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Thursday, 16 January 2020 Dereel Images for 16 January 2020
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Davey visits again
Topic: animals Link here

Kim Stanley is back at work (and she can touch her toes, something that I've never been able to do), so she brought her dog Davey along to spend the day today. I can see this becoming a frequent occurrence.


Old fogey works around mouse problems
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday I switched mice because of issues when changing screens. Things changed, but they're not fixed. The Jenkins mouse doesn't divulge passwords, but it does frequently select large parts of a window when deiconfiying it. Does this relate to multiple screens? I don't know. At some point I suspect the mouse driver; potentially the mice are noisy (part of being wireless?), and the driver should only accept a “key press” if it stays for more than a minimum period of time (milliseconds?). Maybe I should have another look at that mouse driver.

The feedback on IRC was interesting: I must be the last person using such old-fashioned software, X with multiple screens, let alone networking (something that I use a lot). It's insecure. What, inside your own local network?

Does the bug even have to do with multiple screens? Who knows? But why should multiple screens be old-fashioned? Maybe because there are bugs in the implementation, and the easy way out is to “deprecate” (“to pray for deliverance from”) the feature? That way stupidity lies.

Callum Gibson even pointed me to The real story behind Wayland and X , a video which I haven't looked at yet (45 minutes long). It's by Daniel Stone, apparently an X developer, though I've never heard of him. At the text states:

The X Window System has served UNIX and its derivatives admirably for longer than the presenter has been alive.

The description text doesn't mention multiple screens, though it does state “if you said that X's network transparency is a benefit, please come see this to hear about how that's totally wrong”. I should look at it, of course, if only to understand what constraints gave rise to that claim, but it's not clear that it has much bearing on the present issue.

More generally, I'm used to people telling me that my attitudes are old-fashioned. Sometimes they're even correct, but it seems to me that they're often just finding a convenient excuse for not having to think about my reasoning. Mobile phones, for example. I still can't find the messages that appear on my phone when the display is off. Since Android 9.0 they're at least legible if you see them before they disappear. But they're so brief that I can't even pull my phone out of my shirt pocket before they're gone, never to be seen again. That's progress?

In fact, I'm not an opponent of mobile phones. I got my first phone 30 years ago, before anybody else I knew had one. My issues are more specific, like the problem with the ephemeral messages or interpretation of screens like this:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200114/big/Screenshot_20200114-100202.png
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The content of the message is clear. But which is the one that I just received? When did I even receive the others? Which way round is it sorted?

Aah, an Android user knows instinctively. 10:00 means that it was received at 10:00, just like Saturday, 1 Jun. means... what? Checking with cal confirms that it was, indeed, Saturday 1 June 2019. And Monday, 29 Jul. means Monday, 29 July 2019, so the sort order is (surprisingly) chronological.

But why do they truncate? Why do they omit the year? Why do they omit the date today? Why is it impossible to get a basic Android display that shows seconds? In each case, there's plenty of space. Even the header on the page, showing the time to be 10:02, is too polite to show a date, so I only have the file name of the screenshot (Screenshot_20200114-100202.png) to tell me the date (and, as it turns out, the seconds). That stupidity is what annoys me. Does that make me old-fashioned?


Another grid power failure
Topic: Stones Road house, general, technology, opinion Link here

Another grid power failure today, probably 1 second at 10:27:04. For some reason my system didn't update the database from 10:25:14 until 10:27:58:

mysql> select * from powerstats where tstamp > "2020-01-16 10:25:12" limit 10;
+---------------------+-----------------+------+----------+--------+----------------------+------+------+---------+--------+-------+--------+-------------------+------+------+------+
| tstamp              | Id              | Pac  | SetPoint | Alarms | Status               | SOC  | VBat | PacGrid | PacBat | PacPV | FromPV | Codes             | W1   | W2   | W3   |
+---------------------+-----------------+------+----------+--------+----------------------+------+------+---------+--------+-------+--------+-------------------+------+------+------+
| 2020-01-16 10:25:13 | 127.0.0.1:502:1 | 1003 |        0 |      0 | On-grid              |   73 |  267 |       0 |    185 |   818 | 0      |                   |   -1 |    0 |    0 |
| 2020-01-16 10:25:14 | 127.0.0.1:502:1 |  975 |        0 |      0 | On-grid              |   73 |  267 |       0 |    134 |   859 | 0      |                   |  -15 |    0 |    0 |
| 2020-01-16 10:27:58 | 127.0.0.1:502:1 |  871 |        0 |      0 | Waiting to connect t |   73 |  268 |       0 |     77 |   813 | 0      | 00-00 00-00 00-10 |    0 |    0 |    0 |
| 2020-01-16 10:27:59 | 127.0.0.1:502:1 |  888 |        0 |      0 | Waiting to connect t |   73 |  268 |       0 |     72 |   816 | 0      |                   |    0 |    0 |    0 |
| 2020-01-16 10:28:01 | 127.0.0.1:502:1 |  897 |        0 |      0 | Waiting to connect t |   73 |  268 |       0 |     74 |   803 | 0      | 00-00 00-00 00-10 |    0 |    0 |    0 |
| 2020-01-16 10:28:02 | 127.0.0.1:502:1 |  896 |        0 |      0 | Waiting to connect t |   73 |  268 |       0 |     79 |   817 | 0      | 00-00 00-00 00-10 |    0 |    0 |    0 |
| 2020-01-16 10:28:03 | 127.0.0.1:502:1 |  884 |        0 |      0 | Waiting to connect t |   73 |  268 |       0 |     65 |   819 | 0      | 00-00 00-00 00-10 |    0 |    0 |    0 |
| 2020-01-16 10:28:04 | 127.0.0.1:502:1 |   23 |        0 |      0 | On-grid              |   73 |  267 |       0 |   -828 |   851 | 0      | 00-00 00-00 00-10 |  896 |    0 |    0 |
| 2020-01-16 10:28:05 | 127.0.0.1:502:1 |   34 |        0 |      0 | On-grid              |   73 |  267 |       0 |   -823 |   857 | 0      | 00-00 00-00 00-10 |  895 |    0 |    0 |
| 2020-01-16 10:28:06 | 127.0.0.1:502:1 |   45 |        0 |      0 | On-grid              |   73 |  267 |       0 |   -806 |   851 | 0      | 00-00 00-00 00-10 |  859 |    0 |    0 |
+---------------------+-----------------+------+----------+--------+----------------------+------+------+---------+--------+-------+--------+-------------------+------+------+------+
10 rows in set (0.00 sec)

I can't see that that's related to the grid outage.


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

The last few days have shown how much power the air conditioner uses. This concerned me since before we installed the photovoltaic system, and I'm still not happy. On the one hand, it makes perfect sense to power the air conditioner from the PV system: under many circumstances the highest power usage corresponds with the highest generation from the PV array. But what happens if the grid power fails in the middle of the night, where the battery charge is also the lowest, and the air conditioner turns on? It drains the battery, and everything turns off.

There's an obvious solution to the issue: make PV power to the air conditioner dependent on availability of the grid. A simple relay would do it. A refinement would be to override the relay: under normal circumstances a grid power failure would remove power to the air conditioner. That covers the middle-of-the-night scenario. But for the hot, sunny summer's day scenario, it would be nice to override it. Are there no such things available? Yes, says Nat McKay. Today he called me and asked what kind of extension power board I would choose for the 5 slot wide relay.

What? Surely you don't need anything that big. We have 2 slots free, and we're gaining another 4 slots by removing the global RCDs. Off to look, hampered by lack of knowledge of the terminology, but came up with at least a “Finder DPNC Non-Latching Relay DIN Rail, 240V ac Coil, 25 A”, part number 22.32.0.230.4420, which is rated for 230 V AC. Unfortunately the 25 A is correct. I need a 32 A switch, and the next size, which handles 40 A, has four switch contacts. But the 22.32.0.230.4420 has two contacts, presumably intended for different circuits. If we wire them in parallel, that should give a 50 A rating, more than enough. It looks as if we'll have to keep the circuit breaker anyway, since it doesn't offer that function. Time to talk to Nat? Or look further?


Smoke haze eases
Topic: general Link here

The weather has changed again, and the air has cleared up. Here yesterday and today:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200115/small/Smoke-haze-4-detail.jpeg
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Image title: No smoke haze
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Friday, 17 January 2020 Dereel
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Garden work
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Mick Solly, the gardener, along again this morning. On the positive side he significantly removed many weeds, and the place looks the better for it. On the negative side he sprayed the arena and the front of the house with weed spray, draining the battery of the sprayer until it was completely discharged—and then left the thing turned on. By the time I found it and put it on charge, it showed a voltage of 2.6 V, and no longer charged. That's the second dead weed sprayer in a little over 2 years. Clearly Mick isn't the bloke to spray weeds, but I never found time. Yvonne has offered to do so, as long as the thing weighs less. That might be the best choice.


Understanding Wayland
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

As planned, took a look at The real story behind Wayland and X , a video presented by Daniel Stone at linux.conf.au in Canberra in 2013. It was quite a disappointment. There was no description of functionality differences at all. Does Wayland support multiple screens? My guess is yes, but it's just a guess. Does Wayland support networking? Hard to say. The talk was somewhat rambling, and it pointed at known weaknesses in the X implementation, but it somewhat overstated the case. They were trying to get Wayland to the performance level of VNC. But VNC has terrible graphics performance, way behind X.

More to the point, the video is 7 years old. Why haven't we heard more?


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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