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Saturday, 1 November 2014 Dereel Images for 1 November 2014
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More site progress
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

It was too wet and windy today for my weekly house photos, but it occurred to me that I should get some photos of the building site before they poured the slab. Over to take a look, and to my surprise found some people laying out the slab structure:


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I don't know if this is making up for lost time, but it's definitely welcome.


Ashamed of background?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

What's this photo?

 
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Chris Bahlo and I discussed it at breakfast and tried to guess what it would say without any context. Clearly the bloke on the right is putting himself in the scene for some reason, and it seems that the bloke on the left is looking at him and wondering if he's completely sane. And is the woman in the middle blind, or is she leading a dog (or both)? About the only thing that is clear from the background is that they're on a road about 100 m from a pedestrian crossing.

In fact, it's part of a state election campaign brochure:

 
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The caption to this particular one is “Committed to improving pedestrian safety”. How? By allowing them to cross roads outside designated crossing areas? How does the photo relate to that problem?

More to the point, though: what party does Geoff Howard belong to? There's nothing in the brochure to indicate the party. We discussed and came to the conclusion that he belongs to the Liberal Party of Australia (maybe because of his surname). But why didn't he state it? Is he ashamed of his party? In fact, it turns out that he belongs to the Australian Labor Party. You'd think it wasn't important.


Yet another wildflower?
Topic: gardening Link here

I was somewhat ambivalent when I discovered that we had a “nature strip” in front of our house, and that we weren't allowed to tidy up the mess. But at this time of year a surprising number of wildflowers have shown up. There's another strip on the other side of the road, and that's where I found this flower:

 
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At first I thought it was a Bulbine bulbosa, but it's clearly not.


Sunday, 2 November 2014 Dereel Images for 2 November 2014
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X hang
Topic: technology Link here

Into the office this morning and found all my X windows empty, just with the background colour. Looking at the console showed:

 
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What's that? Nothing in /var/log/messages. The other X server was still running, but server 0 was using lots of CPU time and was otherwise unresponsive:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/19) ~ 53 -> ps au|grep X
root 16471 82.9  1.5 3840764  500208 v0  R     7Sep14 1439:46.34 /usr/local/bin/X :0 -config xorg-0.conf -logverbose 6
grog 16470  0.0  0.0   19612    1816 v0  I+    7Sep14    0:00.00 xinit /home/grog/.xinitrc -- /usr/local/bin/X :0 -conf
grog 69613  0.0  0.0   19612       0 v4  IW+  -          0:00.00 xinit /home/grog/.xinitrc -- /usr/local/bin/X :1 -conf
root 69614  0.0  1.6 3833560  551612 v4  S     4Oct14  210:49.16 /usr/local/bin/X :1 -config xorg-1.conf -auth /home/gr

Tried sending it a SIGHUP, but it didn't want to know and just died. Still, it had had a long life, but what caused the problem?


Slab examination
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Over to the site again today to take a closer look at the slab. Yesterday I had got the impression that they had spread the polystyrene foam over the entire surface of the house, but that made no sense, and it wasn't the case. There are channels of differing thicknesses around the whole area:

 
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Comparing with the plan, it seems that the thicker channels are under load-bearing walls.

One polystyrene foam block is off at an angle:

 
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I wonder if that will get fixed.

I puzzled about this one, but from the plans it's clearly a base for the hot water system:

 
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And the channels I noticed last time (first image) are repeated at the other corner of the house:

 
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They go down to the clay 60 cm below, so they're probably to stabilize the slab on the soft topsoil. The first one is marked on the slab plan, but the second one isn't.


Bringing over the crush
Topic: animals, general Link here

CJ along this evening to help bring Chris Bahlo's crush (cage for horses) over to our place. Chris had said that it was too heavy for less than 4 people, but the real problem turned out to be that it was jammed under another part of her equipment. No big deal, but somehow we're accumulating more and more stuff in Kleins Road.


Monday, 3 November 2014 Dereel Images for 3 November 2014
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Web sites and ACID
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

I've finally decided on an exposure meter. After some backwarding and forwarding, decided on the Sekonic L-308S after all. The cheapest offer was from eGlobaL [sic] Digital Cameras, only AU $184 with postage. The cheapest price I could find on eBay was US $167.90, which corresponds to AU $198.40, and reputable US sellers are offering it for round US $235 plus postage.

So I went ahead and fought my way through Yet Another Broken Website to finalize the purchase. Most web sites are too leet to accept phone numbers in standard formats (like (03) 5346 1730 in Australia). Instead they want all punctuation removed, like 0353461730. Clearly the programmers can't do it themselves and don't realize that this punctuation contains valuable information for error detection.

But that didn't work either here: they want the leading 0 removed as well!

 
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That's not a suggestion, it's a requirement. Finally I had it all. Submit, go to PayPal, pay. Return to complete transaction. “Your request failed: Internal Error (Code: 10001)”. OK, try again. PayPal refused: sum already paid. But the web site didn't want to know. What happened to ACID?

How do you contact these people? They don't have a phone number! Sent in a support request, to which as of present I have had no response. In the meantime gave in and tried their online chat, which doesn't start until 11 am. Finally I got on to them and they apologized, confirmed that the item was paid, gave me an order number, and promised to mark the shipment urgent.

Checked my account a few hours later. Nothing. Chat again. Once again they had to confirm that the sum had been paid, which was more difficult this time. Promised me email. Silence.

That must be one of the worst experiences I have ever had online. It's clear that they're honest enough, but their web software is dangerously buggy, and the trouble is worth more than the few dollars I save. Let's see what happens tomorrow.


Another GPU hang
Topic: technology Link here

Another GPU hang today! What's causing it? This system has been running unchanged since February, and it's been up for 139 days. The hang only affects one of the two X servers, so it doesn't seem to be hardware. It's not logged anywhere except on the console, not helped by whining flash plugins:

 
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When I first saw the problem, the error message was still on the screen, but later it had long been flushed by these useless error messages.

The resultant image is strange. The root window (with an xearth display) seems normal, and I can switch to and from it, but the server is no longer responding:

 
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Hopefully this won't continue. My current hypothesis is that some client causes a timeout because some other virtual terminal or X server is active.


Site progress
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

There was a half chance that the slab would be laid today, but all that I saw was a new enormous skip:

 
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Mantis tripod
Topic: photography Link here

Today I finally got my “new” Bolex “mantis” tripod:

 
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It's no longer in production. How old? Could be decades. It's nicely built, only 600 g in weight, and specially designed for close-up work, and it's idea for the kind of wildflower photos I've been trying lately. Why is nothing like this being produced any more?

Out to Kleins' Paddock to take photos of these tiny orchid-like flowers:

 
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They're about 1 cm across, and there are still focus issues, not the fault of the tripod. The second image was taken with my 10 dioptre close-up lens, which shows significant chromatic aberration. Here first without, and then with:

 
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The yellow fringing at bottom left of the second image is less evident, but clearly present.


Tracking parcels
Topic: general Link here

My tripod came from the USA, and was supposed to have been sent by USPS. Was it? Hard to say. Each address label has been pasted onto the previous one:

 
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But I have tracking information. What does that tell me? It starts with eBay's tracking information, which is backwards, of course, and in such a tiny window that you can only see two hops at a time. Here's the start:

 
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FedEx? That doesn't look like USPS. Tried their tracking system:


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I suppose that's the state of the web for big companies.

Back to eBay, where I found that it took a total of 3 days being shunted around Erlanger KY before being sent on to LA, presumably Los Angeles, though with a code 3352, my own post code. And it took another 4 days to get there. One week and counting.

But that was 5 days ago. What then? There was another link to a company called wnDirect, who gave me further information: In transit, tomorrow at 5:32 GMT. Clearly a time zone issue, in particular a misunderstanding of the difference between GMT and UTC, but when I looked at it, the time was really “yesterday” GMT, in fact round 22:54 on 2 November.

Further investigation showed that the time was really AEST, UTC+11:00, and yes, indeed, the parcel had arrived in Wendouree at that time. Why are web sites all so useless?


Tuesday, 4 November 2014 Dereel Images for 4 November 2014
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Zarzuela: the drama
Topic: animals Link here

Another foal this morning, once again unexpected:

 
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Why is the mother (AuSome Zarzuela) in a crush? Because she rejected the filly (provisional name Narrawin Esmeralda). Chris has been breeding horses for decades, and though she had heard of such a thing, she had never experienced it. A good thing we brought the crush over here on Sunday.

Unlike last month's foal, this one looks healthy and strong, but she still needed bottle feeding:

 
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Zarzuela didn't get much more friendly in the course of the day, though Esmeralda finally found the teats, much to the pleasure of Yvonne and Chris:

 
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So the only issue was that Chris and Yvonne had to keep putting Zarzuela in the crush and feeding Esmeralda, all day and through the night.


We have a slab
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Over to the site in late morning and found the concreters pretty much finished:

 
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I'm surprised how quickly it set. There are various things I still need to let go through my head. Here's the garage, set 65 mm lower:

 
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And this is presumably the offset for the (steel) house frame, with the “permanent temporary pole” for the electricity, and also conduit for the phone line I fear we're going to need:

 
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But what's this?

 
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Judging by the location, they're drains for showers and bath.


Following up with eGlobaL
Topic: technology, photography Link here

After yesterday's fun with eGlobaL, it seemed to be prudent to check whether my order number was now visible. No.

Waited until 11:00 to “chat” with somebody (they only seem to have ids CS-JL and CS-JH), and they discovered that they had associated it with a different email address. Finally got that and discovered yes, processed, sent out yesterday with tracking number which tells me only that it came from Hong Kong—not what I had expected. The price is well below the customs threshold, but there's nothing on their web site that indicates that customs might be a problem. Still, things seem to have sorted themselves out.


Planning for the stormwater system
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

“Storm water” is a rather strange term used in Australia for “rainwater”. We're dependent on rainwater for our fresh water supply. It's collected from the roof, piped underground and back up to tanks almost as high as the roof. JG King should have done that, but the Ballarat office made me an offer I could refuse, so now Mari Hendriks and Warrick Pitcher will do it. It has to happen right at the start, which doesn't make much sense, and Mari got bent out of shape about it, but we're contractually obliged to do it. So tomorrow's the day.

