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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220926/big/Air-conditioner-coil-2.jpeg
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Tony was sure that it was dog or cat hair, but that's nothing like the same consistency, and how could it have got there, when the filters are completely clean? Mice? No, he didn't think so.

Then I took another look at the return air shaft:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220927/big/Air-conditioner-6.jpeg
Image title: Air conditioner 6          Dimensions:          5234 x 3742, 6438 kB
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The first photo is looking down at the floor. Not overly dirty, but a few cobwebs. And that's what the fibres in the crud are! So first we collected spider webs, which accumulated whatever the other stuff is.

Looking up isn't quite as dirty:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220927/big/Air-conditioner-7.jpeg
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But Tony thought that we should fill the holes in the frame at the top. But there's no dirt there, and he confirmed that there's no dirt on the other side. After some consideration we still don't know where the dirt comes from. Dead spiders?

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

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

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


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

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

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

Hello Greg ,

Thank you for writing in.

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

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

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

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


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

Tony Nesci sent me this photo yesterday, I think:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220926/big/Air-conditioner-coil-2.jpeg
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Why “I think”? This was the best I could extract after a couple of hours' work. He took it with his phone, of course, which was so proud of the feat that it watermarked the image. He then sent it to my phone with only 20 or 30 swipes. And then I got:


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

Ah, of course. Press on it:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20220928/big/Android-message-display-2.jpeg
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Now the resolution is 1440x1000, and there's a “down the drain” symbol at bottom left. Press that and I get “1 photo saved to your Messages stored media”, which disappears after about 2 seconds before I can read it. OK, Android, I'll bite. Where are my “Messages stored media”? Off looking. Nothing in /storage/emulated/0/DCIM/Camera/. Nothing in /storage/emulated/0/DCIM/Messages/. But after only about 5 minutes I find a new hierarchy /storage/emulated/0/Pictures/Messages/. Now isn't that obvious? Anybody who reads “Messages stored media” would intuitively know that they were there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


This page contains (roughly) yesterday's and today's entries. I have a horror of reverse chronological documents, so all my diary entries are chronological. This page normally contains the last two days, but if I fall behind it may contain more. You can find older entries in the archive. Note that I often update a diary entry a day or two after I write it.     Do you have a comment about something I have written? This is a diary, not a “blog”, and there is deliberately no provision for directly adding comments. It's also not a vehicle for third-party content. But I welcome feedback and try to reply to all messages I receive. See the diary overview for more details. If you do send me a message relating to something I have written, please indicate whether you'd prefer me not to mention your name. Otherwise I'll assume that it's OK to do so.


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