Greg
animals food and drink
gardening history
Stones Road house general
multimedia opinion
photography technology
Greg's diary
March 2014
Translate this page
Select day in March 2014:
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31
Select month:
2013 Sep Oct Nov Dec
2014 Jan Feb Mar Apr
2014 May Jun Jul Aug
Today's diary entry
Diary index
About this diary
Previous month
Next month
Greg's home page
Greg's photos
Network link stats
Greg's other links
Copyright information
    
Groogle

Saturday, 1 March 2014 Dereel Images for 1 March 2014
Top of page
next day
last day

Autumn already
Topic: general Link here

Autumn's here already, after a particularly dry summer. The view from the dam sums it up:


This should be dam-panorama.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: dam panorama          Dimensions:          10565 x 3689, 9296 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 1 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 1 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 1 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

That's the (completely dry) dam behind the right-hand horse.


Microsoft space strangenesses
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

House photo day today, the extended set on the first Saturday of a month. And lately I've been doing more and more of my processing on a Microsoft platform. The software may perform the required operations, but I never cease to marvel how difficult it is to interact with all of this software. Never mind that Olympus Viewer can't remember its settings from one minute to the next, or that DxO Optics “Pro” is slower than molasses and sometimes can't read directories: they all seem to have problems just hanging, and the lack of a window manager in Microsoft means that they can get in your way. While “Viewer” is processing images, you can't iconify it. And when they hang, it's almost impossible to shoot them down. Wouldn't it be nice just to have a SIGKILL for Microsoft?


Dogs escape again
Topic: animals Link here

Yvonne off to dog training with Tanya this morning, leaving Zhivago and Nikolai in the house. While processing my photos I heard a noise outside and saw Nikolai and a very wet Zhivago go past. Clearly he had been in the pond:


This should be Zhivago-1-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Zhivago 1 detail          Dimensions:          1444 x 3188, 480 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 1 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 1 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 1 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

Looking at the front of the house, it seems that he had opened the door:


This should be Dog-escape.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Dog escape          Dimensions:          3456 x 4608, 3136 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 1 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 1 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 1 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

In passing, it's interesting to note how narrow a Borzoi is: that was really all they needed. Now to wonder whether the door was partially open, or whether he can open a completely shut door. Maybe we should lock it.


Another Wantadilla
Topic: general Link here

For 10 years we lived on a property called Wantadilla, and just about all searches on the web point to it as the only place of that name. But that has changed now, with this page.

It's a property on the other side of Adelaide, and clearly had been there for a long time. It's not far from Tanunda in the Barossa Valley.


Bon de bonne
Topic: general, photography, opinion Link here

The first day of autumn is (now) also Yvonne's birthday. Today she turned 65, and she's entitled to a pension. We had decided that that was the trigger to be able to get a cleaning lady to help with the household. Of course, that's something like a birthday present, so at dinner I presented her with a voucher for a cleaning lady:

I fear not many people will understand the inferences.

In passing, this is Yet Another video that I have taken with my Olympus OM-D E-M1, and it's still not good. The focus wanders as the scene changes. In a case like this, it's clearly best to use manual focus.


Sunday, 2 March 2014 Dereel Images for 2 March 2014
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Video focus: still a problem
Topic: photography, animals, opinion Link here

Yvonne asked me to come out and take some photos of her and Chris Bahlo on horseback today. Another video opportunity! After yesterday's experience with autofocus, decided to use manual focus, which also allowed me to use the (Four Thirds) Olympus Zuiko Digital 18-180mm F3.5-6.3. Set the aperture at f/8, which should have been enough for depth of field. It wasn't:

The hyperfocal distance was 15 m, and presumably I hadn't set the focus exactly to that. I suppose I could go to f/22, but there's still the question of how to set to the hyperfocal distance (now 5.5 m). This is much more complicated than I expected.


Nikolai: first blood
Topic: animals Link here

Out walking with Nikolai and Zhivago this evening. Zhivago has been running away too often, so he was on a leash, but Nikolai was running free. Suddenly he jumped off into the bracken, jumped up in the air a couple of times, and came up with a rabbit in his mouth. One shake of his head and he had broken its neck, just like Zhivago did a year ago. I followed him into the bracken and was able to take the rabbit out of his mouth, though he didn't give it willingly.

Once out of the bracken I gave it back to him, and he carried it proudly back home, a distance of about 800 metres:


This should be Greg-Nikolai-Rabbit-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Greg Nikolai Rabbit 1          Dimensions:          4000 x 3000, 3424 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 2 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 2 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 2 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

But once he had it in the pen, it took him a while to work out what to do with it. At one point I thought he wanted it to play with him, but it was clearly past caring.


This should be Nikolai-rabbit-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Nikolai rabbit 3          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 3088 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 2 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 2 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 2 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

It appears that the instinct to catch and kill is strong, but the idea of eating it takes time, in this case about half an hour:


This should be Nikolai-rabbit-9.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Nikolai rabbit 9          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 4352 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 2 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 2 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 2 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

I hope his instinct can distinguish between cats and rabbits. But then, it's not as if the cats are averse to a rabbit:


This should be lilac-rabbit.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: lilac rabbit          Dimensions:          3648 x 2736, 1551 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 25 August 2007, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 25 August 2007, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 25 August 2007 Complete exposure details

 


A use for Ashampoo
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Last night I took more silly photos of Chris Bahlo with the dogs. And I've found a disadvantage in my new Meike flash unit: though it recharges relatively quickly (about 4 s with NiZn batteries after a full discharge), the lower capacity means that the full discharge happens more often. In addition, lack of full charge doesn't stop my camera from taking photos when not enough charge is available. I need to check whether that's a camera setting, or whether there's something wrong. In any case, the result were some seriously underexposed photos.

How well can I compensate for that with the processing? Put them through DxO Optics “Pro”, which improved things without making them good. It did, however, do significant distortion correction for the M.Zuiko 12-40 mm.

After processing I put the images through Ashampoo Photo Commander 11. Surprise, surprise! At the end I could hardly tell the difference between almost properly exposed and seriously underexposed images. Here an example of two such images. The first row shows the original, unprocessed image, the second the output of DxO, and the third the result after Ashampoo. Running the cursor over each image shows the next in sequence.


This should be Chris-and-dogs-20-orig.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Chris and dogs 20 orig          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 1984 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 1 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 1 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 1 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Chris-and-dogs-22-orig.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Chris and dogs 22 orig          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 816 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 1 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 1 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 1 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 


This should be Chris-and-dogs-20-DxO.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Chris and dogs 20 DxO          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 2832 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 1 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 1 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 1 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Chris-and-dogs-22-DxO.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Chris and dogs 22 DxO          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 2512 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 1 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 1 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 1 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 


This should be Chris-and-dogs-20.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Chris and dogs 20          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 4176 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 1 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 1 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 1 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Chris-and-dogs-22.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Chris and dogs 22          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 4192 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 1 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 1 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 1 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 


Monday, 3 March 2014 Dereel Images for 3 March 2014
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Tanya spayed
Topic: animals Link here

Yvonne off to the vets with Tanya this morning to have her spayed. All appears to have gone well, but she was quite apathetic all day, and didn't really come to life again until the evening.


Dereel history
Topic: history Link here

Down to the Hall today to meet with the Dereel History Group, which is really mainly Julie Donaghy. They're still setting things up, and the current plan is to collect information about the middle of town, which in 1925 looked like this:


This should be Dereel-centre-1926-detail.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Dereel centre 1926 detail          Dimensions:          1953 x 2109, 106 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 3 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 3 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 3 March 2014

 

That's interesting, because a number of maps, including Google Maps and my GPS navigator, show this rectangular arrangement of streets. Nowadays only the south-east corner of the rectangle (southern part of Boyd Street, eastern part of Russell Street) still exist, though there are two tracks signposted “Elder Street” still to be seen.

At first we thought the lots looked particularly small. I checked: the map is shown with a scale of 4 chains to the inch, which means that the measurements marked on the properties are in links (7.92" or 20.1168 cm), so in modern measurements, 100 links (one chain) are roughly 20 m. That gives an area of 2000 m² for most of the lots (200×250 or 100×500). The school reserve has a total of 10,000 m² or 1 ha.

The maps are also interesting because they give the names of the owners of some of the owners: C. A. Everett in top right, possibly related to our neighbours Rob and Helen Everett across the road, and also J. F. Eddy and J. B. Dutfoy (if I can read the name). Underneath each is what looks like a date, in particular 30 11 69 for Dutfoy. That would have to be 1869, which gives us a latest date for the layout of the town.

So what do we do with this stuff? A Wiki, of course. Left with a number of maps, none in very good condition, and scanned in the one above and also a later map which I currently think was made round 1940:


This should be Dereel-centre-1940.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Dereel centre 1940          Dimensions:          3509 x 2550, 156 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 3 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 3 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 3 March 2014

 

Contacted Scott Weston, who owns the domain dereel.com.au, and asked him to host history.dereel.com.au and set up a Mediawiki. He's agreeable, so we'll get started on that.


Overnight courier arrives
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

The power supply that I ordered from Umart 10 days ago has finally arrived! That's terrible service, the fault of “Fastway”, but still better than last time. It was delivered from Ballarat by a company called Victorian Freight Specialists. So far so good. And then I looked at the docket. “Special instructions: Overnight”. What planet has 160 hour nights?


A shampoo for Yvonne
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Yvonne is also taking a large number of photos nowadays. Up until yesterday she had taken 8,523 photos or videos in less than 3 years with her Canon IXY 200F. Up to now she has been processing them with xv, which offers a relatively limited range of processing options. In particular, in view of my success with Ashampoo Photo Commander 11, I thought that I could migrate her to that as well.

That required a number of things. It runs on dischord, my Microsoft box, so I had to set up a user for her and enable remote access. Here Microsoft's limitations are particularly apparent. It's really not a multi-user system at all. When Yvonne logs in (or connects), I have to log out. Other systems have been multi-user for decades. Why is Microsoft so far behind the times?

The other issue was simply accessing the photos. They're on an SMB mounted file system on eureka. But they weren't there. Access problems? No, it seems that you have to mount external file systems on a per-user basis. What a pain!

Finally we could run Ashampoo. I use it only for optimization. Yvonne also wanted to crop. And that is so clumsy that, for the time being at any rate, we gave up. Why do people make such clumsy software?


Tuesday, 4 March 2014 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

4K monitors on the way?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

For years I've been waiting for high-definition monitors to show up. 14 years ago I had two Hitachi SuperScan 813 monitors with a resolution of 2048×1536 (3 MP). That was the highest I had for over 12 years, until September 2012, when I got my 2560×1440 monitor, but I still don't have a monitor with a vertical resolution as high as that of the Hitachis.

Now, finally, “4K” TVs with a resolution of 3840×2160 pixels are coming on the market at prices people can afford to pay. Andy Snow and others on IRC pointed me at this page, describing the 39" Seiki SE39UY04. As the reviewer says,

Yay, it's 2007 finally, and we have more than 2560x1600 in a desktop display!

Yes, it's a TV, not a monitor, but what's the difference nowadays? Gone are the days when, to get a monitor, you had to rebuild a TV and put up with the lower image quality. Now they all have digital inputs, at the very least HDMI. This one had three, and also relics of ancient technology like an analogue TV tuner and a VGA input (which most certainly won't be able to display that kind of resolution). And the manufacturer's suggested retail price is $599.

What's the catch? According to the description page, nothing serious. But they're only available in the USA! And shipping charges from the USA are just plain ridiculous. A while back I looked on eBay for similar devices in Australia or (mainly) Asia. There were plenty at prices somewhat over $1000, more than I wanted to pay. Now the cheapest 4K device outside the USA appears to cost $2,500 or so. It seems that the initial euphoria over 4K TVs has evaporated, presumably due to lack of material.

But are those prices right? Every time you search eBay, it comes up with different, conflicting results. The latest I've found is a Samsung U28D590 28" monitor for $759. Is that big enough? It's bigger than my current 2560×1440, but it has 157 ppi instead of the 109 ppi of my current big monitor, and I can't distinguish the pixels on that. The Seiki has 113 ppi, which is at least comparable. To be monitored.


Dereel History goes live
Topic: history, opinion Link here

So now Dereel has a historical web site. To my surprise, Scott Weston got in on the act too, and now we have a suprising number of images, and not much else.

How do we get this thing off the ground? We're running into danger of uploading orphan images and losing them. The Images page is supposed to avoid that, but it requires conscious effort, and it can easily get out of hand.


Wednesday, 5 March 2014 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Microsoft: no strerror ()
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

It seems that Microsoft space programs don't like to scare users with error messages, and when they do, they try to be as vague about it as possible. But a couple of days ago I got a different error message while trying to update dischord, my Microsoft “Windows” machine, something like:

Can't install update: error 0x80072f78

The use of Unix-like 0x to represent a hex number shows that this isn't typical Microsoft. But what does the code mean? Why don't they have an error string, like strerror () returns? Clearly they're too leet to tell me, and I couldn't be bothered looking it up. So I tried again, and this time I get an error 80072efe. So I gave up.

Today I returned and retried. Success. But what did those errors mean? Google soon gave me this page for the first error, and this one for the second. The first one doesn't really have a description: for three different error codes, they just say:

it might be caused by a connection interruption between your computer and the Windows Update servers.

OK, and the second? It, too, describes two different error codes:

it might be caused by a connection interruption between your computer and the Windows Update servers.

So why the second page? The text is identical. Five different error codes with a “might” in the error description. And the description seems dubious. Now that I'm on the National Broadband Network, I don't really have network problems, and each error appeared to have occurred after downloading had completed. Maybe a checksum error? I'm sure there's more information available in the source code, but who has that? And why are they so horribly vague? Are these maybe just return addresses from a call to an error routine?


Marriott visit
Topic: general Link here

Garry and Diane Marriott over to dinner this evening, about the only chance we had to invite them: they're off round Australia on Saturday, and we probably won't see them until the middle of next year. Pleasant evening, and as Diane is vegetarian, an opportunity for Indian food. Garry seems to know everybody in Dereel, including the Mitchells across the road—in fact, he made the mistake of telling them about the property across the road, which he was thinking of buying, and they bought it before he got the chance, way back round about 2002. So it seems that Garry set off the chain of events that saw first the Mitchells arrive, and as a result of that Chris Bahlo (Yeardley at the time), and then us. He also confirmed Graeme's story of numerous pubs down Stones Road in the gold-digging days.


Thursday, 6 March 2014 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

New glasses?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

To Specsavers in Ballarat this morning to have my eyes tested. They've moved since I was last there, and so has Google Maps' perception. It was wrong then, and it's wrong now. Specsavers even have the incorrect location on their web site. The test was a routine matter, and sure enough, no problems with my eyes, no changes in the prescription. But to do the test they put in some dilation drops that kept my pupils wide-open for nearly 2 hours.

Although my eyes haven't changed, something else has: since I got the new monitor, now 1½ years ago, the monitors on my desk have moved further away. Now they're 80 cm away from my face instead of 60. In terms of optical correction, that's a correction of 0.24 dioptres. And sure enough, I got a new prescription 0.25 dioptres weaker.

But what frames? It seems that my medical fund will pay for two sets of glasses with frames marked at up to $249. But all these frames look terrible! The only thing wrong with the ones I got last time was that they are so narrow that the sides dig into my skin. But they're all like that. In the end, I gave up and took one pair with $149 frames. And I had to pay $14.90 anyway, because BUPA doesn't cover anti-reflective coating. Never mind that my choice of glasses saved them round 70% of what they were prepared to pay for glasses and frames. I wish I understood these people.

Back home through painful glaring brightness. Next time I'll take sunglasses.


Internet in 20 years?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I'm currently doing Charles Severance's course Internet History, Technology, and Security. Although I've been living in networks for decades, it's interesting, and it fills in a few gaps.

One of the assignments is: “Write an essay that imagines how the Internet will be different 20 years from now”. That's an interesting thought, and so I wrote more than the 1000 word limit.

There's nothing surprising there. I don't really see any killer app coming: it's more a social issue now. I think network speeds will stagnate somewhere between 100 Mb/s and 1 Gb/s, unless the unexpected killer app shows up. No more paper newspapers, few books, no more radio-frequency radio or TV broadcasts, few physical shops. And maybe mass demonstrations and riots. O brave new world, that has such people in't!


Android and smart phones: change of opinion?
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

For years I've been saying that smart phones are not worth the trouble. And now I have had an Android tablet for over 6 months. Have I changed my opinions?

The first mention was a suggestion from Tom Maynard to take a smart phone to my greenhouse for identification purposes. My objections at the time were price, network coverage and display resolution. I suspect I was wrong in assuming that it would have to be a mobile network; I specifically mentioned the availability of an 802.11 network, but implicitly discounted it. And since then my assumption of a price of $800 has dropped to below $200, and the resolution of my current tablet is towards the low end at 1280×800.

The next issue was the matter of ease of use. I want a keyboard! And these things don't have them. The problem remains, and I don't see a solution.

It was clear fairly early on that a tablet would address my resolution issues better than a smart phone, and on 6 June 2012 I bought one. I returned it after some experimentation, for at least the reason that it was too clumsy to use.

Then in August last year I heard about the new Olympus OM-D E-M1, which includes “network” connectivity only to a single smart phone or tablet. And coincidentally ALDI had one on special again, so on 21 August 2013 I bought another one. And since then I've been experimenting with it, with mixed results. Here a summary:

The lack of access to the system itself is a particular problem when things go wrong. There's too much going on under the surface that the user doesn't know about. Why did the background of the power-on display change a couple of days ago, from an abstract blue to a green floral design? Should I expect this?

And the original reason I bought it, to interface with my camera? I don't use it. As a remote control, it's far too clunky. It wants to do everything except remote viewfinder in portrait mode. The camera advertises a state-of-the-art “2.36M-dot” (i.e. roughly 800 k pixel) electronic viewfinder with effectively real-time update as one of its strengths, but the display on the tablet has a resolution of 19,200 pixels and refreshes about once a second. How can you focus with that? And even the idea of downloading images to a computer fails, because the camera insists on being an access point and disconnecting the tablet from any other 802.11 network, and the software refuses to download the original images: no raw images at all, and reformatted (and renamed!) JPEGs. A good idea with a broken implementation.

Android link reliability

Why do I have difficulties with network connections in some cases only? Lately I've been listening to Radio Swiss Classic with a fourfold wireless connection: from Ballarat to the Radiation Tower with the National Broadband Network uplink, from the Radiation Tower to here with the NBN downlink, then with 802.11 to the tablet, then with Bluetooth to my kitchen amplifier. I'm using Tunein Radio to play the streams, since Radio Swiss Classic's own app kept crashing.

So far so good. But from time to time the playback stops, sometimes for minutes at a time. How do I debug this? The microwave oven helps, but it's not necessary. I can play the stream on eureka, my desktop computer, so it's not the NBN link. Which of the others? The Bluetooth link is unbuffered, so when it has problems they're short, more like stuttering. The IP link is buffered, and that seems to be the main issue. When it drops out, it comes back at a snail's pace, buffering about 3% per second. If I stop and restart, it buffers at about 20% per second. It happens even when the tablet is right next to the access point, so it's not a signal strength issue. On the face of it, this all points to Tunein. But how can I tell? I have a workaround: don't use Android. With an amplifier connected to teevee, the (desktop model) TV computer, all is well. Another fail for Android.

In case all this seems particularly negative: no, there are definitely advantages. We're living in early times


Kimchi: less salt?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I've been making kimchi for over 15 years now, and I've more or less refined the recipe to a point where I don't need to change it. Initially I salted it with dry salt and then rinsed it. It proved difficult to control the amount of salt left in the cabbage, so I changed to salting in a 6% salt solution and rinsing once.

But even that is not completely consistent. Last batch was too salty. So this time round I'm trying with 4% salt and no rinsing.

One of the issues with all this is that the salt solution is only 6% (or 4%) at the beginning of the salting. Much water comes out of the cabbage, significantly diluting it. That's why I keep a strict relationship (3:2) between the amount of salt solution and the amount of cabbage.


Friday, 7 March 2014 Dereel Images for 7 March 2014
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

A cleaner again
Topic: general Link here

Leah Major over this morning to clean the house up. I hadn't realised how much work it was. She spent 2½ hours cleaning up the laundry and part of the kitchen, but the difference was obvious. I suppose we're going to have to tidy up the mess so that she can do the rest of the house.


Marriotts on NBN
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

The other day I agreed to go over and take a look at Garry Marriott's new National Broadband Network connection. I forgot why, so took my VoIP ATA over with me. But it seemed that the main reason was to check the signal strength, which was “3 LEDs”, i.e. the highest the thing is capable of displaying. That's good news for us, of course, since we should get exactly the same reception in the new house next door.

They still haven't chosen a VoIP ATA, but it seems that they have managed to change their landline to Aussie Broadband, more by accident than intention. It seems that most people confuse the issue of VoIP with their existing landline. I've met many people who seem to think that they're either mutually exclusive or the same thing. In the Marriott's case, they seem to have done well out of it: for their broadband users Aussie offers a tariff for $30 a month with basically unlimited free calls to other landlines, though you do have to pay for the “cheap” 13 prefix numbers. That's better than Telstra's base price alone.

Or is it? For the past couple of months Telstra haven't been charging me a monthly base price. Is that accident or design? Basically we really only need it to call up Powercor when we have another power failure.


Misery Creek Bridge
Topic: history Link here

Julie Donaghy has been having a hard time of adapting to Mediawiki, and has preferred to upload her historical texts to her blog.

So I cut and pasted the text to the history site, currently without any editing, which is needed. And of course, a photo is needed, so after visiting Garry I went down there and took a couple of photos:


This should be Misery-creek-bridge.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Misery creek bridge          Dimensions:          6503 x 2251, 6272 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 7 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 7 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Friday, 7 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 


Another power failure
Topic: general Link here

As if to make my point about holding on to landlines for the time being, we had another power failure this evening at 21:36. Powercor told me that 700 properties were affected, and that it would take until 3:30 to restore power. They lied: power came back at 5:51, a whole 8¼ hours!


Saturday, 8 March 2014 Dereel Images for 8 March 2014
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Fewer house photos
Topic: photography, gardening, opinion Link here

House photo day again today. Why am I still doing this? It was originally to show the progress of the garden, but there hasn't been much in the last 12 months. In any case, I've already stopped taking weekly photos of some views, and today I decided that I'll drop most of them to fortnightly unless there are obvious reasons not to do so.

To make up for that, tried some different approaches to the HDR images: one way is to eliminate ghosting is to include the original component images in the choice. Tried that and got some really poor gradation. I'll need to look at this more carefully.


Power failure: negligent maintenance?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Over with Chris Bahlo this afternoon to see Stewart in Tantaus Road, the one person I know who wasn't affected by last night's power failure: he's off-grid, and that's why we went, since Chris is thinking of doing so too. I've seen this before, but Stewart said one thing that interested me: it seems that the power failure was due to burnt-out transformers, and that was due to dust buildup over the summer and a little light rain last night. If proven, that's a clear case of negligence on the part of Powercor. I suppose we should investigate that.


Sunday, 9 March 2014 Dereel → Haddon → Alfredton → Dereel Images for 9 March 2014
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Visiting the Giddins again
Topic: general, animals Link here

Off with Chris Bahlo this morning to visit Sue Giddins, now living in Haddon. Len is away for a few weeks, but her mother was there.

She also has horse problems: one has badly cut a rear leg while jumping over a fence, and another broodmare, Reina Real, hurt a leg over two weeks ago, and is clearly in pain. Chris took a look at it and said what any sane person would say: “Call a vet”, preferably two weeks ago.

One of the reasons we went was to show off Zhivago to Sue. She's looking for a quiet companion for her old dog, and she thought a Borzoi might be the answer. Sue was very happy with him, but mum wasn't—at the beginning. We left the two inside together while we were looking at the horses, and by the time we got back, mum was rally taken with him. I've seldom seen such a transformation.


Revisiting the Adelphi
Topic: general, Stones Road house Link here

After leaving the Giddins, on to Alfredton to take another look at the JG King “Adelphi I” display house, maybe to get a feeling for various kitchen details:


This should be Adelphi-I-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Adelphi I 2          Dimensions:          4616 x 3456, 2416 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 9 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 9 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 9 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Adelphi-I-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Adelphi I 3          Dimensions:          4629 x 3456, 2816 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 9 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 9 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 9 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Adelphi-I-4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Adelphi I 4          Dimensions:          4610 x 3456, 2304 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 9 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 9 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 9 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

The back of the house (south in our orientation) is where we're planning a shade area with tree ferns and other shade-loving plants. Here's what the starting point looks like:


This should be Adelphi-I-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Adelphi I 1          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 2976 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 9 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 9 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 9 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

It didn't occur to me until I was trying to reconcile the positions of the bedrooms that the plans of the Adelphi I and Adelphi II are in fact quite different. But at least it has given us further food for thought.


Monday, 10 March 2014 Dereel Images for 10 March 2014
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Android: do I need it?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Just a couple of days ago I had more or less come to the conclusion that Android tablets were worth the trouble. And now I run into other problems: the battery of my tablet, just over 6 months old and always carefully looked after, is dying.

What do I do? It's under warranty. Well, maybe they exclude the battery, but there are ways around that (“OK, then change it, and I'll pay for the new battery”. “Sorry, sir, we don't repair these things”. “OK, replace the tablet or I'll contact Consumer Affairs”), but do I want another of these tablets? In all likelihood it's a design fault that causes the battery to be overcharged. So: return it, get my money back, and go off looking for a new tablet.

Which one? There's certainly enough choice. So, take a step back and ask: what do I use it for?

So, bottom line: it's not really very useful. It should be, but there are problems round every corner. It would certainly be worthwhile going without one for a while and seeing if I miss it. In the meantime I have Chris Bahlo's old Samsung phone on loan. It's supposed to be for Yvonne, but she doesn't want to get involved.


More disk space
Topic: technology Link here

I've had a 2 TB disk in eureka since I built the current incarnation. It was intended to take the /home (400 GB) and /src (1 TB) file systems, but actually migrating means down time, so I left that until it became urgent. Now's the time: /src was full. The migration was relatively painless.


Horse photos, almost
Topic: animals, photography, opinion Link here

Yvonne wanted me to take some photos of her and Chris Bahlo riding Natfari and Bjoska today, but she assumed I was in my office. When I (watching TV in the lounge room) saw them coming, I went out to take the photos, but that was far too slow:


This should be Yvonne-Chris-leaving.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Yvonne Chris leaving          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 3232 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 10 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 10 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 10 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

Still, they came back, so I got another chance:


This should be Yvonne-Chris-returning.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Yvonne Chris returning          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 3104 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 10 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 10 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 10 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 


Tuesday, 11 March 2014 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

History repeating itself?
Topic: history, opinion Link here

76 years ago today an event happened that shook the world. In a small $country bordering on an $ex_superpower, with close ethnic and cultural ties, plans were under way to hold a referendum on joining $ex_superpower, which had expansionist views. And then there was a coup d'état, just the day before the referendum, which was then cancelled. $ex_superpower annexed $country anyway. The international community condemned the move, noting that it was a violation of international law, but they took no action. The idea of starting another war in Europe was just too horrible to think about.

That was the first annexation. $ex_superpower stated that all $ethnics had a right to live in $ex_superpower, not by moving, but by annexation. Only 6 months later they annexed part of $another_country. And then there was (almost) no stopping them.

But that was 76 years ago. It wouldn't happen again, would it? Not after the horrors of the Second World War? No, that's impossible.

Like many people, I've been watching the current situation in Crimea with growing alarm. My Ukrainian and Russian friends on Facebook speak of nothing else—in Ukraïnian and Russian, of course, so I can't really follow. But somehow there's a disconnect. What do people in Ukraïne think? For a “revolution” there's a surprising lack of violence. What are Putin (in Ukraïnian “Путлер” (“Putler”))'s intentions? On the face of it, the secession of Crimea might make sense; it's one of the possibilities that I had thought of. But then, the idea of Austria becoming part of Germany also made sense. It was originally intended to happen when Germany came into being.

The biggest problem, as 76 years ago, is that the way people are going about it is Just Plain Wrong. Why can't they wait until the elections, in only a couple of months? I wish I understood. How many other countries around Russia have large ethnic Russian populations?


Another Buddha
Topic: general, opinion Link here

For some reason, Yvonne is particularly partial to Buddha statues. We have one in the garden, and one on the verandah:


This should be Buddha.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Buddha          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1664 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 26 November 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 26 November 2010, small
Diary entry for Friday, 26 November 2010 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Buddha-5.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Buddha 5          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 4128 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 14 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 14 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Friday, 14 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

Today she saw one with a fountain on the local buy and sell Facebook page:


This should be Buddha-4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Buddha 4          Dimensions:          2633 x 3155, 1216 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 14 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 14 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Friday, 14 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

Clearly she had to have it, so over to pick it up this afternoon. Surprise, surprise! It's far smaller than the others:


This should be Buddha-6.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Buddha 6          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 2880 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 14 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 14 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Friday, 14 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

Still, she'll find something to do with it, I suppose. It only cost $10.


Wednesday, 12 March 2014 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

No water!
Topic: general Link here

Yvonne was finished very quickly in the bathroom this morning. No water! OK, we know that problem: the water filter clogs up and needs to be cleaned out. That's always my job, but at least she came with me to see what to do.

Yes, the filter was dirty, but that wasn't the problem. No water from the tank. OK, it's been a long, hot, dry summer, and we have two tanks:


This should be Tanks.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Tanks          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 5632 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 13 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 13 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 13 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

I had turned off the tap to the second tank (in the front in this photo), so that's not a catastrophe either. Switched over. Still no water!

For real emergencies we have a smaller third tank, only 5000 litres, but it's not connected to the pump. It's half full, so we siphoned off a couple of buckets and had breakfast.

Then back to look at the tanks. They can't both be empty; in fact, only yesterday I was playing around with my infrared thermometer to measure the surface temperature and thus guess the amount of water left in the tank: when the sun shines on the surface, it warms it, but the water cools it down again. The result is a step change in the surface temperature round the top of the water. And it showed that the first tank was half full.

OK, I could have been wrong with that. The tank is out of concrete, and there are other issues which could change things. But it's unlikely that both tanks could be empty. A blockage? Took the components apart, and sure enough, the non-return valve was a non-valve. I bought it almost exactly 4 years ago, so it was clear that it must have had a 4 year guarantee that expired a couple of days ago.

Off to the Ballarat Pump Shop with the valve and the pump for good measure. Once I had found my way into the shop, the woman took one look at it and said “It's the pump”. But she listened when I told her no water was going through the non-return valve, disconnected the elbow fitting that was still attached, found a bit of Cypress needle jamming the valve, pulled it out with a pair of pliers, lapped the fittings and put them back together on the pump. No charge. That's quite impressive.

While in town, also picked up my new glasses. 0.25 dioptres really make a big difference: it's much easier to read my slightly-further-away monitors now.


Android jungle
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Also in town dropped in to JB HiFi to see what they had in the way of Android tablets to replace my failing ALDI tablet. I had seen some Samsung tablets with 2560×1600 display—higher than any of my desktop monitors!—on their web site for nearly double the price of the ALDI tablet. Still, it's worth taking a look. Spoke to an obese sales person who pointed me at a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 for only $790, over 4 times what the newest ALDI tablet costs. But it didn't have telephone connectivity! For that I needed a different version costing only $990—for the phone connectivity alone I would have to pay more than the price of an ALDI tablet! Said so and gave up. It would be nice to have a hi-res display, but this is ridiculous.

Back home checked the JB HiFi web site again. The same tablet, with phone, costs “only” $598 online. I had suspected that the online prices would be lower, but that's amazing. And it's still too expensive for me. So for the time being I'll see how long the ALDI tablet lasts.


One real month of NBN
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

It's been a month since I ended my contracts with Exetel and SkyMesh and moved to Aussie Broadband. That has worked well, but it also gives me first real comparison of traffic use. Until 12 December 2013 I was limited to 18 GB traffic per month. Now I'm on a 50 GB tariff, which for the first 6 months has been raised to 100 GB, including traffic both ways.

A good thing too: this month I used 62.4 GB traffic (9.6 GB up, 52.8 GB down). On 9 March 2014 alone I transferred 17.23 GB. A lot of this is video, but it begs the question: should I go up to the next level (200 GB) when the 6 months are up? It's still cheaper than the 18 GB on HSPA. To be monitored.


Thursday, 13 March 2014 Dereel Images for 13 March 2014
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Another runner!
Topic: animals Link here

Yvonne back from walking the dogs (Zhivago and Tanya) this morning, without the dogs. Both of them had run off into the lagoon, just as she was about to put on their leashes. Off to look for them, though I don't know why. We've never found a dog that has run away, but they always come back. This time it was even a little faster than the normal hour or so, and they had clearly exerted themselves less. But it's a real pain to have to keep them on the leash all the time.


SBS on demand: ugh!
Topic: multimedia, opinion Link here

There's a new series on SBS TV, about the children of Queen Victoria—or the daughters, at any rate. I tried to record the first episode last week, but it failed badly.

OK, that's not really what “SBS on demand” is for, but it would do the trick... if my computer setup fits SBS' demands. I can either run it on the very latest Flash player, or on an Android tablet—if it's made by Samsung. I wonder when they're going to say “you can watch SBS free to air, as long as the TV is made by Samsung”.

Finally found a setup that it liked, and what did I get? Commercials! Unlike free to air, I can't find a way to turn them off. For the first time in years I had to wait through them. High time to find a way to download them and store them. In the meantime, that degrades SBS on demand to a last resort.


Friday, 14 March 2014 Dereel Images for 14 March 2014
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Enblend fixed!
Topic: technology Link here

Message from Rusmir Dusko on IRC this morning, asking me to close the bug reports against the enblend build failures. Sure enough, it seems that it has been fixed, or more likely, the vigra has. Took me several hours to bring my ports tree up to date—Subversion has had Yet Another Incompatible Update—but at the end of it I finally had a working enblend on FreeBSD 10-RELEASE. Thank God for that! Now I can complete migrating eureka to release 10.


Bushfire issues
Topic: general, Stones Road house Link here

Call from Patrick at Colin McClelland and Associates today. Our Bushfire Management Statement is ready. Bad news: we can only fulfil BAL 19, and then only if we move the house 7 metres south. That's a cost factor, but also a problem with preparing the drawings. Tried to get in touch with Tom Tyler at JG King, but of course he's off for a couple of days. In principle I should submit the application for the planning permit on Monday, only 3 months after we signed the contract, but in practice Jörg Micheel and son are coming to visit us then, so we'll have to postpone it until Tuesday at the earliest.


