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Monday, 1 March 2021 Dereel Images for 1 March 2021
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Where did summer go?
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

It's autumn already! What happened to summer? The lawn didn't even go brown.

Time to compare my records. Oh. I did exactly that 10 years ago, also commenting on how cool the summer had been. How does it compare to this year?

mysql> select year (date), sum(rain), min(outside_temp),  avg(outside_temp), max(outside_temp) from observations where month(date) = 2  group by year(date);

+-------------+-------------------+-------------------+--------------------+-------------------+
| year (date) | sum(rain)         | min(outside_temp) | avg(outside_temp)  | max(outside_temp) |
+-------------+-------------------+-------------------+--------------------+-------------------+
|        2010 |                 0 |               6.4 | 20.957976224549473 |              39.9 |
|        2011 |                 0 |               4.5 | 18.442594489090443 |              39.2 |
|        2012 |                 0 |                 4 |  19.56120662206749 |              41.8 |
|        2013 |                 0 |               7.3 | 20.824345244620062 |              39.2 |
|        2014 |                 0 |               6.4 |  20.42918394242741 |              44.4 |
|        2015 |                 0 |               8.5 |  19.67416929141292 |                37 |

|        2017 |                 0 |                 4 | 17.930765765417767 |                41 |
|        2018 | 9.900000393390656 |               6.8 | 19.816699835988867 |              38.6 |
|        2019 | 11.70000046491623 |               5.5 |  19.09606348209056 |              40.2 |
|        2020 | 59.70000219345093 |               4.1 | 17.878289471893403 |              33.7 |
|        2021 | 6.600000262260437 |               3.7 | 18.071640634432086 |                36 |
+-------------+-------------------+-------------------+--------------------+-------------------+
11 rows in set (3.48 sec)

From 2010 to 2015 the statistics relate to the Kleins Road property, after that to the Stones Road property, so they're not 100% comparable. Clearly the rain figures for Kleins Road are incorrect. But to my surprise last month was marginally warmer than last year, when I didn't even mention the weather, though the minimum temperature was a little lower. Last year was also much wetter. But the garden looked very different at the end of the months. Here last year and this year:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200229/big/house-from-n.jpeg
Image title: house from n          Dimensions:          15168 x 4773, 14063 kB Display location on map
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210227/small/house-from-n.jpeg
Image title: house from n          Dimensions:          912 x 296, 81 kB
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Oh. It's funny how your memory plays tricks on you.


Paul Gallagher? Who?
Topic: gardening Link here

Knock on the door in mid-morning. Paul Gallagher, the gardener from Jim's Mowing, arriving as if nothing had happened. But he should have been here three weeks ago, and in principle last week, but not (in principle) today, and I hadn't expected to ever see him again. I answered “What do you want here?”, which apparently caught him off guard.

I asked him where he had been, and why he hadn't called back. Ah, it seems that he had forgotten that he had an appointment 3 weeks ago (yes, he did, here), and last week he had been sick. No explanation why he hadn't called to tell me.

Maybe I should at least have let him mow the lawn. But Bryan Ross will be here on Friday, and it did give me considerable satisfaction to send him on his way again. I should call Jim's and tell them about it. He has been here 6 times, and has been a no-show for a further 3.


Wikipedia puzzle
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday I included a link to the Wikipedia page for Nickel-zinc batteries. But what did I get?

Nickel–zinc battery
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Nickel-zinc battery)

Huh? What's that? Redirected from the same spelling? It took a while to realize that the — in the page name is an em-dash, not a hyphen.

Is that correct? I haven't seen it before.


Daily official stupidity
Topic: language, opinion Link here

Found an answer to a question on Quora recently: which countries use the 12 hour clock? The answer included this map:

https://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-7a70a48639a450a46cd8caae5662f872

The red areas claim to show countries which use only the 24 hour clock. What, Australia? Not a hope. The map is wrong. Arguably the 24 hour clock is used in some contexts, though I can't think where, but then the country should be shaded green (“mixed”). So I commented and got confirmation (of course):

https://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-0867df36b7590f1c11190b66a165d236

What an amazing document! What time is implied in the 2nd, 4th and fifth columns? The author thought p.m., but I think it's more likely to be a.m., simply because it's unlikely for trains to arrive in Kalgoorlie at 22:05.

But then there's the other issue: from Southern Cross station to Kalgoorlie is 3,000 km by car, for which Google Maps gives a driving time of 30 hours. It's too polite to give a time by train. How can that be?

Simple: there's a town called Southern Cross between Perth and Kalgoorlie, and it has a railway station. So the times are almost certainly correct, if you can decipher them.

I've always thought it to be really stupid to rename Spencer Street Station to “Southern Cross”, but the fact that there was already a Southern Cross station makes it even more stupid.


Goodbye mecablitz?
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

Once upon a time, the brightest star in camera illumination was Metz, since renamed to Metz Mecatech, the makers of the mecablitz (watch that lower case m) flash units. Over the years I've had no fewer than 6 of them.

But somehow, like so many German photography companies, they have not kept up with the times, and now they appear to be on their last legs. I have a whole slew of URL redirections for this diary. But today none of them worked. No matter which URL on www.metz-mecatech.de I chose, I got an HTTP 403 (“forbidden”) error, even for the home page.

What happened? Google still has a whole list of hits pointing into the domain (and thus breaking). Is it transient, or a portent of the final solution? The state persisted overnight.

Checking the web, it seems that they registered bankruptcy a few months back (“because of Corona”). There's nothing obvious right now, though. You'd think that they could at least have put some information on their web site, since it still appears to be “running”.

Sic transit gloria mundi.


Tuesday, 2 March 2021 Dereel
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Mail configuration issues
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Every day I get messages from my external server lax.lemis.com, like this one:

Date: Mon, 1 Mar 2021 05:30:00 GMT
From: Charlie Root <root@lax.lemis.com>
To: root@lax.lemis.com
Subject: lax.lemis.com monthly run output
Message-Id: <202103010530.1215U0TY066318@lax.lemis.com>

Nothing very interesting, but one point sticks out:

Date: Mon, 1 Mar 2021 05:30:00 GMT

Huh? I don't use no steenking GMT. The system is set to UTC, isn't it?

=== grog@lax (/dev/pts/2) ~ 11 -> date
Tue  2 Mar 2021 01:25:46 UTC

Right. So where did that GMT come from? Something in the postfix configuration file? Couldn't find anything. Google. Nothing useful.

Look at those headers again:

Received: from lax.lemis.com (www.lemis.com [45.32.70.18])
        by eureka.lemis.com (Postfix) with ESMTP id D5280263591
        for <root@lax.lemis.com>; Mon,  1 Mar 2021 16:30:01 +1100 (AEDT)
Received: from lax.lemis.com (localhost [127.0.0.1])
        by lax.lemis.com (Postfix) with ESMTP id 4334A2812A
        for <root@lax.lemis.com>; Mon,  1 Mar 2021 05:30:00 +0000 (UTC)
Received: (from root@localhost)
        by lax.lemis.com (8.15.2/8.15.2/Submit) id 1215U0TY066318
        for root; Mon, 1 Mar 2021 05:30:00 GMT
        (envelope-from root)

The first header (last in the list) shows GMT, the next shows UTC. But what's this (8.15.2/8.15.2/Submit)? That looks like sendmail, not postfix.

I've been running a local mail server for 30 years now, first sendmail, then postfix. I've written books with information about how to set up mail. And somehow I still don't understand what I'm doing. It's not made any easier by the fact that postfix pretends to be sendmail:

=== grog@lax (/dev/pts/2) ~ 14 -> pkg which /usr/local/sbin/sendmail
/usr/local/sbin/sendmail was installed by package postfix-3.4.8,1

Probably the big issue is that the postfix installation doesn't do the job properly, and since FreeBSD still comes with sendmail, I have a combination of the two. Yet Another thing to ponder.


Still more mail puzzles
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

More spam:

From fishingov3@mail-relay.msc.com  Mon Mar  1 23:42:18 2021
Return-Path: <fishingov3@mail-relay.msc.com>
X-Original-To: ct@lemis.com
Delivered-To: ct@lemis.com
Received: from lax.lemis.com (www.lemis.com [45.32.70.18])
        by eureka.lemis.com (Postfix) with ESMTP id 9C6D12635BE
        for <ct@lemis.com>; Mon,  1 Mar 2021 23:42:17 +1100 (AEDT)
Received: from 79-100-162-206.ip.btc-net.bg (79-100-162-206.ip.btc-net.bg [79.100.162.206])
        by lax.lemis.com (Postfix) with ESMTP id 3C85828034;
        Mon,  1 Mar 2021 12:42:15 +0000 (UTC)
Received: from [213.80.138.183] (helo=rxeb.ruuc.club)
        by 79-100-162-206.ip.btc-net.bg with esmtpa (Exim 4.85)
        (envelope-from carpetbaggedld506@mail-relay.msc.com)
        id 5iae8zjv2yf6bjf.9.20210301144213
        for freebsdg@lemis.com; Mon, 1 Mar 2021 14:42:13 +0200
Received: from  (
        [124.175.187.15])        by 79-100-162-206.ip.btc-net.bg with SMTP id
        C897B19FBB; Mon, 1 Mar 2021 14:42:13 +0200
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 2021 14:42:13 +0200
Message-ID: <AA9a.eC01.bAe9193EE8.A1377@ngbw.gaws.com>
From: "MSC Inc." <Freddie.Dean@msc.com>
To: freebsdg@lemis.com
Subject: Ocean Freight Statement Of Outstanding As Of 03_01_2021

Look at the sender address: fishingov3@mail-relay.msc.com. Doesn't that smell of phishing? Still, not a problem. I have different mail IDs for everywhere I sign up to, so I can find out who spread the mail address. freebsdg@lemis.com? Who's that?

Nobody! The email address doesn't exist, and I was able to confirm that mail to that address bounced. So how did this one get through? It wasn't until much more careful analysis that I saw the

X-Original-To: ct@lemis.com
Delivered-To: ct@lemis.com

OK, that was c't magazine from Heise. I don't use that any more, so just remove it.

Oh. That address doesn't exist either. So how did this message get through?


USA: Technological shot in foot
Topic: politics, technology, opinion Link here

Interesting statistics from Statista today:

https://cdn.statcdn.com/Infographic/images/normal/20095.jpeg

The 5G market is dominated by Asian companies, first and foremost Huawei. And the USA has banned them. Not surprisingly, US takeup of 5G technology is correspondingly slow. Bravo, Donald Trump!


Trump: Back to the future?
Topic: politics, history, multimedia, opinion Link here

We watched Back to the Future Part II on TV last night. The apocalyptic future took place in 2015. What a horrible place! But somehow it looked eerily familiar. Biff, the bad man, bore an eerie similarity with Donald Trump, and even his Biff building reminded of Trump Tower. But probably the most obvious similarity was the personality cult.

Who says we hadn't been warned?


Wednesday, 3 March 2021 Dereel Images for 3 March 2021
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What's a frypan?
Topic: food and drink, language, opinion Link here

I cook a lot with frying pans, but they seem to be a lost cause nowadays: they have been replaced by “frypans”. How do you pronounce that? With some pronounced US American accent? OED explains some of the confusion with a quote from 1963:

The term fry pan rarely occurs before the 1950s. When it does, it is often as the double fry or omelette pan... But the advent of the electric fryers marks a revival of fry pans.

So 50 years ago it was an electric frying pan like the Sunbeam Frymaster that I bought on 10 October 1967. That differed significantly from manual frying pans in that the heat output was greatly limited. It's interesting that they don't seem to be around any more. The term "Frymaster" now appears to refer to deep fryers.

But today ALDI had frying pans on special. And looking at their offerings, I can have it both ways:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210303/small/Frypans.jpeg
Image title: Frypans
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Three frypans, a frying pan and a frying pan storage rack (does it also take frypans?). Why that? My best guess is that the terminology comes from the manufacturer, not ALDI.


A new frying pan
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Do I need a new frying pan? No, we already have no fewer than 16 in active service, along with 3 paelleras and a wok. And then there are another 5 that we no longer use.

But one of the frying pans (and not frypans) that ALDI had on offer today was special:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210303/small/Frypans-detail.jpeg
Image title: Frypans detail
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A big pan with a glass lid! I don't have one of those, but I need one. OK, just one more...

So now we have a total of 22 fry.*pans. High time to get rid of some of them, along with another 7 old saucepans, even the one that, in a fit of pique, I threw across the kitchen in the Frog Pond in April 1978 because it dared to burn my ghee rice, breaking off the end of the handle in the process:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210303/small/Frying-pans.jpeg
Image title: Frying pans          Dimensions:          1005 x 269, 100 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210303/small/Saucepans.jpeg
Image title: Saucepans          Dimensions:          826 x 327, 100 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210303/small/Saucepans-detail.jpeg
Image title: Saucepans detail
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Hopefully they'll find a good home.


Trump: back from the future
Topic: politics, history, multimedia, opinion Link here

How about that, yesterday's observation about Back to the Future Part II and Donald Trump was no coincidence. To quote this report,

In a new interview with The Daily Beast [behind a paywall], writer and producer Gale explained how Trump inspired the troublesome teen [Biff Tannen]. This admission came after the outlet pointed out parallels between Biff and the POTUS, with the character having used his fortune exclusively for himself.

Asked if Trump was on his mind during the writing process, he replied: “We thought about it when we made the movie! Are you kidding?”

In passing, this is the first I have heard of the New Musical Express in nearly 60 years. They seem to have become the enemy (with emphasis on the last syllable, as in French).


