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October 2021
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Friday, 1 October 2021 Dereel Images for 1 October 2021
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More backup disk problems
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Into the office this morning to find last night's backup of eureka still running. That's not really surprising; it was only a level 2 dump, but since there was nothing else on the disk, it might as well have been a level 0 dump.

But something still didn't ring true. Looking at the log file, I found:

Sep 30 15:30:16 eureka kernel: ugen0.11: <Western Digital> at usbus0
Sep 30 15:30:16 eureka kernel: umass0: <Western Digital My Passport 2627, class 0/0, rev 2.10/40.08, addr 23> on usbus0
Sep 30 15:30:16 eureka kernel: umass0:  SCSI over Bulk-Only; quirks = 0xc001
Sep 30 15:30:16 eureka kernel: umass0:3:0:-1: Attached to scbus3
Sep 30 15:30:16 eureka kernel: da0 at umass-sim0 bus 0 scbus3 target 0 lun 0
Sep 30 15:30:16 eureka kernel: da0: <WD My Passport 2627 4008> Fixed Direct Access SPC-4 SCSI device
Sep 30 15:30:16 eureka kernel: da0: Serial Number 575856324537304557343143
Sep 30 15:30:16 eureka kernel: da0: 40.000MB/s transfers
Sep 30 15:30:16 eureka kernel: da0: 3815415MB (7813969920 512 byte sectors: 255H 63S/T 486397C)
Sep 30 15:30:16 eureka kernel: da0: quirks=0x2<NO_6_BYTE>
Sep 30 15:30:16 eureka kernel: ses1 at umass-sim0 bus 0 scbus3 target 0 lun 1
Sep 30 15:30:16 eureka kernel: ses1: <WD SES Device 4008> Fixed Enclosure Services SPC-4 SCSI device
Sep 30 15:30:16 eureka kernel: ses1: Serial Number 575856324537304557343143
Sep 30 15:30:16 eureka kernel: ses1: 40.000MB/s transfers
Sep 30 15:30:16 eureka kernel: ses1: SCSI-3 ENC Device

40 MB/s? That's USB 2! Surely this thing can do USB 3! Put in the old hub again, and it too came up with 40 MB/s. A couple of power cycles, though, and I had:

Oct  1 17:11:50 eureka kernel: da0: >WD My Passport 2627 4008> Fixed Direct Access SPC-4 SCSI device
Oct  1 17:11:50 eureka kernel: da0: Serial Number 575856324537304557343143
Oct  1 17:11:50 eureka kernel: da0: 400.000MB/s transfers
Oct  1 17:11:50 eureka kernel: da0: 3815415MB (7813969920 512 byte sectors: 255H 63S/T 486397C)

But backing up wasn't quite the unmitigated joy I was hoping for. I heard a click that proved to be coming from the disk. And no data transfer. The log file told me:

Oct  1 17:22:17 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): WRITE(10). CDB: 2a 00 00 00 01 a8 00 00 40 00
Oct  1 17:22:17 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): CAM status: CCB request completed with an error
Oct  1 17:22:17 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): Retrying command
Oct  1 17:22:24 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): WRITE(10). CDB: 2a 00 00 00 01 a8 00 00 40 00
Oct  1 17:22:24 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): CAM status: SCSI Status Error
Oct  1 17:22:24 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): SCSI status: Check Condition
Oct  1 17:22:24 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): SCSI sense: NOT READY asc:4,1 (Logical unit is in process of becoming ready)
Oct  1 17:22:24 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): Polling device for readiness
...
Oct  1 17:22:32 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): Error 16, Retries exhausted
Oct  1 17:22:32 eureka kernel: g_vfs_done():da0p1[WRITE(offset=196608, length=32768)]error = 16
...
Oct  1 17:25:06 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): SCSI sense: NOT READY asc:4,1 (Logical unit is in process of becoming ready)
Oct  1 17:25:06 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): Error 16, Retries exhausted
Oct  1 17:25:06 eureka kernel: g_vfs_done():da0p1[READ(offset=294912, length=4096)]error = 16
Oct  1 17:25:10 eureka kernel: ugen0.11: <Western Digital> at usbus0 (disconnected)
Oct  1 17:25:10 eureka kernel: umass0: at uhub10, port 4, addr 25 (disconnected)
Oct  1 17:25:10 eureka kernel: da0 at umass-sim0 bus 0 scbus3 target 0 lun 0
Oct  1 17:25:10 eureka kernel: da0: <WD My Passport 2627 4008> s/n 575856324537304557343143 detached
Oct  1 17:25:10 eureka kernel: ses1 at umass-sim0 bus 0 scbus3 target 0 lun 1
Oct  1 17:25:10 eureka kernel: ses1: <WD SES Device 4008> s/n 575856324537304557343143 detached
Oct  1 17:25:10 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): Periph destroyed
Oct  1 17:25:10 eureka kernel: (ses1:umass-sim0:0:0:1): Periph destroyed

During this period I tried in vain to umount the drive:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/4) ~ 157 -> umount /backups/
^C^C
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/4) ~ 158 -> mount /backups/
mount: /dev/da0p1: Device busy
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/4) ~ 159 -> umount -f /backups/
umount: unmount of /backups failed: Device busy
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/4) ~ 160 ->

Plugged it in to a motherboard slot, and sure enough, it was recognized as a 400 MB/s device immediately.

So what's the problem? The new USB hub? Then I wouldn't have had the trouble with the old one. It's also clearly not the disk, since it's brand new, and I had the same issue with the old one. Were the disks always connecting at 40 MB/s? I would have noticed that. And on checking, yes, the weekly backup disks used to probe at 400 MB/s.

So we have two defective disks (one new), two defective hubs, two power supplies, all of which gang up on me. But there's something: for some reason the indicator lights no longer show up correctly on the old hub.

OK, whatever it is, it's a reliability issue, and today's the Big Day with the level 0 dumps. Left the new disk connected to the motherboard and disabled dumps on the other machines (to a different disk, but also on the same hub) until I can get more clarity.


Lena cooling down
Topic: animals Link here

It's no clear why, but it seems that Lena likes to cool her legs:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211001/big/Lena-in-trough-6.jpeg
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Rainfall and consequences
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

While doing something in the office, discovered that I could no longer communicate with lagoon or teevee. Network problems? No issues with dereel, in the same room. The others are connected by a second switch in the pantry.

In to take a look. All lights out. That's an old switch, so it's understandable that it should have died. But looking further, the microwave oven was also off. Power fail!

Into the garage. Yes, the breaker had tripped. And it stayed tripped. Lots of paniced searching for the culprit, but finally found what should have occurred to me earlier: the drainage pump for surface water in front of the house. The area looked correspondingly undrained (we had had over 13 mm of rain):


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I've seen that before, though not so suddenly. And that was the reason why I replaced the el-cheapo ALDI pump with a not-quite-so-el-cheapo Ozito from Bunnings less than 18 months ago.

Last time Mick Solly did the work, but he's no longer there, and the thought of replacing the pump myself filled me with horror. Finally Yvonne persuaded me to call up UPI, a very good idea. They sent out Tom with a choice of pumps, including one with a fixed arm float that sounds better than what we had. He had his fun, of course:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211001/big/Failed-pump-4.jpeg
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But in less than two hours the pump had been replaced. Thank God for that! All over bar the invoice.


A nation of specialists
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Apart from replacing the pump, I had another plumbing job that needed doing: replace the mixer tap in the kitchen. It's pretty trivial, but it requires going under the sink and applying tools. Surely Tom from UPI can do it.

No, sorry, I'm an exterior irrigation man, not a plumber.

Sometimes I think that everybody's getting just too specialized.


Saturday, 2 October 2021 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 2 October 2021
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Dog training again
Topic: animals Link here

Off to Ballarat for dog training this morning.


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Lena is doing better lately; she's far less timid than she used to be. But she ran out of steam about about 30 minutes, and could no longer concentrate.

Also weighed the dogs again: Larissa 26.0 kg, Lena 27.6 kg. Lara is catching up with Lena, and it's visible.


Still more backup pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Somehow I've run out of explanations for why I'm having so much trouble with my backup disks. Into the office this morning to find that the backup on the new disk had (just) finished, successfully. So had the photo backup, which I had forgotten to disable.

But that was still at SCSI-2 speeds (40 MB/s). What do I do? First, play it safe: connect all the standard backup disks to the motherboard. Well, almost all: one of the issues is that the motherboard only has 4 USB-3 ports (I think), while I have at least 6 disks, and my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II also connects via USB-3.

So: connect the four most important disks to the motherboard and wonder, once again, what could have gone wrong. There are a number of potential explanations, none of them satisfactory:

  1. The power supply for the hub is defective.

    That was a possibility I considered early on, but it happened with both power supplies.

  2. The new USB hub is defective. Certainly I have never been able to get it to negotiate a USB-3 connection, although it was sold to me as such.

    Problem: I now have issues with the old hub as well.

  3. The new disk has damaged the hubs. Arguably that's possible: it's a 2½" disk and it draws its power from the hub.

    But how likely is the damage to take that form? And unless the disk itself is damaged and draws much more power than it should, it's highly unlikely. And the problems started with the new hub and the old disk, which is a 5¼" drive with separate power.

So far everything points to the new hub, except for the fact that the old hub is now also misbehaving. At the very least I should return the new hub.


More meal experiments
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Satuday evening “special” dinner tonight. Yvonne had bought a couple of “scallop and champagne gratin”. Put in the hair dryer air fryer and cook. How long? They're too polite to assume that you don't have an oven, and in the oven (fan-forced) they wanted 20 minutes at 180°. Decided on 15 minutes at 180° in the air fryer, which was more or less acceptable, modulo air-fryer specific uneven browning:


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Admire the layout of the first one. I had intended to try to fix it, but forgot.

They tasted OK. Coquilles St Jacques in béchamel. Oh. After looking at the package later, it seems that we forgot that they should have tasted of champagne. There's certainly no reason to think so. And apart from the fact that béchamel is relatively time-consuming, there's no reason why we shouldn't make something like that ourselves. Still, at least we have two more (real) shells.

And then brochettes de rognons, which I suppose we should call kidney kebabs:


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Nothing very special there, just the cooking time. Kidneys tend to become very wet when grilling, so I gave them 20 minutes at 200°. They weren't wet, and they weren't tough, but I think they could have got by with 15 minutes.

More to the point, though, was the taste. They didn't taste much like kidneys. Maybe the alternative rognons en casserole would have been better.

It wasn't until later that I realized that I had forgotten to look at my air fryer cooking times list. It wouldn't have helped: I had specified 20 minutes at 210°. And there's also rognons en brochette, which we should have seen before we started.


Sunday, 3 October 2021 Dereel Images for 3 October 2021
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DST again
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Daylight Saving Time started today. It's worth keeping track of everything I need to do:


Prawns and squid revisited
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Prawns and squid for dinner today, somewhat hampered by the lack of some of the ingredients (oyster mushrooms and choi sam for example). But we had these old jars of “stir fry” ingredients:


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Clearly we used the “mushroom mix”, but in fact there was little to tell between the two. It contained carrots and some other vegetables. Here's the contents of the jar (189 g after draining) after processing:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211003/big/Prawns-and-squid-1.jpeg
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One of the problems in frying squid is that it normally gives off a lot of liquid, and by the time it's cooked, it's tough. It needs to be done very hot—just the job for an induction cooker with “boost” function, here 3.7 kW:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211003/big/Prawns-and-squid-5.jpeg
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And yes, it did taste better that way. Now if only this appalling range hood had been able to extract the smoke.


Monday, 4 October 2021 Dereel Images for 4 October 2021
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Advice for surviving the pandemic
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Seen on Quora today:

http://www.lemis.com/grog/Day/20211004/main-qimg-1862f7ec7fa5e86964b229b5dbf3ca72.jpeg

The print quality gives it away: this was advice for people during the Spanish flu pandemic 100 years ago.

Some people never learn.


Bankwest: look out!
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Finally got all my documents together to send to Bankwest for my new credit card application. Sent it off and got a “successfully delivered” DSN message, marginally interesting because it took nearly a minute to arrive.

But there are more minutes. After fully 2 minutes, 10 seconds, I received:

From MAILER-DAEMON  Mon Oct  4 16:25:35 2021
To: groggyhimself@lemis.com
From: Mail Delivery System <MAILER-DAEMON@mx7.bankwest.com.au>
Date: 04 Oct 2021 13:24:31 +0800
Subject: Delivery Status Notification (Failure)

The following message to <cards.processing@bankwest.com.au> was undeliverable.
The reason for the problem:
5.1.0 - Unknown address error 550-'5.4.1 Recipient address rejected: Access denied. AS(201806281) [ME3AUS01FT009.eop-AUS01.prod.protection.outlook.com]'

That looks familiar. I had noted exactly the same problem earlier last month. The common denominator is the subdomain protection.outlook.com, and last month I had come to the conclusion that it is outlook.com's way of saying “recipient does not exist”.

But is that correct? If so, it's serious: that was the address I had been asked to send to. I had already run into computer trouble when I applied, but if they're really that incompetent, do I want to have anything to do with them? Sent off a message to postmaster@bankwest.com.au and the sender address of the request, both of which were accepted (according to outlook.com), and both of which generated no response.

I won't try any longer. Life's too short to get involved with this kind of pain.


Tuesday, 5 October 2021 Dereel → Geelong → Dereel
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Still more tortilla fun
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Huevos rancheros for breakfast again today, and yet another case of guessing the quantity of water for this horrible El Maizal masa harina. Today I used 1:1.5, but it was still quite moist. So at least until the end of this packet, it's back to 1:1.45.


More Google Maps fun
Topic: technology, opinion, health Link here

To Geelong today for my 6-monthly periodontics checkup. Nothing much of interest there, but of course it was another chance to play around with using hirse, my mobile phone, along with Google Maps, as a navigator

First issue: find the periodontist. They have a free parking space round the back, and the location is very different from their address:

I can enter that on a computer, but how do I do it on a phone? Off to ask Google, and came up with give a place a private label. Simple:

  1. Open Google Maps.
  2. Search for a place or address.
  3. Choose Add a label.

Simple, isn't it? But where is “Add a label”? Nowhere to be seen, and no help offered. It goes on to say “Tip: You need Web & App Activity turned on to give a place a label”. OK, do that. Oh. No, it was on already. Somehow this “help” makes too many assumptions. And frustratingly, when I tried it after returning, there was an “Add a label” selection, only I couldn't tell it the location to which the label should be added.

I found one example while looking for the Web & App Activity:

You can disable Location Sharing from this page, but you can only start sharing your location from your mobile device. Location Sharing works across Google apps and services, including Google Maps and Family Link.

Now isn't that clever? You can only use the device with the most difficult user interface!

I didn't find how to do it, neither before leaving nor when I got there. A couple of months back I was able to tell Google Maps on my phone that I was at Pene Kirk's place, but I didn't recall what I said, and nothing I tried today helped.

From there I wanted to go to the Gourmet Asian Grocery (really Malaysian). “OK, Google, take me to the Gourmet Asian Grocery”. “Sure, let's go”. And it showed an itinerary overview that was clearly incorrect. No idea where it wanted to take me, and the next time I tried it was correct.

Google Maps has been around for decades. It has improved slightly in that time, and like the curate's egg, parts of it are excellent. But why is the rest so hard to use?


New chili sauce
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

One of the things that are surprisingly hard to find is good chili sauce. For some dishes, notably huevos rancheros, I like a bit of chili sauce on the side. Not quite genuine Mexican, of course (the “correct” way to do it is with a pico de gallo), but I like it like that.

But which one? The prototypical Malaysian/Indonesia sauce is sambal ulek, still almost universally spelt “sambal oelek”, the old pre-1972 Indonesian spelling, even in Malaysia. Interestingly, the one I have been using comes from the USA:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211006/big/Huy-Fong-Sambal-Oelek.jpeg
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And it's too pedas (“hot” or “spicy”) for my taste. Fine for cooking, but a teaspoonful would be rather unpleasant.

Today I bought a couple of potential contenders, here with some stuff that I bought from ALDI some time ago:


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How are they? I've graded them in order of increasing pedasness. As the name suggests, the sambal nasi lemak is for nasi lemak. It's relatively mild, but has a strong belacan component that makes it less general-purpose.

The Lee Kum Kee claims to be “medium hot” and to be suitable as a condiment:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211006/big/Lee-Kum-Kee.jpeg
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That seems reasonable, and it's probably the best of the bunch.

The “Thai” “Chili Jam” (made in Malaysia) is intended for cooking, but it's not that bad as a condiment. The “Nonya” (should be “Nyonya”) is far too hot. I might be able to use it for cooking.

And which is best for huevos rancheros? I'll find out next Tuesday, when we eat it again.


Wednesday, 6 October 2021 Dereel Images for 6 October 2021
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Spring progress
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Walking the dogs, saw this bush again:


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We had seen it three weeks ago:


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Yvonne had uprooted a seedling, which I was sure wouldn't survive. But yes, it seems to be doing well, and the parent trees are flowering much better than three weeks ago. What is it? It seems to self-seed willingly. I can't recall seeing it last year; is it newer than that?


Centrelink security: where?
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Voicemail and mail from Steven Garnett of Bankwest today, asking, as I feared, for more information from Centrelink. OK, nothing for it: sign in to this horrible mygov and select “Centrelink”.

We could not connect to the service. Please contact us for help. (RFM51)

That sounds right. They can never get anything right. OK, try with different browser. Same thing. Where's the help link? There isn't one. What does Google say? It found a tweet:

RFM51 code refers to server issues, unlink your Centrelink account and relink it again.

That sounds right. But unlinking sounds extreme. OK, look through the “contact us” pages. First it needs to know which of its preconceived categories apply; never mind that I had a very specific one, and the linking page should have provided that information: there was nothing appropriate. Worked my way through multiple levels of various social services, many of which wanted me to sign in before they would consider giving help. Finally I found one that seemed to apply: complaints, 1800-132-468.

But I wasn't done. First I was connected to a voice non-recognition service that wanted to know my Customer Registration Number. What's that? It's on every piece of correspondence that I received from them. Ah, in print they spell it “Reference”. Read it out. Silence, then “I don't recognize that”. Three times, then it offered me a # key which ultimately connected me to a real live person who was, in fact, quite solicitous and helpful. I think her name was Leeann.

She took down my immediate complaints:

She took all that down and then checked my account. It seems that at 9:22 on 23 September their internal fraud checks determined that somebody had accessed my account to perform some kind of financial transaction to an account to which I had no access. Details, please? Sorry, that would be a security breach.

OK, it's not Leeann's fault, but there's something very wrong here. Somebody has been tampering with my account, and Centrelink has detected it, but it won't give me any information about it. They didn't even inform me! In fact, I had received a dead tree letter this morning telling me

Our records show that you successfully registered for Centrelink self service on 22 September 2021 at 16:01 - Canberra time.

Savour that “Canberra time”. That's one of the time zones keeping Australian Eastern Standard Time, same as here. And that was round the time I put in my initial application for the Bankwest credit card, which involved me in identifying myself with driver license and Medicare details, and I had thought no more of it.

But that's not the end of it: on 24 September they had performed a transfer to this incorrect account, although they had identified it as fraudulent the day before. As a result, my normal pension payment due on 29 September was only $181.60 instead of $434.04. Leeann thought that the difference might be some advance that had been requested on 23 September.

OK, $250 is a fair amount of money, but it won't kill me. What do I need to do? Leeann wasn't able to access the account, which is locked—in itself a good idea—but it is locked in the state that means that from now on I only get $181: I lose $250 every two weeks. I have to go into a Centrelink office with photo ID to reenable the account. At some level that makes sense, but what a pain!

So what's wrong with this picture?

OK, what do I do with Bankwest? Their computer system is really dubious, and the fact that they outsource their email to outlook.com suggests that there could be security issues. On one hand, it's not clear how the information that I provided could be used to compromise my Centrelink account, but the timing of the initial access is a smoking gun. Clearly Bankwest didn't do it themselves, but it's easy to come to the conclusion that their lax security enabled the attack. Sent a message to Steve describing the issue and asking him:

I ask you to forward this message to your security team, if you have one, and to ensure that they investigate the matter and give me a plausible description of what has happened, or, as I expect, why they don't believe that it has anything to do with Bankwest. In particular such a report should address and explain the involvement of outlook.com, and also describe in some detail the path taken by my application from web site to your bank's (hopefully secure) storage.

You will understand that my application is currently on hold. Even before today, I was getting the feeling that it might not be such a good idea. But apart from that, as a result of this issue, I have no way of getting the information that you request.

And of course the cards.processing@bankwest.com.au address bounced again after I received positive deliver confirmation.


Thursday, 7 October 2021 Dereel Images for 7 October 2021
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Returning the USB hub
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I started a return for the malfunctioning USB hub yesterday, and got an interesting message from the seller:

Dear friend. We are so sorry. We specially consulted the manufacturer and their feedback is as follows. The product has four ports and seven ports. There is only one 3.0 interface for the four ports, and 2.0 for the others. The seven ports have four 3.0 interfaces, and the other is 2.0. There is no problem with your product. How we refund you half,and you close the dispute?Thank you very much for your understanding.

At the very least that's not what they advertised. Is it even correct? My guess is that they have misinterpreted their own advertising: “4/7 Port USB 3.0 HUB”. But that's because they sell two different versions, one with 4 and one with 7 ports. There's no reason to believe that the ports are different, and there's certainly nothing in their message or on the device to say which ports are allegedly 2.0. So back it goes.

The real question, though, is: what do I do now? This design appears to be the only game in town, and I've had trouble with them. The first one (4 ports) was what I got when I ordered a 7 port hub. They weren't able to replace it, so it was refunded, and I kept it. The second one was never shipped. And this one doesn't work reliably.


Another orchid
Topic: gardening Link here

A rather unexpected find in the forest south of Bliss Road while walking the dogs together:


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The (dead) fern fronds in the first image show how small it is, only about 1 cm across. Clearly it's an orchid, but what kind? I had “mosquito orchid“ in my mind, but that's clearly not the case.

Now where did I put that book about local wildflowers?


New branch managers
Topic: animals Link here

Lena and (especially) Larissa have started playing with branches:


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Other dogs before them have done that, usually at a considerably younger age. And Lena isn't really interested in carrying them, only stealing them from Lara.


Bankwest: what now?
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

No response from Bankwest to my letter asking for investigation of their part in my Centrelink breach yesterday. I know that the mail gets through, so my best guess is “not my problem”.

And why can't I send mail to cards.processing@bankwest.com.au? It appears to be handled by outlook.com, clearly a Microsoft space company. Can it be that they're too polite to handle mail from systems like mine? It would be worth checking with a mainstream MUA/MTA. How about Gmail?

So I sent off a message to them, fully expecting it to be delivered. No:

Date: 07 Oct 2021 10:13:03 +0800
From: Mail Delivery System <MAILER-DAEMON@mx7.bankwest.com.au>
To: groggyhimself@gmail.com
Subject: Delivery Status Notification (Failure)
Message-Id: <b14c0a$95o8fv@SHP01MAILGW02.rtdomau.local>

[-- Attachment #1 --]
[-- Type: text/plain, Encoding: quoted-printable, Size: 0.3K --]

The following message to <cards.processing@bankwest.com.au> was undeliverable.
The reason for the problem:
5.1.0 - Unknown address error 550-'5.4.1 Recipient address rejected: Access denied. AS(201806281) [SY4AUS01FT020.eop-AUS01.prod.protection.outlook.com]'

[-- Attachment #2 --]
[-- Type: message/delivery-status, Encoding: 7bit, Size: 0.4K --]

Reporting-MTA: dns; mx7.bankwest.com.au

Final-Recipient: rfc822;cards.processing@bankwest.com.au
Action: failed
Status: 5.0.0 (permanent failure)
Remote-MTA: dns; [104.47.71.138]
Diagnostic-Code: smtp; 5.1.0 - Unknown address error 550-'5.4.1 Recipient address rejected: Access denied. AS(201806281) [SY4AUS01FT020.eop-AUS01.prod.protection.outlook.com]' (delivery
+attempts: 0)

[-- Attachment #3 --]
[-- Type: message/rfc822, Encoding: 7bit, Size: 6.8K --]

Date: Thu, 7 Oct 2021 13:12:36 +1100
From: Greg Lehey <groggyhimself@gmail.com>
To: cards.processing@bankwest.com.au
Subject: Does this account exist?
Message-ID: <CAMMRsgQYRfBOLwrgkpY-R+3q4Zc88zX1276UbFkLDPgON2i60A@mail.gmail.com>

So they are really asking for replies to an address that doesn't exist, even after my report. Clearly they're not a company for me. Now I just want to know whether and to what extent they are responsible for the breach of my Centrelink account.


POP3S again
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I really need to sort out email for Jerry Dunham. Last week I ran into inexplicable problems with “mail loops back to myself”. OK, I can compare that with narrawin.com, which I also handle. And that delivers fine to any address no in virtual. OK, try again with dunham.org. It works!

What went wrong? I'm not sure. About the only thing I noticed was that the main.cf buffer hadn't been saved when I started today. But it can't have been that: I did a number of changes last week.

But that was simply POP3, with no encryption. The next problem: set up POP3S. How do you do that? I've done it, but it was over 10 years ago, and since then I have changed the server, so the configuration isn't there. Off to Google for qpopper ssl, and struck paydirt almost immediately: the 4th hit was Greg's setting up qpopper on FreeBSD. Clearly it was painful enough at the time (July 2008) that I wrote down all the details.

All? Well, no, I still need to read between the lines. I still have all the certificates that I created at the time, but I have long since forgotten the pass phrases. Another “too difficult” for today.


Daily news from ABC
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

I receive daily news email from Channel 9, a commercial TV broadcaster and, I think, allied with Microsoft. Not my natural choice of news information, but they have the advantage of good presentation, sort of.

Others thought that I should take the national broadcaster, ABC. But somehow their web presence irritates me. They have chosen the domain name abc.net.au, which would suggest that they're an ISP or some such. It wasn't for lack of access to abc.com.au: they have that too, but it redirects to abc.net.au.

Then, like almost all broadcasters, they have video content online (German „Mediathek“). But unlike almost all broadcasters, it's only in low definition, and access is painful. As a result I don't watch it.

But maybe a daily newsletter would be a good idea. OK, I have an account. Log in:

 
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That's my saved password. Or it was. They have decided that, in the interests of security, they should limit the number of tries you need for a brute force attack. Clever!

OK, send me a password reset link:

 
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No email. I should have checked not only my email, but also the message: “If you have an active account...”. Well how can I know, if you go and change things without telling me?

No, they had gone and deleted my account without as much as a by your leave. OK, sign up again with a more insulting but acceptable password, in the process being asked not only for my post code, but also the exact locality. So that they can give me information tailored to my location? Chose the locality under the cursor (Lal Lal, as it happens) and was presented with a weather forecast for Melbourne. I suppose it's better than Darwin.

Signed up for the twice daily newsletter. The first one arrived shortly later, but that was the last I saw of it. What happened this time? At least they're confirming my opinion of them.


Friday, 8 October 2021 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 8 October 2021
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Yet another battery recalibration
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

I had gradually become used to the monthly battery recalibration that I have had since March last year, but lately things haven't been quite like that. The last record I have of a recalibration was two months ago, and out of the monthly sequence. Then yesterday evening we had another, starting at 22:43 and going on until 3:08. Again it just charged to 100% and then stopped.


KL Hokkien Mee, more authentic?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

KL Hokkien mee is interesting because of the dark colour:


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That's caused by a considerable quantity of dark soya sauce. Or is it? The Nyonya cooking recipe says:

An authentic plate of KL Hokkien mee uses a specific black sauce labeled as ‘thick caramel soy sauce’. It is no surprise that this soy sauce is mistaken as the sweet soy sauce (kicap manis) which is popularized by Indonesian cuisine. In actual fact, this thick dark soy sauce is not at all sweet but has a subtle saltiness to it. It is meant to add some colour to dishes.

When I was in Geelong on Tuesday, I asked for KL caramel soya sauce, but all I got was this:


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That's not soya, just caramel. But it's made in Petaling Jaya, close enough to KL to be authentic. How about giving it a try?

It's much darker and thicker in appearance than normal dark soya sauce:


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As a result, I used less; instead of the 25 g of dark soya sauce and 5 g of light soya sauce that I had been using, I tried 15 g of each. Surprise! It wasn't dark enough:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211008/big/KL-Hokkien-mee-2.jpeg
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But we seem to be getting there. Sadly, the taste wasn't significantly different, but despite the increased amount of light soya sauce, it wasn't as salty as last time.


Visiting Centrelink
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Finally took up the courage (and two big books) to go to Centrelink in Ballarat to sort out my pension fund breakin. Was it worth trying to get an appointment? No, no indication that that would help, and the fact that Wednesday's letter didn't include a phone number speaks for itself.

On the way out of the property, picked up the mail. Another letter from Centrelink, confirming that I had cancelled my nominee agreement with PPT (which they spelt Ppt). What other nonsense has been done with my account?

At Centrelink I had the usual questions about COVID-19, and then was directed to a counter where a badly masked receptionist called me George Lehey and asked if I had an appointment. Appointment? If only! But it seems that it's now normal practice. And he was able to find me an appointment at 12:15—in 10 minutes' time. Sat down and read the two letters carefully, in the process coming across this gem:


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Surely that phone number is wrong. The first thing that I noticed was that it started with 62. That's Canberra, as the rest of the text confirmed. But the area code is 02, not 03. So this incorrect phone number has been printed on probably hundreds of thousands of letters, and nobody has noticed enough to correct it.

I had only just finished reading the letters when Tracy called my appointment. That's really a much better situation than I was used to.

Tracy was much more forthcoming than Leeann on the phone, maybe because I had identified myself (brief glance at my driver license). And clearly it was an issue that she wasn't used to: she disappeared for nearly 10 minutes to talk to a “team leader”, returning only when I finally opened one of the books I brought with me. It seems that whoever broke in to my account accessed it from Mygov. He reset the PPT nominee agreement, but allowed Yvonne access to my account. My guess is that these were the default values that he set when changing the account details.

The important part was that he transferred an advance of $760 and an “urgent payment” of $200, a total of $960, to an account at Cuscal, an online bank, and even gave me the account number. Easy to get it back? No, it would be anonymous, but the fraud people would get on to it.

She decided that she wouldn't unlock my account—the actual reason that I had come in—but on reflection, that's probably right. Until we know how the intruder got to the account, we can't be sure that he can't still get in. I suspect that he won't; there are many other fish in the sea, accounts that Centrelink isn't monitoring as closely. But I don't know when I last accessed my Centrelink account online. From my diary entries, it wasn't in the last 4 years.

So how did he gain access without me receiving a PIN for the request? It seems that you can set up more than one mygov account for yourself! All you need is two documents to identify yourself, for example a driver license and a Medicare number—exactly what I supplied to Bankwest exactly at the time that the breach occurred. The smoking gun is getting hotter.

So what do I do? A police report is a good thing, said Tracy. I was half way to the police station (100 m to the south) when I decided that it would be good to first get my documentation together. Also, of course, I had to take a new nominee agreement form round the corner to PPT (100 m to the west).

In the afternoon, Steven Garnett replied to the urgent email I had sent two days ago:

Date: Fri, 8 Oct 2021 14:39:02 +0800
From: cpsout@bankwest.com.au
To: groggyhimself@lemis.com
Subject: Ref No: 12574008
Reply-To: cards.processing@bankwest.com.au

I just wanted to clarify with you that the email address for documents to be
sent to us is cards@bankwest.com.au

The request to send documents to this address is on the email we sent out.  The cards processing address is not a valid email address so would you have received an error if you had selected "reply to email" on your lap top. I understand our email does state that it is a no reply email address.

Unfortunely I can not speak for your Centrelink/my gov issue, but I can forward your email onto the relevant department to investigage if there is any issue.

In other words: it's broken, and they don't even understand that it's broken. His message (and the others that he sent) include a specific Reply-To: cards.processing@bankwest.com.au, and most certainly neither information that it's a no-reply address (and if so, why the Reply-To:?) nor a reference to cards@bankwest.com.au. And my request to get the security team involved seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

So: who is to blame, and why? Here my current guess:

  1. Bankwest, for broken computer infrastructure and probably enabling my authentication details to be compromised.
  2. Mygov, for allowing duplicate accounts to be set up. Their “security” also seems to be lacking, something that I have ranted about years ago.
  3. Centrelink, for not informing me immediately (what use is the email address I gave them, and why does it take them 16 days to get a paper letter to me?). Also for not having provisions in place to verify that the account to which they are transferring funds is kept in my name, and to stop transfers under way when they detect fraud. Any of these three provisions could have stopped the breach.

In passing, it's interesting to note how many people at Centrelink were either not wearing a mask or not wearing it correctly. You'd think that a bureaucracy would pay more attention to that sort of thing.


POP3S revisited
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

The problem with my Greg's setting up qpopper on FreeBSD page was at least that I had forgotten to write down the pass phrases for the certificates; I still had the certificates that I made at the time.

But where do I need the certificates? There's nothing in that document to suggest that I will ever need them again. OK, the configuration files are straightforward enough, so why not give it a try? Updated the files and got as far as testing. According to the page, I should get:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/ttypj) ~ 90 -> openssl s_client -connect dereel.lemis.com:995
CONNECTED(00000003)
depth=0 /C=AU/ST=VIC/L=Dereel/O=LEMIS (SA) Pty Ltd/OU=Messaging/CN=www.lemis.com...
verify error:num=20:unable to get local issuer certificate
...

But what I saw was:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/7) ~ 87 -> openssl s_client -connect lax.lemis.com:995
CONNECTED(00000003)
34379280744:error:140770FC:SSL routines:SSL23_GET_SERVER_HELLO:unknown protocol:/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/10/secure/lib/libssl/../../../crypto/openssl/ssl/s23_clnt.c:782:
---
no peer certificate available
---
No client certificate CA names sent
---
SSL handshake has read 7 bytes and written 297 bytes
---
New, (NONE), Cipher is (NONE)
Secure Renegotiation IS NOT supported
Compression: NONE
Expansion: NONE
---

Huh? What's that? That's exactly the kind of problem I feared. Did I get anything on the server side? Yes!

Oct  8 05:11:17 lax qpopper[81416]: Config file /usr/local/etc/qpopper/qpopper.config line 13 too long

How about that. A bug in qpopper: if you don't terminate the last line of the config file, it gets confused and doesn't apply it. The answer was as simple as adding a \\n to the file. After that everything was OK.

Well, almost:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/7) ~ 92 -> fetchmail
fetchmail: Connection errors for this poll:
name 0: connection to lax.lemis.com:imaps [45.32.70.18/993] failed: Connection refused.
IMAP connection to lax.lemis.com failed: Connection refused
fetchmail: Server certificate verification error: unable to get local issuer certificate
fetchmail: Broken certification chain at: /C=AU/ST=VIC/L=Dereel/O=LEMIS (SA) Pty Ltd/OU=Certificate Authority/CN=www.lemis.com/emailAddress=grog@lemis.com
fetchmail: This could mean that the server did not provide the intermediate CA's certificate(s), which is nothing fetchmail could do anything about.  For details, please see the README.SSL-SERVER document that ships with fetchmail.
fetchmail: This could mean that the root CA's signing certificate is not in the trusted CA certificate location, or that c_rehash needs to be run on the certificate directory. For details, please see the documentation of --sslcertpath and --sslcertfile in the manual page.
fetchmail: Server certificate verification error: certificate not trusted
fetchmail: Server certificate verification error: unable to verify the first certificate
fetchmail: Warning: the connection is insecure, continuing anyways. (Better use --sslcertck!)
1 message for grog at lax.lemis.com (698 octets).
reading message grog@lax.lemis.com:1 of 1 (698 octets) flushed

Again, one of these things requiring thought. The IMAP messages are spurious; I don't want IMAP, and I don't have it. But the rest seems to be some issue of trust, and I don't know what I've omitted.

The real thing, though, is the last two lines: it works! And arguably it doesn't create more error messages than a smoothly running firefox.


Another abandoned USB hub
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

The seller of the USB hub that I have been trying to return has accepted the inevitable and refunded the price. So far he hasn't asked for the thing back. That's the second time this has happened with this kind of hub. I wonder what rate of return they get.


Saturday, 9 October 2021 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 9 October 2021
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Teans Mi Udang
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

It's been over 3 years since I last ate Teans Gourmet “Mi Udang” (prawn noodles):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211009/big/Mi-udang-1.jpeg
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In fact, it was only 6 months. But on each occasion I complained about how pedas it is, and sadly that hasn't changed.

They seem to have changed their recipe since last time: add sachet to 1.6 l water (used to be 1.5). In the end I made up to 1.6 l, which seemed good enough, but as on previous occasions it was far too pedas. I think I should freeze the portions and scrape off the oil, which will have most of the chili in it.


Dog training again
Topic: animals Link here

Into Ballarat for our penultimate dog training session. Somehow things didn't go overly smoothly, not helped by a particularly frightened dog who had been in the training area before we went in there. Our dogs were not overly focused.

Weights today: Larissa 26.2 kg, Lena 28.4 kg. That's only 200 g more than last week for Lara. I wonder if the scales are accurate.


Unhappy plants
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Three weeks ago I moved the Murraya koenigii (curry tree) outside:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210923/big/Murrya-koenigii.jpeg
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It appears to have been a little premature. Now it looks like this:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211009/big/Murraya-koenigii-1.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211009/big/Murraya-koenigii-2.jpeg
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I'm sure that it will survive, but it wasn't my intention to put it to such pain.

And once again the Corymbia ficifolia looks unhappy:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211009/big/Corymbia-ficifolia-1.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211009/big/Corymbia-ficifolia-2.jpeg
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What is it about that position? The damage appears to happen in spring, not in winter.


Sunday, 10 October 2021 Dereel Images for 10 October 2021
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Recovery!
Topic: food and drink, general, opinion Link here

Somehow the last few days have been particularly hectic, as the diary entries show. Today was a day of recovery, and I didn't do much apart from baking bread and washing three dishwasher loads.


Orchid rediscovered
Topic: gardening Link here

I still don't know what Thursday's orchid is, but it's not alone:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211007/big/Orchid-3.jpeg
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The first photo is the one I saw on Thursday, and the other was taken almost exactly 5 years ago. I didn't find out what it was then, either, but there were many others in that area, between the end of Kleins Road and Swanson Road. Clearly it's the time of year; I should go and see what else I can find.


Caramel soya sauce?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

On Friday I pondered the “dark soya sauce” used in KL Hokkien Mee. There's some consensus that it should contain caramel. But while the sauce that I bought contained caramel, there's no indication that it contains anything with soya base.

Googling, I found basically two images: the sauce I bought (first image) and Yuen Chun sauce:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211009/big/Cooking-caramel-1.jpeg
Image title: Cooking caramel 1          Dimensions:          1417 x 4942, 1229 kB
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  http://www.lemis.com/grog/Day/20211010/41MpsIfqfFL._AC_SL1000_.jpg

And those are the only two kinds I could find. And clearly there's confusion. While the heading of this page refers to it as caramel sauce, the description muddies the waters with

Yuen Chun Caramel Sauce is a sweet soy sauce use as marinade in Chinese recipes, ...

My guess is that everybody who calls it soy(a) sauce is similarly confused. Until proof of the contrary, I'll assume that it's just caramel.


ABC news subscription
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Why have I not received any news mail from the ABC subscriptions that I set up on Thursday? Off to take another look.

It's almost impossible to find anything on the site. When I did, it was a completely different page, offering many more newsletters, and claiming that I was subscribed to some of them. OK, select the ones that look interesting, press “Submit”. Nothing. Oh yes, just as I was about to give up:

TypeError: NetworkError when attempting to fetch resource.

That was repeatable. I've seen too many broken web sites lately, so I didn't try again. But then I got an email confirming my subscriptions. Well, some of them, anyway. Try again, this time without error messages. Success, and once again a single email with the evening's news. It seems there should have been more, but let's wait and see.


Tracking the POP3S certification issues
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

In principle my POP3S configuration for qpopper now works, but clearly there's a question of trust with the certificates. Peter Jeremy suggests using Let's encrypt. That sounds like a very good idea, and not for the first time I've made a note to follow up.


Monday, 11 October 2021 Dereel Images for 11 October 2021
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RIP Xandy Stams
Topic: general, health, opinion Link here

Received on the Tandem Alumni mailing list today:

Alexander (Xandy) Stams paassed away on September 11, 2021 due to a
Covid-19 infection (he was not vaccinated).

I worked with Xandy at Tandem ESSG in Frankfurt for much of the 1980s. We were never close, but we had a lot to do with each other: I was the manager of the operating and hardware group of ESSG, and Xandy was the manager of the subsystems group.

Somehow it's sad for a number of reasons: firstly, of course, he's dead. And if he had been vaccinated, he probably wouldn't have been. As it is, he's the first person whom I have known of whom I know that he died of COVID-19. I fear that there are more to come.


COVID certificate
Topic: health, technology, opinion Link here

Gradually we're coming out of SARS-CoV-2 imposed “lockdown”. Well, we're already out of it, but today it was eliminated in all of New South Wales, and the government of Victoria has stated that things will get considerably more relaxed in the next few weeks. A good thing, too: in the past the “lockdowns” have worked well, but they don't seem to have much effect against the “delta variant”: despite the measures, which have been in place for months now, the numbers have continued to climb and have now reached nearly 2,000 infections per day. The only thing that should help is vaccination.

And that seems to be part of the loosening of restrictions. Many facilities are to be made available only for people who are fully vaccinated. Finally something sensible.

But how do you prove your vaccination? With a “digital certificate”, which has nothing to do with digital certificates: I got one two months ago. It's in PDF form, and printed out it looks like this:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210806/big/Vaccination-status-1.gif
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That's because of some damage in the PDF. I found a way to print it out using xpdf, but it's still just a piece of paper, not a digital certificate.

But now I can get the Service Victoria app to display the certificate. That's certainly a good idea. Let's do it!

I failed. Once again I ran into technical problems, including error messages in 1 pt font:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211011/big/Ehealth-1.jpeg
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After going around in circles, I ended up with displays like this:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211011/big/COVID-Certificate-1-detail.jpeg
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After some investigation discovered that the app needed manual updating. But even then I couldn't load the certificate, though Medicare claimed that it was there: now you see it, now you don't.

What a horrible user interface this is. Am I just too stupid to use it?


More blue mystery flowers
Topic: gardening Link here

Walking the dogs a little further afield today, saw this bush in Lorraine Carranza's garden:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211011/big/Mystery-flower-1.jpeg
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It appears to be the same mystery bush that I have looked at on a couple of occasions, most recently earlier this month.


Buddleja out of season
Topic: gardening, photography, opinion Link here

Our Buddleja weyeriana is interesting in that it flowers exactly in the first half of the year, from January to July. Well, that's what they did in the garden. We only have one plant left, and we're coddling it in the lounge room. And almost exactly in the middle of its non-flowering season it's flowering again:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211011/big/Buddleja-8.jpeg
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It's in a good position to get some focus stacked photos. That's something that I haven't done for a while, and I now remember why: really close macros are a pain at the best of time. Focus peaking no longer works reliably, and it's anybody's guess how many images I should take. It took me so long to take the images that I didn't have time to process them. I won't find out if I took enough images until I process them. Oh for a calculator and adjustable strength focus peaking!


Tuesday, 12 October 2021 Dereel Images for 12 October 2021
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Understanding “modern” apps
Topic: health, technology, opinion Link here

Why couldn't I download my “digital certificate” on my mobile phone? Medicare seems to think I have loaded it:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211012/big/Now-you-see-me-detail.jpeg
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But Service Victoria just offers me an(other) opportunity to download it:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211013/big/Service-Victoria.jpeg
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So what's the issue? I have now updated the app, but Service Victoria still asks me to download it. But this time it offers to do it directly, presumably one of the results of updating the app. OK, try again. “Replace the certificate?”. OK, dammit, replace. But I still get offered the same install offer.

FOOL! That stuff at the top of the display is just advertising, and it's not tailored to your situation. Any normal person would intuitively know that you should touch this area at bottom left:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211013/big/Service-Victoria-detail-2.jpeg
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Touch that, and sure enough:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211012/big/Digital-certificate.jpeg
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Now isn't that clever? I could create a “certificate” like that with little difficulty, especially if I have this one to start with. No reference number, nothing to indicate that it's me. Are the authorities really that stupid?


More dog stuff
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Yvonne is much more interested in training our new dogs than I am. Today she tried one of the things we learnt on Saturday: training them not to touch food in front of them until allowed. Now that's easier for borzois than for most dogs, and she had already achieved it years ago with Nemo:


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Today things were somewhat hampered by an interested cat, but she's getting there:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211012/big/Training-Larissa-Lena-13.jpeg
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How are our dogs growing? I've been following their weight (but not their height; that's more difficult) almost since we got them. On Saturday I was marginally concerned because they seem to have put on almost no weight since the week before. But then I found this page, which shows normal ranges of weight against age (in months):

https://cdn.belpatt.fr/graphiques/115-1.png

On Saturday they were not quite 7 months old. According to that chart, their weights should be between 19.5 kg and 29.5 kg. In fact, they weighed 26.2 and 28.4 kg, both above average. If we carry on like that, Larissa will end up weighing about 34 kg and Lena 38.

I've already noted that Lena likes to steal Lara's branches, but she's only interested in the theft, not the item. Today it was a bone (sheep? kangaroo?):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211012/big/Lena-with-bone-4.jpeg
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And again she dropped it as soon as Lara lost interest.

Another strange thing about Lena is how she likes to sit down in puddles:


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Other borzois don't seem to like to sit much at all.


Focus stacked Buddlejas
Topic: photography, gardening, opinion Link here

Got round to processing the two focus stacks of the Buddlejas that I took yesterday. In fact, they weren't too bad:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211011/big/Buddleja-5-PMax.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211011/big/Buddleja-5-PMax-detail.jpeg
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Those individual flowers are about 6 mm across, so the fine detail is in the order of 10 μm. But the real problem is that I didn't take enough shots: the distant parts of the flowers are still out of focus.

What do I do? More shots is one option. Altering the focus step is another. It was set to 2, and I could go up to 10. But how I wish I understood what exactly these things mean. Are they dependent on aperture? According to my observations 5 years ago, yes. I should go back and investigate what I started then in more detail.


Reporting Centrelink security breach
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Despite multiple requests, Bankwest has not responded to my request to get their fraud team involved in the Centrelink fraud case. The place to go is https://reportapp.cyber.gov.au/, which presented me with multiple warnings that it's not suitable for an emergency. They can certainly say that again, and they did:

Due to the complex nature of enquiries undertaken as part of the assessment process, it is not uncommon not to hear from Victoria Police for at least 12 weeks. If there is an immediate threat to life or risk of harm, please call 000.

Fought my way through a form that tried to guess what the problem was, including that money had been taken from my bank account (please specify BSB and account number), but which accepted dummy values, and finally got as far as entering very close to my maximum of 2000 characters without being complete:

On 22 September 2021 between 15:00 and 16:00 I applied for a credit card online with Bankwest. During the process I had to identify myself with driver license number and Medicare number. I had multiple issues with their web application, and followed up with an email, which revealed further issues with their IT infrastructure.

The card application proceeded normally. On 6 October I received paper mail from Centrelink telling my that my account details had been updated on 22 September at 16:01 to allow self-service. I also received mail from Bankwest asking me to provide information from Centrelink. When I tried to access my Centrelink account via mygov, I received a message "We could not connect to the service. Please contact us for help. (RFM51)". I contacted Centrelink on the phone and was told that their fraud department had locked the account at 9:22 on 23 September because of fraudulent access to the account. In addition they transferred an unspecified sum of money to an unspecified account number on 24 September, although the account was locked. My pension payments had been reduced from about $435 to $180, and that I would have to go to a Centrelink office to have it reinstated.

On 8 October I went to Centrelink in Ballarat and was given more details: the access took place via mygov, a total of $960 had been transferred to the account specified in the header to this report, and other details of my account had been changed. It's not clear how the intruder gained access, but the timing of the incident suggests that somebody had intercepted Bankwest's verification of my personal details and used them to access my Centrelink account.

Despite multiple requests, Bankwest has shown no evidence that they are following up the data breach. I am left with the impression that they are indifferent to the problem.

I have more to say on this matter, but your web form is full. If you contact me by phone, please quote “Hackedagain, honey”.

And what a mess they made of it!


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I've never seen anything deliberately format a text ragged left before, and it's not clear why they removed all paragraph breaks. Can the police really deal with such a mess?

Only then was I asked to enter personal details, a few other things, and I was done, receiving a reference number . And some advice carefully tailored to my situation:

Based on the information you have provided; someone may have committed fraud against you.

Well, yes, that's a given.

If you haven't already, contact your financial institution immediately.

What financial institution?

Contact IDCare (idcare.org) to help recover your identity.

If your personal information was exposed in a data breach change your account passwords.

OK, which passwords?

To stop the malware infection from spreading, disconnect the affected device from the internet or other network connections (such as home Wi-Fi).

Run a full scan on your device using your anti-virus software and follow the instructions to remove any identified files.

What malware?

Configure your email to require two-factor authentication (eg password plus a code sent via SMS).

Never give anyone your username or password or let anyone access your online accounts. Use different passwords for each of your accounts.

Protect devices and accounts from compromise using programs such as Quad9 (https://www.quad9.net).

To avoid disclosing your personal details, don't click on links that are in suspicious email messages.

To avoid installing malware, don't click on suspicious links on untrusted sites, check the site's security and use a browser add-on to regularly check for phishing links.

This has nothing to do with email.

What about those URLs? IDCARE is

Australia and New Zealand’s national identity & cyber support service. Our service is the only one of its type in the world. We have helped thousands of Australian and New Zealand individuals and organisations reduce the harm they experience from the compromise and misuse of their identity information by providing effective response and mitigation.

I suppose that's worth investigating.

And what's https://www.quad9.net/? From that page:

Quad9 is a free service that replaces your default ISP or enterprise Domain Name Server (DNS) configuration. When your computer performs any Internet transaction that uses the DNS (and most transactions do), Quad9 blocks lookups of malicious host names from an up-to-the-minute list of threats. This blocking action protects your computer, mobile device, or IoT systems against a wide range of threats such as malware, phishing, spyware, and botnets, and it can improve performance in addition to guaranteeing privacy. The Quad9 DNS service is operated by the Swiss-based Quad9 Foundation, whose mission is to provide a safer and more robust Internet for everyone.

That's an interesting consideration. Arguably one way to get my information would be via a man-in-the-middle attack. What do I see?

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/15) ~ 216 -> host www.bankwest.com.au
www.bankwest.com.au is an alias for cdn.bankwest.adobecqms.net.
cdn.bankwest.adobecqms.net has address 65.8.134.101
cdn.bankwest.adobecqms.net has address 65.8.134.15
cdn.bankwest.adobecqms.net has address 65.8.134.90
cdn.bankwest.adobecqms.net has address 65.8.134.61

That's what I see elsewhere as well. quad9 has a server address 9.9.9.9, which returns the same information. So in this case it doesn't look like a DNS based man-in-the-middle attack, but they seem to have outsourced their web site too. I suppose that's modern, but does it offer other opportunities for breakin?


Wednesday, 13 October 2021 Dereel Images for 13 October 2021
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Cherry brand delivery
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Yvonne came back from shopping today with an unexpected package:


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It was the Kirschwasser that Ruth Viebrock sent me two weeks ago. It wasn't due for at least another 4 weeks!

As if that wasn't surprising enough, there was no customs duty. What did the customs declaration say?


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I can't make up my mind whether that's a mistyped English “brandy” or German „Brand“, which is a perfectly correct description. But potentially it was confusing for the Customs Australian Border Force or one of their parsing programs. OK, we can do that again.

Anything to complain about? Yes, of course. First, we had a fondue only last Saturday, so it'll be a week or two before we can try it, and secondly the bottle is too big for the shelf. But in total it came in much cheaper than what I would have paid here ($66.80 instead of about $120).

Now to get the Etter Kirsch.

And the tracking? Pretty much as I expected. Exactly one additional entry since I last looked:

 
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OK, handover to Australia Post sounds reasonable. What do they say?

 
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Following up the “What does this mean?” produced:

The tracking status 'product not trackable' – or the message, ‘sorry, this item can’t be tracked’ – might be shown for items sent using one of our international services that doesn’t come with tracking as a standard feature.

These include: Registered Post International

No track events will be shown for these items. However, if the item was sent using Registered Post International, a signature will be obtained when the item is delivered.

In other words, no tracking at all. Just a signature on receipt, which the post office didn't require.


Bankwest replies
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Call from Steven Garnett of Bankwest today to discuss the email I sent him on Monday, in which I had set a deadline of yesterday to get the bank's fraud team involved.

He repeated the content of the letter and gave the impression—once again—that he hadn't read the email. You'd think he hadn't received it, but he confirmed that he did. It seems that he had informed his process expert, whatever that is, his manager and his team leader (there that term again), but if he didn't forward the message to them, there's not much they could have done. He finally undertook to inform the fraud people, and I asked him to get them to contact me.

About the only interesting detail was that he confirmed that they received my application at 13:49 on 22 September. That's WST, UTC+8, so it was 12 minutes before the breach of my Centrelink account at 16:01 AEST. That fits very nicely into the hypothesis that the breach was as a result of personal data stolen from that transaction.


Borzoi weights again
Topic: animals Link here

More investigation of borzoi weights today at belpatt.fr. They offer the opportunity to register dogs, which I did for Larissa and Lena. The graphs are interesting, but misleading:

 
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Both of those show the weights of both dogs against age, but the continuous line is based on an estimated (“desired”) end weight. I had chosen 33 kg for Larissa and 38 kg for Lena, basically guesswork. So each graph is different.

And then there's a comparison with all dogs they have:

 
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That shows them nicely in the middle, but the whole graph is clearly skewed by one dog that got seriously overweight up to 37 kg at round 10 months of age and then dropped back to 31 kg at age 12½ months. And then there seem to have been only 2 other dogs, both considerably lighter than ours. That makes a total of 5 including ours, not exactly a representative sample.

But could it be that ours are overweight? Their ribs are not exactly sticking out. But at least until 10 months of age I'd prefer to err on the size of plumpness to avoid any growing issues like Larissa's hypertrophic osteodystrophy in August


Calling German mobile phones
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Since moving to MyNetFone, now Vonex, international phone calls have been ridiculously cheap. While a national “landline” call costs $0.20 untimed, a call to a German landline costs $0.019 per minute, so a 10 minute call to Germany is still cheaper than a call to Australia.

But mobile rates are different, sometimes markedly so. In Australia they're $0.10 per minute. And in Germany? I recall them being significantly more expensive than for landlines. And today Yvonne wanted to make a call to a German mobile telephone.

OK, look it up. Where? The new Vonex web site is completely broken and takes me round in circles. On login I get a link “International Rates”, but that logs me out and takes me to their sales page. Almost anything I tried brought me to this page, which doesn't offer any links:

 
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OK, call them up. Spoke to Yuri, who first wanted my account number. Gave him the phone number, which should have been displaying. Ah, MyNetFone customer. Hold on, I'll connect you. After a few minutes on hold—something that I don't recall from the olden days—I was offered the option of a call-back. OK, do that. I didn't get a call back at all.

Finally Yvonne made her call anyway. The good news: only $0.06 per minute. We can live with that.


Thursday, 14 October 2021 Dereel Images for 14 October 2021
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A mobile phone for COVID-19?
Topic: health, general, technology, opinion Link here

In the USA people have thought out various financial initiatives to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Round here there's an obvious one: a free (low-end) mobile phone. You have needed a phone to sign in to just about anywhere in Victoria for some time now, and soon you will need one to display these silly “digital certificates”.

Yvonne has a mobile phone, of course, but it's an old, small, folding one 10 cm high. She's reluctantly accepting the need for a “smart” phone, but it shouldn't be any higher.

Checked the old Sλmsung Samsung GT-I9100T. 12 cm. What can we find that's modern (and thus supported by the apps that the government has thought out) and no higher? Nothing! What I found was best small Android phones, with the surprising information

The smallest one is the new iPhone 12 Mini, which has a height of just 131.5mm.

Apart from the fact that iPhones drive me crazy, the things cost an arm and a leg. The cheapest price I could find was $750, more than 2½ times the price I paid for my own phone.

And that brought me back to the same problem that I faced in May: how do you compare phones? I want a relatively cheap one, especially because there's still the danger that Yvonne will decide not to use it, but it also should be small, to minimize that danger. And how do I find that?

It would be a lot easier if Yvonne weren't so insistent on a small phone. And maybe she could get used to something else. After all, she once found the E-PM2 with M.Zuiko Digital 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 II R to be too big, but now she keeps the M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150 mm f/4.0-5.6 on her OM-D E-M5 Mark III all the time, even though she could still use the smaller M.Zuiko Digital 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 II R:

 
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So we can put the phone size issue to the test: Chris Bahlo has an old phone that she can sell to Yvonne, with ample try-it-out time. So we'll borrow that and see if she can come to terms with it.


MPEG corruption
Topic: multimedia, technology Link here

Seen on the screen after watching TV tonight:

[ffmpeg/video] h264: Error splitting the input into NAL units.
Error while decoding frame!
[ffmpeg/video] h264: Invalid NAL unit size (0 > 8734).
[ffmpeg/video] h264: Error splitting the input into NAL units.
Error while decoding frame!

What's that? There was no obvious corruption on the screen.


Friday, 15 October 2021 Dereel
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The pain of COVID apps
Topic: health, technology, opinion Link here

Something must have happened in New South Wales. Everybody is scrambling to get their mobile phones set up with the NSW equivalent of “Service Victoria”, which is subtly different, along with the same kind of stupid “digital certificate” of vaccination. And people had lots of difficulty with them.

These are experienced computer people, not coincidentally people who made fun of me when I grumbled about my problems. I'm glad to feel vindicated, and was able to make some suggestions to help.

The most interesting one was when one person had to create a second Mygov account because the name wasn't spelt in the same way on all his documents. I've had that issue too: clearly it indicates that the authentication is based on incorrect parameters.


New smart for Yvonne
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

As discussed yesterday, Yvonne brought home a Samsung Galaxy S7 from Chris Bahlo. And now I have to set it up for her.

One “smart” phone causes enough smart. Two different ones are double the smart, if not more. Spent some time playing around with it and wondering whether it wouldn't be a better idea to get another Xiaomi phone instead.

The most obvious thing is, despite what people tell me, to use it to make phone calls. OK, put in the SIM card from the old phone.

Oh. It's a mini-SIM card. Not a micro-SIM or nano-SIM. And the Samsung needs a nano-SIM. Yes, I can break out a micro-SIM card from it, but not a nano-SIM. We're going to need a new one. And that means going to ALDI when we go shopping tomorrow.

Why am I doing all this?


Saturday, 16 October 2021 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 16 October 2021
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Lena sick
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Lena is not feeling well. Yvonne tells me that she had been threatening to vomit all night, and when she got out in the morning, she vomited a little white foam. Not surprisingly, she didn't want anything to eat.

It stayed that way all day, and in the evening she vomited again. Apart from that, however, she seemed relatively active, no pain, no lethargy. Hopefully she'll be better tomorrow.


Dog training: graduation
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Off for the last session of dog training despite Lena's condition. Neither dog showed herself from her best side. Lena was somewhat subdued and not interested in the games, and of course her lack of interest in the treats didn't help. Larissa was full of beans and jumping around all over the place, also not very interested in the games.

Still, they graduated:


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I have mixed feelings about the course. On the one hand, Annette, the instructor, did the job very well, but the surroundings were barely acceptable, and really the course wasn't really what we were looking for: socializing with other dogs was much more important.

Weight update: Larissa 27.2 kg, Lena 29.2 kg, despite her stomach upset. That puts both of them well into the standard weight for adult bitches (25—41 kg).


A new phone for Yvonne
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

After some discussion, we have decided to buy a new phone for Yvonne. The Samsung Galaxy S7 has seen better days, the USB socket no longer works reliably, making charging touch-and-go, and the interface is completely different.

By chance, I saw a cheap Xiaomi phone on the Officeworks web site yesterday, so off there to take a look at it. Not a single Xiaomi phone on offer! The reluctant staff member whom Yvonne brought by asked me if I had a screen shot. Right, just what you need when you come to a shop to buy something that has been advertised. Later, however, I was unable to find any Xiaomi phones on the web site. Did I imagine it? Is this dealing with mobile phones scrambling my brains?

On via ALDI, where we got a SIM card with no difficulty, and at Yvonne's suggestion to Delacombe Town Centre to look for Dr Boom. I went looking for them a few months ago, but the DTC web site beat me, and I didn't find it.

I didn't find it today either, though I looked at where it should have been. But it was on the other side of the main drag! It wasn't until I got home that I discovered I had been confused by their map, which has an arrow pointing not north, but west! Their information hasn't improved at all since last time, and they still don't have any catalogue of the companies in the centre. I'm surprised that the companies haven't complained.

At Dr Boom, the next surprise: a sign on the locked door “Back in 30 minutes”, measured from some indeterminate starting time. There was a woman inside, who came out and said “I must be allowed my 20 minute lunch break”. Well, yes, she can do whatever she wants. But if you want to stay in business, you might set priorities differently. She sounded quite upset, as if life had been treating her badly for some time, and I felt a little sorry for her. But I also got the impression that part of the problem was that business was very slow. Her priorities don't help there.


Google retorts
Topic: technology, language, opinion Link here

We were in Sebastopol when it occurred to us to look for mobile phones in the Delacombe Town Centre. OK, Google, take me to Delacombe Town Centre. And off we were across country on arguably the best route.

Until we got to the south-east corner of the complex:


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I should have turned left, and I did, but Google Maps wanted me to go round to the other side along a main road. „OK, Google, du hast einen Knall“: “OK, Google, you're crazy”. And the prompt answer: “You and me both”. For the first time Yvonne saw something positive in the application.


ALDImobile SIM: simplicity itself
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Back home, time to install the new SIM card in the Samsung phone. Simple, right? The packaging included instructions, including going to aldimobile.com.au/activate and following the instructions. OK, I can do that. Of course, I don't have the same thought patterns as the people who wrote the web pages:

 
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This one means that I should write only the number, not the street itself, though the message suggests that it's the spaces that are to blame.


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“Did you buy a Mobile, Date or Family Plan Starter Pack?”. Yes, of course, they're all for mobile phones or data. So I select “I have a voucher”. Then it asks for a 10 digit voucher code, which is on the carrier for the SIM card:


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Wrong, fool! That's 13 digits. Well, yes, I can see that, but that's what it asked for? Called up ALDImobile, conveniently free on my ALDImobile phone, and spoke to mumble, who only answered when he felt like it. No, I don't have a voucher, I have a $5 starter pack, apparently neither mobile nor data. So I don't need to enter anything there.

OK, continue, and it let me, up to the point where I selected “Confirm”:

 
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Huh? I want to keep that number. Another call to ALDImobile, this time to a recognizable “Jose”. Oh. Why do you want to change from an ALDImobile number? It seems that their application expects the old phone number to be with a different provider and doesn't cater for the possibility that the existing SIM card won't fit in the new phone. He had to do it manually, made more complicated by the fact that I should have a PIN. I don't recall ever having had one, and as a result he had to go through full identification, including date of birth!

Finally it was done. But these things should be straightforward, and they never seem to be.


More phone battery fun
Topic: photography, technology Link here

I've had my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark I for nearly 8 years now. In principle it was obsoleted by my OM-D E-M1 Mark II for nearly 5 years. But I'm still using the Mark I: there's not much difference between the two, and it's convenient to keep the Mark II for complicated stuff.

As a result it's the Mark I that I use when I go anywhere, like to the dog training today. And the battery ran out!

That's not surprising. They're all nearly 8 years old. At the very least I should carry a spare. But today I had trouble recharging two of the batteries that were waiting for use. Part of that is that they stand on the shelf for too long, of course. Today I should have chosen battery 4, but it hadn't been in use for nearly a year, so first I put it on the charger. It failed to charge.

These are the el-cheapos that I bought immediately after the camera. Is it time to retire them? For the moment they seem to respond to a couple of retries, but I can see a day coming.


Sunday, 17 October 2021 Dereel Images for 17 October 2021
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Lena on the mend
Topic: animals, health Link here

Didn't sleep well overnight. What's wrong with Lena? Did we do the right thing by leaving her to recover by herself. What if she were poisoned? Or did she have bloat? In either case, quick reactions are important.

Fortunately it was none of the above. She woke up much better, and she ate a little food in the morning. Normally we give them chicken frames, but I thought it better to give her only pellets. There was some indication of constipation, but that could have been because she hadn't eaten anything for over a day, and it was gone by the evening.

In passing, her symptoms only marginally matched those of bloat. She would have felt much worse if she had had it.


More mobile phone choice pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Spent much more time looking for a new mobile phone for Yvonne today, in the process coming to two conclusions: phones are getting much bigger, and nobody seems to care. I have been unable to find a modern Xiaomi phone (one released in this decade) that is less than 15 cm high. And none of the “smartphone choice” web sites allowed me to search or sort based on external dimensions.

That's not just irritating: it's a real problem if you don't have a pocket where you can put the thing. And Yvonne doesn't. The next issue will be to find something for her to carry it in.


Monday, 18 October 2021 Dereel
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Lena on the mend
Topic: animals Link here

Lena continues to improve. Her constipation is gone, but now she has loose bowels. Things are clearly not yet over.


Another bloody mobile phone!
Topic: technology, language, opinion Link here

I've given up trying to find a small phone for Yvonne. A Xiaomi Redmi 9A it is, a slightly slower version of my Redmi 9T. It's not that I particularly like Xiaomi, but one mobile phone interface is bad enough. This way I don't have to get used to the problems that a second one causes, like today's issue where Yvonne couldn't find the dialing pad for the phone. About the biggest difference is the colour: blue instead of green. So I've decided to give it the name enzian.

How I hate these things!


Tuesday, 19 October 2021 Dereel Images for 19 October 2021
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Lena's progress
Topic: animals Link here

Lena still has loose bowels:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211019/big/Lenas-bowel-movements-2.jpeg
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Is that serious? It's not extreme, but it has been going on for a few days now. Yvonne wanted to take her to the vet immediately, but she's not showing any signs of distress, and I thought we should wait until tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be right.

In passing, did she have constipation on Sunday? Or was it just an attempt to wring the last few drops out of her guts?

The other question is: what caused it? Poisoning is still a possibility. We should at least keep them away from the compost heap and plastic pots.


Sending photos by mobile phone
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

One of the advantages I thought of for Yvonne's new phone is that she can use it to take photos while shopping and send them to me for examination. That's certainly an advantage over anything we have had before.

But how do you do it? First take a photo, of course. Then look at all the silly icons and try to decide which will send it somewhere. There were none. Gradually I'm beginning to understand these silly buttons on software like DxO PhotoLab for sending photos directly to Facebook.

More discussion on IRC. As Daniel O'Connor says, “I dunno, Android visual language looks like a mess to me”. The only issue is that he implies that Apple is better, which I greatly doubt.

Others were more helpful. Fool! Sending a photo is Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), so you need to go into Messages. Did that and saw nothing obvious.

Suggestion: “Ask a teenager”. Yes, probably a good idea, but we don't have any here. On reflection, I have never sent an SMS or MMS message from a phone of any description.

Clearly part of the issue is as Daniel said: the nice thing about Android is that you have so much choice. Finally asked Google, which brought me this page for MIUI version 6. And of course it no longer applies directly to my MIUI version 12:

Open the Messaging app, and then tap New message.

Ah, “new message” is an old, worn-out magic word, presumably too obvious in meaning. Now it's called “Start chat”, which makes little sense to me. And how do you attach a photo? I found a way to take one from inside the app, but there was a suggestion for attaching photos already on the phone, starting with “Tap Pictures”. OK, where's that?


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Somehow that sort of thing turns my stomach. I need to understand, of course, that the overlapping image icon at top left is the one I need:

 
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The image on the left is live, so I can press the grey circle and take an image immediately, pretty much what I was looking for. But how long it took to find out!

Finally found a way to send the message. Off to look at Yvonne's Sλmsung. Yes, it had arrived. 2 MB! But it was too polite to display the contents, though it appeared to download it several times.

Dammit, this is exactly the reason why I bought a Xiaomi for Yvonne. Not because I find them good—after all, they are mobile phones—but because it's only half the pain. So for the time being I'm letting it rest.

In passing, once again my amazement about other peoples' attitudes. Callum Gibson pointed out that MMS requires mobile data at both ends. That was already enabled, but it's just another indication of how poor interoperability is on mobile phones. It's understandable from the background, but why aren't people thinking of fixing it? The attitude of people on IRC makes it partially understandable: they don't think that it's broke. And one of the founding principles of the Internet is in the name: was to interconnect different kinds of networks.

The same goes for SMS. As Callum and Peter Jeremy said,

<pjeremy> A SMS goes from party A to party B.  There's no standard mechanism for
          forwarding one.  Messaging apps will typically allow to to copy message contents
          to the clipboard so you can paste it into another message.
<groggyhimself> So basically worse in every way than an email.
<groggyhimself> ... which can go over the Internet and greatly predates SMS.
<pjeremy> SMS was designed specifically as a way to transfer short messages between mobile
          phones.  It's got nothing in common with Internet or email.
<cgibson> And internet and email weren't even widely available at the time SMS was created,
          and certainly not on a mobile phone.
<pjeremy> SMS was designed in the mid-1980's with a character set to suit Western European
          languages and message length designed to fit into the GSM frame size.

Well, sorry, Peter. Both SMS and email are designed to transfer data between participants. How can they have nothing to do with each other? And as he says, SMS was designed for devices with even more limitations than modern “smart” phones. The whole message traffic could now easily go via email. It could even be transparently replaced. I wonder if somebody has already done so.


Wednesday, 20 October 2021 Dereel Images for 20 October 2021
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Slideshow arrived!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Checking Yvonne's phone this morning, found a notification: a “slideshow” from me had arrived, a Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) message with two photos.

That's the message I sent yesterday, and for which I looked in vain. Why did it take so long? My guess is that it didn't, but it was playing hide-and-seek with me. It seems that it won.


Bloody Guinness!
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Yvonne back from shopping with two slabs of Guinness. In the past I've had trouble with their overly delicate cans bursting in the slab, so I was very careful today.

Not careful enough, it seems:


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  a

What's wrong with this stuff? One obvious thing is that they contain capsules of compressed nitrogen triggered to rupture when the can is opened. Is it possible that they go off too early? But looking at the slab itself, I see:


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What did that? Not I. Did it happen during transport? And why did the cans (if those are even the ones in question) rupture only when I put them away? My best bet is that it's because I stored them vertically rather than horizontally.


Another moonlit panorama
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

A month ago it was not just the spring equinox, but also full moon, and I took some moonlit shots for the “house north” panorama. They weren't overly successful:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210923/big/house-from-n.jpeg
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And how about that, today was full moon and cloudless again (well, apart from a little mist). Last month I tried my standard HDR bracketing, somewhat limited by the 60 second maximum shutter speed (why that limit?). As a result, I had to take the “standard” (middle) photo at 8 seconds, which even at f/1.8 meant an ISO setting of 4000/37°. And that, I think, is why things look so bad.

So today I decided on only a single shot, which enabled me to take the same shots at 50 s at f/1.8 and an ISO setting of 400/27°. I could have done 60 s and 320/26°, of course, but I don't expect that would have made any visible difference. The result (first image, compared to


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There's not really much difference. Today's was taken with the moon in the east. I didn't want to wait until the early hours of the morning, but the result was a darker view of the house wall. And somehow it's hard to tell the difference between day and night. On the one hand, that's to be expected, but on the other hand it's a little disappointing.


Thursday, 21 October 2021 Dereel Images for 21 October 2021
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KL Hokkien Mee again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

KL Hokkien Mee for breakfast again today. This time I went back to the original quantities of 5 ml light soya sauce and 25 ml of KL caramel sauce.

It still doesn't taste right! I'm coming to the conclusion that it tastes better with dark soya sauce. Maybe it would be good in combination with the caramel sauce. And maybe I should follow up on an idea that I noted earlier: use squid instead of fish balls.


Guest contributions to this diary?
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

As I say in many places, this diary is my record of what I have done and (increasingly) my opinions. But I get many requests like this one from

From: Penny Kling <@gmail.com>
Subject: Guest Post Request

Greetings! I would like to contribute to your website by adding a guest
post. Do you have any specific requirements I should follow?

Sorry, that's not how this works, and that's what I told her.

Sorry, I have no provision for guest posts. If you write something that interests me, I may mention it in my diary, but don't count on it being automatically complimentary. As I say in the footer to my daily diary,

Do you have a comment about something I have written? This is a diary, not a “blog”, and there is deliberately no provision for directly adding comments. It's also not a vehicle for third-party content. But I welcome feedback and try to reply to all messages I receive. See the diary overview for more details.

I got a reply which might suggest that she didn't read my message clearly (“what topics should I choose?”).

And then there's another message, much clearer:

I’m Sarah with Traeger Grills. We’ve just published a piece called “Safe Internal Temperatures for Meat,” which offers a guide to getting any cut of meat to the perfect temperature for serving. Maybe it would be a good fit on your page here?

http://www.lemis.com/grog/recipes/thermometers.php?dirdate=20040806?size=2

Problem: the linked page raises several red flags. It's US American, of course, and the temperatures are all in Fahrenheit only, making them unintelligible for about 95% of the world's population. After conversion, the temperatures themselves are strange: fish at 62° (I'd choose 45° to 50°), pulled pork at 95° (no idea, but it seems very hot), chicken at 73° (I've found 78° to 80° to be better. Steak at 57° is close enough, but on the high side for me. Probably the real issue is that it's too undifferentiated, and that's the advantage of my cooking times page: I can and do update it. I really don't see any advantage in this kind of table.

About the only thing that came out of the message is the page to which she referred, /grog/recipes/thermometers.php. It's wrong, of course, but I had forgotten that it existed. I hadn't updated it since 30 July 2008, and the markup was all wrong. It did, however, contain a discussion of cooking temperatures that I have now edited significantly.


Buddleja photos revisited
Topic: photography, gardening, opinion Link here

It's high time to finish the macro photos of the Buddleja that I started last week: it has almost finished flowering.

After consideration, it seems that the extension tubes on the lens hadn't helped much because I had forgotten to focus as close as I could.

Tried that today, ultimately taking a series of 220 images for this photo (full frame):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211021/big/Buddleja-flower-2-DMap.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211021/big/Buddleja-flower-2-PMax.jpeg
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That's the same set of images processed differently. And they're not very encouraging. What have I done wrong? Even the detail of the centre of the flower could be sharper:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211021/big/Buddleja-flower-2-PMax-detail.jpeg
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Is that diffraction or issues with the stitching?


COVID-19 comes closer
Topic: health, general, opinion Link here

Paul Donaghy was due to come tomorrow to mow the lawn. But no, a cancellation: he's a “tier 3” COVID-19 contact. His wife Julie was in contact with somebody who had her nails trimmed by somebody else, and the trimmer later tested positive for COVID-19. So Paul has to self-isolate, though apparently not yet submit to a test.

That's the closest we've come to an infection. Hopefully the others all prove to be negative.


Friday, 22 October 2021 Dereel Images for 22 October 2021
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Mobile phone messaging: WhatsApp?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Mail from Michael James today, suggesting that I could minimize my phone pain with WhatsApp, which—he says—makes messaging easier.

OK, WhatsApp is an interesting app because it comes from the FreeBSD space (Jan Koum, who still has a FreeBSD commit bit). Try it out.

Install works well, and it imports my Google contacts. Well, it checks them, and finds that about half of them have a recognizable WhatsApp connection. But that's bad. More fragmentation. And that brings me to a digression:

Once upon a time we had email and USENET News. In many ways they were very similar: the header structure was compatible, and the main difference was the way you handled the message. Email was personal, and news was posted publicly. Anybody could join in.

And now? Social media with various restrictions (Twitter with short messages, Facebook, SMS that requires specific transport). Many require you to sign up for an account, and it seems that WhatsApp belongs to this kind.

What can any of these do that News and traditional email can't? Clearly there's a stronger emphasis on graphics, but that's not that important. Email has been extended to carry graphics, arguably not very well. But that's an implementation detail: it could be done, and if News hadn't died, it could do so too.

There's only one detail that Email and News never did: lock the user in to commercial content. And that's the way it should have stayed. This “locking in” isn't even the main reason that I hate Facebook, but it's a good one.

So, sorry Jan, I won't be using WhatsApp. It helps that I couldn't find a way to send images with it either. I'm sure that both MMS and WhatsApp can do the job once I have worked out the mind set of the developers. But MMS is less restrictive, apart from the potential further limitation of data link choice.


lemis.com Security Vulnerability Notification
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Unexpected mail from Open Bug Bounty today: lemis.com Cross Site Scripting Vulnerability Report ID: OBB-2188982.

Huh? Who are these people? Did a bit of checking and found that yes, they're kosher. But how can I be involved in any cross-site vulnerability? I don't do anything significant with user input, just dates. OK, I can contact the reporter, and did that, but in all probability his time zone is completely different. In the meantime, followed up https://pentest-tools.com/website-vulnerability-scanning/xss-scanner-online, which found nothing.


How much a cup of coffee?
Topic: food and drink Link here

I've been drinking real coffee (as opposed to instant coffee) almost all my life, with the brief exception of the last 1960s. And I prepare nearly all of it myself. A cup of ground coffee requires about 8 g of coffee. I pay $11 a kilogram, so that's about 8.8¢; to be on the safe side I round it up to 10¢.

A cup of coffee in a café costs more. How much? I really don't know, but my guess is in the order of $5. That's quite a markup. But there's a more direct comparison: how much does a cup of instant coffee cost?

Went looking today: this page goes into surprising detail about—apparently—how to spend more time making “instant” coffee than making ground coffee from a modern machine. It recommends 3 g of coffee powder. And looking online, the same coffee (“NESCAFÉ Gold Original”) normally costs $19 for 320 g, making a single cup cost 18¢.

That's actually a surprising difference. With 4 cups a day for me, that's 32¢ a day, $117 a year. You can buy coffee machines for the price difference of 2 or 3 years.


Upgrading DxO: the pain
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

There's a new version of DxO PhotoLab out there. The press have been informed, but once again I, as a customer, was not.

Should I buy it? What does it really offer? Bug fixes? That would be nice. And new interface options that might make life easier. OK, buy it.

Once they took payment in Euros, US dollars and Australian dollars. But that was once. Now it's only in US dollars. OK, I have a Transferwise creditdebit card that I can use to pay in US dollars. Problem: I don't have any cash balance in US dollars. What happens then?

To be on the safe side, decided to transfer some money to the account. The web site doesn't make it easy. Finally got to the point where they were prepared to accept money from me. Over to the Bank of Melbourne web site and transferred the money.

FOOL! You forgot to give any identifying information! And in principle the Wise web site does it for you—if you have an account with specific banks, not including Bank of Melbourne.

OK, nothing for it, call them up. Where's the phone number? Another 5 minutes searching, It's in last month's diary: +61 2 7202 6518. Called up and was connected quickly to Christopher, probably because most people can't find the number, and discussed what to do. He suggested that it would probably be returned if they couldn't identify the recipient, and started looking for details... when the Wise window showed that they money had arrived! I'm impressed. How did they identify the recipient? Do they have my Bank of Melbourne account noted somewhere?

Things were not over, though. I had started payment on yet another browser window, but it had gone away. Restart the payment. Yes, you have an order outstanding. How do I pay for it? Ah, not telling. With a bit of messing around discovered that I had to click on the “trolley” icon, after which it hung.

Much more experimentation. Finally found my open window, which had been waiting for me so that it could tell me that it had timed out (“payment declined”):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211022/big/DxO-fail-1.png
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Try again, and this time it worked. Isn't paying over the web fun?

But DxO wasn't done yet. Two hours after confirming the payment, DxO sent another message: “Your cart is still waiting”. Aren't commercial web sites fun?


Saturday, 23 October 2021 Dereel Images for 23 October 2021
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Rain!
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Round 28 mm of rain last night, and it shows:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211023/big/Front-door-1.jpeg
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The doormat is wet: water must have entered into the area. I thought that we had put paid to that kind of problem when we changed the drain pump at the beginning of the month, but somehow today's photo was reminiscent of this:


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Now it was really very heavy rain, so it's possible that the real bottleneck wasn't the pump itself but the drainage into the pump sump.


Dog protection
Topic: Stones Road house, animals, general Link here

Drainage isn't the only issue at the front door. Particularly Lena likes to signal her desire to enter the house by scratching on the door:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211023/big/Front-door-3.jpeg
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That can't go on, so now we have put in some protection:


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Hopefully she will stop scratching when she grows up.


Flowers in mid-spring
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

A month after the equinox, time for the monthly garden flower photos.

Last year I was not very happy with the condition of the garden, but this year it's much worse. I had concerns about the Schinus molle, which I thought was dying. It's not quite gone yet, but there's not much hope. Here in January this year, last month and now:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210120/big/Schinus-molle.jpeg
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A surprising amount of damage is to blame on Bryan Ross, the “horticulturalist”. Like Jim Lannen before him, he left damage for me to discover gradually as time went on. I had suggested putting nets round the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and the Corymbia ficifolia, but no, he said, there was no need. Here the result:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211024/big/Hibiscus-rosa-sinensis.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211023/big/Corymbia-ficifolia-1.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211023/big/Corymbia-ficifolia-2.jpeg
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But that's a small problem. There's also the Polygonum odoratum (“Vietnamese mint“ or Daun kesum):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211023/big/Vietnamese-mint.jpeg
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He had cut an 80 cm high, thriving bush to the ground, and it's only starting to recover now.

And then there are the long-suffering Clematis, which had finally started flowering again this time last year:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20201022/big/Clematis-1.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20201022/big/Clematis-2.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20201022/big/Clematis-3.jpeg
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The first one had just recovered from having its support torn away, leaving it cut to the ground. At least the other one was flowering. But that was last year. What we have now from Bryan “cut it to the ground” Ross is:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211023/big/Clematis-3.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211023/big/Clematis-1.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211023/big/Clematis-4.jpeg
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The first photo shows new shoots, about 10 cm long. The other is all that's left of the second Clematis. At least it has leaves.

The Alyogyne huegelii, one of the most resilient plants I know, has survived Bryan and is still flowering. But compared to last year it's a shadow of its former self:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20201022/big/Alyogyne.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211023/big/Alyogyne-huegelii.jpeg
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About the only plant that is really doing well is the Banksia integrifolia that we planted 5 years ago:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211024/big/Banksia.jpeg
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Arguably all the trees should be looking like that, but the only other one is a self-sown Acacia melanoxylon (if that's really the name), which must now be 5 m high:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211024/big/Acacia-1.jpeg
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It makes clear what a failure the rest of the garden has been.

Indoors, our very last Buddleja x weyeriana chose this month to flower, though normally they only flower between January and July:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211011/big/Buddleja-8.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211011/big/Buddleja-2.jpeg
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I'd really like to plant it somewhere, but while they grew like fury in Kleins Road, they never got very far at all here.

The Abutilon that we grew from cuttings in January is also flowering happily:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211024/big/Abutilon-2.jpeg
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I have a place where I'd like to plant it, but after seeing what happened to our Curry tree in the last month, I think I'll postpone a little:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210923/big/Murrya-koenigii.jpeg
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The tree will survive, but it doesn't do much good to subject it to that kind of treatment.

And the Spathiphyllum in the bath now clearly has 7 flowers, even if they're not all very pretty:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211024/big/Spathiphyllum-6.jpeg
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That's still the most I have ever had.


More thoughts on messaging systems
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

A little feedback on yesterday's thoughts on messaging systems. Peter Jeremy notes that it was possible to send images via Usenet news. Yes, it was painful, but that's a matter of evolution: MIME, also not a very clean idea, is an example of that.

But also a word in favour of WhatsApp: it can deliver messages via the Internet. What an idea! But yes, the standard messaging app can't.


Who is using my mobile data?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

It's only been 6 days since I installed a new SIM card in Yvonne's phone. And I ended up with over $10 of credit. But today, while playing with it (trying, with success, to send an MMS to my phone), I got a message: only $4.94 of credit left.

Huh? Yes, ALDImobile charges 35¢ per MMS, far too much, but that wouldn't explain the usage. Off to check and found things like 50.51 MB of mobile data ($2.5344) at 1:10 on Wednesday. What's that about? My own usage was nothing like that, though I have things like location tracking turned on. There was another $2.2877 on Friday. My best bet is that it's something that Chris Bahlo set up. She doesn't have a real Internet connection (thanks, National Broadband Network), so it might even make sense for her. But it's also an indication of how bad routing is on mobile phones. For the time being I have turned mobile data off. If the seller ever gets round to shipping the phone I ordered on Monday, we can address the issue again when it arrives.


Fixing web site vulnerability
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Mail from rbshadow.blackhat@gmail.com today with details of the vulnerability reported yesterday. How about that, it's due to my handling parameters to my web pages, like the URL above: /grog/diary-oct2021.php?topics=c&subtitle=lemis.com%20Security%20Vulnerability%20Notification&article=D-20211023-022907#D-20211023-022907. Since they come from me, there's no danger that they're malicious. But of course other people can create similar URLs, and that's what they did:

Vulnerability Summary:
     1. Vulnerable Domain: http://www.lemis.com/
     2. Vulnerable URL:
http://www.lemis.com/grog/diary-jan2020.php?subtitle=</title><ScRiPt>alert('/bughunter/')</sCrIpT>&&article=D-20200104-021000
     3. Vulnerability Type: Reflected XSS

And yes, that worked. The </title> was part of the exploit; it put the following script where it could be executed. I'm reminded of this xkcd cartoon:

https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/exploits_of_a_mom.png

OK, that's straightforward enough. Check all parameters, redirect somewhere unexpected if they contain dangerous characters. But what do I do now? In principle people pay these people a bounty for finding a bug, and arguably that's good: after all, they have found something I would never have expected. At Tandem in the late 1980s I advocated doing something similar: letting crackers loose on our procedures and paying them a bounty if they found anything wrong. So should I pay one now?


Storing kang kong
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Yvonne bought some kang kong on Wednesday; I intend to use it in various breakfasts. I've never cooked with it before, mainly because it's hard to come by.

Got it out of the fridge this morning. After only 2 days it was really withered. Washed it—these things are grown in sand, and they typically come with sand still in the leaves—and took a generous quantity to eat.

I left the rest in the water. And how about that, it came back to life! Here in the evening and the following morning:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211023/big/Kang-kong-1.jpeg
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PV inverter strangenesses
Topic: Stones Road house, technology, general, opinion Link here

The weather today was mainly overcast, so our photovoltaic system didn't generate much power. But at one point I looked at the “dashboard” and saw it claim to generate over 11 kW!

That's almost impossible. The panels are rated at a total of 10.8 kW, but they're oriented at 90° to each other, so it's barely possible that they can all output full power at the same time—unless “full power” is considerably more than the rated power.

The power displayed was only brief, before it dropped back to more like 6 kW—without an obvious difference in sunshine level. But looking at the logs, it seems that it could have been genuine.

I've had my doubts about the wiring from time to time. Could it be that there's an intermittent connection to one of the arrays? I should consider investigating.


Dinner with Pene
Topic: food and drink, general, opinion Link here

The “lockdown” in Victoria has been unlocked up. We can entertain again! Today we invited Pene Kirk for dinner. She suffered from her profession as a vet: just as she was about to leave to come here, she had an emergency. In principle not a problem: she wasn't very late, but I had been planning to take a series of photos of the evolution of the main course, prosciutto-wrapped chicken with lemons, spring onions and potatoes (what a mouthful). And I forgot the all-important last photo.

The dish still needs tuning. Raw potatoes take an amazingly long time in the oven. I've updated the recipe to hopefully address the issue.


Sunday, 24 October 2021 Dereel Images for 24 October 2021
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I hate flash!
Topic: photography, gardening, opinion Link here

Taking the photo of the Spathiphyllum was much more difficult than it should have been. There's back light, and the whole thing looks boring:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211024/big/Spathiphyllum-1.jpeg
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OK, what do I have an on-camera flash unit for? Off to get the mecablitz and try again with bounce flash. Too dark. OK, increase the exposure by 0.7 EV. No difference. Oh, maybe flash compensation, not normal exposure compensation. Set to 0.7 EV flash compensation. Hardly any difference. Set to 1.7 EV compensation. No difference from the previous attempt:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211024/big/Spathiphyllum-2.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211024/big/Spathiphyllum-3.jpeg
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In the end, gave up and used DxO PhotoLab to fix the image:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211024/big/Spathiphyllum-6.jpeg
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But why do I always have so much trouble with flash? I've been complaining about it for over 50 years!


Tean's vegetarian curry
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

When in Geelong I've bought a number of spice pastes for trying out. Many then languish for years while I try to interpret the instructions.

Today I finally got round to preparing a sachet of Teans Gourmet “Kari sayuran” (vegetable curry, which they translate as “Vegetarian curry”):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211024/big/Vegetable-curry-1.jpeg
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Somehow the shopping instructions didn't quite work. They want 100 g aubergine, 100 g okra, 100 g snake beans and 300 g cabbage, and also 200 g unspecified dofu:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211024/big/Vegetable-curry-2.jpeg
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What we had were the aubergine, okra, 500 g of snake beans and no cabbage. OK, put in 250 g of the beans and the half cauliflower that Yvonne had thought we needed. After all, the vegetables are just a suggestion. That's why I also omitted the dofu.

The results: boring. The originally recommended vegetables wouldn't have changed that. But increasingly I'm finding that Tean's spice mixtures are far too pedas (“spicy”), to the point that Yvonne can't eat them. They should consider a “mild” version not only for Westerners, but also for people who don't like extreme pedasness, like non-Straits Indians and Chinese.

My opinions were confirmed with the other dish that I made, “Rendang”, made from some powder of which I had bought too many packets years ago. Rendang should be almost dry; mine was full of liquid, and this dish didn't reduce to anything like a rendang. Yes, I put in a little more coconut milk than specified (400 ml instead of 300), but compensated with presumably less of the unspecified amount of beef stock.

I spent most of the afternoon cooking. The idea of these spice mixes is to make life easier and produce something potentially more authentic than I can do myself. The rendang fails badly, and the vegetable curry is just too pedas. Time to contact Tean's and suggest the “mild” variant.

In passing, it's interesting to note that I had very much the same disappointment over a year ago, even to the extent of having flash problems.


Monday, 25 October 2021 Dereel Images for 25 October 2021
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Hospital for antivaxers
Topic: health, opinion Link here

See on Quora today:

https://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-ee159b643298e450e305c3aa5397b6ff-lq


Free Australia from tyranny!
Topic: politics, health, opinion Link here

Ted Cruz, a US senator known for his extremist views, has apparently not found enough wrong with the USA (clearly he hasn't looked very hard, nor into a mirror), and now, with the aid of sensationalist US news channels, he's interfering in Australia's internal affairs. The Northern Territory government has imposed a vaccine mandate for most workers in the Territory. Cruz, a senator in Texas, a state where 15% of the population have tested positive for COVID-19 and where over 0.25% of the population (70,000) have died finds “The COVID tyranny of their current government is disgraceful and sad”.

He should know better than to tangle with an Aussie. Michael Gunner, MLA for Fannie Bay and current Chief Minister of the NT, hit back, pointing out that the deaths in the territory were infinitely less than in Texas: 0 deaths. You can't compare the 225 cases of infection with Texas, because NT has such a small population, but per capita the cases represent roughly a third of the Texas deaths. Yes, of course Australia should emulate Texas. Bigger is better!

To think that I once seriously considered living in Texas.


Strange DxO display
Topic: photography, technology Link here

I have now upgraded to DxO PhotoLab release 5. So far there's not much difference to be seen, except that it rearranged my display and made me search for things.

But today I got this display:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211025/big/DxO-1.png
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What is it? There seemed to be no image selected. Will it happen again?


Tuesday, 26 October 2021 Dereel Images for 26 October 2021
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A new flute
Topic: music Link here

I stopped collecting old musical instruments years ago; looking back, it seems that the last instrument that I got was the Heckel 3620 nearly 12 years ago.

But then a couple of months ago I heard from Helen Deards, who has a Siccama flute:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20170518/big/Siccama-flute-1.jpeg
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As I guessed, she wanted to sell it, and after some discussion I agreed to buy it. Now I just need to get back my instrument, which Terry McGee has had for repair for nearly 20 years now. If the new one is in good condition, I should ask Terry just to return the other instrument before one of us dies.


Tracking people
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Where's Yvonne? Most of the time she's in her office, about 20 m away. But she visits Chris Bahlo, and on Wednesdays she goes shopping in Ballarat. With a mobile phone and her permission I can track her location, and she can also keep track of her horse rides.

Set it up today for location sharing while she went on a horse ride, and was rewarded by some interesting map displays: (run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour)

 
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These screen shots were taken less than a minute apart, and they show her in two completely different locations about 2 km apart. The second location was correct, but the first is nowhere near where she would have gone. Clearly a GPS malfunction. Is it due to the phone (shortly to be replaced, if the seller (“Fast delivery”) ever gets round to sending it) or the way she is carrying it in her jacket pocket?


More bloody mites!
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Only a few days ago our Buddleja x weyeriana flowered, but it didn't last long. Today it was clear why not:


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Bloody mites! Put it outside and washed it down. Hopefully it's warm enough for it now.


Wednesday, 27 October 2021 Dereel Images for 27 October 2021
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What use tracking?
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Over the years I've grumbled repeatedly about the inaccuracies of (physical) mail tracking. But today I had a particularly extreme case.

Nine days ago I bought a phone for Yvonne on eBay. The seller (one of the “FAST SHIPPING” kind) finally shipped it yesterday. Any hope of getting it here soon? Check the tracking. eBay says:

 
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Still just “received”? Hasn't it gone any further? What does Austraia Post say?

 
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That's a big difference. eBay claims that it will be here by the end of this week, and Australia Post says it will take at least another week, possibly nearly 2. Where is the thing, anyway? The same page offers details:

 
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It's here in Wendouree, the Ballarat sorting office! Based on my experience, it will be in Napoleons tomorrow! That in itself is surprising (did they really take heed of my suggestion to send it express to avoid negative feedback?), but why does the same page tell me two completely different stories? I never cease to be amazed.


git: igitt!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

It's really time to update my system. I've been saying that for the last 5 years or so, but the latest impediment has been git. My last attempt was three months ago, and I seem not to have had the courage to continue.

OK, today was the day. I had a clone according to the instructions at https://docs.freebsd.org/en/articles/committers-guide/#git-primer, and tried to update it:

===== Wed 27 Oct 2021 15:36:47 AEDT on dereel: git pull --ff-only
error: cannot lock ref 'refs/remotes/freebsd/vendor/openzfs/legacy': 'refs/remotes/freebsd/vendor/openzfs' exists; cannot create 'refs/remotes/freebsd/vendor/openzfs/legacy'
From ssh://gitrepo.FreeBSD.org/src
 ! [new branch]              vendor/openzfs/legacy     -> freebsd/vendor/openzfs/legacy  (unable to update local ref)
error: cannot lock ref 'refs/remotes/freebsd/vendor/openzfs/master': 'refs/remotes/freebsd/vendor/openzfs' exists; cannot create 'refs/remotes/freebsd/vendor/openzfs/master'
 ! [new branch]              vendor/openzfs/master     -> freebsd/vendor/openzfs/master  (unable to update local ref)
error: cannot lock ref 'refs/remotes/freebsd/vendor/openzfs/zfs-2.1-release': 'refs/remotes/freebsd/vendor/openzfs' exists; cannot create 'refs/remotes/freebsd/vendor/openzfs/zfs-2.1-release'
 ! [new branch]              vendor/openzfs/zfs-2.1-release -> freebsd/vendor/openzfs/zfs-2.1-release  (unable to update local ref)
 * [new tag]                 vendor/tzdata/tzdata2021b -> vendor/tzdata/tzdata2021b
 * [new tag]                 vendor/tzdata/tzdata2021c -> vendor/tzdata/tzdata2021c
 * [new tag]                 vendor/tzdata/tzdata2021d -> vendor/tzdata/tzdata2021d

What does all that mean? With some discussion on IRC, where Daniel O'Connor, Callum Gibson and Peter Jeremy each gave apparently conflicting advice, it seems that somebody deliberately broke the repo some time since my checkout. Not much of an advertisement for git. Maybe there was a way round it, but I chose the path of least nausea and started another checkout.

And that takes so long that it was enough for the day. What?, says Callum Gibson. It's not that slow. So we tried in parallel the same checkout from the same server, gitmir.twn.freebsd.org, interestingly located in Taiwan. Neither of us had network or local performance problems, but Callum got his clone complete in 15 minutes, and mine took 47. Why? My guess is that there was some difference in the incantation after all.

In passing, git still seems a real mess. Tried Yet Another command:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/0) /usr/src 219 -> git branch
* ESC[32mstable/13ESC[m

What's that mess? Ah, my fault: it automatically gets piped through less, and my LESS environment variable includes -X, “disable termcap”. Dammit, you git, I don't want it to be piped through less.


Thursday, 28 October 2021 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 28 October 2021
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Net outage!
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

It's been a while since I have had issues with the reliability of the National Broadband Network. Too long, it seems. Came into the office this morning to find the system off the net. Further investigation showed:

Start time End time  Duration   Badness        from                    to
                     (seconds)

1635254381 1635274981  20600  0.001 # 27 October 2021 00:19:41 27 October 2021 06:03:01
1635340681 1635370763  30082  0.055 # 28 October 2021 00:18:01 28 October 2021 08:39:23

People, that's 14 hours! How can anybody justify that kind of downtime. My guess is that they had intended to finish by 6:00 today, like they (almost) did yesterday, but that's still not acceptable. And just where I thought they had improved their service.


More destructive dogs
Topic: animals, gardening, opinion Link here

The Irises are still in flower, now a darker blue kind. But looking out my bedroom this morning, they seemed to be spread out all over the garden:


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Bloody dogs! And maybe they're poisoning themselves. But a closer look told a different story:


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Still bloody dogs, but it's probably less dangerous. But where did they find the pots? I thought I had moved everything out of their way.


git: some advantages?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Into the office this morning to find scratches on my :0.1 monitor:


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It's not immediately obvious, but there's something very wrong there:

 
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Of course, it's not scratches at all. git is half clever: it knows how to set the foreground colour, but not the background colour. Of course it knows that I should be using a black background. Another indication of the short-sightedness of the developers.

More playing around with git today. Now I have a clone, and what I want is a source tree. Well, I have that too: main, which corresponds to what we used to call head, which is supplied without asking by clone But now I want to check out a second view, stable/13. How do you do that?

Simple:

# git checkout stable/13
Switched to a new branch 'stable/13'
Branch 'stable/13' set up to track remote branch 'stable/13' from 'freebsd'.
       77.50 real         1.29 user         0.94 sys

Now isn't that fast? Did it really do anything? ls showed nothing.

Oh, say others on IRC. It checks out into the current directory, not in a subdirectory like clone. So it changed the files while I was building a world in that directory.

But the interesting thing is that it happened so fast. That's not the time it takes to check out a gigabyte of data. Clearly it's doing some clever linking, which could make sense. It would certainly save a lot of space. People mentioned this term “worktree”. Is that a git redefinition of something I know, or is it something different? Whether I like it or not, I'm going to have to dig deeper. git is not a drop-in replacement for svn.


Weather!
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Off in pleasant, sunny weather to Ballarat today for a haircut and to pick up Yvonne's phone, which, as expected, came today, and not the end of next week, as Australia Post claimed yesterday.

By the time my hair was cut, the weather had changed considerably. On the way back to Napoleons I got caught in the heaviest rain I can recall in recent times, and had to slow down almost to a walking pace. In Napoleons they had had flooding in the shop. When I came out, I called up Yvonne and asked her to turn the air conditioner off: this is power failure weather. That proved to be a good precaution: we had already had two 1 second grid power failures in the previous 30 minutes. And when I got home, I configured the PV system to keep the battery fully charged.


Unwise money transfer
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Ruth Viebrock has sent me another parcel from Germany; time to pay for it. TransferWise are cheap, but not free. But they have advice. I can do it for only 0.41 €:

 
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Only on the same page, I see:

 
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0.28 €, the one I had already chosen. That's not the only thing wrong with their web site.


New phone for Yvonne
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Back home and unpacked Yvonne's new Xiaomi Redmi 9A. It's pretty much as I expected, and I got it set up relatively quickly. Now to set up the all-important Service Victoria app. It was already installed, having been “copied” from the old phone. And, like an elephant, it doesn't forget. Yvonne's name is still spelt “Christiane Bahlo”, along with her phone number.

I really should have done a factory reset on the old phone.


Another old lens
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Another thing that I picked up in Napoleons was a lens for my Exakta II, a Schneider (Kreuznach) Xenar, 5 cm f/2.8:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20211029/big/Exakta-with-Xenar-2.jpeg
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Not a pretty lens—none of the old ones seem to be—but again interesting because, like the M42 5 cm Steinheil Cassar, it has a maximum aperture of f/2.8, while the third in that group, the Asahi Takumar, only has an aperture of f/3.5. Yet 15 years later it was the Japanese lenses that had the wide apertures.


Friday, 29 October 2021 Dereel Images for 29 October 2021
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Power fail!
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Listening to the news on the radio at 7:00 this morning: “Wild weather has devastated most of the state, and thousands of households are without power”. That was some forethought of mine yesterday to charge the battery to 90% and turn the air conditioner off!

The news continued: “Hardest hit were Western Victoria, including Bendigo and Ballarat.”

Then the air conditioner decided to reverse cycle, something I haven't heard in a while. And from somewhere a beep. And nothing more on the radio. Dammit, power fail, and I had turned the air conditioner on 45 minutes earlier without checking if we were on the grid or not! FOOL!

So what do we do? From what I heard on the news, it didn't sound as if things would be fixed quickly. And without a pump we don't even have water. At least I could save what little came out of the tap:


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But it didn't stop coming, though slowly. Of course: the tank (in the background) is higher than the tap. At least one thing less to worry about.

And what do things look like? No Internet connection, of course. All the computers were down. What about mobile phones? No, Telstra's mobile net was down too!

OK, dragged out the transistor radio that I bought 5 years ago for completely different purposes. Yes, the radio stations are on the air, but I didn't hear anything of use.

While pondering this matter, saw a CFA truck stopped outside the house. Out to ask how things were, and discovered that the old, dead tree close to the gate had been blown over onto the road, and one of the firemen was removing it.

Asked him about the situation. “Don't expect power back any time soon; the whole west of the state is out”. Possibly he wasn't the best-informed in the world, but he knew more than I did.

At least part of the tree had fallen onto the letterbox, denting it:


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While there, also noticed that the wind had opened the gate far wider than it should ever have been:


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It shouldn't open at all to the right of the gatepost. Fortunately no damage was done to the opener: pushed the thing back into position and it worked normally.

In the meantime, investigated the inverter. It's still running, of course—it's configured to stop delivering power at 5% charge, but that's still 0.32 kWh. And it was daytime, and despite the dreary weather it was charging at about 500 W, and by 9:41 it had charged to 20%, and we had power again:


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This also shows my stupidity in turning on the air conditioner. The discharge of the battery started at 5:17, when it had 95% charge. I turned the air conditioner on at 6:20 (clearly visible both from the spike in the AC load (green) and the strong decline of the battery charge. If I hadn't turned it on, the battery would never have had less than about 40% charge. Note for Groggy: check power in the morning before turning on the air conditioner.

We hit the 20% charge level at 9:40, after which we had power. We left the air conditioner off, of course. It's amazing what a difference it makes. By midday the battery was fully charged again, despite the mediocre weather, and we could turn the air conditioner on again (after all, if power is free, why not use it)?

Bringing up the computers was relatively easy, and even the National Broadband Network was up (for once!), though Telstra gradually brought up the mobile network. About the only problem was with the weather station connected (for want of a better word) to teevee: my program didn't want to recognize it. What's wrong there? I seem to recall a similar problem after a power failure years ago, and I had to buy a new unit. That's more complicated now: they're no longer made, and I would have to reverse engineer whatever new one I chose and reprogram my software. Not a problem to look at today. When we moved here it took me a long time to decide to install a new one, and the things were really flaky.

Having our infrastructure back to normal gave us a better view of the issues, including the live outage map from Powercor:


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Clearly there's a lot of work to be done there, and the entry for Dereel gave the usual status “Under investigation”, but also an “Est. restoration” “8:00 PM 29/10/2021”, in common with all of the other hundreds of outages. If I were to believe it, the whole of West Victoria would light up at once at 20:00. Still, the good news is that it was today.

While discussing the matter on IRC with Callum Gibson, the office UPS beeped. Why? I've seen this when the power fails. Had it come back? The “dashboard” showed nothing, but then there's a 1 minute delay before it does anything. Out to the garage: yes, power back at 16:16:18. And once again, though I was generating more than enough power (after all, the battery was at 100%) it drew as much as it could from the grid, gradually backing off. On reflection, that probably makes sense: it's trying to determine if there's any power behind the voltage.


COVID-19 “digital certificates”
Topic: technology, health, opinion Link here

The events of the day put setting up Yvonne's new Xiaomi Redmi 9A on the back burner. But one of the main reasons for the phone in the first place is for the Service Victoria app, including the vaccination certificate. No WHO approved yellow vaccination certificates for modern medicine—the one person who knew beyond any doubt that Yvonne had been vaccinated wasn't allowed to sign or stamp what she wrote in the certificate—but something digital issue by somebody (or thing) that had never seen Yvonne.

OK, first step: sign up with myGov. That's particularly interesting, because it's the way my Centrelink account was breached earlier this month. So: what security do they want.

None whatsoever! They wanted her name and telephone number. Sent a PIN to the phone number. And create 3 of these stupid “secret questions”. Yvonne has a standard answer, but they're having none of that:

 
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Next, register with Medicare. Medicare number, please. The first sane thing I've seen, and it asks for further information, including my birth date:

 
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What's wrong with that date? 09 instead of 9 to represent September? “Modern” apps want leading zeroes. No, that's not it. It doesn't find anything wrong with the date. At some point I had mistyped on this horrible glass keyboard substitute, and it had highlighted it. Correct it, and it doesn't remove the highlighting. They should send the web programmer to Centrelink for retraining in some other occupation.

And look at the text at the bottom, tastefully overlaid with a button. Give myGov my banking details? You'd have to be crazy to trust a system like that.

In the Medicare app, they wanted all sorts of details, including (again) bank details, in this case matching the ones that they have on record, details of recent appointments with doctors (what do they do if there haven't been any?), the sum refunded by Medicare, and much more. Sorry, Medicare, I can't be bothered. I'll print out Yvonne's “digital certificate” and be done with it.

Back to myGov:

 
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I hadn't come close to completing the identification, and it accepted it anyway! And added a “legal name” (in other words, what I had claimed) to the records. I have a good mind to set up an account for somebody with an unlikely name, say, “Scott Morrison”.

What an appalling system! About the only good thing I can see is that they seem to have taken note of my grumbling of two months ago:

How could people fix that [lack of verifiability]? The obvious solution would be to include a QR code in the document. That's so obvious that you have to wonder why it's not there already.

Now the “certificate” looks like this:


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The QR code says nothing to my phone, but then, neither does a real digital certificate. So maybe they have a verification app that understands it, which would mean that they have done one thing right.


Dog feeding: how?
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Our dogs are now 7½ months old. It's coming on time to feed them less often, and they're saying so: they're not interested in food in the morning. This morning Larissa ate half a chicken frame, somewhat reluctantly, but Lena just picked hers up and rolled it in the gravel in the driveway.

I gave Lena hers (after washing off the gravel) in the evening. And Lara just got pellets—but she ate them all, 346 g of them! By contrast, in the last 3 days she ate a total of 394 g. I wonder why she was so hungry, and if it means that we should feed them differently.


Saturday, 30 October 2021 Dereel Images for 30 October 2021
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Still more bloody NBN outages!
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Two mail messages from my ISP today: still more National Broadband Network outages:

The details are:

  - Start date and time: Wed 17th November 2021 00:00 AEDT
  - End date and time: Wed 17th November 2021 06:00 AEDT
  - Window: 6.0 hours

During the outage window, NBN have outlined the period of time your service may be affected by an interruption:

  - 360 min

  - Start date and time: Thu 18th November 2021 00:00 AEDT
  - End date and time: Fri 19th November 2021 09:00 AEDT
  - Window: 33.0 hours

During the outage window, NBN have outlined the period of time your service may be affected by an interruption:

  - 540 min
  - 540 min

We've just had 14 hours of outages, and now they're threatening another 24 hours! Yes, they seldom carry through with the threats, but why do they do it in the first place?


Storm: the day after
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Our power has been back since yesterday afternoon, but the live outage map from Powercor still shows power out in Dereel, with a restoration time some time today. Why? Ah, you can look at details:

 
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That tells us exactly who's off the grid: Lorraine Carranza and her neighbour directly across the road, the only two houses in Spearys Road. But why are they off the grid? Their power feed is the same as ours We went that way when walking the dogs today, and beyond discovering that the power came from further north, across the gully, and there was one transformer for both properties, I didn't see any obvious damage, and once again we didn't see Lorraine. But I was reminded of the influence of Wendy McClelland, who once ran a campaign against “Smart meters”. So Lorraine doesn't have one:


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On of the advantages of a “smart” meter, of course, is that it can give diagnostics about the condition of the power supply. Clearly Powercor didn't get any feedback from her meter. So is it a false positive? That wouldn't directly explain the neighbours.


Panoramas with two lenses
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

House photo day again today, and the sun was shining for part of the time. That causes problems for the “house-s” panorama, where the sun reflects off the roof, like here (28 August 2021):


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OK, that's what polarizing filters are for. And I have had one for over 12 years, but you can't put filters on fisheye lenses (not mine, anyway), so I needed to use it on another lens. As it happens, and not coincidentally, it fits the Zuiko Digital ED 9-18 mm f/4.0-5.6 ultra wide angle lens that I bought at the same time.

How well does Hugin cope with two different lenses? It's supposed to, but it's worth trying. In the end, by the time I got my act together, the sun had pretty much gone in again, but I tried it anyway. It stitched well, but:


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That appears to be Hugin's reaction to the longer exposure (2 EV compensation for the filter). I'll work on that some other time.


Next Android smart
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Setting up Yvonne's phone has gone relatively smoothly, and it seems to have even longer battery life than mine; after 2 days without charge, the battery was round 80%.

On thing that could reduce battery life is a GPS tracker. I've been using the mendhak GPS logger, but that's it seems that it's no longer acceptable to the toyshop. What can I use instead?

Somehow the app list is really not very helpful. Tried GPS Phone Tracker & Mileage Tracker despite negative feedback:

This app would have been rated 4, EXCEPT they are now killing computer browser access

And it wanted me to create a user ID! And when I did, it told me that I had to join a “circle”, whatever that might mean. It looks like it's a location share app. Dammit, I just want to track where I have been! Goodbye GPS Phone Tracker & Mileage Tracker.

Then there was Smart GPS Tracker, which told me up front:

You Have Need To Register To Use Our App.

Dammit, are there no straightforward tracking apps any more? mendhak has a GitHub presence, so maybe I can use that. As if I didn't have enough pain with git already. But wouldn't it be nice to have something that does what Google Maps should do?


Sunday, 31 October 2021 Dereel Images for 31 October 2021
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More Android app issues
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

It would be really nice to find an Android app that tracked my location and provided the information on a map. I have that, sort of, with the mendhak GPS logger, GPS Visualizer and Wikiloc, but it's clumsy, and the maps aren't easily integrated. Something that output to Google Maps would be more useful. Even better would be an interactive display that showed time, speed and direction at the point under the cursor.

But how often do you find something useful in Android? I'll put the search on the back burner. In the meantime, mendhak would do the job—if I could install it. It's also good for keeping track for photo metadata: I have a script that takes the log files and adds metadata based on the log file content.

mendhak isn't completely gone, but I can't get it from the toyshop. The github page says “You can find it on F-Droid”.

OK, what's F-Droid? More cans and worms, along with lots of dire warnings from the phone about security issues. What a good thing that I don't have anything on the phone that requires security. And then, finally, I had the latest version of the GPS logger installed.

That's enough, I think. It's Yvonne's phone, not mine, and she won't want to play with anything else.


Whiting and Waffle chips
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Fish and chips for dinner tonight, “Whiting” and waffle chips.

The waffle chips are a new idea at ALDI, and I'm not sure they're a good idea. They certainly look very uneven:


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They taste like chips, so it's all in the optics, and they're not great. We'll work our way through this bag and decide whether to buy any more.

The whiting was a failure. I had wanted to fry it with garlic and spring onions, but we didn't have enough spring onions, and it stuck to the non-stick pan:


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I need to think about how to solve that issue.


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