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April 2019
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Monday, 1 April 2019 Dereel
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Another power failure
Topic: general Link here

Another brief power failure at 7:34 this morning. That's an unusual time, and for some reason it tripped the non-UPS circuit breaker. Why? There's almost nothing on that circuit.


Understanding Google Maps messages
Topic: technology, language, opinion Link here

Peter Jeremy, a Google employee, noted something that I hadn't about yesterday's problems with Google Maps: I had selected public transport, and that was clear from the error message. Clearly there is no public transport between Lauchröden and Eisenach.

Is it? Isn't it? The error message was:

Sorry, we could not calculate transit directions from "Eisenach, Germany" to "Lauchröden, 99834 Gerstungen, Germany".

What is there in that message that says “public transport”? The only possibility would be “transit”, but that doesn't have any such meaning, outside Google at any rate. The OED states:

transit The action or fact of passing across or through a place; a passage or journey from one place or point to another.

And that applies equally to all the transport methods.

And is there really no public transport between Eisenach and Lauchröden? It's Germany, after all. And it didn't take long to find this page, which gives times and prices.

But in one point Peter is right: the bug is related to the choice of transport. Presumably Google Maps still doesn't have a good understanding of German public transport. And in passing I discover that I don't have a good understanding of Google's icons:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190331/big/Lauchroeden-detail-3.png
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What does that symbol really mean? Is it supposed to be a train? A bus? I can't tell, but most likely it's a train. What else does it include? Buses, clearly, but what about boats? And to the left there's a symbolized car and a right turn symbol. Both seem to give the same result. I've been using Google Maps for nearly 15 years, and I still don't understand it.


Solar energy installation confirmed
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Today I got an email from Effective Electrical confirming the installation date of the “solar system”: 14/04/19 and 18/04/19. Converting to canonical form, that's Sunday, 14 April 2019 and Thursday, 19 April 2019. Why that?

Ah, sorry, finger trouble. Should read 18 and 19 April. Only two weeks! I can hardly wait.


Goodbye, April Fools?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

In the past we've played various April Fool's jokes on each other, but this year, somehow, it didn't happen. We also didn't see any on the web. There seems to be a general feeling that it's an old, worn-out kind of joke.


Tuesday, 2 April 2019 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 2 April 2019
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More solar energy information
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Into town today to meet Tomas Kucera and Fyodor Torgovnikov to talk about details of the solar energy installation—I thought. When I got there, the place was deserted except for Fyodor Fred, who showed me a display of the two kinds of inverters that Tomas sells:


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The choice is either the two on the left or the one on the right. As I had guessed, Fyodor represents Ingeteam (the one on the right), but since I had already decided for them, that wasn't a disadvantage.

Much discussion, to the point that I was nearly late for my next appointment. Managed to get a feeling for how the inverter communicates with the world, via the Internet Protocol but not necessarily via the Internet, as they put it, using 802.11. It seems (I didn't follow through) that one mode of operation is to go via the Ingeteam web site in Spain. I wonder what kind of confusion gave rise to that model. Maybe to make it possible to access the data from a remote mobile phone? And there was certainly confusion about the IP addresses. He was able to communicate with the thing using his Microsoft “Windows” 10 laptop, a horrible thing that doesn't have a scroll function for the mouse substitute; instead you have to use the touch screen. It seems that the inverter uses the same RFC3927 range address that the Selectronic uses, in this case 169.254.1.1. But somewhere I saw an option to use DHCP, so hopefully I'll be able to sort that out.

And the second battery set? That's from the battery supplier, not Ingeteam. They're hoping for a supply in October, but Fyodor didn't sound overly optimistic. If for some reason they can't supply it, they can always take the existing battery back and install something from another supplier instead. It's interesting to note that the inverter uses high voltage Lithium-ion batteries, 256 V, but in fact it will run on anything with the correct voltage, including 21 lead-acid batteries. And that's how the defaults are set up, allowing for only about 50% discharge:


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One thing that he couldn't answer—surprisingly—was how to configure the thing to not discharge the batteries below a certain point as long as grid power was present, but to allow use of that charge when the grid fails. He noted that others had asked that too, and in principle the setup suggests that it should be possible. I got a mail message from him later in the day to confirm that yes, indeed, it's possible.


More physiotherapy
Topic: health, general Link here

Left Fyodor in a bit of a hurry to get to my physiotherapy appointment, and in fact made it just about on time. Things are looking better, and Heather gave me some exercises to do that should be more useful than the ones I had in the Dereel Hall, including one of dubious promise where I need to sit on a roll and move around:


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I don't know how much use that one will be.

While in town, also had a haircut.


Wednesday, 3 April 2019 Dereel Images for 3 April 2019
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Dollee Curry Laksa
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

One of the laksa pastes that I bought a while back carries the name “Dollee”:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190403/big/Chari-laksa-2.jpeg
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It looks genuine enough—the instructions on the back in Chinese and Malay are a good indication:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190403/big/Chari-laksa-1.jpeg
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But for some reason they have written, on the front,

 
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The characters are set strangely, but I read Cari laksa. Cari laksa? The Malay term, written elsewhere, is “Kari Laksa”. In Malay, the letter C is now pronounced like a ch: chari laksa, which coincidentally means “Look for (the) laksa” in Malay. I wonder why they did that.

And the results? It's OK. It's surprising how little difference there is between the individual brands. Next time I'll try another one that looks decidedly dubious: apart from only having half the quantity, it wants condensed milk in the sauce. I don't think I'll even bother trying that ingredient.


Android: smart!
Topic: technology, language, opinion Link here

For reasons I don't understand, my Android phone (taskumatti.lemis.com) keeps waking up, turning on the display, sometimes making a noise. It's not annoying enough that I have bothered to try to find out why. It does enough more annoying things.

Today, though, it excelled itself. Noted a display “NOKIA” on the screen (it is, after all, a Nokia 3). And it alternated with various error messages, tastefully not left there long enough for me to get really worried. One suggested that Android had crashed, but that was clearly so worrying that it didn't come again. The others looked like this:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190403/big/Android-crash-1.jpeg
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How about that, a real crash. There must be some way of resetting the thing. In the Good Old Days, removing the battery would have done it, but this has a non-removable battery. OK, off to the web to look for wisdom: reset hung android phone.

Ah, “hung” is an old, worn-out (if strong) magic word. Nowadays it's “hanged”, clearly a substitution made by some modern person who doesn't understand the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs, nor the difference between weak and strong verbs. But I found a solution anyway: Vol- and PWR together.

Problem: it didn't work. Phone seriously braindead? Tried the search again with the mention of the phone model, and came up with this page: press Vol+ and PWR together. And that worked, though not quite as described.

Huh? What stupidity could lead to such a flagrant violation of POLA? You'd almost think they were trying to annoy people. And yes, the suspicion of brain damage wasn't that far from the mark, though it didn't relate to the phone itself. But later I realized that there was a different issue at hand. Vol- and PWR now has a different meaning: take a screen shot. I wonder when they'll change it again to mean “perform factory reset, no questions asked”. So yes, braindeath and POLA violation, just on whose part?

The phone came back up, but clearly some things weren't the way they should be. In particular, Yvonne called from town, and not only did I not get my custom ring tone, I got no ring tone at all, and the phone didn't recognize the number. Further investigation showed that it had forgotten my entire contact list:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190403/big/Android-crash-3.jpeg
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OK, how do you download them? Shouldn't that happen automatically? At some point I received the message:


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OK, sign in. This horrible glass keyboard! And I had to go looking for my password, which was suitably complicated. The usual messing around, then it asked me whether I wanted to use the account I had signed in with, or a different account. Why? Pressed “Next” to select the account, and got:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190403/big/Android-crash-8.jpeg
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I've seen that before. And I saw it again, and again, and again. I couldn't find any way to sign in, nor any reason why I was taken back to the login page (of course Android is too polite to give reasons). I did, however, get email from Google:

 
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What does it mean, a new Nokia 3? It probably knows more about the device than I do. About the most interesting thing is that it now knows roughly where I am; previously it had me located up to hundreds of kilometres away.

OK, account recovery?

 
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Somewhere I got as far as entering my email ID:


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And, reminiscent of Schrödinger's cat, I was both logged in and not logged in:

 
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At least the explanation is different. OK, it's my guess that I'm not the first person who has been bitten by this. What advice do I get on the net? Many and varied, including the claim that I have disabled my Google account (wrong; it works everywhere else) and that I should delete the account and recreate it. And then suggestions that I should clear cache, along with incorrect paths through the maze of twisty little menus (presumably correct for a different but unstated version of Android).

Finally found out how to clear cache on my (Android 8.1) phone, rebooted (this is Microsoft, after all, isn't it?). No change.

OK, 30 minutes down, no closer to resolution. The cache issues, even if they're not what's biting me, point to bugs in Google's applications, and there's no obvious will to fix them. It would be quicker to reset the device to default and set up again. Did that.


Android from scratch
Topic: technology Link here

So I reset the phone and rebooted it. This time it seemed a good idea to write down the steps.

First, even before anything else, it asked me if I wanted to restore from the cloud. OK, if that works, it's probably the easiest way. But first it needed to connect to the Wi-Fi network, which, for some reason, took several minutes. Why? And then it found:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190403/big/Android-crash-20-detail.jpeg
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OK, that looks good (and makes me wonder why it thinks that this device is an “unknown Nokia 3”). Selected that and got quite a reasonable selection of things to restore:


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Why Telstra stuff? It can't have been bundled with the phone, which was supplied locked to Vodafone, and I certainly didn't install it. So why “Included”? And how so I say, “No, thanks, not with a bargepole”?.

Somewhere round here it wanted to know a phone number and get me to agree to the service terms—why now? And off it went with the information that I could continue setup.

Next was to set up the “voice assistant”. Oh, no, sorry, you've already done that. And in fact there wasn't much more to do except set the phone ring tone, not for the first time.

That was more complicated than I thought. It seems that I had downloaded them to the directory /storage/emulated/0/Music/, which is what's well hidden somewhere on the menus (I had expected something as simple as “Music”, but I don't have that; maybe I need to spend money to access it from the GUI). But in this case the directory was empty. It seems that I had had a problem with the microSD card:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190403/big/Android-crash-23-detail.jpeg
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Why that? It was working before. And why is it called “Portable storage”? What on this device isn't portable? OK, set it up again, and in contrast to last time (where it hung), this time it worked. OK, now upload the tones again.

And at this point the X display on eureka hung while trying to display the directory on the phone. Switched to the other server and shot down one firefox after another, before finding the real culprit:

USER   PID %CPU %MEM      VSZ     RSS TT  STAT STARTED      TIME COMMAND
grog 69481  0.0  0.1   125240   33928 v0  S     3:00pm   0:00.01 /usr/local/lib/nspluginwrapper/i386/linux/npviewer.bin

Finally I was able to download the tones and confirm that the settings menu automatically finds them in that location. But what else uses them? All I can find are things like “Play Mus..”, which wants me to pay money to look at something:

 
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I'll never understand this stuff.


Thursday, 4 April 2019 Dereel Images for 4 April 2019
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Flash for the kitchen
Topic: photography Link here

Sooner or later we'll finally have all the electrical updates done. One question that's open is whether we need to mount another flash unit somewhere to illuminate the kitchen better. One possibility would be on the corner from the hallway to the lounge. Today I tried that with a studio flash to match the existing unit on top of the (from this vantage point) left-hand fridge:


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How do I match the illumination? Both units are adjustable, but how? The existing one, a Godox Smart 300 SDI, with a maximum output of 300 J, has 6 settings, marked simply with bars (or, as the web page puts it, “LED Precise Power Display”, “8 steps”). And the test one, a Godox DE 400 (already a couple of years old and thus disowned by its maker), has a maximum output of 400 J and a scale reading from 5.0 to 7.0 in steps of 0.1. It seems that 1.0 on this scale represents 2 EV (why do they do these things?), so it seems that the 0.1 steps are steps of the tenth root of 4 (1.148, or 0.2 EV). So how do I set 300 J output? 0.4 EV, it would seem; that gives about 303 J.

Tried that and measured illumination in various places with five combinations. It's not quite clear what the bars mean on the old flash, and it's difficult to get precise readings because of the shadows I cast (and which I need to take into account when taking photos), but here are the results:


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  1. New flash 300 J. Aperture setting range 2 EV (f/6.9 to 13.5).
  2. Old flash 5 bars. Aperture setting range 1.4 EV (f/4.44 to f/6.8).
  3. Old flash 5 bars, new flash 300 J. Aperture setting range 1 EV (f/10.2 to f/14).
  4. Old flash 6 bars. I didn't measure all positions, but in some places it was f/4, not enough illumination, and in other places f/10.6, a range of 2.6 EV.
  5. Old flash 6 bars, new flash 200 J. Aperture setting range f/10.2 to f/12.2 (0.6 EV).

Clearly version 5 was the best, and it gave relatively even lighting:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190404/big/Kitchen-flash-1.jpeg
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Only the critical area round the stove was slightly underexposed, but that's really only visible before postprocessing. Here exposures at f/11 and f/8 before and after postprocessing:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190404/big/Kitchen-flash-5-orig.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190404/big/Kitchen-flash-5.jpeg
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So I think I can mount a flash unit there. It looks as if 200 J should be enough, and with that I can use f/9 or f/10 at 200/24° ISO, so the first stove photos was ⅓ EV to ⅔ EV underexposed anyway.


Air BBQ
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Yvonne bought some chicken skewers for experimenting with our newest “Air fryer”. It comes with a “skewer rack”, a rod with two plates for mounting each end the skewers.

It also comes with metal skewers for use with the rack, but our skewers were already on wooden, well, skewers. Would they fit? Yes, with unrelated issues:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190404/big/Air-fried-skewers-3.jpeg
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The plates hold 10 skewers, so they're at 36° intervals. The central shaft has a square cross-section, and it's possible to mount the plates in any orientation. So I mounted them 90° apart, giving an 18° offset between the holes at each end. “Well Don't Do That Then”.

Then there was the issue of getting the thing into the “fryer”:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190404/big/Air-fried-skewers-4.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190404/big/Air-fried-skewers-5.jpeg
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That proved soluble: just move the whole thing to the “top” end of the shaft:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190404/big/Air-fried-skewers-6.jpeg
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And the device has a special programme for “BBQ”, 12 minutes at 200°. At the end there wasn't much obvious difference:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190404/big/Air-fried-skewers-6.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190404/big/Air-fried-skewers-7.jpeg
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They were cooked, but only just, and not in the slightest browned. But the results tasted very good, and possibly this is a reason to keep the thing.

But why so pale? This was chicken, and the pieces were smaller than recommended. How would it work out with larger pieces of beef? I'm sure that things would be much better at a higher temperature. That's easy to do, of course, and we will next time, but once again I'm left wondering who comes up with these default settings.


Friday, 5 April 2019 Dereel Images for 5 April 2019
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Replanting garden beds
Topic: general, gardening Link here

To my surprise, I discovered that we've now been in Stones Road for half the time that we were in Kleins Road (here from 7 May 2015, in Kleins Road from 10 July 2007 until, well, 7 May 2015. You wouldn't have noticed from the garden, which still looks pretty terrible. But the flower boxes in front of my office are a mixed bunch: on the one hand I planted a ground cover there in the spring and watched it die, but it still has lots of bulbs in it. Soil problems? Today Mick the gardener came, and I got him to replant the one I suspect of having particularly poor soil. There were certainly enough bulbs in there:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190405/big/Bulbs-1-detail.jpeg
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One looks and smells like garlic. Mick was convinced that it was garlic, but it doesn't have any outside skin:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190405/big/Bulbs-3.jpeg
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We replanted a number, including tulips, daffodils and others:


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Also removed a number of Mirabilis jalapa plants, some of which ended up in the north garden. At least they grow well with no attention. Petra Gietz took some of the bulbs with her, and so did Mick, and he planted more in the rose garden, leaving the rest behind.


Dangerous gymnastics
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Heather has given me some gymnastics to strengthen my gluteal muscles. One of them involves standing with one foot in front of the other and with eyes closed. That seems straightforward enough, but it's surprisingly difficult to keep your balance. I've taken to doing it when cleaning my teeth, but today something went wrong, and I found myself in the bath. Did I lose consciousness? No idea. I don't think so, but there's a fraction of a second when I'm not quite sure what happened. She was clearly right when she said that I should take precautions. Still, apart from a scratch on my shoulder and a bit of minor bruising, everything seems to be OK.


Saturday, 6 April 2019 Dereel Images for 6 April 2019
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Germinating seeds
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

It's been 11 days since I planted my Epazote seeds. When are they going to germinate? Even parsley only takes a week. I've been looking carefully for some days, then this morning I saw some seedlings which look dried out.

Why? I've been watering them constantly. Dragged out my Olympus STF-8 flash unit and a macro lens and took some photos:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190406/big/Epazote-seedlings-2.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190406/big/Epazote-seedlings-3.jpeg
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That doesn't look that bad after all. They're just taking a very long time to germinate; they're still less than 1 cm high. By contrast, the Kniphofia seeds that I planted some time later have all germinated and are now about 3 cm in size:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190406/big/Kniphofia-seedling.jpeg
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NiZn and STF-8
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

I've had my Olympus STF-8 flash unit for over a year now, and I've hardly used it: it's such a pain to put on the camera. When I did so today to take the photos of the seedlings, the batteries were discharged.

Discharged? Pretty much dead. All of them showed a voltage of 0.3 V or so. They're all Nickel-Zinc (NiZn) batteries, which I've been experimenting for over 8 years, and they should have a voltage between 1.6 V (discharged) and 1.8 V (charged). What happened? Put them in the charger. One just died, but the others charged again.

My experience with NiZn has been that they discharge unevenly, so the voltages are very different on discharge. But the even discharge of these, especially after so relatively short a time, suggests to me that the STF-8 might be trickle draining them. I'll have to leave them out when I'm not using it.


Air-fried Bratwurst
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Can you grill Bratwurst in an “air fryer”? Of course not. It's not a grill. But it has illusions: there's a “grill” setting on the control panel, which translates to 12 minutes at 200°.

That's a big difference from real grilling, where the rule of thumb is one minute per mm thickness. In practice I find that mine (28 mm thick) take about 20 minutes. Still, worth trying. Here before and after:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190406/big/Bratwurst-1.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190406/big/Bratwurst-4.jpeg
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Once again there's not much difference to be seen. As with the skewers on Thursday, they're very pale, and they were just cooked enough. But again as with the skewers, they show promise.

In passing, it's interesting to note how the sausages “sweat” fat:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190406/big/Bratwurst-1-detail.jpeg
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The air current ensures that they stay dry; in the toaster oven they give off a lot of liquid.


Sunday, 7 April 2019 Dereel Images for 7 April 2019
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Bikers again
Topic: general, opinion Link here

While walking the dogs down Harrisons Road, saw a number of people and bikes in the distance. They appeared to have dogs with them, and Yvonne got the impression that they were about to start a race. OK, it would make a good photo, and if they misbehave, we have evidence:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190407/big/Motorbikes-1.jpeg
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No, no misbehaviour there. Yvonne thought that it might have been a family outing. But what got me the most was that the bikes made almost no noise. Why are the typical bikes round here so noisy?


Port upgrades
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Hugin version 2019.0 is out, time to upgrade the FreeBSD port. And while I was at it, also finally committed a patch to upgrade enblend.

And almost before I knew it, two email messages. First, errors:

Date: Sun, 7 Apr 2019 07:07:27 GMT
From: Portsnap buildbox
CC: grog@freebsd.org
Subject: INDEX build breakage

...
make_index: /usr/ports/graphics/hugin: no entry for /usr/ports/graphics/OpenEXR

Committers on the hook (CCed):
antoine
grog

And then a fix:

From: Antoine Brodin <antoine@FreeBSD.org>
To: ports-committers@freebsd.org, svn-ports-all@freebsd.org, svn-ports-head@freebsd.org
Subject: svn commit: r498262 - head/graphics/hugin

Author: antoine

Log:
  Unbreak INDEX

Modified:
  head/graphics/hugin/Makefile

Modified: head/graphics/hugin/Makefile
==============================================================================
--- head/graphics/hugin/Makefile        Sun Apr  7 06:39:26 2019        (r498261)
+++ head/graphics/hugin/Makefile        Sun Apr  7 06:51:52 2019        (r498262)
@@ -10,7 +10,7 @@ MASTER_SITES= SF/${PORTNAME}/${PORTNAME}/${PORTNAME}-$
 MAINTAINER=    grog@FreeBSD.org
 COMMENT=       GUI for Panorama Tools, to stitch panoramic images

-LIB_DEPENDS=   libIlmImf.so:graphics/OpenEXR \
+LIB_DEPENDS=   libIlmImf.so:graphics/openexr \

In fact, the commit came before the error message. What went wrong there? I had no reason to change that line, but it seems that I had done. Why? Reversion to an older version? I have some vague recollection of issues with capitalization of port names, but I can't see anything in my diary. And why didn't I notice?

And then, why is graphics/OpenEXR wrong? It seems that the name of the port has changed some time in the past couple of years:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/16) /usr/ports/graphics 16 -> l -d /home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports*/graphics/OpenEXR
drwxr-xr-x  4 grog  lemis  512 23 May  2017 /home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports-rot0/graphics/OpenEXR
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/16) /usr/ports/graphics 17 -> l -d /home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports*/graphics/openexr
drwxr-xr-x  3 grog  lemis  512 28 Dec 04:03 /home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/openexr

Air-fried Tanduri
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Tanduri chicken for dinner tonight, according to Yvonne's westernized version. In the past we've grilled it; how about trying it in the air fryer?

Set it to 230° and 15 minutes, and to my surprise it went very well; it even darkened as expected:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190407/big/Tanduri-chicken-1.jpeg
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The normal problem, of course: the fryer is too small, and we were left with a couple of pieces that didn't fit. Barely cooked them in the microwave oven, then grilled them for a couple of minutes. It's difficult to tell the difference:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190407/big/Tanduri-chicken-4.jpeg
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The two on the right are the latecomers.

With tanduri chicken goes tanduri nan, of course. We cheat and buy partially cooked “naan traditional” from ALDI and heat it in the roti cooker. Problem: the cooker isn't big enough. Today I discovered an old sandwich toaster that Yvonne used to use. Looks like just the right thing. And how about that, it did the job.


Monday, 8 April 2019 Dereel Images for 8 April 2019
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Tortillas in sandwich toaster
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Yesterday's success with the tanduri nan made me think: I've been cooking my tortillas in the roti maker, and I've had difficulties: either they dry out or they don't get cooked. Can the sandwich toaster do it better? At any rate it has the advantage that the top has a double mount, so it doesn't produce wedge-shaped roti or tortillas the way the roti maker does. Tried that today.

First question: how close do the two surfaces get? A distance of several millimetres is OK for a sandwich, but too much for a tortilla. Tried it with a chopstick in between and decided that it would probably be OK.

The first attempts were less than perfect:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190408/big/Torn-tortilla.jpeg
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Not only were the two surfaces close together, the weight of the top squeezed the tortilla and made it wider, in the process tearing it apart. I'll have to think of how to avoid that; probably wait until it's partially cooked before closing it.

The results were OK, though one part was a little tough. But it's something to experiment with.


TTL studio flash?
Topic: photography Link here

After last week's experiments with flash in the kitchen, it's time to buy a new flash head. That's straightforward enough; go to eBay and find what they have. And I found one that looked surprisingly cheap:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190408/big/Flash-1.png
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Only a little over $100 for a Godox DS400II, along with a flash trigger! Looking at the photos is even more exciting:

https://www.cdnclouds.net/p/9ef8ff4ccfbe9a873915-eaa449c9588d8da8cd79ddd8f6e3f13a.r50.cf2.rackcdn.com/e578e34c6af385498b7662b0f2dfbb43_A007206.jpg

TTL flash control! And it's available for Olympus! Just what I always wanted!

Hah hah, only joking. For $104 you get only the flash trigger. If you want the item advertised, you first need to select it (another $237). And if you want both, you have to pay both prices, a total of $341. And if you read very carefully further, you'll discover that you also need a receiver, which they don't even offer.

Sorry, eBay seller qlians_au, you're not trustworthy. I'll read your descriptions, but I'll never buy anything from you. It's a pity that eBay hasn't stopped this kind of deception.

Still, does this really work? More investigation shows that Godox' web site is appallingly inconsistent, and though I found the documentation for the XProO (PDF), I couldn't find an up-to-date list of which models it supports, nor which of them work with TTL flash. My best guess so far is: some models have built-in receivers, others have triggering via an external receiver and a USB port, like the DS400 II for sale here, and others again, like my DE400s, have only a slave receiver and a conventional sync cable.

Clearly you can't use TTL without a receiver. And clearly the built-in receivers support TTL. But what happens with USB? My guess would be that USB wouldn't be fast enough to work with TTL. On the other hand, if not, what is the advantage? I have really cheap remote triggering hardware (transmitter and receiver about $15 together). Why use expensive stuff and USB connections unless it can do more?

As if that wasn't enough, it occurred to me how similar the DS400 looks to my DE400:

https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/-Y0AAOSwMRJckF0y/s-l1600.jpg
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190409/big/Godox-DE400-2.jpeg
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It almost looks as if it should have a USB connector too. Yes!


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So: how do I find out if it supports TTL mode? Is there a (shudder) Facebook group? Yes. And of course I have to be approved. Applied, but didn't get any results before evening.


Tuesday, 9 April 2019 Dereel Images for 9 April 2019
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Dirty laksa
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Last week I tried the “Dollee” laksa paste and found it barely distinguishable from the “Teans” laksa paste that I normally use.

Until today, when I ate the final portion. It was filthy! Well, no, but that was the first impression. Some of the spices (pepper?) clearly weren't ground enough, and they left a lot of sediment in the bottom of the pot. Nothing serious, but given that Dollee doesn't seem to have any advantages, enough reason to stick with Teans.


No entry, and please shut the gate
Topic: general, animals, opinion Link here

Since moving to Stones Road, we don't have a convenient circular route to walk the dogs: we have to go up to a point and then turn round and return the way we came, usually along a road. We could walk up to Progress Road to Rozenstein Road and then back via Bliss Road, but that's 3.3 km, rather more than we really want. We did have a way that cut across through bush from Progress Road to Bliss Road about halfway up, but that seemed to annoy the people who lived on the neighbouring block, so they blocked the route.

In fact, one possibility would be to go 300 m down Bliss Road and then along the back of the blocks facing Stones Road to the back of our block. Took a look today. No:

 
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But that was only part of the truth:


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I'd like to understand what led to that combination.


Flare in wide angle lenses
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

In the past I've noted that my fisheye lenses have particularly little flare. Today a question came up on Quora: “Do certain cameras have better lens flare, if so which ones?”. Well, I wouldn't call any flare “better”, but certainly it was worth comparing a fisheye (the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO) with my widest rectilinear lens, the Zuiko Digital ED 9-18 mm f/4.0-5.6, with shots directly into the sun. The results weren't as pronounced as I had expected:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190409/big/8mm-0EV.jpeg
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To make things easier to compare, I “defished” the fisheye images, thus also showing how very much wider the angle of view is than the 9 mm.


Wednesday, 10 April 2019 Dereel Images for 10 April 2019
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Manipulating journaled soft updates
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

A while back I set journeled soft updates on teevee:/, which caused a rather unexpected problem:

# dump -2uf - / | nice bzip2 > /dump/teevee-FreeBSD/2/root.bz2
mksnap_ffs: Cannot create snapshot //.snap/dump_snapshot: /: Snapshots are not yet supported when running with journaled soft updates: Operation not supported
dump: Cannot create //.snap/dump_snapshot: No such file or directory

What do I do there? I can hear “Use ZFS!” ringing in my head, but the obvious thing is to disable them again. But how? Tried today and ran into unexpected problems:


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The correct thing to do (apart from installing ZFS) would be to fix dump to work with SUJ. But I suspect that that's a lot of work.


How to annoy customers
Topic: technology, food and drink, opinion Link here

So I've gradually come to terms with the wine that I bought online last month, and in the meantime the seller (McLaren Vale Cellars) has been sending me direct mail offering me what look like good choices of wine. OK, let's try some Shiraz. Put a dozen bottles in my “Shopping Cart” and try to pay for it:

 
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OK, that's simple: do what it asks. But I couldn't! The field is set not to accept pastes: it wants me to enter the email address manually! Clearly a bug, so I selected the “Contact Us” page and had to jump through more hoops before I could finally send a message. And the reply I got really blew my mind:

Unfortunately our system makes you type it in .

Why? Why don't they get it fixed? Don't they want to sell anything? To quote Daniel O'Connor on IRC:

<Darius> groggyhimself: user interface sadism

For me the decision was borderline anyway, but that has made the decision for me. There are other companies out there. Goodbye McLaren Vale Cellars.


Thursday, 11 April 2019 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 11 April 2019
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Tidying up Carpobrotus
Topic: gardening Link here

Petra Gietz along with her granddaughter Kahlan (pronounced Kehlen) this morning to pick up some of the Carpobrotus that was overflowing the garden bed—about the only thing that has really grown well in the 2½ years since we planted it. Here when we planted it and now:


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They took a lot of stuff with them—Petra filled the boot and the back seat. And she barely made a dent.


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Cleaning the uncleanable
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

In principle I'm relatively satisfied with my Saeco coffee machine that I bought 3½ years ago. As I noted at the time, the “documentation” is a catastrophe, and I won't forgive Philips for not giving my $50 cashback.

But even with that, it has probably made itself paid. Previously I had had a capsule machine that cost $0.375 (itself a good price) per cup. With fresh coffee that drops to about $0.09. For 4 cups per day, that makes a good $1 a day, so the $650 I paid for it were paid off well over a year ago.

But it has another really irritating “feature”: automatic descaling. What for? We use rainwater, which contains no minerals. How do I turn the ”feature” off? Ah, can't do that, might damage your machine. So every few months I'm greeted with this display:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190411/big/Descaling-coffee-machine-2.jpeg
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OK, how does that work again? RTFM? That way madness lies. Follow the menu? Potentially less mad. OK, fill the water container, put a pot under the output, and point the nozzle into it:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190411/big/Descaling-coffee-machine-3.jpeg
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Ah, right, put in descaling compound:


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I can lie, and off it goes, flushing the only water that ever goes through the nozzle, splashing water everywhere:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190411/big/Descaling-coffee-machine-5.jpeg
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It used no less than four containers of water—more than I recall from previous occasions. On each case I had to swivel the nozzle to one side, giving it a chance to piss on the floor. At the end, after it had said “done” and asked for confirmation, it once again pissed on the floor.

You'd think it was trying to annoy me.


More dental stuff
Topic: health Link here

Into Ballarat today for my six-monthly dental check, which revealed nothing of interest.


Y2K for GPS navigators
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

My GPS navigator was behaving strangely today. The trip log to Ballarat showed the wrong date, 26 August 1999. And the time was off by a couple of hours. Hardware issues? Restarted the thing without any improvement.

Back home, discovered that it had had its Y2K event: the GPS week count had passed 1024, and so it had gone back 1024 weeks in time. That doesn't explain the 2 hour time discrepancy.

But what were the GPS designers smoking to limit themselves to 1024 weeks, somewhat shy of 20 years? Were they expecting the technology to be replaced by then?


Friday, 12 April 2019 Dereel Images for 12 April 2019
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BSD man captured
Topic: politics, technology, opinion Link here

Who's the most well-known BSD personality? Jordan Hubbard? Theo de Raadt? That depends on whether he's known for BSD or something else. From the NetBSD project we have proff, now better known as Julian Assange. And he's certainly in the news. What got me is how old he looks:

https://news.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Julian_Assange_Reuters_RTS2HACA_2500.jpg

He almost looks older than I, but he's only 47, young enough to be my son. I wonder what went on in the Ecuadorian Embassy. And will they reckon his 7 years' self-imposed imprisonment to whatever sentence he now gets?

While discussing proff's connection with BSD, went looking through the commit logs. He seems mainly to have been involved with a package called Surfraw, which he wrote:

Module Name: othersrc
Committed By: proff
Date: Mon Jan 15 07:57:23 UTC 2001

Update of /cvsroot/othersrc/surfraw
In directory netbsd.hut.fi:/tmp/cvs-serv10128

Log Message:
initial import of surfraw-1.3.0

  Surfraw provides a fast unix command line interface to a variety of
  popular WWW search engines and other artifacts of power. It reclaims
  google, altavista, babelfish, dejanews, freshmeat, research index,
  slashdot and many others from the false-prophet, pox-infested heathen
  lands of html-forms, placing these wonders where they belong, deep in
  unix heartland, as god loving extensions to the shell.

  For example:

         $ ask why is jeeves gay?
         $ google -results=100 RMS, GNU, which is sinner, which is sin?

And then there are a number of old fortune data files entries, finding things like:

NetBSD - free yourself from all Stallmanist thought!
-- Julian Assange

Clearly a bridge builder. Some of the “fortunes” in netbsd-o seem offensive even to me; I wonder what a lawyer would make of them if the rape case in Sweden ever goes ahead.


Victorian Government: we don't need no steenking solar power
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Call from Tomas Kucera of Effective Electrical in advance of our solar panel installation next week. Surprise, surprise! The Victorian Government has cancelled the solar energy installation rebate with immediate effect! I can now pay $2,250 more out of my own pocket!

Clearly there's no election coming up. But what are they thinking? It seems that they will reinstate it on 1 July, maybe. Or maybe I can get $4,000 for adding batteries to an existing installation. I can do that, but will they honour their obligations? Grrr!


Weekend clinic and visitors
Topic: general, animals Link here

This weekend Yvonne has organized a horse clinic, with Anke Hawke teaching. Yvonne had arranged that Anke will be staying here, and also Terry (surname unknown). That required tidying up the “library” opposite my office, which I had been using as a junk store, so that Terry could sleep there.

And then Yvonne got a message: Terry had had an accident, a tree trunk fallen on his back. We're still not sure exactly how bad it is, but it seems that he will recover. Clearly, though, he's not going to be doing much riding in the immediate future, so only one visitor.


More garden work
Topic: gardening Link here

Mick the gardener along this morning for more bulb transplants and odds and ends. For once there was barely any wind, ideal weather for spraying. Out to pick up the sprayer and... the battery was empty. Yes, I should have thought of that a couple of days ago. In fact, I did think of that, but that's as far as I got.

OK, find the charger, put it on charge. How much charge can I get in 90 minutes? Tried it out, and how about that, there was enough for a full load of spray. In fact, we ran out of weed killer first, after spraying 3 tankfuls of spray. I wasn't expecting that.


All bad things come in threes
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Later in the morning Petra told me that she had heard a strange noise (click?) from my office, and thought that it might have been a power failure. Checked, and we were off the net! I didn't see any lights on the NTD. But while investigating, it was back again! No power failure after all, just a brief spell off the net.

Whose fault? As time went on, that became clearer. We had no less than 7 failures, a total of

Start time End time       Duration       Badness       from       to
      (seconds)
1555032141 1555032624       483       0.003       # 12 April 2019 11:22:21       12 April 2019 11:30:24
1555034739 1555035952       1213       1.702       # 12 April 2019 12:05:39       12 April 2019 12:25:52
1555037101 1555037416       315       3.133       # 12 April 2019 12:45:01       12 April 2019 12:50:16
1555038451 1555048766       10315       3.478       # 12 April 2019 13:07:31       12 April 2019 15:59:26
1555049372 1555049396       24       5.941       # 12 April 2019 16:09:32       12 April 2019 16:09:56
1555053989 1555054531       542       0.784       # 12 April 2019 17:26:29       12 April 2019 17:35:31
1555055199 1555056528       1329       5.389       # 12 April 2019 17:46:39       12 April 2019 18:08:48
Date       Outages       Duration       Availability       Date
      (seconds)
1554991200       7       14221       83.54%       # 12 April 2019

OK, time to download the Aussie Broadband Android app and painfully type in the passwords (which were not intended to be typed on glass), checking each individual letter before it turns into a pumpkin. And then I was able to lodge a fault. First, though, it had to check my connectivity. Success!

Success? What kind of nonsense is that? The NTD was clearly showing an ODU (outdoor unit) fault. There was no possibility of establishing connection. What a waste of time!

Entered the fault, and almost immediately I had connectivity again, so (with a real computer) reported the fact. But then it went down again. Tried calling up and was informed that I was in for a 21 minute wait. And that with expensive mobile phone calls! But at least that indicated that I probably wasn't the only one.

Tried to enter the fault again. Hang on “Analysing”. But then I discovered that I had run out of mobile credit. Simple, buy some more. How? I was doubly off the net. In the end got Yvonne to buy a voucher when she was in town.

How I hate network outages!


Borzoi ≠ watchdog?
Topic: animals, general, opinion Link here

Our Borzois may be big, but they're not exactly aggressive. In fact, they're far too friendly for any protective activity. But when Anke Hawke arrived this evening, I heard a loud bark and howl from the (dark) hallway.

Had she brought a dog with her? No, it was Nikolai! I can't recall having heard him bark before. It seems that he found it highly suspicious that anybody should come into the house in the dark. Once he saw that it was Anke, he was happy.

I suppose that's a good sign. If anybody comes into the house when we're not there, I don't think Niko would be as easily placated, and an aggressive-looking dog of his size would scare most people off.


Saturday, 13 April 2019 Dereel Images for 13 April 2019
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ALDI induction saucepans
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

While in town on Thursday, I bought a couple of saucepans and frying pans at ALDI. They were cheap, and in contrast to the old ones that we have, they are intended for use with induction cooktops.

This morning I put one on the cooktop and turned on. Not recognized. One of the pans worked, but heated very slowly, and I had to use another one.

Why? They looked OK. But looking more carefully at the saucepan, the reason became clear:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190413/big/Induction-saucepan-4.jpeg
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The dotted pattern on the bottom is one of the kinds of induction-compatible bases that are in common use. It's only 10 cm across, with a 5 cm gap in the middle. The gap in the middle is of no importance, since the induction coils don't heat there, but effectively this has made a 10 cm pan out of a 16 cm pan (rather less than 30% of the surface area), and none of my induction fields can talk to anything that small.

And the other pan? It's 30 cm in diameter, just what I need for bigger things. But the heating surface is only 17.5 cm in diameter, again only a third of the area. By contrast the existing 26 cm pan, also from ALDI, has a different heating surface 23 cm in diameter (78% of the area):


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A pity. The pans look quite good otherwise.


More flash exposure issues
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Taking the photo of the bottom of the saucepan wasn't easy. It took me five attempts. The first time (once again!) the flash didn't trigger, and the next one, taken with TTL flash and standard settings, looked far too dark:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190413/big/Induction-saucepan-2.jpeg
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It wasn't until I gave the thing 2 EV overexposure, both in the camera and with the flash, that things looked normal:


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But it seems that the reflections of the base confused the issue: they showed up as overexposed even in the first image.


Incompatible goals
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Seen at https://www.canon.com.au/camera-lenses/ef-70-200mm-f-2-8l-usm:

 
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Japanese Craftsmanship & Innovation Collide in the making of EOS R

So which one won?


Forced system upgrade
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

While processing my house photos this afternoon, the screen suddenly went black, to be replaced by a constant stream that I could only decipher by taking a photo:


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Ugh. "vm_fault: pager read error" doesn't look good. Some things still seemed to be working (the weather application beeped to say that it had once again crashed), but clearly it was reboot time.

After reboot things still didn't look good:

Apr 13 12:59:48 eureka kernel: ada0 at ahcich0 bus 0 scbus0 target 0 lun 0
Apr 13 12:59:48 eureka kernel: ada0: <SanDisk SDSSDHP128G X2306RL> s/n 134499401138 detached
Apr 13 12:59:48 eureka kernel: g_vfs_done():ada0p2[WRITE(offset=21402058752, length=131072)]error = 6
...

ada0 is the first disk, the one with the root partition /dev/ada0p2. Without a root file system I'm dead in the water. But why the detach? There were no previous messages. The error = 6, on the other hand, is completely understandable: “Device not configured”.

Rebooted and considered whether this wasn't forcing my hand to finally upgrade the system. Yes, indeed: it happened again only a couple of hours later:

Apr 13 15:07:00 eureka kernel: ada0 at ahcich0 bus 0 scbus0 target 0 lun 0
Apr 13 15:07:00 eureka kernel: ada0: <SanDisk SDSSDHP128G X2306RL> s/n 134499401138 detached
Apr 13 15:07:00 eureka kernel: g_vfs_done():ada0p2[WRITE(offset=21243461632, length=131072)]error = 6
...

OK, nobody's home (Yvonne and Anke were at Chris' place with Anke's clinic), so I had several hours to migrate to the new system. I needed them, and more.

First I discovered that I still hadn't enabled journaling on /home and /Photos. Setting on /Photos was strange:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/3) /home/grog 58 -> tunefs -j enable /Photos
Using inode 321 in cg 0 for 33554432 byte journal

And then it hung. ps -l showed:

   0 10042 2933   0  20  0  14772   2380 physrd DL+   3  0:00.05 tunefs -j enable /Photos

That's reading something from disk. What? And why? Finally it completed:

tunefs: Journal file fragmented.
tunefs: soft updates journaling set

Is that serious? Looks like another UTSL moment. My guess is that tunefs wants to put the journal file somewhere specific with contiguous block locations, but that it couldn't find anything suitable, and that noncontiguous locations might have a slight performance impact.

/home also came up with a couple of strangenesses while running fsck:


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