There wasn't much left before they started, but it's amazing how much difference the removal
made. Time to plan the replacement better, probably taking on board some of the ideas that
we got at Coravaal on Saturday. That'll keep
us busy for a while.
Spent a considerable amount of the morning cutting off the corms from the plants I dug out
yesterday. There are definitely two different kinds, but there's so much overlap in
appearance that I don't know which
are Watsonias and which are
When I'm done I'll investigate more carefully. Got about 10 kg of Chasmanthe corms, and I'm
not even half done. Planting seeds may have been a failure, but the corms and bulbs
reproduce like fury.
In the afternoon into town, primarily to see the doctor about a persistent cough. The
doctor was sick, so I was given an appointment with his colleague Vani Peddi, who prescribed
Also went to the Botanical Gardens to bring a birch to the Friends, and once again picked up some freebies. It
seems that the town council, unlike me, had been particularly successful with the seedlings
that they had planted for this year, and they had many left over. They dropped about 10
trays at the Friends. Picked up a total of 8 different kinds of seedling:
Zinnia “profusion double golden”,
Marigold (whatever that may
mean—Tagetes maybe?) “Boy o Boy”, with an
indication that they had been intended
for Sturt Street,
Salvia “Bonfire” and “Blue bedder” (I
assume red and blue).
Portulaca “Tequila primrose” and three
that I didn't recognize and whose names I forgot to write down. Based on reconstruction, I
think they must be
Celosia in yellow, orange and red.
I wonder how important it is that some of them are poisonous. Probably
the Solanum laxum that Yvonne brought back
from Albury is as well.
Back home, investigated my new seedlings. A search on Google proved surprisingly fruitful. Most hits are from plant nurseries, but the
images aren't too bad once you get past Google
Images' many false positives, which in particular nearly hid the (single?) result in
the case of the Portulaca Tequila
As expected, the Salvia “Bonfire” is red and the “Blue bedder” is blue.
The “Bonfire” looks like the Salvia that we bought in Melbourne two years ago, but unfortunately the link has died. Here's the “blue
So the only real mysteries are
the Celosias, if indeed that's what they
are. There seem to be many different species, and there was no indication on the labels.
We'll have to wait and see.
I called four different landscapers about the pond on Monday. No reply. And then, by
chance, Yvonne saw somebody with a landscaper's shirt while
she was out shopping. Yes, he (Jordan Dickinson) does ponds. He came out, took a look,
came up with a hybrid solution: first bricks and concrete, but just to hold the pond liner
in position (nobody else had considered the effect of tree roots on the liner). $600 the
lot. He starts tomorrow, and should be finished early next week. What a difference from
our dithering about over the last 14 months!
The latest edition of Wellingtonia has been published, without resolving the formatting issues. I didn't
get any answer to the questions I sent by mail. I'm left with the feeling that people don't
care, and I said so to the committee.
The response I got was illuminating. It's clear that gardeners and computer people don't
overlap much, and I've never expected the people to know much about computers. But it seems
that even answering questions by email is too difficult. One of the first things I asked
for when we created the committee was that people copy mail to everybody on the committee,
so that we know what's going on. All agreed, and almost universally ignored it.
Why? I don't know, but it's certainly part of the problem, just like answering mail in one
block in front of the original text almost invariably leads to people forgetting something.
All the more reason for me to be astonished to read in the only reply to my message
(written, of course, one line per paragraph):
I am not comfortable with group emails and would prefer not to communicate this way.
I think that you are not getting as much feedback as would like because this group stuff
is a wee bit scary for us. We don't really know who we are talking to, or if they would be
interested in the specifics.
please don't chop up my email and reply in bits and pieces. Leave it intact as I intend it
What can I say? I had never thought that the concept of an open discussion or addressing
individual points is “scary”, and I had always thought this habit of answering messages
upside-down was laziness rather than choice. Clearly it explains why communication isn't
working, but what do you do about it? I point blank refuse to answer messages the way this
person asks, but I respect her wishes, so I can't reply. In my case, I'll leave them to it.
The times are long gone when I wanted to change the world.
On reflection, this is
the Chasmanthe floribunda.
In particular, it has flower spikes that grow high above the leaves, unlike either of the
corms that I've been sorting. So what are the others? The one kind are what I think are
the Watsonias. They have
bulbous corms which usually are single, and relatively thin leaves:
The others have flattened corms that grow in clumps, and wider leaves. The stems are not
nearly as firmly attached as those of the Watsonias. They tend to tear off at the top of
the corm if you pull on the leaves:
Jordan back again today to build the brick wall for the pond, which limited the size more
than I had expected. Still, it should be big enough. He'll return tomorrow for some
touch-up work, and then we have to wait a week for the wall to be strong enough to take the
pressure of the water.
Now that we have both seedlings and mulch, it's time to get into planting in a big way.
Didn't quite do that, but did manage to plant
three Salvia “Bonfire” and three
red Celosias (I think) in the terracotta
trough that we bought some time ago and which has been sitting empty on the verandah ever
since. Also planted all the Zinnia
“Profusion double golden” in the narrow bed outside the laundry, to the north of the
It proves that I was a little uneven in the number of seedlings I got on Tuesday. There were a total of 8 Zinnia seedlings, but the
Celosias were very dense, and I decided to plant them out in their own tray. There are
three different colours, but after planting the red ones, the tray was almost full. I must
have 60 of them, and similar quantities of the other colours. I wonder how many will
Yvonne off to Olivaylle with Chris Yeardley today to pick up three horses. Last time I was there I commented that it was something
like the end of an era; today is more like salvaging the remains. Apart from Yvonne and
Chris, Nele Koemle and Pam Hay also went, though it's not clear what Pam would do with an
untrained horse. In all probability, they'll take about 8 horses in total, requiring
another trip in the near future. What a pity it had to come to this.
Today was another of those days where the weather changed completely. Since I've been
keeping detailed weather statistics, I'm amazed at how suddenly the temperature can change.
Two days ago the maximum temperature was 17.1°; today it was 33.9°:
As a result, didn't do very much apart from water some rather unhappy looking seedlings and
process my photos.
A number of things are changing, notably the Cathedral and the level of the dam. In late August last year it got so full that the
two halves joined, but since about January it has gradually been dropping, and now we
definitely have two halves again. Here this time last year and today:
Had intended to continue with garden work today, but somehow got held up by other stuff, and
in the end just did some weed spraying. And of course it had to start to rain an hour
later, hopefully not enough to make any difference to the spray.
Some of our plants, and only some of them, are covered by tiny flies, about 2 mm long. Here
the roses “Gruß an Aachen” and “Monsieur Tillier”:
After yesterday's garden photos, my flash unit was gradually taking longer to recycle.
Instead of a little over 2 seconds, it was up to 5 seconds—the time it takes with normal
batteries. Measured the voltages and discovered:
The table is misleading; I can only really identify battery 4, because I marked it. It
clearly has a significantly lower voltage than the others, and may be a candidate for a less
demanding use. After recharging and waiting some hours, I had:
That's interesting because it's considerably lower than the recharge voltages the first time
round, which were round 1.896 V. No cause for alarm, of course, in batteries that are
supposed to have a considerably lower voltage, but it's interesting to note.
Yvonne spent the night at Olivaylle, and when she's away I eat some
alternative breakfast, usually Nasi lemak. I make the corresponding Ayam lemak and freeze it. How long does it take to thaw out again? I don't know exactly, but at the
traditional 330 W “thaw” level (3) for the microwave oven, the (plastic) container gets
hot enough to melt. I'll give it 5 minutes at 220 W (level 2) next time.
In addition, I was out of roasted peanuts. I buy them raw and then roast (really bake)
them. But I've never written down how long, and today I did some experimentation. At 140°
they took 30 minutes, but they were somewhat too brown. I'll give them 40 minutes at 130°
As planned, Yvonne called on the way back as they
passed Horsham in
mid-afternoon—with the news that she had lost Nemo.
She had taken him outside in the morning, and suddenly a kangaroo jumped up about 5 metres
from him. That was too much for him: he headed off in pursuit and couldn't be stopped.
They saw him for some distance until he disappeared, and then set off in pursuit. No Nemo.
That's bad for a number of reasons; it was a reasonably hot day, he hadn't had anything to
eat or drink, the kangaroos could have disemboweled him, he could just get lost and walk on
until he died of thirst. Came to the conclusion that we had about one third chance each of
him being found, dying of thirst or dying of kangaroo. Kurt spent some time looking for him
and promised to find him (he didn't say “dead or alive”), so Yvonne left without him some
Yvonne returned first, followed by Chris Yeardley with the
news that the people in Olivaylle had
found a very thirsty Nemo later in the afternoon.
That's one consolation, but how do we pick him up again? He's 368 km away, and just picking him up is a day's journey and nearly $100 in petrol.
But they're planning to go back again to pick up some more horses in the not-too-distant
future, so they might combine it with that. One way or another it looks as if he'll have a
few days up there.
In the evening, cassoulet—with Yvonne. She even suggested it. It seems that her big objection to
cassoulet were the couennes (pork skin), so we agreed to leave them out, and she was
happy. Pam Hay, who had decided to visit Chris, but who had left a little later (“I'll
catch up with you”), arrived some time after we had finished. She'll be staying here for a
couple of nights.
Since the deaths of Dennis Ritchie
McCarthy a subtle change has occurred amongst those people on Facebook who are my “friends”: they're beginning to
understand the relative importance of Jobs, McCarthy and Ritchie. This particular image has
popped up in so many places that I don't know where it originally came from:
Today Greg Woods published a link to
an article about McCarthy and Ritchie in “The Economist”. I consider The Economist to be one of the best non-technical
publications, but this was not one of its best articles. It does bring home one thing: they
both created extremely influential
and LISP. But it
starts off by referring to both as “machine whisperers”. Ugh!
This is a clear reference to Monty
Roberts, the self-professed
“Horse whisperer”. I've always
hated the term, and much better horsemen than I, such
as Deb Bennett, share
the dislike (not made any more digestible by Monty's poor reputation in alternative horse
riding circles). But the concept of “horse whisperer” conveys an idea, of a man whispering
into a horse's ear “Go over there and bite that classical dressage man” or some such. What
on earth does a “machine whisperer” do?
But that's just silly terminology. What about the content of the article?
C fundamentally changed the way computer programs were written. For the first time it
enabled the same programs to work, without too much tweaking, on different machines;
before, they had to be tailored to particular models.
Nonsense! Credit where credit's due, and I've given a lot myself. But C was not written to
be portable; that came much later. And the idea that it was the first portable
language is ridiculous. There were
already FORTRAN compilers for almost
every machine in existence. In 1971, at the time dmr was writing C, I was writing
programs in Algol 60. On
an ICLSystem 4-50. On
a Control Data 3200 (the one now in the
museum in Melbourne). On a Control
Data 3800 (despite the similarity, a quite different machine). Production compilers were
available for just about every machine. To quote Dennis' The Development of the C Language:
At the time we did not put much weight on portability; interest in this arose later.
And C wasn't a new invention. Both FORTRAN and Algol influenced C. From the same document:
BCPL, B, and C all fit firmly in the traditional procedural family typified by Fortran
and Algol 60.
The first time C was used outside a laboratory environment on any machine except
the PDP-11 would have been round 1979,
with the availability of 4BSD and early
rewrites such as Leor Zolman's BDS C compiler for the Intel 8080. To my knowledge no C compiler reached the level of
sophistication of the Algol compilers of the mid-to-late 1960s until the release
of Sun's commercial offerings in
the early 1980s. And that had very little to do with Dennis and Ken.
Mr Ritchie and his life-long collaborator, Ken Thompson, then used C to write
... which has been written two years before. A clear case of poor research. Yes, the Third
Edition was rewritten in C, but it wasn't a prerequisite.
Whereas Mr Ritchie was happy giving machines orders, Mr McCarthy wanted them—perhaps
because he had never suffered human fools gladly—to talk back.
That's an interesting way of putting it. I don't know what to say, but it seems so far from
the way each of them would have seen their activities. Yes, LISP
intelligence once went hand in hand, but LISP had so many other important usages. I'm
using it to write this diary entry. And
my Emacs is not talking back to me.
So I posted a far-too-long reply on Facebook (not as long at this, though). To my surprise,
most people disagreed. C was so much better than a macro assembler (yes, but what's the
point?); “Algol was one week in the Waterloo curriculum then never used again...” (this is
clearly a personal perspective). I get the impression that too little is known about the
computing environment in the 1960s.
What would have happened if C hadn't been written? Some people claim that we'd still be in
the dark ages. That's ridiculous, of course; one of the other languages (probably
Algol, Pascal) or a
derivative would have taken the place. The interesting thing about C is that it was one of
the first languages used for writing a complete operating system kernel
and IBM had already written significant parts
of their operating systems in Algol and PL/S
and Hewlett-Packard'sHP 3000, programmed in SPL, wasn't significantly later than C).
None of this should lessen the importance of what Ken and Dennis did. But we should stick
to the facts.
Pam Hay around for dinner tonight, without Chris. The weather was warm, and we spent some
time on the verandah, where Pam proved to have a good knowledge of gardening.
Interesting discussion during dinner. Australia's a small country, and people from other
countries often don't believe how easy it is to bump into people again and again. I
reported this six years ago when I ran into a Neanderthal
bloke at Grumpys after having met him
in William Creek and seen him again
in Coober Pedy. But it seems that
when they were in Olivaylle, Kurt
(pronounced “Köt”), the manager, who comes from South Africa, asked Nele Koemle where she
came from (Graz). It seems that Kurt's
father came from a village about 5 km from Graz.
And today Pam wasn't to be outdone. She told a story of how she spent a night in a
backpackers' hostel in Alice
Springs decades ago, and subsequently bumped into most of the other people who had been
there and then gone their separate ways:
New South Wales
and South Australia.
It's high time to plant some more trees. A couple have already died:
the Acacia merinthophora
that got eaten last month and
the Choisya ternata that I
planted at the same time a month ago.
I fear I made the mistake of putting down the weed mat without any mulch (which I didn't
have at the time), and the recent hot weather has cooked it. Still, we have plenty more.
Mowed the lawn in preparation, and we should get down to it as soon as possible—with mulch.
Despite my fears, the Chile poblano that
developed root rot last month is still
looking relatively happy, and it's now developing buds, though it still has problems with
aphids. It's about the only thing in the greenhouse that is really looking happy:
We also seem to be having more problems with rodents.
The Celosia seedlings that I transplanted
last week aren't doing nearly as well as I had expected. It's not just that some are dying:
others are gone altogether, and there are holes left behind. And the paper labels on some
of my flowerpots are disappearing. Rats!
The Clematis recta that we bought
last year is now growing happily, but
claims that it is a bush seem exaggerated: it was sprawled all over the bed. Decided to put
a use to the wire cages we used to use for keeping out kangaroos, and tied it up:
If it continues to grow at this pace, it should completely cover it in a few weeks.
The weather's still been warm enough to happily stay inside and do nothing, but spent some
time laying out weed mat for the birch trees in the Cathedral. It's either the weather or my age, but
after doing that, and before getting round to cover it in mulch, I gave up.
The weather changed spectacularly in mid—afternoon. Temperature drop of 12° between 15:45
and 17:25, brief spells of heavy rain and wind that blew over the dustbins and tore off the
shade cloth at the west end of the north verandah:
It's been literally years since I committed to the FreeBSD source tree. A number of reasons have held me back, including just plain
laziness, but the biggest was probably my uncertainty after we changed
to Subversion. In the past, I
had kept a local copy of the CVS repository and committed to the central repository, but
there are issues with subversion. It can be done, as described in here, but you end up with discrepancies in the revision numbers. So for a long time I put
this into the “too hard” basket.
In the meantime, though, I've switched to checking out from the central repository, so it
seems that this is no longer an issue: svn commit does the right thing.
The real issue, though, is Chris Yeardley's assignment, to update the source code format and
documentation of calendar(1). We've been through a number of iterations, and in the
end the only thing left was trailing white space on some lines. I couldn't be bothered
sending it back again, so fixed it and committed.