More spam relaying investigations
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So how did I get spam sent to a non-existent address? Time to check the logs on lax, the only visible external MX:

Mar  1 12:42:14 lax postfix/smtpd[68786]: connect from 79-100-162-206.ip.btc-net.bg[79.100.162.206]
Mar  1 12:42:15 lax postfix/smtpd[68786]: 3C85828034: client=79-100-162-206.ip.btc-net.bg[79.100.162.206]
Mar  1 12:42:15 lax postfix/cleanup[68789]: 3C85828034: message-id=<AA9a.eC01.bAe9193EE8.A1377@ngbw.gaws.com>
Mar  1 12:42:16 lax postfix/qmgr[9196]: 3C85828034: from=<fishingov3@mail-relay.msc.com>, size=50473, nrcpt=2 (queue active)
Mar  1 12:42:17 lax postfix/smtpd[68786]: disconnect from 79-100-162-206.ip.btc-net.bg[79.100.162.206] ehlo=1 mail=1 rcpt=2 data=1 quit=1 commands=6
Mar  1 12:42:17 lax postfix/smtp[68790]: 3C85828034: to=<freebsdg@lemis.com>, relay=mx0.lemis.com[121.200.11.253]:25, delay=2.5, delays=1.6/0.01/0.65/0.24, dsn=5.1.1, status=bounced (host mx0.lemis.com[121.200.11.253] said: 550 5.1.1 <freebsdg@lemis.com>: Recipient address rejected: User unknown in local recipient table (in reply to RCPT TO command))
Mar  1 12:42:18 lax postfix/smtp[68790]: 3C85828034: to=<ct@lemis.com>, relay=mx0.lemis.com[121.200.11.253]:25, delay=3.4, delays=1.6/0.01/0.65/1.1, dsn=2.0.0, status=sent (250 2.0.0 Ok: queued as 9C6D12635BE)
Mar  1 12:42:18 lax postfix/cleanup[68789]: 9E67A28135: message-id=<20210301124218.9E67A28135@lax.lemis.com>
Mar  1 12:42:18 lax postfix/bounce[68791]: 3C85828034: sender non-delivery notification: 9E67A28135
Mar  1 12:42:18 lax postfix/qmgr[9196]: 9E67A28135: from=<>, size=2944, nrcpt=1 (queue active)
Mar  1 12:42:18 lax postfix/qmgr[9196]: 3C85828034: removed

OK, so the To: header included freebsdg@lemis.com, but it was rejected. Only ct@lemis.com was accepted. But why?

What about the mx0 (eureka) logs?

Mar  1 23:42:17 eureka postfix/smtpd[85149]: connect from www.lemis.com[45.32.70.18]
Mar  1 23:42:17 eureka postfix/smtpd[85149]: 9C6D12635BE: client=www.lemis.com[45.32.70.18]
Mar  1 23:42:17 eureka postfix/smtpd[85149]: 9C6D12635BE: reject: RCPT from www.lemis.com[45.32.70.18]: 550 5.1.1 <freebsdg@lemis.com>: Recipient address rejected: User unknown in local recipient table; from=<fishingov3@mail-relay.msc.com> to=<freebsdg@lemis.com> proto=ESMTP helo=<lax.lemis.com>
Mar  1 23:42:17 eureka postfix/cleanup[85152]: 9C6D12635BE: message-id=<AA9a.eC01.bAe9193EE8.A1377@ngbw.gaws.com>
Mar  1 23:42:18 eureka postfix/smtpd[85149]: disconnect from www.lemis.com[45.32.70.18] ehlo=1 mail=1 rcpt=1/2 data=1 quit=1 commands=5/6
Mar  1 23:42:18 eureka postfix/qmgr[16506]: 9C6D12635BE: from=<fishingov3@mail-relay.msc.com>, size=50652, nrcpt=1 (queue active)
Mar  1 23:42:18 eureka postfix/local[85154]: 9C6D12635BE: to=<groggyhimself@lemis.com>, orig_to=<ct@lemis.com>, relay=local, delay=1.1, delays=0.95/0.01/0/0.11, dsn=2.0.0, status=sent (delivered to command:  exec /usr/local/bin/procmail -t 2>>/home/grog/Mail/procmailerr || exit 75)
Mar  1 23:42:18 eureka postfix/qmgr[16506]: 9C6D12635BE: removed

So it knows ct@lemis.com, and it knows that it gets sent to me. But how? It's not in the virtual table. Another sendmail issue? It shouldn't be: the ball is clearly now in postfix's court. And try as I may, I couldn't find any reference to ct@ in the mail configuration.

What am I missing?


Free tools?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Walking the dogs the other day, I found a screwdriver in the middle of the road. Presumably it had fallen off a truck, and the likelihood of the owner coming back to collect it was minimal. So I kept it.

Then today it happened again:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210303/small/Free-tools-1.jpeg
Image title: Free tools 1
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210303/small/Free-tools-2.jpeg
Image title: Free tools 2
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That one looks almost completely new. It's from ALDI and surprisingly like one I have. Somehow I'm reminded of the dead mobile phone I found in the paddock 15 years ago:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20060917/small/phone.jpeg
Image title: phone
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Hopefully the cause isn't the same.


Thursday, 4 March 2021 Dereel Images for 4 March 2021
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ct@: Found
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've been puzzling about the mail alias ct@lemis.com for a couple of days now. It's not in my /usr/local/etc/postfix/virtual file, and it's not in /etc/mail/aliases. But the mail gets through!

The waters are clearly muddied by postfix's insistence on pretending that it's sendmail. But everything I see suggests that things are installed correctly.

It seems clear that somewhere there's mention of ct. But where? What happens if I run newaliases? Firstly, is it even the correct newaliases?

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/3) /etc/mail 496 -> wh newaliases
3468544 lrwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  32  4 Oct  2016 /usr/local/bin/newaliases -> ../../../usr/local/sbin/sendmail
3054005 lrwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  21 25 Nov  2015 /usr/bin/newaliases -> /usr/sbin/mailwrapper

Yes, despite the names, that's clearly postfix. So...

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/3) /etc/mail 497 -> mv aliases.db aliases.db-old
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/3) /etc/mail 498 -> newaliases
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/3) /etc/mail 499 -> ls -l alias*
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel    1,596 11 Feb  2020 aliases
----------  1 root  wheel  131,072 30 Dec  2013 aliases.db-old

No aliases.db! What happened there? It put it in the wrong directory! man newaliases doesn't help: firstly, it redirects to the main postfix man page, where I read:

       newaliases
              Initialize the alias database.  If no input  file  is  specified
              (with  the  -oA  option,  see  below), the program processes the
              file(s) specified with the alias_database configuration  parame-
              ter.   If  no alias database type is specified, the program uses
              the type specified with the default_database_type  configuration
              parameter.  This mode of operation is implemented by running the
              postalias(1) command.

OK, what does /usr/local/etc/postfix/main.cf say?

# The alias_database parameter specifies the alias database(s) that
# are built with "newaliases" or "sendmail -bi".  This is a separate
# configuration parameter, because alias_maps (see above) may specify
# tables that are not necessarily all under control by Postfix.
#
#alias_database = dbm:/etc/aliases
#alias_database = dbm:/etc/mail/aliases
#alias_database = hash:/etc/aliases
#alias_database = hash:/etc/aliases, hash:/opt/majordomo/aliases

Now doesn't that help? That's all it says. The commented-out examples are supposed to be the defaults, but four conflicting defaults? Still, there's a mention of /etc/aliases there. Is there one?

Yes! And that's where the ct was, and also a brand-new /etc/aliases.db. Remove the entry for ct and all is well.

Well, is it? What am I doing messing around in /etc with mail stuff? It's bad enough having /etc/mail and /usr/local/etc/postfix, especially as it seems that postfix ignores /etc/mail.

At some time I must have known this, because I found this in /usr/local/etc/postfix/Makefile (a file I added to update postfix):

virtual.db:     virtual
        /usr/local/sbin/postmap virtual

/etc/aliases.db: /etc/aliases
        postalias hash:/etc/aliases

Clearly it would make much more sense to move the files to /usr/local/etc/postfix. But what's the difference between aliases and virtual anyway? They both have the same format and appear to have the same function. Here an example:

virtual:
abuse@lemis.com groggyhimself@lemis.com

aliases
abuse:                root
vinum-devel:        vinum-devel@auug.org.au

The biggest difference appears to be that the original domain name (but not the redirection, despite what some documentation says) is implicit in aliases, and needs to be specified in virtual. Is that enough reason to maintain two separate databases?

I don't any more. Many of the addresses in virtual refer only to local addresses and could equally well be in aliases. But my last change to aliases was 7 years ago, and it contains some remarkably old entries, like vinum-devel. I need to think about it if I ever get round to upgrading the system.


ALDI delicacies
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Yesterday Yvonne bought some “Thai style” fish cakes:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210304/small/Fish-cakes-1.jpeg
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Thai style? I've never seen anything like it in any East Asian cuisine. But OK, we can try them.

What if they're too hot? Well, we also have some Vietnamese spring rolls. Oh:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210305/small/Spring-rolls.jpeg
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Yes, they expired 2 days ago. But normally that's not an issue, and that mould has been there for more than two days.

OK, cook the fish cakes. 20 minutes in an oven at 200°, don't cook in a microwave, eat it all:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210304/small/Fish-cakes-4.jpeg
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And how did they taste? Terrible! Yvonne's main issue was the mild chili flavour (what did she expect of “Thai” food?), but they were really very unpleasant, and we didn't eat them. A good thing ALDI takes stuff back with no questions asked.


Friday, 5 March 2021 Dereel Images for 5 March 2021
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Finally: the garden
Topic: gardening Link here

Nathan and Bryan, the gardeners, along round 8:30 this morning and set to to tidy up the garden with some pretty heavy-duty equipment:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210305/small/Lawn-mower.jpeg
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They had planned to mow the lawn and get rid of all the weeds, exactly what I had asked of Paul Gallagher five months ago.

They weren't completely successful:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210306/small/garden-nw-2.jpeg
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But then, I hadn't expected them to be. They'll be back on Monday to finish things off, if they can make it then. At least the place looks a lot tidier, though of course the shorter grass isn't as green as what we had before.


Fisheye or rectilinear?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Reading a message about fisheye or “normal” projections on the Hugin user group today. He wanted to convert a “normal image” to “fisheye image” using Hugin.

Is that hard? I had some recollection that you needed at least two images to do anything, but some checking showed that I didn't. Take a rectilinear image taken with the M.Zuiko DIGITAL ED 7-14 mm f/2.8 PRO at 7 mm, set output to “fisheye”, and stitch:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190701/small/Sovereign-Hill-1.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190701/small/Sovereign-Hill-1-fish.jpeg
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Is that (second image) a fisheye projection? Yes, it is. The problem, of course, is that it's a cropped fisheye. The lens has a field of view of 115°, far less than the claimed 180° or the actual 155° of a real fisheye lens. And it's hard to claim that the rectilinear image is less distorted than the fisheye image. Here from the right-hand corner:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190701/small/Sovereign-Hill-1-detail.jpeg
Image title: Sovereign Hill 1 detail
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190701/small/Sovereign-Hill-1-fish-detail.jpeg
Image title: Sovereign Hill 1 fish detail
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But re-reading the message, it seems that this person didn't want to stitch just a single image: he specified his fisheye format as 175° diagonal, which you just plain can't get with a single rectilinear image. So there's probably more fun coming.


Saturday, 6 March 2021 Dereel Images for 6 March 2021
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Faking fisheye projection
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

As planned yesterday, took a sequence of shots to create a “fisheye” view, using the Leica Summilux 25 mm f/1.4, simply because that's a “standard” lens. It took 5 rows of 7 shots to cover what I expected to be the complete area, a total of 105 shots (3 each at different exposure for each position).

I was trying to emulate this view, a single shot with the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210306/small/house-from-n-single.jpeg
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The first problem was the top row: it was all sky, there was almost nothing to identify the location of the images, and only two were placed. OK, this is just an experiment, and there's really nothing of interest in the sky, so I just cut off the top row.

The result? First rectilinear, then fisheye. Or at least, that's what Hugin claimed:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210306/small/house-from-n-rectilinear.jpeg
Image title: house from n rectilinear          Dimensions:          802 x 337, 105 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210306/small/house-from-n-rectilinear-to-fisheye.jpeg
Image title: house from n rectilinear to fisheye
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I can't see any significant difference, except that the second one is lower resolution: the first is 242 MP, the second only 211. And despite appearances, they have numerous discontinuities in places where I wouldn't have expected them, like round the left-hand window frames. Clearly much more work is needed to make a real panorama with this resolution.

And why is the rectilinear image not rectilinear? Maybe it can't be. Looking at the single photo again, it's not nearly as wide. It has about 155° diagonal, but the stitched images are considerably wider. Rectilinear images max out at 180°, and maybe this image goes beyond that angle.. There is a difference, though, which can be seen in the line of stones at the bottom right.

So: I have images. To do anything useful with them would require even more work.


Stitching large images
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

Hugin is not a ball of fire, though other programs, like DxO PhotoLab, might give that impression that it is. Stitching a normal-sized panorama (up to about 90 MP) takes a couple of minutes. But today I had much larger images to stitch. enblend took 2 hours, 9 minutes and used 26 minutes of CPU time:

grog       95220  96.6  3.2  2201676 1075072 56  R    11:49am      26:00.13 enblend -f240
grog       31417   0.0  0.0    18848    2324 29  S+    1:58pm       0:00.00 grep enblend

So why so long? eureka is an 8 processor machine, so it should produce 26 minutes of CPU time in a little over 3 minutes. But the disks were going crazy, over 100 MB/s. Over the course of the run that's about 750 GB of data transferred.

Configuration? Went RTFMing and found a

       -m CACHESIZE
              set image CACHESIZE in megabytes; default: 1024MB

What does that do? One way to find out. For the second run I set -m 8192. Just before the end I had:

grog       33391  99.7 24.4 16881740 8173360 56  R     2:08pm      15:54.71 enblend -m 8192
grog       38169   0.0  0.0    18848    2316 29  S+    2:34pm       0:00.00 grep enblend

The highlighted 16881740 is the process memory image in kB, so about 16 GB of memory. So CACHESIZE does make a difference, apart from allocating double the setting in memory. Instead of 129 minutes elapsed time it only took 26 minutes and 16 minutes of CPU time (it's too polite to use more than one CPU).

That's worth keeping. How do I set that in my normal build scripts? Looking at them, I find:

      hugin_executor --stitching $i

OK, how do I set image cache size from hugin_executor? As far as I can tell, I don't. There doesn't seem to be any provision for it. Where do I go from here?


Light tents?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Lately I've been taking photos of spice pastes before using them. The quality won't win any prizes:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210306/small/Spice-paste-2.jpeg
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How do I get rid of those reflections? Years ago I bought a “light tent”, at front left in this image:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20081018/small/studio-1.jpeg
Image title: studio 1
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I didn't use it very much. It was oversize and difficult to fold together. I might still have it, but I don't know where, and if I find it it will probably be in the shed and covered in dust.

So how about a new, smaller one? Out looking on eBay and found that they don't make them any more. Instead there are tents with built-in LEDs. How big? Ah, they're too polite to throw that in your face.

The original tents that I saw 12 years ago were 60x60 cm, I decided that bigger was better and bought an 80x80. That's too big, but on closer examination I discover that the modern ones are something like 22 cm on a side. That's tiny! No wonder they don't want to confess. But they're not expensive, and maybe that's just what I'm looking for. The longest side of these paste packages is 20 cm, so they'll (just) fit. To be considered.


