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Thursday, 1 November 2007 Dereel Images for 1 November 2007
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Chris Yeardley has been nagging me for some time to update the DNS for pasocentral.org: previously it was only on name servers on my ADSL link, and though the web site itself was publicly visible, the name servers weren't. Well, they were, but the records kept by the registrar needed updating, and I've been putting it off because of the pain of dealing with GANDI's web sites. Today I finally got around to it and confirmed that my worries were well founded. Another web site so badly laid out that I couldn't find what I was looking for—it had been hidden in the overflow from a fixed pixel size box.

When I finally did get the right page—I had to use the Apple, where it also renders incorrectly, but since the screen resolution wasn't so high, it was still possible to (sort of) use it. And then I got an error message:

 

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“Error occurred while changing the NS at the registry”. What error? They don't say. Selected “send email” and got another stupid web form, again with lots of margin left and right and no space for the message itself:


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Diary entry for Thursday, 1 November 2007

 

Sometimes I despair of ever getting properly formatted web sites or proper error messages. Of course I got no reply from them in a timely fashion, just a request for feedback about what I think of the technical support. With a bit of playing around, discovered that ozlabs.org is always rejected, while ns.ozlabs.org is accepted. It's the same IP address. I wonder if it's related to the fact that only the second name is registered as a name server.

Somehow spent most of the day at Chris' place. Between Yvonne and myself, we made 6 journeys. I went over after getting the name servers right and wanted to set up a way for her to upload web pages, but she was busy trying to load a horse (Paso, of course) into a float, and the horse didn't want to go. Yvonne came over and tried for a while, and in the end they gave up and loaded her into Chris' float instead. Even then, she nearly went crazy, and they had to take La Tigre along to calm her down.

The swallows are not dead; at least, not all of them. Found one sitting near the next guarding what must be a young one in the nest, though it looks just as big as the others:


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In the evening, it finally started raining, and by the time we left for dinner—at Chris' place—we had already had 6 mm in two hours. I hope it's not too late to have some benefit for the hay.


Friday, 2 November 2007 Dereel Images for 2 November 2007
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24 mm of rain in the last 24 hours! That's significantly more than in all of October, and we're still hoping that our hay will grow further.

Into town to investigate shipping containers. The place was between Haddon and Cardigan, and the main roads don't really go that way, so decided to go cross country. In the process went through some purported road works, which consisted only of a speed limit. We knew the end of the road works because we were told so:


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This wouldn't be so funny, except that even main highways in Victoria are limited to a speed of 100 km/h.

In Haddon, decided that one of the containers they had was suitable, and put a deposit on it; it'll be delivered when the debris from the pigsty has been removed. Then on to a hardware shop where I bought lots of stuff for the garden and house, including an orbital sander, paint, a couple of different tree trimming tools and a soil pH testing kit. Back home and spent some time playing with the new toys. The instructions for the tree trimmer are some of the worst I have ever seen. It comes with a 40 cm long saw blade which is presumably intended to be mounted on the unit, but there's no obvious way to mount it, and the instructions don't even mention the blade. Marvellous.


Saturday, 3 November 2007 Dereel Images for 3 November 2007
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Lots of things to play with today, and spent some time doing so. Somehow nothing was urgent enough, and so I ended up not doing very much.

When we bought it, the house had a surprising number of mainly dilapidated sheds. I've already mentioned the “garage” and the now dismantled pigsties; there were also some others to the north-east of the house, visible in the exterior photos that I try to take every Saturday:


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There's also another shed behind that one; Yvonne originally wanted to use both as horse stables, which would have meant a lot of work. A couple of months ago we converted the right-hand side of the shed into a tack room; now we've decided that the rest would conveniently house the garden equipment. The horses won't need any particular shelter until autumn, at least 5 months away, so we can cross that bridge when we come to it. Spent some time removing the interior of the shed, which had previously been used for the dogs.

Paul, the hay mower, came along to look at our pitiful excuse for hay; he thinks that yesterday's rain might help. So might today's; we had quite a bit in the evening, possibly more than yesterday, in the process discovering a leak in the roof which came down through one of the light fittings in the hallway. When it finally stops raining we're going to have to get up on the flat part of the roof and find out why there are bricks and chicken wire up there.


Sunday, 4 November 2007 Dereel Images for 4 November 2007
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Woke at 2:47 this morning to discover that the power had failed again, and that the UPS for the HiFi system had already failed. There's not much I can do about that without a generator, so went back to sleep. At 8:00 there was still no power, so called Powercor on 13 24 12 to hear a message telling me that there were no incidents reported in the area, and that I would have a wait of 15 minutes before I could speak to anybody. Gave up on that and had breakfast, then out to look at the rainfall. The measuring beaker hadn't overflowed, but the scale conveniently stops at 33 mm:


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Took it in and measured the volume and the surface area—for reference, the beaker has an opening 78.5 mm wide, corresponding to 48.4 cm². Based on that, the 257 ml in the beaker correspond to a rainfall of 53.1 mm, more than in the whole of September and October. Now why couldn't it have fallen more uniformly? From being dried up, the paddocks are now overflowing with water:


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Also discovered that the storm had done quite some damage—one tree completely knocked down, another split and lying over the electric fence, and lots of debris on the road.

Round 9:00 over to see how Chris Yeardley was getting on. She had had a power failure round midnight during a storm with lightning, but that it had come back pretty quickly. Called Powercor again, and this time got a different message—“Please enter your post code”—and a wait of 5 minutes which proved to be only 30 seconds. It seems that there were really no faults reported in Dereel, and of course they would come and look at it.

Then back home to remove the fallen trees, in pouring rain—between 9:00 and 15:00 we had another 17 mm of rain. The toys I bought on Friday came in handy with that job. The into the house to shiver and wait for the crew, who didn't show up by noon, so over to Chris' place mainly to see the tree that Yvonne had told me was blocking the Dereel-Rokewood Junction Road, but by the time I got there they were already towing it away. Spent some time setting up ssh tunnels with Chris, then she installed putty on her Microsoft box, which didn't want to talk to the Apple. I suspect it's the Apple's fault: she could connect to other places fine.

The Apples still confuse me. I have to agree with Chris that it's easier to use Microsoft, though a lot of that has to do with prior experience (“intuition”) and the almost complete lack of useful documentation for the Apple. I still don't have a list of the functions created with the Apple key; I know that Apple-, means “set preferences”, and Apple-n in the terminal emulator creates a new window, but where's there a list? Spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get the machine to talk to any of her three printers, without success. The printer setup screens don't really describe what they mean by the terms “name” and “location”, and once set up, the IP address seems to disappear. In addition, the setup insisted on making the printer a “default PostScript” printer. Probably you really need this “driver” on the CD. Why does everything have to be so complicated?

