Greg
animals brewing
food and drink gardening
general health
history multimedia
opinion photography
politics Stones Road house
technology
Greg's diary
June 2016
Translate this page
Select day in June 2016:
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30
Select month:
2016 Jan Feb Mar Apr
2016 May Jun Jul Aug
2016 Sep Oct Nov Dec
Today's diary entry
Diary index
About this diary
Previous month
Next month
Greg's home page
Greg's photos
Network link stats
Greg's other links
Copyright information
    
Groogle

Wednesday, 1 June 2016 Dereel Images for 1 June 2016
Top of page
next day
last day

Fixing the electrics
Topic: Stones Road house, general, multimedia Link here

Stephen White along today with his apprentice Mitch, primarily to fix the issues with the RCD and UPS. While they were at it, they also installed a couple of outside power points and took a look at the antenna. To my surprise, there's quite a complicated masthead amplifier up there:


This should be Antenna-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Antenna 1          Dimensions:          4630 x 3456, 3136 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 1 June 2016, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 1 June 2016, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 1 June 2016 Complete exposure details

   
This should be Antenna-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Antenna 3
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 110 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 1664 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 1 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Stephen is not an antenna expert, and he doesn't have any signal strength equipment, but with the help of my Zuiko Digital ED 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 I was able to get enough of the amplifier to identify it. It's a DIGIMATCH 10MM-UA30P:

 
This should be Masthead-amplifier.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Masthead amplifier
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 644 x 419, 100 kB
Dimensions of original: 609 x 396, 78 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 1 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

That's quite an impressive device. I've complained about Jim Lannen in the past, and there's another complaint coming below, but he certainly didn't cut corners with that amplifier. A pity the reception is still so bad.

Unfortunately the web site doesn't want to know about it, presumably because it's last year's model. But they have a very similar model, the 10MM-UA30PDF:

 
This should be 10mm-ua30pdf.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: 10mm ua30pdf
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 520 x 520, 624 kB
Dimensions of original: 1403 x 1403, 800 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 1 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Even from the original, it's clear that it has adjustable gain. It also has a dedicated FM output on the left, not connected. No wonder we have no radio reception. I suppose I'll have to get a dedicated antenna specialist in to fix things up.

Apart from that, they came up with a good solution for the UPS. Despite my concerns, Jim had laid a conduit between the shed and the garage that could only hold two cables, and there was no space for a third. How do we separate the UPS and the other consumers in the garage? I had thought of relocating the UPS into the garage, but Mitch, the apprentice, came up with the idea of an RCD mounted inside a power point, so that could work for the rest of the shed, while the UPS remains in place without an RCD in front of it. Total time 10 minutes. He seems a brighter spark(y) than most.


This should be Switchboard.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Switchboard          Dimensions:          832 x 324, 126 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 1 June 2016, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 1 June 2016, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 1 June 2016 Complete exposure details

 

Stephen also investigated the non-functional power point in the north-west corner of the main room. He found the reason:

 
This should be Unconnected-cable.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Unconnected cable
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 96 kB
Dimensions of original: 4613 x 3456, 1760 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 1 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

So Jim finished the power point installation with the connecting cable not connected. How could he have missed that? I find it completely amazing. You could almost think that he did it deliberately.

And finally, another small mercy: two switches in the toilet, one for the lights, one for the (very noisy; thanks, Jim) fan. What a relief!


Focal length 9000 mm
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

My photos of the antenna were taken with a couple of telephoto lenses. The second was taken with the Zuiko Digital ED 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6, severely reshaped and cropped:

 
This should be Antenna-6.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Antenna 6
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 96 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3457, 1568 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 1 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Masthead-amplifier.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Masthead amplifier
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 644 x 419, 100 kB
Dimensions of original: 609 x 396, 78 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 1 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Masthead-amplifier-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Masthead amplifier detail
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 52 kB
Dimensions of original: 300 x 225, 48 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 1 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

The “equivalent focal length” (the focal length that would be needed to fill the frame with that image) of the last image (natural size on the web page) is 4608 mm. This is an Olympus OM-D E-M1, so the corresponding focal length for a full-frame camera would be 9216 mm. It's amazing that I can read anything at all.


New scratching post
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

We've had our old cat scratching post well over 5 years, and it shows:

 
This should be Scratching-post.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Scratching post
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 450 x 601, 130 kB
Dimensions of original: 3456 x 4615, 2208 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 2 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Yvonne found new ones at ALDI today, and I put one together. Within seconds Rani was playing with it:

 
This should be Rani-scratching-post-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rani scratching post 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 450 x 601, 134 kB
Dimensions of original: 3456 x 4613, 2688 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 1 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Rani-scratching-post-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rani scratching post 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 152 kB
Dimensions of original: 4613 x 3456, 2880 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 1 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Rani-scratching-post-5.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rani scratching post 5
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 150 kB
Dimensions of original: 4613 x 3456, 2624 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 1 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

We're not expecting the “mouse” to survive very long.


Buying software: Fritz fliegt wieder
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Finally decided to buy the photo stacking software that I discussed a couple of days ago. The good news: since I'm not in Europe, I don't pay German Value-added tax (currently 19%) so instead of 69 € I only had to pay 57,98 €. And while paying I saw this:

 
This should be Fritz-fliegt-wieder.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: Fritz fliegt wieder
Dimensions: 721 x 374, 170 kB
Dimensions of original: 287 x 149, 22 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 1 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

That should be translated as “After confirming your order, you will be transferred to a protected web site, where you can enter your credit card details”. But there's a typo in the text: “protected” is „geschützt“, and not „geschätzt“, which means “valued”. Mildly amusing in itself, but there's a story behind that: decades ago Fritz „Fliege“ Jörn, Tandem's publicity man, wrote his texts so that they could be printed on Qume Sprint\5 daisy wheel printers, which used non-standard wheels where ä and ü were transposed compared to the then-standard. And the funniest misunderstanding was exactly geschätzt/geschützt.


DDR3 compatibility, day 3
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Mail from Adam Kranzel today about DDR3 RAM compatibility. He pointed at this page, which describes “high density” and “low density” RAM configurations. I had found many more. This one explains the difference:

All low density 1GB modules are made with 16 chips (8 chips on each side) using 64Mx8 device. All high density 1GB modules are made with 16 chips (8 chips on each side) using 128Mx4 device.

1 GB? Who uses 1 GB DIMMs any more? And there's the clue. Adam's reference was written 7 years ago, and here I read:

It may have something to do with memory density, but that's an old, old, old issue from a few years ago and hasn't actually been an issue in a few generations.

That was written two years ago. It seems that the oldest Intel chipsets that supported DDR3, such as the P35 Express, had difficulty with high-density RAM configurations. The support page for the Thinkcentre M71E 3132A8M confirms that it has an H61 Express chipset, which this page tells me was introduced in 2011.

So: so far it seems that there have been issues with Intel compatibility in the past, but they're no longer relevant. Am I right?


Thursday, 2 June 2016 Dereel Images for 2 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

DDR3 compatibility, day 4
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Three days on and I still haven't made up my mind about new memory for dischord. Got an email from Tim Bishop, who pointed me at this site selling DRAM specifically for my machine. I suppose that's some kind of guarantee, but the site has a big problem: no 8 GB modules.

More reading brought me to this page, really relating to MSI products. But this got me thinking:

High density RAM is usually very slow anyway and are typically lower Binned chips too hence they are slow and tend to have a very bad compatibility rate! (stick to X8 types 8 chips per side 16 total low density units)

That makes sense. The “density” (chip configuration) in itself doesn't make the chips any more or less expensive. There must be some other reason why the “high density” chips are cheaper, and speed or reliability are obvious candidates. And none of these offerings specify the timing parameters. So independently of whether the cheap chips are compatible, it seems reasonable to spend a few dollars more and buy reputable chips.

What choice do I have? Checking various sources, I have:

Source       Type       Location       Price       Postage       Total for 2
eBay       No Name PC3-10600 HD       Hong Kong       31.82             63.62
Megabuy       GeIL       Queensland       39.90       15.95       95.75
MSY             Australia       40.00       ?
eBay       No Name PC3L-12800 LD       Hong Kong       40.33             80.66
eBay       Kingston DDR3 1600MHz       Victoria       46.95 + 43.95             90.90

On the face of it, Megabuy offers the best price, and that would be true if I could go into the shop and buy it. The same applies to MSY, whom I passed in Geelong only 2 days ago, but I've stopped buying from them anyway. But Megabuy price themselves out of the market with their ridiculous freight charges. For a couple of DIMMs it should be under $2. And the last one, from eBay seller fr2242, is a well-known name and comes with $3 off the second chip, so it's only $10 more expensive than the cheapest offering. It also does no harm that the seller has 100% positive feedback, so I bought from them, which should also have the advantage that it'll be here early next week.

There are other Australian suppliers like Megabuy. GameDude had marginally lower prices. But to find out the shipping, I had to enter my complete billing information and navigate a CAPTCHA. Sorry, people, if you want my business you shouldn't go out of your way to make it difficult for me.


Friday, 3 June 2016 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 3 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Delta again
Topic: general, animals, opinion Link here

Off with Yvonne and the dogs to Ballarat today, I with Nikolai to the Eureka Village Hostel. Round again with Linda, and gradually both Niko and I are getting used to the routine. So are some of the residents. One in “House 1” (for dementia patients) followed us as far as she was allowed before being escorted back; another (Bill) accompanied us the rest of the visit.

Two weeks ago there were fewer people there than four weeks ago; today there were even fewer. This time Yvonne had fewer too, and we were both finished after 45 minutes. Took the dogs back to Bill and a couple of smokers who were sitting outside; it's nice to see just how much it makes their day.


DxO up to date?
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Lately I've been subscribing to the RSS feed of 43rumors, mainly to keep up to date with new photographic equipment. But today I got another article claiming that DxO had released a new version of DxO Optics “Pro”. If that were the case, I should have heard about it from DxO. Still, there's an easy enough way to check—just ask the running program:

 
This should be down-to-date.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: down to date
Dimensions: 716 x 377, 78 kB
Dimensions of original: 294 x 155, 6 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Friday, 3 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

That's clear and straightforward enough. And wrong. Going to my customer account, sure enough, there's a new version, and I can get it for a reasonable price. And it seems that far from being a rumour, 43rumors are behind the times. I had already received mail from dpreview, but deleted it because it's HTML only. It contains another report with a link to DxO's own announcement. So why didn't DxO tell me? And why does the old version claim to be up to date?

Should I buy it now? They haven't told me, but it seems there's a $20 discount on it, probably to the end of the month. But I'll wait a week or two to see if they come up with further discounts. In the meantime I can use it without restrictions for a month.

Downloading failed again! Clearly this is at least the fault of the web browser—I should try ftp next time—but it happens continually with DxO. Again I downloaded it to www.lemis.com and copied it from there. I wonder why it keeps failing.

Upgrades can be fun. Where did all my settings go? In fact it kept most of them, but I still had to copy some configuration information, and there's a good chance I have missed something. They claim that their noise reduction system (“PRIME”) is now “a new version of PRIME that is better and faster than ever.” I suppose everything is relative, but on dischord the current version takes about a minute per image. Possibly to emphasize the speedup, they've changed their startup slogan from “Pushing the limits of your patience camera” to “Reveal the RAW emotion”. Ugh.


Rendang, not for the faint-hearted
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Edwin Groothuis wants to cook a rendang, something that has never been completely successful for me. Off to check alternative recipes and found this one in “500 resep lazaaat makanan Indonesia”:

 
This should be rendang.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: rendang
Dimensions: 457 x 590, 108 kB
Dimensions of original: 1527 x 1971, 880 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Friday, 3 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

It's not much of a recipe, but it has one of the most amazing balances I have seen. 1 kg beef. 300 g (hot red) chilis! Clearly a dish for Real Men.


Saturday, 4 June 2016 Dereel Images for 4 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

How old are you?
Topic: food and drink, technology, general, opinion Link here

Preparing for dinner tonight, Yvonne sent me a link to a recipe on Buzzfeed. I hardly bother with recipes on the web; so few of them seem worthwhile. This one wasn't too bad, but not what I was looking for. But in the noise around the recipe I saw a link “Can We Guess Your Exact Age With These Food Questions?. That's so stupid that I had to try it. Basically it was a test of my (almost non-existent) fast food preferences. Which pizza? Which burrito? Which doughnut (no option to say “I don't like doughnuts”, and no plain doughnut)? Only one sane choice: “how do you like your steak cooked?”.

And the result? My exact age is 31. But the funny thing is that the user comments show that, though it was no more accurate for anybody else, most responders took the blame on themselves rather than on the test. The astrology syndrome again, I suppose.


Rearranging furniture
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

We've been in the house for over a year now, and gradually it's becoming clear that we have the lounge and dining room the wrong way round:


This should be lounge-room.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: lounge room          Dimensions:          949 x 285, 128 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 4 June 2016, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 4 June 2016, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 4 June 2016 Complete exposure details

   
This should be TV-room.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: TV room
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 735 x 368, 108 kB
Dimensions of original: 9314 x 4657, 7872 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 4 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

The lounge room is the second, and though it looks spacious in that image, it's quite cramped. On the other hand, the dining room (which, confusingly, I've called lounge room; maybe an omen) has plenty of space. So: time to change. It shouldn't be too difficult, but we're going to need some wiring changes for power, antenna and network.


Nadirs revisited
Topic: photography, Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Before rearranging the furniture, of course, I need to take some “before” photos. Preferably a 360° panorama, something that has always been an issue because of issues with the nadir. Lately I've had seen another idea on the web, though I forget the link: hang a plumb bob from the tripod and rearrange the camera so that it's pointing down from the same location, and use a separate tripod to mount the camera pointing down:

 
This should be Nadir-photography-7.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Nadir photography 7
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 450 x 600, 256 kB
Dimensions of original: 3456 x 4610, 3840 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 4 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Nadir-photography-6-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Nadir photography 6 detail
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 253 x 1066, 162 kB
Dimensions of original: 978 x 4121, 960 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 4 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Nadir-photography-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Nadir photography 3
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 86 kB
Dimensions of original: 4610 x 3456, 1648 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 4 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

The important thing here is that the height of the mounting plate on the second tripod (on the right) should be the same as the height of the entrance pupil (the optical axis when the lens is positioned horizontally). After taking the “normal” images, mark the position of the bob. Then place the lens assembly on the other tripod, hang the bob from it, and position:

 
This should be Nadir-photography-10.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Nadir photography 10
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 84 kB
Dimensions of original: 4609 x 3456, 1728 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 4 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Nadir-photography-12.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Nadir photography 12
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 450 x 601, 240 kB
Dimensions of original: 3456 x 4616, 3904 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 4 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

There are two obvious issues here: the bob doesn't hang from the optical centre in either case. It's offset from the vertical axis of the tripod by 30 mm, and from the lens axis on the second tripod by 60 mm in one direction and 10 mm in the other. So I need to position the bob accordingly the second time round. The end of the remote control or tape is the point where the bob hung from the first tripod, and I've oriented things so that the tape goes under the real optical axis (at 3 cm length):

 
This should be Nadir-photography-13.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Nadir photography 13
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 256 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 4576 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 4 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

I need two images pointing down to be able to remove the tripod legs. Both cover the area directly below the camera, so I can leave the tape measure there for next time:

 
This should be lounge-room-8.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: lounge room 8
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 224 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 3984 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 4 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be lounge-room-9.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: lounge room 9
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 224 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 4304 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 4 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

With that, I had enough images to stitch my panoramas. Unfortunately, it didn't work as well as I had hoped. Somehow I misjudged the relative positions of the tripod legs, and they overlapped in places. But even apart from that, the control point errors were much larger than I had expected. Have I made a misassumption somewhere? Until I can get something to replace SaladoPlayer (now apparently defunct), I can't display the panoramas anyway.


