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Thursday, 18 January 2018 Dereel
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NBN outage follow-up
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Call from Will at Aussie Broadband today, following up on my problem report yesterday—after 24 hours! I would have expected a more timely response, but as it was, of course, the problem “went away” without help from Aussie or me.

Interesting discussion, in which he asked for more information, including MAC address (why?) and confirmation that the interface was configured for autonegotiation. All that comes from the ifconfig output, and of course we were able to confirm that it was correct.

He also considered the possibility that the issue was congestion. That's possible, of course, but it would have had to be between the ODU and the POI (National Broadband Network-speak for Outdoor Unit, the antenna on our roof, and Point of Interconnect, where they connect to other networks). And that should be significantly overdimensioned. In addition, the times of day weren't exactly typical for high traffic.

Also discussed typical latency across the link, and he came up with pretty much what I experience: 15 ms to 50 ms. And that seems to happen at random. We considered that probably there are multiple internal connections between the tower and POI, and that they could be used at random. That could also have a bearing on the problem.

Before sending in the additional information, though, I needed to fix up my network statistics page, which has been broken for a long time. I didn't realize how long: I had commented out the update of the weekly stats in April 2015, before we moved to Stones Road. And the other ones no longer worked, because gnuplot has changed its understanding of dates—or so it seems. Somehow these plots are really hard to understand.


Carry a camera!
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

When I was a lad, some entity in the UK, probably Amateur Photographer, came up with the slogan “Carry a camera!”, and I very much went along with it. In general, I have done so again since I got my first digital camera nearly 20 years ago. But in the last couple of years I have changed my handbag and my cameras, and things no longer fit. Yesterday I was caught out without a camera when I took the photos of the vegetables, and it shows. Peter Jeremy asked me why I didn't carry one again.

Why, indeed? After all, I have the Olympus E-PM1, and with the Panasonic Lumix G 20 mm f/1.7 it seems smaller (though not lighter) than the old Nikon “Coolpix” 880 that I carried with me 15 years ago:


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Isn't the difference in monitor size impressive? The CoolPix appears to be bulkier, but in fact, at 5.56×10×7.82 cm, it has a box volume of only 434.8 cm³, while the E-PM1, at 6.94×11×6.54 cm, has a volume of 499.3 cm³. Still, it's comparable, so I'll try it for a while. It's also a good use for the 20 mm Lumix, a lens that I hardly use.

In the process, it's interesting to compare the cameras from a photographic point of view:

      880       Samsung phone       E-PM1       E-M1 Mark II
Date of manufacture       August 2000       2011?       February 2010       December 2016
Standard ISO       18°/50       19°/64       24°/200       24°/200
Maximum ISO       18°/50       19°/64?       42°/12,500       45°/25,000
Resolution       3 MP       8 MP       12 MP       20 MP

The interesting thing is that the E-PM1 is not that much newer than the CoolPix—it's nearly half its age. But in the 8 years since the E-PM1 was made, the parameters haven't changed that much. The OM-D E-M1 Mark II has 20 MP and a maximum ISO of 45°/25,000, not that big a jump for 7 years. Progress has moved to other features.


Opioid crisis
Topic: health Link here

Why did the doctors prescribe Yvonne two different medications, both of them containing oxycodone hydrochloride? And why was the one with additional ingredients (Targin) slated for consumption twice a day, while the other (Endone) “only” every 4 hours? And why did the pharmacist warn against overuse of Endone, but not of Targin?

Went looking. That was instructive on many levels. Oxycodone is one of the key drugs in the current US opioid epidemic. And that's all that there is in Endone. Targin, on the other hand, contains naloxone hydrochloride, which, to quote Wikipedia, is a medication used to block the effects of opioids. And that explains the statement on the box, which I have never seen before: “POSSESSION WITHOUT AUTHORITY ILLEGAL”.

OK, that makes sense. And then I discovered that Yvonne had been taking the Endone, but not the Targin. Why? Unclear markings, unclear recollection of what the doctor said. She switched, but that difference could have been serious. Once again: why don't we get the information in writing in the first place?