How much piping? Going over the not-very-detailed plan, it seems to be about 84.4 m. Mari will bring more, but it'll be interesting to see how things pan out.


Wednesday, 5 November 2014 Dereel → Geelong → Dereel Images for 5 November 2014
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No love between Zarzuela and Esmeralda
Topic: animals Link here

Things aren't looking any better with feeding Esmeralda. Zarzuela just doesn't want to know:

 
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The only way to feed her at all is to put Zarzuela in the crush.


More lagoon migration
Topic: technology Link here

Yvonne wanted to print a document today, something she does so seldom that she needed my help. And in the process discovered that I hadn't configured the printers since last month's system upgrade, five weeks ago. Note to self: check /etc/printcap and that the spool directories exist.


Shopping in Geelong
Topic: food and drink, general Link here

Off to Geelong in the afternoon for my six-monthly periodontal check. While there went looking for Asian foodstuffs. No, Chung Vinh Phat still didn't have any ketupat, or at least they didn't understand the name and description, and I had forgotten to bring the empty packet of the last ones. But I had come prepared, with a list of shops in Belmont. Most seemed to be Indian, but one was called Indo-Asian groceries, which I thought might be broader in scope, but it proves to be run by M. Singh and P. Kaur. They did have some other stuff, interestingly including Masa harina, something to remember when we run out, but once again “ketupat” brought a blank stare.

Picked up some ghee and looked around the area. The other shops that I have found on the web in that area were all Indian, but there were enough of them that a random search sounded like a good idea. Sure enough, just round the corner in the Belmont Centreway found a little place titled “Gourmet Asian Grocery”. In there, and heard the proprietor (Jason Yap) speaking English. He's Chinese, but Chinese speak English with different accents, and this one was clearly from the Malaysian area. Ketupat? Yes, pronounced correctly (not an easy thing to explain), and of course he had them. Not the same kind; we'll see what they're like. But clearly a place to remember.


Sprinklers
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

In the middle of the night I woke up and it occurred to me that we needed to think about garden irrigation. That's basically sprinklers fed off bore water, requiring underground piping and cables for the relays. Last time David Yeardley came over and dug trenches for me, and it didn't take too long. But why do that? Tomorrow they're digging trenches for stormwater, so they could throw the other stuff in at the same time. While in town Yvonne picked up most of the stuff we need, but she couldn't find the control cable anywhere. Finally at the Ballarat Pump Shop they dragged out a couple of partial rolls of cable and sold it to her: “There must be 100 m there”.

It's damned expensive stuff, and looking at the rolls I wasn't convinced that it was 100 m. And in any case, we really needed about 80 m in one run. Yvonne spoke to Warrick Pitcher, who gave her the name of UPI (Ultimate Pumps and Irrigation), who should have it. Yvonne back into town and finally came up with the real thing. Looking at the diameters, I'm even more convinced that the 2 rolls from Ballarat Pump Shop are nowhere near 100 m:

 
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Thursday, 6 November 2014 Dereel Images for 6 November 2014
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Stormwater
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Today Warrick Pitcher and Mari Hendriks came to dig the trenches. But they weren't the first. I arrived just before 8:00 to find somebody (I think his name was Keith) unloading the frames for the house—right on top of where they wanted to dig the trenches. A little issue of site supervision?

The problem was that the frame packs are heavy, and Keith couldn't lift them back on the truck to put them somewhere else. Warrick and Mari arrived soon after, and Warrick came to the rescue with his excavator, moving most of them out of the way.

 
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I went off to breakfast and to talk to Craig, who was cleaning out the mess in the garage. I should have taken a photo of what it looked like before, but afterwards it was transformed, and the skip was full:

 
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That's an old bed on top, one that we bought in March 1975. How this stuff brings back the memories.

When I got back on site, they hadn't got much further, but I got the information that Duncan (we think—he didn't introduce himself) had been there and taken a look. They got going pretty fast after that, though:

 
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Later in the afternoon started the first of what I plan to be a series of panoramas from the middle of the lounge room:

 
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It looks better as an animated panorama.

They were finished by 16:00, rather later than expected, but Mari had time to come and look at a blocked drain in Kleins Road. The blockage wasn't where I expected it, and since there are no inspection openings where they should be, it looks like it could be quite a problem.


Another power failure
Topic: general Link here

Another brief power failure this evening at 18:44. Unlike most, it bounced 3 times, and I was rather surprised that we weren't in for a longer outage.


New extension tubes and mystery
Topic: photography Link here

The extension tubes for my camera arrived today, but I didn't have time to do much beyond confirm that they worked. But they came with a strange device:

 
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What is it? The square end fits in the flash shoe, and the Allen key fits in the screw in the middle:

 
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It still doesn't make much sense to me.


Esmeralda rejected
Topic: animals Link here

Things are not going well with Zarzuela and Esmeralda. Zarzuela has almost no milk, and she still rejects Esmeralda as vehemently as ever. Chris bought some milk substitute, and they're feeding her with that. She also put her in proximity with Guardaraya, the mare who lost her foal in September. That looks like it might work


Friday, 7 November 2014 Dereel Images for 7 November 2014
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Macros in the field
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Off today with my camera, my mantis tripod, the new extension tubes, the dogs and Yvonne to Kleins Paddock to try Yet Again to get usable photos of this tiny wildflower:

 
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It wasn't easy. The mantis isn't ideal for this sort of thing, because adjusting the height of the camera also moves it off the subject, but in practice that was the least of my worries. How do you focus? Manually, of course, but the real issue there is that the LCD display is just not bright enough. In the studio it's easy: the magnification function is better than anything else I've ever seen. But it's almost unrecognizable in the sun. In addition, I had thought that the yellow part of the flower was a stamen, but in fact it's just a coloration of that part of the petals. Despite my best attempts, I just couldn't get the thing focused. In the end tried a shot anyway, and in fact it wasn't too bad:

 
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It certainly compares well to the image taken with the close-up lens:

 
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But I missed the lip on the right of this image:

 
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The problem was that I just couldn't see it in the viewfinder, not even with the magnifier. I suppose I should come with a magnifying glass.

In addition, there was noticeable camera shake. The exposure time was 1/25 s, which isn't that bad, and I had set a 2 s delay on the shutter, but it's not the firmest ground. Next time I should try flash as well.


Site: progress?
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Over to the site to see what hadn't happened. Duncan had said that they would start erecting the frame today, but nobody was there. My guess is that he had forgotten that today was supposed to be Ballarat Cup Day, though the Ballarat Turf Club, who organize it, seems to think that it will be on 22 November 2014. But maybe that's why nobody was working.

That didn't stop Jim Lannen, though, who came over with paperwork for connecting electricity, which hopefully will be connected by the end of next week. Over again to discuss some details with him.


More wildflowers
Topic: gardening Link here

While on the site, took a look at the nature strip, which is now sporting some kind of Xanthorrhoea:

 
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I wonder what other plants are in store.


The revenge of the nature strip
Topic: animals Link here

After my photos in the nature strip, got into the car and started to drive home. Something was on my neck, so I brushed it off and watched a relatively large, bulbous spider going down the outside of the leg of my pants. Stopped immediately, of course, and looked for it. Gone.

Where did it go? About the only thing I could think of was up the inside of my pants. No time to be prudish: the thing could be a redback. Pants off, and drove home in my underwear. I must get a can of insect spray for the car.


Configuring DxO
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

The new version of DxO Optics “Pro” has a number of improvements over the previous version: it can now display properly on medium resolution (2560×1440) screens, and hopefully also on 3840×2160 screens. It has reinstated the old image comparison function (original/modified), which they had previously put on the Ctrl-D key. But that repeats, so I ended up with a quick alternation of the two. Now there's a button you can hold down with the mouse.

Best, though, they have finally found a (cumbersome) way of telling the crop function not to enforce aspect ratio, at least for the “elite” version: you can save the information with a “preset”. And of course that's about the first thing I did, both for myself and for Yvonne.

But today Yvonne told me that it didn't work for her. Investigated this horrible “preset editor”, which has completely unexpected behaviour, and discovered that every time I tried to save the edits, it reverted to “preserve aspect ratio”.

Why? I know that the configuration is stored in text files. I have Cygwin installed, so the obvious thing to do was to take a look at it with Emacs. Tried to start it.

C:\Users\grog\AppData\Local\DxO_Labs\DxO OpticsPro 10\Presets>emacs
'emacs' is not recognized as an interneal or external command,
operable program or batch file.

Huh? Has my cygwin flown away? Tried cygwin. Nothing. bash. Nothing. How did I start the thing? Spent 20 minutes looking through the Cygwin documentation, The Quick Start Guide for those more experienced with UNIX seemed to be a good start. But although it was offered as a “User's Guide”, it was all about installation, not starting.

Finally, in despair, gave up and asked on IRC. Simple, says Daniel O'Connor: click on the Cygwin shortcut (whatever that may mean) on the desktop (whatever that may mean). In good Unix, that's find the Cygwin icon on the root window and click on it. But why should I have to do that? That's not the Unix Way.

So finally I got the thing started. How do I access Yvonne's config file? It seems that, although I have root administrator privileges, I can't access Yvonne's AppData directory. Finally gave up, printed out my file, and over to her machine to compare.

There was no configuration file! The Mysettings shown on her DxO window was in fact an empty directory. And DxO was far too considerate to worry her with error messages. So basically I just needed to save the configuration again with the modifications I wanted.

Aren't computers wonderful? But out of this I've gained some information about how the configuration files work. The amateur version of DxO Optics “Pro” doesn't have the editing feature, but I'm sure you can still edit the configuration files, if you can only find them.

The file starts with:

Preset = {
Settings = {
Base = {
VignettingClippingAuto = true,
LightingIntensityAuto = true,

Clearly the curly braces are for grouping things, and almost everything is inside the Base group. Looking at my config file, the important entry seems to be:

CropRatio = -1,

It's at the top level inside Base.