Sunday, 7 March 2021 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 7 March 2021
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Phone crash?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Came into the office and picked up my phone this morning. Pressed the power button briefly. Nothing. The thing had shut down.

Why? It was on the charger. Not plugged in properly? No, after rebooting, it showed 100% charge. I haven't seen that on a phone before. Was it a crash? A deliberate shutdown? People suggest that I go looking for log files, but can I bear the thought?


Ballarat market again
Topic: general, gardening, opinion Link here

Off to the Ballarat Market today for the first time in over a year, and thus since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are signs:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210307/small/Ballarat-Market-9.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210307/small/Ballarat-Market-1.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210307/small/Ballarat-Market-1-detail.jpeg
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I asked the people at the entrance about the first sign, and they said that to forget it: they had forgotten to remove it. But this photo was taken after we left again.

The market was also pretty empty. Normally this hall is full on both sides:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210307/small/Ballarat-Market-2.jpeg
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And not surprisingly we didn't find much: some sweets and snacks, and that was all. I had hoped to find some spring bulbs for the garden, but possibly we were too early. But the whole thing wasn't really worth the effort (and the somewhat delayed breakfast). We should investigate buying this sort of thing on line.


More wine
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

On the way back from Ballarat, stopped in to the post office in Napoleons, which is open even on Sundays, to pick up some wine that I had ordered—8 cases.

Oh horror! Once again I had the wrong variety! 3 cases of Cabernet sauvignon instead of Shiraz!

My fault or theirs? Until proof, left the three cartons there and back home where I found, of course, that it was my fault. Why? After the last time I looked very carefully. It could be the somewhat hard-to-navigate web site, but that's not much of an excuse. I really must read the checkout invoice more carefully.

And what do I do about it? I recall that they're prepared to refund, so that's an option. But the surprising thing about the Chardonnay that I got in October was that I actually preferred it to the Sauvignon blanc that I normally drink. So I should at least give the Cabernet sauvignon a chance.


More frying pan insights
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Today I got round to trying out the new frying pan (and explicitly not frypan) with lid that I discussed on Wednesday.

Is that interesting? Well, surprisingly, yes. It heated unevenly. Here the large slice of bacon had been turned over; the right-hand side had been on the edge of the pan, and the left-hand side towards the middle.

 
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Clearly the left-hand side had been cooked considerably more than the right-hand side. Similar considerations apply to the smaller piece in the middle of the pan and the one on the edge.

Why? Time to look at the underside of the pan:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210308/small/Frying-pan-7.jpeg
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That dotted area is the area heated by induction. It's only 18 cm across! The pan has a diameter of 28 cm, though that's to the top; the cooking surface is about 24 cm across:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210308/small/Frying-pan-8.jpeg
Image title: Frying pan 8
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But that still means that the heating surface is only about 56% of the cooking surface. No wonder it heats unevenly.

How is it with other pans? Here another pan of the same size (and from the same maker):

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210308/small/Frying-pan-13.jpeg
Image title: Frying pan 13
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Here the heating surface is of another kind, but it's 22.3 cm across, 93% of the cooking area, and probably enough to ensure even heating—if I understand the composition of the bottom correctly.

So: Yet Another return? Why are frying pans so complicated?


Monday, 8 March 2021 Dereel Images for 8 March 2021
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No gardeners!
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Bryan Ross and his mate Nathan were due to arrive today to complete the garden work. No show.

Why? That was exactly what I was complaining about with Paul Gallagher. The last thing I needed was to throw him out and have the same problem with other people. But a little later Yvonne got a Facebook message: it was pouring with rain (not here), and he wasn't able to contact me (why not?).

At least he went to some effort to tell us, but I don't understand why he didn't use the phone, and why he didn't suggest an alternate date.


Anatomy of a grid power failure
Topic: Stones Road house, general, technology, opinion Link here

While doing nothing in particular in my office, the UPS beeped.

I've heard that before. It seems that when there's a grid power outage, the PV inverter takes long enough to switch over that the UPS notices (though nothing else seems to). So out to the garage to check. Yes, power out.

Waited a few minutes, than checked the Powercor outage map. No problems in the area, only a total of 8 premises without power state-wide.

Dammit, is it maybe a local failure? Out to check the meter box.

Where is the meter box? It's somewhere here:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210309/small/Meter-box-1.jpeg
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Ah, there!

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210309/small/Meter-box-2.jpeg
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Say what I will about the state of the garden, it's more densely vegetated than in previous years. And yes, the power was out.

OK, back to report the outage. Clunk, clunk, then finally “We are aware of an outage”. And they're prepared to send me an SMS about the fact, but only if I confirm that I want an SMS by answering their trial SMS. OK, I can understand that they don't want to annoy people with unsolicited SMSs, but this approach boils down to one (potentially unsolicited) SMS to the number, requiring action on the part of the user, followed by a second SMS when power is restored. What privacy advantage is that? In the first case a wrong number will get an SMS with a 6 digit number, in the second the information that power is restored.

Time to restore was, as ever, 2 hours. But at 10:16, almost before I got round to documenting what was going on, it came back. And went away again, but only for a second.

And the information from Powercor?

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210308/small/Screenshot_20210308-101518-detail.png
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Huh? The screen shot shows a time of 10:15, two minutes before power was restored. And the second message says that power was out. Back-to-front syndrome? No, for once the sequence was correct. All you need to do is smash the glass swipe upwards a couple of screen heights and you'll find that the first message was dated 25 February, the date of the previous power outage. The message about power being restored arrived at 10:50, over half an hour later.

So what do we have?

9:55       Power fails
10:08       Reported to Powercor
10:14       Message from Powercor about power outage
10:16       Power restored
10:50       Message from Powercor about power restoragion

Somehow their information systems are half an our behind the action. Interestingly, shortly later I got this message from the Ballarat Courier, who prefer UTC for their dates:

Subject: Breaking: More than 2000 without power in Ballarat CBD
Date: Mon,  8 Mar 2021 01:23:13 +0000

Whoosh!
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Watering the plants in the entrance to the house today, I heard a “Whoosh!” sound from the arena, where Yvonne was standing next to her horse Carlotta. What was it? Somebody had parked their car where they couldn't be seen, and they had a dog that had been whining. Carlotta got nervous, so Yvonne dismounted—without decoupling the tag for her safety vest. Whoosh! $70 of nitrogen expelled into her vest.

But it wasn't the only noise...


Pining for the fjords
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

A little later, I heard a loud “clunk!” from the lounge room. Looking outside, I found:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210308/small/Rosella-3.jpeg
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A young rosella (crimson? I'm not 100% sure how their colours develop). It appeared to have flown into the glass door of the lounge room, and it clearly hadn't done itself much good.

What to do? It wasn't dead yet, though it was clearly dying, twitching with its feet. Should we put it out of its misery or leave it to die slowly? I chose the latter, and watched as it continued for over an hour. But when I came back after 2 hours, I found:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210308/small/Rosella-4.jpeg
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At least it wasn't twitching any more. And another hour later it lifted its head:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210308/small/Rosella-5.jpeg
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Came back 45 minutes later again, but it was gone. So somehow it did survive. I considered the possibility than some animal might have got it, or that it had hidden somewhere, but we had kept the animals inside, and despite a search I couldn't find it. So it must have recovered enough to fly away: there's a moat around the verandah, so it couldn't have walked.


Tuesday, 9 March 2021 Dereel Images for 9 March 2021
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More thoughts on frying pans
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Once upon a time cooking utensils were simple. A frying pan, for example, was a single piece of metal. Steel frying pans still are.

But there are an amazing number of things that have happened since then:

Aluminium ware is still with us, but it has the weakness that it won't work on induction cooktops. Older steel and enamel ware will. But there's a solution: composite pan bottoms. Here a couple of examples:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210308/small/Frying-pan-12.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210308/small/Frying-pan-13.jpeg
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The dots in the first example are some kind of ferromagnetic substance which gets heated by the induction. They're close enough together to provide reasonably even heat to the area around them.

And the second one? I don't know how it works. It's reasonable to assume that the bottom is more uniform, but what are the smaller, delineated areas? They're too small to be just for induction.

But it's clear that the area heated by induction is smaller than the area heated by contact cookers such as electric, and that gas will also heat the sides of the pan. That's the reason for the rulers in the photos above. The diameter of the cooking surface of the first pan is about 17.7 cm, and the diameter of the induction area is 16.2 cm, only about 84% of the cooking area. The difference is noticeable in the evenness of the cooking, though not as much as with the pan I grumbled about on Sunday, which has only about 56% of the surface:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210308/small/Frying-pan-7.jpeg
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So, first point: check the induction heating area on any new utensil.

But that's not all: then there's the anti-stick coating. They were introduced over 50 years ago, made of polytetraflouroethylene. Early coatings were particularly sensitive, and though they're improved the durability, the improvements also appear to have diminished the anti-stick effect. And more recent coatings seem to be different again (and the anti-stick effect is even worse). The Wikipedia page is vague and in need of an overhaul, but it's possible that the newer surfaces are Aluminium magnesium boride.

But now, it seems, there's something newer. The brown pan in the photo above was sold as a “ceramic” pan, though clearly it's not ceramic through and through. What is the structure, though? One thing's clear: the cooking surface is shiny. Here an older pan by comparison:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210308/small/Frying-pan-9.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210308/small/Frying-pan-10.jpeg
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And the non-stick property really does seem to be much better. So: second point, keep an eye on ceramics.

But then there's a third issue: flatness of the cooking surface. This new pan has a noticeably domed cooking surface. Here I've put the sausage slices round the outside because that's where the fat is; the middle is dry:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210309/small/Frying-pan-3.jpeg
Image title: Frying pan 3
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Is that a price to pay for the non-stick property? I don't know. For now, third point: pay attention to the flatness of the pan.

We still have time to return the brown pan to ALDI, but I'm not sure that I want to.


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

Another kind of “noodle” (Spirali) for my noodle cooking times page:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210309/small/Spirali-1.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210309/small/Spirali-2.jpeg
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Unit       Cooked       Factor       Recommended       Real
weight       weight             time       time
            2.3 x       10-12 min       11 min

Surprisingly, the specified cooking time proved to be correct.


Wednesday, 10 March 2021 Dereel Images for 10 March 2021
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Begone foul cracker
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Part of my web server infrastructure includes reporting broken internal links: if the referrer is local (my web server) and the broken link is also in the same space, I send myself a mail message.

Today I got quite a few:

Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2021 05:38:59 GMT
From: World Wide Web Owner <www@lax.lemis.com>
To: groggyhimself@lemis.com
Subject: FAILURE: /%27pSyDVv%3C%27%22%3ENbESLHgrog/diary-apr2017.php/ <- http://www.lemis.com:80/grog/diary-apr2017.php/
Message-Id: <202103100538.12A5cxvP051364@lax.lemis.com>

Referrer:       http://www.lemis.com:80/grog/diary-apr2017.php/
Referenced URL: http://www.lemis.com/%27pSyDVv%3C%27%22%3ENbESLHgrog/diary-apr2017.php/
Request URI:    /%27pSyDVv%3C%27%22%3ENbESLHgrog/diary-apr2017.php/
Remote host:
Remote IP:      45.146.167.42
Client:         Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; pt-BR; rv:1.7.12) Gecko/20051010 Firefox/1.0.7 (Ubuntu package 1.0.7)

Clearly that's not in the referring document. It appears to be some kind of breakin attempt, and in principle I should ignore it. But when I write “quite a few”, I mean thousands. In 40 minutes I received about 1,200 of them, one every 2 seconds.

Damn you, cracker, not on my web site you don't! My 404 script contains lots of special cases, some old and useless, but it was fairly simple to add:

if ($REMOTE_ADDR = "45.146.167.42")  /* begone foul cracker */
  redirect ("https://www.youporn.com/");

Silence! And maybe YouPorn was happy for the traffic.


Where is 45.146.167.42?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So who is this cracker so insistent in vain attempts to break the web site?

=== grog@lax (/dev/pts/2) ~ 21 -> host 45.146.167.42
Host 42.167.146.45.in-addr.arpa. not found: 3(NXDOMAIN)
=== grog@lax (/dev/pts/2) ~ 22 -> ping 45.146.167.42
PING 45.146.167.42 (45.146.167.42): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 45.146.167.42: icmp_seq=0 ttl=49 time=162.769 ms
^C
--- 45.146.167.42 ping statistics ---
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 162.746/162.757/162.769/0.012 ms

OK, clearly it's not local to lax (in Los Angeles). How about a traceroute? That's an old, worn-out tool, and fewer and fewer routers are prepared to return bad news, so what I saw was:

=== grog@lax (/dev/pts/2) ~ 24 -> traceroute 45.146.167.42
traceroute to 45.146.167.42 (45.146.167.42), 64 hops max, 40 byte packets
 1  * * *
 2  144.202.118.65 (144.202.118.65)  18.777 ms  15.184 ms  22.055 ms
 3  * * *
 4  * * *
 5  las-b4-link.ip.twelve99.net (62.115.149.36)  0.459 ms * *
 6  las-b22-link.ip.twelve99.net (62.115.119.40)  1.039 ms
    las-b23-link.ip.twelve99.net (62.115.119.129)  0.914 ms *
 7  ash-bb2-link.ip.twelve99.net (62.115.121.221)  55.678 ms
    las-b23-link.ip.twelve99.net (62.115.119.129)  0.797 ms
    ash-bb2-link.ip.twelve99.net (62.115.137.38)  57.661 ms
 8  ash-bb2-link.ip.twelve99.net (62.115.137.38)  57.514 ms
    nyk-bb2-link.ip.twelve99.net (62.115.136.200)  63.348 ms  68.799 ms
 9  * nyk-bb2-link.ip.twelve99.net (62.115.136.200)  61.401 ms  60.229 ms
10  s-bb2-link.ip.twelve99.net (62.115.139.172)  155.939 ms * *
11  hbg-bb3-link.ip.twelve99.net (80.91.249.11)  164.572 ms
    kbn-bb3-link.ip.twelve99.net (213.155.130.101)  166.459 ms *
12  sap-b4-link.ip.twelve99.net (62.115.115.247)  157.686 ms
    selectel-svc064940-ic347225.ip.twelve99-cust.net (62.115.178.89)  163.605 ms  163.668 ms
13  92.53.93.79 (92.53.93.79)  162.950 ms  162.928 ms
    selectel-svc064940-ic347225.ip.twelve99-cust.net (62.115.178.89)  165.713 ms
14  45.146.167.42 (45.146.167.42)  165.068 ms  163.109 ms
    kbn-bb4-link.ip.twelve99.net (62.115.123.194)  162.279 ms

I can't recall hearing of twelve99.net, but it appears to be part of Telia Carrier. Even in the USA, their response times are not particularly fast. Still, it's clear that something changes between hop 9 and 10, where the time increases by nearly 100 ms. nyk-bb2-link.ip.twelve99.net could be in New York. s-bb2-link.ip.twelve99.net says nothing obvious, but couldn't hbg-bb2-link.ip.twelve99.net and kbn-bb2-link.ip.twelve99.net be Hamburg and København?

OK, we have machines closer to there. Off to ffm.lemis.com in Frankfurt am Main, where I see:

=== grog@ffm (/dev/pts/0) ~ 2 -> traceroute 45.146.167.42
traceroute to 45.146.167.42 (45.146.167.42), 64 hops max, 40 byte packets
 1  * * *
 2  108.61.225.1 (108.61.225.1)  13.393 ms  20.721 ms  21.954 ms
 3  * * *
 4  * * *
 5  Decix.net.selectel.org (80.81.195.12)  29.753 ms  28.918 ms  28.997 ms
 6  92.53.93.81 (92.53.93.81)  29.832 ms  29.978 ms  30.030 ms
 7  45.146.167.42 (45.146.167.42)  29.679 ms  29.871 ms  29.703 ms

Almost all too polite to have reverse lookup, but the round trip times agree with the premise that my would-be cracker is in København. Now wouldn't it be nice if traceroute still worked as well as it did 25 years ago?


Radio reception issues
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

Three months ago we had trouble with terrestrial radio reception:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20201211/small/Antenna-2-detail.jpeg
Image title: Antenna 2 detail
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Paul Gallagher fixed that for me:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20201214/small/Antenna-repair-3.jpeg
Image title: Antenna repair 3
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But since then we've had a couple of cases where the receiver showed no signal. It happened again this morning during breakfast. Check the antenna. From the ground it seemed OK. Does it work? Turn on the TV and tune to the same station (ABC Classic). Works fine, so the antenna's OK. OK, internal cabling in the house? The tuner is an ancient Marantz, I'd guess about 30 years old, and it has old-fashioned direct screw contacts to the antenna:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210312/small/Antenna-connector-1.jpeg
Image title: Antenna connector 1
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Could that be the issue? Messed around with the cable (both ends: I had had to fabricate it myself, so the other end was a do-it-yourself plug), without anything very obvious happened. Carried on with breakfast, and during that time the reception came back.

So what was it? I had had the signal on the TV the whole time. But presumably that's a different carrier, so what we really lost was just the conventional FM signal.

Is this a sign of the times? Who uses FM any more? Time to migrate to the Internet? But there's the other consideration: this is a really simple, easy-to-trace problem, and yet I still don't have an answer. Once this kind of problem was much more prevalent: prefabricated cables, for example, have helped there.


Thursday, 11 March 2021 Dereel Images for 11 March 2021
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More garden work
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Nathan along this morning with Bianca, whom I hadn't seen before, to continue the garden work. Bryan didn't come, for reasons that nobody volunteered to explain. They spent quite a bit of time doing the north garden, which now looks much better. They'll be back again on Saturday week to do the rest, after which (presumably) they'll drop back to maintenance mode.


Power usage
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

A nice sunny day today, and just as well. Somehow I had lots of power-hungry things to do: bake bread, run two dish washer loads, and of course cool the house. Looking at my inverter “dashboard” display, I saw power consumption edge past 11 kW from time to time.

And then the grid power failed. Never mind, the battery was 100% charged, and we had plenty of sunshine.

But what about those 11 kW? The inverter can only deliver 6 kW continuously, and 6.5 kW for a short period of time. What happens if the house demands more? My guess is that it will shut down. If it had two outputs (priority and less priority), then it might handle it, but without that, I can't think what else it could do.

So, no air conditioner until the oven and dish washers were done. And by that time, the power was back.

In passing, more left-hand, right-hand syndrome. The first was from their web site, the second the message they sent to my phone:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210311/small/Powercor-1-detail.png
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210311/small/Screenshot_20210311-151937-detail.png
Image title: Screenshot_20210311 151937 detail
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Camera history snippets
Topic: history, photography Link here

Reading my diary for 55 years ago today, found the interesting comment:

At the church, met a fellow with a Pentax SV - old type (green R on rewind knob),

I remember the incident, and yes, there was something... my SV must have had an orange R on the rewind knob. Went and checked: my current SV, which I had thought older, has a green R. And the Spotmatic? I recalled that it had an orange R as well. But that was 55 years ago. What I find today is:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210312/small/Pentax-SV-2.jpeg
Image title: Pentax SV 2
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210312/small/Pentax-Spotmatic-2.jpeg
Image title: Pentax Spotmatic 2
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With a bit of enlargement, some vestige of colour appears to remain on the Spotmatic:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210312/small/Pentax-Spotmatic-1.jpeg
Image title: Pentax Spotmatic 1
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I'd guess that that was once orange. Does the difference in colour imply something else? I can't recall. I wonder if there's any way to find out. Still, it's interesting that I seem to have a more interesting SV than I thought: I had only bought it because it came bundled with the SMC Macro-Takumar 50 mm f/4.

When could it have been made? The SV was introduced in 1961, and when I bought my first (new) SV in July 1965, it had the serial number 940962. But I have (currently) no way of knowing the serial numbers of the first SVs. Still, some time round 1963 seems reasonable. I wonder if there are online resources like I found for Nikons last year.

In passing, and considering that the camera is coming on 60 years old, it's interesting to note that I have had it for over 10 years of that time.


dereel CPU usage
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

There's something really strange about dereel, which runs a two month old version of FreeBSD 12.2. I've noted that the firefox that I run from there keeps crashing with and ECONNRESET. But it's not a firefox issue: shells do too. Somewhere down my priority queue I've wondered how to analyse the issue.

But today I found something even stranger: lots of lost CPU time. What I see from top is:

last pid: 74531;  load averages:  3.96,  3.98,  3.97             up 51+04:54:31  14:58:40
129 processes: 5 running, 123 sleeping, 1 waiting
CPU: 45.9% user,  0.0% nice, 43.0% system,  0.0% interrupt, 11.1% idle
Mem: 1514M Active, 3889M Inact, 251M Laundry, 1382M Wired, 773M Buf, 831M Free
Swap: 20G Total, 103M Used, 20G Free

  PID USERNAME    THR PRI NICE   SIZE    RES STATE    C   TIME    WCPU COMMAND
   11 root          4 155 ki31     0B    64K RUN      0 2845.6  44.89% idle
75371 grog         11  37    0   176M    21M select   3 120.1H  21.33% Xorg
75382 grog          1  23    0    18M  3016K select   3  36.7H   6.62% fvwm
75374 grog          1  52    0    12M   728K wait     3  22.1H   3.53% sh
63945 grog         26  20    0  2630M   331M select   0   0:50   0.43% firefox

This is a four processor machine, but the only processes using CPU time are X, fvwm, sh and (with surprisingly little CPU time) firefox. And the idle process (which doesn't count towards CPU usage) shows only 44.89% CPU usage, when it should be round 390%. How can I be using so much CPU time and not seeing it? ps shows a similar picture:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/6) ~ 8 -> ps aux | sort -n +2
USER     PID %CPU %MEM     VSZ    RSS TT  STAT STARTED         TIME COMMAND
grog   75374  3.1  0.0   11776    728 v0  S    15Feb21   1325:52.91 sh /home/grog/.xinitrc
grog   75382  6.6  0.0   18596   3016 v0  S    15Feb21   2203:43.77 fvwm2 -s -display :0.0 -f /home/grog/.fvwm/fvwm2rc-dereel:0.0 (fvwm)
root   75371 28.5  0.3  179948  21868 v0  S    15Feb21   7205:51.60 /usr/local/bin/Xorg :0 -auth /home/grog/.serverauth.75357
root      11 58.8  0.0       0     64  -  RNL  19Jan21 170734:22.16 [idle]

Friday, 12 March 2021 Dereel Images for 12 March 2021
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The water tower photo again
Topic: history, technology, opinion Link here

It's been nearly 20 years since I first heard about the stencil painting of Peter Weinberger on a water tower at AT&T's Murray Hill facility, where the Unix greats were active:

http://wwww.lemis.com/grog/Day/20021017/pjwlogo.gif http://wwww.lemis.com/grog/Day/20021017/watertower.jpg

Over the course of the next year various details became clear, but it wasn't so clear who actually performed the action. Dennis Ritchie wrote:

So: who did it? If Greg Rose suspects certain aviation-inclined buddies, I in turn think his suspicions are likely to be well-founded.

So clearly suspicion fell on Ken Thompson.

But then today Doug McIlroy wrote something like a eulogy for Fred Grampp, one of the less-sung heroes of Murray Hill. And that brought a rare email from Ken, who wrote:

and lastly, and secret until now, fred
painted the peter face on the water tower.

And how about that, Fred was also into aviation. So it seems that Dennis' quote of nearly 20 years ago was more misleading that one might have thought.


Tracing the dereel CPU use
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Spent some time scratching my head about the discrepancy in CPU usage on dereel today. And then it occurred to me. I've seen this before. Checking the top output over a few seconds showed:

last pid:  4165;  load averages:  3.83,  3.88,  3.89  up 53+01:53:17    11:57:26
last pid:  5043;  load averages:  3.83,  3.88,  3.89  up 53+01:53:18    11:57:27
last pid:  5970;  load averages:  3.83,  3.88,  3.89  up 53+01:53:19    11:57:28

1805 processes in 2 seconds! Clearly there's some process death spiral involved. And looking at the ps output more carefully showed:

USER     PID %CPU %MEM     VSZ    RSS TT  STAT STARTED         TIME COMMAND
grog   75374  3.1  0.0   11776    728 v0  S    15Feb21   1325:52.91 sh /home/grog/.xinitrc

That shell should be almost completely idle. It starts X and waits for it to stop Here's eureka for comparison:

USER     PID %CPU %MEM     VSZ    RSS TT  STAT STARTED       TIME COMMAND
grog    2468  0.0  0.0   17100   1940 v0  I    29Nov20    0:00.00 sh /home/grog/.xinitrc

And sure enough, .xinitrc contains (truncated)

while :; do
        fvwm2 -s -display :0.0 -f ~/.fvwm/fvwm2rc-$me:0.0 &
        fvwm2 -s -display :0.1 -f ~/.fvwm/fvwm2rc-$me:0.1 &
        fvwm2 -s -display :0.2 -f ~/.fvwm/fvwm2rc-$me:0.2

What X configuration do I have running?

=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/7) ~ 2 -> xterm -display :0.1
xterm: Xt error: Can't open display: :0.1
=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/7) ~ 3 -> xterm -display :0.2
xterm: Xt error: Can't open display: :0.2
=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/7) ~ 4 -> xterm -display :0.0
^C=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/7) ~ 5 ->

So only the first fvwm2rc can run. But the loop restarts all of them anyway, so they continue to die. Stop X and things return to normal. I had expected it to be related to X, but first I wanted to understand what was going on.

Does this have anything to do with my ECONNRESETs? There's no obvious reason to think so, but I should check.


Splitting photo backups, part 2
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

It's been six months since I split photo backups between myself and Yvonne: a single 8 TB disk wasn't sufficient.

So now we have two. But I didn't remove Yvonne's old backups from my backup disk, and now things are getting tight:

Filesystem  1048576-blocks      Used     Avail Capacity  Mounted on
/dev/da3p1       7,629,565 7,555,050    -1,780   100%    /photobackup

That's straightforward enough to fix, of course: just remove all Yvonne's files from my disk. They're on her disk already.

But are they good copies? What if something has become corrupted? I really should compare what I have on the two disks. But how do I do that? It really means comparing nearly 5 GB of data.

rsync compares files, of course, but by default it's happy if the EOF marker and the modification timestamp are the same. What if they're not? There's a -c option to create checksums and compare them. Spent some time playing with that; somehow I always run into trouble with rsync options.

First attempt:

=== root@lagoon (/dev/pts/3) /Photos/yvonne/20200201 120 -> rsync -nc . /eureka/Photos/yvonne/20200201
skipping directory .

Oh. I've specifically mentioned a directory, but rsync doesn't want to know. If you want directories, use the -r option:

=== root@lagoon (/dev/pts/3) /Photos/yvonne/20200201 121 -> rsync -ncr . /eureka/Photos/yvonne/20200201
=== root@lagoon (/dev/pts/3) /Photos/yvonne/20200201 122 ->

That looks better. But is it right? To be sure, I swapped two bytes in one of the files on eureka, reset the time stamp and tried again. Same thing!

Oh, you want me to say something? That's verbose, the -v option. Trying with a good directory and my doctored directory gave me:

=== root@lagoon (/dev/pts/3) /Photos/yvonne/20200201 123 -> rsync -vncr . /eureka/Photos/yvonne/20200201
sending incremental file list

sent 7,781 bytes  received 13 bytes  137.95 bytes/sec
total size is 4,971,709,660  speedup is 637,889.36 (DRY RUN)
=== root@lagoon (/dev/pts/3) /Photos/yvonne/20090920 124 -> rsync -vncr . /eureka/Photos/yvonne/20090920
sending incremental file list
100_0317.MOV

sent 1,819 bytes  received 19 bytes  175.05 bytes/sec
total size is 510,860,367  speedup is 277,943.62 (DRY RUN)

That looks better. OK, let's write a little script:

for i in  20090920 20090929 ... 20200831 20200903; do
  mailme rsync -vrnc $i /eureka/Photos/yvonne/$i
done

That gave me:

sending incremental file list
20090920/
20090920/Chris-rides-Keyanna.jpeg
20090920/a-bit-unsure.jpeg
20090920/description
20090920/go-Keyanna.jpeg
20090920/nice-walk.jpeg
...
sent 2,006 bytes  received 179 bytes  1,456.67 bytes/sec
total size is 510,860,367  speedup is 233,803.37 (DRY RUN)

Huh? They can't all be different. Try again with my test directory. Same thing.

Bloody rsync! I've always had trouble with directory names with it, and maybe putting a slash at the end of the second directory name would help, but so does this:

for ...
  (cd $i && mailme rsync -vrnc . /eureka/Photos/yvonne/$i)
done

So finally it got running, and found just enough anomalies to convince me that it was working. One directory was symlinked, so it's good that it caught that. And another file wasn't obviously damaged, just different. How do I tell which is correct? Maybe both are. Tried running exiftool, which showed nothing obvious. If I can't find the problem, I suppose I will have to keep both of them until I know for sure.


Saturday, 13 March 2021 Dereel Images for 13 March 2021
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ECONNRESET: Still there
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

After yesterday's solution to the high CPU usage on dereel, I hoped against hope that the ECONNRESETs would go away.

They didn't. There was no real reason to expect that they would, but whatever it is, it's still there. How do I track the problem?


Nyonya assam
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

For quite some time now I've had a packet of spice paste labeled “Nyonya assam”:

What is it? Nyonya is a name given to early Chinese immigrants to the Malay kingdoms, and also to the distinctive cuisine that they developed, and assam is a Malay word for “sour”.

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210314/small/Nyonya-assam-1.jpeg
Image title: Nyonya assam 1
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210314/small/Nyonya-assam-2.jpeg
Image title: Nyonya assam 2
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And the instructions? Particularly useless. Fish and ladies' fingers, without weights:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210314/small/Nyonya-assam-2-detail.jpeg
Image title: Nyonya assam 2 detail          Dimensions:          961 x 281, 87 kB
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So I've been dragging my heels. How many ladies' fingers? How much fish? In the end I took the ladies' fingers that Yvonne bought recently (200 g), added my 600 g of water and what looked like enough hoki fillet. Garnish, sort of according to the instructions, with mint and raw onions. Coconut milk sounds completely wrong.

And how was it? I thought it was quite good. Yvonne didn't like it. Once she was interested in this kind of food, but I don't know when she last liked any of it. I despair of ever getting her to eat it again.

Here's the recipe.


Sunday, 14 March 2021 Dereel Images for 14 March 2021
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Hidden flowers
Topic: gardening Link here

Found in a garden bed in front of my office:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210314/small/Bulb-4.jpeg
Image title: Bulb 4
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210314/small/Bulb-5.jpeg
Image title: Bulb 5
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What are they? Until they showed up, there was nothing evident. Are they related to the elephant bulbs or whatever they were called that I planted years ago and which then suddenly disappeared? They had particularly big leaves, and here I can see nothing at all. Will they return next year?


More migraine?
Topic: health, opinion Link here

It's been years since I've had an attack of migraine, with the exception of the brief period two years ago where I stopped taking my daily dose of aspirin. But today it hit me out of the blue. Not bad, but irritating, and the aura was gone in half an hour.

But then I was trying to buy something on eBay, and I had difficulty reading the text. Not the shapes themselves, but I couldn't put words together. They weren't difficult words, but it took me something like 15 seconds to put the letters together to understand the words “small” and “plastic”. It's as if that particular part of my brain that recognizes words as entities had just stopped working, and I had to work around it with other parts.

Apart from that, I felt normal. It went away after about another 30 minutes, but it's unnerving.


Piccola photos
Topic: animals, photography Link here

For some reason I don't have any good photos of Piccola, at least nothing that I can use an an example photo. Tried a bit today:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210314/small/Piccola-6.jpeg
Image title: Piccola 6
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210314/small/Piccola-9.jpeg
Image title: Piccola 9
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That left eye in the second image irritates me. It looks like she has problems with the eye, but that's not the case. It might just have been the flash.


Monday, 15 March 2021 Dereel Images for 15 March 2021
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Eye test confusion
Topic: health, technology, opinion Link here

Recently I've received both email and paper reminders from Specsavers telling me that my eye test is overdue, and that it should have taken place on 11 February.

Problems: I had an eye test exactly a month before. And by chance (or more to the point, as the result of their mismanagement) I was there on 11 February as well. Why didn't they tell me then?

In any case, it's clear that the glasses they sold me on 11 February were not what I had asked for, and I'm going to have to go there Yet Again to have the correct ones made. Called up and spoke to Kelsie, who looked at the records and told me that there was some issue with repeating a specific test.

Yes, that's correct. So why didn't they do it while I was there last time? And why didn't anybody mention it at the time? She didn't come up with any good answer, but I can think of a bad one: left hand, right hand syndrome. They should have been alerted to the fact when I made the last appointment.

OK, make a new appointment. How would Friday, 26 March do? Normally no issue, but that's the day that Anke Hawke is planned to arrive for the long-postponed clinic. Another day? Sure, how about Monday, 22 March? Fine, but why did she mention a later date first?


Finally an S3?
Topic: photography, history Link here

55 years ago I found an interesting camera for sale: a Pentax S3 with what I think must have been a 55 mm f/2.2 Auto-Takumar for only £5 (corresponding to about $250 nowadays), a surprisingly good price at the time. I sent off a cheque, but the letter returned with “address not known”.

That wasn't the end of the world, but I was reminded of the incident this morning when I found an S3 for sale with 50 mm f/1.7 Auto-Yashinon (made by Yashica) and old-style clip on exposure meter. The S3 isn't overly interesting (it's almost the same as the SV), and the lens is of almost no interest at all, but I have been looking for a clip-on meter for some time, so for $91 including postage it didn't look too bad. Amusingly, this is the reason I bought my second Asahi Pentax SV, only really for the SMC Macro-Takumar 50 mm f/4 that came with it.

So what's the difference between the S3 and the SV anyway? I also have the question about the green and orange R on the rewind lever, so it looked like time to find more about the really old Pentaxes. After all, there's lots of information on Nikon, as I discovered six months ago, enabling me to create a Nikon resources page. Surely there's something similar for Pentax.

It seems not. No Facebook group, no dedicated collectors' group elsewhere on the web, no detailed history anywhere. What I have established is a timeline from the first Asahi Pentax to the Pentax Spotmatic, in fact only 7 years, during which they brought out:

Year       Model       New features
1957       Ashai Pentax
1958       S       “Standardized shutter speeds”
1958       K       Microprism focusing, preset diaphragm, 1/1000 s
1959       S2       Single shutter dial
1961       S1             Cheaper version of S3?
1961       S3
1962       SV       Automatic diaphragm, self-timer
1962       S1a             Cheaper version of SV
1964       SP/Spotmatic       TTL exposure measurement

And that's about as much detail as I could find in Ricoh's “history”, which even omits some models, Camerapedia and Camera Wiki (which sounds surprisingly similar to Camerapedia). They're not even in agreement: Ricoh claims that the microprism was introduced with the K, and Camerapedia claims that it was with the S2. And there's no information about how the S3 differed from the S2. There must be more information, but I haven't found it yet. I have two questions, one of which will be answered when I get the “new” camera:


Signs of the times: Digital banking?
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Received a strange letter from my bank today:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210315/small/ANZ-detail.jpeg
Image title: ANZ detail          Dimensions:          892 x 302, 48 kB
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That's a number of surprises:

I haven't been to an ANZ branch for years. Times are changing, though I get the feeling that the banks and other similar institutions are having difficulty keeping up.


Tuesday, 16 March 2021 Dereel Images for 16 March 2021
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Huevos rancheros
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

We eat huevos rancheros about once a week, normally on Tuesdays. Today was no exception, but I did end up with the biggest egg I have ever weighed, 105 g:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210316/small/Huevos-rancheros-2.jpeg
Image title: Huevos rancheros 2
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In passing, it's useful to compare with Yvonne's plate (in fact, quite a large portion for her circumstances):

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210316/small/Huevos-rancheros-3.jpeg
Image title: Huevos rancheros 3
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And also with older iterations of the dish:

July 2008:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20080704/small/huevos-rancheros.jpeg
Image title: huevos rancheros
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July 2009:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20090711/small/Huevos-rancheros-1.jpeg
Image title: Huevos rancheros 1
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Dimensions: 601 x 451, 62 kB
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June 2011:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20110628/small/Huevos-rancheros.jpeg
Image title: Huevos rancheros
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Dimensions: 638 x 424, 72 kB
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February 2012:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20120211/small/Huevos-rancheros.jpeg
Image title: Huevos rancheros
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It's interesting to note how the quantities and relationships have changed over the years.


Resolving photo mismatches
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

After last week's comparison of photo backups, I was left with 6 directories with discrepancies. How do I resolve them? Procrastination sounds like a good idea. But tonight there's the weekly exchange of backup disks, and currently mine is over 100% full. Time to compare them.

In fact, most of them weren't an issue. New, processed files on lagoon that weren't there on eureka. Nothing to worry about. One directory on eureka full of broken symlinks that weren't there on lagoon. Also not an issue.

In the end, it boiled down to a single image: /Photos/yvonne/20171214/orig/2C149985.ORF. Is it really different?

=== root@lagoon (/dev/pts/3) /Photos/yvonne/20171214/orig 163 -> l /eureka/Photos/yvonne/20171214/orig/2C149985.ORF 2C149985.ORF
-rw-rw-r--  1 yvonne  home  15,832,056 14 Dec  2017 /eureka/Photos/yvonne/20171214/orig/2C149985.ORF
-rw-rw-r--  1 yvonne  home  15,832,056 14 Dec  2017 2C149985.ORF
=== root@lagoon (/dev/pts/3) /Photos/yvonne/20171214/orig 164 -> exifx /eureka/Photos/yvonne/20171214/orig/2C149985.ORF 2C149985.ORF
File /eureka/Photos/yvonne/20171214/orig/2C149985.ORF
Date taken:     Thursday, 14 December 2017, 11:52:20
Exposure:       1/160 sec, f/5.0 (EV 12.0), 200/24 ISO
Camera:         Olympus E-PM2
Lens:           Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ
Focal length:   14.0 mm (full frame equivalent: 28 mm)
Focus:          S-AF+MF infinity (2.61 m - infinity)
Meter mode:     Center-weighted average Program AE
Stabilization:  On, Mode 1
Size:           4640 x 3472 pixels (16.11 megapixels)

File 2C149985.ORF
Date taken:     Thursday, 14 December 2017, 11:52:20
Exposure:       1/160 sec, f/5.0 (EV 12.0), 200/24 ISO
Camera:         Olympus E-PM2
Lens:           Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ
Focal length:   14.0 mm (full frame equivalent: 28 mm)
Focus:          S-AF+MF infinity (2.61 m - infinity)
Meter mode:     Center-weighted average Program AE
Stabilization:  On, Mode 1
Size:           4640 x 3472 pixels (16.11 megapixels)

Nothing wrong there. But that's a superficial view. What about the checksums?

=== root@lagoon (/dev/pts/3) /Photos/yvonne/20171214/orig 169 -> md5 /eureka/Photos/yvonne/20171214/orig/2C149985.ORF 2C149985.ORF
MD5 (/eureka/Photos/yvonne/20171214/orig/2C149985.ORF) = 2f479c5421e8504fe9a656ede1af5be0
MD5 (2C149985.ORF) = 4141c9705964c1196e09b70dfd3dd4c7

That's clearly different. One reason could be the Exif data, which I change on a regular basis (for example, to change the author information):

=== root@lagoon (/dev/pts/3) /Photos/yvonne/20171214/orig 166 -> exiftool /eureka/Photos/yvonne/20171214/orig/2C149985.ORF > foo
=== root@lagoon (/dev/pts/3) /Photos/yvonne/20171214/orig 167 -> exiftool 2C149985.ORF > bar
=== root@lagoon (/dev/pts/3) /Photos/yvonne/20171214/orig 168 -> diff -wu foo bar
--- foo 2021-03-17 12:04:19.521054000 +1100
+++ bar 2021-03-17 12:04:28.230280000 +1100
@@ -1,10 +1,10 @@
 ExifTool Version Number         : 11.50
 File Name                       : 2C149985.ORF
-Directory                       : /eureka/Photos/yvonne/20171214/orig
+Directory                       : .
 File Size                       : 15 MB
 File Modification Date/Time     : 2017:12:14 21:52:20+11:00
 File Access Date/Time           : 2021:03:17 12:03:14+11:00
-File Inode Change Date/Time     : 2017:12:15 16:34:12+11:00
+File Inode Change Date/Time     : 2020:09:02 20:57:52+10:00
 File Permissions                : rw-rw-r--
 File Type                       : ORF
 File Type Extension             : orf

No, nothing there. The differences shown are file system metadata, which has nothing to do with the file itself. So something is different.

So which is correct? And what's wrong with the other one? I may never know. But to be on the safe side, I copied eureka's version to lagoon, so if it does prove to be the correct version, and if we ever want to look at that photo again, at least I will still have it.


Your eye test is due!
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Another email from Specsavers today. My eye test is due! Clearly their computer system is thoroughly messed up. By now yesterday's appointment should have been in the system.


Wednesday, 17 March 2021 Dereel Images for 17 March 2021
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More power failures
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

No fewer than 8 brief grid power failures this morning. The longest was 7 seconds long, while the others were all only one second long. They came in groups of two and 3, suggesting that there were probably even more in the 60 seconds that the inverter waits before reconnecting. Should I try to change the 60 second timeout? It's the first time I've noticed it in nearly 2 years with PV power.

But what a pain that must be for people who have to weather them all!


Where's my planning permit?
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Yvonne has been trying since late January to find out when the planning permit for the riding arena will be issued. And it seems that the person handling the application, Sarah Smith, has been promising “next week” almost all that time.

Until this week. She wasn't available on Monday, and she didn't call back as requested. Yvonne is getting very frustrated. OK, call up the council. How about that, Sarah not available. Leave voicemail? No, been there, done that. Connect to somebody else, please. OK, her boss is Sarah Fisher, but she's in a meeting. Leave message, please.

By close of business there was still no call back. What kind of obligations do they have?


Photo corruption identified
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

How do I know which of yesterday's photos was correct and which was corrupted? I had thought that I had tried both with DxO PhotoLab, and it had been happy with both. But that wasn't the case: it didn't like the version that had been on lagoon, and in fact hung up as a result. So it was a good thing that I copied the version on eureka.

But that's only part of the story. What's wrong with the image? Can good old Emacs help? Yes!

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210317/small/Photo-compare.png
Image title: Nikon F 5
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That needs a couple of clicks to enlarge it, but it shows clearly that there's a stretch of binary 0s (^@) starting at offset 127489. Removing the fencepost error, 127488 starts at sector offset 248, and in fact that was exactly the kind of error I was expecting. But there must be a better way of finding that. Do I need to write another program?

So finally I have space on eureka:/Photos:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/36) ~ 1 -> df /Photos/
Filesystem  1048576-blocks      Used  Avail Capacity  Mounted on
/dev/ada1p1      7,629,565 7,524,783 28,486   100%    /Photos
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/36) ~ 2 -> rm -rf /Photos/yvonne
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/36) ~ 3 -> df /Photos/
Filesystem  1048576-blocks      Used     Avail Capacity  Mounted on
/dev/ada1p1      7,629,565 5,313,825 2,239,443    70%    /Photos

Restoring the Nikon F
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I've bought another old camera, and I still haven't got round to replacing the skins on my Nikon F. Why? How do I remove the self-timer lever?

But then, do I need to? Removed the remains of the skin in the area and found:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210317/small/Nikon-F-5.jpeg
Image title: Nikon F 5
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210317/small/Nikon-F-1.jpeg
Image title: Nikon F 1
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It really looks as if I just need to slide the new skin round the base of the self-timer. Problem: it's jammed, so I can't move the lever to get the skin over it.

Or is it? A view from the side shows:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210317/small/Nikon-F-4.jpeg
Image title: Nikon F 4
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The lever is slightly bent towards the release button. Pull it away, and how about that, the self-timer can be set and even works. The only issue is that it doesn't stop in place until I press the button. But that's not important. Now to find a way to remove the glue that's all over the thing.


Pene visits Leonid
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Leonid is not getting better. He's lethargic and limps a lot. Our real concern now is how much longer he has to live. Pene Kirk was in the area today, so we asked her to look in. Her verdict: the tumour has grown to approximately 3 times the size it was two months ago, and that it's probably that, and not his arthritis, which causes the pain. In that connection, I wonder if it wasn't the tumour all along, only that the vets didn't initially notice it.

Still, she thinks he's still in good condition, and there's no need to pull the plug yet.


Thursday, 18 March 2021 Dereel Images for 18 March 2021
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Your camera has been delivered!
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Email from eBay this morning: my new Pentax S3 has been delivered.

Really? Out to check the letterbox. Nothing, of course. OK, what does AusPost say?


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210318/small/AusPost-1-detail.png
Image title: AusPost 1 detail          Dimensions:          838 x 322, 51 kB
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And that's all. Ah, “See full tracking history”. That shouldn't be necessary to find out where it was delivered. But OK, ...

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210318/small/AusPost-2-detail.png
Image title: AusPost 2 detail
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So it wasn't delivered here, but they don't know where. Clearly it can't be NAPOLEON, their previous favourite, but my guess would be Napoleons.

Why do they have such difficulty with this?


Signs of the (Internet) times
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Last week I commented about problems with radio reception. It seems that we weren't alone. In large parts of New South Wales they've been working on transmitters for days, to the point that they announced them on radio. And as I observed, it only applied to FM transmitters, not TV or the ABC listen app.

In that connection, a statistic from Statista:

https://cdn.statcdn.com/Infographic/images/normal/2072.jpeg

All of this fits well into my Future of the Internet paper, now 7 years old, about what the world will be like in 2034:

The public switched telephone network will cease to exist. Even now voice over IP (VoIP), using the Internet for telephones has become mainstream. Services like Skype extend basic VoIP functionality to video telephony. By 2034 VoIP and similar protocols will be the only services available, and telephone companies will offer VoIP-based telephone lookalikes to those few subscribers who do not wish to use the Internet for other purposes.

The thing that I missed was mobile telecommunications. But they, too, are converging with data traffic.


Contacting the Golden Plains Council
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Still no call from Sarah Fisher today. Called up the Golden Plains Shire Council again and spoke to Karen, who had great difficulty understanding me. Sarah was still not available, so I left a message asking for an urgent call back and also asked Karen to follow up.

Nothing happened. How far do I need to escalate this situation?


New VoIP provider?
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

My call on the phone to the Golden Plains Shire Council today was complicated by the quality of the connection. What's causing that? I had it yesterday as well. It was the same number, so it could be my phone, my network (VoIP), MyNetFone (the VoIP provider), the PSTN or the council's phone.

Which do I investigate first? MyNetFone looks like a good choice to start with. I could try a different VoIP provider, but where?

Aussie Broadband offer VoIP, but they want $10 a month for it. The price is marginally higher than MyNetFone, but before committing, I'd like confirmation that it works. What's the minimum period? Off to look and discovered that they have changed their offerings. Now there's a “Casual” “plan” for $0 a month and 15¢ a call. Currently I pay $8.30 per month with 100 free calls—clearly much cheaper if I make 100 calls. My guess is that Aussie might come out cheaper.

In any case, it's free, so let's take 2. In fact, that's really what I did: the web page wasn't very ”intuitive”, and I didn't see the confirmation until the second time. Got an email telling me that they will contact me when the connection is provisioned, either by text message (huh? what number?) or by phone (why?). In the meantime, checking my dual-line ATA. Yes, it can connect each line to a different provider, which will give me an excellent comparison.


Yvonne migration: done!
Topic: photography, technology Link here

So now I have resolved all remaining issues with Yvonne's photos. Time to remove all traces from eureka.

Before:

Filesystem  1M-blocks      Used     Avail Capacity  Mounted on
/dev/ada1p1 7,629,565 7,514,336    38,933    99%    /Photos

After:

Filesystem  1M-blocks      Used     Avail Capacity  Mounted on
/dev/ada1p1 7,629,565 5,313,824 2,239,444    70%    /Photos

Aaah!


Friday, 19 March 2021 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 19 March 2021
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Booking an X-ray
Topic: health, technology, opinion Link here

I've been planning to have a jaw X-ray done some time, and I've always found ways to postpone it. But it's been over 3 months now, and I'm going into town in the afternoon, so let's see if I can have it done then.

Call up Lake Imaging in Howitt Street on 5304 9000. Work my way through the three-level menu, then wait for 4 minutes in an announcement loop.

Sorry, people, I have better ways to spend my life. How about an online application? Yes, of course. Please select year from the available years (2021-2039), take a photo of your referral (forget that!) and give all sorts of information that they wouldn't ask on the phone, including an email address that I had to create on the fly. And of course I couldn't ask for an appointment at a particular time, like I do on the phone, just “morning” or “afternoon”. But finally, without too much trouble, “Thank you. We will contact you soon”.

And that was all. No reference number, and of course no email. Maybe they weren't set up to process appointments this year. It will be interesting to see if I ever hear back from them. Clearly they're not set up for the Computer Age yet.


How to destroy a web site
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

Silke, Yvonne's farrier, along to trim Carinita's hooves for the first time ever, so she asked me to take some photos, which she later processed.

But they didn't show up on the web. What went wrong? A bit of examination showed: the entire collection of photos, since January 2001, was gone without a trace!

Oh. One of the issues we have with the current file layout is that Yvonne has her photos on lagoon, her machine, but the web server doesn't have access to those files. So the web files are on eureka, specifically /Photos/yvonne/www. And yesterday I removed the entire /Photos/yvonne hierarchy in the assumption that it was all on lagoon. 80 GB of files gone!

Well, not completely. There are various ways to recover them:

  1. Rebuild the files the way they were created in the first place. 1137 directories. And over the last 20 years I have changed my methods considerably, so there's a good chance that the older ones could cause me grief.
  2. Recover them from the external web server. Problem: the server only has the metadata. The photos themselves are on DigitalOcean. So I'd have to write scripts to bring them back in the right place.
  3. From a backup. I did make a backup, right? Well, yes, but then I removed the files from the backup too. Well, one backup disk. For reasons I didn't completely understand, I left the files on the older one. So we just had to drive to Chris Bahlo's place and pick it up.

So an hour later we had the files reinstated. But it was a serious concern. One of these days I'll really lose something that I can't recover.


Bunnings again
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Into town in the afternoon as planned, though there wasn't much to do any more: just a trip to Bunnings.

They've changed since last time I was there. Now you can just enter, though it must be from the left-hand side. And inside they're still as obstructive as ever:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210319/small/Bunnings-2.jpeg
Image title: Bunnings 2
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I had intended to buy a rain gauge, but there's little to choose from. Just one clearly not designed for local circumstances:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210319/small/Rain-gauge-1.jpeg
Image title: Rain gauge 1
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210319/small/Rain-gauge-1-detail.jpeg
Image title: Rain gauge 1 detail          Dimensions:          1126 x 240, 68 kB
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2 mm! That's more than most days' rainfall. And I've only ever measured over 50 mm about 3 times in 14 years.


Happy anniversary!
Topic: general, opinion Link here

We've been in Dereel for nearly 14 years now, by far the longest we have been anywhere. And almost as soon as we arrived, we joined the RACV.

And now they have reminded us (well, Yvonne) of that happy event. A Gold Card! As they write:

Thank you for being a Member of RACV for 25 years. We appreciate your support...

Huh? 25 years ago we were still living in Germany. We didn't arrive in Australia until 8 March 1997. 24 years ago today we had just arrived in South Australia, and were wondering whether to stay (we did).

So what's RACV on about? It seems that we joined the RAA, the sister organization in South Australia, some time before the end of March 1997, and when the new Gold Card expires, the 25 years will be over.

What a strange way of looking at things!


New Pentax
Topic: photography, history, opinion Link here

Picked up my “new” Pentax S3 on the way home. It looks in relatively good condition, but the slow shutter speeds don't work. And it's not clear what's wrong with the meter. They had stated that it wasn't sure whether it works, but when I got it, the meter was turned on, and, surprisingly, the battery still seemed to be charged. Possibly the battery contacts are damaged; I'll investigate later.

What's really surprising, though, is how similar it is to the SV. About the biggest difference is that it doesn't have a self-timer. It also doesn't have an auto-reset frame counter.

But that seems to be about all. The literature puts the SV down as the first Pentax with fully automatic diaphragm lenses (ones that stop down and open up automatically when the shutter is released). The S3 came with the “preset” lenses, where you had to open the diaphragm manually, and it stopped down automatically. But on examination of the mechanism, that seems to be a difference only in the lenses. The S3 works fine with my Super Takumar automatic lenses. No wonder Honeywell branded them as H3 and H3v. It seems that the V is the indicator on the SV self-timer (round the film rewind lever) that the shutter is about to fire.

I'll have to get some photos soon.


Cleaning the Nikon F
Topic: photography, history, opinion Link here

While in town, I picked up some acetone to clean the adhesive off the outside of the Nikon F. It's slow business, but the results don't look bad. I need to find some better cloth to rub the stuff off.


Aussie VoIP
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Also got round to set up my ATA to connect to Aussie Broadband's VoIP service. Setup was straightforward enough, and it seemed to register immediately.

But I could neither make nor receive a call with it! All seemed well, but the phone didn't ring. A bit of searching showed why: I don't use the second phone, and I had disconnected it from the ATA for some testing. Another case of “It works better if you plug it in”.

But there was a lot of background noise. Phone? I don't really need more than one, so let's swap the two. But the noise stayed with the line!

More checking the myriad ATA parameters. No, both identical. But line 2 is noisier than line 1, and line 1 isn't overly good. Time for a new ATA?


Saturday, 20 March 2021 Dereel Images for 20 March 2021
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Gardening with dogs
Topic: gardening, animals Link here

Bryan, Nathan and Bianca along again today to finish the garden work. Out to say hello, bringing Nikolai with me, only to discover that they had two dogs with them. Near-dogfight, but fortunately I was able to keep them apart. Nathan and Bryan didn't want to know: they weren't their dogs.

And indeed I had already noticed that they looked just like the dogs down the end of the road, on the junction with Bliss Road. They were friendly enough, so I put them on lines and took them home, where nobody was: they were out in the car looking for them. Put them back in the dog run, and then the owners arrived. They had thought that they were aggressive, quite different from my experience. Agreed that we should probably arrange a session to socialize the two.

Back home, the gardeners went at it again for another 3 hours, and still didn't get things finished. But the north side of the house is looking as good as it ever has in the 6 years we have been here. They'll be back next week to (hopefully) finish things off.

One thing that they didn't fix was this basket in the west bed:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210320/small/Basket-1.jpeg
Image title: Basket 1
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It's been there for months, though somehow it seems to have eluded both my house photos and the monthly garden photos. And no gardener has removed it. On closer examination, it's clear why:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210320/small/Basket-2.jpeg
Image title: Basket 2
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So that will wait until winter.


Overcooking
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Food with rice for brunch today. I freeze cooked rice in 180 g containers and then heat them in the microwave oven (1 minute to thaw, then later 30 s to heat):

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210320/small/Rice-4.jpeg
Image title: Rice 4
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But I tripped over this silly keyboard on the Panasonic oven: instead of a numerical keyboard, it has buttons marked 1, 10, 1 and 10, first minutes, then seconds. I had selected 30 s (three presses!). I thought. In fact it was 30 minutes. After 7 minutes at full power, Yvonne thought something might be wrong. It was:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210320/small/Rice-3.jpeg
Image title: Rice 3
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210320/small/Rice-5.jpeg
Image title: Rice 5
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It was almost completely hard, but the dogs didn't mind.


Sunday, 21 March 2021 Dereel Images for 21 March 2021
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Garden flowers in early autumn
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

The March equinox occurred overnight, time for the monthly garden photos.

In the last month we have had no fewer than three visits from Bryan and Nathan of “Custom Cuts”, and they have transformed the garden. It's now tidy, most of the weeds are gone (they're planning another visit soon to do the rest), but it hasn't had a big influence on the flowers.

The surprises were these bulbs:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210314/small/Bulb-5.jpeg
Image title: Bulb 5
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210321/small/Bulbs-1.jpeg
Image title: Bulbs 1
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And also the remaining Buddleja × weyeriana, in a pot to protect it from the soil, has started to flower despite the pot:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210321/small/Buddleja-1.jpeg
Image title: Buddleja 1
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210321/small/Buddleja-2.jpeg
Image title: Buddleja 2
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I had hoped that the Clematis would carry on blooming through until autumn, but it's not that good. The Clematis “Edo Murasaki” is still (spring?) flowering, but barely:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210321/small/Clematis-1.jpeg
Image title: Clematis 1
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210321/small/Clematis-2.jpeg
Image title: Clematis 2
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And the General Sikorski seems to have suffered from lack of water. It now has two stems, and though the right-hand one looks sickly, it's not dead:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210321/small/Clematis-4.jpeg
Image title: Clematis 4
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210321/small/Clematis-5.jpeg
Image title: Clematis 5
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I'll observe.

The Leucadendron in the north garden is also doing well:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210321/small/Leucadendron.jpeg
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Inside, two of the the Abutilon cuttings that we got at the end of January have not just taken well, but one is about to flower:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210321/small/Abutilon-3.jpeg
Image title: Abutilon 3
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210321/small/Abutilon-4.jpeg
Image title: Abutilon 4
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I'm hoping that the garden makeover will finally result in a good-looking garden. Maybe then I can drum up some enthusiasm to do something there myself.


Camera firmware update
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Watching a couple of technical videos yesterday, I discovered that new firmware was available for nearly all my Olympus cameras and a number of lenses. OK, bite the bullet and update them all at once.