And, of course, it was wrong. Mail from Benjamin Kaduk: Chris (or I) should have bumped the
date on the .Dd macro. Should I? I've seen conflicting recommendations in the
past, and the documentation I looked at (mdoc(7)) doesn't mention anything. About
all I found was private mail from Ruslan “Documentation police” Ermilov, stating:
On Thursday, 23 November 2006 at 7:48:27 +0300, Ruslan Ermilov wrote:
> A document date (the .Dd macro) should be updated whenever a manpage's
> content gets updated.
But the last time this document date was updated was nearly 10 years ago:
r101864 | ru | 2002-08-14 21:32:32 +1000 (Wed, 14 Aug 2002) | 2 lines
mdoc(7) police: Forgot to bump .Dd.
Since then there were multiple updates, including from Ruslan. But if this is a firm
requirement, why don't we put it in the source code? Something like:
.Dd $Date: 2012/11/14 00:09:59 $
Then we could modify the Dd macro to recognize $Date: as the first
parameter and to convert the date to the real update date. No more human involvement
required. About the only issue I have is whether this will always work with Subversion.
We had never seen her before, but she had a tag with a license number and a phone number,
written in blurry characters that proved almost impossible to read even after removing from
the neck of a not particularly still dog:
What's the phone number? 5220 7111 or 5228 7111? On enlarging the image, it's clear that
it the former. But how do you read that when the tag is attached to the dog, and the dog
doesn't want to keep still? Even taking a photo of it took three attempts, and the first
time round I read the wrong number.
Called up the number. “We close at 5 pm”. But I was able to forward to the ranger in
charge, who wasn't available. Left a message, speaking my phone number and the tag number
very clearly, and some time later got a call back from Neville, the ranger: “I couldn't understand the phone number, so I was just guessing
at this one”. He didn't get the tag number either (dropped the second digit), so went back
to investigate the records. No, there's no record of a dog with that tag number. Maybe
they hadn't paid their fees.
What kind of nonsense is that? You'd think that they'd keep the records if for no reason
than to fine the owner if the dog is found with it, like now. This bureaucratic
short-sightedness baffles me. But for the moment there was nothing that could be done, so
if wasn't claimed by tomorrow, he would come and pick it up.
But I noticed that across the road the gate was open. The house has been empty for a few
weeks, since apparently Ray Nottle refused to tidy the place up prior to the Goodwins moving
in. They moved elsewhere, to Buangor, and Ray presumably lost more rent than the tidying up
would have cost. Went in: nobody there, but there were various packing cases there, so
presumably somebody was in the process of moving in. Left a note on the door.
About an hour later, the new tenant arrived. She's called Emily, the sixth occupant since
we have moved here, and yes, the dog belongs to her. Her name (the bitch, clearly, not
Emily) is Nada—Spanish for “nothing”. That sounds like a good match for Nemo—Latin for
Hamburgers for dinner today, from our own deep-frozen patties. How long do you thaw them
for? My basic calculations are to heat from -20° to +20°, and to consider frozen food to be
water. That requires 40 calories per gram for the temperature increase and 80 calories per
gram for the transition solid to liquid, a total of 120 calories. Multiply by 4.2 to
convert to Joules, and by the weight (120 g per patty, 2 patties), and we have 120.96 kJ.
At the lowest heat power setting of the microwave oven (110 W), that's pretty much exactly
1100 seconds or 18.3 minutes.
That's a long time. Does it have to be at the lowest power? With full power (1100 W), it
would be only 2 minutes, at least in theory. In practice that would give cooked edges and
still-frozen centre. Decided to try 5 minutes at 220 W, which had the edges marginally warm
and the centre still frozen. After leaving it for a while gave it another 5 at 110 W That's
only 99 kJ, but it seemed to be roughly enough.
The buns were more straightforward: 175 g for the two of them, one minute at full power.
Maybe that was a little much, and my assumption that everything is water is not quite
valid. I'll try 40 seconds next time, since I need to toast them anyway after thawing.
And the hamburgers themselves? These are thicker than the ones you buy in the supermarket.
In the past I've put them on the grill of the barbecue and given them 3 minutes each side,
but that seemed to little for these patties. Today I made the cardinal error of changing
two variables: on the hot plate for 8 minutes, which was probably (just) too much. Next
time I'll try 7 minutes, but I'll stay on the hot plate, since things don't stick as much
It's interesting to note how easy it is for transplanted roses to shoot up again in the old
position: unless you remove every last bit of the root, it'll re-shoot, and a year later it
seems almost as if they hadn't been removed. The “Lilli Marleen” is in the process of doing
that, and though the too-late transplant that I made last month has lost all its leaves, it now has strong new growth,
and it's very possible that it will flower this year after all. And the last rose above
shouldn't be there any more, but it has fought its way through the undergrowth to flower
with the best of them.
The Clematis “vagabond” is also
flowering strongly, as are the
dwarf Alstroemeria and
the Cissus that we bought less than two
Spent more time piling mulch on the weed mat in the Cathedral. There's still quite a bit of live grass
underneath, which makes it quite springy. I suppose I should leave just enough on there to
stop it flapping around in the wind, and then wait for it to die down before doing any
more. Isn't procrastination wonderful?
Yvonne has painted a photo of
Kurt's German Mastiff in way of
thanks for finding Nemo, and as usual I had to take a
photo. This one was particularly difficult. The structure of the board seems to be
asymmetric; I didn't have any difficulty positioning the left-hand flash unit, but try as I
might I couldn't position the right-hand one without reflections:
In the end, gave up and used ambient light, which wasn't too bad, though it needed
significant touch-up of contrast and saturation, and particularly white balance, due to the
nature of the subject. The result doesn't look too bad:
Now to fill it up. Started pumping water into the pond, but the pump isn't really designed
for continuous operation, and after about an hour it overheated and blew the circuit
breaker. Still, gravity flow works, though it took the rest of the day and still wasn't
Time to look at all the plants we've kept back for planting in the margins of the pond.
After some searching, discovered that there were only three that were even candidates. The
first was the Orthrosanthus
polystachus, the last remaining plant of the ones that we bought
in Pomonallast September. At the time I had written:
There's nothing in the description to say so, but it seems that this last is a bog plant.
But there's nothing in that entry to say why. Checking again, there seems to be no reason
whatsoever to assume that, so we'll plant it elsewhere. Then there are two other types of
grassy plant, both without names, but somehow it doesn't seem like they'd want to have wet
feet. So currently the only candidate for the bog are
the Zephyranthes candida
(“Peruvian swamp-lily”) that I repotted a couple of
weeks ago. Time to find more stuff for the pond.
It'll be a long time before we have real shade in the new Cathedral. But in the meantime, the area between the
two old birches has become nice and shady, if a little small. Here's the area
four years ago and last week:
Unfortunately I didn't have anything further right four years ago, but it's interesting to
see how the birches have grown in that time. It's now quite shady, and with a bit of
selective pruning we can make a small shade area: not a cathedral, just a chapel:
Yvonne and Chris Yeardley off to Olivaylle at the crack of dawn this morning to pick up three more horses, a cat, and more importantly
Nemo, returning the same day. Things went very well,
and they were back by 16:30—without the cat, which had gone into hiding.
After dinner, Yvonne noticed that Nemo was limping—horse people have an eye for that. Chris
used to live there, so she guessed immediately what the problem was: grass seeds, which dig
in to the paws between the claws, and if untreated can enter the body and work their way up
the legs. Yvonne and I held a very unwilling Nemo down while Chris expertly removed the
The one in the middle is about 2.5 cm long, and the discoloration of the one on the left is
due to Nemo's blood: it was almost entirely buried in his skin. There were a total of about
20 such seeds, and we're by no means sure that they're all out.
So now the pond is full, and it doesn't leak. When to move the contents of the mini-pond?
We decided to do it immediately. First step was to move the plants, which proved to be
severely overgrown. Removing the water iris brought half the contents of the “pond” with
it, including a brick caught up in the root system that had escaped from the pot:
It'll be fun to repot those; I must now have about 8 viable iris plants. There's also a
waterlily that looks similar, but I can't face it yet.
And the (last remaining) fish? The pond doesn't have much cover, of course, and it could be
an easy prey for the birds that I expect to come and take an interest in the pond. Ended up
putting a length of corrugated perspex over one corner of the pond and covering it in shade
cloth. After a bit of acclimatization in a plastic bag (changing from a temperature of 21°
to 27°), the fish seemed happy enough, and explored the entire pond. It's not clear where
it will spend its time, but it seems reactive enough to movement outside the pond, so it
But clearly it's missing something: the most obvious thing is that, like so many others, it
only allows vertical mounting. There's also a video about it, from which I discover that
the word “Owl” is pronounced “Ool”. Clearly the bird comes
And then it dawned on me: there's no way to move the camera along the lens axis. You can
only move it along a line (roughly) parallel to the base of the camera. There are two
rotators: one is to turn the camera on a vertical axis through the nodal point. Not only
does it not have click stops for spacing the rotation evenly: it doesn't even have a scale!
Even the very cheapest equipment I've seen always has a scale.
The second rotator is under the camera, where you don't really need one—usually. In this
case, though, it is needed. There's only one horizontal rail, the one that separates
the two rotators. But the camera is positioned on the vertical rail, and it needs to be
positioned so the nodal point is over the other rotator. So you need to turn the second
rotator to position it in that direction.
That looks fiddly enough like that. But wait! It gets worse! The nodal point distances
are measured along the lens axis. The rail is offset from that axis by an angle which you
can conveniently measure with the scale on the rotator. Then you can calculate the distance
along the lens axis: length along the rail multiplied by the sine of angle. I always wanted
a use for a calculator with trigonometric functions.
So why have they done this? To save money? Hardly. The rotator is more expensive to build
than a rail. And the unit isn't cheap: the only place I have found it for sale is
here, where they want € 350 for it, currently US $ 480. That's more expensive than
most, even the big names. About the only explanation I have is that they don't know what
they're doing. They're not the first.
But then this company has another bracket, the MK Panohead, which makes much more sense. It
doesn't have a rotator with click stops either, and it does have a second rotator for the
more obvious purpose of rotating the camera about the horizontal axis through the sensor.
Nobody seems to sell it; the only reference I have found to a price was at Nodal Ninja, where they give the price as $780.
Clearly they're trying to show why their own offering is better, so the price is probably an
upper limit, but their most expensive offering costs $350 and includes a rotator with click
stops. No wonder nobody sells the MK.
The Owl has shown a deficiency in my list of criteria, however: I had never thought it could be that difficult to measure the distance along
the focal plane. Time to write a new
Somehow my garden photos this weekend have been a particular problem. There are more than
usual in the weekend closest to the middle of the month, but somehow I managed to get my
files mixed up, and I ended up making
“HDR” images from
two different views:
More work on the pond today, mainly the plants. Replanted some of the water irises and the
waterlilies, and also put in the pump, which proved to have a wider throw than the pond. We
had to adjust the flow to ensure that it all landed back in the pond. Gradually it's
There's plenty of work to do in the garden, not just with the pond. But somehow I didn't
get much done; about all I managed was to attend to some of the plants on the verandah. The
vine is growing happily and requires continual cutting back. There are a few caterpillars,
which I addressed with pyrethrum—it's
interesting to see how they climb down on threads, like spiders. Also looked at
the petunias, which are not looking very
happy. Some seem to be affected by fungus, and possibly there are some insects as well.
Time to water with a dripper rather than a spray, I suppose.
One of the reasons I didn't do much in the garden was a new article I'm writing, on panorama
hardware. It's such a can of worms. You'd think that people who make these things,
especially at the prices they ask, would understand what they're doing, but there are so
many adapters on the market that don't fulfil the basic requirements. So the clear first
step is to define those requirements. I've done that before, but the Owl made it clear that there are more requirements than the
absolute basics. So I've spent a lot of time working on defining them in a way that isn't
too boring to read. Plenty more work to do.
On the verandah finished tidying up the hanging plants. Had
the petunias been attacked by insects?
They were covered in lots of little spots which I thought were flower petals from the vine
growing above. It's disposing of them in great numbers at the moment, and the petunias
looked like this:
They're about 1 mm across, and they seemed to jump when I moved them. But closer
examination shows that yes, indeed, they're spent flower petals. Just by chance, though, I
found another shape on the left edge of the photo above (second image).
Received a couple of new USB hubs from an
eBay seller in Hong Kong in the mail today. 7
ports, powered. For a total of $1 each, if you neglect the $4.40 postage. And? They seem
to work, at least as well as other USB devices. About the worst thing about it is that they
have clearly moved part of the purchase price to the postage.
Out to the letter box today: two letters, one for next door with the wrong street number.
It's not the first time that's happened, and I was considering going and telling them so,
but decided just to put the letter in their letter box.
The other letter was from Red Energy, our
electricity retailer: “Are you doing the right thing for you?[sic]Talk to
us first”. It goes on to say “We've recently received a request to transfer your energy
account to another retailer...”.
That's the first I had heard of it. Rang them up and spoke to Shane, who first wanted my
address (in the phone book, as I told him) and my date of birth (Google) to know who he was
talking to. He told me that they had received a transfer request from Origin Energy, a name that rang a bell for some
reason, though I have never had anything to do with them. He wasn't able to give me a copy
of the request: “Call Origin”. Why should I call Origin? I have nothing to do with them,
and this request was obviously unauthorized. A better address would be Consumer Affairs Victoria, but for that I need
some kind of proof. Asked to speak to his supervisor, which he avoided twice, the second
time connecting me to the correct department instead.
Correct department's consultant name was Chris (male), and he told me pretty much the same
thing, and that I would have to contact Origin because he couldn't stop the transfer. He
wouldn't give me any proof of this transfer request, he wouldn't even give me his surname.
Decided in the end to call Origin. Got a menu: 1: report faults; 2: for existing customers;
3: join Origin. None applied, so I waited. Repeat. Wait. “A valid response was not
received. Goodbye”. So it seems that Origin doesn't have any method of contact for other
purposes. In the end called again, selected 2, and was asked for an account number, which
of course I don't have. Fortunately it didn't hang up on me, and I was connected to Megan,
who didn't ask for any identification, but who confirmed that they had a transfer request,
just not in my name. She did, however, give me the NMI (National Meter Identifier) number
which, as events will show, I shouldn't publish, so
out to check. Nothing like that anywhere. It seems that the NMI is relatively new, and our
meters have different numbering systems, which she was able to give to me. Yes, they were
So where did this transfer request come from? She confirmed that it wasn't in my name, and
inferred that it was a woman. Then it occurred to me: the letter to the neighbour was from
Origin, thus the bell that rang. Yes, it was her name. Somewhere the house numbers got
mixed up. Matter clarified.
Of course it wasn't clarified. There are so many loose ends here:
Who made the mistake? On the face of it, it must have been the neighbour: as I said,
it wasn't the first time, but Megan disagreed.
Why didn't they ask for an NMI number before transferring the account? That would be
the very minimum that you could expect.
How did they get our NMI number? It's clear that it's incorrect. My best bet is that
they got it from the address.
Why did Origin accept a transfer request without confirming the authority of the person
to do so?
Why did Red Energy accept the transfer request without confirming the authority of the
person to do so? It appears that they were not even aware of the name of the applicant.
Why can't my supplier refuse the request (with my authorization, of course)?
Megan tried to blame Powercor, the
electricy supplier, who (reasonably enough) maintains the addresses of the meters. The NMI
number is shown as being at this address. Powercor's not my
favourite company, but that's not wrong: the NMI number is at this address.
The question is why anybody accepted a transfer request with only an address and not an NMI
number. What about blocks of flats? They have a many-to-one relationship between NMI and
address. Megan also confirmed that this isn't an isolated incident: it happens often
In summary: another casualty of inadequate (computer-based) communications. Silly or no
authentication of the caller, non-existent authentication of the transfer request, requests
that can't be refused by the current supplier. It's interesting to think that if Red Energy
hadn't tried to win me back, the neighbours would have ended up paying our electricity
bill. I should have thought of that earlier.
A few days ago I sent out a request to Freecycle for fish and plants for our new pond. No replies, so Yvonne planned to buy some goldfish in town today. And after she had left, I got a message:
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2011 22:59:42 -0000
Hi, just wondering if you are still interested, if you are let me know asap, so that we can send you pictures for you to see if you will take what we have to offer
That sounded good, so I replied (Wed, 16 Nov 2011 10:46:46 +1100) and got a reply back
within 5 minutes:
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2011 18:50:43 -0500
check your email to see if you got the link i sent with pictures via
No email, no photos. Checked the mail logs for bounces, but there was nothing. Replied
accordingly and got:
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2011 19:36:48 -0500
so you interested?
On 11/15/11, Greg 'groggy' Lehey <email@example.com> wrote:
Replied “yes, probably, but I don't know what you have to offer”, along with phone numbers
to call. Nothing.
This isn't an isolated case, though it seems typical. Clearly somebody interested to give
things away, relatively responsive, but somehow completely unable to communicate. It's also
puzzling that people in Australia should use a service in the USA which puts
two different time zones in email messages. It's difficult to compare times like that, but
then, it seems that it doesn't even try: the last message gave only the date, which was
wrong, because in the wrong time zone, and writes dates the US way (I think, given that the
year has been truncated and in this case it's not clear which way round the date is intended
to be written). This doesn't help anybody.
I wondered if it was because of my habit of digitally signing my mail messages, so I turned
the signature off. Still no reply.
Yvonne back from shopping with 5 tiny goldfish for the pond.
I hope they'll survive better than the last lot:
of the four we bought, only one has survived. Maybe now we have critical mass and space for
The irrigation stuff that CJ and Sue brought was timely. I've been meaning to fix up the
watering around the Ginkgo for months, and
the most recent problem was the lack of 19 mm low-density poly water tube. I had thought I
had some, but I couldn't find it. Yesterday Yvonne brought
some back, along with the components for other tasks.
It wasn't just a matter of laying the line—that part's easy. First I needed to dig a
trench, and for that I needed to do significant weeding among
the hellebores to the north of the
pond. Finally got round to digging the trench and cut a piece of poly to length—and then I
found my old poly pipe. I had laid it next to the Ginkgo to remind me to do the work, and
indeed it had been in the way. As my garden photos show, since late February and to the north (right) of the verandah:
We now have a water tap at the verandah, and I've addressed the leakage round
the Paulownia kawakamii,
which proved just to be a torn hose. But it was too warm to do much other work. I had
planned to plant some other plants, including the seedlings that I got weeks ago, but it's
currently too warm: they're expecting up to 33° tomorrow. Hopefully things will cool down
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology is no more
accurate than other weather forecasting services worldwide—if any, less so, due to the
unpredictable Australian weather. For example, last weekend they predicted rain every day
for the next week. We had none. And yesterday they predicted a high temperature of 30° in
Ballarat and 33° in Melbourne. What we got was 37.2°, the highest we've had in November
since I started recording weather readings two years ago. The results for the last 3 years look like a “proof” of Global Warming:
mysql> select year(date), max(outside_temp) from observations where month(date) = 11 group by year(date); +------------+-------------------+
| year(date) | max(outside_temp) |
| 2009 | 31.5 |
| 2010 | 36 |
| 2011 | 37.2 |
As a result, didn't do much outside. Didn't do much inside either. Sometimes there's TV to
In the afternoon we finally got a little rain, and the temperature dropped a bit. So, of
course, did the electricity supply, at
16:27, while I was watching TV. My new 1000
“VA” UPS couldn't handle the 187 W
load of the Sanyo
PLV-Z700 projector and gave up, screaming. It required to be turned off and on again
before it would continue. That's not protection: it's worse than no UPS at all. OK, we
know that UPS manufacturers lie through their teeth (1000 VA, or 600 W. Don't connect
devices with a Power factor below
It took me 20 minutes to get the system back up again (running fsck on 2 TB of
data). Fortunately the projector didn't show any signs of damage, and I continued watching.
For one minute. At 16:45 it dropped again. Scream!, not just the terminally
broken UPS. This time I left it as a bad job. Later I discovered that it dropped again at
I've taken to not resetting the alarm clock in the bedroom until I need to, for exactly the
reasons that were demonstrated today. Finally set it at 22:20. Woke up in the middle of
the night and discovered we had had yet another dropout at 22:40. What a pain
Yesterday was really hot for November. At 15:00 the outside temperature was 37.1°. 24
hours later, today, the outside temperature was fully 23.6° lower: 13.5°. Isn't Australian
Yesterday I didn't do much work in the garden because it was too hot. Today it was a little
cool, but also moist, so once again I didn't get the work done that I had wanted to; just
repositioned the bird bath near the pond.
When I started taking photos of the outside of the house a
little over 4 years ago, the house was the thing, so I have been calling them “house
photos” ever since. But they're really of the garden, so I suppose “garden photos” is a
little more appropriate.
Today I tried a couple of new views, based on the changes that are happening in the main
part of the garden round the verandah, to the east of the house. One is intended to show a
better view of the Chapel, and I'm not sure I
like it that much. I've moved a few metres north from the previous “Garden path SE” view
(second image, from last week), and not very far from the old “verandah” view (first image,
from 10 April 2011):
I don't know if that's a good idea or not. Also tried a view from further east, on the path
that goes past the Paulownia
kawakamii, making a mess of it by forgetting the last image. Stitched it together as a
360° panorama anyway, including some gaps, while I think about whether it's a good idea or
At first I thought it was some kind of mating accident, but I have seen so many of them; I
can't recall seeing any that weren't joined together. So: bug or feature? In this case, it
seems to be both: a feature and two bugs.
Being the opinionated kind of person I am, I participate in many online surveys, some of
which even offer “payment”. Today I got one on a topic I forget—cat food maybe—but it seems
that they don't want to know from people of my age group:
I wonder who thinks up these surveys, and if there's any kind of debug process. The surveys
themselves seem to be based on foregone conclusions (“Why do you give your cat foopussy? To
give it a reward? Because you love it? Because it's made in Australia? Because it's
convenient and won't harm the cat when fed in moderation?”)
Into down today to pick up various giveaways, including
a PCIe video card, a box of assorted cables
and a 10 metre antenna mast that I might be able to use for better TV or network reception.
On the way found a nice garden arrangement in the middle of a roundabout, and made the mistake of taking photos with the Kodak M1093 IS. Yes, it has a higher resolution than the Nikon
“Coolpix” L1, but what help is that if you can't tell until later that the
image was taken out of focus? As a result, the best overview I have is the one on the left:
Two days ago it was too hot to work in the garden. Yesterday it was too cool and wet. So
it stood to reason that today it should be too windy, and it very nearly was: while
shovelling mulch into the wheelbarrow, a gust of wind blew most of it away. But it calmed
down a bit later on, and I was able to do some work in the garden area between pond and the chapel. Yvonne had brought back a battery-driven
hedge trimmer from ALDI, and it proved to be
quite useful. I already have an electric one, but dragging power cables through the garden
is a real pain, and this seems to do as good a job. But there's plenty more to be done.
Almost without me recognizing the fact, a new term has crept up slowly over the last couple
of decades: “Command line”. Everybody knows what it means, but why? It has taken until
today for me to realize that it's a neologism that we never used to use. Instead we talked
of job control, command interpreters or shells.
Why the change? Clearly it has come from the GUI Generation and emphasizes one of the
differences between a point-and-grunt interface and real language. Is it a valid usage?
I'm not really opposed to it; after all, it snuck up on me, and I found myself using it
almost without thinking (there's GUIs for you), maybe by way of “command prompt”. But as
usual it misses the point: it's not a “command line”, it's a textual communication with a
program designed to handle it. A shell script or a pack
of JCL cards is not a
“line”, it's one of a potentially large number of text records. Still, for now it won't
find a place in my list of bad language.
Another telemarketeer call today, from Julia Head (if I can read my scrawl correctly) of the
National Appeal Centre for Bowel Cancer, phone 1300 722 540. Yet another group who call me
though I'm on the no-call list. Yes, the law allows them to do so, so they law won't punish
them for it. But what makes a charity think that they will get money from people whose
wishes they don't respect?
Finally got round to doing a bit more work in the garden: removed all the
spent Arum lilies, spread some more mulch,
planted some Zephyranthes in the
swamp area of the pond, and for the fun of it planted some of the variegated
Japanese Iris both in the swamp area and in
a pot in the shallowest part of the pond. I don't know if they'll survive there, but we
have plenty of them, and we'll find out.
One of the first plants we planted in the east
beds was a Westringia, now in
the prime bed area in front of the verandah and south of the pond. It wasn't an overly
interesting bush, and last autumn we
considered removing it. It's a pity: it does flower (or did), but not enough, and
it's not the kind of thing you can transplant, so out it came.
Phone call from Peter of Daly International today. He was one of the
team that visited me on 13 January 2009 to investigate
the then proposed Optus mobile phone tower.
Wendy McClelland put paid to that, but he's now working on the National Broadband Network project about which I
heard—briefly—from Bryan Scott in August. It
seems that there will be a community information session on 6 December 2011, and with any luck we might end up with connectivity mid next year—if the lunatic fringe
doesn't find that fixed wireless, too, is dangerous, and put in some kind of protest.
And what will it look like? Peter wasn't sure either, but it appears that it will be some
kind of LTE, and they're
talking about guaranteeing 12 Mb/s (downstream, presumably). And if it's at the same
price as ADSL (currently not clear), that would be a great improvement.
Into town to see another Peter, O'Connell, to talk about the dire state of the world economy
and the fortunately not quite so dire state of my pension fund. It looks as if things will
improve with my increasing age, as various other pensions kick in.
While there, took a look in at Formosa Gardens. Didn't buy anything, but discovered that the plant that I have been
calling a Euphorbia “Diamond Frost” is
in fact a Iberis sempervirens
“Winter Glow”. Here our plant and the one I saw today:
My article on “command line” yesterday provoked some investigation, and Callum Gibson came
up with the sh(1) man page for the First Edition
of Unix, dated (presumably) 3 November 1971,
conveniently almost exactly 40 years ago. It contains text like:
DESCRIPTION sh is the standard command interpreter. It is the program
which reads and arranges the execution of the command lines
typed by most users. It may itself be called as a command
to interpret files of command lines. Before discussing the
arguments to the shell used as a command, the structure of
command lines themselves will be given.
That certainly disagrees with my opinion yesterday. But maybe not as much as it might
appear: it's the emphasis that puzzles me. That page doesn't use the word “interface”, and
elsewhere in Unix it's made clear that the shell is the interface between human and
computer. But the term “command line” still sounds funny, and it got replaced by the
Seventh Edition, probably with the introduction of
the Bourne shell.
While in town, also picked up a new panorama bracket, apparently called O4Q, or maybe
BF3. I've referred to it as O4Q before, so I'll stick to that name; the packaging
(double the necessary size, and stuffed with polystyrene offcuts and bubble foil) didn't
have a name written on it. I had bought it on 1 November 2011, but as I
had suspected, it wasn't sent for nearly a week after I purchased it on 1 November:
It's pretty much what I expected: no markings on the rotors, and the one at the bottom is
fixed to the rail, which makes it difficult to replace. But the rails appear to be
Swiss standard, and I was able to attach my macro rails directly, though it's not yet
clear what good that will do. I'll have to do some more investigation.
I've been trying to read these badly scratched DVDs I borrowed from the Geelong Regional Libraries,
but teevee couldn't read them. They're borderline, so it's not clear that another
reader couldn't read them. Tried in dereel and had disastrous consequences, which
don't seem to be related to the attempt:
Nov 22 15:04:27 dereel kernel: acd0: FAILURE - REPORT_KEY ILLEGAL REQUEST asc=0x6f ascq=0x04
Nov 22 15:04:27 dereel kernel: acd0: FAILURE - REPORT_KEY ILLEGAL REQUEST asc=0x2c ascq=0x00
Nov 22 15:06:51 dereel kernel: ahcich2: Timeout on slot 17
Nov 22 15:06:51 dereel kernel: ahcich2: is 00000000 cs 00020000 ss 00000000 rs 00020000 tfd 1d0 serr 00000000
Nov 22 15:07:44 dereel kernel: ahcich2: Timeout on slot 10
Nov 22 15:07:44 dereel kernel: ahcich2: is 00000000 cs 00000400 ss 00000000 rs 00000400 tfd 1d0 serr 00000000
Nov 22 15:08:27 dereel kernel: ahcich2: Timeout on slot 31
Nov 22 15:08:27 dereel kernel: ahcich2: is 00000000 cs 80000000 ss 00000000 rs 80000000 tfd 1d0 serr 00000000
Nov 22 15:09:18 dereel kernel: ahcich2: Timeout on slot 0
Nov 22 15:09:18 dereel kernel: ahcich2: is 00000000 cs 00000001 ss 00000000 rs 00000001 tfd 1d0 serr 00000000
The first two messages are normal for an encrypted DVD, but the rest come from the disk
controller ahcich2, which controls /dev/ada2, the disk to which I was
writing. And this proved fatal. The machine gradually ground to a halt, and I had to
reboot, after which things worked normally again. For some time, anyway. In the evening,
during the backup, I got this vomit:
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: REDZONE: Buffer overflow detected. 4 bytes corrupted after 0xca6f6f00 (128 bytes allocated).
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: Allocation backtrace:
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #0 0xc0b4ad8a at redzone_setup+0x3a
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #1 0xc08cdd40 at malloc+0x100
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #2 0xc049e6d4 at camq_resize+0x34
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #3 0xc049e766 at cam_ccbq_resize+0x36
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #4 0xc04a0427 at xpt_dev_ccbq_resize+0x37
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #5 0xc04a059d at xpt_start_tags+0x6d
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #6 0xc04a7442 at probedone+0x822
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #7 0xc04a3f31 at camisr_runqueue+0x2e1
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #8 0xc04a408f at camisr+0x13f
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #9 0xc08b737b at intr_event_execute_handlers+0x13b
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #10 0xc08b8a3b at ithread_loop+0x6b
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #11 0xc08b3eba at fork_exit+0xca
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #12 0xc0c15f64 at fork_trampoline+0x8
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: Free backtrace:
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #0 0xc0b4ad19 at redzone_check+0x179
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #1 0xc08cda88 at free+0x38
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #2 0xc049e712 at camq_resize+0x72
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #3 0xc049e766 at cam_ccbq_resize+0x36
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #4 0xc04a0427 at xpt_dev_ccbq_resize+0x37
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #5 0xc04a059d at xpt_start_tags+0x6d
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #6 0xc04a7442 at probedone+0x822
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #7 0xc04a3f31 at camisr_runqueue+0x2e1
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #8 0xc04a408f at camisr+0x13f
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #9 0xc08b737b at intr_event_execute_handlers+0x13b
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #10 0xc08b8a3b at ithread_loop+0x6b
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #11 0xc08b3eba at fork_exit+0xca
Nov 22 21:15:31 dereel kernel: #12 0xc0c15f64 at fork_trampoline+0x8
Nov 22 21:16:34 dereel kernel: ahcich2: Timeout on slot 0
Nov 22 21:16:34 dereel kernel: ahcich2: is 00000000 cs 00000001 ss 00000000 rs 00000001 tfd 1d0 serr 00000000
Nov 22 21:17:24 dereel kernel: ahcich2: Timeout on slot 6
Nov 22 21:17:24 dereel kernel: ahcich2: is 00000000 cs 00000040 ss 00000000 rs 00000040 tfd 1d0 serr 00000000
Nov 22 21:17:24 dereel kernel: REDZONE: Buffer overflow detected. 4 bytes corrupted after 0xcc09c300 (128 bytes allocated).
Nov 22 21:17:24 dereel kernel: Allocation backtrace:
The second backtrace was the same as the first, and in the course of the night I had a
further two incidents:
Nov 22 22:01:26 dereel kernel: ahcich2: Timeout on slot 23
Nov 22 22:01:26 dereel kernel: ahcich2: is 00000000 cs 00800000 ss 00000000 rs 00800000 tfd 1d0 serr 00000000
Nov 22 22:03:38 dereel kernel: ahcich2: Timeout on slot 30
Nov 22 22:03:38 dereel kernel: ahcich2: is 00000000 cs 40000000 ss 00000000 rs 40000000 tfd 1d0 serr 00000000
Nov 22 22:04:31 dereel kernel: ahcich2: Timeout on slot 9
Nov 22 22:04:31 dereel kernel: ahcich2: is 00000000 cs 00000200 ss 00000000 rs 00000200 tfd 1d0 serr 00000000
Nov 23 02:41:02 dereel kernel: ahcich2: Timeout on slot 6
Nov 23 02:41:02 dereel kernel: ahcich2: is 00000000 cs 00000040 ss 00000000 rs 00000040 tfd 1d0 serr 00000000
Nov 23 02:42:14 dereel kernel: REDZONE: Buffer overflow detected. 4 bytes corrupted after 0xcc061500 (128 bytes allocated).
So what's the problem? It can't be the DVD. Is the controller dying, or is the disk dying?
Time to put in a new disk, anyway, to be on the safe side.
Somehow didn't find much time to work in the garden today. For once, Yvonne did more than I, mowing the lawn. I got as far as removing the
clump of Arum lilies in the middle of the
garden, along with some flat corms. Are these
all Watsonias and Chasmanthe floribunda? I seem
to have three different kinds of corms: the rounded ones, which I think are Watsonia, and
two different kinds of flattened ones. The Chasmanthe floribunda seem to have relatively
short and spread-out leaves, but then there are others that have longer, thicker leaves.
Unfortunately none of them are flowering, and despite the photos I've taken, I can't find
any showing them in flower. But what I did find were
some Clivias that had got lost in the more
vigorous bulbs. Another thing to find a place for.
Set to to replace the disk involved in yesterday's hardware problems. Fortunately, found a
spare 1 TB disk, but of course it was USB. And it wouldn't probe; nothing. After a bit of
messing around, discovered that the cable had lost its insides (left cable):
Or so it seemed. In fact, the insulation is just black. But for some reason, it no longer
makes contact. It's difficult to see whether all the contacts are there or not, but it's
also not worth worrying about. After finding a new USB cable—conveniently in some of the
freebies I had been given on Sunday—I once
again ran into this old problem that the disk was only recognized as capable of 1 MB/s:
Nov 23 11:40:11 dereel kernel: da0 at umass-sim0 bus 0 scbus5 target 0 lun 0
Nov 23 11:40:11 dereel kernel: da0: <ST310003 33A\000\000\000ST31000333 AS> Fixed Direct Access SCSI-2 device
Nov 23 11:40:11 dereel kernel: da0: 1.000MB/s transfers
Nov 23 11:40:11 dereel kernel: da0: 953869MB (1953525168 512 byte sectors: 255H 63S/T 121601C)
Power cycling “fixed” that:
Nov 23 11:40:33 dereel kernel: da0 at umass-sim0 bus 0 scbus5 target 0 lun 0
Nov 23 11:40:33 dereel kernel: da0: <ST310003 33AS > Fixed Direct Access SCSI-2 device
Nov 23 11:40:33 dereel kernel: da0: 40.000MB/s transfers
Nov 23 11:40:33 dereel kernel: da0: 953869MB (1953525168 512 byte sectors: 255H 63S/T 121601C)
After that I was able to partition the disk and copy /src to it. But what's the
problem? It happens with various devices, so it's not likely to be a specific device. And
in almost every case, the identifier (second line) appears to be corrupted. I suspect it's
either the motherboard itself or FreeBSD's
support for it. Maybe it's time for a higher-performance system anyway.
Spent quite some time looking at the new panorama bracket (O4Q, or maybe BF3). It's pretty much what I expected it to be. By itself, it's almost useless:
there's no way to position the entrance pupil over the vertical axis of rotation. For that,
I need a two-way rail (sold on eBay as
“four-way rail”) to move the camera backwards and sideways:
Clearly I could have improved things in these photos by taking the rails apart and using
only one of them. But it still wouldn't have been enough, and there's a simpler solution:
rails without a platform for the camera. They cost about $14 each, including postage, and I
need two of them—still nothing to break the bank. Ordered two of them on eBay. I'll see
what else I need when they arrive. The big issue now is the rotator. The one supplied
works surprisingly well, but it has no markings. It also has a locking lever that extends
below the base of the rotator, making it difficult to use with the Manfrotto 3416 leveling base:
Rotate the camera in three directions about
the entrance pupil of the lens.
Level the camera independently of the tripod, to make it possible to rotate the camera
about a vertical axis.
Rotate the camera in specific increments for equally-spaced images. At the very least,
provide angular markings so that you can set them yourself.
Comparing the Manfrotto with the new head, we have:
The Manfrotto rotates only on a vertical axis. The O4Q rotates round the vertical and one
horizontal axis. The Manfrotto can only mount the camera vertically; the O4Q can mount it
both horizontally and vertically (about the best rotation round the other horizontal axis
that you can expect). The only problem with the O4Q is that it needs additional rails to
position the entrance pupil over the vertical and horizontal axes, and even that isn't
enough for vertical mounting.
Neither adapter levels the camera. For that, I currently have the Manfrotto 3416. I
think a solid pan-and-tilt head is a better solution. It's certainly cheaper and easier
The Manfrotto has a good rotator. I still need to find something for the O4Q.
So, what do I do in the short term? I suppose I could mount the O4Q on the 303 and use the
rotator for the time being. It would certainly be better than the current way I'm doing
things. But probably the Manfrotto will find a way to frustrate my efforts.
Again didn't do nearly as much in the garden as I should be doing. A few days ago I found
an escapee birch tree that had grown up
between a Callistemon and
a Salvia microphylla bush, and
it had made it to 1.5 m height before I saw it. That's just what I need for the north-east
side of the Chapel, where currently a
“Locust” is growing. I'm intending to leave the Locust there until the birch is big enough;
then I can remove it and we'll have a slightly larger Chapel delimited by three birches.
Also did some pruning on the verandah—the vine requires constant attention—and looked at the
irrigation; a number of things are still clogged, and some time I need to go around and look
at every single one. For the time being, attended to the citrus trees, and also the new
birch, which will probably need a fair amount of water until its roots grow back.
The weather's right, there's plenty to do, and I have the time. So I did very little in the
garden; lay a bit of mulch, and that was all. When will I get round to spending several
hours at once working in the garden? Instead spent some time baking, making kimchi and some Chinese food, which took longer than I
expected. More recipe updates necessary.
It's time for my next blood test, and I still have this nagging but not very serious cough
that I've had for a couple of months now. Time to see the doctor.
But it seems that Tristar have
a problem: my doctor left in mid-September, and the second of three has also left. Only one
left, Vani Peddi, and so far she hasn't convinced me. So I was very interested when I got
the “MemberCare News” from UFS, our
local pharmaceutical cooperative (a word that has somewhat gone out of style) and discovered
that they have opened a new clinic.
Only: what are the prices? They didn't say
“Bulk billing, the obfuscation for
“Medicare pays everything”, so
presumably they wanted a “gap”, the obfuscation for “additional payment”. Called up and
spoke to Sandy, who told me, yes, indeed, they would normally charge a gap, and it was up to
the doctor to decide how much. I asked her to find out how much, which she did with
somewhat bad grace, only to tell me that they were all in a meeting. At 12:30, I assume
that was obfuscation for “lunch”. Called back later and was told that they did, indeed,
charge like a wounded bull—between $25 and $45, much more than the Eureka Medical Centre,
and members only got about 5% off.
Their argument was that they make appointments (why should that be so expensive?), but that
doesn't wash when Tristar doesn't. So, for the moment, it looks like I stay with Tristar.
Into town this morning for a routine blood test and to talk to the doctor about my
persistent cough. This time she did a little more investigation and suggested that it might
be asthma. That's not beyond the bounds
of possibility, though I haven't had anything like that for nearly 50 years. We'll see. Had
a laryngeal swab taken to be on the
was Thanksgiving in
the USA (they're on the wrong side of
the International Date
Line, so it was Thursday there). And by chance (really, I think), ALDI had turkey breast on special this week, and we
bought one. Thanksgiving in Australia? Far from it, it's already Christmas:
It's going to be a lot of work to get the middle part of the east bed (in front of the
verandah) looking the way we want. We're gradually coming to a consensus about what it
should look like, but doing the work is another thing. Cut down a couple of unhappy looking
daisy bushes in the shadow of
the Buddleja globosa; we'll
plant an unhappy-looking (and probably
dying) Ficus benjamina there
instead, along with the
japonica. Also did a bit of weeding. And that was about that.
Today was the day for my garden photos, but
just as I was about to head out to take them, it started raining. And it carried on
raining—a total of 58.2 mm (nearly 10% of the annual rainfall, and the third-highest we've
had since moving here) over the following 24 hours. Goodbye photos.
It was also goodbye garden work, of course. About the only thing I had to do was
change the cooking gas cylinder, which had conveniently run out just before it started
raining. How I hate these gas connectors! They work acceptably well for barbecues with
flexible hoses in normal barbecue weather, but the connection to the house is copper pipe,
and unless the bottle is positioned exactly in the right place, it's almost
impossible to screw it in. And in the rain my glasses were no use, so it took even longer,
and I was soaking wet by the time I finally got it done.
This evening we ate the turkey breast that I commented about yesterday. It was supposed to be something special, but it turned out to
be very ordinary. We really shouldn't buy meat from ALDI: they seem to have made it not out of real turkey breast, but out of leftovers
impregnated with some salty “marinade”. Definitely not even good enough to be second rate.
We also have a ham that we bought at the same time: it might be better, but I don't want to
take the risk. It'll go back.
It rained all day yesterday, so I had to take the “house photos” (really of the garden)
today. I've decided a number of things: firstly, once a month (coincidentally today) I take
photos I take of the flowers in the garden, so the term “garden photos” is slightly
ambiguous. And I've been calling them “house photos” for over 4 years now, so the term
might as well stay.
Secondly, last week's changes to the photo locations seem not to be an improvement, so I've
scrapped them. In particular, this means that the photo from the south-east part of the
garden reverts from the first to the second image:
Thirdly, it's becoming clear that I don't need such closely spaced images for the verandah
photos. I had been taking the vertically-mounted photos at 36° increments (10 photos per
row) at 9 mm focal length (18 mm full-frame equivalent), with the exception of the verandah,
where I had chosen 30° (12 images) in order to gain more height. Now that I'm taking a
zenith photo too, that's no longer necessary, as the comparison with last week (first photo)
As if to prove this point, I started off on the wrong foot, and took the first few views at
a focal length of 14 mm, still with an increment of 36°. The images stitched together
anyway, though the errors were higher (presumably due to incorrect positioning of
the entrance pupil; according to
the table I was off by 3 mm).
The only issue was that the height of the images was, of course, much less:
It's interesting to note that
the Clematis “Pearl d'azure” still has
not come into flower, while the “Vagabond” has been flowering for a month. And the second
rose (on the left) is coming into its own. Only
the Tropaeolums are not climbing as
well; instead they're crawling across the ground, something I need to stop.
The Echium on the left appears to have
finished flowering. It's now leaning against the verandah, held in place by the brace we
put in last month. The flower spikes have now reached about 10 cm in length:
The Dicksonia antarctica
(tree fern) has also welcomed the change. It's only been there a couple of months, but it
has developed a number of new fronds, which are unfortunately difficult to recognize in this
comparison with the first photo (taken on 1 September 2011):
I was also expecting the water level in the pond to be significantly higher. Instead, it
was lower. I had set the level to just reach to the top of the fountain head, but when I
came back it was at least 1 cm lower:
Why that? Hopefully we haven't sprung a leak. But there are at least two alternative
explanations: the pond might not take much more water than the top of the fountain head
before overflowing, and the heavy winds might have blown the water over the top, further
lowering the level. Alternatively, it might have been evaporation caused by the wind. But
until further notice, I can't exclude the possibility that it has suddenly sprung a leak.
Filled it up again; I'll have to observe it.
I didn't just take the flower photos today; since yesterday was washed out, I had to take
yesterday's garden photos too, and somehow didn't get much done in the garden, though the
weather was good. Yvonne planted some grasses to the north
of the pond:
Another warm day, and there are many more important things that we need to do in the garden,
but for some reason we decided to go ahead with our plans to transplant
the Ficus benjamina and
the Camellia japonica, both in
large pots. They were supposed to go in the north-east corner of the east garden, in the
shade of the Buddleja globosa
hedge. Put the pots there and left them for a while to consider.
That was a good idea. Looking from the verandah, they were barely visible behind
the Salvia microphylla, and
that was with them still in the pots:
On my return, round 15:00 (typically the hottest time of day), the sun was shining directly
onto the Camellia, exactly what I was trying to avoid. I still don't seem to have got used
to the fact that we're closer to the equator here than in Europe, and that although I grew
up in the tropics with the sun frequently directly overhead at noon. At the moment the sun
is 21.4° S, and we're 37.8° S, so at noon the sun is only 16.4° from the vertical. So
clearly this isn't the place for the Camellia. Instead, moved it closer to the other
Camellia (sinensis), which has
been here since before we moved in, and which seems to be doing quite well with only morning
There's a volunteer Acacia
pycnantha to the left, and we'd have to prune it to give the Camellia japonica enough
space. So it's still not ideal, but we'll think about it for a while.
Decided that the Ficus could handle a little sun—the reason I wanted to plant it there was
to protect it from frost—so finally planted it. The roots didn't look as bad as I thought,
but they had all concentrated themselves at the bottom of the pot, so presumably this is a
tree that has deep roots. It's strange that they sell it as a house plant. It looked very
one-sided to start with:
After planting, discovered that roots for a number of the stems had rotted away. I don't
know if that's bad care or something else, but after removing them, it looks a lot better,
if a little lop-sided:
The pond lost water again today. A bit of investigation showed that it was leaking over the
top of the liner. Presumably it filled up with the recent rain and pushed down the liner in
one corner where the soil was soft, lowering it to a point about 1.5 cm lower than
previously. Panic over.
The dam at the east of our property was once an important source of water, if not a very
good one. It didn't take us more than a few months after
moving into the property to install a
“bore”, to access the groundwater.
Since then, the only use of the dam has been for my weekly photos showing how much
water there is in it.
And then Gordon, our farrier, suggested that there might
be yabbies in the dam, so today he
brought along a net and threw it in. And yes, we collected one yabby in the course of a
couple of hours:
This also gave me a chance to finally find a use
for Stephanie Alexander's“The cook's companion”, a book that somebody gave me and for which I have never found a use. It's subtitled
“The complete book of ingredients and recipes for the Australian kitchen”, but every time
I've looked in it, though it didn't look bad, it wasn't as good as other books I have.
But you can't expect Bocuse
Saint-Ange to have recipes for yabbies, so Stephanie Alexander finally finds her place.
It seems that yabbies come in sizes called “buffet” (more bad language), weighing between
30-50 g, “medium” (50-70 g), “large” (70-90 g) and “extra large” over 90 g. Ours weighs 97
g, probably an indication that it was high time to catch it. But we need more: for an
entrée you need 4-6 medium yabbies (between 200 and 420 g, it would seem), so we need at
least 3 more. And of course there's no information on how to catch them; Gordon says that
fish heads make the best bait.
It's an old truism that a weed is a plant out of place. But there are other criteria too:
how invasive they are (how quickly they spread), for example. Going by that
criterion, Viola tricolor
(heartsease), forget-me-not and
strawberries are also weeds. Then there's the consideration of how good they look.
Heartsease wins here. What about forget-me-nots? What about this
new Anchusa capensis that, by the skin of
my teeth, I grew from seed?
It's called “Cape forget-me-not”, and it has similar small pale blue flowers. But it
doesn't really look like much. On the other hand, we have a number of flowers that have
popped up in the garden, and which we've been considering weeds:
Somehow the weather is never “normal” enough. A couple of days it rained in torrents, and
today it was really hot again, a maximum of 33.9°, and also humid and windy. Did a little
work: planted most of the remains of the seedlings that I picked up at the beginning of the month. Also some morning glories, sweet peas
and the other Solanum laxum in
front of the north sheds. There's some concrete paving under part of that bed, something I
didn't know; hopefully it won't inhibit the plants too much.
The trouble, of course, is that there's no foreground. Yesterday I played around with
multiple exposures, two groups of 5 with a spread of 1 EV difference between them. There
are a couple of problems here: firstly, I didn't offset the two series by 5 EV as I should
have done; secondly, for some reason the second group wasn't correctly exposed, something I
need to investigate. It seems that the sequence wasn't held correctly. The results of the
individual series looked like this: