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Wednesday, 1 May 2024 Dereel Images for 1 May 2024
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NBN outage!
Topic: technology Link here

Early this morning, while I was reading news on hirse, my mobile phone, an app failed to resolve a host name. Bloody Android apps! It wasn't until later that I discovered that that was the beginning of a 30 minute network outage.

OK, what's my MyAussie app for? Fired it up and discovered that it wanted a password. My passwords don't cater for mobile phones: this one was 31 characters long, sprinkled with special characters that are a particular pain to enter on a mobile phone (is that why so many password restrictors demand them?), and Aussie is too secure to display more than one character at a time when you enter a password. The result:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240501/big/MyAussie-1-detail.jpeg
Image title: MyAussie 1 detail          Dimensions:          1063 x 1134, 98 kB
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Or was it? They don't seem to know. But when I tried again later, it had decided:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240501/big/MyAussie-2-detail.jpeg
Image title: MyAussie 2 detail          Dimensions:          1053 x 1044, 81 kB
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By the time I had finished messing around, the network came back, after less than 33 minutes. I give in: clearly Aussie wants me to use a less secure password, so I created one that it still accepted and tried to log in:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240501/big/MyAussie-4-detail.jpeg
Image title: MyAussie 4 detail          Dimensions:          1059 x 1087, 65 kB
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Sigh. Try again:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240501/big/MyAussie-6.jpeg
Image title: MyAussie 6          Dimensions:          1080 x 2340, 112 kB
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I thought the option of saving a password to Google (Why? To reduce its security?) was a good touch. But finally I managed to log in, and was rewarded by the option of using the fingerprint sensor to log me in, which makes things much more bearable. And then I checked: no outages recorded.

Oh, you want NBN outages? Sure, we have plenty on offer:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240501/big/MyAussie-9-detail.jpeg
Image title: MyAussie 9 detail          Dimensions:          1080 x 1073, 87 kB
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Nine days of outages! Hopefully this is their typical inaccuracy.

In passing, how secure are fingerprint sensors? Probably secure enough for the purposes that the app fulfils, but wouldn't it be possible to capture an image of my fingerprint and use that instead? Yes! It happened to Ursula von der Leyen ten years ago. Are things safer now?


Beijing Hokkien Mee?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

One of the more interesting culinary discoveries that I've made in the last few years is KL Hokkien Mee. And now I discover that there's something related in Beijing: Beijing Fried Sauce Noodles (Zha Jiang Mian, 炸酱面). There seem to be countless variations, but they all use a dark sauce, rendered fat pork belly and crunchy skin. One to try.


Mona progress
Topic: animals Link here

Bruno and Mona are still not lying in a basket together, but they're coming closer:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240501/big/Bruno-Mona-3-detail.jpeg
Image title: Bruno Mona 3 detail          Dimensions:          2126 x 2271, 1287 kB
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That's either side of the TV.

Bruno is also getting more confident. He knows that he's not allowed on the dining table, but that doesn't stop him:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240501/big/Bruno.jpeg
Image title: Bruno          Dimensions:          4609 x 3456, 2629 kB
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Even after I sprayed him with water, he dried himself and got back up there again.

In passing, I weighed them today. Mona didn't eat for the first day she was here, and a day or two later she only weighed 3.2 kg. Bruno is a particularly heavy cat, presumably US standard, where they write

The overall impression of the ideal Burmese would be a cat of medium size with substantial bone structure, good muscular development and a surprising weight for its size

He weighs round 5 kg. Today, though, Mona weighed 3.6 kg and Bruno 4.9. That's less difference than I expected.


Academia nonsense of the day
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

After being asked if I wrote “Treasurer” and co-authored a paper with PO Box, today I got another one:

21 N  01-05-2024 To groggyhimsel ( 901) Mentioned by rm rf   N  “Greg Lehey” cited by “rm rf”

Is this Artificial Intelligence at its finest?


Thursday, 2 May 2024 Dereel Images for 2 May 2024
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First success of student protests
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Looking briefly through the news this morning, saw the headline Colombia breaks ties with Israel. Who would have thought that the student protests would have had such a success in such a short time? And particularly Columbia, who didn't seem to be listening very carefully.

Oh. I wasn't reading very carefully. Colombia, the country, not Columbia, the university. Still, it sets a signal. Now if the USA would finally stop supporting this genocide!


Anti-Semitism: a non-word?
Topic: language, opinion Link here

More and more, the Israeli government has been accusing their detractors of anti-Semitism. That's nothing new: there's a line of thought amongst many Jews that says “You disagree with me? I'm a Jew! You're antisemitic!”.

That's nonsense, of course, and Bernie Sanders recently clarified the distinction between disliking somebody because of his Jewish race or culture (a special case of racism) and disliking somebody because of his actions.

But what's special about anti-Semitism? It's just a special case of racism. Yes, 80 years ago many Jews were subject to horrible treatment at the hands of Hitler's régime, not unlike but even worse than what the Israelis are doing in Gaza now. But now people ignore that background, now that the Israelis are the aggressors and not the victims. They should be ashamed of themselves.


No more cheque books
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Carefully proof-read mail from ANZ today, telling of changes to their handling of accounts. No more cheque books! Once that was the primary access to a bank account. And “Access Advantage” accounts, whatever they may be, don't earn interest for balances over $50,000, as shown in a table indicating interest rates of 0.01% to 0.02% on amounts over $50,000. Yes, that's barely interest, only $20 a year for a balance of $100,000, but my guess is that they didn't read their statement carefully.

But no cheque books? An end of an era. Now everything is electronic.


Cracking the fvwm2 to fvwm3 transition
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've been dragging my feet on updating hydra's window manager, mainly because I don't know where to start. I wrote the configuration files nearly 30 years ago, and I have long forgotten the details, in particular what I changed relative to the defaults: this was before I religiously ran version control.

One of the big issues, though, was that fvwm3 no longer issues error messages! So I don't know what it doesn't like. After RTFM I discovered that I can get it to output messages to a log file, apparently with a predetermined name ~/. ~/.fvwm/fvwm3-output.log. That's particularly irritating in my situation, where I don't have a directory ~/.fvwm. I have a common directory with those contents, but then every window manager would overwrite the same file.

Still, let's try. Firstly, it didn't like the -s option (run on a single screen). Why? How do I specify a single screen? Left it out, and it seemed to only run on the specified screen. Does it now parse the display name maybe?

The log output was interesting.

[1714624576.085241] scan_screens: Case 1: Add new monitors
[1714624576.085273] monitor_mark_new: Added new monitor: DP-3 (0x8321c8180)
[1714624576.086994] main: Loading window states via (null)

That suggests that it didn't even try other screens. Then lots of complaints about style options using colours, as was to be expected, also missing fonts (another issue I need to look at). But then:

[1714624576.108044] CMD_Read: file 'xterms-hydra:0.3' not found in /home/grog/.fvwm or /usr/local/share/fvwm3

The invocation line was

      fvwm3 -v  -d hydra:0.3 -f /home/local/X/.fvwm/fvwm2rc-hydra:0.3

So it hasn't ignored the path name for the configuration file. It has just discarded the path and put in its own directory! That's definitely a violation of POLA, and arguably a bug. In the meantime I found a way to output the error messages to stdout, so I could put in a symlink:

=== grog@hydra (/dev/pts/10) ~ 153 -> ls -l .fvwm
lrwxr-xr-x  1 grog  lemis  19  2 May 15:23 .fvwm -> /home/local/X/.fvwm

And with that it ran, modulo colours. And try as I might, I couldn't find instructions on how to convert old-style colour definitions to what fvwm3 wants. Still, it works for the time being. The current invocation is:

=== grog@hydra (/dev/pts/10) ~ 155 -> fvwm3  -v -o - -display hydra:0.3 -f /home/local/X/.fvwm/fvwm2rc-hydra:0.3 &

www: no swap!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

A few months back I ran into memory pressure on www.lemis.com, my remote virtual server. OK, add a “memory disk”. And that worked.

# dd if=/dev/zero of=/var/swapfile bs=1m count=4096
# mdconfig -a -t vnode -f /var/swapfile
md0
# swapon /dev/md0

Until Vultr decided to reboot my machine. And then the md device was gone. It wasn't until today that I noticed. How do you ensure that they're recreated after reboot?


Web site attack
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Sometime in the early evening it occurred to me that I hadn't received any external mail in over an hour. Problems on the external server?

Yes. The file system was full. This morning there were something like 13 GB free, but now it was at 108% with -3.5 GB. Something had eaten up over 16 GB in a few hours.

I knew where to look. The web server error log was full with messages like

[Thu May 02 07:42:26.457757 2024] [php7:notice] [pid 27107] [client 145.239.202.7:64277] PHP Notice:  Undefined index: -1 OR 2+948-948-1=0+0+0+1 in /home/grog/www.lemis.com/grog/kleins-road/exterior-slides.php on line 399, referer: http://www.lemis.com/grog/diary-jun2013.php?subtitle=Al%20Jazeera%20issues&article=D-20130604-000628
[Thu May 02 07:42:26.457785 2024] [php7:notice] [pid 27107] [client 145.239.202.7:64277] PHP Notice:  Undefined index: -1 OR 2+948-948-1=0+0+0+1 in /home/grog/www.lemis.com/grog/kleins-road/exterior-slides.php on line 399, referer: http://www.lemis.com/grog/diary-jun2013.php?subtitle=Al%20Jazeera%20issues&article=D-20130604-000628
[Thu May 02 07:42:26.457812 2024] [php7:notice] [pid 27107] [client 145.239.202.7:64277] PHP Notice:  Undefined index: -1 OR 2+948-948-1=0+0+0+1 in /home/grog/www.lemis.com/grog/kleins-road/exterior-slides.php on line 399, referer: http://www.lemis.com/grog/diary-jun2013.php?subtitle=Al%20Jazeera%20issues&article=D-20130604-000628

What's that? At the very least, an error in my PHP code. But look at the time stamps! There were 55 μs between the three! OK, these views aren't that important. Remove the script.

