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Monday, 17 February 2020 Dereel Images for 17 February 2020
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Another grid power failure
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Another grid power failure at 01:51:58, again only one second.

Using the new weed sprayer
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Today was one of those rare days, warm but not overly hot (round 28°) and with relatively little wind (maximum 16 km/h). Just what we need for spraying the multitude of weeds. And now we have the new sprayer!

So I filled it up and went spraying. What went wrong? Nothing! That's so seldom that it's worth mentioning. OK, like anything of that shape, you need to be careful not to run it into your heels, but that wasn't too difficult to work around. And the thing has a nice long hose, about 3 m, which means that I can park it and spray a reasonable area, then move it on. For once something that seems worthwhile.

More weather station woes
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

I've had problems with my weather stations since I got the first one over 10 years ago. In particular, the communication between internal and external unit is flaky and inconsistent. Lately it has got to the point that communication fails for hours on end.

What can cause that? Battery problems seem the most likely, so I changed the ones in the internal unit. No improvement. The batteries in the external unit are self-charging via a tiny PV panel, but they can always fail. So out to take a look, replacing them with fully charged NiMH batteries.

No improvement. And the existing batteries (rechargeable Alkaline) showed a perfectly normal voltage. About all that I managed to do was to jam the thermometer cover so that I couldn't replace it properly.

What do I do? Replace the thing? The WH1080/1081 appears to no longer be on the market, though Daniel O'Connor tells me that his WH3080 is software compatible. But will it be any better? Or should I put the internal unit closer to the external unit, like in the lounge room (connected to teevee) or in Yvonne's office (connected to lagoon)?

Dammit, I don't need this pain.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020 Dereel Images for 18 February 2020
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End of the NBN threats
Topic: technology Link here

For as long as I can recall, when I signed in to my personal data on the Aussie Broadband site, I was greeted with this banner:
Image title: NBN fail
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It had become completely meaningless; there was always the threat of an NBN outage. But no more! It's gone!

Does that mean that the extreme pain of last week was a final fling? No more NBN outages? How I wish I could believe it, but I fear that there's more in store once they regroup and regain strength.

No FreeBSD mail?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

In the office this morning, found about 10 commit messages from the FreeBSD project. That's unusual: normally it's round 100 to 150. Did something go wrong?

The obvious first check was whether the messages had been filtered into a spam folder, especially since I had managed to shoot myself in the foot with my procmail configuration a while back. OK, check procmaillog, which shows what procmail has done. It's not easy to read:

procmail: No match on "Subject:.*skincare"
procmail: Bypassed locking "/var/mail/grog.lock"
procmail: Assigning "LASTFOLDER=/var/mail/grog"
procmail: Opening "/var/mail/grog"
procmail: Acquiring kernel-lock
procmail: Notified comsat: "grog@3000110:/var/mail/grog"
From  Mon Feb 17 22:00:22 2020
 Subject: svn commit: r526362 - head/www/py-flask-admin
  Folder: /var/mail/grog                                                   6724

That shows the end of filtration for one of the last messages I received. The whole thing is a couple of hundred lines long. The important thing is just that: the line with the number offset to the right (the message size, I think) is the last line for this message, and it shows that it was delivered to my inbox.

The next message is similar, but much shorter. Here the entire log:

procmail: [47393] Mon Feb 17 22:00:26 2020
procmail: Locking "/home/grog/Mail/backup.lock"
procmail: Assigning "LASTFOLDER=/home/grog/Mail/backup"
procmail: Opening "/home/grog/Mail/backup"
procmail: Acquiring kernel-lock
procmail: Unlocking "/home/grog/Mail/backup.lock"
procmail: Locking "msgid.lock"
procmail: Executing "formail,-D,65536,msgid.cache"
procmail: Assigning "LASTFOLDER=formail -D 65536 msgid.cache"
procmail: Unlocking "msgid.lock"
procmail: Notified comsat: "grog@:/home/grog/formail -D 65536 msgid.cache"
From  Mon Feb 17 22:00:26 2020
 Subject: svn commit: r526362 - head/www/py-flask-admin
  Folder: formail -D 65536 msgid.cache                                     6550

It took me some time to understand this. What it's saying (in a format that is more intelligible to it than the reader) is that it has passed the message through formail, and formail has discovered that the message has already been delivered: I got it from two different mailing lists. And this is a feature, not a bug: it stops me receiving duplicate mail messages.

But that was the last message I received. The time was local time, so it was nearly 12 hours ago. Problems with FreeBSD mail? After a while I went looking on the mail server and found (after some searching):

Feb 17 11:00:25 lax postfix/smtpd[39088]: connect from[]
Feb 17 11:00:25 lax postfix/cleanup[39090]: 29C35280D4: message-id=<>
Feb 17 11:00:25 lax postfix/qmgr[23420]: 29C35280D4: from=<>, size=6325, nrcpt=1 (queue active)
Feb 17 11:00:26 lax postfix/smtp[39091]: 29C35280D4: to=<>,[]:25, delay=1.4, delays=0.14/0/0.57/0.68, dsn=2.0.0, status=sent (250 2.0.0 Ok: queued as F193926358B)

This was the message that I had found in the procmaillog. But then the next message, 8 minutes later:

Feb 17 11:08:16 lax postfix/smtpd[39122]: connect from unknown[]
Feb 17 11:08:16 lax postfix/smtpd[39122]: NOQUEUE: reject: RCPT from unknown[]: 450 4.7.25 Client host rejected: cannot find your hostname, []; from=<> to=<> proto=ESMTP helo=<>

The reverse lookup had disappeared! Is that specific to lax, or general? It proved to be specific to lax:

=== grog@lax (/dev/pts/0) ~ 3 -> host
Using domain server:

Host not found: 2(SERVFAIL)
=== grog@ffm (/dev/pts/0) ~ 1 -> host
Using domain server:
Aliases: domain name pointer

In other words, it worked for, but not for, both using the (same) specified DNS server address. OK, a clear case for Vultr support. Sent off a ticket:

From server only, the address cannot be resolved:

$ host
Host not found: 2(SERVFAIL)
$ host domain name pointer

And after 40 minutes received a message

We made an adjustment, If you are still having issues please let us know

“An adjustment”. I wonder what. But it made no difference. Another response, and another reply (T+5:40):

Would you clarify this for us?  The issue is that *reverse* DNS for is not functioning, correct ?  The forward DNS for is working properly ?

Note that if you need an immediate solution, you can switch your DNS resolver in the instance to any other ( Cloudflare = , Google = , QuadNine = , and your ISP surely runs one as well).

Now doesn't that look as if they haven't read the message? It seems that I omitted to mention that was their delegated forwarder, but you'd expect them to know that, especially as it seems to be the same address (but different name server) at every location.

NBN giveth, Vultr taketh away
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

While entering the tickets for the DNS issues, discovered this exciting news, which the Vultrs had not seen fit to get to me by email:

Frankfurt Scheduled Maintenance - 2020-02-20
Event Type: Network Upgrade
Start Time: 2020-02-20 03:00:00 UTC
End Time: 2020-02-20 04:00:00 UTC

The Frankfurt network will be upgraded to provide network enhancements as part of ongoing efforts to provide excellent service and maintain an ideal hosting environment. A device reload may be necessary and some customers may experience brief periods of latency or packetloss while routes are updated across the redundant topology.

In fact, it was so well hidden that I could barely find it. So: ffm has been up for 744 days. At least it's over 2 years, but I had hoped it would live longer than that.

Tree mushrooms
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Seen down Progress Road, opposite Wendy McClelland's property:
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What are they? The one in the second photo (underside) is about 30 cm across. I don't suppose that they're edible.

Another grid outage
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Another brief grid power failure today at 12:31:39. I really should separate the ones where the inverter reports an “Off-grid” situation (which appears to take 2 seconds) from those where it doesn't. This one was the latter kind.

Video editors
Topic: music, photography, technology, opinion Link here

I've been looking for a video editor for some time now, and I'm even prepared to pay real money for a good one. Yvonne is in even greater need: since buying the PIXIO “Robot Cameraman”, she has clips with useless start and end portions, where she approaches the camera to turn it on or off. She asked Julie Lannen, who tells her that she uses Adobe Premiere Pro, presumably paid for by somebody else: it's expensive, but not nearly as expensive as she claims. But I've decided years ago that Adobe isn't for me. OK, off looking for other recommendations. For no particular reason, ended up at this page for free Linux video editors. After a bit of checking, it seemed that shotcut might be a choice. Does FreeBSD have a package? Yes. OK, install it on lagoon (while sitting at teevee in the lounge room).

The following 109 package(s) will be affected (of 0 checked):

New packages to be INSTALLED:
        shotcut: 19.12.16
        qt5-x11extras: 5.13.2
Installed packages to be UPGRADED:
        firefox: 70.0.1,1 -> 73.0_2,1
        mplayer: ->
        mpv: 0.29.1_11,1 -> 0.31.0,1
        postfix: 3.4.7,1 -> 3.4.8,1
        hugin: 2019.0.0_3 -> 2019.0.0_4

What a pain these dependencies are! But the installation went fine. Try to run it. Too-small window appeared, along with lots of debug output on the xterm. Then:

Abort trap (core dumped)

OK, this is probably a modern program that doesn't believe in networking. Started installing it on teevee, then checked locally on lagoon and got the usual dark grey display and lots of incomprehensible icons. But they all do that, and we'll have to go through the tutorials to understand how to drive the thing.

But then Yvonne came to me and asked me what had happened to firefox. Ah, right, upgraded, needs restarting. Nothing happened! Started from an xterm.

Segmentation fault (core dumped)

Scream! Deinstalled it, then reinstalled it. Same thing. And this on a system that was completely up to date two months ago! Now firefox is dead in the water. Gave Yvonne a Chromium to get by until I can salvage things, trying not to get too annoyed by Chrome's insistence on knowing better than me about window decorations.

Back to teevee, where the installation had been completed. Does it run there? No:

Cannot mix incompatible Qt library (version 0x50c02) with this library (version 0x50d02)

Dammit, doesn't anything work any more? That's what the dependencies are supposed to fix. Forget it: I don't really need it here.

Back to more usual things, music from Radio Swiss Classic

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/5) ~ 121 -> mpv /usr/local/bin/mpv: Undefined symbol "archive_read_support_format_rar5"

GRRRRR! And a deinstall/reinstall didn't work. I had to rebuild the package from source. At least then I had my evening's software.

What's wrong with this picture? I've been having this kind of problem for decades now, and though it sometimes seems to be getting better, this kind of problem happens again and again. It's interesting to note that the last system upgrade on lagoon, only 3 months ago, was because things went really wrong that time too.

Somehow I need to investigate file system snapshots. That way, when a port upgrade goes wrong, I can back it out until I find the problem.

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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