Called PowerCor again at 13:00, this time getting yet another message, full of the background noise of a call centre, and no menu to choose from. I was told that somebody was in the area, and that four houses were affected. Back home again and waited in vain as the temperatures in the house tended down towards 15°, and called again at 15:00 to discover that the support computers were down—it wasn't a power failure, probably just state of the art—, that a truck had been dispatched at 11:51, but they didn't know where it was, and that it could have been diverted for a more urgent matter. About all she could tell me was that we would get a refund of $100 if we have more than 20 hours total power outages in a year, rising to $150 for 30 hours and $300 for 60 hours. They weren't prepared to pay for a hotel.

Decided to evacuate to Chris' place, and just as I was about to load stuff into the car, a Powercor van drove past the house to the transformer on the other side of the road.


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Almost before I could see what they were doing, they dragged out a long post and prodded in the cables, then used the same post (I think) to open up a flap and change the fuse. It was so fast that I couldn't quite follow what they were doing. It seems that the fuse had failed, presumably due to the lightning strike, and that they were able to replace it with this unwieldy pole. Very impressive. The fuse itself conducted 11000 V, was rated at 6 A and located in the middle of what looked like an insulator. The bar at the right is the clamp to open and close it from the ground:


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That's the longest power outage I've ever experienced, from 1:00 am (according to Judy, our neighbour, who was awake at the time) to 15:42, a total of over 14 hours. Is this Powercor's fault? There was a serious storm; but why did it take them nearly 7 hours to get somebody to do a 2 minute job?

Back inside and brought up all my computers, not an easy business:

About the only systems that gave me no problems at all were boskoop (Apple), ceeveear (Linux) and ugliness (Microsoft). ugliness did require manual intervention to start the Internet access program, but that's Big Pond's problem, not Microsoft.


Monday, 5 November 2007 Dereel Images for 5 November 2007
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Spent much of the day catching up after yesterday's problems, including removing fallen timber. Yvonne left for Olivaylle with Chris round lunch time, and spent most of the afternoon looking at Peter Hansteen's book. Finally I have time to do a proper review, but it wasn't finished today.


Tuesday, 6 November 2007 Dereel
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More work on the book review today, and finally made my way through it, in the process finding a typo in the FreeBSD configuration file /usr/src/sys/conf/NOTES which I fixed with revision 1.1455. The review has certainly had one advantage: I've wanted to install pf for a long time, and now I have a much better idea of how it works. Now all I need is a proper network.

Cooking in the afternoon. Gratin dauphinois is one of those classic dishes about which nobody can agree. Dragged up a number of recipes, all different, but finally put something together that wasn't too bad.


Wednesday, 7 November 2007 Dereel
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Alan, the scrap metal man, came along this morning and picked up the remains of the pigsty, obligingly separating the rest of the wood. Things are moving ahead.

There was a funny noise coming from the other side of the lagoon most of today, sounding something like machinery running, so I went down there to the hall to take a look. Nothing. In fact, the noise was fainter than from home. Back home, went down to the lagoon and discovered that the noise was coming from the lagoon: now that it has rained, there are thousands, possibly millions of frogs and insects making a concerted noise. I suppose we'll have to get used to that.


Thursday, 8 November 2007 Dereel Images for 8 November 2007
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ALDI had a special in today's catalogue: high pressure water pump for only $129; normally they go for $400 to $500, and that's one of the things we will need as soon as our bore has been drilled. Into town wondering whether to buy one or two—we have a Davey pump here, and it's showing signs of age—and ended up taking the entire stock: they were sold out, only a few hours after they went on sale. Damn! I wonder how many they had in the first place.


Friday, 9 November 2007 Dereel
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Pretty quiet day; spent it trying to access web broken sites and scanning photos. Why do I have so much trouble with dust? Even after careful cleaning, I'm left with specks of dust all over the place, and the software dust removal can't really cope with it.

Moore's law breaks down

I've frequently complained about the quality of web sites, but the more I complain, the more it seems that things are getting worse. Moore's law states that computer “power” doubles every so-and-so-many months; the exact value differs between about 18 and 36, depending on who you ask. But that doesn't hold true for displays. In 1997, the standard laptop display had a resolution of between 640x480 and 1024x768 pixels. By 2000, it had increased to between 1920x1440 and 1024x768. Since then, it has decreased: the maximum resolution you're likely to find is 1920x1200, and it's very rare to find anything more on the desktop. If Moore's law had applied (with a time constant of 24 months) over the last 10 years, we would now have displays ranging between 3600x2700 and 5600x4200.

The reason this hasn't happened is clear: the web's holding it back. Most web sites don't even render correctly at 1920x1440, and the tendency seems to be to more breakage. HTML is holding back progress here. Over the years I've put up so many images of broken web rendering that I don't think there's any point to do it again, at least not for normally available resolutions. But I've found a way of setting up a web server with a 4080x3060 virtual display size, a resolution that corresponds roughly to that of a good quality digital camera. With that I started up a full-screen web browser. To my surprise, the breakage I found wasn't much worse than at 2048x1536, but it's still interesting to look at. All these screen shots show a full screen, so the best way to look at them is to scale to a full screen. The links in the images take you to a 1024x768 view.

firefox recognized the display size and adjusted the headings accordingly, but I still needed to set the default font size, which is in pixels. Normally I use 20 on my 2048x1536 display, which corresponds to 10 on a 1024x768 display. On this one I set it to 40. Unfortunately I couldn't set a minimum size greater than 28, and the 40 pixel size did end up being a little on the low side. Here's how things looked:

My own web pages render quite well except for the headings, which were always something of a kludge:


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There's nothing much I can do about the fact that the images come out so small by comparison, of course: that's one of the basic failings of HTML.

Google and Wikipedia did surprisingly well:


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The FreeBSD web site has been broken for a long time, but nobody seems to fix it. Here it looks even worse than Microsoft:


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Then we have the web sites that want to know better than you how wide the display should be:


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And then there's the investment web site I tried to access yesterday:


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What's the solution? Most of the broken sites here are just as broken at 2048x1536. But there's a whole new generation of higher-resolution monitors about to arrive, because TV resolution has overtaken computer monitor resolution. The pages will render just as badly there. I don't know how people are going to solve the problem—maybe ditching HTML in favour of something less fragile would be a good idea—but I wish they'd hurry up.


Saturday, 10 November 2007 Dereel Images for 10 November 2007
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Spent a lot of time documenting things today. In the afternoon addressed the issue of the change of fat in the friteuse, which I usually use as an excuse to make something deep-fried that makes a mess of the fat. This time I had decided on a chicken, marinated, steamed and deep fried. Spent an inordinate amount of time looking for a recipe before I found it in my online recipe collection under the name oil-dripped chicken.

There I read:

Note: this page describes a recipe that I probably won't make again. It wasn't good enough. Still, the information might be interesting.

Still, the reasons were more a matter of expectation than anything basically wrong with the recipe. This time round it worked a whole lot better.


Sunday, 11 November 2007 Dereel Images for 11 November 2007
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Out riding again today—Yvonne and Chris came over here (Yvonne riding La Tigre, who now belongs to Chris). This is the first time I've had to saddle a horse here, and we're still not quite set up to do it. Rode around the lagoon—45 minutes—and then into the bush before both other horses decided that the path was too hard for their unshod hooves and hobbled off home.

For some reason my network usage has increased sharply over the last couple of days. I'm on a “plan” which allows me 1 GB of data a month, or about 33 MB a day; in the last few days it's been round double that. How do I find out what the culprit is? With this horrible Microsoft box, I don't have a chance. Maybe it's the Microsoft box itself, and it's been owned, but I don't know how to determine that. It reminds me yet again that people shouldn't be allowed to connect a Microsoft box to the Internet.

In any case, I have a Linux box, pong-gw.lemis.com, that I intend to use, along with some instructions by Quozl, unfortunately written backwards, and spent some time setting that up. Why is it that everything in the Linux world seems to be a matter of stepping across a pond on invisible stepping stones?

Also connected up the Digitrex DVD recorder again. I had forgotten how completely broken even the interface it.

We're gradually setting up a shaded area to sit in in the garden, under some trees which drop small white flowers:


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Very pleasant, much more so than at Wantadilla, where the wind made it impracticable to sit outside most of the time. Yvonne suggests that we name this place “Gottadilla”.


Monday, 12 November 2007 Dereel Images for 12 November 2007
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Bill from Telstra today. Still no sign of the refund of $450 that was promised on 25 September. Instead there was a deduction of the sum of $105.95. for a “one-off adjustment”. Spent some time writing up a collection of the complaints I have lodged with Telstra, then called them up and was told that their computers were down, and no, they would not call me back: I had to call them again. Grrr.

In the afternoon, Gary Murray, the bore man, showed up and finally started drilling our bore:


 
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They got about 10 metres when the pump broke down and spent the next hour trying to repair it, finally leaving with the pump. Hopefully they'll get it finished tomorrow with no further problems.


Tuesday, 13 November 2007 Dereel Images for 13 November 2007
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The bore people came back today, replaced their pump and spent all day drilling. Finally, round 16:30, they struck water at 48 metres, but carried on digging until 54 metres:


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So our work is cut out for tomorrow: get a bore pump.

While looking for alternatives to Telstra's wireless broadband offering (unfortunately in vain), came across one of the worst cases of bad web site rendering I've seen. This one is a full-screen shot:


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This one was done with Opera, because it allows me to set a more reasonable minimum text size; unfortunately it doesn't do the same for its own texts, which are illegibly small.


Wednesday, 14 November 2007 Dereel
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Into town today to look after the rest of the equipment for the bore. That stuff is expensive! There are apparently only two companies in Ballarat who install bore pumps. The first quoted us a complete price of $2715, and the other $2900. After some discussion, went with the more expensive variety: the pump is more durable, especially where the bores can contain a lot of sand, and in addition they can do it next week, while the other company would not be able to do it for 2 to 3 weeks.

Delivery times and prices seem to be the order of the day. We need two tanks: a header tank to take the water pumped out of the bore, which wasn't included in the quote, and a tank to replace the rusted-out tanks behind the shed:


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They have got a lot more expensive since we installed the 11500 litre tank in Wantadilla, and the delivery times can be up to 6 months. Found a couple in stock at Landmark, and they promised to deliver on Friday.

In the afternoon, took another look at the pump that had seized up a couple of months ago, and with information given me by Lyndon of Ballarat Pumps, was able to get the thing going and pump out the remaining 1500 litres or so of the water we collected the weekend before last. What a waste! We calculated, while deciding on the size of the tank to put there, that we probably collected 7500 litres on the shed over that weekend.


Thursday, 15 November 2007 Dereel
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Over to Chris' this morning to investigate why all the files and directories on www.pasocentral.org got their permissions set to ridiculous values:

drwx------  3 grog grog  4096 Nov  4 12:38 .
drwxr-xr-x 26 grog grog 32768 Nov 14 14:45 ..
-rwx------  1 grog grog  4396 Jan 21  2006 1_template.html
-rwx------  1 grog grog  7057 Jan 22  2006 breed-pc.html
-rwx------  1 grog grog  5033 Jan 22  2006 breed-pf.html
-rwx------  1 grog grog  5085 Jan 22  2006 breed-pp.html

As I feared, it's in the Microsoft space, which is where the master copies are stored: that's the way the file server presents the data to the Apple box she uses to rsync the stuff to the web site. Experiments showed that it would accept a chmod request and silently fail. What to do? Does Samba do it right? Probably not, since (I think) they don't have the concept of permissions. How I hate these file systems!

Finally my disks have arrived! I bought them on eBay nearly two weeks ago. Spent much of the day testing them, with the disappointing discovery that they weren't all in perfect condition:

Nov 15 14:05:39 tv2 kernel: ad2: FAILURE - READ_DMA status=51<READY,DSC,ERROR> error=40<UNCORR
ECTABLE> LBA=256
Nov 15 14:05:40 tv2 kernel: ad2: FAILURE - READ_DMA status=51<READY,DSC,ERROR> error=40<UNCORR
ECTABLE> LBA=5248

Many more followed. I was able to recover that one by copying /dev/zero to it, but two others (out of 8) failed the BIOS probe. What do I do? The vendor wants me to send them back before they even consider the matter, but the cost of postage is more than they'd be worth if they were functional.

More work outside in the pigsty, removing bars in preparation for tomorrow's delivery of the water tanks. My first experience with an angle grinder.


Friday, 16 November 2007 Dereel
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Summer is here, and the rains of two weeks ago are a distant memory. The bird bath was full after the rains, but now it's nearly dry again from evaporation. The thermometer hit 38° in the shade, and though this proved to be inaccurate, the real temperature was still round 36°. What a day for brewer.lemis.com, my brewing fridge, to panic. It's the first time I can recall, and the kernel backtrace suggests that it might be related to the flaky disk that it has:

Oct  2 12:50:58 brewer /boot/kernel/kernel: FreeBSD 5.0-CURRENT #1: Tue Dec 12 18:45:30 CS
T 2000
Oct  2 12:50:58 brewer /boot/kernel/kernel: grog@monorchid.lemis.com:/src/FreeBSD/5.0-CURR
ENT/src/sys/compile/MONORCHID
Oct  2 07:50:44 brewer /boot/kernel/kernel: CPU: i486 DX2 (486-class CPU)
Oct  2 07:50:44 brewer /boot/kernel/kernel: real memory  = 16777216 (16384K bytes)
Oct  2 07:50:44 brewer /boot/kernel/kernel: avail memory = 11505664 (11236K bytes)
Oct  2 12:51:00 brewer /boot/kernel/kernel: ad0: 405MB <WDC AC2420H> [989/15/56] at ata0-m
aster BIOSPIO
Nov 17 04:01:01 brewer /boot/kernel/kernel: ad0: HARD READ ERROR blk# 226472 status=59 err
or=40

Maybe it's time to upgrade the system—that would be easy enough—but I derive a certain perverse pleasure from the fact that I'm running a pre-release version of the biggest change ever in FreeBSD on a completely obsolete machine.

Spent most of the day in the house, where it's cool. I've finally capitulated and decided to run a second X server on dereel.lemis.com. :1.0 is the 4080x3060 virtual screen I talked about a few days ago, and :1.1 is 1024x768 for broken web pages like Colonial First State.

Setting up the X server was easy enough, but getting this thoroughly broken web software to cooperate was not:


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“Firefox is already running, but is not responding. To open a new window, you must first close the existing Firefox process, or restart your system”. What nonsense! This comes from the fact that firefox doesn't understand X, and it can't handle more than one display. I've seen it before and complained vehemently about it, but it still drives me mad! What nonsense—as I discovered, it's even more nonsensical than I thought.

Next, I tried to run firefox on a different machine. That's not difficult—I have a choice of 6 FreeBSD machines to choose from. But most of them run firefox at some time or another, and I don't want to trip over this stupid “there can only be one” again. Decided on lagoon.lemis.com, which I don't normally use: it's Yvonne's computer. And I got the same message: it can't tell the difference between my user ID and Yvonne's. I've been complaining continually about the poor quality of modern software, and I'm gradually coming to put up with it—that's what this whole exercise was about—but I'm continually amazed at how completely even mainstream software ignores both the lessons of decades and the practicalities of operating systems.

Gave up on firefox and tried what I had on the machines, which proved to be Opera and Konqueror. This time Colonial First State refused:


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Colonial First State obviously don't understand that the web is supposed to interoperate, and insist that you install “Internet Explorer” or Netscape. That's actually not true, of course, probably because the other browsers lie about what they are. I thought Opera did too, and I'd expect that you can do it with Konqueror, but Konqueror has funny key bindings that I trip over, so decided to try again with firefox.

=== grog@dereel (/dev/ttyp4) ~ 210 -> man firefox
No manual entry for firefox

That's to be expected, of course, but surprisingly firefox --help gives some information, in particular that you can start it with the “profile manager”, a kind of circumvention of the standard user authentication system. In this case, it proves to be an advantage, since I can set different font sizes for each profile. Here's what I did:

How do you find out what the default profile is? When I first started the profile manager, I had two profiles, default and Default User. There appears to be no provision to find out which you're using, though the contents of the firefox directories make it fairly clear:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/ttyp4) ~/.mozilla/firefox 231 -> l
total 1
drwx------  6 grog  lemis  1024 Nov 17 10:15 7v0n6ir5.Default User
drwx------  6 grog  lemis  1024 Nov 17 10:17 ayr10fd5.eureka
drwx------  6 grog  lemis  1024 Jul 31  2005 ooy98vz5.default
-rw-------  1 grog  lemis  5141 Jun 14 11:46 pluginreg.dat
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis   298 Nov 17 10:20 profiles.ini
drwx------  6 grog  lemis  1024 Nov 17 10:03 uwhyrc58.braindeath
Now's the time to get rid of that horrible directory name with a space in it.

Looking back, there's one more surprise here: it is possible to have more than window. So the message “To open a new window, you must first close the existing Firefox process, or restart your system” is just plain wrong. It should tell you how to do it, not make these stupid claims.


Saturday, 17 November 2007 Dereel Images for 17 November 2007
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Another warm day spent mainly inside, though we did get a few drops of rain.

One of the things I'm trying to do on Saturdays is to maintain a series of pages depicting the garden and the exterior of the house through the seasons, with a set of photos taken roughly every Saturday. This causes a logistic problem that I had underestimated: first, creating slightly less dense photos with the name they need in the web pages, and secondly just maintaining the web pages themselves.

The first issue is relatively straightforward: for each photo I need to run convert (a namespace polluter from ImageMagick) and then set the timestamp:

convert -quality 75 PB100682.JPG house-e.
touch -r PB100682.JPG house-e.
      

I already have a script to do this, but the sheer number of photos (in this case, 24) made it inconvenient. Spent a bit of time reading up on awk and came up with an awk script that assumes that I've taken the photos in the same order as described in my photo notes, and then creates the script automatically.

That solved the first problem, but not the second. I have a web page for each view of the house, and each page needs to be updated with an entry like:

    <p>
    <a id="paddock-sw" name="paddock-sw" href="/grog/Photos-20071117.html#paddock-s"><img
    alt="Image" title="Click on the picture to see a medium-size version in the index"
    src="/grog/Photos/20071117/tiny/paddock-s.jpeg" width="300" height="225" /></a>
    </p>

    <p>
    17 November 2007
    </p>
      

This is obviously a candidate for PHP, and spent some time reading PHP docco without coming to any good conclusion. As I have observed, Rasmus says “just think of it as C with a $ character in front of the variable”, but that still doesn't tell me how best to attack the problem. My personal favourite would be a single page to replace the whole hierarchy I have at the moment, with a configuration file in each photo directory. But how do I translate that into PHP?

Did a bit of work in the garden in the afternoon. Judy, our neighbour from across the road, has given us about 50 Hebes, which desperately need to be planted. As soon as we have water (hopefully Tuesday) we'll be able to plant them, and today we started clearing the way: they'll go to the north of the house, just in front of the fence to the paddock.