Heat and smoke
Topic: general Link here

Another hot day today, with a top temperature of 42°. Ideal bushfire weather. And towards evening we smelt (wood) smoke and saw haze. But where did it come from? The appalling bushfire general emergency map showed nothing within 30 km. And I've learnt better than to call the emergency numbers unless I can actually see flames (by which time, of course, it would probably be too late).


Trump of the week
Topic: politics Link here


Friday, 19 January 2018 Dereel Images for 19 January 2018
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The difference between life and death
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Decades ago Yvonne used to ride without a helmet. That terrified me, and I worked on her to ensure that she always used a helmet. That paid off. This is what the helmet looked like after her accident on Sunday:

 
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As it was, she didn't even have concussion. Without the helmet, there's a good chance that she would have been dead.


NBN: the experts
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday I added a link to the National Broadband Network web site in the outage article. I check all links, of course, but I wasn't prepared for this one:


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What an advertisement! And what grammar!


Dead pump
Topic: general Link here

Call from Jarrod at UPI today: the pump that I took in on Monday has has extensive water damage, and a repair isn't worthwhile. It seems that pumps aren't waterproof, and in particular the electrical side isn't protected against water. I wish they had told me that earlier.


Power fail! Fail! Fail! Fail!
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Today was the hottest day since I installed the weather station in this location: 43.5° maximum. Thank God for air conditioners! But round 14:45, the power failed. Out to start the emergency generator, which mercifully worked, and to hope that the failure wouldn't be long. The Powercor outage page was its usual useless self, showing the whole of post code 3352 blacked out, although the postal district has nothing to do with the distribution topology. The cause was “under investigation” for the duration of the outage, but the location kept changing: first Magpie, then Mount Clear, then the Buninyong-Mount Mercer Road, and finally (the way they put it):

Fault location: BUNINYONG GOLF CLUB - LEARMONTH STREET, BUNINYONG

As so often, all users south of Buninyong were without power, and they put in an estimated restoration time of 17:00, a brave estimate given that they didn't know what or where the failure was. Within 30 minutes, this had slipped to 18:00.

In the middle of all this, the generator stopped. I had half expected that: I hadn't filled the tank. Filled the tank, but nothing that I could do would restart the generator. And then I saw:

 
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What's that thing hanging down? On closer examination, it proved to be the spark plug lead. Where's the plug? From a normal perspective, you can't see it:

 
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But climbing on the ground, it's (barely) visible above the rocker cover:

 
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Why did it come off? It didn't seem to fit very well, and it wasn't the time to investigate. Put the thing back on again, and it started immediately.

The temperature in my office climbed, and by 16:00 it had reached 27.3°. And then the power came back, at 16:03! Not that bad after all.

It stayed on for nearly an hour, until 16:57, by which time the office temperature had only begun to drop. Then, while I was watching the news on TV, it failed again and didn't come back until 17:26. No change on the Powercor web site, apart from the location. This time I didn't reboot all the non-essential computers.

A good decision. At 18:29, while I was preparing quite a complicated evening meal, requiring the deep fryer, and with office temperature still at 26.4°, it failed again! Out to restart the generator, which had lost its spark plug lead again. Back in, and almost immediately the power came back, at 18:32.

On with dinner preparations. And then it failed again, at 19:22. More vehement cursing, but this time I had barely got back from starting the generator when it came back, at 19:24. And, oh wonder, it stayed on.

Should I complain about this? The last two outages suggest an electrician taking the power down briefly to do some repair work. The estimated restoration time had gradually increased to 19:30, and they actually kept to that. The alternative would have been to have had the power off all the time. At least this way we were able to run the air conditioner. The real issue is that there is no way to know what is going on.

Well, you could go to the fake news, in this case the Ballarat Courier, which knew that it was due to politics and the failure of a power station. And potentially that would explain the second outage: it seems that the station really did fail, round 16:00, as their update at 15:40 predicted. But why should it only affect people who had already had what appeared to be a localized power outage? I can blame Powercor for not explaining the cause of the wandering power failure, but I think that the Courier editors are extrapolating their expectations with little concrete evidence.


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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