Comparing with DxO's own preset files, it seems that there are a lot of defaults. I can't find a CropRatio entry in any of them, for example.


Saturday, 8 November 2014 Dereel Images for 8 November 2014
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Another GPU hang
Topic: technology Link here

Yet another GPU hang this morning!

 
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It's frustrating that it only appears on the console. I had hoped that the numbers at the beginning of the line would give some indication, but they don't make much sense. The first could conceivably be the PID; the second is the same as last time.

On IRC, the opinion was that it was a hardware issue, maybe overheating. But the fact point elsewhere: I have an xearth process complaining about a missing marker file every 5 minutes. And the hang message is always at the bottom, so it must appear round the time I power on the monitors. It has been warm lately, but I haven't had any problem at any time except when turning on the monitors. Could there be an issue there? It only happens on X server 0, so I'll try leaving server 1 running when I turn off the monitors.


Mystery tool identified
Topic: photography Link here

A couple of days ago I received a mystery device with my new extension tubes:

 
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I still had no idea of what it is, so I checked the web site of the seller, and came up with this item:

 
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It's a supplementary handle to hold the camera, and the screw is to screw into the central flash contact—not exactly something I'd want to do, for a number of reasons. I'm still trying to decide whether it would be of any use.


Sunday, 9 November 2014 Dereel Images for 9 November 2014
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GPU hang cornered?
Topic: technology Link here

Another GPU hang this morning! This time I had left X server 1 active, but once again it was server 0 that was affected. Something to do with the clients? Ran ps and got hundreds of processes, including 300 zombie ssh-agents, to be inspected later.

But that's not the way you solve a problem nowadays. Google is your friend. And, as it proved, also the enemy. This article describes a (perhaps only marginally) different issue, but it makes it clear that the problem is associated with Google chrome. That may mean that it's sufficient to shoot down chrome, and not the X server, if it happens again.


Droseras: done
Topic: gardening Link here

It looks like the flowering time of the Droseras is over:

 
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Meter box done
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

They were supposed to start on the frame of the house on Friday, but there's no evidence of that. Only Jim Lannen, who has now completed the preparations for installing the meter:

 
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Ignoring image problems
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Yvonne went out riding with Chris today, and for some reason used Chris' camera rather than her own. Back home it was up to me to read in the card, for which I didn't have a cable. And at least 3 images didn't get read:

Nov  9 13:48:31 eureka kernel: (da4:umass-sim2:2:0:2): READ(10). CDB: 28 40 00 00 22 00 00 00 10 00
Nov  9 13:48:31 eureka kernel: (da4:umass-sim2:2:0:2): CAM status: SCSI Status Error
Nov  9 13:48:31 eureka kernel: (da4:umass-sim2:2:0:2): SCSI status: Check Condition
Nov  9 13:48:31 eureka kernel: (da4:umass-sim2:2:0:2): SCSI sense: HARDWARE FAILURE asc:0,0 (No additional sense information)
Nov  9 13:48:31 eureka kernel: (da4:umass-sim2:2:0:2): Retrying command (per sense data)
Nov  9 13:48:32 eureka kernel: (da4:umass-sim2:2:0:2): READ(10). CDB: 28 40 00 00 22 00 00 00 10 00
Nov  9 13:48:32 eureka kernel: (da4:umass-sim2:2:0:2): CAM status: CCB request completed with an error
Nov  9 13:48:32 eureka kernel: (da4:umass-sim2:2:0:2): Retrying command

But that was only one of the images. The others were created, but they were stored with length 0. Tried it on lagoon, Yvonne's computer. Same thing.

Could this be a FreeBSD problem? What does Microsoft think? Tried it on dischord, and it had no trouble reading the images. Except that some of them were junk: it couldn't display them. Clearly a problem, possibly file system metadata, which Microsoft is too considerate to complain about.

So Chris tried, both with Microsoft and Apple. And they could even display the broken JPEGs. She copied them to my system, and I still couldn't display them. Is this good or bad? I need to investigate what's really wrong with the card.


The way we were, 1982
Topic: technology Link here

This video is just going round the Unix Heritage Society mailing list:

How times have changed in less than a third of a century.


Esmeralda success
Topic: animals Link here

It looks as if Chris has been successful in getting Guardaraya to look after Esmeralda:

 
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But she still needs manual feeding every few hours. Yvonne and Chris take turns, but it means missing sleep.


Coming up roses
Topic: gardening Link here

For some reason the climbing Iceberg roses on the south side of the verandah are blooming particularly vigorously this year:

 
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Is is just that they've been in the ground long enough?


Monday, 10 November 2014 Dereel Images for 10 November 2014
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Frame erection?
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Over to the site this morning to see how they were getting on with erecting the frame. They weren't. They were scheduled to start last Friday, but by this evening nothing had happened. Duncan tells me that they're still on track to have the frame up by Friday this week.

One of the reasons why things are happening so fast might be that by the time the frame is up, we'll be due to pay half the total cost of the house. Received an invoice for the first progress payment (“Base stage”) from JG King, with the usual accuracy:


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Diary entry for Monday, 10 November 2014

 

Where did that extra cent in the “total” line come from? Clearly from sloppy programming.


Planning permit: not
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Chris Bahlo wasn't as successful today. She received a planning permit a couple of weeks ago, and last week I dropped in her application for a septic tank permit. And then the planning department decided that she needed to submit an application for amendment to the planning permit. Why? Because the house plans she had submitted were mirror images. But she told them that, and made it obvious on another sheet of the application. So the application as approved contains a contradiction. Why did they approve it? And why is it her fault that they didn't do their job right? Chris is understandably pissed off.


eGlobal: worth the trouble?
Topic: photography, general, opinion Link here

The exposure meter that I bought from eGlobaL last week finally arrived. Only took a week. Yes, they said “three to five working days”, but that's what most people say for parcels inside Australia, and usually they're there in two. The problem is that eGlobal are in Hong Kong, something that you have to dig to find out. Is it worth it? I still don't know.


Tuesday, 11 November 2014 Dereel Images for 11 November 2014
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More solar electricity considerations
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Finally got round to reconsidering solar electricity. Spoke to David Grigg of BREAZE, phone number 0401-763-553. He certainly knows his stuff, and we spent 50 minutes on the phone (roughly doubling my normal monthly phone bill). The big question for me was pricing, and he helped there:

So: doing the sums, it would seem that the battery setup would cost $17,000 on top of the standard solar panel system. For that I get a maximum of 9.5 kWh per day, or about 42 MWh over 12 years. At $0.30 per kWh, that corresponds to a savings of $12,500 odd.

Is that worth it? On the one hand, electricity prices will go up, so things may not be quite as bad. On the other hand, LiIon technology is just round the corner, and it could be a lot cheaper. And maybe finally the governments of this country will come up with better incentives for renewable energy. For the moment, though, it looks as if it's a bad time to install a battery backup system. I'll put in the separate power circuits, but for the moment it looks like a better idea to have a big UPS there rather than batteries.

So what do we do in the meantime? I can't use 5 kW sustained power for any length of time. It would make more sense to put in, say, 2 kW and add later if we get batteries. Even then much of the power would go to waste or to Powercor, which, at $0.08 per kWh, is pretty much the same thing. 2 kW is too little for heavy consumers like dishwashers and ovens, but they're used so little that it doesn't make much sense to install a higher capacity just for that. 1 kW of panels cost $1,000. Running a dishwasher might use 2 kWh, so we'd have to run it 1,500 times to make up for that—and we can't rely on the sun shining when we want to wash the dishes.

So: what do we get for 2 kW? Price is round $3,500 + installation, say another $1,000. For that I get, say, 1 kW for about 8 hours a day, and another 1 kW for another 3 hours not of my choosing. Over 10 years that's a savings of about $8,800—if I can use that power. Somehow I get the feeling that the whole thing isn't worth the effort.


Progress payments reexamined
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Yesterday's progress payment invoice evoked mirth, of course. But Andy Snow wanted to know what terms like “Lock up” and “Fit out” meant. They're defined in the Domestic building contracts act 1995, section 40. And what do I see there?

A builder must not demand or recover or retain under a major domestic building contract of a type listed in column 1 of the Table more than the percentage of the contract price listed in column 2 at the completion of a stage referred to in column 3.

Those sums are 10% for the base stage—I paid 20%, and 15% for the frame stage—they're going to ask for 25%. How can they get away with that?


Erection!
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Over to the building site to see how things were getting on. We have a house!

 
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It seems that they had done that much work in less than 4 hours. Came back in the evening and half of the roof trusses were also on:

 
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Spent some time looking round. There are no less than three empty spaces in the walls. I had noticed them long ago in the display home, and they're clear in the plans, here in the kitchen at top and right, and at bottom left:

 
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But now I can see how big they are:

 
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The one at bottom left is designated as “return air” for air conditioners, but what are the other two? And why are they so big?

There are also some surprising amounts of steel in some places. Here four columns next to each other to the left of the studio window:

 
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And I'm still not quite clear on the structural purpose of these plates:

 
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It seems that the structural integrity wouldn't change if they weren't there.


New exposure meter
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

It's been nearly 50 years since I last bought an exposure meter. Things have changed since then, and today I spent a bit of time getting used to my new Sekonic L-308S. No great surprises, since I had read reviews and instruction manuals. But I'm still puzzled by some of the design decisions.

It seems that it's standard practice on modern exposure meters to append decimals to aperture values. Thus there are 10 steps between f/2.8 and f/4. They have the approximate values in the left-hand column, but the exposure meters display the base stop and a decimal, as in the right-hand column:

2.80       2.8
2.89       2.8.1
3.00       2.8.2
3.10       2.8.3
3.21       2.8.4
3.32       2.8.5
3.44       2.8.6
3.56       2.8.7
3.69       2.8.8
3.82       2.8.9
3.95       4.0

The list doesn't end exactly at f/4 because f/2.8 isn't exactly one stop from f/4. Clearly these numbers are irritating, and they don't match the ⅓ stop increments that most cameras use, which in this case are f/3.2 and f/3.5 on my camera, though more exact thirds would be 3.15 and 3.55.

Does this make sense? At some level, I suppose it does. I might find out when I get a flash unit with digital power control. In the meantime, though, the meter has an irritating “feature”: you can select between tenth stops, half stops and third stops. But the tenth stop setting also displays (only) whole stop increments in shutter speed, and the others are clearly lower resolution. Fortunately the EV display is always in tenth stops, so I can work around it like that.

Apart from that, it's pretty much as expected. I now also have the first opportunity to measure flash guide numbers exactly: hold the meter 1 m from the flash source and measure. The aperture display corresponds directly to the guide number. I need to measure the distance more accurately, but the first attempt confirms that yes, my ring flash probably does have guide number 14.


Next DxO bug
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Processing today's photos with DxO Optics “Pro” showed an interesting issue: I couldn't load presets. Why? Here I have tried to set a black and white preset (as the most obvious kind), and the image remains in colour. But the two smaller previews are black and white:

 
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Is this the result of my manually editing the preset files? Before I blame the obvious culprit, I should check.


Wednesday, 12 November 2014 Dereel Images for 12 November 2014
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Another new horse
Topic: animals, food and drink Link here

Amy Haldane along this afternoon with Keldan, an Icelandic gelding:

 
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Yvonne is very taken by him, and there's a good chance that, despite my protests about the cost, she'll buy him.

Amy also brought an amazing amount of buffalo cheese and yoghurt, must have been over 2 kg: they run Shaw River Buffalo, making dairy products. We'll have real Mozzarella for our pizzas for a long time to come.


Thursday, 13 November 2014 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 13 November 2014
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More chrome pain
Topic: technology Link here

It's been a few days since I last had the dreaded “GP process hung” message. Maybe a web page that I have since removed from the browser state? But today I got another message, not once but dozens of times:

 
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[27418:209744896:12854200258323:ERROR:gles2_cmd_decoder.cc(4856)] glDrawEleemnts framebuffer incomplete (check)

Google confirms that this, too, comes from chrome. Unlike the other message, though, it wasn't associated with an X hang. It seemed related to some issues I had mounting an SDHC card; the message output came in bursts related to inserting and removing the card. Somehow there's strangeness in the FreeBSD USB stack.


Microwave ovens: 7 years of progress?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

The Panasonic microwave oven that I bought seven years ago has died, presumably magnetron failure. Hardly worth replacing, given the rapid progress in domestic appliances. So I went looking for a new one, preferably one that isn't designed for illiterates (the Panasonic doesn't have a numeric keypad; instead you have to push buttons up to 10 times to count).

And it's amazing how few ovens there are. When I bought the last oven, I expressed my hope that inverter technology would give more even heating. That hope was fulfilled, so I went looking for a new one with inverter technology, expecting it to be universal. Far from it, at least if I can believe the descriptions. Finally settled on a 1200 W Sharp model, and in to town to look for the best price, first at The Good Guys.

But the Sharp was far smaller than the old oven. Looked around and found a suitable looking unit from LG. But it didn't say “inverter”. On the other hand, it wasn't in the specs of the high end Panasonics either, just written on the door. Why can't people write specs any more? Maybe the others also have inverter technology.

Finally found a salesman who seemed to know what he was talking about, and he confirmed that only those marked “inverter” really had inverter technology. Why? It can't be the price. I ended up buying a Panasonic NN-ST641W, pretty much the same as the old oven, for $162. The LG I was looking at came $30 more expensive.

And how does it compare to the old one (NN-ST666W)? The controls are very similar, but there are now only 6 power levels instead of 10, and instead of being numbered (something that is clearly alien to Panasonic's target clientele), there are names: High, Med-High, Med, Med-Low, Def and Low. It almost reminds me of the CFA's bushfire danger levels. On the positive side, it now displays the power level when heating; previously if you forgot the level, the only way to be sure was to stop the oven and set it up (presspresspresspresspresspress) again. But the naming suggests that they had run out of LED indicators on the panel.

And then there's the (moisture) sensor. I had already established that it's useless, but the new oven doesn't have it at all. On the other hand, it does offer the ability to set three different times and levels in succession, though I can't imagine what good that would be. And after heating, it carries on running the fan for a couple of minutes, along with the display “Cool”. Is this progress?


Riding helmet
Topic: animals Link here

Sometimes I think that Yvonne and Chris don't want me to come riding with them. My riding helmet disappeared years ago, and they lent me a substitute—for a while. But it belongs to David Yeardley, and we no longer have access to his things. So while in town, bought a new helmet. I'm amazed how little choice I had, but I found pretty much what I was looking for.


Elections and road repairs
Topic: general, opinion Link here

The Colac-Ballarat road, particularly round Enfield between here and Ballarat, is not in the best of conditions. People have been complaining about it for years, though objectively it's not that bad. Earlier this year it was voted the worst road in the state, apparently because a truck overturned on a “particularly nasty bend of the road”.

Now the state elections are coming up. And what do we get? They're completely resurfacing the “particularly nasty stretch”.

 
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And they've patched up an area south of Enfield and repainted the white lines:

 
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Of course it's just a coincidence that this is happening just before the state elections. But more to the point, this “particularly nasty stretch” wasn't all that bad; my guess is that the truck was going too fast for the bend. The worst part of the road is to the north of the area that's being resurfaced, with large subsidences of up to 20 cm. And they're not doing anything about that (yet). After all, nobody rolled a truck there.


Minor site progress
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

The frame of the house is due to be finished by the weekend, but so far they've only done one day's work. Today a bloke showed up with a Bobcat and evened out the soil round the house, then covered it with stones:

 
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Borzoi? Greyhound?
Topic: animals Link here

Zali O'Dea along in the afternoon with dog Bindy and daughter Roni. They've had Bindy shorn:

 
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She almost looks like a greyhound. On the positive side, she has lost a lot of weight, and is probably now slimmer than Zhivago.


Friday, 14 November 2014 Dereel Images for 14 November 2014
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Completing the frame
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Call from Duncan Jackson this morning: they needed our generator. Over to find a lot going on, but by 14:30 they were done:

 
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Finally found out why there were four columns right next to each other. They support the beams round the entrance:

 
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Flash guide numbers: all lies?
Topic: photography, general, opinion Link here

Finally got round to measuring the guide numbers of my flash units today. I have a total of 9, but the mecablitz 58 AF-1 still needs to be repaired, I haven't worked out how to manually fire the two tiny Olympus flashes that came with the OM-D E-M1 and E-PM2 units, and I didn't think about the 40 CT 4. That left the two 110 Joule studio flash units, the mecablitz 58-AF-2, the Meike MK-300 and the Viltrox JY-670.

The test setup was simple enough: place the flash on a stand (here the mecablitz with Yvonne's E-PM2) one meter away from the flash unit and measure the intensity of a manual flash at 1/250 s and (in case it makes a difference) at 1/125s.

 
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There are quite a few measurements to be done, since each unit has variable power output.

The results were amazing. None of the flash units came close to the rated guide number. Here's a summary of the full power output from the details page:

Unit       Advertised GN       Actual GN       % light
Viltrox JY-670       14       9.85       50
Meike MK-300       32       12.2       15
mecablitz 58 AF-2       58       36.8       40

How can that be? It wasn't the measurements: the photo above was taken with the studio flashes bounced off the ceiling, and the exposure suggested by the exposure meter was exactly correct. On the other hand, I've been complaining for years about flash (under)exposure problems, and these measurements support my observations.

The Meike MK-300 was particularly disappointing, but even the mecablitz only managed 40% of the rated light. One possibility is in the wikipedia article: guide numbers of units with a focused reflector have a virtual origin behind the unit. Well, it's what they call a guide number. A real guide number is the aperture times the distance from the flash, and that's what I measured. But it's clear that I'm going to have to try again with, say, 5 m distance, at least for those units that can flash that far.


Interpreting exposure meter output
Topic: photography, technology Link here

The raw output from the exposure meter tests wasn't very helpful. Here the readings for the MK-300:

1 11:3
1/2 11:2
1/4 8:9
1/8 8:1
1/16 5.6:5
1/32 4:5
1/64 2.8:0
1/128 1:9

The first column is the power level, and the second column is the exposure meter reading, in aperture and tenths. That's really difficult to interpret. After a bit of playing around with a calculator, decided that the issue was complicated enough to warrant a program, which produces output like this:

Power ratio             Raw GN       Real GN       Expected       Deviation %
1       1       11:3       12.21
1/2       0.50000       11.0:2       11.79       8.63       87
1/4       0.25000       8.0:9       10.93       6.10       221
1/8       0.12500       8.0:1       8.28       4.32       268
1/16       0.06250       5.6:5       6.66       3.05       376
1/32       0.03125       4.0:5       4.76       2.16       386
1/64       0.01562       2.8:0       2.80       1.53       237
1/128       0.00781       1.0:9       1.37       1.08       60

The first and third columns are the input data. The “real GN” is converted into real numbers, and the last two columns compare the measured data to the data expected based on the full power output. As this one shows, the Meike MK-300 is wildly inaccurate. When set on 1/32 output, it produces roughly 1/6 of the full power. But the others are only marginally more accurate; the mecablitz 58-AF-2, a high-end flash unit, deviated by up to 50% from the calculated values.


Exposure meter accuracy
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I've already mentioned that the Sekonic L-308S calculated the correct flash exposure for the photo above. That's what I bought it for, so it's a success. But it has some really strange limitations. I've already mentioned this strange tenths-of-a-stop readout, but it gets worse: there's this coupling between EV steps and display. I have three choices: 1/10 EV aperture steps and whole EV shutter speed steps, or ½ or ⅓ EV steps both for shutter speed and aperture. Neither is really satisfactory. Probably ⅓ EV steps is best for natural light, and I can get by with the 1/10 EV steps for flash because the shutter speed isn't so important, though of course it makes it impossible to set the normal flash shutter speed of 1/320 s.

But what about the shutter speed value with flash measurements? Some of my flashes have flash durations of more than 4 ms (1/250 s) on full power, but none of my measurements showed results for 1/125 s that differed significantly from the 1/250 s results. Does it really just measure for that period of time?