New radio alarm clock
Topic: general, multimedia, opinion Link here

The radio alarm clock in my bed has seen better days, and lately I've been lucky to get any reception at all. I like to listen to the early morning news in bed, and I've already looked around at what's available online and in the shops. Nothing at a reasonable price. Given that analogue radio probably won't last more than a few years, I see no reason to spend more than about $20 on a new radio.

So I dragged out my old 14-year-old “mini HiFi system”, which I had replaced five years ago because the CD player was dying. Where are the loudspeakers? No idea. Ended up using some other ones, and then discovered that the thing made a buzzing noise that would be very irritating at night. So in addition to everything else, it looks as if I'll have to reconnect power every morning. Why is this so difficult?


Saturday, 15 March 2014 Dereel Images for 15 March 2014
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Mains power: worth the trouble?
Topic: general, Stones Road house, opinion Link here

A short power failure at 3:55 this morning. That's a bad time: if I wake up at 4 am, it takes me forever to get back to sleep. And of course the screaming UPSs make sure I hear them. I had just about got back to sleep when we had another one, at 6:04, which wasn't short. Cursing, out to call Powercor. Power came back relatively quickly at 7:23, and I slept on until 9:30, late even for me. Should I really try to get by without mains power?


Garden flowers in early autumn
Topic: gardening, photography, opinion Link here

It's autumn already, and my neglected garden is gradually recovering from one of the driest summers on record. It's also mid-month, time for my monthly photo series. Despite the weather and my neglect, there were a few pleasant surprises, notably the Bromeliad that we picked up somewhere:


This should be Bromeliad-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Bromeliad 2          Dimensions:          3456 x 4608, 1936 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 15 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 15 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 15 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

Many more photos on the flowers page.


Strange shutdown behaviour
Topic: technology Link here

Shutting down the TV this evening was surprising:


This should be Shutdown.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Shutdown          Dimensions:          4211 x 2430, 1072 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 15 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 15 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 15 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

What went wrong there? It looks as if it was a lot of npviewer.bin processes core dumping, leaving a single dump file:

-rw-------     1 grog  wheel    427,184,128 15 Mar 22:19 npviewer.bin.core

Surprisingly, given the lack of the final 4 seconds with no buffers dirty, the system did shut down clean.


Understanding the Great War
Topic: history, opinion Link here

A nice explanation of the Great War:

 
This should be bar-fight.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: bar fight
Dimensions: 546 x 531, 146 kB
Dimensions of original: 546 x 531, 146 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 15 March 2014:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry


Sunday, 16 March 2014 Dereel Images for 16 March 2014
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Yet more broken photo software?
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Another issue of C't digitale Fotographie arrived recently, along with the usual DVD of software and images. One, PhotoPlus, looked interesting, so I installed it. Required product registration, the usual setting up accounts (“Choose a password that's at least 6 characters, including a number”, i.e. something like 1diots). And then it came back with the message “We are unable to create this user account”. How I love broken software!


Jörg Micheel arrives
Topic: general Link here

I've known Jörg Micheel for decades, since we were first involved with the beta tests of BSD/386 nearly 22 years ago. Times were different then, as these mail headers show:

Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1992 09:33:17 +0200
From: Joerg Micheel <unido!fokus.gmd.de!micheel>
To: lemis!grog

He moved to New Zealand before I restarted my diary in 2000, and since then we've lost track of him. Today he showed up with his son Richard to stay for a couple of days. Last time I saw Richard he was about 2 years old. How times have changed!


Monday, 17 March 2014 Dereel → Apostles → Melba Gully → Cape Otway → Apollo Bay → Dereel Images for 17 March 2014
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Great Ocean Road again
Topic: general Link here

Jörg and Richard are here, so of course it was time for a trip to the Great Ocean Road. Decided to attack it from the west. Weather was fine as far as Port Campbell, but then it deteriorated, and by the time we got to the Twelve Apostles it was driving rain. Waited around for a while in the reception centre, which has severely deteriorated in quality: now it's part building site, part kiosk, with no information whatsoever.

Finally down to the rocks, where the weather was no longer as bad, and while we were there the weather cleared up considerably. Found a surprising number of photographers there, apparently intent on panoramas but without the correct equipment:


This should be Apostles-9.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Apostles 9          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 2832 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 17 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

I'm not sure that the view lends itself to panoramas. Took this one by hand, and it doesn't look very interesting:


This should be Apostles-panorama-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Apostles panorama 2          Dimensions:          9629 x 2854, 7392 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 17 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

On to Melba Gully, where we haven't been for over five years. It hasn't improved. It looks pretty run-down, and I had forgotten how steep the site is. I think next time we'll go to Maits Rest instead. While there, though, we did come across the rare carnivorous Victaphanta compacta (Otway Black Snail):


This should be Otway-black-snail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Otway black snail          Dimensions:          2188 x 1145, 608 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 17 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

From thence on to the road to Cape Otway, where we saw some Koalas last year. We weren't disappointed: there were maybe not as many as last year, but they were much more accessible, and we took lots of photos, over 200 in all. In the process we accumulated quite a number of other people, most of whom seemed to speak German:


This should be Koala-watchers.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Koala watchers          Dimensions:          5021 x 2325, 3856 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 17 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

Focusing and exposure were quite a problem, and only about ⅔ of them were worth keeping at all:


This should be Koalas-29.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Koalas 29          Dimensions:          3456 x 4608, 2720 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 17 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Koalas-31.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Koalas 31          Dimensions:          3456 x 4608, 2368 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 17 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Koalas-53.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Koalas 53          Dimensions:          3456 x 4608, 2704 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 17 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Koalas-53-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Koalas 53 detail          Dimensions:          1985 x 3056, 1120 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 17 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Koalas-8.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Koalas 8          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 2320 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 17 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

By that time it was way past lunch time, so on past Maits Rest to Apollo Bay, where we finally found some not-very-good pies at the baker and had a lunch substitute round 16:00. From there it seems that the best way home is directly north. Last year my GPS navigator took us through this area over some of the worst unmade roads I have been on, so I made quite sure that this time that I disabled “unmade roads” in the route planning. It didn't help. It took us up the unmade and appropriately named Wild Dog Creek Road, although there was a (presumably better) road only a kilometre or so further on.


Paella and espresso
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Back home, Yvonne was preparing a paella, so of course Chris Bahlo had to be there too. Yvonne had bought an espresso machine, and fortunately Chris has the same model (ALDI's best), so she set it up for us. It doesn't taste bad, but I'm not sure I'm that interested in espresso.


Tuesday, 18 March 2014 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Processing the photos
Topic: general, photography, opinion Link here

Richard and I took a total of 242 photos today on real cameras only; Jörg took a number more on his Apple devices. How to process them? It took us all morning, by which time Jörg and Richard had left. And as expected many of the photos were completely useless. But what surprised me was the exposure of some of the images on the Nikon D200. The problem with the Koalas, of course, was the back light, and we both used spot measurement. But while the Olympus OM-D E-M1 handled it relatively well, some of the Nikon images were hopelessly underexposed:


This should be Koalas-192.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Koalas 192          Dimensions:          3872 x 2592, 1504 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 17 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Koalas-196.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Koalas 196          Dimensions:          2592 x 3872, 624 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 17 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

These two photos were taken 48 seconds apart, both with spot measurement. On the face of it, the first image should be more of a problem, but for some reason the camera exposed the second image fully 2.6 EV less than the first one. Why?


Serif web site problems explained
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Why did the Serif (PhotoPlus) web site refuse to allow me to register my product on Sunday? It's clear that the component that didn't work wasn't so much the product registration as the user registration. You can do that without a product, so I tried going directly to the web site. Same problem. Messing around, I changed the email address. Normally I sign up to all such sites with an email address that reflects the site, in this case serif@lemis.com. And that seems to be what upset it: it didn't like to see its own name! I changed it to bloedmann@lemis.com and it was happy. More clever web programmers let loose, it seems.

And the product registration? Went without a hitch. Of course, the product itself doesn't seem to be worth using. What a pain it is just to try out second-rate software!


Planning permit, next hurdle
Topic: general, Stones Road house Link here

Yvonne picked up our Bushfire Management Statement and took it to Tom Tyler at JG King. Surprise, surprise! Patrick had told me that we'd have to move the house 7 m south, something we could just about deal with. That would put the south side of the house 20 m from the southern boundary of the property. But the site plan showed 15 m! That wouldn't leave enough space for the planned shed. Called him up and had a chat with him, and discovered that this was a minimum distance, so all seems to be well. Now for more plan drawing and shed quotes.


German pension: finally?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

A no-longer-expected letter in the mail today, from the German Pension Insurance: they've finally processed my pension application, and indeed backdated it to 1 December 2013. But there's still a sting in the tail: the 4 months' pension from December to March will not be paid—yet. First they want to see if other organizations want a share („zum Beispiel Krankenkasse, Agentur für Arbeit, Träger der Sozialhilfe, Arbeitgeber, vergleichbare Stellen im Ausland, Versicherungsträger im Ausland“). I'm not translating it because it's not really possible to translate without loss of meaning, but basically those are various German social organizations and “comparable places outside the country”. They've had 4 months, and it should be clear that there is no such organization that wants anything. And if they did, why not deduct it from later pension payments? You'd think they're going out of their way to upset pensioners. What do pensioners do if they don't have any other source of income? Starve for four months?

As if that wasn't enough, I have to make an annual income tax statement! In Germany (more accurately the taxation department in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern). Once again, it's unlikely that I will have to pay anything, but what a pain! Still, from next month I get a substantial monthly payment, and presumably the rest will arrive some time.


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

Apart from the fact that yesterday's panoramas at the Twelve Apostles weren't overly interesting, there were a couple of other issues: firstly, I made the mistake of not getting the stretches of waves in any one image (something that I learnt not to do last year in Apollo Bay. That's obviously my own fault. But what about the exposure? The right-hand side of this image is far too dark:


This should be Apostles-panorama-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Apostles panorama 2          Dimensions:          9629 x 2854, 7392 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 17 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

But that's not what the image said:


This should be Apostles-31.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Apostles 31          Dimensions:          3456 x 4608, 2848 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 17 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

Clearly I need to look more at exposure compensation. In the past enblend has done it automatically, but this time it appears to have failed. Maybe I can frob the EXIF data.


Wednesday, 19 March 2014 Dereel Images for 19 March 2014
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Catching up
Topic: general Link here

The last couple of days seem to have been more tiring than I expected, and I spent most of the day trying to catch up. Somehow I still didn't manage to complete the application for the planning permit. Mañana.


Surveying PC users
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Another online survey today, this one with a difference:

 
This should be broken-survey.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: broken survey
Dimensions: 670 x 284, 30 kB
Dimensions of original: 670 x 284, 30 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 19 March 2014:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

OK, I'll bite. What are they excluding? As I see it, users of Apple desktops and Microsoft tablets. But why? And it displayed this message on my PC, so it's broken too. I never cease to be amazed by these surveys.


Thursday, 20 March 2014 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Planning application or pulling teeth?
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

On with the application for a planning permit today. How are we going to fix the layout plan? I need to put in some relatively complicated structures on an A3 plan. I could possibly get it done on a computer, but then I couldn't print it out. Or I could draw it freehand on the one copy of the site plan that I have, but it's been decades since I've done any drafting, and it shows. Tom Tyler is off work until Monday, and it's not clear that he's prepared to put in the sheds. Still, I suppose I could do that.

Decided to do the rest of the application first. Good idea. They want a copy of the title. I have one, but it's now too old. How do I get a new one? From the instructions:

The title information accompanying your application must include a `register search statement' and the title diagram, which together make up the title. In addition, any relevant associated title documents, known as `instruments', must also be provided to make up a full copy of the title.

Copies of title documents can be obtained from Land Registry: Level 10, 570 Bourke Street, Melbourne; 03 8636 2010; http://www.land.vic.gov.au - go direct to "titles & property certificates".

And of course there's no reference to “titles & property certificates” at http://www.land.vic.gov.au. After a while found a reference to https://www.landata.vic.gov.au/tpc_confirm_property.aspx, which wants a “standard parcel identifier” with a backslash in it: 2\LP112907. Tried that and was offered a bewildering choice of certificates. So called up the council and spoke to Kirsty, who didn't know either: they use a different interface to get titles, and they could use it for me, costing only $60.

But then it occurred to me: we should have had a new title a long time ago, since we settled the purchase last month. Where is the title? Called up Curwen-Walkers and was connected with a new hire who didn't understand anything, and who promised to get somebody to call me back.

After a few hours, still no call back. Called again and got connected to (presumably) another person who didn't know, who wanted to know when we were going to settle, and finally understood (she said) what I wanted. Kept me waiting for a long time and finally came back and told me that they had applied for the transfer this week, and it would be back by the end of next week.

That was about all I needed. It's been 6 weeks since settlement. Why had they only sent out the application this week, when they had promised to give it priority? “I don't know, I'm just the messenger”. Asked to speak to the source of the message, who proved to be called Dinae, and who came on the line shortly later. Sorry, the title was there, just on the wrong pile. We could pick it up tomorrow.

Grr. I had had a good impression of Curwen-Walkers, but they've certainly put paid to that.


Tony Abbott finds missing Malaysia Airlines plane!
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Surprise news today: Tony Abbott got up on his hind legs in parliament today and announced that Australia had found debris in the southern Indian Ocean that looked like it was part of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. What a man! Never mind that there's no certainty, and there have been numerous similar claims from more plausible locations: in the course of several days they'll find out. My guess is that it's a lost asylum seeker boat. But what a man! If he could just remember the name of the Malaysian Prime Minister, he'd be perfect.


Friday, 21 March 2014 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 21 March 2014
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Stitching the Apostles, continued
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

I've continued trying to get the exposure consistent for my panorama of the Twelve Apostles. I sent a message to the Hugin forum a couple of days ago and got a couple of different suggestions: Terry Duell pointed me at this tutorial and noted that he had had good results with it; basically select “Exposure fused from any arrangement” in the stitcher tab. Yes, that made some improvement, but not as much as I wanted.

Dave H (yes, that's all the name I have) had a different approach: lighten in GIMP before stitching. Fine, but that's exactly what I did, modulo program.

Today I spent some more time looking at Terry's approach. Apart from selecting “Exposure fused from any arrangement”, I could also change the number of levels that enblend uses. The maximum is barely enough, so I added -l 29 to the flags. Bang!

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/10) ~/Photos/Hugin-build-eureka 240 -> enblend --compression=LZW -l 29 -f9629x2854+203+1667 -o foo_exposure_0001.tif -- foo_exposure_layers_0002.tif foo_exposure_layers_0003.tif foo_exposure_layers_0006.tif
enblend: info: loading next image: foo_exposure_layers_0002.tif 1/1
enblend: info: loading next image: foo_exposure_layers_0003.tif 1/1
enblend: info: loading next image: foo_exposure_layers_0006.tif 1/1

enblend: an exception occured
enblend:
Precondition violation!
BasicImage::upperLeft(): image must have non-zero size.
(/usr/local/include/vigra/basicimage.hxx:926)

What's that? Removing the -l 29 worked, but gave me a different message:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/10) ~/Photos/Hugin-build-eureka 241 -> enblend --compression=LZW -f9629x2854+203+1667 -o foo_exposure_0001.tif -- foo_exposure_layers_0002.tif foo_exposure_layers_0003.tif foo_exposure_layers_0006.tif
enblend: info: loading next image: foo_exposure_layers_0002.tif 1/1
enblend: info: loading next image: foo_exposure_layers_0003.tif 1/1
enblend: info: loading next image: foo_exposure_layers_0006.tif 1/1
enblend: images do not overlap - they will be combined without blending
enblend: use the "-l" flag to force blending with a certain number of levels

And indeed, the images didn't overlap:


This should be Apostles-panorama-2b-layer0001.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Apostles panorama 2b layer0001          Dimensions:          9629 x 2854, 3888 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 17 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

So what's the problem here? Clearly enblend knows how to make output images from non-overlapping inputs, but it seems that if you specify a number of levels, it dies in this case instead of falling back to default behaviour. I wonder if I can bear to look into the code.

There are clearly two ways to deal with this situation: firstly, in the assumption that image 6 (on the right) was in one of the other layers, I could simply build layer 1 without image 6. That worked, but the results weren't quite what I wanted:


This should be Apostles-panorama-2b-broken.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Apostles panorama 2b broken          Dimensions:          963 x 285, 112 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 17 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

The other option is to merge layer 1 without the -l 29. That worked, and didn't look too bad. At least the exposure looked more even. Here first the original attempt and then the version with exposure fusion:


This should be Apostles-panorama-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Apostles panorama 2          Dimensions:          9629 x 2854, 7392 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 17 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 


This should be Apostles-panorama-2b.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Apostles panorama 2b          Dimensions:          9629 x 2854, 6192 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 17 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

The real problem, though, is what I've already discovered: “Exposure fused from any arrangement” requires an extremely accurate fit. Otherwise there's ghosting, and I have a bad case of it here. Here's the original attempt and the blended attempt:

 
This should be Apostles-panorama-2-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Apostles panorama 2 detail
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 712 x 621, 224 kB
Dimensions of original: 712 x 621, 224 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 17 March 2014:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

 
This should be Apostles-panorama-2b-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Apostles panorama 2b detail
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 712 x 621, 104 kB
Dimensions of original: 712 x 621, 104 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 17 March 2014:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

So somehow I need to find a different solution. In passing, on revisiting the individual panoramas, there was almost no difference between the fused panoramas with or without the -l 29 option.

Finally, Dave H's option. I put image 8 (extreme right) through xv and raised the gamma from 1 to 2, giving a very light image:


This should be Apostles-panorama-2-part-8.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Apostles panorama 2 part 8          Dimensions:          3456 x 4608, 1648 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 17 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

On processing it, I got a better result than the original, though it's still too dark on the right:


This should be Apostles-panorama-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Apostles panorama 2          Dimensions:          9629 x 2854, 7392 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 17 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 


This should be Apostles-panorama-2b.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Apostles panorama 2b          Dimensions:          9629 x 2854, 6192 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 17 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Monday, 17 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

At least it's sharp. So it seems that in my previous attempts to lighten that image I didn't lighten it enough. Is it really necessary to make it that much lighter? I need to understand whether this is a bug or a feature, and clearly it's time to get round to doing the intermediate images with TIFF.


Finally, a title
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Into town today to Curwen-Walkers to pick up the title for our new block of land in Stones Road. We needed identification and signatures. Why? Because it isn't the same document! What the council wants is a copy of title, and this is the original, and thus valuable. So we'll need a different one after all.

The other thing of interest is that the title was dated 12 February 2014. That's over 5 weeks ago! What have they been doing? Maturing it?


GPS collar for the dogs
Topic: technology, animals Link here

While in town, took a look at what ALDI had to offer. Just what I was looking for! A Cocoon GT42395 GPS tracker, advertised as being useful—amongst other things—for tracking (presumably runaway) dogs. It cost $80, and I've since found it advertised on eBay for $250. Brought it home and took a look:


This should be Tracker-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Tracker 2          Dimensions:          4574 x 3429, 1696 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 21 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 21 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Friday, 21 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Tracker-4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Tracker 4          Dimensions:          1546 x 1346, 432 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 21 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 21 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Friday, 21 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

How do I unpack it? That's not a package, it's a protective case, and it's screwed down, something they didn't think necessary to mention in the instruction manual. Unscrewed it, necessary for charging, and put it on charge. So far the instructions look surprisingly complicated, and there seems to be no way to attach it to anything, let alone a collar. To be investigated when I have time.

As Peter Jeremy pointed out, there are two slots on the side of the protective case through which you can slide the collar. That goes to show how carefully I examined it.


Saturday, 22 March 2014 Dereel Images for 22 March 2014
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Panorama leveling base, revisited
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

For some time now I've been taking my weekly House photos with the panorama bracket mounted on a ball head, something that I don't seem to have taken a photo of. Before that I had used the Manfrotto 3416 leveling base, designed (if that's the word) for exactly this purpose:


This should be Manfrotto-3416.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Manfrotto 3416          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 848 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 15 May 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 15 May 2011, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 15 May 2011 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Panorama-adapter-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Panorama adapter 2          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 736 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 24 November 2011, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 24 November 2011, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 24 November 2011 Complete exposure details

 

There are several problems with the base: it's fiddly to adjust, it has a limited adjustment range (only 5°), it has 3 screws, so you can't adjust pitch and roll separately, and it's easy to get it into a configuration where it's so off-centre that you can only adjust in one direction. In short, it has little to recommend it, and that's why I use a ball head instead.

There are problems with the ball head too, in particular that the one I had is too small, and that the accuracy of adjustment is limited by the insensitive spirit level. But a few weeks back a further problem showed itself: the head was too weak for the weight on top of it, and gradually the construction began to disintegrate. Never mind, there are cheap heads on the market, and I bought this one:

KS-1 ball head from eBay vendor dualane-oz

It has a 44 mm ball instead of the more usual 36 mm or smaller, and claims to be able to carry a load of 12 kg. Certainly it seems solid enough, but there are still problems: it requires two separate screws to lock the ball, and they need to be turned very tightly. In addition it doesn't have a level. Never mind, I have a digital level:


This should be Level.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Level          Dimensions:          3190 x 3020, 992 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 5 December 2012, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 5 December 2012, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 5 December 2012 Complete exposure details

 

The problem there is adjustment. It's almost impossible to get the head exactly level just by swiveling the ball. Not for the first time I'm wishing for something with adjustments in two perpendicular directions, preferably with screws. But what do they have on the market? Apart from the Manfrotto, there are things like the Really Right Stuff leveling base:

Really Right Stuff TA-2-LB

That's really just a glorified ball head, so it doesn't really add anything except price. In particular, there's no way to adjust exactly. Why don't people come out with something useful?


Sweet without sugar
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I don't eat much in the way of sweet things, which is just as well, since I have diabetes. But recently we bought an espresso machine from a ALDI, and espresso coffee tastes strange without a little sugar, so I had taken to putting in half a spoonful.

There's an obvious way round the sugar problem: artificial sweeteners. Yvonne brought some back today. You'd think that there's hardly anything of less interest, but I'm still surprised. It's in a dispenser that dispenses a single, small tablet, and of course it comes with No Instructions. It took me some time to work out how to dispense a tablet, and when I did, it emerged from a completely different place from what I thought.

Secondly, each tablet corresponds in sweetness to a spoon of sugar—twice what I want. And to my surprise, it is not free of saccharides: it contains an unspecified quantity of lactose, of all sugars. Why? Firstly it's supposed to be without sugar, and secondly a significant proportion of the world's population is lactose intolerant. Apart from that, it also contains Phenylalanine, which is not exactly safe for some people. About the only thing they don't describe is the sweetener itself: “Sweetener (951)”. You need a Google to find out what that is: Aspartame, and that only by fixing the description to refer to E951. And then you discover that Phenylalanine is a breakdown product of Aspartame.