That didn't help, of course. It was just a coincidence that I found these error messages. I tried a number of things, but it kept on coming. What was it trying to do? I kept some log messages for later analysis, but I couldn't find anything that made any sense.

ip7.ip-145-239-202.eu - - [02/May/2024:07:55:42 +0000] "GET /grog/diary.php?dirdate=20071110&image=dam-nw.jpeg&imagesizes=-1%20OR%203%2B45-45-1=0%2B0%2B0%2B1 HTTP/1.1" 200 45879 "http://www.lemis.com/grog/diary-jun2013.php?subtitle=Al%20Jazeera%20issues&article=D-20130604-000628" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/121.0.0.0 Safari/537.36"
ip7.ip-145-239-202.eu - - [02/May/2024:07:55:41 +0000] "GET /grog/diary-jan2009.php?dirdate=20090101&image=nest-demolition-1.jpeg&imagesizes=bs&view= HTTP/1.1" 200 444161 "http://www.lemis.com/grog/diary-jun2013.php?subtitle=Al%20Jazeera%20issues&article=D-20130604-000628" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/121.0.0.0 Safari/537.36"
ip7.ip-145-239-202.eu - - [02/May/2024:07:55:41 +0000] "GET /grog/diary-jan2009.php?dirdate=20090101&image=nest-demolition-1.jpeg&imagesizes=bs&view=http://dicrpdbjmemujemfyopp.zzz/yrphmgdpgulaszriylqiipemefmacafkxycjaxjs%3F.jpg HTTP/1.1" 200 444161 "http://www.lemis.com/grog/diary-jun2013.php?subtitle=Al%20Jazeera%20issues&article=D-20130604-000628" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/121.0.0.0 Safari/537.36"
ip7.ip-145-239-202.eu - - [02/May/2024:07:55:43 +0000] "GET /grog/diary.php?dirdate=20071110&image=dam-nw.jpeg&imagesizes=-1%20OR%203*2<(0%2B5%2B45-45) HTTP/1.1" 200 45859 "http://www.lemis.com/grog/diary-jun2013.php?subtitle=Al%20Jazeera%20issues&article=D-20130604-000628" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; Win64; x64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/121.0.0.0 Safari/537.36"

By evening it had filled the log file again. I need to find an automatic way to block this kind of aggression. In the meantime, a regular check of log file size and rollover would be a good idea.


Android strangeness
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Downloading some files from hirse, my mobile phone, was particularly slow today. Why?

=== grog@hydra (/dev/pts/15) ~ 4 -> ping hirse
PING hirse.lemis.com (192.109.197.228): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 192.109.197.228: icmp_seq=0 ttl=64 time=4432.006 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.228: icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=4491.037 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.228: icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=4636.822 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.228: icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=4777.693 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.228: icmp_seq=4 ttl=64 time=4885.086 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.228: icmp_seq=5 ttl=64 time=3869.501 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.228: icmp_seq=6 ttl=64 time=2954.141 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.228: icmp_seq=7 ttl=64 time=1959.271 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.228: icmp_seq=8 ttl=64 time=967.665 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.228: icmp_seq=9 ttl=64 time=4.943 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.228: icmp_seq=10 ttl=64 time=1.908 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.228: icmp_seq=11 ttl=64 time=1.314 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.228: icmp_seq=12 ttl=64 time=2.119 ms

It came good by itself. What causes this kind of issue? Android?


Mona's progress
Topic: animals Link here

Mona continues to settle in—slowly. In this failed photo (Bruno moved away at the wrong moment) she approaches him, and she has done this a couple of times.


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240502/big/Mona-Bruno.jpeg
Image title: Mona Bruno          Dimensions:          4606 x 2865, 2874 kB
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She also no longer tries to run away when the dogs go past at a distance.


Friday, 3 May 2024 Dereel Images for 3 May 2024
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Death of an elephant
Topic: general, animals, gardening Link here

Winter's coming, time to bring the curry tree indoors. First move a table (glass mounted on an elephant statue). I lifted the glass, Petra was to take the elephant. But they were stuck together.

For a while, until I had lifted it high enough. Then they parted ways:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240503/big/Death-of-an-elephant-1.jpeg
Image title: Death of an elephant 1          Dimensions:          4610 x 3456, 4309 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240503/big/Death-of-an-elephant-2.jpeg
Image title: Death of an elephant 2          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 3840 kB
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Yvonne is not amused.


Web site overload: recovery
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Once again this morning the web server error log was full of error messages from ip7.ip-145-239-202.eu. But finally it seems to be over. All that remains is this strange error message

[Thu May 02 07:42:26.457757 2024] [php7:notice] [pid 27107] [client 145.239.202.7:64277] PHP Notice:  Undefined index: -1 OR 2+948-948-1=0+0+0+1 in /home/grog/www.lemis.com/grog/kleins-road/exterior-slides.php on line 399, referer: http://www.lemis.com/grog/diary-jun2013.php?subtitle=Al%20Jazeera%20issues&article=D-20130604-000628

OK, I've blown away that file, but I have a local copy. Works perfectly. Copy it back to www. No photos found! Potentially that was the reason for the negative index.

But why? This worked before—didn't it? Did I make a local patch on www, and then throw it out yesterday? What do my RCS logs say?

revision 1.488
date: 2015/05/23 22:59:49;  author: grog;  state: Exp;  lines: +20 -15
Obsolete.

Oh. The date is significant: it's two weeks after we moved into Stones Road, at which point the Kleins Road photos stopped being updated. But that doesn't make them obsolete.

More to the point, though, I moved the photos off-site, and that required a considerable restructure of many pages. And sure enough, for the corresponding page for Stones Road I had:

revision 1.185
date: 2018/09/05 03:02:26;  author: grog;  state: Exp;  lines: +27 -13
Check for existence of image in photolist.php, not by looking for the
image, which could be anywhere in the Internet.

It seems that I never got round to applying that to the Kleins Road. The two pages are almost identical, and I was able to copy the relevant parts from one script to another, after which it worked.

But only that part. Click on the detail links (for example http://www.lemis.com/grog/kleins-road/exterior-view.php?view=verandah-centre), and you get an empty display. That, too, needs fixing. Mañana.


Indirect cat injuries
Topic: health, animals, opinion Link here

Just before going to bed, Yvonne let the dogs in. At the door, heard her curse. Cat run out? Called to her, but got no answer. Found a torch (where did I put these things?) and out. Yes, Bruno had seized the opportunity and went out into the dark. After a couple of minutes found him in the hayshed. But where was Yvonne? Somewhere out near the compost heap, where she managed to trip over something in the almost complete darkness. A couple of cuts on her hand and this beauty of a lump on her knee:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240503/big/Yvonnes-knee-1.jpeg
Image title: Yvonnes knee 1          Dimensions:          3888 x 5184, 3400 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240503/big/Yvonnes-knee-2.jpeg
Image title: Yvonnes knee 2          Dimensions:          3888 x 5184, 3339 kB
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The moral of the story: keep better, brighter torches, and call for help if Bruno escapes.


Saturday, 4 May 2024 Dereel Images for 4 May 2024
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The night when time stood still
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Woke up at 5:15 this morning. What's that light outside? It was almost as bright as day. But the sun doesn't rise for another 2 hours. Turned around, went back to sleep and woke at 7:15, but couldn't get back to sleep. OK, get up. Looked at my watch. 8:42! My bedside clock was fully 1 hour, 37 minutes slow!

How could that happen? The clock is electronic and synchronizes to mains frequency (which is somewhat fast). It doesn't seem likely that it would fail like that. And then I asked Yvonne. Yes, her clock stopped altogether round 1:15. She looked back quite some time later and it was showing the same time, so she reset it.

So whatever it was, it wasn't my bedside clock, and it seems to have started round 1:00. When I got into the office, I found that tiwi had restarted at 1:28:

May  4 01:05:13 tiwi wh1080[11827]: Rain: 2173.5000003.1
May  4 01:28:01 tiwi syslogd: kernel boot file is /boot/kernel/kernel
May  4 01:28:01 tiwi kernel: ---<<BOOT>>---
May  4 01:28:01 tiwi kernel: Copyright (c) 1992-2021 The FreeBSD Project.

But that was only 23 minutes after the last log message. And no other machines were affected, nor were the clocks in the kitchen. There was also nothing obvious in the PV inverter logs, though they do show a drop in power consumption. I'll need to think more about this.


More ldconfig strangeness
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Rebooting tiwi meant that my weather program didn't get restarted. Once again I had this issue with libmysql.so.18. I suspected that that was due to the fact that the directory usr/local/lib/mysql was a symlink to the directory on eureka. OK, copy the files over and run ldconfig on them.

It still didn't work! I was in the parent directory, so I simply wrote ldconfig -m mysql. And it seems that it doesn't like that. ldconfig -m /usr/local/lib/mysql/ did the trick. And hopefully now that the libraries are local, I won't run into that problem again.


Ramen for breakfast?
Topic: food and drink, technology, opinion Link here

I've been thinking of various ways to eat Ramen noodles for breakfast. One of the more interesting facts is that they really come from China, and the kind I have come from Shandong. I've played around a couple of times, but how about asking an artificially intelligent expert?

To my surprise, Google Gemini came up with a recipe that doesn't look bad. The interesting idea was to fry the noodles until crisp. That didn't work for me, and in general the experiment wasn't very successful. In particular, I didn't know that the Miso was salty, so the overall dish was just barely edible.

In passing, savour this statement:

You can adjust the amount of miso paste in the sauce to your preference. For a stronger miso flavor, add more miso paste.

Mona progress
Topic: animals Link here

Mona is gradually settling in well. In particular, she's coming to terms with Bruno. This evening they both sat on my lap:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240504/big/Greg-Bruno-Mona-1.jpeg
Image title: Greg Bruno Mona 1          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 3744 kB
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There's still a gap between the two of them, but that, too, will pass.


Sunday, 5 May 2024 Dereel Images for 5 May 2024
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More Hugin strangenesses
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

It was house photo day yesterday. And once again I had issues with the newer version of Hugin that I have on hydra (2023.0.0.d88dc56ded0e) while the older version on eureka (2018.0.0) worked fine.

I use a script that creates the project files (.pto) and then stitches them. Yesterday's panoramas had a number of problems, the most extreme of which was this one (first 2023 Hugin, then 2018 (run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour):


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What causes that? The project file is the same in each case, and so is the invocation to build the panorama, in essence

hugin_executor --stitching laundry-door.pto

Could it have something to do with masks? The black area at top left was masked out in one of the component images, but as the second image shows, there was enough information to cover the area, and the greyed-out area to the right of centre is hard to understand.


More weather station pain
Topic: technology, general Link here

Writing yesterday's article on my weather program, I checked the current status. Nothing! It seems that it had stopped logging at 17:30 or so yesterday afternoon.

Checking came up with a continual stream of

May  5 07:00:03 tiwi wh1080[111]: Can't read device: Input/output error or Unknown error (5)
May  5 07:00:03 tiwi wh1080[110]: Can't read device: Device busy or Unknown error (16)
May  5 07:00:06 tiwi wh1080[116]: Can't read device: Device busy or Unknown error (16)
May  5 07:00:06 tiwi wh1080[115]: Can't read device: Input/output error or Unknown error (5)
May  5 07:00:08 tiwi wh1080[119]: Can't read device: Input/output error or Unknown error (5)

What went wrong there? Disconnected and reconnected the USB connection. No change. Power cycled (remove/replace batteries) the internal unit. No change, and it almost immediately communicated with the external unit.

Much searching. Why are there two copies running? I don't recall an execve() in the code. Even more searching showed that I had two copies of the wrapper script running, both started round the same time, and the two processes were fighting each other. How did that happen? Stopping one of them was enough for the other to communicate properly with the device.

Should I put in some kind of lock? No, I don't think so. If I expend any more time on this thing, it should be to adapt to a saner and more reliable device.


Mona and Bruno
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Mona and Bruno continue to come closer—too close, maybe. This afternoon I heard a lot of cat growling, and into the lounge room to find Bruno on top of Mona, holding her down by biting her neck—the position that studs use when mating with queens. That's nonsense, of course, since they're both desexed, but where did he get the idea from? Is it something sexual, or just an instinct?

Things got better, and in the evening they were once again together on our laps:


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But it wasn't all that peaceful:


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Is Bruno jealous, maybe? It's unlikely, but not beyond the bounds of possibility.


Monday, 6 May 2024 Dereel Images for 6 May 2024
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Jack Hua noodles revisited
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I've been using Jack Hua noodles for some time, and lately it has become clear that they tend to disintegrate after serving. Cooked too long? Well, they don't want them cooked at all, just soaked in hot water from 5 to 8 minutes.

Today I tried that, for 7 minutes. The result was not encouraging:


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So I should try for much shorter softening.


Better language?
Topic: language, food and drink, opinion Link here

Sixteen years ago I started grumbling about bad language in cooking. In particular, Woolworths renamed many vegetables, the worst being spring onions, which they alternately called shallots (a different vegetable) or “Eschallot”, But today I find that they have seen the light. Here 16 years ago and now:

 
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To make up for it, they have found a way to obfuscate their own name.


Rearranging the office
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

I've been in my current office for nearly 9 years, and in that time a lot has not changed. I still have the same computer and some of the monitors, and the computers under the monitors have also not all changed. Here the only photo I took 9 years ago, and how things look now:


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But I put a couple of audio amplifiers under the leftmost and rightmost monitors. The leftmost was my old Technics SU-3500, but it failed relatively soon after, so I replaced it with a Sansui San110, which ended up under the right-hand monitor.

But that, too, wasn't overly reliable. It works, at least on the right channel, but it irritated me, so I replaced it with a small modern device in September 2020. Both big amplifiers stayed there because they were still holding up monitors.

But now “fognozzle” on Freecycle was looking for old amplifiers, condition not important. OK, he can have both. All I need to do is disentangle them and replace them with a couple of old ThinkCentres (run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour):


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Straightforward enough, bar the cabling and the accumulated dirt:


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And so it took me half an hour. At least I didn't dislodge anything.


Mona progress
Topic: animals Link here

Mona continues to make slow progress. It's rather concerning that Bruno is so aggressive towards her. I think it's really that he doesn't know any better, and Mona handles it well.

This evening she was on my lap when Elena came up to me and wouldn't be discouraged. Mona not amused, didn't want to stay on my lap. So I put her on the floor, where she hissed at Lena and chased her away. That's probably a good lesson for both of them.


Tuesday, 7 May 2024 Dereel Images for 7 May 2024
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More network outages
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Another network outage round 9:00 this morning, like last week. There was a difference, though: the display on the NTD was different, no signal strength indication at all. Clearly one of the blanket National Broadband Network outages that they're threatening all the time.

OK, now that I can access the MyAussie app without too much pain, let's see what they have to say.


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Yes, of course we don't have an NBN connection, which is why I enabled mobile data. But even if I hadn't, “something went wrong” is a cop-out. And despite everything, I wasn't able to access the site:


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Report a fault? How? The selection is under the error message here, but there's no way to select a service. In other words, much worse even than I had feared.

The net came back, then went away again. Are we to endure this for several more days?


You must utterly destroy them
Topic: history, politics, opinion Link here

The Israeli destruction of the Gaza Strip haunts me. How can civilized people behave like that? One reason, of course, is because the Bible tells them to, in Deuteronomy 7. And yes, that passage refers to the arrival of the Jews in the Promised Land and how they should treat the existing inhabitants—exactly the situation in which present-day Israelis find themselves.

Why don't people comment on this? Of course they do. Decades ago David Steinberg (a Jew) wrote an article titled Commandment for Genocide?. Why have the mainstream media not taken issue with this part of the Bible?

More to the point, when will the USA stop supporting this horror? Instead they condemn the anti-Semitism that the Israeli government has inspired in people who can't distinguish between governments and people.


Wednesday, 8 May 2024 Dereel Images for 8 May 2024
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Another bloody RCD trip!
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

While making breakfast this morning, the RCD for the kitchen tripped. That's the same one that has given me pain last month. And on that occasion, too, it happened while cooking breakfast. I had suspected the water kettle then, but there was no obvious connection today. Still, since it also took tiwi down, it might be time to replace the kettle.


libmysqlclient: still no joy
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

The power outage also meant that I had to manually restart the weather monitor on tiwi. As last month, I had to run ldconfig to get the system to recognize it. So it wasn't the symlink. Presumably the issue was that MySQL wasn't installed on tiwi, and the hints file doesn't include the directory. Time to RTFM and check which hints file I should update.


More net outages
Topic: history, technology, general, opinion Link here

Another two National Broadband Network outages this morning. Clearly we can expect more:


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And reading back in my diary for years gone by, that's nothing unusual. Five years ago today I had exactly the same problem.


Thursday, 9 May 2024 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 9 May 2024
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Death of ceramics
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Over 5 years ago we bought some ceramic knives and found them excellent—for about 15 months. Then they had started to go blunt, and there's no way to sharpen them. So I'm back to using steel knives, though Yvonne still uses the ceramics. A good idea, but they don't last.

And then four years ago we bought the first of a number of non-stick ceramic frying pans, with which I was really happy. Here an omelette fried with no fat:


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Alas, like the knives, they don't last. Today I made some nasi goreng in another of the pans, a newer one. At the end it looked like this:


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The food stuck so firmly that I couldn't even scrape the remains from the pan. Even after washing it and putting it through the dishwasher, it wasn't clean:


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Why is that? Could it be that they're too temperature-sensitive?


More blood tests
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Into town this afternoon for my six-monthly blood test. I was asked to fill out a form asking if I had any incidence of prostate cancer (no), or whether a father, brother or son had had it (yes, my father), and acknowledging that I could be up for a bill of $110 otherwise. Clearly it doesn't apply to me, but I got a copy of the form I signed just in case.


Dan Murphy: no drinks
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Then to Dan Murphy to look for some Aqvavit. They hadn't even heard of it! I'm sure that they once had it, but like Kirsch, it's no longer available, and neither the assistant with whom I spoke nor his iPad knew what it was.


Oodles of noodles
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

On to the Fruit Shack to look for ingredients for the Beijing Fried Sauce Noodles (Zha Jiang Mian, 炸酱面) recipe that I found at the beginning of the month. Very difficult. There are at least 4 ingredients that I don't know:

  1. Dry yellow soybean paste (干黄酱). They admit that it's unlikely to be found outside China, and the recipe works around that.

  2. Fermented yellow soybean paste (黄豆酱) or ground bean sauce.

  3. Sweet bean paste (甜面酱).

  4. The noodles. The recipe is a bit vague too, but it shows these noodles as an example:

    https://thewoksoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/zhajiang-mian-fried-sauce-noodles-3-650x439.jpg

What did I find? A clear indication that I need to understand Chinese better. The only item that I was able to identify definitively was this “sweet bean paste”, which, as advertised, contains no beans:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240510/big/Sweet-bean-paste-3.jpeg
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Then there was this:


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Clearly it's not the fermented yellow soybean paste (黄豆酱). But is it related? It wasn't until I got home that I was able to follow the translation (Doubanjiang) to discover that it contains significant quantities of chili, not what I need here.

But then I found this:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240510/big/Haechandeul-2.jpeg
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Clearly it's Korean. The recipe mentions that something similar is eaten in Korea. But once again further research at home indicates that it's for seafood, as the right of the image shows.

And then the noodles. Almost nothing similar, though these Shanxi planed noodles may be suitable:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240510/big/Shanxi-planed-noodles-1.jpeg
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I've had them before, but after a disastrous experience with something similar, I stopped eating them.

So: what do I do? Research other recipes and experiment. That should keep me busy.


Friday, 10 May 2024 Dereel Images for 10 May 2024
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Goodbye amplifiers
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Alan Mallows, known on Freecycle as fognozzle, along today to pick up the amplifiers that I had extracted for him. I had thought that I knew him, but that was somebody else. An interesting person, currently planning to devote his time to the study of counterpoint. Clearly he has more energy than I. He gave me some interesting leads, notable the Ballarat Repair Cafe and FlashDrive. The latter may be able to do something with Bruce Evans' mutilated computers.


Saturday, 11 May 2024 Dereel Images for 11 May 2024
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Hugin problems, continued
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Last week I reported the problems I had with the new version of Hugin and got a response from Lukas Wirz, who is working on enblend and has recently committed a patch to fix this kind of problem. So I downloaded the latest version of enblend 4.3 from https://sourceforge.net/p/enblend/code/ci/default/tree/, a link that I had to be told about: the home page only offered version 4.2, which is what I had been running. Building had also not been straightforward: the FreeBSD Ports Collection has a too-rigid structure to easily deal with changes of location and archive format, and the README in the archive is seriously in need of correction. But finally I had it compiled, version 4.3-e87da60fab22.

House photo day today, a good day to compare the stitching. Here 4.1.4 (from eureka), 4.2 as released and in the Ports Collection, and my new version 4.3-e87da60fab22 (run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240511/big/e-from-house-enblend-4.1.4.jpeg
Image title: e from house enblend 4.1.4          Dimensions:          15108 x 4800, 12856 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240511/big/e-from-house-enblend-4.2.jpeg
Image title: e from house enblend 4.2          Dimensions:          15108 x 4800, 12378 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240511/big/e-from-house-enblend-4.3.jpeg
Image title: e from house enblend 4.3          Dimensions:          15108 x 4800, 12805 kB
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So yes, the latest version is an improvement over 4.2, but not good, and not as good as 4.1.4. Did some more playing around and discovered that it's related to extraneous objects in the component images, notably the panorama bracket and the legs of the tripod, as this component image shows:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240511/big/e-from-house-4.jpeg
Image title: e from house 4          Dimensions:          3888 x 5184, 2377 kB
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But it's strange how it deals with it. The artefacts don't match the bracket. My guess is that it relates to the image overlaps.


Sourdough: end of an era?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Time to bake bread again today. But somehow my starters are not looking good. Here one of only two months ago:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240511/big/Sourdough-starter-3.jpeg
Image title: Sourdough starter 3          Dimensions:          5186 x 3888, 6977 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240511/big/Sourdough-starter-4.jpeg
Image title: Sourdough starter 4          Dimensions:          5187 x 3888, 3912 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240511/big/Sourdough-starter-4-detail.jpeg
Image title: Sourdough starter 4 detail          Dimensions:          1622 x 1250, 411 kB
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There's something on the surface that resembles little worms. I've seen that before years ago :


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20100824/big/Sourdough-starter-2.jpeg
Image title: Sourdough starter 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 880 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20100824/big/Sourdough-starter-4-detail.jpeg
Image title: Sourdough starter 4 detail          Dimensions:          1876 x 1715, 304 kB
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This was with a starter that I bought on eBay 6½ years ago, and the sample in question is about the 45th generation. Time for another one? Or should I consider what I wrote in 2010?

So possibly the form just indicated lack of moisture.

No, I don't think so. But maybe the relatively consistent hydration of the starter makes it easier for other organisms to attack it. Currently I'm using a ratio of 5:4 water to flour, in itself up from 1:1. How about 2:1? Tried that today, with the interesting effect that the mixture immediately produced bubbles:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240511/big/Sourdough-starter-6.jpeg
Image title: Sourdough starter 6          Dimensions:          5195 x 3888, 5576 kB
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But maybe it's time to buy a new starter.


Focus problems
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

How do you take a photo of a surface with almost no distinguishing marks? Today I found one possibility: you don't. Taking the photo of the infected sourdough starter was easy enough, but I wasn't able to focus on the surface of the uninfected one. The best I got was this:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240511/big/Sourdough-starter-5.jpeg
Image title: Sourdough starter 5          Dimensions:          5184 x 3888, 7018 kB
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And that doesn't bear closer scrutiny:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240511/big/Sourdough-starter-5-detail.jpeg
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There was nothing for the autofocus to focus on, and I couldn't get enough contrast to use focus peaking. I suppose this is the way it always was decades ago, and the reason why so few macro photos were usable.


The coming of spring
Topic: gardening Link here

Seen while walking the dogs today:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240511/big/First-flower-of-spring.jpeg
Image title: First flower of spring          Dimensions:          1939 x 2430, 1242 kB Display location on map
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That's a spring flower. And autumn is by no means over yet!


Mona's progress
Topic: animals Link here

We've had Mona for 3 weeks now, and she continues to settle in:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240511/big/Mona-5.jpeg
Image title: Mona 5          Dimensions:          3456 x 4610, 3311 kB
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Bruno is becoming less aggressive, and they seem to be coming together. I have the impression that Mona wants to play too, but she's waiting for him to become gentler. And she's also not as terrified of the dogs any more, though there's still a way to go on that topic.


Southern lights?
Topic: general Link here

The current solar weather has given rise to particularly bright Aurora australis and Aurora borealis round much of the world, and they were visible from here—I was told. I went out round 22:00 to take a look, and there was nothing but cloud. Potentially it would improve, but after my experience with the Lunar eclipse 1½ years ago I couldn't be bothered. And despite some searches I couldn't find any photos on line from round here.


Sunday, 12 May 2024 Dereel Images for 12 May 2024
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Bread surprise
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

The sourdough starter that I started yesterday developed much as I had expected, and of course it was much thinner, making it easier to handle. Baked a loaf with it, as planned. The old method had 375 ml of water in the starter, minus 80 g removed for the next starter, and 760 g in the last stage, for a total of 1055 g. The new starter had 600 g of water, minus 128 g removed for the next starter, so I needed an additional 535 g to make my 1055 g. The result was a dough with exactly the same consistency as before.

But it rose so much more quickly and more vigorously:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240512/big/Bread-1.jpeg
Image title: Bread 1          Dimensions:          2303 x 2994, 1701 kB
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I hadn't expected that. Of course, it collapsed a little on baking:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240512/big/Bread-2.jpeg
Image title: Bread 2          Dimensions:          3436 x 3206, 3000 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240512/big/Bread-3.jpeg
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Still, an unexpected change.


More Hugin experiments
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday's comparisons of the output of enblend 4.1.4, 4.2 and 4.3 were revealing, but they don't match the images I used last week. Followed that one up, and got (again, versions 4.1.4, 4.2 and 4.3) (once again, run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240504/big/laundry-door.jpeg
Image title: laundry door          Dimensions:          15130 x 5367, 25180 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240504/big/laundry-door-broken.jpeg
Image title: laundry door broken          Dimensions:          15130 x 5367, 21666 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240504/big/laundry-door-enblend-4.3.jpeg
Image title: laundry door enblend 4.3          Dimensions:          15130 x 5367, 15309 kB
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This time the image from 4.3 was almost acceptable, but compared to 4.1.4 it still has serious issues, in particular gradation and a black triangle to the left of the tripod shadow.


ACDSee software free
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

Interesting offer in the mail today: “Completely FREE! Get Gemstone Photo Editor now, no strings!”.

OK, if it's free, I'll take 2. I looked at ACDSee briefly ten years ago, and while I didn't find anything wrong with it, I didn't mention it again.

OK, follow the link. “Please fill out this CAPTCHA”. Dammit, what is wrong with the browser on hydra:0.2 that always wants CAPTCHAs to be filled out? Started up despise, where it's supposed to go, and got the same result. Then a download link, along with a popup asking whether I wanted to do something that I could resist. No download!

Try again. “Our records show that you have already downloaded this software”. Dammit, is this just an attempt to annoy me? Sent a message to their help line and moved on.

Oh. The “Submit” button appears to have been a request to send me an email message. It didn't say anything, but I got the email message with a link to download it. Did that, installed the package, and I was asked for a license key! OK, I get a 30 day trial, and in that time they should have sorted things out.

But how do I access my files? Again one of these stupid toy file access windows which didn't show my P: file system. It found old files there, but it took me a long time to discover that the window was too small to show the file system. Ugh. But by that time I had moved on to less frustrating things.

Only later did I notice that the email included a license key to type in. Did that, and it worked. So maybe I am just being too easily frustrated.

And what is Gemstone Photo Editor 12? I thought that it was not the latest version, but that seems not to be the case: it's a component of their total package. It might be worth trying out.


Monday, 13 May 2024 Dereel
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Latest AAMI nonsense
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Yet another email from AAMI today, technically in response to my message of 29 April. They enclose a purported assessor's report that is interesting for a number of reasons. In particular, it doesn't describe any damage! I think that it's time to read “Brave New World” again. I recall something about Epsilons that might be relevant today.


Understanding ACDSee
Topic: photography Link here

What does ACDSee Gemstone Photo Editor 12 do? What can I do with it? There are plenty of videos, of course, and today I took a look at some.

I still don't know what it can do. The ones I looked at show navigating their menu system and some of the normal things, like changing gradation. But they start in the middle! Yes, I have established that I can start the thing and load (“import)” photos. And apart from the basics, what can I do with them? Remove background seems to be standard now. Can I use it to get better results with my kangaroo photos, or maybe the Christmas photo last year? Hard to say. It will require still more playing around to find out. The good news is that the license is permanent, so I'm in no hurry.


Tuesday, 14 May 2024 Dereel
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Breasts with sculpture
Topic: animals, general Link here

Larissa has joint pains again, and today Yvonne took her to Pene Kirk for an injection. On the way home, in the middle of nowhere between Rokewood Junction and Cape Clear, she found various things to give away on the side of the road. She brought back this wooden sculpture, about 35 cm high:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240515/big/Breasts-with-sculpture-1.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240515/big/Breasts-with-sculpture-2.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240515/big/Breasts-with-sculpture-3.jpeg
Image title: Breasts with sculpture 3          Dimensions:          3888 x 5184, 1111 kB
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It seems to emphasize the breasts and nipples; everything else is much less detailed.


Mona and Bruno: still not there
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Somehow it's taking longer than I would like for Bruno and Mona to adapt to each other. Bruno keeps chasing her and jumping on her. I can't make up my mind whether he just wants to play with her, or whether he resents her, but I wish it would be over.


Power outage!
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

While watching the news on TV this afternoon, there was a “beep” and the TV and tiwi, the driving computer, powered off. Nothing else, including the microwave ovens and lagoon, Yvonne's computer, which were on the same circuit, didn't. It must have been a power surge, lasting less than a second.

Damn! I must do something about that. Waited for it to come back. It didn't. And of course the display remained blank. I really need to do something about that; the TV is connected by HDMI, but the machine comes up looking for the DVI interface, which wasn't connected.

Into the office to get a monitor to connect to the DVI cable which I had hanging out for exactly this purpose. But the display remained dark. Was it trying to talk to the on-board output? Took out the machine and took it into the office, where I discovered that hydra had also reset. Damn! But first things first. Connect it to a DVI display and discover that it's waiting to mount a file system on hydra. And hydra is waiting to mount a file system on tiwi. Typical deadlock. Fix that, but while I have it there, let's fix the display issues. Yes, I could set the display to the display card, but there was no way to tell it which output to use. Connect up an HDMI link to test that. How I hate HDMI! Somehow the connectors are designed to only fit if they're exactly lined up! How I hate the fact that every monitor has different connections, usually pointing down to make it more difficult to insert. It took me 5 minutes just to insert the connector. And then I discovered that it was the wrong one!

Finally I got it in and confirmed that it worked. Nearly an hour! High time that we finally get some surge protection in place. And a lesson not to cross-mount at boot. I can do that later.

And the default display? It seems to be related to this particular machine, a ThinkCentre M91p with 6 GB memory. It's somewhat underpowered, and it replaces teevee, which was an M93p with 8 GB, and I can expand that to 16 GB or more if necessary. And it doesn't have these display issues that the M91p does. So my plan is to migrate back to that sometime. It looks like this “sometime” should be soon.

But why no display on the monitor when I first tried it? My guess is that it had tried the DVI output, found nothing and given up altogether on a display, rather than checking what else was there. If I had power cycled it, there's a good chance that it would have worked.

And hydra? Up and running, but of course the X configuration is all over the place. I need to look at that again.


Wednesday, 15 May 2024 Dereel Images for 15 May 2024
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Hard-to-clean kitchen utensils
Topic: food and drink Link here

A while back we bought a large cover for frying pans. It covers various pan sizes with a silicone ring. Sounds like a good idea, but recently we somehow got dirt in the silicone. And I can't get it out! After twice through the dish washer (intensive programme), soaking and scratching, it still looks like this:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240515/big/Dirty-pan-cover.jpeg
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Why is that?


Catastrophe!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

After yesterday's power outage, I left it until today to pick up the remains of hydra. A good thing, too. It took all day and I still wasn't done.

In principle it came back relatively quickly. Fire up my kludge window managers, start firefox... Nothing. Well, for a while. Then the machine rebooted.

Huh? That never happens. Try again. Start X. Start window managers. Start firefox. Spontaneous reboot!

Damn, what's causing that? Something wrong in /usr/local? Ran a manual fsck on the root file system, and how about that, it found a number of anomalies. Start firefox. Crash.

OK, something in /usr/local? Simple, let's restore a new version of the root file system on /home and link /usr to it. Reboot. Start firefox. Crash.

OK, let's install a new firefox. Packages to delete:... That way madness lies.

OK, build from source. No fewer than 4 out-of-date packages. Finally they were updated, then...

===>  Configuring for firefox-126.0_2,2
env: /home/src/FreeBSD/git/ports/www/firefox/work/firefox-126.0/configure: No such file or directory

make clean and restart.

=> firefox-126.0.source.tar.xz doesn't seem to exist in /home/src/FreeBSD/git/ports/distfiles/.
=> Attempting to fetch https://download.cdn.mozilla.net/pub/firefox/releases/126.0/source/firefox-126.0.source.tar.xz

It hadn't even downloaded the sources!

After that, all went well. Install the new version, start... Reboot!

Spent a bit of time thinking about that, and whether I shouldn't use Google Chrome instead. Tried that, with less than stellar results. If I make the switch (and God knows I have no great love of firefox), it'll have to be some other time.

So what is it? Hardware? Maybe the display card? Tried starting it to run on eureka. Reboot!

But this time it was different. I had started from the console, and it showed that it paniced and printed a stack trace just long enough (about 1 to 2 seconds) to be recognizable as such. OK, try again with a camera at hand:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240515/big/Panic.jpeg
Image title: Panic          Dimensions:          3742 x 1431, 549 kB
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As I had suspected by this time, it was a corrupt file system. But I had already run fsck multiple times, and it didn't find anything. The inode number 294790917 made it clear that it was on the /home file system: the root file system only has about 5.5 million inodes. Nothing for it: dump an image of the entire file system for later analysis, and then rebuild the file system. Dig out an old external USB drive and run a dd through gzip.

Bad idea. gzip only uses one CPU, leaving 31 idle. Copying the 3.8 TB took 16 hours! Nothing more to be done today. All day long, and hydra was still not usable. A good thing that I had eureka, and a good reason to stick with the two system configuration. But when will it be over?


USA will protect Ukraine
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Seen in the Kyiv Independent:

Blinken emphasizes long-term US security commitment to Ukraine in visit to Kyiv. "If Russia or anyone else were to attack Ukraine, we will work with Ukraine immediately at the highest levels to coordinate how to help you beat back the threat," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

A good thing that the Russians have no intention of invading Ukraine.


Thursday, 16 May 2024 Dereel
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Recovering hydra, day 2
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Copying the /home file system on hydra ran until 4:28 this morning. The next step would be to copy the individual files—maybe. After all, they were all backed up—maybe. This morning's backup output failed:

*** Mail of at least 153911296 bytes could not be accepted
*** at hydra.lemis.com due to lack of disk space for temp file.
*** Currently, 150424 kilobytes are available for mail temp files

Admire the different units, almost obscuring the fact that the message was only just too big. I wonder what it contained.

But in the meantime it occurred to me: I had run a full fsck on the root file system, but I had only run the journal fsck on /home. I have an up-to-date copy of the file system on my backup disk, so why not run a full fsck on /home? Even with a fast SSD it took a while, and I saved the output. That was worthwhile:

* Phase 1 - Check Blocks and Sizes
INCORRECT BLOCK COUNT I=295272877 (13248 should be 8064)
CORRECT? yes

** Phase 2 - Check Pathnames

UPDATE FILESYSTEM TO TRACK DIRECTORY DEPTH? yes

DIRECTORY CORRUPTED  I=294790917  OWNER=grog MODE=40700
SIZE=1024 MTIME=May 14 16:39 2024
DIR=/grog/.cache/mozilla/firefox/d8hf2bvx.firefox/cache2

UNEXPECTED SOFT UPDATE INCONSISTENCY

SALVAGE? yes

That was the only inconsistency, and clearly it's the cause of the problems: the inode number was the same as in the panic message, and since it's in the firefox hierarchy it explains the relationship. So I'm relatively confident that there's nothing wrong with the file system now. And if there is, I have multiple backups.

Still, time to complete the migration from eureka. There are a number of issues: some configuration files in my home directory are dependent on the system, and I don't have a general solution for that. And things like this diary need to be where they can be accessed from the web server on eureka. In addition, the kludge RCS setup that I started over 20 years ago gets in the way; time to unravel it. And finally, of course, I really need to fix my window manager configuration.


Plotting my weight
Topic: health, opinion Link here

I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow, and I wanted to talk to him about the concerns about weight loss I had last month. Yes, I can take my notebook, but this sort of things works best with a graphical representation. Played around with Gnuplot, a program that really frustrates me, and after a lot of RTFM and comparison with the scripts I use for my weather pages, I was only able to come up with this graph:

http://www.lemis.com/grog/Day/20240516/weight.png

Still, that should be sufficient. It shows relatively constant weight up to about 21 March, coincidentally (or maybe not?) the day of my first cataract operation, and then a steep descent followed by only a slight improvement.


Friday, 17 May 2024 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 17 May 2024
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Huevos a la tigre revisited
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Somehow I've never been happy with my huevos a la tigre recipe (a falsified version of Huevos a la flamenca). In particular, the eggs still didn't come out correctly. Dammit, it should be something between an omelette and scrambled eggs. It can't be that difficult. Here's what I ended up with:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240517/big/Heuvos-a-la-tigre-4.jpeg
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Weight graph: take a step back
Topic: technology, health, opinion Link here

Yesterday's graph of my weight was compelling, but somehow it's a little short. It started at the beginning of the year, but I've been recording my weight for over a year. How about some more data points? Spent a while typing in the values for the last 4 months of last year. And how about that, a completely different viewpoint. The first graph is the second half of the second graph:

http://www.lemis.com/grog/Day/20240516/weight.png http://www.lemis.com/grog/Day/20240517/weight.png

Oh. That's not at all what I expected, and it clearly shows the advantage of plotting graphs. So it looks as if there's not that much wrong with me after all.


Health checkup
Topic: health Link here

Into town to see Paul Smith, my GP. Very little to say. My blood test results seem to be some of the best I've had, though the indications of macrocytosis remain. I won my bet about the MCV value: 103 fl. I had bet 104, Paul 101. About the only new thing, apart from still more forms from Medicare to sign, was my waist measurement. He says that 94 cm is the maximum, and I'm 98 cm. I don't see that getting any better, and Paul doesn't seem overly concerned either.


Danish Fetta
Topic: food and drink, language, opinion Link here

On the way home stopped in at ALDI and looked around for inspiration. One thing that we needed was feta, which Yvonne usually buys at Woolworths (why, I don't know). ALDI has some too—from Denmark!


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240517/big/Danish-Fetta.jpeg
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They had Greek “fetta” there too, and just for the fun I took one of each. It'll be interesting to compare them.


More hydra net hangs
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

Last month I had issues with hydra hanging while processing photos with despise, a Microsoft VM. I suspected a network card issue at the time, and I stopped using despise for a while. But then I tried again, and so far there were no issues. Then today I reprocessed some old photos, a total of 159 images from ten years ago. And in the middle of running “Perfectly Clear“, I got another dreaded net hang.

Or was it? I had prepared for this eventuality with a vty logged in as root and with only local file systems in its path. Switched to it. No keyboard input! Switched to another vty. All was well. Back to my prepared vty. Keyboard works. ping eureka? Unknown host. ping 192.109.197.137? Works fine. ping eureka? Works fine. I had had a ping running in the opposite direction on eureka, and it showed:

64 bytes from 192.109.197.129: icmp_seq=10 ttl=64 time=0.132 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.129: icmp_seq=22 ttl=64 time=7438.541 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.129: icmp_seq=23 ttl=64 time=6437.613 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.129: icmp_seq=24 ttl=64 time=5435.655 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.129: icmp_seq=25 ttl=64 time=4417.687 ms
64 bytes from 192.109.197.129: icmp_seq=30 ttl=64 time=0.134 ms

So yes, it's at least an issue with the network adapter, but something that I haven't seen before, and the keyboard issue is also a question. I had another hang later in the same batch, and recovery was similar. In each case it resulted in corrupted images, so it's not ideal. I wonder if the vendor's driver would do better.


NFS fun
Topic: technology Link here

I still have my home directory spread across hydra and eureka, and it's definitely not ideal. Today I wrote yesterday's diary entry on hydra and committed it. It didn't show on the same file system on eureka. I've experienced consistency issues with NFS in the past, but it's been a while, and I've been doing things like this for a long time. What has changed now?


Mona come home
Topic: animals Link here

Seen this evening:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240517/big/Mona-2.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240517/big/Mona-1.jpeg
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That's the cat basket that Yvonne bought in advance of Mona's arrival nearly a month ago. Up to now, neither cat had used it at all.


Saturday, 18 May 2024 Dereel Images for 18 May 2024
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Yvonne sick
Topic: health, general, opinion Link here

Yvonne went to feed the horses in the morning, as usual. When she got back, she told me that she had a cold and retired to her bed for the rest of the day, not eating anything.

How serious is it? Not very, she says. But for me it's a concern, of course. And somehow the whole day changed.


SMS takes over the world
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I didn't need to worry about forgetting yesterday's doctor's appointment: I got not one, but two SMS to remind me.


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240518/big/SMS-pain-6-detail.jpeg
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Marginally acceptable, I suppose. What if I hadn't read the messages? Would they have called me? If so, that's really acceptable: it saves a lot of work on both sides. But why not an email? Ah, email is portable, so it must be bad.

Then this morning I received more SMSs:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240519/big/SMS-1-detail.png
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I suppose that's acceptable, too, though really barely. Why can't they just send email? Even “smart” phones can handle that. That went through with this stupid identification via date of birth in a format of their choosing, and the assignment was complete. Download a copy? Sure. So it downloaded. Where is it? How do I know? The File Mangler doesn't seem to either. It doesn't even identify the file with which it has problems:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240519/big/Screenshot_2024-05-19-13-18-52-051_com.mi.android.globalFileexplorer-detail.jpeg
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But then there was another one:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240518/big/SMS-pain-4-detail.jpeg
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Now isn't that stupid? What kind of URL is that? Did they really mean www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/myaccount/icu? No, it seems not. It's s[cp]am, in this case a particularly inept one, since the URL doesn't exist. But it does highlight how difficult it is to separate legitimate messages from malicious ones, especially if you can't see the metadata.


Saving SMSs
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

I've been trying in vain for years to find an app that reliably forwards SMSs to email. This recent increase in their use by people who should know better just makes the thing more important.

I have a couple of apps installed on my phone in the vain hope that they might help, but most of them just want to back up, not forward. OK, if that's all there is, try SMS Backup & Restore. Google Drive? Dropbox? OneDrive? Or (strongly discouraged) on your phone?

Sigh. Somehow these people are not on the same planet as I. Select “this phone”, ignore alarm bells, and I was actually able to select a directory folder that I could access externally, though of course they changed the path name from /SMS to /primary/SMS. But yes, it created a backup, and I was able to download it. Now what do I do with it? It looks like this:

<?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8' standalone='yes' ?><b>^M></b>
<!--File Created By SMS Backup & Restore v10.20.002 on 18/05/2024 09:01:01--><b>^M></b>
<!--

To view this file in a more readable format, visit https://synctech.com.au/view-backup/

--><b>^M></b>
<smses count="588" backup_set="fc0345b6-7b21-47c2-9691-e5878d9dec93" backup_date="1715986857253" type="full"><b>^M></b>
  ...
<sms protocol="0" address="+61420810625" date="1715921300502" type="1" subject="null" body="Hi Gregory, following your recent bulk billed visit to Health First Medical Group please click on the link below to assign your Medicare benefits to Dr Paul Smith.&#10;&#10;automedsystems.com.au/online/mb/fwaGIoUic&#10;&#10;Your prompt attention would be appreciated. &#10;&#10;Thank ... view all automed.au/BC5280sr" toa="null" sc_toa="null" service_center="+61415013040" read="1" status="-1" locked="0" date_sent="1715921297000" sub_id="1" readable_date="17 May 2024 14:48:20" contact_name="Hf" /><b>^M></b>

I suppose it's par for the course that it's all XML. But even so there are some interesting things to note:

So: some progress towards what should be basic functionality. I'm sure there are more surprises in store.


More house photos
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Another round of house photos today, and once again the latest version of enblend made a mess of them. Time to install enblend 4.1.4 on hydra.


Sunday, 19 May 2024 Dereel Images for 19 May 2024
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Yvonne still sick
Topic: health Link here

Yvonne still hasn't more than started to recover from her cold, and she spent all day in bed. Only in the evening did she get up, ate a slice of bread, and watched TV. Hopefully things are looking up.


SMS backup, the down side
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

After yesterday's success with saving SMS messages, I set up SMS Backup & Restore to back up at frequent intervals, once an hour. Today I downloaded the results. 20 files, each 20 MB in size, and all almost identical. Only the backup date was different.

Complete backups! It's bad enough to have a single file backup, but it seems that there is no provision for incremental backups. Clearly once an hour is far too frequent. For the moment I'll go back to once a day.


Building enblend 4.1.4
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

I can't run the enblend 4.1.4 binaries directly on hydra due to library hell. Sometimes I wonder if dynamically linked executables are still a good idea. But I have the source: build it.

Use the port in the Ports Collection? That's too fragile. If it's not up to date, it won't work. So build it as the author intended. After tripping over the confusing installation instructions, I came to:

And there I left it standing while I pondered how to fix the problem.


tiwi problems?
Topic: technology, multimedia Link here

While looking at a web page on tiwi in the afternoon, everything froze. Well, almost everything. The mouse cursor still ran, but I couldn't input anything. Off to hydra, which told me that the X server was running at 100%. Rogue web page? Quite possibly. Shot down firefox, and X went with it. Restart X, and things seemed to work, but though I had started it with -listen tcp, I wasn't able to start anything that would talk to tiwi:0, not even locally. Is that because I started X from a different system?

But while watching TV later, the system paniced:

May 19 18:55:22 tiwi kernel: Fatal trap 12: page fault while in kernel mode
May 19 18:55:22 tiwi kernel: cpuid = 3; apic id = 06
May 19 18:55:22 tiwi kernel: fault virtual address      = 0x0
May 19 18:55:22 tiwi kernel: fault code         = supervisor read data, page not present
May 19 18:55:22 tiwi kernel: instruction pointer        = 0x20:0xffffffff828debf2
May 19 18:55:22 tiwi kernel: stack pointer              = 0x28:0xfffffe0073550a90
May 19 18:55:22 tiwi kernel: frame pointer              = 0x28:0xfffffe00b1ff8e10
May 19 18:55:22 tiwi kernel: code segment               = base 0x0, limit 0xfffff, type 0x1b
May 19 18:55:22 tiwi kernel:                    = DPL 0, pres 1, long 1, def32 0, gran 1
May 19 18:55:22 tiwi kernel: processor eflags   = interrupt enabled, resume, IOPL = 0
May 19 18:55:22 tiwi kernel: current process            = 12 (swi4: clock (0))

What caused that? Normally the software interrupts are as solid as anything could be. Hardware issues? Looking further back, I saw:

May 19 16:39:21 tiwi kernel: NVRM: GPU at PCI:0000:01:00: GPU-85983119-e9ef-ac66-6817-fbed5657b871
May 19 16:39:21 tiwi kernel: NVRM: Xid (PCI:0000:01:00): 31, Ch 00000005, engmask 00000101, intr 10000000
May 19 16:39:31 tiwi kernel: NVRM: Xid (PCI:0000:01:00): 38, 0001 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000
May 19 16:39:31 tiwi kernel: NVRM: Xid (PCI:0000:01:00): 39, CCMDs 00000006 000090b5
May 19 16:42:09 tiwi kernel: NVRM: Xid (PCI:0000:01:00): 31, Ch 00000001, engmask 00000101, intr 10000000
May 19 16:42:12 tiwi kernel: pid 1353 (Xorg), jid 0, uid 0: exited on signal 6

I've never understood these Nvidia messages. It looks as if that, and not a rogue web page, was the cause of the X crash.

The good news is that the system display came up on the TV, as I had hoped to achieve last week. Still, time for new hardware?


Monday, 20 May 2024 Dereel Images for 20 May 2024
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Another ramen experiment
Topic: food and drink Link here

I still don't have a good recipe for Ramen noodles for breakfast. Earlier in the month I tried an AI-generated recipe that didn't really go as I expected. OK, try again, interpreting these emetic cups and spoons, and came up with:

quantity       ingredient       step
50 g       beef       1
2       shiitake mushrooms       1
50 g       miso paste       2
25 g       light soya sauce       2
25 g       vinegar       2
10 g       garlic paste       2
5 g       ginger paste       2
25 g       water       2
5 g       sesame oil       2
150 g       cooked ramen       3
35 g       spring onions       4

Cut the step 1 ingredients into serving pieces. Mix the step 2 ingredients and bring to boil in a pan. Add the step 1 ingredients and cook. Add the noodles, mix well and heat. Serve with chopped spring onion on top:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240520/big/Ramen-noodles.jpeg
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How was it? Still too salty. I need to take a step back and think of alternatives.


More VoIP issues?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yvonne received a phone call this morning on her mobile phone. Why that? The caller told me that she had tried the (VoIP) “landline”, but that it wasn't available.

It works for me. But somehow this sounds like a compatibility issue. Do I have the courage to call Aussie Broadband and report it?


Yvonne's progress
Topic: health Link here

Yvonne is still feeling anything but well, though there are indications that she's getting over whatever it was. It wasn't COVID-19, anyway: we have a dead RAT to prove it.


Failed cat photos
Topic: animals, photography, opinion Link here

Found Bruno and Mona together today. That needs a photo! Got my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark I, put an appropriate lens on it, and tried to take a photo. Couldn't focus! Tried various things, during which the camera made strange noises, similar to but different from the noise that the image stabilizer makes when composing a photo. Then the display went blank.

Tried again with a different lens. Similar problems, though the noise no longer occurred. This time an indicator S-IS.AUTO at top left blinked red. Then it went blank again.

And it stayed that way. Spent some time investigating. Almost certainly something has failed, probably (based on the display and the strange noises) something to do with the IBIS. Should I get it repaired? It's well over 10 years old, and I can get a replacement for $400. The last repair that Olympus did for me cost $431.63, and there's no reason to assume that this would be any simpler. So a replacement it is.

But what? The E-M1 on offer is clearly one possibility, but it would also be close to 10 years old. How about the latest and greatest, the OM System OM-1 Mark II? A quick check showed that the cheapest body I could get would set me back about $3,300. Yes, I could afford it—it's been over 7 years since I last bought a new body for myself. But what can it do for me that the E-M1 can't? Spent some time comparing things, and found only that the sensor technology is better (allowing boosted sensitivities of up to 51°/100,000 ISO), better IBIS, potentially better autofocus (including animal eye recognition). Is it worth it? I still need to agonize.


Paul Callow
Topic: history, opinion Link here

Mail from Rosemary Bunnage today. I had never heard of her, but she's the cousin of my schoolfriend Paul Callow. She included a photo of him with her and his father, along with Mark.


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230721/big/Rose-with-Uncle-Bob,-Paul-and-Mark.jpeg
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From the indication at bottom right, that photo was taken some time in the 1990s, on an 8 August. Rose says that it was taken “before he became ill”, something that I must follow up on.

But that's the second reference to Paul today. While walking the dogs I saw the first Amanita muscaria of the season. I've known that name from over 60 years ago, from when our group of unsporty intellectual misfits (Peter Green, Paul Callow, Rees of unknown Christian name) were talking about St. John the Divine (now apparently identified as John of Patmos), the author of the Book of Revelation. The general opinion was that he saw visions as the result of consuming Amanita muscaria. It was only decades later that I identified it as the common toadstool:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3b/Muchomurka_cervena.jpg/375px-Muchomurka_cervena.jpg

But somehow Paul was special. I knew him throughout our time at school, and in fact his father was partially responsible for our choice of school. It was pure coincidence that we became relatively close: I had almost nothing to do with his twin brother Nigel. Looking back it seems that we continued to do things together throughout my time at school. Here we are skiving games (something that we both hated) by working in the “Pioneers”, where we did some very lazy and inefficient building work:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/19641212/big/Pioneers-4-detail.jpeg
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And then there's this picture of the whole Pioneers group, with teacher “Drax” Baker at the left. He too had strong connections to Malaya. Paul and I are both wearing boaters (straw hats). I wonder if there was some kind of agreement.


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/19650619/big/Pioneers-11-detail.jpeg
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I wonder what happened to him.

It seems that Rose lives in Port Fairy, while her children live in Ballan. How do you get from one place to another? A good choice is through Dereel. Maybe we'll see her some time.


Still more weather station pain
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

After yesterday's crash on tiwi, I forgot to restart the weather application. When I did, I once again ran into this issue with the MySQL libraries. I really need to RTFM about that.

But it only ran for about 20 minutes. Then it hung again with the eternal

May 20 15:46:31 tiwi wh1080[26226]: Can't read device: Input/output error or Unknown error (5)
May 20 15:46:32 tiwi wh1080[26227]: Can't read device: Device busy or Unknown error (16)

How I hate this thing! USB connection problems? Tried the usual workarounds, to no avail. Then I disconnected the extension cable and moved the device closer to tiwi with just a normal cable. Works! So it was all just an issue with too-long cables!

Well, no. That ran for about 30 minutes and hung again. Looked more careful at the output:

=== root@tiwi (/dev/pts/12) /home/grog/src/weather/WH-1080-teevee 20 -> ./wh1080 $STATION grog "" eureka
./wh1080 starting
Raw rain: 0.000000, max: 3.000000
temprain before: 7245
Rain prev: 7245, now: 7245, raw 7245.0, temprain 7245
Can't read device: Unknown error or Device busy (16)

Why did it stop then? That was in the middle of retrieving the information. More investigation shows that there were—once again—multiple copies of the binaries running. That's my fault, not the station's. But how do I work around it? I start daemons that run no matter what. Time to find a way to kill existing ones when I start a new one:

ps waux | grep dorun | awk '{print "kill " $2}' | sh

For reference, usbconfig tells me:

ugen1.3: <vendor 0x1941 product 0x8021> at usbus1, cfg=0 md=HOST spd=LOW (1.5Mbps) pwr=ON (100mA)
ugen1.3.0: uhid0: <vendor 0x1941 product 0x8021, class 0/0, rev 1.10/1.00, addr 3>

Tuesday, 21 May 2024 Dereel Images for 21 May 2024
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Garden flowers in late autumn
Topic: gardening Link here

It's a month before the June solstice, time for the monthly garden photos.

There's not very much going on at this time of year. Spring bulbs are already on their way:


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That includes a couple from Jane Ashhurst, notably this one, which I thought had died:


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Is the Camellia japonica recovering? It still looks sick, but there are some buds on the way, and some of the leaves finally look green:


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For the time of year, the Corymbia ficifolia looks better than it has done:


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And the Abutilons also look good, though they're not flowering as profusely as I had hoped:


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And the Banksia serrata is flowering happily:


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My previous concerns were probably a misunderstanding of when it flowers.

And the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis “Uncle Max” seems almost normal again, after a couple of years of looking sick:


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And the roses are still in bloom, as they seem to be almost year-round:


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More E-M1 investigations
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

How dead is my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark I? It displays nothing when I power it on. But will it talk to a computer? Yes! And when I disconnect it, I again briefly get this S-IS.AUTO at top left of the display before it turns off, so I can at least confirm what it says.

