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September 2023
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Friday, 1 September 2023 Dereel
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Installing TeX, try 3
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've been waiting for a few days now for packages to appear for FreeBSD 15-CURRENT. Today was the day. After booting the package system and loading it again, off I went:

=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/4) /src/FreeBSD/git/ports 60 -> mailme pkg install texlive-full
The following 600 package(s) will be affected (of 0 checked):

Installed packages to be REMOVED:
        ImageMagick7: 7.1.0.62_6
        a2ps: 4.15.5
        audacity: 3.3.3_1
        bind916: 9.16.42
        chromium: 115.0.5790.110_1
        emacs: 28.2_7,3
        exiv2: 0.28.0,1
        firefox: 116.0_2,2
        gcc11: 11.3.0_8
        gdb: 13.1_3
   ....

Number of packages to be removed: 109
Number of packages to be installed: 31
Number of packages to be upgraded: 39
Number of packages to be reinstalled: 421

The process will require 2 GiB more space.
5 GiB to be downloaded.

Look at all those important packages that it wants to remove! I'm certainly not going to do that—yet. Is it normal for such destruction to occur on moving to the next numbered release? Still, there's an alternative, even if it is tedious: build the port from source. Set off like that, and for a while things went well. But then:

===>   tex-basic-engines-20230313 depends on executable: weave - not found
===>  Building for tex-web2c-20230313
--- all ---
/usr/bin/make  all-recursive
--- all-recursive ---
Making all in doc
Making all in lib
Making all in man
Making all in web2c
--- w2c/config.h ---
sh: Syntax error: ";" unexpected
*** [w2c/config.h] Error code 2

The package system is too polite to say so, but this is the port devel/tex-web2c. And yes, it doesn't build, at least under 15-CURRENT. Should I debug the build process? That way madness lies, so I entered a bug report.

Somehow I've had pain with the Ports Collection almost since I discovered it over 25 years ago. I thought it was getting better, but it's doing a good job of convincing me otherwise.


Who will build a computer for me?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So who should build my new computer? Just because the Computeralliance configurator is broken doesn't mean that they can't build good computers. I just need to talk to a human.

But there are other games in town—literally. What about local builders? Spent some time looking around and came up with:

Why so few email addresses? Without exception these companies make it difficult to find the contact details. I could probably find more if I tried harder, but since they're in only 3 locations, and I'm going past at least two of them on Tuesday, it seems a better idea to drop in and take a look.

Also found an article on Whingepool which had surprisingly little to say.

It seems that high end computers are very much oriented towards gaming, and I had to fight my way past things like Aftershockpc's configurator, which insisted that I play at least one game and gave me very little choice (really ugly case, ugly case or potentially acceptable case, for example). And despite my wishes, it offered me only 3 ugly cases. When I mentioned photographic software, I was forced to choose between Adobe software only. And all processors were weaker than what I'm looking for, and they offered only 32 GB “Fury Beast” RAM. Clearly I'm going to have a job even when talking to humans.


How old are those sausages?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

We had planned pizza for dinner this evening, but then I found some fresh sausages that Yvonne had bought a while back—for some definition of fresh. When did she buy them? To my shock, they had a use-by date of 20 August, which suggests that she bought them on 16 August. That's doubly bad: firstly, they are long expired, and secondly they had a relatively short shelf life.

Should we eat them? The proof of the pudding is in the eating. They looked OK, they smelt OK, and they weren't slimy, OK, try them. They tasted OK. I'm surprised.


Saturday, 2 September 2023 Dereel Images for 2 September 2023
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Panic!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Came into the office to find eureka showing a Boot: prompt. Damn! But it had one advantage: I could finally put in the SSD that I had wanted to use for swap; java programs to magnetic disk can take minutes.

The reboot went smoothly, but why?

panic: handle_written_inodeblock: Invalid link count 56964 for inodedep 0xfffff80734f01e00

That must have happened during the monthly backup. Corrupted file system maybe? But looking down the backtrace I saw:

#10 0xffffffff8030eba5 in dadone (periph=<value optimized out>,
    done_ccb=<value optimized out>)
    at /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/10/sys/cam/scsi/scsi_da.c:3077

Clearly that's a reference to a “SCSI” disk, the way USB disks present themselves. So it looks as if the problem relates to the backup disk, not the files being backed up. But why? And will it happen again?


The proof of the sausage
Topic: health, food and drink, opinion Link here

So, were we right to eat the expired sausages yesterday? I thought so. But Yvonne told me that she had vomited on getting up this morning. On the one hand, that's 14 hours after eating the sausages, but who knows how long it can take to have an effect? Fortunately she had no further problems, but it just goes to show that if it looks like a good sausage, feels like a good sausage, tastes like a good sausage, it doesn't have to be a good sausage.


Magnolia progress
Topic: gardening Link here

Six days ago I noted that our Magnolia × soulangeana had started to flower:


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Were they going to stay that way? No:


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I'll clearly keep an eye on it.


Sunday, 3 September 2023 Dereel Images for 3 September 2023
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Swap improvement
Topic: technology, multimedia, opinion Link here

One of the first things I do in the morning is to load the latest German TV programme information with MediathekView. It's a behemoth of at thing, with a memory footprint of somewhat over 10 GB, and by morning it's usually swapped out. Getting it back in memory typically takes minutes.

But now I have swap on SSD. Does it make a difference? Yes! It's still not instantaneous—part of that is simply the processing time—but it's at least one order of magnitude faster. And that's with an el-cheapo SATA disk. I really must get the new machine built.


Limes!
Topic: food and drink, gardening Link here

Only a little over 15 years ago we planted a “Tahitian” lime tree, really a kind of lemon. It didn't do well, but when we moved to Stones Road we brought it with us. It still didn't do well, but in the course of the years it has gradually begun to bear fruit:


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But the fruits were still almost dry. Clearly, despite my attempts, the tree wasn't getting enough water. But today I picked a couple of the fruit and Yvonne cooked with them. Success!


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Who would have thought that?


Monday, 4 September 2023 Dereel Images for 4 September 2023
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New limes?
Topic: gardening, food and drink, opinion Link here

Yesterday I rejoiced in our finally-fruiting lime tree. But then I read older diary entries, and discovered that two years ago today I also noted that the fruit were usable, though arguably they're better this year.


Electric fence interference
Topic: general, technology Link here

Garry Marriott, our neighbour to the south, has a new TV and has installed a new antenna to go with it. And it seems that the combination is suffering from interference. He came over today with Karel, an antenna man who thought it might be our electric fence.

Guilty as charged, I fear. But why only now with the new, better equipment? Karel thought that it was because our earthing rod was only 50 cm long: It should have been at least 80 cm. But that's clearly not the cause. And then the braid that we use, which is not as good as plain wire, he says. Maybe there's some sparking somewhere, but I'm left wondering if there is any way to operate an electric fence without RFI.


Air conditioner maintenance
Topic: Stones Road house, technology Link here

Tony Nesci along this afternoon to look at the air conditioner. As expected, he found that the refrigerant level was too low, and he had to add 500 g. He even found the leak, some loose seals round where the refrigerant was added. Stupidly, I forgot to get a photo, but it seems surprising that it was so obvious.

And now, of course, we need to wait for the next sub-0 night. 10 months at the earliest?


Idyllic pastoral scene
Topic: general, animals Link here

Seen this afternoon in the sheep paddock to the east of Stones Road:


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Tuesday, 5 September 2023 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 5 September 2023
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Microsoft pain again
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

I really only use Microsoft for photo processing. Today the various software misfeatures ganged up on me. Today “Perfectly Clear“ came up in full screen mode. Normally that wouldn't be an issue: with X I do that all the time. But Microsoft doesn't really support that: to start programs you need to be able to click on the frame that does duty for the root window, and there's no way to lower a window. How do I get rid of the thing? I can't even stop it!

Oh, yes, I can. But when I restart it, it's still in full screen mode. Finally located the instruction manual and discovered a “keyboard shortcut” to turn full screen mode on and off. Not f, like many programs, but ` (grave accent). What a clever idea!


Ultrasound results
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Off to town today to see Dr. Paul Smith about last week's ultrasound non-results. Once again I was locked out!


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It seems that they do this between 13:00 and 14:00 every day! I'm happy with the medical treatment, but the rest is less than acceptable. People have appointments at 14:00 and either arrive early and have to wait outside, or they arrive late. Clearly a time to avoid if at all possible.

In my case, though, I was far too early. I had my time wrong: the appointment was at 15:00, not 14:00, so I had an hour in which to catch up with other things. One of those was at Specsavers where, for once, things went smoothly.

And the appointment itself was interesting; one of the things was a bet with Paul on the results of my upcoming (November) blood test. He bets an MCV of 102, I bet 104.

And then there's the issue of the cataracts. It seems that it's no longer as serious as it once was: replacement lenses can now interface with the eye muscles and thus focus. But before we go that far, he sent a second referral to the Ballarat Eye Clinic.


Build me a computer, next step
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

While in town, went round to the computer companies that I had identified last week. To my surprise, all were there, but they all appeared to have closed down. That's just a matter of lighting, I think: they were all open, and all were interested in building the machine for me. Probably the one that made the best impression was—despite the name—Plus Gaming, where the bloke I spoke to (and whose name I didn't get; based on his appearance I've called him “Barbarossa”) gave me an interesting insight: Intel processors are better for virtualization than AMD. That's definitely something to follow up on, though the bloke at MR IT tells me that virtualization is something very new, and the current crop of processors are the first generation to do it. Clearly a lot of thinking to do.


“Air fried” chips
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Jane Ashhurst tells Yvonne that the best chips she has ever made were fresh potato wedges in an “air fryer” (20 minutes at 197°). I've vented my opinion on chips in “air fryers” in the past, but if Yvonne wants to try it, why not?

So she prepared them as Jane had suggested:


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But what temperature? 197° sounds strange; it doesn't even convert to a normal Fahrenheit value. What does the instruction manual say? 20-25 minutes at 230° for frozen chips, 10 minutes more for raw potatoes. But it lies:


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Clearly that's not the best that the “air fryer” can do. Yvonne wants to try again, so maybe we should go for Jane's temperatures and see how that works out.


Wednesday, 6 September 2023 Dereel Images for 6 September 2023
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Unblocking the kitchen drain
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

David, a plumber whom Yvonne had called, along this morning to unblock the kitchen drain. It took forever!

It was fairly clear that the blockage was close to the sink. But first he went outside to the septic tank to check for any blockage there. Didn't he have an endoscope, or whatever plumbers call it?


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More checking outside, and finally he came in with what appear to be two different endoscopes, the second with a large video display. The whole thing is enormous!


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And though he got through the blockage (fat, close to the sink) pretty quickly, it still took him over an hour to remove the rest. So in all he was here for 4½ hours! How long would it have taken me?


PC build questions
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Call from Mark of Tower IT today, with a surprising number of questions. At first he had not been able to find an X670E or X670-based motherboard that would accept 192 GB of memory, though he later found one. Instead he suggested the B650 chipset. What disadvantages? That's for me to find out, and this overview should help. I'm happy to have the fastest, but would I use it? During the subsequent discussion it eventuated that I can use effectively the same graphics cards I have now, or pay up to $1000 for higher performance card. But I don't have any performance issues at the moment.

Then the issues of the case. It seems that the relatively trivial DVD drive is becoming a problem: It's too big for many cases. Maybe a USB DVD drive would be a good alternative. And the same applies to the second Ethernet interface. More to think about, but let's see what the others come up with first.


You have open ports!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Mail from CERT-Bund today:

Over the past months, systems responding to SNMP requests from anywhere on the Internet have been increasingly abused for DDoS reflection attacks against third parties. Please find below a list of affected systems hosted on your network.

I've seen that before. But I don't use SNMP. But the list explains:

"asn","ip","timestamp","system_desc"
"4764","192.109.197.198","2023-09-04 07:40:56","Brother NC-8500h, Firmware Ver.1.02  (13.03.07),MID 84E-403"

My printer! I wonder if there's a way to disable it on the printer. In the meantime, of course, the solution is simple:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/24) /home/grog 2 -> ipfw add 31 deny ip from not 192.109.197.0/24 to lp
00031 deny ip from not 192.109.197.0/24 to 192.109.197.198

And that takes me back to my consideration in May:

I need to rethink UDP access. Clearly some, like 53 (domain) need to stay open. Which others?

More physiotherapy
Topic: health Link here

Into town again today to see Heather Dalman, who is quite happy with my progress. It seems that there a multiple doublings of time: after a slipped disk, it takes 6 weeks for the pain to subside, 3 months (now) for things to feel reasonably normal, and 6 months for healing to be essentially complete—if I do my exercises.

And there's the rub. She came up with an exercise that I still don't quite understand, maintaining “core stability”. In particular, I need to train the Transversus abdominus, and the method is hard to master. She suggested Googling, which might really be a good idea.


ALDI self-checkout
Topic: general, opinion Link here

ALDI in Sebastopol have installed self-checkout stations. Gradually I'm getting to understand the nonsense that these things have. Do you have a bag? What, for a single package of tomatoes? Of course not. But I think the standard answer should be “yes”. And once again, after paying, the receipt comes out where you can't see it:


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Of course it's down by your knees:


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Now how much would it cost for the message on the display to include “Your receipt is in front by your knees”?


Thursday, 7 September 2023 Dereel Images for 7 September 2023
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VoIP: The pain continues
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

CJ Ellis still has problems with his VoIP setup! I'm beginning to wonder if they're a case of PEBKAC, but if I decipher his statements correctly, he tells me that he can't call voice mail because he got a busy tone after dialing the first two digits. And he can't contact Aussie Broadband support for reasons that I don't understand:

1300 strtaight away to message , choose from the following ,residential services press 1 , small busiuness services press 2 , for enterprise servic es press 3 . I press one AT the first , then 2 then the 3rd , I then press 1 again , the message goes around again.

Tried it myself, setting up an ATA with his credentials. 101 works with no issues. When calling Aussie, the voice menu offers 1 for residential services—that much I understood from CJ's email—and the next choice is 3 for support. But I don't see how that relates to what CJ says.

And after getting through to support, Aussie cheerfully announced that I was number 109 in the queue! No worries, they'll call back, thus killing two birds with one stone. All I needed was to power down my ATA, and the call went to CJ. And now, he says, 101 works, but he still gets the go-around (whatever that may be) with support. I think I'm going to have to get him to come here and see what he's talking about.

Setting up the ATA was interesting. I used the LinkSys PAP2T, last used with MyNetFone. OK, change the credentials and the SIP.

 
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Save. No registration.

FOOL! You used the “Basic” view, which only shows half the parameters. Switch (for free) to the “Advanced” view and you get:

 
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And it's that Outbound Proxy that was still pointing to MyNetFone. Fix it (as here) and all was well. Now why did they do that?


Wind!
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

It's been very windy lately. Our electric gate shows it: it doesn't shut properly when it's windy, so Yvonne arranged for a barrier to block the opening. But today it didn't work:


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Next new system quote
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Another quote for a new system today, showing that they hadn't read the specifications: only 64 GB of (violent) memory! And a couple of other details are strange too, including a case with a window in it, and they have quoted two display cards, each with one HDMI and 3 DisplayPort connections. I see that it's going to be fun going through these quotes.

One thing of interest established itself during a discussion on IRC: currently FreeBSD doesn't have (adequate?) support for the Realtek 8125 2.5 Gb/s NIC. Neither does Realtek's web page:

 
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It seems that the currently usable driver is a port, net/realtek-re-kmod. That really grates. One of the goals of FreeBSD is to present a unified set of drivers so that you don't need to mess around the way you do with Microsoft. What's holding it up?

Also on IRC I heard the repeated opinion that USB Ethernet NICs aren't the best choice. So I do need a PCIe slot for that.


Bruno discovers the rocking chair
Topic: animals Link here

Years ago Piccola discovered the rocking chair in the dining room, and she spent a lot of time in it.


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Not so Bruno—until now:


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And this time Larissa also showed interest:


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Friday, 8 September 2023 Dereel Images for 8 September 2023
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New computer: next quote
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Today another quote came in for my new computer. Like the first, it's amazingly inaccurate. Although I had asked for an AMD Ryzen 7950X, it specified an Intel i9 13900K, with of course only 128 GB of memory. Yes, I suggested offering that as an alternative, but that's all I got. I need to check to see if the Silverstone SETA-D1 mid tower chassis has a window, but just in case, it also offers “WIndows 10/11 PRO 64 Digital product ONLY”, although I had specifically mentioned FreeBSD. It also included a Corsair H100i Elite RGB, which I thought was a graphics card, but which proves to be a CPU cooler. So this one doesn't offer a graphics card at all, and thus comes in at “only” $4,111.

In fact, a couple of days later I discovered that the quote does, indeed, include two graphics cards, but it wasn't clear from the description.

Have I made a mistake in looking for local suppliers? I would at least have hoped that they could read the specs.

In passing, the first quote included a “Samsung 990 PRO PCIe 4.0 2TB M.2 SSD with Heatsink 7,450 MB/s read, and 6,900 MB/s write”, and the second a “Samsung 980 Pro 2TB”. How much difference is there? Looked briefly through the specs of the 990 and discovered that the speeds are only maximum speeds, and the official specs are very cagey about the random access speed:

Up to 7,450 MB/s * Performance may vary based on system hardware & ...

And that's all. The * and the & ... are just to make it look modern: they don't lead anywhere. And there's no mention there of random access, but elsewhere I read “random IO reaches 1400K IOPS for read and 1550K for writes”. That needs careful reading. The shortest transfer is presumably 512 B, so that corresponds to 700 MB/s and 775 MB/s, still far slower. Of course, with 4 kB transfers we would have 5.6 GB/s and 6.2 GB/s. But it's still surprising: I would have thought that the access patterns wouldn't affect the performance.


VoIP pain without end
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

What are CJ Ellis' problems calling Aussie Broadband support? An obvious way to chase them down would be to swap the router/VoIP controller. I've been thinking of putting back the Cisco SPA122, which I have been calling an SPA112 all this time, but to do that I need to reset the thing. And for that I had already established:

Connect an analog phone to the ATA device and access the IVR by pressing the asterisk key four times: ****

Press the appropriate code to reset the unit:

But where does that wisdom come from? In any case, the real issue was that I couldn't connect to the thing at all with HTTP. Read the spa_3102_guide.pdf, which seems to be related. There I got:

Setting up the hardware:

Step 1: Connect the power cable to your SPA-3102

Step 2: Connect the network cable from your SPA-3102 to your DHCP enabled modem/router OR Connect the network cable from your modem to the SPA-3102 WAN port and connect your PC via Ethernet cable to the LAN port of the SPA-3102.

Step 3: Connect an analogue phone to the "Phone" port in the SPA-3102.

Step 4: Turn the power on

Step 5: Pick up the phone and dial **** (You should hear a voice saying Linksys Configuration Menu)

Step 6: Dial 110# (Write down the IP address that is returned)

Step 8: Dial 7932#, then dial 1# to enable the web server, then press 1 to save..

Step 9 :Hang up

Step 10: Connect your PSTN line to the "Line" port of the SPA-3102.

Tried that, but I still couldn't talk to the device. I wonder what I'm missing. And I wonder why I even care.

And the URL of the spa_3102_guide.pdf? I didn't save it. I should do that whenever I download a document.


“Air fried” potato wedges, try 2
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Clearly I can't blame Tuesday's “air fried” chip failure on the “air fryer”. But it did show that my concerns that the potatoes would be undercooked were unfounded. Today Yvonne tried again, with timing and temperature closer to what Jane Ashhurst had stated: 20 minutes at 200°. After that time they still looked very pale, so we gave them another 5 minutes at 230°. The result:


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Yes, they were cooked, but they were uneven, with browned ends. And they didn't taste particularly interesting—still, the marinade did make a difference. But once again it brought home to me just how much cleaning is needed after using an “air fryer”. Yvonne has decided that it's not worth it.


Bruno
Topic: animals Link here

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Saturday, 9 September 2023 Dereel Images for 9 September 2023
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Yvonne sick
Topic: health Link here

Up relatively early this morning, in marked contrast to Yvonne. By 9:00 she still hadn't shown, though she had let the dogs and cat out. In to find her still in bed, feeling decidedly under the weather, having vomited and about to do so again. When she woke up she had been dizzy, and the room spun, something that gradually diminished.

Did what measurements we could. Temperature was normal, but a blood pressure reading was 152/85, and the pulse (50) was irregular. Subsequent measurements were 136/83, pulse 49 and still irregular, and then 133/79, pulse 49 but regular. Is that important? We'll have to get a doctor to decide, but in the course of the day she recovered somewhat. Hopefully things will continue to improve.


Hugin pain
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

House photo day today, requiring Hugin. I had set the “Simple interface” recently to follow a bug, and I had to reset it. But it had removed all my settings!

Well, that's what a backup is for. Found the last sane copy of ~/.hugin and restored it. And Hugin went and overwrote it! I'm not sure how, but part of it is related to the fact that ~/.hugin stores all sorts of things that it shouldn't, such as the last working directory, and I have a script that fixes that. But that was decades ago, and I had to find my way through the mess again. What a pain!


Highest places we have been
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Watching a TV programme about mountain climbing tonight. There was some action at 8,000 m above sea level. How high do normal people go? How high have I been? I know that answer: it's Pikes Peak, 4,302 above sea level. But that's just a visit. How high is the highest place we have spent a night? Did a bit of thinking and came up with a surprising answer: Flagstaff, Arizona. We had expected Arizona to be hot and dry, but in February we had snow. And only now we know why: it's at 2,106 m above sea level. By contrast, the peak of Mount Kosciuszko, the unspellable highest point on the Australian mainland, is at 2,228 m, only 122 m higher.

But where else? Yvonne can't recall anywhere else even close to the elevation of Flagstaff, but I found two other places, surprisingly both not far from Flagstaff: Stateline, Nevada (1,915 m), round 21 August 1982, and Colorado Springs (1,839 m), round 8 August 1992 and thus almost exactly 10 years later. It's surprising how high the Rocky Mountains are: the good roads mean that you don't immediately notice the altitude.


Sunday, 10 September 2023 Dereel Images for 10 September 2023
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Mystery object
Topic: general, animals Link here

Yvonne came into my office this morning, smiling, saying “Look what I've found”. She put a small oval object into my hand, something like a stone. But it was too light for a stone. A fungus, maybe? Is it soft? Pressed it to see. FOOL! It was a bird's egg, and that with a relatively soft shell:


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Yvonne gasped—I think she might even have cried. I had destroyed it! What an idiot! I kicked myself for the rest of the day.

Apart from that, though: where did it come from? How did it end up in the paddock, far from any tree? What kind of bird?


Dali eggs
Topic: food and drink, general, opinion Link here

Yvonne's breakfast egg this morning reminded me of a Salvador Dali painting, the kind with the molten clocks:


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PC choice, from an expert
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Over the past couple of days I have looked further at the two quotes for my new computer system. On Friday I came to the conclusion that the quote did not include a graphics card, but in fact it included two Gigabyte GTX 1650-D6 4GB. Once I fought my way through the description page, which once again highlights cooling, I discovered that they are, indeed, graphics cards, and the images suggest that they have DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort outputs. But why should I have to fight my way through to discover that?

Overall I have been rather disappointed with the two quotes for the new computer that I've had so far. Today, though, I got a mail message from Daniel Nebdal, who has sent a number of interesting messages over the years. He had the time to investigate himself, based on the component prices from MSY. The result was very interesting:

OK, the “cheaper” is understandable, since it doesn't include assembly. But $1000 is a lot of money just to have the thing together. I should investigate the alternatives more carefully.


Still more VoIP pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Finally sent off my reply to my Aussie Broadband complaint, recommending

My suggestions all boil down to one thing: improve communication between your departments.

In particular,

Done! And then I checked my phones. Both dead. The web site shows them not registered. And I can't communicate with the ATA. It seemed to have hung; after power cycling it worked again. I discover that I have had this device, a Grandstream HT802, for over 2 years, so the warranty will have expired. Why are ATAs so amazingly unreliable?


Bloody robot traps!
Topic: technology, multimedia, opinion Link here

Looking at IMDB today, I was presented with a couple of tests:

 
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Yes, bloody IMDB, I'm human, and I have human emotions. I don't need that kind of insult. Do it again and I'll stop using you.

But in fact, it didn't. The next time I tried, it was normal again. Still, it's indicative of a worrying trend. I can understand that many sites want to ensure that they're not abuse by robots, but why? Because they overload the system, download large amounts of data, potentially for purposes that the provider doesn't want. In every case that I can see, though, it relates to large amounts of data. Why not just impose a rate limit?


“Air fried” ham
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Cured ham for dinner this evening, something like a fake Kassler. It weighed 722 g. How should I cook it? My cooking times suggested round 60 minutes per kilogram. How about in the air fryer? It seemed reasonable to set the temperature lower, so I chose 170° and an end temperature of 74°.

Early on it became clear that an “air fryer” is not ideal. Firstly, it's too small for me to insert the thermometer without moving it to one side of the chamber:


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And of course these silly timers. Sometimes they're useful, but not here. And it only goes to 59 minutes, after which it wraps around. Somehow that suggests that they're not designed for this sort of thing. As it was, it took 59 minutes! That's 82 minutes per kilogram! And despite the lower temperature, the outside was browned to about the maximum acceptable, and the net had fused itself to the meat:


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Inside was fine, but the difference is obvious:


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Yet another thing that's unsuited to an “air fryer”. I wonder if the bathtub would have done better.


Monday, 11 September 2023 Dereel Images for 11 September 2023
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Dead rabbit?
Topic: general, animals, opinion Link here

A couple of days ago I found remains of a dead animal in the garden, in the part into which the dogs can't go. Cat? Rabbit? Probably rabbit. But it wasn't until today that I got round to taking photos, by which time the remains had diminished:


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What was it? I still think it must have been a rabbit. But how did it get there? It clearly wasn't the dogs. It must have been a fox, and it also shows that there are rabbits round here again, something that disappeared very shortly after we moved into the house 8 years ago.


Electricity supply charges
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Received my quarterly electricity bill today. 8888.54!

Oh. Poor rendering of the PDF, combined with poor function of my eyes. $888.54. That's better. But also an indication that I can get a better tariff (“plan”) if I want.

Off to check. At least I now get the option of a web interface, which tells me:


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Cheaper “Service to Property” price, fully ⅙ less price per kWh. If I had had this tariff, I would have paid $145.71 less ($5.95 service $139.96 power), a sixth less. And the down side? None! Why do they do this? You'd get the impression that they're deliberately trying to annoy their customers. And yes, of course I took it. If there's a sting in the tail, they hid it well, and I have documented the matter.


Storm Daniel?
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Recently a weather system has been wandering about the Mediterranean, bringing havoc in its wake. Storm Daniel.

Huh? Since when are these weather systems called “Storm <name>”? I can't recall a single case. Now it wouldn't have anything to do with Stormy Daniels, would it? Are weather systems now named after porn stars?

Of course, a bit of research goes a long way. 2019–20 European windstorm season lists no fewer than 24 storms with the title “Storm” in Europe alone, including another called Storm Daniel. But it still seems more than a coincidence.


Dana returns
Topic: animals Link here

Yvonne's horse Dana has been at Chris Bahlo's for a couple of months now, while Chris trained her. But Chris is off to Europe for a series of jousting events tomorrow, thus experiencing four seasons in 4 weeks: winter until the end of August, summer from coming Wednesday, and autumn from 23 September. So Dana returned, and at the same time she took two of her horses back with her:


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Tuesday, 12 September 2023 Dereel Images for 12 September 2023
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New foodstuff supplier
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I've run out of some of the spice pastes that I used to buy in Geelong when I had my teeth looked at there. Now that I've changed to Ballarat, I no longer go to the Gourmet Asian Grocery, the only place I have been able to find Tean's Gourmet pastes.

OK, Google, what do you have? A lot of online stuff, most of them so horribly badly presented that I couldn't be bothered. But then I found Seasiafoods, with a well presented list of products and what look like good prices. The sting may be in the shipping, of course. Off to check out...

 
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OK, time to contact them. Phone number? They're too polite for that; just a web form. And no answer to that so far.


Next computer quote
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Another quote for my new computer in today. Surprise! It looks almost good. They have even found a case that is not only not stupid-looking, but also promises good sound insulation. About the only thing to wonder about is the supply of a Microsoft “Windows”. And so far also the lowest price, $3,899. Still 2 quotes outstanding, but I'm tempted.


Wednesday, 13 September 2023 Dereel Images for 13 September 2023
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Maple “Chantilly Lace”
Topic: gardening, photography, opinion Link here

Our ornamental “Chantilly lace” maple tree is starting to grow again:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230913/big/Maple-Chantilly-Lace-1.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230913/big/Maple-Chantilly-Lace-2.jpeg
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But getting photos of it was even more of a pain than normal. I now have no fewer than three macro flash units, costing over $1000 in total, and none of them really does what I want. This one was the mecablitz 15 MS-1. And moving further away completely messed up the exposure:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230913/big/Maple-Chantilly-Lace-3.jpeg
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Why? It's a remarkably weak unit, with a guide number of only 15. But it should have been enough for these shots: 1 m at 800/30° ISO and f/5.6 should only require a guide number of 2. It only occurred to me later that there's a three position mirror tilt lever on each of the two flash units to adjust for distance, and possibly it was in the wrong position. That's really frustrating: part of the idea of a TTL flash unit is that it should Just Work. And I need to take the photos again, maybe this time comparing all three flash units.


Thursday, 14 September 2023 Dereel Images for 14 September 2023
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Grandstream copout
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yvonne into the kitchen this morning to tell me that her phone wasn't working. When I had time to look, discovered that it was the cordless phone connected to the Grandstream HT802 that had already given me trouble, most recently on Sunday. Clearly it was wedged again, as the Aussie Broadband status page confirmed. OK, I've established that a reboot will unwedge it, and it did again.

But then it occurred to me. Wasn't there a setting for periodic reboots? Yes!

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230914/big/Grandstream-copout.png
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So they know of the problem, and this is their “solution”! What a cop-out! In that connection it's interesting to see their syslog entries, many of which report memory allocation errors. OK, reboot every morning at 1:00.

I'm left wondering why Aussie Broadband, who also supplied this ATA, make such suboptimal hardware choices.


Russia and North Korea?
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Currently Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-Un are in Vladivostok, holding talks that I'm still trying to understand. The news media claim that Russia wants weapons from North Korea, but there are so many reasons why that doesn't make much sense:

  1. The UN Security Council, of which Russia is a member, has prohibited North Korea from exporting weapons.
  2. How many weapons can North Korea produce? Would it make a difference?
  3. How are they going to get the weapons to Ukraine? It's a long way, and the only plausible transport seems to be by rail.
  4. How compatible are the weapons? It seems that they're talking mainly about shells, but there are other things as well.
  5. How reliable are the weapons? I've heard that a typical success rate for shells is 50% that even make the target, of which 50% failed to detonate. Does that even help?

One report that I have seen suggests that the shells are at least compatible in dimensions. But that's only part of the question.

One caricature that I have seen sums up my views:

http://www.lemis.com/grog/Day/20230914/main-qimg-baaaabf81c9989cc18b230168c1ff9b7.jpg


Browser supported spam
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

While watching TV this evening, saw a popup at top right of the screen: “Your computer is infected with a virus”. It went away before I could examine it more carefully. And it repeated many times, always elusive.

Well, yes, teevee.lemis.com is a computer. But it runs FreeBSD, and we don't have no steenking viruses. Some web page in the browser? Stopped the browser, restarted. Still there! Stop, restart, not recovering any pages, Still there!

Is it maybe something else that is doing it? Much checking with ps, without any results. Something accessing the X display from elsewhere? I don't think my firewall would like that. But then I saw a “settings” symbol in the popup. Selected it, in the process preventing it from going away, and saw:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230914/big/Firefox-spam-support.jpeg
Image title: Firefox spam support          Dimensions:          4179 x 2170, 5906 kB
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firefox is doing it! Some web page has persuaded firefox to display a “notification” long after the page is closed. This one's harmless, I think, at least for me, but what a horrible thing for firefox to do!


Friday, 15 September 2023 Dereel Images for 15 September 2023
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Irene and Grant visit
Topic: animals, general Link here

Irene Kirczenow and partner Grant along today to visit Yvonne.


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230915/big/Grant-Yvonne-Irene.jpeg
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Irene is a horsey person, and they spent most of the time outside.


Lawn mowing again
Topic: gardening Link here

Paul Donaghy over to mow the lawn today, the first time this spring. He nearly finished. But then he ran out of petrol, and after refilling the tank the engine wouldn't run cleanly. We suspect a blockage in the fuel line, but he didn't have time to investigate.


Catching up on the Seasiafoods order
Topic: food and drink, technology, opinion Link here

I still haven't heard back from Seasiafoods about my order on Tuesday. Surely they must have a phone? Google to the rescue: yes, 0404 088 005. Called. No reply, finally voice mail. But is there not a real phone number? Google Maps shows a shop called Dong Nam almost exactly where they claim Seasiafoods to be, and it has the number 02 9211 1927. I seem to recall a mention of that name on their site, so I can always try that if all else fails.

But some hours later I did get a call back, from a Chris, who explained that the web site might not be the easiest to understand, but that they don't post foodstuffs: they deliver. So that limits them to certain parts of Sydney.

But he said he would consider postage, though clearly that could add significantly to the price. Somehow there's an opportunity getting lost there.


Bloody cat!
Topic: animals, general, opinion Link here

Made a cup of coffee today, was interrupted, not for the only time. When I got back, I found


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230915/big/Spilt-coffee.jpeg
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Bloody cat! Strangely, the cup was undamaged.


Bloody firefox!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday I discovered to my annoyance that firefox allows sites to spam me even when no windows are open. My guess is that this is an attempt to emulate similar monstrosities in mobile phone systems. But I found out how to disable them.

Did I? Today I got:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230915/big/firefox-spam-1.jpeg
Image title: firefox spam 1          Dimensions:          4523 x 3444, 5129 kB
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Is that the same? No, not quite, but from the same site. I just blocked that yesterday! OK, how about notification settings?

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230915/big/firefox-spam-2-detail.png
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Not blocked! Is firefox teaming up against me? Blocked everything this time; I wonder if it will remain that way. Or should I firewall the spammer?


Terrible rendering of photo screen shots
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Whenever possible, I take a screen shot if I want to save a display, like the firefox's misbehaviour yesterday. But that's not always possible, and the alternative of taking a photo is orders of magnitude worse. No matter what I try, I can't get rid of the Moiré, and the gradation is just plain terrible. Here the comparison again:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230914/big/Firefox-spam-support.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230915/big/firefox-spam-2-detail.png
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Surely there must be a simple way to do better than that, but there doesn't seem to be one with DxO PhotoLab.


FreeBSD: a complete system?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've more or less made up my mind about my new computer; I'm just waiting to give the stragglers a chance to make an offer. But one problem seems to be common to all Ryzen motherboards: they use the RTL8125 Ethernet controller chip. And it seems that FreeBSD doesn't have a driver for it!

Well, not quite. There's one in the Ports Collection (net/realtek-re-kmod, a name so obvious that it took me 10 minutes to find it even after I knew that it was in that directory. Is that the only one? The pkg-descr includes:

This is the official driver from Realtek with a few patches to
improve stability and performance. It can be loaded instead of
the FreeBSD driver built into the GENERIC kernel if you experience
issues with it (eg. watchdog timeouts), or your card is not supported.

Somehow that's really worrying. FreeBSD and the Internet grew up together. Now it seems that one of the core functions, networking, is dependent on the whims of a manufacturer whose priorities are elsewhere.


Which domain registrar?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've had the domain lemis.com since the days when there was only one domain registrar worldwide. Now there are hundreds, if not thousands. And most seem to be flaky.

Since 2005 I've been using GANDI, and I've been relatively happy. I said so today on IRC, and was told that GANDI had been sold to a registrar with a poor reputation:

<jamie> I don't remember the exact story, but gandi.org got bought out by someone and a
 whole lot of people moved their domains off them
<Docco> jamie: from the orange site: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=37455998
* groggyhimself follows Docco' link and tries to guess dates.
<Docco> groggyhimself: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=35080777
<Docco> March this year
<groggyhimself> Where does it say that?
<groggyhimself> In any case, it looks like a lot of FUD.
<groggyhimself> The French article is clearer, and it shows various outcomes of other purchases.
<groggyhimself> But I'll certainly keep my eyes open.
<groggyhimself> What registrars can you people recommend?
<Docco> I just use WebCentral (nee NetRegistry) <shrugs>
<groy> groggyhimself, nearlyfreespeech.net probably provides domain registrations, is that what
      you're looking for?
<groggyhimself> Can you recommend it?
<jamie> I use Moniker. The renewal UX is super frustrating but I'm used to it now
<groggyhimself> groy: Yes.
<groy> I'm "using" ventraip, but more out of necessity and because I prefer an aussie
      company. They have nothing extraordinary in them other than that they just work.
<Maddi> Groogle, registrar is godaddy, email and web histing is VentraIP   (i think)

There are a few months to go until my renewal. I have time to think.


Saturday, 16 September 2023 Dereel Images for 16 September 2023
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More garden work
Topic: gardening Link here

Jesse Walsh over today to do some garden work, in particular to remove excess plants from the “pond”, the trough round what may some day become the verandah in front of the lounge room.

To our surprise, it took him 3 hours. The plants had grown solid, to the point that the fish could no longer move. Here one corner:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230917/big/Verandah-pond-1.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230917/big/Verandah-pond-2.jpeg
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He also tied up the long-suffering Alyogyne huegelii:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230916/big/Alyogyne-before.jpeg
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Hopefully it will survive.


ALDI food: not for seniors
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Yvonne bought some pre-prepared Camembert cheese for baking, a special from ALDI under the strange brand name “Emp0rium”. How do you bake it? RTFM.

Oh. I can't read it. Neither could Yvonne, whose eyes are better than mine. In the end I had to take a photo, just to know how long to cook it:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230916/big/Emp0rium-camembert-1-orig.jpeg
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Dammit, I still can't read it! Much postprocessing brought out a pattern in the shadow that was completely invisible in the original, along with still just barely legible instructions:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230916/big/Emp0rium-camembert-1-detail-2.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230916/big/Emp0rium-camembert-1-detail.jpeg
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Why do they do that?


Sunday, 17 September 2023 Dereel Images for 17 September 2023
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Finding food ingredients online
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Somehow things don't look good with the supply of food from Seasiafoods. The very least postage would probably be round $16, if I can get them at all. So I spent far too much time searching for alternatives, first on eBay. There I found:

Most of the eBay sellers offer lots of other things too, and finding anything is painful. But of course eBay isn't the only game in town. What about Amazon?

I've bought things from Amazon before, but not often. Why? Yes, of course they're a pain, but so is eBay. One of the issues that I have with Amazon is that they're very vague about their currency. Today was no exception: it proved to be USD, but I was saved from overcharging because they wouldn't ship to Australia, and they were too polite to point me to the Australian version. But searching was a little easier, and their idea of shipping themselves meant that I could order from a number of different sellers, whose identities I couldn't even establish, and from an aggregate order value of somewhere round $39 (why that sum?) on I got free postage.

Searching was a little easier, but given what I had been through that wasn't difficult. It certainly wasn't good, and when I searched for “Chinese noodles” I found some, but the first hits were Japanese noodles, and they also listed Tabasco, curry powder and soup bowls. One thing that they didn't list were the Sau Tao noodles that I had seen earlier.

In the end I got my $40+ together and sent off the order, which they promised would be there by Friday. Later I got a message that they had split the order, and the first part would be there by Friday. That's not that important, since we won't pick it up until the following Wednesday, but it'll be interesting to observe.


Biriani yet again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Two years ago we had to cancel a clink with Anke Hawke because of one of the many “lockdowns” at the time. I had already started a large lamb biriani, and I froze the ingredients. We ate some of it last year, but there's still plenty more.

Last time I wasn't overly happy with the results, and I spent a bit of time wondering how to improve on it. Ultimately I failed. One insight is that the sequence of cooking needs to be rethought. As it was, it used far too many utensils.

Today I also did a very hot “dum”, in the oven at 230°. Too hot, too long:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230917/big/Lamb-biriani-1.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230917/big/Lamb-biriani-4.jpeg
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Strangely, that didn't make any difference. But it was still boring. I think I have to accept that my home-made spice mixes are no match for the pre-prepared ones that I've been buying lately. We'll see: one of the things I bought today was a chicken biriani mix.


Monday, 18 September 2023 Dereel Images for 18 September 2023
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Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Nobody has been able to reproduce the bug building TeX that I reported at the beginning of the month. Why? Something in the back of my head whispered “environment pollution”. Well, not in those words, but that sounds about right. What if I have an environment variable that confuses the port build? Simple: try without any additional environment variables and see if it still happens.

But how do you start a shell without inheriting the variables of its parent. It's very difficult. But if I start from getty (in other words, log in on a vty or virtual terminal), there's not much to inherit. Still, that's irritating. I want to run this in an xterm. Off looking and found this article. Adapting to my situation, I get:

=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/2) /usr/ports/print/texlive-full 46 -> env -i HOME="$HOME" bash --norc
[root@dereel /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/git/ports/print/texlive-full]#

That doesn't completely eliminate all environment variables, but the vast majority:

[root@dereel /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/git/ports/print/texlive-full]# set | wc -l
      41
[root@dereel /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/git/ports/print/texlive-full]# exit
=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/2) /usr/ports/print/texlive-full 47 -> set | wc -l
     862

And does it work now? Yes! Problem solved.

Well, no. Problem worked around. Somehow the ports build infrastructure should guard against environment leakage. I still don't even know which environment variable it was that caused the problem. There should be a way to embody this workaround in the basic ports build structure. So I can close the old report and enter a new one against the ports build framework.

But we're not done yet. After building and installing devel/tex-web2c, I continued with print/texlive-full. And that failed:

/usr/bin/make  all-recursive
--- all-recursive ---
sh: sed: not found
make: stopped in /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/git/ports/print/texlive-full
Mon Sep 18 18:50:44 AEST 2023

Huh?

[root@dereel /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/git/ports/print/texlive-full]# echo $PATH
/sbin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin
[root@dereel /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/git/ports/print/texlive-full]# which sed
[root@dereel /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/git/ports/print/texlive-full]# export PATH
[root@dereel /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/git/ports/print/texlive-full]# which sed
/usr/bin/sed

So somehow I had a PATH environment variable, but it wasn't exported. How could that happen? And it wasn't repeatable. Something to keep my eyes on.


Racing maple
Topic: gardening Link here

I had intended to take photos of the leaf buds of the “Chantilly lace” maple to view progress, but I ran into trouble with flash:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230913/big/Maple-Chantilly-Lace-2.jpeg
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But that was 5 days ago, and I've missed the boat. Now the leaves have almost completely unfolded:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230918/big/Mape-Chantilly-Lace.jpeg
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Tuesday, 19 September 2023 Dereel Images for 19 September 2023
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Amazon delivery times
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

I've been idly wondering how accurate Amazon's delivery time estimates were. On Sunday, before I paid, all was to be delivered on Friday. Then they split the order, and only the first part was to be delivered by Friday.

Not a worry, since I can't pick it up until the following Wednesday. But that was making assumptions. Today a Toll van pulled up in front of the gate, and a bloke brought in a small package. My first Amazon delivery, due on Friday!

Given the detail in which they report delivery times, that's inaccurate, of course, but a big difference from eBay. First it's delivery to the door, and secondly it was less than 48 hours since I placed the order, and that in Sydney and on a Sunday. Australia Post can't deliver a letter from Ballarat in that time.

And what was in there?


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Badly packed: the foil packages were stuck into a corner, no filling material, and the dry noodles were somewhat broken:


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Still, nothing serious. But it's surprising that they couldn't even find a bit of newspaper to fill out the box.

Later I received more mail from Amazon. Now there are three deliveries. It seems that the petis udang that they promised isn't currently available, though they formulated it differently: “we dispatched this portion of your order separately to give you a quicker service”. The customer page shows that the petis udang hasn't been sent at all yet.


New computer
Topic: general Link here

Finally it's getting to be time to order my new computer. Called up Seth Adams of Leading Edge Computers Ballarat to discuss the final details. 4 TB disk instead of 2 TB, another Ethernet card, and of course no Microsoft. Price difference? $70 cheaper! It seems that an OEM copy of Microsoft costs round $240, more than many of the used computers with Microsoft license that I have bought.

So it may be here by the end of the month. And for that I need space for setup. I'll probably spend several months migrating from eureka to whatever I call the new machine (still hydra? With 32 heads that should be appropriate). I've been dragging my heels on a number of things this year, one of which is the mess on the desks to either side of my main desk (the one with the monitors). Finally I got things sorted out enough that at least the left hand side is relatively clear:


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“Air fried” potato pies
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Leftovers for dinner tonight, but not enough. So I ate the leftovers and Yvonne ate one of these “beef and potato pies” that I can barely stomach.

The instructions say 35 minutes at 200° with deep frozen pies. A 90 cm oven seems to be a lot of space for a single pie. How about the “coffee machine” “air fryer”?

Put it in at 180°. After 7 minutes it almost looked burnt:


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But that doesn't mean that it's done. It was probably still frozen in the middle. Turned the heat down to 150° and cooked for another 16 minutes, after which it looked almost unchanged:


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Yvonne said that it was done through. So: what do I do next time? I think I'll do it the other way round: 25 minutes at 150° and then higher if it's not brown enough.


Wednesday, 20 September 2023 Dereel Images for 20 September 2023
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New noodles
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

For breakfast this morning tried the new Osha noodles that I received yesterday. Like so many of these kind of basket noodle, they specify a cooking time of 2 minutes. It's a 360 g package of 8 baskets, or 45 g per basket—they say. But the one I chose weighed 49.1 g.

Even stranger was the cooking. Unlike other baskets, it didn't come undone, and even after cooking some of the noodles stuck together:


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I was concerned that they might be undercooked, but they seemed to be OK. But the cooked noodles only weighed 107 g, an increase of only 2.2×. Definitely an oddity.


Artificial stupidity?
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

I still occasionally answer questions on Quora, though I don't really know why. Today there was a question that I could skip: How far should a 35mm lens be from a subject?. The answer's obvious: so that it fills the frame. But Quora, after finally removing their spam generator, have now linked to ChatGPT, thus giving me the opportunity to evaluate its accuracy. Today was a low point:

A 35mm lens is considered a "normal" lens, and the general rule of thumb for the distance between a subject and a normal lens is to be about the same distance as the focal length of the lens. So for a 35mm lens, the subject should be about 35mm away from the lens. However, this is just a general rule and the actual distance will vary depending on the specific shot you're trying to capture. Factors such as aperture, depth of field, and the size of the subject will all play a role in determining the optimal distance.

How much of this is wrong! Who “considers”? On what camera is it a “normal” lens? The “rule of thumb” is nothing of the sort. At a distance equal to the focal length, the magnification is infinite. No mention of closest focus difference.

This isn't the only case I've found where ChatGPT answers are wrong, but it's by far the worst. People who are worried about Artificial Intelligence clearly don't have any of their own. And it's surprising that nobody has drawn a parallel to Joseph Weizenbaum's ELIZA, though I see that the ELIZA page refers to ChatGPT.


ATO scare
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Mail purporting to come from the Australian Taxation Office this morning:

We're getting in touch regarding your recent request to either establish a new self-managed super fund (SMSF) or to make changes to your existing SMSF, LEHEY FAMILY SUPERANNUATION FUND. We have processed your request.
To prevent fraudulent activity, the ATO sends this email when:
If you know about these changes, you don't need to do anything else.

If you didn't know about these possible changes to your SMSF, it's important to act now to prevent fraudulent activity. Please contact us for next steps by visiting ato.gov.au/SMSFaccountmessage or you can phone us on the number below.

OK, is it really from the ATO? Yes, the headers were fairly clear. So what's this all about? I'm a director of the Lehey Family Superannuation Fund, so the information is relevant. But what has changed? Called up Peter O'Connell, who was on leave, but I got a call back from an Emma J, who followed up and told me that this was a random message sent out after a tax return. Somehow I'm still not happy, but given the abject cluelessness on the part of the Australian Government, it could be the case.


Amazon security
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Checking my Amazon order, I was required to submit myself to yet another 2FA authentication, which I am beginning to hate with a vengeance. It seems that somebody had tried to break into my account:

Someone who knows your password is attempting to sign-in to your account.
When: Sep 19, 2023 06:55 PM Pacific Daylight Time
Device: Mozilla Firefox Linux (Desktop)
Near: California, United States

That was me, of course, at 11:55 AEST on 20 September in Victoria, Australia, using a FreeBSD. At least they got the browser right.


Debugging again
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

It's been quite some time since I've done anything resembling programming on the FreeBSD code base, but today was the day: there's a bug in makefs, which proves to be an interesting program originally written by Luke Mewburn. OK, should be straightforward to fix, but first I have to find my way round the source tree again. Problem is repeatable as stated: use the -s (size) option and it generates an invalid file system, one that fsck can't fix, though it seems to work well enough apart from that.

OK, build the program. How do I select debug? More to the point, though, where is the object? In the Good Old Days it would land in the source tree, not ideal, but there's no sign of it there. In /usr/obj/ maybe? Yes. And since it's NFS mounted, I ended up with one of the longest path names I have seen: /usr/obj/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/git/src/amd64.amd64/usr.sbin/makefs.

And there I found three variants:

-rwxr-xr-x  1 grog wheel 270,320 20 Sep 15:27 makefs
-rwxr-xr-x  1 grog wheel 334,928 20 Sep 15:27 makefs.debug
-rwxr-xr-x  1 grog wheel 579,912 20 Sep 15:27 makefs.full

So it seems that the current build process builds with debug supports and then strips it. Good. It's not clear what makefs.debug is, but it seems that the one I want is makefs.full. OK, run with gdb:

=== root@dereel (/dev/pts/0) /usr/obj/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/git/src/amd64.amd64/usr.sbin/makefs 9 -> gdb -n makefs.full
GNU gdb (GDB) 13.1 [GDB v13.1 for FreeBSD]
...
For bug reporting instructions, please see:
<https://www.gnu.org/software/gdb/bugs/>.
Find the GDB manual and other documentation resources online at:
    <http://www.gnu.org/software/gdb/documentation/>.

For help, type "help".
Type "apropos word" to search for commands related to "word"...
Reading symbols from makefs.full...
(gdb)

Aaargh! These horrible half-coloured outputs! How do I get rid of them? It must be in my .gdbinit file.

No, in the days when I used gdb, people were still sane. All I discovered is that the keyword abbreviation def (short for define) is no longer unique, so I had to fix that. Stackoverflow to the rescue, again: set style enabled off.

So, now I have gdb in this Brave New World, I can get down to some more serious investigation.


Next Microsoft distress
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Processing photos on distress with DxO PhotoLab, I ran into an almost daily occurrence: it hung. OK, shoot it down. No can do, says Microsoft:


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What's that? A requirement that I restart the computer too? Tried that, and it displayed “rebooting” for several minutes until I thought to stop the rdesktop session. And then it worked again. What a mess this system is!


Thursday, 21 September 2023 Dereel Images for 21 September 2023
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Magnolia in bloom
Topic: gardening Link here

Our Magnolia × soulangeana started flowering a few days ago. I was going to wait for the monthly flower page to mention it, but it didn't want to wait that long. It has already half finished flowering:


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Hopefully it'll be better next year.


New computer
Topic: technology Link here

So I've decided on my new computer. From the quote:

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X AM5 Socket 16Core/32Thread 64Mb Cache 4.5/5.7 Ghz CPU
MSI X670E Tomahawk WIFI ATX AMD AM5 Motherboard
:- 4x DDR5, 4x M.2+4x SATA, 4x PCIe, WIFI+BT, 8x USB3.0
Corsair Vengeance 192GB (4x 48GB) DDR5 5600Mhz RAM
Lexar NM790X004T 4 TB M.2 NVMe SSD Read 7400MBs Write 6500MBs
Deepcool AK400 CPU Cooler AMD AM5
Gigabyte Nvidia GeForce RTX3060 8GB Core1807MHz 2x HDMI2x DP
ASUS Internal 24X DVDRW
ANTEC NE1000G 1000W 80+ Gold Fully Modular PSU
ANTEC P10/c Mid Tower Case: 5x 120mm Fans PreInstalled
TP-Link TG3468 PCIe Network Adaptor (additional Ethernet port)
No Operating System supplied
1 Year Warranty
2 x DP-DVI-D Adaptors

Paying for the computer
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Seth wants a 50% deposit for the computer, which seems reasonable under the circumstances. OK, transfer the money.

Dammit, another issue with the Bank of Melbourne web site. Login failure. Oh, I've changed it. OK, try again. How I hate these blanked-out fields (••••••)! At least they could give me the option to display them. Finally filled them all out, press the big button. “Please match the requested format”! I've seen that before, though I haven't recorded it here for some time. OK, try with Microsoft and the correct credentials. Yes, I got in. Put in the transfer details, confirm 3 times, press the big button. “We need a confirmation code. Send to XXXX XXX 418?

Dammit, yes. But nothing came. Resend. Nothing came. OK, cancel. And it cancelled the entire transaction, including all the details I had typed in.

Damn you, Bank of Melbourne. Let's get ANZ to do it. Login no problem, put in all the details, press big button. “We need to send you a code”. And none came!

What now? I really wanted to use Bank of Melbourne, because they send an independent confirmation of the transfer to the recipient. OK, fight my way through this mess again, this time using Yet Another Browser. And this time I got it to send an SMS to my mobile phone, like they presumably normally do.

No reaction. Oh yes, there it was, only a minute late. And how about that, I was finally able to perform the transfer. It must have taken 40 minutes.

Is 2FA really worth the trouble? It's not really independent enough. Now that every man and his dog has a mobile phone app to perform “secure” transactions, all somebody needs to do is steal the phone in an unlocked condition and perform the transfer. Receive the “independent” 2FA confirmation on the same phone, and it's done. The 2FA adds nothing to the security, only (in my case) to my blood pressure.

In passing, were the unreceived phone calls really the fault of the banks? Occam's razor suggests that it's an issue with my VoIP connection.


Next Amazon delivery
Topic: general Link here

The next part of my Amazon delivery arrived today, just as I was marvelling at their security warning. I said “welcome to California” to the delivery driver, but of course he didn't understand.

So: everything except the petis udang, all ahead of their scheduled delivery time. I wonder how long it will take them to find the rest.


The history of beer
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Years ago I did a presentation on brewing beer with computers. One of the points I made was that beer was one of the reasons why people became sedentary. It seems that I wasn't completely right about this, but it was interesting to read an article in the Washington Post on the subject. In particular, they described what ancient “beer” might have looked and tasted like.


VirtualBox again
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

makefs, the program that I'm looking at at the moment, was originally written by Luke Mewburn, who is a NetBSD developer. How does the program look under NetBSD? I have an old virtual machine; let's look.

But once again I couldn't get networking working. I've been there before, more than once. Last time I wrote:

The issue seems to be which klds to load. The important one is ng_ether, which in fact has nothing directly to do with VirtualBox. But just loading it doesn't seem to be enough; today it didn't work until I stopped VirtualBox, unloaded the kernel modules and loaded them again. Afterwards I had:
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/26) ~ 39 -> kldload ng_ether
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/26) ~ 40 -> kldload vboxdrv
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/26) ~ 41 -> kldload vboxnetadp
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/26) ~ 42 -> kldstat
Id Refs Address            Size     Name
...
13    1 0xffffffff82d53000 412b     ng_ether.ko
14    3 0xffffffff82c35000 4e436    vboxdrv.ko
15    1 0xffffffff82c84000 3f64     vboxnetadp.ko
16    1 0xffffffff82c88000 2a02     vboxnetflt.ko

It's interesting to note that vboxnetflt gets loaded automatically.

After all that, I got eureso working, but newyork and kimchi still didn't. Back on the tuit queue, along with the beginnings of a configuration page which may help next time.


Looking at makefs
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Looking at the source for makefs was interesting. Nicely laid out, but not a single comment that I can see. Still, one of the more interesting things was a whole lot of debug code, invokable from the command line and clearly aimed at people like me who have to find out what the thing is doing. Once I understand that, the rest could be trivial.


Friday, 22 September 2023 Dereel Images for 22 September 2023
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More air conditioner issues?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Another cool night, with a minimum temperature of 0.1°. And once again the air conditioner was struggling, going through at least 4 de-icing cycles between 6:00 and 9:00. Do we still have issues? We'll find out the next time that the temperature goes significantly below 0 (say, -2°).


Lying scales!
Topic: general, technology, health, opinion Link here

For 6 months now I've been weighing myself daily. TL;DR: I weigh about 86 kg, giving me a body mass index of round 23. But I'm doing this more out of curiosity than concern about my health. Yvonne got new scales six months ago, so I had a set in the bathroom.

But I've noticed something strange: the scales have a resolution of 100 g, and very frequently I've had the same reading for days on end. Six days at 86.1 kg. That can't be right. OK, pick up a stool, weigh again. 87.9 kg. Put down the stool, weigh again. 86.4 kg.

What's going on here? The scales are lying. My guess is that they note the “last time” value, and if the new reading is within a small delta, they show the old value again. Why? To make up for random inaccuracies. I wonder if other scales also do that.


More VirtualBox fun
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So why can I run networking under VirtualBox with eureso (FreeBSD) but not with kimchi (NetBSD)? It must be the configuration. “Power down” kimchi and look at the configuration. It's identical! OK, reboot and look at the probe messages. But I didn't need to: it came up with networking enabled. So it seems that a saved image state maintains some recollection of the network state.


More makefs insights
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Now that I have kimchi running, I can compare the output of makefs on dereel (FreeBSD) and kimchi (NetBSD). Does the bug occur on NetBSD as well?

No. But there are other differences of interest:


NFS amusement
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Strange message in the overnight logs from bde, the laptop. OK, fire up an xterm and see what's going on.

No response. But ruptime tells me that it is up (for 320 days). Looking at the mail message, the headers said

Received: from bde.lemis.com (flachmann.lemis.com [192.109.197.247])

Oh. That's a consequence of the playing around with the Netcomm NF20MESH last month. I had to get an address with dhclient, and that was the one. OK, stop dhclient and assign the address manually. Still no xterm!

A bit later, though, one popped up. Looking at /var/log/messages, it was clear why:

Sep 22 09:29:13 bde kernel: nfs server eureka:/: nfs senorvet rr espoenudrienkga
Sep 22 09:29:13 bde kernel: :
Sep 22 09:29:13 bde kernel: /: not responding
Sep 22 09:29:13 bde kernel: <<66>>nfs nfsserver  seeruvreker a:eure/ka:/::  nnoott  rreessppoonnddiinngg
Sep 22 09:29:13 bde kernel: nfs server eureka:/: is alive again
Sep 22 09:29:13 bde syslogd: last message repeated 1 times
Sep 22 09:29:13 bde kernel: n<6>nfs server eureka:/: is alivfe asgain
Sep 22 09:30:33 bde sshd[39179]: fatal: Timeout before authentication for 192.109.197.137 port 37473
Sep 22 09:30:33 bde kernel: <6<6>>nnffss  sseerrvveerr  eeuruerkeak:/hao:me/:h omen:o t not resrpeospndinogn
Sep 22 09:30:33 bde kernel: d
Sep 22 09:30:33 bde kernel: ing
Sep 22 09:30:33 bde kernel: nfs server eureka:/home: not responding
Sep 22 09:30:33 bde kernel: nfs server eureka:/home: is alive againfn
Sep 22 09:30:33 bde kernel: s
Sep 22 09:30:33 bde kernel:  server eureka:/home: is alive again
Sep 22 09:30:33 bde sshd[39177]: fatal: Timeout before authentication for 192.109.197.137 port 16824

How these NFS messages amuse me!


Bruno
Topic: animals Link here


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Saturday, 23 September 2023 Dereel Images for 23 September 2023
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Updating dog feeding
Topic: animals Link here

Our dogs are getting heavier again. That's nothing new; I noted that this time two years ago, when we were giving them round 250 g per day, and last year (300 g for Larissa and 350 g for Elena). Clearly it's related to the coming of spring, and now they're fully grown, they need less food. We were giving them 200 g (Lara) and 220 g (Lena), but now we've dropped that further to 150 g and 200 g.


New neighbours
Topic: general Link here

While walking the dogs, a car stopped and the passengers introduced themselves: Nib (short for Hannibal) and Sarah. They've just purchased the lot at 40 Bliss Road. That's 700 m away, but the back of the property almost touches the back of ours.


Now that's a bone
Topic: animals, general, opinion Link here

Larissa found this in the forest today:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230923/big/Larissa-and-bone-2.jpeg
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What is it? It's very long and thin, with a concave profile and something like a 45° twist from one end to the other. It seems too long for most animals. Kangaroo?


Git, how I hate you!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

More work on makefs today, making moderate progress. But one thing is clear: the man page needed updating, and I've done so. Now just to commit it.

Oh, that's an old, worn-out magic word. Now I need to commit and push it. OK, first commit. Hang. After quite some time, an error message:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/1) /usr/src/usr.sbin/makefs 17 -> git commit makefs.8
hint: Waiting for your editor to close the file... /usr/local/bin/emacsclient: can't find socket; have you started the server?
/usr/local/bin/emacsclient: To start the server in Emacs, type "M-x server-start".
/usr/local/bin/emacsclient: No socket or alternate editor.  Please use:

        --socket-name
        --server-file      (or environment variable EMACS_SERVER_FILE)
        --alternate-editor (or environment variable ALTERNATE_EDITOR)
error: There was a problem with the editor 'emacsclient'.
Please supply the message using either -m or -F option.

What's that HORRIBLE white on yellow text? Oh. It proves that I can make it legible by highlighting it:

hint: Waiting for your editor to close the file... /usr/local/bin/emacsclient: can't find socket; have you started the server?

But I have gone to infinite lengths to get the bloody thing to stop printing half-coloured texts, and still it continues to do so. OK, start the server and try again. Success!

=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/1) /usr/src/usr.sbin/makefs 19 -> git commit makefs.8
hint: Waiting for your editor to close the file... Waiting for Emacs...
[main 91920518e1fb] Explain the -d option.
 1 file changed, 6 insertions(+), 1 deletion(-)

OK, next push:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/1) /usr/src/usr.sbin/makefs 20 -> git push freebsd
fatal: unable to access 'https://git.freebsd.org/src.git/': The requested URL returned error: 403

Huh? That used to work. Oh. I need to load my ssh keys.

=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/1) /usr/src/usr.sbin/makefs 22 -> (magic)
Identity added: /home/grog/.ssh/id_rsa (/home/grog/.ssh/id_rsa)
2048 SHA256:S7sZHLcY4dgw53/rF70vrScdPuGef3enHdJzuYA1WDo /home/grog/.ssh/id_rsa (RSA)
=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/1) /usr/src/usr.sbin/makefs 23 -> git push freebsd
fatal: unable to access 'https://git.freebsd.org/src.git/': The requested URL returned error: 403

What's wrong now? Oh, my .git/config doesn't contain a push URL. How did that happen? I checked out cloned a new tree, and it didn't include the all-important

pushurl = git@gitrepo.freebsd.org:src.git

Try again:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/1) /usr/src/usr.sbin/makefs 29 -> git push freebsd
To gitrepo.freebsd.org:src.git
! [rejected]                  main -> main (fetch first)
error: failed to push some refs to 'gitrepo.freebsd.org:src.git'
hint: Updates were rejected because the remote contains work that you do
hint: not have locally. This is usually caused by another repository pushing
hint: to the same ref. You may want to first integrate the remote changes
hint: (e.g., 'git pull ...') before pushing again.
hint: See the 'Note about fast-forwards' in 'git push --help' for details.

OK, that makes marginal sense. Pull?


=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/1) /usr/src/usr.sbin/makefs 30 -> git pull
remote: Enumerating objects: 204, done.
remote: Counting objects: 100% (61/61), done.
remote: Total 204 (delta 61), reused 61 (delta 61), pack-reused 143
Receiving objects: 100% (204/204), 165.72 KiB | 1.76 MiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (146/146), completed with 39 local objects.
From https://git.freebsd.org/src
   f079ef5b6a3c..bb124a0f611a  main        -> freebsd/main
   c429a0425dc4..4fdded885b8d  releng/14.0 -> freebsd/releng/14.0
   20295ac0d045..8ac750e095a3  stable/13   -> freebsd/stable/13
   2209676efe9a..84266fb897e6  stable/14   -> freebsd/stable/14
[yellow[
hint: You have divergent branches and need to specify how to reconcile them.
hint: You can do so by running one of the following commands sometime before
hint: your next pull:
hint:
hint:   git config pull.rebase false  # merge
hint:   git config pull.rebase true   # rebase
hint:   git config pull.ff only       # fast-forward only
hint:
hint: You can replace "git config" with "git config --global" to set a default
hint: preference for all repositories. You can also pass --rebase, --no-rebase,
hint: or --ff-only on the command line to override the configured default per
hint: invocation.
fatal: Need to specify how to reconcile divergent branches.

Yes, I've been there before, and it didn't work well. But I can try again.

      === grog@dereel (/dev/pts/1) /usr/src/usr.sbin/makefs 31 -> git pull --ff-only
hint: Diverging branches can't be fast-forwarded, you need to either:
hint:
hint:   git merge --no-ff
hint:
hint: or:
hint:
hint:   git rebase
hint:
hint: Disable this message with "git config advice.diverging false"
fatal: Not possible to fast-forward, aborting.

Yup. OK, merge it is, and it even claims to have work. Back to my push:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/1) /usr/src/usr.sbin/makefs 33 -> git push freebsd
Enumerating objects: 9, done.
Counting objects: 100% (9/9), done.
Delta compression using up to 4 threads
Compressing objects: 100% (5/5), done.
Writing objects: 100% (5/5), 599 bytes | 149.00 KiB/s, done.
Total 5 (delta 4), reused 0 (delta 0), pack-reused 0
remote:
remote: ================================================================
remote: grog, you are pushing a commit which author and committer are different:
remote:
remote: author: Greg 'groggy' Lehey <groggyhimself@FreeBSD.org>
remote: commit: 0ed7778fc2e3fe7c9b108b09d5f6fae49a0ffac2
remote: subject: Explain the -d option.
remote:
remote: Please check the author name and email are correct and then use:
remote:         git push --push-option=confirm-author
remote: ================================================================
To gitrepo.freebsd.org:src.git
! [remote rejected])           main -> main (pre-receive hook declined)
error: failed to push some refs to 'gitrepo.freebsd.org:src.git'

What does that mean? Email and user name are correct. Still, there's a suggestion in the error message:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/1) /usr/src/usr.sbin/makefs 36 -> git push --push-option=confirm-author freebsd
Enumerating objects: 9, done.
Counting objects: 100% (9/9), done.
Delta compression using up to 4 threads
Compressing objects: 100% (5/5), done.
Writing objects: 100% (5/5), 599 bytes | 149.00 KiB/s, done.
Total 5 (delta 4), reused 0 (delta 0), pack-reused 0
remote:
remote: ================================================================
remote: grog, you can't push commit by Greg 'groggy' Lehey <groggyhimself@FreeBSD.org>
remote:         0ed7778fc2e3fe7c9b108b09d5f6fae49a0ffac2 - Explain the -d option.
remote:
remote: Please check output of freefall:/usr/local/bin/gen-gitconfig.sh
remote: ================================================================
remote:
remote: FATAL: VREF/COMMITTER-CHECK: helper program exit status 65280
remote: error: hook declined to update refs/heads/main
To gitrepo.freebsd.org:src.git
! [remote rejected])           main -> main (pre-receive hook declined)
error: failed to push some refs to 'gitrepo.freebsd.org:src.git'

That's not quite the same message. In particular, there's a reference to freefall:/usr/local/bin/gen-gitconfig.sh, which gives me obvious config info:

[user]
        name = Greg Lehey
        email = groggyhimself@FreeBSD.org

Put it in .git/config, but that didn't help either.

Oh. git is too polite to say so, but I think the problem is:

=== grog@freefall (/dev/pts/49) ~ 2 -> finger grog
Login: grog                             Name: Greg Lehey
Directory: /home/grog                   Shell: /usr/local/bin/bash
=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/10) ~ 5 -> finger grog
Login: grog                             Name: Greg 'groggy' Lehey

What it really wanted to say is “Your name is Greg Lehey, but the commit was made by Greg 'groggy' Lehey”. Grrr! What do I do now? Change my name on dereel, of course, at least as far as git is concerned. But the name in the commit includes the 'groggy'. So I need to revert the commit. And for that I need to know the meaningless commit number. Fortunately I know that, since I've been documenting the pain: it's 91920518e1fb. git revert worked without any error messages. Then, after another pull:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/1) /usr/src/usr.sbin/makefs 47 -> git merge --no-ff
hint: Waiting for your editor to close the file... Waiting for Emacs...
Merge remote-tracking branch 'refs/remotes/freebsd/main'
# Please enter a commit message to explain why this merge is necessary,
# especially if it merges an updated upstream into a topic branch.
#
# Lines starting with '#' will be ignored, and an empty message aborts
# the commit.

What comment does it expect? Where does it get stored? I added a comment strongly voicing my opinion of the mess, then

=== grog@dereel (/dev/pts/1) /usr/src/usr.sbin/makefs 48 -> git commit makefs.8
On branch main
Your branch is ahead of 'freebsd/main' by 3 commits.
  (use "git push" to publish your local commits)

What the hell does that mean? I haven't done anything locally except commit, revert and recommit. Once again I'm reminded of xkcd:

https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/git_2x.png

What an appalling piece of software! The good news is that I have made reasonable progress on the makefs bug itself.


Another NFS bug?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

My mail inbox is located on eureka, but I read it from a number of locations, including dereel and tiwi. Today I removed most of the messages on tiwi, but when I came back later, dereel claimed that some were still there. Why? The file stats looked correct, but the contents looked different on dereel, including deleted messages and stopping in the middle of a message.

It went away after about 10 minutes, but why did it remain in that state for so long?


Sunday, 24 September 2023 Dereel Images for 24 September 2023
Top of page
previous day

Kippers again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

When I was a lad I ate a fair number of kippers for breakfast. But nowadays it seems that they're out of fashion, either because of the price (herrings are much rarer now, thanks to overfishing, and thus more expensive) or just change in taste.

But one kind is available, quite expensive, and packed as two kippers frozen back to back, so that you have to eat both. Here after thawing and separating:


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How do you prepare them? The packaging suggests grilling (with no further details) or frying. Today I tried one in the “hair dryer” “air fryer” at 180° for about 10 minutes, after which it looked like this:


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Somehow it wasn't satisfying. It looks smaller than the ones I remember, and despite the accompaniment I wasn't really sated. I think I'll eat the other one instead of bacon with “bacon and eggs”.


A use for “artificial intelligence”
Topic: language, technology, food and drink, opinion Link here

What do you serve along with kippers? I really don't recall what I used to eat. How about asking an artificial intelligence, in this case bard.google.com?

kippers are a type of smoked herring that is popular in the united kingdom and other parts of the world. they have a strong, smoky flavor and are often served for breakfast or lunch.

here are some ideas for what to eat with kippers:

Here are some specific recipes for what to eat with kippers:

No matter what you choose to eat with kippers, you are sure to enjoy the delicious flavor of this smoked fish.

That's actually quite useful, and it confirms my opinion of the current crop of “artificial intelligence” tools: search tools with a better grasp of English (and other natural language) syntax.


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

The September equinox was yesterday, but the sun shone all day, so I put off the monthly garden photos until today—where the sun shone all day.

Last year was very wet. This year isn't. I need to get the irrigation looked at, or a number of plants may die. The Alyogyne huegelii doesn't look happy, but that may be a special case because the trunk had nearly broken through:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230924/big/Alyogyne-huegelii-1.jpeg
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But others aren't looking that great either, notably the Vietnamese mint (daun laksa):


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The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis “Uncle Max” that suffered so much last year is looking better, but not good:


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Down the road, the wild bush that Yvonne liked so much is full in bloom. But the seedling we planted, though it has grown, is only now thinking of flowering:


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And though the Japanese cherry is flowering, it's very little:


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It's relatively warm—we've had temperatures as high as 26°—but the oaks are still taking their time:


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One of the surprises are these Iris:


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They seem to be everywhere:


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That's in the east garden, the rose garden and the succulent garden. I'm sure I didn't plant them in all those places. Could they have self-seeded?

Our Magnolia × soulangeana has flowered, very briefly, and it's now over. Here photos I took on 21 September after discovering what was happening.


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And the Maple “Chantilly Lace” has come into leaf very quickly:


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It's interesting to note the difference in colour between the leaves in the shade and the leaves at least partially in the sun.

The roses to the west of the house seem to be doing alright for this time of year. They bloomed through most of August, and now here they are again:


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The Grevillea robusta in the “sewage paddock” looks less good than it did last year (first photo):


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220922/big/Grevillea-robusta-1.jpeg
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But I think I have a reason:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20230924/big/Grevillea-robusta-2.jpeg
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No computer work
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Somehow yesterday's experience with git completely demoralized me. Yes, I think I have identified the problem and worked around it, but I couldn't bring myself to continue, neither with git nor with my debugging. How I HATE git!


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