So: is it safe? In the quantities I would consume, no question. Certainly safer than sugar. But why do they document things like that, and why the lactose?


Sunday, 23 March 2014 Dereel Images for 23 March 2014
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Royal Commissions: problem solving through bureaucracy
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

The more I look at the Bushfire Management Statement, the less I understand. This evening Chris Bahlo and Margaret were here for dinner, and we discussed the matter. Margaret is a volunteer for the CFA, and she's as unhappy as I am about the bureaucracy. Chris is going through this too, and she mentioned that she is not in a wildfire management overlay.

Wildfire Management Overlay? What's that? We have a Bushfire Management Overlay, and I dragged out the Bushfire Management Statement to prove it. What's the difference? It seems that it's just a matter of time: it used to be called wildfire, now it's called bushfire. But while we were at it, took a look at the gobbledygook that is in the statement:

Objective: To ensure that development is located and sited so that it does not increase the risk to life, property and community infrastructure from bushfire.

Objective: To ensure that the siting and layout of development reduces the risk to life, property and community infrastructure from bushfire to an acceptable level and prioritises the protection of human life.

What's the difference? It goes on with several more such statements, all of which seem to be the same. Margaret tells me that it has all been boiled down to a scheme that can be defined without ever looking at the property or taking local conditions into consideration. Measure what you can measure, not what the real danger is. Doesn't this sound like the way they “measure” “road safety” in Victoria?


Spiced green beans
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Margaret's a vegetarian, so once again we had Indian food. Last time I had included my spiced green beans recipe, but I wasn't as happy with it as I had hoped. So I went looking for alternatives. The web is terrible for recipes, with instructions such as “1 16-ounce package french cut green beans (frozen, not canned)”. So I faked an alternative with tomato instead of coconut.

How was it received? Yvonne objected in no uncertain terms to the slightly higher quantity of chili in the dish, but it seems OK. Maybe too much tomato, but we'll see in the course of time.


Another power failure
Topic: general Link here

Another short power failure in the evening at 22:56.


Monday, 24 March 2014 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Compromising a BSD network
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

When I got up this morning, Yvonne's first words were “We're off the web”. How can I get her to distinguish between net and web?

She was right, of course, and the logs suggested that something happened at midnight:

1395579442 2.02739 5    # Sun 23 Mar 2014 23:57:22 EST 246.622 ms
1395579508 0.539084 5   # Sun 23 Mar 2014 23:58:28 EST 927.500 ms
1395579571 1.35849 5    # Sun 23 Mar 2014 23:59:31 EST 368.057 ms
1395579716 0 0 hub w3 www.auug.org.au ozlabs.org ftp.netbsd.org         # Mon 24 Mar 2014 00:01:56 EST
1395579806 0 0 hub w3 www.auug.org.au ozlabs.org ftp.netbsd.org         # Mon 24 Mar 2014 00:03:26 EST

Connectivity dropped to 0 (3rd column) pretty much exactly at midnight. ISP problem? Found that the router (an el cheapo “Goldweb” GW-WR401N) had been dragged onto the floor, presumably by a dog. How do you attach these little things? This one has slots for wall mounting, but the antennas and cables come out of the same side, so they'd reasonably have to point down. Anyway, reboot and we were away.

In the meantime, an unrelated problem: my VoIP ATA wasn't registered. Why not? Went looking on the MyNetFone web site, but it hung on me. Their fault or mine? Tried another random web site, which responded, but slowly. And gradually things went to hell again. Called up Aussie Broadband support and spoke to Abraham, the same bloke I spoke to last time. While talking to him, decided to reset the router again. It worked! Left him with that information and on to look at other issues. In addition, the ATA was now registering, so it looked like something to do with the router.

Not to worry, I have a second one. Put that in instead, and things worked—for a while. Then I had the same problems again. Had both routers passed their use-by date? Tried running the network from eureka, which also worked for a while before hanging. It took me some time to realize that this was because I had set the IP addresses manually instead of using DHCP. In any case, to do that I needed to run NAT, which required setting up a firewall, something I haven't done in years. Ran into countless issues there, including out-of-date start scripts and changes in the way things run, so that even The Complete FreeBSD (chapter 22) was of no help. In the process managed to mess things up to an extent that I could no longer use the machine, so had to reboot. And that was a problem too, because it came up with no Ethernet address. Why? Nothing obvious in the logs.

While scratching my head, thought of other issues: why am I using so much traffic? I haven't done very much in the last couple of days, but according to the Aussie usage page, I have used 2.5 GB of data. I've been watching that from this end with iftop since Saturday, and it showed only a few hundred MB. Why the discrepancy? Started measuring again and comparing the traffic, starting at 11:20. Here a summary, corrected relative to 11:20:

Time       Aussie       Aussie       My       My
      upload       download       upload       download
11:20       0       0       0       0
12:52       113.05       123.55       3.51       11.7
13:35       180.4       194.18       5.63       18.5
15:13       189.96       222.07       (reset)

Clearly there's a big difference here. And equally obvious is that the Aussie figures showed roughly equal upload and download, which isn't normal. Called up Aussie again, spoke to Abraham yet again—is he their only support person? He put me on hold for a while and came back saying no, the traffic was real. Not quite what I was looking for, and I asked for more details. Was put through to John, second-level support, who gave me the details I was looking for: there was lots of upload traffic to sites in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea, and it came in bursts. Had my Microsoft box (which he assumed to be there) been infected? Not beyond the bounds of possibility, but it's off the net, and it was also hibernated for most of the time. And if it had been doing anything,

What about the router? He discovered that it had ports 23 (telnet) and 1050 open, something that I should already have discovered. He was able to establish a telnet connection, but not log in. So: is somebody abusing the router as an open relay? After hanging up, went and took a look. Apart from the cable to the NTD, there were three others. Only the LED for WAN was flashing. Disconnected the others one at a time. No change: the WAN light continued flashing with nothing else connected. Caught red-handed. Once I the connection back on eureka, ran a trace and found things like:

21:32:01.665578 IP 61.79.207.153.3139 > 180-150-4-134.NBN.ballarat.aussiebb.net.telnet: Flags [S], seq 2431294282, win 5840, options [mss 1452,sackOK,TS val 1258126968 ecr 0,nop,wscale 1], length 0
21:32:04.876613 IP 227.pool85-52-224.static.orange.es.47458 > 180-150-4-134.NBN.ballarat.aussiebb.net.telnet: Flags [S], seq 2508439639, win 5840, options [mss 1412,sackOK,TS val 55277185 ecr 0,nop,wscale 6], length 0
21:32:31.242472 IP 245.168.107.193.clients.uainet.net.3362 > 180-150-4-134.NBN.ballarat.aussiebb.net.telnet: Flags [S], seq 2656350386, win 5840, options [mss 1452,sackOK,TS val 3048655 ecr 0,nop,wscale 1], length 0

They seem to come from all over the world. So what are they doing, and how do they know the password? I need to sniff the traffic between the router and the NTD. By chance I found my old (round 1999) main Ethernet hub, 10Base2 of course. If I can find the power supply I can put it in circuit and sniff. In passing it's interesting to consider that this will also slow the connection to 10 Mb/s, a 60% decrease.

So what do I do about my connectivity? Clearly I need to set up a firewall to eureka, but I don't want continual reboots. In addition, it looks as if I'll need a second network interface to be able to run NAT (it's not necessary for a normal Internet connection). Later: I wasted all day tracing this one, a day when I really had better things to do.


Planning permit: next pain
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Had planned to submit my application for a planning permit today. But I've found another problem with the Bushfire Management Statement: it doesn't show a location for the sheds. Called up Patrick yet again, and he was a little evasive until I pointed out that this was one of the things we had asked him to address. And the whole description is not just vague, it's ambiguous. One of the key factors in the statement is the defendable space, divided into inner and outer zone, and shown in this plan:

 
This should be BMS-28-detail.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: BMS 28 detail
Dimensions: 745 x 518, 464 kB
Dimensions of original: 745 x 518, 464 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Tuesday, 25 March 2014:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Why is it oval? Why is the outer zone only present in some areas? Why does the inner zone extend to the property boundary at the north and stop short of the boundary to the south? How far north of the southern boundary does it stop? Patrick tells me 5 metres, but it's not mentioned anywhere in this horribly voluminous statement. You can get that value by subtracting the distances and the (unspecified) width of the house from the height of the property (mentioned only at the western edge of the plans). The best thing I can do is to go to the council and ask their opinion. And my network problems kept me from doing that today. But why should all this be dependent on opinion?


Tuesday, 25 March 2014 Dereel Images for 25 March 2014
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Goldweb GW-WR401N exploit
Topic: technology Link here

So who is abusing my router? Found a power supply for the 10 Mb/s Ethernet hub and put it between the router and the NTD and sniffed. A lot of false positives, but then:

localhost login: root
Password: root

BusyBox v1.6.1 (2011-11-18 17:55:13 CST) Built-in shell (ash)
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.

# echo -e \x5A
Z
# mkdir -p /var/run/.zollard/
# cd /var/run/.zollard/
# rm -rf armeabi
# echo -n > armeabi
# chmod +x armeabi && echo -e \x5A
# echo -ne \x7F\x45\x4C\x46\x01\x01\x01\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00
\x02\x00\x28\x00\x01\x00\x00\x00\xC4\x85\x00\x00\x34\x00\x00\x00\xB4\x00
\x02\x00\x02\x00\x00\x05\x34\x00\x20\x00\x04\x00\x28\x00\x0E\x00\x0D\x00
\x01\x00\x00\x70\x14\xFD\x01\x00\x14\x7D\x02\x00\x14\x7D\x02\x00\x08\x00
\x00\x00\x08\x00\x00\x00\x04\x00\x00\x00\x04\x00\x00\x00\x01\x00\x00\x00
\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x80\x00\x00\x00\x80 >> armeabi

This box (a “Goldweb” GW-WR401N) is wide open! User root, password root. That's so obvious that I didn't even think to try it. And of course there's nothing in the configuration that can turn it off.

But what is this stuff? Lots of echos, but it's not obvious what it's supposed to be good for. In any case, it has to stop. Discovered that I can connect to the router from the LAN interface too, so did that and took a look around. Looking through /etc showed me an inetd.conf:

# cat /etc/inetd.conf
#ftp     stream  tcp     nowait  root    /sbin/bftpd bftpd
telnet     stream  tcp     nowait  root    /usr/sbin/telnetd telnetd
#tftp    dgram   udp     wait    root    /usr/bin/tftpd tftpd
#netbios-ssn      stream tcp     nowait  root    /sbin/smbd smbd
#netbios-ns      dgram   udp     wait    root    /sbin/nmbd nmbd

OK, that's simple enough: edit it to comment out the telnet line. But how? No editor! Why do these BusyBoxen have such limited commands? Still, with that content, it's simple enough to edit it elsewhere and cut and paste the contents into cat. Did that, rebooted. No change. It seems that the configuration gets re-initialized on reboot. OK, once rebooted I can kill inetd. That works, and for the time being it's an adequate workaround until I get my main machine configured.


Planning permit: next delay
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

So now I have my network problems under control, I have more time to attend to the matter of the planning permit. Called up the council and spoke to Matthew, who said yes, come along and discuss the matter. Would next Monday be suitable? It seems that they don't have time before then, but they will have two people available to discuss the matter with me. Another delay! Hopefully we'll have everything sorted out on Monday.


Wednesday, 26 March 2014 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Tracking the network problems
Topic: technology Link here

Spent much of the day waiting for my sporadic network problems to crop up again. They happened, but on analysis I found that I had two different DHCP servers on the same network: one from the router and one from the machine with which I was “monitoring” the net. Killed the latter dhclient and let things trace again. No problems any more (apart from the 60% drop in download speed caused by the old hub). But a lack of problem doesn't mean it's gone, so left it run.


Thursday, 27 March 2014 Dereel Images for 27 March 2014
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Understanding DHCP
Topic: technology Link here

My network connection is still flaky. In particular, the IRC connections continue to drop. Traced both DHCP and IRC and came up with some interesting details.


This should be DHCP-fail.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: DHCP fail          Dimensions:          2245 x 430, 132 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 27 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 27 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 27 March 2014

 

To save space, the trace shows the IP addresses in numeric form. 180.150.4.134 is my router, 180.150.4.1 is the other end of the link, and 206.86.224.149 is w3.lemis.com, my external server. First the router issues three DHCP requests and gets no reply:


This should be DHCP-fail-1.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: DHCP fail 1          Dimensions:          1100 x 78, 16 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 27 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 27 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 27 March 2014

 

After 15 seconds it issues a DHCP Discover and gets immediate (47 ms) replies from the previously unresponsive DHCP server:


This should be DHCP-fail-2.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: DHCP fail 2          Dimensions:          1101 x 121, 26 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 27 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 27 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 27 March 2014

 

So I was back and had the same IP address, so most TCP connections remained. But there's a problem: before this exchange, we sent an ACK to w3 and got no response:


This should be DHCP-fail-4.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: DHCP fail 4          Dimensions:          1711 x 75, 24 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 27 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 27 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 27 March 2014

 

So we repeat it and get an ACK (frame 5942). But in the meantime, we receive a retransmission of the original ACK, followed immediately by a RST for a different connection to the IRC proxy (frames 5944 and 5945). It's not clear why this RST occurs, but it causes the IRC connection to be restarted, which takes about 30 seconds and requires significant cleanup. Sent a message with the analysis to Aussie Broadband support. Hopefully it'll be enough for them to rectify the fault.


This should be DHCP-fail-3.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: DHCP fail 3          Dimensions:          1952 x 200, 68 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 27 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 27 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 27 March 2014

 


Dog problems
Topic: animals Link here

Yvonne only started riding Wotan a year ago, but he quickly developed some unspecified back problems, and it's probable that he'll never be rideable. Reluctantly she agreed to take him to an equine sanctuary where they'll evaluate him and pass him on to somebody who can love him for his other qualities. So off she went today, the third whole day in a row where she wasn't at home, and the dogs were comparatively unhappy, as I discovered when I went to get some coffee:


This should be Lounge-after-dogs.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Lounge after dogs          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 4528 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 27 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 27 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 27 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

That wasn't the only issue: in the evening I took them for a walk, but the Everetts across the road had left the gate open, and their retrievers always run around. Sam is a problem dog—years ago he nearly bit Nemo's eye out—and while we let ours run with him on different sides of the fence, it's a whole different matter when they can get at each other. I was barely able to hold Nikolai, and Tanya (not on a line) ran after them into the property. I was just about to put Nikolai and Zhivago back and go after her, when she came of her own accord.

Walking down to the main road was still difficult; I can handle one big dog, but two become a bit of a matter of balance. Let Nikolai off the line about ⅔ of the way to the road, but when they got there, they didn't stop, and Tanya ran all over the road. Fortunately there was no traffic.

The way back was OK until we got to the Everett's place, where Sam came out and barked. That was too much for Nikolai and Tanya (and me): they tore the leashes out of my hand and the three of them went after Sam. He retreated, but they carried on into the property again, and only stopped when they had got their legs tangled in the leashes (5 m and 7 m long).

Sam wasn't hurt, but it's clear that our dogs aren't well-trained enough yet. But I wish people would keep their dogs locked in when they're not looking after them, like they promised years ago.


New Mecablitz
Topic: photography Link here

It's been 10 months since I last did anything towards reassembling my almost-repaired Mecablitz 58 AF-1. Enough! I've reached a time of life where I don't have to repair everything myself. Found a new one (well, AF-2, the successor model) on eBay, and today, despite the efforts of Startrack, it arrived. Surprisingly cheap: on the global eBay the cheapest prices are $404 US (currently about Australian $437), but here was one in Melbourne with Australian warranty for only $379. Apparently with minor cosmetic issues with the packaging (“SLIGHTLY DAMAGED PACKAGING: DEFECT IN PACKAGING MAY INCLUDE, RETAIL PRICE STICKERS, PACKING TAPE, STAINS TO OUTER CARDBOARD LABELS. FLASHGUN IS BRAND NEW AND IN PERFECT CONDITION. BRAND NEW, NEVER USED”). I can live with that, and in fact all that was wrong with the packaging was a bar code sticker with a couple of handwritten letters on it. Even the sticker, it seems, is normal: the packaging for the old flash had something similar, and also a second sticker proclaiming it to be only for North America:


This should be Mecablitz-package-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Mecablitz package 2          Dimensions:          2739 x 3164, 1456 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 28 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 28 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Friday, 28 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Mecablitz-package-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Mecablitz package 3          Dimensions:          3740 x 3129, 2240 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 28 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 28 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Friday, 28 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

But the most interesting thing about it was the invoice, from C.R. Kennedy, the Metz distributor with whom I had contact last year. Yes, the eBay page also says “All flashguns are sourced via the Australian importer and distributor”, but the “CUST.ORDER NBR” 19629 YVON is telling. I have all my eBay purchases sent to Yvonne, since she's usually the one who has to pick them up. So whatever the relationship between the eBay seller (dcxpert) and Kennedys, it seems to be intimate. In addition, at the time Kennedy's would have charged me at least $220 to repair the old unit, nearly 60% of what I paid for the new one. In any case, it seems I made the right choice here.


Leo's notes updated
Topic: technology, history Link here

Some time in May 1994, nearly 20 years ago, I came into my office in the morning, took a look into alt.folklore.computers, as you do, and found a large uuencoded document with the subject “Leo's notes”. Could it be? Passed it through uudecode, and sure enough: TeX sources for the Lions' Commentary on UNIX 6th Edition, with Source Code! I was ecstatic.

Somehow I have lost that original post. So, it seems, has alt.folklore.computers. But I kept the files and published them. And now I get a message from Brian Foley with errata for the text, which had been scanned in by a friend I only met several years later.

Do I have the courage to brave TeX again? Maybe, one of these days. In the meantime, they're there.


Router breakin: more analysis
Topic: technology Link here

Mail from Michael Hughes today. He obviously has even more time on his hands than I do, and looked at the data that my intruder was copying on Tuesday:

I got to looking at the long echo line you have in your diary and the first part of it is an ELF head for a binary. It looks like they are trying to create an executable through echos.

So some kind of breakin program? I'm not sure that I care that much, but it's interesting to note.


Friday, 28 March 2014 Dereel Images for 28 March 2014
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Firewalls and NAT revisited
Topic: technology Link here

I still haven't got my firewall stuff configured correctly! I ran a firewall for a long time in Wantadilla, but since I've been on PPP with its own NAT, I haven't paid much attention to it. I had read my own instructionsRCS tells me that I started it in September 1997—and come to the conclusion that I had never done it that way. How do you start a firewall? Nowadays it seems to be done by a sysctl, but there's nothing in the book to tell me how I did it then.

Played around on stable-amd64 so that I didn't have to continually reboot eureka. Yes, it now works. I'm still not sure that I completely understand the syntax of the ipfw divert rule, but it seems to only work diverting to a network interface, not to an address. And the default “client” rules are quite inappropriate even for a small household network: they don't let any data in at all. Still, it's now working, and soon I can transfer it to eureka.


Reviewing the DHCP issue
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've been tracing DHCP traffic since yesterday, and it shows what I expect: cases where the DHCP server doesn't respond. And at the same time various connection resets. Apart from yesterday's example with IRC, discovered that my problems with streaming radio are also related: each time I have a hiccup like that, the radio drops out and requires 30 seconds to pull itself together again. Clearly a nuisance.

But is this a problem with the DHCP server? Maybe that's just another symptom. One thing that's not only related to DHCP is the DHCP discover request: it's a broadcast, so potentially it can get through where other things can't, maybe because it has lost the ARP information. Started Yet Another Trace. It would be nice for Aussie Broadband support to get back to me, though.


Tanya: breach of protocol
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

In the afternoon, Tanya escaped from the dog run, Yet Again. We went out and I found her, called her, and she came to me. I put my hand on her collar, but she rolled over on her back. I tried to get her to stand up, but she paniced, squealed and snapped after me. Nothing I could do would stop her. Finally I let her go.

What went wrong? I think it's a breach of protocol. Lying on her back means “Look, I'm a puppy, I'm in your hands, don't do anything to me”. But I did, and she couldn't handle it.

Of course, what do you do when a puppy lies on its back when you want it to do something? I'm still not sure.


More dog fun
Topic: animals Link here

Normally Yvonne takes the dogs for a walk, and sometimes I accompany her. So my last couple of days walking all three of them were a bit of an experiment, and I attributed yesterday's problems to my lack of experience. Today we went out together, and things were little better, though of course having two people made it easier. It looks as if they're just not getting enough exercise. We'll have to give them more space round the new house.


Welcome back Ray Nottle
Topic: general Link here

While walking the dogs, Nikolai ran into the property across the road, the one belonging to Ray and Lee Nottle, who moved (briefly) to the Dominican Republic over 3 years ago. They didn't stay long, but since then the house has been let on 6 month leases. The last tenants moved out a week or two ago, and I hadn't seen the new ones until now.

Finally caught Nikolai, and heard somebody growling behind the shed. It was Ray: it seems he has moved back in. I'm sure there's a good story to hear there.


More Mecablitz firmware strangenesses
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Years ago I discovered a strangeness about the Mecablitz 58 AF-1: for EXIF purposes it masquerades as an Olympus FL-50R with the serial number 000058:1. So it's clear that my new Mecablitz 58 AF-2 should have the fake serial number 000058:2, right? But it doesn't: it's still 000058:1. Down-rev firmware? I'm still surprised how cheap the flash was, and I've been looking for a catch. But no, it's the latest firmware. It's amazing how inaccurate stuff like EXIF data can be.


Saturday, 29 March 2014 Dereel Images for 29 March 2014
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

More panorama tweaks
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

House photo day again today. Somehow I managed to mess up no less than three circular panorama by not taking the last image in the set. Repeated two, but by the time I found out about the third one, it was too late.

Currently I've been processing the images by passing them first through the Olympus Viewer to correct distortion (now that DxO Optics “Pro” no longer supports my hardware), then enhance the images with DxO (using the “Artistic” HDR profile), in the process converting from TIFF to JPEG, and then convert the image triplet or quintuplets to HDR using Hugin's align_image_stack and enfuse.

But is that the way to do it? Why convert individual images to “HDR” before merging them properly? Why do the whole thing in JPEG? Today my component images looked particularly bad, so I decided to throw everything away and start again: discard the DxO step and join the uncorrected TIFF images to HDR, still in TIFF, and then stitch them.

How did it go? Slowly. By the end of the day I was still processing images and marvelling at how unresponsive all my Microsoft-based photo software is. Manñana.


Reprocessing old photos
Topic: photography Link here

Looking back five years to when I got my Mecablitz 58 AF-1 made it clear that the way I was processing photos then was less than ideal. It looks as I was using ufraw, and it shows.

So I set to reprocessing the images. Problem: there were some early panoramas there, and they didn't align well. I had already been through a couple of iterations:


This should be verandah-panorama-old.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: verandah panorama old          Dimensions:          4600 x 1904, 1648 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 16 May 2009, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 16 May 2009, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 16 May 2009 Complete exposure details

 


This should be verandah-panorama-try2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: verandah panorama try2          Dimensions:          4591 x 1903, 1648 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 16 May 2009, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 16 May 2009, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 16 May 2009 Complete exposure details

 

Adapting the pto file would have been really painful, and in any case the geometry of the images was different due to the processing, so I started from scratch. Surprise! The almost out-of-the-box result was much better:


This should be verandah-panorama.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: verandah panorama          Dimensions:          4676 x 1766, 2864 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 16 May 2009, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 16 May 2009, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 16 May 2009 Complete exposure details

 

In particular the bad discontinuities are missing. Here's what they looked like before:

 
This should be verandah-panorama-try2-detail1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: verandah panorama try2 detail1
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 140 x 147, 40 kB
Dimensions of original: 140 x 147, 40 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 16 May 2009:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be verandah-panorama-try2-detail2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: verandah panorama try2 detail2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 131 x 117, 42 kB
Dimensions of original: 131 x 117, 42 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 16 May 2009:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be verandah-panorama-try2-detail3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: verandah panorama try2 detail3
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 172 x 177, 44 kB
Dimensions of original: 172 x 177, 44 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 16 May 2009:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

There are still some minor discontinuities, but now you have to look for them.


Patching Leo's notes
Topic: technology Link here

Mail from Harald Arnesen and also IRC comments from Jashank Jeremy today. Both have patched most of the problems in The Lions Book. But incorporating the patches means messing with TeX again, and I voiced my opinion about that years ago in Porting UNIX Software:

I have been using TeX frequently for years, and I still find it the most frustrating program I have ever seen.

In the process, discovered mail from Liu Yubao, about 4 years ago, addressing some rendering issues. I can see I'm going to have to do something Real Soon Now.


Goodbye Reina
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Three weeks ago we visited Sue Giddins and saw a clearly badly injured Reina Real, who had hurt a leg two weeks before. We recommended to her to get a vet to look at her immediately, and it seems that the vet diagnosed a fracture in the joint. And what did the Giddins do? They decided that she was doing much better now, and didn't follow through with the vet's recommendations. Until yesterday, it seems, when Sue posted a message on Facebook, along with a photo of a horse called Max, with the sad news that Reina had had to be put down because of a broken leg.

Now admittedly this could have been the case, modulo diagnosis, if she had called the vet immediately. But having seen how they treated the problem, it's difficult to believe that it was unavoidable. I suppose it's not cruelty to animals according to the law, but I'm very disappointed about how things happened.


Sunday, 30 March 2014 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Another day of photo processing
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Continued with my photo processing today. Processing TIFF is even slower than processing JPEG, and it's not helped by the tools. Although I saved time by not using DxO Optics “Pro”, things took much longer. In particular, enblend ran literally for hours:

grog       44082 100.0 17.6 13336228 5888976 ??  RN   11:43am   101:33.71 enblend --compression=LZW --  ---m 10000 -w -f15080

Looking at those large numbers is easier with top:

  PID USERNAME      THR PRI NICE   SIZE    RES STATE   C   TIME   WCPU COMMAND
44082 grog            1 108    5  7128M  3017M CPU4    4  14:34 100.00% enblend

But why so little memory? This box has 32 GB of memory, and it didn't use it all. One of the clues might be the -m 10000 there: use 10,000 MB of memory. But it didn't make any difference when I increased it to -m 20000.

The other issue was Ashampoo Photo Commander 11. Previously I had run it against the JPEG images, but now I gave it the TIFF images. It happily processed and—once I got it to do what I wanted—saved them. As 8 bit images! It seems it doesn't have the ability to write 16 bit TIFF. So: write JPEGs instead. And there the image sizes were very different from what I was expecting, as little as 500 MB for a 360° panorama. Performing the same function on a JPEG gave me images in the order of 12 MB. Something's wrong here. And the results weren't as good. Here last week and this week:


This should be house-ne.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: house ne          Dimensions:          4629 x 2903, 5376 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 22 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 22 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 22 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 


This should be house-ne.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: house ne          Dimensions:          5041 x 2618, 5488 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 29 March 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 29 March 2014, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 29 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 

Still more thinking to do.


System upgrade, next step
Topic: technology Link here

My network connection via stable-amd64 has been working well for a couple of days, and I haven't had any of these timeouts that were irritating me earlier in the week. Time to move the connection to its final location, on eureka. Put in another network interface, and while I was at it looked for the speaker connector, which I hadn't set up when I built the machine. With good reason: this high-quality enclosure doesn't have a speaker! Not a big issue, since they almost never fail, and I had dozens of old machines from which I could cannibalize a speaker. But why didn't they include one?

All went smoothly, and in the process another problem solved itself: streaming video started working again. For some time it had been flaky, and it seems that once again it was related to incorrect guesses at my geographic location based on IP address.

Well, that was the first impression. Then I tried to start NAT. And it didn't work:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/3) /home/grog 35 -> natd -i xl0
natd: xl0/divert: unknown service

That was exactly the incantation I had used on stable-amd64! After some searching, found a suggestion: use this alternative incantation:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/3) /home/grog 41 -> natd -p 8668 -n xl0

And then all was well. Well, I can now access eureka from outside using the interface address; NAT is bypassed in that case. And almost before I knew it I had people trying to break in, this time not with telnet (which of course is blocked), but with other protocols. So for the time being I'm blocking it to the outside. When I have time, I'll gradually let certain things in.


Another power failure
Topic: general, technology Link here

A short power failure while we were watching TV tonight. Lots of fsck. And the NTD also lost power—my fault for not putting it on a UPS—with the unexpected results that we fell off the net: eureka saw the lost connection, sent out a DHCP request, and satisfied it from its own server, getting a local address as a result. I'm going to have to check how to avoid that problem again.

That does it. The new house will have some battery-backed circuits, though I still can't see how to get by without a (at 40 A castrated) mains power.


Monday, 31 March 2014 Dereel → Bannockburn → Dereel
Top of page
previous day

Planning permit: finally!
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Off to Bannockburn this morning to meet with Mathew Mertuszka and Peter O'Brien of the Golden Plains Shire Planning Department to sort out the final (hopefully!) issues with our application for a planning permit.

All went surprisingly well. Yes, no problem with the shed 4 m from the house, and I could modify the existing plans and submit them. About the only issue was what to do with the riding arena. There are several options, none of them too bad, so it's up to us to make a choice. They took some of the documents there and then, including a copy of the title—another thing that I was uncertain of—so apart from the application itself, all that I need to do is decide on the sheds, modify the plans and send them in. The way they do their work, there will be no delay if they get the plans by the end of the week, and then they say it will take only about 6 weeks. Some of the best news we've had so far. Back home and sent in the application via email.


GPG signing documents
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

My application for a planning permit has to be signed. Normally it's on paper, but this time I sent it by email. Still, by chance we talked about digital signatures at this morning's meeting, so it seemed a good idea to sign the document. After all, I've been using gpg for decades.

It took me 40 minutes! Initially I got:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) ~/futures 55 -> gpg --sign Planning-application.pdf
You need a passphrase to unlock the secret key for
user: "Greg Lehey <groggyhimself@lemis.com>"
1024-bit DSA key, ID 507A4223, created 2000-12-10

gpg-agent[54914]: can't connect to the PIN entry module: IPC connect call failed
gpg-agent[54914]: command get_passphrase failed: No pinentry
gpg: problem with the agent: No pinentry
gpg: no default secret key: Operation cancelled
gpg: signing failed: Operation cancelled

What's that? After a lot of searching, it seems that “pinentry” is a program, and I had to install the pinentry port. And that worked about as well as it always does:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/3) /usr/ports/security/pinentry 37 -> make install
===>  Installing for pinentry-0.8.3
...
===>  Checking if security/pinentry already installed
pkg_add: could not find package perl-5.12.4_4 !
*** [install-package] Error code 1

Of course I have perl installed, but it's release 5.14.2. How I hate these dependency issues! But there's a workaround:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/3) /usr/ports/security/pinentry 38 -> cd work/pinentry-0.8.3/
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/3) /usr/ports/security/pinentry/work/pinentry-0.8.3 39 -> make install
Making install in assuan
...

So now when I run gpg I get a silly popup window asking for the passphrase. It grabs focus and doesn't give it back, so I have to move the mouse off the xterm window and back on again. What a pain! I suppose there's some way to have it just prompt, like any self-respecting program, but I haven't found it yet.

But that gave me a copy of the document with the signature attached. I wanted a separate clear text signature. How do you do that? There's an option --clearsign, but all that did was to give me an uncompressed copy of the document instead of a compressed version. But then there's --detatch-sign:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) ~/futures 71 -> gpg --clearsign --detach-sign Planning-application.pdf
...
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) ~/futures 72 -> l Planning-application.pdf.asc
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis    258,985 31 Mar 14:26 Planning-application.pdf.asc

In other words, no difference. Do I still need --clearsign when I'm using --detach-sign? No.

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) ~/futures 79 -> gpg --detach-sign Planning-application.pdf
...
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) ~/futures 80 -> l
...
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis         72 31 Mar 14:29 Planning-application.pdf.sig
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) ~/futures 81 -> less Planning-application.pdf.sig
"Planning-application.pdf.sig" may be a binary file.  See it anyway?

One step closer. But I want it to be plain text. How do you do that?

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) ~/futures 83 -> gpg --detach-sign --textmode Planning-application.pdf
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) ~/futures 84 -> l Planning-application.pdf.sig
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis         72 31 Mar 14:34 Planning-application.pdf.sig

Still binary! But then there's --armor:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) ~/futures 96 -> gpg --armor --detach-sign Planning-application.pdf
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) ~/futures 97 -> l
...
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis        196 31 Mar 14:38 Planning-application.pdf.asc

Finally! But isn't it obvious? --armor clearly means “plain text”. No idea what --textmode means.

What have these people been smoking?


Wireless camera access: new hardware
Topic: technology, photography Link here

On 21 February 2014 I bought a USB wireless LAN adapter on eBay:

After a month, there was still no sign of it, so I asked for and got a refund, then purchased a new one. Today the first one arrived: it hadn't been posted until 15 March 2014, over three weeks after purchase and only a couple of days before the refund. No wonder it didn't arrive on time.

And how does it work?

Mar 31 14:48:32 stable-amd64 root: Unknown USB device: vendor 0x148f product 0x5370 bus uhub3

Still, that's enough to google for, and the first hit related to FreeBSD. It seems that it's the same chipset as the TP-Link TL-WN727N V3, which looks very different, and it's supported in FreeBSD 11-CURRENT but not in even the most recent -STABLE. Unfortunately the post doesn't give a solution to the problem, so I tried it in dischord, my Microsoft box, instead.

Why is it so difficult to do anything with Microsoft? Once again I found myself unable to even detect the device. Finally I found an installation CD that seemed to hang when I selected “Windows”, until I discovered that it had popped up (under?) a dialogue window under everything else on the screen.

Finally it was installed, and of course it worked, thus confirming my opinion that the issues I had last month were due to down-rev hardware and software. And I was able to connect to my Olympus OM-D E-M1 without any difficulty, even getting much better ping times than from Android tablets. But I couldn't access the camera's web browser. Why not? Everything's so difficult on Microsoft, but I suppose I can install standard network tools and try again, when I have time.


Top of page Previous month Greg's home page Today's diary entry Next month Greg's photos Copyright information

Valid XHTML 1.0!

$Id: diary-mar2014.php,v 1.51 2017/04/06 08:14:54 grog Exp $