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Thursday, 1 September 2022 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 1 September 2022
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Draining the Corymbia
Topic: gardening Link here

Jesse Walsh along today to do a couple of hours' work, including cleaning the roof gutters and removing a few trees—and still he had time over, so I got him to dig a trench to drain the Corymbia ficifolia. That proved to be necessary:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220902/big/Garden-drainage.jpeg
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I wonder if it will be enough.


To Ballarat again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Into town again today for a long-overdue haircut (the last was 3 months ago). Some things haven't changed: there are still road works everywhere, including a new one in Enfield. To make matters worse, the traffic control man was scared of being run over and had hidden behind a convenient truck, where I didn't see him until I was nearly past. And when I tried to drive on, the car wouldn't start.

Well, it did after about 5 attempts. But why did that happen? It's not the first time, but so far the worst. It always starts immediately when it's cold, or when it has been standing for 10 minutes or more. I noticed a smell of petrol: could it be that some sensor has malfunctioned?

After the haircut off to the Fruit Shack for a lot of East Asian foodstuffs. It took me a long time, at least because I didn't know what I could find that and what I had bought elsewhere.

One thing that I would have expected more of is noodles, really the staple food of North China. There wasn't much choice. In this case I was looking for single serve “baskets”. All I could find were some Sau Tao noodles.

I've had Sau Tao before, and in principle I was looking for a replacement. But these are “special” noodles with “shrimp” flavour:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220902/big/Sau-tao-noodles-1.jpeg
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Subsequently I went next door to Ballarat Asian Grocery, mainly a Filipino shop, but there I found these noodles:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220902/big/Chef-Lo-noodles-2.jpeg
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2 kg! Who knows how good they are? Still, not much choice. And interestingly there was a big difference in price: the Chef Lo cost $7.50 for 2 kg, while the Sau Tao noodles cost $5 for 454 g, 3 times as much. I'll be interested to see how the Chef Lo taste.

Then fish dofu. The kind I was looking for was not in stock, but there were these:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220902/big/Hakka-fish-dofu-1.jpeg
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Hakka is a brand that I've found good. But look at that packaging and the tiny quantity!


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I don't recall them doing that in the past. Why now?

And rather unexpectedly I came across two different kinds of Laksa mix that I hadn't seen before, both made in Malaysia and titled “Singapore Laksa”:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220902/big/Woh-hup-laksa-1.jpeg
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The first was from Fruit Shack, the second (expired 1 June 2022, as I later discovered) from the Filipinos. Somehow that doesn't surprise me.


Fuel prices
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Petrol prices are gradually dropping again. A few months ago they were over $2 a litre, but now they're closer to $1.50.

But that's petrol. For reasons I don't understand, diesel is now much more expensive than petrol:

 
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That's not the most extreme I saw.


Roti hamburgers
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

We make our own hamburger patties, but so far we have been using commercially prepared buns. That doesn't work well, partially because of their size and consistency, and partially because Yvonne believes in putting a lot of lettuce and stuff underneath the patty.

A while back we had the idea of using chapatis instead of buns, and today we tried it out:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220901/big/Roti-hamburger-1.jpeg
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Not a success. As the last photo shows, the chapatis were too small. And somehow the taste doesn't work the way I had hoped. Yvonne wants to try pita bread next time.


Friday, 2 September 2022 Dereel Images for 2 September 2022
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New noodles
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Mi udang with the new Chef Lo noodles today:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220902/big/Chef-Lo-noodles-2.jpeg
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To my mild surprise, they're very good, probably better than the Sau Tao noodles I had previously been using. In particular, they're more consistent in shape.


Where is Zaporizhzhia?
Topic: general, politics, photography, opinion Link here

The news media report that inspectors from the IAEA arrived in a nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia and found alarming circumstances. But why? There is no nuclear power plant in that city; the closest is in Enerhodar, 120 km away. Yes, it's in Zaporizhzha Oblast, but that's big. The closest town to the power plant is Nikopol in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, just across the Dnipro river from Enerhodar.. Coincidentally that's where my FED camera came from. The tracking (number RH063075495UA) shows:

11.04.2022       53201 NIKOPOL 1 UKRAINE       Acceptance
12.04.2022       53201 NIKOPOL 1 UKRAINE       Dispatching
12.04.2022       53299 DOP NIKOPOL UKRAINE       Income
13.04.2022       53299 DOP NIKOPOL UKRAINE       Dispatching
13.04.2022       49999 TSOP DNIPRO UKRAINE       Income
14.04.2022       49999 TSOP DNIPRO UKRAINE       Dispatching
15.04.2022       03909 DOPP KYIV UKRAINE       Income
15.04.2022       03909 DOPP KYIV UKRAINE       Dispatching
15.04.2022       03928 KYIV MMPO UKRAINE       Arrival at outward office of exchange
15.04.2022       03928 KYIV MMPO UKRAINE       Item presented to customs:
16.04.2022       03928 KYIV MMPO UKRAINE       Released from customs for further delivery:
16.04.2022       03928 KYIV MMPO UKRAINE       The postal item has been processed at the office of exchange and handed over for further transportation to the destination country
30.05.2022             Container with your item is processed at the airport
05.06.2022       AUSTRALIA       Accepted by destination post for processing

No idea what DOP/DOPP and MMPO mean. They don't appear in the Ukrainian version, and neither do the post codes, but on the other hand the missing location on 30 May appears as ТЕРМIНАЛ Турція, “terminal Turkey”. But sometimes Google Maps is prepared to show where the locations are, and at other times it isn't. I've established that the camera was posted at this post office:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220902/big/Nikopol-post-office.jpeg
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Somehow that looks so peaceful compared to what was going on just 20 km away across the river.


Spring!
Topic: gardening, animals Link here

Not only is it the beginning of spring, but also Larissa is allowed to walk again, so off this afternoon to walk the dogs for the first time in weeks. And then I saw this:


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That's the “nature strip” outside the house. I can't recall any Acacias flowering there before.


Saturday, 3 September 2022 Dereel Images for 3 September 2022
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KL Hokkien Mee: balanced?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

KL Hokkien Mee for breakfast today. I've been honing the quantities for some time, in particular for the sauce, and finally I think I've got the right balance:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220903/big/KL-Hokkien-Mee.jpeg
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The only question remaining is the “meat”. The recipe still calls for 50 g squid, 50 g prawns and 70 g pork. Today I tried 60 g squid, 60 g of prawns and 30 g lap chong. It didn't taste bad, but I still need to decide whether it tastes better with marinated pork or lap chong.


Don't buy Canon cameras!
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

One of the most important things about choosing camera equipment is the availability of accessories, in particular lenses. Currently it's an excellent argument against small makers, and it's also a good argument against DSLRs, since almost no new lenses are being made for them.

Who makes the lenses? In the good old days (can you say M42?), dozens of makers made lenses for specific mounts. Nowadays there's only one mount that spans more than one maker, the Micro Four Thirds standard. And not coincidentally it has one of the largest choices of lenses.

But there are others, notably Sony, Fujifilm, Nikon and Canon. Nikon and Canon are relative newcomers in the “mirrorless” arena, and the limited choice of lenses shows it. But never mind, they'll come up with more, and so will third party makers.

Well, they want to. It seems that Canon doesn't agree:

... the Viltrox representative said the company has ‘been told by Canon to stop selling all RF mount products´.

Now isn't that a good way to ensure that people will buy elsewhere?


Strange E-M5 Mark III hang
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Yvonne off to Unicorn Park i in Clarendon today to take a whole lot of photos. We've been there before, and it's a challenging place to take photos: it's long, relatively dark, and it's only accessible from one end of the arena. When I was there I took most photos with the Zuiko Digital ED 35-100 mm f/2.0, but one look at the lens was good enough for her to reject it:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20160922/big/Zuiko-45-Takumar-50-Zuiko-35-100.jpeg
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That's the big one, of course. But I have other lenses with wide aperture; they're just “prime” lenses, like the M.Zuiko Digital 45 mm f/1.8 at top left in that photo, or the M.Zuiko Digital ED 75 mm f/1.8. OK, give her both, along with my E-M1. And to be sure that she doesn't end up with too narrow a field of view, how about the Leica Summilux 25 mm f/1.4?

One Summilux? No, how about another, the Leica DG Summilux 15 mm f/1.7 ASPH. as well, along with the E-PM2 to put it on, just in case? So she set off with three cameras, the 45 mm on her E-M5 Mark III, the 25 mm on the E-M1 and the 15 mm on the E-PM2.

She came back with 470 odd photos, all taken on the E-M1 and the E-PM2 with the lenses I had put on them (25 mm, 15 mm). Lots of small figures in the distance. What went wrong? The E-M5 had hung with no viewfinder display, and she couldn't be bothered to change lenses.

What's wrong with the E-M5? The symptom was as described. The display was blank, though it could change to the menu or the playback display. Power cycling had clearly not helped. Finally I removed the battery and replaced it, after which things worked. But what went wrong? Could it be a setting? It doesn't seem so, but in retrospect it would have been a good idea to look through the viewfinder and see if that still worked. It's possible to display the “live view” display on the monitor, but the result looks different.


Dumpling fail
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Roast ham for dinner tonight. Yvonne wanted dumplings, and we had exactly enough powder to make 3 dumplings. OK, one for her, while I tried some frozen Semmelknödel that I had made 6 months ago.

It didn't work well. The cryptic inscription on the jar suggested leaving the thing to soak in cold water for 10 minutes, but after 5 minutes only half of it was left:


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I think the intention was simply to wait 10 minutes after mixing the powder with water. I had already noted pain with this mixture in February. The good news was that the Semmelknödel was still acceptable.


Sunday, 4 September 2022 Dereel Images for 4 September 2022
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Breakfast fun
Topic: food and drink, opinion, photography Link here

I'm gradually using up the fresh vegetables that I bought at the Fruit Shack on Thursday. I had particular fun with the choi sam flowers:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220903/big/KL-Hokkien-Mee.jpeg
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But that last photo is out of focus! How could that be? Somehow I focused on the place mat instead of the food!


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That was taken at f/5.6 with a focal length of 14 mm and a distance of 60 mm. How shallow the depth of field is! My depth of field calculator tells me I should have had a depth of field of 16 cm, and it looks like it was nothing like that.


Dumpling recovery
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I was particularly upset yesterday by the way the dumpling for Yvonne disintegrated:


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So I recovered what was left, left it to dry out, and cooked it today:


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And how about that, almost no further disintegration. So those first 10 minutes are just “let stand”, not “soak”.


Best Asian supermarkets in Ballarat
Topic: food and drink, technology, opinion Link here

There aren't many grocers in Ballarat that cater for non-Western food. The only ones I regularly visit are the Fruit Shack, the “Ballarat Asian Grocery” next door and the Indian place next to the Curry Star in Dana Street. But while looking for something else, advertising caught my mind: “Find the best Asian Supermarkets [note that plural] in Ballarat”.