But the software (Olympus Workspace) didn't want to connect to the Internet. Why not? “Failed to communicate with the server". All this software is so terminally broken. It's not clear that it would have helped, so I let it be.


Samba scratched?
Topic: photography, animals, opinion Link here

Feeding the horses this evening, saw this on Samba's back:


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One of the few uses of a mobile phone. But it wasn't easy. The first image looked like this:


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Why the flare? Yes, there's the sky in the background, but barely. It seems that the real issue is what I always expected: without a lens cap, phone lenses get smeared. And the composition always seems to be bad, though I went to some trouble.

And the bare patch? I thought she might have scraped it, but Yvonne thinks that it's some insect, and she's treating it.


Bruno trapped
Topic: animals Link here

In the evening, heard a plaintive meow, repeated. Off to find this:


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That's the pantry, of course. I had to look carefully to see this (yes, it's cropped from the same photo):

 
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He couldn't find a way out. Fortunately he didn't just knock everything onto the ground, so I had to help him out:


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Wednesday, 22 May 2024 Dereel Images for 22 May 2024
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Greg sick?
Topic: health Link here

Yvonne's cold hasn't passed me by completely. I have a bit of a sore throat. Which was is it going to go? Better, worse, or unchanged? So far it's unchanged.


OM System Workspace
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

Why didn't Olympus Workspace not want to connect to the “server” yesterday? It's too polite to say more than “Failed to communicate with the server". Which server? What failure? Checked and found that it was trying to contact https://app.olympus-imaging.com/olympusworkspace/en/, and that's an old, worn-out magic word. Now it needs to be called OM Workspace, and they're too polite to assume that you don't know that.

OK, try to download that. No, it claims not to know about Olympus Workspace, but it refuses to install while Olympus Workspace is present. OK, let's remove it. “Configuring Olympus Workspace 1.4.1”. Huh? I don't want to configure it, I want to remove it. And after 10 minutes with no progress, it became clear that it, too, was trying to contact the dead server.

Or so I thought. The program app was still running. Stop it, and the removal went through. Probably obvious to a Microsoft user, but it confused the hell out of me.

So, install OM Workspace, which still wanted a camera serial number. Not a problem: all the sample images on the DPReview web site include metadata, so I could have used one of those. But it was easier to copy my own metadata. And yes, all worked, sort of. Though I had just downloaded the program from their web site, it was out of date! First I needed to update it to the latest and greatest.

And what can I do with it? Not much. But at least I can use it to update firmware. I wondered if it can update my Olympus E-1 DSLR, but of course it couldn't. I wonder if it can even recognize the serial number, which is only 5 digits long.


Why buy an OM System OM-1 Mark II?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

So should I replace the dead Olympus OM-D E-M1 or buy a new OM System OM-1 Mark II, a camera so new that not even its maker has been able to create a usable web page about it? Downloaded a few YouTube videos, a couple of which gave some insight. It seems that the built-in neutral density filter is quite flexible, and it may even be useful: it's graded, and the position and angle can be changed. That would address a number of the issues that I had fifteen years ago. But my guess is that it only applies to JPEG images. And then there's a 14 bit pixel mode, though what I've seen so far doesn't make it clear whether that applies generally or only to high-resolution images. And one of the videos claim that it can be used as a web cam “out of the box”, whatever that might mean.

But there's so much more that seems important. The sensor is faster, which allows for even faster stills, up to 120 per second with the electronic shutter. What does that say about flash synchronization? The E-M1 Mark 1 could only manage 1/13 s, while the E-M1 Mark II can manage 1/60 s. That's not even documented!

But one thing that is clear: the image quality is better, and it's reflected in the highest sensitivities. All cameras have a maximum ISO setting of 25,000/45°, which they insist on calling 25,600, but the OM-1 Mark II has an extended setting of up to 100,000/51° (102,480, of course). Downloaded some sample images, and I'll play round with them.


Understanding the hydra net hang
Topic: technology Link here

More photo processing with despise running on hydra, and more hangs. They're becoming predictable: feed more than about 50 images to “Perfectly Clear” and it will hang. And maybe it will recover by itself after a while (10 seconds? 50 seconds?). But in the process it stores truncated images. A repeat fixes that, but it's still irritating.


Thursday, 23 May 2024 Dereel
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Life with infections
Topic: health Link here

It's clear that Yvonne did manage to infect me with her cold (or whatever it was): I have a sore throat, and I was feeling considerably under the weather, to the point that I had to turn up the heating and put on a second jumper. I wasn't feeling overly bad, but it's (almost) a new experience for me.


More OM-1 Mark II investigations
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Spent more time looking at videos about the OM System OM-1 Mark II. Yes, it has interesting features. Autofocus is better but still not good, they say. And I don't really need a graduated neutral density filter: I have one already, and I don't use it. The image quality is better than the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, but not by much: it's worse at 6400/39° ISO than the E-M1 Mark II is at 3200/36° ISO, so it doesn't really buy me much. And the cheapest (discounted) price I can find with Australian warranty is $3,350 (USD 2,217). That's over 8 times what the seller of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 is asking. In addition, the OM-1 Mark II is relatively new in the market; it's not beyond the bounds of possibility that the prices will drop by more than the price asked for the E-M1. So I think I'll go for the E-M1.


Friday, 24 May 2024 Dereel
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On the mend
Topic: health Link here

Whatever infection I got yesterday isn't gone yet, but it's going, though Yvonne and Petra both didn't seem convinced: I was quite hoarse most of the day. But I feel almost normal, and it won't be long now. Only Yvonne is still feeling not back to normal, after nearly a week.


OM-1 Mark II documentation
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I may have bought an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark I, but that doesn't mean that I've stopped looking at the OM System OM-1 Mark II. Today I fought my way through the manual looking for answers to questions I still had.

At least the manual looks big enough now. Ten years ago I complained about the manual for the E-M1, only 165 pages. This one has 566 pages, and it does seem to contain more information, if you can only find it.

First question: is the 14 bit pixel mode generally applicable, or only for Hi-Res shots? It seems that it's only for Hi-Res. Why? Is that some indication of the capabilities of the sensor?

And flash sync speed with electronic shuter? That's more complicated than I thought:

The flash sync speed for silent modes (P.198), High Res Shot (P.239), and focus bracketing (P.278) is 1/100 s. Furthermore, combining [ISO] values over ISO 16000 with settings that use an electronic shutter (for example, silent mode or focus bracket shooting) sets the flash sync speed to 1/50 s. The flash sync speed is also set to 1/50 s during ISO bracketing (P.275).

It's nice to see it documented, but the 1/100 s is not significantly better than the 1/60 s that I get with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II.

One thing that is interesting is another thing that I complained about 10 years ago: Wi-Fi connection only to a mobile phone and with the camera as access point. Now there's a program called OM Capture, and though the manual is too polite to tell you how to get it, it claims to be able to transfer


A new camera?
Topic: history, photography, opinion Link here

So my new camera will be my old camera, an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark I. It's also the first camera that I bought on Facebook, and despite my concerns everything went smoothly, and within a couple of hours I had Australia Post's confirmation that it had been received and will be here on Monday or Tuesday. Do I believe that claim?

Of course, I did more thinking. The camera cost me $350 including postage. The cheapest list price I could find for the OM System OM-1 Mark II is $3,499, almost exactly 10 times that price. Is that what drove my choice?

Well, partially, as I suggested yesterday. If the price of the OM-1/2 drops by only 10%, I can have both cameras for the same price. But the real reason is that I don't see the advantage of the OM-1. To my surprise, even the seller of the E-M1 agreed, after I had paid for his camera: “For handling em1 is actually better. I use om1 only for birding... It's difficult to hold om1”. That could be a personal opinion, but it's interesting nevertheless.

Stepping back, it's becoming clear that digital camera technology has become mature. The first usable (in my view) digital camera was the Casio QV-5000 SX that I bought in June 1998: it had a 1.2 MP image format (or 1.3 MP, as they claimed against all evidence), the smallest that I considered acceptable. That's 26 years ago. During about the first 13 of those years, resolution was a key concern, and it increased to about 12 MP, probably really enough for anybody.

By then, other factors were taking over: the viewfinder, for example. While searching for historical documents, came up with SLR's — the end of an era? by Andrzej Wrotniak, who always seems to have something interesting to say. The article was written in 2005, at a time when SLR viewfinders were virtually unchanged since the Contax S of 1949. He saw that electronic viewfinders would take over (and regretted it, something that I never did). And that was really just before Olympus introduced the E-330, which had a limited form of live viewfinder. And in 2008 Panasonic introduced the Lumix DMC-G1, the first real modern electronic viewfinder camera. That's only 10 years into my 26 year period.

What has changed since then? It took another 5 years for the E-M1 to appear, and it seems to be the first EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lens) camera to support phase detect autofocus, definitely an improvement. That's still only 15 years into my 26 years. And while there's no doubt that the OM-1 Mark II (introduced over 10 years later in 2024) is better, is it that much better? The technology is mature, and it seems that most improvements are related to in-camera processing functions, including autofocus. So I don't really expect any breakthroughs in the next few years.


Saturday, 25 May 2024 Dereel Images for 25 May 2024
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Health?
Topic: health Link here

Whatever infection I had is as good as gone, but there's still a frog in my throat—something that I have had for decades. Only currently it's still worse. That, too, will pass.


Cat fun
Topic: animals, photography, opinion Link here

Bruno has been escaping to the outside relatively frequently lately, about 2 or 3 times this week. Generally I've found him skulking round the Buddleja x weyeriana on the south side of the house. Today he tried again while I was trying to get my tripod through the too-narrow front door. The result:


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At least he didn't get out.


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