It took me nearly 90 minutes, and I didn't get finished. First, check which lenses needed firmware upgrades so that I could pair them with cameras and kill two birds with one stone. Fire up the updating application (you wouldn't entrust something as important as that to cp, now, would you?). Let it first update itself. Accept the license agreement, written in grey on grey in 2 pt text, twice. Check the firmware. Accept the license agreement again. Wait an eternity. What does this app do during the download time? It seems to take 4 minutes to download 30 MB of data. Update. OK. But the lens wasn't updated. Ah, you don't expect me to do both at once, do you?

Accept the license agreement again. Wait a long time for the download, but less than with the camera. After all, the file is less than 1 MB in size.

Repeat for E-PM1, E-PM2 , OM-D E-M1 (Mark I) and OM-D E-M1 Mark II, along with the M.Zuiko Digital 45 mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko Digital ED 75 mm f/1.8 and M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100 mm f/4.0 IS PRO. But the E-M1 Mark II was different: first it saved its current settings, and at the end it restored them.

Aargh! Have I blown away the settings for the E-PM1, E-PM2 and E-M1 Mark I? At least I hadn't done the OM-D E-M5 Mark III yet. To be on the safe side, save the settings manually:


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Now isn't that clever? The E-M5 Mark III is much newer than the E-M1 Mark II. So the lack of that feature is deliberate (nobody can tell me that it's any effort at all to implement). And once again these silly Microsoft-space 32 bit Hex error numbers. Why do they do these things?

So: for the moment, no E-M5 Mark III. First I need to bring my lists of custom settings up to date, and that, too, is a pain. The good news is that I can't see any evidence that the settings on the other cameras were reset. I'm sure I've had that pain in the past.


Monday, 22 March 2021 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 22 March 2021
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Specsavers, the fifth
Topic: health, general, opinion Link here

Yet another visit to Specsavers today. This time I went to some trouble to establish what I needed in the way of glasses, and what I had. For the computer I have distances between 80 and 90 cm, but it's possible that my eyes aren't up to that distance any more. Should I be thinking of 60 cm? And for reading books, surprisingly, 59 cm. The glasses I got last month were best at 40 cm, though I just managed to read as far away as 46 cm. Clearly not suitable for any use.

OK, what time is the appointment? I recalled 15:40, but I had written down 15:20 in two different places. That would have been that, except that I had had an apparently unnecessary phone call on Saturday reminding me of the appointment. Could it be that the real intention was to tell me about the change of time?

OK, ring up, only just before I needed to leave. Long delay, then “will you hold, please?”. That wasn't a question. It took them another couple of minutes to confirm that yes, indeed, the appointment was at 15:20.

Into town, arrived at 15:18. “Sorry, we're behind time today, there will be a 20 minute delay, maybe 30 minutes. Please come back in 15 minutes”. Now why couldn't they have told me that when I called? Maybe they didn't know, only 30 minutes previously?

Expressed my dissatisfaction and off round Bridge Mall, which is looking emptier and emptier. I wonder how much that has to do with the COVID-19 pandemic and how much to do with the shift to online sales. It's interesting to note, once again, that the shops that are open are services like massages, which don't work online. And this one, the vacuum cleaner shop where I've been in the past, makes it clear:

 
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Back to Specsavers, where they went to some trouble to get me looked at quickly. Went through the whole measurement thing again, reassuringly arriving at the same prescription as two months ago, and then tried to measure distances.

They don't have any measures! The optician removed a scale from his equipment and we went for 70 cm. Tested with a laptop that I had brought with me. Done!

Out to choose two new frames, and then place the order. Can I see the prescription, please? It took her a long while to show me what she had, without going to the trouble of turning it around or bringing it closer to me:

      .......       .......       .......       .......
R       +2.25       -1.25       115°       +1.75
L       +2.00       -0.50       105°       +1.75

And then there was also, hand written, “+1.25”. What did I have last time? +4.75/+4.50. OK, that's a big difference. 2.5 dioptres! The assistant couldn't assist, so she went and got a supervisor, who explained: ah, no, those columns read:

      Spherical       Cylindrical       Axis       Near-add
R       +2.25       -1.25       115°       +1.75
L       +2.00       -0.50       105°       +1.75

So instead of 4.75/4.50, I now have 4.00/3.75, 0.75 dioptres less. Before I could focus on 40 cm (2.5 dioptres more than for 1 m), so now I have 1.75 more, which comes to a nasty fraction, 4/7 m or about 0.56 m. Which glasses are these? Reading glasses. The “Near-add” for the computer glasses are the handwritten +1.25 dioptres. Same calculation again, 80 cm. That's too far. No, says the supervisor, you can't calculate like that. It depends on your eyes. I tried to explain optics to her, but in the end she brought in the optician and we discussed, once I managed to shut her up: 80 cm is too far, that's what I have now. He checked and came up with different values, too different to relate to my current glasses. After some discussion, we agreed on +0.25 dioptres more, 67 cm.

That leaves only 0.25 dioptres difference between the computer glasses and the reading glasses. Do I really need both? Decided to stick with it anyway. So now I have:

Reading glasses:

      Spherical       Cylindrical       Axis       Near-add
R       +2.25       -1.25       115°       +1.75
L       +2.00       -0.50       105°       +1.75

Computer glasses:

      Spherical       Cylindrical       Axis       Near-add
R       +2.25       -1.25       115°       +1.50
L       +2.00       -0.50       105°       +1.50

And only after doing all this did I realize how complicated I had made things: Near-add is the difference between ∞ and the prime focus of the glasses. So we have:

Dioptres       Distance
1.00       100 cm
1.25       80 cm
1.50       67 cm
1.75       57 cm
2.00       50 cm
2.25       44 cm
2.50       40 cm

That's straightforward reciprocals, of course, but it's worth thinking about the granularity.


Piccola makes trouble
Topic: animals, photography, technology, opinion Link here

Picked up some wine on the way home. Piccola approved:

 
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That was taken in a hurry, of course. Somehow I need to find a way to highlight her eyes. I can see more fun playing around with DxO PhotoLab ahead.


Tuesday, 23 March 2021 Dereel
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Specsavers again!
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Not one, but two letters from Specsavers today: it seems that not only I, but also Yvonne should have gone to an appointment yesterday.

What is wrong with these people?


Where is the Golden Plains Council?
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Yvonne and I have been trying to contact the Planning Department of the Golden Plains Shire since Monday last week. Two requests for callback have had no result. OK, try again today (15:00). The usual wait loop, then “our team is not available. Please leave a message”.

What's wrong with them? Do they have serious personnel issues? I didn't get a call back, of course.


Thorium in camera lenses?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Question on Quora recently: What is Nikon's absolute sharpest lens in your opinion, whether past or present in manufacture?. One answer was

Some say that Nikon’s early 35mm f/1.4 lenses with Thorium infused glass were their sharpest.

OK, I have an old Nikkor 35 mm f/1.4. Is that the one? After some searching found a whole list of radioactive lenses. I know about my 50 mm f/1.4 Super Takumar, but it seems that there are many more. This page gives a list that doesn't convince me, but it might be a start. According to that, apart from the known 50/1.4 Super Takumar, the SMC Macro-Takumar 50 mm f/4, the SMC Pentax 55 mm f/1.8 that I got with my Asahi Pentax KM, and even the Yashica Auto-Yashinon DS-M 50 mm f/1.7 that I got only last week with the Pentax S3. One lens that isn't radioactive is my Nikkor 35 mm f/1.4: that link specifically says so.

Is that correct? There are lots of question marks. If I really cared, I would go and check. But based on my comparisons, the reputation of thoriated glass is overstated. Certainly my 50/1.4 Super Takumar can't keep up with the quality of modern lenses.


Another ATA?
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

As planned, prepared to connect CJ's old Mitron MNFMV1 ATA to my system today. How? What's its IP address? Fortunately found this article, which told me that it was the same as a NetComm V210P, and was able to find the manual in PDF. And as I recalled, there's a phone interface which reads out its IP addresses.

It seems that I need to connect the cable to the WAN port, but to configure it I need the LAN port. OK, can do. But then, looking at the menus, there's no way to set the service provider: it's locked to MyNetFone. I should have read my article from 2014 more carefully: I had discovered that then too, along with the fact that they hadn't configured the thing correctly.

OK, it's not clear that the Mitron isn't defective anyway. I only wanted it for a quick check to see if it were less noisy. So the alternative is to buy a new ATA. Where? Aussie Broadband offer a Grandstream HT812 for $89 plus postage. That's amazingly expensive: I think I paid about $25 for my current Linksys PAP2, now so old that their web site doesn't want to know about it. And I can still buy one for round $30.

Should I? For some reason, ATAs are amazingly unreliable. Everything I've seen suggests that my current one is no exception. Do I want that pain again?

Downloaded the PDF User Guide and browsed through. It, too, wants to be a network gateway, but can be configured to be standalone. They're available round $20 cheaper on eBay. Should I buy one? Or research alternatives, such as a complete “modem” (really a network gateway with VoIP interface)? Once again I'm making things too complicated.


New light tent
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

My new 40 cm light tent arrived yesterday. Nice, flat and compact. And it stayed that way: I can't work out how to open it!

That's not the first time that I've had issues like that. I had the opposite problem with my first light tent: I couldn't work out how to fold it back together.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a diagram showing how to do it?


Wednesday, 24 March 2021 Dereel Images for 24 March 2021
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Boiling chicken
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I eat a lot of chicken in my breakfast dishes. I buy 1 or 2 kg of skinless, deboned chicken legs, cut them into 3 pieces (about 30 g) each, boil them and freeze them.

Clearly the water broth in which I cook them is worth keeping, but there can be a lot of it, and it's relatively dilute. Solution: buy 2 kg, cook 1 kg at a time in the same broth. That's what I did today. To my surprise, the second kilogram didn't produce nearly as much scum as the first one. That must be because the broth was already hot, and suggests that the scum comes from inside the meat.

What difference does it make? My concern with the scum was more cosmetic, in that it makes the broth cloudy, and even that isn't important for the purposes for which I use the broth. But it's interesting to note. And yes, the broth looked a lot better than on previous occasions.


Which ATA?
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Spent some time this morning looking for recommendations for Analogue Telephone Adapters. They're few and far between. About the only thing of interest was the mention of a “jitter buffer” in some models, but so unevenly that I couldn't rely on the statement. And it seems that the Grandstream HT812 is specifically marketed as a router (but, it appears, not a firewall), and that there's a somewhat cheaper Grandstream HT802 available without the routing function.

And how do you compare prices? Some specify postage, others don't. Postage typically runs to up to 20% of the price, and so many sites are too polite to mention postage until you buy one and are about to check out. This one, from MyITHub, is particularly bad:

 
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Clearly they know the postage, but they're not divulging it. That's enough for me to go elsewhere.

The other point: is it really the ATA that's making the noise? All normal problem checking says “yes”, but wouldn't it be better to check with an old-fashioned wired phone? Went looking, but I can't find any. Maybe I threw them out 6 years ago when we moved here.


Golden Plains Council, yet again
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Still no call back from the Golden Plains Shire Council. OK, call them Yet Again, at 11:15, and once again got no human reply: they're too busy.

But this time I got a call back, at 13:06, from Emma, who half confirmed that they're busy, and once again tried to contact Sarah Smith and Sarah Fisher, once again without success. It seemed that Sarah Smith was out viewing properties. She said that she would send a mail message to her and mark it as “urgent”. I wonder if it will be any different this time.


Light tent again
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I still don't know how to open the light tent, so sent a message to the seller. A response finally came back late in the evening:

Could you please follow the instruction to use it again?

RTFM! Given that I had said there were none, that's worth negative feedback. Maybe there's more in the seller name band1joke than I expected.

But by then I had found out how to open it: don't force it, use a larger hammer. Bend the 1 mm thick plastic sides almost double to get them out of the envelope. The result looks like this:

 
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The lights are in the front at the top, illuminated by a row of LEDs if you can find a 5 V USB charger to power them:

 
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And of course, they're not very bright. Here with the room lights on:

 
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Still, I can use it with flash, the way I had originally intended. My main concern was taking photos of foil packaging. There are clearly five different ways to do this:

  1. As before, without the tent and just with flash. This is what I was trying to improve on.

     
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  2. From the front with external flash (through the tent).

     
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  3. From the front with LEDs.

     
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  4. Through the hole at the top, with flash.

     
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  5. Through the hole at the top, with LEDs. To do this I would have needed to considerably reposition the tripod and find some way to stop it tipping over, so for today I didn't bother.

The results? Clearly from the front isn't the way to go. But the hole at the top improves things. In the process, noted that the tent only swallows about 1 EV of light, less than I expected. Here the original without tent, then through the hole in the top:

 
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I could probably improve on that if I covered the hole more completely.

Also tried some photos of cameras. They looked really good on the LED screen, but to my surprise there wasn't enough depth of field. The difference between flash and LED was almost non-existent. Here first flash, then LED:

 
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Still, the thing looks useful. I don't see myself trying to fold it together in the near future.


The end of Bridge Mall?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Only a couple of days ago I commented about how Bridge Mall in Ballarat was declining. And today I received a truncated article from the Ballarat Courier, who want $3 to read the rest of the article:

After years of heated public debate about the future of Bridge Mall, councillors have approved plans to re-open the street to traffic.​

But that snippet is interesting. Why do they want to re-open the road? It leads to the Bakery Hill roundabout, like the parallel Curtis Street. Yes, it's relatively slow through Curtis Street, but opening Bridge Mall would sound the death knell for the street. I wonder how they see the centre of town in 20 years' time.


Thursday, 25 March 2021 Dereel Images for 25 March 2021
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Misted-up windows
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

One of the issues we had with JG King was that they supplied single-glazed window components when the contract specified double glazing. The result was that the single-glazed elements misted up in moist weather.

But today I saw something I have never seen before: all of the windows misted up:

 
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How did that happen? Today was the first day in weeks where I needed to turn the heating on, and it seems that the air conditioning system had accumulated moisture. And when that moisture was warmed, it entered the heated rooms and condensed on the windows. There's a marked step increase in the inside dew point temperature (brown line) round 8:45 in this graph:

Click to see larger image


Golden Plains responds
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Call this morning from Sarah Smith of the Golden Plains Shire Council, with somewhat contradictory information. She had been past the site yesterday, or maybe it was the day before. And she talked about a 60 day period that was due to expire. What's it for? When did it start? Suddenly she was on the defensive, and I was unable to get a clear answer. It seems to relate to the “advertisement” of the permit, presumably the notice dated 27 January that our neighbours received on 28 January and 1 February. If that's the case, then the 60 days will expire on Sunday.

But then, she shouldn't be talking with us. The application was made by David Rowe, and he hasn't paid the advertisement fee of $20. Sarah says that she tried to contact him several times and didn't get an answer. OK, we can pay the fee. And then we can't build it with Zincalume®: it's too close to the road, and so it has to be Colorbond® (note that spelling), though specifically not “surf mist”. But it's right next to a Zincalume shed! Never mind, too close to the road,

With thoughts of pots and kettles, called up David Rowe. Voice mail. OK, John Hofman of Eureka Garages on 5336 2227. He had a couple of interesting things to say: David has family issues which are completely overloading him, and that the council can't require Colorbond when there's Zincalume nearby. He would get in touch with David and then get back to me. He didn't.


Phở?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I've had a jar of phở broth mix floating around for some time:

 
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I've tried it a couple of times, but never recorded the details. OK, how should phở really be? I recall phở as being particularly gelatinous. How do they achieve that with a paste? How much should I use, anyway?


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One spoon in 3 cups of water! So somewhere between 2.5 and 30 ml in somewhere between 195 ml and 852 ml of water, a ratio of over 50 to 1!

What do they really mean? A tablespoon in how much water? Conventional cooking cups hold round 240 ml, but 720 ml is far too much for a single portion (which, I'm guessing, is what they're talking about here). And I've seen smaller “cups”, as small as 160 ml, in some other Asian countries.

OK, guess. 400 ml water, how much paste? 25 g? Tried that, tasted it, went to 40 g. The salt content seemed about right, though it was quite pedas.

Is it worth it? Maybe. I need to think about it. I'll keep the recipe here.


Friday, 26 March 2021 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 26 March 2021
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Testing the ATA problems
Topic: technology, general Link here

My VoIP quality is clearly inadequate, but where does the problem come from? Based on my testing, it comes from the ATA. But a replacement is expensive, and obvious answers have the habit of being wrong. What I need is a bog standard old-fashioned phone to confirm that it's not one of the modern cordless things causing the problem. The test is a matter of seconds. But where do I get one?

Facebook to the rescue. Asked on the local Dereel group, and sure enough, a Richard Emery responded and even brought the phone over here, in the process admiring all our animals. And yes, the noise was just the same with the steam phone.

So: which ATA do I replace it with? I think it makes sense to replace it with another of the same kind. They're by far the cheapest, and I know how to configure them. If I receive a faulty one, I can return it with relatively few problems.


Burst water filter
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

In the early afternoon Petra Gietz pointed me to a problem: the housing of the water filter for the bore pump had split, spraying water all over the electrics. Nothing for it: we need a new filter.

Into town to UPI, not helped by the fact that I didn't know where they are: they have moved since I was last there. And of course my new GPS navigator didn't know about them. Off to the best guess, which proved to be a roundabout on the Glenelg Highway. Off in the direction of their old place, stopped on the side of the road and consulted my electronic devices with no success, and looked around. They were directly across the road.

So, what replacement? I would like one that I could clean without dismantling; a simple backflush should do it. But the only thing that might have fit the bill cost something like $600, so I was able to resist. About the only thing I could do would be to buy something more robust and easier to dismantle:

 
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Back home, tried to install it. No go. One of the things that the plumber did was to screw the filter directly into a valve, and since the filter housing went beyond the input (at the top in the photo above), it fouled the tap. I was able to remove the old one by first taking off the filter cartridge cover, but that doesn't work for the new one:

 
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Damn! What do I do now? The whole attachment is in a bad place, right up against the fence of the dog run (which was erected later, but which had to be there). Should I get a plumber in to reroute the whole thing? Then he could also finally replace the tap in the kitchen.


Arena shed: progress?
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

While I was at UPI, got a call: David Rowe, whom I've been trying to contact since yesterday. He wasn't aware of any outstanding financial demands from the Golden Plains Shire Council, and left me wondering how credible Sarah Smith's claims were. In any case, he would pay them immediately. Discussing the issue of Colorbond®, he agreed that it made no sense at all, and that he felt relatively confident in being able to talk them out of it. So I'll formulate an email describing—neutrally—what has happened, what each of them said. Send it to him, and he would forward it to the council. I'll be interested to see what claims will be retracted.

And the question of the 60 days? Before advertisement! So one way or another, they're up.


Pandemic over!
Topic: general, animals, health Link here

Yvonne has planned regular horse riding clinics with Anke Hawke for some years now, but the last one was in November 2019. She had planned on for March 2021, and then again for July 2021, but in each case they had to cancel because of travel and meeting restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But finally it's over! Anke arrived this afternoon, somewhat delayed by traffic, and we had dinner again with the usual suspects, this time including Chris' sister Melanie.

 
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We must teach Margaret German. For her sake we had to speak English most of the evening.


Saturday, 27 March 2021 Dereel Images for 27 March 2021
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Need for Colorbond®?
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

As planned, outside the house today to take photos of the house to show the impact of the arena “shed” and potential Colorbond® sheeting. First, from the driveway:

 
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The shed will do along the (seen from this perspective) back sides of the arena, obscuring about the left half the “verandah” in front of the existing shed and most of the area behind the arena to the left. Only the grey inside of the walls would be visible, so the only effect would be two different shades of grey.

 
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Here we're looking straight across the arena. Most of the existing shed would be obscured. The left side wall of the “shed” is almost head-on, but the inside of both walls would be visible. Again, no sign of the Colorbond colour.

 
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Here is about the only view from which the Colorbond colour would be visible at all from the road. Looking closer,


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210327/small/House-from-road-3-detail-1.jpeg
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The left half of this view, mainly of the existing shed, would be unchanged:

 
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This part of the view would be the only direction from which the Colorbond colour would be visible.

 
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It's not clear that the house would be completely obscured. So instead of two conflicting colours, there would be three, all of them barely visible. Is that really what they intend? And of course, this is the side that the Marriotts would see, and they have already planned to obscure it with a hedge, so almost nothing would be visible.


Puck's magic potion
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Picked up an enormous package at the post office yesterday. After dismantling, discovered:

 
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Where did it come from? Looking more carefully,


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It's been a while since I've dealt with A Midsummer Night's Dream, but on recapitulation, clearly Puck is the clue to all this. He made the magic potion. But the dedication doesn't say who should get it. Lysander? Titania? No, clearly not Titania. So it must have been for Lysander.

And when should he get it? Ah, that's the question.


Cailles aux raisins secs again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Last time that Anke Hawke was here we had cailles aux raisins secs (quail with raisins). Anke liked them and asked for them again today. OK, time to tune the recipe. Last time I had cooked them for only 30 minutes, but today I did them for 60:

 
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The result? Better, especially with the raisin mixture on top of the quails. But I think they could do with even more cooking: the meat still stuck to the joints. 90 minutes next time?


Sunday, 28 March 2021 Dereel Images for 28 March 2021
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Anke clinic in person
Topic: animals, general, language Link here

Over to Chris Bahlo's place round noon to say hello to the people there. In fact, the only ones I had not already seen were Nele Koemele and Joanne Gibbs:

 
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Amusingly, we discovered that everybody spoke at least some German: Margaret confessed for the first time that she had taught German at school for some years, and Joanne learnt it and studied (Middle High) German at university, putting her ahead of some of the native German speakers in that respect.


Strange fungus
Topic: gardening Link here

Seen on the signpost at the end of Grassy Gully Road:

 
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My best bet is that a gum leaf stuck on the post, the pink fungus grew underneath, and then the leaf was dislodged.


Obfuscated food instructions
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

A while back Yvonne bought this:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210328/small/Illegible-strudel-1.jpeg
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What is it? Irresistible. Or maybe Warm and delightful? Blueberry sweet cheese? BLUEBERRY QUARK? No, if you look very carefully, you'll discover that it's a SWEET CHEESE STRUDEL.

OK, how do you cook it? The instructions are in that photo. With my ageing eyes, I can't read them. I had to look at the photo:

 
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I still can't read it! How about some postprocessing?

 
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Still hard to read. Enlarge?


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Finally! “Bake the SWEET HAVEN® Blueberry Quark Sweet Cheese Strudel in a preheated oven for 30 - 35 minutes at 200° ... fan forced oven”. Six attributes to the name, all of which need reading, but no information on whether the thing should first be thawed or not!

We tried it halfway, and after 24 minutes we had:

 
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Was it worth it? The best part was the opportunity to whinge about the really poor documentation.

Of course, others have been there before. As Daniel Nebdal notes:

https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/adjective_foods_2x.png


PIXIO alternative?
Topic: photography, technology Link here

Anke showed Yvonne some videos of her riding this evening. They looked as if they had been taken with a PIXIO “Robot Cameraman”. But no, it seems that there's a (much) cheaper alternative out there: Pivo, which I always thought was beer. It seems that it requires a mobile phone, and that it works on face recognition—most of the time. It's certainly worth investigating.


Monday, 29 March 2021 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 29 March 2021
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Goodbye Anke
Topic: general, animals, photography Link here

Anke Hawke left again today, but not before giving Yvonne another riding lesson. This time we decided to do it from two different directions, so that the horse's motion was visible from different perspectives. That involved using my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II as well.

The real questions come with the postprocessing: how to incorporate both views into the same video? I don't have any idea. But that, along with postprocessing zoom and light adjustment, would make things a lot better.


Fixing the bore water filter, try 2
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

On Friday the water filter for the bore water burst, and I went into Ballarat to buy a new one. Not a success:

 
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I considered bringing in a plumber to fix the thing, but then a simpler solution occurred to me: put in a ball valve between the filter and the existing (and hard to use) gate valve. Into town again to see what I could get. The cheapest one (and the one they recommended) had a handle that went beyond the end of the valve housing. It just wouldn't fit. In the end, bought a considerably more expensive plastic one with a handle as long as the body, back home and fitted it with amazingly little pain:

 
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In passing, how do you line these things up? I'm continually frustrated by the fact that they're not in line, like the handle of the ball valve. Still, it worked first time, something that seldom happens.


Tuesday, 30 March 2021 Dereel → Geelong → Dereel Images for 30 March 2021
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Monthly PV recalibration
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

The monthly PV battery recalibration today. Somehow each time things are different. At least it happened in the evening, so it had no effect on the power usage.


Periodontists again
Topic: health, food and drink, opinion Link here

Off to Geelong again today through surprisingly light traffic for my six-monthly periodontic checkup. All the more surprising that I got stopped at road works on the Mount Mercer-Shelford road with a modern-day equivalent of a mechanical traffic light:

 
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What does that number mean? Seconds to green? No, it counted too slowly. Minutes? Almost. In fact, for some reason it was units of 33 seconds. When I arrived it was displaying 6, so I had round 3 minutes to wait. And for what? Nothing. Not a single car came in either direction during that time.

But they twisted the sword in the wound. After I got through, I had another 6 km of road with nothing but markers on the side of the road and a 40 km/h limit. Sometimes I think that the road works people are deliberately trying to annoy people. If they have to use automatic signals (in principle, a good idea), why can't they make them intelligent enough to react to traffic?

In fact, there were a surprising number of roadworks on the road. There must have been 6 or 7 of them. On the way home I decided to go another way, down Geggies Road east of Rokewood (a way that my new GPS navigator wanted to avoid), and it, too, was closed.


A new dog from Jeanette Lees?
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Leonid hasn't long to go, and then we will only have one dog. Years ago, when buying our first Borzoi, we visited Jeanette Lees in Shelford, and were quite impressed by her dogs, though we didn't buy any for ourselves.

Does she have any dogs for sale at the moment? Shelford was on the way home, so it was worth a look. Found the place with some difficulty. She wasn't home, but I was able to establish that yes, she still has dogs, but now they're Spaniels.


Wednesday, 31 March 2021 Dereel Images for 31 March 2021
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More PV strangenesses
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

I was puzzled by yesterday's battery recalibration. OK, ask the inverter what happened: draw a graph of the power use.

Oh. No items to plot:

 
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That's not “no data”, that's “I don't know any items that you can select for display”. What happened there? Some investigation confirmed that the inverter was working normally, but part of the web interface wasn't. The configuration page looked similar. No configuration items:


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Did a bit of looking around those parts of the system that still worked, and noted that two new firmware images were pending. But for one of them, I read this warning:

 
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Is that serious? Given the quality of documentation on this server, my guess is that it is poorly expressed, and refers to what could happen if the inverter loses power during the update (“this may cause the device inoperative”). But not something that I wanted to take lightly. More searching brought me to this page:

 
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OK, Microsoft trick? Reboot. No change.

Would the new firmware help? Unlikely. But it's a good idea anyway, so I sent email to Fyodor Torgovnikov, who didn't answer the questions but offered to update the firmware for me anyway.

He did that in the evening, and to my surprise the pages work again. They have also added to the log information, so that I now can display the power consumption (here in green):

 
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But they still haven't fixed the date formats:

 
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And they have this stupid timeout on the display, which requires you to reconfigure the entire search to restart.

One thing that occurred to me about the update was the difference in memory usage. Here yesterday and today:

 
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Yes, there's storage left over, but the right hand storage has only 4(“.00”) MB free. Looking at the numbers, my guess is that that could mean “not completely full, but nearly”, and that the firmware update deleted enough data that it could run again. If that's the case, it's good that the updates come frequently enough to “fix” the problem.


Goodbye, Leonid
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Leonid's triceps tumour has not grown slowly. He still seemed normal enough, but clearly he had great difficulty walking, and despite a double dose of painkillers he was clearly in pain. We knew that it would come to this, but when?

For days now Yvonne has been in tears at the prospect of losing him. That's another reason to do it soon. So we asked Pene Kirk to come and do the deed today, and CJ Ellis to bury him. Here his last moments with Yvonne:

 
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CJ arrived first. Down to the back of the garden, where he started digging a hole for Leo. It wasn't easy going, and after an hour we only had this much:

 
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The trouble was with the tree roots, which we hadn't expected. OK, we have alternative places to bury him, so down to the house forest, where we had a dip that needed filling in anyway. But when we got there, CJ thought it was a bad idea: it's a waterway, he says, and he would need a bucket to fill it in. I'm not convinced about the waterway, but there were alternatives in the clearings, so set to in one of them.

Stones!

 
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They must have been left over from gold mining.

After two hours, those two partial holes were all that we had to show for it. A good thing we didn't try by hand. It would be easier to deposit the body with a local vet. But CJ had another idea: he is building up a bonfire to light as soon as the CFA allows, and he could put Leo on that. Quick phone call to Yvonne, who was in agreement. So we packed things together and left, not helped by me stalling the tractor (which I was driving). It's a good thing I had Nikolai with me:

 
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