OK, I'll bite:

BEST Asian Supermarkets in Ballarat VIC
Need an Asian grocery store? These 0 results are waiting for your call. Here are our top Ballarat Asian Supermarkets with reviews & ratings.

Well, at least they agree with me, but you'd really think that they would catch that kind of result and treat it specially.


Monday, 5 September 2022 Dereel Images for 5 September 2022
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Where's my completion certificate?
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

It's been 10 days since I sent photos of the new “stormwater” system to Brenton Carter of Wyndham Building Permits. No reaction. That's unusual; normally he has been pretty responsive. But we need to do something, so today I called him, but he didn't reply. Instead a George answered the photn and told me that yes, indeed, the stormwater was part of the conditions. I asked where, and he kept pointing in different directions, finally pointing to the original planning permit (and not the revised planning permit nor either building permit), which I didn't have handy. Left it with him: after all, it's Brenton's decision, and he should be back tomorrow, and should call me.

Later I dug out the original building permit, dated 17 June 2021 and thus relating to the old location.

Downpipes to be connected to existing stormwater system, legally discharge within 30 days of building completion.

Apart from obvious grammar concerns, what existing stormwater system? There is none! George had referred to the house stormwater system, without any reference to the locations. But even there, there is nothing useful. The roof of the house discharges into a couple of tanks that are usually full and discharge onto the ground. This is clearly a “one size fits all” clause that, at least in this case, doesn't fit at all.

But there's more:

Inspection Requirements:
The mandatory notification stages are :
  1. Pad Footings
  2. Frame & Final
  3. The building fee paid covers 2 inspections. Any further inspections will incur an additional fee.

So when Frame & Final (whatever that may be) are complete, I must notify them. Done (2 August 2022. 30 days to complete the stormwater system. Done (25 August 2022, 23 days later. So what's the problem?


Web security breach
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Mail from openbugbounty today, telling me of a security breach on www.lemis.com: the URL http://www.lemis.com/grog/photos/photos.php/x"><svG onLoad=prompt(9)> gave rise to this result:


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Huh? What's that? The URL makes no sense to me at all. Where do I find something that explains it? About the only interesting thing is that this part of the URL: photos.php/x. I didn't know that you could extend a PHP script URL beyond the final .php. But a bit of examination shows that phpinfo() returns that part as $_SERVER ["PATH_INFO"]. So with a couple of lines of code I can work around the problem and hopefully confuse anybody trying to break in:

if ($_SERVER ["PATH_INFO"])
  randomredirect (1);

That's a function that I wrote years ago to confuse people by taking them somewhere completely different. But it's only a stop-gap: I don't understand how this exploit works, and I should.


Tuesday, 6 September 2022 Dereel Images for 6 September 2022
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Arena shed: done, shouting and all
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Waited all morning and most of the afternoon for the promised call from Brenton Carter about the permit for the shed on the riding arena. It never came.

Instead I got two mail messages: one was the certificate of final inspection, successful, and the other was a cancellation of the invoice for another inspection. We're done!

Well, there's still the invoice outstanding from Mari Hendricks, and Yvonne has lots of things that she wants to do. I fear this will be an ongoing matter.


Maths for the masses, part 1
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Another almost meaningless statistic from Statista today: Africa Leads the World in Solar Power Potential.

What does that mean? They provided this image:

https://cdn.statcdn.com/Infographic/images/normal/27722.jpeg

What does “kWh/kWp per day” mean? kWh is clear: it's a kilowatt hour, a marginally metric way of saying 3.6 mJ. But “kWp”? They're too polite to assume that I don't know. After a lot of searching it proved to mean “Kilowatt peak”, the rated output of the panels. But in my experience that's not the peak: it's (barely) possible to exceed that value. So what they're saying is effectively the equivalent number of hours of full sunshine that the location can generate. And that's the way our PV system was sold to us.

Of course, that's still just a derived value. The real value is the number of hours per day equivalent output, so the 3½ hours that were quoted to me are really a scalar: 3½ ÷ 24, or 0.146. Arguably, though, the “equivalent hours” is the easiest to understand. Certainly it is more understandable than “kWh/kWp per day”.

The graph still doesn't make any sense, of course. It implicitly assumes that insolation is uniform over the entire region. And that's so far from the truth that it makes the whole graph meaningless.


Maths for the masses, part 2
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

The Reserve Bank of Australia has raised the interest rate again, for the 5th time in 5 months, and this time by 0.5%, as the ABC reports. To help understand what it means, they write:

According to analysis by RateCity, the latest increase will add a further $216 a month to a $750,000 mortgage.

OK, I'll bite. 0.5% interest on $750,000 are $3,750. You don't need an “analysis” to come to that conclusion: you should be able to do it in your head. And that's $312.50 per month. Where do they get there figures from?


Understanding the web exploit
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've worked around yesterday's security issue, but I didn't really understand. But today it came clear, at least partially. The page in question has input fields, and they look like:

<form action="$me" method="get">
          <td>
   <input type="submit" value="Search keywords in description:"/>
...
        </form>

$me is set in a header file:

$me = $_SERVER ["PHP_SELF"];                    /* name of this script */

And $_SERVER ["PHP_SELF"] includes all the trailing nonsense that the crackers used. So when I submit the form, it gets invoked. Only: I didn't need to submit the form. Presumably some of the stuff in there forces the submission.

Still, change it to this and all is well:

$me = $_SERVER ["SCRIPT_NAME"]; /* name of this script */

But I'll still perform my random redirect if anybody tries it out on me.


Price of a Kiev
Topic: photography, history, opinion Link here

While looking through some random page, came across this article on the Kiev by Andrzej Wrotniak. He writes:

From my own experience: in the Sixties Kiev was selling in Poland for about 40% of the price of an Exakta, which made it as expensive as the Practica IV SLR, slightly more than a two month's pay. Among rangefinders, a Zorki would cost about 60% of Kiev's price, and was also considered more reliable.

That's plausible, but it doesn't explain this receipt for my Kiev IIIa:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220804/big/Kiev-3a-instructions-7.jpeg
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As I discussed last month, it suggests that it had cost several years' salary. And if an Exakta (also made in the Soviet sphere) cost 2.5 times as much, it would be completely unaffordable. What's the truth?


Curry trees!
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Our curry tree has developed a number of suckers, and I've been planning to remove them and repot them for a long time, probably the best part of a year. Finally it's done:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220906/big/Curry-tree-1.jpeg
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There were a total of 17 of them. I hadn't expected anything like that many.


Wednesday, 7 September 2022 Dereel Images for 7 September 2022
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Refried beans?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Huevos rancheros for breakfast this morning. And with them, of course, frijoles refritos, usually translated into English as “refried beans”.

But why refried? Why fried at all? The recipe calls for boiling them (“frijoles de la olla”) and then crushing them and mildly frying the result in lard. Is that even frying? The image in Wikipedia shows something mashed or boiled, not fried:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/51/Frijoles_refritos.jpg/1280px-Frijoles_refritos.jpg

What happens if I fry the whole beans at a normal frying temperature and then crush them??


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220907/big/Huevos-rancheros-2.jpeg
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They're much dryer than otherwise, but they may have a flavour advantage. We can address the moisture content separately. Certainly the mess on the Wikipedia page looks far too wet for me. Yvonne liked them as they were, but I still have my reservations.


Shed: the other shoe drops
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Now that the shed's complete, all we needed was Mari Hendriks' invoice. That arrived today. It was all we needed: $1,650! I hadn't expected anything like that. With the tank and foundations, it cost the best part of $3,000. My fault, of course, for not getting a quote. But now things are finally over!


Joining a political party
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

I'm now a member of an Australian political party, Legalise Cannabis Australia. Why? I don't smoke cannabis, and I don't particularly approve of doing so. But it's a widely used drug, and prohibiting it doesn't significantly reduce the use, but it does criminalize users and help promote organized crime. Places like Netherlands and Portugal have shown that it doesn't need to be that way.

Still, why join? They're not represented in parliament, and they need more members to even register for the election. Membership is also free. So I did my civic duty and signed up.

For that, of course, they needed to check me on the (state) electoral roll. And I wasn't there!

Oh. Full name please, and of course dates are written as 09/05/1934, and not “9 May 1934” (invalid) or “5 September 1934” (doubly invalid). But it still says

Your Victorian enrolment details could not be found.

This could be because you:

“Remember, ...” OK, people, I have no recall of anything. And how do I know what you have on the roll? That's what I'm looking for! Finally called up the help line, which found me immediately. Why couldn't I? Bad boy, you entered the house number. You should only enter the name of the street, using the drop-down menu provided.

Somehow she didn't think that that was their fault. When will the Australian Government learn to interface with the public?


More exploit blocking
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Spent some time tidying up yesterday's code for the web exploit, greatly hampered by web browsers that cache old contents. It seems to work now. And then there's another! I wish I understood how this stuff gets executed before I refer to it.


Pita hamburgers
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

As planned last week, tried some hamburgers with pita bread today:


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Not a success. This bread, at any rate, is not wide enough, and the whole thing fell apart. It is, however, firmer than the puffy Australian hamburger buns, so it might be an idea if we can find wider versions.


Thursday, 8 September 2022 Dereel
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Planting the oaks
Topic: gardening Link here

Months ago Yvonne was given a couple of oak saplings, and they've been waiting on the verandah to be planted. That should have happened at least a month ago, but the weather didn't agree:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220823/big/Installing-tank-4-detail.jpeg
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But things are gradually drying up. Jesse Walsh along this afternoon and planted it:


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Where is it? It's there, but until the leaves come it's not easy to find:


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Installing bde
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've been dragging my heels on my computer configuration for years now. In the meantime, I need to:

Strangely, I've found little cause to upgrade eureka; the main issue seems to be that I can no longer install ports, and web browsers are becoming a problem. With tiwi, I still have multiple problems relating to character sets, and I don't understand why they only crop up there. So: how about completing the install on bde and seeing if the problems occur there too? At the same time I can flesh out my new system install strategy (in /home/Sysconfig/Install). So started doing that, making some progress. At least I seem to have been able to merge the master.passwd file and create users. Now to recreate the user environment.


Friday, 9 September 2022 Dereel Images for 9 September 2022
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La reine est morte, vive le roi
Topic: politics, history, opinion Link here

The news of the day is that Elizabeth II died in the early hours of the morning (well, yesterday afternoon her time). I found the fact strangely unsettling. I'm not a monarchist, and it wasn't surprising: she had been unwell for some time, and she was 96 years old—almost as old as my aunt Freda when she died last year.

But somehow she had “always” been there. Not quite, of course: I was 3 years old when she became queen, and I've had hundreds of coins with the king's head on them. And politicians with much more influence have come and gone. But somehow it's a feeling as if a whole country has disappeared. And getting used to having a king again will take some time.

The media are full of it, of course, including (relatively little) satire. Somehow I can't help feeling that her last act of state, appointing Liz Truss as prime minister only two days earlier, had something to do with it. The United Kingdom is but a shadow of what it was when she acceded to the throne, and arguably a Truss is not what it needs.

“The king is dead, long live the king” has a certain ring to it. “The queen is dead, long live the king” doesn't quite sound the same.


Keeping the dogs in the yard
Topic: general, animals Link here

Our property is completely fenced in, so in principle there's no issue leaving the dogs outside in the yard. But our electric gate opener has the issue that it doesn't have a catch at the open end, and when it's windy, it can open by up to about 40 cm.

OK, simple: put a star dropper at the greatest extent of the opening and put some mesh in between. That was on the to-do list today when Larissa decided to go inspecting the road outside. So Yvonne went off and went to an amazing amount of trouble to close the gap, including the use of no fewer than 3 electric fence insulators:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220910/big/Gate-barrier-2.jpeg
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And the post was remarkably hard, to the point that we could hardly get the nails in:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220910/big/Gate-barrier-1.jpeg
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Still, it's done, though it looks strange enough.


Garden in spring: bulbs win
Topic: gardening, Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

This is now our eighth spring in Stones Road, and the garden has had its ups and downs. We still have almost no trees. The Ginkgo biloba is a particularly sorry sight:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220909/big/Ginkgo-2.jpeg
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We bought it in June 2015, so it's now over 7 years old. We planted it where the new riding arena is, and I transplanted it further east six months ago. It's nearly as big as when we bought it, and at least it's still there, unlike most of the other plants we bought at the time.

What are flourishing, though, are the bulbs:


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Even there, though, there are differences. The Narcissus and snowflakes are multiplying greatly, but the tulips are not: so far I haven't seen any this year, though we had them at this time in previous years. I'm not going to lose sleep over that.


Saturday, 10 September 2022 Dereel Images for 10 September 2022
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Roast beef topside
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

We've been planning to eat steak and kidney pie for some time now, and on Wednesday Yvonne bought some lamb kidneys and beef topside. But the topside looked so good that I was reluctant to use it for steak and kidney. How about roast beef, which we also had on our list for “some time soon”?

But how? Topside isn't the tenderest cut of meat, but with long, slow cooking it's quite acceptable. That's it: sous vide. Temperature? 54° is the magic number. But for some reason my sous-vide cooker shows 2° lower than set, in this case 52°. Time for a second opinion:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220910/big/Roast-beef-1.jpeg
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And how about that, the water temperature ranged between 53° and 54°.

And the rest? Yorkshire pudding, of course. Normally it should get the pan drippings, but all I had from sous-vide was some juice. Reduce that:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220910/big/Yorkshire-pudding-1.jpeg
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Heat dripping in a pan and put in the pudding batter:


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My instructions say to bake it at the top of the oven, which doesn't make much sense, and so far it has always bubbled:


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That also resulted in me taking it out before it was completely done. Next time I'll do it at the bottom in a cooler oven. I'll also keep the drippings until the pudding is firmer so that they spread better.

The roast itself was excellent. Initially pale and insipid, of course, but a bit of searing put paid to that:


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And the consistency was exactly what I was looking for:


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For once, something that could hardly have been better.


Sunday, 11 September 2022 Dereel Images for 11 September 2022
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Device reliability pain
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Into the office this morning to hear beep-beep-beep at regular intervals. My weather station software telling me that the internal unit wasn't getting any data from the external unit.

Damn! This happens far too often. The units are only about 20 m apart, but from time to time they don't communicate. And then things come good again, for reasons that I don't understand. Took the internal unit into the lounge room, where it has direct 10 m line of sight through the windows. No data.

Batteries in the internal unit low? Take them out and measure them. The readings were all over the place, from almost nothing to over 2 V! My multimeter has some kind of problem, Do I replace its battery or just the whole multimeter? There's not much difference in price, but it won't be today. Discovered that the 20 V range still works, and it shows a normal voltage.

Change the batteries for new, freshly charged ones. No display! More investigating and discovered that one of the batteries had died while waiting for use. Another battery and the same thing all over again. Put it outside about 3 m away and left it for a while. No data.

At least that points to one thing: the dropouts don't seem to be related only to transmission problems. Has the thing finally given up on me? That's a nuisance: I wrote the software myself, and it was a real pain, not the least because of the extreme unreliability of the device. They're no longer in production, which is probably a good thing, but if I buy something else I'll need new software, and I really don't feel like reimplementing my software for a different device.

While I was thinking about this, the communication came back. OK, change the timeout on communications. It had been 30 retries (about one a second), so I increased it to 86400. Rebuild...

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/36) ~/src/weather/WH-1080-eureka 35 -> make wh1080
cc -g -Wall -Wno-parentheses -I /usr/local/include -c -o wh1080.o wh1080.c
error: unable to open output file 'wh1080.o': ''
1 error generated.

Huh? Why don't the error messages give reasons instead of silly “modern” half-coloured output? What is this crap, anyway?

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/36) ~/src/weather/WH-1080-eureka 36 -> cc -v
FreeBSD clang version 3.4.1 (tags/RELEASE_34/dot1-final 208032) 20140512
Target: x86_64-unknown-freebsd10.2
Thread model: posix
Selected GCC installation:

The problem was an EPERM (operation not permitted), of course. Change the permissions and all was well, and at least for the moment things are working again. But somehow everything's ganging up on me today.


What colour greaves?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Making more greaves (chu yau cha, 猪油渣) for KL Hokkien Mee today. How dark do you make them? Last time they were relatively light. Today I went a little darker:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220911/big/Greaves.jpeg
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In the process, it's important to pay attention to the temperature. Below 100° they don't brown; above 125° or so they start spitting.


Monday, 12 September 2022 Dereel
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Another quiet day
Topic: general Link here

Once again I didn't do anything of interest today. Why? Maybe I'm just getting old and lethargic. But it's not quite that simple. I did do things, just not worth recording, like an incredible amount of cooking.

What does this development mean for this diary? I've worried about that for decades. I don't see it going away in the foreseeable future.


New king, new bank notes
Topic: politics, general, opinion Link here

The death of Queen Elizabeth and the ascent of King Charles III will have a number of effects. One is the currency; once again we'll see a king on the coins and notes. Here a sneak preview of the new Australian $5 note as published on Facebook:

http://www.lemis.com/grog/Day/20220912/305050854_10160103912707618_5421994112134989441_n.jpg


Tuesday, 13 September 2022 Dereel Images for 13 September 2022
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Dirty Piccola
Topic: animals Link here

Yvonne went into the laundry this morning to find this:


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Piccola covered in mud! Admittedly, the colour matches her coat, but where did it come from? There was so much there that she had to be washed, which of course she didn't like.


Installing BSD, 30 years later
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

It's been well over 30 years since I first installed BSD on a PC. It was challenging then, and in 1998 I did an all-day tutorial on the subject at the AUUG annual conference—and didn't finish. And of course I've written a book on the subject.

In the course of the years, installing the base system has become trivial much easier. Everything that I described in September 1998 is now a matter of 10 minutes and a few almost routine inputs.

But things don't end there. What I still can't completely get my head round is how to maintain continuity. At the very latest, I started writing configuration files such as ~/.bashrc and ~/.emacs when I did my first BSD installation, but there's also a chance that I started even earlier with my first Unix installation in about 1987. Those two files are now 577 and 4929 lines long respectively, have been through 81 and 286 revisions, and clearly they contain a lot of what my fingers remember.

And then there are the ports. Which ones do I have installed? pkg info on eureka tells me that I have 1057 ports installed, most of which I don't even recognize: they're dependencies. And those that I do recognize frequently have complicated configuration files. How do I migrate to a new system?

All of that is the background to why it takes me so long to upgrade my system. Looking back through this diary, I last upgraded eureka in November 2015. And I've had less pain with it than with almost any other system. About the only issue is with web browsers. No wonder I'm reluctant to upgrade.

But now I have another issue: no fewer than 5 computers inherited from Bruce Evans. The newest laptop, called bde.lemis.com in honour of Bruce, needs a complete new installation. Just the incentive I need to write a formal framework to complete installations, and I've been doing that (at a snail's pace) for months. And as of this morning I had it almost running, just my own environment wasn't complete.

But I had that, at least conceptually: homekit, a set of files to install on remote machines that I created with I was working with MySQL decades ago. Tried installing it today and discovered that yes, it could be useful, but only when I'm away from home. In my home network, I really need links to the corresponding files on eureka, so that I automatically track any changes. So I need two configurations for laptops, one at home, one when I'm traveling.

Then there's the issue with /etc. That's complicated, but I seem to be making some headway. I can add users to /etc/master.passwd and groups to /etc/group, but it seems to be more trouble than it's worth to update root's shell or add users to groups.

And X? Always an issue, but today I at least got as far as starting X with the vesa driver, though it seems to be looking for an intel driver. Which one? Mañana.


Fastest Internet service
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Another statistic from Statista today:

https://cdn.statcdn.com/Infographic/images/normal/7246.jpeg

That's supposed to be the mean downlink (“download”) speed. I have a hard time believing that. I think I only know one person with a downlink of over 100 Mb/s (Jari Kirma). Certainly such speeds aren't generally available in Australia, and as long as they charge a premium for higher speeds, it's not clear why anybody would want them. I can get nominal 75 Mb/s, but I've chosen to stay with 25 Mb/s simply because of the price. I can't imagine that the average man in the street would pay it.


Wednesday, 14 September 2022 Dereel Images for 14 September 2022
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Laptop installation: impasse
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Spent some time tuning my “new system install” scripts today. Made reasonable progress until I tried my standard keyboard remapping, in particular Ctrl next to A, Alt in bottom left corner of keyboard. Then I got

=== grog@bde (/dev/pts/43) ~ 6 -> xmodmap ~/xmodmap.bde
xmodmap:  /home/grog/.xmodmap-bde:2:  bad keysym in remove modifier list 'Caps_Lock', no corresponding keycodes
xmodmap:  /home/grog/.xmodmap-bde:6:  bad keysym target keysym 'Caps_Lock', no corresponding keycodes
xmodmap:  2 errors encountered, aborting.

What's that? After some investigation, it seems that the laptop keyboard has a hardware CapsLock key which can't be remapped. That makes it almost useless to me.


Thursday, 15 September 2022 Dereel Images for 15 September 2022
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Off the Net!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Say what you will, mobile phones can be a source of information. This time last week I missed the news at 7:00, but when I got into the office I swiped my phone and got the startling news that Elizabeth II had died. This morning it beeped at me and told me that we were off the net.

And so we were, sort of. More a case of extreme flakiness, which my scripts reported as no fewer than 26 outages with an average duration of 110 seconds. The reality was a little different: times of relatively good connection, times with very poor connection.

Whose fault? In case of doubt, of course, the National Broadband Network. With one exception, that's been the case ever since I used it. The one exception was the last, only a little over a month ago, where Aussie Broadband had network problems.

But that doesn't mean that it's their fault this time. Checked with Jamie Fraser, who is also with Aussie and on the NBN. No problems. Local issues? Failed NTD? It was showing normal status. Power cycled it. No improvement. Is the ODU (antenna) still where it should be? Yes.

What next? I can't call Aussie support because the phones are down (VoIP over the network), and they don't respond to email. How about this horrible My Aussie app, which also claims to be able to perform link tests? Last time I tried it, it drove me mad. Still, any port in a storm. Found the user name and password, which I hadn't optimized for a glass keyboard, and painstakingly typed it in, one character at a time so that I could see the password before it changed it into a *. First time round it came back with the message “there was an error, please call 1300 880 905”. That's exactly what I was trying to avoid! Went back to try again and it had erased my painfully entered data! On the next attempt I got:


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It seems that I could enter a problem report via their web site, but it was clearly not designed for outage notifications. Entered the report, then bit the bullet and tried a phone call. One minute of boilerplate, then the information that I would have an estimated 19 minutes wait before anybody answered me! Forget that.

So: is it my problem? The Ethernet card that I use to connect to the outside world is an ancient 100 Mb/s card:

xl0: <3Com 3c905C-TX Fast Etherlink XL> port 0xd000-0xd07f mem 0xf3220000-0xf322007f irq 19 at device 1.0 on pci4

Could it have passed its use-by date? How can I tell? In the bad old days it could help to take it down then up again. Did that, somewhat confused by the lack of response, which proved just to be part of the fault. Restart dhclient? Yes, worked. No improvement.

OK, use another card. But not in eureka: I don't want to reboot it for that. So used bde, which seems to be not of much use for anything else.


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That went on for a long time. My guess is that the DHCPNAK is saying “you're not the MAC address that I'm expecting”. But it should have timed out after 20 minutes, and I'm sure it went on for much longer than that.

OK, reconnect to eureka and try to transfer data with it to bde using a dedicated cable. And that worked fine: no hiccoughs, 11.2 MB/s data transfer rate, which iftop reported as between 99 and 100 Mb/s. Clearly there's nothing wrong with the card beyond the fact that it does only 100 Mb/s.

OK, my hardware seems to be OK. Just in case it was the cable between eureka and NTD I used the cable that I had used for the transfer to bde, again with no improvement. Give up. Try to get somebody to report the problem for me. And while I was doing that, the connection suddenly came good. And a quarter of an hour later Aussie wrote an email message:

NBN has let us know that your service may currently be affected by an outage.

Service affected by NBN outage: **29 STONES RD, DEREEL VIC**

We will let you know once this outage has been resolved.

They didn't follow up on this message, but at 23:12 I received a response to my “ticket”:

Looking into your account There was a Critical NBN outage on your service
earlier
today, looking into this outage it seems to have been impacting at least
10,000
homes.

NBN have since closed the outage and have marked it as resolved.

So: should I have just waited? I recall doing this once and taking a couple of days to find out that it was my fault after all. As it was, we have:

6:53       Problem starts
11:13       Problem finished
11:29       Mail from Aussie Broadband
23:12       Aussie responds to my problem report

Friday, 16 September 2022 Dereel Images for 16 September 2022
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A change of pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So what do I do with bde? The keyboard has a hardware CapsLock key that I can't remap. And my fingers are so used to having Ctrl in that position that that's a show-stopper. Yes, I can almost certainly connect an external keyboard, but that negates the purpose of a laptop.

So: the obvious thing to do is finish setting up tiwi, which has been hanging for a couple of reasons. Here the change to UTF-8 breaks a number of things, including grep and my shell interface—the keyboard issue again. I also need to finish installing X on that machine, but that's nothing by comparison.

So: run away to a different pain. I have a spare mobile phone, Yvonne's old Xiaomi Redmi 9A which I've been using for various tests. But it's still set up as Yvonne, and it would make sense to register it as belonging to me. How hard can it be?

First, reset to factory settings. Don't you want to do a backup? Yes, of course I do, but who knows where it will end up? Oh, how about that, it can generate a backup that you can copy to your computer! How old-fashioned!

 
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So I completed the backup. Where is it? I can't open the Mobile Device: it's sealed. But with the ftp server I could start searching, and discovered that the path name was /MIUI/backup/AllBackup/16092022_105924:

250 Directory changed to /MIUI/backup/AllBackup/16092022_105924
ftp> ls
150 File status okay; about to open data connection.
-rw-------   1 user group         6731 Sep 16 10:59 Blocklist(com.miui.securitycenter).bak
-rw-------   1 user group       107589 Sep 16 10:59 Camera(com.android.camera).bak
-rw-------   1 user group         7751 Sep 16 10:59 Clock(com.android.deskclock).bak
-rw-------   1 user group        54336 Sep 16 10:59 FM Radio(com.miui.fm).bak
-rw-------   1 user group         6212 Sep 16 10:59 Gallery(com.miui.gallery).bak
-rw-------   1 user group         6208 Sep 16 10:59 Notes(com.miui.notes).bak
-rw-------   1 user group         7243 Sep 16 10:59 Phone settings(com.android.phone).bak
-rw-------   1 user group         6222 Sep 16 10:59 Quick ball(com.miui.touchassistant).bak
-rw-------   1 user group         9292 Sep 16 10:59 Security(com.miui.securitycenter).bak
-rw-------   1 user group      2034248 Sep 16 10:59 Settings(com.android.settings).bak
-rw-------   1 user group       952905 Sep 16 11:00 System launcher(com.miui.home).bak
-rw-------   1 user group     14207051 Sep 16 10:59 Themes(com.android.thememanager).bak
-rw-------   1 user group         6725 Sep 16 10:59 Weather(com.miui.weather2).bak
-rw-------   1 user group        10824 Sep 16 10:59 Wi-Fi settings(com.android.settings).bak
-rw-------   1 user group         6220 Sep 16 10:59 Yellow pages(com.miui.yellowpage).bak
-rw-------   1 user group         8316 Sep 16 11:00 descript.xml

So the instructions in the screen shot were almost right, except that they were too polite to use a slash in the path name: MIUI-backup-AllBackup instead of /MIUI/backup/AllBackup/. It's also interesting to note that by far the largest part of the backup are “themes”, whatever they may be.

Back to reset to factory settings. Please enter password:

 
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What password? Ah, that would be telling. With some difficulty I established that it must be a MIUI password from Xiaomi. But I thought I hadn't registered that, and I certainly didn't write it down.

There must be a back door. Off to the web, and found this page, which described just that, using the volume keys as pointers and the power button as a select function. Reset. Reboot at a pace that made me wonder whether I had bricked it. But then “Please enter password” again.

Password recovery? It seems that I could use the phone number as a “user ID”, and fortunately we still have the number, so it sent a password reset code to Yvonne's phone, and I was able to use it. Yes, there's a user number associated with the account, but they're too polite to say what it is. I suppose that if I run into trouble with the account, I'll have to use Yvonne's SIM to recover.

Next, copy data from the old phone. This is very similar in concept to what I'm doing with bde. And yes, I get a choice no choice:

 
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Why must the old device be an iPhone? A bit of messing around, which I forgot to write down, and I was able to copy stuff via Google from my last backup of hirse, my real phone.

And that went on all day long. Why is it so slow?

Another surprise: enzian has a world-viewable address, but it changed. It used to be 192.109.197.243, but it came up as 192.109.197.248. That's dhcpd, of course, but why? It almost always reuses the entry for the specified MAC address.

Oh. The MAC address has changed! It used to be da:8f:6b:51:c0:e5, and now it's a4:55:90:b5:8d:6c. Can that be right? The addresses are completely unrelated, and in the Good Old days the first octets specified the maker. But a bit of checking (after updating DNS) shows:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~ 1196 -> arp -a
fossil.lemis.com (192.109.197.239) at 50:3d:c6:75:83:98 on em0 expires in 549 seconds [ethernet]
hirse.lemis.com (192.109.197.228) at 8c:aa:ce:08:84:c1 on em0 expires in 1060 seconds [ethernet]
enzian.lemis.com (192.109.197.248) at a4:55:90:b5:8d:6c on em0 expires in 400 seconds [ethernet]

So all the Xioami phones have completely unrelated MAC addresses. Is changing the address some kind of security attempt?


Saturday, 17 September 2022 Dereel Images for 17 September 2022
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More Android fun
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

By this morning my reconfiguration of enzian, the Xiaomi Redmi 9A was complete. Well, almost complete. At least two of the apps that I use regularly, WiFi [sic] File Transfer and Mendhak GPS logger, weren't installed. And there were more surprises. My main intention was to maintain configuration, but that didn't happen. The FTP server was installed with default configuration, and for some reason it buzzes when I perform certain functions, like display home screen. That might actually be useful: the thing is so glacially slow that it's good to know that it has taken note.

And the MAC address change? Yes, Andy Snow confirmed that this is a feature and not a bug, or that at least the Android developers think so. As I, he finds it irritating. And not surprisingly, the battery is draining faster now; previously it had taken up to 16 days to discharge.


Compost!
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

When we moved in here we set up a compost heap south-west of the house. We've been putting stuff on it ever since, and a few months back it looked like this:


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Not quite what it should be. Today Jesse Walsh came along and reorganized it:


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Lots of compost there. Where shall we put it?


Curry tree autumn
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

A couple of weeks ago we removed the suckers from the curry tree and planted them in separate pots. I put them out on the verandah, where things seemed to be OK—until today:


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That can only have happened in the last couple of days. Why? Wind? Cold? Rain? We had all of those, but I hadn't expected them to suffer so much. In particular, the largest one seems to have suffered the most. Here on 6 September and now:


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I'm not sure that any serious harm is done, but I've brought some of them inside, and I'll compare how they do. Arguably the whole thing is just the result of transplanting.


Ever less fondue
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Fondue de fromage for dinner tonight. Only 225 g cheese between the two of us! Once we ate that much per person.

But the entrée did look a bit frugal:


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Next time two slices of smoked beef. Also we've come to the conclusion that there's no point in trying to flambée the remains of the cheese: Australian spirits are so week that they just leave the cheese wetter than it was before. 37% vodka indeed! I suppose that you can get some appropriately strong spirits, but at prices that I wouldn't want to pay.


Sunday, 18 September 2022 Dereel Images for 18 September 2022
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Alu lap chong again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Alu lap chong for breakfast today, with a couple of minor tweaks:


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Somehow I'm still not convinced.


Android MAC addresses, continued
Topic: technology Link here

Mail from Bartosz today, who pointed me at this page. It explains that yes, indeed, Android uses random MAC addresses as a “security” measure to make people harder to track. And it shows how to disable it on a per-network basis.

OK, take a look. To my surprise, the method still works, but the settings I found were surprising: it was already set up for “use device MAC”.

So presumably the change only happens when the network is set up. Bartosz was surprised; he has checked the code and found no way that that could happen. Presumably yet another Xiaomi modification.


Spam: ain itself
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Spam message today:

 615 N + 18-09-2022 To groggyhimsel (  60) Delta Airlines Shopp N + Congratulations! You can get a $90 United Airlines gift card!

OK, I was once a Delta airlines frequent flyer. Is it possible that it isn't spam? Look at the text version in case they're tracking me by URL:

From 55938-91728-3085-13531-grog=lemis.com@mail.glucofreeze.buzz  Sun Sep 18 16:35:31 2022
DKIM-Signature: v=1; a=rsa-sha1; c=relaxed/relaxed; s=k1; d=glucofreeze.buzz;
        h=Mime-Version:Content-Type:Date:From:Reply-To:Subject:To:Message-ID; i=DeltaAirlinesShopperFeedback@glucofreeze.buzz;

Congratulations! You can get a $90 United Airlines gift card!

http://glucofreeze.buzz/4PZeX4I0jm_9Vo13QmHwmB38ujYaqqtomTA_TDu8qsMEddHTfw
http://glucofreeze.buzz/6hswYE2c8beUBRrrXG10Ju3qL8YzX0TMHUJMstLRZ0A_bm7lEA

attached by wires. It is capable of displaying three square dots and one line...
The idea for a video game console was conceived by Baer in August 1966. Over...

The URLs confirm my suspicion that they're trying to track me, but those last two lines were hundreds of characters long one-line-per-paragraph. And what do they have to do with the subject? Nothing. Presumably they don't expect anybody to try to read them. It's dolorem ipsum all over again. Does that really help the spammers?


“Descaling” coffee machine
Topic: food and drink, general Link here

Today my brain-dead coffee maker once again decided that it needed descaling. It point blank refuses to believe that you can't get scale from rain water. OK, drag out the instructions and fight my way through. That flashing light is the descale warning, right? The instructions don't make it clear; it's just B5 on the diagram, without any accompanying explanation.

Finally fought my way through the instructions, spilt water all over the place, and decided that it was finally time to write down intelligible instructions. Oh. It was time 8 months ago, and that's what I did then. But where do I put them? I suppose the recipes page is the most appropriate.


rc revisited
Topic: technology Link here

Ever since 4BSD, BSD machines use a set of scripts, starting with /etc/rc, to start the machine. /etc/rc itself is invariant, but it reads a configuration file /etc/rc.conf to set the machine up.

How do I set this up programmatically with my new system install scripts? My idea had been to create a directory /etc/rc.conf.d/ and put individual configuration routines in there, then modifying rc.conf to read them in and apply them. But rc is a moving target, and it's not clear where it's going. My recent installations all have a directory /etc/rc.conf.d/, but there's nothing in them, and there's almost no mention of it in the man page. I need to spend some time getting my head around it. One possible lead is Practical rc.d scripting in BSD.


Monday, 19 September 2022 Dereel Images for 19 September 2022
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Exploring rc again
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

As planned, spent some time reading up on /etc/rc and subsidiaries. They prove to go back to work done by Luke Mewburn in the NetBSD project. And it seems that both /etc/rc.d and /etc/rc.conf.d/ are intended to hold complete scripts, not just the definitions that I'm looking for. What I want is a way to include snippets like this only once:

nfs_client_enable=YES           # This host is an NFS client (or NO).
nfs_server_enable=YES           # This host is an NFS server (or NO).
rpc_lockd_enable="YES"          # Run NFS rpc.lockd needed for client/server.
rpc_statd_enable="YES"          # Run NFS rpc.statd needed for client/server.

And a short example from the instructions is:

#!/bin/sh
. /etc/rc.subr
name="dummy"
start_cmd="${name}_start"
stop_cmd=":"
dummy_start()
{
        echo "Nothing started."
}
load_rc_config $name
run_rc_command "$1"

It really seems that there is nothing to do what I'm looking for.


PIXIO in the new arena
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Finally Yvonne is using the new arena, which brings new issues with her PIXIO “Robot Cameraman”: where does she place it? Decided that the best would probably be in the middle of the long side on the open (south) side:


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And there's still the issue of avoiding the column to the left. That seems to have succeeded, but only with careful positioning on an uneven base. In addition, the surface of the arena is higher than the surface outside, so we needed to extend the tripod. Unfortunately, that was too much, as the photo shows.

Probably the best idea is to find the correct height and then mount a suitably large L bracket on the other side of the central column and put the assembly there. But how do I attach it? The columns have a box section, so there's no way to attach nuts on the other side. Can I find self-tappers strong enough to hold things?


Spring flowers
Topic: gardening Link here

Last summer Linda Swift planted a number of flowers along the driveway. I had my concerns about whether they would survive, but a couple have done so:


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The blue flowers are particularly intense. I wonder what they are.


Goodbye Quora?
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Quora seems to be as good as dead. Just about all questions now come from the Quora Spam Generator, and I've been responding with my opinions of that. But it seems that I have offended the spambot. Today I got a message:

Your answer has been deleted as it was found to be in violation of our Spam policy. To learn more about Quora's policy, click here: https://help.quora.com/hc/en/articles/360000470266. If you think this is an error, you can appeal here:

Spam from me? “Appealed” pro forma, but I should really find time to leave the site altogether.


Tuesday, 20 September 2022 Dereel
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Beep!
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Woken up at 4:00 this morning with a beep from outside. Again. And again, in about 10 s intervals.

Damn, I've seen this before: it's the smoke alarm outside the bedroom. Smoke? No, just beep. Any normal human will know what that means. No time to read the diary entry: just pulled the battery out of the alarm. Beep! Of course, it's expecting that. Finally removed the smoke detector, put it in the office at the other end of the house, and somehow managed to get back to sleep.

When I got up, took a look. Surprisingly, nothing seemed to be wrong with the battery. Not that surprising, I suppose: I only put it in 7 months ago. And of course I didn't have a spare, so I left it out until I can get one. But again I wonder if these alarms aren't more trouble than they're worth. On the other hand, this would be the ideal time for some kind of emergency that would benefit from a fire alarm.

And it happened! The cleaner was cleaning the floor with the steam cleaner when the contact between plug and extension cable caught fire:


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I've seen that before in Germany, where the Schuko plugs with their circular pins are particularly prone to the problem. But this is the first time I've seen it in Australia.


Another power failure
Topic: general Link here

Another 4 second grid power failure today, the first in 6 weeks. On the whole things seem to be getting better.


The eternal system upgrade
Topic: technology, history, opinion Link here

Seen in my diary 20 years ago:

More work on upgrading systems today. It's terrible work. I spent most of the day trying to find a clean way to upgrade /etc, and failed. mergemaster produced a lot of output, but didn't do very much else. Left me with about 80 files which had to be merged by hand, including such no-brainers as /etc/defaults/rc.conf. This system is just about unworkable.

So I've been trying to get things right for over 20 years! Today, though, I did make some progress. While installing postfix (successfully!), I came across this in the pkg-message:

Run the following commands to enable postfix during startup:
  - sysrc postfix_enable="YES"
  - sysrc sendmail_enable="NONE"

What's /etc/sysrc? Almost exactly what I've been looking for. As I see in /etc/rc,

The sysrc(8) command provides a scripting interface to modify system config files.

But that's the only mention! In fact, what it does is to ensure that there is exactly one entry in /etc/rc.conf for a specified parameter, and set it as requested. That's what I was looking for yesterday.

Well, almost. My example, here with identification, was:

# Parameters to start NFS, from Sysconfig/Install/rc.NFS-conf
nfs_client_enable=YES           # This host is an NFS client (or NO).
nfs_server_enable=YES           # This host is an NFS server (or NO).
rpc_lockd_enable="YES"          # Run NFS rpc.lockd needed for client/server.
rpc_statd_enable="YES"          # Run NFS rpc.statd needed for client/server.

But what I get from sysrc is:

nfs_client_enable="YES"
nfs_server_enable="YES"
rpc_lockd_enable="YES"
rpc_statd_enable="YES"

If there's a comment on the line, it leaves it there, but there's no way to add a comment for a new parameter. And there's certainly no way to add the first comment line. Somehow I find that frustrating, but maybe I should live with it.


Rare Space Phenomenon Alarms NASA
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Mail from ABC today:

29 N + 19-09-2022 To groggyhimsel (  63) ABC News    N + Rare Space Phenomenon Alarms NASA

Sensationalists! What's it about?

From: ABC News <CNNNews@visceration.co>
Subject: Rare Space Phenomenon Alarms NASA
Message-ID: <ym552wd6ufwr37cr-j6momakct6r63e87-16650-c0d@visceration.co>

http://visceration.co/vhQcm_PDJAncjN1ckCqDras0UjvIRKRzQru4PR_Q9wwRQQ
http://visceration.co/EjeJ-LEaSESFjBY09zOcWu4PnQx9St2zYJ6G7sF28PImJQ

izabeth was born at 02:40 (GMT) on 21 April 1926, during the reign of her paternal grandfather, ...
Elizabeth's only sibling, Princess Margaret, was born in 1930. The two princesses were educated...

I've seen that before, most recently 2 days ago. The URLs point to a different domain, but the layout and the spurious plain text are similar in concept. What are they trying to achieve?


Wednesday, 21 September 2022 Dereel Images for 21 September 2022
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Quora apologizes
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Unexpected mail from Quora moderation today:

We are very sorry for this experience. Your content, https://www.quora.com/How-can-I-fix-a-broken-lens-on-an-SLR-camera-without-replacing-the-whole-thing-expensive/answer/Greg-Lehey, was mistakenly removed as a violation of our spam policy, but it is now reinstated.

That's the response to my complaint on Monday. As I said at the time, I wasn't really expecting that. And since then I have received no more questions from the Spam Generator. Have they removed it, or just blocked me from seeing the questions?


More smoke detector problems
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Yvonne bought a new battery for the smoke detector today. Put it in, replaced on the ceiling. Pressed the TEST button. Nothing.

Did removing it from the ceiling somehow damage it? There's clearly a secondary battery in the thing, because it carried on beeping after having the battery removed and having been removed from the ceiling. But letting that discharge shouldn't kill it.

How I hate these things! There must be a cleverer way.


Thursday, 22 September 2022 Dereel Images for 22 September 2022
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Dogs in spring
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Spring is coming, it's gradually getting warmer, and the dogs are getting... fatter. Presumably they don't need as much energy to maintain their body temperature. We know this from horses, but I hadn't noticed it with dogs before. Despite the maker's recommendations of 400 to 450 g per day, we were giving them 300 g (Larissa) and 350 g Elena. And that seems to be too much. Lara in particular seems quite fat, despite being the same size and getting less to eat. But now they've been leaving food over, so we've dropped to 250 g each for both of them. Things will probably change more.

And Lara is much more active! It's been over a year since we first diagnosed her hypertrophic osteodystrophy, and for some time Yvonne has been feeding her Rosehipvital, which is supposed to alleviate the issue. Now, suddenly, she's active again. It works!


Garden flowers in early spring
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

It's just shy of the September equinox, time for the monthly garden photos.

The Abutilon that we cloned last January and planted in the south bed has never looked really happy. It flowers well enough, but the leaves are yellowed:


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Will that improve?

The trees in the north-east garden are still a cause for concern. Once again the Corymbia ficifolia looks as if it hadn't heard of spring:


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But it's still a whole lot better than this time last year:


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And our eternally sick-looking Camellia japonica has almost finished flowering:


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The Schinus molle seems to be looking for the slowest way to die:


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I would have said “nothing grows there”, but this year we have lots of Acacias in flower right next to it:


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The Alyogyne huegelii is still not flowering, though some buds are on the way:


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Is that a result of the cold snap we had? The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and Strelitzia nicolai are also still looking under the weather:


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Is the Hibiscus dead? I don't think so. Two years ago it looked almost as bad, but it came back again:


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And there are some protuberances that could be new growth. I've put some cable ties round a couple of pieces to keep track of them:


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And then there are a couple of Strelitziae reginae that we've had here since we moved in, and which still look sickly:


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What are they missing?

The Clematis “General Sikorski” that Bryan Ross mutilated appears to have died, but the other one, the “Edu Murasaki” is definitely on the way to recovery:


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A couple of the Hebes in the driveway are flowering happily, while others nearby are looking relatively sick:


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I wonder what causes that.

A pleasant surprise is a row of shrubs that the Marriotts next door planted:


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They had originally been planned to hide the shed for the arena when it was planed to be on the border to their property, and Diane has now planted them further west against the fence.

The mystery shrub that Yvonne cut from a hedge near Spearys Road didn't look very happy over the winter, but it's now starting to flower:


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I wonder what it is, and where we should plant it.

The potted maple “Chantilly Lace” that we got three months ago is now producing leaves and some kind of buds:


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That's a far cry from what it looked like when we got it:


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I've noticed in the past that bulbs are doing well here, but they're not all the same. The Narcissus are doing well, and they're still coming:


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But I haven't seen a single tulip this year. I wonder why.


Friday, 23 September 2022 Dereel
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Yi Singapore Laksa
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

For breakfast today I made up the packet of laksa that I bought earlier this month.


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I had half expected it to be similar to the Katong laksa, but in principle it's closer to the Tean's Gourmet paste. Unfortunately not as flavoursome, and it also doesn't produce enough servings. It's rated at about 1200 g, which is either 4 servings of 300 g (too little) or 3 servings of 400 g (too much). It's very hot, so I diluted it to 1280 g (4 320 g portions), which should be enough. I don't think I'll buy it again.


Saturday, 24 September 2022 Dereel Images for 24 September 2022
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Plus ça change
Topic: history, politics, opinion Link here

Five years ago things were not going well in the world, and I wrote

Even without the crisis—it's hard to call it diplomatic—there should be things that are beneath the dignity of a statesman, notably appearing at the United Nations General Assembly and threatening to obliterate another member state! And there were many more.

Clearly that's not now and not Putain: he wasn't at the General Assembly this year. I was talking about Donald Trump. How harmless he seems from today's perspective!


Preparing the garden
Topic: gardening Link here

Jesse Walsh along today to help Yvonne electrify a fence and to incorporate some of last week's compost into the bed where nothing grows:


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What should I plant there? Nothing that can't be replaced. It'll be interesting to see if they survive this time.


Jenny's Lammtopf revisited
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

We had planned scaloppine al limone for dinner tonight, but somehow the time ran out on us, so we made „Jennys Lammtopf“ instead:


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This was after 14 minutes in the “hair dryer”, and I hadn't intended it to be quite that brown, but we're still working on the details. In particular I thought that I could get by with 95 g of water per portion, but I ended up with what must have been 120 g. Things could still change.


Sunday, 25 September 2022 Dereel Images for 25 September 2022
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Making money with free software
Topic: technology, history, opinion Link here

An interesting thread on the Unix Heritage Society mailing list recently got me thinking. Andy Kosela wrote:

That reminds me of the excellent dissertation of Gerald Holzmann on Code Inflation. The situation is even worse now and honestly I don't see it will improve in the future. My take on the code inflation problem is that today without paid "volunteers" (from IBM, Oracle, Google, etc.) a large chunk of our modern software landscape would just collapse. It is not 90s Internet anymore where hobbyists did it for fun, because frankly back then it was fun... Nowadays... not that much.

From the standpoint of the FreeBSD project, I think it helps me understand. I was on the first elected FreeBSD Core Team in 2000, a little after the time Andy was speaking about. And after a second term I left the team and cut back on my activities in the project.

Now I'm back on the core team again. It's a very different place! I know that at least two of the members are in full-time employment, but somehow the happy-go-lucky atmosphere of 20 years ago has changed, and we're more like bureaucrats. Is that good or bad?


More PIXIO fun
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Now that the new riding arena is complete, Yvonne is using it more and more, and of course using her PIXIO “Robot Cameraman”. It's not all positive: the PIXIO seems nervous and wanders backwards and forwards while she's standing still.

Why? It worked fine in the old place. My guess is that the proximity of the metal walls to the beacons is causing problems, possibly due to reflections. So the next step is to relocate the beacons, probably outside the shed.

And then there's the issue of perspective. The columns on the south side mean that the device needs to be positioned on the very edge of the arena to get an uninterrupted view. And without automatic zoom, that causes suboptimal views:


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What can we do about that? There are Sony camcorders that can autozoom, but my experience with them has been singularly negative. What else can we do? The obvious thing would be to move the camera further from the arena. One of these viewpoints?


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In each case the distance between front and back is less than the distance to front. That's something to try next time. The view is better from the end, and it could make for better exposure, but it would mean that the horse is facing toward or away from the camera most of the time.


Monday, 26 September 2022 Dereel Images for 26 September 2022
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Cornering the UTF-8 issues
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

For months now I have been running two TV computers: teevee.lemis.com, the “real” computer with a dying disk, and tiwi.lemis.com with a valid disk and up-to-date but no display. And I've been dragging my heels.

Why? The X installation requires me to have time when it's not recording something, and there isn't much of that. In addition, I've had some bad experiences with HDMI cables, and I want to be sure that I don't end up in a situation like last year, where the TV no longer worked.

The other is more important, though: why can't I use normal keyboard bindings with bash on tiwi? I've run into a number of conflicting situations. In some cases it works, and in others it doesn't. And it seems to be related to newer versions of FreeBSD: bde.lemis.com behaves in exactly the same way. Did some more investigation today and found that the issue doesn't arise when I'm using the system locally with its own display, only when I start an xterm from another system. But it's really frustrating. Is it related to the environment variable XTERM_LOCALE? It's not set on older systems, but in newer ones it's set to en_AU.ISO8859-1 when they're started locally. But setting them in a remote terminal doesn't help.

About the only thing I have been able to establish is that the Alt (Meta) key does set the high order bit of a single byte. Entering aabbAlt-aAlt-aAlt-bAlt-b to od gives:

=== grog@tiwi (/dev/pts/7) ~ 682 -> od -c
aabbááââ
0000000    a   a   b   b   \241   \241   \242   \242  \n
=== grog@tiwi (/dev/pts/7) ~ 683 ->

Does that mean that the bash isn't understanding things correctly?


Fixing the air conditioner
Topic: Stones Road house, general, language, opinion Link here

It's been over a month since Tony of Atmos came and changed a temperature sensor. And also a month since I established that the air flow is still not what it should be. I had arranged with Tony that he would come when he had time, but time was running away, so I called him today. And how about that, three hours later he was there. He still didn't believe me when I told him I thought it was a blockage, but he checked everything else and drew a blank.

Finally, mainly to humour me, I think, we went up and investigated the heat exchanger. “Hats off to you. I would never have believed that”. The coil was completely clogged with some kind of felt-like stuff:


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Tony was sure that it was dog or cat hair, but that's nothing like the same consistency, and how could it have got there, when the filters are completely clean? Mice? No, he didn't think so.

Then I took another look at the return air shaft:


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The first photo is looking down at the floor. Not overly dirty, but a few cobwebs. And that's what the fibres in the crud are! So first we collected spider webs, which accumulated whatever the other stuff is.

Looking up isn't quite as dirty:


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But Tony thought that we should fill the holes in the frame at the top. But there's no dirt there, and he confirmed that there's no dirt on the other side. After some consideration we still don't know where the dirt comes from. Dead spiders?

It's interesting to note that this is the first time that Tony, not the youngest, has seen something like this. There was one earlier case in a hairdressers, but that wasn't nearly as bad. I wonder if it's just that most people don't report it.

In any case, the difference was like night and day. Previously we had had the fan on HIGH all the time, but now even LOW is much more active—in fact, almost too much. Tony says that the “ESP” setting on the zone controller can limit the throughput when the temperature difference is small; we'll see if that makes any difference.

And then one final thing: I've known Tony for over 14 years, but I didn't know his surname. It's still a “don't know”: Nesci, apparently Italian in origin, though Tony doesn't pronounce it the Italian way. And Tony didn't know what it meant either.


Tuesday, 27 September 2022 Dereel Images for 27 September 2022
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Quora “spam” understood
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Once again Quora has deleted an answer, and once again I “appealed”. But this time I got a sensible answer:

Jeff, Sep 25, 2022, 4:51 PM PDT

Hello Greg ,

Thank you for writing in.

The quality control systems that we have in place will detect when a link and/or the same information is repeatedly being posted on Quora. Posting the same link and/or the same information over and over in a short period can result in your content being moderated.

It’s fine to post about a product, company, or blog on Quora - as long as it's _directly relevant_ to the discussion - but repeatedly posting the same link/information may be considered spam. To learn more about Quora’s policy on spam, please visit: https://help.quora.com/hc/en-us/articles/360000470266.

After reviewing your answer, https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-pros-and-cons-of-the-Olympus-OM-D-E-M1-Mark-II-camera/answer/Greg-Lehey, we've determined that it was in violation of this policy and, unfortunately, we will not be able to uncollapse it.

OK, so this means that if I point to a good answer more than once, their bot will delete the answer. I can live with that. In fact, I should live without Quora. But what repeat was there there?


Accessing Android photos: the pain
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Tony Nesci sent me this photo yesterday, I think:


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Why “I think”? This was the best I could extract after a couple of hours' work. He took it with his phone, of course, which was so proud of the feat that it watermarked the image. He then sent it to my phone with only 20 or 30 swipes. And then I got:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220928/big/Android-message-display-1.jpeg
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It's amazing how hard to read Android displays are when shown on a real display. But there are three photos there (and nothing else). Resolution on this display is about 700x530. How do I access the real photo and move it to a real computer? Where are the images stored? How can I find out? An obvious place would be in the /storage/emulated/0/DCIM/ hierarchy, but there's nothing there.

Ah, of course. Press on it:


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Now the resolution is 1440x1000, and there's a “down the drain” symbol at bottom left. Press that and I get “1 photo saved to your Messages stored media”, which disappears after about 2 seconds before I can read it. OK, Android, I'll bite. Where are my “Messages stored media”? Off looking. Nothing in /storage/emulated/0/DCIM/Camera/. Nothing in /storage/emulated/0/DCIM/Messages/. But after only about 5 minutes I find a new hierarchy /storage/emulated/0/Pictures/Messages/. Now isn't that obvious? Anybody who reads “Messages stored media” would intuitively know that they were there.

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) ~/Photos/20220926/orig 1169 -> exiftool IMG_20220927_082104.jpg
File Name                       : IMG_20220927_082104.jpg
File Size                       : 784 kB
File Modification Date/Time     : 2022:09:27 08:21:04+10:00
File Access Date/Time           : 2022:09:27 12:15:10+10:00
File Inode Change Date/Time     : 2022:09:27 08:27:45+10:00
GPS Latitude Ref                : South
GPS Longitude Ref               : East
Device Manufacturer             :
Device Model                    :
GPS Latitude                    : 37 deg 48' 0.00" S
GPS Longitude                   : 143 deg 45' 4.00" E
GPS Position                    : 37 deg 48' 0.00" S, 143 deg 45' 4.00" E
Image Size                      : 1280x960
Megapixels                      : 1.2

There's a lot of other stuff there as well, but it's not relevant. The important stuff is almost all missing. Exposure details? Time taken? Device used? And it's only 1280x960 pixels, actually smaller than what was displayed on my phone. Clearly this isn't the original image. Even the name reflects the time I saved the image, not the time it was taken. Under the circumstances it's bizarre that it didn't remove the GPS coordinates. The “down the drain” symbol is possibly more accurate than I expected.

But who mutilated it? There can be multiple correct answers. Possibly the messaging app on Tony's phone started the process, but my messaging app shows the original time in the detail display:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220928/big/Android-message-display-2-detail.jpeg
Image title: Android message display 2 detail
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That's not in the Exif data, so it must have been removed while going down the drain.

OK, where's the “original” that I received? ssh to the phone and run find on the tree. And it found nothing. It must be in the part of storage that this last horrible “security” update has hidden from me.

What are the alternatives? Mount the file system on a real computer. How did that work? I noted the details here:

=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/8) ~ 156 -> kldload fusefs
=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/8) ~ 157 -> curlftpfs -v ftp://hirse:2121 /hirse
*   Trying 192.109.197.228:2121...
* Connected to hirse (192.109.197.228) port 2121 (#0)
...
=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/8) ~ 158 -> df /hirse
Filesystem                  1048576-blocks      Used     Avail Capacity  Mounted on
curlftpfs#ftp://hirse:2121/        976,562         0   976,562     0%    /hirse
=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/8) ~ 159 -> find /hirse -mtime -1
/hirse/Android/media/com.whatsapp/WhatsApp/.Shared
...
/hirse/DCIM/Screenshots
/hirse/DCIM/Screenshots/Screenshot_2022-09-27-11-54-08-344_com.google.android.apps.messaging.jpg
..
/hirse/Pictures/.thumbnails
/hirse/Pictures/.thumbnails/3476.jpg
...
/hirse/Pictures/Messages
/hirse/Pictures/Messages/IMG_20220927_120742.jpg
/hirse/Pictures/Messages/IMG_20220927_120758.jpg

And that's all. The screen shots are clear, and the photos in /hirse/Pictures/Messages/ are the ones that I had already found. Then there's /hirse/Pictures/.thumbnails, which contains even smaller (640x480) copies of the image.

So: if there are any original images, they're hidden from me. Next attempt, much as it irritates me: Microsoft. What does the “Phone Link” program say?

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220927/big/Android-photography-1-detail.png
Image title: Android photography 1 detail
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I hadn't expected that! So I could process it with DxO PhotoLab, sort of: where did it save it? Fortunately it told DxO, which displayed:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220927/big/Android-photography-3.png
Image title: Android photography 3
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But I didn't find that until later, and the image it gave me was once again only 1280x960. But there's hope. The resultant output file from DxO had the name

File /Photos/2-grog/Resized_20220926_161459.jpeg[1]_DxO.jpg
Location:        37.80000 S, 143.75111 E
Size:           1280 x 960 pixels (1.23 megapixels)

In particular, the date and time part of the file name show the original time, and Resized suggests that it had only just been resized.

OK, for some reason (probably an omission on the part of the censors) I can access the “private” parts of the file system. Plug hirse into distress with a USB cable and find:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220927/big/Android-photography-4.png
Image title: Android photography 4          Dimensions:          1571 x 1048, 108 kB
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How that view fills me with horror! Somewhere in there is probably a directory with “Messages” in its name, but how do I find it? Where's find when you need it?

What was the name of that software that emulates Unix on Microsoft? Something with Cygnus in the name? Off looking, but drew a blank (later it came back to me: Cygwin). But what I did find was this page, “How to Install Linux Bash Shell on Windows 10”. OK, I'll bite. It seems that there are hooks in “Windows” to run Linux programs. Spent some time following the instructions, having to reboot twice and reinstall rwhod each time, before I discovered that what I had was closer to a virtual machine, and I first needed to decide which version of Linux I needed. At that point I gave up for today, though it looks as if it might be worthwhile to complete things.

So: after several hours' work I had a smaller version of the photos, and I still don't know how to get to the originals, if it's even possible. But why do people go to so much trouble to make such a mess? It can't even be in the interests of “security” if the one Exif parameter they leave is the GPS coordinates, usually such a no-no that you can't even display them to save your life.

How I hate Android! How I hate “modern” software!


More air conditioner thoughts
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

As expected, our air conditioning system is now working normally. Previously I turned it on round 5:00, and by the time I got up and dressed, round 8:30, the lounge room was within 1° of the set temperature (21°), and the office, with its closed door, was at least 19°. Now everything was up to temperature.

But it's almost too much of a good thing! Even at the low fan setting, it's noisy. Clearly Actron should have thought of lower fan settings. But Tony had said something interesting: the “ESP” setting, whatever that means, should modulate the fan speed depending on need. So I set that, noting for the first time in over 7 years that there is only one “ESP” setting, and that it displays “LOW MED HIGH” on the controller display on those occasions where it chooses to display anything at all. And yes, maybe that's quieter.

So where did the crud in the coil come from? The fibres are clear: spider webs. And the rest? While looking back through old photos, found this:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20170625/big/eureka-3.jpeg
Image title: eureka 3          Dimensions:          2263 x 4173, 2386 kB
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It's not the only one: all our computers tend to fill up with this stuff, which I think is dust from the roads in summer. It just needs to be fine enough to get through the air conditioner filters and catch in the spiders webs. The bad news is that this probably means we'll need to clean the coil every few years.


Wednesday, 28 September 2022 Dereel Images for 28 September 2022
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A new clothes dryer
Topic: Stones Road house, general, animals, opinion Link here

Yesterday was wash day, and a cool, wet one at that. And in the middle of a cycle, the clothes dryer just stopped. Vague sounds from inside, but it didn't run.

Repair it? Clothes dryers are cheap, and we've had it for at least 5 years. Oh, make that 15. Yvonne off to look in some Facebook group and found a reconditioned one for $150, with a load capacity of 6 kg instead of 4. That sounded like the choice, but what do we do with the old one? The bloke who sold the new one offered her $20 for it based on a photo she sent him. We probably couldn't get it repaired for the price difference. So we loaded it into the car—today was Yvonne's shopping day—and she went and did an exchange.

It wasn't quite what I was expecting. The control panel is upside-down:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220929/big/Clothes-dryer-4.jpeg
Image title: Clothes dryer 4          Dimensions:          4654 x 3456, 2226 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220929/big/Clothes-dryer-4-detail.jpeg
Image title: Clothes dryer 4 detail          Dimensions:          4593 x 1032, 403 kB
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I was wondering what kind of stupidity could have led to that mistake, until I realized that it was a feature, not a bug: the dryer is designed to optionally hang on a wall upside-down.

It wasn't until the evening that I realized another down side. As the photo above shows, we feed Piccola on top of the dryer, out of range of the dogs. And she tended to jump up onto the ledge on the dish washer in front of the dryer on her way up:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220928/big/Clothes-dryer-5.jpeg
Image title: Clothes dryer 5          Dimensions:          3720 x 5068, 4387 kB
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But the new dryer is deeper, and there is no ledge:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220929/big/Clothes-dryer-2-detail.jpeg
Image title: Clothes dryer 2 detail          Dimensions:          1605 x 1819, 229 kB
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It seems that, in the dark, she jumped up and fell flat on her face. I doubt she'll do that again:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220929/big/Clothes-dryer-2.jpeg
Image title: Clothes dryer 2          Dimensions:          3456 x 4762, 2327 kB
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More air conditioner thoughts
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

So does this ESP work to limit the air flow from the air conditioner? It seems yes, though it's still more than it was before the coil was blocked. But it also means that I don't need to change the rate all the time.

And while replacing the clothes dryer, found the inevitable crud behind, including a cat feeding bowl that had found its way down there. This was particularly interesting:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220928/big/Clothes-dryer-4-detail.jpeg
Image title: Clothes dryer 4 detail          Dimensions:          2965 x 2210, 1143 kB
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Now that's dog hair. Nothing like the crud we found in the coil:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220927/big/Air-conditioner-10.jpeg
Image title: Air conditioner 10          Dimensions:          5185 x 3888, 7039 kB
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More Android image searches
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

Spent some more time looking for ways to access the originals of images sent with Android messages today, and still failed.

It's reasonable to assume that the images are stored in a directory associated with the app, whatever it might be called. More investigation with the phone mounted on distress, starting from this screen:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220927/big/Android-photography-4.png
Image title: Android photography 4          Dimensions:          1571 x 1048, 108 kB
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OK, there's a directory folder called This PC → Redmi 9% → Internal shared storage → Android → data → com.google.android.apps.messaging → data. What's in it? Nothing!

But maybe it's lying. What about this directory tree that I found yesterday?

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220927/big/Android-photography-3.png
Image title: Android photography 3
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COMMAND.EXE shows:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220928/big/Microsoft-1-detail-1.png
Image title: Microsoft 1 detail 1
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But it lies!

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220928/big/Microsoft-1-detail-2.png
Image title: Microsoft 1 detail 2
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What's in there? Alas, nothing of use:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220928/big/Microsoft-1-detail-3.png
Image title: Microsoft 1 detail 3
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More web searching came up with this page, which states that the images are stored in a database somewhere where you can't access them directly. It looks like it's trying to sell an app, about which the most recent review (1 star) states:

This app is absolut scame. They cannot actually recover photos rather low resolution version of your photos. They do not tell you this until you go look deep inside the support site where they have a small casual FAQ stating that they do not have the ability to recover HD pictures only very low res(unclear) pictures.

Is he right? It seems so. The author responded:

Dear user, our latest version adds a picture enhancement function, which can enhance the display of thumbnails. Please confirm that you are using the latest version and try again. If the recovery still fails, in order to confirm your problem, please send us feedback in the app. We will reply within 24 hours.

So, another dead end. But then there's an app that I have already used to back up phones, and that might be able to access them. I need to go back and check.

But this is just plain stupid! I've been trying for 3 days now to do something as simple as copy a file!


Thursday, 29 September 2022 Dereel Images for 29 September 2022
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Android file access: I give up
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've been trying to access images on hirse, my Android phone, for four days now. Every avenue I have tried has failed. The only possibility that I had still seen was to look in backups. But they, too, didn't help:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/36) ~ 55 -> l /src/Phones/enzian/Backups/
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  wheel       6,731 16 Sep 10:59 Blocklist(com.miui.securitycenter).bak
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  wheel     107,589 16 Sep 10:59 Camera(com.android.camera).bak
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  wheel       7,751 16 Sep 10:59 Clock(com.android.deskclock).bak
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  wheel      54,336 16 Sep 10:59 FM Radio(com.miui.fm).bak
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  wheel       6,212 16 Sep 10:59 Gallery(com.miui.gallery).bak
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  wheel       6,208 16 Sep 10:59 Notes(com.miui.notes).bak
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  wheel       7,243 16 Sep 10:59 Phone settings(com.android.phone).bak
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  wheel       6,222 16 Sep 10:59 Quick ball(com.miui.touchassistant).bak
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  wheel       9,292 16 Sep 10:59 Security(com.miui.securitycenter).bak
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  wheel   2,034,248 16 Sep 10:59 Settings(com.android.settings).bak
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  wheel     952,905 16 Sep 11:00 System launcher(com.miui.home).bak
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  wheel  14,207,051 16 Sep 10:59 Themes(com.android.thememanager).bak
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  wheel       6,725 16 Sep 10:59 Weather(com.miui.weather2).bak
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  wheel      10,824 16 Sep 10:59 Wi-Fi settings(com.android.settings).bak
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  wheel       6,220 16 Sep 10:59 Yellow pages(com.miui.yellowpage).bak
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  wheel       8,316 16 Sep 11:00 descript.xml

There appear to be two issues there:

  1. There's no file there that might contain the images I'm looking for. The ones in Camera(com.android.camera).bak are just the photos taken with the camera, and of course I had looked there first.
  2. The files are in a proprietary format, so I couldn't extract the data anyway.

There are two other issues that baffle me:

  1. Why do people do this? It takes effort to make the system so useless.
  2. Why doesn't everybody complain?

I'll just accept one lesson from the whole thing: if you want somebody to give you a photo taken on an Android device, don't ask them to send it to you as a message. There are ways to get them, like accessing the DCIM directory, but Android has made that difficult too.


Friday, 30 September 2022 Dereel Images for 30 September 2022
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tiwi cutover: doing it
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

It's been over a month since I did any real work on installing tiwi, my replacement TV computer. One of the big issues was just setting up X with enough time to spare in case things went wrong. Since tiwi is continually recording, it's not easy. I have to do it in the morning, and then I'm cooking.

Today was the day: Yvonne made breakfast, so I had time to play around and reboot if I really had to.

I still have one issue open with UTF-8. This is one of the first machines I have with the UTF-8 locale as standard, and on Monday I established that, though I'm out of options, the problems only seem to occur with a remotely started xterm. So I can put that back and consider what I need to run X on the TV screen. Last time I tried I got nothing at all. Is that an issue with the BIOS settings on the computer, which has on-board graphics and the Nvidia display card with the HDMI output. So a reboot looks likely in order to reconfigure the BIOS.

First, though, find an HDMI cable and connect it to the TV. Start X. Nothing. Compare log files with teevee, the old machine. tiwi had:

[2735197.532] (II) NVIDIA(0): NVIDIA GPU GeForce GT 730 (GF108) at PCI:1:0:0 (GPU-0)
[2735197.532] (--) NVIDIA(0): Memory: 2097152 kBytes
[2735197.532] (--) NVIDIA(0): VideoBIOS: 75.19.78.00.00
[2735197.532] (II) NVIDIA(0): Detected PCI Express Link width: 16X
[2735197.532] (II) NVIDIA(0): Validated MetaModes:
[2735197.532] (II) NVIDIA(0):     "NULL"
[2735197.532] (II) NVIDIA(0): Virtual screen size determined to be 640 x 480

That doesn't look good. And teevee?

[708926.425] (II) NVIDIA(0): NVIDIA GPU Graphics Device (GK208) at PCI:4:0:0 (GPU-0)
[708926.425] (--) NVIDIA(0): Memory: 1048576 kBytes
[708926.425] (--) NVIDIA(0): VideoBIOS: 80.28.a6.00.01
[708926.425] (II) NVIDIA(0): Detected PCI Express Link width: 8X
[708926.427] (--) NVIDIA(0): Valid display device(s) on Graphics Device at PCI:4:0:0
[708926.427] (--) NVIDIA(0):     CRT-0
[708926.427] (--) NVIDIA(0):     DFP-0
[708926.427] (--) NVIDIA(0):     Hitachi Engineering Company Ltd HISENSE (DFP-1) (boot, connected)
[708926.427] (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): CRT-0: 400.0 MHz maximum pixel clock
[708926.427] (--) NVIDIA(0): DFP-0: Internal TMDS
[708926.427] (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): DFP-0: 330.0 MHz maximum pixel clock
[708926.427] (--) NVIDIA(0): Hitachi Engineering Company Ltd HISENSE (DFP-1): Internal TMDS
[708926.427] (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): Hitachi Engineering Company Ltd HISENSE (DFP-1): 340.0 MHz maximum pixel clock

It looks as if tiwi doesn't even see the display. Any other error messages? No.

But then it occurred to me: wasn't there a loadable module nvidia-modeset that was needed for some card models? I could search my diary (and find details here), but it's easier just to load the module. And how about that, it worked! Now wouldn't it have been a good idea to send an error message to the vomit that X calls Xorg.0.log?

Still no console display. I suppose (and didn't check) that the computer is sending that to the onboard graphics. That's not necessarily a disadvantage, but I'll investigate next time I have to reboot.

Next, remap the keyboard keys. No problem. But I discovered that once again I couldn't use mouse keys 1 and 3 to fake a key 2. I've been there before too. Reading it again, it seems that there are two competing ways to talk to the mouse: via moused, which works independently of X, and via some method internal to X. For moused the -3 flag should set the chord input, and in X it's the entry

Option         "Emulate3Buttons" "True"

I went through all this in June 2020, and I reported all the problems in my diary at the time. What didn't I report? How I solved the problem!

OK, I have another mouse with a side button, which xev reports as button 8. Map that? moused accepts -m 8=2, but X isn't impressed.

In the end I gave up, at least for today. I can still press the scroll wheel, very carefully, to get the desired result. But why is this so complicated? As I wrote last time,

X has always been “fun” to configure, but somehow this exceeds anything I have experienced in the past. 28 years ago I installed X on BSD/OS (called BSD/386 in those days). It was on non-standard hardware and a beta copy of the operating system. It took me less than a day.

And of course that wasn't all. For some reason firefox no longer responds to requests from mutt. Why? I'll have to dig through the communications between the two to find out where the problem lies. And while I was plugging cables, I came up with the dreaded HDMI communication error: although the plugs were in the sockets at both ends, the TV displayed “low signal quality”, though it maintained the display. I had to remove and replug the plugs to get it to work again. That's almost certainly related to the TV replacement that I performed last year. How I hate flaky connectors!

And if that wasn't enough, a minor issue: screen blanking doesn't seem to work any more. I suspect Nvidia here: it hasn't worked via the normal interface for some time.


Traveling again?
Topic: general, technology, politics, opinion Link here

The FreeBSD Core Team and FreeBSD Foundation are considering the current charter of the core team, and we've set up a working group including me. How do we communicate? Teleconferences!

I've expressed my dislike of teleconferences in the past, but I'm in the minority, so it's going to happen. This time of year is more conducive: 12:00 in California, 15:00 in Ontario, 21:00 in West Europe and 7:00 (next day) here. It's unpleasant, but we can do it.

But today the other shoe dropped: at the end we will need a face-to-face meeting of all core members and at least some Foundation members. Face to face! How 20th century! And it means travelling! And I haven't been out of Australia for over 16 years. And just think of the cost!

What do I do? I really, really don't want to go. But the chances don't look good. First I need a new passport, not made easier by the recent Optus data breach (“cyberattack”), which will involve them paying for new passports for many of their customers. That will presumably further slow down an already slow process.


You and whose army?
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

The developments in Russia and Ukraine are disturbing, to say the least. Putain has “annexed” the oblasts of Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson—he says. For that, he needs soldiers:

https://scontent.fmel16-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t39.30808-6/309646795_5629948617062187_4704996775546414970_n.jpg?_nc_cat=103&ccb=1-7&_nc_sid=730e14&_nc_ohc=mkabSrORtYoAX8Xc3DH&_nc_oc=AQkz-YES8hjy9SaPZpLml47YTAtfV99fJfCgirQQpCcYyBJ9ARycDzlhIK0Oqs1bWlg&_nc_ht=scontent.fmel16-1.fna&oh=00_AT-sKhgXAADDs_W7SSQz4HRW7VbMjnrb25zBTSWOfVlALw&oe=633C55BD


Teaching COBOL inheritance
Topic: technology, opinion Link here
https://i.redd.it/3rw4z6030wq91.jpg


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