Roast pork
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

We don't eat much pork, but recently Margaret Swan gave Chris Bahlo a roasting joint of pork, all 2.7 kg of it. I can't recall ever having cooked a normal joint of roast pork before, and off to look for instructions, which varied widely. The big issue is cooking temperature, of course. For once Stephanie Alexander's The cook's companion looked the most plausible: cook for 30 minutes per 500 g (why not 60 minutes per kilogram?) until the inside temperature reaches 65-71°. That seemed a wide range, and on the low side. My own cooking times page stated 78°. By contrast, “Joy of Cooking” suggests much higher temperatures, 170° or 185°. That's these horrible Fahrenheit units, of course, and the conversion requirements make it really difficult to compare. But here goes, after modernization:

Source       Cut       Start       Switch       Bake       End       Time/kg
            temperature       after       temperature       temperature
Joy of Cooking       Loin       230°       0 min       160°       77°       55 - 77
Joy of Cooking       Shoulder       230°       0 min       160°       85°       55 - 77
Cook's Companion       Loin       220°       20 min       160°       65°       60
Cook's Companion       Shoulder       220°       20 min       180°       71°       60
my page                               78°

That's a lot easier to read than the originals. In particular, Stephanie Alexander writes for shoulder and adds the difference for loin as an afterthought. And I didn't know what my cut was, though in retrospect it was almost certainly loin. So I went with Stephanie Alexander for the times, my page for the temperature. Things didn't quite work the way I expected. After about 10 minutes the skin had already browned considerably, and there it was smoking. I carried on as advised, but after about an hour it was clear that the skin was browning too much, so I turned the temperature down to 170°.

According to the cooking times specified, the joint should have required 2 hours, 42 minutes. In fact it was done after 2 hours. I left it in the oven to rest, where the temperature continued to rise—as you'd expect—and finally reached 83°.

And the taste? Excellent! I even got Chris to carve, which she did better than I could probably have done:

 
This should be Dinner-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Dinner 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 450 x 600, 146 kB
Dimensions of original: 3456 x 4610, 3120 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 4 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Dinner-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Dinner 3
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 174 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3457, 3216 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 4 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Dinner-9.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Dinner 9
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 158 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 2992 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 4 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

But I think it had probably had more cooking that was good for it. Was that because of the continued temperature rise? That was primarily due to the cut of meat and its size, not to the fact that it was in the (cooling) oven. Should I aim to cook big joints to lower temperatures? I wonder when I'll have the occasion to try again.


Sunday, 5 June 2016 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Miserable weather
Topic: general Link here

Today was one of those horrible dark, dreary, moist days that I so hated in Europe, and that happen so seldom in Australia. But it seems I was the lucky one: no power failures or RCD issues for me. But the weather in New South Wales was different, and Andy Snow had both (an extended) power failure and fallen trees, and Callum Gibson had an RCD that kept tripping.


Hugin 2016.2.0 beta
Topic: technology, photography Link here

Hugin 2016.2.0 beta has been released. Today tried upgrading the FreeBSD port. Not as simple as it seems:

.../hugin-2016.2.0/src/hugin1/ptbatcher/FindPanoDialog.cpp:444:25: error: cannot initialize a variable of type 'int' with an rvalue of type 'void'
                    int newItem = m_list_pano->Insert(m_panos[selectedPano + 1]->GetItemString(m_start_dir), selectedPano + 1);

How I hate messages like that! It's clearly telling me that m_list_pano->Insert() returns void. But what type is it? m_list_pano isn't even defined in that file! Where is it? Where's my TAGS file? Ah, need to build it. Time for a function:

maketags ()
{
  rm -f TAGS
  find . -name '*.h' -o -name '*.hpp' -o -name '*.c' -o -name '*.cpp' -print0 | xargs -0 etags -a
}

And it didn't find m_list_pano. But grep did:

FindPanoDialog.h:    wxCheckListBox* m_list_pano;

Yes, of course, it's obvious that you define program variables in header files. wxCheckListBox looks like some weird library thing, and Google confirmed that it is part of wxWidgets. Lots of nice documentation including a diagram showing inheritance back from the great-great-great-grandparents, with the arrows pointing backwards for my taste. But where's the Insert() member? I went through all of them and couldn't find them.

Never mind, it'll be in the preprocessor output. But this is made with cmake. How do I find the compiler invocation? I still don't know. Went back and checked the documentation, which says “The wxWidgets GUI toolkit version >=2.7.0. 2.9/3.0 is supported.” OK, I have 2.8.2. But clearly there's a 3.0 out there as well, and that's probably what they used for the build, so off to see how to do that. The ports Makefile contained:

USE_WX= 2.8+

What are the valid values? The Porter's Handbook tells me: 2.4, 2.6 or 2.8. No odd numbers, no 3.0. It also says that the + at the end means “ascending range”, which I interpret to mean “2.8 or higher”. OK, let's break the rules:

USE_WX= 3.0+

And how about that, it worked! So I have at least two bugs:

  1. Despite the claims, Hugin 2016.2.0 doesn't (always) build with wxWidgets 2.8.
  2. The Porter's Handbook is out of date.

How I love porting.


Monday, 6 June 2016 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 6 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

A hole in the head
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Off to Ballarat this morning to have a tooth pulled—the first ever. Not a pleasant thought, especially when Mario told me—only now!—of the possible side effects. It was tooth 7 on the right side of the upper jaw, and it seems that the roots were particularly long, leaving little space between the end and the maxillary sinus. With a bit of bad luck, the bone in between could get damaged, and a hole develop between sinus and mouth. As a result, I had a number of things to avoid in the next three weeks: don't sneeze, don't sniff, don't spit, don't suck, don't...

The pulling was much as I expected; local anaesthesia, of course, and then the nurse held my head down firmly. Pull. Crack. Root forceps. And it was out. I wanted to take it with me to get some photos, but it's “biological waste”, and I wasn't allowed to. One root attached, the other (crack) broken off. And a 3 mm abscess attached at the end, which is a good sign.

Fortunately I didn't have a hole in the head, but it's still thin, and I need to be careful. Back home, wasn't in any pain, but I didn't feel too active either, and spent the rest of the day watching TV.


How to make a happy pussy
Topic: animals Link here

Bringing up kittens is always a bit unnerving. Rani is continually finding inappropriate things to play with. But today she found something harmless that kept her busy for a long time:

 
This should be Rani-Nikolai-Sasha-29.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rani Nikolai Sasha 29
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 601 x 450, 240 kB
Dimensions of original: 4617 x 3456, 4352 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 6 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Rani-Nikolai-Sasha-20.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rani Nikolai Sasha 20
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 224 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3458, 2848 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 6 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Rani-Nikolai-Sasha-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rani Nikolai Sasha 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 448 x 603, 148 kB
Dimensions of original: 3456 x 4649, 2384 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 6 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Rani-Nikolai-Sasha-12.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rani Nikolai Sasha 12
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 449 x 601, 164 kB
Dimensions of original: 3456 x 4628, 3168 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 6 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry


Tuesday, 7 June 2016 Dereel Images for 7 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

DxO Viewer “Pro” 11
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

DxO finally got round to informing me of the new release of DxO Optics “Pro” on Saturday, but it got classified as spam. Why? Who knows? Gmail does, maybe, but they're not telling. And yes, the current price is a special valid until the end of the month.

Should I upgrade? Probably, but not because of the claimed improvements. The claim is that their noise reduction system (“PRIME”) is now “a new version of PRIME that is better and faster than ever.” In version 10, on dischord (an Intel Core i5-2400, CPUMark 5827) it takes about one minute to process a single image. So far my only attempt took about 60 seconds, not counting the 10 seconds it took for it to even start to count.

What else do they have? Red-eye reduction seems good, though since I've all but given up on using on-camera flash, I don't suffer from the problem. Full screen mode? Maybe, but I haven't tried it yet.

Yvonne tried it later. Not so good. A repeatable cycle trying to start it: first, the twirling circle started for a second, then stopped again. Nothing started. Second, it got as far as the splash screen, then stopped. Only on the third time did it start normally. If this sequence had happened only once, it might be typical Microsoft gremlins, but twice?

And then after processing her photos:

 
This should be DxO-error-message-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: DxO error message 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 701 x 385, 84 kB
Dimensions of original: 4164 x 2286, 928 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Tuesday, 7 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry


This should be DxO-error-message-1-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: DxO error message 1 detail          Dimensions:          1303 x 207, 62 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 7 June 2016, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 7 June 2016, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 7 June 2016 Complete exposure details

 

What does that mean? It seems that all images were processed correctly, but DxO was dead in the water, thus giving me the opportunity to start it again. All in all, not a good advertisement for DxO.


Wednesday, 8 June 2016 Dereel Images for 8 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

New RAM for old
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yvonne back from shopping today with 80 GB of memory: 16 GB of DIMMs for dischord and a 64 GB microSDHC card, which must bring the weight of data down to a new low. It weighs 160 mg, so 1 byte would weigh 2.5 pg. And clearly Andy Tanenbaum's old adage is out of date. Assuming a load of 480 kg (3 million cards or 192 PB), Yvonne could reach a bandwidth of 4 Pb/s driving her station wagon to Chris Bahlo's round the corner, conveniently exactly 384 seconds away. I'm impressed.

The DIMMs look genuine:


This should be DIMMs-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: DIMMs 1          Dimensions:          875 x 308, 170 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 8 June 2016, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 8 June 2016, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 8 June 2016 Complete exposure details

 


This should be DIMMs-1-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: DIMMs 1 detail          Dimensions:          1028 x 262, 70 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 8 June 2016, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 8 June 2016, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 8 June 2016 Complete exposure details

 

I even managed to find a data sheet for the parts, containing the information:

This document describes ValueRAM's 1G x 64-bit (8GB) DDR3- 1600 CL11 SDRAM (Synchronous DRAM) 2Rx8, memory module, based on sixteen 512M x 8-bit FBGA components. The SPD is programmed to JEDEC standard latency DDR3-1600 timing of 11-11-11 at 1.5V.

That's a lot more information than I'd get on the no-name DIMMs. But when I put them in dischord, it fired up, but there was no display, and after a few seconds I heard a beep-beep. Then nothing. What was wrong?

Put the old DIMMs back in the box, fired up. Same thing! Surely even defective RAMs can't kill the machine!

Tried firing up without any memory at all. That produced a very different result, continuous beeping right from the start. Clearly my problem was something different. Finally it occurred to me that the machine was on a KVM that had caused problems in the past. Connected it directly to the monitor, and sure enough, it went through the startup sequence and stopped with the message:

Error 0164: Memory size decreased

Press F1 for setup or F2 to continue

That was with the 4 GB memory, so the message made sense. Replaced the 16 GB memory, powered up and... the same message! Still, all I needed was to continue.

dischord has both VGA and DVI connections. Maybe it's time to bypass the KVM (which also confuses the hell out of Microsoft when trying to guess the dimensions of the monitor (the KVM doesn't pass the EDID information through).


Focus stacking try two
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Now that I have more memory in dischord, I can get back and look at the focus stacking work I started last month. On that occasion I had to stop because of memory concerns. Now I have the memory, and looking at the Task Manager shows that I did the right thing by buying 16 GB instead of 8 GB: it immediately used up 10 GB of memory, making it one of the most memory-hungry programs I have ever seen.

And the results? Here are two images. On the left the original, on the right the results from Focus Projects Professional. Run the cursor over either image to compare with the partner, and click to see a larger version:

 
This should be Hibiscus-1-stacked.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hibiscus 1 stacked
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 48 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 832 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 9 March 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Hibiscus-1-Franzis.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hibiscus 1 Franzis
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 603 x 448, 90 kB
Dimensions of original: 4433 x 3295, 4592 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 9 March 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

 
This should be Hibiscus-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hibiscus 3
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 601 x 450, 68 kB
Dimensions of original: 4617 x 3456, 1584 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 9 March 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Hibiscus-3-Franzis.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hibiscus 3 Franzis
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 601 x 450, 108 kB
Dimensions of original: 4327 x 3237, 2256 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 9 March 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Clearly we're not there yet. Both results from Focus Projects are better, but for some reason the first image has a different colour, and the second—no fault of Focus Projects—doesn't have a wide enough focus range. Time for some more images.


Cats getting closer
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

It's been nearly 2 months since we got Rani, and we had expected Piccola to have made friends with her long ago. But it wasn't that easy. Still, we're making progress, even if Piccola still looks less than happy:

 
This should be Rani-Piccola-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rani Piccola 3
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 449, 224 kB
Dimensions of original: 4615 x 3456, 3840 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 8 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Rani-Piccola-5.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rani Piccola 5
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 184 kB
Dimensions of original: 4613 x 3456, 3392 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 8 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Nikolai-Rani-Piccola-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Nikolai Rani Piccola 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 449, 156 kB
Dimensions of original: 4615 x 3456, 2880 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 8 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry


Live panoramas, retried
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Until I upgraded eureka, I used SaladoPlayer to produce animated panoramas like these, but after the upgrade it no longer worked. And it seems that the site has gone away (want the domain name? Bring money).

What's the alternative? Asked on the Hugin mailing list and got a couple of suggestions: Panellum, Pano2VR (only 99 €) and Marzipano. Took a brief look at Panellum, watched my eyes go funny. Looked at Marzipano. Eyes went funny again. But then I saw a reference to the Marzipano Tool, which does all the hard work for you. And sure enough, it produced a usable browseable panorama quite quickly. And it has nice things like labels (once I understand what the difference is between “Title” and “Text”). But like all the other HTML5 browsers I've seen, it's slow. It maxes out the X server. Hopefully people will get that sorted out, but I fear that instead they will trust in ever faster processors.


More Rani fun
Topic: animals Link here

Rani is in the age where she's all over the place, including the tables and kitchen work surfaces. She knows she's not allowed there, but what does she care? Today we caught her in the car, and later in a box on top of the kitchen work surface, which I closed.

 
This should be Rani-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rani 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 601 x 449, 116 kB
Dimensions of original: 4621 x 3456, 2528 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 8 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Rani-9.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rani 9
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 449, 148 kB
Dimensions of original: 4615 x 3456, 3120 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 8 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Rani-12.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rani 12
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 449, 160 kB
Dimensions of original: 4615 x 3456, 3712 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 8 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Rani-11.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rani 11
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 449, 162 kB
Dimensions of original: 4615 x 3456, 3536 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 8 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Somehow she got out of the box anyway, without opening it.


Thursday, 9 June 2016 Dereel Images for 9 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

More focus stacking
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday's focus stacking experiments showed progress, but also that my stack wasn't complete: no image had a sharp representation of the furthest parts of the flower. OK, we can do more than 20 steps. 40, maybe? It would be really nice to be able to calculate the number of images needed.

As it was, it proved that I was far off the mark: I had set step increment 5, and with about 20 images it had reached infinity. Merging them could have been better. Here the complete stack of the second try, and then those images needed to get the flower alone sharp. Run the cursor over either image to compare with the partner, and click to see a larger version:

 
This should be Hibiscus-1-full.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hibiscus 1 full
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 601 x 449, 164 kB
Dimensions of original: 4384 x 3274, 7648 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 9 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Hibiscus-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hibiscus 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 130 kB
Dimensions of original: 4566 x 3424, 5984 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 9 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

It's interesting to note that the image shape is marginally different. There is also very evident pink fringing round the flower in the first image. There's also what appears to be doubling of the bottom left edge of the flower in both images, but that's really the shape of the flower.

Other issues with the full range are bleeding between images. The following crops are at natural resolution (full size):

 
This should be Hibiscus-1-full-detail-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hibiscus 1 full detail 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 108 kB
Dimensions of original: 300 x 225, 68 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 9 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Hibiscus-1-detail-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hibiscus 1 detail 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 112 kB
Dimensions of original: 300 x 225, 70 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 9 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

There's also a little loss of contrast in the full range image:

 
This should be Hibiscus-1-full-detail-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hibiscus 1 full detail 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 142 kB
Dimensions of original: 300 x 225, 84 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 9 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Hibiscus-1-detail-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hibiscus 1 detail 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 150 kB
Dimensions of original: 300 x 225, 86 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 9 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

The stamens aren't as sharp as last time, not even in the limited range image. That seems to come from the original images. Although I ensured that I started the series closer than the stamens, none of the images had them completely sharp. I currently attribute that to the focus step 5. More experimentation needed, but now the flower is dead, so it won't be immediately.


DxO 11: faster after all
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

I took all the Hibiscus photos without flash, mainly out of concern that the flowers might move during a nearly 3 minute exposure (40 images × 4 seconds recharge time for flash). And as a result I ended up taking the images at 29°/640 ISO, enough to warrant “PRIME” noise reduction. And how about that, it managed the 43 images in 23 minutes, 32 seconds, about 33 seconds per image. That is, indeed, faster than before (a little over 60 seconds per image). I'm sure there's more optimization to be done.

On the other hand, finally got a reply from DxO Support about Yvonne's problems running the new version. It seems that it's some setting in her profile, or maybe because I didn't log out before she tried to start it, or maybe because (oh horror!) she was running some other program at the same time.

People, that's no explanation. All this worked before, and I gave you an explicit error message. Are you more interested in improving the product or passing the buck?


Friday, 10 June 2016 Dereel Images for 10 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

GIMP: bad language infection
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

For yesterday's diary entry I needed a couple of cropped images that matched as much as possible. For this sort of thing I usually use xv, which is small, fast, older than some people in the FreeBSD project, and relatively lacking in features.

In this case I decided it wouldn't do quite what I wanted, in particular there's no easy way to specify the exact size of the crop rectangle (300×225, to match my web page displays). So I chose GIMP, which is big, bloated and overloaded with features.

Still, cropping was fairly straightforward—until I tried to save the file. It suggested the file name Hibiscus-1.xcf. Huh? The input file was a JPEG, and that should be the default output file. But it gave me no choice of JPEG. OK, change the name to Hibiscus-1.jpeg:

 
This should be given-filename.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: given filename
Dimensions: 766 x 352, 118 kB
Dimensions of original: 463 x 213, 18 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Friday, 10 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Stopping only briefly to savour “given filename” (for any given file name the message would be the same?), it seems that you can't save files in any format any more. You have to export them.

In passing, saw one of the more obscure error messages I've seen in a while:

Metadata parasite seems to be corrupt

With a bit of effort I'll understand how that could be a comment on GIMP.


More HDR software
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Gradually I'm using more proprietary photo software. Focus Projects 3 “professional from FRANZIS Verlag produces far superior results than my attempts with enfuse. So now I use DxO Optics “Pro”, Ashampoo® Photo Optimizer 6 and in some cases Focus Projects. They're not the only ones I've looked at, though.

Today I got a special offer for HDR Projects 4 elements, for only $19.99. A few months ago I had tried HDR Projects 4 “Pro and ultimately didn't continue with it because of the baroque interface. But that's pretty much the same interface that I'm getting to know for Focus Projects 3 “professional”, and the price for this version is much lower. What's the difference?

Surprise, surprise, no mention of the product on the FRANZIS web site. But then, they seem to have a separate web site for the product, www.projects-software.com. But there's no mention of it there either. Back to the offer message. It's from Ashampoo! Here I am thinking that these are different companies, when in fact they're mixing stuff around behind my back.

OK, download and try it out. How do I find out what the difference is between Elements, <empty> and Pro? The differences between the last two are on the web page, but I couldn't find anything similar for Elements. OK, if all else fails, RTFM. No manual! This is modern software! Sniffing around in the Microsoft file systems, couldn't find it at all. It seems that this software, which claims to be 64 bit, is stored in files with names like hdrprojects_en.qm in a directory \c\Program Files (x86)\Franzis\HDR projects 4 elements\translations.

What's that? Couldn't find anything that could display the contents, even assuming that they're documented. Sent a message off to Ashampoo support asking for information.

In the meantime, went looking further. The web page included links to manuals for <empty> and Pro, which sounded like a good start. But the link showed not only manuals for <empty> and Pro, but also for a number of others, including older versions and two Elements. The link to Elements 4 is 404. I have to select the image, not the text, which takes me to this page, which really does download the manual!

And how easy it is to use!

4. HDR Photos Done Quickly

To load a single image or a bracketing series, simply drag and drop the images onto the start screen. Alternatively, you can also use the toolbar buttons or drop-down file menu.

So: last Saturday I took a total of 141 images which needed to be merged into 47 HDR images. Normally I have a script that does this for me, and I don't need to do anything at all. Here I need to manually drag each individual one across the screen! And that's “done quickly”?

To be fair, there's also a “batch” mode:

First, choose the source folder where the individual images (HDR from one exposure) and/or the bracketing series are located. The files can also be mixed, since the system will automatically recognise and sort the bracketing series vs single shots.

OK, that looks promising. Trying it out, it really did recognize groups of images:

 
This should be Double-decker-sandwich.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Double decker sandwich
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 607 x 445, 98 kB
Dimensions of original: 4529 x 3324, 2112 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 4 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

That's really two separate images merged:

 
This should be Sasha-Chris-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Sasha Chris 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 603 x 448, 144 kB
Dimensions of original: 4649 x 3456, 2672 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 4 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Sasha-Chris-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Sasha Chris 3
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 603 x 448, 144 kB
Dimensions of original: 4649 x 3456, 2816 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 4 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

It wasn't much better with the real HDR groups. Look at this one:

 
This should be Multiview.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Multiview
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 583 x 464, 90 kB
Dimensions of original: 4282 x 3405, 2128 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 4 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

It was “recognized” from no less than 9 images in 4 different views, which are by no means similar:

 
This should be house-from-n-4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: house from n 4
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 100 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 2736 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 4 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be garden-nw-4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: garden nw 4
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 96 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 2432 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 4 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be house-from-sw-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: house from sw 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 96 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 2544 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 4 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be house-from-ssw-0.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: house from ssw 0
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 96 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 2496 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 4 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

And in the process it only recognized two of the three component images of the 2nd image, and only one of the components of the last image. Clearly this function is useless, and it's all the more surprising because there's a simple heuristic which would work nearly all the time: go by the timestamp in the EXIF data.

Possibly there's a way to do this, but for that I need to read more of the documentation, possibly between the lines.


YouTube errors interpreted
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Last month I commented about silly error messages from YouTube:


This should be secret-error.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: secret error          Dimensions:          1163 x 232, 126 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 7 May 2016, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 7 May 2016, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 7 May 2016

 

Today I found out what it meant: “We can't play the commercials before this video, so we'll do our best to confuse you”. My youtube() PHP function bypasses the commercial (their feature, not mine), so I can use that instead. Now to write a generic page around it.


Saturday, 11 June 2016 Dereel Images for 11 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

HDR Projects 4 elements: more insights
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

House photo day again today, a good opportunity to compare the results of my current HDR scripts and HDR Projects 4 elements. In the meantime, I received a reply from FRANZIS support (which apparently doesn't have a web presence) to my request to Ashampoo support, not answering my question about how to access the files in \c\Program Files (x86)\Franzis\HDR projects 4 elements\translations, nor how to modify the automatic selection of the files, only pointing to the broken link to the manual that I had discovered yesterday. That's all the more interesting because I had written the request in German, and the reply was in German, but the documentation link pointed at a file called HDR_projects_4_elements_english.pdf. No German documentation?

On with the documentation I had, which seems to be all that you can expect to get. The results are interesting:

So: not worth the trouble? Sadly, it's not that simple. There are distinct advantages. Deghosting is one:

 
This should be house-from-n-3-detail-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: house from n 3 detail 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 138 kB
Dimensions of original: 800 x 600, 190 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 11 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be house-from-n-2-HDRP-detail-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: house from n 2 HDRP detail 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 174 kB
Dimensions of original: 800 x 600, 288 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 11 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

And while the current Elements images are too gaudy, my images are too flat:

 
This should be house-from-n-3-detail-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: house from n 3 detail 3
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 98 kB
Dimensions of original: 600 x 450, 98 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 11 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be house-from-n-2-HDRP-detail-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: house from n 2 HDRP detail 3
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 132 kB
Dimensions of original: 600 x 450, 132 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 11 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

I don't know how to adjust that with my method. There are probably ways to do it with Elements, hopefully not too involved.

So: what do I do? Persevere, I suppose. There's also the question as to whether HDR Projects 4 “Pro ($198) offers some killer function that HDR Projects 4 elements ($20) doesn't. My suspicion is that it doesn't, but that needs to be confirmed. And I can't do that by reading the web page (what does “360° panorama mode” mean? That it doesn't mess up the exposure, maybe?). Instead I need to RTFM.


Focus stacking perfected?
Topic: photography, technology, gardening, opinion Link here

My Hibiscus rosa-sinensis has produced another flower, time to make another attempt at focus stacking. Last time I had unsharp areas, notably the stamens, which I attributed to the relatively large focus step (5). This time I chose 1, the smallest, along with 40 increments. On the way, ran into some other problems. The first time round I had forgotten to turn off exposure bracketing, and somehow the camera didn't notice that I had two different, conflicting bracketing modes set. HDR won, and I ended up with three images with which I can't do anything.

After turning HDR bracketing off, it still didn't work. Just a single image. The exposure time was 0.3 s, too long for the electronic shutter (which is limited to 1/16,000 to 1/13 s). It didn't notice that either. So I set the aperture accordingly for an exposure of 1/15 s. And it still only gave me a single image.

OK, Microsoft solution part 1: reboot. After power cycling the camera, I got two series. Put them through Focus Projects 3 “professional, a close relative of HDR Projects 4 elements. It shares the same image non-recognition code. Here's what it did with the two separate series of 40 images each:


This should be Hibiscus-imbalance.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hibiscus imbalance          Dimensions:          878 x 307, 122 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 11 June 2016, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 11 June 2016, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 11 June 2016

 

In this case I simply put the individual series in the processing directory and loaded them all. And finally I ended up with two photos with which I'm happy:

 
This should be Hibiscus-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hibiscus 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 598 x 452, 102 kB
Dimensions of original: 4451 x 3365, 3696 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 11 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Hibiscus-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hibiscus 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 102 kB
Dimensions of original: 4481 x 3359, 4384 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 11 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

The stamens still aren't quite what I expected:

 
This should be Hibiscus-1-detail-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hibiscus 1 detail 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 571 x 473, 108 kB
Dimensions of original: 551 x 456, 98 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 11 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

I think that's a bit of motion blur. 0.1 mm would be enough. It's unlikely to be the tripod, particularly since I used a remote shutter release, so it's probably the flower itself moving. I'm not sure how to handle that except to try again and hope that the flowers stay still.

And then there's this:

 
This should be Hibiscus-1-detail-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hibiscus 1 detail 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 579 x 466, 84 kB
Dimensions of original: 185 x 149, 46 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 11 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Insects! They must be less than 1 mm long. Some kind of mite, maybe? The thing is that without the photo I would never have noticed. I spray the plant regularly, and their shape suggests that they're already dead.


TV reception: no improvement
Topic: multimedia, opinion Link here

Steve White was rather horrified by the mess of antenna cables behind cvr2, and he suspected that the additional amplifier in the system might be part of my reception problems. I'm sure I've tried it before, but to exclude the possibility I took it out of the circuit yesterday evening. The results were not what I had expected:

Programme       Date       Start       End             Number of
name             time       time       Channel       recoding errors
ABC News       10 June 2016       12:12:17.858       13:30:00.676       2024       3
River Cottage       10 June 2016       12:12:34.038       13:30:17.341       2204       43       no amplifier in lounge
PBS Newshour       10 June 2016       13:38:57.771       14:00:00.158       2030       13       no amplifier in lounge
Eat Pray Love       10 June 2016       20:30:29.723       23:54:33.903       2203       died at start       no amplifier in lounge
Ages Of Love       10 June 2016       23:02:02.946       01:50:00.569       2030       35, died after 2%       no amplifier in lounge
French News       11 June 2016       08:40:19.689       09:30:00.597       2030       29
Macedonian News       11 June 2016       08:40:32.533       09:05:00.149       2032       12
German News       11 June 2016       10:27:03.125       11:02:00.986       2030       17

Things aren't good with the amplifier, but without it things are much worse. Still, we'll soon have a new, dedicated antenna connection.


Sunday, 12 June 2016 Dereel Images for 12 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Memory use of photo software
Topic: technology, photography Link here

I don't usually shut down dischord, my Microsoft box; long years of a horror of rebooting are behind that. Instead I hibernate it.

Today I woke it up after yesterday's work and took a look at the Task Manager. 11.3 GB resident memory. OK, we have 16 GB, but in FreeBSD that would at least be marked as inactive. Where did it come from? Shut down one program after another and saw:

Action       Program       Memory
            11.3 GB
stop       HDR projects       10.0 GB
stop       focus projects Professional       3.07 GB
stop       Ashampoo optimizer       2.85 GB
stop       DxO Optics Pro       2.16 GB
start       DxO Optics Pro       3.29 GB
start       Ashampoo optimizer       3.61 GB

The fact that stopping and restarting DxO Optics “Pro” suggests that some of the memory really had been swapped out. But the excessive use by Focus Projects Professional suggests that it only allocates memory and doesn't bother to free it when it's done. After all, this is modern software.


Understanding DNS
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Margaret Swan has purchased a domain name with the handy, easy-to-type name lyrebirdtruffles.com.au, and of course Chris Bahlo is creating the web site. But what about the name servers? Clearly ns1.lemis.com will be one server, but the others I use are personal favours from friends, and I don't want to ask them to host DNS for commercial sites.

On the other hand, the domain registrar offers DNS hosting, if I could only find out how. Ideally you'd want them to be a slave server, but how do you tell them that? In fact, how do you hand it a zone file? Spent some time trying today, ultimately without real success. In the process, discovered this:

 
This should be invalid-server-name.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: invalid server name
Dimensions: 758 x 357, 90 kB
Dimensions of original: 848 x 399, 50 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Sunday, 12 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

This should be invalid-server-name-detail.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: invalid server name detail          Dimensions:          814 x 331, 190 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 12 June 2016, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 12 June 2016, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 12 June 2016

 

Of course they're valid servers! But it's really complaining that, as I learnt in grade school, I entered the names with a trailing period. Chris and I are discussing whether they don't know that, or whether they automatically add a period to the names without checking if there's one there already.

The real issue, though, was that it doesn't seem to work. After expiry of the refresh period, the Netregistry name servers are still serving the old, worn-out magic word 2016060804, when in fact the current one is 2016061202. While investigating, I discovered that their web servers are misconfigured too. http://www.netregistry.net/ gives me an error 400 (bad request), while https://www.netregistry.net/ brings the message:

Your connection is not secure

The owner of www.netregistry.net has configured their website improperly. To protect your information from being stolen, Firefox has not connected to this website.

What a company!

Tomorrow the Queen of England turns 90 years old—for at least the third time—and there's a public holiday in honour, so I'll have to wait until Tuesday.


Walking with Фёдор
Topic: animals, photography, opinion Link here

Chris Bahlo along this afternoon with Фёдор, whom I call Fyodor and she calls Fedor (and, interestingly, my spelling checker agrees with me). I've been a little concerned that he wasn't getting enough running around, though Chris tells me he has. He was subjected to a careful inspection when he arrived, as befits vicious hunting dogs (I've just heard that David Yeardley, once somebody who understood dogs, has jumped on the “vicious” bandwagon):

 
This should be Nikolai-Leonid-Sasha-Fyodor-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Nikolai Leonid Sasha Fyodor 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 170 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 2544 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Sunday, 12 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Nikolai-Leonid-Sasha-Fyodor-6.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Nikolai Leonid Sasha Fyodor 6
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 224 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 4528 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Sunday, 12 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Did he need more movement? He enjoyed investigating the place:

 
This should be Fyodor-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Fyodor 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 190 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 3040 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Sunday, 12 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Fyodor-Sasha-3-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Fyodor Sasha 3 detail
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 728 x 371, 116 kB
Dimensions of original: 1542 x 785, 256 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Sunday, 12 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Fyodor-Sasha-4-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Fyodor Sasha 4 detail
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 739 x 365, 136 kB
Dimensions of original: 2238 x 1105, 592 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Sunday, 12 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

But somehow he didn't really run much. This was about the only photo I got of him moving faster:

 
This should be Nikolai-Leonid-Sasha-Fyodor-9-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Nikolai Leonid Sasha Fyodor 9 detail
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 679 x 398, 122 kB
Dimensions of original: 2562 x 1501, 640 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Sunday, 12 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Maybe his legs were tied up:

 
This should be Fyodor-3-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Fyodor 3 detail
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 441 x 613, 120 kB
Dimensions of original: 1789 x 2487, 672 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Sunday, 12 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Things are working better with focus now. I'm using the C-AF+TR (continuous autofocus with tracking) function, and it seems it must be for the first time. It displays a frame round the object it's tracking, which is frequently the object I want. At least I have some photos in focus now, but there's still motion blur. One day...


Magic mushrooms
Topic: gardening Link here

The neighbours have a number of exotic trees, including conifers. And some of them have clearly brought their own mushrooms with them:

 
This should be Amanita-Muscaria-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Amanita Muscaria 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 188 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 3456 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Sunday, 12 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Amanita-Muscaria-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Amanita Muscaria 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 450 x 600, 320 kB
Dimensions of original: 3456 x 4608, 7120 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Sunday, 12 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

 


Monday, 13 June 2016 Dereel Images for 13 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Rearranging rooms
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

We've been planning for some time to exchange dining and lounge (TV) rooms. Today was the Big Day. Before we started, things looked like this:


This should be TV-room.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: TV room          Dimensions:          922 x 293, 124 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 13 June 2016, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 13 June 2016, small
Diary entry for Monday, 13 June 2016 Complete exposure details

 

 


This should be lounge-room.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: lounge room          Dimensions:          892 x 303, 132 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 13 June 2016, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 13 June 2016, small
Diary entry for Monday, 13 June 2016 Complete exposure details

 

Until I get my panorama act together, the corresponding live panoramas are here.

Chris Bahlo came over to lend a hand, and she and Yvonne did the work while I took photos:

 
This should be Room-exchange-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Room exchange 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 448 x 602, 122 kB
Dimensions of original: 3456 x 4643, 2016 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 13 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Room-exchange-7.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Room exchange 7
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 603 x 448, 136 kB
Dimensions of original: 4647 x 3456, 2192 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 13 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Room-exchange-8.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Room exchange 8
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 450 x 601, 120 kB
Dimensions of original: 3456 x 4616, 2080 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 13 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Unfortunately, I didn't get away completely:

 
This should be Room-exchange-10.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Room exchange 10
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 601 x 450, 88 kB
Dimensions of original: 4619 x 3456, 1872 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 13 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Room-exchange-11.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Room exchange 11
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 601 x 450, 92 kB
Dimensions of original: 4616 x 3456, 2544 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 13 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

The main issue was moving the tabletop, which we rolled (and didn't get any photos of). Finally it was there:

 
This should be Room-exchange-23.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Room exchange 23
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 601 x 449, 120 kB
Dimensions of original: 4629 x 3456, 2352 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 13 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Room-exchange-25.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Room exchange 25
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 603 x 448, 136 kB
Dimensions of original: 4647 x 3456, 2416 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 13 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

All in all, it only took an hour, and to my surprise I had no difficulties whatsoever getting the TV equipment back up and running. Until Steve White comes along next week we're leaving cvr2 in the (now) dining room, where the present antenna is. tiwi is next to the TV, of course, connected to the net by a long cable to the other side of the room:

 
This should be Room-exchange-24.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Room exchange 24
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 601 x 449, 112 kB
Dimensions of original: 4629 x 3456, 2160 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 13 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry


More nadir shots
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

My attempts last week to come up with an easier way to include the nadir in my panoramas was less than completely successful. I'm planning more experiments, but in the meantime there were more pressing issues, to take a 360° panorama of the dining room and lounge room before we rearranged them. So I fell back to my old practice of hand-holding, which in fact worked almost as well. At least I have the photos now.


TV reception improved!
Topic: multimedia, opinion Link here

After weeks of poor TV reception, today it suddenly improved. Something to do with rearranging the connections this afternoon? It's tempting to think so, but in fact it started last night. I still suspect the wind, though Steve tells me that the antenna is quite well anchored. We'll see how things look after the rewiring next week.


Piccola and Rani: another step closer
Topic: animals Link here

 
This should be Piccola-Rani-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Piccola Rani 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 449, 142 kB
Dimensions of original: 4615 x 3456, 2064 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 13 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

The interesting thing about this photo is that this is Rani's basket, so Piccola must have decided to lie down there. She still looks as if she doesn't want to know, but clearly things are improving. It's only been a little over 9 weeks.


A Buddleja!
Topic: gardening Link here

We brought a number of Buddleja × weyeriana cuttings when we moved from Kleins Road, but they didn't do at all well. We've planted what remains anyway, but I'm not convinced they'll survive the winter. And then we found this across the fence, in fact quite close to the row we planted:

 
This should be Buddleja-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Buddleja 3
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 601 x 450, 240 kB
Dimensions of original: 4620 x 3456, 2928 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 13 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Yes, not looking happy either, but it is winter. So if ours die, we at least have a source for new cuttings.


Breakin!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Message from Google today. Somebody had just logged in as me!

Hi Greg,
Your Google Account ????@gmail.com was just used to sign in from Firefox
.

Details:
Monday, June 13, 2016 10:48 AM (Australian Eastern Standard Time)
Ballarat VIC, Australia*
Firefox*Don't recognize this activity?*
Review your recently used devices <URL>
now.

Somebody in Ballarat! That's just down the road. Why didn't they give me any details with which I could catch the perpetrator? IP address would be good. Or maybe the kind of “device” he was using.

In fact, this well-intended message is as good as useless. All I have is a vague location (Ballarat has a population of about 100,000). But that doesn't make any difference, because it wasn't in Ballarat at all. I had logged in from another browser on the same machine! And the inaccurate location is because Google doesn't offer an option to specify your exact location; presumably they have forgotten that computers were once stationary devices.


Tuesday, 14 June 2016 Dereel Images for 14 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

The return of Oðinn
Topic: animals Link here

Two years ago Yvonne had to give up her favourite up-and-coming horse, Wotan (half-Icelandic, but still not called Óðinn) because of back problems. He went to an equine sanctuary, where he suffered the ultimate insult in having his name changed to Humphrey (Hmpf!). And for whatever reason, they weren't able to find a home for him. So after some discussion we decided to take him back again. It's even possible that he might be rideable, but first we'll have to get Caroline Hamilton in again to take another look at him. In the meantime he's in a shady paddock with the neighbours' half-sized pony for company:

 
This should be Wotan-returns-7.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wotan returns 7
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 180 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 2928 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Tuesday, 14 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Wotan-returns-14.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wotan returns 14
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 178 kB
Dimensions of original: 4609 x 3456, 2800 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Tuesday, 14 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

At least he hasn't forgotten the tricks that Yvonne taught him:

 
This should be tyre-7.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: tyre 7
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 530 x 510, 118 kB
Dimensions of original: 3249 x 3128, 1968 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Tuesday, 14 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images
 
This should be Yessss.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Yessss
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 564 x 479, 116 kB
Dimensions of original: 3516 x 2986, 1952 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Tuesday, 14 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images
 
This should be all-four-on-first-time-5.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: all four on first time 5
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 557 x 484, 118 kB
Dimensions of original: 3435 x 2986, 1904 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Tuesday, 14 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images
 
This should be Yvonne-happy-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Yvonne happy 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 574 x 470, 112 kB
Dimensions of original: 3678 x 3011, 1728 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Tuesday, 14 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images
 
This should be coming-down-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: coming down 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 625 x 432, 104 kB
Dimensions of original: 4061 x 2805, 1344 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Tuesday, 14 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images

That was the very first time she got him to get up on the platform with all four hooves.


Another DxO crash
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

While processing the Wotan photos:


This should be DxO-error-detail.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: DxO error detail          Dimensions:          1956 x 138, 76 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 14 June 2016, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 14 June 2016, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 14 June 2016

 

What's that? Time for another bug report, though the last one hasn't had an answer after over a week. Is it worth it?


Wednesday, 15 June 2016 Dereel Images for 15 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

More DxO “support” pain
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

So now I have two support requests out with DxO. True to my past experience, they're not making much progress. The first came back with:

This could be the way your wife's account is configured. There may be a setting that is interfering with the program. Or, it could be another program or process running in your wife's account.

Guilty as charged! Yvonne had another process running! And I was logged in at the same time! All these funny Microsoft ideas that can only cause trouble! But no mention of the error message or what it meant.

And then the more recent report, asking for information about the image being processed at the time, though I had said that it wasn't doing anything at all. Again, no mention of what the error message was trying to say.

I can see this being a long slog.


Identity theft on Facebook
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Facebook friend request in the mail today from Randall Stewart, a member of the FreeBSD project. OK, no problem (except that I barely use Facebook), but I checked anyway. Only three mutual friends? OK, I don't know him well, so maybe.

And almost immediately he tried to message me. I only noticed because the text on the browser icon changed. Maybe I should have replied and invited him to our IRC channel, but I had other things to do.

Then he posted on Facebook:

So I just was notified by friends that someone has copied my photo and is pretending to be me. Wow that's strange

Oh. Off to check. Sure enough, I now had 15 friends in common. And the “People you may know” showed a number of people who had, as mutual friends, Randall Stewart and Randall Stewart, and as the (real) Randall said, both with the same profile picture.

OK, now it really was worthwhile answering his PM. “OK, who are you really?”. No answer, and I didn't get a screen shot before the display changed:

 
This should be suspended-detail.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: suspended detail
Dimensions: 463 x 582, 272 kB
Dimensions of original: 256 x 322, 16 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 15 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Subsequently he disappeared altogether. But it's worth considering: all he really needed to pretend to be the real Randall was his image. People could clone me just as easily.

And what did he want? It's easy enough to find out who his friends are: Facebook doesn't make it difficult, though I don't quite understand how it limits the displays. Then send them a friend request. In many cases, like mine, they won't recall that they're already friends, and will accept again. And then? What does he want from that? It seems that in this case I was the only one of the 15 “friends” who actually responded to his PM, and then mainly out of curiosity.

Then it occurred to me: if somebody cloned me, how would I find out? By default I don't. Only if he contacted somebody I knew, and he got suspicious. I could always go and check, of course, so I did, and I found a clone of myself! This one seems dead in the water. Why is he there? Waiting for friend requests for people looking for me?

Clearly this can be dangerous. I've had security concerns for some time, and they're one of the many reasons I almost never use Facebook.


Thursday, 16 June 2016 Dereel Images for 16 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Cameras 75 years ago
Topic: history, photography, opinion Link here

Half a lifetime ago I moved to Rosbach vor der Höhe. The previous owner of the house had left a number of books, including some written during the Hitlerzeit: „Das Gesicht des Krieges“, „Kampf gegen die Sowjets“, „Kampf in Norwegen“, „Deutschland in ſeiner tiefen Erniedrigung“ and „Das Dritte Reich (1918-1933)“. I kept them out of interest—even fascination—and tried to read the last, a history of the Nazis in the 1920s, in the hope of finding some redeeming characteristics. After reading about 40 pages I gave up and was just left wondering how anybody could support that kind of ideology.

