How much water and colouring do you put into baked beans? Last time round they were a little watery. This time I put in less—I
think—but I also took photos to show the progress of the cooking, when first mixed, during
cooking, after finishing, and the last this morning after the mess had cooled down:
Last week's lens tests were
quick and dirty, though they did show significant differences between the lenses. But how
do you do it right? With a lens test chart, of course. In the past I have printed some out
in A4 format, such as this one, but
it should be possible to find a real chart printed more accurately than a laser printer can
Surprise, surprise! I can't find anything worthwhile for sale. About the best I have is
this guide. Maybe I'll end up printing things out again after all.
I use plastic foil protectors on the back of my camera displays, but the current ones are
wearing out. So I ordered some new ones, and the ones for Yvonne's E-PM2 arrived today, not in the best of condition:
Clearly a case for a return. But in the meantime, tried it out on the camera. Not an
unqualified success. First, how do you attach it? There are two foils stuck together,
along with two numbered tabs. Clearly you start with 1. But what do you do with it?
Answer: throw it away. It's number 2 that comes onto the surface:
The lifted edge is clear: that's the fold in the foil. But why so many bubbles? I didn't
have anything like that before. It looks as if there's dust in some of them, but I was able
to move them, so it's not clear what the spots mean.
As if that wasn't bad enough, the second tab was glued to the foil with an almost
unremovable adhesive (bottom left in the first image). Maybe I should try a different
Yesterday I got an email from Dan Murphy's offering me Becks Beer for a bargain price.
Only yesterday and today. But I could buy online and pick up
OK, not a problem—I thought. But again they've put hurdles in my way. In this case I had
the choice of pickup in 2 hours or ”in the next week”. That latter sounded good, but when I
tried, they gave me a pickup date of 10 November. So I chose 2 hours.
And then the order was to go through stages. Order confirmation. Preparation. Ready to
collect (what's the difference?). And when it was ready, I would receive
How? I don't have mobile phone coverage. Did I even give them a phone number when I signed
up? Yes, I did—without a mobile phone number I can't sign up. Stupidly, I gave 0401 234
567, not my number. So presumably somebody else got my SMS.
High definition? That's a moving target, of course. In those days it meant “more than 200
lines” (vertical resolution including non-displayed timing lines). There were two
resolutions: the 405-line
system (“377i” in modern parlance) that continued in use until 1985. But there was an
alternative: John Logie
film system with its staggering 240 line resolution, which only lasted 6 months.
Haven't we come a long way? It's clearly visible when you compare old TV serials like
Upstairs, Downstairs with newer
ones like Downton Abbey: the
topics are similar, but the image qualities are worlds apart.
Have we reached the resolution goal yet? I think so. In the 1950s and 1960s great progress
was made with HiFi, but since then nobody
cares any more: the sound quality is now good enough. And I think we can pretty much say
the same for TV, certainly once 4K
TV catches on.
Why did I get rye wholemeal in a sack marked “rye meal”? Called up Weston Milling
(according to the bag), who call themselves Mauri™
anz online, on 1800 649 494, and asked how I could identify the stuff. After a lot of
searching came the answer: wholemeal is in bags with brown print, normal meal is in bags
with green print. Congratulations for the obfuscation! Even the phone consultant I spoke
to agreed that it was silly.
Into Ballarat for a number of errands,
and to the Wendoureee Wholesalers (conveniently located
not Wendouree) with my bag. They
changed it without any issues—didn't even look at my receipt—and on the green bag I found
the inscription “rye flour”.
What's wrong with this? Firstly, wholemeal is only one kind of meal. Secondly, as I have
already noted, all
definitions I have seen confirm that the term “flour” implies wheat. Now, however, I find
the fount of all knowledge, writes:
Pumpernickel bread is usually
made exclusively of rye, and contains a mixture of rye flour and rye meal.
They don't define what that is supposed to mean. But wouldn't it be nice if they described
the contents more accurately? In Germany it's required by law to categorize the
flour depending on its mineral content. That doesn't seem to happen at all in
Australia. Instead it contains an analysis more suited to processed food, including a
“serving size” of 100g.
To Dan Murphy's to pick up my beer,
which took longer than if I had just purchased it off the shelf, and included having to show
my driver license (“If you don't drive, you can't drink”) and signing a glass device with a
squiggle. They're going to have to improve things if they expect to make money that way.
I don't think I've seen one of them in over 25 years. The owner came along while I was
looking and gave me some details: it's a 1978 model with 3.5 litre engine and left-hand
drive (thus the club permit; left-hand drive cars can normally not be registered in
Australia). Also got some photos under the bonnet:
The green elements are
suspension, somewhat better laid out than in the DS. In the last image they are, from
left to right: right-hand suspension sphere, steering (behind), high pressure pump, pressure
accumulator, left-hand suspension sphere. The grey items should be more recognizable:
clearly the right-hand one is the alternator, and the left-hand one looks like air
conditioning (probably not original equipment). It's interesting to note that there's only
one belt for the hydraulic pump; the DS had two, in case one failed.
I was relatively positive about the kitchen slicers I bought recently, but that situation
hasn't lasted. The last couple of times I tried to slice bread, I had multiple problems.
Firstly, the tray didn't travel far enough: it stopped before the bread was completely cut.
Further investigation showed that the pressure needed to hold the bread against the blade
was sufficient to deform the body of the slicer, causing the edge of the tray to run into
I haven't just changed GPs,
I've also changed “healthcare providers”, the company that herds the GPs. We asked for
transfer of the records, and I received an invoice for $19.95 from Tristar, the old provider: $13 “Patient
Record Transfer Fee”, and $6.95 postage.
Postage? These things are kept electronically. Why don't they send them electronically?
And if they have to send them by dead tree, why $7? In addition, they didn't do the
There I was told that they were entitled to charge for the service, as long as the charges
were reasonable, and that yes, indeed, I could put in a complaint, but it would take several
months to process. And quite possibly there might be some animosity between providers that
might explain their behaviour. That sounds reasonable enough advice. What do I do next?
Off with Yvonne, Nikolai andLeonid today. For once,
Bill was not in form to accompany me round the house, and instead Debbie asked Bronwyn, a
volunteer (that's my status too) to accompany me. That turned out to be a good idea; she's
much more outgoing than I, and that made a lot of difference to the people we visited.
Bill's brother John spoke just about for the first time. Clearly I'm not the right kind of
volunteer for this job.
Decades ago I read a surprising amount of humorous material
in Datamation, almost certainly the
April 1975 edition. I made (pre-Xerox)
photocopies of some of them, but I have since lost them, and all I have is this page, part of the content of which Josh Paetzel
recently quoted (and attributed to me) on Facebook:
K is the a kludge that you say
You require to avoid some delay
But that interim fix
Forms a habit that sticks
And you'll find that it's in there to stay.
But that page has a very incomplete alphabet (currently only c, k, n, u and z). Where's the
rest? Hasn't anybody archived this stuff? It seems not. About all I found was this page.
Hopefully somebody will archive all old issues of Datamation some time soon.
Off to Melbourne today with Sasha to have him assessed as a Delta society dog. It was only his second longer
journey in a car (the first was when we got him), and he was not feeling overly confident when he arrived.
The assessment was indoors—we note the difference between town and country—but well
organized. There were two assessors, and Sally, the one Sasha got, was considerably stricter.
There was even another Borzoi there, a
bitch from Western Australia
whom Yvonne thinks we might have considered buying a few
years ago. She showed considerable interest in Sasha; unfortunately the cramped quarters
made it difficult to get good photos:
After that, to the Victoria Market, the first
time for food on a Saturday. The outdoor vegetable stalls are not open on Saturdays;
instead there are various other salespeople there. But the indoor delicatessen, meat and
fish people are still there, and we got most of what we wanted before escaping, screaming,
out of Melbourne.
Finally the Olympus OM-D
E-M1 Mark II is available for pre-order—at a price well over double what I paid for
Part of that is a change in the exchange rate of the Australian dollar, but even in US
dollar terms it's very expensive. Is it worth it?
The instruction manual is also available, so I was able to answer some of the questions I
had at the end of September. Here a brief comparison:
The instruction manual is just as superficial as those for older models. And it has its
share of nonsense. I haven't finished reading it, but I went looking for anything that
would suggest that the viewfinder has the same sensitivity to sunlight that the
predecessor had. And indeed, this seems to cover it:
Do not leave the viewfinder exposed to a strong light source or direct sunlight. The
heat may damage the viewfinder.
Of course, there's a question of the interpretation of “leave”. With the predecessor,
half a second is enough. And considering the company this statement is in, it's not
clear how accurate it is. Here are some other gems:
Never hold or operate the camera with wet hands. This may cause overheating,
exploding, burning, electrical shocks, or malfunctions.
And that's for a camera which is advertised as being water resistant. Where do they get
this nonsense from? There are more:
If battery fluid gets into your eyes, flush your eyes immediately with clear, cold
running water and seek medical attention immediately.
If rechargeable batteries have not been recharged within the specified time, stop
charging them and do not use them.
Of course they don't specify a time.
Never remove the batteries with bare hands, which may cause a fire or burn your hands.
So how do you remove them?
The high resolution mode really does do 80 MP—maybe. It would be nice to have adequate
documentation; the raw image description is half a sentence. It uses the same new file
format that the Pen F has, and
so far I haven't seen any evidence that DxO Optics “Pro” supports it.
As I feared, focus stacking and focus bracketing appear to not have been improved since
the predecessor. In particular, focus stacking takes exactly 8 images.
The flash synchronization speed has really been lowered from 1/320 s to 1/250 s. I
wonder if this is CYA or a real
In summary, what the new model brings appears to bring is speed: up to 60 full-resolution
shots per second, faster focus, faster storage. It also has a slightly higher resolution
sensor. Is that worth $2,800 to me? I think I'll wait until DxO supports it. Maybe by
then the price will have dropped slightly.
Graeme and Linda Swift from next door over for lunch today. We've known them for over 2
years, and I still didn't know their surname. Had a pleasant afternoon, though somehow
lunch no longer fits our lifestyle. I think we should invite people for brunch instead if
they don't want to come for dinner (or tea, as Graeme insists).
On Saturday we bought more
ingredients for Bratwurst: 4 kg of pork
shoulder and 2 kg of pork belly. The shoulder is a better cut, but the belly cost more than
double the price of the shoulder. Clearly that's an indication of relative popularity, but
why? My best guess is that people grill belly, while shoulder is considered only a poor
relative of other roasts.
Both came with skin, of course, which I had removed when I bought it. But I didn't realize
how much the skin weighs: 25% of the total, so instead of my 6 kg of meat, I only had 4.5
kg. For once, I barely changed the recipe, just halved the garlic. And the results were
pretty much the same as last time. The only issue was the length of skin, which I greatly
overestimated. The skins (“casings”) aren't cheap, and I ended up with an entire skin which
I can throw away.
Mick and Mick along this afternoon to do more gardening work. At the end there wasn't much
to show for it. The Strelitzia
nicolai is now planted in the ground, along with our spectacularly unhappy looking lime
I fear it didn't like the wetness of the last couple of months. Hopefully it will survive.
I had wanted to flush out the sprinkler lines, but the sprinkler controller (or possibly the
power supply) seems to have failed, and presents a display NOAC, flashing so quickly
that it's barely visible. Somehow it can't supply the current that the solenoids draw.
That can't be the solenoids, since it happens with all of them. I never liked that
controller anyway; should I buy something better or build my own, run off the computer
Recording the Deutsche Welle news is always touch
and go: just about any excuse is good enough for the Special Broadcasting Service to forget its charter and broadcast football games from
obscure places at the other end of the world. And today it didn't record either. What came
instead? Nothing. It was in the programme listings, at any rate.
So what happened? Was the football game cancelled, and they updated
the EPG too late
for greg-GA-MA785GT-UD3H (the immutable name of what should be
called ceeveear) to notice? There was no mention in the log files that it had even
tried to record the programme.
But maybe it could be something more sinister. To be sure, tried to record a couple of
random programmes. Mythweb hung, and I couldn't get it to respond.
OK, Microsoft time. Restart the server (daemon). How? From the man page
for mythshutdown I got nothing useful; it's a modern program, so I needed
a mythshutdown --help. And there it seems I need the
option --shutdown, just to emphasize the intent. Tried that, and was disconnected.
The system didn't shut down, just went partially catatonic. I could switch VTs, which
showed something die with a general protection fault, probably on the VT with the X server, but I couldn't enter anything via the keyboard, and I
wasn't able to shut down any more: big red button time.
After that it worked. But how did this happen? I've been running this version of
MythTV for less than two months; the previous
version ran better for 8 years.
One of the programmes I recorded for test purposes was the rest of a cooking programme
featuring food from the Queen Victoria Market.
The first was mussels with Pulse Noodles (spaghetti made with pulses). Beautiful close-ups
of them serving empty mussel shells.
And then chicken with fresh mumbleissa, probably intended to
be harissa. You can buy it from one of
the shops in the market. Which one? That would be telling. But though I know the market
relatively well, I really don't know where I would go to find that. What use is the
More to the point, though, are the quantities. Harissa is an extremely hot sauce, and a
portion is about 1 g. Here they smothered chicken thighs in about 100 g of the stuff.
Either it's not real harissa, or the resultant dish will knock your block off.
Into Ballarat this morning for what I
thought would be a number of things to do, but in the end it boiled down to yet another
blood test (this one not so expertly taken) and picking up my health records for transfer to
the new clinic. Why, oh why, did they have to print them out? We still seem to be in the
How should I title my reaction to the USA
presidential election? I thought of several captions, including “The people have
spoken—the idiots”, “The system is rigged”, “Well, there goes America”,
“USexis?t (that last one is
a Regular Expression matching
“USexit” and “USexist”). But the fact is, I just don't understand how this could happen,
and I don't really understand what the consequences might be. All I know is that I'm
horrified. “Make America Great Again”? I think he'll take America into meaninglessness.
But how could this have happened? It hasn't been a good year. There were three rounds of
voting for matters that I considered important this year, and they all went the wrong
way: Australia (barely) elected a
conservative government that doesn't address (and hardly acknowledges) any of the pressing
matters of our times. The United
Kingdom voted to leave
the European Union. And now, it
seems, the USA has voted to leave the world. I have seen many pages discussing the matter,
but for some reason this one resonates.
And why didn't anybody expect it? That might be part of the problem: the silent majority,
probably also the issue in the United Kingdom. They're so silent that even the opinion
polls didn't find them. In that point, at any rate, Trump is right.
But maybe it won't be that bad? The constitution of the USA has many limitations on what
the president can do. Maybe Trump
will become more sensible. That's what I said about Tony Abbott
three years ago. I was wrong.
Maybe he'll disqualify himself? A possibility. I could imagine impeachment as a real
possibility. But that's not going to help the USA.
In the course of the day got to hear more opinions about
the US elections, notably from European
sources. I was gradually coming to the conclusion that there might be light at the end of
the tunnel, but they're all surprisingly negative. This article in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung mainly confirms the opinions I expressed yesterday, even
using the same wording in places. Surprisingly, Google Translate translates it relatively well.
I respect the NZZ because,
like Switzerland, it's neutral. It
doesn't harm that it agrees with me in many ways. But it makes one point that I didn't
know: most of the checks and balances in the US Constitution relate to domestic politics,
and there's little to stop him doing what he wants in foreign affairs. No wonder people are
Then there was the German
reaction. Angela Merkel made her
opinions clear in a masterpiece of diplomacy, congratulating Trump and emphasizing and enumerating the
shared values of the US and German people, to many of which Trump apparently doesn't
“Germany and America are connected by values of democracy, freedom and respect for the law
and the dignity of man, independent of origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual
orientation or political views. I offer the next President of the United States close
cooperation on the basis of these values.”
How did Donald Trump get elected?
By a remarkably complex and almost certainly not rigged voting system. But it's interesting
to note that Clinton got more votes than Trump, and in most countries she would have been
elected. But in the USA the (“popular”)
votes are consolidated on a state level, and based on the outcome each state casts a
predetermined number of votes that contribute to the final outcome. It probably made sense
240 years ago, but it's not clear that it still does.
But why did people vote Trump? It surprised almost everybody, possibly including Trump
himself. It shows how little people understand the demographics of the country. And it
also shows a fundamental issue with representative democracy: the voters don't have to pass
any kind of test to vote, and they don't have to prove that they agree with the US
constitution, human rights, or many other things of importance to running the country.
So: the question people should ask is whether human rights, climate control and
international relations are important to a country or not. If they are, then Trump is the
wrong person. If it's democracy the way we know it, then he's the right person. I hope I
still have the right to express my opinion.
My current sprinkler controller is suboptimal. It is difficult to use, even more difficult
to reprogram, and it seems to have a problem—after only 1½ years—that interrupts the flow at
random. Twelve years ago in Wantadilla I had a relay board connected to an old computer,
and a program and cron job to go with
it. Why can't I do that again?
For one thing, I don't want a computer running all the time just for that. But what about
an Ethernet-connected relay board? Do
they exist? A quick search on eBay shows:
Accordinng to the description,
8 Channel Relay Network IP Relay Web Relay Dual
Control Ethernet RJ45 interface
Ethernet RJ45 interface.
onboard WEB server, you can access and control through the web .
8 channel 250V / AC 10A independent output relay , relay output line tin layer thicker .
8 Road stem node ( passive / active ) input, you can directly control the relay output.
7-24V DC power supply, and with self- recovery fuse.
can pick a router, access control via Android , for Apple, tablet , windows system
For Apple systems , and can be controlled in the world can access any one place .
support state return , you can display the current status of the real-time relay
a key parameter to restore the parameter setting error or
forgotten password can not connect to the network ,
you can use a key parameter to restore .
Firmware V5.0.5 update :
modify web pages , more humane, add fully open, fully closed operation
optimized mobile access , mobile phone screen adaptation,
big screen small screen are suitable ;
deepen memory pool , speed up response ;
Repair IE, 360 and other browsers can not control and garbled bug,
yet even UCweb browsers such agents can be used ;
Adding touch capabilities, and you can set the time for touch 1-255s
Add for mac modify , easy LAN networking ;
relay power-down state memory function, the function can be configured ;
inputs and outputs can be configured association ;
Firmware V5.0.6 update :
secondary development can modify TCP port ;
can modify the HTTP port , port mapping easier to solve the 80 and 8080 ports
are shielded telecommunications issues
So I ordered one. Hopefully I won't find any serious issues with it.
I've been watching a marginally interesting series, For the love of meat, on
SBS television, about where Australian meat
comes from. Some of the information is at variance with other sources—for example, he
states that Australians as a nation are the second biggest consumers of meat in the world,
eating 90 kg a year, conveniently 250 g per day. He doesn't say who the first are, nor the
method of measurement. Wikipedia comes up with 111.5 kg carcass mass availability per person in 2009, third in the world.
That is significantly more than the actual weight eaten—the article suggests round double.
And most of the programme is similarly vague.
One thing that got me, though, was the way beef is raised in Australia. He showed a
breeding farm in Queensland, 1,000,000
acres in size. Acres? What's that? 4,047
m². So this corresponds to about
400,000 ha, 4,000 km², or a square about
64 km on a side. I can relate to that.
But then he talked about forest clearing. It seems that half of Australia is already being
used for cattle breeding, and they're clearing the rest. And here was me thinking that half
of Australia was desert. But I suppose that depends on the definition.
In any case, it seems that about 300,000 ha per year (yes, this time he used hectares) are
being cleared for cattle farming, a square of about 55 km on a side. Thit is, apparently,
40 football fields per hour.
I don't play football. I can relate to an area 55 km on a side, but how big is a football
field? If I knew the time they worked, I could work it out, but like this I have to guess.
If they're talking a 40 hour working week, 50 weeks a year, then a football field must be
about 3.75 ha in size. If they're talking about the number of hours in a year (8766), then
we're down to 0.85 ha. Which is it?
The fact is, there's no definition of the size of a football field. Practical football
fields in Australia are “typically between 135–185 metres long goal-to-goal and 110–155
metres wide wing-to-wing”. That gives areas between
135 × 110 × π / 4, or 1.16 ha, and
185 × 155 × π / 4, or 2.25 ha. Yes, we're in the same ball
park, to mix metaphors, but somehow the size is meaningless.
It's all the more so if you look at other games
and Rugby. Soccer fields should be between
100 to 110 m long and 64 to 75 m wide, considerably smaller at 0.64 to 0.825 ha. The latter
comes relatively close to one of the calculations. I haven't found the dimensions for rugby
fields, but so far we have a size ratio of nearly 4 to 1 between the smallest and largest
In summary, then, the figures he gave are meaningless. Why do they do it? xkcd sums it up:
We had decided on tagine for one of the
meals this week, but weren't sure which. What makes a tagine? Partially the pot, of
course, and certainly lots of vegetables, just about anything at hand. And Mohamed Ifadir
has told me that the idea is to put everything in at the beginning, not to fry, and just
cook gently for a number of hours.
Then it occurred to me that we had a number of green tomatoes from last autumn's harvest
still in the fridge. Are they suited? Worth a try.
So I faked up yet another recipe, based loosely on this one, but without the chick peas. I also
couldn't find any dried apricots, so I left them out too.
Yvonne returned later and showed me where the apricots were,
so I put some of them in later as well, And while so doing I tasted the (far too
copious) gravy and discovered it was far too salty. Thinking about it, that's
understandable: the base recipe has 400 g of potatoes and 300 g of chick peas, both of which
soak up the salt. Mine had neither.
What to do? In the end, I decided to put some chick peas in, rather late, and only to eat
them if they were cooked. And I added some honey as well, so in the end the recipe wasn't
that different from the base:
And the result? After about 2 hours, the chick peas were almost cooked, and certainly
edible. But there's a big difference between tinned red tomatoes and raw green tomatoes:
the latter don't thicken the sauce at all, but they do release a lot of liquid, and the
result was watery and clear. The taste was acceptable, but I don't think I'll go in that
direction again, and that's one of the reasons I'm not putting this recipe on my recipes
A couple of other changes were more positive:
more ras-el-hanout and ginger, and
they'll go in to the base recipe.
A problem report in the mail today: Hugin crashes. For once I had time to look at it, and in the course of the day made quite good
progress. It seems that Hugin's way of saying “can't find control point detector” is:
/usr/local/include/wx-3.0/wx/strvararg.h(456): assert "(argtype & (wxFormatStringSpecifier<T>::value)) == argtype" failed in wxArgNormalizer(): format specifier doesn't match argument type
It's high time that Hugin saves its log files.
By the end of the day it was looking like a configuration problem, and (fortunately) not a
FreeBSD port issue. At least I was able to do
something; most of these bugs tend to hide in a maze of twisty little library dependencies,
Comment from Mohamed Ifadir on yesterday's tagine attempt,
pointing me at this video clip:
its also ok if you use carots bar as foundation for meat/chicken to not burn not use a lot
of water a cup of water is enough let everything dry.
to optimize little bit let meat/chicken dry little bit for 15min on carots bars
foundation, then add other vegetebles and oil and water close everything and let it cook
at the end you need to find.
1-little bit of water
2-some burning smell
That's very interesting; certainly it confirms that my last tagine had far too much liquid.
But it doesn't quite match the video clip, and I can see other recipes where liquid is
required. From the (chicken) recipe in the clip I note that the chicken is placed on an
onion bed, and by the time it is cooked, there's quite a bit of liquid, half covering the
But then it gets cooked uncovered for 15 minutes. I don't think that would cause all that
liquid to evaporate. Still, the concept of drying out and charring just a little is
It's also interesting that there are no Moroccan spices at all. She also uses a heat
diffuser on the flame, which probably makes sense with traditional ceramic tagines; mine is
made of aluminium, so there's no need.
More examination of the Hugin bug
today. It's quite simple, in fact: I have seen it before, but on that
occasion I ran into the combined problem of C++ and poor problem reporting. This time I was
able to establish that the real problem is that Hugin uses the temporary file path as
the executable path—shades of firefox:
39331 hugin CALL execve(0x81b60d380,0x81b605fd0,0x81b007000)
39331 hugin NAMI "/home/var/tmp/icpfind"
39331 hugin RET execve -1 errno 2 No such file or directory
But where does it set it? Once again I'm lost in a maze of twisty little wxWidgets. From
There Emily asked me if I had noticed the Spider orchids
(Arachnorchid) along the side of the
road. I hadn't been looking, but she pointed some out at a distance. There's something
about them that she can recognize, and after a while I saw a couple:
Emily tells me that they're a Caladenia tentaculata (or was that Arachnorchis?), though the
common name she mentioned was a kind of mantis orchid, which would
be Caladenia atrovespa
or Caladenia attingens. So
far I haven't found any images to confirm or deny it.
There were also a number
of Pterostylis species. In the past
I had assumed that there were many, but I still have my difficulties telling them apart.
How many do we have here?
I consider myself relatively proficient at debugging code I have never seen before. But
somehow Hugin has me beat.
The problem, as I have identified it so far, is that the configuration
variable tempDir (which, as the name suggests, is the name of a directory for
storing temporary files) somehow ends up as the path for searching for executables. As I
said, shades of firefox. So an
obvious approach to searching for it would be to find where the configuration file gets read
in. The file is called ~/.hugin, so I can brute force search the source tree for
And it's not mentioned! Does it maybe derive the file name from the executable name
(hugin?). That would almost make sense. So I went looking for config
instead. And still I found nothing. What about tempDir? Yes, there's lots of
stuff like this, in src/hugin1/base_wx/Executor.cpp:
These wxWidgets again!
Presumably the member function Read doesn't really read the configuration file; it
has already been read in, and Read just extracts the value (conveniently obfuscated
as a wxString). But this must mean that it's wxWidgets that reads in the
file. What puzzles me is how few of the entries show up when scanning the sources.
In particular, though, I can't see anything that points to the other end of the puzzle.
Probably the correct way to do this would be to run the thing in a debugger and see where
things get referenced. But for that I need to build everything with debug symbols,
including at least the wxWidgets library. And there's no shortage of libraries, 131
Now I have my medical records, it's time to scan them in. There were over 60 pages of them!
First the notes made by the doctors, conveniently in reverse chronological order, then the pathology
results in chronological order. Neither set had page breaks, making it very difficult to
understand. Somehow I begin to understand how a new doctor can come to incorrect
conclusions after reading them, especially as some of the information about me is just plain
incorrect (no allergies, never smoked).
How can we do it better? A few months ago I made a table of various blood test results. Table? Doesn't that
sound like a database? Of course it does. Why don't they use them? Somehow we're a sixth
of the way through the 21st century, and doctors are mainly using computers to emulate 20th
century paper records. When will the breakthrough come?
Looking round the wildflower photos I've sen recently, there's
a Caesia calliantha (also known as Blue
grass-lily) on the Field
Naturalist Ballarat site if you look for it hard enough (currently they don't display
more than one photo at a time, and you have to search). It's small and purple. Here a
photo from NatureShare:
Is that the thing we have growing all over the lawn? Today I picked one and took some
photos, challenging enough in itself:
No, clearly it isn't. More searching suggests that it's
an Arthropodium strictum
(or, for people who like breaking grammatical
rules, Dichopogon strictus),
also known as chocolate lily. Here the Wikipedia photo:
One of the issues of using ground (“bore”) water is that it needs filtering. In particular,
there is some iron compound dissolved in the water which precipitates what looks
like ferric oxide after some time.
So we have a filter, and from time to time I clean it. The last time was two days ago, and
it looked pretty much the same as the mess from the previous time:
When I got my
first SLR, I decided against a
wide-angle lens; it wasn't until six months
later I bought a Super wide angle lens, 28 mm. And I was the envy of all my
friends. My first digital cameras didn't come close; it wasn't until November 2004 that I found a camera with this
focal length, and it was one of the main reasons I bought it.
But now it seems that every camera worth its name comes with a zoom lens covering the
equivalent of 28 to 85 mm on a full frame camera. And where possible (electronic zoom) they
set the default at full wide angle. Here's Yvonne's first
attempt at the water filter:
I've been looking for alternatives to this extreme wide angle for some time now, and that's
part of the background for buying the 45 mm Zuiko and the 25 mm Summilux (equivalent to 90 mm and
50 mm respectively). I still need to see whether it's worth buying another 17 mm lens, but
so far the images she takes with those two lenses show promise.
From time to time we eat red cabbage, which is available in prepared form from many places.
Just heat up and serve.
But recently we bought some red cabbage from ALDI. Heat up. Oh. Raw red cabbage, not prepared in any way. So today I finally got round
to doing something about it. Here's the recipe, loosely base on this one:
red cabbage, chopped
Peel the apple and onion and chop into small cubes. Fry gently in goose fat until the
onion becomes glassy.
Add other ingredients and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Serve.
That's what I did today. There's also a recipe
page that may change.
I have a number of saved searches on eBay for
which I get graphic, incomplete, badly rendered and often misspelt emails every day. The
number of entries displayed is limited to 12 and the text is broken almost beyond
recognition. They made some changes recently. The good news is that they have discovered
that the singular of “matches” is “match”, and not “matche” (presumably because they know
that the singular of “lenses” is “lense”). But that's about the only improvement. The
limit of 12 entries is still there, and the rendering, at least on firefox under FreeBSD, is completely broken:
Leica is not exactly a new
camera—their first prototype was well over 100 years ago. But it seems they have never
created a lens with a red exterior. Now they have made up for that. For only $1,150 extra you can have a
red Summicron 50 mm f/2, not exactly
the fastest lens in the world:
The red version of the lens will available from 9th December and will cost $8950/£7575 –
the current price of the standard black model is around $7800/£5600 while the silver
version is closer to $8000/£6000. This is, according to Leica, the first time the company
has produced a red lens.
I'm fascinated by Leica. How can they sell their equipment at these prices? Somehow
they're giving away their pricing model if they think that anybody can believe that a
different colour (usually without price adjustment) can be worth over $1,000. And is the
Summicron really that good? It might have been 60 years ago, but my comparisons suggest that times have
moved on, and my own Summilux 25/1.4 is also very sharp. And it retails for $600.
Into town to see Dr Paul Smith about my blood test results. All normal, maybe. But what
about iron? It's nothing that we've looked at before, but it seems that the iron-related
levels are not quite what he expected
(ferritin 422 μg/l, should be between 20
and 300, and transferrin saturation,
51%, should be between 13 and 47%). So even now he has planned a blood test for them in
February. Also my finger is not healing quite the way I expected, so I need another X-ray
to see what's going on there.
I got mail from Kai Peters a couple of days ago, commenting on my
“Dillwynia”. He says
it's Ginster, the German name
for gorse, and it's definitely not that.
But he called it broom, a word I
didn't know in that context, and on further investigation it seems that Germans call all
species of Genista „Ginster“, while in
English there are two names, gorse and broom. But the German name for gorse
or Ulex europaeus, not even a
Is he right? Out looking for photos, and found a couple of convincing ones, from this page and Wikipedia:
But they're not Genista at all,
they're Cytisus scoparius, also
known as Scotch broom. Further investigation shows that while the botanical term “broom”
includes Genista, it's also applied to other genera,
Into Ballarat this morning with
Sasha to visit the Eureka Village
Hostel. It was his first time with me, and he was very excited. He certainly didn't
want to go in, probably because he had to go past the smokers sitting near the entrance; I'm
not sure he has ever smelt tobacco smoke before, and he certainly didn't like it. Bill was
again not well, and Bronwyn took us round, this time much more quickly: many of the
residents weren't there.
One of the things that surprised me most
about Donald Trump is the lack of
transparency about his business dealings. About the only thing we know for sure is that he
had a big bankruptcy decades ago, and that he has frequently refused to pay bills. So
this satire seems to hit the point for me.
Recently I had cause to remember the
(legendary) Jaguar E-Type, one of
the leading sports cars of the 1960s and 1970s. But how fast was it really? When I knew
the car, I was in England, where the
speed limit is 113 km/h. When I got
to Germany, the land without a general
speed limit, I no longer knew the car. So I was intrigued to read this
table, showing a top speed of only 217 km/h. Even the Citroën SM was faster (220 km/h),
as were my Citroën XMs,
cars that I could really drive to the limit. The E-Type wouldn't have been able to keep up.
Of course, the table as it currently stands is missing a number of real competitors,
including for example the Porsche
911, maybe because the article doesn't make it easy to find the information. But I'm
still surprised how slow the E-Type was.
We've eaten quiche
lorraine before, but we don't have a saved recipe. Went looking for one today and found
precious little. Joy of Cooking has one that includes cheese, which Yvonne considers ridiculous. Finally I found one in « la Cuisine de
Madame Saint-Ange ». And for the first time an obvious error: for the pastry she
wants 100 g of flour and 75 cl of water. That would be a slurry, not a dough.
And how much dough do we need? Our form is 24 cm in diameter and about 4 cm deep. Decided
on the quantities below.
Mix flour, butter, water and salt to a dough and let stand an hour. Mix again, roll out
and line the form.
Cut Speck into strips and blanche. Drain. Place pieces of butter on the dough, add
Beat eggs with salt and pepper. Add sour cream. Pour into form and bake for 40 minutes
at 190° with recirculation and heat from below.
Things didn't quite work out as planned. There wasn't enough Speck or salt, the sour cream
wasn't sour enough (I'm not sure what I can do there), and there was nearly double the
quantity of dough. I'm keeping the definitive recipe up to date.
Lorraine Carranza along for breakfast brunch this morning, bewailing the election
of Donald Trump. He may have a
strong following in the USA, but so far here
I haven't see anybody here who is anything but horrified by his election.
Lorraine doesn't have an Internet connection, so Yvonne wanted to show her some of the caricatures
of Trump that she had found. But
then she came to me and said “we're off the net”. How would she know? It could be a
firefox hang or anything in the
local network. But she was right. We went off the net at 11:25, and didn't come back until
13:46, only to go off again for another 6 minutes at 13:53.
When it did come back, the status indicators on
the NTD were not normal: at irregular
intervals the left two status LEDs flashed amber (should be green; the status LED is a
primitive signal strength indicator). It didn't seem to affect the connectivity, but off to
look for an explanation. Found this page, which already grates by separating the menu with backslashes:
Home \ Connect home or business \ Already connected? \ nbn equipment
One of the entries what looked like a video, titled:
The nbn™ Connection Box is a Network Termination Device (NTD). Find out what your nbn™
Connection Box does, what the ports are for and the indicator lights tell you. Also find
out how to tell if your nbn™ Connection Box is working on backup battery power.
But that's “Error #2035”. And clearly it only relates to fibre NTDs. There's also a user
guide—for fibre only, which irritatingly insists on referring to the NTD as “nbn™ connection
box”. It does describe the LEDs, but they're completely different from fixed wireless.
Tried to look at the directory (http://www.nbnco.com.au/content/dam/nbnco/documents/), but they're
too 1337 to allow me to look at that. About
the only thing that gradually dawned on me is that the network is called nbn™, not NBN. How
long has that been the case?
nbn, you've been active now for several years. When will you get your act together?
A number of people in Dereel have problems
connecting to the National Broadband Network because of the lie of the land, trees, etc., including at least one property in Stones Road.
While looking for status LED information, found this
page by an antenna company with the descriptive name “Telco”. But what they offer
looks interesting, and next time somebody has a problem, I'll point them to it.
Lorraine arrived with a couple of wildflowers she had picked on the way:
a Goodenia lanata
and Pimelea linifolia (Rice
flower). She also told us of orchids up near the letter boxes at the end of Spearys Road,
so when we walked the dogs, took a look. Yes, there are lots of tiny little flowers, but
I'm pretty sure they're peas of some kind, not orchids:
More searching the web for documentation for
the NTD today, and finally I was
successful. Not on the National Broadband
Network web site, of course, but on boombroadband.com.au, apparently
an RSP. The document clearly comes from nbn™, but I can't find it on their site. Here's the
description of the signal strength LEDs:
Based on the markings, any sane person would assume that the LEDs light from left to right
with increasing signal strength. But what I see is an alternation between all three LEDs
showing green, and the two on the left showing amber, with the third not showing any colour.
Is this telling me that the signal strength is inadequate (and if so, why?), or something
that hasn't been documented? And why did they choose such a primitive interface, when even
simple, cheap electronics modules now include a web server?
Rokewood Junction is the road junction at the extreme south-west of that map, as the name of
the road leading there indicates. How did Google Maps place it in the middle of nowhere?
And why can't I find a “report maps error” any more?
PID USERNAME THR PRI NICE SIZE RES STATE C TIME WCPU COMMAND
60584 yvonne 47 20 0 1915M 1510M select 1 303:41 1.66% firefox
Where did that memory go? Looking at the swap usage, it seems that the additional memory
wasn't memory at all, at least not initialized. But once again I'm left wondering what
these modern programs are doing.
What does that mean? It took a lot of differential reading the documentation and the
markings on the NTD to come to a potentially meaningful conclusion: the signal strength
LEDs do show progressive signal strength. One LED means low signal strength. Two
LEDs mean “medium” (acceptable) signal. Three LEDs mean good signal. But in addition, the
one LED is red, two LEDs are amber, and three LEDs are green.
This is pure guesswork deduction, since it's not documented anywhere. But if
that's the case (and Aussie Broadband support confirms the meaning of the colours), then something is wrong. When the system
was installed two years ago,
the measured signal strength was -86 dB, well over the (presumed) range for 3 LEDs. Why is
it now amber? And what can I do about it? To quote Aussie:
Unfortunately as long as there is no fault present we are unable to raise a ticket through
to NBN to ask them to do any further investigation.
It's not the strongest of things, so I used the smallest zoom lens I had, the M.Zuiko Digital
14-42mm f3.5-5.6 II R. Getting it to focus wasn't easy, but finally I got the “beep”
indicating that it was in focus. But it wasn't, not by a long shot. Here the worst and
Why the difference? Yes, there's a big difference in quality (and size!)
between the two lenses, but I hadn't expected such a difference in the autofocus. It
certainly explains some of the problems Yvonne has been
having getting things focused properly.
Yesterday I pondered over
the meaning of the status lights on
the NTD, but today things were
different again: only amber. So it looks as if the signal strength is deteriorating. Posts
on Facebook show that I'm not the only one to
At the moment, that's not an issue, but how is this going to continue? Amber, amber/red,
red, nothing? Is NBN monitoring the
situation? You'd expect them to, and maybe they're in the process of replacing a defective
transmitter module: there are three antennae on each tower, and if something relating to one
of them has failed, then they can fall back to another until they replace it. Maybe that's
what's happening, but how can we know?
Coincidentally got an unsolicited call from Aussie Broadband support, in which they
confirmed that NBN doesn't communicate with them. But do they monitor? How can we know?
In this case, we can. It seems that Saturday's outage was quite widespread
(which kills the antenna hypothesis), but NBN support didn't know anything about it until
Aussie informed them.
If there's one thing that's essential for running a modern computer network, it's
monitoring. Communication with others is high on the list of importance, but monitoring
must be at the top, possibly just behind maintenance, possibly not. How can we get the NBN
to fulfil their charter?
To the Ballarat Base hospital today to have my
little finger X-rayed. The biggest issue was finding my way in. The hospital is enormous,
and the referral slip showed four different entrances. On the way to the car park I saw
that one (the main entrance) was shut, and returning from the car park it seems that the
second had disappeared. The third was near the emergency entrance, where they don't like
you going in, and the fourth was the other side of the hospital, about 500 m away.
Fortunately they seem to have recognized the problem, and we're now allowed in via the
emergency entrance. Hopefully they'll soon have their building work completed.
By contrast, the X-ray itself was trivial—almost no wait. But it's not clear if they'll get
the results to my doctor by tomorrow. Why? They're in digital form, and they should be
able to send them by email in a matter of minutes.
I've been doing a lot of macro photography lately, and one of the issues is the viewfinder.
Clearly the one on the camera is seldom in a place where I can access it easily, and the LCD
screen is not really ideal for careful focusing. If my Android tablet hadn't
died, I could try Olympus' appalling OI.Share. But as it happens, ALDI has
a special at the moment, a 10" Android tablet for only
$90, so while in town, I picked one up.
What can you expect for that price? Not even a charger, just a USB cable to connect to (and
charge from) a computer. No GPS, not even
phone connectivity. But the rest seems relatively normal, except that of course it has been
a few years since I bought
my last one, so of course there's a new version of Android with a completely different user
interface. The only thing that remains constant is the lack of documentation.
Spent a bit of time playing around with it. First to install OI.Share, of course.
“Your device isn't compatible with this version”. Ah, right,
this stupid app wants the tablet to have GPS functionality. And that for a viewfinder!
What else can it do? 2½ years
ago I came up with a list of 6 things I could potentially do with a tablet. Of these,
three don't work on this browser: I can't use it as a phone, it can't control my camera, and
I can't use it as a GPS navigator. In fact, I found the previous tablet pretty useless for
these functions too, not because of the tablet, but because of the platform and the
appalling quality that nearly all apps seem to share.
So what am I left with?
Reading documentation. This proved to be quite useful with the old tablet. It had a
relatively low-res but acceptable 1280×800 display. The current one is
too 1337 to describe its resolution, but
it could even be higher.
Use as a mobile web browser. This was also useful, mainly for access to recipes while
Use to play streaming radio. I'm not sure I need this.
So do I keep it? I have 2 months to decide. If only I could find some apps that were worth
using, I could buy a full-featured tablet instead. In the meantime, it's good for having
something to read in waiting rooms.
While in town, finally bought a new battery for the lawn mower. The last one was only 3½ years old, but dead as a
doornail: it only held any kind of charge overnight. And in that time the going price has
gone up from $75 to $105! I had hesitated because I couldn't get any sign of life out of
the mower even with a fully charged battery, but clearly the battery was part of any
solution. And, as it turned out, it was all I needed. Though the old battery showed a
normal voltage after charging, it must have dropped to nothing when I turned the ignition
So finally we have got the lawn mowed.
Mick the gardener along again today, and confirmed the cost of batteries. He needs a new
one for his car, and they're asking over $200 for one. He had forgotten his push lawn
mower, so went round with a whipper snipper instead, and got correspondingly little done.
I'm working on some photos that I took on 5 August 1969. They need a
lot of work to improve them. DxO Optics “Pro” helps up
to a point, but somehow nothing seems to help recovering gradations, particularly in green.
Then I have COLOR projects 4 ,
which, like all the PROJECTS software I bought, seems to offer nothing worthwhile. I tried
that a couple of months ago and failed. It's really “special effects” software, not something that I can use for fixing
colour casts. In general, the money I spent on PROJECTS software has proved to be a
So I went looking for “photo recovery software”. Sorry, wrong magic word. That's
synonymous with “file recovery software”. It seems that the correct term is
“photo restoration software”, and I found a few.
First was Perfectly Clear, which, though
expensive, is on special this week—some Black Friday horror. Is that
like Black Saturday? I
hope not. In any case, downloaded it, installed it, and went looking for the program. I
couldn't find it. Then I RTFMed: it's only
a plugin for various other software, such
as Photoshop, so it's useless to me.
For that, at $150 normal price, it's very expensive.
Moving on, another promising program was Old Photo Restoration
Software for Windows, a name that could be improved on. Sure, there's a free
download, but first I need to sign in, either with Facebook or Google+. People, don't do
that! It's a particularly good way of increasing the damage done by any breach of password.
So I went off and checked. I once had a second Facebook account, but it seems to have
atrophied. OK, sign up again. User “My Privacy”, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sorry, says Facebook, we want real names. That can only mean that they have recognized
these specific names. So, with thanks
to Anthony Burgess, entered my
name as “Tahi Panas” (a name which I later discovered I had referred to close to the photos
in question, on 1 August 1969), which worked, sort of. I set up an
account, but I couldn't access it. Do I need friends to be on Facebook? In any case,
nothing to be done there either.
Yesterday's search for photo
restoration software was held up by my registration for a second Facebook user. The email finally arrived this morning
at 8:00, after 17 hours! What held it up? Manual checks for validity? NSA vetting? Who knows?
So off I went to the Softonic web site, where
I ran into many false leads trying to download other software that I didn't want. Sorry,
people, you've just lost my trust. Who knows how good the software is? I no longer want to
Another lead was Fotor, which I downloaded, but at first sight it seemed to do nothing useful. I
might go back and look more carefully some time.
More searching brought me to this page, from a reputable site. Of
course it describes the functions relative
to Photoshop, specifically
the Levels tool. Does GIMP have
something similar? Yes, it's Colors/Levels. And how about that, the first
results didn't look that bad. But on closer examination, it seemed that I adjusted the
previous JPEG image, not the
scanned TIFF image. So I tried again.
“GIMP can't handle 16 bit images”! Still! What's complicated about 16 bit images? GIMP
has been around for over 20 years!
Further searching showed that release 2.9 does promise to support 16 bit images, so went
looking for that. No FreeBSD port available.
Tried frobbing the 2.8 port, and soon ran into trouble. Do I care? These modern software
packages are a maze of twisty little dependencies, all the same. One way or another, other
activities took over, and I didn't get much further.
I had to to to the doctor today, a typical time for using my Android tablet (in the
waiting room). Spent some time uploading documentation, in the process discovering that
AirDroid has completely changed its
behaviour, and it uploaded the files (apparently to /sdcard0), where I couldn't find
them any more. Somehow Android has completed the destruction of file system hierarchies
started by Microsoft and Apple.
OK, I still need something to display them with, and that's clearly Acrobat Reader. The good news is
that it instantly found the documents, though it's not clear whether this was luck or
design. Acroread has changed its interface too, and it took me something like 10 minutes to
discover how to get it to display a page at a time. Even then, several screens wouldn't
rotate with the device, requiring me to hold it with the charge cable at the bottom.
Then there was the question of a mail message that I had received, sent only to me, telling
me that somebody had logged on this device as me. What good does that do? In any case,
time to set up Gmail.
I use Gmail as a spam filter, so I'm relatively accustomed to it on a web browser. But this
display looked so different that I couldn't work out what it was trying to tell me. Where
has the Inbox gone? I have “Primary”, “Social” and “Promotions”. “Promotion” is probably a
euphemism for “Our Spam”, but what does the rest mean? And is that really an index, that
collection of large panes in the middle, showing only five? Why do they do that?
At the end, thoroughly frustrated, gave up. At least I had found my documents.
Firstly, what is the resolution of the new “High Resolution” feature? I've heard things
like 50 and 80 MP, but the manual only describes 50 and 25 MP; the latter is so close to the
native 20 MP resolution as to be completely useless. Then there's the “ProCapture” feature,
where the camera saves 14 images taken before pressing the shutter (and quite a
number after). Everything I have read so far says that it happens at 60 fps, but the manual
says 30 fps. That might actually be better, since we're talking of times of 0.23 or 0.47 s.
The former is probably shorter than normal reaction times.
What hasn't changed At All is the HDR functionality.
Still only an odd number of images in manual mode or an even number (exactly 4)
for HDR1 and HDR2, and still this silly “HDR2 provides a more impressive image
than HDR1” that I ranted about three years ago.
Into town to hear about the results of my X-ray yesterday. He nearly forgot; he was
much more interested in analysing my blood test results for the past 5 years, and wanted to
go even further back. I'm quite impressed, especially in view of the brittle nature of the
But finally he got to the fingers. The good news: nothing broken. The bad news: nothing
recognized. So I'll have to go for ultrasound investigation.
They've put an apron around it to further restrict the traffic. Now what earthly use is
that? I've never understood the fascination with roundabouts, though once upon a time they
had the undoubted advantage of being relatively maintenance free in comparison with traffic
lights. But technology has moved on, and I'm sure that traffic lights are now much cheaper
than roundabouts, and with a bit of intelligence they can greatly improve throughput.
Where do I go to get the latest version of GIMP?
The right thing to do would be to port it, but I couldn't be bothered. Instead I went
looking for precompiled versions for Linux. No, don't have them, but try your distro.
OK, I have a Linux box running, with the stupid and immutable system
name greg-GA-MA785GT-UD3H, but that's (barely) running MythTV, and I don't want to break it. But I had a
virtual machine called eucla, which had Ubuntu 14.04. It seems I never completely installed it: the Ethernet card was
set up to talk to the wrong interface on the host machine (and thus take me off the net).
Time to fix the configuration and reinstall.
Reinstalling version 16.04 was relatively painless. In particular, I didn't have
quite the issues with the display size that I had earlier this year. After making a mess
trying to do an upgrade installation, I blew it away and started from scratch. Then they
usual question: where's xterm? There's a simple but not obvious answer: a key
combination that does just that, and after I had found an alternative method, some
unsolicited popup told me so. Unfortunately I don't know how to solicit the popup, and
selecting “Help” from the settings menu doesn't tell me. But I can also
press Alt-F2 to “pop up command window for quickly running commands)”
(something much quicker and easier using an xterm, which also supplies an
environment). And finally, as I discovered, there's a menu under the right mouse button
that does the same thing.
All nice and relatively logical. So what's the problem? I don't know the short cuts. I've
been using the same key/mouse bindings (something that the Ubuntu window manager doesn't
seem to support) for 25 years. I've been using the same editing bindings (Emacs-based) for 35 years. They're
wired into my fingers. If I have to think about them, it will take me some time. Why
should I learn a new user interface, one for Ubuntu, another for Android, a third for
“Windows” 10, a fourth for Apple? There may be some
advantages, but by the time I find them, they will probably have changed the interface
Fortunately I don't have to use that interface. I can pop up an xterm on my main
machine and use it almost as if it were FreeBSD. All I then need is NFS,
for which I need the same user numerical ID as on eureka. How do I do that? New
interfaces again, but they're too polite to talk in numbers. And chsh really only
does what it should do, change the shell. In the end I tried just
editing /etc/passwd, and how about that, it worked.
So finally I have a machine to run GIMP 2.9. How
do I get it? There are instructions here, and
they work. GIMP has developed a singularly ugly new appearance, but it seems to work, and
unlike far too many programs nowadays, it doesn't have any issues running over the net
(apart from a slowness which I expect wouldn't otherwise be there). Finally I can start to
recover my photos.
Today was Thanksgiving in
the USA, and the day
after is called Black
Friday, apparently not because of the way people feel after overindulging, and though
it's on the same say of the week, also not related to
our Black Saturday: it's
the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, one of the best things I can say for
Thanksgiving; here people try to start in mid-October).
But globalization doesn't just mean other countries adopting American pronunciation: it
seems that Black Friday has made it at least
and Australia. Here from my inbox:
147 N + 25-11-2016 Zoner Photo Studio To groggyhimself@lemis. ( 415) N + Letzte Chance: Black Friday Sale auf ZPS X!
153 N + 25-11-2016 B&H Photo Video Pro To groggyhimself@lemis. (4977) N + Black Friday Super Deals!
173 N + 25-11-2016 Linkdelight.com To groggyhimself@lemis. (1065) N + BLACK FRIDAY IS ON: Up to 60% off + 8% Off discount
1954 N + 24-11-2016 eGlobaL Australia To groggyhimself@lemis. (1105) N + eGlobaL - BlackFriday x Cyber Monday Offer
Is he right? I don't know, but it makes convincing reading. Clearly “One person, one vote”
has failed badly here. I wouldn't care—not my country—except that I am still terrified that
Trump will do something really stupid to put the future of mankind at risk.
We used to eat cannelloni relatively
frequently, but the combination of laziness (can't be bothered to make our own fresh pasta)
and poor quality of pre-made cannelloni tubes put us off. The last time we made
it I still wasn't very happy. Today I started again from the base recipe, and came up
with quantities that varied only slightly. Instead of 100 g onions, I only used 60 g. Both
are clearly considerably more than the ¼
cup in the original recipe. And instead of 20 g garlic (“1 teaspoon”), I only used 8 g.
The other issue was the number of cannelloni per person. In the end we ate 8 of them
between the three of us (3 each for Chris and myself, 2 for Yvonne), so I'd say 3 is the right number. And this time I did it in a rectangular
form 20×27 cm in size and only 3.5 cm deep. That's a bit of a crowd for the 11 we put in
there, but about right for 8. Unfortunately, the depth isn't sufficient.
One significant difference was the
besciamella (béchamel). Don't do it with an
induction cooker! Despite constant stirring with a hand mixer, it burnt:
In the past I have never had enough béchamel, but this time, for the first
time ever, I ended up with more béchamel than I could use. I had only used half the
filling, and the shallowness of the form meant that I couldn't use the rest.
Here's the result. And yes, despite the dried tubes, it was almost OK. But next time we
really need to make our own pasta.
A while back I recorded a film from SBS TV for Chris Bahlo. She gave Yvonne a USB stick to put it on,
but unfortunately it was too small. So I tried it again today with a spare 8 GB SD card. I
didn't expect what I saw:
I've seen that before—I think with Chris' USB stick—but at the time I attributed it to lack
of space. This time I had lots of space. It took a while to discover that the real issue
is that the file was larger than 4 GB, the maximum
that FAT-32 file systems can handle.
OK, I had another version there that is shorter; I think I just removed the trailing junk.
Tried copying that and discovered:
First, the file size is incorrect. A sane operating system reports:
-rw-r--r-- 1 grog home 3,830,695,916 13 Nov 17:32 /spool/Images/Love-of-meat-3
Next, look at that transfer rate! That corresponds to 2.4 hours! In fact, it jumped all
over the place, sometimes up to the astronomical speed of 1.3 MB/s. By the time Yvonne
wanted to leave for Chris' place, after about 45 minutes, it had only transferred about a
third of the file. So I gave up and tried with FreeBSD, where I ran into other trouble. Somehow the partially copied file had not
gone away, though it also didn't show. Here the list of the 8 GB file system:
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/6) /src/Downloads 150 -> mdel d:* === root@eureka (/dev/pts/6) /src/Downloads 151 -> mdir d: Volume in drive D has no label
Volume Serial Number is 6E72-D777
Directory for D:/
3 632 410 624 bytes free
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/6) /src/Downloads 152 -> mformat d: mformat: Unknown geometry (You must tell the complete geometry of the disk,
either in /usr/local/etc/mtools.conf or on the command line)
Surely we still don't need to
for SD cards? So finally I gave
up and “formatted” it in dischord, the Microsoft box. Then it copied at 5 MB/s,
taking still a considerable time to complete:
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/6) /src/Downloads 157 -> time mcopy Love-of-meat-3 d: real 13m29.850s
We've had FAT file systems for 40 years. Why is this all so complicated?
One of the things that came out of Paul Smith's analysis of my blood readings on Thursday was that he thinks I drink too
much alcohol. He's not the first, and there are certain indications that he could be
right. But I've been there before, 35 years ago. At the time I stopped drinking alcohol
completely for 6 months, and it made no change. And apart from the blood levels, there are
no other symptoms.
Why? Clearly there was some other cause, but I never identified it. Still, that was half a
lifetime ago, and things could have changed. I've agreed to take a month off in January
(after Christmas) and see what my blood looks like then. In the meantime, it can't do any
harm to scale back a little.
But it couldn't stay where it was, so there's nothing much to lose. I'll keep an eye on it.
It's also time to finally do something about the irrigation, although the new controller
hasn't arrived. Discovered that (irrigation) circuit 1 wasn't working at all—why? It's
difficult to measure the output voltages on the current controller, so for the time being I
left it alone: it'll be much easier to test with the relay board.
Then on to circuit 2, where a union had blown apart, conveniently behind two rose
bushes. Put that together with only minimal harm to my person, and off to flush the hoses.
Even before I had finished, the union blew apart again: I hadn't put it together tightly
enough. Another attempt, this time with the tap on the solenoid turned down low, but it
looks as if I don't have enough control like that, so we'll need a pressure limiter after
Call from James Watson of Telstra today to
tell me that my computer was in danger. I had a bit of time, so I strung him along. First,
of all, he wanted to know whether I was running “Windows”, Mac OS or Linux, to
which I honestly answered “No”, and volunteered that I was running FreeBSD. What? I repeated a couple of times, and he
decided to call his team leader, who introduced himself as Stephen. He told me the same
spiel, but didn't ask about what operating system. Instead he asked me to open a browser and go to Google to find support.me.
I resisted a desire to say “OK, it's open, and doesn't it look filthy inside!”, and
searched. All he really wanted me to do was to go to the
site. Why the diversion via Google? While I was at it I searched and found
this page, which gave me some idea of what they were trying to do.
OK, next he told me a 6 digit code (727870), which enabled me to download a
file Support-LogMeInRescue.exe. Double click on it. OK, “This link needs to be
opened with an application”:
He didn't understand. Try another code (130000). Download another copy of the file.
Dammit, the same thing happened again! So he asked me to try searching for logmein123.com, which specifically asked me if I
trusted the person asking me to do the download. So I read it out to him and asked if I
could trust him. Oh yes, we're from Telstra calling to help you, and I can trust him. I
suggested that that sounded rather
like Donald Trump, which at least
got a laugh out of him.
Whatever, I continued. It seems that it downloads exactly the same file. By the end of the
exercise, I had:
-rw-r--r-- 1 grog wheel 1,870,376 29 Nov 14:26 Support-LogMeInRescue.exe
-rw-r--r-- 1 grog wheel 1,870,376 29 Nov 14:28 Support-LogMeInRescue(1).exe
-rw-r--r-- 1 grog wheel 1,870,376 29 Nov 14:31 Support-LogMeInRescue (1).exe
-rw-r--r-- 1 grog wheel 1,870,376 29 Nov 14:32 Support-LogMeInRescue (1)(1).exe
-rw-r--r-- 1 grog wheel 1,870,376 29 Nov 14:32 Support-LogMeInRescue (1)(2).exe
-rw-r--r-- 1 grog wheel 1,870,376 29 Nov 14:32 Support-LogMeInRescue (1)(3).exe
Next he asked me to look at the keyboard, at the extreme bottom left. Do I see a key
labeled “Ctrl”? No, it says “Find” (this is a Sun Type 7 keyboard, and
the Control key is labeled, well, Control, but it's not at extreme bottom
left). OK, what do I have at extreme bottom right? “Enter”, like most conventional
keyboards I know. That didn't satisfy him either, though he didn't say what he expected.
It occurred to me later that he considered the possibility that I couldn't tell right from
left. Then he asked for the broken window key. Sorry, don't have that either.
Much of this discussion was complicated by people making noise in the background, in some
Indian language—Tamil, I think—in
which “Stephen” joined. But finally he tried a different tack. Which version of “Windows”
was I using? 7 or 10? I suggested that X must mean
10, though I prefer to call it X, and he accepted that.
Final attempt: download TeamViewer. At
least I know that one. Normally I access the site from Microsoft, but it seems there's a
version for Linux too.
So I asked hie whether I should select “Ubuntu, Debian” or “RedHat, CentOS, Fedora, SUSE” or
“Other systems”. Not Linux, “Other systems”.
That downloaded a compressed tarball of nearly 30 MB:
-rw-r--r-- 1 grog wheel 29,009,560 29 Nov 14:35 teamviewer_11.0.67687_i386.tar.xz
Double click on it. How about that, it requires an application! I read out the exact file
name, which should have rung a bell, but it didn't.
Clearly we were getting nowhere, so I asked why Telstra, of all companies, should contact
me, considering that I had had no business dealings with them for years, and that they
couldn't even provide support when I
did. It seems that Telstra is responsible for allocating IP addresses, and mine had been
compromised. I told him I thought
that ICANN was responsible for allocating
IP addresses, and in any case my block had been allocated
by RIPE decades ago (possibly before he was
born, though this didn't occur to me until later). He didn't appear to have heard of either
OK, how do you compromise an IP address? I know a little about networking, but I don't
understand that one. Please explain. Click. But at least I had strung him
out for 25 minutes, 22 seconds. And interestingly, though the caller phone number was
suppressed, my call log from MyNetFone tells me that it came from COFFS
HARBOUR. I wonder if that is dependent on the (compromised?) caller IP address.
In any case, it seems that next time I should give them TeamViewer access to one of my test
machines and see what they try to do. That, too, could be fun, as would be the ability to
record the conversation.
Warrick back again today to finish off the earthworks. When he started, I was concerned
that the driveway loop wouldn't be big enough for Chris Bahlo's big horse float, but I no
longer have any concerns:
The Ethernet-connected relay board that
I ordered a couple of weeks ago has now arrived. No power supply—that was almost to be expected from the
description—but absolutely no instructions!. That must be a new low. Hopefully I'll
be able to make sense of the markings on the circuit board. Found a suitable power supply
(I hope): the board has a marking “12 VDC”, but no information about the current required.
The description above says “7-24V DC”, again with no current spec. My power supply delivers
1 A, which will hopefully be sufficient. I should find time tomorrow to look at it.
The owner of the other car showed up and showed her how to take video with her phone, for
which I admire her (the owner of the other car). We deliberately don't have “smart” phones
because of the interface, and we've never used the photographic capabilities of our phones.
But how do I move the image somewhere sane? The phone does not have
any 802.11 connectivity, and it doesn't
have a removable SD Card. Played around
with the menus and discovered I could upload images
What has Bluetooth connectivity? My new Android tablet. OK, try
to pair, not made any easier by the fact that the Android user interface has changed since I
last did it. Continued getting timeouts and refusals on both sides, until suddenly the
message “Accept download from phone” appeared on the tablet—just long enough for me to read
it. Then it disappeared again, and the phone timed out again. At some point I got a
message something like “Unfortunately, the Bluetooth downloader has stopped working”.
Look for Bluetooth downloader. Nothing. Look in the toyshop. Yes, Bluetooth File Transfer available. Downloaded it, all 1.8 MB, which took about 10
minutes for no obvious reason. And finally I was able to download (upload? sideload?) the
image. So it seems that the initial failures were a combination of missing apps and
inadequate error reporting.
That was only half the story, of course. I still didn't have the clip in a place I could
use it. But looking at it, it hardly seemed worth the trouble, so I put it into the “too
hard” basket, to be looked at tomorrow.
Gradually the weather is getting warmer, and things in the garden have changed even since
my last garden photo series two weeks ago. In particular, we have our
first Strelitzia reginae
flower, the first of about 5 that I can see coming up:
Why? You can't blame it on autofocus, though the fact that the exact centre of the image is
in focus could give you that impression. But there was no autofocus in those days. On the
other hand, it was taken with
a Asahi Pentax
“Spotmatic”, probably with the standard 50 mm
lens. That is a really easy camera to focus. So clearly the fault is my own. In
general I find that the image quality I achieved was not the maximum possible, and by modern
standards it's only barely acceptable.
But I have significantly older photos. This week I found, scanned and re-processed some
from the 1950s. These ones are from the oldest colour photos I have, probably the first
that my father took:
I had thought that they were taken in 1956, but my father had written on them “P.I. 55
Malaya”. The “P.I.” was clearly
an abbreviation for Perhentian
Islands, and it's to be assumed that “55” is an abbreviation for the year. They were
clearly taken on Kodachrome I (with its blazingly fast sensitivity of 12°/12 ISO):
But with what camera? My father bought his Canon rangefinder
in Tokyo, and I had thought we had gone
there in April 1956. There's no way of knowing the camera settings, but the photo of the
burning house would have required an exposure of 1/50 s at about f/2.8 or f/2.
But the next couple of slides are even more interesting:
They were taken outside our house in 177 Grattan
St, Carlton. When? We lived
there from September 1957 to February 1959, but my father was away for most of 1958. I put
the date at 1 November 1957, but on reflection that's probably too early. The car,
a Wolseley 6/80, was the one we had
in Malaya, and we had had it shipped to Australia. And the extension work on the house,
which my father had performed in the spring of 1957, was complete. On the other hand, the
leaves on the tree look fairly fresh, and we were wearing relatively warm clothing, so it
couldn't have been much later.
The real thing of interest, though, is the image quality. It's much worse than the
1969 photos, and also worse than the 1955 photos. The slide was completely underexposed,
not difficult with the film speeds of the day and without a light meter. Here a crop of
myself from the second image, unfortunately almost useless:
Since finding the Thelymitra
pauciflora (sun orchid) on the roadside, I've been looking for some on our own property.
There are lots of them, more than I've so far identified on the roadside. These three are
at the front of the property, close to the road: