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March 2019
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Friday, 1 March 2019 Dereel Images for 1 March 2019
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Autumn?
Topic: general, gardening Link here

Finally the summer is over. Today's top temperature was only 38.4°. To put that in context, the absolute maximum temperatures ever recorded in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore were 38.5° and 36.0° respectively. And it's autumn here!

Mick the gardener along again, mainly to remove weeds. The garden is certainly looking tidier as a result. Hopefully we can keep things this tidy with less effort from now on.


Photos of my mother
Topic: photography, general, opinion Link here

My sister Bev and I are putting an obituary notice in the local Bendigo Advertiser for tomorrow. I have the option of a photo. Why not?

One good reason is that I have almost no photos of her, and those that I have are not very good. Here a few:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/19640822/big/Ferry.jpeg
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All images taken on Saturday, 22 August 1964, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 22 August 1964, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 22 August 1964 Complete exposure details

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/19640815/big/Mum-Dad-Bev-2.jpeg
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All images taken on Saturday, 15 August 1964, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 15 August 1964, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 15 August 1964 Complete exposure details

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/19650815/big/Swimming-sports-14.jpeg
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All images taken on Sunday, 15 August 1965, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 15 August 1965, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 15 August 1965 Complete exposure details

 
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All images taken on Tuesday, 31 August 1965, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 31 August 1965, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 31 August 1965 Complete exposure details

 
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All images taken on Sunday, 7 May 1967, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 7 May 1967, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 7 May 1967

 
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All images taken on Friday, 19 May 1967, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 19 May 1967, small
Diary entry for Friday, 19 May 1967 Complete exposure details

 
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All images taken on Saturday, 20 May 1967, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 20 May 1967, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 20 May 1967 Complete exposure details

 
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All images taken on Monday, 22 May 1967, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 22 May 1967, small
Diary entry for Monday, 22 May 1967 Complete exposure details

 
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Diary entry for Saturday, 22 December 2007 Complete exposure details

 

They're almost all group photos, and they don't crop well. The one of her smoking was her protest at me driving the car down the East Coast of Malaysia on 31 August 1965, and clearly not a good choice.

In the end I chose the third-last one, taken in Herat in western Afghanistan on 20 May 1967. And still I needed to crop it. It's interesting to note that, with the exception of the last one (taken in Bendigo by Yana on 22 December 2007) all of them were taken in Asia, including India and Iran.


Obituary notices: the pain
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

OK, so I have a photo and a text for Mum's obituary. Now to enter the advertisement. The Bendigo Advertiser home page offered me a whole selection of categories, carefully marked up so that they can't be copied:

Where are obituaries? None! Likely looking categories could be ANNOUNCEMENTS or TRIBUTES. OK, try TRIBUTES first:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190301/big/obituary-7.png
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OK, DEATHS & FUNERALS it is. Clicked on it and discovered that I couldn't place an ad there. I should have clicked on the black, unmarked heading instead. Then it didn't like my ad blocker, which in principle works in the opposite direction. Change browsers. OK, please “login”. Get a new page, with thoughtfully rearranged categories:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190301/big/obituary-9.png
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Free format? No, “Surname of Deceased” and “Given name of Deceased”, clearly separated from the body (decapitated?). My relation required. Funeral director required. What if I didn't know it? Dammit, this is a death notice, not a funeral notice.

Off to fight my way through the directory hierarchy with firefox, which should be called firemonkey: it can only climb trees. Found the photo, entered it, watched it upload and then...

Sorry, unable to upload file. Try again after checking that the file wasn't too large and is of the correct format.

OK, fool, what size file do you want? And what formats? This one wasn't even that big, barely 1 MB. Or don't you believe in JPEG? Tried a smaller and smaller version, then gave up and called their help line and spoke to Craig, who was most sympathetic and offered condolences for my loss. But he couldn't help with the technical issue, and promised me a call back from the Advertiser.

In the meantime I decided to save my work and get a quote. It erased everything! Fortunately I don't trust browser input fields, so I was able to repaste it from an Emacs buffer. Try uploading again. This time:

Problem uploading file: Does not meet minimum size requirements of 600(Height) by 800(Width) pixels.

So: was the first problem the web site's polite way of telling me that I had taken too long, and the ad entry had timed out? Maybe. But to my surprise, the crop I had chosen didn't meet their minimum size requirements (only 589 x 654 pixels). I had to crop a larger image, not because I wanted to, but because of their ridiculous size limits. The printed image was only about 4 cm across, so this was a requirement of about 500 dpi. That's far beyond any resolution that they'd print.

And of course they're far too polite to ignore my line breaks, so the first text looked like this:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190301/big/obituary-1-detail.png
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No idea whether they'd fix that, but given the level of competence I had seen so far, I doubted it. Removes all line breaks and finally got to CONTINUE, where it looked as if they had erased everything again. But no, just a sanity check: please enter “Surname of Deceased” and “Given name of Deceased” again, just to be sure that you know whom you're talking about.

And then the quote. $103.30!

 
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OK, it's literally once in a lifetime. Continue, more bureaucracy. And then, with no further warning, the price had gone up to $114.30!

 
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Yes, there's more stuff there, but no warning!

While I was pondering this, Lynn from the Advertiser called up and offered help, though she clearly didn't understand the issues. She was thus not able to offer help, not even a promotional code to make up for my pain. She didn't offer condolences either, but did promise to keep an eye on the ad when it sickered through her system. So I paid.

Later she called up and told me that I had entered the ad in the wrong category: DEATHS & FUNERALS, when it should have been just DEATHS. OK, but their site wouldn't let me do that; more breakage. She could move it for me if I liked. Oh no, she couldn't, says her supervisor. But wait, if their system has messed things up for me, she should. OK, she would.

The whole bloody thing took a couple of hours. What a pain!


Phone settings in time of Android
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Phone call from Robert Herbert today, on my mobile phone of course. Headed straight to the office, where it was, but got there just too late.

Clearly I need to set it to ring longer before diverting to voice mail. But how? Must be in the Settings menu somewhere. Where's the Settings menu? Not quite as hard to find as with Apple, but it took me a while, and I didn't find anything there.

Asked on IRC. People are used to my silly questions now; finally Daniel O'Connor took pity on me and pointed me at https://exchange.telstra.com.au/how-to-extend-the-ring-time-of-your-mobile/, something that any sane person would know. From that page:

For iOS

To extend the ring time, enter the following sequence on your phone, followed by the number of seconds you wish your phone to ring for, then hash.

  1. Press **61*101**[15, 20, 25 or 30]#.
  2. Press the call/send button.

For Android

To extend your ring time, you’ll need to make a note of and then dial a code involving your forwarding number.

  1. Dial *#61#
  2. It will display the number the calls are forwarded to and the current ring time. Write down the forwarding number.
  3. Dial **61*+1xxxxxxxxxx*11*30# (where xxxxxxxxxx is the number displayed previously and 30 is the new ring time – you can pick 15, 20, 25 or 30).
  4. Dial *#61# to check the new settings.

Is that really right? That looks like a US divert number. Surely that can't be correct, as others on IRC agreed.

So: I know that my divert number is 101. So presumably the iOS approach would be right. Tried that and got a non-specific error message. OK, edit the number and try again. FOOL! This is an MMI number. What's that? Wikipedia won't tell me either. A Google search shows me a YouTube video with the information

MMI code is the code that we enter over the phone which contains * and hash # characters.

Now isn't that specific? But it seems that it's so special that Android won't let me edit it.

Finally off to ALDImobile's FAQs, which of course also didn't present the information, but I was able to search for it, getting an answer without a URL which contained:

How can I change/extend the ring time before diverting to voicemail?

If you would like to extend the ring time before your call is diverted to voicemail, enter:

**61*+61101**XX# Then press the call/send button. (You may need to hold down the 0 button on your phone to add a + sign to the number you need to dial).

Note: XX represents the number of seconds you wish to wait before diverting to voicemail, for example, if you want your phone to ring for 30 seconds before diverting, enter:

**61*+61101**30# then press call/send

There are 4 ring times and they must be in five second increments: 15(default), 20, 25 and 30 seconds.

And that worked. But why do they make it so hard to find? “User friendly” systems should offer this information in the settings menu. This system predates “smart phones” by decades. Somehow we're still far from easy-to-use devices, at least for people who want to do anything the slightest bit out of the ordinary.


A pair of old fogeys
Topic: history, opinion Link here

70 years ago today, in the middle of Weimar, Yvonne was born. How time flies! Now we're both certified old fogeys.


Saturday, 2 March 2019 Dereel Images for 2 March 2019
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Hugin pain
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

On Thursday I built the latest version of Hugin with remarkably little trouble. Today was house photo day, time to put it through its paces.

Parts of it were excellent. Though it was on eureso, my “next generation” machine, my scripts Just Ran. Then to load the .pto files. Disaster! Of 6 panoramas, 5 were completely broken, while the sixth was badly mangled.

What went wrong? Issues with my scripts? I tried one of the broken ones using the standard method (“Align” in the fast panorama preview). Same thing; in fact, the pto file was identical, which looks fishy.

Back to eureka. Yes, no issues any more with alignment. But enblend core dumped on one image, for no obvious reason. Back to eureso, which also has the new enblend version (4.2 instead of 4.1.4). No, no core dump any more. It's clearly too polite for that, so it just stopped.

The issue seems to be related to masks on two almost identical images:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190302/big/garden-nw-0.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190302/big/garden-nw-1.jpeg
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(run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour).

I do that often: get the sky from the first image and the shadows from the second, avoiding any lens flare. But this is the first time it has failed on me. What went wrong? It was quite windy, and there's a considerable difference between the bushes in the two images. Could that be the problem? Why now, the first time in nearly 10 years?

Fortunately I now know enough of how this stuff works to be able to chase the problem down. I just don't want to.


Obituaries in print
Topic: general, photography, opinion Link here

Yvonne was in town today and picked up a copy of the Bendigo Advertiser. That was well worth while:

Here are the advertisements, classified not under “TRIBUTES/DEATHS & FUNERALS", but under “ANNOUNCEMENTS/DEATH NOTICES" and “ANNOUNCEMENTS/FUNERAL NOTICES". What a mess this newspaper is!

http://www.lemis.com/grog/Day/20190302/18560914.jpg http://www.lemis.com/grog/Day/20190302/1718726.jpg http://www.lemis.com/grog/Day/20190302/1718718.jpg http://www.lemis.com/grog/Day/20190302/1718760.jpg

Dinner with Amber
Topic: general, food and drink Link here

Amber Fitzpatrick along for dinner with Chris this evening. Much horse stuff. I don't know if that's what made me so tired.


Sunday, 3 March 2019 Dereel Images for 3 March 2019
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Unexpected lily
Topic: gardening Link here

Seen in the front garden bed after walking the dogs today:


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That appears to be a particularly poor specimen of a lily species that I've seen in many places only over the last few days. If I'm right, it should be pink. Yvonne will be thankful that it isn't.


Hugin bug: moving target
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

Spent some time chasing yesterday's Hugin bug today. It wasn't easy.

Apart from what I had already noted, there's another issue: when fire up Hugin on eureso, it displayed the main screen on the right-hand monitor, and an almost plain white display on the left-hand monitor. Only the top left corner had anything on it:

 
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But it wasn't a window: it was on the root window, and moving things over it erased it. Clearly no way to select Overview. More to the point, though, it seemed specific to eureso, not to the Hugin version. And for some reason the “fast panorama preview” window was missing. Are the two things related? I was able to start the fast panorama preview window with no issues, however.

Yesterday I noted that the pto files generated by the “align” function were identical with the ones that I generated with my scripts, and thought that suspicious. Try again. Not quite identical; one had some trailing white space. At least a vindication of my scripts.

How did they compare with the files generated by eureka? Badly. Here the output of pto_gen, the first program:

--- eureka/my-1 2019-03-03 14:49:18.776321000 +1100
+++ eureso/my-1 2019-03-03 14:56:30.166918000 +1100
@@ -1,19 +1,19 @@
 # hugin project file
 #hugin_ptoversion 2
 p f2 w3000 h1500 v360  E12.2928 R0 n"TIFF_m c:LZW r:CROP"
-m g1 i0 f0 m2 p0.00784314
+m i0

I could have investigated the meaning of the differences, but that's too much pain. The fact that they differ is suspect enough. By the end, the headings looked like this:

--- eureka/house-s.pto  2019-03-03 14:50:00.710062000 +1100
+++ eureso/house-s.pto  2019-03-03 14:58:16.064222000 +1100
@@ -1,19 +1,19 @@
 # hugin project file
 #hugin_ptoversion 2
-p f2 w15122 h4411 v360  E12.2928 R0 S0,15122,501,4247 n"TIFF_m c:LZW r:CROP"
-m g1 i0 f0 m2 p0.00784314
+p f1 w16527 h5727 v303  E12.2928 R0 S897,15629,1257,5522 n"TIFF_m c:LZW r:CROP"
+m i0

How about building a panorama on eureso using eureka's pto file? That worked fine. So at least we've started to close in on the bug.

OK, blow away the 2019 version and reinstall the 2018 version. Surprise, surprise. Same version as on eureka, but the problems remain, both the strange display on the left monitor and the corrupted pto files.

Try on teevee. Works. Back to eureso. Works! Try again with the 2019 version. Works!

What's going on here? A case of a bug gone into hiding? It occurred to me that I've had issues before when trying to stitch panoramas taken with fisheye lenses without telling Hugin that they're fisheye. Somewhere it maintains a database of lens characteristics, so once it has established the lens as a fisheye, there's no issue any more. Could that be the case? The only thing that seems unlikely is that I didn't tell Hugin that it was a fisheye lens. If that's the case (and yes, it now identifies it as a fisheye lens in the appropriate place), how did it find out? And can I ship the port?


Killing screen savers
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

My desktop has many monitors:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20180425/big/Greg-in-office-9.jpeg
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How much power do they consume? I'd guess 600 W or 700 W together. So a “screen saver” (really a blanker) is an important function. On the other hand, some programs, like mplayer, need to override the timeout, since the display shouldn't require keyboard or mouse input. On the whole that works well, though I need to ensure that no mplayer is running when I leave the computer.

But over the past few weeks I've come in in the morning to find the displays turned on. Why? What's turning them on (and leaving them on) again? Wouldn't it be nice to have some kind of log facility? In the meantime I've done the quick and dirty workaround:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/35) ~ 10 -> while :; do xset -display :0 dpms force off; sleep 1800; done


Monday, 4 March 2019 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel
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More NFS issues
Topic: technology Link here

Another case of NFS errors during the overnight backups, just like last week. This time I simply SIGHUPped the running mountd process, and things worked OK. So my concerns about hardware issues last week were probably unfounded. Next time I should really restart mountd.


Funeral clothes
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Do I still fit in my old suits? In view of the funeral tomorrow, high time to find out. No! And somehow the better of the two suits is not in the best of condition. In view of the fact that there will probably be more funerals in the future, time to buy a new suit.

Off to Ballarat, wondering where to buy one that wouldn't cost an arm and a leg. First to Harris Scarfe, where they had nothing even remotely suitable. There's another clothing shop next door called something like “New Generation”. Not even a start, just a confirmation that we're really the Old Generation.

Across to road through Target to Central Square, and to our surprise found that yes, indeed, they do sell suits, and the price was even lower than I expected: ended up paying only $99 for a suit that looked like it. At least I got out before I started to scream.


Yana returns
Topic: general Link here

Our daughter Yana arrived in the evening, not helped by her navigational aids. Raclette for dinner, apparently not the first time in recent times that we have served it to her. All ate far too much.


Tuesday, 5 March 2019 Dereel → Bendigo → Dereel Images for 5 March 2019
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Bank of Melbourne bugs again
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

It's only been a little over a month since my last web problems with the Bank of Melbourne “Internet” banking software. At the time I had asked for somebody to contact me. They didn't.

Today I had almost the same problem again: my saved details were no longer restored, and I had to reenter them. On previous occasions I was unable to verify them, because the web software rejected the (all numeric) “Security Number” because it didn't like it being all numbers. This time it went one step further: the “Security Number” is 6 digits, but it only let me enter 4. High time to change my bank.


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

Off to Bendigo to my mother's funeral today. That's pretty straightforward: follow the Midland Highway from Ballarat to Bendigo. For the fun of it (is fun really the correct word?) I got both Google Maps and my dedicated GPS navigator to give me directions.

Google Maps didn't give me any choice: it took me round its favourite back roads, the way it so often does:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190305/big/Navigation-3.png
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That was doubly unsuitable today: firstly, it's not a good way to go, and in any case we had to drop something off in Ballarat, so we went due north through town. All went well as far as Creswick. Then they wanted me to go in opposite directions, both not on the Midland Highway. Followed the more likely ones for a while, ending up at one point on unmade roads. After that, directions were diametrically opposite, with Google Maps talking about the Pyrenees Highway, which I thought was further west.

Decided to follow the GPS navigator, which seemed to make more sense, and which had the advantage of having an easy to read display, in the process changing the settings: part of the issue was that I had the device set to “shortest route”, which in my experience is faster than “fastest route”. As far as I can see, Google Maps had no such excuse. On the positive side, saw some interesting landscapes with extinct volcano craters, something I must investigate.

Finally made it to Castlemaine and back on to the Midland Highway, where the phone went completely mad, contradicting itself on several occasions, telling us in quick succession to turn left, turn right (Kennedy St seemed to be a popular one; it runs parallel to the Midland Highway), take a couple of turns to reach the Midland Highway (on which we were). It carried on like that in Bendigo too, also making some sub-optimal choices (3 turns where one would be sufficient):

 
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What causes that? My best bet is inadequate GPS signal, but the app should recognize that and warn about it.

On the way home, we took the advice of the GPS navigator, now set for “fast”, and not surprisingly it took us along the Midland Highway. Surprisingly, though, it was no faster. Victoria is criss-crossed with almost empty country roads, and though the way we took this morning was no shorter, it was also no slower.

The real issue, as I've grumbled before, is that you have no overview with any of this software. I didn't know exactly where I had been until I looked at the maps:

 
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And once again the opacity of the maps makes things hard. As I complained only four weeks ago, there's no way to distinguish between roads of different quality. It seems that the Calder Freeway now effectively goes all the way to Bendigo, but Google Maps didn't make that clear, and it had come up with a way that diverged to the west from that when we were travelling (though not on the map). And it claimed that it was slower that way, by 2 minutes:

 
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Isn't the freeway easy to recognize? And what are the towns? All these maps seem to find that unimportant.

Interestingly, though, it seems that the two ways weren't significantly different in distance or time. We stopped off briefly in both directions, so I'd have to compare with some specific point, probably the crossing of the Western Freeway and the Midland Highway. If anything, the cross-country route was faster, though it's only a matter of minutes; it was probably about 1.5 km shorter.

In passing, yes, the road we went along probably was the Pyrenees Highway. But it's not marked like that anywhere that I saw, so it's still misleading.


Burying my mother
Topic: general Link here

Arrived in Bendigo 25 minutes ahead of the planned arrival time. That was deliberate: I had given myself half an hour leeway to be sure of arriving on time, and I did in fact use some of it. Had to find our way into the funeral home, which was still locked:


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That gave us a chance to see my mother for the last time, of which only Yana and I took advantage:


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That's the first time I have seen her since 14 March 1997, nearly 22 years ago.

We also met Robert and Brendan, Keith's sons and the people actually running the show, here each with Yana:


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Gradually people arrived, but the planned briefing didn't happen; instead we were given a brochure about the funeral service


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Brendan's eulogy was interesting for a couple of reasons. First, he came up with things that I had never heard, like my mother being angry with Theo Borrer because he lied, something that she would never do. And then her proudness about her sporting activities, something that she stopped very early, though the story of her winning the mixed doubles in badminton alongside Ricky (Sodhy) rings true. Funny how different some of these things turn out. And one thing he didn't mention was the visit of the Queen on 24 February 1972. It seems that he hadn't heard that she was the main reason for the visit.

One thing that I hadn't expected was the RSL “Service”, in which they celebrated my mother's military history in a service more reminiscent of the US Military, including a flag draped over the coffin:


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They also read out a statement of service, in which I learnt that my mother had been a cypher assistant during the Second World War. Is that similar to the girls at Bletchley Park, or just a girl encoding and decoding messages for the Air Force? Probably the latter. In those days, of course, it was nothing of any great interest; the fact that she left the service as a sergeant was probably more interesting to most people. But it seems that she, like my uncle Bob and my father, had been involved in telecommunications.


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At the end of the service, I was presented with the flag and the certificate.

Then off to the cemetery—another detail that we found out as we were going along. I was one of the pall-bearers, and part of the reason for arriving early was to discuss how to carry the coffin. I had been given to understand that we would carry the coffin (which they insisted on calling a casket) to the cemetery next door, but in fact it was over 2 km away, so we had two ways to carry it, from the chapel to the hearse, and from the hearse to the grave:


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It was surprisingly heavy. That must have been the coffin: my mother was never heavy, and today she looked far thinner than I remember her.

Getting the car out of the car park, I managed to bump into a car behind me with the tow bar, causing minor scratching. The car belongs to an ex-neighbour, Bruce Robinson, so we'll be hearing from him again.

Then the burial itself:


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After that back to the chapel for light refreshments, of which we were in need: we had eaten so much last night that we weren't hungry before leaving. We had made some sandwiches, but they were in the car, and the provided refreshments were accessible, so we ate them.

Apart from that, of course, meeting up with people whom I haven't seen in decades, and some whom I have never met. Almost without exception I have forgotten their names, though several were related to or children of “Auntie Annie”, who lived in Broadford and whose surname I still can't recall. The last time I was there was before I left Australia in February 1959, over 60 years ago.

And then one person who clearly didn't belong to the family:


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That's Ratnam Nachiappan, whom I also met round 65 years ago in Kota Bharu. He lives in Melbourne now, and was somehow informed of the funeral.

I haven't exactly kept track of the family, but it seems that I'm not alone. A number of people came up to me and said “How are you, Michael?”. Later I met his father, who also thought that I looked just like him; it seems that nobody, not even his father, has seen him for a couple of years.

One person who wasn't there was my mother's remaining sister Gloria. Is she still alive? Betty Reid (I think) said that yes, she saw her a couple of weeks ago, and was going to go and tell her, but she was sure that she would have been informed.

Bev also brought along a number of old photos, including a wedding photo (17 February 1945):


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From left to right that's Robert Herbert (Bob was my uncle), Audrey Lehey (my deceased aunt), Norman Lehey (my father), Audrey Lehey (my mother) and Robert Herbert (my grandfather). That's a nice symmetry of names, and also the first photo I've seen of my grandfather, who was shot dead by his other daughter, Gloria, a few months later. I've brought this and other photos back for digitization.


Buying wine on eBay
Topic: food and drink, technology, opinion Link here

They sell wine on eBay. How good? It's worth a try, anyway, so last week I bought a dozen bottles of Sauvignon blanc from McLaren Vale for $61:


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Today they arrived, and Yana and I tried them out.

Terrible! According to the listing, they retail for $20 or more per bottle. There's no way that you'd get $20 a bottle for this stuff. $5 maybe, but no more. That one's really worth a negative feedback.

One off problem, or a reason to avoid eBay altogether for wines?


Wednesday, 6 March 2019 Dereel Images for 6 March 2019
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Another power failure
Topic: general Link here

Another short power failure this morning at 1:49. High time to get the solar electricity installed.


Another NFS problem
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Another NFS error this morning. Like the others, it was between the lagoon backup at 21:00 and the teevee backup at 4:00, and there were no log messages to explain it. This time I just shot down the mountd process, didn't remount, and things worked again. Hopefully that's the last time, though it occurred to me that I should have investigated what was wrong. What does mount have to do with file systems that are already mounted?


UPS: caught in the act!
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

My Eaton UPS really doesn't like power surges, and during the time that the garden sprinkler runs (and the bore pump with it), I'm continually getting beeps from the second-in-line UPS telling me that the power it's getting is bad.

Today it was worse than that: power failure! After about 10 seconds off to see what was going on. Ha, ha, only joking, says the Eaton UPS, and came back again. That meant rebooting two computers, as well. Bloody “uninterruptible” power supply! Roll on solar power.


Hibiscus
Topic: gardening Link here

I've been propagating Hibiscus rosa-sinensis for some time now. It's pretty straightforward: the bush in the living room grows quickly, so I'm continually trimming off branches. Cut them to a length of about 30 to 40 cm and put them in a pot with soil, and in general they take root.

The last two were about 2 and 4 months ago. I had put them in the dining room, but now that we have more space in front of the verandah, I moved them there. Surprise, surprise. The older of the two, which was looking quite happy, died. The younger of the two, also the thickest, didn't even lose its leaves, and today it produced its first flower. Here the two (the dead one is in front):


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The leaves were on the stem before I trimmed it off the parent bush (below). It's not nearly as big as the parent, but who cares?


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My rule of thumb has been “choose a stem as thick as a pencil”, but it seems that something somewhat thicker might be a better choice.


Lily
Topic: gardening Link here

The sickly lily in front of the house has developed more flowers:


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They're still not very pink.


Gum pain again
Topic: health Link here

Yesterday I had a slight pain in the right bottom rear molar, something like pressure. I have that occasionally, and usually it goes away. It did today, too, but in its place came gum pain that got worse as the day progressed. This has happened before in exactly the same place. Called up Leela Movva in Geelong, but he won't be there again until Monday. Monday! And that after I told them that it was an emergency, and that I was in pain.

Somewhat grudgingly, it seems, they gave me the phone number of Wyndham Periodontics and Dental Implants in Werribee (9749 7955). Called up there, spoke to Leeanne, and was told that Leela was busy, but they would call back this evening or tomorrow. It didn't happen today, and in the course of the evening things got more and more painful. The chlorhexidine rinse didn't do anything useful this time.


Thursday, 7 March 2019 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 7 March 2019
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Gum pain, continued
Topic: health Link here

Painful night as the result of my gum infection.

Yesterday Leeanne of Wyndham Periodontics and Dental Implants promised to call me back at the latest shortly after 8:00. Round 8:50 I called, and she said that she hadn't forgotten me (but, implicitly, my pain wasn't their top priority), and that she would talk to Leela, who currently had a patient.

This time she did call back, shortly after 9:00. Leela had looked at my records and thought that any dentist in Ballarat could do it. Didn't he want to do it? Yes, of course he would, if I couldn't find anybody, and they could fit me in some time tomorrow. OK, let's try Mario Cordioli, my dentist in Ballarat. Yes, of course he could see me. How about 10:20? That barely left me enough time to get there, but sure, of course.

Off to Ballarat, and Mario found no foreign objects in my gums. But he did see a spur from the top right wisdom tooth that was sticking into the lower gum, which probably caused the inflammation. Grind down the tooth and I shouldn't have any more problems. The whole affair was also almost completely painless, a significant difference from last time.

That explains a lot of things, including the initial discomfort with the lower wisdom tooth itself. Why didn't Leela see that last time? And I have some recollection of telling him about a spur in that part of my jaw, and he considered it unimportant. Was it in the same place? It must be nearly 10 years ago, and it may have been further towards the middle of the mouth, but I definitely recall that it was causing gum pain.

Off with a prescription for Amoxicillin, but no painkillers, only 20 minutes from my arrival. Off to a surprisingly full UPS in Sebastopol, where it took me 24 minutes to get my antibiotics. Took one immediately, and in the course of the afternoon the swelling and pain finally subsided. Hopefully this will be the last time.

So: should I be upset with Leela? Up to now I've been completely happy with him. But it seems that he wasn't overly concerned with my emergency, something that surprised Mario as well, and in addition it seems that he didn't correctly identify the cause of the problem. To be considered.


Fresh shiitake
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

While waiting for my medication this morning, popped into Woolworths next door and discovered some marked-down fresh shiitake mushrooms. OK, we have a need for shiitake—I had planned on using some dried ones for dinner tonight—so bought them.

And how about that, there's a big difference from the dried ones. These have real flavour and texture. To be repeated.


Paella, Woolworths style
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Also in Woolworths, saw this package for “Chicken and Chorizo Paella”.


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OK, not interested in buying it, but what's the recipe like? Reading the back is particularly instructive.


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I don't know why they bill it as chicken and chorizo; it could equally well be rabbit and ham, since you have to supply those ingredients yourself. And does it include olive oil or not? The packaging is self-contradictory. So I'll err on the side of probability and say no, contains no olive oil. So basically for your $7 you get 160 g rice (value about $0.32), 400 g of “broth” (how much? $1 if you're being generous), and 2 g of “paprika” ($0.10, an ingredient completely missing in my recipe). More to the point is what they don't mention at all: saffron. I wonder what this expensive mess would taste like. It would be colourless and pretty much flavourless.


Friday, 8 March 2019 Dereel Images for 8 March 2019
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Bindy comes for the weekend
Topic: animals, general Link here

Zali (ex-O'Dea, but I don't know her new surname) along today with daughter and dog Bindy. They're going to the beach for the weekend, and we're to look after Bindy. We've known her for a long time—before we got any of our current dogs—and our dogs know her too.

Still, you never know how dogs might react, but of course they reacted the way Borzois always do, ran around a bit:


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And then they stopped paying attention to each other. Bindy seems overly timid even for a Borzoi; possibly that's because she's in an unusual environment.


Fast frame rate: too much of a good thing
Topic: photography, animals, opinion Link here

Getting dog photos is always a bit hit and miss, so the more you take, the better the chance of getting a couple of good shots. This morning I took 30, and could have taken more.

But the camera can do that many photos in half a second. Why not take some high frame rate photos? Tried that today while walking the dogs. In two separate shots of about a second each I took 122 photos! And, not surprisingly, they all looked the same:


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Run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour.


Coroner: cause of death
Topic: general Link here

Mail from the Coroners Court of Victoria today, dated last Saturday, effectively a stereotyped letter with the contents of what Tracy told me two weeks earlier: cause of death was:

1(a) CORONARY ARTERY DISEASE
1(b) HYPERTENSION, HYPERCHOLESTEROLAEMIA

And it seems that, as of Saturday, the death certificate still hadn't been issued. That's the responsibility of the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, who hadn't yet been informed. And if I wanted, I could get a copy of the medical examiner's report if I returned the enclosed form.

About the only thing of interest was why the Coroner had been involved at all. It seems that one trigger that requires an obligatory Coroner's involvement is an unexpected death, and despite my mother's advanced age, nobody had expected her to die exactly then. But there's nothing in this report that would preclude a diagnosis of suicide by overdose, for example, nor anything that wouldn't already have been on the medical records.


Terrible eBay wine?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Got round to registering my displeasure about the wine that I got from eBay on Tuesday. Got feedback: yes, indeed, this wine retails for $25 a bottle. Where? Hong Kong?

To my surprise, I then got a phone call from Dan, who explained that they're a small family business, and that I was the only person to complain. The wine isn't really McLaren Vale, but Adelaide Hills. OK, I know Adelaide Hills, having lived between Echunga and Meadows for 10 years. It proves that the wine comes from a vineyard on the border of Kuitpo Forest, down Razorback Road, less than 10 km from Wantadilla

None of that explains the taste. But clearly the seller is concerned about customer satisfaction (would take the wine back and replace or refund at my choice). We agreed that I'd try a second bottle and discuss. And yes, looking online I see many places where the same wine is on offer for $25 a bottle, but 2016 vintage, not 2018.


Saturday, 9 March 2019 Dereel Images for 9 March 2019
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How to kill a clematis
Topic: gardening Link here

One of the Clematis that we bought last spring is flowering, sort of:


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Like most plants in the garden, it could look better, but I'm hoping that it will improve in the coming years. The other one, however, is not:


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What's wrong there? It was planted behind a vigorous tropaeolum. Too vigorous, maybe? Removed the tropaeolum and discovered that there wasn't much behind it. Whatever connection the clematis had with the ground was torn apart when I removed the tropaeolum, and I can't even see where it had been. This was the “General Sikorski” with which I had already had similar trouble while planting it. As I said then: damn!

In passing it's interesting to note that how thick the main stem of the tropaeolum is:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190310/big/Tropaeolum-1.jpeg
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That must be 3 cm in diameter.


Video subtitling standards
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

We're getting quite a bit of video content from SRF at the moment. Much of it is subtitled, and I've noticed that frequently the second line is missing. Not normally a problem, but today we wanted to watch „Brot und Steine“, which is in Schwyzerdütsch, and the subtitles were quite useful.

What's the problem? Put it on hold and watched another film, which turned out also to be from SRF, as the disclaimer shows:


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“With subtitles from Germany”. Given that it's a German series, that's not surprising. I wonder how different Swiss (German) subtitles would have been.

That had the same issue, so I had a quick look at the subtitle file. The entries looked like this:

19
00:03:12,62 --> 00:03:15,72
<font color="yellow">
                Und die Tatwaffe... Och!

            Da oben ins Gebüsch geschmissen.
      </font>

20

They also had significant trailing blanks. Could it be that the empty lines confuse mpv? Removed line breaks with Emacs:

19
00:03:12,62 --> 00:03:15,72
<font color="yellow">
                Und die Tatwaffe... Och!                    Da oben ins Gebüsch geschmissen.
      </font>20

And yes, that did the trick, sort of. The number after the </font> appears to be the number of the following subtitle, but it was included in the subtitles, and of course the spaces appeared in the subtitles. Clearly I should only remove empty lines. But isn't it nice to have a Real Computer to watch TV with?


Sunday, 10 March 2019 Dereel Images for 10 March 2019
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Scanning photos
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

My sister Bev lent me some old photos on Tuesday for scanning in. I had already tried to scan in the wedding photo, with significant issues with surface reflections:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/19450217/big/Wedding-scanned.jpeg
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How about taking a photo? Based on dynamic range issues with scans, tried to do it with HDR. The results didn't look good, but potentially better. Here's the middle image:


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Other images were complicated too. When were they were taken? Where? How should I even categorize them? Who was in the photos? For the most part we knew, but we still don't know who is on the left in this photo, beyond the fact that she was clearly happy to be with my mother:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190310/big/Audrey-and-friend.jpeg
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The back of the photo contains the stamp:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190310/big/Audrey-and-friend-source.jpeg
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The stamp was quite light, and the text “BYRON” at the top was almost completely invisible before enhancement. The photographer, maybe? The address is also interesting: it suggests that 176 Collins St and 177 Collins St were next to each other. Google maps somewhat unconvincingly suggests that that's not the case today. Still, clearly in Melbourne, and judging by the clothing taken in the winter. What's the door? What year? It could be almost any time from 1942 to 1954, possibly even later.

I've decided that, where I know the date (or close approximation), to put the photos under that date, and otherwise I'll leave them as the date of scanning.


Family reunion
Topic: general Link here

My sister Bev showed up today for a quick overnight visit, the first time this millennium if I recall correctly: the last time was for Christmas 1999. Much to talk about, of course.

I haven't had much contact with the family in general, and Bev brought me up to speed.

There was other stuff, too, going further back. I had already commented about the symmetry of the people in my parents' wedding photo: from left to right, or from right to left, Robert Herbert, Audrey Lehey, Norman Lehey, Audrey Lehey, Robert Herbert. But my aunt Audrey (the first from left), the bridesmaid, was dressed like a bride, something that—apparently—my mother (never one to forgive easily) never forgave her. And others got the impression that it was a double wedding, which is easy to understand. It's sobering to think that all the people in that photo are dead; my grandfather (Robert Herbert on the right in the photo) survived less than 9 months before being shot dead by his other daughter, Gloria.

And that was the other topic of conversation. I had heard details of the death mainly from my uncle Bob (Robert Herbert on the left), and I had had the impression that when it had happened all his children with exception of my mother were there. But Bev tells me that only Gloria and the parents were there. She has more documentation somewhere, but in the meantime I should check my sources again.

We briefly brought out “The Twelfth of Never” by Louis Nowra, in which it was the central theme (the murder took place on 12 December 1945, and Mark Louis was born on 12 December 1950) but I couldn't be bothered to wade through the dense fiction.


Clematis root found
Topic: gardening Link here

While showing the garden to Bev, looked further at where the clematis “General Sikorski” had been. It's directly below the dripper in this photo:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190311/big/Clematis-root.jpeg
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The Tropaeolum must have almost completely strangled it. I wonder if it will come back.


Google: that's all we know
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Trying to display a map based on my photo Exif data today. It failed:

500. That’s an error.

The server encountered an error and could not complete your request.

If the problem persists, please report your problem and mention this error message and the query that caused it. That’s all we know.

Sorry, Google, that's a lie. You do know more, at the very least what error 500 means. From List of HTTP status codes:

500 Internal Server Error
A generic error message, given when an unexpected condition was encountered and no more specific message is suitable.

So why not say so? And who's to blame? On the face of it it looks like Google, but potentially it doesn't like my hand-crafted URL, in which case it should say so.


Monday, 11 March 2019 Dereel Images for 11 March 2019
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Goodbye Bev
Topic: general Link here

Bev off again today as planned; she'll be heading to Briagolong as soon is the coast is clear. It seems that unlike here, they've had quite a few bushfires in the area.


Flowering eucalypt
Topic: gardening Link here

The weather has changed completely in the last week. Last Monday it was still full summer: the temperature reached 36°, and it was completely dry. Today we had 24 mm of rain, and the temperature didn't quite make it to 22°. A pleasant change.

And while walking the dogs, discovered this:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190311/big/Flowering-eucalypt.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190311/big/Flowering-eucalypt-detail.jpeg
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That's some kind of Eucalypt, of course. I hadn't expected anything to flower at this time of year, especially with the weather patterns. Was this a quick reaction to the change in weather?


Understand Google's error 500
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday's HTTP error 500 (server fail) hasn't gone away. It was a URL to display a map relating to where a photo was taken. I had created the URL myself based on what Google creates:

https://www.google.com.au/maps/place/37%C2%B048'1.22%22S+143%C2%B045'4.75%22E/@-37.8003389,143.7513194,20z

But I keep getting an error 500 on it. What's wrong with it? Presumably my forgeries are not being accepted.

Or are they? What about today's eucalypt photo? That worked. OK, what's the difference?

https://www.google.com.au/maps/place/37%C2%B048'1.22%22S+143%C2%B045'4.75%22E/@-37.8003389,143.7513194,20z
https://www.google.com.au/maps/place/37%C2%B047'53.64%22S+143%C2%B045'3.43%22E/@-37.7982333,143.7509528,20z

Clearly that's different, but only because it shows a different place (only a few hundred metres away). I can't see anything obvious that would cause only the first one to fail. Asked on IRC, and Andrew Perry told me that the first one failed on firefox, but not on chrome. The second one worked.

So whatever it is, it's a Schrödinger's cat. OK, the error message asks me to report the issue, and leads me to http://www.google.com/support/. Now isn't that a good place to report things? It didn't even take me to the Google Maps page (https://support.google.com/maps, or maybe https://support.google.com/maps/?hl=en#topic=3092425). For that I had to search the brightly coloured pictures, which proved to be links to individual products. And I still just had a list of help topics, not a way to report.

OK, try searching for “server error 500”. That brought a number of hits. The first looks closest, though it's wrong:

Getting 500 Error for Coordinate API
Community forum

You might be seeing that 500 error because you're using a Service Account which doesn't have access to your Team's coordinate data. There are two potential ...

OK, not my situation, but to read further I had to follow the link. Another HTTP error: 404. I don't need to look that one up, because Google does know what it means. Broken link inside Google's system.

Where do I go from here?


Quora: begone, foul spammer!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Message from Quora moderation today:

Message-ID: <I-OGcYk9qgOLdGmtLLKyW8HSAVw27PHj1BKFiChjoMSM71rxZCMRNcRbPOIsk_sBqhf31LVJRSaFu19SXrcv_PtxG5Q4tCXq1uH_Ybe6BmMC0tyIxbI-sCdGiaBX6yKH3oXOPqAzwqjWfaNanUV0AAECAA==@t2.msgid.quoramail.com>

Quora Moderation sent you a message

-----

Hello,

Some of your recent content (Greg Lehey's answer to Why don't we keep daylight saving time year round? [
https://www.quora.com/Why-dont-we-keep-daylight-saving-time-year-round/answer/Greg-Lehey ]) appears to violate Quora's policy on Spam:

On Quora, spam is defined as one or more questions, answers or posts whose purpose appears to be to direct traffic to external commercial sites while providing little to no value back to the Quora Community.

Note that even if you didn't intend to ask a spam question, questions that attract primarily spam content may also be deleted because of the spam answers they receive.

If future contributions do not comply with these policies, you may be blocked from editing on Quora. For more information, please see:
How does Quora define spam? What are the consequences of spamming on Quora? [ https://www.quora.com/How-does-Quora-define-spam-What-are-the-consequences-of-spamming-on-Quora ]
What kind of questions on Quora aren't OK? What is Quora's policy on question deletion? [ https://www.quora.com/What-kind-of-questions-on-Quora-arent-OK-What-is-Quoras-policy-on-question-deletion ]
What is Quora's policy on disclosing affiliations in answers? [ https://www.quora.com/What-is-Quoras-policy-on-disclosing-affiliations-in-answers ]

To request reconsideration, please submit a moderation appeal at https://www.quora.com/contact.

Thank you,
Quora Moderation

Huh? Took another look at the reply:

Your answer to this question has been deleted by Quora Moderation.

The way I see it, there’s no such thing as year-round daylight saving time. Daylight saving time is a modification of standard time to make it look like the sun sets later. Once you only have one time zone, by definition it’s standard time.

If you simply mean having a time zone that offsets the mean solar noon beyond local noon, there seem to be many jurisdictions that do so. See the red areas in Are YOU living out of sync? Amazing map reveals time discrepencies. My guess is that it’s easier to just shift local time than to get people to change all their habits to start an hour earlier (for example, get up at 5:00, start work at 7:00 and finish at 15:00, go to bed at 21:00).

The most interesting thing is that, based on an apparent breach of policy, they just deleted my reply. Why? Yes, the link is a commercial site (the Daily Mail, not my favourite newspaper), but that's the best I can find, and it's absolutely relevant to the answer. Did the “moderators” even look at the the link before deleting it?

This isn't the first time this has happened. My guess is that this is done automatically based on some complaint, and that no human has looked at it. Last time I got no response to my request for review. Tried it again anyway—by comparison, it's really complicated. But maybe this is Quora's way of telling me that I'm spending too much time on what has become doing homework for dishonest Indian schoolboys. Goodbye, Quora, you've just lost your most viewed writer in time zones:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190311/big/Viewed-writers.png
Image title: Viewed writers
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Now I can get back to doing something useful.


More photo processing
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Continued with the Bev's photos that I scanned over the last few days. Some of them are interesting: in particular, the difference between these two photos of Bev and me, taken 9 years apart. They were both mid-September, and I guessed at 12 September 1962 and 12 September 1971, first in Kuala Lumpur, then in Melbourne:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/19620912/big/Bev-Greg.jpeg
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What an amazing difference in appearance!

But what really gets me is that not a single image in all of the photos is really sharp. There's camera shake and out-of-focus in almost every photo. And that isn't just these photos: I don't think I have any photo that I took 50 years ago that is anything like as sharp as the photos I take on a regular basis nowadays.


Rediscovering 1950s Kelantan
Topic: history, photography, opinion Link here

A number of the photos were taken in Kelantan before we left in 1957. Based on the inscription on the back, there's every reason to believe that this one (of Bev and me) was taken on 26 December 1956:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/19561226/big/Bev-Greg.jpeg
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But what about this one?


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The inscription on that photo says that it was my school. But it most certainly wasn't; I was at the Sultan Ismail School (Maktab Sultan Ismail), an old wooden building. From my recollection, this was a school building that my father built nearby.

But where? Google Maps is your friend—maybe. Went looking. Found Jalan Telipot and my old school, or at least its location. It has been replaced by some no less ugly brick and mortar buildings that at least has significantly higher capacity. I know where the building in the photo should be, but I can't find it among all the other buildings that have been built there in the last 60 years.

It's sobering to think that the time that has elapsed since then is longer than the time that Kelantan was under British colonial rule. 125 years ago it was still part of Siam.


Repartition eureso's disk
Topic: technology Link here

I still can't make up my mind how to upgrade my FreeBSD systems—nothing new there: I've been trying to find a simple way for at least 20 years. But the idea of two alternate root partitions seemed good—for a while. Then I decided against it for eureso, the up-and-coming eureka.

But then I upgraded teevee with the alternate partition method, and it worked very well. I might as well keep that option open on eureso. Problem: I had already copied eureka:/home to the last partition, the one that starts where the second root partition starts. And it's 3 TB in size. OK, not an issue. Blow it away, create two new partitions, and sync again.

Got as far as blowing away the partition before I realized I already had a second root partition. I hadn't needed to do anything. But now the partition was gone. What happens if I recreate it? Is everything still there?

Yes. Like in other partitioning schemes, I now have confirmation that I can remove a GPT partition and recreate it with the same parameters without losing the contents.


Tuesday, 12 March 2019 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 12 March 2019
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Annual hot water failure
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Now that the weather is getting cooler again, the solar hot water system is no longer sufficient, and it needs an electric boost. And like in previous years, it didn't work: the circuit breaker in the hot water system had tripped. I'm getting used to this now, and I had it fixed quickly. But it's really time to get the system looked at. This shouldn't be happening.


New car service provider
Topic: general Link here

Yvonne's car was due for a service again. Paul and Lisa Sperber have finally given up their Ballarat Automotive operation, moving on to try to salvage Ballarat Bird World. They sold Ballarat Automotive to Lee Franklin, who has renamed it Sovereign City Service Centre, not the most transparent of renamings. He has even changed the phone number (03 5379 9116), which doesn't sound like the most commercially useful change.

Off this morning to drop the car off. I note that Lee, who doesn't work alone, doesn't have a receptionist, which is probably a good idea in view of what happened to the Sperbers. He seems to know his stuff, but when we picked up the car—with new front brake discs, now called “rotors”, another obfuscatory renaming—he told us that the battery was on its last legs. Nothing that has been obvious to us; what was obvious was the pile of batteries he has for sale. Still, he seems to have done a good job.


More physiotherapy
Topic: health Link here

Off to town again in the afternoon to visit Heather Dalman, who seems to be happy with my progress. Another appointment in 3 weeks.


Wednesday, 13 March 2019 Dereel Images for 13 March 2019
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Destroyed rubbish bin
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Today is the day the rubbish is collected, or at least the “recyclables”. After collection, the bin looked a little different:


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It looks as if the driver of the rubbish truck put the bin down rather more forcefully than he should have done. I'm surprised that it didn't split. OK, we can't put up with that. Called up the Golden Plains Shire Council on 5220 7111 and spoke to Lynn, who took my address, gave me a reference number and told me that it could take up to 10 days, but is usually much faster. Just leave the bin outside the house. Clearly they get a lot of this kind of thing.

But that wasn't the end of it, at least not at our end. Went out for some other purpose a couple of hours later and found:


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It hadn't completely recovered, but was certainly now usable again. Should I call Lynn again? No, it's still damaged, and if it later falls apart, I'd no longer have anything to stand on.


The joys of eBay
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

The week before last I ordered two mobile phone batteries for ancient Samsung phones: my GT-I9100T and Petra Gietz' I9210. The price was good: $9 each, including postage. But then last week I got an apologetic message from the seller saying that he couldn't deliver the I9210 battery, and that he wouldn't get them back in stock. OK, refund $9, all OK at my end.

Today a battery finally arrived. Not for the I9100, but for the I9210. Where's the other battery? Checked it and found no voltage. Dead! OK, return the battery.

Very apologetic message again, and then I received a message from eBay:

The seller accepted your return of for Samsung Galaxy S2 i9100 Battery and refunded you AU $9.00. It should be available in your PayPal account.

And then another message:

The seller accepted your return of for Samsung Galaxy S2 4G I9210 Battery and refunded you AU $18.00. It should be available in your PayPal account.

With last week's refund, that's a total of $36 refunded for $18 paid. It sounds like Telstra. Should I tell him? Let's see that I actually get the money back first.

And how about that, I didn't. The seller refunded the $9 that he owed me. The messages from eBay seem to be based on utter confusion at eBay, not for the first time.


Spreading fertilizer
Topic: gardening Link here

Why do the plants in the garden look so sickly? I've spread fertilizer in the past, but I have a feeling that I'm being too stingy. Today I spread about 11 kg of fertilizer, running out of fertilizer before I finished the garden. It's a bit late in the year, but we still have 2 months before it starts getting really cool, so it could have some effect.


Thursday, 14 March 2019 Dereel Images for 14 March 2019
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New recycling bin
Topic: general Link here

Phone rang early in the morning, requiring Yvonne to run out and answer it, as usual 2 seconds too late. It rang again, so she ran a little faster and discovered that it was somebody outside the house who was too polite to ring the doorbell. He had the new recycling bin that I had ordered yesterday. And he didn't want to take the old one, so now Yvonne has a new fodder bin. We should do this more often.


Power fail: a harrowing experience
Topic: general, food and drink, opinion Link here

Started to prepare breakfast shortly after 9:30. Rinsed a knife. The water ran out.

Damn, we still don't have the pump back that I put in for repair three months ago. Turned around and looked at the ovens. No display: power failure!

OK, the normal checks. No, no circuit breakers failed. Then it occurred to me: Powercor had informed of us of a planned power outage. Yes, today, starting at 9:15. When did it really start? My guess would be 9:35.

Out to try to start the generator. This time it didn't want to know, and, cursing, back inside to shut down the computers.

Breakfast was a lost cause, of course. I had planned huevos rancheros, which required multiple electrical devices. Instead we had to warm up frozen bread on a comal and eat with cheese and sausage. Only later did I realize that this had messed up our breakfast schedule for the next 5 days or so, not to mention the guacamole that I had already prepared, and which we ended up eating with gulasch in the evening (not to be recommended).

What do you do when there's no power? Well, there's plenty to do, all that stuff that I've been postponing because I had something better to do. But somehow I was so disheartened that I couldn't do anything; it was as if I had lost power too. Yvonne took a more practical approach and found it harrowing:


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How long would the outage last? According to the notification, until 14:00 (sorry, “2:00 PM”). But in the past planned outages have frequently only lasted for a fraction of that time. From about 12:00 on I tried to ignore clock-watching, and later went for a longer-than-usual walk with the dogs. Came back. Still no power. Came 14:00. Still no power. At 14:29 I installed the Powercor app on my phone and saw:

 
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People, the estimated restoration was half an hour ago! They could at least update their status page. And once again the “fault” location was BUNINYONG-MOUNT MERCER ROAD, BUNINYONG. I've seen that too often. Is that their default when they can't be bothered to report the correct location?

Finally the power came back, at 14:55. 5 hours, 20 minutes with no power, and nearly an hour over schedule. According to another display on the Powercor app, over 2000 people were affected. That's a total time without power of 15 months!

Is it really necessary to disconnect power for such a period of time, or is it simply the cheapest option? How would things change if Powercor were required to supply backup power to anybody who requested it for any “planned outage” that goes over 30 minutes? Or reimburse the subscribers for the time off the grid, at, say, 10 times the normal rate? I suspect that would result in a surprising increase in unplanned outages.

Apart from the inconvenience, it was somehow a wasted day. At least eureka came up cleanly, having been cleanly shut down, but it took me until 18:00 to finish all the things I would normally have done in the morning.

One of the things waiting for me when I had the system up again was a phone call from Tony from Effective Electrical, who is planning to come out to measure the house for solar panels. The sooner, the better!


X blanking working again
Topic: technology Link here

After rebooting eureka, as half expected, my X blanking problem has gone away. It must have been some process that kept disabling that. I wonder if there's a server log option that can log the process that does that.


Understanding banking terminology
Topic: general Link here

Paid a bill with ANZ bank's web “Internet” banking system today. It works much better than Bank of Melbourne's disaster, but it also has its strangenesses.

What number do I write on the bill? Lodgement number? Receipt number? What's the difference? Ah, there's a little i with a circle on it next to the terms; presumably information.

Yes, sort of:

The lodgement number is your confirmation that your payment or transfer has been lodged for processing.

The receipt number is your confirmation that your payment or transfer has been lodged for processing.

Well, that clarifies things.


Garage door opener, revisited
Topic: general, opinion Link here

As a result of the power outage, I had to open the garage door manually. Last time I did that, I had enormous problems getting the mechanism to re-engage again. This time I did as well.

More examination of the mechanism. Finally I understood: there's only one position of the chain where it can engage. There's a lump in the chain that engages in the mechanism, so it's normal for nothing to happen until the lump comes by. And the correct position of the latch is the second of these two images:


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Friday, 15 March 2019 Dereel Images for 15 March 2019
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Quora responds
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

After my extreme annoyance at Quora's rejection of a post on Monday, I entered a complaint, and heard nothing.

Until today. Response: yes, sorry, we made a mistake. We apologize.

OK, that's reasonable, apology accepted. But there's still something wrong when these things can happen without any involvement of the poster. And under the circumstances the response could have been quicker.


Solar panel assessment
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Tony from Effective Electrical along this morning to measure up the house for the solar panels. To my surprise, they'll barely fit on the two north (10°) and west (280°) roof surfaces. And of course when I mentioned Josh's (from Re-Energy) suggestion of putting panels on the east side, he just smiled.

Later updated quotes from Tomas: round $5,000 more, without explanation! Accident? In any case, the old quotes are still valid, so I should take the one I have.


The joys of eBay, part n++
Topic: gardening, general, technology, opinion Link here

A couple of days ago I bought some plant seeds from a seller on eBay. Combine postage? Yes, just ask for an updated invoice. So I did that, and nothing happened. The next thing I know, I got a warning from eBay:

 
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OK, lazy seller. Sent him a reminder and got a reply almost immediately: he had sent me a message with an updated price a couple of days ago: $12 for both, which is what I would have expected.

Nope:


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That's the wrong way round, of course, but apart from my other fun with phone batteries there has been no correspondence.

OK, take a look at the “cart”. How about that, both items in there with one postage, $12. OK, I can pay that.

What's wrong with this situation?

I had, in fact, noted the sum $12 showing up against one item only, but it didn't make sense. It still doesn't.

As the seller agreed, they're a real pain.


Saturday, 16 March 2019 Dereel Images for 16 March 2019
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Cleaning the toaster
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Our toaster has a convenient tray under the mechanism to catch bread crumbs:


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But for some reason the toaster has been smoking recently. Tried the more conventional method of turning it upside down in the sink:


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Clearly there's room for improvement in the toaster design.


Garden flowers in early autumn
Topic: gardening Link here

Middle of the month, time for my monthly garden flower photos, this time for early autumn.

The long, dry summer isn't showing many signs of abating. We've finally had a little rain, but only a little. Still, some plants are recovering, maybe also because of significant application of fertilizer. The difference is particularly obvious with the roses: this „Gruß an Aachen“ had almost no flowers to show when I showed it to Bev on Sunday, but now it's doing well:


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Can that be as a result of the fertilizer? It seems too fast.

The other roses aren't doing badly either:


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And then there's yet another Gladiolus that has, apparently, only now found conditions suitable for flowering:


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On the other hand, it looks as if some plants haven't survived the summer, notably the Hebes that I had been watching over the summer:


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I fear that there's little hope for them. We should put something hardier in their place.

But not all Hebes are doing that badly; some at least are flowering:


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In general, though, I'm seeing the same effects that I have seen at this time in past years. Some plants are looking decidedly unhappy:


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But the Paulownia kawakamii seems to be doing well, possibly as the result of fertilizer. Here last month and this month:


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I'll have to spread much more before spring.

And the succulent bed is looking particularly good:


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The herb bed is a hive of activity:


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The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis with erectile dysfunction makes up for it by flowering copiously, if with small flowers:


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The other one, the clone of Uncle Max's bush, is less copious, but its sole flower is also surprisingly small:


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And one of the Hibiscus syriacus is also flowering, while the other shows no signs:


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And the Alyogyne huegelii (“native hibiscus”) is also flowering, more copiously than ever before: I only planted it six months ago:


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The pink lily that I noted a couple of weeks ago has now taken on a more expected colouring:


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One pleasant surprise is the Banksia integrifolia, which is now producing numerous flower spikes:


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The Wikipedia page explains that they come from two to three year old nodes in the foliage. Presumably the tree—now the largest that we have planted in the garden—feels happy where it is.

And the Hellebore that I transplanted two months ago is now looking much happier. Here before (17 January) and now:


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The other one, transplanted a couple of days later, seems to have been too late. But on careful observation there's a new leaf there too:


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And the one surviving Clematis is gradually looking like a real plant:


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Flies!
Topic: general, opinion Link here

By chance it has been almost exactly a third of a century since Yvonne and I first considered returning to live in Australia. We decided against it for two reasons: the pay (going rates were a little over half what I was earning in Germany) and the flies. That was late spring, clearly, and the flies in Bendigo were terrible.

When we did return, 12 years later and (again coincidentally) almost exactly 22 years ago, we were surprised how much better the fly situation was. Was this the result of research into dung beetles? We have flies, of course, but they were actually not as bad as what we had in Germany.

Until today. For reasons I don't understand, the house is full of them. I must have killed 30 of them in a 24 hour period. Why? Does it have something to do with the harrowing that Yvonne did the other day? That doesn't sound likely.


International news: not suitable for children
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

While attempting to watch the TV news today:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190316/big/Al-Jazeera-1.png
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I know that the news is rough at the moment, but I really wasn't expecting that. And, of course, I got a typical message from Google as a result:

 
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Linux? We don't use no steenking Leenux! But in fact, by Google's standards, that's not bad: it has accepted the fact that I'm in Dereel. Is that maybe because my mobile phone also connects via that external address?


Photo optimization: not size
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

While syncing my photos to the external web server today, noticed that it was taking a long time. Then I looked at the sizes of the photos:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~/Photos/20190316 89 -> l _Ashampoo_Photo_Optimizer_Backup/Hellebore-2.jpeg Hellebore-2.jpeg
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  wheel   4,323,518 16 Mar 17:29 _Ashampoo_Photo_Optimizer_Backup/Hellebore-2.jpeg
-rwxrw-r--  2 grog  lemis  23,475,024 16 Mar 17:29 Hellebore-2.jpeg

The first file is what I created with DxO PhotoLab, and the second is what Ashampoo Photo Optimizer 7 created from it: it's over 5 times the size! Why?

Tried again with version 6 of the Photo Optimizer:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~/Photos/20190316 93 -> l.jpeg _Ashampoo_Photo_Optimizer_Backup/Hellebore-2.jpeg Hellebore-2
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  wheel  4,323,518 16 Mar 17:29 _Ashampoo_Photo_Optimizer_Backup/Hellebore-2.jpeg
-rwxrw-r--  2 grog  wheel  6,632,721 16 Mar 17:29 Hellebore-2.jpeg

That's a big difference, but it's still 50% bigger. Time to look for better software?


Broken glass!
Topic: general, opinion Link here

A week or so ago I broke a glass in the kitchen. Since I walk barefoot at home, I asked Yvonne to sweep it up. And since then the floor has been swept, vacuumed and washed. But that didn't help: this evening I felt a pain in my foot, and discovered:


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The results were corresponding:


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How can such a small piece of glass remain on the floor despite all the cleaning that had gone on?


Sunday, 17 March 2019 Dereel Images for 17 March 2019
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Toaster woes
Topic: food and drink, general, opinion Link here

Yesterday I tipped all the crumbs out of my toaster. Today I tried using it for the first time since then. No reaction.

What's wrong with it? There are several possibilities:

  1. The crumbs are necessary for the function of the toaster.
  2. I damaged something while scraping the crumbs off the base.
  3. The power cord somehow got dislodged.

Can I be bothered to investigate? I don't think so. But that will teach me to be overly clean.


Monday, 18 March 2019 Dereel Images for 18 March 2019
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Jousting in armour
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Chris Bahlo has been holding a meeting of like-minded reenactors over the weekend. Yesterday they practiced in civvies, today in armour. Time to go over and take some photos:

But first, where are they?


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Ah, over there on the right:


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Over to take some photos (run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour):


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The pain of no viewfinder
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I took the photos of the jousting today using the fastest speed I could manage with my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II: 60 frames per second. Problem: the viewfinder stutters under those conditions. The results were that panning was more good luck than good management:


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Out of 784 photos, maybe 20 were worthwhile, probably the lowest yield yet. Maybe I should try “Pro Capture” mode, where the viewfinder works continuously, but the number of shots is limited. Unfortunately, the setting is so well hidden that I couldn't find it today. Setting it is complicated enough that Olympus has done a video about it; */B/fast/slow settings/Pro Cap:

And even easier: it was a setting on my shutter release menu, right next to the “high frame rate” that I chose! I just wasn't expecting to see it there:

 
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Tuesday, 19 March 2019 Dereel Images for 19 March 2019
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Kangaroo apple
Topic: gardening, photography, opinion Link here

We have these plants that grow around the area:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190319/big/Solanum-laciniatum-4.jpeg
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What are they? We know them as Kangaroo Apple. Looking on Wikipedia, that's Solanum aviculare. But the image on that page looks very different:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bf/Solanum_avicular_Chatswood.jpg

Then there's this page, describing Solanum laciniatum (“Kangaroo Apple”):

http://www.anbg.gov.au/images/photo_cd/51710B6049221/090_3.jpg

Is that closer? Maybe. That page (from the Australian National Botanic Gardens, and thus hopefully trustworthy) notes that “Kangaroo Apple” can also mean Solanum aviculare, but this one is clearly Solanum laciniatum.

OK, link to the Wikipedia page. There isn't one! Or at least, not in English. There's a German version. Do I really have the energy to translate it?


New mobile phone battery, try 2
Topic: technology Link here

Another battery for Petra Gietz' phone came in today. It works! Needs charging, of course. And that took a remarkably long time; by evening it still wasn't done.


Solar electricity surprises
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Yesterday I finally accepted one of Effective Electrical's quotes (the first of two numbered 423 and dated 26 February), for 10.8 kW solar panels and 13.8 kWh of battery, $23,883.60 after all rebates, and transferred the $2,000 deposit. Today got a call from Tomas Kucera: thanks, got the deposit, but sorry, no can do at that price.

Huh? Isn't a quote a legally binding document? He didn't have any expiry date on it, though he changed that from then on, to expire 30 days after issue. So my acceptance was still in the spirit of the quote. But instead he had sent me a very similar quote (numbered 487 of 15 March) with a marginally different battery pack for $28,786.30. That's nearly $5,000 more! Not happy, as I told him. I can understand that it might get a little more expensive because of issues with the house wiring, but $5,000 is ridiculous; that's considerably more than JG King get for wiring an entire house.

Ah, he can offer me something else again, closer to the price I wanted to pay. That's the wrong approach, of course: I want to pay as little as possible, but I want the specs to be met. Yes, the Ingeteam (which he pronounces "Inchteam") will do just as well, the only issue is that it needs two battery packs, and currently only one can be connected; the other one won't be available until October, when they have the appropriate connectors. On the other hand, the inverter has an Ethernet connection, so it can be controlled from any web browser, while the Selectronic that he had quoted needs a laptop connected directly to the inverter.

OK, let's have a quote, and also his best price for the quote 423 (version 1). There's no point complaining too loudly if he can come up with a reasonable compromise.


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More mobile phone fun
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Shortly after midnight, I heard what could be an electronic alarm or phone ring tone. But it wasn't anything that I recognized. Got up and went out to look, but there was nothing to be heard.

When I got up, checked my phone. No obvious message. That doesn't mean anything, of course; I continue to be amazed how difficult it is to find things on Android phones. But then Yvonne rang up from town. Wrong ring tone! Somehow it had reset to some default ring tone, though not the one I had head during the night. How did that happen? I had no difficulty resetting it to the one I want (Carl Maria von Weber's Andante e rondo ongarese), so it wasn't a case of sudden disappearance. What happened there?

Also today the new battery for my old Samsung GT-I9100T phone arrived. Time to look at how the other one was getting on, the one I put on charge yesterday. Still not charged! Dud battery or dud charger? Put it on a different charger and watched it charge more normally, but also refuse to power down: after powering down it immediately restarted. I'll never get used to the bugs features of these things.

So what was wrong with the other charger? Put the new battery (dated 2018-03-01, newer than I expected) into the phone after confirming that it had good charge (displayed as 84%) and charged it on the old charger without difficulty. What's the difference? On examination, discovered that the charger was made by Samsung and was rated at 5 V, 1 A. Isn't that enough?


Losing my sense of smell
Topic: food and drink, health, opinion Link here

A few days ago, after differences of opinion about wine I bought on eBay, I bought a number of Adelaide Hills wines at Dan Murphy's, with prices ranging from $6.60 to $16 a bottle. Comparing them with the wine I bought online, I discovered I could barely tell a difference between the three. Only the most expensive (Nepenthe 2018 Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc) tasted a little different: it was too sweet.

And last week Yana brought me some coffee from Adelaide. Finally flushed the coffee machine of the old beans (Lavazza Qualità Oro) and tried it. Yes, there's a distinct difference: Yana's coffee is more heavily roasted. But, as with the wine, I can't tell any difference in aroma. It seems that my sense of smell is giving up on me. I suppose the good thing about it is that I don't need to spend money on expensive coffee or wine.


More Solanum laciniatum
Topic: gardening, photography, opinion Link here

Finally got round to adding a stub Wikipedia entry for Solanum laciniatum. How about some photos to go with it? Off with the dogs to Harrison's Road (which Google Maps still claims is Stones Road) and took some macro photos:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190320/big/Solanum-laciniatum-4.jpeg
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Is that acceptable? Maybe. It's better than some, which were clearly affected by the wind. But I'd like to do better. And I noticed that a couple of flowers had fallen off, so took one back home with me to take photos under more controlled conditions:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190320/big/Solanum-laciniatum-17.jpeg
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But despite the aperture (f/16), it's not all sharp. Time for some focus stacking, but with a different flower: I didn't notice until processing the images that this one was missing the stigma, so I'll have to get another one.


New toaster
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Time for a new toaster. You wouldn't think that that's very interesting, but I had a number of mail exchanges with a Mark without surname, who pointed me at a blog entry by Eric Raymond, in tasteful pale grey on white. It seems that both esr and Mark have had issues with toasters in the not-too-distant past.

I hadn't anticipated any issues: go to The Good Guys and buy their cheapest model with the specs (4 slices), pretty much the opposite of what esr had done. But Mark suggested Costco. That's a non-starter: the closest outlet is in Melbourne, 130 odd km away.

OK, how about Target? That made more sense, especially as I bought a surprisingly cheap suit (which, admittedly, looked like it) there a couple of weeks ago. Off to look at their web site. The prices were round 25% cheaper! So Yvonne went there first.

Ultimately she bought a different toaster, still cheaper than the Good Guys' cheapest. It's difficult to compare: it seems that the Good Guys get the makers to make different models that don't compare directly to the ones on the open market, and when the sites don't give any technical details, it's difficult to say. The complete description of ours, the “Sunbeam Toaster - TA6410P” is:

  • 4 Sliced [sic] Toaster
  • Polished Metal
  • Matches the KE6400P Target Kettle

Materials and Composition

  • Polished Metal

The “Materials and Composition” is almost completely wrong. Like all toasters, it's made out of plastic. Only this model has a plate on each side that looks like polished metal, the reason why Yvonne took a shine to it. But what size slits? What power? We're too polite to upset you with things like that. It proved to be 15 cm and 1400 W, rather less than I had hoped for, and less than the old toaster (16.5 cm, 1550 W). But, contrary to esr's and Mark's experience, the thing seems to do what I want. It doesn't happen often that I'm easier to satisfy.

While writing this article, I got a popup from Target's web site asking for feedback. Gladly!

You could include specifications in your descriptions. The descriptions I have seen are superficial, irrelevant, incomplete and wrong. See http://www.lemis.com/grog/diary-mar2019.php#D-20190321-013139 for publicly visible comments.

Thursday, 21 March 2019 Dereel Images for 21 March 2019
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Correcting Google Maps
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

I'm gradually coming to the realization that GUIs are more difficult than I can understand. I completely lack an overview over Android and iOS, and menu structures in Microsoft and similar baffle me.

Am I stupid? No, only stubborn, I think: I expect to be able to understand them. Most users of these devices, I suspect, learn individual tricks from others, and never understand the overall structure (you could even claim that this applies for the developers).

Today I had another issue, related to my photos of the Solanum laciniatum. I took them down Harrisons Road, but Google Maps claims that it's Stones Road. It does that for the eastern end of Bliss Road too.


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190321/big/Harrisons-Road.jpeg
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OK, I can fix that. Just select “Report an error” on the map. Oh. It's gone. Wasn't it there once? Mess around and finally find “Feedback”. OK, feedback that I can't find “Report an error”. Oh. It's now under “Feedback”. OK, report wrong road name. Mark whole road? Yes, it will do that, according to its definition of “Stones Road”, including the stub end of Bliss Road.

How do I fix that? I still don't know if I can. Marking the “road” selects a mid-point and doesn't appear to allow me to adjust the ends. Dammit, it's better like that. SUBMIT.


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Server error. Please try again”. What a clear error description! So I tried again. And again. And finally with a different browser, which apparently found favour in the eyes of the server. Now let's see what they do with it.


Solanum laciniatum photos
Topic: photography, gardening, opinion Link here

Back to Harrisons Road today and cut off a twig with a few flowers from one of the bushes there. Back home and did some focus stacking, once again not to my satisfaction. Here are out-of-camera photos of one flower that was interesting because it has two stigmata:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190321/big/Solanum-laciniatum-ooC-3.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190321/big/Solanum-laciniatum-ooC-2.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190321/big/Solanum-laciniatum-ooC-4.jpeg
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It's still not as sharp as I'd like; I need even more depth of field. And it's a real pain trying to estimate the number of shots needed.

In passing it's interesting to note the use of flash. I had two possibilities: the studio flash at full power (400 J) or my ring flash at 1/16 power. The former would have given me enough light for f/8 at 1:1 magnification (really v/16), while the latter gave me enough light for f/16 (v/32). But the real reason was that I didn't think much of what would happen to the studio flash tubes after potentially hundreds of full power flashes.


Dan Murphy second guesses
Topic: food and drink, technology, opinion Link here

Email from a Dan Murphy's today, offering me a case of Adelaide Hills Sauvignon blanc wine for a price that I'm prepared to pay, shipped to my door. Clearly something has triggered their offer. Was it the three individual bottles that I bought last week? Or somehow feedback from the seller of the wine I bought on eBay? In any case, worth trying out, so I ordered one.


Not these tones!
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

Now my old phone is back up and running, including the SIM card that I bought for Ruth Viebrock last November, the obvious thing was to set the ring tone. OK, try to get the Carl Maria von Weber's Andante e rondo ongarese ring tone that I'm using on the other phone. Uploaded it. Tried to set it. Not to be seen. It seems that I need to press ADD at the bottom of the screen on this device, and then somehow find the /storage/sdcard0/Music/ directory. The Android way seems to be to look for what the music player knows, but that wasn't much. In the end I tried the time-honoured (and Android-deprecated) method of tree climbing. One more brown mark for Android.

But that's not ideal. Two phones with the same ring tone? That way madness lies. OK, what else can I use? I thought of various Schubert melodies from „Die schöne Müllerin“, but then it occurred to me: the choral introduction in the last movement of Beethoven 9: „O Freunde, nicht diese Töne“ (“Oh friends, not these tones”).

OK, how do I do that? First I need something less clunky than what I had used before (mplayer and ffmpeg). Google search for “FreeBSD graphical audio editor”, and discovered that that's the purpose of audacity. OK, there's no point trying to install it on my down-rev eureka. Does it work on eureso? Yes, no issues. Well, one: I don't have any audio output for eureso. OK, try on teevee. It was already installed, if that's the word:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/2) ~ 10 -> audacity
(Audacity:83821): Gtk-ERROR **: 18:05:17.385: GTK+ 2.x symbols detected. Using GTK+ 2.x and GTK+ 3 in the same process is not supported
Trace/BPT trap (core dumped)

What went wrong there? OK, time for a ports upgrade. And at the end I had about the worst situation I could imagine:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/2) /usr/ports/distfiles 12 -> swissclassic
Shared object "libva-x11.so.2" not found, required by "mpv"
1371010 -rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  1806056 23 Feb 12:35 /usr/local/bin/mpv
Shared object "libva-x11.so.2" not found, required by "mpv"
=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/2) /usr/ports/distfiles 17 -> chrome
Shared object "libva.so.2" not found, required by "libavcodec.so.58"
=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/2) /usr/ports/distfiles 18 -> mplayer
Shared object "libva.so.2" not found, required by "libavcodec.so.58"

None of the important ports worked any more. Where did libva.so.2 go?

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/2) /usr/ports/distfiles 19 -> locate libva.so
/usr/local/lib/libva.so
/usr/local/lib/libva.so.2
/usr/local/lib/libva.so.2.400.0

And of course nothing was there. Why not? OK, try deinstalling and reinstalling it:

=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/9) /home/grog 12 -> pkg info |grep libva
libva-2.4.0_1                  VAAPI wrapper and dummy driver
libva-glx-2.4.0_1              VAAPI wrapper for GLX
=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/9) /home/grog 13 -> pkg delete libva-2.4.0_1
Checking integrity... done (0 conflicting)
Deinstallation has been requested for the following 25 packages (of 0 packages in the universe):

Installed packages to be REMOVED:
        libva-2.4.0_1
        ffmpeg-4.1.1_10,1
        libva-glx-2.4.0_1
        vlc-3.0.6_8,4
        libxine-1.2.9_7
        kodi-17.6_9
        mpv-0.29.1_5,1
        openjfx8-devel-8.u172.b11_6,1
        libdlna-0.2.3_11
        gstreamer1-libav-1.14.4_2
        mlt-6.12.0_2
        transcode-1.1.7_38
        opencv-3.4.1_15
        mplayer-1.3.0.20181224_3
        mencoder-1.3.0.20181224_4
        kf5-kfilemetadata-5.56.0_1
        firefox-esr-60.6.0,1
        chromium-72.0.3626.121_1
        xine-0.99.9_6
        gstreamer1-plugins-core-1.14
        mlt-qt5-6.12.0_1
        frei0r-plugins-opencv-1.6.1_1
        libpurple-2.13.0
        pidgin-2.13.0
        frei0r-plugins-1.6.1_1

Number of packages to be removed: 25

The operation will free 868 MiB.

Proceed with deinstalling packages? [Y/n]: n

That way madness lies! How about upgrading it?

=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/9) /home/grog 14 -> pkg upgrade libva-2.4.0_1
Updating FreeBSD repository catalogue...
FreeBSD repository is up to date.
All repositories are up to date.
Checking integrity... done (0 conflicting)
Your packages are up to date.

Something's seriously wrong. I have the log of the port upgrade process. I wonder if that will shed any light on the problem. In the meantime, is there a way to remove a package without removing its dependencies? I know a way, but it's not canonical:

=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/9) /home/grog 21 -> cd /usr/ports/multimedia/libva
=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/9) /usr/ports/multimedia/libva 22 -> make deinstall
===>  Deinstalling for libva
===>   Deinstalling libva-2.4.0_1
Checking integrity... done (0 conflicting)
Deinstallation has been requested for the following 1 packages (of 0 packages in the universe):

Installed packages to be REMOVED:
        libva-2.4.0_1

Number of packages to be removed: 1
[1/1] Deinstalling libva-2.4.0_1...
[1/1] Deleting files for libva-2.4.0_1:   0%
libva-2.4.0_1: missing file /usr/local/include/va/va.h
[1/1] Deleting files for libva-2.4.0_1:   2%
libva-2.4.0_1: missing file /usr/local/include/va/va_backend.h
[1/1] Deleting files for libva-2.4.0_1:   4%
(etc)

After that I was able to reinstall the library, and things worked again.

=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/9) /usr/ports/multimedia/libva 23 -> pkg install libva
Updating FreeBSD repository catalogue...
FreeBSD repository is up to date.
All repositories are up to date.
pkg: mencoder has a missing dependency: lame
pkg: transcode has a missing dependency: lame
pkg: abcde has a missing dependency: lame
Checking integrity... done (0 conflicting)
The following 1 package(s) will be affected (of 0 checked):

New packages to be INSTALLED:
        libva: 2.4.0_1

Number of packages to be installed: 1

Proceed with this action? [Y/n]: y
[1/1] Installing libva-2.4.0_1...
[1/1] Extracting libva-2.4.0_1: 100%
=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/9) /usr/ports/multimedia/libva 24 -> l /usr/local/lib/libva.so*
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  153,232 16 Mar 12:08 /usr/local/lib/libva.so
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  153,232 16 Mar 12:08 /usr/local/lib/libva.so.2
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  153,232 16 Mar 12:08 /usr/local/lib/libva.so.2.400.0

Almost:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/8) /src/Music/MP3/Beethoven/Symphonies 6 -> audacity 04-Beethoven_-Symphony-#9-In-D-Minor\,-Op.-125\,-_Choral_---4.-Presto\,-Allegro-Assai.mp3
(Audacity:83821): Gtk-ERROR **: 18:05:17.385: GTK+ 2.x symbols detected. Using GTK+ 2.x and GTK+ 3 in the same process is not supported
Trace/BPT trap (core dumped)

All that pain for nothing! And how do I fix it?

As if that wasn't enough pain, I discovered that I also had a functional (if somewhat down-rev) version of audacity on eureka, so the whole effort hadn't been necessary. Played around with that. Another opaque GUI to get to know, but it looks as if it will do what I want, once I understand how to use it. The clip is from 5:39.25 to 6:13.67 on the Christopher Hogwood recording.


Friday, 22 March 2019 Dereel → Sulky → Dereel Images for 22 March 2019
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Bugs in office
Topic: animals Link here

Into the office this morning and turned on the monitor for eureso. It looked different:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190322/big/Spider-on-monitor-1.jpeg
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That's some kind of spider. Huntsman? Maybe, but for a huntsman it was quite small.


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190322/big/Spider-on-monitor-4.jpeg
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It also didn't move for the whole time I observed it, though much later it was gone. And not for the first time I've noted that this kind of photo needs more preparation. I really needed a flash of some kind, but that would have reflected.


Multipurpose developer
Topic: photography, food and drink, opinion Link here

Interesting article in Digital Photo Review today: a beer that you can use to develop film (or should that be a developer that you can drink?). It seems appropriate for some beers I have had: barely drinkable, it's good to know that you can use them for something else.


Arne Koets clinic again
Topic: animals, photography, opinion Link here

Yvonne off today to another (maybe the last) Arne Koets clinic, this time in a place that I had never heard of: Sulky. It seems that there is a certain amount of bad blood amongst the riding community about the arrangements, and that Arne is also not very amused.

Yvonne was on in the afternoon, and her slot was postponed. She wanted me to come and take videos, but somehow I misunderstood and didn't arrive until half way through her lesson. The place isn't much to look at:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190322/big/Sulky-arena-detail.jpeg
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The photography was not very successful. Once again it's one of these horrible arenas with a roof and no sides, meaning that getting any kind of exposure is a matter of luck. And it seems that Arne had said most of what he wanted to say to Yvonne, so I didn't get much of that. And I've gradually come to the conclusion that the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is no good for videos of horses. For all they hype, the autofocus is useless; I might as well have used a mobile phone. About the most interesting thing was Chris Bahlo with her five-legged stallion and mediaeval saddle:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190322/big/Five-legged-horse-2-detail.jpeg
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Wedding anniversary
Topic: general, history, food and drink, opinion Link here

We've been married 34 years! And we were reminded of that by a postcard that we had sent at the time, one of the photos that Bev had brought along earlier this month:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/19850322/big/Hochzeitsannonce.jpeg
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Times have changed since then. How about a good meal the way we did them in those days: fillet steak with garlic butter, followed by hot ice cream with raspberries? Did that and discovered that our tastes have become more refined in the course of the decades (millennia?). Tasted OK, but we can do better now.


Saturday, 23 March 2019 Dereel Images for 23 March 2019
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Understanding solar energy quotes
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

After my phone call with Tomas Kucera on Tuesday I received two quotes for an installation with Ingeteam inverter. As he said, the price was considerably lower. But what do I get for that? I've found the quotes (each about 12 pages with various graphics, and each in marginally different formats) to be very hard to compare, and he hadn't included the updated quote 423 until I reminded him yesterday.

The quotes are really difficult to understand; I suspect that Tomas doesn't either. They also don't seem to match reality. In particular:

I'm left with the distinct impression that Tomas is having difficulty with his quotation software.

Date       Quotation       Panel       Average       Battery       Battery rating       Battery rating       Exported       Grid       "Solar used"       Inverter       Inverter       Price       Comments
      number       rating (kW)       output (kW)       type       (kWh, gross)       (kWh, net)       (kWh)       input (kWh)                   output       after rebates
8 February 2019             5.7       20.5       Tesla Powerwall 2       13.5       10.8                         Fronius       5.0 kW       18,245.00       Cola Solar
24 February 2019       423       10.8       42.9       LG Chem RESU 10 (2)       19.6       17.64       8       15       89%       Fronius 8.2-1/Selectronic SPMC482-AU       8.2 kW       27,246.30       conflicting inverter specs
24 February 2019       423       10.8       42.9       BYD B-Box Pro 13.8       13.8       12.42       9       17       87%       Selectronic SPMC482-AU       8.2 kW       23,883.60       The one I chose
15 March 2019       423       10.8       42.9       LG Chem RESU 10       9.8       8.82       9       17       87%       Selectronic SPMC482-AU       8.2 kW       27,246.30       Same as first 423, but only one battery!
15 March 2019       487       10.8       42.9       BYD B-Plus L 14                   8       16       87%       Selectronic SPMC482-AU       8.2 kW       28,786.30       Repeat of 423/2, $5000 more expensive; incomplete details
15 March 2019       498       10.8       42.9       BYD B-Plus H 6.4       6.4       6.4       12       22             Ingeteam SUN 1Play-6TL       6 kW       18,562.30       No "solar used"
21 March 2019       510       10.8       42.9       BYD B-Plus H 6.4 (2)       12.8       12.8       8       17       94%       Ingeteam SUN 1Play-6TL       6 kW       24,172.30
23 March 2019       498       10.8       42.9       BYD B-Plus H 6.4       6.4       6.4       12       22       91%       Ingeteam SUN 1Play-6TL       6 kW       18,562.30       Repeat of 15 March
23 March 2019       510       10.8       42.9       BYD B-Plus H 6.4 (2)       12.8       12.8       8       17       94%       Ingeteam SUN 1Play-6TL       6 kW       24,172.30       Repeat of 21 March
23 March 2019       423       10.8       42.9       BYD B-Box Pro 13.8       13.8       13.25       9       17       89%       Selectronic SPMC482-AU       8.2 kW       29,039.30       Same equipment as 24 February, $5,155/22% more expensive
23 March 2019       528       10.8       42.9       BYD B-Plus H 6.4 (3)       19.2       19.2       6       15       95%       Ingeteam SUN 1Play-6TL       6 kW       30,466.00       Missing important battery information

On the other hand, the only comparable quote that I received, from Cola Solar, was much more expensive. Compare it with quote 498 of 15 March: half the power, though nearly 70% more storage; would that ever charge up?

That's clearly not the last word on this issue. I've put the data above into a separate page to be able to update it as I (hopefully) progress. At least writing this down has made things easier for me.


Sunday, 24 March 2019 Dereel Images for 24 March 2019
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Power fail!
Topic: general, technology Link here

Woke up at 23:45 and discovered that the power had failed. The primary UPS was still running, suggesting that it had just happened, but it had been out for a minute or two, so the likelihood of it coming back before the UPSs died was remote. Round the house and powered down the computers.


eureka upgrade, attempt 1
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

So when I got up in the morning, no computer was running. An ideal time to migrate eureka to the new disk that I had prepared for it. Now that the computers are on the desktop, moving the disks was trivial. Fire up and into single-user mode.

Damn! No response from the keyboard! It seems that I've had this before: the Sun Type 7 keyboard no longer works at boot time! After a couple of attempts and attaching a new keyboard (which apparently also didn't want to work), let it run into multi-user mode; it still didn't have any network connectivity (or so I thought), and the new /home file system wasn't mounted anyway.

The first step was to run my last rsync to get the new /home image fully up to date with the old disk (both still in the machine), keeping an eye on the time. Across the network it had taken about 90 minutes, mainly comparing the unchanged disk contents (about 1.7 TB). And while I watched, I discovered “good news, bad news”: fsck was running against the new /home.

Why? I thought I had powered the system down, so there shouldn't have been any need for the fsck. But that's still good news: it means that background fsck works on the new disk, while it refused on the old one.

While the rsync ran (it took a little over an hour), checked what I still needed to do to get the system up to speed:

  1. Re-enable soft update journaling on /home, once the rsync is done.
  2. Upgrade /etc/fstab and /etc/rc.conf, which I did immediately.
  3. Update /etc/exports.
  4. Find the X config files, which I hadn't put on this disk.

But the biggest issue was: install BIND. For some reason I had forgotten to do so. But how? The system is set up to talk to the local name server, and without it I couldn't access the net: I had cut off the branch I had been sitting on.

OK, change /etc/resolv.conf? In principle dhclient should set it if it's not there. But no, renaming it and restarting dhclient didn't help. OK, isn't 8.8.8.8 a name server? Tried that, and still no luck.

Damn, that's just too much work. Let's put the old disk back in eureka, reboot and frob /etc/fstab.

But that wasn't as simple as I expected. Shutdown showed me something I've never seen before:


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What happened there? More to the point, though: shutdown time was 9:55:00, and this photo was taken at 9:57:21, over two minutes later. Why hasn't it shut down? Waited a bit longer and noted disk access sounds from the machine, which proved to come from the old /home.

After a few more minutes, decided that I didn't need to worry too much about its contents, especially since I hadn't written any data to it, and rebooted. All was well. Now I can lick my wounds and try again.

But there I have two issues: why did the system hang shutting down, and what's with 8.8.8.8 as a name server? 8.8.8.8 definitely is a name server:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/3) ~ 29 -> nslookup 8.8.8.8 8.8.8.8
Server:         8.8.8.8
Address:        8.8.8.8#53

Non-authoritative answer:
8.8.8.8.in-addr.arpa    name = google-public-dns-a.google.com.

Authoritative answers can be found from:

Interesting that there seem to be no authoritative servers, not even itself. But why couldn't I access it earlier? Did I maybe not have proper network access after all? I think that I was able to ping 8.8.8.8. So why does it work now and not then? Does the search entry in /etc/resolv.conf confuse it?


Microsoft: not to be outdone
Topic: technology Link here

When I shut the machines down just before midnight, I didn't bother with dischord, my Microsoft box: it was hibernated, so it should Just Restart. But when I tried to access it (via remote desktop) nothing happened.

Damn, turn on the monitor and take a look. Some display that took one look at me and disappeared, to be replaced by another:


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That way madness lies. Cancel!


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It seems that the madness had already set in. OK, let the thing run. If it fails, Easus should be able to reinstate the last backup. How old is it? Must be this year, anyway.

Carried on doing other things. Two hours later it was still showing the same display. Hang? Pressed some button (clearly not Cancel) and got an immediate response:


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That information at the top (3/14/20 3:57:18 AM (GMT)) is a date in US format and a time in 12 hour British time. Clearly not software that takes great effort in being consistent. And I had to scroll through a tiny screen to the very bottom to read:


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At least the time (6176922 ms) looks plausible. That's 103 odd minutes. But I don't believe it. It didn't fail because of an inconsistency; it failed when I looked at it.

OK, try booting. Booted fine, no issues, as I would have expected.

Bloody Microsoft!


Monday, 25 March 2019 Dereel Images for 25 March 2019
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Understanding solar energy, part n
Topic: Stones Road house, technology, opinion Link here

I've spent even more time looking at the quotes that I analyzed on Saturday. The more I look at them, the more questions I have.

The first was one that puzzled me at the beginning: Tomas told me that the Selectronic inverter had an output rating of 63 A, but the quote specified 8 kW, or maybe 8.2 kW. That doesn't match. OK, let's go looking at the specs, which he had supplied, here an excerpt:

 
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The model he had quoted was the SPMC482, not 8 kW or 8.2 kW, but 7.5 continuous, though it can go up to 18 kW for short periods of time (the first two lines, representing 30 seconds and one minute; the 8 kW are for 60 minutes and presumably longer).

But this is all wrong! The 63 A are the input current of the SPMC1201, a different model, which has 120 V input. The SPMC482 has 48 V input, and thus requires 156 A at full load, which interestingly corresponds to 7.488 kW; clearly they're not very attentive to detail at Selectronic either.

And the Ingeteam inverter? The specs (PDF) state a maximum output power of 6 kW, current 26.2 A, implying 229 V. I suppose that's close enough in this industry; a closer figure would be 26.08 A, which you can't round to 26.2 A. Recommended PV array power range is 6.3-7 kWp, whatever that means. This page explains: kWp is the peak power of a solar array with an irradiance of 1 kW/m², and the basis for all panel specifications. So effectively kW.

But Tomas has quoted 10.8 kW(p). How can that work? Possibly the inverter can take that kind of overload, but my guess is that it just won't process all the power.

Then there's the question why the original quote includes two different inverters, the Fronius (“the communicative inverter for optimised energy management”), and the Selectronic (“multi-mode inverter”)? I found an installation manual that showed how to connect and configure them, showing that they do indeed support IP, but that they don't understand it very well; completely separate configuration for “Internet” and “non-Internet” systems. And they use standard Cat 5 cables with RJ45 connectors, but wired differently from Ethernet cables and running RS485 protocol. I wonder how old this design is. Some of the stranger things are:

Tomas had said that we can run everything off the battery system and only fall back to grid when the batteries are exhausted. The issue I had have there from the beginning is what happens if the batteries are exhausted and there's a power failure? But there's clearly another issue: what happens if we demand more power than the system can deliver? Our induction cooktop alone can draw 7.4 kW. The air conditioner can draw 4.7 kW (with a cos φ of about 0.6), and many other devices use more than 2 kW. Can the inverters supply the remainder of the power from the grid? From what I've seen, I doubt it.

And that's about as far as I got today. This is far more complicated than I thought, and what I've learnt so far definitely says “Don't trust what others say, find out for yourself”.


Solar electricity: contractual issues
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Apart from the technical issues with solar power, I'm still upset about the change in price. Called up Consumer Affairs Victoria today (phone 1300 55 81 81) and got confirmation of that I thought: an unjustified price increase after the event is breach of contract, and I could take the affair to VCAT.

In passing, calling CAV was interesting: reminder again and again to check the web site, and finally “all our operators are busy. Please press 1 if you want a call back”. OK, did that, hung up barely in time for the call back. Maybe callbacks should be easier to ask for; it saves a lot of time.


More disk issues
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

While copying files from eureka to teevee today, teevee froze. What happened? Hard to say without a display, which was turned off. Nothing for it but the Big Red Button.

OK, when I come up again, how about setting Soft Update Journaling? That would make recovery better. But it didn't quite work the way I expected: there was a file /.sujournal on the root file system, although journaling wasn't enabled, so tunefs refused. And it seems that at some point in the past I had disabled fsck on the /spool file system, so I had to run that first. That was scary:


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Can't read sectors? A dreaded hardware issue with the disk? No, I didn't read the first line:


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Right, unlike all the others, this machine doesn't have a /home file system. It's /spool, and that worked fine. But I still don't know why it crashed.


Tuesday, 26 March 2019 Dereel Images for 26 March 2019
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Black cockatoos
Topic: animals, photography Link here

This part of Australia sees large swarms of Sulphur-crested cockatoos from time to time. There are also Yellow-tailed black cockatoos, but I have never seen a swarm like this:


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Of course it's not easy to get photos like that, and the best I could do as close-ups was:


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With any luck they'll return. I should have a camera ready.


Bloody kangaroos!
Topic: animals Link here

While watching the news on TV, Leonid started jumping about excitedly. It didn't take long to find out why:


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To believe the camera, that was about 12 m from the house. Out to chase it away, which took a while, but finally it hopped over the front fence:


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And then I could let a rather disappointed Leonid out into the garden:


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Planting epazote
Topic: gardening, food and drink Link here

Probably the most unusual ingredient of frijoles refritos is epazote, a herb that I have never seen. I've been using a jar of dried epazote now for over 10 years, and it was never very good: it's full of twigs and things. So why not grow it? Found the seeds on eBay and ordered them, not without confusion at eBay.

Today I got round to planting them. But how? There's no reason to believe that they're complicated, but the right conditions are still right. They're tiny seeds, like mustard seed in miniature (probably about ⅓ of the diameter). Put them in seed raising mix on top of potting mix, then covered the right hand two (north side) with a thin layer of seed raising mix, and left them on the surface of the other two:


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Wednesday, 27 March 2019 Dereel Images for 27 March 2019
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Panoramas with mobile phones
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Question recently: can you make 360° panoramas with a mobile phone?

Sure. Out to find some proof. First question: where do you find a lens hood for a mobile phone? Without that, I can't hope to get good photos into the sun. So I went in the shade of the shade area and took a series from there, hand held. Repeated the sequence with my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15 mm f/1.7 ASPH.,, which probably has the closest angle of view to the phone, and is short enough to not require the pano bracket.

The results were pretty much as I expected:


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