Looking at the political scene nowadays, we see people comparing Donald Trump with Adolf Hitler. They both set out to divide and mobilize the masses, or maybe just to prove that representative democracy can only work when the majority want it to. But there's one point that hadn't occurred to me previously: Hitler trumps Trump when it comes to documentation. „Mein Kampf“ is over 700 pages long. „Das Dritte Reich (1918-1933)“ is over 400 pages long, and as the name suggests, I'm fairly sure it's the first of at least two volumes. By contrast, people continually note that Trump doesn't seem to have anything in writing to back his blustering talk.

I wasn't very interested in the other books, printed considerably later (during the war). The first three were descriptions of various military campaigns, including many photos. Or so I thought. Some time later I discovered that the first, „Das Gesicht des Krieges“ (“The face of war”) proved to be the 31st edition of the „Deutscher Kamera-Almanach“ (German camera almanac), apparently a yearly publication of the „Reichsbund deutscher Amateur-Fotografen e.V.“, a camera club, and it must have been published in 1941, 75 years ago. Clearly most of the photos are of the main theme of the day, the war, and some of them are of historical interest from that perspective. But what interests me is at the end of the book: details of the photos (what we would call EXIF data nowadays) and the advertisements.

It seems that most of the photos were taken either with Contax or Leica, with lenses with maximum apertures between f/3.5 (Tessar) and f/2.0 (Sonnar). Films were not always mentioned, but the ones that were were (mainly) Agfa Isopan F, (Agfa ?) ISS, and (Kodak) Panatomic. The advertisement shows that the Isopan F had a sensitivity of 17° (40) ISO. I can't find any reference to ISS, but if Wikipedia is accurate, Panatomic had a sensitivity of 32 ASA (16° DIN), and looking at the exposure, ISS must have been in that range as well.

Here a couple of the better advertisements, only coincidentally both from from Zeiss Ikon, then still in Dresden. For some reason Ernst Leitz in Wetzlar figured neither in advertisements nor in the new product announcements.

 
This should be Zeiss.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Zeiss
Dimensions: 430 x 627, 272 kB
Dimensions of original: 1600 x 2332, 3520 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 16 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Tessar.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Tessar
Dimensions: 434 x 622, 256 kB
Dimensions of original: 1608 x 2304, 3520 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 16 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

The first shows a Contax. According to the text, it has a built-in light meter, though it looks just like the original 1936 Contax to me. The lens looks like it has an aperture of at least f/2, probably a Sonnar. The second is interesting mainly because of the military context. The text could be translated “Experiences of war: you need to take them in any weather and any position. So use a wide-aperture, sharp lens that masters life, motion and mood, a Zeiss Tessar, the eagle eye of your camera”. That's somewhat ironic, given that the Tessar was one of the slowest lenses in the photo list.

And there were new products just out on the market: the Ikophot light meter, also from Zeiss Ikon, and two new lenses: the Biotar 7.5 cm f/1.5 telephoto, from Carl Zeiss Jena, and two telephoto Sonnars from Zeiss Ikon: 30 cm f/4 and 18 cm f/2.8. The Biotar was for the Kine-Exakta, the first 35 mm SLR. The Sonnars are for Contax, but they come with their own reflex viewfinder, and the 300 mm lens has a preset diaphragm, something that I thought was only introduced 15 years later.

All of this doesn't really seem that different from today. Yes, everything's in colour today, and the image quality is incomparably better. But the sensitivity has increased from 17° to (typically) 21°, only slightly more than double, and you still need to look a long way to find a 75 mm lens with a wider aperture than about f/1.8, and 180 mm f/2.8 and 300 mm f/4 lenses are also on the cutting edge.

And that Ikophot exposure meter? My father bought one in 1956, and we used it until the cameras all had built-in light meters.


Ashampoo OCR: how?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Some months ago I bought another Ashampoo product, Snap 8, a glorified screen shot recorder with OCR functionality. The price, normally round $60, had been reduced to $10 (“$9.99”), so I bought it for the OCR functionality, despite the extreme complexity of operation.

Today, for the first time, I tried using it to convert the text from „Das Gesicht des Krieges“. With a bit of fiddling around I got it to recognize the text surprisingly well, better than most OCR programs I've seen.

But how do I save the text? I still don't know. I'm continually amazed by the complexity of “user friendly” software. Somehow the people who write it seem to think completely differently from me. Does Microsoft rot your brain? Yes, I found a way to save something, though I'm not sure what. But it was only in graphics formats. No mention at all of how to save the text it recognized, neither in the menus nor in the (relatively voluminous) documentation. Another request to the black hole Ashampoo support.


Fake tagine
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Over the years I've tried various tagine recipes, most recently this one. I'm generally quite happy with the results, but it's a fair amount of work. So when ALDI offered “tagine sauce” for making tagines, I thought it was worth a try. In the process also decided to test Mohamed Ifadir's claim that you should put everything in the tagine at the beginning, seal it and not open it until it's ready.

How much meat do you need? They suggest 2 to 3 chicken breasts (typically 250 g each), or 300 g lamb. Why the discrepancy? Sloppiness, I'd think. In the end I chose 500 g of diced lamb, because that's the size of the portions that I had frozen.

So I put in lamb, potatoes, carrots and courgettes, the last two on top of the liquid, and nothing else. I also diluted the “sauce”, which was far too thick. 4 hours on a very low flame. Surprise, surprise, everything was cooked properly. Mohamed is right. It also didn't taste at all bad. Total preparation time about 5 minutes. It's still not as good as the real thing, but it's a pretty good substitute.


Friday, 17 June 2016 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 17 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Eureka Village again
Topic: general, animals Link here

Off to Ballarat today with Yvonne, Nikolai and Leonid to visit the Eureka Village Hostel. Gradually Niko is getting used to the idea, and the people are getting used to him. Today we were accompanied the whole time by Bill, one of the residents, who was waiting outside when we arrived (a coincidence, I think).


Coming up roses
Topic: gardening Link here

While in town, dropped in at Formosa Gardens to look for roses, and came away with 8 bare-rooted rose bushes, 4 each “Iceberg” (white) and 4 “Fragrant Charm” (red). Yvonne plans to plant them in front of the existing three roses to the west of the verandah.

It's also the middle of June, time for garden photos, and also the beginning of second year of photos in Stones Road. There were pretty slim pickings this month, considerably fewer than this time last year. The roses still have flowers (“flowering” might be overstating the case), as are some other flowers. On the other hand, the Camellia japonica in the pot in front of the house has a large number of buds, and even a flower:

 
This should be Camellia-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Camellia 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 602 x 448, 124 kB
Dimensions of original: 4639 x 3456, 1760 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Friday, 17 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

We never got flowers that early in Kleins Road.

Across the fence the irrigation has paid off: apart from the Buddleja × weyeriana that I mentioned a few days ago, we also have a Carpobrotus, a Salvia microphylla and a variegated Vinca minor;

 
This should be Carpobrotus.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Carpobrotus
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 288 kB
Dimensions of original: 4610 x 3456, 4640 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Friday, 17 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Salvia-microphylla.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Salvia microphylla
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 240 kB
Dimensions of original: 4610 x 3456, 3456 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Friday, 17 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Vinca-minor.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Vinca minor
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 288 kB
Dimensions of original: 4610 x 3456, 4416 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Friday, 17 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

And the Anigozanthos that Sasha chewed last winter has finally recovered enough to flower:

 
This should be Anigozanthos.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Anigozanthos
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 122 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3457, 2352 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Friday, 17 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

And the cannas are still in bud, if not exactly flowering profusely. That's the first time I have had any cannas in June:

 
This should be Canna-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Canna 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 450 x 600, 134 kB
Dimensions of original: 3456 x 4610, 2240 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 18 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Canna-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Canna 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 150 kB
Dimensions of original: 4610 x 3456, 2720 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 18 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

All in all, though, not very encouraging. This time last year we had Cyclamen and Azaleas flowering, but neither are now, and the Azaleas are not looking at all happy. They probably need more protection from the elements.


Apologies to Donald Trump
Topic: history, general Link here

Yesterday I claimed that Donald Trump had not published anything. That's clearly untrue, as a quick look in Wikipedia would have shown. I stand corrected. And no, no Trump supporter has contacted me about this; it was Callum Gibson, definitely not a supporter of Trump, but of the truth. Peter Jeremy also pointed at this clip, which I still don't understand:

 


Ashampoo Snap deciphered
Topic: technology Link here

Ashampoo support have responded as I expected to my problems with Ashampoo Snap 8: not at all. So off looking for an alternative, and came up with FreeOCR. Despite appearances, it runs on Microsoft, and I haven't found a FreeBSD version.

The good news: it works. The less good news: it really has difficulties with my text, even after I told it that it was in German.

Callum Gibson also commented on my problems with Snap 8 and suggested that I try copy-and-paste. Yes, I had tried that, and it didn't work: after all, the instructions do say that it copies the output to the clipboard. But I tried again, and how about that, this time it worked! Unfortunately the recognition wasn't as good as I had thought, though still (marginally) better than FreeOCR. But before I come down too hard on either of them, I should recognize that this is an old font that may pose difficulties to any program.

That's still strange. Has the copy-and-paste mentality taken over so completely that you can't do something as simple as process data and store it in a file any more? It almost seems so. My experience with GIMP is similar: I can't just save a file, I have to export it. And when I stop close the program, it tells me that my changes haven't been saved.

And what was the difference between what I did yesterday and what I did today? Something subtle and non-obvious to anybody who understands computers, I suppose.


Dead battery?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Out to take some photos this afternoon. Turn on the camera. Nothing. Not low battery, completely dead.

OK, I have three other batteries, so I put another one in. But what was wrong with the first (number 2)? Six years ago I had lots of trouble with camera batteries, and since then I've been keeping detailed records, though since getting my Olympus OM-D E-M1 2½ years ago I haven't had any further problems. But this battery charged normally 3 days ago, and since then I didn't take any photos.

Put it on charge. Charged normally, and relatively quickly, as you'd expect from a battery that hadn't been used since the last charge. Put it in the camera. Worked normally. Problems with the contacts, maybe?


Saturday, 18 June 2016 Dereel Images for 18 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Power failure
Topic: general Link here

Another power failure at 9:42 today. This one was so short that not all devices noticed it, surprisingly not the oven or the microwave ovens.


DxO processing speed revisited
Topic: photography, technology Link here

DxO Support is still keeping me busy. On one ticket, they don't know what they're looking for, though they refuse to answer the questions they could answer. So to look for a transient error they want to set up a TeamViewer session, during their daytime (my nighttime). Maybe they've found a way to chase me off, but for the time they have another question: what are you looking for?

On another ticket, a more reasonable suggestion: disable GPU acceleration. This presumably on the basis of log messages like this:

2016-06-14 16:38:55.026 | DXOOpticsPro - 4412 - 14 | DxOFramework - Error | D:\Data\Bamboo\Builds\FW-WCPS-FWXR\framework\src\Foundation\src\LibAcceleration\Win\Platform\GpuServer.cpp(576): Device is not ready ! (received %s) (from lib error id=88760869 )

I particularly like the %s in the middle. But dischord has an underpowered GPU, probably not the kind that they would have tested, so it made sense. But how much difference does it make to the performance? Tried the same images that I did last week. On that occasion I processed 43 “PRIME” images in 23 minutes, 32 seconds (“only” 33 seconds per image). Today it took 22 minutes, 14 seconds, only 31 seconds per image. So at least I can leave the GPU acceleration off.

In passing, I wonder if the big difference between DxO Optics “Pro” 10 and 11 is that the error messages from 11 are more specific. A pity that support doesn't seem to know how to interpret them.


Reinstating a port
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Juha Kupiainen mentioned pinta today, which I thought was for photo manipulation, but it seems to be primarily oriented towards drawing. It was once available on FreeBSD, and the web page claims that it works on “*BSD”, but it's no longer in the Ports Collection.

Looking through the revision history of /usr/ports/graphics/Makefile explained why:

r404882 | rene | 2015-12-31 10:20:40 +1100 (Thu, 31 Dec 2015) | 14 lines

Remove expired ports:
...
2015-12-30 graphics/pinta: Broken for more than 6 months

OK, maybe I can unbreak it. How do you reinstate a port? It's described in the FreeBSD project documentation, but somehow it's always difficult to find where. In fact it's in the committer's guide, and the instructions are fairly straightforward: copy (not check out) the revision immediately before its disappearance, in this case r404882 above:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/41) ~/Photos/20160610 22 -> cd /usr/ports/graphics/
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/41) /usr/ports/graphics 23 -> svn cp 'svn+ssh://repo.freebsd.org/ports/head/graphics/pinta/@404881' pinta

And yes, it's still broke. Some dependency on a maze of little twisty libraries, all the same. Do I care?


Sunday, 19 June 2016 Dereel Images for 19 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

FRANZIS software bundle
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Earlier this month I bit the bullet and purchased Focus Projects Professional, which works reasonably well. And then I received an offer for HDR Projects 4 elements, for only $19.99. I did some tests, but then I got yet another offer: PROJECTS 4 Complete Edition (“Your ultimate photo-editing Suite”) for only $98, and not to be confused with PROJECTS 4 Complete Edition (“Your ultimate photo-editing Suite”) for only $289, which apart from the price appears to be identical. About the only other (minor) difference I can see is the drop-down menu at the top of the pages. Doubtless one or both of these URLs will atrophy by the end of the month. They include (their capitalization): HDR projects 4, DENOISE projects, SHARPEN projects professional, FOCUS projects 3 professional, COLOR projects 4 and BLACK&WHITE projects 4.

Do I need all that? The (not so) obvious difference is that it's a different HDR package (“HDR Projects 4”, and neither “HDR Projects 4 Professional” nor “HDR Projects 4 Elements”). It was on my list to compare those three products, so I did it today. And yes, “HDR Projects 4” does have significant advantages over “HDR Projects 4 Elements”: it allows selective changing of the image, as shown here:

It costs $99 (normal price, which will presumably be significantly discounted at some time in the future). Is it worth buying the bundle? I already have Focus Projects (for which I paid 57,98 €). What else could be interesting? Black and white seems useless to me; ever since being able to use colour all the time, I've never looked back. What about denoise? I have some images I took in Basel at the EuroBSDCon on 26 November 2005, which are really not good: underexposed, and with a relatively primitive point-and-shoot camera. Did some comparisons and discovered that with a combination of DxO Optics “Pro” and denoise, I could get results that were better than previously.

Then there's COLOR. Looked in, could be useful. And SHARPEN? To be determined. At any rate there are two usable packages, two potentially usable ones—and Focus Projects Professional. If I hadn't bought that, it would have been a no-brainer. In any case, I bought the package; possibly I can sell my Focus Projects Professional again (it's legal in Germany).

Installation is a pain! I had to download each package separately, and it seemed that each installed differently. Click on the downloaded link and nothing happens. Or maybe “file not found” or some such. Finally it dawned on me (correctly, I hope): these are ZIP archives (what's in them? I still haven't found a way to list them). It seems that when you click on them, they silently extract themselves and relocate in the file system hierarchy, and if you click again before this is complete, it confuses it. In addition, “Sharpen” started up in German and didn't change to English until about half way through.

That wasn't the only problem with “Sharpen”. I couldn't activate it:


This should be wrong-key-detail.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: wrong key detail          Dimensions:          965 x 280, 88 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 19 June 2016, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 19 June 2016, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 19 June 2016

 

That's a copy and paste from the license key letter, of course. Several attempts, including downloading the zipball again (150 MB, which 25 years ago would have cost me 2 days' time and 68,000 DM). No go. Message to http://www.projects-software.com/contact/, their carefully hidden support site. Based on my last request (“where's the manual?”), still unanswered after well over a week, I'm not expecting fireworks.

In the meantime played around a bit more. Was I too impatient (like it seems I was with unpacking the zipballs)? This package, and this alone, came with separate licence keys for Microsoft and Apple. Tried the Apple key. It worked. So yet another issue with documentation. It'll be interesting to see how long (if at all) it takes Franzis support to respond.

Now that I have a fully functional version of HDR Projects, back to last week's panoramas again. They're still too gaudy—I think—but certainly a good starting point for experimentation. The first is the way I've done it in the past, and the second is done with HDR Projects 4. Run the cursor over either image to compare with the partner, and click to see a larger version:


This should be house-from-n.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: house from n          Dimensions:          909 x 297, 146 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 18 June 2016, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 18 June 2016, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 18 June 2016 Complete exposure details

 

 


This should be house-from-n-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: house from n 1          Dimensions:          910 x 297, 110 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 18 June 2016, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 18 June 2016, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 18 June 2016 Complete exposure details

 

The important difference here is that my current version has no tuneable parameters, while HDR Projects has a confusing array of them. More fun to come.


Shortening the bill?
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

At the end of next week there will be a Federal election in Australia. I have seldom been so opposed to a government as to the current one, which seems to contradict everything that's important to me. But it's clear that the winner of the election will be either the incumbent Coalition or the Australian Labor Party. And the prime ministerial candidate for Labor is Bill Shorten, completely unknown and colourless. By comparison, at least Malcolm Turnbull has a certain presence. Worse yet, Shorten comes from the trade union side of the party, something that I feel has passed its use-by date.

Two weeks ago ABC TV broadcast a debate between the two of them, in which in principle neither said anything interesting. About the only thing that came out of it is that Labor showed themselves to be representing the people of Australia, while the Coalition represent Big Business. The programme was so boring that I didn't see it though to the end.

And then last week ABC's Q&A programme, usually in a format where 5 people face questions from the audience, did a special with Shorten alone. Surprise, surprise. He answered all questions sensibly, presumably honestly, and without any contradictions. He even put Tony Jones, the moderator, in his place, something that doesn't happen very often. I'm impressed, and I wonder to what extent Shorten's colourless impression was helped by the media. Tomorrow they'll do the same thing to Turnbull. I'll be very interested to see how he fares.


Monday, 20 June 2016 Dereel Images for 20 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Preparing for wiring updates
Topic: Stones Road house, multimedia Link here

Stephen White called today. He was due to come on Wednesday to complete the wiring, but he's had a shoulder operation, so he's out of commission for the while and will send Mitch to do the work. Time to write a list of what needs to be done.

And that means being more certain about the wiring of the antenna masthead amplifier. My best photo is the first one below, but it looks pretty much like the second.

 
This should be Masthead-amplifier.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Masthead amplifier
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 644 x 419, 100 kB
Dimensions of original: 609 x 396, 78 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 1 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be 10mm-ua30pdf.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: 10mm ua30pdf
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 520 x 520, 624 kB
Dimensions of original: 1403 x 1403, 800 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 1 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Called up Matchmaster, who have a web site without a home page, on 1800 237 425, and spoke to David, who told me that the 10MM-UA30P amplifier has been out of production for some years now, and they no longer have any documentation. Even the 10MM-UA30PDF is long out of production, and though he searched, he couldn't find anything about it either. I get the impression that this is a very small company.

What he did tell me was useful: of course all three connections on the left are inputs from antennas. The only output is on the right. So my original idea of connecting a second cable for radio reception won't work. What I need is a radio antenna.

Where do I find that? What do you even call them? Went to the Antenna Shop, but couldn't find anything like what I was looking for. Jaycar had some things, but far too complicated. In principle a 75 cm whip antenna should do it, but the Antenna Shop found no hits for that, and Jaycar found 16 hits, none of them whip antennas, but including 2 antennas for Band III only. What are they for? Band III isn't used any more.

What the hell, a piece of wire should do it! Let's get Mitch to connect the input to the antenna mast, which is coincidentally about 75 cm long. If that doesn't work, we can consider what to do then.

And what about the splitter in the ceiling? Up to take a look, and discovered that, conveniently, there's a power point and a light right nearby. It's quite primitive:

 
This should be Splitter-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Splitter 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 140 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 2368 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 20 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

How much does it swallow? Probably less than the masthead amplifier produces. I still have the impression that the main issue is that the antenna has moved on its mast, but it's looking increasingly like I'm going to have to get an antenna specialist in.


Alternatives to NBN satellite
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've had this mail message from Barbara Hammond in my inbox for nearly a month. The National Broadband Network is installing fibre in her area, but she's in a more sparsely populated area, and it seems they've decided that it's too expensive to include her (and some of her neighbours) in the rollout. Currently she has ADSL, but all NBN can offer is satellite.

As long as the ADSL is there, of course, she has no particular problems. But how long will that be when most of the customers leave? On the other hand, the telephone lines will remain. Will Telstra remove the DSLAM, or take it out of service? One possibility is for the affected people to form their own Telco. I wonder how much work that would be. Presumably there will be DSLAMs on the market for a scrap price, even if Telstra will try to charge above the odds. But Barbara and her neighbours are not the only people in that boat, so it might be worth investigating.


FRANZIS software: $644? $289? $98? $19? nothing!
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday I noted the multitude of different prices and forms of FRANZIS software. Various forms of HDR projects are available for $198, $99, $19, or in bundles for $644, $289 or $98. It's not easy to find all these prices, and in particular the special offers for $90 and $289 seem identical But today by chance I stumbled on yet another one: free. Yes, it's an older version, but potentially it might do the trick too. It's really difficult to maintain an overview.


Nikolai and Rani: conflict?
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

This morning heard Yvonne screaming with anger from the bedroom. Out to take a look. She tells me that Rani had been on the bed, and Nikolai had jumped on the bed and snapped at her. What were his intentions? Our dogs and cats have always got on well together. And I kept an eye on him all day long, and there seemed to be no issue. Sometimes dogs snap at each other; had he just thought he could do it with a cat as well? I hope so, but I'd hate to be proven wrong.


Groggy Ale revisited
Topic: brewing, opinion Link here

I stopped brewing beer years ago. My last brew was brew 135, started on 24 January 2010. But I've had a couple of odd bottles in the fridge almost since that time. Time to get rid of them.

My recollection was that one reason I stopped brewing was that I wasn't satisfied with the results. But today I drank the last bottle of brew 133, brewed nearly 7 years ago. And it tasted good, better than the commercial brews I'm currently drinking. Is this because of the long lagering, or something else? Can I be bothered to start brewing again?


Tuesday, 21 June 2016 Dereel Images for 21 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Rosebed
Topic: gardening Link here

Mick the gardener along today to put winter protection around the larger trees. But first he had to plant the roses we bought last Friday. And for that we needed a rosebed.

It took him most of the day, and we had to put the trees off until next week:

 
This should be West-garden-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: West garden 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 695 x 389, 240 kB
Dimensions of original: 4605 x 2576, 4944 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 22 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be West-garden-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: West garden 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 773 x 350, 288 kB
Dimensions of original: 4673 x 2114, 6176 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 22 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Sure, it's a lot of work making garden beds, but I'm left wondering if we shouldn't get somebody with earthmoving equipment to do any further beds.


DENOISE: The letdown
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Tried out DENOISE projects on my old photos. The documentation (page 21) says:

You can find the main menu and tool list at the top edge of the screen. This tool list includes the following functions (from left to right):

But “Batch processing” was not there on the screen. Further investigation shows that such a basic function is only available on the “Professional” version! For normal mortals you have to process Every Single Image individually with much mouse motion. And once again the documentation is incorrect. Bad FRANZIS.


Cat harmony
Topic: animals Link here

It's been over two months, but it seems that finally Piccola had come to accept Rani:

 
This should be Rani-Piccola-13.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rani Piccola 13
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 186 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3457, 4416 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Tuesday, 21 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Rani-Piccola-6.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rani Piccola 6
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 148 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3457, 2352 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Tuesday, 21 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Rani-Piccola-7.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rani Piccola 7
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 168 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 3824 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Tuesday, 21 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

That's much longer than Lilac took to accept Piccola.


New toothbrush
Topic: general Link here

Over the years we have had many electric toothbrushes made by a company whose name keeps changing. Oral-B? Blend-a-Med? Braun? We had so many because earlier ones were so short-lived. Twelve years ago I had to replace one after only 7 months. Until then the maximum life was something like 18 months.

But that replacement lasted nearly 5 years, and we're still using its replacement after nearly 7 years. Gradually they're getting better. But today the latest one developed charge problems, not surprising after that time. Why can't they have replaceable batteries?

Off looking for a new toothbrush. They make so many of them, and they document different ones on their badly rendering web site, ones that I can't find on line anywhere. And as I noted last time, they all seem to be the same except for the price and the colour of the heads.

But what about the shape of the heads? Over the years we've ended up with orphaned heads that no longer fit the new brushes. Which heads fit which brushes? The Australian site said nothing. Finally I found the statement on the German site:

Alle Aufsteckbürsten lassen sich mit sämtlichen Handstücken von Oral-B verwenden *

*ausgenommen die Oral-B Pulsonic-Reihe

“All brush heads can be used with all hand pieces [brushes] of Oral-B* * with exception of the Pulsonic range”. Unfortunately, that's not correct. But I suppose it means that all of the incompatible brushes will have long since died, so I can hope that the one I ordered ($50 including postage via eBay) will match the brush heads we already have.

Another thing about those brush heads: the original heads are filthy expensive, round $8 each. And they typically last round 3 months. Last year I bought some clones for the princely sum of $2.19 for 4, including postage. At that price, I reasoned, it wouldn't be a great loss if they didn't last as long.

But the one I'm using there has been on the toothbrush for nearly a year, and it looks little the worse for the time. Why do the expensive Braun/Blend-a-med/Oral-B brushes last such a short time?


Wednesday, 22 June 2016 Dereel Images for 22 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Completing the electrics
Topic: Stones Road house, multimedia, general Link here

Mitch along this morning to complete the electrical work:

 
This should be Wiring-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wiring 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 448 x 603, 142 kB
Dimensions of original: 3456 x 4653, 3152 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 22 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Wiring-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wiring 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 450 x 600, 142 kB
Dimensions of original: 3456 x 4609, 2704 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 22 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Wiring-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wiring 3
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 443 x 610, 162 kB
Dimensions of original: 3456 x 4755, 2960 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 22 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

He managed the RCD in the shed, power points, antenna cabling and network cable in record time, but took a surprising amount of time putting the lights in my office. That wasn't helped by the strange construction of the light frames, which included standoffs so that the thing couldn't possibly lie flush with the ceiling:

 
This should be Wiring-4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wiring 4
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 445 x 606, 104 kB
Dimensions of original: 3456 x 4710, 1648 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 22 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Wiring-5.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wiring 5
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 68 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 2448 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 22 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

He managed to fix that, but the fittings are really ugly compared to the ones we bought last year. And once again I had a DOA fluorescent “globe”. Why are these things so unreliable? Mitch had an answer in the case of the dimmable LEDs that keep failing: it seems that the dimmer that we're using isn't suited to LEDs, though I could have sworn Jim Lannen told me that it was. Another thing to replace.

While he was at that, I spent too much time connecting the new network outlet to the central switch. We now have 10 inputs to the switch, which has only 8 ports, so I'm using the (100 Mb/s) 4 port switch on the 802.11 access point for some of the less likely outlets. But what's connected where? I could have sworn I wrote this all down a year ago, but I couldn't find a record. What I now have is:

External       Port       location
Connection
1       1       Dining room
2       2       Greg's office
3       3       Yvonne's office
4       4       Bedroom 3
5       5       Study
6       AP 1       Main bedroom
7       7       Guest room
8       AP 2       Lounge NW
      6       AP
      8       Lounge
      AP 3       Shed

The numbered connections are the ones that Jim Lannen installed. Ports 1 to 8 are on the main switch, the others on the AP.

Mitch went up on the roof and confirmed that the masthead amplifier was correctly adjusted, and also connected a 75 cm wire to the FM input:

 
This should be Antenna-12.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Antenna 12
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 78 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 800 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 22 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

That should have been enough to give a good signal, but in fact I couldn't see any difference at all. What's the issue? He gave me the name of an antenna specialist, Karl Schaefer, phone 0418 508 558, so I suppose I'll be seeing him here some time soon.


Thursday, 23 June 2016 Dereel Images for 23 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Wetness
Topic: general Link here

Lots of rain today. And no doubt that the water tanks are full:

 
This should be Wetness-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wetness 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 450 x 600, 150 kB
Dimensions of original: 3456 x 4608, 3392 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 23 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Wetness-4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wetness 4
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 608 x 444, 174 kB
Dimensions of original: 4728 x 3456, 4320 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 23 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry


Finally a use for the 35-100
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I've had a somewhat guilty conscience about buying my Zuiko Digital ED 35-100mm f/2.0 telephoto lens. It's the most expensive lens I have ever bought, and I don't use it very much. It's more a memento than a usable lens.

But it does have its uses, and today I found another one, stopping the motion in the tank overflow:

 
This should be Wetness-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wetness 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 450 x 600, 150 kB
Dimensions of original: 3456 x 4608, 3392 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 23 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Wetness-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wetness 3
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 450 x 600, 154 kB
Dimensions of original: 3456 x 4608, 3568 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 23 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

The light was so poor that I really needed the wide aperture, and nothing much else (with the possible exception of flash) would have worked.


You don't exist
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

TPG have come up with some interesting pricing recently, according to a dead tree flyer I received. Off to take a look at their web site. First I had to enter my address—but how?


This should be no-address.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: no address          Dimensions:          804 x 336, 224 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 23 June 2016, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 23 June 2016, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 23 June 2016

 


This should be no-address-detail-1.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: no address detail 1          Dimensions:          1325 x 204, 192 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 23 June 2016, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 23 June 2016, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 23 June 2016

 
This should be no-address-detail-2.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: no address detail 2          Dimensions:          1493 x 181, 38 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 23 June 2016, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 23 June 2016, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 23 June 2016

 

That's not one, but two errors on the web site. The first is that it only accepts addresses in a severely out-of-date address database (the address was allocated 2 years ago), and the second is that it claims the field is empty instead of saying that it's invalid.

And the pricing? Almost tempting. Currently I'm paying $60 per month for 500 GB, and about another $15 for phone (VoIP). TPG offer unlimited data and effectively unlimited phone (including mobile and most overseas locations) for $90 per month. The real advantage is the unlimited data—but I seldom come close to using my 500 GB, so there's no particular reason to change.


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

After last week's success with pre-prepared tagine “sauce”, it occurred to me that a tagine might be a good way to cook chicken thighs, which somehow never seem to be cooked through to the bone. So today had another attempt, with Colway® (i.e. ALDI) “Sundried Tomato & Cinnamon Tagine Sauce”. Again, not bad:

 
This should be Fake-tagine-5.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Fake tagine 5
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 607 x 445, 176 kB
Dimensions of original: 4374 x 3209, 2848 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 23 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

But I should investigate how much more work it is to do things properly.


Friday, 24 June 2016 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Brexit: Triumph of democracy
Topic: politics, general, opinion Link here

The English have voted to leave the European Union! (The Scots have not). What national suicide! I spent the afternoon watching the results trickle in, far more slowly than exchange rates and stock markets plummeted. The only surprising thing is that despite all warnings, the English made this choice anyway. Nearly every foreign politician and finance expert warned against it, with the exception of the lunatic fringe.

Now all we need is for the Coalition to win another term in power next week, and Trump be elected President of the United States in November.


New toothbrush
Topic: health, general, opinion Link here

The toothbrush that I bought on Tuesday arrived today. As expected, the old brush heads fit. But I've had the same head on the brush for a year now, and though it's still in good condition, it's probably time to change:

 
This should be Toothbrush-heads-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Toothbrush heads 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 449, 106 kB
Dimensions of original: 4615 x 3456, 2192 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 25 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

So I put a new head on the brush, then removed it for some reason. But I couldn't get the next one on. After examination, the two brushes didn't look the same after all:

 
This should be Toothbrushes-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Toothbrushes 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 78 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 848 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 25 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

The new brush is the (clean) one on the left. It took me a while to discover that the new brush head had come apart, leaving part on the brush:

 
This should be Toothbrush-heads-5.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Toothbrush heads 5
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 66 kB
Dimensions of original: 4610 x 3456, 1216 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 25 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Why? It happened with both of the new heads that I put on. Have Bosch changed the design so that third party heads no longer fit properly? You could almost think so.


Saturday, 25 June 2016 Dereel Images for 25 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Taming HDR Projects
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

House photo day again today. I've been using the following work flow to make HDR images and stitch them into panoramas:

  1. Take three images of each view at 3 EV intervals.

  2. Convert them to JPEG and give them names that reflect their relationship to the panorama. For this I run two scripts via make. The first, mkmakejpeg.php, converts a file multishot into another format, Makehouse, which is the same as the Makejpeg file that I use for normal photos.

    multishot consists of lines like this:

    house-from-entrance  4  ***
    verandah-centre 20 **--*

    The fields give the name of the final file, the number of views, and the number of images per view, so the first panorama will be called house-from-entrance.jpeg. It consists of 4 views, each with three exposures.

    The second (much older) file will be called verandah-centre.jpeg. It consists of 20 views of 5 exposures each, of which I use only the first, second and fifth. The reasoning behind this relates to the equipment: this is the best I could do for a 360° panorama with my Olympus E-30 and the Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm f/4.0-5.6 wide angle lens. The E-30 had a maximum EV step of 1 EV, and the three images chosen there were 2 EV apart; I discarded the other two.

    These specifications define the following converted images:

    C/house-from-entrance-0+0EV.jpeg  C/house-from-entrance-1-1EV.jpeg  C/house-from-entrance-3+1EV.jpeg
    C/house-from-entrance-0+1EV.jpeg  C/house-from-entrance-2+0EV.jpeg  C/house-from-entrance-3-1EV.jpeg
    C/house-from-entrance-0-1EV.jpeg  C/house-from-entrance-2+1EV.jpeg  C/house-from-entrance-4+0EV.jpeg
    C/house-from-entrance-1+0EV.jpeg  C/house-from-entrance-2-1EV.jpeg  C/house-from-entrance-4+1EV.jpeg
    C/house-from-entrance-1+1EV.jpeg  C/house-from-entrance-3+0EV.jpeg  C/house-from-entrance-4-1EV.jpeg

    The conversion is performed by the script housephotos.awk, whose output goes into a file Makejpeg. A typical line would look like:

    P6119739 C/house-from-entrance-3+0EV.jpeg 0 1

    The parameters are source file name (implicitly in subdirectory orig, and with a number of possible extensions) and destination file name. The other two parameters are leftovers from previous work flows: rotation (now almost always 0) and gamma (now almost always 1).

  3. Run a script imgconvert against Makejpeg that creates the destination files.
  4. Run a script HDR that merges each set of images into a single tone-mapped image with a name like C/house-from-entrance-0.jpeg.

  5. Run a script mkpanorama that invokes Hugin to convert the images to a panorama.

So what do I need to change it now? Projects HDR replaces my HDR script, but of course it's in the Microsoft space and doesn't understand being passed information at startup. Instead it can find the file itself:

Automatic allocation: Loads all of the images and based on the images' content, locates those that belong to an exposure bracketing series. The brightness as well as the coverage are compared, which results in very good automatic recognition.

That's a claim that borders on fraud. It doesn't work at all, as I discovered a couple of weeks ago. Still, there's an alternative: put each group in subdirectories. So I modified mkmakejpeg.php to create files in subdirectories of the directory /Photos/6-HDR/ (so it shows up at the top of a Microsoft directory tree listing), one subdirectory per image. Ran Projects HDR against it and... it combined unrelated images from different subdirectories! What a loser!

In the end gave up and decided to do Yet Another Manual Operation, tell it to take the images three at a time. At least it seems to have taken the correct three each time. So now I have to do the following manually:

  1. Run some make target to populate the /Photos/6-HDR hierarchy correctly.
  2. Run Projects HDR and select ctrl-B for “batch”.
  3. Select allocation by 3s, not the silly “automatic”.
  4. Change output format to JPEG.
  5. Select “360° panorama”.
  6. Click on “Start”.
  7. Click on “Open” in the popup directory window that appears.
  8. Click on “Open” in the popup directory window that appears. Yes, it does it twice, in each cast claiming to be selecting the input directory. I think the second one is probably really the output directory.

Why is it so difficult to find easy to use software? The results aren't too bad, but what a pain to get there!


What am I voting for?
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

The Brexit is continuing to fascinate us. Chris Bahlo along for dinner this evening, and she tells me that after the results, there was a sharp rise in the number of online searches from the United Kingdom asking basic questions like What is the EU?. And it seems that many now regret their decision.

We've had our discussions on democracy from time to time, and for me it's really not clear that the present system is good. I'm reminded once again of one of my favourite quotes, by Jawaharlal Nehru:

Democracy is good. I say this because other systems are worse.

But gradually I'm beginning to understand it. It's clearly not perfect, but how do you come up with a better system? Once only people of “standing” were allowed to vote. That lead to abuses of the privilege. Universal suffrage was supposed to fix all that, and for issues which people understand, it has worked well.

But the modern world is so interwoven that not even the experts really understand the implications. The Global Financial Crisis of 2008 was a good example of where things went wrong. What chance does the man in the street have?

On the other hand, if you vote on something, you should at least understand those implications that are beyond doubt. One suggestion I had was a couple of objective questions about the subject on the ballot paper; only those ballots with correct answers would be valid. Something like:

What did Barack Obama say about the choice?

  1. Good idea. We never did understand those people who don't speak English.
  2. No matter what happens, our close relationship with the UK will not change.
  3. Stay in the EU or we will break off diplomatic relations.
  4. If you leave the EU, it could take up to a decade to come to a trade deal between the USA and the UK.

Of course, then there would be the issue of agreeing on a set of questions. But potentially that would be possible.

We're living in interesting times. I'll be paying particular attention to the developments in the next few months at least.


Sunday, 26 June 2016 Dereel Images for 26 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Air conditioner bug?
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

It's getting cold again—Yvonne tells me that there was a severe frost this morning, but I slept badly and thus didn't get up until late. But while lying awake I listened to the air conditioner. It ran in cycles of about 38 minutes: run for 24 minutes (in which it takes 3 minutes to warm up, so effectively 21 minutes), and de-icing for 14 minutes! Is that necessary? Air conditioners are at their least effective at low temperatures, but limiting the duty cycle to 56% doesn't help either.


Rani loves dogs
Topic: animals Link here

We're continually seeing situations like this:

 
This should be Rani-Nikolai-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rani Nikolai 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 170 kB
Dimensions of original: 4613 x 3456, 2688 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Sunday, 26 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Rani-Leonid-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rani Leonid 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 601 x 449, 168 kB
Dimensions of original: 4630 x 3456, 3056 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Sunday, 26 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Somehow the cat looks a lot happier than the dogs.


Disk problems
Topic: technology Link here

I keep two backups of my photo disk on USB-attached disks, using rsync. One is always at Chris Bahlo's place, and the other usually here. Today I started a backup before breakfast to give to Yvonne to take to Chris and exchange with the other.

But after breakfast things weren't nearly finished. Normally it takes 15 to 20 minutes, but over half an hour had elapsed, and it was still only part way through. Disk problems? No error messages in the log files. ps showed three rsync processes, two of them waiting on select, the third on biord (Block I/O read). Clearly it was reading the source disk.

Time for a ktrace, which showed lots of:

 98951 rsync    0.000001 CALL  lstat(0x7fffffffb260,0x7fffffffa4a0)
 98951 rsync    0.000001 NAMI  "grog/20041016/orig/dscn3839.jpg"
 98951 rsync    0.000005 STRU  struct stat {dev=194, ino=1781782, mode=0100744, nlink=1, uid=1004, gid=0, rdev=803271424, atime=1446358952, stime=1097885651, ctime=1446358952, birthtime=1097885651, size=1113723, blksize=32768, blocks=2240, flags=0x0 }
 98951 rsync    0.000000 RET   lstat 0

The third column is the incremental time since the previous entry (created with the -R option). That all looks fine. rsync is calling lstat to check a file. That requires a path lookup (NAMI), after which lstat returns a struct stat (essentially much of the inode). The whole thing is over and done with in 7 μs. What's so bad about that?

But are they all like that? With a bit of searching, found:

 98951 rsync    0.000009 CALL  lstat(0x7fffffffb260,0x7fffffffa4a0)
 98951 rsync    0.000003 NAMI  "yvonne/20161229/orig/PC291074.ORF"
 98951 rsync    36.784365 STRU  struct stat {dev=194, ino=1843745, mode=0100664, nlink=1, uid=1005, gid=1001, rdev=831234760, atime=1452138833, stime=1451310256, ctime=1452138833.419493000, birthtime=1451310256, size=14502378, blksize=32768, blocks=28416, flags=0x0 }
 98951 rsync    0.000008 RET   lstat 0

37 seconds to perform an lstat? What's wrong there? But I could still list the contents of the disk at a normal speed, and even after that I ran into further issues looking up the inodes of the same files, which should have been cached. File system memory handling problems? Problems with rsync? Could be, but first I wanted to finish the backup.

That took all afternoon, and still it wasn't done. And then, suddenly, the system froze. Time for the Big Red Button.

“Can't find kernel”. OK, enter ls to the boot prompt. “Device does not exist”. Have I maybe had some catastrophic hardware failure? Took out the system disk and put it in one of my test boxes. No problems, and ran fsck while I was at it.

Back into eureka. Same problem. Where's it trying to boot from? disk0p2. Looks OK. Have the disks been recognized out of order? Back to UEFI setup. No, all looks well. But then on booting I saw:

disk0 is BIOS drive A:
disk1 is BIOS drive C:

Huh? This thing doesn't have a floppy drive (nor even an interface). And not surprisingly, there's no mention of floppies in the UEFI setup. Tried:

boot> set currdev=disk1p2
boot> set currdev=disk1p2
boot> boot

And that worked. How did that happen? Ran fsck against the /home file system (two iterations due to unexpected soft update inconsistencies) and then rebooted, forgetting to first set the correct disk in /boot/loader.conf. And it booted anyway! By that time it was too late to check if the phantom A: drive was still there or not.

But the problems I was seeing were on the source disk—weren't they? No. Yes, it was reading, but it was reading metadata, and the inode numbers show that the files weren't on the source disk:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/14) ~ 11 -> ls -il /Photos/grog/20041016/orig/dscn3839.jpg /Photos/yvonne/20161229/orig/PC291074.ORF
2026411 -rwxr--r--  1 grog    wheel   1113723 16 Oct  2004 /Photos/grog/20041016/orig/dscn3839.jpg
  70913 -rw-rw-r--  1 yvonne  home   14502378 29 Dec 00:44 /Photos/yvonne/20161229/orig/PC291074.ORF

In the ktrace output above, the inode numbers are 1843745 and 1781782 respectively.

On with fsck, which produced a number of errors on /Photos:

 
This should be Disk-crash-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Disk crash 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 694 x 390, 124 kB
Dimensions of original: 4242 x 2381, 1232 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Sunday, 26 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

While that was running, tried to start fsck on the backup disk. But the partition didn't exist! I had the device /dev/da0, but not the partition /dev/da0p1, and gpart show didn't show it at all. This happens occasionally for reasons that I don't understand, and usually goes away if I disconnect and reconnect the USB cable. Off to take a look at the disk, behind the monitors. It wasn't there! I found it on the floor. Bloody cats! The casing had also split open, though I was able to press it together again. On reconnecting, the probes found the partition, but when I tried to fsck, I got:

Jun 26 16:36:32 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): WRITE(10). CDB: 2a 00 26 d2 35 0e 00 00 03 00
Jun 26 16:36:32 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): CAM status: SCSI Status Error
Jun 26 16:36:32 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): SCSI status: Check Condition
Jun 26 16:36:32 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): SCSI sense: MEDIUM ERROR asc:3,0 (Peripheral device write fault)
...
Jun 26 16:36:32 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): Error 5, Retries exhausted
Jun 26 16:36:32 eureka kernel: g_vfs_done():da0p1[WRITE(offset=2667767181312, length=12288)]error = 5
Jun 26 16:36:32 eureka kernel: g_vfs_done():da0p1[WRITE(offset=2667767201792, length=12288)]error = 5
Jun 26 16:36:32 eureka kernel: g_vfs_done():da0p1[WRITE(offset=2667767214080, length=12288)]error = 5

Clearly that's the end of that disk. As if to prove the point, the system froze again. I suppose about the only use of the disk is to debug the problem that caused the system to freeze.


Monday, 27 June 2016 Dereel Images for 27 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Backup disk hell
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So what to do about a new backup disk? Clearly I need more capacity. My current /Photos file system (and thus my backup disk) are at 3.2 TB in size, and it's clear that in some months we'll pass the 4 TB mark. eBay shows that there are disks with up to 8 TB on the market, and starting at $360 the prices are actually (marginally) cheaper per TB than the 4 TB drives. But is eBay the best choice? Checked with Staticice and found, to my surprise, that Harvey Norman offered the same drive for $348, and that they were in stock in Ballarat. Called up and confirmed. Yes, in stock. So into town and picked (the only) one up.

Back home, the eternal question: how to build the file system. Like the /Photos file system perhaps?

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/6) ~ 27 -> dumpfs -m /Photos
# newfs command for /Photos (/dev/ada2p1)
newfs -L Photos -O 2 -U -a 64 -b 16384 -d 16384 -e 2048 -f 2048 -g 2097152 -h 64 -i 1835008 -k 1152 -m 1 -o space -s 7814037088 /dev/ada2p1

Clearly there were a few things to change there, so ended up with:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/10) ~ 44 -> newfs -L photobackup8 -O 2 -U -a 64 -b 16384 -d 16384 -e 2048 -f 2048 -g 3145728 -h 64 -i 2752512 -m 1 -o space /dev/da0p1
/dev/da0p1: 7630885.5MB (15628053072 sectors) block size 16384, fragment size 2048
        using 34076 cylinder groups of 223.94MB, 14332 blks, 128 inodes.
        with soft updates
super-block backups (for fsck_ffs -b #) at:
...
 15625319840, 15625778464, 15626237088, 15626695712, 15627154336, 15627612960newfs: wtfs: 2048 bytes at sector 1376: Invalid argument

What's that? No idea, but it left the disk without a valid file system. Spent some time investigating the code of newfs, coming to the conclusion that it was an error returned from pwrite(), but none of the reasons seemed to apply. But there was another issue: why so many cylinder groups? Tried again with the default parameters and got:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/10) ~ 44 -> newfs /dev/da0p1
/dev/da0p1: 7630885.5MB (15628053072 sectors) block size 32768, fragment size 4096
        using 12189 cylinder groups of 626.09MB, 20035 blks, 80256 inodes.

That looked better, and it completed without error. But we can do better. Clearly the block size is one issue, but this file system now had 978,240,384 inodes. /Photos currently uses 1,102,398, so 3,000,000 would be ample for a new 8 TB file system. Try again:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/17) ~ 44 -> newfs -L photobackup8 -O 2 -U -g 3145728 -i 3145728 -m 1 -o space /dev/da0p1
/dev/da0p1: 7630885.5MB (15628053072 sectors) block size 32768, fragment size 4096
        using 8447 cylinder groups of 903.44MB, 28910 blks, 384 inodes.
        with soft updates
super-block backups (for fsck_ffs -b #) at:
192, 1850432, 3700672, 5550912, 7401152, 9251392, 11101632, 12951872, 14802112, 16652352, 18502592, 20352832,

OK, looks good. Mounted the file system and started backing up. I have 3.2 TB to back up, so the transfer speed is of interest. What I saw were speeds round 33 MB/s, which would have the backup finished in about 27 hours. That's almost better than what I feared.

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/3) ~ 5 -> iostat da0 1
       tty             da0             cpu
 tin  tout  KB/t tps  MB/s  us ni sy in id
   0   282  64.00 534 33.37   0  0  0  0 99
   0   308  64.00 537 33.55   0  0  0  0 99
 134   325  64.00 535 33.45   0  0  0  0 100

But things changed. Almost without warning, I saw:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/3) ~ 5 -> iostat da0 1
       tty             da0             cpu
 tin  tout  KB/t tps  MB/s  us ni sy in id
   4  1486   62.45 359 21.89   0  0  0  0 99
   0   419    6.78  78  0.52  11  0  6  0 83
   6  1767    0.00   0  0.00  13  0  0  0 86
   6  1044    6.00   2  0.01  11  0  2  0 87
   1  1716   49.50   8  0.39  14  0  3  0 83
   0  1579   64.00   6  0.35  13  0  0  0 87
   0   405   64.00   5  0.31  14  0  0  0 86
   0  1487   64.00   6  0.35   7  0  2  0 90

What's that? under 400 kB/s? How can that be? At that rate, the backup would take three months! Unmounted the drive and did some tests copying raw data from /dev/zero and (separately) to /dev/null. Speeds seemed normal. OK, try again. And newfs ran at a snail's pace! After a couple of attempts, finally let it finish. It should have taken about 40 seconds; instead it took 100 minutes!

Defective drive? It certainly looked like it. Put it on a different machine (stable), and even before I did anything, the disk started madly thrashing, and carried on like that for 20 minutes. Finally it calmed down and I tried again, but the behaviour was the same. Tried to run smartctl on it, but either I misunderstood the parameters or it doesn't completely support SMART:

=== root@stable (/dev/pts/0) /home/grog 18 -> smartctl -d scsi -a /dev/da0
smartctl 6.4 2015-06-04 r4109 [FreeBSD 10.2-STABLE amd64] (local build)
=== START OF INFORMATION SECTION ===
Vendor:               Seagate
Product:              Backup+  Desk
Revision:             0406
Compliance:           SPC-4
User Capacity:        8,001,563,217,920 bytes [8.00 TB]
Logical block size:   4096 bytes
Logical Unit id:      0x5000000000000001
Device type:          disk
Local Time is:        Mon Jun 27 14:38:35 2016 AEST
SMART support is:     Available - device has SMART capability.
SMART support is:     Disabled
Temperature Warning:  Disabled or Not Supported

=== START OF READ SMART DATA SECTION ===
SMART Health Status: OK

Error Counter logging not supported

Device does not support Self Test logging

Attempts to enable SMART support did not work. But at least one thing becomes clear: the 2048 byte write on the first newfs failed because the block size of the drive is 4096 bytes.

Discussing on IRC, discovered that this drive is an SMR drive. Google found this page. It's a long article, and I haven't digested it all yet, but it suggests that this behaviour is relatively typical. And it also seems that UFS is a poor match for SMR drives, since it deliberately randomizes data. Should I really jump into ZFS? Many consider me a troglodyte for not doing so, but if my attitude has been “if it ain't broke, don't fix it”. Maybe UFS is now broke in this context. It's also interesting to note that my drop in throughput corresponded to transfers of considerably less than 64 kB.

So: have I been sold a lemon? The real issue is average throughput. Started copying /Photos to it overnight. We'll see what happens tomorrow.


Library card strangenesses
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Last week I wanted to borrow a book from the library (recommended by Tim Bray). And not for the first time, the library web site told me that I had no access, and that my “bar code” might have expired.

What's a Bar code? It's a lot of vertical stripes of differing thicknesses. Nothing for humans. But the libraries round here, all of them, use the term to mean the membership number. And they expire without warning. Last week I had rung up the Central Highlands Library, who told me that this happens for my security—aren't people abusing that excuse a lot? And over the weekend it happened to me again, this time from the State Library of Victoria. Again just a phone call to reinstate it. But why do all these libraries deactivate cards without warning? It can only add to their workload.


Piccola tearing hair again?
Topic: animals Link here

Piccola was locked into the garage for a while today, something that's relatively common. But when I looked in later I saw this on the bonnet of my car:

 
This should be Piccolas-fur.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Piccolas fur
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 160 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 4080 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 27 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

She did this this time last year, but we were hoping that it was over and done with. At the time we attributed it to stress associated with moving house, but there's no such stress now. She has even (finally) made friends withRani. About the only positive thing is that I can't see any bald patches—yet.


Tuesday, 28 June 2016 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 28 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Backup: progress?
Topic: technology Link here

Into the office this morning to see how the backup of my /Photos disk was progressing. Not as bad as I had feared: after 16 hours of backing up, the disk contained about 910 GB of data, an average speed of round 16 MB/s. Not spectacular, but acceptable. In a couple of days' time it should be finished. Then I'll have to see how long the incremental backups take.


Doctor again
Topic: health Link here

I've had issues with phlegm in my throat for some time now. Nothing serious, I think, but clearing my throat gets on Yvonne's nerves. And who knows, maybe there is something more sinister behind it. So into town today to see Dr Mohammad Jabbarpour (Majid is off on training). Medical examinations seem to have changed over the years; at least I didn't get anything stuck down my throat. Instead I'm off for a CT scan as soon as I can arrange an appointment.


Dressing Leonid
Topic: animals Link here

In the evening, found Leonid with an interesting item on his back:

 
This should be Leonid-Rani.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Leonid Rani
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 523 x 517, 240 kB
Dimensions of original: 2742 x 2711, 2304 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Tuesday, 28 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

That's the remains of a soft toy. But how did it get there? Did he do it? Or is the presence of Rani significant?


Wednesday, 29 June 2016 Dereel Images for 29 June 2016
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Fixing the antenna
Topic: Stones Road house, multimedia, opinion Link here

Karl Schaefer, despite the name (which he pronounces “chauffeur”, as far as I can tell) an Australian antenna specialist, along today to see what was wrong with the antenna. He took one look at the current antenna and promptly dismissed it as “cheap Chinese crap”. As if I care where the things are made. But he said it's a wide band antenna, whereas the one he brought with him was tuned to the channels in the Ballarat area. He couldn't tell me the antenna gain. But he went up on the roof with his tester and came back to say that the old antenna was delivering 26 dB relative to some unspecified datum, while the new antenna produced 32 dB, still only barely above his cutoff point of 30 dB, below which he wouldn't bother to install an antenna. He wandered off to find a better place on the roof, ultimately gaining another 2 dB and mounting it about 5 m from the old position, shown here with what appears to be a completely over-the-top Band II antenna:

 
This should be Antenna.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Antenna
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 92 kB
Dimensions of original: 4609 x 3456, 1680 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 30 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

And how did it work? His tester shows a graph of signal strength against frequency, and things looked better. But we were still getting dropouts! Much more testing, and in the end he gave up, saying he'd be back next week. It was indeed puzzling: after all, his tester showed a very good signal-to-noise ratio, so good that the reception worked without the masthead amplifier. What could cause that? Something that the tester couldn't see, like a short pulse of interference?

Of course! The electric fence! I had found that association before. We turned it off, and reception was perfect, at least for the couple of minutes that we looked at it. He left, and I made some recordings. No errors. Have we finally beaten the problem? And of course, we once again have radio reception, after over a year.

So was the new antenna necessary? How much better is it than the old one? It seems to be a Matchmaster 02MM-GX500, made in Australia. What he installed was made by Hills, and it would seem to be something like a Hills Tru-Spec Fringe TSF2839. Hills have a number of products that all look the same, and I'm sure that their CMS will soon lose them (it's difficult enough to navigate as it is), but none of their products match the Ballarat frequencies (570 - 600 MHz). The TSF2869 comes closest with a range of 526 - 694 MHz (channels 28 to 39) and a gain of 10-14 dB. The old antenna is for channels 28 to 51 and has a specified maximum gain of 14 dB (they're too polite to mention the minimum). It's difficult to see much difference between those specs. So why the big difference in performance?


Upgrading to “Windows” 10, try 3
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Sooner or later I'm going to have to upgrade my Microsoft boxes from the current “Windows” 7, and it seems that the free upgrade (and hopefully the irritating reminders) will run out at the end of next month. So dragged out the old disk for despair.lemis.com, which I haven't used in 6 months, and started an upgrade. Not only did it take forever—all afternoon, without being finished—but it maxed out one CPU while doing that, and the “percentage complete” display incremented more and more slowly. By evening it had reached 99% and been there for an hour or so.


Where's that mouse?
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Piccola went out in the evening and didn't come back when I called her. Finally Yvonne called her, and she came—but not alone. She had a mouse with her, and proceeded to show a remarkable degree of incompetence in dealing with it. On one occasion she even let it go in favour of the toy mouse that used to hang from the scratching post:

 
This should be Piccola-mouse-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Piccola mouse 1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 450 x 601, 134 kB
Dimensions of original: 3456 x 4612, 3216 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 29 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Piccola-mouse-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Piccola mouse 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 450 x 600, 138 kB
Dimensions of original: 3456 x 4610, 2976 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 29 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Piccola-mouse-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Piccola mouse 3
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 450 x 600, 136 kB
Dimensions of original: 3456 x 4610, 3328 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 29 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

I brought Rani in to see the fun, but Piccola didn't like that at all, and in the end I had to take her away again:

 
This should be Piccola-mouse-15.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Piccola mouse 15
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 142 kB
Dimensions of original: 4608 x 3456, 3648 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 29 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Piccola-mouse-16.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Piccola mouse 16
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 606 x 446, 154 kB
Dimensions of original: 4693 x 3456, 2736 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 29 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

And somehow she let it get away. I wonder how long it will be before one of the animals catches it.


Thursday, 30 June 2016 Dereel Images for 30 June 2016
Top of page
previous day

Induction cookers
Topic: food and drink, animals, opinion Link here

I've never used an induction cooker: replacing a gas stove with an induction stove is quite an investment, not only in the cooker itself, but in a complete change of most of our cooking utensils. So when I found an induction hotplate on special at “if you don't like it, bring it back” ALDI, it sounded too good an idea to miss, especially with the potential to use it at table for things like fondue and steamboat.

So we bought one, and though we (coincidentally) ate fondue last night, I decided it would be better to try it on something else first. And today I wanted to make some nasi lemak (the rice, not the dish). So I dragged out an enameled cast-iron pot and put the stuff in and brought to the boil.

First surprise: the instructions had talked about power settings between 300 and 2100 W, in steps of 300 W, or temperatures between 60° and 240° in steps of 30°. But when I looked at the device, there are just 8 settings. They have equated 300 W to 60°, all the way up to 2100 W equal to 240°! Clearly whoever thought that out has no idea whatsoever of physics, and not much idea of cooking. I'm prepared to accept that the power levels are correct, but the temperature settings are nothing more than poorly informed guesswork.

Nasi lemak can easily burn if you don't stir it, so I was careful. But not nearly careful enough. It burnt worse than I have ever experienced:

 
This should be Rice.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rice
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 601 x 450, 136 kB
Dimensions of original: 4620 x 3456, 2160 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 30 June 2016:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry