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June 2021
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Tuesday, 1 June 2021 Dereel Images for 1 June 2021
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Tortillas again
Topic: food and drink Link here

Huevos rancheros for breakfast this morning, like on most Tuesdays. And once again experiments with the tortillas. I've been using the El Maizal masa since January, and I'm not very happy with it. In particular, it seemed to want very little water, and I started off with a ratio of 1:1.45 masa to water.

But since starting on the second packet, I've found that it can take more water. Last week I went to 1:1.6. And today I tried 1:1.65, which also seemed to be good.

Why the difference? Was the first package different in some way?


Battery recalibration, part 2
Topic: Stones Road house, general, technology Link here

Yesterday's PV recalibration was short and sweet. But it's also Tandem-like: “So nice, so nice, we do it twice”. Today we had another one, in principle almost identical to the first one: start charging at 12:40 and 51%, charge until 100%, then stop:


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I hope there will only be two.


More GPS navigator fun
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Planning to go into town today, despite the lockdown, to mcPhysio. I don't really need a GPS navigator to get me there, but it's an interesting position because the parking area is on Anticline Lane, behind the clinic, and my previous navigators couldn't find it.

OK, add the coordinates to the user.upoi file, and once again it worked. And for some reason it wanted to take me only to the junction of Anticline Lane and Eyre Street, and that via a different route from normal, via Ascot Street. That's not optimal, but I did have the route set to “short”, and maybe it was.

More setting the thing showed me that I appear to be missing some functionality with this software: no speed limits, and no speed display. I suppose I shouldn't complain too much in view of the fact that I didn't have to pay for the navigator.


Physiotherapy again
Topic: health Link here

Off in the afternoon to see Heather Dalman about my Epicondylitis, which hasn't improved. Despite the “lockdown”, they were open. OK, this time needles. What, acupuncture? No, we don't call it that, because it's Western medicine. But yes, the same kind of needle, and it works by stimulating the release of certain chemicals. Will hurt for a few days, but then it should be OK.

It's a strange feeling. Certainly not the kind of pain that you'd expect from a needle, but unpleasant nevertheless while the needle is in there. But after that, there was almost nothing. Certainly it feels no more painful than before. We'll see how it works in the next couple of weeks.


Wednesday, 2 June 2021 Dereel Images for 2 June 2021
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More noodles
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Time for another batch of noodles today, this time chow mein or mì xào fresh noodles. Well, they were fresh when we got them, but they've been in the deep freeze for over 6 months.


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How long do I cook them? The instructions say 45 seconds!


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What does that mean in practice? Put them in boiling water, bring back to the boil, taste after 45 seconds? They were still a little firm, but of course it took me nearly as long again to fish them out of the water. They'll probably be OK, but they're not for immediate consumption, so I'll find out some other time.


Upgrading dereel again
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

The build of FreeBSD 13 on dereel completed without incident yesterday. Time to reboot and install the world.

Failure! Something about creating a symlink C, which already existed. What directory? It's too polite to say that, but it was related to nls. OK, go looking:

=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/0) /usr/src 2 -> find / -xdev -name C | xargs ls -ld
...
drwxr-xr-x  2 root  wheel     512 19 Jan 09:18 /usr/share/nls/C
lrwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel       7 19 Jan 09:18 /usr/share/vi/catalog/C -> english

The only symlink was the second one, but clearly that has nothing to do with nls. It looks more like the first one, but that's a directory. But I forgot to log the output, so try again, for the 4th time, and this time with logging.

It worked! Why? The suspect commands were:

install -l s -o root -g wheel -m 755 -T "package=utilities"  "C" "/usr/share/nls/POSIX"
install -l s -o root -g wheel -m 755 -T "package=utilities"  "C" "/usr/share/nls/en_US.US_ASCII"

I don't understand that. install -l s means “install as a symlink”. But without a path name C should be the same, and the second should fail. Are all three of the strings after the -T (tags) option tags for mtree? Do I want to know? In any case, the directory has now been replaced:

drwxr-xr-x  2 root  wheel  512  2 Jun 12:32 /usr/share/nls/C

Next, update the ports. That's always fun, but this time there was another issue:

===== Wed 2 Jun 2021 12:35:17 AEST on dereel: pkg upgrade
pkg: Warning: Major OS version upgrade detected.  Running "pkg bootstrap -f" recommended
Updating FreeBSD repository catalogue...
pkg: Repository FreeBSD has a wrong packagesite, need to re-create database

OK, we can do that.

===== Wed 2 Jun 2021 12:35:36 AEST on dereel: pkg bootstrap -f
pkg: Warning: Major OS version upgrade detected.  Running "pkg bootstrap -f" recommended
pkg(8) is already installed. Forcing reinstallation through pkg(7).
The package management tool is not yet installed on your system.
Do you want to fetch and install it now? [y/N]: y
Installing pkg-1.16.3...
package pkg is already installed, forced install

Somehow those messages appear to be self-contradictory. But it worked, and modulo the usual silently deleted packages, everything went well.

Which packages were (almost) silently deleted? It seems that Emacs is an old, worn-out magic word. What we had was:

Installed packages to be REMOVED:
        gstreamer: 0.10.36_6
        gstreamer-plugins: 0.10.36_13,3
        gstreamer-plugins-bad: 0.10.23_4,3
        gstreamer-plugins-good: 0.10.31_3,3
        gstreamer-plugins-ogg: 0.10.36_2,3
        gstreamer-plugins-theora: 0.10.36_2,3
        gstreamer-plugins-vorbis: 0.10.36_2,3
        gstreamer-plugins-vp8: 0.10.23_7,3
        hal: 0.5.14_34
        hugin: 2020.0
        opera: 12.16_6
        py27-cairo: 1.18.1_1
        py27-gobject: 2.28.6_9
        py27-gtk2: 2.24.0_5

OK, py27 is Python 2.7, which is also an old, worn-out magic word. gstreamer and friends? No idea. The same for opera. And you can't really blame it for hugin: that was my personal rebuild, and it was easy enough to reinstall.

In comparison with the average upgrade, then, things went really smoothly. Do I want gstreamer and opera? Not at the moment, anyway.


Where's my phone?, part 2
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Today was the generously measured “arrive by” date that eBay set for the arrival of the phone I bought 8 days ago. The only sign I have that anything happened was that a tracking number had been assigned 3 days later. And since then, nothing.

Could that be AusPost? Very possible, They're anything but diligent in keeping the information up to date. But it's equally possible that the phone hasn't been shipped yet. OK, how do I cancel the transaction? Off to fight the eBay web site, which tells me that I can't request a refund yet, because the delivery date hasn't happened yet:

I didn’t receive my item: We found 2 answer(s)

Your item may still be on its way
The estimated delivery date for this item is 01 Jun, 2021.
What happens if you don't receive the item soon?
If you don't receive the item by the delivery date, just request a refund or more information from the seller. We're here to help if you and the seller can't resolve the problem.

1 June? That was yesterday. Well, not in eBay-land. But where's the second answer? These people are completely confusing. But almost in passing, I saw that the tracking information had been updated:

1 Jun 2021       Item processed at facility
1:21pm       STRATHFIELD, NSW

Oh! So they really did take a whole week before sending it. Checking the AusPost tracking information showed that it had progressed further. Round the time

In transit to next facility in MELBOURNE SOUTH EAST VIC       Wed 2 Jun, 10.31am
Item processed at facility SYDNEY SOUTH NSW       Wed 2 Jun, 10.27am
SYDNEY WEST NSW       Tue 1 Jun, 1.21pm
Shipping information approved by Australia Post       Sat 29 May, 2.13am
Shipping information received by Australia Post       Fri 28 May, 7.55pm

That's backwards, of course. But it makes it a bit late for cancelling the transaction. When will it finally get here?


Yet another battery recalibration!
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

I wasn't really serious when I suggested yesterday that there would be another PV battery recalibration again today, but there was. This one was relatively trivial, since the SOC was already 93%, and again it just climbed to 100%, so the whole thing was over in 17 minutes. But gradually it's starting to irritate me.


Finally better backup compression?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

It's been nearly a month since Daniel Nebdal sent me suggestions for better compression for backups. Yesterday was the first day of the month, time for a level 0 dump (whole system), and thus also high time to choose a better compression program.

For eureka things were clear: pbzip2 is the best that I have installed, and I didn't want the pain of building a port on a 6 year old system. teevee was also uninteresting, since I use rsync to back it up. Left lagoon, which has zstd. OK, make zstd -T4 the compressor.

Today I had two unexpected results:

  1. The network-wide script /home/local/bin/dodump wasn't linked on lagoon. Instead it had its own, so it carried on using bzip2.
  2. For unexplained reasons, the backup on lagoon failed in the middle:
      ...
      DUMP: 52.64% done, finished in 6:13 at Wed Jun  2 11:15:14 2021

    bzip2: I/O or other error, bailing out.  Possible reason follows.
    bzip2: Permission denied
            Input file = (stdin), output file = (stdout)
      DUMP: Broken pipe
      DUMP: The ENTIRE dump is aborted.

So I had to try again. Link to the correct script, and I got:

dump -0uf - / | nice zstd -T4 > /dump/lagoon-FreeBSD/0/root.bz2
mksnap_ffs: Cannot create snapshot //.snap/dump_snapshot: /: Snapshots are not yet supported when running with journaled soft updates: Operation not supported
dump: Cannot create //.snap/dump_snapshot: No such file or directory

Huh? That has been working so far. Reinstated the local version of the script and got:

dump -0uf - / | zstd -T4 > /dump/lagoon-FreeBSD/0/root.bz2
  DUMP: WARNING: should use -L when dumping live read-write filesystems!
  DUMP: Date of this level 0 dump: Wed Jun  2 10:58:09 2021
...
  DUMP: finished in 1402 seconds, throughput 24293 KBytes/sec
  DUMP: level 0 dump on Wed Jun  2 10:58:09 2021
  DUMP: DUMP IS DONE

So what's the difference? It's repeatable, but it makes no sense to me.

More interesting, of course, was the time and size for the /home file system. Here the times.

April:

  DUMP: DUMP: 267036894 tape blocks
  DUMP: finished in 43573 seconds, throughput 6128 KBytes/sec
  DUMP: level 0 dump on Thu Apr  1 22:05:34 2021
  DUMP: DUMP IS DONE

This month:

  DUMP: DUMP: 267124094 tape blocks
  DUMP: finished in 4801 seconds, throughput 55639 KBytes/sec
  DUMP: level 0 dump on Wed Jun  2 11:21:33 2021
  DUMP: DUMP IS DONE

Somehow I lost the output of the level 0 dump at the beginning of May, but it would have been similar. Clearly zstd is round 9 times faster than bzip2. And the sizes?

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/4) /usr/local/etc/postfix 340 -> l /dump/lagoon-FreeBSD/0/
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel  222,482,452,587  2 May 13:06 home.0.bz2
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel  224,567,247,652  2 Jun 12:43 home.bz2

Yes, marginally more. I think I can live with that. But what is causing this issue with dump failing?


Marinated chicken drumsticks
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Decades ago I used to make a dish with soya-marinated chicken drumsticks. For some reason we haven't made it for years, and I can no longer find the recipe. But we have had some drumsticks taking up space in a freezer for some time now, so it's time to revive it, or, as proved to be the case, reinvent it.

For 3 or 4 portions

quantity       ingredient       step
0.5 g       cloves       1
2.5 g       cinnamon       1
25 g       ginger       2
30 g       garlic       2
80 g       light soya sauce       2
20 g       dark soya sauce       2
250 ml       water       2
1 kg       Chicken thighs (about 6)       3
2       star anise       4
  1. Finely divide the cloves and cinnamon in a spice blender.

  2. Mix ginger, garlic with soya sauce and water. Blend with the spice powders until uniform.

  3. Marinate the drumsticks in the marinade for 30 minutes on each side:


    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210602/big/Marinated-chicken-thighs-1.jpeg
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  4. Cook with the whole star anise for 20 minutes on a side.

  5. Dry, then deep fry or “air fry” for a few minutes to get the desired consistency:


    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210602/big/Marinated-chicken-thighs-4.jpeg
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And the results? Yvonne was very happy, but I wasn't. Maybe I've outgrown this kind of food. The recipe is here in case I do improve on it.


Thursday, 3 June 2021 Dereel Images for 3 June 2021
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Download failure
Topic: technology Link here

Seen while trying to download a video with MediathekView today:

 
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I wonder what that means. It only applied to one file, and it was consistent, so I suspect a configuration error at the other end.


New password restrictions
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

It seems that I'm not the only person who finds password strength checkers stupid. Here's a reductio ad absurdum:

Your new password must include the full text of one of Shakespeare’s sonnets, plus at least 48 characters from three different alphabets.

Bear in mind that you cannot use a Shakespearean sonnet that you have used in a previous password and you must include at least three numbers and no more than eight, but at least six upper case letters.

There are further restrictions. I wonder what frustration led to that.


“Air frying” sardines
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Sardines for dinner tonight. How do we prepare them? With the “air fryer” again? The instructions are as helpful as they are for sausages:

Food       Temp (°C)       Time (min)       Recommended accessories
Fish       230       10-15       Pan and/or high rack

Once again pretty useless. Same thing for a sardine or a large chunk of salmon. OK, what makes sense? In fact, the values might be worthwhile, so I started like that. But it soon became clear that 230° is too much. Round the time the temperature reached 220°, I turned back to 210°. Ultimately they were in there for 17 minutes, probably too long. Before and after:


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Next time I'll try for round 8 minutes.


Friday, 4 June 2021 Dereel Images for 4 June 2021
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More garden work
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

The gardeners along again today, this time 3 of them: Bryan for the first time in months, and a new bloke called Simon. They certainly made a difference. Here one before (20 May) and after:


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And this was once a straggly tomato plant and a Persicaria odorata, which I know better as Daun Laksa:


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That's certainly more extreme than I would have expected. I hope that Bryan is right that it'll come back quickly.

He was clearly happy with what they did, and took some photos to put up on some Facebook page:


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I suppose that's a good idea: if they advertise with the appearance of the garden, they'll also ensure that it looks particularly good.


Access only with QR code
Topic: health, technology, general, opinion Link here

The latest lockdown in Victoria is now loosened. For us out in the sticks, there are only a few restrictions. What are they? I wish I understood. Despite over a year of this kind of issue, the government still doesn't have a single place to go to to tell you what you may and may not do. But in the news I heard that access to shops is now only with QR code.

What does that mean? Presumably some mobile phone app. Why did I only hear it on the news, to which I only listen sometimes. Yvonne hadn't heard of it (and didn't know what a QR code is anyway). Off searching and came up with this page, which tells me

How to check-in
  1. Open your camera app, then hold your phone over the QR code.
  2. Tap the link that pops up.
  3. Enter your details and tap “Check- in to this location”

And yes, the spacing is original.

As an afterthought, it also tells you to go to the Google toy shop and download the Service Victoria app. Damn! Another run-in with this horrible keyboard replacement. OK, did that:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210604/big/Barcode-scanner-5.jpeg
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Install it and discover:


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“Contains ads”? The devil take Service Victoria! OK, install it anyway, start it and discover:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210604/big/Barcode-scanner-2.jpeg
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Now isn't that helpful? How do I activate it? Waved it in front of a QR code and sure enough, it recognized it and translated it with no input on my part and no further problems. But that's not quite what the instructions said.

More investigations, checked on a Real Computer, and discovered:

 
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This needs interpretation, of course. Samsung GT-I9100 is Google's name for what Sλmsung sold as “Galaxy 2”, the only phone I currently have, and Nokia TA-1020 is their name for my now-defunct Nokia 3. And indirectly this shows that my new Xiaomi Redmi 9T still hasn't arrived.

“We're too modern for your old, worn-out smartphone!”. Isn't that wonderful? Instead, Google offers some other scan program that works on the phone.

What's wrong with this picture?

Discussion of the matter on IRC. Callum Gibson thinks that it's justified not to offer a scan program for old versions of Android: it's too difficult. My version of Android is 4.1.2, about 8 years old. And clearly scan programs do work on it, so it's quite possible. If the government is imposing regulations, it should ensure that people can follow them.

It turns out that there is an alternative, but they don't bother to make that clear either. The page is structured as a FAQ, but there's no entry for “What do I do if I don't have a smartphone?”. Instead you need to read the entry My phone won’t scan. How do I check-in?, which really only addresses issues like “If you cannot check-in using the QR code because of technical or network issues like poor signal or low battery”. But it seems that it's up to the venue to provide an alternative, like signing a log. That's reasonable, but why do they hide it? It seems that everybody involved with this system is far removed from reality.


X on dereel, next attempt
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

In August last year I spent two weeks trying to configure X on dereel, and ultimately gave up postponed the effort. The issue was almost certainly a bug in the nvidia driver: no matter what I wrote in the X configuration file, it put the displays in the same sequence, and not the one I wanted.

Since then I have upgraded the system, and it makes sense to use dereel as my workstation and eureka as the house hub. So let's take a look at that X configuration again...

It has changed completely! I didn't get very far, but what I saw today was (from /var/log/Xorg.0.log):

[196913.340] (==) Log file: "/var/log/Xorg.0.log", Time: Fri Jun  4 17:17:50 2021
[196913.340] (==) Using system config directory "/usr/local/share/X11/xorg.conf.d"
[196913.340] (==) No Layout section.  Using the first Screen section.
[196913.340] (==) No screen section available. Using defaults.

Last August I had:

[   248.887] (==) Log file: "/var/log/Xorg.1.log", Time: Mon Aug  3 15:13:35 2020
[   248.887] (==) Using config file: "/etc/X11/xorg.conf"
[   248.887] (==) Using system config directory "/usr/local/share/X11/xorg.conf.d"

So it can't find the config file. Why not? Oh. I removed it, probably as part of my testing (it was probably a symlink to one of my test config files). I really shouldn't put things off this long.


Backup problems solved
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

My replacement of backup programs brought an unexpected problem, as I noted a couple of days ago. The backups failed with

dump -0uf - / | nice zstd -T4 > /dump/lagoon-FreeBSD/0/root.bz2
mksnap_ffs: Cannot create snapshot //.snap/dump_snapshot: /: Snapshots are not yet supported when running with journaled soft updates: Operation not supported
dump: Cannot create //.snap/dump_snapshot: No such file or directory

Today I tried the obvious: copy and paste the first line. It worked!

Huh? Time for more examination of that script:

  echo dump -${level}uf - $fs \| nice $PRI $BZIP \> $dumpfile.bz2
  if [ "$dummy" != "Y" ]; then
    ...
    dump -L -${level}uf - $fs | nice $PRI $BZIP > $dumpfile.bz2

Oh. That's clear enough: my echo command didn't match the command I actually tried to execute. Remove the -L from the command and it worked.


Saturday, 5 June 2021 Dereel Images for 5 June 2021
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Who destroyed my garden?
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Looking out the bedroom window this morning, I saw:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210605/big/Destroyed-garden-bed-1.jpeg
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That looks like a lawn with a couple of shrubs on it. But a couple of weeks ago I was just rejoicing in the first snowdrops of autumn, and in the second photo the daffodil shoots are clearly visible in the background:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210520/big/Snowdrops.jpeg
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Where are they now? Whippersnipped!


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210605/big/Destroyed-garden-bed-3.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210605/big/Destroyed-garden-bed-4.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210605/big/Destroyed-garden-bed-5.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210605/big/Destroyed-garden-bed-11.jpeg
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Clearly the gardeners did that yesterday. But why? Surely they could have seen the flowers, and last time we were here I discussed the matter with Nathan.

And that's not all. They completely removed many plants further to the west, including the violet ground cover and a prickly bush that we also discussed last time. Here last week and now (run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210529/big/south-bed.jpeg
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About the only thing they left behind was my Epazote bush, an annual that I was going to harvest. They pruned it! Again here last week and now (run the cursor over an image to compare it with the other):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210520/big/Epazote.jpeg
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So far I've been very happy with Bryan and Nathan, but they've certainly put their collective feet in it this time.


More dereel fun
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

A little more playing around with dereel today. First, take the memory out of eureso and put it in dereel, increasing dereel from 8 GB to 16 GB.

Booting wasn't quite what I expected. Firstly, it failed:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210606/big/Boot-fail-1.jpeg
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Haven't I seen that before? I'll have to check. And don't I just need to enter boot to boot? Yes. But then I saw:

real memory  = 12884901888 (12288 MB)
avail memory = 12384124928 (11810 MB)

Why not 16 GB? Did I seat one of the SIMMs incorrectly? The rear slot (on the left in the image) is unusually difficult to get at for a ThinkCentre. It's underneath the CPU cooler:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210606/big/ThinkCentre-4.jpeg
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Take it out, put it back in again, no difference. Check the SIMM. Dammit, they're only 2 GB SIMMs!

And that's about as far as I got. Somehow my time is so taken up with other things, including this diary, that I have little time for this kind of work. But it'll happen soon, I promise.

In passing, I should recall where the D-Sub connection for the display card is. It doesn't have a patch panel:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210606/big/ThinkCentre-3.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210606/big/ThinkCentre-3-detail.jpeg
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That's why the adjacent slot is open.


Sunday, 6 June 2021 Dereel Images for 6 June 2021
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Bad photo alignment
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Yesterday's comparison photos of the garden bed destruction were from my weekly house photo series, specifically one of the views from the south:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210605/big/house-s.jpeg
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They're taken from the same place every week, so they should look the same:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210529/big/house-s-0.jpeg
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Yes, they're aligned somewhat differently, but with fisheye projection they're all just on the surface of a sphere, so it shouldn't matter. Hugin aligned the images well, but when stitching them I got (run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210529/big/south-bed.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210605/big/south-bed.jpeg
Image title: south bed          Dimensions:          2892 x 1141, 668 kB
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Why is that? More head-scratching needed.


dereel X upgrade, next pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday I managed to avoid doing any work getting X configured on dereel. In principle all I needed was to get the configuration to arrange the three displays in the correct order, which in this case means :0.0 on D-Sub, :0.1 on DVI and :0.2 on HDMI. That's necessary at least because only the third display has an HDMI input, and on the second the D-Sub input is already in use.

Irritatingly, that meant that the non-X display was on the middle monitor, and it's stupid enough to change displays if one goes away. So when eureka:0.0 (on the same monitor) does a screen blank, it changes to dereel and doesn't come back when I restore the eureka displays. But when things are over and done with, that will no longer be a problem.

What was a problem, though, was that X wouldn't start. /var/log/Xorg.0.log said:

[ 11784.536] (II) LoadModule: "nvidia"
[ 11784.550] (WW) Warning, couldn't open module nvidia
[ 11784.550] (EE) Failed to load module "nvidia" (module does not exist, 0)
[ 11784.550] (EE) No drivers available.
...
[ 12110.446] (EE) NVIDIA: Failed to initialize the NVIDIA kernel module. Please see the
[ 12110.446] (EE) NVIDIA:     system's kernel log for additional error messages and
[ 12110.446] (EE) NVIDIA:     consult the NVIDIA README for details.

Oh. Where's the nividia driver? pkg said nothing about throwing it out. But it wasn't there. OK, install it, which worked fine. Start X. Only the middle monitor (on DVI) came up, and that in 640x480 mode. Why?

[ 12730.721] (II) NVIDIA(0): Validated MetaModes:
[ 12730.721] (II) NVIDIA(0):     "NULL"
[ 12730.721] (II) NVIDIA(0): Virtual screen size determined to be 640 x 480
[ 12730.721] (WW) NVIDIA(0): Unable to get display device for DPI computation.

The others showed the same message, but no display at all. Only later did I see:

[ 12730.409] (WW) VGA arbiter: cannot open kernel arbiter, no multi-card support

Why is this all so difficult? I didn't even get as far as I had been last August. How I hate this stuff!


Monday, 7 June 2021 Dereel → Napoleons → Dereel Images for 7 June 2021
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Where's my phone?, conclusion
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Where's the phone that I bought nearly 2 weeks ago? On Friday they sent it to Wendouree, apparently too late to get it to the post office on the same day. OK, what does AusPost tracking say today?

 
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And yes, the times are consistent wrong way round chronological. So it was transferred to the (unspecified) post office at 6:42 and then put in transit 7 minutes later. What does that mean? Called up the post office on 5342 0455 and was told that the packages were just being unloaded from the car, and that it would take about an hour, after they had scanned them.

Scan? Would that show up in the tracking? Yes!

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210607/big/Auspost-2.png
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So the entry at 6:42 simply meant that it had been “carded” (presumably an 20th century word for “scanned”), which also explains the lack of a post office name.

So off to Napoleons after breakfast to pick it up, which happened without incident at 11:53, according to the now-completed tracking. At least I have learnt something.


MARION for breakfast again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Some years ago I tried some Malaysian-style spice paste combinations from MARION'S KITCHEN (for some reason they have to shout). I found them acceptable but too expensive. Two years ago I tried their Phat Thai, which worked, but I tried different noodles. The package comes with its own rice sticks, and I should have tried those:

In the process of tidying out the pantry I found that I still had two packets of the mix. OK, let's do it more or less the way they intended. The rice sticks weighed 200 g, and they were to be cooked for 7-8 minutes. Did that and decided that it was too long. They also swelled up to 570 g, which should be enough for 3 portions. MARION said 4, and last time I decided it was only good for 2.

And under those circumstances the quantity of “meat” (in my case, a combination of chicken, dofu and prawn balls) was about right. The result:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210607/big/Phat-Thai.jpeg
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It tasted OK, but nothing special. Certainly nothing that would justify MARION's price (about $2 per portion), when the ALDI paste comes in at about $0.70.


Setting up Xiaomi Redmi 9T
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Unpacked the new Xiaomi Redmi 9T phone with some difficulty: it had been wrapped tightly in bubble foil, and I had difficulty unwrapping it.

The first thing I saw was a USB charger, outside the box. Why? There was another charger with European plug inside the box. Clearly not an Australian model. But what I wasn't expecting was how much bigger it was than previous phones:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210608/big/Phone-size-comparison-2.jpeg
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From left to right: Sλmsung G9100, Nokia 3, Xiaomi.

Documentation looked better than I expected. Warranty documentation written in flyspeck, and 100 pages of instructions, admittedly also in flyspeck! Better than I expected.

But worse than it looked. The instructions are in 15 languages, and most of them is the obligatory security boilerplate. Here is the entire usable content of the instructions:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210608/big/Xioami-instructions.jpeg
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I had to take a photo to read them, but it wasn't worth the trouble. This is a really modern phone! And the link www.mi.com/global/support/userguide gave me a model list that didn't include the Redmi 9T, only the Redmi Note 9T, which I believe is a different model. But it didn't make any difference, because it was just a copy of the printed version.

Searching on the web found this manual, which did differ from the printed version, but only by the breakage in the PDF, which produced hundreds of these but no display output:

Syntax Error: Invalid page count in page tree
Syntax Error: Page tree object is wrong type (stream)
Syntax Error: Page tree object is wrong type (array)

Finally I found this page, which at least describes the MIUI user interface, though it's not yet clear if it's any use.

OK, this isn't my first Android device. Plug it in and set up. First, of course: what shall I call it? It will usually be part of the house network, so it needs a Domain Name System entry. Previous phones have been called flachmann, talipon and taskumatti (Finnish for flachmann). And this one? Decided ultimately on hirse.

Next, setup:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210607/big/Screenshot_2021-03-29-01-41-44-636_com.android.provision-detail.jpeg
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Amazing! What languages are that? Melayu I recognize, but how many do? Vælg sprok? Danish or Norwegian? What a combination! Of course I was able to scroll down and set my language, but that's an amazing violation of POLA! Presumably this phone was intended for the Malaysian market, though that doesn't explain the Danish heading.

Carry on with the setup, including the obligatory upgrade to a newer version: Android 10 QKQ1.200830.002, presumably not a date, but also “security patch level” 2021-05-01. Also MIUI Global 12.0.9 Stable. And during the process it installed all the apps that I had on taskumatti, my Nokia 3.

But then I get questions like:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210607/big/Screenshot_2021-06-07-12-32-13-863_com.google.android.permissioncontroller-detail.jpeg
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Damn you, Xiaomi Cloud! You don't tell me who you are or what you do, but you want to use my phone to make phone calls! Somehow there's something seriously wrong here. They talk about security all the time, but they don't tell me any details.

One thing that I did really like is the fingerprint sensor to turn the thing on. Instead of some silly password or geometric “swipe”, just hold your finger (or, in my case, thumb) over the power button. Setup wasn't completely straightforward, though:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210607/big/Screenshot_2021-06-07-12-35-09-445_com.android.settings-detail.jpeg
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And yes, that's the entire text. Clearly it's confused. Continued, and sure enough:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210607/big/Screenshot_2021-06-07-12-35-26-532_com.android.settings-detail.jpeg
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OK, I've taken a number of screen shots. Time to download them to a real computer. But where's WiFi File Transfer? Oh. The list of apps isn't sorted. How do I do that? Of course, since this is a new version of Android, everything has been hidden somewhere else. Google searches were not very helpful. Some said that it wasn't possible. Others told me to open the “app drawer” by “swiping” up from the bottom. But that opens a voice assistant. OK, ask the voice assistant:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210607/big/Screenshot_2021-06-07-13-16-33-471_com.google.android.googlequicksearchbox-detail.jpeg
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Now isn't that helpful? It's just plain wrong! Pressing on the “apps” icon does nothing useful

Then I found this page which looks like it could possibly be useful, but requires more work then I wanted to go through at the time. After squinting at the app pages for a considerable time, came to the conclusion that the app simply wasn't there. But the toy shop told me that it was installed on all my “devices”.

What does the toy shop know? Went searching on hirse and found that it wasn't installed. OK, installed and started:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210607/big/Screenshot_2021-06-07-13-41-59-590_com.smarterdroid.wififiletransfer-detail.jpeg
Image title: Screenshot_2021 06 07 13 41 59 590_com.smarterdroid.wififiletransfer detail          Dimensions:          987 x 727, 58 kB
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Marvellous! Checking for an update didn't help, of course. Started it anyway, and it worked. For a while. Then, for no obvious reason, it hung. After a fair amount of retrying managed to get it working again. But somehow this is frustrating: the only two Android apps I really find useful are this one and the Mendhak GPS logger, which has also disappeared.


Pedro goes fishing
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

While walking today, Pedro disappeared off the side of the road and came back with something in his mouth:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210607/big/Pedro-with-yabbie-1.jpeg
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What's that? A Yabby!


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210607/big/Yabbie-1.jpeg
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Who would have thought to find one on the side of the road?


hirse camera
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

hirse, my new Xiaomi Redmi 9T mobile phone, advertises a really high-resolution camera: 48 MP, more than double that of any real camera I have. How good is it? While setting it up, I took a photo of the screen in front of it:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210607/big/Redmi-9T-1.jpeg
Image title: Redmi 9T 1          Dimensions:          2838 x 1793, 513 kB Display location on map
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Completely out of focus! And “only” 12 MP. It offers 48 MP as an extra, presumably the same way as my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II offers 80 MP. OK, try that:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210607/big/Redmi-9T-2.jpeg
Image title: Redmi 9T 2
Display location on map
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It's hard to say how good that could be, but clearly image stabilization is unknown to this device: the shutter speed was 1/50 s in each case. Later I tried under more controlled circumstances. Here at 12 MP and 48 MP, with the E-M1 Mark II for comparison:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210607/big/Redmi-camera-1.jpeg
Image title: Redmi camera 1          Dimensions:          4000 x 3000, 3280 kB Display location on map
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210607/big/Redmi-camera-1.jpeg
Image title: Redmi camera 1          Dimensions:          4000 x 3000, 3280 kB Display location on map
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210607/big/Oly-camera.jpeg
Image title: Oly camera          Dimensions:          5391 x 3888, 5794 kB
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At that size, the images don't look bad. How about some details? Here's a natural crop from the 12 MP and 20 MP images, along with a 50% reduced version of the 48 MP image:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210607/big/Redmi-camera-1-detail.jpeg
Image title: Redmi camera 1 detail
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210607/big/Redmi-camera-2-detail.jpeg
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And here's the natural size of the 48 MP image, along with a 100% expanded view of the Oly:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210607/big/Redmi-camera-2-detail-2.jpeg
Image title: Redmi camera 2 detail 2
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210607/big/Oly-camera-detail-2.jpeg
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I suppose that's not bad for the Xiaomi, but clearly not good either. Still, I had never intended to use it for photography. And only later did it occur to me that hirse is an anagram of “hires”.


Telling time with Android
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Another issue with all Android phones that I have seen is that they don't want to display seconds in their times. hirse came with a clock app that nicely did so, even by default. But what about on the screensaver? No, then the seconds go away, and there's no way to get them back.

Why? I can only assume that this is an energy saving thing. But I wish they'd offer it, at least as an option.


Tuesday, 8 June 2021 Dereel Images for 8 June 2021
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Microsoft disk thrashing
Topic: technology Link here

What's wrong with Microsoft “Windows” 10? Since last month's forced update, it seems to be trying its best to kill the disk: for no apparent reason, the system processes use 100% disk for minutes on end. I suppose I should replace it with an SSD, but what does it happen in the first place?

How I hate Microsoft!


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

Yesterday I managed to set up hirse, my new Xiaomi Redmi 9T mobile phone, without too many difficulties. But of course there were many loose ends.

First, what about a GPS logger? In the past I had used the Mendhak GPS logger, but that was no longer an option: the toy shop didn't know about it. I had had this problem before with taskumatti, and I had installed two others, both titled “GPS Logger”: BasicAirData and Peter Ho. They weren't a raging success: in fact, I couldn't get either to work. BasicAirData only ever showed this screen:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210609/big/GPS-logger-detail.jpeg
Image title: GPS logger detail          Dimensions:          1037 x 505, 35 kB
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That wasn't a hardware issue: the GPS status app showed a surprising number of satellites. And Peter Ho is too modern for me: no documentation, no obvious means of functioning. Yes, it displays coordinates, and it might save them, but it's far too polite to say where or in what format. So off Googling for mendhak, and I actually got a result from which I could download the app. But even more interesting was the content of that page, which I'll discuss below.

And while I was walking the dogs, I got another notification. And once again it was gone before I could see it, and the trick I had learnt (“swipe” down from the top) only brought me this screen:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210609/big/Control-centre.jpeg
Image title: Control centre          Dimensions:          1080 x 2340, 65 kB
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How I hate Android!


Android compatibility: the truth?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Last week I grumbled about the fact that Service Victoria's app doesn't support my old Sλmsung I9100: Android 4.1 is too old for it. And Callum Gibson defended the choice because of the effort involved in supporting such old (over 8 years!) systems.

And then I discovered that some apps are too old for modern Android! I had difficulty with the WiFi File Transfer, because it was too old. And today I spent some time looking for the Mendhak GPS logger. When I found it, the author explained the reason why it's no longer in the toy shop:

The core of the issue (why it gets removed) has been that GPSLogger supports a lot of older devices and frameworks, whereas the Play Store is always trying to get everyone onto the latest versions.

So: not a technical issue at all (well, not primarily), but a political one. Google, don't be evil!


More cooking times
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

“Schinkengriller” (sausages, which I call stinking gorilla) for dinner tonight. “Hair dryer” air fryer again? They're made with collagen skins, of course, and I've had my fun with them in the past. And somehow I don't expect them to get very brown. Started at 200° and watched them burst, one after the other:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210608/big/Schinkengriller-3.jpeg
Image title: Schinkengriller 3          Dimensions:          5184 x 3888, 2959 kB
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They weren't the only thing that wouldn't brown. The last couple of bags of chips seem not to want to brown either. They're done when they start to float:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210608/big/Chips-1.jpeg
Image title: Chips 1          Dimensions:          5184 x 3888, 2774 kB
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But they're not brown. Last time I left them longer. They didn't brown, but they did get very hard. I wonder if Australians don't like browned chips?


Wednesday, 9 June 2021 Dereel Images for 9 June 2021
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Still more Android fun
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Presumably as a result of practice, setting up hirse, my new Android phone, wasn't as difficult as I had feared. Of course, there were still things to be done. One was just plain finding installed apps. Much discussion on IRC, and lots of experimentation, and finally I got roughly what I was looking for. It seems that MIUI has two different ways of displaying apps. By default it's the old way, in pages “swiped” sideways, the way it was on my Sλmsung I9100. The problem is that I didn't find a way to sort the icons alphabetically, so I had to search the entire collection. The other way is the way it was in the Nokia 3: one long page, “swiped” vertically, and ordered alphabetically. And that, apparently, is what they call the “app drawer”. It seems that it can be subdivided into categories, but I didn't investigate. It's not even clear that it's a good idea. As I recall it,

It wasn't all plain sailing. One app that I clearly need to use is the toy shop. That's called “Google Play” in the app list. But all I found was “Google Pay”, which sounds ominous. But that was just a little trick they play: it's now called “Play Store”, and it's sorted accordingly.

And what about the Notifications display? I had become used to “swiping” down from the edge of the device, but when I did that I only got:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210609/big/Control-centre.jpeg
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By chance, Chris Bahlo came along, so I asked her. Simple: “swipe” down from the edge of the device. And it worked! Maybe Android just doesn't like me.

It took a little bit of experimentation to discover that you can't just “swipe” from anywhere. From the left of the top side of the phone, you get Notifications. From the middle or right you get Control centre. Obvious, isn't it? That's presumably why it isn't documented.

And while grumbling about GPS log apps, I tried the BasicAirData GPS logger again. How about that, it worked! And maybe it would be useful. But first I needed it to stop finding satellites, and it seemed to be remarkably sensitive. Even inside it claimed to find a number of satellites. So I put it inside the pantry, and it still claimed to find something. In the end I put it in a Faraday cage of a couple of dog feeding bowls:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210609/big/Shielded-Android.jpeg
Image title: Shielded Android          Dimensions:          5184 x 3888, 2244 kB
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That's remarkably sensitive. For the fun of it, put the phone in a real Faraday cage, one of the microwave ovens.

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/14) ~ 22 -> ping hirse
PING hirse.lemis.com (192.109.197.226): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 192.109.197.226: icmp_seq=0 ttl=64 time=142.930 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.226: icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=332.963 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.226: icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=491.393 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.226: icmp_seq=4 ttl=64 time=202.241 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.226: icmp_seq=5 ttl=64 time=199.340 ms
^C
--- hirse.lemis.com ping statistics ---
7 packets transmitted, 5 packets received, 28.6% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 142.930/273.773/491.393/125.410 ms

Not exactly spectacular performance, but how come it works at all?

And what about the status of WiFi File Transfer? Discovered that I was also using an FTP server for automatically downloading GPS track logs; why not use it for other things. There aren't very many: photos and screen shots, mainly. Wrote a primitive shell script, which will change:

fh ()
{
  case $1 in
      -g)                       # GPS logs
          ftp -i ftp://$user:$password@hirse:2121/Android/data/com.mendhak.gpslogger/files/ ;;
      -p)                       # photos
          ftp -i ftp://$user:$password@hirse:2121/DCIM/Camera/ ;;
      -s)                       # screen shots
          ftp -i ftp://$user:$password@hirse:2121/DCIM/Screenshots/ ;;
      *)                        # home directory (/storage/emulated/0/)
          ftp -i ftp://$user:$password@hirse:2121/ ;;
  esac
}

But that requires listing and deciding what to download. Almost before I used it, I thought of something more tailored to the matter at hand:

getss ()
{
    DATE=$1
    # This will fail badly unless the directory name is a date.
    if [ "$DATE" = "" ]; then
      DATE=`pwd`
    fi
    DATE=`basename $DATE`
    DATE=`echo $DATE | sed 's:\(....\)\(..\)\(..\):\1-\2-\3:'`
  cd orig
  echo mget '*$DATE*' | ftp -i ftp://$user:$password@hirse:2121/DCIM/Screenshots/
# set the modification timestamp to time of shot
  datescreenshot
  cd ..
}

That's just a hack, and it will change, but it works.


Pedant's revolt
Topic: language, opinion Link here
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C8tQCthW0AI-alt?format=jpg


Mobile phones and supercomputers
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

When I started in the business, the supercomputer was the Control Data 7600, and for a long time I measured all computers by its performance. Basic parameters: 2 CPUs, each with 8 functional units (I think; it's surprisingly difficult to find details). Cycle time 27.5 ns, so if all 16 functional units were running (which never happens), it would run at about 580 MIPS.

And my new Xiaomi Redmi 9T mobile phone? According to it has “Octa-core (4x2.0 GHz Kryo 260 Gold & 4x1.8 GHz Kryo 260 Silver)”. How many functional units? I couldn't find out. But it seems that they would have to be faster.

OK, try a benchmark: xOPS Cross-Platform CPU Benchmark, which shows its results in tastefully illegible red on black:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210610/big/Screenshot_2021-06-10-13-07-38-984_xcom.saplin.xOPS-detail.jpeg
Image title: Screenshot_2021 06 10 13 07 38 984_xcom.saplin.xOPS detail
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Yes, that would outperform a 7600. According to the Wikipedia page, the 7600 could deliver 10 megaflops with hand-assembled code. Here we have nearly 1000 times that much. But I'm left wondering why a machine with a cycle time of 27.5 ns and 16 functional units can only deliver 10 megaflops. Did the multiply and divide operations take multiple cycles? I really need to find out more of the details that I knew 50 years ago.

Now to find a 7600 emulator that will run on a mobile phone, hopefully in real time.


Thursday, 10 June 2021 Dereel → Napoleons → Dereel Images for 10 June 2021
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Power fail
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

The weather has been terrible all week, and we were expecting power outages. As a result, I had set my photovoltaic system to keep the battery charged between 60% and 80%, just in case we had a longer outage.

Woke up at about 6:45. It was cold. Should I turn on the air conditioner? First check whether we have mains power or not. Outside and saw the oven clocks blinking. Yes, we had power, but we had also had a total power failure:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210610/big/PV-fail.png
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From 1:26:27 until 4:15:01, nearly 3 hours. And although at the beginning the battery was charged at 79%, it only lasted until 3:23:33.

How could I have done better? Once again, the air conditioner is the culprit. The dirty green spikes show when it cut in, three times. If I could finally find circuitry to disable the air conditioner when the mains fails, we would have survived the outage.

On the other hand, it wouldn't have made much difference if it had happened in the daytime. It was particularly dreary, and I think we had the lowest daily PV power generation I have seen, only 2.61 kWh. Even on normal rainy days in winter I expect the best part of 10 kWh.


Recovering computers
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

How did the computers weather the power failure? Frustratingly, eureka's hardware doesn't recover from a power failure: I have to manually power it on, and no UEFI setup option can change that. distress, the Microsoft “Windows” 10 box, came up in its usual disk-eating state. teevee came up with no problems at all, but I still needed to start X and set the key map. lagoon came up, but couldn't mount NFS file systems from eureka, so I thought it easier to reboot it after eureka was up.

And eureka? It doesn't want to boot, presumably a variant on the issues I have with dereel:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210610/big/Boot-fail-detail.jpeg
Image title: Boot fail detail          Dimensions:          3566 x 961, 381 kB
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In this case, my guess is that I installed a newer variant of the boot code, but that the support in the file system was missing (no directory /boot/lua). Somehow things seem to be more fragile nowadays. It's simple to recover: just type boot at the prompt and all is well.

But how do I enter boot? The hardware also doesn't like just any USB keyboard, including the Sun Type 7 keyboard that I normally use, so I had to try two others.

After that, all came up well. But there are things that I can't start from the boot scripts, notably the PV and network monitoring stuff. Time to start an “after boot” page.


iGO to Napoleons
Topic: technology, health, opinion, photography Link here

A rather soggy “you have mail” slip from Australia Post in the letter box today: my newest Nikon F was waiting for me at the post office. Time to try out the Android version of iGO on hirse. That's effectively the same software that I use on my standalone navigators.

I had tried installing it 9 months ago, but failed to install any maps. Try again. Yes, it installed, even very quickly: this phone seems to have much faster networking than the Nokia 3: it displayed rates of over 2 MB/s, coming close to the speed of my network link.

The iGO interface is different, but vaguely familiar. I still need to find my way around it, but it seems to be missing some data that the standalone version has, notably the “Points of Interest”.

The real question, though: why are the maps so expensive? The Australia maps cost $27.02 (what kind of $?) and don't even seem to include POIs.


COVID-19 QR scan
Topic: health, opinion Link here

While picking up my camera in Napoleons, I had to wait while two other people were served. And then, in the middle of the shop, I saw a lonely-looking QR code. Ah! That's the thing I was talking about last week. In the meantime I have installed the app on hirse, so set to to register.

It worked, but not without a surprise:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210610/big/Screenshot_2021-06-10-15-22-04-069_au.gov.vic.service.digitalwallet.citizen-detail.jpeg
Image title: Screenshot_2021 06 10 15 22 04 069_au.gov.vic.service.digitalwallet.citizen detail
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Who's Mabel Torres? Presumably the proprietress. But who knows that? And of course it couldn't register things immediately, because I disable mobile data. Instead, I got:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210610/big/Screenshot_2021-06-10-15-22-04-069_au.gov.vic.service.digitalwallet.citizen-detail-2.jpeg
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But probably the silliest thing was that I had to enter my name and phone number on the spot. There wasn't any option to set things up ahead of time:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210610/big/Screenshot_2021-06-10-15-17-54-174_au.gov.vic.service.digitalwallet.citizen-detail.jpeg
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No idea why it was greyed out.


What size mobile phone?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

One of the really frustrating things about using a mobile phone as a computer is that they're so tiny. My old Sλmsung I9100 has a display with 11 cm diagonal, about 4⅓" or 0.33% of the area of our TV display. That's barely usable. And when I first got involved with Android, I chose a device with a marginally larger display: a 10" tablet, a whopping 1.7% of the TV display.

But tablets are obviously too big. Phones are the way of the future: they need to fit into your shirt pocket, it would seem:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210610/big/Greg-with-Samsung-2.jpeg
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Still, my Nokia 3 had a somewhat larger display than the Sλmsung, 5" or 0.44% of the TV. That meant that it no longer completely fit into the shirt pocket:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210610/big/Greg-with-Nokia.jpeg
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Still, that was nothing that upset me. It wasn't until I got hirse that things became obvious. Now it's 6.53", 0.76% percent of the TV:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210610/big/Greg-with-Xiaomi-4.jpeg
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Yes, that's considerably better. The tiny percentages hide the fact that it now has 2.3 times the area of the Sλmsung. But then it has a resolution of 1080x2340 pixels (a little over 2.5 MP). In principle I think that's better. But gradually we're running out of pocket.


firefox display refusal
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Today's photos started off with a photo of the garden and two screen shots, the first a detail of the second. But one of my firefoxes didn't want to know:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210609/big/Bad-firefox.png
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That text on the right is displayed when the image can't be displayed. Why? Other browsers can show it, so it's clearly not an issue with the image.

But look at that name! What an obscenity! http://www.lemis.com/grog/Photos/20210609/small/Toyshop-advertisement.jpeg. My ad blocker (and others) wanted nothing to do with it, though they were happy enough with the name of the detail image, http://www.lemis.com/grog/Photos/20210609/small/Toyshop-advertisement-detail.jpeg. Change the name to http://www.lemis.com/grog/Photos/20210609/small/Toyshop-exhortation.jpeg and all was well.


Friday, 11 June 2021 Dereel → Cape Clear → Dereel Images for 11 June 2021
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USB file system confusion
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Into the office this morning to find that my nightly backups didn't work as intended: the backup file system for eureka had overflowed. Further investigation showed that the four external USB disks had been probed in the wrong sequence, and I had backed up to the /dump file system instead of the /backups file system.

Another item for my “after boot” page. But shouldn't there be an option to mount based on the disk label? I had some recollection, but I couldn't find it. Maybe it's was something that I did with Vinum decades ago. For now, put a file /Iam on each root file system so that I can at least identify the disks.


More Android surprises
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I'm gradually coming to terms with hirse, my new Xiaomi Redmi 9T mobile phone. But there are typical modern things like this:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210611/big/Screenshot_2021-06-11-13-48-17-036_com.miui.miservice.jpeg
Image title: Screenshot_2021 06 11 13 48 17 036_com.miui.miservice          Dimensions:          1080 x 2340, 99 kB
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Clearly a feedback page. But for what? Ah, it's too polite to say. I may never know, so certainly I can't feed anything back.


More navigation apps
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Going to Pene Kirk's in Cape Clear gave me an opportunity to try out more navigation apps. This time I decided to compare iGO and Sygic.

I didn't have an address for Pene. I know where it is, and I easily established the coordinates, but how do I enter them? iGo knows that I'm in the USA or somewhere like that, so it offers a west (negative) longitude by default:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210611/big/iGO-coordinates.jpeg
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But it accepted my guess of an E to represent east. And it took me down my short cut via Harrisons Road, which, like just about every map I've seen lately, it calls Stones Road. Sygic wanted to take me down the main road.

The map display was similar enough. Here iGO, then Sygic.


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210611/big/iGO-map-1.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210611/big/Sygic-map.jpeg
Image title: Sygic map          Dimensions:          1080 x 2340, 103 kB
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There's not that much to choose from, though the Sygic display hides the current time. Instead it shows its guess of arrival time, 12 minutes, compared to iGO's guess of 17 minutes. That shows why I never pay attention to these guesses. And so far I haven't found a way of configuring Sygic to show other things.

Voice guidance: iGO promises street names, but doesn't deliver. Sygic delivers, but when turning it can't get used to the idea that it's the first turn that is needed; it said things like “take the second left” or “take the third right” when there were no other roads involved.

As shown in the first image, Sygic offers a functional icon even when other apps have the screen. As far as I can see, iGO doesn't offer that functionality. When it's not on the screen, it carries on running, but in delayed mode (about 1 km behind during my trip). I thought that the voice guidance had been muted, but some things came through, like “in 300 turn left”, about 500 m after the turn.

Is it worth pursuing iGO? It does seem to have more accurate guidance, at least in this case, but it's ridiculously expensive, and it's far too polite to say, for example, if updates are included in those prices. And compared to the standalone system, it doesn't seem to offer any POIs. I have until next Thursday to try it out, but only one journey planned in that time.


Saturday, 12 June 2021 Dereel Images for 12 June 2021
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Pedro: I do it deliberately
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Yvonne into my office this morning, looking not very happy. Pedro had escalated his behaviour: three urinations and one defecation overnight. He must go!

OK, time to look for a new dog. From the start I had wanted another borzoi, but Yvonne didn't. Too big. But Pedro is a big dog, and when he's fully grown there won't be much difference in size between him and a Borzoi bitch. OK, I can make some enquiries. Took a look at the puppies available page had precious little to offer: three “mature dogs” in Sale and a litter planned for next month—in Brisbane.

What about Facebook? Posted an enguiry on Borzoi Lovers Victoria. After posting the enquiry, discovered that the last action was in November 2020. Clearly not a high volume group.

OK, found Borzoi in Australia, which is much more active. And how about that, got a response about two different people, one of whom, Karen Nott, we met 10 years ago, but who didn't want to sell us a dog at the time. She's also not far from the others, in Stratford on Avon, where Gill and Kline used to run the theatre.

The other, Mandy Boyle, has in principle exactly what we're looking for: two 12 week old bitches. After working out how to handle Facebook Messenger, discovered that she appears to know us: “Hi Greg, I've got 2 x 12 week old girls if you were interested, they go back to some of the dogs you've had in the past”. Where is she? In Briagolong! That's close to the breeders in Sale and Stratford.

More discussion, and it seems that things aren't as clear-cut as we thought. It was she who put the adult dogs on line. But apparently they belong to Karen Nott. And more digging suggests that Karen is Mandy's mother. So if we go there, we could see all of them.

And will we go there? Yvonne had seen my posts—in other words, she had been looking at borzois too. So maybe we really will end up getting another borzoi.

And Pedro? We didn't let him out of our sight. While watching the news on TV in the afternoon, we put him in the crate, where he did quite well.


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210612/big/Dog-cage-8.jpeg
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Halfway through I decided to let him out and see whether nature was calling. Went outside, played a little with a somewhat reluctant Nikolai, and came back in again. I carried on watching TV for a couple of minutes, then got up to do something. In that time he had defecated and urinated in the kitchen!

That's not normal, and it's an order of magnitude worse than what he had been doing before. My guess is that he was pissed off (literally!) that I had removed the ottoman on which he so liked sitting, and that this was his means of protest.

Much soul-searching. Yvonne has got to the other side of her soul: he goes. Sally Reeve, who sold him to us, put in an advertisement for us. We'll see how well that goes.


More Android fun
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

After yesterday's journey to Cape Clear, today was the time to evaluate the track logs. Where are they?

I know the ones for Mendhak GPS logger: /storage/emulated/0/Android/data/com.mendhak.gpslogger/files/. OK, take a look with ftp. Connection refused! The ftp server had stopped. Restart the server and try again. But there was no track log there! GPS logger had also stopped. So had one of the navigation apps. In fact, hardly anything was running any more. What's going on here?

OK, where are the track logs from iGO and Sygic? How do you find them? Presumably the app authors expect you to “swipe” all over the place with magic incantations instead of just specifying a path name. And ftp won't show a recursive file list. What I really need is interactive shell access. In the past I have looked for sshd and failed. But one can still hope...

Yes! “SSH/SFTP Server - Terminal”. Installed it and found:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/14) ~/Photos/20210612 103 -> ssh -p 2222 grog@hirse
Password:
:/ $ ls
ls: .: Permission denied

Well that's helpful, isn't it?

1|:/ $ echo *
*
:/ $ cd /storage
:/storage $ ls
emulated self

After a while, I got some information. In particular, ls -lR works, so I was able to establish that iGO stores its track logs in /storage/emulated/0/Android/data/com.nng.igo.primong.igoworld/files/save/tracks/profiles/01. And a number of other programs are available:

:/storage/emulated/0 $ ping eureka
PING eureka.lemis.com (192.109.197.137) 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from eureka.lemis.com (192.109.197.137): icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=41.1 ms
64 bytes from eureka.lemis.com (192.109.197.137): icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=22.0 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.137: icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=18.4 ms
^C
--- eureka.lemis.com ping statistics ---
3 packets transmitted, 3 received, 0% packet loss, time 2003ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 18.462/27.228/41.154/9.957 ms
:/storage/emulated/0 $ df
Filesystem                             1K-blocks     Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/block/dm-3                          2664512  2656376         0 100% /
tmpfs                                    2931444     1124   2930320   1% /dev
none                                     2931444        0   2931444   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
tmpfs                                    2931444        0   2931444   0% /mnt
tmpfs                                    2931444        0   2931444   0% /apex
/dev/block/dm-6                             5008     4980         0 100% /apex/com.android.media@301800204
/dev/block/dm-7                            18400    18368         0 100% /apex/com.android.media.swcodec@301700015
/dev/block/dm-8                              836      808        12  99% /apex/com.android.tzdata@293500000
/dev/block/loop5                            1688     1660         0 100% /apex/com.android.resolv@290000000
/dev/block/loop6                            5196     5164         0 100% /apex/com.android.conscrypt@290000000
/dev/block/loop7                           98392    98356         0 100% /apex/com.android.runtime@1
/dev/block/loop8                             232       36       192  16% /apex/com.android.apex.cts.shim@1
/dev/block/dm-4                          1354332  1350204         0 100% /product
/dev/block/dm-5                          1278136  1274076         0 100% /vendor
/dev/block/bootdevice/by-name/cache       364504     2136    350572   1% /cache
/dev/block/bootdevice/by-name/cust        999320   735048    237404  76% /cust
/dev/block/bootdevice/by-name/userdata 111866748 12621656  99114020  12% /data
/data/media                            111866748 12621656  99114020  12% /storage/emulated

It makes it look almost like a real computer, though there are some limitations:

:/storage/emulated/0 $ ps -A
USER           PID  PPID     VSZ    RSS WCHAN            ADDR S NAME
u0_a309      19028 18788   33608   3224 __arm64_sys_rt_sigsuspend 0 S sh
u0_a309      19426 19028   36152   3876 0                   0 R ps

Still, there's stuff to explore now.

Other issues that I have are that ftp mget commands don't work correctly: without any explanation, it doesn't always transfer all files. What's going on here?


Phone image quality
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday I took a couple of images with hirse, my new phone, in the darker corners of my office. How good are they?


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210611/big/Office-2.jpeg
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Good enough if you're not fussy. How about a crop (the box next to the microscope at top left):

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210611/big/Office-2-detail.jpeg
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That's not spectacular. Surely a Real Camera can do better:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210612/big/Office-1-detail.jpeg
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Oh. Yes, marginally better, but still not acceptable. That was taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and the Leica DG Summilux 15 mm f/1.7 ASPH., which is closest to the phone in angle of view and aperture. But the light was different, so it was taken at 1/6 s instead of the 1/25 that the camera used. Could it be camera shake? Surely not with an E-M1 Mark II. Try at 1/25 s:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210612/big/Office-3-detail.jpeg
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Not camera shake, not good. I bought this lens second-hand. Could it be that there's something wrong with it? Try the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60 mm f/2.8-4:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210612/big/Office-4-detail.jpeg
Image title: Office 4 detail
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Better, but still not good! This was taken at f/2.9 because that's all it could do. Focus issues, maybe? It was focused on the middle of the image. Try setting on the box:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210612/big/Office-5-detail.jpeg
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Bingo! And back to the 15 mm Summilux:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210612/big/Office-6-detail.jpeg
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So maybe the phone would do better too if it focused on the box, though the shorter focal length should have given it much more depth of field. But how do I focus first? Cameras have a two-step shutter release, so I can focus with the first pressure, recompose and take the photo. I don't know how to do that with a phone.


Sunday, 13 June 2021 Dereel Images for 13 June 2021
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Begone foul cracker!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Into the office this morning to find 2000 mail messages, most of which looked like:

 937 N + 12-06-2021 To grog@lemis.c (   6) World Wide Web Owner N + FAILURE: /%29%20AND%204985%3D%28SELECT%20%28CASE%20WHEN%20%284985%3D4985%29%20THEN%204985%20ELSE%20%28SELECT%205052%20UNI
 938 N + 12-06-2021 To grog@lemis.c (   6) World Wide Web Owner N + FAILURE: /%29%20AND%207697%3D%28SELECT%20%28CASE%20WHEN%20%287697%3D6953%29%20THEN%207697%20ELSE%20%28SELECT%206953%20UNI
 940 N + 12-06-2021 To grog@lemis.c (   6) World Wide Web Owner N + FAILURE: /%27%20OR%20NOT%201661%3D2897%20OR%20%27rxVi%27%3D%27YQTNgrog/Rant/reverse-horror.php/ <- http://www.lemis.com:8

All from the same address, of course:

Remote IP:      45.146.166.55
Client:         Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.8.1.9) Gecko/20071103 Firefox/2.0.0.9

OK, time to finally set up a firewall to block idiots like that. We don't need much:

ipfw add 00051 deny ip from 45.146.166.55 to any
ipfw add 00400 allow ip from any to any
ipfw show

First, check that I'm not sitting on the branch that I'm sawing off:

=== root@www (/dev/pts/10) ~ 14 -> ipfw show
ipfw: retrieving config failed: Protocol not available

Oh. What do I need? eureka has:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/25) ~ 1 -> kldstat
Id Refs Address            Size     Name
...
10    2 0xffffffff82c1e000 114ed    ipfw.ko

OK, we can do that:

=== root@www (/dev/pts/10) ~ 15 -> kldload ipfw.ko

Aaargh! No response! I have cut off my branch! And taken the server off the Internet. Just loading the module adds an implicit rule deny ip from any to any. Damn, how do I access the system console? Off to look for my Vultr “dashboard”. All sorts of things to choose from, but nothing that says “console”:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210613/big/Vultr-1.png
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Where is it? Settings? No. Finally off searching for how to do it. FOOL! Just click on the console icon:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210613/big/Vultr-2.png
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OK, got that, but not much help:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210613/big/Vultr-4.png
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OK, more FAQs. This page says:

If you see a gray screen with the Server disconnected message, you should restart your server.

(code 1006 image as above)

You may see a completely black screen. Try pressing ENTER a few times to wake up the server. You may have something running on the console that has blanked the screen. You can also try CTRL + C to interrupt the server.

If a reboot doesn't resolve the issue:

Ping the server by IP address to be sure it's running.

Run an MTR report.

Open a ticket to have your server rebooted. Include the ping and MTR results.

OK, it's clear that ping and mtr (which is presumably what they mean) won't work. And how do they expect me to reboot the server when I don't have any access? OK, send off a ticket:

I accidentally locked myself out of the server and require urgent access to the console, but I get an error 1006. I also get this from ffm.lemis.com, which is working normally, so this appears to be an issue with your interface.

Please fix this urgently. The server is dead in the water. If you can't give me console access, please reboot the server.

That was sent at 2021-06-12 23:15:50 UTC. How long should I wait? To my surprise, I had an answer less than 2 minutes later at 2021-06-12 23:17:41.

The web console for the referenced instance is functioning presently. Please be sure to review your local firewall, browser, and proxy configurations. It appears that something within your network is blocking the noVNC console traffic.

Hmm. Yes, I have a proxy, but why should that be a problem. Tried a direct connection, and how about that, it worked!

Sort of. I seem to recall this from other occasions, but I can't find it in my diary. Many characters, including c, h and l, didn't echo and presumably didn't work. How about pasting into the window? Doesn't work either. But it offers a function “Send Clipboard”. OK, I hate clipboards, but we can do that. Fire up xclipboard and copy the commands to it. Click “Send Clipboard”. A new window:

 
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And nothing in it. What's this promise of a clipboard?

OK, paste into the window. That doesn't work either! I had to type my commands in, one at a time!

Finally it was done. To my surprise, I had been off the net less than 30 minutes. Here my list of inaccessible destinations:

1623538884 29.7903 5 0.0 # Sun 13 Jun 2021 09:01:24 AEST 19.943 ms
1623538955 30.0237 4 0.0 www    # Sun 13 Jun 2021 09:02:35 AEST 19.820 ms
...
1623540543 31.0694 4 0.0 www    # Sun 13 Jun 2021 09:29:03 AEST 19.209 ms
1623540547 30.9732 5 0.0        # Sun 13 Jun 2021 09:29:07 AEST 19.844 ms

So: full marks for Vultr support personnel. Very negative marks for their console interface and their documentation. In summary, wrote:

Thank you for the quick response.  I was able to access the server and fix the problem.

Nevertheless, there appear to be serious problems with console access:

* This is the only application I have seen that doesn't work through a proxy.  You should at least warn people when they use it.  https://www.vultr.com/docs/vultr-web-console-faq/ is just plain stupid: "Restart your server" (how?).

* The interface is terrible!
  I couldn't enter some characters, noticeably l and h.
  I couldn't paste into the window.
  The "clipboard" feature ignores the clipboard!  Instead it opens a window to type into.  I can't even paste into it!

I suspect that I'm not the first person to complain about this, but please add my complaint to the (presumably long) list.  An alternative command-line interface would be far preferable.

Again a quick response. Will be forwarded to the developers, who presumably have a big bin of such messages.


Unexpected finds
Topic: animals Link here

Walking the dogs today, Pedro discovered something unexpected:


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Clearly a tortoise shell. I wonder how many tortoises there really are here in the wild, and if they breed here or whether they escaped from some home.


Piccola's accident
Topic: animals, photography, opinion Link here

In the evening, Piccola wanted to go into the laundry to finish off her dinner. Accident: she eats her food on a mat on top of the clothes dryer, which is on top of the second dish washer, far from the reach of dogs. But it slipped and landed on top of the washing machine:


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That sounded like a photo opportunity. It didn't quite work out the way I expected, but I did get some shots that were interesting because of the perspective:


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Cats and dogs
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Pedro may be a little rough with Piccola, but she forgives him:


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Monday, 14 June 2021 Dereel Images for 14 June 2021
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Still more Android fun
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Gradually I'm coming to terms with hirse, my new Xiaomi Redmi 9T. There are still a few rough edges to work out, of course.

The most obvious one was the continual app disappearance: I continually needed to restart things, for no obvious reason. But Andy Snow explained: it's a feature, not a bug. The apps that get stopped are ones that use the most power, and this page explains how to fix it—if you happen to be using a 3 year old version of MIUI.

Still, it hasn't changed completely beyond recognition. The instructions about “becoming a developer” no longer seem to apply, I think, but this sequence seems to be the way I went:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210614/big/Battery-save-config-3.jpeg
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Turn off the tick marks in the last screen and hopefully things will be OK. It's interesting to note that the “COVID Safe” application was included in the shoot-down list.

And how much power will the thing use now? I've been surprised at how long the battery lasts. I'll have to keep an eye on it.

Apart from that, there's also an issue with the ftp server. To download the screenshots for a day I typically generate:

  echo mget '*2021-06-14*' | ftp -i ftp://android:hidden@hirse:2121/DCIM/Screenshots/

That should work, but on many occasions it stops before it transfers all the files. Why? Whose fault is it?


The new Nikon, finally
Topic: photography Link here

I received a new Nikon F last Thursday, but I haven't had time to look at it until now. Gradually I'm accumulating quite a collection of cameras, not all of interest:


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From top to bottom, left to right: Exakta II, Edixa Reflex, Nikon F (the old one, with Photomic FT finder), Nikon F (the new one) and Nikon FM2. Then Asahiflex 1a, Asahi Pentax S3, Asahi Pentax SV, Asahi Pentax “Spotmatic”, Asahi Pentax KM.

Below a Praktica Nova, Pentax Z1, Canon 20D and Minox BL, then Nikon “Coolpix” 880, Kodak M1093 IS, Canon IXY 200F, Nikon “Coolpix” L1, Olympus E-PM1 and a Samsung VP-L900 video camera..

And the “new” Nikon? It's black, serial number 6910789, and comes with a Photomic TN viewfinder:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210614/big/Nikon-F-Photomic-2.jpeg
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According to the serial number list it was made between May and August 1968. It's in reasonable condition (here with the Nikkor 35 mm f/1.4 that I got last September):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210614/big/Nikon-F-Photomic-6.jpeg
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Somebody has been particularly aggressive trying to change the battery:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210614/big/Nikon-F-Photomic-8.jpeg
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According to this page it's a Photomic TN, built between 1967 and 1968, and thus matching the camera quite well. So now to find out how I get it off the camera. It will be interesting to compare the mountings between the two cameras.


Tuesday, 15 June 2021 Dereel Images for 15 June 2021
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Goodbye Pedro, hello Lara?
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

It looks as if it's going to happen: Pedro goes. I can't say I'm happy, but maybe it's for the best. And there has been quite a bit of interest in the advertisement that Sally put in for us.

And Yvonne has really decided that she wants a borzoi. The dogs that we had identified in Stratford and Briagolong have mainly evaporated: out of the 5 we found, only one is still available, conveniently the one we considered the most suitable. So: buy her? I suppose the fact that we already have a name for her (Larissa/Lara) is an indication.


Travel in the time of COVID
Topic: health, opinion Link here

OK, how do we get to Briagolong? My navigation apps are in agreement: through the middle of Melbourne.

But Melbourne's in “lockdown”, with a maximum distance of 25 km allowed. Are we allowed to drive through? Off checking online. To my surprise, the government seems to have finally set up a central page with the misleading URL https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/. Why that, where everywhere else (and even reluctantly on this page) they use the more accurate term COVID-19? Anyway, off to crawl through that, and of course found no information on the topic. Phone number? There's one for health enquiries, not my issue. Ah, there we go:

If your enquiry is related to coronavirus health concerns or current restrictions, please call the dedicated coronavirus hotline 1800 675 398.

OK, did that, and despite warnings got through pretty quickly. “&*(&(* Y*(&*(& &Y*(& * (*&*((”? Huh? I really didn't understand a single word. On the second attempt discovered that he wanted to know my post code, reasonable enough under the circumstances. Asked my question, and he told me the answer was on that page. But he was prepared to tell me: yes, I can drive through Melbourne as long as I don't stop. Good. But a reference number would be better. Sorry, we don't do that. He did give me his name (or code), Huy, and I have the time of the call (16:10).


Sending SMS
Topic: technology, general, animals, opinion Link here

One of the people interested in buying Pedro, all communicating by SMS on phones. Yvonne spoke to one of them today, and she wanted details by “text”.

How do you do that? Slide (or “swipe”?) over the surface of a phone? That way madness lies. I recall some interface I have used in the past, but I couldn't find it now. OK, what's IRC for? Asked and got a reply from Daniel O'Connor: Messages.app. On an Apple.

I can do that, though I had to reboot fwaggle: it didn't do so automatically after last week's power failure.

-bash: Messages.app: command not found.

OK, how do you start it? Daniel offered:

open -a Messages.app

UGH! What does it expect me to see inside? And why?

Of course, that's not the Apple way. Find a meaningless icon on the bottom of the screen and click on it:

 
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Aaargh! It wants me to use an Apple ID to access local devices! That horrible thing that I spent so much effort to get rid of years ago! Should I do it anyway?

No. Apple doesn't want to know about non-Apple devices. It only offers connection to Apple devices. So it's useless to me.

But distress, my Microsoft 10 box, has a thing called “Your Phone” (and strangely not “My Phone”). Can it do it? Yes! Problem solved.

But then I found a different solution: Google Messages. And how about that, since it's web-based, it works just as well on FreeBSD Now isn't that better than Apple's NIH approach?

Well, I'm not sure. According to the support page,

On your phone, you need:
  1. The latest version of Messages
  2. Wi-Fi or data connection
  3. Android 5.0 or higher. Learn how to check your Android version.

RIP, interoperability. Daniel O'Connor tried with his iPhone and confirmed that he had only very limited support. As I said,

* groggyhimself wonders how long it will be before Google and Apple refuse access from
  the competitor's kit.
<Docco> what competitors?
<Docco> oh you mean apple blocking google and vice versa
<Docco> that'd be turning the smartphone cold war hot I guess
<groggyhimself> Yes, it would take a while.
<groggyhimself> But in principle what they're doing now is not very helpful either.

But on almost every occasion where I have to do with Apple, I run into these deliberate interoperability issues. In principle it's technically better than Microsoft, but the attitude disgusts me.


Removing Nikon TN finder
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Playing around with my new Nikon F again today, the one with the Photomic TN viewfinder.. How do you remove the viewfinder? Spent some time looking for instructions, but the only one that claimed to be for the TN was really an instruction manual for the camera fitted with the viewfinder, and it didn't describe how to remove it.

OK, a question for the Nikon Collectors group on Facebook. After a while I looked: no answer, but 4 likes:

 
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I'll never understand these things.


Navigation confusion
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yvonne will pick up a device (as it happens, an iPad) for me tomorrow, so set up the real GPS navigator for her to find the place. And from there she wanted to go to M.C.Physio, so I searched for that in the POIs. Yes, it has it, twice in fact:


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Now isn't that helpful. Same address, two different distances. How did they manage that?


Wednesday, 16 June 2021 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 16 June 2021
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More MIUI assassinations
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

hirse still continues to wake in the morning with fewer apps running than on the night before. What's going on? On checking, discovered that most of the apps that were ticked in this list, and which I had painstakingly unticked, were ticked again:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210614/big/Battery-save-config-5-detail.jpeg
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But there's more. You can do an app-by-app configuration. In fact, it seems that to get it to behave, you must do an app-by-app configuration, and of course all my favourite apps were on the “chop” list. Unfortunately, it was so well hidden that I can't find it again.


Dentist again
Topic: health Link here

Off to Ballarat for a dentist's appointment. Last time he had wanted to extract a wisdom tooth to fill the tooth next to it, and I should had had an X-ray done, but somehow it fell into the too-hard basket, and then I lost the referral slip.

OK, new referral slip, and new radiology lab in the process. Also more discussion. There's an alternative that doesn't require removing the tooth: bore straight down. Sounds good, and we'll do it the week after next. It didn't occur to me until later that he had come up with this alternative after I asked for a second opinion.


QR codes in practice
Topic: health, general, opinion Link here

At the dentist's, while paying, I saw an unobtrusive QR code on the counter. For the Services Victoria app? Pulled out my phone, restarted the app (thanks, Xiaomi) and scanned. Yes. I wonder how many people actually use it.

After that to the Fruit Shack. Yes, they definitely did take things seriously. Please don't enter until you have scanned or filled out the visitor list. And after doing it, the only employee there came and asked me if I had done so. But that's a big difference from anywhere else.


Navigation apps again
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Going to Ballarat was a good opportunity to further test the navigation apps that I had installed on hirse: iGO and Sygic. In principle I had decided against iGO, at least because of the lack of POIs, but it seems that I was at least partially wrong there: it was able to find M.C.Physio. But it couldn't find ALDI, so it's probably not the choice.

Sygic calculated an arrival time that looked wrong. But I kept my eye on it, and how about that, it was right after all. Wonderful.

But that was on the way to the dentist. While I was there, it seems, the free trial of “Sygic Premium” ran out. OK, not an issue. Oh yes it was! Suddenly half the functionality was gone, and I found no way to modify my route. Every time I touched everything, it added the location as a waypoint. By the time I got home there were 6 of them. The whole thing suddenly became unusable. And then I discovered that Sygic isn't anywhere near as cheap as I thought: Premium costs 30 € per year! That makes iGo look cheap.

So I'm still no closer to a usable navigation app. What a pain! I had installed MapFactor Navigator, but not had time to make friends with it.


An iPad
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yvonne came home from shopping today with an iPad 2. Why? The price was right: nothing. Plugged it in and tried to set it up. “Please enter your Apple ID”. Aaargh! Just what I was ranting about yesterday! But maybe I should do it, at least to set it up. Anyway, don't I have one after all? Yes, on my password list, unfortunately without a password. Why did I forget that? OK, click on “forgotten password”. It wants to send a code to my old phone number, and wouldn't take no for an answer. When I continued anyway, got:

There is not enough information to reset your password at this time. You can regain access to your account after a waiting period.

The waiting period could be several days. We know this delay is inconvenient, but we use this time to ensure that your account and data remain safe.

Who do these people think they are?

OK, add a new one. “Date of birth”. None of your business! And it wants me to scroll to enter it, with options to enter a date in the future:


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How I hate everything about the Apple user interface! Entered a fake date (somewhere round 1912, where the scroll stopped). OK, email address? Why not the same one? No, can't do, start all over again.

New ID, new email address, new date of birth. Three security questions, and of their choice! Another of my pet hates. OK, since I will have to enter this nonsense via a glass screen, make it short: 1 letter. It took all three questions and then came back with:


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OK, 3 letters it is. Accept their terms and conditions, then “Could Not Create Account”. No explanation; clearly they're running out of excuses. Then another attempt: “Verification Failed: There was a problem connecting to the server”.

And that's all I managed in 45 minutes.


Thursday, 17 June 2021 Dereel Images for 17 June 2021
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Understanding iPads
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

My “new” iPad 2 came with no documentation at all. While that's modern, in this case it was a free gift, so I could hardly complain. But I had difficulties navigating: how do you get away from a full screen? It wasn't until some time later that I noticed the sole button on the side (or is that bottom?).

Still, Apple is a reputable manufacturer. They must have manuals for the device. Off to look for “Ipad 2 manual”, and sure enough, came up with the iPad manual page, which pointed me at this PDF document. Only 12 pages, and 11 of them were warranty and safety information. The twelfth was the title page: no product documentation AT ALL.

OK, try again. This page says that if you have an iPad, you can start the “Books app”. Where's that? On the iPad it's called “iBooks”, just to confuse you. And there you get a choice of documentation based on the iOS version. Which do I have? It's described in the manual. Guessed at the oldest and was offered a choice of “iPad User Guide For iO...”, “iPhone User Guide For i...”, and “Pod touch User Guide...”. But I can't download any of them until I have an Apple ID.

How I hate Apple!


Goodbye Pedro
Topic: animals, general, opinion Link here

Emily Oppy along from Ballarat this afternoon to meet Pedro.


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She was, of course, delighted, and wanted to take him immediately—almost. She paid on the spot (finally banks are catching up with the Internet Age), but wanted to pick him up later: she had a meeting somewhere, and didn't want to leave him alone so soon after pickup. She returned a couple of hours later with her boyfriend Ryan and a whole lot of stuff for Pedro, including a crate like the one that Pene Kirk lent us. I don't think he's going to have to want for attention, though it's sad to see him go so soon. But it's probably best for him.


Recovering Apple ID
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Finally found the (unflattering) password for my Apple ID today, and Apple accepted it. But it wasn't done yet:

 
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This stupid reliance on phone numbers to authenticate things is Just Plain Stupid. As far as the number shows, it's a plain “landline” (in fact, it's VoIP, but Apple can't know that). And there are ways to tap into phone lines along the side of the road:


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Those numbers on the tags are the last 4 digits of the phone number. It's trivial to tap into them.

Petra Gietz had the same issue a while ago: she had moved house and changed her phone number. We gave up trying to recover, though her son probably knows a way. I'm not in so bad a position: I still have the phone number, though it's on permanent voice mail (something that Apple doesn't want to touch). But it should be programmed into the old ATA. Got hold of it, spent 20 minutes looking for a spare phone cable, and set it up.

Only one line came up. Which was it? Tried calling another number to find out, but it seems that it was the same number as the called number, not the one I wanted.

OK, configuration screen. Where is it? The only new devices I saw in arp were dhcp-228 and dhcp-229. dhcp-228 is the iPad, so it must be dhcp-229. But it didn't want to respond. Where did I put that documentation?

Why does Apple make life so hard?


Banks in the time of Internet
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

In the article about the sale of Pedro I praised the bank system for getting their act together and allowing instant transfers. That might have been premature. Yvonne wanted to pay Sally for the advertisement she put in the Trading Post. “It says that the server is down”.

Oh. Were we off the net again? No, all fine, but indeed I got a timeout on https://login.anz.com. OK, wait a bit—a good half hour—and it worked.

Then I wanted to pay for Lara, using the Bank of Melbourne account. Timeout on https://ibanking.bankofmelbourne.com.au/ibank/loginPage.action.

Others confirmed that the servers were inaccessible, and later came up with this news report. I had guessed a cyber warfare attack, but it seems that Hanlon's razor applies: “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”. It seems that somebody at Akmai messed up, though details are still sparse.


Friday, 18 June 2021 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 18 June 2021
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Waiting for Pedro
Topic: animals Link here

Before we got Pedro, the animals almost completely ignored the ottoman in the lounge room. But Pedro loved it, and so from time to time Nikolai sat on it.

Now Pedro's gone, and it's clear that Niko is not happy. Today I found him and Piccola on the ottoman:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210618/big/Piccola-Nikolai-waiting-for-Pedro-5.jpeg
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Are they waiting for him to come back?


MIUI assassinations: enough!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've spent the best part of a week trying to stop the MIUI version of Android from stopping processes apps when it feels like it. Why? This is a clear violation of the Trade Practices Act. A computing device is there to run programs. If it can't do it reliably, for whatever reason, and I haven't been warned in advance, that's a violation.

Of course, first check that it can't be fixed. Clearly they think of it as a feature, not a bug. A case for support. Where are they? This page gives me

Technical Support - support@panmi.com

Doesn't that inspire confidence? Anyway, sent in a message:

I have just purchased a new Xiaomi Redmi 9T, and I find that it keeps
killing apps.  I have been told that this is a feature, not a bug, but
I disagree.  I have tried multiple ways to stop it, including
disabling the battery saver and selecting "No restrictions" from the
App battery saver of the battery saver settings, but it keeps killing
the apps.  Please tell me how to fix this problem.

Immediate response from Zendesk, offering a resolution within 3 (working?) days, and asking for receipt or serial number. Sent that. Now to wait. I'm certainly not holding my breath.


MIUI app murders: fixed?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Surely I can't be the only person suffering from this stupid app stoppage that MIUI seems to think desirable. More searching on the web brought me this. Unlike previous pages, it refers to version 10 of MIUI, the one I'm running. Followed it:

  1. Go to Settings/Battery & Performance:


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  2. Select the “Settings” icon at top right, then “App battery saver”:


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  3. Press and hold down on any app. The icon at top right changes:

     
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  4. Click on the icon to select all apps:


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  5. Click on the “More” icon at the bottom:

     
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  6. Select “No restrictions” and “OK”:


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  7. Reboot.

That's very close to what I had already done, though I missed the “select all apps” and, probably most importantly, I didn't reboot. So I'll see how things work out from now on. It's not helped by the fact that some apps appear to opt out of the “active” list selected by the icon at bottom left of the main screen, but carry on running.


A building permit!
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

The building permit for the riding arena shed has arrived! Almost before I could tell Yvonne, John Hoffman of Eureka Garages and Sheds called up and wanted a signature—and, as I discovered when I got there, another $2200 in payments. How horribly expensive this shed is!

And as if that weren't enough, we have many more months to wait before it is erected. He gave an exact date for the delivery of the parts: 12 August. Why so long? But he refused to be drawn on how long it would take for completion. It seems that it's winter, something they hadn't expected, so they're 3 weeks behind in their construction. After reading between the cracks, I'm now guessing that it will be some time in mid-September, maybe the first anniversary of signing the contract. That's almost as bad as the house.


More QR codes
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Yvonne, John Hoffman of Eureka Garages and Sheds has a COVID-19 QR code in the entrance too. I missed it when I went in, but scanned it when I went out again. That makes 4 places I've been to that participate in the QR code scheme, and only 1 has insisted on it, or even drawn attention to it.


MapFactor navigator
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Going into Ballarat gave me a chance to try out a new GPS navigator, MapFactor Navigator.

It wasn't very successful. The maps were correct, but the route that it chose wasn't. And every time I deviated from its recommendations, it recalculated a new incorrect route. In addition, it showed speed limits that are just plain wrong. Other navigators often show old speed limits, but this one shows limits that have never existed, like 60 km/h down Grassy Gully Road.

My guess is that this is due to their use of OpenStreetMap. I checked Grassy Gully Road, and sure enough, it shows a speed limit of 60 km/h.

OK, I can change that, and for Grassy Gully Road I did, but I can't possibly fix details for everywhere I want to go, like to Ferntree Gully on Sunday. This shows the limitations of OpenStreetMap: it's maintained by a community, and while the maps themselves are relatively accurate, the metadata is inadequate for GPS navigation.

MapFactor also offers TomTom maps for $17, without a trial period.

Are they worth it? There's more to MapFactor than the maps, of course. On the positive side, the display is quite good, and despite its continual recalculations it guessed the arrival time pretty accurately. It also offers the alternatives “fast”, “short” and something else, but I can't find the menu any more, and it's rather pointless when the calculations are so inaccurate. Even beyond the issues with OpenStreetMap, the “shortest” routes that it calculated were longer than the routes I chose. That has nothing to do with OpenStreetMap.

In general, the menu system is confusing. Searching for a destination was less than easy. About the only useful thing is that I can select a destination on the map display, and that got me to within 100 m of Eureka. But I think I need to look further, and in particular come up with a list of what I want from the navigator. After all, Google Maps is free. What doesn't it have? I haven't really investigated.


Bloody dhcpd!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Trying to download my screen shots from hirse was more difficult than I expected. Timeouts although the apps were running. What's going on? While looking for something else, found an indication of the IP address, which the Settings menu must have inadvertently displayed. 192.109.197.228. That's dhcp-228, and hirse is 192.109.197.226. Why did that happen? In general, dhcpd hangs on to IP addresses at all costs. I had to modify my scripts to accept alternate IP addresses.


Finding the ATA
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday's attempts to recover my Apple ID were thwarted because I couldn't locate my VoIP ATA on the network. I had disconnected it from the network, so when I reconnected it it would get a new IP address, and comparing the output of arp -a before and after would show it to me. Did that and found:

hirse.lemis.com (192.109.197.226) at 00:25:9b:6e:34:36 on em0 expires in 1033 seconds [ethernet]

So that's why hirse moved. officephone (as I think it was called) had had the same IP address. In fact, I could have seen that:

Jun 18 10:59:21 hirse DNS Querying host: sip00.mynetfone.com.au, result ttl=329
Jun 18 10:59:21 hirse Query result ip[0]:125.213.160.81,
Jun 18 10:59:21 hirse [0]Reg Addr Change(0) 0:5060->7dd5a051:5060

OK, configure the ATA. No registration on line 2. Now wouldn't an error message be handy? But no, although I set it up almost exactly like line 1 (only phone number and password differed), it wouldn't register.

OK, line 1 is a duplicate of line 1 on my new ATA (homephone), so change those two fields. Success! And yes, modulo the noise that caused me to take the ATA out of service, I can finally reach the number. Now, when I have time, I can recover my Apple ID.

What a pain!


More dog stuff
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

It seems that our new borzoi puppy, tentatively called Lara, will be driven to Melbourne on Sunday. But we still don't know exactly when, nor where we can pick her up. Somehow communications in the time of Facebook are not always adequate.

On the other hand, Chris Bahlo had a sad day: both of her Maremma sheepdogs had to be put down. Now she only has Fjodor, a presumably lonely borzoi.


Saturday, 19 June 2021 Dereel Images for 19 June 2021
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A place for Lara
Topic: animals Link here

Call from Leela, a friend of Mandy Boyle, this morning. She will be transporting Lara back to Melbourne, for some definition of “Melbourne”: in fact, she's in Ferntree Gully, on the eastern outskirts of Melbourne, 175 km and about 2 hours drive from here. Still, it's better than going to Sale (or was that Briagolong?).


Still more navigation apps
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Carried on half-heartedly today trying to find a usable GPS navigation app for my phone.

It's depressing. I've established that iGO doesn't have adequate POI data, not even the amount delivered with el-cheapo standalone navigators, and like Sygic, it's just too expensive. MapFactor Navigator worked, but had significant issues with OpenStreetMap, and also the search interface was suboptimal. As I later discovered, I couldn't find a way to enter street numbers. Tomorrow we're going to Ferntree Gully, but I couldn't enter the complete address.

What else is there? MAPS.ME, apart from being too loud, also uses OpenStreetMap, so it's not worth trying. HERE WeGo? Tried that. I had to input the complete address in sequence, with no interactive help. Then “There's no route using just the preferences you chose”. I didn't choose anything; but it found a way for me anyway. I can try it out tomorrow. Polaris? Who knows? I couldn't make any sense of the user interface, if there is one. It wasn't until later that I discovered that it's not really intended for car navigation.

Why are there so few usable navigator apps?


Even less fondue
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Fondue de fromage for dinner tonight. A total of 267 g after trimming for both of us—and we didn't finish it! I think we're going to have to head towards 225 g next time.


Sunday, 20 June 2021 Dereel Images for 20 June 2021
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More Xiaomi pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I went to a lot of trouble yesterday to configure hirse, my Xiaomi Redmi 9T mobile phone, from stopping apps all the time, and I thought that I had succeeded.

But no, they're still going away. That's enough. I don't need this kind of annoyance, and there are plenty of other phones out there that don't have this defect. It goes back.


Hello Larissa
Topic: animals Link here

Off to Ferntree Gully this afternoon to pick up our latest borzoi, Larissa, pedigree name Georwitch Just Google It (that will give a lot of false positives!).


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210620/big/Picking-up-Larissa-1.jpeg
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Long drive both ways. 2½ hours there, 2¼ back. Lara had had about 3 hours just to get to Melbourne, and was somewhat overwhelmed. Back home she only gradually made friends with Nikolai and Piccola:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210620/big/Larissa-comes-home-6.jpeg
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What a difference from Pedro! He was all over the place, but she's much gentler. Yvonne thinks that Nikolai prefers her, but I'm not convinced that there's enough evidence.

Mandy gave us lots of things and documentation, including not one, but two pedigrees. The first (unofficial) one went back 6 generations, showing a direct paternal great-great-grandfather Zoloto Zoviet Zhivago, whom we had until his death 6 years ago. So all 6 of our borzois in Australia are (have been) closely related.


GPS navigators yet again
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Driving to Melbourne was a good chance to try out the few GPS navigators that I hadn't already tried. That turned out to be only HERE WeGo. For the fun of it, also tried MapFactor Navigator again. I also had my standalone navigator running.

Navigator proved once again to be worse than useless. At least HERE WeGo chose the correct route. Navigator was absolutely consistent in choosing routes ranging from suboptimal to completely wrong. In Ferntree Gully Road it repeatedly wanted me to do a U turn when I was on the correct route. I thought I had had set the wrong destination, but after returning I confirmed that I had the correct street. Navigator appears to be too polite to use house numbers, but the destination was about 100 m from the house we were looking for.

But I had only reenabled Navigator because HERE WeGo had crashed. Going over the West Gate Bridge, the GPS part just wedged. I had thought that the phone had had problems, like we had round Gisborne last year. But MapFactor Navigator had continued running.

OK, what about Google Maps? It's pretty bare-bones, but I was able to put in a route, and it showed it on the display. I was able to set it up with a larger overview as a complement for the standalone navigator. That was quite useful. The “straight ahead” view is good for navigating, but it doesn't show you where you are, nor in which direction you're going.

So: what now? After 8 years or so, I still haven't found an app that works as well as the el-cheapo standalone navigators, not even the product made by the same manufacturer. An overview:

In summary: none of these apps offers anything obviously better than the standalone navigator. I had deliberately chosen offline maps, of course, and even Google Maps only partially fits into that category (it had preloaded the maps for the trip when I set up the search at home). But somehow this is all really frustrating.

In passing, another Android issue: on the way I got a phone call from Leeta. I couldn't answer it, not just because I was driving, but because I didn't see any call information beyond the ring tone. I had to stop and call her back. Checking later, it seems that the indication is much lower-key than I had been used to: you wouldn't expect it to be the same from one release of Android to the next, would you?

Sometimes I think it's really a better idea to have an old-fashioned mobile phone.

And my battery life? Over the last few days I have done everything I can to reduce it. Disable all battery saving measures (or at least the ones I can find), run multiple GPS apps, display on all the time. And when we got home, after 4½ hours, the battery charge level was 62%. You really can't complain about that.


More QR code scans
Topic: health, technology, opinion Link here

On the way to pick up Larissa we stopped at a petrol station. Walked in without a mask, because I forgot. Nobody complained, and on request pointed me at the toilet. QR code! Makes sense. Scan. On the way out, checked the door. Yes, QR code. Scan.

Nobody else did, and nobody even pointed it out to me. What's the point?


Monday, 21 June 2021 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 21 June 2021
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Xiaomi still kills apps
Topic: technology Link here

As I feared, despite the configuration hoops I jumped through, hirse continues to kill apps that are marked in multiple ways as “don't stop”. Here an example of the servers:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/14) ~/Photos/20210619 215 -> date; nmap hirse
Sun 20 Jun 2021 17:58:27 AEST
PORT     STATE SERVICE
1234/tcp open  hotline
2121/tcp open  ccproxy-ftp
4242/tcp open  vrml-multi-use
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/14) ~/Photos/20210619 217 -> date; nmap hirse
Mon 21 Jun 2021 09:48:33 AEST
PORT     STATE SERVICE
1234/tcp open  hotline
4242/tcp open  vrml-multi-use

Got a response from the seller about my return request:

Hi dear, The extended 1 year warranty is under us :) Hence for 2nd year, you can claim with us if there's any issue with the phone :) Thanks, Kelly

OK, if you they can send me a written warranty document signed by a real company with ABN, I'll be happy with that. But what are the chances? This reminds me so much of the issues I had with my last standalone GPS navigator from February to April.


GPS navigators: going round in circles
Topic: technology, general, history, opinion Link here

Seen in my diary for 10 years ago today: I bought a new GPS navigator and discovered that the map data was completely out of date. That's exactly the same problem I had with the most recent one in April. In that connection, it's interesting to note the increase in size of the map files:

-rwxr--r--  1 grog  wheel  80226209 Mar 19  2010 Australia.fbl
120695296  07-27-2019 18:15   AZ 2020/CONTENT/Map/Australia_R3_HERE_2019.Q2_190612.fbl
121902592  03-02-2021 10:41   AZ 2021/CONTENT/map/Australia_HERE_2020.Q2_200720.fbl
122764288  06-10-2021 10:06   com.nng.igo.primong.igoworld/files/privdocs/InappShop/Mount/map/Australia.fbl

The last three are reported by zip, which is too polite to use international date formats, so the dates are in out-of-order MDY format. It's also interesting to note that the last file (from the iGO installation on hirse) appears to be the same as the standalone navigators, so the POI data must be stored somewhere else.


Making Larissa at home
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Larissa is still quite timid, and she sleeps a lot, to the point that we started worrying about her. And unlike Pedro, she seems to be house-trained from the very start, to the point that Yvonne was worried that she wasn't passing anything.

Off for her first walk round midday:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210621/big/Yvonne-Larissa-2.jpeg
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In the end we gave up and took her off the leash round the back of the house, where she felt a whole lot better:


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But she's still not sure of herself. When Nikolai joined in, she screamed in fright, though he was just running with her. It'll take a little while yet. She hasn't even been here for 24 hours.


Garden flowers in early winter
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Today was the Winter solstice, time for the monthly garden photos.

Winter isn't the best of time for flowers, and this month it's particularly bad, since the gardeners have trimmed away many of the the flowers that I had previously left over winter, such as the roses:


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Once again the Corymbia ficifolia is flowering out of season:


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Hopefully Bryan is correct that it will flower normally from next summer.

The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis “Uncle Max” is also offering buds, though it's unclear whether they will flower:


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At least the cannas round it should protect it from the winter. Overnight we had “1.1°” with widespread ground frost, and the winter isn't over yet.

The bulbs that somebody shaved last gardener session are recovering somewhat:


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There's even a Snowflake in there.

And the lime tree is bearing more fruit than I can recall in its 12 or so years. They may even be ripening, though they're pretty firm.


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And the surviving Fuchsia in the entrance seems not to have noticed that it's winter:


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More physiotherapy
Topic: health Link here

Off to Ballarat to see Heather Dalman about my elbow. More needles, and some exercises. Things seem to be on the mend.


Navigating to Ballarat
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

On my way to Ballarat I tried a couple of navigation apps. Which ones? iGO and Sygic are no longer available. And somehow I got fed up with the others. Tried with HERE WeGo, which wanted to take me to Eyre Street in Buninyong. I thought that it might have been because I typed in the wrong street number (704 instead of 708), but no, 704 Eyre Street Ballarat also exists. So another app bites the dust. On the way back I used Google Maps, which still doesn't excite me.


COVID-19 precautions, the wrong way
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Surprisingly, M.C.Physio didn't have a QR code to scan. I asked why not and they said that it wasn't obligatory until coming Thursday, the first I have heard of that. But as they pointed out, they have my contact details.

After that to Bunnings. There are no longer long queues provided for people to enter, but to make up for it they have changed entrance and exit, and of course there's a QR code to scan. And nobody paid any attention. Also a pile of forms to fill out, along with clean and used pens:


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It's unclear how many people fill out the forms; I didn't see anybody. But how do you take a clean pen without dirtying the box?


More Xiaomi fixes?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

On IRC today, Callum Gibson pointed me to a promised fix for my Xiaomi Redmi 9T problems. It's from Quora, so there are several answers. I didn't have time to follow, but there's some hope.


Tuesday, 22 June 2021 Dereel Images for 22 June 2021
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New rice noodles
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Last week I bought some new kinds of noodles, including these, which many people call rice sticks. apparently called “Heaven Dragon” Bún bò húê:


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Unlike most rice “noodles”, these require considerable cooking. The instructions say 12 to 14 minutes, but I found 18 minutes closer to the mark. And they lost a lot of their content to the water:


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Strangely, though I took the same quantity per serve, the results (here with MARION'S “Phat Thai”) gave the impression that I hadn't taken enough.


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And the taste? OK. I can eat more of those.


Larissa develops
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Larissa is still somewhat lethargic and sleeps a lot. Once again we tried to get her to go for a walk, and once again she was unwilling:


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So we tried the back yard again. But this time she didn't want to go there either. Instead she headed off to the laundry door, followed by Nikolai:


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And again, though he came no closer than that, she screamed.

But that was at 14:00. In the course of the afternoon, she finally thawed and became more active. I can only assume that the trauma of transport from Briagolong took a couple of days to disperse. Now we have a normally active puppy, and of course she's taking up a lot of time. Nonetheless, she found unsuitable things to play with:


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That's part of the curtains behind her. It'll be better when she can play outside with Niko.

And on a less pleasant note: after she had appeared to have no urination or defecation for over 24 hours, she finally needed to do so in the evening. Off to the door and tried to get out, but we didn't respond quickly enough, and she peed inside instead.

We can forgive her for that one, but she did it again a little later in the hallway for no apparent reason. Does it still smell of Pedro?


Latest MIUI pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

The seller of the Xiaomi Redmi 9T sent me an invoice in PDF form, without ABN, stating “2 years warranty”. Without the ABN it's not worth the paper it isn't printed on. Replied asking for a written document.

In the meantime, finally got a response for the support ticket that I entered on Friday. They wanted the IMEI number. Why didn't they specify that on their last message, which only asked for the serial number?

OK, sent that, and got quite a quick reply:

Both IMEI 865817055036801 and 865817055036819 are not found in our database. https://panmi.com.au/product-authentication/
This means this is not a phone sold through our official resellers, so it could have non-official ROM software or third-party software.
I have tested the 9T i have on hand, not able to replicate this issue.
You could report this issue to Xiaomi: https://c.mi.com/thread-3430629-1-0.html
Our engineers will analyze the log and send a patch update to your phone. If it is official MI ROM.

or if it is an app doing it, you can do a factory reset, and see if the problem continues.

That's interesting for a number of reasons:


Another GPS navigation app?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

On IRC, Andy Snow suggested Organic Maps, which he found quite fast, though it's also based on OpenStreetMap. Installed it, but it didn't show itself from its fastest side: it hung at 14% while downloading maps. Still, that's probably the toyshop.


Wednesday, 23 June 2021 Dereel Images for 23 June 2021
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Larissa without Yvonne
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Yvonne off shopping today, as on every Wednesday. But for Larissa it was the first time, of course, and she missed her:


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She is also discovering the outside. During her investigations she managed to fall into the water trough round the verandah. I went to look for a camera, but she somehow managed to get out by the time I got back. And she was only superficially wet: her fluffy baby coat kept the water off her body completely.

She also seems to have missed her cues. Found in the dining room:


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Hopefully that will soon be over. When she got back, Yvonne went to some trouble to ensure that she knew where to go.

Apart from that, she's getting livelier. Soon we should be able to take her on a short walk.


More Xiaomi pain
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

So what do I do about the Xiaomi Redmi 9T? The seller has effectively given up trying to pretend that they can offer a warranty:

The extended warranty is under our own company for our customer hence we do not have the certificate :(

That's nonsense, of course. They don't have a company. Even the invoice appears to be taken from some other company, though possibly they don't know of it.

So I can send it back. But what do I replace it with? Apart from the misfeature, it's quite a nice phone. I had thought of Google Pixel but it has a smaller display and costs well over $100 more. Is it worth it? It might be better to negotiate a discount.


OI.Share revisited
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

Another Android app that I have used in the past is OI.Share. I have found it almost completely useless, but was that possibly because of the phone I was using?

Tried setting it up again today. “Easy Setup” worked first time. But:


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My only options are to try it again! And of course There Can Only Be One:


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Surely that can't be right. OK, remove, try again:


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What does that mean? Selected “Connect”. “Unable to find SD card.” Which one? It's too polite to say. Tried again, and it connected. And once again it disabled the phone's network connection.

It's been 7½ years since I first tried OI.Share, and it seems to be just as broken as it ever was. Do people really use this junk?


Organic Maps
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Finally Organic Maps downloaded the maps for Victoria. Since they're OpenStreetMap maps, I probably already have them on the phone, but that would require sharing, something that seems to be foreign to the concept of Android.

Yes, it works. Tried the 708 Eyre Street that confused HERE WeGo. Well, I tried to try it. It seems that Organic Maps doesn't believe in looking for street numbers. It beat HERE WeGo by finding Eyre Street in Ballarat, but positioned at the western end, and I couldn't find a way to change it.

Another app bites the dust.


Kohlrouladen?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Last September, ALDI had its yearly Oktoberfest sale: Rösti, Rollmops and other completely unrelated things.

But also canned Kohlrouladen:


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The photo didn't look bad, so we bought a can and spent nearly a year deciding when and how to eat them. I wasn't convinced enough to serve them by themselves, so I served them as accompaniment to some Bratwurst, once I found a way to open the ring-pull can:


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A good thing, too:


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They look nothing like the photo, and they tasted terrible. I suppose now we're going to have to make our own.


Thursday, 24 June 2021 Dereel Images for 24 June 2021
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More bread experiments
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Last month I started experimenting with the composition of my bread, and found the dough a little dry. The next (undocumented) loaf was better, but for today I had noted even more water: 990 g rye, 180 g wheat, and a total of 1065 g of water, comparing to my established quantities of 810 g rye, 360 g wheat and 975 g water. That's quite a bit more water, but it seems to have had its effect. The bread rose in less than 3 hours, and considerably higher than normal:


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After baking, it was also—I think—darker.


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It's hard to get conclusive differences on photos, of course.


Blocking free speech
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Today the last issue of the Apple Daily was printed in Hong Kong. The Chinese have effectively forced it into ruin. Bad Chinese!

Well, they're certainly heavy-handed. But the uproar in Hong Kong over the last few years was alarming, and I was wondering how long it would take before something was done. And for all the talk about “One country, two systems”, there have to be limits. I don't think that they should be so tight, but that's a matter for interpretation, and the news sources I have at my disposal show a rather one-sided (anti-Chinese) view.

But what's it like in the rest of the world? It's well known that the Internet (formerly the DARPA Internet) was built by the US military, and they still maintain a special position in the Internet hierarchy.

But now they're using it in a military sense, long after that connotation should have lapsed. They don't like the Iranian leadership, because the Middle East should be free of nuclear arms. So to silence them they first took the US-hosted Iranian web sites offline.

It doesn't take long to realize that there are other hosting companies that don't bow down to the US government. But the USA had another weapon: the Domain Name Service. So they blocked Iranian DNS.

What's the difference here? In one case, a country forced a dissident newspaper in its own country with a history of incitement to close down. In the other, a country forced another country's news sources off the net. Should second country be in a position to criticize the first country?


Which mobile phone, once again
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Rather to my surprise, the seller of my Xiaomi Redmi 9T has agreed to take the phone back. So off to look for alternatives.

To my further surprise, I have found very few. I need to consider whether I can't live with this misfeature. After all, it's not as if Android is anywhere close to my idea of a good operating environment. And one feature of the phone is really convenient: the fingerprint reader that overlays the on-off button. It's hard to find details about how other phones handle that.


Larissa developments
Topic: animals Link here

Larissa continues to develop. We still need to teach her where she may go and where she may not:


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We finally got her to come walking:


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We still have a way to go with her education. In the mid-morning I came in and found her chewing on a live power cable, fortunately not very firmly. That went away, of course, but it's a concern: not even Pedro did that. And in the evening I found another puddle, thoughtfully on a bathroom mat. She was clean, sort of, when we got her, but that cleanliness depended on being able to go outside whenever she wanted. Hopefully it won't take too long.


Python horror
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday I installed an update to youtube-dl to try to download videos from a reticent TV broadcast web site. It didn't work. Goodbye, TV site. You don't get to tell me how to watch TV.

But then I wanted to watch the AlJazeera news. No file. I've seen that before: they keep changing their YouTube ID. But not this time. Running it manually, I got:

[download] Destination: /spool/Docco/AlJaz-15
ld-elf.so.1: /usr/local/lib/libpython3.8.so.1.0: Undefined symbol "close_range@FBSD_1.6"

ERROR: ffmpeg exited with code 1

Grr! The youtube-dl upgrade had installed a new version of python, and it broke some dependency.

How do I fix that? An attempt to upgrade ffmpeg brought the normal horror:

Newer FreeBSD version for package erlang-hut:
To ignore this error set IGNORE_OSVERSION=yes
- package: 1202000
- running kernel: 1201517
Ignore the mismatch and continue? [Y/n]:

Installed packages to be REMOVED:
        libical: 3.0.8
        postfix: 3.5.7,1
   &