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Thursday, 23 November 2017 Dereel Images for 23 November 2017
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Power fail
Topic: general Link here

Power failure at 4:05 this morning, by coincidence while I was awake. I heard the compressor of the deep freeze stop, not for the first time, but every time I wonder if it was because of the thermostat or a power failure. A few seconds later there were beeps from the microwave oven, and the display illumination for the air conditioner went on, so it was pretty clear.

The interesting thing is that it has been 3 months since the last outage. That must be some kind of record.


Firefox: POLA violation
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

firefox “Quantum” has been released. More performance. More security: lots of add-ons that used inappropriate interfaces have now been disabled. That's good for the product, but it also makes it useless for me. To quote the commit message:

r454194 | jbeich | 2017-11-15 06:04:44 +1100 (Wed, 15 Nov 2017) | 9 lines

www/firefox: update to 57.0 (marketed as "Firefox Quantum")

Not a MFH candidate due to POLA violation per redesigned UI, broken
legacy addons and auto-reviewed new addons.

In particular, firemacs and It's All Text! no longer work with Quantum. One step forwards, at least two steps back.


Upgrading lagoon
Topic: technology Link here

Yesterday I received a new display card for Yvonne's machine, lagoon.lemis.com. Today she went shopping, so I had time to do the next step of my hardware upgrades: replace the current machine with another Lenovo ThinkCentre. It should be a piece of cake: it's exactly the same thing as the upgrade of teevee that I performed last week.

Put the card in the new machine, confirmed that it worked. Removed the system disk from old lagoon and put it in the new machine. Boot. Normal problem with the Ethernet card not being recognized (do we really need a different interface name for every kind of interface?), so I had to frob /etc/rc.conf. I pretty much expect this, though I suspect that the standard new machine configuration has a more elegant way of handling the situation.

Next, start X. Fail. OK, that's not surprising. The card in old lagoon proved to be considerably older than the new one, and it needed a different version of the nvidia-driver module. That's what pkg is for. Unload and delete the old one, install the new one:

=== root@lagoon (/dev/pts/0) /eureka/home/grog 24 -> pkg install nvidia-driver-384.59 nvidia-settings-384.59_1 nvidia-xconfig-384.59
The following 5 package(s) will be affected (of 0 checked):

New packages to be INSTALLED:
        nvidia-driver: 384.59
        nvidia-settings: 384.59_1
        nvidia-xconfig: 384.59
        mesa-libs: 17.1.8
        libunwind: 20170113_1

Number of packages to be installed: 5

The process will require 180 MiB more space.
39 MiB to be downloaded.

Proceed with this action? [y/N]: y
pkg: http://pkg.FreeBSD.org/FreeBSD:10:amd64/latest/All/nvidia-driver-384.59.txz: Not Found

===>   nvidia-driver-384.90 depends on file: /usr/local/libdata/pkgconfig/dri2proto.pc - found
===>   nvidia-driver-384.90 depends on file: /usr/local/libdata/pkgconfig/dri3proto.pc - not found
===>   nvidia-driver-384.90 depends on file: /usr/local/libdata/pkgconfig/dri3proto.pc - not found
*** Error code 1
Stop.

Huh? What's wrong there? OK, let's try installing the auxiliary ports first:

=== root@lagoon (/dev/pts/0) /usr/ports/x11/nvidia-driver 32 -> pkg install nvidia-settings-384.59_1 nvidia-xconfig-384.59
...
Proceed with this action? [y/N]: y
[1/4] Fetching nvidia-settings-384.59_1.txz: 100%  735 KiB  83.6kB/s    00:09
pkg: cached package nvidia-settings-384.59_1: size mismatch, fetching from remote
[2/4] Fetching nvidia-settings-384.59_1.txz: 100%  735 KiB 376.1kB/s    00:02
pkg: cached package nvidia-settings-384.59_1: size mismatch, cannot continue

I've seen “size mismatch” messages before where a download had failed, and I was left with a truncated package. But that wasn't the case today. OK, back to the start. Why did the dependency on /usr/local/libdata/pkgconfig/dri3proto.pc fail? Clearly it's installed on teevee. Where did it come from?

=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/5) /home/grog 5 -> l /usr/local/libdata/pkgconfig/dri3proto.pc
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel  186  3 Jul 18:02 /usr/local/libdata/pkgconfig/dri3proto.pc
=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/5) /home/grog 6 -> pkg which /usr/local/libdata/pkgconfig/dri3proto.pc
/usr/local/libdata/pkgconfig/dri3proto.pc was installed by package dri3proto-1.0

OK, download that:

=== root@lagoon (/dev/pts/0) /usr/ports/x11/nvidia-settings 47 -> pkg install dri3proto
The following 1 package(s) will be affected (of 0 checked):

New packages to be INSTALLED:
        dri3proto: 1.0

Number of packages to be installed: 1

Proceed with this action? [y/N]: y
[1/1] Fetching dri3proto-1.0.txz: 100%    5 KiB   5.0kB/s    00:01
pkg: cached package dri3proto-1.0: size mismatch, fetching from remote

What is it with these size mismatches? OK, build the port and install it. That worked. Next, try to download the driver. Size mismatch! Build from source. That worked, but...

=== root@lagoon (/dev/pts/0) /usr/ports/x11/nvidia-xconfig 62 -> kldload nvidia
kldload: an error occurred while loading the module. Please check dmesg(8) for more details.

dmesg said:

KLD nvidia.ko: depends on kernel - not available or version mismatch
linker_load_file: Unsupported file type

That's ridiculous! Yes, I know it depends on the kernel, but I just built it with the current kernel! Could it be that something from the old driver was hanging on to something in the kernel. To be sure, I rebooted, but that didn't work either.

Dammit, Yvonne will be home soon. I'm reminded of the xkcd cartoon:

So I removed the nvidia X config and started without a config file. That's slower, but it works. Thank God for that!

Moved the machine to Yvonne's office and brought out the old one:


This should be Old-lagoon-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Old lagoon 2          Dimensions:          4288 x 3238, 2237 kB
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What's that disk doing in the bottom? Back to look at the disk I had already removed from the disk cage:


This should be Disk.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Disk          Dimensions:          2904 x 4152, 2313 kB
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That's two years old. The other one was dated 3 October this year. And then I discovered that the last upgrade of this machine was only last month, and that I had been doing all this work on the old disk.

I couldn't leave things like that: the data on the disk is out of date, and that would certainly be a problem. So started things all over again!

This time, of course, things weren't quite as bad. But I still needed to change the interface address, install the new nvidia driver—this time without problems—and start X. I still had problems there that I'll need to investigate, but which almost certainly relate to the different xorg.conf file (it proves that the old card supported two monitors, for example). Presumably that will no longer be as much of a problem as what I have been through today.


Computers: end of an era
Topic: technology, history Link here

With the old lagoon, an era goes to end. I've had computers at home for a little over 40 years. I can divide them into roughly 3 periods:

With lagoon, the last of these cases is going out of use, after 20 years. How time flies!


Subtitle mutilation
Topic: multimedia, technology Link here

Yesterday's build of mplayer gave me the remote control again, but while watching TV („Die Rosenheim Cops“, in mild Bavarian dialect), I noticed significant problems with the subtitles. In particular, the German letters ä, ö, ü and ß were frequently dropped, replaced by ? or other characters, but also frequently displayed correctly. And on a couple of occasions they were really badly mutilated. Here three examples:


This should be mplayer-2.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: mplayer 2          Dimensions:          1280 x 714, 1069 kB
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This should be mplayer-2-detail.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: mplayer 2 detail          Dimensions:          950 x 132, 163 kB
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In this case the text was correct up to the first ü. Here's the original text:

         <tt:p xml:id="sub408" region="bottom" begin="00:21:52.000" end="00:21:55.400"
               style="textCenter">
            <tt:span style="textCyan">gerade als die Kundin den Kopf  </tt:span>
            <tt:br/>
            <tt:span style="textCyan">aus dem Fenster gesteckt hat.  </tt:span>
         </tt:p>
         <tt:p xml:id="sub409" region="bottom" begin="00:21:55.400" end="00:21:58.100"
               style="textCenter">
            <tt:span style="textCyan">Das hätte ein Unglück geben können.  </tt:span>
            <tt:br/>
            <tt:span style="textWhite">Ja, hätte.  </tt:span>
         </tt:p>
         <tt:p xml:id="sub410" region="bottom" begin="00:21:58.200" end="00:22:00.200"
               style="textCenter">
            <tt:span style="textWhite">Aber was ist ihr passiert? Nichts.  </tt:span>
         </tt:p>

What happened then? My best guess is that the ü got swallowed, and that the following ö somehow got caused the remainder of the text to be inserted, backwards, where the ü had been. As the markup shows, there's nothing exciting in the subtitle file.

Here's another:


This should be mplayer-1.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: mplayer 1          Dimensions:          1277 x 719, 897 kB
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This should be mplayer-1-detail.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: mplayer 1 detail          Dimensions:          960 x 81, 98 kB
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         <tt:p xml:id="sub318" region="bottom" begin="00:17:15.600" end="00:17:18.000"
               style="textCenter">
            <tt:span style="textWhite">Übrigens zusammen mit der Brüstung.  </tt:span>
         </tt:p>

Here it seems that the leading Ü caused the entire line to be reversed.

Here's a third example, mainly because I took the screen shot:


This should be mplayer-3.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: mplayer 3          Dimensions:          1276 x 716, 1094 kB
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This should be mplayer-3-detail.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: mplayer 3 detail          Dimensions:          902 x 142, 164 kB
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What causes this? It almost looks as if the special characters are being interpreted as control characters. But this is Timed Text Markup Language (TTML), as I discovered, and it includes more information than mplayer will display, in particular colours (they use different colours for different actors).

Could it be a problem with the character encoding? While searching on the web I saw some reference to mplayer using some “Windows”Code page” by default.

There's a -utf8 flag to tell it what it should know (after all, this is XML), and the file starts:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!-- Profile: EBU-TT-D-Basic-DE --><tt:tt xmlns:tts="http://www.w3.org/ns/ttml#styling" xmlns:ebuttm="urn:ebu:tt:metadata"

To be on the safe side, I converted the file to ISO 8859-14 with iconv, but that didn't change anything.

Other display programs? I only had VLC, and it displayed them perfectly, including the colours specified. But so far I haven't found a way to get VLC to respond to a remote control or keyboard, and it's a real pain to have to interact only via a mouse.

So it's looking more and more like an incompatibility between mplayer and TTML. Change the subtitle format? Sure enough, there's a converter, ttml2srt. Tried that:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/4) /spool/Series/Rosenheim-Cops 6 -> python3 ttml2srt.py Der-letzte-Pfusch-20150922-192500.ttml > Der-letzte-Pfusch-20150922-192500.srt
  File "ttml2srt.py", line 7
    
    ^
SyntaxError: invalid syntax

That's in the script, not the input. Sigh. But enough pain for today.


Friday, 24 November 2017 Dereel Images for 24 November 2017
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Fake Phat Thai
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I'm still experimenting with various breakfasts, and one that occurred to me was Phat Thai, usually misspelt (clearly by people who can't speak Thai) as “Pad Thai”. A couple of weeks ago I bought various pastes, and today I tried one from Valcom:


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I don't really understand Thai food well. Some of it is similar to Malaysian food, which I do understand, and in principle Phat Thai should belong to this category. But in case of doubt, why not follow the recipe?

Here's how I interpreted it:

Don't use this recipe. It's for the record only. The updated recipe will be here.
quantity       ingredient       step
130 g       rice sticks       1
80 g       chicken thigh       2
120 g       Phat Thai paste       3
20 ml       fish sauce       4
10 g       sugar       4
2 g       chili powder       4
80 g       tauge (bean shoots)       5
30 g       spring onions, chopped into 1 cm lengths       5

Preparation

  1. Boil noodles for 6 minutes, then drain and rinse, to be ready just in time for step 4.
  2. Cut the chicken into thin slices and fry in oil.
  3. Add the Phat Thai paste and mix well.
  4. Add noodles and other ingredients, mix well and heat. Serve.

The result looks like this:


This should be Phat-thai-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Phat thai 1          Dimensions:          4613 x 3456, 2799 kB
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Notes

The recipe specifies 100 g of the paste for an unspecified number of portions. That's a strange proportion (41.67%) of the jar size (240 g). I found that I could easily go to 120 g (half a jar) for a single large portion.

Mixing the paste is almost impossible. It's gelatinous and doesn't soften with heat. The result is lumps that carry over into the finished dish (the darker spots here):


This should be Phat-thai-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Phat thai 2          Dimensions:          4609 x 3456, 1669 kB
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I think it should probably be mixed with water and then evaporated.

The instructions on the package of the noodles (“rice stick”) that I chose were to boil for 3-4 minutes, not longer. After 4 minutes they were still very hard; I had to boil for 6½ minutes, after which they were OK.


Hay! It's harvest time!
Topic: general Link here

The hay harvest has been harvested, and Yvonne has just bought some from Fiona Mitchell across the road:


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Image title: Yvonne 2          Dimensions:          3456 x 4768, 3185 kB
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There's plenty more where that came from:


This should be Hay.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hay          Dimensions:          4768 x 3456, 5434 kB
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Multimedia interface, modern style
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

One of the questions I was left with after yesterday's subtitle investigation was whether vlc can be controlled by anything except a mouse. I had discovered, mainly by accident, that it does interpret f to toggle full screen. So I went looking and found this simple explanation of how to Remote Control VLC. TL;DR: enable HTTP interface, select unrecognizable button, set up passwords, reconfigure firewall, download mobile phone app, and after potential troubleshooting you can remote control vlc with your mobile phone. The functionality appears to be limited to what you can do with a mouse, but unlike with a mouse, you need to look at the device to be able to control it.

Further investigation showed that there are also keyboard bindings, called “shortcuts” to confuse the unwary (I thought that was what Microsoft calls symlinks). They're not at all well described, and while going through the list I somehow managed to stop vlc from displaying the subtitles, and nothing I could do would reinstate them. If I can find a way to do it reliably, it might make a good alternative to mplayerif I can find a way to get it to save position when I exit.

By coincidence, while researching these issues, I discovered a reference to mpv, a fork of mplayer that might also be interesting, if I can bear examining it.


Thelymitra: flowered or not?
Topic: gardening Link here

I've only seen two of the dozens of Thelymitra pauciflora (sun orchid) plants trying to flower, and despite the hot weather, there are no more. But last year Emily Noble told me that this flower had already flowered:


This should be Orchid-outing-7-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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How do you tell? This is what I found today:


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Image title: Thelymitra pauciflora 1          Dimensions:          3456 x 4612, 2921 kB
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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. 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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