologetic, asked if I knew a person called Kieu Diem. No, I don't. But they do: it seems that he sends these things off to unknown people at random. Value of the packet, including postage, was $2, and there should have been 7 “tiny picture frames”. Under the circumstances I can hardly complain about being short-changed, but it's still puzzling. About the only indication is that the address is exactly as for my eBay items. Anthrax?


Bird invasion
Topic: animals Link here

While picking up my five cartons from Kleins Road today, I left the tailgate of the car open. When I came back, I had a couple of visitors:


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AusPost helps change address
Topic: technology, Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Part of moving house involved setting up a (snail) mail redirection service to the new house. Today I received written confirmation and the offer to inform a number of companies with whom I do business about the change of address. I could either fill out a paper form, or do it online at the unlikely address auspost.com.au/redirect mail. I didn't trust that, and found a completely different address via Google, but it seems that they really do have a page with such a silly address.

So what do I need to fill it out? I have a reference number, which should be enough, but no, I needed to create an account with AusPost. OK, I can do that, though it's not clear what additional security it offers. And then I logged in:

 
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No, I wasn't redirected. So I clicked here. Nothing. Dead in the water.

Logged in on another browser and tried to continue. Now it wanted my reference number:


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The details were right (though for obvious reasons I've changed them above). And there was no way to change it. The name and surname fields are not modifiable; I suspect that there was a mismatch because they had written my name out in full on the paper form. But there's nothing I can do about it. It's easier just to notify the companies directly. Thanks, AusPost: good idea, useless implementation.


Fighting spam with gmail
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've been running my own mail system for decades now, since March 1992 at the latest. I dedicated two chapters of “The Complete FreeBSD” to the topic, and I've rather looked down my nose at what the industry has come up with.

But times change. Keeping track of spam, and avoiding it, is a serious and time-consuming business. Big commercial providers have the resources to do it, but I don't, and it seems that tools like SpamAssassin no longer work well enough. So how about filtering my mail through gmail? I receive my mail on the external server as before, but instead of downloading it directly from there, I can send it on to Gmail and download it from there.

How do you access Gmail via POP3? There's a page describing that, of course. It doesn't describe how configure fetchmail accordingly, but this page does. So I tried that, in particular the explicit fetchmail -d0 -vk pop.gmail.com. And on presenting my password I got the message:

Please log in via your web browser: http://support.google.com/mail/accounts/bin/answer.py?answer=78754

Huh? What does that mean? The page offers a number of reasons, none of which appeared to apply. It took a while to realize that something suggests that my client might be less secure:

Your mail app might not support the latest security standards. Learn how to allow less secure apps access to your account.

And that link explained it, sort of. You can't do it via settings, just via the link. In general, not very helpful. It wasn't until much later that I discovered that I had received a number of mail messages relating to the matter.

We recently blocked a sign-in attempt to your Google Account
[gurgled@gmail.com].

Sign in attempt details:
Date & Time: Wednesday, June 3, 12:34 PM GMT+10
Location: Ballarat VIC, Australia

If this wasn't you:
Please review your Account Activity page at
https://security.google.com/settings/security/activity to see if anything
looks suspicious. Whoever tried to sign in to your account knows your
password; we recommend that you change it right away.

If this was you:
You can switch to an app made by Google such as Gmail to access your
account (recommended) or change your settings at
https://www.google.com/settings/security/lesssecureapps so that your
account is no longer protected by modern security standards.

The first paragraph is interesting because it shows that the password was correct; there's nothing in the error message that suggests that. So what is less secure about fetchmail? I suppose I should check some time.

And how does it work? It seems to be relatively good, though it flags some interesting messages:


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Surely it should recognize its own messages as not being spam. It also flagged a couple of messages from Brendan Gillett. Certainly for a while I'm going to have to look at the spam folder more carefully.


Thursday, 4 June 2015 Dereel Images for 4 June 2015
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Finishing the concreting
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Brett back again today to finish the concreting. All he needed to do was to paint the trough, unfortunately in a colour that we're not sure we like. To make it more fun, the weather was really bad: cool, windy and wet:


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He claims that the paint will be impervious to water despite the weather. We'll see. We'll also see how it looks when tiles are on the slab.


Yet another Tony Abbott photo
Topic: history, opinion Link here

It's amazing how many photos we see of Tony Abbott lately. Most of them are similar to this one:

Apart from the cheesy grin on his face, it's a good example of constructive cropping.


Fixing problems
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Steve from Mesh and Masonry along this morning to take a look at the garage door opener, which had been sticking. Although it was clear that it was sticking on a poorly mounted junction in the channels that carry the wheels, he decided to lubricate everything instead. And how about that, it worked! The junction is still uneven, but it's no longer a problem. Solved, after only 34 days!

Later in the day a couple of carpenters showed up to investigate the front door frame, which is damaged. Yes, they can replace the part. They can also adjust the door so that it shuts tightly. Not yet solved, after 34 days.


Slow rising bread
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Baked a loaf of bread today. Nothing unusual about that—I bake one about every 10 days—but this one took forever to rise. I had started late in order not to be interrupted by having to talk to Brett, and after 6 hours (should be 4 to 5) it was 20:00, but it still hadn't really risen enough. So I baked it anyway.

What did I do wrong? I've made bread like this almost unchanged for several years. Did I get the quantities wrong? According to my notes, I used 1080 g flour, 900 g water and 37 g adjuncts, a total of 2,007 g. The form weighs 955 g, so the total should have been 2,962 g. But before baking I weighed it in at 3,003 g. How much does the baking paper weigh? 41 g seems more than I had expected, but not that much more.

Or was it the temperature? It doesn't seem likely. The starter rose normally.


Friday, 5 June 2015 Dereel Images for 5 June 2015
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Fixing the house problems: deadline expires
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

So now we've reached the deadline for resolving the outstanding issues with the house. Where are we?

   Stove
     You'll get Reece to attend to the matter.
       Nothing has happened.  Service call next Thursday.

   Range hood
     You'll raise a service call.
       Nothing has happened.

   Front door frame
     You're still working on this one.
       Carpenters showed up for the first time yesterday, 34 days late.

   Front door seal
     You installed this.  Unfortunately, after you left, I discovered
     that the door still does not shut properly, so we'll have to look
     at this again.
       Carpenters could have fixed this yesterday, but didn't.

   Handles for pantry door
     One down, one to go.
       No change.

   Extension for vacuum cleaner hose
   Hook for vacuum cleaner hose
     You'll check with the supplier.
       Duncan checked with the supplier, but didn't deliver.

   Garage door opener sticks
     You'll raise a service call with Mesh and Masonry.
       This, and only this, has been fixed.

   Patches in cabinets
     You'll get somebody to look at this.
       Nothing happened.

   Doors sticking
     This was an incorrectly mounted door fitting, will be fixed.
       Nothing happened.

None of these issues are difficult, but only one of 9 items has been done. Why? Do I need to take legal action?


Piccola disappears again
Topic: animals Link here

Round midday today, I found the outside door to the laundry open. Where's Piccola? Looked round, but couldn't find her anyway. Later Yvonne looked, but couldn't find her. Damn! She must have got out.

Checked over in Kleins Road, but she wasn't there. How long does it take a determined cat to go 3 km? Wouldn't be more than an hour or two, but quite possibly it's something she would do in the night.

Back home, and suddenly Yvonne found Piccola, on her bed. Where had she been? No idea.


The undead “Speeding” fine
Topic: general, opinion Link here

A few days ago we found little cards in the letterboxes, from Springvale police to Yvonne. Please call back. OK, she did that. The contact person wasn't there, but would call back. He didn't.

Today I tried again, and finally got hold of him. Somebody had received a traffic infringement notice or similar for an offence that he clearly didn't do. And the reference numbers were wrong: they referred to a “speeding” fine that Yvonne received 3 years ago, and which caused us untold grief because of complete incompetence in the police organization.

So how did these numbers get reissued? More incompetence? Or did somebody get the details from another diary entry? I can't see what purpose that would serve, unless the payment details transferred the money into somebody else's account.


Nikolai unhappy?
Topic: animals Link here

Called Nikolai to go walking this afternoon. No response. He just sat there in the garden, looking at me. Finally I got his harness and tried to put it on. Somewhere he had found a fresh, meaty bone, and was chewing it. When I put the harness on, he dropped the bone. Leonid went for the bone, and Niko growled at him. Not the most unusual behaviour, but the first time I've seen Niko engage in it.

In the evening, we fed them. And Niko only ate half of his chicken frame, and dropped the rest—demonstratively?—on a pile of horse dung. Then he went to where we were feeding Leo, and growled at him again through the window. What's got into him?


Saturday, 6 June 2015 Dereel Images for 6 June 2015
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Packing, unpacking
Topic: Stones Road house, photography Link here

House photo day today, which took up much of my time. Spent the rest of the day trying to unpack the boxes I had brought from Kleins Road. The more stuff I bring here, the more I realize just how much we were able to cram into Kleins Road. I had expected to have space left over, but despite the number of things we're throwing away, I think it might be a tight fit.


Garden planning
Topic: gardening Link here

Now that the concreting is finished, it's high time to plant the garden. We have a lot of spring-flowering bulbs that should have been in the ground months ago. Craig will be along on Tuesday to do some digging, and we'll plant them then, but by then meantime we have to decide where to put our raised flower beds. We're putting two outside my office, two for herbs up near the verandah, and the other 6 currently planned in an arc in the middle of the garden:


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Sunday, 7 June 2015 Dereel Images for 7 June 2015
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Still more unpacking
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Gradually the piles of boxes are dwindling, and the house is looking more normal. I can now move through the music room, and I just need to know where to put things like cases for musical instruments, which probably taste good to mice. Over to Kleins Road and picked up a few odds and ends, including VHS cassettes of all our old video camera recordings. One of my tasks in the near future is to digitize them and put them on YouTube.


Sunset in HDR
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

The view to the west out of the dining room promises some good sunset photos. This seems to be the ultimate application of HDR: between the sky and the shadows in the forest there must be at least 8 EV difference in brightness.

Today the sky wasn't particularly interesting, but it seemed worth playing around with. By the time I got my camera set up, it was almost completely dark. I set the camera for 5 exposures at 3 EV intervals, offset by 5 EV overexposure (i.e. -1, 2, 5, 8 and 13 EV). There I ran into the first problem: the camera refuses to expose for more than 60s in HDR mode. And the exposure times at f/8 should should have been 5, 40, 320, 2,560 and 20,480 s. I didn't notice at the time, and clearly an exposure of 20,480 s (5.7 hours) is out of the question. The result was that I got exposures of 5, 40, 60, 60 and 60 s, which combined to look like this:


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OK, I don't need depth of field for this view, and the lens has an aperture of f/2.8. With full aperture I still didn't get all 5, but in the meantime it was darker, so I got 1.3 s, 10s and another group of 3 at 60s:


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For some reason I tried that one again, by which time the exposures had increased to 3.2 s, 25 s and another group of 3 at 60s. So I tried again by cranking the sensitivity up to 45°/25,000 ISO. By now it was almost completely dark, and I'm surprised that anything was left of the sunset. The exposure times here were 1/20 s, 0.4 s, 3.2 s, 25 s and 60 s. Even here, the last one should have been 100 s. And it's clear that 45° is not really a generally usable speed: even with the help of DxO Optics “Pro”'s “PRIME” noise reduction, it looks pretty terrible:


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But there was still some residual redness in the sky, and it's interesting that it managed to pick out a group of kangaroos grazing in the middle of the image:

 
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I worried for a while about the colour cast in the foreground, but that was just light from the house. I had turned the lights off in the adjacent room, but it was so dark that light from other rooms made a difference.

So where do I go from here? Even here, it seems that 5 shots at 3 EV intervals are too much. The last image was made from only the three fastest ones; the others were hopelessly overexposed. So next time maybe 3 exposures at 3 EV intervals, and maybe only offset by 2 EV. And for the first time, I've seen a case where an f/1.8 or f/2 lens might be handy.


Monday, 8 June 2015 Dereel Images for 8 June 2015
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JG King: Enough!
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

I've already commented on the lack of progress on the house. Wrote a stiff email to Duncan today, along with a warning that I may request a refund for any items not fixed by the end of the week. That specifically refers to the cooktop and the range hood. I have a serious concern that the people will arrive, do some work, and not fix the problem, notably the heat output of the wok burner.


Understanding gas cooktops
Topic: general, opinion Link here

So how do I confirm whether my gas cooktop is delivering what it should? It's rated at 4 kW, or 14.4 MJ/h, as people prefer to obfuscate here in Australia, if they bother to talk about such minor details at all.

But how do you measure the output? Electric cooktops are clearly in the advantage here: it's a resistive load, so at 230 V, 4 kW draw 17.4 A. With gas the best you can do is to measure the amount of gas consumed. And how much do you need? I haven't found that yet, and clearly it depends on the composition. LPG can be propane, butane or (most likely) a mix of the two. Wikipedia tells me that it has a calorific value of 46.1 MJ/kg, but that depends on the proportions of propane (2.2 MJ/mol, or 48.3 kJ/g) and butane (49.52 kJ/g), though less than I had expected. More interestingly, the values don't seem to compare.

But we're not done yet. How do we measure the amount of gas consumed? Run a 14.4 MJ/h burner for an hour and you'll consume about 310 g of gas. The gas and cylinder weigh about 20 kg, so that's about the minimum weight difference that you could measure. How about volume? That depends not only on the pressure, but also on the temperature. Round about here I put it into the “too hard” basket.

Off to look at online advertisements, specifically The Good Guys and Appliances Online. What a pain! "688" responses (yes, including the quotes) from the Good Guys, including ovens, electrical devices, rangehoods and who knows what out else. I can refine my search (199 electric, 1 gas), widths between 30 cm and 45 cm, capacity between 60 and 80 litres, but nothing relating to 90 cm gas ranges. Clearly they need to change their web designer. When I finally got down to what I was looking for, I discovered I wasn't allowed to compare more than 4 items, and the comparison told me nothing useful:


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Mainly mechanical information, and in particular no information about the burners.

Appliances Online was marginally better, though they only allowed comparing 3 items, and they too didn't give information like burner power, but they have the manuals online. There I was able to confirm that wok burners deliver between 3.25 kW (“11.7 MJ/h”), for $1,999, and 5 kW (from Bosch, who don't use these silly MJ/h), for $964. This also shows that the power output is completely unrelated to the price.

Here a few unsorted notes:

Bosch Gas Cooktop PCR915B91A  $964
http://manuals.appliancesonline.com.au/pcr915b91a/pcr915b91a.pdf  5 kW, 11, 10, 6, 3.5

Bosch PCT915B9TA  $1,055
http://manuals.appliancesonline.com.au/PCT915B9TA/pct915b9ta_installationandoperatinginstructions.pdf

Fischer Paykel CG905DWAC
   http://manuals.appliancesonline.com.au/cg905dwfcx1/cg905dwfcx1.pdf  15.3 9.3  6.2  2.7

Omega Omega Gas Cooktop OG92XA  $1,288
http://manuals.appliancesonline.com.au/og92xa/og92xa_product_manual.pdf  4.25 kW

SMEG CIR597X  $1,488
http://manuals.appliancesonline.com.au/cir597xs/cir597xs_product_manual.pdf
3.8 4.8 6.0 12.5 14.4 (+3.8?)

ASKO  Hg1774s  $1,999  11.7 MJ/h

Tuesday, 9 June 2015 Dereel Images for 9 June 2015
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Power failure—how long?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Another power failure this morning at 0:56, I think. Now that we have nearly everything on UPS, I didn't notice until late afternoon, when I discovered that cvr2 (currently connected to a non-UPS power point; thanks, Jim) had rebooted then. The oven confirmed that there had been a power failure, but was too leet to restart the clock, so it didn't help telling me when.


ATA configuration for Australia, continued
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

My ATA is still not generating correct ring tones (“cadences”, apparently). MyNetFone support is trying to be helpful with all sorts of unlikely suggestions, such as changing the dial plan. But there's a section in the “Regional” tab: “Distinctive Ring/CWT Pattern Names”. What does that mean? Potentially it could be related, and names like Bellcore-r1 suggest that they're currently American. So off to do some more searching.

This page seems to relate to Australia, and potentially it has other useful settings, but it doesn't mention this section. This page at least explains the syntax of the entries. But this (PDF) document contains specifications. In particular, “Ring1 Cadence” is 60(.4/.2,.4/2), which means: for 60 seconds, repeat: tone on for 0.4 seconds, off for 0.2 seconds, on for 0.4 seconds, off for 2 seconds. That sounds like the Australian ring tone. Only problem: it doesn't work. Checked with CJ's Mitron MV1, supplied by MyNetFone. It also produces the same American ringing tone, so I suspect the network is generating it and not the ATA.


Completing the house, yet again
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Yesterday's strongly worded mail to Duncan paid off. Got a call from him first thing this morning, and almost before we had finished breakfast he was here with a few fittings. We now have the handle for the other side of the pantry door, and he changed the sticking door catch.

Still nothing with the kitchen appliances. Duncan tells me that the company had claimed to have spoken to me, and was rather frustrated that they hadn't. Clearly his position isn't the easiest either. Spent some time looking at them. He agreed that the range hood is really weak, and there's a good chance it'll have to be replaced—but by what? It's really strange that these things are so weak, while the extractor in the toilet, which probably cost $15, moves an incredible amount of air.

The vacuum cleaner was another matter. I had looked at the original brochure, and it claims “3.5 [hose attachment] points”. What does that mean? Looking at the unit itself, in the garage, there's an attachment point there, but it's not automatic: you have to turn a switch. But that solves the issue of reach without resorting to an even more unwieldy 12 m hose. And it's one more item off the list.


Populating the garden
Topic: gardening, Stones Road house Link here

Craig Mayor along today to move some plants from Kleins Road:


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It's beginning to look like a garden already.


Another projection tutorial
Topic: photography Link here

Somehow I still don't feel completely comfortable with image projections (3D world onto 2D surface). Discovered this page, which promises to make it more understandable.


Wednesday, 10 June 2015 Dereel Images for 10 June 2015
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Measuring stove heat
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Mail from Mal White this morning, suggesting that one way to measure the heat output of the stove burners is to measure how long it takes to boil water.

The problem there is that that's measuring heat input to the saucepan, not not heat output from the burner. On the other hand, it should bear some relation to the heat output, so for the sake of experiment I tried it anyway, with a 905 g stainless steel saucepan and 500 g water.

It takes 4.186 J to raise the temperature of 1 g of water by 1°, so raising 1 kg of water from 20° to 100° would take 2,100 × 80 or 167,440 J. According to this article, stainless steel has a specific heat of round 500 J/kg.K, so it would take another 36,200 J to heat the pan through 80°.

That makes a total of 204,200 J. At 4 kW, that should take 51 seconds. I measured it on the wok burner, which brought it to the boil in 5 minutes (corresponding to a heat input of 680 W, only a sixth of the rated output). But how does that compare with other burners? I tried it on the normal hot burner in Kleins Road, which brought it to the boil in 3½ minutes. That's 970 W. But what's the rating of the burner? No idea, but it's clearly less than 4 kW, probably closer to 2 or 2.5.

So what does this tell me? It gives me a feeling for how much heat is lost on a gas stove, at least 50%. And more importantly, it tells me numerically what I already had observed, that the wok burner delivers considerably less heat than a normal hot burner. So Mal's idea does serve a useful purpose. Now to see what happens if somebody ever shows up to adjust the thing.


OED offline!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I put a typo in my diary yesterday: instead of “too leet” I wrote “to leet”, and of course somebody (Peter Jeremy) caught it. But what's the chance that “to leet” is a known English word? Off to look at the Oxford English Dictionary, not for the first time today.

I have access as part of my membership of the State Library of Victoria, but it wouldn't accept the login. Called up SLV, where nothing was known of the problem, but they looked into it and discovered that yes, they had the same problem. We confirmed that I was still in the SLV domain (specifically http://www.oed.com.ezproxy.slv.vic.gov.au/), but it didn't show the SLV logo at the bottom.

Off to find out again how to log in to the National Library of Australia, and finally found their OED page. Same thing! Called up the NLA, who didn't know the problem either, and was able to tell them that the SLV also had the problem. I wonder how many others. And I wonder how many people use this service: several hours elapsed between my calls to SLV and NLA, but both didn't know about it until I called.


ACMA endorses Microsoft
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Andy Snow pointed me at this page from the ACMA. It contained this markup:

More information will be available
at <a href="file:///C:/Users/shirca/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/Content.Outlook/6CSKETL4/www.ag.gov.au/dataretention">www.ag.gov.au/dataretention</a>
soon.

Doesn't that make you feel that people know what they're doing? I put in a comment, which they chose not to publish, but they did fix the link.


More garden stuff
Topic: gardening Link here

Craig Mayor along again today and moved most of the rest of the plants over to the new garden. Things are taking shape:


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We have now planted all of the bulbs that we bought in autumn, far too late. But to my surprise, we had difficulty finding space for all of them. They're mainly Narcissus: 22 jonquils “Grand Monarque”, 12 Jonquil “Geranium”, 50 unspecified daffodils, and a couple of prepared trays from ALDI: one with 24 grape hyacinths, 11 light blue Tritelias and 10 yellow daffodils, the other also with 11 light blue Tritelias, with 10 tulips and 24 freesias:


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That's a total of 164, significantly more than I had expected. On top of that, Craig brought a number of bulbs with him from Kleins Road.


Thursday, 11 June 2015 Dereel Images for 11 June 2015
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OED returns
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Call from Andrew at the State Library of Victoria this morning to tell me that the Oxford English Dictionary was back online. I had already discovered that, but he also told me that the outage had apparently affected all the world's libraries. It's amazing that I was the first to report it to two important Australian libraries (and possibly the first at all, since most libraries in the world were closed at the time).


Adjusting the gas stove
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Today, finally, a pair of plumbers arrived to adjust the gas stove. We've been waiting for nearly 5 weeks. There were two things to do: adjust the minimum flame, a straightforward job, and find out why the wok burner was so weak. The latter sounded like an issue with the jets, which nowadays seemed to be pronounced “injector”, and I had asked Duncan to ensure that they came with some spares. They didn't.

First thing, of course, was to remove the burners to access the jets. This is the wok burner, which I hadn't looked at before. The mess there seems to be related to Jesse's work on the tiles above: he clearly didn't tidy up after himself:


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Adjusting the minimum flame seemed straightforward, but it wasn't. It seems there's a preset minimum, and it's too high. The adjusting screw just allows an increase in the flame, not a decrease. Things are now better, but in my opinion they're not good. Here the “large” plate, ostensibly 3 kW:


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And the wok burner? One of the potential causes I had thought of was that the gas pressure was low. But no, 2.58 kPa, close enough to the specified 2.60 kPa not to make any difference. So Jamie found an old jet and bored it out to 1.1 mm (the specs say 1.0 mm). Better. Then another one with 1.2 mm. Better, but lopsided, and on the high sides there were beginnings of insufficient combustion. And once again the “minimum” was very high:


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How can it be lopsided? Did he drill out the jet at an angle? It's a possibility. In any case, I don't like the idea of jets that don't match their markings, so if we keep the stove—still a matter for discussion—we'll at least need new jets with the correct markings.

The range hood? Once again he couldn't do anything beyond confirm that yes, indeed, it wasn't drawing enough air. So when will that one finally get looked at?


JG King, enough! (once more)
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

It's been over two weeks since I agreed with Duncan that all outstanding issues with the house should be finished by Friday last week. Over the weekend I sent him an email setting another deadline of Friday this week (tomorrow) threatening legal action if he didn't comply. At least that brought him around bright and early on Tuesday (Monday was one of Queen Elizabeth II's many birthdays). But that was all. Despite all claims to the contrary, the work on the stove was not hurried beyond the original date of this morning. What next?

Called up Consumer Affairs Victoria, expecting to be passed on to somebody else. But no, they're the people to talk to, and they have a web page dedicated to the topic. OK, first remind him of tomorrow's deadline and make a more specific threat of a complaint to CAV.

Another phone call. Maybe we'll get the potential gas leak and the range hood sorted out tomorrow. I'm not holding my breath.


Measuring heat output, revisited
Topic: food and drink, general, opinion Link here

My issues with measuring heat output of the stove seem to interest people. Jo Cousineau, Yana's friend, sent Yvonne a Facebook message suggesting I use an infrared thermometer. The problem there is that the thermometer measures temperature, not heat, and all flames with the same mixture will have the same temperature, regardless of the amount of heat they give off. In addition, it's almost impossible to get a consistent reading under those circumstances.

On the other hand, after the plumbers left, I tried Mal White's suggestion again. My water now boiled in about 3 minutes, a lot better than the 5 minutes before, but still not significantly faster than the 3½ minutes that the smaller burner took in Kleins Road. But in this case it was clear that much of the flame went around the sides of the pan. You'd expect a 1.2 mm jet to output 44% more gas than a 1.0 mm jet, so maybe there's hope yet.

In the evening we cooked some burritos, which require frying onion paste over low heat. This is the best we managed:


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Is that low enough? I think it was for the onions. Simmering sauces requires a whole lot less heat, and I fear it's not going to do the job.


Daily Tony Abbott nonsense
Topic: history, opinion Link here

It's no secret that I think Tony Abbott is a cretin. But there's always hope, and on the Al Jazeera News today, they showed him showing something like leadership—a rare moment indeed, and one that I didn't capture.

But then somebody on IRC came up with this article:

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described wind farms as "visually awful", saying he wishes the Howard government, of which he was a member, had never implemented the Renewable Energy Target (RET) policy.

When questioned by Jones about the potential for wind turbines to affect the health of people living nearby, Mr Abbott said: “I do take your point.”

OK, wind farms are arguably the most obtrusive form of clean energy. But, as the article describes, what good do such statements do? If he were to come up with a better alternative, that would be a different matter.


Friday, 12 June 2015 Dereel Images for 12 June 2015
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Slowly completing the house
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Today plumbers from O'Neill came along to look at the gas system: last week we had run out after less than a month. Leak? If there was one, it seems that my tightening up at the time had fixed it.

Also a call from Lorraine of Alantin Services regarding the range hood. I had spoken with them (John) nearly 3 weeks ago, but she claimed that there was nothing about me in “the system”, and that I had only purchased the hood 9 days ago. Even when I told her that John had called me, she didn't understand, and kept saying that I had called him.

In any case, she wanted to book an appointment to look at it. Sorry, today was the deadline. It goes back. Or at any rate, that's what I intended until Duncan talked me in to waiting until Monday.


Saturday, 13 June 2015 Dereel Images for 13 June 2015
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Controlling the dogs
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

One of the things that Yvonne in particular was looking forward to in the new house was that we could let the dogs out at any time; in Kleins Road, with no complete outside fence, we couldn't. But things aren't as simple as they look: currently it's quite muddy outside, and it'll continue that way until the spring (hopefully next winter we'll have enough vegetation on the ground to prevent mud). So the dogs get muddy paws, and we have to wipe them off.

On the other hand, they run around a lot outside. Yvonne had put up this provisional fence around a newly-transplanted Melaleuca, but they seem to have run into it:


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And my thongs are continually missing:


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I suppose we'll gradually get them under control.


Girello sous vide
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Beef for dinner today, a cut called Girello—clearly an Italian cut, but what is it? I've been trying for years to understand the different ways people butcher animals. Even Wikipedia doesn't really know. This page, which claims to rate beef cuts but doesn't mention filet, tells me that it's “eye of round”, another name I haven't heard. Even the French terms « Tranche de bœuf » and « Rôti de bœuf » sound too general, and « Pièce ronde » gets no hits that don't mean “round room”. The image on that page doesn't help, but it seems that “round” is an American cut corresponding to British Silverside, Topside or Thick Flank (images from Wikimedia):

And in France? The French page shows a completely different way of cutting:

The part marked 10 is called « Plat de tranche » or « rond de tranche », which might be what the page meant. Amusingly, 9 is « Araignée » (spider).

So I still don't understand. A good thing I can cook meat without knowing where it comes from. I cooked it sous-vide at 52° for about 4 hours, with no further preparation. It tasted good, but not tender. I suspect that that's all we can hope for in such a lean cut, and presumably the best thing to do is to cut finer slices.


Sunday, 14 June 2015 Dereel Images for 14 June 2015
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Selling on eBay: the pain
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

It's been over a year since I tried to sell my Olympus E-30. Despite contacting eBay's help centre, I failed: “You can't sell internationally at this time”.

That can't be typical. Thousands people with less computer skills than I sell on eBay every day. What is it? My aura? My computer environment? The latter (old FreeBSD with out-of-date browsers) seems to be a possibility. But now that I have an up-to-date system, it's high time that I tried again. And sure enough, I didn't run into most of the problems that I had last year. But the big one remained: “You can't sell internationally at this time.” It's not a browser or system issue: I tried four different browsers on three different systems, including Microsoft.

About the only other unusual thing about my eBay account is that it's old: I registered in July 1999, not quite 16 years ago. Since then they've changed lots of things, of course. Recently with another issue, they told me that I was registered in the USA—presumably the only possibility in 1999.

Could it be that somehow the software got confused by the age or the location of the account? Purely by coincidence I discovered that I had similar problems over 5 years ago. At least their rendering is getting better. Sent off another support request to eBay, with little hope of resolution, but then decided to try another tactic: sign up as a new seller. Did that, and ran into other issues:

 
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Admire the grammar. That was repeatable with the one browser, which also kept trying to switch me to my other (logged-off) account. Cookies not being tidied up? Another browser with fewer preconceptions allowed the update, and I was able to list the camera—with a completely different interface from before. In particular, it didn't try to insert lots of irrelevant and incorrect boilerplate.

So now the camera is listed. Would you buy a camera from somebody with 0 feedback? I probably wouldn't. But at least I've established that the problem is with my old account. Is it maybe claiming that Australia is international because my account is in the USA? At the very least it would show significant contradictions. Now to wait for a response from eBay.


Keeping dogs out of the garden
Topic: animals, gardening Link here

After putting plants in the garden to the south of the house, we had the problem of dogs getting in. We put some electric fence braid around it, here at bottom right:


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To my surprise, that didn't stop the dogs getting in. But then, that's an electric fence without the actuator. And of course we have a spare (solar-powered) actuator, so we put that on the fence.

That worked. All the dogs got bitten by it, Leonid twice. It's right next to where we feed him, and though it's a low-power device, he was so afraid that we could barely get him to eat this evening. I think he was mainly caught by surprise. Hopefully he'll calm down soon.


Monday, 15 June 2015 Dereel Images for 15 June 2015
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eBay selling, continued
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Rather to my surprise, my camera sold today with “Buy it now”. And it was somebody in the USA, where I'm not supposed to sell. How could that happen? Clearly the listing policy and the purchase policy don't match.

But can I trust a name like Howard Johnson? Is this a genuine buyer? Did a bit of investigation and discovered a surprising amount of information. I had the shipping address and an email address with the word “advocate” in it. And sure enough, the shipping address was a newspaper called “The Advocate”. So on the face of it, all looks kosher. I'll never understand eBay.


Flowers in garden in early winter
Topic: gardening Link here

For the last five years I've been taking monthly photos of the flowers in the (Kleins Road) garden. Now that we're in Stones Road, things look very different: we didn't even start to plant the garden (mainly with transplants from Kleins Road) until two weeks ago. Nevertheless, we have flowers. Some plants were flowering when they were transplanted, like the Fuchsias, the Azaleas and the Cyclamen:


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But others have started to flower, like the rose „Gruß an Aachen“ and a Gazania, both not exactly winter flowers:


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And of course a few unhappy Narcissus are doing their thing:


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I suppose things can only get better.


Australia Post helps again
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So contrary to expectations, I sold my camera internationally. How do I calculate postage to the USA? Australia Post has a handy calculator which gives you an estimated price for postage. The easiest way to find it is from Google. If you go to http://auspost.com.au/ and run the cursor over the menu item Parcels & mail, you'll see a large choice:


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Unfortunately, none of the items in the section Sending overseas tell you what it costs. For that you have to go to the bottom of the next column, Postage calculator. But Auspost has more surprises in store. You have to type in the name of the country, but you also have to guess how Auspost wants it:

 
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As every child knows, the country is UNITED STATES. And, modulo capitalization, that's the way Wikipedia wants it. I disagree. The name of the country is United States of America; dropping “America” is common but ambiguous (though the United States of Mexico have now changed their name to United Mexican States). But even apart from such niceties, wouldn't you think that a web designer would put some effort towards recognizing more than one form of the name? It also doesn't recognize England or Eire. When I tried to enter “UK”, it expanded it to UKRAINE and then claimed (incorrectly) that it didn't recognize the country:

 
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And this is a company trying to find its way into the 21st century.


Tuesday, 16 June 2015 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 16 June 2015
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Selling on eBay, day 3
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Into the office this morning expecting to hear from the buyer of my camera. Instead I had a message from eBay:

We had to cancel bids and purchases on the following item(s) for the buyer, , because they were made without the account owner's permission:
271901200336 - Olympus E-30 12 MP digital SLR body
Please note that we're working with the account owner to prevent any additional unauthorized activity.

Curiouser and curiouser. My investigation yesterday suggested that it was kosher. In any case, I had to list it again, and this time it allowed me to offer international shipping. It seems that every time I try to list something with eBay, it behaves differently.


Rain gauge accuracy
Topic: general, opinion Link here

I've already noticed that the rainfall measurements in Stones Road are considerably less than in Kleins Road. But is the difference in the rainfall or the measurement? A few days ago I brought the Kleins Road rain gauge over here, and yesterday it rained. 3 mm. Or maybe 4 mm. It depends on the gauge: the new gauge really does measure less. It's not the location. They're next to each other:


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So what about the scales? Are they correctly calibrated. Tried a couple of tests. The new (right-hand) gauge has a rectangular opening 6.0×6.4 cm in size, or 38.4 cm². I poured in 124.8 ml of water. That should correspond to 124.8 ÷ 38.4, or 32.5 mm of rain. In fact, it showed 33.2 mm. I suppose that's close enough.

And the old gauge? It has a circular opening 7.9 cm in diameter, giving an area of 7.9² × π ÷ 4, or 47.75 cm². 125.9 ml of water should read 26.4 mm; in fact I got 27.2 mm.

Both readings are close, but a little high, probably too different to attribute to experimental error, especially as the difference is in the same order of magnitude. Is that deliberate? In any case, it rules out miscalibration.

The other possibility is that the water doesn't make it to the bottom of the new gauge. That's clearly the case:


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But is that enough to explain the difference?


Blood test and new trees
Topic: health, gardening Link here

Yvonne's car needs servicing, so we brought it to Sebastopol today. While we were there, I had a scheduled blood test, and we looked around for more trees for the garden. We're trying to keep the number down, but now's the time to plant, and we've established a number of things we want. One was a bright red flowering Eucalyptus. No problem. Plenty of Eucalyptus Corymbia ficifolia to be had (photo from Wikimedia):

But reading the details on the label shows that the colour is a gamble. Most are red, but they could be orange, pink or even pale cream. So we looked further, and found two others: an Eucalyptus erythronema “Hot Threads” and an Eucalyptus caesia ssp. Magna, cultivar “Silver Princess” (again, images from Wikimedia):

As planned, also bought a Ginkgo biloba, an Araucaria heterophylla, an Acacia hybrid called “Lime Magik”, an Alyogyne huegelii “West Coast Gem”, We had also taken a look at maples, but there are enough different ones that the choice becomes difficult, particularly the choice of place.


Wednesday, 17 June 2015 Dereel Images for 17 June 2015
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Selling on eBay, day 4
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

eBay selling never ceases to amaze me. Now I've sold my camera again with “Buy it now”, this time to somebody across the river from Mildura. But I also received three identical messages (modulo formatting) from “Howard Johnson”, the first buyer, saying that eBay had messed up, but things were alright now, and I should have received a message from them. Looking in my eBay messages, there was nothing. But then I saw:

2324     15-06-2015 eBay Restored                        (2166)     Re: Restoration Of The eBay Auction Listing Purchase

The text went something like this:

eBay International AG sent this message to you.Your registered name is included to show this message originated from eBay. Learn more.Restoration Of The eBay Auction Listing Purchased by Howard Johnson (advjoh3)Hello Seller,     We wish to inform you that we have restored the eBay listing involving you and HowardJohnson (advjoh3). We are referring to the listing that was removed from the eBay database. We investigated the issue, and found out the legitimate buyer and owner of the account purchased the item before a third party had access to the buyer's eBay account.We sent you an email regarding the purchase and thebuyer's eBay account. The issue has been resolved and you are required to continue with the transaction. You must remove the listing or stop the sale of the item to any other buyer if you have re-listed the item before receiving this message.eBay is guaranteeing you that security measures will be put in place inorder for you to receive the payment for this auction securely via PayPal. PayPal is operating a new Anti-Fraud policy to protect the interest of all eBay account holders, so that all payments pertaining to eBay purchases will be received.Regards, Safe harbor Department eBay, Inc. This email appears in thelanguage of the eBay site where you are registered. Learn how you can protect yourself from spoof (fake) emails at: http://pages.ebay.com.au/education/spooftutorialThis administrative email was sent to you from eBay. Your account is registered on www.ebay.com.au. As outlined in our User Agreement, eBay willperiodically send you information about site changes and enhancements. If you would like to receive this email in text format, change your notification preferences. See our Privacy Policy and User Agreement if you have questions about eBay's communication policies. Privacy Policy:http://pages.ebay.com.au/help/policies/privacy-policy.htmlUser Agreement: http://pages.ebay.com,au/help/policies/user-agreement.htmlCopyright ? 2008 eBay, Inc. All Rights Reserved.Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.eBay and the eBay logo are registered trademarks ortrademarks of eBay, Inc0

It's certainly messy enough to come from eBay, but why wasn't it in my eBay messages folder? The headers made it clear:

From trevcait@msn.com  Wed Jun 17 08:10:10 2015
Return-Path: <trevcait@msn.com>
...
Received: from DUB004-OMC4S25.hotmail.com (dub004-omc4s25.hotmail.com [157.55.2.100])
        by www.lemis.com (Postfix) with ESMTP id A21A01B72856
        for <brokenebay@lemis.com>; Mon, 15 Jun 2015 22:08:15 +0000 (UTC)
Received: from DUB114-W82 ([157.55.2.71]) by DUB004-OMC4S25.hotmail.com over TLS secured channel with Microsoft SMTPSVC(7.5.7601.22751);
         Mon, 15 Jun 2015 15:08:14 -0700
X-Originating-Email: [trevcait@msn.com]
From: eBay Restored <aw_restore@financier.com>
Sender: <trevcait@msn.com>

And the From: header was clearly visible without detailed examination of the headers. Another amateurish forgery. Interestingly, the index line shows something else: no To: header (the large white space left of centre). That's quite unusual, but the messages from “Howard Johnson” also didn't include one.

As if that weren't suspicious enough as it was, “Howard Johnson” asked me to ship the camera to Nigeria. Yesterday I came to the conclusion that he was probably legitimate; today it looks as if he was doing everything to make himself look fraudulent. I replied saying sorry, camera was sold again, and got a reply demanding that I ship the camera to Nigeria. Sorry, too late for a number of reasons.

But is my new buyer legitimate? From both I got messages with very similar texts (here wrapped to save the pain):

“Howard Johnson”:

Hi mate, glad I won your item. Please email me at(advocateeditor@outlook.com) confirming the exact condition of the item I will be going for an appointment now and will be able to access my email from my iphone, so email me at(advocateeditor@outlook.com) using the item number as the subject, Also add your PayPal email address.

New buyer:

I am happy to be the buyer of your item.hope the item is in good condition, I will like you to contact me via my mail : new-buyer@hotmail.com so we can sort out postage and delivery method. I will be traveling for a business trip so i will be accessing my email via my phone.Kindly email me as soon as possible via new-buyer@hotmail.com and use the item number as subject.

Both travelling, wondering about the condition (described in the listing, of course), and one wanting the PayPal email address, something that they don't need. The other one didn't ask for it—yet. Later I got another message asking for my bank account details, though I didn't offer that payment option. So I'm still not convinced that the new buyer is any more legitimate than “Howard Johnson”.

So what's going on here? If my suspicions are correct, I've come across two dubious buyers who are probably out to defraud me. About the only obvious thing is what I said a couple of days ago: Who would buy a camera from a seller with 0 feedback?


eBay debugging
Topic: technology Link here

My support request to eBay, sent on Sunday, has timed out. Fought my way through their “help” system, which doesn't give me the opportunity to say what my problem is (“if we can't anticipate your problem, it doesn't exist”), so said that I needed help with first-time listing. And for that they were prepared to call me back (which they don't do for just any problem). Got a call back fairly soon, and spoke to Mark, who told me what I already suspected: that it was related to the fact that my account was registered in the USA. It seems that Australian accounts have only been in existence for about 4 years, and nobody thought to notify existing customers that they should change their registration. But he did it for me. Hopefully that problem is now a thing of the past.


Hardware problems in the Good Old Days
Topic: technology, history Link here

There's a fair amount of activity on the Unix Heritage Society mailing lists at the moment. I've been able to get rid of my old 4.4BSD and X manuals several times over. And somebody posted this link to an article by Brian Kernighan about the woes that he, Joe Condon and Ken Thompson had with a digital phototypesetter 35 years ago. The original paper makes good reading, especially since it shows how things in the Good Old Days weren't always as good as we recall. In passing, it's also interesting to see that they referred to Ken as KLT in those days.


Protection from dogs
Topic: animals Link here

The dog run is directly outside the bedroom door. But that's not as simple as it seems: when the dogs (probably Leonid) want to get back in, they put their paws up against the door:


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Thursday, 18 June 2015 Dereel
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vigra problems, Yet Again
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

I maintain the FreeBSD port of enblend, not the easiest port to maintain. Recently, after an update to the dependent port vigra, the configuration failed:

checking for Vigra import/export-library... no
configure: error: libvigraimpex is required to compile Enblend.
===>  Script "configure" failed unexpectedly.

Huh? The vigra had been installed. The real information was in the log file:

configure:5539: checking for Vigra import/export-library
configure:5553: c++ -o conftest -O2 -pipe -fstack-protector -fno-strict-aliasing  -Wno-c++11-extensions -I/usr/local/include  -fstack-protector conftest.cpp -lvigraimpex -llcms2 -ltiff -lpng -ljpeg -lz -lgsl -lgslcblas -lm -L/usr/local/lib -lboost_system >&5
/usr/local/lib/libvigraimpex.so: undefined reference to `std::__1::basic_ios<char, std::__1::char_traits<char> >::widen(char) const'
c++: error: linker command failed with exit code 1 (use -v to see invocation)

So it was just a simple test program intended to detect whether vigra was installed, and the config script was so simple that it couldn't distinguish between a missing library and missing functions.

I sent a message to the maintainer of vigra some weeks ago, but got no reply. This is not the first time vigra has caused me pain. The first time it was just part of an attempt to work around another problem, and on Linux at that. Then we had an issue which blew my mind: depending on which compiler you used, vigra would work correctly or not.

That didn't last long. A couple of months later it failed again, again with compiler dependencies. But while I was scratching my head, the problem went away. A few months later I had another issue that just Went Away. It's more like the current one, though, in that there were undefined references.

This time round I established that enblend builds with the binary package, but not with a locally built vigra. What's the difference? libvigraimpex.so is smaller now, and it contains a number of undefined references that weren't in the old one. Is one of them std::__1::basic_ios<<char, std::__1::char_traits<char> >::widen(char) const? I really should know more about C++ mangling, but it's too painful. Is it maybe one of these?

 U _ZThn16_NSt3__114basic_iostreamIcNS_11char_traitsIcEEED0Ev
 U _ZThn16_NSt3__114basic_iostreamIcNS_11char_traitsIcEEED1Ev
 U _ZTv0_n24_NSt3__113basic_istreamIcNS_11char_traitsIcEEED0Ev

There are many more. But probably what this really means is that I'm using the wrong dependent library. What a pain! Once upon a time, compilers, programming languages and libraries were easy things to use.


DxO pain
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

I've taken a macro focus stack of a eucalyptus flower. First step in merging the images is align_image_stack. But the result wasn't quite what I expected:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/14) ~/Photos/20150616 71 -> align_image_stack -m -a FOO C/Eucalyptus-flower-*
Assertion failed: (nextImgInfo.size() == firstImgInfo.size()), function main2, file /src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/hugin/work/hugin-2012.0.0/src/tools/align_image_stack.cpp, line 569.
Abort trap: 6 (core dumped)

Further investigation showed that the images really differed in size:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/14) ~/Photos/20150616 72 -> identify orig/*jpg
orig/P6161378.jpg JPEG 4608x3456 4608x3456+0+0 8-bit DirectClass 3.397MB 0.000u 0:00.000
orig/P6161379.jpg[1] JPEG 4608x3458 4608x3458+0+0 8-bit DirectClass 3.452MB 0.000u 0:00.000
(etc)

Another bug in DxO Optics “Pro”! Went to check if there's an update. No reaction. Enter a support ticket. Then checked on the web site. Yes, I have 10.3.6, and there's now a 10.4.1 available. Tried to upgrade to that. “DxO OpticsPro 10 is only supported on Windows 7 or higher”. Nonsense! This is with “Windows” 7. Another ticket.

And, of course, there's the original problem. Yet another support ticket, including fighting their file upload system, which hung while uploading the sample images. Isn't life fun?


Friday, 19 June 2015 Dereel Images for 19 June 2015
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More garden work
Topic: gardening, animals Link here

Craig Mayor over today to tidy up the garden and plant the trees that we bought on Tuesday. We were in for a surprise:


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Something had bitten off the top of the Eucalyptus erythronema. Dogs? We had put the trees inside the fenced-off garden area, where the dogs can't get. But not that far inside, the mesh is wide, and the dogs have long noses. Next time we'll be more careful.

But then Craig discovered something else:


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That's not easy to recognize, but the grey matter in the foreground is part of one of the bulb trays that Craig planted last week. In the middle are a couple of individual bulbs. And the tray itself has been dug out of the left-hand raised bed. How did that happen? We found some pawprints:


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But our dogs couldn't get in there, and anyway, the prints are far too small to be theirs. Here's a Borzoi pawprint:


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So what is it? Craig thinks, possibly correctly, that it could be a fox. Time to leave the dogs out at night? I don't think a fox would stand a chance against them.


DxO problem resolution
Topic: technology, photography Link here

Got a reply to my three tickets for DxO Optics “Pro” today. Two of them were closed! The only one left open was the “can't install update” one. Suggested resolution: remove the old version completely from my system, then download a specific file and try to install it.

And if it doesn't work? I have no photo processing software any more. Tried the download and installed without first removing the old version; fortunately it worked. But the other two problems are still there. And of course the ticket with the sample files has been closed. I hope they can still access them.


JG King: Snail's pace
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Another week has gone past the second deadline I set JG King. There's plenty to do. Here's an update to the list I wrote when the previous deadline expired two weeks ago:

   Stove
     Need Electrolux to address minimum flame issue: no progress.

   Range hood
     Barclay's won't come until coming Tuesday

   Front door frame
     A carpenter appeared with a piece of timber, but it was the wrong wood
     (Meranti instead of Tasmanian Oak).

   Front door seal
     The carpenter adjusted the latch, so it now shuts properly.

   Hook for vacuum cleaner hose
     Not installed yet.

   Patches in cabinets
     No progress.

That's really impressively little for two week's work against (and beyond) a deadline.


“Best Liver Ever”
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Yvonne recently bought some ox liver (why ox? All other cuts of beef are simply beef, but there seems to be some tradition of using the word “ox” in connection with liver), mainly because she couldn't find any calf liver. How do you cook it? Yvonne keeps getting recipes off the web, though I've had very limited success with the web as a recipe source. Ultimately she chose this one, which irritated me: it claims to be a paleolithic diet, because it excludes many of the foods that people would have eaten in palaeolithic times and unbalances the rest. This article sums it up.

Still, it didn't look that bad, and Yvonne modified to create this recipe. How was it? The big problem was the liver itself, which was sinewey and not very tender. Possibly the recipe wouldn't be bad with other liver (calf, lamb, chicken).

While we were at it, I cooked some of the liver sous-vide. The biggest difference was the colour. You can't make a silk purse out of an ox's liver.


Saturday, 20 June 2015 Dereel Images for 20 June 2015
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Understanding the DxO problem
Topic: photography, technology Link here

My response from DxO support today wasn't very helpful: he had closed the ticket, and no longer understood what the problem was. Still, weekend, so time to describe things. But first an experiment: try the conversion with the standard conversion settings.

And how about that, it worked! Back to my custom settings, and once again it didn't work. But the dimensions were also not the same as they had been before: the images with the different sizes (now clearly 2 pixels higher than the others) were different. OK, we can send in the custom settings. I wonder if they'll fix it.


Beans, Heans and old wives' tales
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

For tonight's dinner, Yvonne found some beans that Chris Bahlo had left with us:


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Heinz? I recall that name from the dim and distant past. They seem to have got rid of the “57 Varieties” motto. But then there was also the non-rhyming TV advertising decades ago “Beans means Heinz”. Never mind that they were talking about baked beans.

Times have clearly changed. Now they're claiming to be cradle-snatchers, though it doesn't show in the size of the beans. Yvonne cooked some of them, and came up with a singularly unappetizing mess:


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What went wrong there? She boiled them, not the best thing to do with frozen beans, and for too long (10 minutes). And, following something she had heard (probably on Facebook), she added vinegar (“to keep them green”). They tasted terrible.

Another attempt steaming the other half of the beans looked a lot better:


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But they still didn't taste good. I think the beans themselves were of mediocre quality. Another indication that a well-known name (and possibly high price) isn't a good indication of quality.

Interestingly, the instructions on the bag specify only cooking in a microwave oven. 2 minutes, stir, cook for another 15 minutes! That would completely kill them.


Chicken roasting, yet again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

The main dish of the evening was roast chicken, not the first time we've done it here. Last time we nearly ran out of time: after 125 minutes at 180°, the breast temperature was only 80°. This time it started browning early, and I dropped the temperature to 170° after about half an hour. It was done in 110 minutes. Why the discrepancy? Other oven settings were the same, and the chickens were both 2.2 kg.


Sunday, 21 June 2015 Dereel
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LED brightness revisited
Topic: general, technology Link here

It's been nearly a month since I compared the brightness of a number of different lighting sources. Now all we have is (mainly) LED and fluoro globes. But it's clear that LED is taking over. This weekend ALDI had LEDs on special again, so I got a few more. They're all rated at 880 Lumen/10 W.

Yesterday I had put one in an old reading lamp in replacement for the fluoro lamp that was in there. Big difference; the old one is probably one of the old IKEA lamps that I had already found so dim. Today I wanted to replace the lamps in the pantry, which also seemed dim. To my surprise, I found that they were the 1100 lumen Philips lamps that I had measured last time. I measured again and got a reading of 408 lux. Replace with the LEDs, which seemed brighter, but only delivered 326 lux. Why did they seem brighter? Clearly the fact that it takes fluoros 3 minutes to warm up is a significant factor: most of the time we don't leave them on that long.

In passing, how do the rated brightnesses compare to my measurements? If 1100 lumens generate 408 lux, 880 should generate 408 ÷ 1000 × 880, or ... 326.4 lumens. That's far too close to be accurate, more like a coincidence. Last time I compared the Philips fluoros with the 800 lumen LEDs, the fluoros only produced 62% of what the calculations would predict.

So why the discrepancy? My measurement methods, I fear. All of these lights have very directional patterns, and they're not the same. But one way or another, it seems that LED lights are significantly more efficient than fluoros (88 lumen/W versus 61 lm/W for the Philips fluoros).


Monday, 22 June 2015 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 22 June 2015
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Blood tests again
Topic: health Link here

Into town this morning primarily to hear the results of my last blood test. On Wednesday I have an appointment with Dr. Turner, a haematologist at the Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre, and the results would be of interest. Fortunately there was little of interest. After the boosters, Cobalamin (Vitamin B12) levels are again normal. Interestingly, this time they also measured Holotranscobalamin, something neither Wikipedia nor I had never heard of before, but which seems to be the active form of the vitamin. But there's a lot of stuff to look at, and I'll be interested to see what the specialist has to say.


TV cabling
Topic: multimedia Link here

While in town, to Wiltronics for TV antenna fittings. Four-way splitters cost $6, but they have F connectors, and all the equipment still has Belling-Lee fittings. Adapters are available, of course—for $2.80 each, a total of $14 on top.

But our signal is pretty bad to start with. Will it survive a passive splitter? In the end, bought an active amplifier (16 dB gain, $80) which came with 5 adapters.

Back home, finally managed to move cvr2 into the lounge room and connect things up. It's not pretty:


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Roll on the sale of the old house so that we will have the money to tidy it up.


eBay fraud, helped by toy mail
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

On Wednesday I sold my camera again. But the new buyer still hasn't paid for it. Sent him a couple of invoices, and got a familiar looking message, here nicely formatted by Gmail:


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Account restored? I've seen that before. And somehow the headers are so minimal that I didn't look at them. On a real MUA they look more interesting (trimmed here, of course):

From paypal@payservics.com  Sun Jun 21 16:05:07 2015
...
Received: from mail-wi0-f171.google.com (mail-wi0-f171.google.com [209.85.212.171])
        by www.lemis.com (Postfix) with ESMTP id 49AB91B72848
        for <groggyhimself@lemis.com>; Sun, 21 Jun 2015 06:00:34 +0000 (UTC)
Received: by wicgi11 with SMTP id gi11so48713899wic.0
        for <groggyhimself@lemis.com>; Sat, 20 Jun 2015 23:00:32 -0700 (PDT)
X-Google-DKIM-Signature: v=1; a=rsa-sha256; c=relaxed/relaxed;
        d=1e100.net; s=20130820; ...
Sender: paypal@payservics.com
Received: by 10.28.6.132 with HTTP; Sat, 20 Jun 2015 23:00:32 -0700 (PDT)
...
X-Originating-IP: [41.58.207.101]
Subject: MC010 A26 Account Restored : eBay Listing Restored - blackmeg123
From: eBay <ukrswebhelps@mail2help.com>
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Yes, I know you can display the original message with Gmail. But how many users do it?

So is this PayPal or eBay? It depends on which header you look at. But then there's another message:


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This time “eBay International AG”. I have never heard of it, but Google has. It really does exist, but the name crops up in a number of scams. Again, the headers don't say very much. “Your registered name is included to show this message originated from eBay” is a nice touch (the name isn't included). And again the headers are similar:

From paypal@payservics.com  Mon Jun 22 08:55:08 2015
...
Received: from mail-wi0-f196.google.com (mail-wi0-f196.google.com [209.85.212.196])
        by www.lemis.com (Postfix) with ESMTP id 22F751B72848
        for <groggyhimself@lemis.com>; Sun, 21 Jun 2015 06:55:22 +0000 (UTC)
Received: by wibbw19 with SMTP id bw19so304422wib.2
        for <groggyhimself@lemis.com>; Sat, 20 Jun 2015 23:55:21 -0700 (PDT)
X-Google-DKIM-Signature: v=1; a=rsa-sha256; c=relaxed/relaxed;
        d=1e100.net; s=20130820; ...
Sender: paypal@payservics.com
Received: by 10.28.6.132 with HTTP; Sat, 20 Jun 2015 23:55:21 -0700 (PDT)
X-Originating-IP: [41.58.207.101]
...
Subject: Notification Of PayPal Payment Been Approved
From: eBay <ukrswebhelps@mail2help.com>
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Content-Type: multipart/alter

Look at that originating IP! It's the same as from the previous message, 41.58.207.101. It doesn't reverse map, but whois knows about it:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/27) ~ 53 -> whois 41.58.207.101
...
inetnum:        41.58.0.0 - 41.58.255.255
netname:        SWIFTNG-20100308
descr:          SWIFT NETWORKS LIMITED
country:        NG
...
person:         Gabriel Oyeyemi
nic-hdl:        GO5-AFRINIC
address:        SWIFT Networks
address:        31 Saka Tinubu Street
address:        Victoria Island
address:        Lagos 234
address:        Nigeria
phone:          +2348077265085

The only thing that I don't understand is why the sending email address is <ukrswebhelps@mail2help.com>. That's the most obvious giveaway.

But there's still more. “Leo Saunders” contacted me:


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Again the same spoof as last time: I'm no longer at home, I have sent you more money than you asked for, please ship to Nigeria. The two shipping addresses are 1.4 km apart.

The new address is apparently the location of Microview Nigeria Ltd. I wonder if they have anything to do with it. At any rate the IP addresses are unrelated, though that may be due to offsite hosting.


Tuesday, 23 June 2015 Dereel Images for 23 June 2015
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More house infrastructure
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Craig Mayor over today and laid the left-over bricks as paving:


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We're going to put compartments in there and use it for feeding the dogs.

Also transplanted a few more plants in the garden. It's already getting quite full. And the bloody fox came back and dug up both of the ALDI bulb trays. It wasn't interested in the bulbs themselves. Craig suspected that there was some fertilizer in there, or even the trays themselves. He replanted them without the trays; hopefully that will be the end of it.


Fixing the defects at a snail's pace
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

I haven't heard from Duncan since the middle of last week. Not exactly what you'd expect when you're missing deadlines. Today Wayne from Barclays finally showed up to see what was wrong with the range hood. The results were inconclusive: he found two bends in the ducting (a maximum of one is allowed), and he thought the ducts were too long (no maximum specified). Or maybe the cap on the vent on the roof is too close:


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But what I saw was that, even just blowing straight out above the hood, the throughput was not enough. He used a sheet of kitchen paper to roughly measure the air flow; it barely stuck to the extraction surface. And he confirmed that the design is flawed: the flat layout means that most of the air is sucked through the middle, and the edges have much less flow. So this, too, will need to be replaced with something which can do the job.


Another electrical issue
Topic: multimedia, Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Finally I have an antenna cable for my FM receiver. Connected it up to the antenna system and... nothing. No reception? My guess is that Jim did the same thing as Barry Robinson did eight years ago: he discarded the jumper that enabled FM. I caught Barry at it and got him to replace it, but Jim installed the antenna while I wasn't there. One more item on a long list of errors.


Wednesday, 24 June 2015 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 24 June 2015
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Rosalie and other love songs
Topic: history, general Link here

Yvonne back from shopping today with an unexpected package: a book entitled “Rosalie and other love songs” by Saidah Rastam. Huh?

There was a typewritten letter in it, from Imran Ahmad of Kazanah Nasional, and a handwritten one from the author: thanks for the use of The Photo:


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I had been asked permission last August, but for some reason didn't mention it in this diary. It's the second book to use the photo (though the first, “Menara KLTowering Excellence”, cropped it). Not bad for a couple of snaps taken by a 15-year-old.

The book itself is quite interesting, more so than I had expected. It also volunteered information about the photo that I had forgotten myself, along with another photo of the building from which I had taken it (sixth, also top, floor of Federal House). That'll be one to read. So far I've only seen one person I know, Tony Soliano, whom I met round the time the photo was taken.


Off to the cancer clinic
Topic: health Link here

In the afternoon to the Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre in the Ballarat Base hospital for the haematologist appointment. The name sounds scary, but fortunately there was never any concern that I had cancer: it's just the place where the haematologists have most to do. I had been given an exact time, but it took ¾ hour before I was finally called to speak to Dr. Paul Turner.

Quite an interesting discussion: he's certainly on the ball. The most interesting thing that came out of it was that the elevated MCV was probably not due to the low vitamin B12 or folate levels. Liver problems? Or maybe the blood was just not fresh enough when analyzed (apparently the erythrocytes swell when left alone in the sample). So off for an immediate blood test (conveniently just down the hall), and then to radiology (inconveniently located at the other end of the hospital, about 200 m away) for an appointment for an ultrasound scan of my liver next week.

I'm not an easy person to please, but I left feeling that I was getting really good medical treatment. And all that for free.


Bluteooth pain
Topic: technology Link here

Some weeks ago I bought a new phone, specifically because of its Bluetooth connectivity. Problem: I had mislaid my Bluetooth headset. Today I found it, charged it, and tried to pair. Nothing. Tried with my Android tablet. No problem. I've heard of issues pairing with Bluetooth, but it's particularly difficult to debug when both devices are so primitive. Hopefully I'll find a different headset that works with the phone.


Thursday, 25 June 2015 Dereel
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More moving
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Craig Mayor and his son Hayden along today to move the rest of the big items from Kleins Road. We have even more plants:


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And back in Kleins Road, it's barely noticeable that we have removed anything. I wonder what it will look like here in 8 years' time.

One thing that we still need to think about is the exact placing of the Japanese Camellia in front of the house:


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Also installed Yvonne's desk. Her office now looks quite usable:


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Disk crash, again
Topic: technology Link here

One thing that I didn't expect while installing Yvonne's office furniture was a disk crash on her system lagoon. The system came up again, but with lots of disk errors (which for some reason once again manifested themselves as “Out of inodes”). I've had this before, but managed to get it to go away by connecting the disk to a different controller, and thought so little about it that I didn't even bother to mention it. Today it wouldn't go away: the disk is toast. Why didn't I buy a new disk when it happened last time?

Managed to resurrect an older incarnation of lagoon and restore her personal files, so she can work again. Asked Chris Bahlo to bring in the cheapest disk she could find from Officeworks: $69 for an external 1 TB drive (twice the size of the failed disk, which was already too big for Yvonne). Tomorrow I can start upgrading.


JG King: too little, too late
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Last week was an extension of the second deadline I had set JG King. What happened? A carpenter turned up and discovered that he had brought the wrong timber. He adjusted the catch for the front door, so now it doesn't rattle any more. And that's all.

And Duncan? No sign of him until this evening. He'll send another carpenter out tomorrow. I asked him to replace the range hood and the cooktop. And not even a mention of the other items. I am seriously annoyed.


Friday, 26 June 2015 Dereel Images for 26 June 2015
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Replacing Yvonne's disk
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

The 1 TB disk that Chris Bahlo brought back last night was the cheapest I could find, but it's not what I would typically associate with cheap disks: 2½", in an external case with USB 3 connection. Can I use that as a system disk? In principle it should work, so I built a file system on it and tried it out. Mess with BIOS to find how it wanted me to set the boot order, and off it went—at a snail's pace. The twirling baton reminded me of CD-ROM boot; even DVD boots are faster.

But it loaded the kernel, and then tried to mount the root file system. “Can't mount root: error 19”, repeatable. What's that? From /usr/include/sys/errno.h:

#define ENODEV 19 /* Operation not supported by device */

So that looked like a non-starter, though I'd be interested to know whether the problem is with the BIOS or with FreeBSD. I had another 1 TB external disk drive, this time 5¼", so I tore that apart and confirmed that it had a normal SATA interface. Unfortunately, it had data on it that I wanted, and I spent the rest of the day copying that to the new disk drive. Fortunately Yvonne isn't having any trouble with her old system, so there's no great hurry after all.


More moving from Kleins Road
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Craig continued bringing stuff over from Kleins Road today. Now, it seems, we have everything we need. I just need to go through the junk in the garage, and we can finally tidy the place out. Not before time; it's been nearly 2 months.

Here things don't look that good: we have a lot of stuff in the shed which needs moving around, with the result that Craig had to leave a whole lot of stuff outside:


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JG King: no progress
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Yesterday Duncan promised me that a carpenter would show up and repair the front door. He didn't. That's Yet Another week gone by with no progress whatsoever. Time for bigger guns.


Towel rails in the kitchen
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

One of the sillier things about this house, and new Australian houses in general, is the kitchen layout: one wall and an island opposite it. In principle, that's not bad, but it's open at each end. JG King haven't supplied towel rails, presumably because, like us, they don't know where to put them.

Yesterday Yvonne brought back a rather unlikely solution: a kitchen trolley. It includes a minuscule towel rail, and at $50 it doesn't even cost much more than a towel rail.


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It come from ALDI, so we can try it out. At least it wasn't too difficult to assemble. And it provides some optical delineation to stop the dogs from walking through the kitchen, something they're not allowed to do.


More fun with the Westinghouse cooktop
Topic: food and drink, Stones Road house, opinion Link here

How do you make gravy? Nowadays you take some powder out of a jar, mix it with water, and bring it to the boil. Then the difference starts: if it's “instant” gravy powder, you're done, and you have something that tastes like glue. Or it's “classic”, in which case you have to simmer it for a while.

But how? This stupid Westinghouse GHP95s (which Westinghouse no longer wants to know about, since it's discontinued) can't be turned down far enough. Here we are with the minimum flame on the medium burner:

The regulator doesn't provide for a flame less than this:


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Clearly that's far too hot. I can fake it if I carefully turn the flame into the “no-man's-land” area between the “Full” and the “Off” positions:


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But that's still not low enough, and arguably it's dangerous. I can't imagine that my insurers would be happy with it. Why do people build these things?


Saturday, 27 June 2015 Dereel Images for 27 June 2015
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Battery pain
Topic: photography Link here

While taking today's house photos, the battery in my camera ran out, after only 293 “photos”. Why so few? Some were video clips, and it's difficult to correlate the number of shots with battery consumption. But that's no problem: I have three others. Then the next one (number 3) ran out almost immediately, after only 18 images. Did I forget to charge it last time? My charge records are somewhat vague at that point. OK, two more batteries. Took the rest of the photos with number 4, then read them in, and forgot to turn off the camera after they had been read in. An hour or so later, it too was empty.

On the face of it, that can all be explained. But is it possible that these three batteries (all cheap aftermarket batteries) have reached their use-by date already?


Slaving over a hot oven
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Spent most of the day in the kitchen: bread rolls, bread, and three different Indian dishes: Margaret Swann is visiting this weekend. What a pain this stove is!


Bluetooth headsets: solved?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yvonne back from town today with a surprisingly expensive Bluetooth headset from ALDI. I already have one headset, but I couldn't get it to pair with my new telephone. Tried it with the new one: power on, search. Nothing. RTFM time. Ah, obvious: ensure that the headset is powered off. Hold down the power button for 3 whole seconds. The unit powers on and says so in this grating American female voice that seems so popular with this kind of device. And the well-hidden LED flashes blue, once, and then red at about 1 second intervals.

But wait, we're not done. Don't let go of that power button. Continue holding for another 3 whole seconds. The grating voice says “pairing”, and the LED now flashes quickly alternately red and blue. Now it's ready to pair. And sure enough, no problem:


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And what about the old headset? It does exactly the same thing! Even the excessive delays and the flashing colour codes are the same. It seems that I had forgotten this detail after successfully pairing with my Android tablet, and that I no longer need to do it once they know each other.

And yes, then I could use it, though connection is rather strange. There's a button on the base station with a Bluetooth emblem, also market “headset”, but when I press it, I first get a selection menu:


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Wouldn't you think you could bypass that menu if there's only one headset connected? But it's even sillier: you can only connect one at a time. When I tried to connect the other headset, I got:


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The deactivation happens automatically; I can't find a way to stop it.

Once connected, for some reason it was too loud on both headsets, and in each case neither the controls on the headset nor the controls on the phone base station helped. To be investigated.


Sunday, 28 June 2015 Dereel Images for 28 June 2015
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Another dying disk
Topic: technology Link here

Into the office this morning to find some admin mails with less pleasant content:

(ada2:ahcich2:0:0:0): READ_FPDMA_QUEUED. ACB: 60 00 e2 9e d8 40 e6 00 00 01 00 00
(ada2:ahcich2:0:0:0): CAM status: ATA Status Error
(ada2:ahcich2:0:0:0): ATA status: 41 (DRDY ERR), error: 40 (UNC )
(ada2:ahcich2:0:0:0): RES: 41 40 f0 9e d8 00 e6 00 00 00 01
(ada2:ahcich2:0:0:0): Error 5, Retries exhausted
g_vfs_done():ada2p1[READ(offset=1982953521152, length=131072)]error = 5

What's that? It's the disk with eureka's /home file system, about the worst thing that could go wrong. The only bright side is that it seems to be confined to a few sectors with information that isn't that important: it can easily be downloaded again. But it means that once again I need a new disk. I should keep one spare for such issues.


JG King: enough!
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

I've been trying since 5 May to get JG King to rectify various problems with the house. At the time Duncan had said that they'd try to finish everything within a week. Now, nearly 8 weeks later, even minor issues are still open. Last week nothing was done.

That's enough (somehow I hear an echo: that's what I said on 8 June and 11 June). Since 28 May, a whole month, almost nothing has happened: the front door was adjusted, we got the handles for the pantry door, and the garage door no longer jams. But even small things like the amateurish patches over the screw holes in the kitchen cabinets haven't been looked at:


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And that was despite me setting a deadline of 5 June. On 8 June I threatened legal action, which got a quick response, but ultimately not much action. Clearly I'm going to have to follow legal avenues. And in the process, there are a number of other things that should be fixed as well. Wrote a letter demanding the following deadlines to avoid legal action:

So far, that's what I've been complaining about. But there's more, stuff that I was potentially prepared to live with. But why? These, too, are defects.

It'll be interesting to see what they come up with.


More Bluetooth fun
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Try as I might, I can't adjust the volume of either of my Bluetooth headsets when connected to my Telstra 12850 phone. There are volume controls both on the phone and on the headsets, but they seem to be disabled when connected. And apart from that, the cheaper headset (BH-20) powers down when charging. Isn't modern technology wonderful?


Monday, 29 June 2015 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 29 June 2015
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Posting letters
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Into Ballarat this morning to post my letter to JG King, and also a 4.4BSD manual set for Markus Schnalke. The latter is quite an issue, since I don't really know how to pack them. But when I got to Sebastopol, I found a bigger problem: I had left the things behind! 55 km and the best part of an hour's drive for nothing!

Back home, picked up the letter, and took it to Napoleons post office (10 km closer). The books will have to wait.


Still more flash issues
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Why do I have so many problems with flash? Today I wanted to take a simple image of the patches in the kitchen cabinets. OK, from experience the mecablitz 58-AF-2 needs 1 EV overexposure, and that's what I have set in my camera. But this image appeared far too overexposed on the camera monitor, though in fact it was probably about right:


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Was it maybe because the camera was set aperture priority (f/8)? That shouldn't have been an issue, but I tried it with the P (“set everything for me”) setting. And it chose f/2.8!


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That makes no sense at all. Spent some time investigating what I thought was overexposure, and none of my attempts to limit the light worked. Here's an attempt with flash exposure compensation set to -3 EV, and otherwise the same as the first image:


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Why don't the settings make any difference? And why did the P setting overexpose so completely? I seem to always have problems with flash.


Tuesday, 30 June 2015 Dereel Images for 30 June 2015
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Mulch for the garden
Topic: gardening Link here

We need mulch for the garden, lots of it. And as luck would have it, there are people trimming trees along the Ballarat-Colac road. Craig Mayor talked to them last week, and we agreed on a price for a truckload of mixed wood and leaf mulch: two slabs of Carlton Draught. And so it was:


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But wait! There's more! They haven't finished their cutting, and they don't have anywhere to put the remaining mulch, so they've promised to bring another load of mulch tomorrow, free of charge. That'll keep Craig busy.


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