Sunday, 18 November 2007 Dereel Images for 18 November 2007
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Over to Chris' place today to complete the installation of rsync on delicious, her Apple box. That didn't work well: the gcc4 that I had “installed” was nowhere to be found. I had half expected problems, though not as complete as that, so I had already built the latest rsync on boskoop, and just carried across the binaries; fortunately, the difference between Mac OS X 10.4 (my system) and 10.3 (Chris') proved not to be a problem. Then set up a name server on delicious that went more smoothly than I had feared, and even her Microsoft box was able to connect to it. Then I started to show her how to check in the configuration files—no rcs! Tried to find it on the web, but it doesn't seem to be available except as source from the GNU project—and we have no compiler! I think that the issue here is that all these programs are normally supplied with the machine, but the first owner of Chris' machine didn't install them, and he also didn't include the CDs.

A while back I disabled one of the tuners on ceeveear, my MythTV box. Decided to selectively re-enable some of the channels, and completely messed up my configuration, taking an hour to get some semblance of normality. This stuff really drives me mad.


Monday, 19 November 2007 Dereel Images for 19 November 2007
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Simon from Landmark turned up today with the water tanks we ordered last Wednesday, and without the fittings I needed. Damn!

That wasn't the only thing that went wrong today. It didn't help that the temperatures were in the mid-30s, and that thousands of tiny wasp-like insects were swarming all round the house. I suppose it's better than the flies we had in Wantadilla, but they're still irritating. In addition, brewer had paniced again, this time with a different backtrace into NFS (yes, it has a kernel debugger: this was once the disk I used for testing the SMPng code). I wonder if the high temperatures are affecting the processor.

Back to look at the MythTV channel table on ceeveear. I made a mistake at the beginning of not saving the initial state, and ended up making more and more of a mess of it. In particular, I was no longer sure that the tuning information was correct, which would explain why some channels come out garbled. Spent a lot more time on it, getting more and more frustrated. I suppose it's too much to ask for interoperability between tuners, MythTV and tv_grab_au_reg when there's no spec, but I'm sure that that's a lot of the problem, in particular the appearance of duplicate program information and the complete absence of such information.

A beer keg ran out last night, so I had to refill it from the canisters in the lagering fridge. They were frozen: the thermostat had jammed on, not for the first time, but this time it looks like it's a hard failure. Looks like I'm going to have to rewrite my temperature control software to handle multiple devices.

Yvonne off to town in the afternoon to buy the remaining fittings, while I tried to reconnect the down pipes from the shed, helped by Yvonne on her return:


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To my surprise, that pipe was almost exactly the correct length, to within a millimetre or two. The other side of the shed will have to wait for more equipment.


Tuesday, 20 November 2007 Dereel Images for 20 November 2007
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brewer went down again this morning, this time with a swap read error. Clearly the disk is on its last legs. The problem is that it's an old-style IDE drive, and I don't have anything to replace it with. I could use a newer motherboard, but then I would need a new case too, and all the hardware for the brewing is in the old one.

Tried the old trick of zeroing out the partition in single user mode:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/ad0b bs=128k

To my surprise, that worked. Also discovered that the main reported I/O error on the file system was from /var/cron/log (FreeBSD since renamed this file to /var/log/cron), hardly the most important file in the system. Renamed it to avoid having the blocks reallocated; hopefully that'll fix that problem.

The rains of two weeks ago are a distant memory: the water in the birdbath, which had been full, evaporated correctly. Fortunately, Matthew from Ballarat Pumps along today to install the bore pump:


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That went surprisingly quickly, and two hours after he had arrived the header tank was full and I was filling up a bath tub (which Matthew had kindly helped me move—it's cast iron and must weigh 100 kg) with water for the horses.

After that, I was reminded of the passage in The Song of the Artesian Water:

If the Lord won't send us water, oh, we'll get it from the devil;

Almost as if to make a point, I had barely started heavily watering the garden when it started to rain, the first time in days. Over to Chris' place with a couple of litres of still rather cloudy water to look for some soap—we only use liquid forms, which I believe don't have a problem with hard water—and discovered that our bore water is as soft as they come. That's a pleasant discovery; assuming that it doesn't create too much scale, we could use it in the washing machine. More analysis to come; started boiling down 3 litres to see how much dissolved solids there are.


Wednesday, 21 November 2007 Dereel Images for 21 November 2007
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It's still raining! We've had over 15 mm of rain in the past 24 hours, and the weather is about 20° cooler. It's such a relief to know that when it dries out again, we'll still have enough water, but there's also quite a bit of work to do laying pipes and setting up the garden beds we can now populate.

More work on the “analysis” of my first water sample. 3 litres boiled dry gave 800 mg of solids, or about 260 ppm. That's not too bad for normal tap water in some parts of the world, but in this case a large proportion was obviously the suspended solids in the water, which will gradually go away. About 10% was soluble in hydrochloric acid, but not in acetic acid, and gave a brown colour which suggested iron. How much? That would be about 25 ppm iron, still more than we would like. But a lot of that could still be from the suspended solids, so I need another clean sample to compare.

Over to Chris' place to install RCS on her Apple. That meant that she needed an editor, of course, and the version of Emacs on her Apple ran only in tty mode, so did a bit of searching and downloaded the latest Emacs (22.1). Showing it off to Chris, went via the mouse menus to “open file” and was greeted with this window:

 

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Folders! FOLDERS! What kind of bad language is that? Is even Emacs going crazy?

One of the consequences of the drop in temperature is that we're now heating instead of cooling. And once again the temperature control of the air conditioners appears to be non-existent. After several hours of “heating” with the thermostat set at the maximum, the temperature was 21° at table top height and 19° on the floor:


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Thursday, 22 November 2007 Dereel Images for 22 November 2007
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Power failure this morning, only a second, but still the 15 minutes of clock resets. Also another 13 mm of rain. We've had quite a bit of rain this month, but it's been concentrated on only a few days.

Alan, the scrap metal man, around with his son in the morning to cut apart the old, rusted out water tanks. Slowly things are progressing.

Discussing the use of the word “folder” on IRC, Hugh Blemings noted that it wasn't in fact Emacs' fault: he has almost exactly the same display from Sylpheed under KDE:


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Searching the Emacs sources confirms that the message isn't there, so it must be using some library that perpetuates bad language.

Over to Chris' place again and set up the master servers for www.narrawin.com and www.pasocentral.org on her Apple. Not too difficult, but there are still strangenesses with Apache virtual host setup that I continually trip over. In addition, her Apple didn't automatically restart named after this morning's power fail and reboot. I wish I could find one document describing Apples; many people have pointed me to this and that, spread around the web, when I run into a problem with the Apple. But where's the definitive documentation? It's not the pitiful online “MacHelp” system, which doesn't even appear to have a table of contents,, that's for sure, and the man pages are more often wrong than right.


Friday, 23 November 2007 Dereel Images for 23 November 2007
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Chris bought some new UPSs at Aldi, only $99 for a 500 W unit, which, following the industry trend, they stupidly and misleadingly call “850 VA”. I wonder what would happen if somebody would really connect an 850 VA reactive load with cos φ of 0.6 to it. Still, looks like pretty good value, and it even has a continuous line voltage monitor (actually output voltage) which shows that the line voltage here is much closer to the 230 VAC that the Australian Standards require—fluctuates between about 233 and 238 V.

Pam Hay is staying with Chris for a couple of weeks, so we've got more victims for our cookery. Yvonne decided on a paella valenciana today, so I went out looking for some authentic recipes. Surprise: all the Spanish recipes use multiple kinds of beans; none of the English ones do. The result was tempered more by what we had than the recipes: no mussels, the Chorizo tasted anything but authentic, and despite putting 1 g of saffron in the paella, there was almost no aroma:


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Still, as is becoming tradition, we got some silly photos at the table:


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Saturday, 24 November 2007 Dereel Images for 24 November 2007
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Election day today, as the big political parties have ensured we understood. We've received a surprising number of letters from the incumbent, Stewart McArthur, telling us all the horrible things that would happen to us if we vote Labor, all the good things that would happen to us if we vote for him—and almost nothing about what he has done for Corangimite over the last 23 years. His opponent, Darren Cheeseman, was less verbose, but equally vague.

The polling place is on the other side of the swamp^Wlagoon:


View Larger Map

Chris and I had to vote; Yvonne is a French national, so she doesn't vote here, and Pam is from Western Australia and voted early before leaving. We decided to save petrol and ride over there, taking Pam with us and leaving Yvonne to take the photos. Pam is a theoretical horsewoman. She knows all sorts of things about horses, but getting her to ride one is another matter, and Yvonne took at least 10 minutes to persuade her to go. Finally we made it (as Chris put it “the Thing that came out of the Swamp”):


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Sadly, nobody seemed particularly amused. Still, a bit of fun.


Sunday, 25 November 2007 Dereel Images for 25 November 2007
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In this morning to discover that teevee had crashed with uncorrectable disk errors, and fsck failed with the same; the disk died quickly and catastrophically compared to the ongoing degradation of brewer and lagoon. Found one of my “new” second-hand disk drives of almost exactly the same size and dded the contents across (with conv=noerror,sync). I'm not sure how that combination actually handles errors: does it ignore the bs parameter and recover sector for sector, or does any error in the block mean that the entire block is replaced by NULL characters? I should check, but today I just used the default block size of one sector, which reduced throughput to 1.4 MB/s. But it worked, and it didn't require much intervention.

Finally it's time to make hay! Paul Ludovici came along hours after he promised, keeping Yvonne's nerves on edge. Finally he arrived and got through things in record time:


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In the meantime, spent some time relocating the compost heap, which had been in the middle of the covered sitting area. To our surprise, the lower half had already composted nicely—it was still a child's sand pit when we arrived in July this year. Left it behind to wait for the arrival of the soil for the plant beds, after which we can mix it in.

Next time I went past the heap, I saw something slimy, which we think is the Thing that came out of the Swamp:


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The question is, should we look after it or let it find its own equilibrium? It must have survived for at least 5 months, and when we came there was no compost heap there.

Later, Jorge de Moya and his wife Conchita showed up here for the first time, and of course out to look at the horses:


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In the evening, they invited us to dinner, leaving to me the choice of the restaurant. Problem: I've almost never been to a restaurant in Ballarat. Did some research and ended up at Veer Italia, mainly because it looked nice. The food wasn't as good, unfortunately: the antipasto (“antipasto romana”) was mainly sausage, and the main courses was enormous, overloaded with the same vegetables (broccoli and carrots, mainly), no matter whether the course was fish or meat:


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The thing that looks like a coconut is a giant croquette (I'd say “croque”, except that's something else). Rather disappointing, but we had a pleasant evening.


Monday, 26 November 2007 Dereel Images for 26 November 2007
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Hay making time is always nerve-wracking. This year the weather has been exceptionally dry, but of course once we cut the hay, we have rain predicted for the day it's supposed to be baled. We're planning to put the hay in the left side of the old garage, which currently has the contents of the old Mike Smith Memorial Room. And they need to go into the shipping container which hasn't been delivered yet because Alan, the scrap metal man who is removing the remains of the pigsty, needs to fix the head gasket on his truck. We can't wait for that any longer, so agreed to have it delivered on Wednesday, the day they're expecting not just rain but also possible thunderstorms. Hopefully they'll be as accurate as even in their forecast.

APC (“Australian PC”) magazine came today, still sent to the Echunga address. I renewed the subscription just before leaving Echunga in June, clearly indicating my new address on the renewal form. When that didn't work, I tried their marvellously broken web site, which didn't give me an opportunity to mention any subscriptions; it seems to be completely separate from the normal subscription mechanism:


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That didn't work, of course, so I called up their phone line on 4 October and tried to renew again. Called the magazine shop on 13 11 16 and spoke to Purna, who could find no record of any such transaction: “If you had called, it would have been noted here”. That's a red rag to a bull, given what I've had to do so far. She promised to change the address. I suppose I should check in a couple of days and see if she really has done so, and if so, if she has done it correctly.

Or maybe I should just cancel my subscription. This issue came with some long orange “caution” tape marked “VoIP as you are”, whatever that's supposed to mean. Normally I associate this kind of tape with warnings—after all, it's called “caution tape”—and the text on the tape is indicative of the kind of danger. This doesn't seem to be the intention here; it also includes the partial URL microsoft.com.au/voip, which in fact is just a redirect to http://www.microsoft.com/australia/business/voip/, which takes forever to load and doesn't explain much; I got bored reading before I found anything of interest. There was another partial URL link at www.apcmag.com/unified to a page which again redirects, this time to http://minisites.ninemsn.com.au/compIntro.aspx?compid=2452. I suppose I can understand why they abbreviated that one, but why not just have sensible URLs? This page, which I suspect will disappear before this diary does, describes a competition to take photos of this tape draped round objects unrelated to VoIP, such as chairs, desks or “something seriously large”. The results are apparently “handy work” to upload to the APC site.

But what does Microsoft have to do with VoIP? What do I care? But why am I paying money to subscribe to a magazine that is in bed with Microsoft? In any case, photos are my thing, so here are a couple of suggestions that I'll download. They base on the use I've put to the “designed for Microsoft” stickers that I find on nearly every laptop I buy (so far, Apples have not had them):


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If none of the following photos make it into the “gallery”, I'm sure only blatant favouritism will be to blame:


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Indian food mixes

Today was our Indian food day again, and somehow I ended up cooking far too much. I've been trying various pre-prepared spice mixtures lately. In the past, this sort of thing was to be avoided at all costs, but recently more and more ingredients have come on the market that are made in India or Pakistan and obviously intended primarily for the local market, so it's reasonable to assume that they won't be too bad, though of course nothing beats a hand-made dish—if you can get your hands on all the correct ingredients.

We've already made a number of things based on products from Parampara, who make interesting things like a vegetarian chicken tikka:

 

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I suppose it's only the mixture that's supposed to be vegetarian. These products are also interesting because they use “cups” of 150 ml as a measure. Nevertheless, I'm left with the feeling that the measures are somewhat based on guesswork, and in practice I've found that you can use 50% to 100% more other ingredients (in this case chicken) than indicated.

Today tried a couple of mixtures from Shan, who seem to suffer from the same problem. I used 50% more ingredients (dal, channa dal) than indicated, and not only was the result far too hot, which might be attributed to taste, but it was also far too salty, which suggests that the mixture is intended for much larger quantities. It also asked for a total of 4 to 6 hours soaking and cooking for the channa dal:

 

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After 2½ hours from being dry, my channa dal was falling apart. I'd guess that 500 g would be a good quantity of channa for this mixture.


Tuesday, 27 November 2007 Dereel Images for 27 November 2007
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Spent most of the day writing rants, both yesterday's and the following one:

The web: publishing for kiddies

People frequently buy toys for small children that resemble things that adults use, such as cars, computers and telephones. By contrast to the “adult” version, the toys are severely restricted in function and usually brightly coloured, and prominent features are much coarser. It had gradually dawned on me that that's the same relationship as exists between conventional publishing and the current state of the art on the web. I've chosen a couple of examples here; unlike many of my rants, they're not the worst, just those with the biggest discrepancy between their normal (paper) advertising publications and the web version.

Aldi

Aldi is a German discounter who is currently expanding significantly in Australia. They have special offers every week, and they print a weekly brochure, available about a week in advance, describing the specials. They also publish the offers on the web, and send email if you want it. Here's the front page of the current brochure, along with the front page of the web site:


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The brochure shows three specials, all of them interesting, along with three different kinds of washing powder. By contrast, the web site shows only one of the offers, along with one other (which is on the back page of the brochure, not shown here), and a lot of information that doesn't relate to the special offers, much of it continually changing. OK, it's their home page, so that makes sense that the content isn't the same. It also offers you not one, but two links to “Special Buys from thursday 29 nov” (their capitalization, not mine, and not that of my spelling checker either). The links are different colours, and despite the identical text, they take you to two different places. Following the red one takes you to “Christmas specials”; the yellow one takes you to “special buys”:


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Here we see the three specials on the front page of the brochure, along with one single datum in each case: the price. The volume of the refrigerator is also mentioned. To find the other details in the brochure, you need to select the image or the text:


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When you're done, you have to go back again and try the next one. There are also two miniscule symbols underneath the text for each item. Selecting the left-hand one gives me a tiny pop-up window with no more information than before:

 

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But there's a scroll bar, so maybe this is just typical broken Javascript. Expanding the window (which you have to do for Every Single Window) shows:

 

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What's that? I can't find a way of writing into the space, and I can't think of any earthly reason to want to do so. If I want to make notes, I have text editors and notepads made of paper.

Selecting the other brings up a window with the complete description, along with the opportunity to spam somebody with the information. I suppose this one is marginally useful, but it still seems to be too much like a toy “Look what I can do!”.

The brochure has 12 pages and includes both the “normal” specials and Christmas specials. On the web there are 39 specials and 3 Christmas specials. I'm assuming that they are the same as those in the brochure, though finding out would take a lot of work. To find them all in the brochure, you need to turn over 6 pages. To find them all on the web, you need to follow 44 links and return 42 times, a total of 86 transitions. You'd really have to be bored to do that. But this is advertising; you'd expect that companies would do everything they can to ensure that people read these pages.

Jaycar

Jaycar is an Australian hobbyist electronics company. They bring out quite a good catalogue every year. For the sake of the discussion, let's assume that I'm looking for a 10 metre HDMI cable. The following is page 275 of the current catalogue, one of the first places I'd go to look for this kind of cable:


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Catalogue number WQ-7405 in the second position of the right-hand column would seem to fit the bill. I could have looked for it on the web as well. There I go to the home page and am immediately presented with two decisions: “Select a Cat” and “Select a Sut”. Looking for the cats, I find:


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I have a drop-down list that requires scrolling to see the lot, though there's plenty of space on the screen. That's the browser's fault (firefox), not Jaycar's, but they could have worked around it. A quick check shows that “Internet Explorer” shows more (probably because it refuses to show a legible text size), but it still requires scrolling. In this case, there is no category “Cable” (nor “CABLE”, for that matter); it's in “WIRE & CABLE”. And there's a sub-category “AUDIO / VIDEO” which gives me 26 results, not very many.

Of course, I can use the box at the top. The following image is magnified about 10 times relative to what I see on the screen:

 

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After entering “video cable” into the box, the pattern of dots changes:

 

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After pressing the “search” button, I get:


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24 results, spread over three pages. None of the items I can see are video cables. There are a couple on the second page, and finally on the third page I find some of the same cables:


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This page shows almost only the second item on the right-hand column of the catalogue page. It's repetitive, incomplete and badly laid out, even given the constraints of the low resolution of web pages, the catalogue numbers are missing the - character in the middle —and it's missing the 10 metre cable!

Searching for the cable finds it:


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The descriptive text is completely different, and this cable does not show up in the 24 search results; clearly the “new” product hasn't been properly merged into the catalogue. Neither do most of the SCART cables—the only exception is the third entry in the left-hand column. By contrast, catalogue pages 274 and 275 alone include 10 items matching “SCART”. This suggests once again that the professionals who write the catalogue are not the same people as the cowboys who do the web site, who, it would seem, don't even know how to categorize the data.

So: who in his right mind would use Jaycar's web site?

How to fix this problem

I should stress once again that Aldi and Jaycar are no exception; if anything, they're better than average. I don't know of any commercial web site that does things right. The real problem is HTML and the people who write it:

I'm sure that the web will finally grow up, and that HTML will be replaced by or evolve into something better. I'm just astounded how long it's taking.


Wednesday, 28 November 2007 Dereel Images for 28 November 2007
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Out into a stinking hot garden this morning to finally transplant some seedlings, now that we have enough water to keep them alive. While I was working there, the rubbish truck came by—as on every Tuesday—but this time the driver got out and came into the garden. On closer examination, discovered that it wasn't the rubbish truck, but Mick from Dial-a-box come to deliver our shipping container:


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That went surprisingly well and accurately, and he couldn't have been there for more than 20 minutes. Not a moment too soon, either, since Paul Ludovici was due to come and bale the hay before the threatened storm, and we needed to put it into the garage as quickly as possible.

Shortly later Yvonne turned up with Chris Yeardley and Pam Hay, but there wasn't really much to do; first we needed to clear out the left side of the shed:


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That was a job for few people. Grabbed both sack trollies and discovered that they had flat tyres, so grabbed my terribly bad foot pump and discovered that it was worse than useless: it actually deflated the tyres that were still inflated. Threw that away in disgust, and then started carrying out larger objects, but didn't get very far before the rain arrived:


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It was some of the heaviest rain we've had since we arrived here, accompanied by hail and thunder. We had 15 mm of rain in two hours. What we didn't have was Paul bloody Ludovici, who thus managed to completely ruin our entire hay crop. Yvonne sent me off to tell call him and tell him that his services were no longer needed: she was too angry. That's about $2000 of damages.

While tidying up, discovered another clue in the puzzle about the swallows outside the dining room:


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I had already been puzzled how big the “baby” in the nest was:


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That wasn't a baby at all, of course, but one of the parents sitting on the eggs. Hopefully some of this hatching will survive.


Thursday, 29 November 2007 Dereel
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Finally into town today to hear the results of the blood tests I had done 2 months ago. I've had lots of reasons for putting it off, but the biggest is definitely the wait—today it was 2 hours, enough for me to read the whole of the first part of “The web programmer's desk reference” by Lázaro and Joseph Cohen. Not a bad book; as the name suggests, it's certainly less of an introduction than the other books I've read, though the lack of reference to firefox brings home that it's already a couple of years old. Still, it looks like it'll be useful when I'm writing web pages again.

The results of the blood tests were, as I had suspected, uneventful, but then I had to do the shopping, and it was 14:20 before I got home again—half the day gone. By the time I got back, the hay had dried out a little, though it'll need a couple of days more at least. The fresh smell of new-mown hay is gone, of course, and it'll only be second-rate, but it's (marginally) better than nothing.

In the afternoon, over to Chris' place to pick up a table, which almost took all the rest.

Got a message from Jack Roehrig on the subject of kimchi. He has a number of issues with my recipe, the first time anybody has made such detailed comments. By chance it's time to make some more, so I suppose I should try some of his suggestions.

In the evening, just after dinner, Paul Ludovici arrived, unannounced, and expressed his intention of pressing our sodden hay. I told him that it was too wet, and that he should have been there yesterday. He claimed that a bit of wetness wouldn't make any difference—no matter that Yvonne had impressed on him the importance of keeping the hay dry, and that she placed utmost importance on him being available at the right time. Instead, he said “I won't be coming back”. Under the circumstances, that sounded the best thing. I said “Look, mate, you left us in the lurch yesterday. Piss off”. And he did. Somehow I have the feeling we haven't seen the last of this. I wish I had been more on the ball—several cleverer things occurred to me after his left, for example “I breed horses, not mushrooms”.


Friday, 30 November 2007 Dereel Images for 30 November 2007
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Somehow didn't do anything of note today. It's still too hot to work outside, though that's what I had wanted to do. While watering the garden discovered that the header tank from the bore was leaking from the top where the supply pipe goes in: it was drilled across an edge:


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Spent some time putting in some corrugated cardboard from a packing carton to fix that, which worked surprisingly well.

Apart from that, spent a lot of time at the computer, reminding myself once again why I wanted to get out of the industry:

More web “coolness”

Sometimes I wonder if the world is going crazy, or whether I am. Yet another web site I use on a daily basis has traded utility for coolness: the SBS television guide. In the past I've praised it for being the only guide that shows what's happening on a single page. True, the page looked a bit pedestrian—monospace font, for example—but the descriptions were all visible. Then, yesterday, they changed it so that all you see is the title. Sure, the coloured text suggests a link, and indeed it is:


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The entire text is still there, but it's hidden inside a <div style="display:none;"> and requires a mouse click to launch a Javascript fragment (displayed here on the bottom line) to turn each individual item on or off. Why? Does the typical web programmer think that giving the whole story is information overload? In any case, I've adapted my cron job to remove this nonsense, and also to align the time at the top of the entry, rather than in the middle, which has been done explicitly:

fetch -o /tmp/tv-programme http://www.sbs.com.au/whatson/index.php3?progdate=`date +%d:%m:%Y`
cat <<EOF > /tmp/tv-programme.html
From: Greg Lehey <sender@example.org>
To: Greg Lehey <me@example.org>
Subject: SBS Programme
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1

EOF
sed < /tmp/tv-programme \
    's:size="[^"]*"::g; s:valign="middle":valign="top":g; s/style="display:none;"//g' | \
   tr '\220\221\223\224\225\226--' "??'\`'?-" | \
   grep -v x-shockwave-flash >> /tmp/tv-programme.html
/usr/sbin/sendmail -i </tmp/tv-programme.html grog,yana,yvonne,edwin@mavetju.org
rm -f /tmp/tv-programme /tmp/tv-programme.html

That makes things better, but why should I have to do it?

In an ensuing discussion on IRC, on a channel that usually agrees with me, I sensed that people weren't so sure. As I put it:

* grOogle wonders who has gone completely crazy.            [13:28]
* grOogle .  o O ( me or the rest of the world? )
* grOogle decides on the rest of the world.                 [13:29]

Somebody pointed out that ABC now has clever “tool tips” (a term I hadn't heard before; hopefully I've understood): move the mouse over the text of a program and it shows the details, without needing a click. MythWeb does this too, and I find it quite useful in that context. But ABC remains by its minimalist policy: on the front page there's just a name. Hover over the text and you get a couple more words describing the nature of the film. To find any details at all, you still need to click and load another page.


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