Telstra does it again
Topic: general, opinion Link here

A phone call this afternoon from a woman with a south-east Asian accent, telling me she came from some debt collection agency, and wanting my personal details. She seemed to be surprised when I refused.

Gradually it became apparent that she was following up with the repair to the damage to a Telstra telephone cable last August. As I noted at the time, they only wanted to know where the fault occurred, and not a billing address. So it seems that they sent the invoice to Stones Road, and of course it couldn't be delivered. Instead of calling me on the phone—they had those details—they turned over the matter to a debt collection agency. And they wanted money today.

Sorry, I don't know who you are, and I have no business with you. If Telstra wants money from me, they should send me an invoice. But no, the agency wanted to send me email and get me to call them back. No. So she put me on hold and finally came back, agreeing to my request.

Would you expect any less from Telstra?

A month later I had still not heard from Telstra. I've heard from others, too, that they never received a bill for legitimate damage. Is this yet another example of their incompetence, or were the people who called me just scammers? I may never know.


Destructive dogs
Topic: animals Link here

Leonid is a nice dog, and we're really happy to have him, even to the point of forgetting Tanya, but he has one evil habit:

 
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That's a horse fly net, a cushion, a sheepskin and the remains of some polystyrene packaging. Fortunately the only thing that he destroyed was the polystyrene, but it does mean that it's difficult to leave him alone.


Saturday, 15 November 2014 Dereel Images for 15 November 2014
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ALDI radio and GPS combination
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Into town early this morning to pick up an ALDI special offer: car radio, reversing camera and GPS navigator. At $299 it was on the expensive side, but the good thing about ALDI is that you can return things within 60 days if you don't like them. In this case the problems started (don't they always?) with the documentation, in this case the advertising. No description of the mounting, just a montage of the radio and the navigator display:

 
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How do you mount the display? Not described, so I had to buy one to try it out.

While I was there, found an amazing number of people, all of whom could make me look young, buying this radio:

 
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There were at least four of them at the same checkout as I was. At $30 it wasn't even cheap. What's the attraction? Those things went out of fashion 50 years ago.

Back home and took a look at my new toy. That wasn't a montage! The display slides out of the top of the radio, so it really sits directly above it.

Is that a good idea? The obvious thing is to try it out. Where's the documentation? 33 pages, including 6 pages of safety information, 4 about the remote control and 6 on installation. And half a page about the GPS navigator, the only part of which was any use was the information that the manual could be downloaded from http://www.ndrive.com/sites/default/files/UG_V11_PND.pdf. But the safety information included the following message, no less than four times:

 
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But the worst thing of all was the connections. Nowadays you'd expect every aftermarket radio to have a DIN connector, like my last ALDI radio did 5 years ago. But no, it has another custom connector:


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Of course, it then needs a cable to connect to it. With bare ends! You have to build a cable to use it at all:

 
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Can I be bothered? It makes it easier to first decide whether it will fit in the position it would operate in. And that would obstruct the clock, a couple of controls and the central heating vents:

 
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The position is also probably too low, though it would be worth checking. And it would almost certainly point straight back, so at an angle to the driver. Is it worth trying? It would certainly be less messy than the current arrangement. But before I can try, I need to either find a real adapter for ISO plugs, or make one myself. I can't be bothered, and I'm sure that others won't either. A pity: it could have been a good unit.


Coming up roses
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Garden flower photo day today. Despite neglect, things don't look bad, and in particular the roses are doing well:

 
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One even came up that I had thought we had finally removed:

 
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Leonid: first blood
Topic: animals Link here

Spring is drawing to a close, and we've seen dozens of baby rabbits run around the area. Today Leonid saw one too, close to the corner we call the “eagle's nest”. And he caught it almost immediately.

He's now 9½ months old. When Nikolai caught his first rabbit, he was 8½ months old.

But the details were very different. Niko's rabbit was fully grown, while Leo had caught a baby. Niko let me put him on a leash and take him home; Leo didn't let anybody near him, and he played around with it like a cat does with its prey. Niko took over an hour to eat his; Leo had completely eaten it before we got home. And of course, for once in a while I didn't have a camera with me, so we don't have any photos.


Sunday, 16 November 2014 Dereel Images for 16 November 2014
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Guide numbers, part 2
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Last Friday I measured the light output of many of my flash units, and was surprised by the results: the guide numbers I measured represented between 15% and 50% of the claimed light output for the units. One possible explanation was that I measured all units at a distance of 1 m, which may not be typical. So today I gathered my remaining flash units and measured the guide numbers of all of them at 2 m and 4 m.

The results are interesting. To a certain extent they bear out the hypothesis that the guide number is lower at close distances (because of the virtual origin of the beam), but even at 4 m they're roughly 1.5 times less than the advertised guide number, or a little under half the power output. With the exception of the Meike MK-300, that's relatively consistent. But it explains why I have to set my camera to +1 EV flash compensation.


Nikolai and Bindy
Topic: animals, photography Link here

Call from Zali O'Dea this afternoon: they were on the Stones Road property to pick up some firewood, and they wanted us to come over and bring the dogs.

Problem: I was flat out doing my flash tests, and Yvonne and Chris were off recovering from the Yeardley's latest trick (turning off the water to Chris' property). But I didn't want to be rude, so over with Nikolai for 10 minutes or so: he hasn't had much running around lately.

 
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Dereel History Group: goodbye
Topic: history, general, opinion Link here

Earlier this year I got involved with the Dereel History Group, run by Julie Donaghy. It clearly needed some structure, and Scott Weston kindly donated space on his server for a Dereel History Wiki. We put in a couple of pages, and I tried to interest people to add to it, but somehow the whole thing went to sleep.

Then I saw Julie last month, and she was talking about reviving the group, and bemoaning the fact that nobody had signed up. So I waited, and last week she posted—on facebook—a request to get together on Tuesday to discuss the book she wants to write. A number of people replied, but today she decided to cancel the meeting:

look its ok Lora Ardran Sharon Hegarty Breen Greg Lehey, Caroline Everett we might leave it til early nexdt year for now, as i really need to do loads of photocopies, and get the website up to date, this i can do on my own. then i shall need a lot of help after that

i have a photographer Lisa Hunter to do the photos of any interesting places around dereel, i have a scribe who offered to do any typing, once i work out what other tasks are required i can ask for help then so thank you all, so tuesday is cancelled

Photocopies? That's a sure-fire way of reducing the quality of documents which are already in not very good condition. Web site? Which web site? I think she's talking about her blog, which is limited to her own use. There's no evidence that she has even tried to use the real web site.

A scribe? Is that something like a secretary who types in what other people have to say? That's not going to work, and I said so. And why have only one photographer in a collaborative project?

From there things went to hell in a handbasket. How dare I criticize Julie? I don't know Lora Ardran, but she needs a good dose of disinfectant in her mouth:

who the fuck do you think you are Greg Lehey. ... talking to Julie Donaghy like that you fucking wana be know it all .....with you head stuck so far up your iwn arse I can't believe you are still alive ?????? WTF

It's amazing that people will express themselves like that in public, but I suppose Facebook has a clientele that hasn't been through the flame wars of the 1980s and 1990s. One day it might come back and bite Lora. Julie, who also runs the Facebook group, deleted the thread, but the NSA have it, and so do I.

Still, it looks like nothing will come of the history group. Julie hasn't updated her blog in any way that I can see in the eight months since I put up the wiki, and if she wants to do everything herself, that's not a group. But I should learn from my experience with the Friends of Ballarat Botanical Gardens and be glad that I'm not involved. It's just a pity for the history of Dereel.


Hainan chicken rice revisited
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

One of the obvious sous-vide recipes is Hainan Chicken Rice, and I tried it shortly after getting my sous-vide cooker. But there's a difference: chicken rice is cooked in the broth which is then served with the dish. Sous-vide cooking isolates the meat from the broth.

So today I tried again, aided by this recipe and this one. Neither are ideal, but the first one has some interesting ideas. And of course the google search returned many others, including my own at position 6. There was also this recipe, with the startling statement:

The first thing we did was to brine the chicken in 9% brine for 6 hours (actually close to 7). This is to make the chicken more juicy because the osmotic pressure in the cells of the chicken will change, and holds more water.

I wonder where they got that idea from. The brine removes water from the meat. In any case, I've never seen a recipe like that.

In the end I cooked the chicken whole in the cooker for 2 hours at 65°, and then one drumstick for another hour or so at 80°. That proved to be the right thing to do: the breast and that drumstick were done the way I wanted them, and the other drumstick and the wings were underdone. At least I'm getting closer, and I've updated recipe accordingly.


Monday, 17 November 2014 Dereel Images for 17 November 2014
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Dead monitor
Topic: technology Link here

Yvonne's monitor died today. Not the first monitor that has died on us, but since moving to LCD screens, there seems to be only one failure mode: the power supply dies.

Why? We've had switching power supplies for decades, and while they have certainly evolved, you'd think it was well understood technology. LCD digital displays, on the other hand, are only now receding from the bleeding edge. You'd really expect them to be more likely to die than the power supply.

The other obvious thing is that it's hardly worth getting somebody to repair it. A replacement costs $129 at Officeworks, and repair technicians can easily take that even for a simple repair.


Site progress
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Over to the site this morning with the generator, to find only a single person there attaching the fascias. He didn't want the generator, so I took it with me.

In the afternoon over again to meet Karl Waldron, the air conditioner man. The Actron units aren't without their down sides: they have a minimum air flow of 140 l/min, which is a lot when cooling a single bedroom. So we're going to have to have a “spill”, an extra outlet, somewhere near the reverse air. I'm not overly happy with that, but I don't see much choice.

While there, noticed that the CFA had been there to burn off our excess timber:

 
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And we now have not only fascias, but also gutters and downtubes:

 
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Tuesday, 18 November 2014 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 18 November 2014
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New monitor?
Topic: technology Link here

Into town this morning to pick up a new monitor for Yvonne, and while I was at it picked up a second cheaper one—$129 for a 21| 1920×1080 monitor—to be prepared for the next failure. My Tandem background must be showing.

Later did some searching about the causes of monitor failures. Things aren't quite as clear-cut as I thought, but articles like this one suggest that power supply failure is one of the leading causes.


Where's my network?
Topic: technology Link here

I've been trying since Friday to get an National Broadband Network connection for Stones Road. Called up Aussie Broadband and spoke to Fabien, who told me that the trouble is the lack of a location ID. It seems that NBN has assigned location IDs to all houses, but since we don't have one (yet), they don't have a location ID. Why is it taking so long to assign one? NBN can be slow.

Called up the NBN and spoke to Jane, who asked me for the geographical coordinates—good thing I had them—and told me that it could take up to a week, but would probably be here by the end of the week. Hopefully; I hadn't expected this to be a hold-up, and we're going to be wiring the house soon.


Coming up roses?
Topic: photography, gardening Link here

I've already commented on the abundance of roses we have this year, and there's a particularly pleasant view from the bathroom window. But how do I get a photo? So far I have failed. There are two problems: firstly, I can't open the bathroom window, and both dirt and reflections are a problem. And secondly the photos I did take just don't show the abundance:

 
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To add insult to injury, I tripped while removing the camera, and gave the camera a knock which seems to have disrupted something in the viewfinder. There's a slight green flare to the right of the centre. It seems to be related to the illumination, and it doesn't show up in the images, so it's not that big a deal, but it's still annoying.


Western ringneck again
Topic: animals Link here

Some years ago we saw a Western ringneck in the garden. They don't come from round here, and we wondered whether it was an escaped cage bird. We've seen it—always alone—several times since, and today while taking some photos of Yvonne and Keldan, saw it again:

 
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Yvonne tells me that it's frequently there. Maybe it is the same bird, and it has really escaped from a cage. That would explain its familiarity.


Wombat? Echidna?
Topic: animals Link here

While walking the dogs today, saw an Echidna on Kleins Paddock:

 
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It ran away and into a hole in the ground, where it stayed without burrowing any further:

 
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I had always thought these holes to be Wombat holes, but maybe they're made by Echidnas, which are certainly more common.


Wednesday, 19 November 2014 Dereel Images for 19 November 2014
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Site progress
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Not much happening on site at the moment. According to the schedule that Duncan gave me last month, the roof should have gone on today. All that was to be seen was the handrail (presumably put in yesterday, as scheduled):

 
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Our burnoff has more or less completed, leaving the tree stumps almost untouched:

 
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More nature strip activity
Topic: gardening Link here

The Xanthorrhoea in the nature strip in front of the house are flowering in profusion:

 
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What kind of Xanthorrhoea? I had thought Xanthorrhoea australis, but that is clearly quite a different species. Finding details isn't easy, but possibly it's Xanthorrhoea minor.

I wonder what other surprises the nature strip has in store.


Thursday, 20 November 2014 Dereel Images for 20 November 2014
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Roofing: progress?
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Around to the site this morning to find some people working on the roof—I think:

 
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When I returned in the evening to pick up the generator, there wasn't any really obvious difference:

 
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In particular, the materials in the foreground were still untouched.


Understanding Xanthorrhoeas
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

So what kind are the Xanthorrhoeas in Stones Road? It seems that Xanthorrhoea australis has prominent trunks below the grass, and these ones don't. And the only photos I've found show different flowers. It seems more likely that they're Xanthorrhoea minor. But the obvious thing to do would be to take some photos of the flower spikes, which look like this:

 
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They're not the only Xanthorrhoea species we have. In the Kleins Road garden we have a Xanthorrhoea quadrangulata, which unfortunately has already finished flowering. The good news is that there are plenty of seeds, so we can take some with us when we move:

 
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Flash exposure: huh?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

So now I have my shiny new Sekonic L-308S exposure meter—just what I need to take the photos of the Xanthorrhoeas. It showed f/64.9 at full power, so I turned it down to ⅛ power and took a photo at f/22. That should have been 1/16 power, except that the lens extension reduced the effective aperture by about one stop. But I wasn't prepared for what I got:

 
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What went wrong there? Shutter speed (1/250 s) was OK, but just to be sure I reduced to 1/80 s, with no change. More power? Finally I increased the power to full power, which should have been enough for an aperture of f/64, but it was only barely more than enough at f/11:

 
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That's a difference of 5 stops! What caused that? The flash went off, so it couldn't be that. The exposure was set to manual, so it couldn't be the camera. The aperture was the smallest, so it couldn't be a problem like the stuck diaphragm that I had a couple of months ago. What was it? Could it be that the flash synchronization was completely incorrect, and the flash either went off before the shutter opened, or long after it closed?

Still puzzling, went to Stones Road to take photos of the other Xanthorrhoea. Same distances, same settings, and complete overexposure:

 
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More adjustments until I got back to the settings that the exposure meter told me. Then things were correct:

 
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What caused the initial problems? I still can't think of anything.


Worst web site: new contender
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Yvonne decided to go to Melbourne tomorrow to visit Equitana. We had really wanted to plan it with an overnight visit, but somehow that didn't happen, so Yvonne decided to go just for the day.

Under those circumstances it probably doesn't make sense to go by car. 270 km at 10 l/100 km is 27 litres of petrol, or about $40. Then there's the pain of navigating through Melbourne and the probably horrendous parking fees. Wouldn't it be simpler to go by train? What does it cost?

After fighting http://www.vline.com.au/ for 15 minutes, I still didn't know. I was able to establish the timetable, sort of, but nothing I could do divulged the fares. In desperation called the phone service on 1800 800 007, where Mark told me the fee immediately: $12.74 return. That's amazingly cheap. But why is the web site so completely broken? Mark confirmed that he couldn't find it there either, and that the site to use is http://ptv.vic.gov.au/. Now why didn't I think of that? Put in a formal complaint; I wonder if it will help.

Later took a look at the PTV web site. I couldn't find it there either, just the reference to a myki. It seems that you can't just buy tickets any more. But it still doesn't explain why you can't find the fare. Oh brave new world, that has such people in 't!


Friday, 21 November 2014 Dereel
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Site progress
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

The roofers were there again today, and spent a surprising amount of time adding battens to the roof structure—it seems to have taken as long as erecting the entire frame and roof. Yvonne went by in the evening and found the roof half mounted; it seems that that's the easy part.

We still don't have power. Called Red Energy, and Carl told they couldn't find my application (put in by the electrician) unless I gave them the date. What kind of organization is that? Called up Jim Lannen, who told me that the inspector had been there, required him to make some changes, and then taken the application to forward to Red Energy. Somehow this isn't going as smoothly as I had expected.

Another call from Duncan with the next milestones: mid to late next week they'll wrap the house in foil (this I have to see), and they'll also do the windows in the course of that week. Plumbing rough-in will be on 28 November, and they need the electrician to do his rough-in at the beginning of the following week. They'll also need 20 l of water for the plumber to test his joints, and if the power still hasn't been connected, he'll need a generator on Friday. Called up Jim again and arranged for him to do the rough-in, starting round Monday midday. Why do I get the feeling that it's going to be Tuesday?

The week after next is also the best time to install the antenna for the National Broadband Network, so called up Aussie Broadband, who had promised to call me back when the NBN allocated a location ID. That was yesterday, but by this evening they hadn't called, so called up, spoke to Hayley, and arranged for the installation, hopefully in the week of 1 December. Application number is 141 830.


Saturday, 22 November 2014 Dereel Images for 22 November 2014
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Site on Saturday
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Over to Stones Road mainly to take my weekly house photos, and to my surprise found the roofers stil hard at work. By the time I left, round midday, there wasn't much more to be done:

 
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And the windows have already arrived:

 
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Not enough to eat
Topic: food and drink, animals Link here

Truites à la meunière for dinner tonight. Yvonne bought three nice trouts and floured them. Turned her back. And then there were two:

 
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Sunday, 23 November 2014 Dereel
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Electrical details
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

It's fairly clear now that I'll postpone solar electricity until I can store it more efficiently, or until there are more government incentives for solar electricity—something that could happen as a result of the upcoming state election. In the meantime, it seems to be a good idea to use a UPS to supply the circuits that will later be battery fed, so that we can weather the interminable power failures. Spent some time today thinking about electrics in general, without coming to any firm conclusions. I need to get my act together.


New monitor
Topic: technology Link here

A few days ago I bought a spare monitor, in case one failed. But presumably it would be of better quality than my older monitors, so swapped out my oldest monitor for the new one. I can use the old one for machines that have previously been headless.

That wasn't as simple as it sounded: yes, they have the same resolution and pretty much the same dimensions, but the old one was connected by HDMI, and the new one doesn't have an HDMI connection. So I ended up having to move monitors around, and since the other monitor with HDMI had a different resolution, I had to restart (but not reconfigure) X.

But that was all. Was it worth it? Yes, I think. It has more contrast and brightness than the old one, so it's more suited for photo processing. And finally people are marking the locations of the controls visibly on the front, so at least I can find them when I need them.


Monday, 24 November 2014 Dereel Images for 24 November 2014
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House progress?
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

It poured with rain today, 28 mm between 9:00 and 16:00. No hope of any work on the house, but I checked anyway. As expected, the roof is complete:

 
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And we really need to do something about the entrance:

 
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This progress means that the “frame stage” is complete, and that's worth another 25% of the house price. So of course a bill arrived. We've now paid half the total price; wouldn't it be nice if the other 50% took the same amount of time?


State of the art
Topic: technology Link here

Somebody on IRC found this on imgur today:

Image

I wonder who put it there? It's a JPEG image, but it doesn't have any EXIF information. How do you find the copyright holder?


Infrared filter
Topic: photography Link here

Today the infrared filter that I bought on eBay arrived. What do I do with it? Tried some sample photos from the verandah. Unprocessed they're particularly uninteresting:

 
This should be Garden-2-orig.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Garden 2 orig
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The best I managed was this:

 
This should be Garden-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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In the process, noted that the image exhibits the dreaded “hot spot” syndrome. That's dependent on the lens, but how do I find out which lenses exhibit it and which don't? I need a different filter for nearly every lens I have.

Time to read up and try a few different processing tricks.


Flash! Bang!
Topic: general, technology Link here

The bad weather was accompanied by lots of thunder and lightning. At one point I heard a spark right in front of me—it sounded as if a monitor had arced. But a second later there was a clap of thunder, so it must have been a lightning strike. Surprisingly, nothing was obviously damaged.

And then an hour later two of my monitors died. It took me a while to realize that the rest of the system was running on UPS, and that something had tripped the circuit breaker in the switchboard.

In the afternoon, wanted to make a phone call. Phone was dead. After a lot of checking, discovered that yes, the phone was dead. So was my new Linksys PAP2T that I got only 4 months ago. Damn.

That's not the first Cisco ATA to die on me. In fact, it's the fifth. Nine years ago two died in similar circumstances, and the two replacements also died later for no apparent reason. In every case there's just no power indication, although the (external) power supply is functional.

But why did the devices die? Since both of them were phones, you'd expect that the problem was with the phone line. But the connections aren't direct: the phone line goes into the other ATA (undamaged), from there to the phone (damaged), and via the dual line circuitry to the other ATA (damaged). Is that really what happened?

So: Once Again I need to buy a phone and an ATA. Neither is simple. I paid $25 for the Linksys 4 months ago, but the supply seems to have dried up, and I'm not sure I want to buy one anyway. The cheapest I could find was an auction for a NetComm V210P, the same as the other ATA. But that won't be over until tomorrow.

The other issue was the phone. It has two lines and a headphone jack, both of which are important for me. But they don't make them like that any more. While tidying up the garage, I had noticed an old dual line phone, but it has one obvious disadvantage:

 
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It also has a less obvious disadvantage, the real reason why I stopped using it: it doesn't have a headphone jack.

So why can't I get anything like that any more? There are VoIP phones on the market, of course, but that's a whole different level of either complexity (how do I connect a set of portable phones to it?) or restrictions (you don't). Found one dual line phone offering Bluetooth connectivity. That sounds like an excellent alternative to a corded headset, but is it compatible with my headset? If not, how do I find a compatible one? In addition, it's used and from the USA, where they have different mains voltages. More complexities.


Tuesday, 25 November 2014 Dereel Images for 25 November 2014
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More infrared experiments
Topic: photography Link here

It's been nearly 50 years since I last dabbled in infrared photography. I took one film, developed it, and, I fear, never printed it. Now things are completely different, of course, especially as I don't have the equivalent of infrared film: the cameras all have filters to block infrared light, significantly increasing exposure times. Yes, they can be removed, but first I need to know if it's worth it.

The results with my OM-D E-M1 were not spectacular. There were a number of possible reasons: the presence of the infrared block filter in the camera, the high speed (45°/25,000 ISO) with which I took the test photos, and the poor lighting, which may have preferentially blocked infrared light.

But what about the other cameras? We also have Yvonne's E-PM2 and my old E-30. How do they compare?

Out to the paddocks in reasonable light, but was pursued by Estrella, the “orphan” foal whom we are hand-feeding, and she wouldn't leave me alone. To another paddock, where I had marginally less difficulty keeping horses away, and took three pairs of photos, at 12 mm and 60 mm focal length.

The results weren't at all what I expected. Each camera produced very different results, and it seems that the E-30 is the most sensitive. Here comparisons:

E-M1  
This should be IR-E-M1-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: IR E M1 1
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This should be IR-E-M1-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: IR E M1 2
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E-PM2  
This should be IR-E-PM2-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: IR E PM2 1
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This should be IR-E-PM2-4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: IR E PM2 4
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E-30  
This should be IR-E30-6.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: IR E30 6
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This should be IR-E30-9.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: IR E30 9
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What is not immediately apparent is the exposure: the E-M1 and E-PM2 needed about 8 seconds at f/8 (EV 3) for the close-up, while the E-30 needed only 1 second (EV 6). On the other hand, the E-M1 and E-PM2 both calculated the exposure correctly, while the E-30 underexposed by about 3 EV (giving an exposure of 1/10 s for the first images, not shown here). The exposures on the left are less consistent because of the differences in the sky.

None of these look good, of course. I need to follow up on how to process these images.


Strangeled eucalypt
Topic: gardening Link here

One of the eucalypts in Swamp Road doesn't look at all happy:

 
This should be Dying-eucalypt.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Dying eucalypt
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It's easy to guess why: it's covered in mistletoe (really Amyema pendula), and it looks as if they're strangling it.


More lightning damage
Topic: Stones Road house, technology, general Link here

Call from Tom of Bushmans today—for about 5 seconds. Then the connection was dropped. That wouldn't be that unusual, except that it happened twice yesterday to other callers. Was there something wrong with my other ATA? Tried using a straight telephone without ATA, and it worked fine. Checked later: Daniel O'Connor called me on the Telstra line (passthrough through the Netcomm V210P) and on VoIP via the same ATA. Yes, it's repeatable: the VoIP circuits work well, but the PSTN connection repeatedly gets dropped after 5 seconds.

That clarifies a number of things: first, it supports the hypothesis that the damage came in through the phone line. Secondly, it makes the V210P less attractive, especially since the auction price exceeded my generous bid of $41.50, while I can get the Linksys ATA (2 lines) for $25. So I went for that.

What does that mean for PSTN? I still can't make up my mind whether I should even have a landline in the new house. Telstra have put up their prices again, so I'd end up paying $25 a month for a line that I would only use in emergencies. In addition, I'd need to pay $299 for connection, and get somebody to dig a trench to the cable. For that price I could buy an antenna and use mobile telephones for the few times when I needed it.

And Tom? They'll deliver the water tanks on Monday.


Fibre: Yes? No?
Topic: Stones Road house, technology Link here

Also finishing the specs for the electrical wiring of the house. At one point I thought that it was trivial to find cheap glass fibre. The more I look, the more it seems to be a can of worms. The only reason to put in fibre now is to save on installation expenses later, if I ever need it. But it's not clear that I ever will, and Cat 6A will be enough for 10 Gb/s, so I think I'll just take the easy way out and forget it for the time being.


Wednesday, 26 November 2014 Dereel Images for 26 November 2014
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Goodbye, Vito
Topic: animals Link here

We have a number of geriatric domestic animals. Our cat Lilac will be 18 years old in January, and when Chris Bahlo moved in she brought two cats (TC and Shadow) and a dog (Vito), all in advanced years, but all in reasonable health.

Vito was clearly going deaf, and he was nowhere near as mobile as he was, but yesterday he still found the energy to bark at me as I went by. But this morning when Chris went out, she found that he had just crawled into a corner and died:

 
This should be Nina-Vito.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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I suppose that's the best way to go, but somehow it hasn't been a good spring for animals.


Windows done
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

The windows are in the house:

 
This should be House-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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This should be House-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: House 2
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This should be House-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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And although we've agreed for double glazing, the panel beside the door is single-glazed. There's nothing in the contract about that.

The shed hasn't been started. Spoke to Norm Baker and discovered that the rain on Monday had softened up the soil again. He's hopeful it will be dry enough by the end of the week.

While looking round the house, found a strange marking in the pantry:

 
This should be Hot-water.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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HW? Hot water? That doesn't belong there. Spoke to Duncan later and discovered I had viewed it from the wrong side. It should read MH—manhole.


GPU hang workaround
Topic: technology Link here

The GPU hang messages that I had earlier this month are back. They had caused me to restart X, and were thus particularly irritating. But the seemed to come from Google Chrome, so tried shooting it down. Success! Another X session saved. And probably another indication that it's high time to upgrade my system software.


Thursday, 27 November 2014 Dereel Images for 27 November 2014
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Walking a fourth dog
Topic: animals Link here

Walking the dogs this morning (without a camera), we were followed by another dog: Nina, Chris' other Maremma. Now that Vito is dead, she's on her own and looking for company. Leonid didn't take kindly, and barked at and threatened her. We'll have to work on that.


Another new house
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Chris' house is almost ready to start construction. Over with her to her building site this morning to meet her site supervisor, Chris Stoel, who came along with a hired measuring wheel—$36 per day, when you can buy digital versions for $49. Spent a surprising amount of time trying to locate the house site, not helped by the terrain, electric fences and incorrect site plans:

 
This should be Measuring-site-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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This should be Chris-Chris-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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This should be Chris-Chris-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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Looking at the maps, found an indication of a temporary benchmark on a tree. Sure enough:

 
This should be Benchmark-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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This should be Benchmark-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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I've never seen a benchmark like that before.

Finally Chris S called back to the office and spoke, I think, to a Chris B (≠ Bahlo), who sent him an updated plan per email:

 
This should be Outdoor-computing-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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This should be Outdoor-computing-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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Finally all was done. It seems that Chris S comes from Oss in Noord-Brabant, and he's a cousin by marriage with Mari Hendriks. Sounds like a reasonable bloke, but very different in character from Duncan Jackson, our site supervisor.


Keeping sheep
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

When we arrived at Chris' property, we found a number of animals that didn't belong there:


This should be Sheep-1-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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Chris doesn't have any sheep. Whose are they? David Yeardley's. That's his property on the other side of the fence in the third photo. He doesn't have proper sheep-proof fencing, and he just lets them wander onto her property with no regard for property rights or the welfare of the animals. People like that shouldn't be allowed to keep sheep.


Other site progress
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Subsequently over to Stones Road to see how things are getting on. As promised, they've wrapped the house:

 
This should be Stones-Road-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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This should be Stones-Road-7.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Stones Road 7
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It seems that the “wrapping” (green) is simply part of the wall structure, mainly for insulation purposes, and it's there to stay. They've also put some wooden structures in the bathrooms:

 
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Presumably they're for attaching things.

And in the laundry there's no drain. Could this be the place?

 
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They'd have to cut the frame to put anything in there.


More mail folding
Topic: general Link here

We seem to have a new postman who likes folding envelopes:

 
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That's completely unnecessary, of course, and potentially destructive:

 
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Put a note on the letter box asking him not to do it.


Where's my electricity?
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

We still don't have any electricity! Called Jim Lannen again, who confirmed that he had spoken to the inspector, and that the paperwork had been submitted a couple of weeks ago. Called Red Energy again and spoke to Seima, who told me that the application had been received on 24 November 2014, and that it would be connected within 20 working days. How I hate bureaucrats!


rsync problems
Topic: technology Link here

Lately I've had difficulty syncing my diary and photos to the external web server:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) ~/public_html 5 -> syncgrog
Thu 27 Nov 2014 12:54:54 EST
+++ Transferring grog to www:www.lemis.com
+++ rsync -lKzavP --delete-after --copy-unsafe-links --exclude=weather /home/grog/public_html/ www:www.lemis.com/grog
ssh_exchange_identification: Connection closed by remote host
rsync: connection unexpectedly closed (0 bytes received so far) [sender]
rsync error: error in rsync protocol data stream (code 12) at io.c(605) [sender=3.0.9]
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) ~/public_html 6 -> syncgrog
(again)
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) ~/public_html 7 -> syncgrog
Thu 27 Nov 2014 12:55:01 EST
+++ Transferring grog to www:www.lemis.com
+++ rsync -lKzavP --delete-after --copy-unsafe-links --exclude=weather /home/grog/public_html/ www:www.lemis.com/grog
building file list ...
11392 files to consider
Diary-Tomorrow.php
       64827 100%   61.16MB/s    0:00:00 (xfer#1, to-check=11375/11392)
diary-nov2014.php
      125166 100%   29.84MB/s    0:00:00 (xfer#2, to-check=11074/11392)
...

It seems to happen at random. Nothing obvious in the log files, so I suppose I'll have to debug the handshaking. Oh joy.


NBN next week
Topic: Stones Road house, technology Link here

Also heard from Aussie Broadband that my National Broadband Network antenna would be installed next week. Do the installers know what will await them? On the one hand it's the correct time to install the cabling, but we won't have any walls to attach the NTD to. Asked Aussie to confirm with the installers, but no, they have no contact with the installers, who work for NBN.

But then I got a call from a Walter Bonilla from the NBN, who told me what they needed and explained that they had exact instructions on what to do, and they weren't allowed to diverge from them at all. I explained that the NTD just needed to be screwed to a wall, but no, he said, there's a metal frame that goes with it. So I checked: there are two screws that go into the wall, no frame to be seen. Then Walter admitted that he didn't know the details, and he would get the techies to call me a day or two before they came. Finally broke out of the bureaucratic loop!


Dogs in Stones Road again
Topic: animals Link here

As a result of construction activity it's been a few weeks since we've let the dogs run free in Stones Road. But now it looks as if they won't be in the way, so back over there again. The grass is really high, and one of the advantages of the soil is that it's still green, where just about everywhere else it's going brown, like Chris' property (second photo):

 
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Time to bring some horses over there.


Refining E-M1 settings
Topic: photography Link here

One of the nice things about the Olympus OM-D E-M1 is that it can take up to 10 full-size photos per second, and I frequently take several in a second, for example when taking horses or dogs. The trouble is that the standard settings display the image just taken for 0.5 s before reverting to the normal viewfinder. In that time you can lose your subject.

Finally fought my way through the excuse for an instruction manual to find out how to change it. What's the function called? I couldn't think of anything useful, but clearly it should be in the “Display” menu. But I didn't find anything there. I recalled that the E-30 also had a function like that. Looked through that manual too. Finally I found it in the setup (spanner) menu with the completely non-intuitive name Rec View. While I was at it, also found the “Built-In EVF” menu (J), which sets various info settings and also displays more information in the viewfinder. You have to find it out yourself. This appears to be the sum total of the documentation:

 
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It seems that Style 3 is the default, and that Style 1 also shows further information at the bottom of the viewfinder. Style 2 is the same as Style 1 except that the information is in monochrome.

Why don't they document their cameras properly?


Friday, 28 November 2014 Dereel Images for 28 November 2014
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Flash measurement problems explained?
Topic: photography Link here

I've been discussing my flash guide number measurements on the German Olympus Forum, where people showed a surprising lack of understanding. But Reinhard Wagner has connections with Metz, a company now sadly insolvent, and he asked them.

It seems that they had been following the thread, but didn't make any comment. They gave Reinhard a PDF document („Blitztipp 17“, which I haven't found on their web site). He quoted (slightly reformatted by me):

Die meisten der im Handel erhältlichen Blitzbelichtungsmesser sind für den professionellen Einsatz mit Studioblitzanlagen konzipiert. Dadurch kann es in vielen Fällen bei der Leitzahlmessung von Elektronenblitzgeräten zu Fehlern kommen. Die Gründe hierfür sind folgende:

Zur Bestimmung der Leitzahl eines Blitzgerätes gibt es ein genormtes Messverfahren, welches für ein Blitzgerät mit einer bestimmten Lichtleistung einen einzigen Normleitzahlwert ergibt. Für die normgemäße Kalibrierung von Blitzbelichtungsmessern ist dagegen ein Eichungsbereich zugelassen, dessen Grenzwerte einen Unterschied von ca. einer dreiviertel Blendenstufe ergeben. Gleichzeitig ist gemäß der Norm für Blitzbelichtungsmesser zusätzlich eine Messungenaugigkeit von ca. + ½ Blendenstufe zugelassen. Das heißt, im Extremfall kann die Anzeige von zwei verschiedenen Blitzbelichtungsmessern um ca. 1 ¾ Blendenstufen unterschiedlich sein und doch entsprechen beide der Norm. Daraus geht klar hervor, dass mit normalen Blitzbelichtungsmessern keine genaue Messung der Leitzahl von Blitzgeräten möglich ist.

1.1 Praktische Erfahrungen:

Messungen der Leitzahlen von Blitzgeräten mit verschiedenen Blitzbelichtungsmessern haben in der Regel zu geringe Leitzahlwerte ergeben. Das heißt, die Hersteller von Blitzbelichtungsmessern kalibrieren ihre Geräte nach anderen Kriterien, als zur Messung von Blitzgeräte-Leitzahlen, in erster Linie für den Einsatz im Studiobetrieb. Bei Leitzahlmessungen mit Blitzbelichtungsmessern entstehen oftmals zusätzliche Fehler dadurch, dass bei den Messungen ein zu geringer Abstand zwischen Blitzgerät und Blitzbelichtungsmesser verwendet wird. Durch die dann kurzzeitig sehr hohe Lichtstärke des Blitzgerätes wird der Fotosensor des Belichtungsmessers übersteuert. Dies führt zu einem zusätzlichen Fehler in der Anzeige. In der Regel wird dadurch ein zu geringer Wert am Blitzbelichtungsmesser angezeigt. Hiervon sind Blitzgeräte mit kurzzeitig extrem hohen Lichtstärken besonders betroffen.

In summary: most flash exposure meters are intended for studio use, and they can be inaccurate in measuring guide numbers. The reasons are: the standard defines a calibration range of ⅔ EV, and in addition meters are allowed an inaccuracy of another ½ EV. It's not completely clear what they mean here, but it implies that in extreme cases two exposure meters that meet the standards can show readings that differ by up to 1¾ EV.

In general, guide number measurements with flash exposure meters show too low a value, because the manufacturers calibrate the exposure meters for different purposes. If a powerful flash is too close to the exposure meter, the sensor can be overloaded.

Does that make sense? It certainly explains my results. But I have difficulty in believing that exposure meters with a resolution of 0.1 EV can have an error in either direction of 0.88 EV. The standard may allow it, but the customers wouldn't. So far the exposure meter has shown itself to be much more accurate than the TTL exposure produced by my TTL flash units and my cameras. But the people on the Olympus forum are surprisingly hostile to the idea that anything could be wrong, so I'll have to do some more testing.


Plumbing
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Called out of bed this morning by Duncan to get the generator over to the site for the plumbers. Things were in full swing by the time I got there:

 
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Also got the confirmation that the drain in the laundry went through the frame. Here yesterday and today (in fact, two sequential images in the camera):

 
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Spoke with Martin, who had been given plans with additional markup that I hadn't approved, like gas-fired central heating. Who did that? And why? No difficulty getting it changed, but it was a good thing that I was there.

Also issues with the placing of the solar panels for the hot water. Somehow we had forgotten that they have to face north, and there was concern whether they would fit (they're three panels 1.20 × 2.4 m, with 10 cm in between, for a total area of 3.8 × 2.4 m). After some measurement, it seems that they will fit.

Back in the evening, where we discovered a number of things that need attention. The gas connection in the kitchen (on the wooden cross-member) is at the extreme right, which is not where the stove will go:

 
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And that probably means that now is the time to put in a similar cross-member to hold the TV holder on the wall. The outlets for the showers are also surprisingly low, about my nose height. We need to check what the shower equipment will look like, but there's a good chance that we'll have to lift them. And, of course, we've found more places where we need power points.


Saturday, 29 November 2014 Dereel Images for 29 November 2014
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Elections again
Topic: general Link here

State election day today. Nothing that unusual, except that it was much more in evidence than before, and, it seems, campaigning wasn't as dirty as usual.

Who to vote for? A year and a half ago Denis Napthine, the premier, promised Dereel a mobile phone tower. Where is it? Even talk about it seems to have subsided. I'm surprised that nobody mentioned it in the course of the election campaign.


Traffic obstruction
Topic: animals, general Link here

Returning from Stones Road this morning, found unexpected slow traffic:

 
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In fact, it shouldn't have been that unexpected. It's Max Mitchell, our new neighbour from across the road, whom we've known from Olivaylle for decades.


Making friends with dogs
Topic: animals Link here

Lately while walking the dogs, we've me a new bloke who seems to have a similar schedule. He has a Dachshund cross, which makes for some amusing contrasts:

 
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The other dog to whom we're trying to get our dogs accustomed is Chris Bahlo's Maremma Nina. Leonid had shown some aggression, so we decided to let them run free in Stones Road. No aggression. In fact, very little interest on either side; Maremmas obviously have a completely different personality from Borzois: