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September 2016
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Thursday, 1 September 2016 Dereel Images for 1 September 2016
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Rani: first mouse
Topic: animals Link here

Got up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet, and I saw a shadow in the corner. It moved: a large, well-nourished mouse. How did that get there? I had left the outside laundry door open, and the inside door has such a gap under it that you could fit a rat through, not just a mouse. But to get there it must have gone straight past the cats.

Into the laundry to get Rani, who took one look at the mouse, chased it around the toilet bowl, got on the wrong side of the door (where only the tail was sticking out), but then inside again and caught it.

Took her back to the laundry to let Piccola see the fun. But Rani disappeared again, and I found her in the lounge room with the mouse, already dead—normally cats play with mice for some time, but then Rani is only half cat. But she didn't seem interested in eating it, from which I suspect that it was her first mouse. Took it back into the laundry, where Piccola quickly grabbed it. Went back to bed and to sleep to the sound of cats growling.


16 years and going strong
Topic: history Link here

Spring is here again! And sixteen years ago I started keeping my diary again, after a lapse of nearly 30 years. I don't regret it. What I do regret is the 30 year lapse. It gives me insights that I couldn't have had any other way. In particular, comparing what I wrote in the 1960s and what I remember is fascinating.


Still more photo recovery
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

I'm not making much headway with my photo recovery, though I'm learning a lot as I go. Spent a lot of time today trying to make sense of these two photos:


This should be Ship.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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Image title: Vati 2
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They're still not good. There seems to be no green at all in the first image, and nothing that I could do would help. The green slider on various software had no effect. It really seems as if all green is missing from the image.

How could that happen? Let me count the ways:

  1. This was taken on Kodak Medium Speed Ektachrome, an almost unknown variant sold to me by Kodak Malaysia, who assured me it had the same characteristics as Ektachrome X. Maybe not quite?
  2. I processed it in substitute E2/E3 chemicals. While nothing obvious went wrong with the processing, it did with some other films (forgot the clearer). The chemicals or my processing could have contributed to the problem.
  3. The film could simply have faded in the intervening nearly 50 years.
  4. The scanner could have a problem with green.

The puzzling thing is that this image seems to have no green at all. The other one did. So no one issue would be a complete explanation. But I'm still at a loss.

Spent a fair amount of time considering replacing the scanner. It's a 9 year old Epson “Perfection” 4990 Photo. What are the good scanners nowadays? The current best scanner (independent of brand) appears to be the Epson “Perfection” V800 Photo. What progress have they made in 10 years? They now advertise an Epson Dual Lens System, whatever that may be. Resolution is up from 4800 x 9600 dpi with Micro Step Drive™ technology to 6400 x 9600 dpi, still with Micro Step Drive™ technology. Maximum resolution (software interpolated) is the same at 12,800 x 12,800, optical density, bit depth and scan speed are all the same. About the only obvious improvement for me is that you can now scan 12 slides at a time instead of 8. But given the scan speed (nothing like what they claim), that doesn't make much difference. So unless there's really something wrong with my particular scanner, it doesn't seem to make much sense to replace it.

The other image was greatly improved by choosing the scanning parameters accordingly. But it still doesn't look right. Once again went looking for software to help me modify it. As I have noted, FRANZIS COLOR projects 4 doesn't offer many of the tools I want, but it does offer a bewildering number of colour effects. Put the image through that and came up with a number of singularly useless variants, including these:

Though I can imagine scenarios where this sort of thing could be useful, this isn't one of them. More and more I''m getting the impression that this PROJECTS software was a waste of time.


The advantage of laptops over tablets
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've been ranting for years about the disadvantages of mobile phones and tablets compared to laptops (or are they notebooks now): the biggest is clearly the lack of a usable keyboard. But it seems that Lenovo has leveled the playing field: they've introduced a new laptop with “versatile” touch panel keyboard.

What an idea! It seems that young users, clearly uneducated, are used to touch screens, so this is a natural. This article sums it up:

Officially it’s called the Halo Keyboard, and if you’ve ever tried to quickly type on a tablet’s software keyboard than you’ll be familiar with the experience. Only it’s a little nicer because the keyboard is separated from the display, so it doesn’t suck up screen real estate, and it has a pleasantly rough texture. It’s also got haptic feedback, which in the case of a touchscreen keyboard is sort of like sticking lipstick on the pig.

Surprisingly, all the people on IRC agreed. Often they consider me an old fogey who is not prepared to go with the times. But they're missing the point that I was just as refractory when I was young.


Protecting the roses
Topic: gardening Link here

Last week I discovered that our new roses need protection from the dogs. How? It's also pretty windy there, so it made sense to put some plastic foil on the fences to protect them. Surprisingly, everything went well:

 
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Planted the other older rose with unspecified name in place of the “Red Lincoln”, which is on life support in the nursery:

 
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And our last rose of winter is now the first rose of spring:

 
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Still more flash pain
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I've been having problems with on-camera flash for ever. One of the best things I have done is to put cheap studio flash units around the living areas, bouncing off the ceilings: set the camera on manual and you're away. No shadows, good exposure, like this image taken this morning:

 
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That should work just as well with on-camera flash. I can use bounce on my meacblitz too. But somehow the unit and the camera conspire to make the images second rate.

This evening found Rani lying with Sasha and Leonid, coincidentally in almost exactly the same position at the photo above. No time to turn on the studio flashes, so grabbed the mecablitz and away:

 
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Image title: Sasha Rani Leonid 1
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Not too bad? This was direct light, and clearly there has to be drop-off in the distance. But look at the exposure! 1/60 s at f/2.8, so that there was no way to get everything in focus:

 
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Why does it do that? There seems to be no way to tell the camera to use the flash as the primary source of light, just “fill-in”. Yes, I could work around this by setting aperture priority next time, but it would still give me 1/60s. Somehow manual exposure is the only way.


Friday, 2 September 2016 Dereel Images for 2 September 2016
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Fighting telemarketeers
Topic: general Link here

The telemarketeers keep coming back. Some seem to have recognized that not displaying phone numbers is a good indication of being a spammer, and they display something instead, in many cases an invalid number. Today's was formally valid, however: 0400359937. But there's still this tell-tale silence when you respond.

For the fun of it, I answered this day.

TM: Good Day Sir, how are you today?

Me: What's your name?

Justin: Justin.

Me: Ah, good, I was expecting your call. So this G20 meeting. You're preparing to kill the Russian and German delegates, right? We'll take care of the French and the Chinese.

Justin: Wait... I'm not sure you understand.

Me: OK, you don't need to be that careful. I know who you are. Give me a call again when you've done the job. Goodbye. click.

I don't know what he thought, but it made me feel good.


Focus stacking, next attempt
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Spring is here, and the trees are in flower, notably the wattles. Today while walking the dogs I broke off a flowering twig from a blackwood and tried taking photos.

It's still not easy. I keep forgetting that to take focus bracketed images with flash, you need a speed of 1/13 s or less, because it takes that long to read out the sensor. So my first series was completely black. Getting the start point is also not easy, and it seems that focus peaking is highly dependent on distance. Managed an almost acceptable image with both extension tubes:

 
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The flower head was about 7 mm in diameter, and the magnification onto the sensor was about 1.43:1. At this distance the aperture (f/11 in the case of these images) becomes v/27, so I'm only getting about a sixth of the light that the exposure meter tells me.

What do we need to make things easier? At the very least it should be possible to specify a focus range, not just start focus, and rather than this almost meaningless “focus step” parameter there should be a maximum circle of confusion between the individual images. It would also be nice for the camera's exposure meter to have a studio flash mode to measure just how much light comes through the lens.


Cats getting on better
Topic: animals Link here

A few weeks ago I wondered whether we had done Piccola a favour or not by buying Rani. Piccola seemed to avoid Rani a lot of the time. But gradually things seem to be getting better:

 
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Hopefully things will stay that way, and not like this:

 
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More mystery flowers
Topic: gardening Link here

Spring is coming, and I've found yet another flower I can't identify:

 
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It's some kind of creeper, and the flowers are about 2 cm across.


Saturday, 3 September 2016 Dereel Images for 3 September 2016
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The right language for the job
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

My recent work on old photos makes it clear that I need to have images that aren't listed on the pages. For example, the image 19650803/small/Norm-1.jpeg has moved to 19650804/small/Norm-1.jpeg, and I've renamed 19640828/small/KL-8.jpeg to the more descriptive 19640828/small/Bank-Negara-Malaysia.jpeg. But I can't just remove the old names, because search engines keep looking for them. On the other hand, I don't want these names to show up on the page.

Each page has an associated file photolist.php (for hysterical raisins, since they're just a list of the file names and dimensions) which I use to build the page. My current idea is to add a further data column to flag those images that shouldn't be displayed. OK, not a big problem. Back to the Makefile for the web pages, where I found old, mouldy and obscene shell script snippets:

        MYDIR=`pwd`; \
        WEBDIR=~/public_html/Photos/`basename $$MYDIR`; \
        XXDIR=`pwd`; \
        DIR=Photos/`basename $$XXDIR`; \
        BASEDIR=`basename $$DIR`; \

I suppose this redundancy is left over from code that once made sense, but this is ridiculous. And it indicates to me one of the big issues with shell scripts: they're so brittle. Time for a better language. PHP?

Started rewriting the script in PHP, which was instructive in itself. But the further I went, the more doubts I have. How do you extract the dimensions of the image to build photolist.php? In the script it was things like:

        TINYSIZE=`identify tiny/$$j | awk '{print $$3}'`; \
        TINYHORIZ=`echo $$TINYSIZE | sed 's:x.*::'`; \
        TINYVERT=`echo $$TINYSIZE | sed 's:.*x::'`; \

That's four external processes right there. In PHP it's cleaner, but still not good:

          $tinydetails = system ("identify tiny/$entry");
          preg_match ("%.* ([0-9]+)x([0-9]+) .*%", $tinydetails, $tinydimensions);

I still need an external program to get the dimensions. And PHP's system() call irritates by echoing the output of the command to the terminal (stdout? stderr? I haven't checked). And maybe other programming languages, such as python can extract the dimensions directly. Can I bear revisiting it?


Fixing HDR4 Projects gaudiness
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

I still haven't found a way to persuade HDR Projects 4 to produce images that aren't ridiculously gaudy. I can alter each individual image, but the whole idea is to batch process the images, and the “save preset” function doesn't seem to include the corrections.

Today I tried a different approach: I first convert the raw images to TIFF with DxO Optics “Pro”. Today I set saturation down by 30 points (whatever that may mean in absolute terms) and processed that. It seems to be an improvement, though it's not that obvious looking at direct comparisons. I'll have to keep an eye on the matter.

How photo software annoys me!


Sunday, 4 September 2016 Dereel Images for 4 September 2016
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Alternatives for huevos rancheros?
Topic: food and drink Link here

In our continuing quest for alternative breakfasts (which I think we should be calling brunches), it occurred to me that huevos rancheros have a number of similarities with Indian food. Is there a way to put an Indian touch on the dish, or maybe just find a similar Indian dish?

While trawling, discovered that even the normal recipe is very much up for discussion. Yvonne likes them so much because of the guacamole avocado purée (no chili for Yvonne), but it seems that it's not part of the canonical recipe. And looking through the photos on line showed approaches that are very different from mine. This page looks interesting for variations on the normal recipe, and this one might have some ideas if I could get beyond the horrible popup in the middle, which I can't get rid of: “Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :-)”. OK, people, here's the word: it drives me mad! Please get rid of it.


More photo software
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

I'm still looking for a photo software package that I can use to recover my slides. Today I came across Lightzone and installed it. Like all software, it requires getting used to, and it has a less than average awareness of directory structures, but there seem to be a number of knobs that I can use, and possibly it's worthwhile.


Descaling the coffee machine
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

For a few days now my coffee machine has told me it wanted to be descaled. Why? Scale is accumulation of calcium and magnesium compounds from the water. But we have rainwater, and it's free of them. Tell that to the designers—please. In their infinite wisdom they have decided that the thing needs descaling anyway.

And how? Put a 1.5 l container under the outlets. How? The design is such that almost no such container fits. In the end I balanced a saucepan on the cup platform, one just small enough not to tip over, and let the thing run. It wants descaling fluid, of course, but there's no way it can check for it, so I just used water.

What a mess! No warning that the water outlet (which I don't use) will spray in whatever direction it's pointing, though I could have guessed that. And the force meant that water was sprayed all over the place anyway. The whole thing took about 20 minutes. And all that for a completely superfluous operation.


Rose protection: failure
Topic: gardening Link here

The plastic foil we put up on Thursday didn't last long:

 
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I had half expected that kind of problem, but not that it would all come apart at once. As expected, the foil tore around the cable ties:

 
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What now? Thicker straps might be one option. Yvonne wants to use baling twine, which would not look too good. Time to see what I can pick up at the hardware shops.


Monday, 5 September 2016 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 5 September 2016
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Dentist again
Topic: health Link here

Off to the dentist today for a checkup after the extraction three months ago. Slight displacement of the wisdom tooth behind it, about 0.5 mm. Is that serious? I'm off to see Leela in another 3 months; we'll see how it looks then.


Clocks or iPhone covers?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

While in town, off to buy a wall clock for the kitchen. Yes, we've had one for ever, but now that the dining room has migrated, we want one in both places.

I couldn't find one! The electrical department at Big W had hundreds of different mobile phone covers, but something as boring as a wall clock just doesn't sell. Similar situation elsewhere.

O tempora! O mores!


GPS navigation accuracy
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've ranted in the past about the accuracy of my GPS maps. In particular there's a good route home from the west of Ballarat, via Bowens Road. Even Google Maps gets it almost correct. Here's the relevant part of the journey. Coming south there's a turn south-east into Bells Road, then back south west into Sebastopol-Smythesdale Road and almost immediately south into Bowens Road:

Google Maps doesn't like Bowens Road, so it takes me to the next parallel road, Tom Jones Road, adding about 700 m to the journey.

Only a few days later this was corrected, and the saved map changed. The version I see on Friday, 9 September is correct. On the one hand, it's nice to see errors corrected, but I would have expected that they wouldn't propagate to existing routes. Next time I'll have to take a screen shot.

But compared to its normal inaccuracy, that's almost acceptable. By contrast, my GPS navigator doesn't want to know about the route, and it takes me through multiple attempts to go to the east before finally acquiescing.

But today I needed to visit Joan Parrington in, as it happens, Tom Jones Road. Clearly the route is almost identical. But at the end of Bells Road it decided that I should turn north into Schreenans Road, then east and back along Sebastopol-Smythesdale Road to almost where I started:

 
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The second image is looking south-east (something the navigator can't report) just before the junction of Bells Road and Sebastopol-Smythesdale Road. That's perfectly normal, while Schreenans Road is a particularly poor unmade road (here on the left), a distance of about 3 km:


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So it should be obvious that there's a map error which tells the navigator that there's a disconnect between the current position and the road in front. But it's clearly marked on the navigator display, and this is the first time it has happened. It appears to be related to the destination, not the route. I'm really puzzled as to what kind of bug can cause this misrouting.

In passing, it's interesting that at the south end of Tom Jones Road, the navigator wanted to take me home further to the west. Potentially the route really is shorter, but I have serious doubts about the quality of the road that it has chosen.


Dog toys
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

The reason that I visited Joan was twofold, both to do with dogs. Joan has a dog bath for sale (with heater and pump). The price is right, but unfortunately it hasn't been run for years, and the pump has seized up. Out to take a look at it with Joan's husband Guy. We're both agreed that it is one of the most stupidly constructed devices we have ever seen. It's almost impossible to get at the pump, and we can't get it out either. I'll have to think about that one.

Joan also recommended a specific kind of toy ball for Sasha. The balls are very expensive—about $45—and I didn't want to buy something that he wouldn't use, so I borrowed one from her.

Back home, showed the ball to Sasha. Yes, he's more interested in it than in the other toy balls we bought, but it's still not very interesting.


Cleaning out the deep freeze
Topic: food and drink Link here

I can't recall the last time we started from scratch with the content of our deep freezes. But this evening Yvonne was looking for coriander root, and she couldn't find it in the mess that is basket 2, which contains mainly small bags of herbs. Time to classify the small bags in bigger, easily identifiable bags.

In the process, discovered a number of things that somehow got lost from the database. Some thin sausages that could be Nürnberger Bratwurst. Dozens of little bags of still-recognizable sage, thyme and similar herbs. A jar of coffee powder dated 1 January 2000. I think I'll actually try the coffee (Lavazza Qualità Oro) to see how it compares with fresh coffee.


Chicken with mint/basil: needs fish sauce
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I've been trying variations on chicken with Vietnamese mint (originally a Thai dish with Thai basil) for some time, but on each case found it boring. Tried it today (I forgot to read the recipe before deciding), and found it... boring. But I think there's a lot that can be done with a little fish sauce. Next time I'll experiment.


Tuesday, 6 September 2016 Dereel Images for 6 September 2016
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Worthwhile online photo course
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Since I'm interested in photography and also participate in online courses, mainly from Coursera, it seems reasonable that I should participate in online photography courses. And sure enough, they have one, Photography Basics and Beyond: From Smartphone to DSLR from Michigan State University. I tried it a while back and was amazed at how bad it was; I'm surprised the university allowed it to be published.

So when Mitchel Fielding posted about an online photography course by Marc Levoy on Facebook's Dereel Camera Crew, I wasn't too hopeful. But surprise, surprise, it's good. The bloke knows his stuff, and as far as I have seen (½ hour out of a total of about 20 hours), it's relatively well structured. About the only thing I can fault is the poor sound quality, which fluctuates greatly in volume. The questions from the students (yes, it's a video of a real live lecture theatre) are almost inaudible. But maybe they well have fixed that in the following lectures.

Rather surprisingly, about the first topic he came up with was a formula for depth of field: 2 * n * c * u² / f², where n is the aperture (apparently as fraction of f, the focal length), c is the circle of confusion and u is the distance to the subject. That's quite different from the way I calculate it in my depth of field program, and it doesn't take into account that depth of field is asymmetric: it's deeper further from the focal point than it is closer from the focal point. For example with a 25 mm lens, circle of confusion 8 μm, u 10 m and f/5.6, I get:

Lens focal length:        25 mm
Aperture:                f/5.6
Hyperfocal distance:      13.951 m
Circle of confusion:       8.00 µm

Subject distance:         10.00 m
Near limit:                5.825 m
Far limit:                35.311 m
Depth of field:           29.486 m

That's a distance of 25.3 m beyond the subject and only 4.2 m before it.

Clearly I'm not the only person to like this course. As the page says, it has “gone viral”, and they recommend getting the videos from YouTube, where I find:

 
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Which one is it? The title has been uniformly truncated, with the lecture number replaced by "...". Are they maybe in order? No, the first in the list is lecture 17. In fact, none of these are lecture 1; that's beyond the bottom of this view.


Microscopy: another can of worms
Topic: photography Link here

Chris Bahlo along today to lend me her microscope, a little the worse for storage:

 
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I had the wrong glasses on, but I could clearly see the manufacturer's sign, the unmistakable Carl Zeiss logo:

Image

But closer investigation shows that it's a (not-so-cheap) Japanese copy:

 
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It doesn't seem to have a model number, unless that's what's under the logo. It also has binocular eyepieces, not exactly what I need to connect a camera to it. But yes, it has the standard 23.1 mm connector, so I can get adapters.

But which? Should there be a lens in there or not? More reading to be done, so far inconclusively.


Cèpes? Steinpilze?
Topic: gardening, food and drink, opinion Link here

While walking the dogs in the house forest today, Yvonne found a mushroom that she thought might be a Cèpe or Steinpilz:

 
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What's the name in English? It seems that there isn't a common name, but it would be Boletus edulis, though I discover that the Italian word Porcino refers to the same mushroom. And was it? No way:

 
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I've seen yellow mushrooms before. Ten years ago I found some in Kuitpo Forest, but they're clearly different:

 
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I had a recollection that I had seen other yellow mushrooms, but I can't find them. So: is this some species of Boletus?


Wednesday, 7 September 2016 Dereel Images for 7 September 2016
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Understanding microscopes
Topic: photography Link here

So now Chris Bahlo has lent me her microscope, and I need to find a way to connect my camera to it. I can get adapters for about $25, but is that enough? A microscope has two lenses: an objective and an ocular. The adapter replaces the ocular, and it's just a tube, so you're left with the objective. Can you even focus like that?

Out looking for advice on photomicrography. It's clear that this isn't mainstream: there's not much information. This article looks like a good start, but it doesn't immediately answer the question. Yes, you can use a tube, but you get a lot of “empty magnification”, whatever that means. I'll read the article some time, but it's clear that I'm not ready to order any hardware just yet.

In the process, also went looking for the model of the microscope. The inscriptions on the ocular are the only identification of any kind. After a bit of searching found a history of Olympus microscopes, which shows a model “DF Biological Microscope”, introduced in 1957. There are minor differences, but all subsequent models look very different, so I assume that that's the model. Who would have thought it was so old?


More mushroom investigations
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

More reading up on yesterday's mushrooms, and confirmed that there are some yellow Boletus species, notably the Boletus auripes, which is maybe a little too yellow for my mushrooms. It's also smaller.

So in the afternoon went back and picked some of the mushrooms. They have the typical Boletus thick stem:

 
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Well, that's what I thought. When I tried to cut through them, I discovered that they were really dried-out mushrooms:

 
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So back to take some photos. The biggest one was about 16 cm across, and the smallest was about 4 cm across:

 
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I don't have much idea of what else to look for in mushrooms, but here are some likely looking photos. First of the big one:

 
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And here the small one:

 
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Stupid macro lens design
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Taking the photos of the pores of the mushrooms was interesting. It would be nice to come even closer. The maximum magnification I can get with my M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro is 1.4 (full extension of 60 mm for 1:1 and 26 mm of extension tubes). But with the same tubes and the Zuiko Digital 35 mm f/3.5, which also goes to 1:1, I'd have an extension of 61 mm and a magnification of 1.75. So how about it?

 
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And yes, that's the position at which I took this image:

 
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Why does the lens have to be so close? Because they've put an unnecessary cone or integral lens hood in front of it, blocking the light. In fact, the front element is about 4.5 cm further back.

Why? And it's not the only one. I have exactly the same problem with my 50 mm f/4.0 SMC Macro-Takumar, meaning that I can't use it either:

 
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If there's one place where you need to be able to keep your distance, it's here. And that's exactly where they make life difficult. To be fair, both my other macro lenses don't have this nonsense.


Repairing the wind protection
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Our second wind protection foil has come apart, not quite so spectacularly as the first. We had been looking for some kind of reinforcement, maybe a panel to hold the joins in place, but without success. Today we tried tying down the smaller one with baling twine over two adjacent wires of the mesh. We'll see how that works out.


Marc Levoy's depth of field calculation
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

I'm continuing watching Marc Levoy's photo course, and as I suspected the tone issues were much improved in the second lecture. For the fun of it, put his formula into my depth of field program for comparison. Parts of it are excellent. In most cases it comes out with as good as exactly the same values. But sometimes it doesn't. For example, for a 35 mm lens at f/11 and a focus distance of 12 m, using a circle of confusion of 8 μm, my program gives:

Subject        Focal plane     Magnification  Exposure       Near        Far         Depth of
distance (m)   distance (mm)                    comp  (EV)   limit (m)   limit (m)  field (m)
  12.00           35.102        0.00             0.0         6.445       86.982     80.538

But Levoy's formula gives a depth of field of 20.7 m. Who's right? DOFMaster doesn't agree with either of us. It gives:

Near limit        6.37 m
Far limit       103.5 m
Total            97.1 m

But that's much closer to my calculations. And surprisingly there are very few online depth of field calculators that allow you to specify the circle of confusion. It's amazing how many want specific camera or lens models, as if that made any difference. This one does, but it gives much more lenient results (in this example from 5.5 m to ∞). DOFMster does, however, publish their formula. Like mine, it's based on the hyperfocal distance, and there a difference creeps in:

mine:       hyperfocal = f * f / (aperture * confusion);
DOFMaster:  hyperfocal = f * f / (aperture * confusion) + f;

Which is right? It's a matter of definition. Wikipedia offers both. I'm measuring from the “optical centre” of the lens, DOFMaster is measuring from the focal plane (nominally f away). Arguably that's a better approach. The near and far limits are calculated quite differently; I need to get my head around all of this again.


Thursday, 8 September 2016 Dereel Images for 8 September 2016
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New clock
Topic: general, opinion Link here

After my failure to find a clock on Monday, I did more searching. Found a number of very forgettable clocks on eBay, but nothing worth having, with prices starting round $25. But somewhere I found that yes, indeed, Big W does have clocks, pretty much what I was looking for, for $5, and Yvonne bought one yesterday. It was well hidden, and she needed the assistance of two different employees.

Decided to put it on the kitchen wall. Nothing unusual about that:

 
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But somehow (and quite surprisingly) there's something very satisfying about the placement. It's not as if we didn't have one there before—in fact, for this photo I temporarily put it back where it was, on top of the fridge at the right:

 
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This view shows the entire kitchen. The old clock wasn't as invisible as that under normal circumstances. So why does the new placement seem so right?


More mushroom investigation
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Spent a lot more time investigating yesterday's mushrooms. The first clue was the pores, which I had identified as gills, which confirms that they could be something from the genus Boletus. But it seems that there are a lot of Boletus-like mushrooms, and after some consideration it seems that they could be Suillus luteus, the same kind that we found in Kuitpo Forest 10 years ago. If so, it's an indication of how different the fruits of specific fungi can be.

But Suillus luteus is supposed to grow under pine trees. They did in Kuitpo Forest, but we found these ones under Eucalypts. The neighbours (Graeme and Linda Swift) have lots of conifers, so you'd expect to see them there. But the best I could see was this one, with a solitary mushroom at the very bottom:

 
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We did find some others under the conifers on our side of the fence. My best guess is that they're related, but the sheep on the other side have eaten them all. Presumably it means that the fungi can survive for a limited time without the symbiosis.


Friday, 9 September 2016 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel
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Eureka VIllage again
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Off to Ballarat this morning with Nikolai, Leonid and Yvonne to visit the residents of the Geoffrey Cutter Centre and the Eureka Village Hostel. I'm getting the feeling that Niko has had enough of this; he's continually trying to get out. Maybe he's not the ideal dog for the job. Yvonne says similar things about Leo, but she's still hoping that Sasha will do better once he has come of age. We'll see.


Old Kuala Lumpur, Facebook style
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

The photos that I licensed to Telekom Malaysia have now been published on Facebook, as part of a photo montage:

It almost looks as if they took the versions I supplied before fixing them up. But maybe that's part of the impression they want to make.


50 years: going where no man has gone before
Topic: history, opinion Link here

I've been waiting to report today's 50th anniversary for a few weeks now, which opened a completely different dimension of travel to me.

But then I discover it's also the 50th anniversary of the first release of Star Trek. That somehow dwarfs the fact that I got a driving license and was able to travel by myself.


Borzoi T-shirt
Topic: animals, general Link here

Yvonne has designed a T-shirt with Borzoi photos:

 
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That's Zhivago on the front and Sasha on the back.


Revisiting old recipes
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

It's been a while since I cooked prawns and squid on noodles, so we did it again today. Apart from the fact that—once again—we didn't have all the ingredients, some of the quantities seemed wrong, and we ended up doubling spring onions, garlic and ginger. That proved to be too much ginger, but apart from that the balance was OK—but it was far too much for us. Are we eating that much less nowadays?


Saturday, 10 September 2016 Dereel Images for 10 September 2016
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Nele visits briefly
Topic: general Link here

Nele Kömle along today with her new Icelandic stallion (Dagfari, if I recall correctly), and stopped by for lunch. Nele's son Nelson is now walking and trying to come to terms with the interest of the dogs:

 
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Kangaroo hunt
Topic: animals Link here

A lot of kangaroos again today:


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Yvonne wanted to hunt them with the dogs, but in a paradigm shift forgot her sled:

 
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Thou shalt not KILL
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Came across this on IRC today:


Chris rebuilt
Topic: general Link here

Chris Bahlo had a knee operation on Wednesday, and the dressings are of great interest to Nikolai:

 
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Sunday, 11 September 2016 Dereel Images for 11 September 2016
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Levoy's depth of field explained
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

I'm continuing with Marc Levoy's photography course. It's interesting, but the production is still an issue, and by lecture 4 (which has other sound quality issues) he's only just getting round to repeating questions posed (inaudibly) during the lecture.

The course so far (currently handling lenses) is really quite technical, and I'm learning quite a bit. But he has come back to depth of field, an issue that had occupied me a couple of days ago, and it seems that he's making some quick and dirty assumptions, notably that the conjugate of the circle of confusion is small relative to the aperture:

 
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The size of the cognate is proportional to the magnification. At 1:1 it's the same, typically (my choice) 8 μm, while the aperture can be typically 1000 times larger. Under these circumstances, it's a good assumption. But at distances round 1000 times the focal length (10 to 100 m), it becomes the same order of magnitude, and for distant subjects it's much larger.

Levoy knows this; he has a number of Java applets that illustrate the geometry, like this one (lecture 4, about 1 minute in):

 
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That's a lens with focal length 75 mm at f/1.2 and a subject distance (which I call u and he calls U) of 392 mm, and a circle of confusion of 20 mm! That's larger than my camera sensor. Why does the applet allow such ridiculous sizes? The range is between 1 and 100 mm, round 1000 times what you'd expect. In fact, the applet uses several non-sensical ranges. The focal length range is acceptable (20-250 mm), but the aperture range starts at f/0.3, though Levoy showed in the lecture that the aperture of a spherical lens can't be less than f/0.5 (because then the lens surrounds the sensor), and the subject distance runs between 30 and 600 mm, only a macro range.

Still, that's the example he produced. And how about that, the 1081 mm are the results of his calculation. The “ray tracing” depth of field is nowhere close at 8.4 m, though my program shows a near limit of 0.14 m and a far limit of ∞. So while his calculations are demonstrably wrong, it's not clear that mine are right.

But knowing this, he goes on to derive rules like this one (lecture 4, 8:34), stating that depth of field is constant for what is effectively the same field of view:

 
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That didn't make sense to me. But at those distances (I'm guessing, say, 50 cm for the first image and 2 m for the second), it's a reasonable approximation. But again it depends on his simplification.

Apart from that, there were a couple of other things that I consider borderline. What's a filter? To my way of thinking, it's something that's not a lens and modifies the light through the lens in some manner. But he uses this horrible term “close-up filter”, even when it's clearly marked “close-up lens”:

 
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You can't say that any supplementary lens is a filter; the teleconverters he demonstrated are also supplementary lenses, as are these horrible screw-on converters. But he used the correct (i.e. my) terminology there.

Then there's the question of nodal point and entrance pupil. He shows the nodal points of a thick lens with effectively this Wikimedia image:

But then he says that panoramas should rotate around the front nodal point. Everybody knows that it's the entrance pupil. Off to find confirmation, and couldn't find it. The definition of entrance pupil is that it's the virtual image of the diaphragm seen from the front. How does that relate to a front nodal point? More research needed.

Finally, a trick question: does the depth of field change depend on the sensor size? Of course not. Where's the mention of sensor size in any of the many and varied formulae? But he says “yes, because the pixels get smaller, so the circle of confusion gets smaller”. That's quite an assumption. It would also mean that the depth of field for constant sensor size would depend on the resolution. Some online calculators really do try to apply this relationship, but it's certainly a step beyond the basic concept.


Monday, 12 September 2016 Dereel Images for 12 September 2016
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More microscopy insights
Topic: photography Link here

It's really difficult finding out just what I need to connect my camera to Chris' microscope? After several days of reading lots of pages, including some selling adapters for astronomical prices, I'm no closer. About the most specific statement I have found was on this page, stating that the adapter may or may not include optics:

The image produced by the microscope objective can be directly picked up by the sensor of a camera, without an eyepiece or other intermediate optics. Here objective of a microscope produces a real image directly on the camera’s sensor. The objective produces a relatively large image, compared to the small sensor of many cameras. Unless the sensor is large, there may be quite much empty magnification and the brightness of the image is low.

As I have commented before, what is “empty magnification”?

On the other hand, the adapters I find on eBay are of two kinds. The more appropriate ones seem to be T-mount adapters that are adapted to specific cameras, including mine. They appear not to have any optics, but the description isn't definitive.

The others are C-mount adapters, apparently for CCD cameras, whatever that means—probably webcams or some such. They do have optics, but since they're no more expensive (in fact, they start at lower prices), price is probably not an indicator.

So what happens if I remove the eyepiece and connect a camera with no optics? I can fake that with extension tubes, though of course I'll have to hand-hold the camera. So spent some time cleaning the dust off the microscope and getting to know it better, then went looking for something to look at. It's a medical microscope, so it's designed for back-lighting, and that doesn't quite match my subjects. Finally found a grain of salt and discovered that, far from my expectations, it had no recognizable shape at all (should be roughly cubic). Put the camera up there, and ...

 
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Yes, not spectacular; with a few adjustments I could get it much better. But the image was pretty much what I saw through the eyepiece—no “lost magnification”—and the exposure was hand-held 1/50 s at 36°/3200 ISO. That would correspond to about 1/3 s at 24°/200 ISO, certainly acceptable when connected firmly—not the “low brightness” that I had expected. That was quite a positive surprise. And presumably it means that the adapters do indeed have no optics, which in a way is positive: the optics in a cheap adapter are probably not worth having.

So I have ordered an adapter ($17). Now I need some kind of illumination. It seems that real reflective microscopes have lighting built in to the objectives, but I'm not prepared to investigate that yet. But one of the pages mentioned fibre optic LED lighting. Where can I find that? So far, eBay has just offered me otoscopes, not quite what I'm looking for.


More bread problems
Topic: food and drink Link here

Bread baking day again today. Even when I got up in the morning, it was clear that there were problems. Normally the starter rises to the top of the mixing vessel overnight, but today it had only got half that far. And after 9½ hours I gave up waiting for the bread itself to rise completely; it was still a couple of centimetres from the top of the pan. Normally it would have got to the top in 2 to 4 hours.

Baked it anyway, and it rose more than I expected, but it's still on the small side. What's causing this? This was starter G20, and looking back it seems that the G strain has a history of bad rising. On 23 March starter G17 gave me trouble. That's why I started recording the rising times. But on 8 May starter G18 rose in only 4 hours (still on the slow side). And on 1 July I used G19, but forgot to write down the rising time.

So either the starter is tired, or maybe it's reacting to the longer times between loaves? I used to use the starters after about 6 weeks, but with our change in diet it's coming closer to 10. Maybe I should give the first stage another day before continuing.


Tuesday, 13 September 2016 Dereel
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Rain, rain, rain
Topic: general Link here

It's been a really wet start to spring, with flooding to the extent that it has been reported in international news programmes. Round here we haven't had more than the usual wet ground, though the dam next door is full to overflowing, so we have the potential for flooding if much more rain falls.

As a result, spent most of the day indoors reading and watching TV.


We-can-improve-your-web-side
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Spam is a way of life, of course, and a reasonable amount comes from people who want to “improve” my web site, even if it isn't mine. This particular one strikes me for a number of reasons:

From: Oliver Hodges | Page Port Pty Ltd <oliverhodges522@gmail.com>
To: groggyhimself@freebsd.org
Subject: www.freebsd.org

My name is Oliver and I am-Digital-Marketing-Manager. I recently browsed
through your business-website-and wanted to highlight some key points for
consideration.

I am sure I can help your-website-rank on-Search-Engines-a lot easier. I have
compiled a-website-audit-which lists all the areas that your-website- needs
improvement in.

I am happy to send it through at-no-charge-associated-of course all I want is
the chance to cal you to see if we can help.

Would you be interested in this-Website-Audit? Are you available this week to
discuss? Please reply with your phone number.

Best regards,

OLIVER HODGES | DMM

PAGE PORT Pty Ltd
Headquarters: Office 7001-Level-13, 460 La Trobe ST, Melbourne Vic.3000
Australia
Branch Office: Sydney | Perth | Brisbane | Adelaide | Hobart.

And yes, I haven't altered this text beyond removing some headers and modifying my own email address. But what's wrong with this picture?

  1. It's sent to me at my FreeBSD address about the FreeBSD web site. Why? How many other FreeBSD team members received something else?

    For what it's worth, I also received an almost identical message about http://lemis.com/.

  2. Why are words joined-together-with hyphens, and that without any recognizable connection with the sentence structure? Do they propose to do the same thing with my web site?

  3. The message purports to be from a company in Melbourne, but the sender address is from gmail.com. What kind of impression does that make?

  4. Similarly, there's no web site URL or phone number.

  5. There's at least one spelling mistake or typo.

All in all, a very poor advertisement for the company. I went looking and discovered that it's all a scam. So how did I believe it was genuine? Simple: it's only a little worse than what some “legitimate” SEO companies write.


Microscope illumination
Topic: photography Link here

More searching for illumination for reflective microscopy images today. It's really not easy. A number of sellers on eBay offer ring lights with a 5 cm inside diameter. That's a strange size; typical objectives have a diameter of about 16.7 mm, and the turret on Chris' microscope, which looks relatively typical, has a diameter of about 10 cm. Even if the ring were to be mounted on the turret, it would be pointing in the wrong direction. So where is the light intended to be mounted? The illustrations carefully obscure that detail.

Did a bit of experimentation with a torch. Unlike on Monday, the results were not inspiring. I have the same issue that I had with the macro lenses: the objectives are too close to the subject. I'm not sure that there's anything I can do about that.

Today I also received the reversing ring that I had ordered last month. Not from China, as advertised, but from Paraguay. It's not very well machined, but the biggest issue is that, contrary to what I expected, it hardly gives more than 1:1 magnification, even with extension tubes. I don't see myself using it much.


Wednesday, 14 September 2016 Dereel Images for 14 September 2016
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The morning after
Topic: general Link here

In the past 5 days we've had 110 mm of rain, about a fifth of the normal annual rainfall. Last night alone we had 48 mm according to one rain gauge; the other was off the scale.

That's not quite a record; on 4 November 2007 we had a calculated 51.3 mm:

 
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But it left its mark, notably on the road. Here's the entrance to our house:

 
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And just a few metres away the surface had been washed away:

 
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Further south, though, the rivulet that has been running for some days is now running across the road, about 80 cm across:

 
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Towards better brochettes
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

What's the English word for brochette? To my surprise, it's brochette. But that's the normal term. Skewer? Spit? Without qualification, neither is very useful, though I note with interest that Wikipedia (currently) distinguishes between brochettes and skewers.

In any case, we made some brochettes with beef and vegetables today:

 
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It's not the first time, but this time we used skewers with a flat profile, and they also proved too long for the toaster oven we normally use. Did them in the main oven, grill, 210° for 15 minutes. That's probably too long, and they were tough, not necessarily as a consequence. How should I do it next time? I had thought of doing the meat sous vide, but that would require a much shorter grilling time, and the onions and capsicums would then not get cooked.


Thursday, 15 September 2016 Dereel
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Slow day
Topic: general, photography, technology, multimedia Link here

Another slow day with nothing much to report. I suppose as I get older there will be more of them. I had intended to take my monthly garden photos, but the weather wasn't up to it. Spent some time watching the Marc Levoy videos, in the process noting that teevee can't render WebM sound correctly, while eureka has no trouble. What's the issue there?


Online panoramas
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Followed a thread on the Hugin mailing list today, asking for a 360° panorama tutorial. But that wasn't what he wanted at all: he was looking for panorama animators, like I did in this thread a couple of months ago.

And he found one, online at http://www.360cities.net/. Not the way I would want to go, but worth following up. It proves to be a very commercial site, with fees of up to 360 (!) € per year, though there is a free “basic” account. Signed up for that and uploaded a recent panorama. The result looked different at first, but after a bit of examination it's just because it can zoom out further. Still, I don't see any particular reason to put up with the inconvenience of the commercial framework.


Friday, 16 September 2016 Dereel Images for 16 September 2016
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Increase speed limits!
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Bill Tilley, a Victorian MLA of whom I had never heard, has started a survey (really a vote) on speed limits on Victorian freeways (only). Clearly a thing of which I am in favour, and I replied accordingly:

See http://www.lemis.com/grog/Rant/speeding.php. Speed limits have been imposed for the primary intention of reducing traffic accidents. As official documents quoted there indicate, this intention has not been met: despite lower traffic volumes, road accidents in Victoria are higher than in Germany, where there is no general speed limit. Clearly the underlying assumption is to blame.

On the other hand, an immediate increase in speed limits will indeed lead to more accidents. Driver education is crucial, as it has been all along.

Submitting the form wasn't that easy. It requires real name and address, and also proof that I'm human, a variant on these horrible CAPTCHAs Unfortunately the web form also proved that it isn't human:


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Still, it's nice that it told me the “correct” answer. Presumably a script could gather that information, though Jamie Fraser tells me that he also filled out the form and got exactly the same question. The form also had popup error messages when you try to skip a field—and they don't go away:


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Still, it's good to know that the postcode has to be an integer, something that would intrigue Canadians, British and non-mathematicians.


Garden in early spring
Topic: gardening Link here

Middle of the month again, time for the monthly garden flower photos.

Probably the most interesting thing about the garden is how many flowers have survived the winter, in particular the Cannas and Petunias, though the Alyssums have weathered better than usual:

 
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Yes, they're not pretty, but who knows what they will do now that winter is over? Of course, the weeds are on their way:

 
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Other things that are flowering better than I expected are the Cyclamen and the Camellia japonica:

 
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I can't recall either flowering that profusely in Kleins Road. Clearly it's time to plant the Camellia.

The Anigozanthos that Sasha chewed a year ago has also survived:

 
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Soon we'll be able to plant it.

The spring bulbs are in the middle phase: some (surprisingly, including tulips) have finished flowering, and others have yet to flower:

 
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Outside the house, the Acacias have been in bloom for some time. Here's one that I don't recognize:

 
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No more Misery
Topic: general, opinion Link here

For various reasons, I've taken photos of the Mount Misery Creek Bridge on the Dereel-Berringa road on a number of occasions. A good thing too: after the recent rains, there's not much left of it. Here are photos taken on 14 May, where it looked like it has for years, then 27 August, after a tree fell on it, and now today after most of it has been washed away:

 
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And of course Misery Creek itself carries much more water. Normally it's just a trickle, but today it was several metres wide:


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Even the road was flooded to a depth of about 20 cm:


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After taking the photos, back home via Misery Creek Road, which despite the name is nothing like a direct route; it took me back via Enfield, during which I discovered that there are two different Misery Creek Roads: the real one and Berringa-Misery Creek Road, which took me to a T junction on the real Misery Creek Road. My GPS navigator then took me in the wrong direction, so I ended up with still more unmade roads in bad repair, with nothing interesting to show for it.


Hugin bugs
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Michael Havens has sent several messages to the Hugin mailing list recently describing the problems that he has had with Hugin, and I've tried answering some of them. His most recent message:

I got 34 images and when I first load the images everything seems cool but when I click align I get an error <below>. Then I click continue and it says that none of my images have control points and that I need to put them in manually. Any ideas as to what's wrong?

ASSERT INFO:
/usr/include/wx-3.0/wx/strvararg.h(451): assert "(argtype & (wxFormatStringSpecifier<T>::value)) == argtype" failed in wxArgNormalizer(): format specifier doesn't match argument type

OK, I've seen popups like that too, but they're not fatal. But while stitching today's panoramas of Mount Misery Creek Bridge, I ran into almost exactly the same problem, and yes, it was fatal. But what Michael missed was the fleeting message in the log window:

Could not find "panomatic" in path.
Maybe you have not installed it properly or given a wrong path in the settings.

What caused that? It was there, of course, and in particular there's no way to set a “path in the settings”. About the only path you can set is the temporary file path, and by coincidence I had offered that as a solution to Michael's other problem.

But what's really going on? Ran ktrace against Hugin and found:

 10871 icpfind  CALL  fstat(0x1,0x7fffffffd8e0)
 10871 icpfind  STRU  struct stat {dev=74, ino=21, mode=010000, nlink=0, uid=1004, gid=1000, rdev=0, atime=1474012377.12
9952000, stime=1474012377.129952000, ctime=1474012377.129952000, birthtime=0, size=0, blksize=4096, blocks=0, flags=0x0
}
 10871 icpfind  RET   fstat 0
 10871 icpfind  CALL  write(0x1,0x81c556000,0x74)
 10871 icpfind  GIO   fd 1 wrote 116 bytes
       "Could not find "panomatic" in path.
        Maybe you have not installed it properly or given a wrong path in the settings.
       "

Where's the path name? I thought that stat and fstat calls broke it out in legible form. Nothing for it: went and found the test in hugin-2016.2.0/src/hugin1/icpfind/AutoCtrlPointCreator.cpp:

    {
        wxPathList pathlist;
        pathlist.AddEnvList(wxT("PATH"));
        wxString path = pathlist.FindAbsoluteValidPath(progName);
        if(path.IsEmpty())
            canStart=false;
        else
        {
            wxFileName prog2(path);
            canStart=(prog2.IsFileExecutable());
        };
    };
    if(!canStart)
        CPMessage(wxString::Format(
        _("Could not find \"%s\" in path.
Maybe you have not installed it properly or given a wrong path in the settings."),progName.c_str()),
            _("Error"),parent);
    return canStart;

How I love C++! But it becomes clear why the error message doesn't state the path: it's outside the scope. Tried messing around with moving the message inside the block, and distinguishing between the empty path and the lack of files in the path, but for that I first needed to learn the meanings of types like wxString and wxPathList. Somehow there are just too many objects: clearly wxString is intended to be a string, and wxPathList is presumably some structure with multiple strings. But where do I find this out? Somewhere there must be documentation for the types, but just looking for it is a pain. If this had been in C, assuming the code weren't too emetic, it would be straightforward. As it is, I don't even know if pathlist.AddEnvList(wxT("PATH")); accesses environment variables or not.

Tried running icpfind standalone. It worked. So whatever the problem is, it's somewhere in the interface between Hugin and icpfind. Do I want to look?


Saturday, 17 September 2016 Dereel Images for 17 September 2016
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Mount Misery Creek Bridge, the last?
Topic: photography, general, opinion Link here

On processing the photos I took of Mount Misery Creek Bridge yesterday, I discovered that I didn't have appropriate comparison images. Off again today for more photos, hampered by sunshine. The waters had dropped considerably, so there's no direct comparison. Here's the panorama I took 2½ years ago, and what it looks like now:


This should be Misery-creek-bridge.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Misery creek bridge          Dimensions:          883 x 306, 176 kB
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Diary entry for Friday, 7 March 2014 Complete exposure details

 


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Image title: Misery Creek Bridge detail          Dimensions:          950 x 284, 179 kB
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The lighting really makes a big difference. I should make a point of not taking this kind of photo in bright sunshine.

Here a view in May, last month and today:

 
This should be Misery-Creek-Bridge-10.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Misery Creek Bridge 10
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Maybe the biggest difference is looking from the north-west end:

 
This should be Misery-Creek-Bridge-6.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Misery Creek Bridge 6
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This should be Misery-Creek-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Misery Creek 2
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It's really difficult to compare the two, since so little is left.

Maybe I need yet another set of photos in subdued lighting.


Shark or trout?
Topic: food and drink Link here

Margaret Swan along for dinner tonight, so no meat. Instead we had some of the largest trouts we have seen, round 800 g each, with which Margaret insisted on drinking red wine. But Chris Bahlo came up with the most unlikely shaped trout:

 
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Image title: Shark or trout
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Maybe a shark in the family tree?


Sunday, 18 September 2016 Dereel Images for 18 September 2016
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Video editing revisited
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

I have a “large number” of old 8 mm ciné films that my father took between 1956 and about 1980, now copied onto VHS tape, where suddenly there were only two E-180 tapes, both not full. Some time ago I copied one of them to DVD, and it looks like a good time to dissect the individual clips, which are very short: the old “Standard 8 mm film only lasted 4 minutes, and it was very expensive.

So a video editor. But which one? I've been here before. Once again I tried Project X, and once again I couldn't work out how to use it. What about kdenlive? Now we have the new FreeBSD pkg framework, I should just be able to install the package. Well? Here's a selection of what happened:

The following 17 package(s) will be affected (of 0 checked):

Installed packages to be REMOVED:
        hugin-2016.2.0rc2

New packages to be INSTALLED:
        kdenlive: 0.9.10
...
        mysql56-client: 5.6.33
        mysql56-server: 5.6.33

Proceed with this action? [y/N]: y

Sigh Why does a video editor want to use MySQL? But I suppose I could install it: I was running 5.5, and 5.6 should be no particular issue. But what earthly connection does it have with Hugin? This is my private version, so there's no particular issue there: I can just reinstall it. So I accepted, but it wasn't quite what I expected. It fetched the package and started all over again, with a few surprises:

Proceed with this action? [y/N]: y
Fetching mysql55-client-5.5.52.txz: 100%    2 MiB 166.5kB/s    00:10
Fetching mysql55-server-5.5.52.txz:  58%    4 MiB 440.3kB/s    00:08 ETA
[3/21] Deinstalling mysql55-client-5.5.46...
[3/21] Deleting files for mysql55-client-5.5.46: 100%
[4/21] Installing mysql56-client-5.6.33...
[4/21] Extracting mysql56-client-5.6.33: 100%
[5/21] Deinstalling mysql55-server-5.5.46...
==> You should manually remove the "mysql" user.
[5/21] Deleting files for mysql55-server-5.5.46: 100%
[7/21] Installing mysql56-server-5.6.33...
[7/21] Extracting mysql56-server-5.6.33: 100%
[13/21] Installing mysql55-client-5.5.52...
pkg: mysql55-client-5.5.52 conflicts with mysql56-client-5.6.33 (installs files into the same place).  Problematic file: /usr/local/bin/msql2mysql

What the hell is it doing with MySQL? The conflict caused it to fail. And round about here my browsers crashed:

Sep 18 13:16:44 eureka pkg: hugin-2016.2.0rc2 deinstalled
Sep 18 13:16:47 eureka pkg: mysql55-client-5.5.46 deinstalled
Sep 18 13:16:48 eureka pkg: mysql56-client-5.6.33 installed
Sep 18 13:16:48 eureka pkg: mysql55-server-5.5.46 deinstalled
Sep 18 13:16:49 eureka pkg: mysql56-server-5.6.33 installed
Sep 18 13:17:06 eureka kernel: pid 62674 (firefox), uid 1004: exited on signal 10 (core dumped)
Sep 18 13:17:19 eureka kernel: pid 51436 (firefox), uid 1004: exited on signal 10 (core dumped)
Sep 18 13:17:24 eureka kernel: pid 54007 (firefox), uid 1004: exited on signal 11 (core dumped)
Sep 18 13:17:29 eureka kernel: pid 67263 (plugin-container), uid 1004: exited on signal 11 (core dumped)
Sep 18 13:17:50 eureka kernel: pid 51432 (firefox), uid 1004: exited on signal 10 (core dumped)
Sep 18 13:17:52 eureka kernel: pid 51479 (plugin-container), uid 1004: exited on signal 11 (core dumped)

What now? If at first you don't succeed... try again. And this time it worked, and I was able to restart my firefox. Probably a library conflict. I needed to rebuild Hugin:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/13) ~/public_html 518 -> hugin
Shared object "libexiv2.so.13" not found, required by "hugin"

But what confusion caused it to try to install a newer version of MySQL 5.5?


Understanding kdenlive
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

After finally installing kdenlive, time to run it. And sure enough, it popped up an introduction window:

 
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Followed that and got:


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Image title: kdenlive 2          Dimensions:          870 x 310, 80 kB
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Sigh. Maybe not the current version? Off to the web site to find out, but it's one of those sites that don't even tell you what it is, let alone what the latest version. At https://kdenlive.org/about/ there's a section “History”. Well, a heading; there's no content. And to get the source you have to go to https://quickgit.kde.org/?p=kdenlive.git, where I discovered that the latest version is 16.08.1! That's a far cry from 0.9.10. But looking through the commit history, I discovered:

11 hours ago       master       shortlog | log | tree
31 hours ago       Applications/16.08       shortlog | log | tree
2 months ago       Applications/16.04       shortlog | log | tree
6 months ago       Applications/15.12       shortlog | log | tree
10 months ago       Applications/15.08       shortlog | log | tree
13 months ago       Applications/15.04       shortlog | log | tree
16 months ago       frameworks       shortlog | log | tree
16 months ago       v0.9.x       shortlog | log | tree
18 months ago       15.04       shortlog | log | tree
...

That makes no sense at all to me. But at least the version I have isn't that old. Maybe the v is a completely different part of the project.

So off to look at how to use it. I can't just input a file and output another (maybe several) files. I have to create a project. Why do it simply when you can make it complicated? Round about here, and as a result of my other waste of time, I shelved it. Hopefully I can get it to work some time; otherwise there are others I can try.


Ports upgrade
Topic: technology Link here

Encouraged (for some reason) by the installation of kdenlive, it occurred to me that it was probably time to upgrade other ports, notably the browsers that had just crashed. Started off with chromium:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/10) ~ 137 -> pkg upgrade chromium
The following 55 package(s) will be affected (of 0 checked):

Installed packages to be REMOVED:
        vips-8.2.2
        cups-image-2.0.3_2
        cups-client-2.0.3_2
        inkscape-0.91_6
        nip2-8.2

New packages to be INSTALLED:
        cups: 2.1.4

Installed packages to be UPGRADED:
        chromium: 48.0.2564.97 -> 52.0.2743.116
...

I'm always particularly wary of packages that pkg wants to remove, but I don't use any of these, and in the case of cups it appears to be a matter of repackaging. So I went ahead:

Proceed with this action? [y/N]: y
Fetching chromium-52.0.2743.116.txz: 100%   42 MiB 382.2kB/s    01:54
...
Fetching alsa-lib-1.1.2.txz: 100%  414 KiB 212.2kB/s    00:02
Checking integrity... done (5 conflicting)
  - cups-2.1.4 conflicts with cups-client-2.0.3_2 on /usr/local/bin/cups-config
  - cups-2.1.4 conflicts with cups-image-2.0.3_2 on /usr/local/lib/libcupsimage.so
  - ghostscript9-agpl-base-9.16_5 conflicts with ghostscript9-base-9.06_13 on /usr/local/bin/dvipdf
  - ghostscript9-agpl-base-9.16_5 conflicts with ghostscript9-base-9.06_11 on /usr/local/bin/dvipdf
  - trousers-0.3.13_1 conflicts with trousers-tddl-0.3.10_7 on /usr/local/include/trousers/trousers.h

Again it's trying to install an intermediate version, this time cups. Is this an issue with a concealed attempt to upgrade the old version?

Continuing,

Checking integrity... done (0 conflicting)
Conflicts with the existing packages have been found.
One more solver iteration is needed to resolve them.
The following 66 package(s) will be affected (of 0 checked):

Installed packages to be REMOVED:
        kdenlive-0.9.10
        trousers-tddl-0.3.10_7
        emacs24-24.5_2,3
        ImageMagick-6.9.3.1,1
...

Why does it want to remove these packages? In any case, Emacs is holy, so I aborted the upgrade.

I had hoped that with pkg my ports problems would be over. It looks as if I spoke too soon.


Monday, 19 September 2016 Dereel → Clarendon → Dereel Images for 19 September 2016
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Arne Koets clinic
Topic: animals, photography, opinion Link here

Yvonne, Chris Bahlo and Margaret Swann off early this morning to to Clarendon, near Scotsburn, for a dressage “clinic” (is that what's called a seminar elsewhere?) with Arne Koets, so I had to go off to take some photos:

 
This should be Arne-Koets-Clinic-17.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Arne Koets Clinic 17
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What I heard of his teaching makes a lot of sense, but how do you capture it in a photo? I took a couple of video clips, but I'm not really good at this stuff.


Fire and flood
Topic: general Link here

Last time I was in Clarendon was just after a bushfire hit the area. No concern with that now. Instead we have:

 
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Image title: Wetness 10
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This should be Wetness-10-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wetness 10 detail
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Was that still applicable? Based on my experience with Mount Misery Creek Bridge, I suspected not, and I was right (in fact, the photo above was taken from the other end). The place was clear, at the bridge over a the Yarrowee River. And though it was now dry, clearly there had been high water:

 
This should be Wetness-9.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wetness 9
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Much of the road surface on the south side of the bridge had been washed away:

 
This should be Wetness-8.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wetness 8
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This should be Wetness-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wetness 3
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This should be Wetness-3-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wetness 3 detail
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And the soil on the side was still waterlogged:

 
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Image title: Wetness 7
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This should be Wetness-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wetness 1
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Electronic shutter: the down side
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Today at 19:00 (or is that tomorrow at 3:00?) Olympus will announce a whole lot of new equipment at Photokina, including the replacement for the OM-D E-M1. A very active Facebook group has sprung up, and one of the items on discussion was an article on 43rumors.com claiming that Olympus had planned a “3D stacked sensor” for the E-M1 Mark II. I had read the article and noted that, from a functional point of view, this was a global shutter, and it almost certainly hadn't been planned for this model; maybe the next.

What's the difference? Time. The current electronic shutter on the E-M1 (Mark I) takes 1/13 s to read out, reducing the flash sync time to 1/13 s. It should also create distortion reminiscent of this one:

Image

I've been meaning to take some photos of moving objects, but this image reminds me that the people are leaning too: the photographer was panning, just not fast enough to keep the car straight. I can do that too, and here are the results, first with mechanical shutter, than electronic shutter, both at 1/500 s:

 
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This should be Electronic-shutter-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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Clearly the Oly electronic shutter moves in the opposite direction from the camera that took the old photo.


Tuesday, 20 September 2016 Dereel Images for 20 September 2016
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Understanding the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

The successor to my Olympus OM-D E-M1 has an even longer name: Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. Today I spent a fair portion of the day trying to find out about it.

The first thing to do is to look at the announcement, a particularly poor YouTube recording with 15 minutes of wait at the beginning and a number of discontinuities after that. Since then, though, it seems to have improved; at least the 15 minute delay at the beginning is gone, and now the whole announcement, with much hype, only lasts for 28 minutes:

The video summarizes the differences from the current model, not all of them honest:

 
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And then there's this web page, with a little more detail, carefully hidden behind lots of click boxes, and ending with the interesting text:

Tell Us How Much You Love The OM-D E-M1 Mark II Do you own this product? Please, tell us what you think about it.

It too has a list of features, not all of them differences:

 
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Not all of those are new. The current shutter also has 1/8000 s maximum speed, focus stacking and bracketing and “Wi-Fi”, if you can dignify the castrated implementation with that name.

Analysing the information at hand, it seems that the biggest difference is the sensor. Yes, it's 20 MP instead of 16 MP (yawn), but it has a number of other features that I didn't expect:

Other things look more evolutionary. Clearly the faster sensor requires faster data paths and larger buffers in the camera. There are very few details, but they claim 2× more (is that 2× or 3×?) “RAW” (their shouting) buffer capacity and 3× (3 or 4?) faster internal data writing speed. That's clearly necessary: the current model can write data at about 40 MB/s, which slows it down to about 2 fps after the buffer is full. I can't find the details in the current pitiful excuse for a manual, but my recollection is that the buffer fills up after about 20 images.

Given a frame rate of 60 fps and a 3-fold increase in the buffer capacity, this means that the buffer would fill up after about one second. The new camera has 3 times the data rate, but that's still only 120 MB/s. A raw image will be about 20 MB in size, so the 60 fps data rate will be about 1.2 GB/s, far beyond what any SD-style card can do (currently they max out round 100 MB/s). This is presumably the real reason why the camera has two card slots, and I'd expect it to write alternate images to each card in fast recording mode when they're both installed. On the other hand, if the thing can really write 120 MB/s, there should be enough capacity for sustained 6 fps.

And then there's a clever use of the big buffer: “Pro Capture”, where you half press the shutter and it takes images, presumably with the electronic shutter, and when the buffer is full, discards them sequentially until you press the shutter. Then you have the last 14 images before the shutter press, catching things that would otherwise have escaped:

 
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Hopefully you can set the sequence rate for this function. At 60 fps, 14 frames are only 230 ms, rather less than normal reaction time. Still, a useful feature.

What else? Finally a fully articulated screen, like the E-30 had, and which I had missed when I bought the E-M1. Better image stabilization, 4K video, faster EVF, faster startup time. All nice to have. But what I was hoping for doesn't seem to have happened: the HDR and focus stacking features seem unchanged. You still need to take an odd number of images in HDR mode, and focus stacking is still set at exactly 8 images. But somewhere I saw a mention of setting near and far focus points, which might show some improvement, and with the faster electronics it's not beyond the bounds of possibility that they'll improve things. I'll have to wait for the documentation, such as I fear it will be, and try to interpret it.

And the price? We've been discussing probable that on the Facebook group, with estimates as high as US $2,000.

I've been wondering about that myself for some time. Four months ago I did some price comparisons. The most important conclusion was that the price for the Pen F seemed ridiculously high. Prices have probably changed since then, so it's worth doing another comparison. As before, this was at B&H.

Series       Model       Price 7 May       Price 20 September
            (body only, USD)
Air       A01       299       299
Pen Light       E-PL7       399       349
      E-PL8             549
Pen       E-P5       649
Pen F       Pen F       1199       1199
OM-D       E-M10       449
      E-M10 Mk II       549       649
      E-M5 Mk II       999       1099
      E-M1       899       899 (1099)

Things haven't changed that much. The price for the E-M1 is now given as $1,099, with an immediate rebate of $200. It's interesting to note how few Pen models B&G offer. It seems that the E-PM range is obsolete (the E-PM2 is the latest model, and it was introduced four years ago. And the E-P5, introduced in May 2013, is the last of its series, and it isn't mentioned in their lists either.

So what can I read here? The Pen F is still ridiculously expensive compared to the others. The E-PL8 is about 35% more expensive than the E-PL7 was four months ago. That's in the range of normal fluctuation, and it's reasonable to assume that the prices will drop slightly. If we apply the same logic to the E-M1 Mark II, a start price of $1,400 (sorry, $1,399) seems a good guess.


Wednesday, 21 September 2016 Dereel Images for 21 September 2016
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Zoom or prime?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

For some time I have my eyes open for new, wide-aperture lenses for my Olympus OM-D E-M1. They're available, all the way down to the Ibelux 40mm f/0.85. But I have other requirements as well, notably good image quality and autofocus. For whatever reason third-party manufacturers seem to have decided against autofocus, though it's exactly what you want for a wide-aperture lens.

For some time I had my eyes on the Leica Summilux 25 mm f/1.4, which can be had for under $400. But just a couple of days ago Olympus announced the M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO. Is that the choice? I don't know. It will cost a multiple of the price of the Summilux, and first I need to see the image quality. And then I have to wait for DxO Optics “Pro” to support it.

In the meantime, though, I found a good offer on eBay: a brand new M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8 for only $199. So I bought it, and it arrived today. I've only ever bought one lens with a wider aperture, and that was over 50 years ago. And compared to it, it's tiny:

 
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More interesting, though, it's in the same focal length range as my heaviest lens, the Zuiko Digital ED 35-100mm f/2.0. The size comparison is almost ridiculous:

 
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Admittedly the 35-100 has a lens hood on, without which it doesn't look quite as big:

 
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But it's still so heavy that for any normal work you'd want to put it on a tripod, and there's no way that I could get Yvonne to use it for her photos in a riding hall, where she really needs it:

 
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The other thing, of course, is the sheer price. The 35-100 was a bargain, only $1500. For that I could buy a M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f/1.8 and a second-hand body and still have (probably half of my) money left over.


Making friends with kdenlive
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

I had a video clip from 17 April 1969 which I wanted to put into the diary for the day. My last experience with kdenlive didn't get me very far, but I had to do something. Today I tried again. Once again it asked me for setup details, which I thought were for the first time only. But for whatever reason it asks for them every time, with a series of 6 windows with “Next” buttons in different positions, clearly designed to irritate.

Then I read the documentation again. Thank God it's there! It wouldn't have made any sense at all without it. Even with it, it doesn't make much sense, and the examples don't help:

Now comes the actual editing. Project clips are combined to the final result on the timeline. They get there by drag and drop: Drag some Napoli (assuming you are using the files provided above, as in the rest of this quick start tutorial; If not, please make sure your screen is waterproof, and perhaps tomatoproof) from the project tree, and drop it onto the first track in the timeline.

The real issue is that the entire paradigm is different. You don't take data and manipulate it; it seems that you drag and drop. And it's not very efficient in handling small parts of large files. The original file contains half of those ciné films of my father's that survived until about 1990, and it's 4.5 GB in size. My clip is 24 seconds and 3.5 MB long. With other tools I've been able to extract on a frame-by-frame basis, but after an hour or so with kdenlive, I still ended up with part of the previous scene:

On the other hand, it offers a number of features that might help improve the appalling quality of the clip. If only I could understand how to use it.

I have the same problem with most photographic software as well. Clearly I'm part of the problem, but what part? I've been taking photos for well over 50 years, hacking computers for well over 40, and I think I understand the issues better than most. But maybe that's the issue: the whole paradigm (there I go again) seems wrong.


Thursday, 22 September 2016 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 22 September 2016
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Doctor again
Topic: health, general Link here

Time to see the doctor again, mainly because my prescriptions are running out. And I've now made the decision to change to Paul Smith. In to see him today and got my prescriptions, noting also the particularly normal blood pressure of 120/85.

The clinic (Health First) is in the middle of the town. How long does it take to get there? Still only 30 minutes, at least today: 15 minutes from Dereel to the outskirts of Ballarat (25 km), 8 minutes to the corner of Dana Street (6 km, and 100 m from the clinic), 7 minutes to park in the Central Square park house and walk back to the clinic (140 m direct line).


More frying pans
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Buying the induction cooker (which I've decided to keep) got me involved in more cookware issues than I expected. I already had more than one frying pan that would work with it, but none were non-stick. The first, from eBay, had a diameter of 30 cm, cost $32 and had a hopelessly domed base that, I think, got worse with use. So that went back. Next, from the Good Guys was 28 cm in diameter and cost only $23. It didn't have a domed base, something I checked before leaving the shop. But in the course of time it developed the opposite problem: the base is concave. It, too, will have to go back.

While at the doctors, noted the Harris Scarfe a bit further down the block. I have bought a number of things from them in Adelaide, but after over 9 years in the Ballarat area I had yet to visit the Ballarat shop. Surprise, surprise, they had kitchenware on sale at half price. After much comparison, bought a 30 cm Tefal frying pan for $50. I could have got a 28 cm one for only $35, but I think the extra 15% surface is worth the difference.

Also found a replacement for the grill pan that I broke early on with my induction experiments.

 
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A little on the small side with only a 24 cm diameter, but probably big enough for the steaks I intend to make in it:

 
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I also had the option of a square 26×26 cm pan, but the prices spoke against it: $75 instead of $15!

That, of course, meant steak for dinner. Past Davis and picked up a couple of fillet steaks. $13.80! Maybe I should relativize my kitchenware costs.

On the down side, the bases of both pans aren't completely flat. I'll try them out a little bit before returning them, but it's really amazing how difficult it is to get a flat base.


Wetness
Topic: general Link here

It seems to have been raining for ever. That's not quite accurate, but it's certainly wet. So far this month I have measured 142.1 mm of rain, remarkably close to the 143.0 mm that the Bureau of Meteorology reports for Ballarat for the same period. The record rainfall for September is 162.9 mm, coincidentally 100 years ago. But the month isn't over yet. And the whole garden is sodden:

 
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It seems so wet that a Huntsman spider hid in one of the rain gauges:

 
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Maybe that's why there was 1.4 mm less rain in that gauge: he must have been thirsty. And yes, he was still alive, and scurried away when I emptied the gauge.

It certainly makes it worthwhile that we have finally got the drain pump in front of the house:

 
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Olympus PEN E-PL8: yawn
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Along with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, Olympus introduced the PEN E-PL8. A very different camera, of course, but I'm keeping an eye on the low end too for a replacement for Yvonne's E-PM2. Clearly it's a replacement for the E-PL7. What are the differences? As far as I can see, it has a display that can flip 180° downwards so that you can see the viewfinder when taking “selfies”. And the styling has been improved to match current smart phones.

At least, that's what they say. But the E-PL7 has the selfie functionality too! So the main difference seems to be the change in styling. Wow. What an improvement! To be fair, the E-PL7 is considerably newer than the E-M1 Mark I, so there's no particular reason to expect fireworks, but there certainly are none.


Friday, 23 September 2016 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 23 September 2016
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To Eureka again
Topic: general, language, opinion Link here

Off with Yvonne, Nikolai and Leonid to Ballarat today to visit the residents of the Geoffrey Cutter Centre and the Eureka Village Hostel. Today was a particularly long visit: we managed nearly an hour in the Eureka Hostel, and then I went over and joined Yvonne in GCC, where we stayed for some time. A total of nearly 75 minutes.

Interesting encounter in House 1 (dementia) of Eureka: a man whose name I have forgotten, who said “Pleased to meet you. Or is that Please do mead you? No, I'll always say Pleased to meet you”. It seems I'm not the only one irritated by the vocalization of inter-vowel dentals.


Microscope? Telescope?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

The microscope adapter for my camera has arrived, marked “telescope adapter”. It's really both: a T2 adapter for “OM” (really Four Thirds system), and a microscope adapter to match the T2 adapter. Coincidentally I had bought a telescope at ALDI a few minutes earlier, so possibly I can use it with that as well.

And the telescope? No time to play with it today. Looking at the box, it appears to be a 700 mm mirror, 76 mm in diameter—in other words, f/9.2. That's not very different from the Rokinon 800 mm f/8 mirror that I bought 7 years ago. That lens proved not to be worthwhile. Why should this one be any better?

I'm not sure that it will be. But it was a lot cheaper, comes with a tripod, and can be returned if I don't like it. I won't have time to play with it for a while, but it could be fun.


Poisoning the weeds in the garden
Topic: gardening Link here

Spring is here, and the weeds with it. Time to poison them (I feel like a Tom Lehrer song). The Bureau of Meteorology has been predicting rain for the past few days, but for once it didn't, and so I managed to—finally—spray the weeds.

One thing that makes spraying more complicated is the mechanical pump with lever. The lever is carefully designed to snare clothing, the pump requires enough pressure to move the backpack when it's not completely full, and it's tiring. Maybe I should look for a backpack with electric pump.


Dangerous lenses
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Mohamed Ifadir commented on this photo, taken a a couple of days ago:

 
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The lens on the right is an Asahi Optical Co. Super-Takumar 50 mm f/1.4, which I swapped with my father in May 1967. Is it radioactive? Yes, indeed, though I discover that it was only this version of the lens; it's a later 7 element version with a rear element containing Thorium. The one I got with the camera 50 years ago was an 8 element version, apparently not radioactive.

It's amazing how little authoritative information I could find on the web, but this clip suggests that it's just plain dangerous:

I disagree. That level of radiation is only directly on the rear element (something you seldom see), and if it were really that radioactive, it would fog the film: the shutter was cloth, so it wouldn't stop the radiation.


Full Google Maps, an easier way
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

A couple of months ago I found a way to trick Google Maps into switching to Full mode, even though I wasn't using its anointed hardware and software. But it was somewhat clumsy, and in general I didn't bother.

But today, also by chance, I found a much easier way, at least for firefox:

  1. Display something in “Street View”.

  2. Close the tab or window.

  3. Select History/Recently closed Tabs. Presto!

     
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  4. Select YES.

So what's really wrong here? Is Google really trying to refuse me full Google Maps, or is their detection system just broken?


Finally available light
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Nearly 50 years ago I took a number of films in a discotheque in Hamburg, using available light and my 50 mm f/1.4 Super Takumar. These were all black and white, of course, and I forced them to 2000 ASA (Ilford HP4, base sensitivity 400 ASA) and 3200 ASA (Ilford HPS, base sensitivity 1600), though it seems that these latter (2 films) failed completely. Sadly, I've lost all the negatives, though I'm sure that they would have been horribly grainy.

Since then I've moaned about the fact that camera sensitivities haven't improved. But in the meantime, things have been creeping up on me. Yvonne is off to Geelong for another horse event tomorrow, and will be taking indoor photos. Perfect application for the new M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8 lens. Spent a little time showing her the details, in the process discovering that the camera was still set to manual exposure, a sure-fire way to ruin all her photos. After fixing that, took a couple of photos with available light:

 
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If anything, the surroundings were darker than at the Crazy Horse in Hamburg. And yet I got results that were almost normal. The camera took them at 36°/3200 ISO, no faster than I tried 50 years ago, and the lens is slower (f/1.8 instead of f/1.4). But the results are an order of magnitude better than I recall my photos at the Crazy Horse.


Saturday, 24 September 2016 Dereel Images for 24 September 2016
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Still more panorama problems
Topic: photography Link here

House photo day again today, and once again I ran into problems, some of my own making: I forgot to reset the settings on my panorama bracket after taking the panorama at Misery Creek Bridge with a different lens. I still need to work out what went wrong, but once again I got a number of bad exposure blending. In this photo Hugin found no fewer than four different lenses (for five different images), when of course they were all taken with the same lens. Is this yet another issue with HDR Projects 4? Started a comparison series with enfuse, but didn't finish. Here's one that I did; the version with enfuse (less saturated) found only one lens:


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cvr2 dead
Topic: technology, multimedia Link here

Recoding a recording on cvr2.lemis.com today, and in the middle got an error message: “I/O error”. What's that? Disk full? df told me nothing: it hung. So did everything else. It looked like a disk error. Connected a keyboard, but couldn't switch to the console, so I had to reboot. Nothing in /var/log/messages, apart from some silly --- MARK --- messages. Nothing in /var/log/syslog apart from some misspelt messages from cron. OK, it seemed to be working again. But only for an hour or so. This time I took a look at the console. Nothing.

Why is Linux so lacking in error reporting? It's hardly worth looking in the log files, and I can't recall seeing a real console error message. But it looks like I'm going to have to change the disk, and that's something that I won't have time for for a day or two. Hopefully the old one will stay up long enough for me to copy it.


Ildikó and Kaluga arrive
Topic: general, animals Link here

Yvonne was off to Geelong for another Extreme Cowboy event. And we were also expecting a visit from Ildikó Varga and her Borzoi puppy Kaluga, due to arrive round the time Yvonne got back.

It didn't quite work out like that. True to their name, the cowboys did an extreme overrun. They should have been finished at 17:00; in fact, Yvonne and Chris finally left at 20:30, and they weren't back until 22:00. In the meantime Kaluga made the acquaintance of our dogs (of whom he was initially afraid; he was used to being bigger than any other dog, and here he's clearly the smallest) and of our cats. Surprisingly, the cats didn't even hiss, and Rani was quite prepared to play with him, once he learns to play with a cat—so far he's treating her like a dog.

 
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Sunday, 25 September 2016 Dereel Images for 25 September 2016
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Borzoi family reunion
Topic: animals, general Link here

Ildikó's puppy Kaluga, whose pedigree name I don't know, is a grandson and a nephew of Zhivago (if you think human family trees are bad, it's a lot worse with inbreeding). That makes him a nephew of Bindi, the O'Dea's dog, a cousin and brother of Chris Bahlo's Fjodor, nephew of Nikolai and Leonid and at least an uncle of Sasha. Clearly time to get the family together, and to make it worthwhile, Aimée (pronounced Amy) Corbo and her friend Ingrid came along with their dog Dmitri, with for once an unambiguous relationship with Kaluga: he's his littermate.

Got all together for lunch, though some arrived late.

 
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Once again we had dogs who didn't know each other, just getting on without any problems. And I can't recall a single bark. Here's a comparison of who knew whom:

      Ours       Fjodor       Kaluga       Dmitri       Bindi
Ours       x       x       x             x
Fjodoer       x       x
Kaluga       x
Dmitri
Bindi       x

And given the size, it's amazing how little they got in the way:

 
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From top left to bottom left, that's Sasha, Fjodor, Nikolai, Dmitri and Kaluga.

We took them out front later for a run-around, though it wasn't overly active:

 
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And not all were really that interested:

 
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Still, a nice afternoon, if a little tiring.


Monday, 26 September 2016 Dereel Images for 26 September 2016
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Goodbye KnoppMyth, hello LinHES
Topic: technology, multimedia Link here

Finally I had time to recover the disk on cvr2. Found a new, larger disk, inserted it and an old FreeBSD disk into the machine, and booted FreeBSD. First removed the partition table with gpart, and then I was then able to copy the disk with dd. All over, including 200 GB of data transfer, in under 90 minutes.

Booting wasn't so easy: after booting from the new disk, mounting the root file system failed. That's quite common under these circumstances, but the message (preceded by a trace) was new:

Failed to recover EFIs on filesystem: sda1

That's from XFS, something I don't really know too well, but it appears to be some log corruption. A Google search brought me a number of suggestions, including this one. But they didn't relate to problems at boot, and the suggested fix assumes that you can run recovery programs.

Still, the old disk was still there, and so far it hadn't given me any trouble. Tried to boot from it. Same thing! So whatever the problem was, it's not only to do with my copy attempts.

While messing around with disks, discovered how old cvr2 is. It's an old 200 GB PATA disk, and according to the adhesive label on the disk, it was created on 6 December 2008, nearly 8 years ago:

 
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There's also some undated mention of a prior crash. But 8 years powered on almost all the time is a good record.

So: what should I do? To recover an XFS file system I need a running Linux system, preferably with XFS running, so that I can be sure that the recovery programs will be there. The only recently installed Linux system was the one I overwrote this morning. So: let's do a new installation.

Spent some time looking for the latest version of KnoppMyth before I discovered it has long since been renamed to LinHES. And with a few mouse clicks managed to download an ISO image.

How do I burn a CD? Over the years I've written various scripts and functions, and recently they've based on cdrecord, but the invocations no longer work. Surprise, surprise: cdrecord has now improved to the extent that I no longer need the scripts. It's now as simple as:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/6) ~ 17 -> cdrecord /src/ISOs/LinHES_R8.4.1.iso

Add a DVD drive to the old cvr2, boot, and... it worked. Of course, finding out how to convince the install program that I'm not in the USA was complicated—it uses the mouse if connected, but it doesn't really understand it. A mouse click on Australia moved the selection to Antarctica. I needed to press Return (marked Enter on most keyboards). But the installation went relatively well, apart from it wanting to put upper limits on file system sizes (25 GB for /root, nor all thy piety nor wit...). The root file system was Ext3, and the others, by chance, were XFS. To my surprise it also recognized the tuners. But once again it wanted to select old, ultra-low-resolution resolutions for the monitor: the maximum was 1280×1024. That's probably partially because my KVM doesn't pass EDID information, but if you're given a choice of resolutions, you'd expect the standard ones to be there. And MythTV still asks whether I use NTSC or PAL, and won't take No for an answer.

That's about as far as I got; next I need to blow all the cobwebs out of the fans and reinstall the thing in the lounge room. But compared to previous attempts, it went remarkably smoothly.


Alternatives to ceeveear
Topic: multimedia, animals Link here

Chris Bahlo along today to do horsey things:

 
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While she was waiting for the others, we discussed the replacement for cvr2 (which, like its predecessor, I'm calling ceeveear). She pointed out that our TV (which for me is really just a monitor) probably has a record (“PVR”) function. It's not the newest, but she could be right. Went and found not one, but two USB jacks, one marked (super-high-speed) USB 2, and the remote control has buttons marked RECORD and T.SHIFT Found a suitable disk and (even more difficult) power supply, and plugged it in. No obvious reaction, and nothing in the menus.

After a while, tried a USB stick. Yes, it found it, and T.SHIFT worked. Tried RECORD, and it, too, seemed to work. But there are many questions to be answered. Apart from the most obvious “Is it worth it?”, there is the question of how to schedule recordings, how to stop live recordings, whether it will work at all if the TV display is not on. I'm sure I'll come up with more.


Census audit
Topic: general Link here

A knock on the door today from a man with a prominent badge, which he tried to shove into my face. He proved to be Lawrence Glynn, who wanted to do a routine check on census replies. The knock was necessary because the batteries for the doorbell were empty. It seems that they do something like 50,000 of these across the country, and we were the lucky ones. He also gave me a DIN-Lang envelope which contained a badly folded letter explaining the procedure:

 
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Let him in, and watched him struggle to adapt the truth to what the census software allowed him to enter. Soviet Occupation Zone? What's that? East Germany? He even tried Thüringen, which was also not known (and I'm sure it's not because of the ü, which he probably entered as u).

Then he wanted to know who else stayed last night here. Why? But by chance Ildikó is here, so she had to give all her details too, including country of birth. Like Yvonne, she was born in a different country (Romania) from her country of citizenship/nationality (Hungary). I wonder why they only want to know the country of birth.

In passing, it seems that despite the troubles of the current census, they already have a higher return rate than previously, but still only 94%. I think it's reasonable to assume that the other 6% are a significantly divergent demographic.


Tuesday, 27 September 2016 Dereel Images for 27 September 2016
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More TV recording pain
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday I established that my TV could record programmes to a USB stick. This morning I still didn't have ceeveear up and running, so I recorded the German News on the USB stick. And how about that, directly behind that, at 11:00, came the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. That seemed worthwhile looking at it, so I let the recording continue (helped by the fact that I don't know how to stop it).

Some time later, while it was still recording, but after the end of the programme, I started watching it. Got about to the first bluster when I got a message “out of disk space”. And that was the end of the recording! I couldn't find a way to watch it any more. Putting the stick into eureka showed that the data was still there:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/5) ~ 75 -> mdir
 Volume in drive B has no label
 Volume Serial Number is 9016-4EF8
Directory for B:/_MSTPVR

.            <DIR>     2016-09-26  12:41
..           <DIR>     2016-09-26  12:41
CH0_3_~1 TS   10128384 2016-09-26  12:46  Ch0_3_SBS_ONE_20160926_124626.ts
CH0_3_~2 TS   192875520 2016-09-26  12:54  Ch0_3_SBS_ONE_20160926_124645.ts
CH0_3_~1     <DIR>     2016-09-26  12:49  Ch0_3_SBS_ONE_20160926_124645
CH0_30~1 TS   4294705152 2016-09-27  12:57  Ch0_30_SBS_HD_20160927_102617.ts
CH0_30~1 TS1  1879772160 2016-09-27  12:57  Ch0_30_SBS_HD_20160927_102617.ts1
        7 files       6 377 481 216 bytes
                         29 917 184 bytes free

But what is the data? You'd think the extension .ts would suggest an MPEG Transport Stream, but mplayer knows them, and it doesn't recognize this stuff.


Why LinHES?
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

More playing around with LinHES today. Blew the cobwebs out of ceeveear and put it in the correct place, connected to the TV antenna, and tried setup. It started up with an amazing amount of disk activity, and I couldn't start an xterm—apparently I was too impatient, and gave up after only one minute. I get the impression it was emulating Microsoft activity after startup. And I couldn't put an xterm on tiwi:

xterm: Xt error: Can't open display: tiwi

It turns out that the network configuration wasn't complete. Although it had the domain name information from the eureka DHCP server, it put only these lines in /etc/resolv.conf:

search local
search lan

How I hate this local. TLD! But clearly that was easy enough to fix. And then I was able to run my xterm and try to run mythtv-setup. It got as far as trying to open the window, and then froze the display on tiwi. I had to stop it from the local system. The same happened on eureka, a beefy enough system. I've complained about the glacial performance of mythtv-setup in the past, but it seems to have become an order of magnitude worse. But then the Linux community doesn't seem to believe in X.

Next issue was getting programme listings. Until my system got out of date, I was using shepherd, and LinHES doesn't offer a shepherd configuration. So off to the shepherd web site and found:

LINHES 6.03

Its simple, Shepherd is in the repo already so its just a matter of issuing the following command and you should be good to go

pacman -S shepherd

Easy, hey!

What's pacman? Anyway, tried it, and got the message:


# pacman -S shepherd
error: target not found: shepherd

OK, this referred to LinHES 6.03, and I am running 8.4.1. Clearly something has changed since then. But where do I go from here? There's no apt-get or friends. The web site does have some documentation, but it doesn't have documentation for the underlying Linux distro (nor should it, arguably). But it doesn't even divulge what the distro is! Wikipedia is better; it's based on Arch Linux, whatever that is.

Sent a message to the shepherd mailing list and considered the interim step of using the EPG, which MythTV calls EIT. I've been there before, and once again I confirm that after configuration the database was still not set up correctly: sure enough, videosource had useeit set to 0. Set that to 1, but even then nothing happened. I was also able to confirm that only root was allowed to access the database, at least without an (unspecified) password.

mythweb was installed and worked, sort of. Sometimes I was able to access the mythbackend, sometimes I wasn't: it seemed to stop listening. On the other hand, it was constantly involved in lots of disk activity, to the extent of causing poor response times. That never happened with the old cvr2. What was causing it? top has a horrible red display that I could hardly bear read, and it doesn't display disk activity. On the other hand, the system had a ridiculous number of processes running. Here a comparison with my workhorse eureka, which has been up for 92 days and doubtless has many orphaned processes:

=== grog@ceeveear (/dev/pts/1) ~ 5 -> ps aux|wc -l
233
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/6) ~ 26 -> ps aux|wc -l
     224

Round about here I started thinking about alternative systems, and went to the MythTV web site, which listed a number of others, including one “Suggested” (is that a circumlocution for “recommended”?): Mythbuntu. But wait a while: that's what I was running! Looking at the diary entry, it seems that all I did with KnoppMyth was to write the name on the disk and attempt an installation before moving on. I had already given up on Mythbuntu. Next I installed Ubuntu and configured it manually. That's still an option, but it makes sense to see if Mythbuntu is usable or not. So I downloaded the ISO. But by then it was evening, so once again mañana.

In passing, it seems that I should read my diary more carefully. Only 4 months ago I revisited the mess, though with different intent. And I should have noticed, because I found the ISO in my /src/ISOs directory—same name, different size.


Multimedia: triple pain
Topic: multimedia, opinion Link here

As if my fun with TV recording and MythTV wasn't enough, Al Jazeera had another surprise in store for me: their live stream is no longer positionable At All. Previously I could backspace up to two hours. Now there's no backspace at all.

When will things become reliable?


Your web site has a broken link
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Message from Skye MacInnes, a web designer who is responsible for Rays Outdoors: it seems that they have completely redesigned the web site, and a link I put to there 7 years ago is now broken. Full marks to Skye for follow-up. (S)he also gave me a replacement URL, ending in a 7 digit number which sounds like it's predestined to die in due course.

But looking at the situation, there are a number of things wrong:

  1. There is a second broken URL, http://www.raysoutdoors.com.au/listing/24/BBQ's, which also doesn't resolve.
  2. The replacement URL is not appropriate. The original related to a specific four-burner barbecue, and this is a two burner barbecue. Since I was referring to the specifications, this is a big difference.
  3. For some reason (probably the choice of web software) the grandparent URL http://www.raysoutdoors.com.au/store/bbq-heating/ does not resolve, so I can't find a way to find the four burner barbecues.
  4. The home page doesn't mention barbecues.
  5. Searching for "Aussie Star Barbecue" brings me hundreds of false positives and the message (at the bottom, almost lost in the noise) "There were no products that contained all of the words in your query. These results contain some of the words."
  6. The reference was only to the stupid way in which they calculate heat output. That hasn't improved recognizably.

Probably the most significant recognition is that Ray's no longer seem to sell normal 4 burner barbecues.


Blue wrens and long telephotos
Topic: animals, photography, opinion Link here

While walking the dogs today, saw the first Superb Fairy Wren that I've seen here:

 
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Not the best photos in the world, but then it's a small crop with an effective (35 mm equivalent) focal length of over 2000 mm.


Wednesday, 28 September 2016 Dereel → Ballrat → Dereel Images for 28 September 2016
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MythTV: 8 years, no improvement
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

As planned, started installing Mythbuntu today. I wasn't prepared for what happened. One thing was clear: I had dedicated the entire disk to LinHES, so that had to go. But once the install DVD had finished an almost interminable boot process with completely blank screen, it came with an option to install Ubuntu alongside it:

 
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What on earth does that mean? Which divider? And what does that mean? Tried selecting the dotted line at the bottom, but all I got was a broken window:

 
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It wasn't until I processed the photos that I saw a dotted line between the two sections:

 
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All this is in no way helped by the uncomfortable position in which I did the installation:

 
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The computer is at the left, and the monitor is on top of it. That's temporary, of course, and I can connect it to the TV, but requires uncomfortable neck-twisting. My intention is to do everything over the web—once I get that far. In any case, it seems that LinHES, told to use the entire disk, had left 41 GB over, and Mythbuntu offered to make two partitions totalling 50 GB in that space. What file systems? Files and Mythbuntu. Clearly this is a system for clever people.

Rebooted to get rid of the broken window, then started a normal installation, trying the default parameters:


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What kind of information is that? It doesn't even tell me the sizes! Back again to run manual partitioning, which conveniently showed me, in a too-small window with unused space below, some of the amazing numbers of partitions that LinHES installed:


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The bar at the top looks like it's complete, but it's missing the last two file systems in the list. And what are those file systems? Why a file system with 2 GB and 50 GB? Neither were in the list I chose yesterday.

OK, let's partition from scratch, this time leaving 90 GB free for other systems. What file systems does MythBuntu expect? Where does it put its files? It doesn't say, so I took my typical partitioning scheme:


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Next, configuration. It asked my name and then suggested a completely ludicrous system name which overflowed the box and ended in various random digits. I didn't get a photo in time, but when I edited it, it did a DNS lookup:

 
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Why is the message “That name already exists on the network” in red? Presumably it's its way of saying “DNS lookup successful”. Is it an error for a system to have DNS records? No, it didn't really care. And then it asks for passwords but is prepared to bypass them and log in automatically. And it offers to encrypt a home folder, whatever that may be. By this time I was getting to like it more and more.

Finally it started installing, stopping from time to time to get me involved. When it was done, it offered to reboot, and ejected the DVD:

 
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And now? No disk activity, blank screen. But that wouldn't have been the first time it had done that and then continued, so I gave it 15 minutes. Finally gave up, reset and rebooted, and it came up “normally”. This isn't an issue with this hardware: it worked fine running an older version of Ubuntu, and also LinHES in the last couple of days.

I suppose it's normal enough to come up with mythtv-setup after reboot, but I didn't want to run that yet. When I stopped it, I got a popup: “Enter password to stop mythbackend”. Why that? So I entered it. Immediately I got another popup: “Enter password to start mythbackend”. Isn't that polished? And what did I have then?

 
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Apart from MythTV functions, there's only a reference to a Floppy Disk. This software was released this year! When did anybody last use a floppy? Ten years ago? Fifteen? What's it doing there, and where's the xterm?

Of course there's a two-level drop-down menu under Applications, but I couldn't find an xterm there, though I later discovered that there's something similar with an unexpected name. But I was able to switch back to the console, log in, and start one there. And finally I could display something on another machine.

But this one had the wrong IP address, one allocated by DHCP. Why? It had already noted that there was an A record for its name. Why didn't it take? OK, start the network configuration. Not under the “Internet” tab, of course—that's just to start a web browser. But there were two or three other possibilities that I selected. They all did the same thing: nothing. Not even a window.

Another reboot and I got that working too. Set the correct values, checked—nothing happened. Another reboot. Why do people take a good operating system and make it more and more like Microsoft?

After that, a ping to eureka still failed: DNS lookup failure. eureka.lemis.com didn't. I had entered the search values in the configuration, but what I found in /etc/resolv.conf was:

# Dynamic resolv.conf(5) file for glibc resolver(3) generated by resolvconf(8)
# DO NOT EDIT THIS FILE BY HAND -- YOUR CHANGES WILL BE OVERWRITTEN
nameserver 127.0.1.1
search local

And sure enough, it's running its own name server:

USER       PID %CPU %MEM    VSZ   RSS TTY      STAT START   TIME COMMAND
nobody    2398  0.0  0.0  51592   452 ?        S    Sep28   0:00 /usr/sbin/dnsmasq --no-resolv --keep-in-foreground --no-hosts --bind-interfaces --pid-file=/var/run/NetworkManager/dnsmasq.pid --listen-address=127.0.1.1 --cache-size=0 --proxy-dnssec --enable-dbus=org.freedesktop.NetworkManager.dnsmasq --conf-dir=/etc/NetworkManager/dnsmasq.d

Wouldn't a configuration file help? But then, there are probably hundreds of them.

OK, run resolvconf(8):

=== root@ceeveear (/dev/pts/2) ~ 18 -> resolvconf
resolvconf: Error: Command not recognized
Usage: resolvconf (-d IFACE|-a IFACE|-u|--enable-updates|--disable-updates|--updates-are-enabled)

sigh. Even the error messages are contradictory, and the Usage doesn't exclude running it the way I did. But what do the options mean? There's a man page, but it's all too much pain, so I set it manually. If I stick with Mythbuntu, I'll cross that next bridge when I come to it.

Finally I was able to run mythtv-setup. And how about that, it ran over the net too, glacially. It took between 5 and 10 seconds to get a response after pressing a key. And, as locally, the mouse was only of limited use because the damn thing keeps hiding the cursor. For the fun of it, ran tcpdump host ceeveear and watched the avalanches of data coming across. They weren't small packets: most were the full 1448 bytes payload. Here's a summary:

Activity       Packets
Change focus       66451
Change focus + select “Video source”       119999
Change focus + select “Input connections”       2586873

It's worth pondering that. About half the packets were the full 1448 butes payload, so at a rough estimate that's 2586873 * 724 or 1,872,896,052 bytes. No wonder it's slow. But what's it doing there? I'm amazed that people use software that is so inefficient, let alone not fix it for 10 years.

Of course, I could have used ifconfig on ceeveear, which currently shows:

enp2s0    Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 6c:f0:49:09:7a:4d
          inet addr:192.109.197.140  Bcast:192.109.197.255  Mask:255.255.255.0
          inet6 addr: fe80::64d3:2dec:61fa:4bb5/64 Scope:Link
          UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST  MTU:1500  Metric:1
          RX packets:3174618 errors:0 dropped:1 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:6197354 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
          RX bytes:296978087 (296.9 MB)  TX bytes:9275183016 (9.2 GB)

And yes, nearly all of that data was running mythtv-setup. But I didn't think of that until later, and it was painful enough doing it once.

OK, installed and configured. What about MythWeb?

Fatal error: Uncaught Error: Call to undefined function t() in /usr/share/mythtv/mythweb/modules/database/init.php:10 Stack trace: #0 /usr/share/mythtv/mythweb/classes/Modules.php(30): require_once() #1 /usr/share/mythtv/mythweb/classes/Modules.php(50): Modules::load() #2 /usr/share/mythtv/mythweb/modules/_shared/tmpl/default/header.php(134): Modules::getModule('tv') #3 /usr/share/mythtv/mythweb/modules/_shared/tmpl/_errors/error.php(19): include('/usr/share/myth...') #4 /usr/share/mythtv/mythweb/includes/errordisplay.php(198): require_once('/usr/share/myth...') #5 /usr/share/mythtv/bindings/php/MythBackend.php(76): custom_error('Unable to conne...') #6 /usr/share/mythtv/bindings/php/MythBackend.php(137): MythBackend->connect(false) #7 /usr/share/mythtv/mythweb/includes/utils.php(56): MythBackend->sendCommand(Array) #8 /usr/share/mythtv/mythweb/includes/db_update.php(57): setting('recommend_enabl...', NULL, false) #9 /usr/share/mythtv/mythweb/includes/init.php(46): require_once('/usr/share/myth...') #10 /usr/share/mythtv/ in /usr/share/mythtv/mythweb/modules/database/init.php on line 10

sigh. The error message suggests a software error (along with very poor formatting). This is an out-of-the box install. I was hoping that Mythbuntu would be better than LinHES. As far as I can see, it's a complete disaster.

I started trying to run multimedia on computers over 12 years ago. Yes, I have got it to work, but it has been one of the most painful experiences of my life, and it's not getting any better.


Into Ballarat yet again
Topic: general Link here

Into town today to bring Yvonne home: she left her car for servicing. While there, also did some shopping.


Comfort
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

I like things to be comfortable. I'm sure that goes for most of us, but other people seem to be able to put up with more discomfort than I do. How else can you explain the proliferation of painful interfaces to computers? Ildikó spent a lot of her time here peering into her (normal-sized) mobile telephone. At Dan Murphy's (“We beat all competitors' prices”) today I tried to get the online price for the beer I bought, and told the sales person that I had received a better price in an email. His answer “can you show me your phone?”.

And in the afternoon my pain with Mythbuntu was compounded by the sitting position. That's not directly Mythbuntu's fault: once things are up and running, I don't intend to interface to the computer directly. But it really made it clear how much easier it is to have a flexible, familiar interface. So what do the software release people do? They change the interface at every release. Yes, progress is one thing, but I haven't seen much come out of Apple or Microsoft that can even match the interface I started building 25 years ago.

Sadly, it seems that the appalling iOS or Android interface is the way of the future.


45 mm lens: better than expected
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I bought my M.Zuiko 45 mm f/1.8 lens mainly because it was cheap, and because I thought Yvonne could use it taking photos in dark riding halls. This proved correct; but I've found it useful for other things as well, and today I took all my photos with it. About the only issue is that it doesn't focus closer than 45 cm. Fifty years ago that was normal, but nowadays it seems a long way away.


Thursday, 29 September 2016 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 29 September 2016
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More wet huntsmen
Topic: animals, general Link here

Huntsman spiders seem to like water. I found one in the rain gauge again today:

 
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It's bigger than the one before. Is it the same one, grown, or a different one? This time it was very tenacious, and I wasn't able to get it out of the gauge.


Another day of multimedia pain
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday's installation of Mythbuntu was a complete letdown, and by the end of the day I still had what is almost certainly like a downright bug in Mythweb. The code in question is:

    $Settings['database'] = array('name'    => t('Database'),
                                  'choices' => array('settings' => t('Database Health'),
                                                    ),
                                  'default' => 'settings',
                                 );

Clearly t() is a function to translate messages, but it wasn't defined in this context.

But surely I wasn't the first to run into it: after all, this was an out-of-box install. And sure enough, a web search brought up this page, a forum discussion about exactly the same thing.

The general impression was that it was (triggered by) a permissions issue, possibly related to MySQL. I followed through the things they tried, all of which showed no problems. The real issue is that there are no error messages. /var/log/apache2/error.log contained a copy of the stack trace, and /var/log/apache2/access.log contained nothing unexpected.

I've had problems like this in the past when I discovered that the system name got implicated in the database tables, so that you can't move the database to a system with a different name. Maybe something similar happened when I forced the system to use normal IP configuration. In fact, I had something very similar eight years ago, only in those days they provided a marginally useful error message:

 
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At this early stage it might be the easiest just to blow the MythTV installation away and start again. But how? The same way as eight years ago: start again with vanilla Ubuntu. Downloaded that and started installing in some of the free space that I had left for this purpose.

Not surprisingly, installing Ubuntu is very much like installing MythBuntu. This time I got the silly suggested system name, along with a ridiculous claim:


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What's encoded in that name? And when does a computer use a name to “talk” to other computers? It's for humans, not computers, and this name is completely inappropriate for that purpose.

And then another day was gone. Time flies when you're having fun installing multimedia software.


Yet another drive to Ballarat
Topic: general Link here

Yvonne's car was ready at lunch time today, unfortunately too late for her to go into town with Chris Bahlo, so I took her in, planning to visit the Growmaster plant sales near the freeway entrance. Unfortunately, it started raining heavily, not the best time for that kind of visit, so I dropped her at the car service place and went home again. What a busy couple of weeks it has been!


Friday, 30 September 2016 Dereel Images for 30 September 2016
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Record rainfall
Topic: general Link here

Last week I noted that we were well on the way to the wettest September on record. And since September started at 9:00 on 31 August and went through to 9:00 today, I can confirm: the previous record for Ballarat of 162.9 from 1916 wasn't just marginally beaten. The new record is 178.2 mm, 11% more, 26% of the average annual rainfall and 2.5 times the average September rainfall. And so far there's no evidence that it's about to stop.


Next day of MythTV pain
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

On rather half-heartedly with my Ubuntu installation today. Over the course of time I discovered that the base Ubuntu installation is missing a lot more than just MythTV. Here's a first cut at what needs to be done to get the thing working: