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April 2016
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Friday, 1 April 2016 Dereel → Corindhap → Dereel Images for 1 April 2016
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Still more garden work
Topic: gardening Link here

Mick along today with a load of rocks for flower bed borders, but he didn't get round to do much with them. Instead he spent most of the day planting shrubs, not much helped by the bone-dry soil. We helped by heading off to Corindhap and coming back with another 20 Hebe “blue gem” to plant around the perimeter of the garden. We also got a free mumble, some kind of variegated New Zealand plant:


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I wonder what we can do with that. It would be nice to know how big it will get.

While I was in the mood, planted some daffodils. We seem to have more than we have space for.


Still more Microsoft pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

On with my attempts to mount remote CIFS file systems on damnation, my Microsoft “Windows” 10 VM, today. I hardly made any headway. What I did learn:

Following Microsoft's help pages is a waste of time. They really tell me to ask my friends! But though my friends know more about “Windows” than most, they weren't able to help. How about Google? One of the things I found on the way was this page, which suggests that it's related to VirtualBox, and offers suggestions that don't apply. But knowing that it's related to VirtuaBox is an advance in itself. Maybe there's something in the copious VirtualBox documentation. For today, that was enough pain.


Saturday, 2 April 2016 Dereel Images for 2 April 2016
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Another Jim Lannen event
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Woke up at blank this morning. No power. Another bloody power failure? No, another bloody Jim Lannen event: RCD tripped, UPS drained. And that in the middle of my monthly complete backup, which takes 10 hours! I also lost the last half of a TV recording. What a pain it is to keep power up in this household!

That gave me a chance to repeat the backup, of course. Just backing up my own home directory showed me how much CPU goes into compression:

 
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That wasn't the end of the backup. This one took about 40 hours of CPU time. Using my favourite comparison of the CDC 7600, with the rationale I discussed a couple of months ago, this appears to be equivalent to over a year of CPU time. And reconsidering, is eureka really only 60 times as fast as a 7600?


Quiet day
Topic: general Link here

Yvonne off with Chris Bahlo to Ballarat today for a Rural Lifestyle Expo, and somehow I didn't get much done at home. Had intended to go to Ballarat myself to get some stuff for the garden, but there was bread to bake, so postponed.

One of the results of the Expo, and also tomorrow's “Extreme Cowboy” activities in Rokewood, Victoria (which always suggests “redneck” to me), was that Margaret Swan was here again. Another fun dinner.


Sunday, 3 April 2016 Dereel Images for 3 April 2016
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Understanding house wiring
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Jamie Fraser asked today about what it would take to fix the RCD issues. He seemed to think that we'd have to open up the walls. Clearly a couple of photos will help explain the situation. The switchboard is in the garage (thank God for that, too, given the number of times I've had to get to it in the middle of the night!):


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Like all domestic Australian switchboards, it has a cover which, once removed, gives access to the wiring:


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From left to right we have the main switch (with the red toggle), an RCD with a blue toggle that I hadn't noticed before, then the four power switches for the UPS outputs, then the main RCD. This is the one that continually trips.

Without taking all the wiring apart, it's not clear exactly how the thing is wired, but clearly the left-hand RCD is connected to the UPS output, and feeds the circuit breakers to the right. The input comes in from above somewhere, at any rate not from the main switch. So my current guess is that the main RCD serves everything except the oven and the air conditioner, but including the UPS. And clearly it's overloaded; the slightest power fluctuation seems to be able to trip it. The whole system isn't as supple as the sign claims.


Air conditioner problems?
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Today was one of those days where I had to heat in the morning. We had an overnight low of 6.5°, which, in this wonderfully well insulated house, meant an inside temperature of 17.5° inside when I got up. We aim for temperatures between 21° and 24.5° or so, and during the day it went beyond that. Time for cooling, in different zones from where we had been heating.

But the air conditioner didn't start. When I turned off the kitchen zone, I got a display E5. Error message? While I was looking at it, the whole control system powered down. Tried again, a couple of times. At one point I then got a display E29 on the main display (to the right of the kitchen control panel, as shown below). Again powered down.


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My first guess was that the control system had got itself confused. There have been enough bugs, including the one above, which shows conflicting information between the two panels. The kitchen panel on the left claims to be powered on, while the main panel claims that all are powered off.

So: Microsoft solution? Reboot, replace, reinstall? I could only do the first, so powered down the system at the switchboard, hearing the telltale psssssh from the compressor in the process. Powering on again gave a click from the outside unit, presumably a relay.

Inside again, turned on. Nothing, but at least it didn't power down any more. Then I remembered that, for some reason, the system always waits about a minute before doing anything. And sure enough, after a minute it started and worked, though it restored the zone status of before I had started changing the settings.

So? Glitch or bug? One for Karl Waldron to investigate.


Electrical dangers
Topic: Stones Road house, animals Link here

Apart from the switchboard, we also have a meter box outside the house, big enough to hold a switchboard. But the most dangerous thing in there isn't the power:


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That's a Redback (Latrodectus hasselti), known in most of the world by its less colourful species Black widow.


Monday, 4 April 2016 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 4 April 2016
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Flat tyre!
Topic: general Link here

Yvonne's car has a flat tyre. Once that was nothing unusual, but looking back, it's the first time in this millennium that we have had a flat tyre without some kind of obvious external influence. The last flat tyre in a car was 11 years ago as the result of particularly bad roads, not the issue here.

How do you change a tyre on a Holden Commodore? Slowly and uncomfortably. Just finding the jack position was complicated, and the first time I got it wrong. And the jack was particularly hard to use. Most of my flat tyres were on Citroëns, not because of the make, but because that's what we drove when flat tyres were common. And they had the wonderful feature of a built-in jack. How I wished I had had that today.

The tyre isn't worth repairing; there's almost no tread left. Time to replace both rear tyres.


Power fail!
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Another power failure at 10:22 this morning. Another power failure at 11:56 this morning. Another power failure at 12:06 this afternoon. Another power failure at 12:27 this afternoon. Fortunately they were all short, but it looked like things could get worse. After the third one, called up Powercor, spoke with Michelle and was told that power would be restored at 13:30. Why do I get the impression that people aren't listening? In any case, it seemed that there was a widespread outage due to some issue in Buninyong, and 2,834 premises were affected, so under the circumstances I suppose we were lucky.

But what about the compensation for power outages? She told me that I would get paid $120 for 20 hours or more unscheduled outages in a calendar year, and that they'd do it automatically. Two problems: why only unscheduled outages? If scheduled outages were included, I suspect we'd have far fewer of the long outages we have been seeing lately, like the nearly 6 hours last month.

But the other thing is that we did have over 20 hours of unscheduled outages last year, and there was no automatic compensation. Omitting momentary and scheduled outages and outages where I'm not sure of the time, we have:

Date Time Duration Recovery time Comments
3 January 2015 16:58 2:15 2 hours Difficulties bringing computers back up
6 February 2015 10:20 11 minutes 1½ hours
2 May 2015 17:50 1:10 3 hours Extensive fsck
4 May 2015 2:20 1 hour 1 hour eureka UPS failed. Start time an estimate.
3 September 2015 23:40 10:17 2 hours
18 September 2015 9:58 5:5 30 minutes
18 November 2015 5:28 3:35 1 hour Emergency generator needed, network problems on power restoration
Total 23:33 11 hours

So where's my compensation? We were paying meter rent for both premises for the entire time, and I haven't heard anything. How many other people are in the same boat?


JG King kitchens, again
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Last week I compared the kitchen appliances at Chris Bahlo's house and here. The results were surprising: her el-cheapo installation was much better than ours, for which we paid nearly $1000 extra over and above the standard installation. What does JG King's standard installation look like? Into town for shopping, and on the way dropped in on their display home in Lucas to compare. How about that, pretty similar to Chris', and very different from what they installed here. From left to right ours, JG King's and Chris':


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In particular, all the issues that we have with our current stove don't apply to the standard issue: the depth of the cooking area is 50.5 cm, compared to Chris' 53 cm and our 40 cm, the wok burner is in the middle, the hot burner is in the front, and there's ample distance (20 cm) from the back burners to the back of the stove.

I had intended to test the hood as well, but I couldn't get my anemometer to work. I had had trouble with it when I got it, but this time nothing I tried worked. All I could do was to confirm that I could feel air flow from the side panels of the hood, something I can't do with our own. And in general the hood looks better:


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So JG King do supply reasonable kitchen appliances, even as standard. Why do I get such inferior quality after paying a premium of nearly $1,000? My guess is that the people who do the specials aren't as careful as the people who do the standard fare.


Air conditioner issues
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Called up Karl Waldron today, who told me that errors E5 and E29 are related to power issues. As if to prove his point, after one of the power failures I got an error 5 display. Told him about the other issues with the controller, though I'm not sure I got my point across. But he suggested I perform a “self learn mode” activation, and sent me instructions:


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Particularly item 3 fills me with confidence in the instructions. Followed them anyway and noted a number of things that weren't mentioned:


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After pressing “FAN CONTROL”, the zone controller displays the characters “Fan” in 7 segment representation, and the main controller shows “LOW MED HIGH”, with HIGH blinking. When it finishes, it displays E5 as advertised, but now LOW blinks. After a while the fan goes off and it displays E3, then powers off completely. On (manual) power-on, most settings are preserved, but in my case all zones were turned on except for zone 5. I can't see an explanation for that.

Will this fix my problems? I don't think so. But, as Karl said, it can't do any harm.


New tuner cable
Topic: multimedia, opinion Link here

The tuner cable I ordered for my new USB tuner has arrived. Not quite what I expected:


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The antenna connector is the wrong size. Damn! How did I make that mistake? It would be good to remember the names of the connectors.


New tyre gauge
Topic: general, opinion Link here

One of the things that irritated me changing the tyre today was that the hose tyre inflator is so old and worn out. It no longer sealed properly, and holding it in place was a pain. Time for a new one:


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Bunnings didn't have the hose alone, just entire inflators. Still, they're not very expensive, and the inflator also has a tendency to jam. So: digital ($40) or analogue ($18)? In the end I decided on the digital thing because the analogue one had scales in all sorts of obsolete units, making it unnecessarily difficult to read.

Back home, took a look. They thoughtfully supplied batteries, and the instructions were obvious:


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Which way round? Normally you put them with the negative side (smaller contact) down. Tried that, and it didn't work. But how about that, they fitted just as well the other way round:


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And it worked just as well. While investigating, found the answer:


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One each way round! And how many people (especially people likely to purchase this device) know which side of the battery is positive and which is negative?

Of course putting them both in the same way round isn't going to damage the electronics, and it worked. But then there was step 2: “Purchase a 1/4" bsp male air fitting”. Why? These things all have the same fittings:


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Why did they put the wrong fitting on it? Used the hose on the old inflator, and it worked well. Maybe I should just take the whole thing back.


New battery technology
Topic: general, opinion Link here

I'm still waiting for the price of Lithium batteries for solar energy to come down, and today I heard of a new technology: Zinc–bromine batteries, which this article calls Zinc bromide batteries. It talks of an Australian company called Redflow which is marketing them for domestic solar energy storage. But the thing that caught my eye was the name of the CEO: Simon Hackett, along with a photo showing that we're not the only people getting older. I can't have seen him for over 10 years. And of course things aren't as rosy as they seem, as the article above says:

Even so, at an estimated installed price, including an inverter, of $17,500 to $19,500 including GST, the return on investment for ZCell, as for other batteries, was "pretty marginal", said Mr Hackett

Still, something to investigate.


Tuesday, 5 April 2016 Dereel Images for 5 April 2016
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Still more garden work
Topic: gardening Link here

Mick along again today for another 6 hours of garden work. No wonder I can't be bothered to do it myself: it's a lot more work than I ever imagined. Now we have all the plants planted, and the irrigation lines are in place, but we still don't have the drippers. I suppose I'm going to have to do that myself.


Powercor refunds?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Call at 15:28 from Dana of Powercor, phone number 03 9683 4215, to tell me yes, I am eligible for a refund, and it happened two months ago to my electricity retailer, mumble Energy. $100.

Huh? I'm not with mumble Energy, the sum is $120, and there were two premises involved. Dana claimed that mumble Energy is the old name of my energy retailer, Red Energy—the computer hadn't been updated yet. She wanted to know what made me think I would get $120. Simple: that's what Michelle told me. Clearly she didn't know what was going on, and wanted to check. I suggested that she check the rest more carefully to be sure that I didn't find any further holes in her actions. Ah, I should forgive human error.

Time to do some checking. Sadly, she's right with the $100, as this page shows. But mumble Energy? Red Energy has been in existence only since 2004, and they've been called Red Energy at least since 2007, when I signed up with them. I can't find anything on line that suggests they ever had a different name. And even if they did, isn't 8 years enough time to update a database of your energy suppliers?

What a company!


Correct connector?
Topic: multimedia Link here

More investigation of antenna connector types. It seems that the connector to the tuner is a male MCX connector, and the other end is a male F connector. Another order on eBay, another 3 weeks to wait. And though these adapters are cheap (this one cost US $3.50 including postage), they cost nearly half the price of the tuner.


Wednesday, 6 April 2016 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel
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New tyres and nitrogen
Topic: general Link here

Into town today to have the tyres changed on Yvonne's Commodore. $89 per tyre, including balancing. But if I want nitrogen in the tyres, it'll cost another $5. Why? And why nitrogen? They tell me it leaks less—not a particular issue with modern tyres, as I have observed—and that the ride is smoother. Clearly I'm going to have to investigate, but where do you get nitrogen to top up the tyres?


Not much gardening stuff
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

While in town, Yvonne wanted to buy some new plants. Not the time of year, I said. But she still wanted them, so we looked around at Formosa. We brought some Alstroemerias from Kleins Road, but they all died. They grow like fury, but the one she found was quite a small pot for $16. Why so expensive? We left that.

Then there was lavender, against which we also decided for some reason. And tree guards were surprisingly expensive. So bought only a Mandevilla laxa and off to Masters to see what they had there. Almost nothing, just slightly cheaper bamboo stakes. Back to Formosa and finally bought the plastic for the tree guards. All in all, pretty much a waste of time.


Thursday, 7 April 2016 Dereel
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Still more subversion problems
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Rainer Hurling has trouble with Vigra since I tried to update it to the latest version (1.11.0). Time to try for myself. But now I have VMs, it's time to migrate stable to a VM. That's simple enough: follow the HOWTO. And then build a new world, now that FreeBSD 10.3 has been released.

The buildworld failed with missing definitions. I've seen that before: corrupted working copy of the Subversion repository. Another checkout? Simple. And yes, exactly the same kind of corruption that I had seen before, including files that had been updated before the branch point for stable/10:

-__FBSDID("$FreeBSD: stable/10/sys/fs/cd9660/cd9660_iconv.c 120492 2003-09-26 20:26:25Z fjoe $");
+__FBSDID("$FreeBSD: stable/10/sys/fs/cd9660/cd9660_iconv.c 166639 2007-02-11 13:54:25Z rodrigc $");

How can that happen? Last time I sent a message to the FreeBSD internal mailing list, but got no useful replies. Somehow this stuff is far too flaky.

I've also been having problems building ports. I build from a working copy there too, and only a week ago I established that I had had corruption there, and checked out a new working copy. And it's already broken! At least this time the dates aren't as implausible:

--- ports-2/archivers/libmspack/work/libmspack-0.5alpha/Makefile        2016-03-31 14:35:53.271310000 +1100
+++ ports/archivers/libmspack/work/libmspack-0.5alpha/Makefile  2016-04-07 17:39:49.311551000 +1000

But how can people work with this broken software? And why does nobody seem to care?


More ports pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

A couple of days ago I received mail from Carlos “Cartola” Carvalho telling me that the Hugin package was missing dependencies. Of course I had checked that long ago (partially after tripping over my own missing dependencies). But I had built from source, and Cartola had installed the binary package. So I tried it, and how about that, he's right: it didn't install the dependencies. I had discussed the matter with Edwin Groothuis, who told me of a make target I hadn't heard of:

=== root@stable (/dev/pts/1) /usr/ports/graphics/hugin 6 -> make run-depends-list
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/accessibility/atk
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/databases/sqlite3
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/devel/boost-libs
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/devel/desktop-file-utils
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/devel/gettext-runtime
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/devel/glib20
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/devel/gmake
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/OpenEXR
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/autopano-sift-c
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/enblend
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/exiv2
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/freeglut
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/gdk-pixbuf2
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/glew
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/gtk-update-icon-cache
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/ilmbase
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/jpeg-turbo
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/lcms2
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/libpano13
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/p5-Image-ExifTool
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/panomatic
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/png
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/tiff
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/vigra
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/lang/python27
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/math/fftw3
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/misc/shared-mime-info
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/x11-toolkits/pango
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/x11-toolkits/wxgtk28

And those include the ones that are missing.

So is this the wrong package? Went looking and found it at http://pkg.freebsd.org/freebsd:10:x86:64/latest/All/hugin-2016.0.0_1.txz. Dated only a few hours ago. Downloaded it and took a look. There's a file +MANIFEST in there in a format that is clearly not intended for humans, and which I don't understand, but after changing commas to \n I found things like:

"OpenEXR":{"origin":"graphics/OpenEXR"
"version":"2.2.0_5"}
"glew":{"origin":"graphics/glew"
"version":"1.13.0"}
"libpano13":{"origin":"graphics/libpano13"
"version":"2.9.19_1"}

These are clearly the dependencies, and all three of them didn't get installed. Why? This is beginning to look like a bug in pkg. Sent off another message to the ports list, and again didn't get any more insight, though Don Lewis pointed me to another make target that I didn't know, check-plist, which found “issues”:

====> Checking for pkg-plist issues (check-plist)
===> Parsing plist
===> Checking for items in STAGEDIR missing from pkg-plist
Error: Orphaned: %%DATADIR%%/data/blended_stacks.executor
Error: Orphaned: %%DATADIR%%/data/fused_layers.executor
Error: Orphaned: %%DATADIR%%/data/hdr_pano.executor
Error: Orphaned: %%DATADIR%%/data/normal_enblend.executor
Error: Orphaned: %%DATADIR%%/data/normal_smartblend.executor
Error: Orphaned: %%DATADIR%%/data/zeronoise.executor
Error: Orphaned: %%DATADIR%%/xrc/data/ptbatcher_pause.ico
Error: Orphaned: %%DATADIR%%/xrc/data/ptbatcher_pause.png
Error: Orphaned: %%DATADIR%%/xrc/data/ptbatcher_running.ico
Error: Orphaned: %%DATADIR%%/xrc/data/ptbatcher_running.png
===> Checking for items in pkg-plist which are not in STAGEDIR
===> Error: Plist issues found.
*** Error code 1

Since the installation normally works, that begs the question what good pkg-plist is. But clearly something easy enough to fix.


Dead pear
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Last year I was amused by this image:


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“Pear” is the translation of German „Birne“, which means either pear (obviously) or light globe. But this has come back to bite us. Today one of them died. At a guess it ran for less than 2 hours a day for about 300 days. That's considerably less than the reliability of obsolete tungsten globes. When I changed it, it was very hot, almost too hot to touch. Is this what I get for buying cheap globes?


Nitrogen? No thanks
Topic: general, opinion Link here

My mention of filling car tyres with nitrogen caused some interest on IRC. In the process, found this page, which pretty much sums up my concerns. Basically, a marketing gimmick, nothing more.


Friday, 8 April 2016 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 8 April 2016
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Fixing Hugin package
Topic: technology Link here

My mail to the ports mailing list about the Hugin port bore some fruit. Don Lewis discovered, with the help of Yet Another Makefile target (check-plist) that the pkg-plist file contained errors. How could that be? I used some other recommended method to build it. But he had also verified that, at least for him, that after rectifying this problem and building a new package, it installed all the dependencies. So at least pkg was not behaving correctly. First let's see if the package does now work.


Money from Powercor
Topic: general Link here

Call from Dana at Powercor today, confirming what she said on Tuesday: the refund of $100 had been sent to my energy retailer for Stones Road, and she would send me a cheque for Kleins Road. And it could take 2 weeks. But then, everything seems to be slow at Powercor.


Castrating Nikolai?
Topic: animals Link here

Nikolai was born an almost perfect example of the Borzoi breed. Ron Frolley was really unhappy about his one (but serious) defect: he was a cryptorchid. But recently I heard somebody claim that undescended testicles could cause cancer (can't everything?). It was my understanding that Ron had spent a lot of money on Niko, and that he had probably had the testicles removed.

Still, worth checking. Yvonne asked Sally Stasitis if he had been castrated, but she didn't know. She suggested that we call the vet, Maroondah Veterinary Clinic in Croydon, Victoria, phone +61-3-9870-0303. Called them up. No, they had only seen him once and referred him to the Monash Veterinary Clinic, phone +61-3-9544-7455. Called them up and discovered that they have nothing to do with Monash University except the location. But they were able to confirm yes, he had had the testicles removed. All went surprisingly smoothly.


More new pussies
Topic: animals, food and drink, general Link here

Two weeks ago Melinda Radus offered us a cat that Yvonne wanted to have, and Kelly Daly offered to bring it with her from Adelaide. But in the meantime Melinda found another cat which Yvonne also liked. The original one, Kito, is 3½ years old, while the new one is 16 weeks old. Chris Bahlo was also in the market, so in the end we arranged to buy both and fight over who gets which.

We received copious paperwork in the meantime, including Melinda's guess at which cat we would take: she called the new one Adelhills Rhani MS Lehey.

We had planned to meet Kelly for dinner at Gary and Chris Daly's in Delacombe this evening, but things didn't quite work out like that: Kelly had an eye problem and had to have it looked at at an opthalmologist. The problem proved to be a false alarm, but it meant that they didn't leave until about 17:30, and (as we later discovered) they arrived in Ballarat round 23:30, by which time we had gone home again. We arranged to pick up the cats tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, we had dinner with Chris and Gary. It seemed it didn't come for free. Yvonne had to make some Aïoli for Chris:


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Saturday, 9 April 2016 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 9 April 2016
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New pussy
Topic: animals Link here

Off early to Ballarat this morning to pick up the cats. That all went smoothly, and we brought them back home and put them in the bathroom:


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Which one to take? Kelly had suggested that the little one (“Rhani”) had a better head shape, and I can agree with that, so in the end we decided on her.


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It took Piccola over half an hour to discover her presence:


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For the rest of the day we let her walk around. As always, she hid in all sorts of unexpected places, and by evening she still hadn't really come round. But Melinda told us that she was shy; we're used to that


Dereel Camera Crew, month 2
Topic: photography, general, opinion Link here

Off to the Dereel hall in the afternoon for the Dereel Camera Crew meeting. This time Lisa (the coordinator) wasn't there, but Paul Shire (the professional photographer) was:


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That photo illustrates at least two things that he was talking about: backlighting and using a sheet of paper to lighten the shadows.

And the third? Always use a lens hood. And indeed, everybody except myself had a lens hood on their camera, in some cases reversed. I beg to differ, especially with zoom lenses, where the hood has to be designed to not cut off the edges when the lens is set to its minimal focal length. At the maximum length, it's not much help, as these three photos against the sun show. At least one was taken with no protection, and one with my hand shading just outside the field of view:


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Unfortunately, I forgot to note which was which, and I really can't tell the difference. There are more extreme cases, of course, like these two from my House photos:


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Run the cursor over either image to switch to the other image. The trees in the background and part of the soil in front of the plant boxes looks better without the sun.

Other lenses are more susceptible, as I noted years ago. But then I also noted that the lens hood didn't really help.


Computer for the Men's shed
Topic: technology Link here

While I was at the photo meeting, Doug Braddy from the Dereel Men's Shed came over and asked me to come and visit him afterwards. It's the first time I've been in the new shed, but for some reason I didn't take any photos.

What he wanted was: the shed had received a donation of a ThinkCentre with a 2.13 GHz Core 2 6400 (Passmark 1299), 2 GB memory and Microsoft “Windows” XP. No keyboard, no mouse. And he wanted a more modern “Windows” on it. OK, modulo license key I can do that, though when I took it with me, it wasn't clear what the configuration was, nor whether it could handle “Windows” 7 in a timely manner. We'll find that out tomorrow.


Dinner with Melanie Bahlo
Topic: general Link here

Chris Bahlo's sister Melanie is here for the weekend, alone today, with family for tomorrow and Monday. She came over for dinner, but for some reason (again) I didn't take any relevant photos.


Sunday, 10 April 2016 Dereel Images for 10 April 2016
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Another RCD trip
Topic: general Link here

Lying awake at 3:34 this morning, I head a faint beep. I've heard too many of them. Out into the garage. Yes, the RCD had tripped again. I had intended to put together a catalogue of everything Jim Lannen did wrong and present it to him, but I think I'm going to have to get him to come here to fix this particular problem really soon.


More fun with Microsoft
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Spent some time looking at Doug Braddy's computer today. To my surprise, found an original Microsoft disk for “Windows” 7 “Home Premium” (is that a prize or a price?), so installed that.

Why is Microsoft so slow, and why is there so much disk activity at startup? In this case, it seems that 2 GB memory is pretty minimal for “Windows” 7, and it was swapping its little heart out. But the most interesting thing was “Internet Explorer”'s reaction to my attempt to download firefox:


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That's amazing.

Spent the rest of the day trying to update the system. It takes forever! And it doesn't stop the system from hibernating, so in the end I had to turn it off and wait until tomorrow.


Monday, 11 April 2016 Dereel Images for 11 April 2016
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Microsoft pain: over
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Came into the office this morning to find that the Men's Shed computer hadn't finished installing updates:


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How did that happen? All that was running was the Task Manager and the “Windows” Update. Stopped that and wasn't able to install the updates: an update was in progress. How do I get past that? Not only did rebooting not help, it wasn't possible: shutdown hung trying to install those updates that had been downloaded. And I couldn't power down either, because the power button was set to “Sleep”. In the end I had to pull the power plug.

Come back up again—same message! It offers help, of course, but I know how much help that is (“Ask one of your friends” is really one suggestion I have seen). But I followed it and eventually came to this page, which really was helpful. In a nutshell:

After that and the inevitable iterative approach to installing updates, everything went well. Enough community spirit for one month.


Olympus “Air” usage
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

43rumors posted an article on all the normal and strange things you can do with the Olympus AIR today. I've always thought the Olympus AIR to be a silly idea, and maybe Olympus does too: neither I nor Google could find it on asia.olympus-imaging.com, the site I usually quote. The photos rather prove my point. Here my favourites:

http://www.43rumors.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/c1.jpg http://www.43rumors.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/06.jpg

Clearly what's missing is a housing. But then you can buy a camera with a well-thought-out housing and interface already.


Electricity bill
Topic: general, opinion Link here

The quarterly electricity bill arrived today. No mention of the refund that Dana mentioned last week. These people are really annoying.


Hugin dependencies: still not working
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So now the FreeBSD ports system has had time to build a new Hugin package, so tried reinstalling it. Sure enough, the package at http://pkg.freebsd.org/freebsd:10:x86:64/latest/All/ is now portrevision 2. And it still doesn't install the dependencies. It looks like this still could be my problem, but clear error checking from pkg would help immensely.


Amazing Moiré
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Taking photos of computer displays isn't easy. Both the display and the camera sensor consist of discrete elements, and the potential for Moiré is enormous. But today I had a case that beat anything I have ever seen:


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It's so bad that DxO Optics “Pro” wasn't able to start fixing it.


More Hibiscus photos
Topic: photography, gardening, opinion Link here

More nice Hibiscus rosa-sinensis flowers are blooming. I should be working on calculating the focus steps, but working my way through Perl code makes my head hurt, so today I tried guesswork. The following photos were taken with different apertures and different focus steps:

Number       Aperture (f/)       Focus step
1       2.8       1
3       5.6       1
4       11       1
6       2.8       3
7       2.8       5
8       8       5


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As usual, there are a number of things to note:


Acclimatizing Rani
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Gradually Rani is coming out of her shell, but it's a slow process. As Melinda advertised, she's somewhat timid, and it took her a while to get used to us at all. She spent much of the day in Yvonne's office, closely watched by the dogs:


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In the evening we let her out in the lounge room, where she promptly investigated all the hiding places, including under Yvonne's armchair:


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But come time to go to bed, there was no sign of her. We pretty much dismantled the armchair:


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But no sign. Left her there in the hope that she would come out some time.


Tuesday, 12 April 2016 Dereel Images for 12 April 2016
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More Rani acclimatization
Topic: animals Link here

Got up a couple of times in the night looking for Rani, somewhat concerned that she might have suffocated in her hiding place, but it wasn't until morning that Yvonne found her. Clearly a particularly timid little kitten. Spent some time discussing whether we should borrow Kito from Chris Bahlo, but in the end decided that it would be better not to.

In the course of the day she came around. One of the issues was that the dogs are so fascinated by her:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20160412/big/Dogs-and-Rani-9.jpeg
Image title: Dogs and Rani 9          Dimensions:          4758 x 3456, 2992 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20160412/big/Dogs-and-Rani-43.jpeg
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Piccola is gradually coming round, though of course it'll take a while:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20160412/big/Yvonne-Rani-Piccola-2.jpeg
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Looking back to the last time (Lilac, Piccola) and the time before that (Lilac, Fluffy) it seems that the initial acceptance takes about a week, but it takes over a month before they're real friends.


Poaching eggs
Topic: food and drink Link here

Yvonne suggested this morning that we eat poached eggs for breakfast. For some reason people have trouble with this dish, so today I tried to take a video of the process:


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More video processing
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Somehow I can't handle video well. The poached egg video was pretty bare-bones, but I had really wanted to join two together. A couple of years ago I thought I had found a way to do that, but for some reason it didn't work today. Oh, to find some good free video editing software, not to mention the motivation to improve my recordings. Somehow it's a completely different field from still photography.


Preventing “Windows” hibernation
Topic: technology Link here

Mail from Daniel Nebdal today:

As a short workaround to windows 7 hibernating when you least want it to:
If you press Win/Meta + X , the "mobility center" should pop up. From
memory, the rightmost item on the lower row is "presentation mode". Turn
that on, and it won't even suspend the monitor until you disable it again.
I think it's meant for really long presentations, but as long as it works
etc.

In fact I had simply turned off hibernation in the Control Panel, but it's good to remember tricks like this one.


Wednesday, 13 April 2016 Dereel Images for 13 April 2016
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More HTML5 pain
Topic: technology Link here

I've complained in the past about problems using HTML5 to display videos, and I've found ways to revert to flash. But I forgot to document them! My latest install on eureka uses HTML5 because it has the power to do so.

But there are still downsides in using HTML5, notably the lack of nagivability. How do I get back to flash again? Once, it seems, it was enough to go to about:config and set media.webm.enabled to false, as this (unnecessary) video shows. The instructions are in the comments.

Unfortunately, that no longer works. The real solution appears to be this firefox addon. With that, it's several times faster (and only about 10 times slower than mplayer) and I get my navagibility back.

Why is this stuff so inefficient?


The use of lens hoods
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

On Saturday, Paul Shire told everybody: “Remember, always use a lens hood”. I disagreed, and to prove the point made these three photos against the light (the sun just outside the field of view):


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In sequence, the photos were taken without a lens hood, with a lens hood, and with my hand shading the lens. It's clear that the lens hood makes a minor difference, but in general it's not worth the trouble, especially when you consider the size:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20160413/big/Camera-without-lens-hood.jpeg
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Rani acclimatization
Topic: animals Link here

Rani is gradually becoming less timid, but the dogs are looking after her anyway:


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I'm a little concerned that Leo sometimes bares his teeth when playing with her:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20160413/big/Acclimatizing-Rani-12.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20160413/big/Acclimatizing-Rani-13.jpeg
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I suspect (and hope!) this is just in play.


Cartola panorama instructions
Topic: photography Link here

Carlos “Cartola” Carvalho has just produced a couple of YouTube videos, mainly text (Portuguese and English):

There's some interesting stuff in there. Again I'm left wondering if YouTube is the correct medium, but he does show some animated screen shots, so it's probably not the worst choice.


Thursday, 14 April 2016 Dereel Images for 14 April 2016
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Can openers and POLA
Topic: food and drink, general, opinion Link here

Cooking ayam lemak this afternoon. That involves a can of Woolworths Coconut Cream, one of the few cans that no longer has a pull opener. For that, we have a can opener:


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