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November 2016
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Tuesday, 1 November 2016 Dereel Images for 1 November 2016
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Progress of baked beans
Topic: food and drink Link here

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:


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It's interesting to note that the beans appear to absorb water while cooling. At a guess, that'll be the correct quantity. At least I have something to compare with.


Lens test charts
Topic: photography Link here

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 manage.

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.


Wednesday, 2 November 2016 Dereel Images for 2 November 2016
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Display protector pain
Topic: photography, general, opinion Link here

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:

 
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And yes, the folds went all the way through to the the foil itself:

 
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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:

 
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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 brand.


21st century junk
Topic: multimedia, opinion Link here

While walking the dogs, found an interesting device:

 
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Clearly an antenna amplifier, for once well marked. And the reason for its demise is also clear:

 
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Potentially it would work if the capacitor were replaced. But it's interesting to think that this sort of thing could hardly have existed 50 years ago, let alone be discarded due to a simple failure.


Buying beer online
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

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 in Ballarat.

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 an SMS.

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.


80 years of high definition TV
Topic: multimedia, opinion Link here

Eighty years ago today, the first regular high definition TV broadcasts began. How time flies!

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 Baird's Intermediate 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.


Thursday, 3 November 2016 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 3 November 2016
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Identifying rye meal
Topic: food and drink, language, opinion Link here

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 in Delacombe, 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 that Wikipedia, 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.


Picking up the beer
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

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.


Citroën SM
Topic: general Link here

Coming out of Dan Murphy's I was about to turn into Mair Street when a shape caught my eye. Goddess? No, not quite: a Citroën SM:

 
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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:

 
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The green elements are the hydropneumatic 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.


Kitchen slicer: the issues
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

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 the blade:

 
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And the blade housing is so thick that the bread needs to be bent through about 30°, which doesn't make for clean cutting:

 
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So I think that this, too, will go back. We're more or less resigned to buying one in Germany.


Health record transfer
Topic: health, opinion Link here

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 transfer.

Today I got a reminder, along with a stamp Pre-payment required. I smell an attempt to annoy me. To whom do I complain? Called up Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 81 81. As expected, they weren't the correct address, but were able to give me a pointer to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency on 1300 419 495 or (not advertised) 03 9275 9009. But they weren't the right one either; for this particular case it's the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner 1300 363 992, also (not advertised) 02 9284 9666.

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? Acquiesce?


Friday, 4 November 2016 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 4 November 2016
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Eureka Village again
Topic: general Link here

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.


Old Datamation humour
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

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.


Saturday, 5 November 2016 Dereel → Melbourne → Dereel Images for 5 November 2016
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Sasha qualifies
Topic: animals Link here

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.

 
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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:

 
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Victoria Market again
Topic: food and drink Link here

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.


Do I need a Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Finally the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is available for pre-order—at a price well over double what I paid for its predecessor. 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:

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.


Sunday, 6 November 2016 Dereel Images for 6 November 2016
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Lunch with the neighbours
Topic: food and drink, general Link here

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).


Rebuilding Melbourne
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Only yesterday I was commenting about the horrible traffic flow in Melbourne. It's definitely not the town I grew up in nearly 60 years ago. And today I found this page, which appears to agree.


Monday, 7 November 2016 Dereel Images for 7 November 2016
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More sausages
Topic: food and drink Link here

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.


More gardening
Topic: gardening Link here

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 tree:

 
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