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August 2014
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Friday, 1 August 2014 Dereel Images for 1 August 2014
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Driveway shock
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Two months ago Stewart Summersby prepared the driveway. It cost $990 in labour and $680 for the gravel. But the results were catastrophic. Will Tattnell gave me a preliminary quote for $2,700 to completely redo the work, but I was a little concerned that it wouldn't be enough: we had some kind of mud at about 60 cm depth, and he hadn't intended to go that deep. On Wednesday Warrick Pitcher came to take a look, and he proposed much more material. Today he came in with his quote: $6,800! Admittedly it includes tidying up other business that Stewart left unfinished, and most of the sum is for the material, but it's still a shock. Still, it looks as if it would be silly to invest in another half measure, so he'll be along next week to do the work.


Winter: not over yet
Topic: general, photography, opinion Link here

Another day of unpleasant weather today, even snowfall:


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Getting the photos was not easy; Yvonne tried as well, and in both her photos and my first attempts there was hardly any snow to be seen. A lot seems to be in the shutter speed: the first two above were round 1/50 sec, and the third at 1/320.

That was nothing, though, in comparison to a photo posted on Facebook:

Snow in Sebastopol

I've never seen that much snow in Australia.


Financing the house: done!
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Mail from Brendan Gillett this morning: they've already completed the mortgage documents, so called John Curwen-Walker and was able to get an appointment at 15:30. Into town, taking plenty of time in view of the photo of conditions in Sebastopol, but there was no snow to be seen anywhere. It seems that it had snowed relatively heavily round 11:00, the same time I took my photos in Dereel, but it didn't lie on the road: another Photoshop photo, it seems.

Got the documents signed, and then round to Brendan to deliver them. All done bar the checking, several days faster than expected. Looks like we have that problem completely solved, at least.


Saturday, 2 August 2014 Dereel Images for 2 August 2014
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All-day panoramas
Topic: photography Link here

The first Saturday of the month always means lots of panoramas, but today I think I had a record: 19 of them, 15 from the old house and 4 from the new. All were done with the new Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 8 mm f/3.5 fisheye lens, and gradually I'm getting the hang of it. Manual compensation for chromatic aberration might also have helped.


Wetness
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

While taking the photos of the Stones Road property, noted the effects of the 27 odd mm of rain we've had in the last couple of days:


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The front of the property is really quite wet, considerably wetter than the neighbouring properties. Is that because of this “nature strip” in front of only our property? But it clearly shows how badly the driveway has been laid out.


Why I don't use Facebook
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

In the evening, discussed with Chris Bahlo how we find things on the web. I go to some trouble to correlate my own content, and for others Google is the clear favourite. But we know that Facebook also keeps things forever. But for whom? The NSA? It's not easy for normal users to find things there.

A case in point: a couple of months ago Jordan Hubbard put names to some photos on a photo, including mine. Most of them were deliberate falsifications, but that was part of the fun. The issue was: how to find the posting? A Google search for hubbard lehey mckusick facebook brings up a number of hits (“23,300”, if you want to believe it), including several of this diary (one claiming a date of April 7, nearly two months before the event), but nothing from Facebook. Searching Jordan Hubbard's page on Facebook brought nothing either until I paged down (backwards in time) past it.

So how do you find things on Facebook? I knew what I was looking for, and I still had difficulty. The chance of finding something as a result of a web search seems to be minimal.

The other thing is that it's possible to put incorrect names on these photos. That makes it an invitation for forgery. And it's a very tempting one, as I discovered. Jordan found out, and a few hours later I was “tagged” in another photo (at top right):

Groggy at top right?


Sunday, 3 August 2014 Dereel Images for 3 August 2014
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Winter drags on
Topic: general Link here

It's been a pretty mild winter so far, and normally it starts to get warmer in August. But not this year. First we had the snow on Friday, and last night the temperatures dropped to the lowest so far this year, -1.0°:


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Monday, 4 August 2014 Dereel Images for 4 August 2014
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Fosters: the favourite beer of litterers
Topic: general, opinion, brewing Link here

Littering is a world-wide phenomenon, and we have it here too, though the low population density means that there isn't that much. But while walking the dogs we find a number of cans discarded down Swamp Road, a surprising number of them beer cans. And they all seem to be from one brewer: Fosters (or maybe Carlton & United Breweries):


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In Australia, Foster's most popular beer is Victoria Bitter, usually abbreviated to VB, the first two cans. Then there's Carlton Draught and Fosters Ice. All have the distinction of being some of the worst beers available. To quote the Fosters Ice page:

If you were to guff through a slice of bread and into a glass of cold water then you could probably re-create this beer perfectly well. Fosters beer is the stalwart of bad house parties and is best enjoyed while listening to the music of Dappy. Slightly less enjoyable than the after effects of haemorrhoid surgery.

If I had a choice of this or polar bear urine, the bear pee would win. No aroma, thin body, vague malt flavour with faintly metallic hop aftertaste. Disgusting and an insult to the brewer’s art.

Clearly my sample isn't statistically relevant, but does it say something about litterers that they drink this stuff?


Planning permit amendment granted
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Finally got mail from the council today: my application for planning permit amendment has been granted, and now I only need to provide 0.003 biodiversity equivalent units. I knew that, so it's just one less detail to think about it.

And only an hour later I got a phone call from Peter O'Brien, asking if I had it. Yes, I had. But it seems they issued it too early: Last week some amended legislation was issued for houses in bushfire prone areas, and I now no longer need a biodiversity offset! Wonderful! Of course, I need to pay for another amendment, but that will still save lots of money.

In fact, the amendment also obviates our requirement for BAL 19, since now we can include reasonable defendable space on neighbouring properties. But I can't stand the pain of going through that again.


Air conditioning revisited
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

It's been over 2 months since I ran out of options with air conditioning for the new house. But we need to do something. In principle individual internal units seem the correct way to go, like we have in the Kleins Road house. But that was a disaster, because the temperature control was completely broken. The placement of the internal units on a wall was also sub-optimal, and they were considerably noisier than ducted systems.

Today I revisited the situation, going first to Fujitsu, the makers of our current air conditioning system. They now have “cassette” internal units, mounted in the ceiling. And where do they measure the temperature? Rang up and was told that it was measured in the unit itself, like in other such systems. But they now have a wired remote control placed on the wall, and you can optionally put a temperature sensor in that. That's almost worth discussing.

While thinking about it, came up with a list of information I needed:

Went looking for other manufacturers. What choice is there, anyway? Mitsubishi, Daikin and Hitachi come to mind. Went to Mitsubishi and found—once again—very little of use. Finally called up technical support and asked Sam where the PDF brochures were. “On the web site”. Yes, of course, that's where they should be, but he couldn't find them either. He told me that he was really a repair technician, and that I should call Mitsubishi on 02 9684 7777 and ask to be connected upstairs to Atesh, who knows his stuff and has the ear of the people in Japan.

Called up that number and decided to choose sales instead. Same rigmarole: Benny couldn't find the brochures either, but he had them in dead tree form, so he's sending me one.

Daikin has a better web site, and on the phone confirmed that they, too, have split systems with cassettes, wired connections and correctly placed temperature sensors. Called up Ian at Haymarket, with whom I had had some contact a couple of months ago. With any luck I'll get a better quote now.

And Hitachi (or High Tachy, as they seem to call themselves here)? Hitachi is an enormous company, but they don't seem to have much presence in Australia. I suppose I should get a quote, but I asked all dealers for one a couple of months ago and got no reply. And the closest seems to be in Geelong, which bodes ill for service.

So, what do I have so far? Fujitsu can attach a maximum of 4 heads to their external units, so once again we'd need two. And that could imply a peak current of 35 A, which doesn't leave much over of our 50 A maximum. On the other hand, we could connect a total of about 29 kW (or 49,000 BTU/h, as they insist on writing, just to confuse you). Daikin has a unit that can connect up to 9 heads, which would be enough, except that it unit can only connect 20.8 kW of internal units, possibly too few, At least they don't talk about BTUs. They also have “floor mounting” units, which are mounted at the bottom of the wall. That's a better location for heating, so it's worth thinking about. I fear I'll find some other showstopper, though.


More sloppy error reporting
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

Copied a video file to teevee tonight. I had difficulty watching it:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/0) /spool/Videos 10 -> mplayer Careful-He-Might-Hear-You.1983
MPlayer SVN-r35933-snapshot-3.2 (C) 2000-2013 MPlayer Team
Playing Careful-He-Might-Hear-You.1983.
File not found: 'Careful-He-Might-Hear-You.1983'
Failed to open Careful-He-Might-Hear-You.1983.

OK, that's not so surprising in itself, but I didn't type in the name: I started it and let the shell complete the file name. And ls(1) showed that the file was there. After a bit of head-scratching, found:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/0) /spool/Videos 12 -> file Careful-He-Might-Hear-You.1983
Careful-He-Might-Hear-You.1983: regular file, no read permission

It seems that cp(1) sets the permissions to --------- while copying. But why does mplayer not report the error code correctly? Is it so difficult to include this?

if (fd < 0)
  printf ("Can't open %s: %s (%d)\n", filename, strerror (errno), errno);

Probably the details are hidden in multiple layers of marginally related libraries bent to fit. O brave new world, that has such code in't.

I had barely written the last sentence when I read the current issue of c't. In the editorial I found:

Schöne neue Medien-Welt: Die Hersteller von Unterhaltungselektronik prahlen mit Heimnetzanbindung und Streaming, mit Internet-Zugriff und Fernsteuerung per App — und verbocken es dann mit grottiger Software und Inkompatibilitäten an allen Ecken und Enden.

Not quite the same thing, but surprisingly close.


Tuesday, 5 August 2014 Dereel Images for 5 August 2014
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Still more German horsewomen!
Topic: general, animals, opinion Link here

Yvonne has made the online acquaintance of Clarissa Stein from Staffordshire Reef, just down the road. Clarissa has horses and Maremmas, so she came along to meet her this morning. And she's Yet Another German! Why are there so many around here?


Wednesday, 6 August 2014 Dereel → Bannockburn → Dereel Images for 6 August 2014
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Still focus problems with E-M1 video
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I've had my Olympus OM-D E-M1 for 8 months now, but I still can't get it to take videos without the focus wandering:

At about 14 seconds into the clip the dogs are standing relatively still, and still the focus wanders. What causes that? Is there some trick I'm missing?


Rebuilding the driveway
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Warrick Pitcher started on the driveway today. It was worse than he had expected—in fact, he said it was the worst he had ever seen.


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As the third photo shows, it's relatively firm where it's held together by grass roots, but below that it just collapses. The ground was so soft that his excavator sunk in while he was going over it, in the process tearing through a phone line:


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As a result, we're going to need about 50% more fill than we expected, though Warrick has agreed to stick to his original estimate for labour. Still, that's another couple of thousand dollars. A good thing that we don't need this biodiversity nonsense; the savings there will probably cover the additional cost here.

Interestingly, he found evidence that this had been a driveway before. There were some (clogged) concrete pipes in the entrance:


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He also found time to remove the trees that Stewart Summersby had either not cut down or thrown into the pond. It looks quite different now:


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Telstra fault reporting
Topic: general, opinion Link here

I've had almost only negative experiences with Telstra support, both for telephones and for networking. But today was a different matter: I wasn't complaining about the service, I was trying to report Warrick's destruction of the phone line, a fault that probably affects a large number of people.

What number to call? On the cable boxes they say to call 1100, which I did, using a Telstra phone to be sure. But that's now only for information about cable locations; to report a fault you call 13 22 03 and wait 5 minutes. When I was connected, to somebody who was clearly not a native English speaker and who said her name was mumble, she couldn't hear me. I had to go through the whole thing all over again.

Second time round I was connected to Ann, who could hear but not understand me. I explained what had happened, and after a while she asked if it was related to construction. I spent 10 minutes trying to explain it to her, but at the end she wasn't even able to give me a reference number: she wanted to send it by SMS, and I don't do SMS. She promised to call me back when she had found the location on the map. She didn't; maybe she's still looking.

It's not my problem, of course, but I feel sorry for the people who have been cut off. Another win for VoIP?


Next planning permit amendment
Topic: Stones Road house, technology, opinion Link here

Spent quite some time trying to fill out a form to amend my application for a planning permit. Filling out the form should be simple, but I was hindered by various software issues.

The form is in editable PDF format, and I have already filled one, so it made sense to amend that form to fit the new data. But no, for some reason I couldn't change it, only the original. Make a copy? That didn't work either, though I confirmed that the content of the copy was identical. Permissions, maybe? This is using Acrobat reader on Microsoft against a file mounted via Samba on a UFS file system. And sure enough, the permissions were different: the copy had the x bit set for some reason. So I fixed the permissions, but it still wouldn't let me edit it. New copy? Yes, that worked.

This seems to indicate multiple issues:

An alternative could be that it just doesn't like the file name.

Things weren't over, though. My new Brother HL-3170CDW understands PDF, and it printed it out nicely—until I discovered that the ticks in the boxes were missing. Run the file through pdf2ps? Tried that and got an error page complaining about an invalid access error on the stack. What does that mean? Do I care?

Ended up ticking the boxes manually. By comparison, the trip to Bannockburn to deliver the document was trivial.


Thursday, 7 August 2014 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 7 August 2014
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To the doctor again
Topic: general Link here

To the doctor this morning for the uninteresting results of my last blood test, and also to have my left foot looked at: there seems to be a lump in the ball of my left foot, and I'll have to get an ultrasound examination. I blame it on the fact that I've been wearing shoes so much lately.


Driveway: complete
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

On the way home, took a look at the building site, where Warrick and helper were putting the finishing touches on the driveway:


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No sign of Telstra, of course. The phones are still down.


Telstra idiocy
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Round 20:30 got a call from some idiot (called Anno, but apparently not identical to yesterday's Ann) at Telstra wanting to know if my phone was still down. Clearly logical thinking isn't their forte, but it annoyed me so much that I exploded and can't even remember what further nonsense she was spouting. It took me several attempts to even get a reference number from her; she seemed to confuse that with the telephone number for reporting faults (13 22 03). Finally got it: 153047110. Also asked them to take a formal complaint about their lack of support. I wonder if she was capable of doing that.


Friday, 8 August 2014 Dereel Images for 8 August 2014
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NBN for CJ
Topic: general, technology Link here

CJ Ellis has signed up for the National Broadband Network, mainly because the combination of an NBN connection and VoIP from MyNetFone comes considerably cheaper than his current telephone connection; the Internet connection is just a bonus.

I had promised to be there when it was installed, which was this morning. Took pain, my ancient Dell laptop, with me, and we connected up as soon as the NTD stopped flashing strange LED combinations. It seems that this isn't necessary; the LEDs show which test it's performing, but it doesn't prevent Internet connectivity.

Performance was terrible! But that was pain running Microsoft “Windows” XP. For some reason it was maxing out the disk, and normal operations went into the minutes. In the end gave up and called up MyNetFone and signed up like that. Now to wait for the ATA to arrive.

Back home, let pain run for an hour or so, and finally the disk activity stopped and it returned to its normal condition. But what was it doing? Indexing something? I'll never understand this Microsoft.


The revenge of Telstra
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Telstra has finally fixed the damaged cable! In the afternoon got a call from Danny, the linesman, telling me that I would have to foot the bill, because it happened in front of my property. Damn them! They've got the better of me after all. Yes, Warrick will get his insurance to pay, but I'm still pissed off that I'm involved at all.


TV guide woes
Topic: multimedia, opinion Link here

Why do the TV stations keep changing start and end times for their programmes? It confuses the hell out of MythTV, though arguably it shouldn't. This evening I saw, for tomorrow:


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Just about every programme has changed, one of them twice. But what changed? In some cases it was the time, but in others there seems to be no change. What's going on here?


Saturday, 9 August 2014 Dereel Images for 9 August 2014
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Australia Post MyPost stamps
Topic: general, opinion Link here

I signed up for Australia Post's MyPost scheme mainly because they offer free stamps. Don't ask me why, but you go to the post office, apply for a card and get 5 60¢ stamps for free. Or do you?


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They're special “concession” stamps, and they don't have any denomination. Why that? Clearly giving away stamps isn't a way to make money per se, but spending extra money to issue special stamps isn't either. What are these people thinking?


New ammunition against telemarketeers
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

On IRC today found this post from Chris Blasko (and not Chris Bahlo) about how to get your own back on telemarketeers: convince them that you're from their IT department and there's something wrong with their phone. Offer to fix it for them and get them to reset their phone to factory defaults.

The more I think of this, the more fun it seems. In the example the perpetrator was connected to the marketeer, not the more usual other way round. But that doesn't make as much difference as I thought. Hypothetical conversation:

TM       (Silence, sound of nose-picking) Helllo, how are you today? Fine, I hope.
You       IT Department, how can I help you?
TM       You have just won a gift voucher from Woolworths.
You       Sorry, you've been connected to the IT department. Do you have phone problems? We've had some issues with some of the phones recently. I can help you fix it. What kind of phone do you have?
TM       It says “Yealink”.
You       OK, bear with me while I check...

Quick Google for yealink phone factory reset, finding this page

You       OK, hold down the OK button for at least 10 seconds. If you get a prompt, accept.
TM       OK, nothing happening ye...<click>

The only issue I see is that it's not that easy for most phones. Resetting a Cisco phone might take more intelligence than the average telemarketeer can muster. But even if you don't do it, the idea is so much fun.


Sunday, 10 August 2014 Dereel Images for 10 August 2014
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Last rose of winter
Topic: gardening Link here

The first and even second signs of spring are here: Acacia and exotic bulbs such as Narcissus. But several roses are hanging on, and the Iceberg on the verandah looks as if it'll hold through to the spring:


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Last rose of winter, again
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Taking the photo of the rose wasn't easy. It was about 4 metres above ground level, and the background was the sky. Finally got the shot with fill-in flash, though the overall lightness of the page complicated things.


Interesting palæobiology site
Topic: history, opinion Link here

I'm currently doing the Coursera course “The Emergence of Life”, and I've been pointed at a couple of interesting sites. One is restricted (“permission only”), though it's not clear how they enforce it. The other is open: http://paleobiodb.org/. It has an interactive display of locations, dates and details of fossil finds. But almost the most interesting thing I see is the display of the world map at various times in the world's history:


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Chuck roast sous vide
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Continuing with my experimentation on sous-vide cooking today, made a chuck roast. Chuck is one of the cheapest cuts of beef, but the recipes I read were ecstatic about the results. Douglas Baldwin, who seems to be the most plausible of the sous-vide crowd, cooks for 24 hours at 55° to 60°—a surprisingly large temperature range. To quote:

This is why beef chuck roast cooked in a 131°F–140°F (55°C–60°C) water bath for 24–48 hours has the texture of filet mignon.

Others cook for up to 72 hours. This one describes the process in great detail, conveniently selecting a temperature of 132°F, which translates to the non-integer Celsius value 55.56°, and which I thus can't set on my cooker. The results also looked good.

Then there's this page, which does the same thing with top round, whatever that may be (indications are that it could be rump, but even the Wikipedia page doesn't say), but he wasn't satisfied with the result.

In general the Americans tend to overcook food. Are they really as sensitive to infection as the impression suggests? Yes, it's possible to get infected by undercooked meat, but when you consider how many cultures eat raw meat, it can't be very easy. In any case, as a result I tend to cook at the low end of the scale (for normal roast beef I aim for 53°, for example), and today (and yesterday) I cooked the roast for 28 hours at 55°.

And why sear? People are used to a crunchy surface on roasts, but that's based on real roasting. They're also used to overcooked meat, and that's one thing we want to get rid of. In addition, searing the outside can overcook part of the roast. So, until proof of the contrary, I'm not browning what comes out of the cooker, which looks like this:


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And at the table? As nice and rare as I had hoped:


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But it wasn't tender! The connective tissue was still very much in evidence:


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So: what went wrong? Is the temperature regulation correct? I monitored the temperature at frequent intervals, and the temperature display usually showed 53°. But my infrared thermometer showed temperatures between 54° and 55° at the water surface, suggesting that the temperature must have been about right.

So what's the problem? My guess is that this wide range doesn't really correspond to the temperatures that people use. We only ate half of the roast, so I put the other half back in a bag and continued to cook at 60°. We'll see how that works out in a couple of days.

And the lack of browning? Not an issue, I don't think. Somehow it reminds me of German Schmorbraten.


Monday, 11 August 2014 Dereel
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More Telstra
Topic: general Link here

Another phone call from Telstra today, a Claudius with a decidedly Indian accent—does Telstra have any Australian employees any more? He didn't say why, but he wanted an address—not my address, but where the accident happened. OK, that's 29 Stones Road. Couldn't find it on his map. but is that my problem? I suspect we'll be hearing from them soon.


Another power failure
Topic: general Link here

Another short power failure today at 14:00, the first in over two months. In fact, two in very short succession, about 10 seconds apart. That usually means that the power will fail completely after about another 10 seconds, but this time it stayed back, though the UPS showed voltages ranging from 250 V to 213 V. It wasn't until nearly 2 hours later, when the fsck for teevee had almost completed, that the RCD for the computer circuits tripped. Why? Was there a connection?


Tuesday, 12 August 2014 Dereel Images for 12 August 2014
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Nikolai and Leonid do runners
Topic: animals Link here

We've gradually been letting Nikolai and Leonid run free from time to time, usually when there's the prospect of reward lurking round the corner, and it's been working well. Today we decided to let them loose on the western track. Off they set and disappeared within a few seconds. And didn't come back.

I went looking through the bracken to see where they were and finally saw them walking east down Cahill's Road towards the clump of eucalypts on the junction with Kleins Road and Swansons Road that we call the Big Oak. Started heading back to Yvonne and Zhivago, and then Nikolai came running up from behind. But not Leonid.

Spent some time looking for him, to no avail. Back home, got the car, took Nikolai, drove the whole length of Kleins Road and Cahill's road, saw nothing. Back again and got out on foot, in the hope that Nikolai would help locate him. Down to the Big Oak again, and while I was investigating some droppings that had interested Nikolai, turned around and found Leonid next to him. Not a word from him, apparently no reaction when I called him.

He was exhausted—maybe that's why he got separated from Leonid—and I tied him up to a tree to go and get the car:


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And then he started to howl! Clearly being lost and alone isn't as bad as being tied up. Anyway, there's clearly more work needed before we can let then run free again.


Trees for the new house
Topic: Stones Road house, gardening Link here

It's the time of year for planting trees, so later in the morning over to Stones Road to consider where to put what. Yvonne made a number of notes, and it looks like we can get started quite quickly.

While we were there, a car pulled up outside, a bloke got out and asked where he could find Lot 2. That's the description the property had before it was assigned a street number. He proved to be Duncan, surname currently unknown, of JG King, and he's the site supervisor for the project. Gradually things are happening. And he sounds like a reasonable bloke, unlike some of the bureaucrats in Sturt Street.

Also took a look down the back of the property. Warrick has done a good job of clearing the fence line. Here a full view from the south and north ends of the fence:


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All we need to do now is collect the fallen trees and burn them. That'll have to wait until the weather is better.


More strange plants
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

While I was looking for Leonid, Yvonne found some interesting flowers:


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What are they? Coincidentally Alastair Boyanich knew them: he had played with them as a boy. They're a carnivorous plant from the genus Drosera, of which there are many species. Possibly it's Drosera glanduligera, but we'll have more certainty when they flower.

While investigating that, also followed up on the “orchids” that I found on the Stones Road property last month. Yes, there's little doubt that they're orchids, of the genus Pterostylis. While at the property, took more photos. There are clearly two different kinds:


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With a bit of comparison on Google Images, it's possible that the first is a Pterostylis acuminata and the second a Pterostylis curta. This page may help me find more details.

And it seems that's all there is to the flowers. But I know from other locations that there are other orchids that aren't flowering yet, and they're prettier.


Progress on owner builder
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Call from somebody (Cheryl?) at Victorian Building Authority to tell me they were processing the application for owner builder status for the shed, but that the fees had gone up by a little over $1, and would I approve deducting this sum from my credit card? Of course, but why hadn't the forms been updated? Ah, it takes time to update web sites. Sheesh.


Chuck roast sous vide, take 2
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Our chuck roast has spent another 2 days in the sous-vide cooker at 60°. The cooker consistently reports 58°, but both the infrared thermometer and digital meat thermometer say 60°. And the difference?


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It's certainly tenderer than before, but does it taste like steak? It's certainly nothing like filet, mignon or not. The fat has now been converted into something else, less stringy, but not completely so. In fact, I think that normal “slow cooking” would have the same effect. So: interesting experiment, but I can't agree that it's of any practical value. Hopefully next week's experiment with real beef filet (and certainly not “mignon”) will be better.


Vegetable shredders
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Yvonne has developed an interest in shredded vegetables, so we bought a couple on eBay—together they cost under $10.

The first one doesn't seem to be very useful, but the other one looks better. Today Yvonne made a stir-fried side dish to the roast from shredded carrot and courgette:


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In passing, it's interesting to note how much of the vegetable doesn't get processed (top left). I was worried that it might fall apart during frying, but that was the last of our issues. The real question was how to serve it. It was tougher than noodles:


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Still, it looks like being a useful gadget.


Still more flash woes
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I've had trouble with flash exposure with my mecablitz 58-AF-2 in the past, and I haven't really solved them: the exposure was far too low. Today, though, I had the opposite problem. The photos were greatly overexposed:


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OK, that was with the flash set to +1 EV, so I turned it down. And down. And down. Once again I got almost random results. Here attempts with 0 EV, -1 EV and -3 EV compensation:


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In particular, the -1 EV image looks brighter than the 0 EV image, and the -3 EV image looks just as bright as the 0 EV image. What's the issue here? In desperation tried bounce flash and no compensation,which came out marginally underexposed—in other words, what I'm used to:


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Was this my camera or the flash unit? Got Yvonne's camera and tried it there. At -0.3 EV (set accidentally) I got something closer to what I would expect:


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But it wasn't reproducible, and the next image (at 0 EV) showed the same problems:


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The flash, maybe? Tried the Meike MK-300, which showed exactly the same illumination on a different subject. Here first the mecablitz, then the Meike:


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That's misleading, though, for a number of reasons: it's a different subject, the images look properly exposed, and in fact in this case the mecablitz has +1 EV compensation. So once again I'm completely confused. I've never had this much difficulty with flash before.

As if that wasn't enough, bounce flash (off the ceiling) is more difficult than I expected:


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Maybe I should give up on TTL flash.


Wednesday, 13 August 2014 Dereel Images for 13 August 2014
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Stuck dog
Topic: animals Link here

Out walking with the dogs this morning, came across this:


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It's not immediately apparent, but Leonid was stuck: he had got his forelegs over the log, but he's not strong enough yet to kick his hind legs over it, and it didn't occur to him to try to go backwards. We had to lift him off.


VoIP ATA hell
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

CJ's ATA, a Mitron MNFMV1, has arrived, and I promised to “install” it for him. Basically that means plugging it in. And sure enough, it came online and an IP address to the laptop (pain) that I had plugged into the LAN port. All plug and play.

But the SIP light didn't light up. How do you diagnose that with a black box? Fortunately pain (now eucla, running FreeBSD) knew the device address, since it's the Internet gateway. So: point a browser at it? Sure, and it wants a user name and password, which MyNetFone didn't supply. admin/admin? Yup!

And how about that, the thing hadn't been configured. Called up MyNetFone support and spoke—if that's the word—to Cathy, who was almost completely unintelligible, a combination of non-native-English speaking and what appears to be a poor telephone connection. In the end gave up and took it home with me to try there.

OK, how do I set this thing up? The “instructions” for the box were a single folded sheet of paper showing photos of what goes into which jack, and that if you don't get a “dial tone” (no mention of the SIP light), call support. And then I discovered that the thing is almost identical to my Netcomm V210P ATA:


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Clearly these devices are closely related. The biggest difference is that the Netcomm also has a POTS input, and on the whole it looks to be of higher quality. But what can you expect of a $10 ATA?

The similarities extended to the menus as well:


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That makes configuration a lot easier, of course. Just select the “SIP Service Provider” entry and compare with what's in the Netcomm.

But there is no “SIP Service Provider” entry! Called up MyNetFone support and spoke to Tiffany, who was mercifully more intelligible than Cathy. She confirmed that yes, since this is locked to MyNetFone, you can't change the configuration. That's excellent, considering that they forgot to configure it. Raised a ticket, number 588715, and waited all day. Later I saw mail saying that somebody had called CJ in the evening, when he wasn't there. Mañana.

But that wasn't all. Yvonne returned from shopping with the Linksys PAP2T ATA that I had bought last month. It's a modern device, like the Mitron. You can tell from the “instructions”, also a single folded sheet of paper, but in this case there was even less information on configuration. Just “Follow he instructions provided by your Internet phone service provider”.

Somewhere there should be a real manual—in fact, I think I've seen one—but I know that MyNetFone do in fact have a reasonable collection of config information online, so looked at that. And sure enough, within a few minutes I was registered.

But what nonsense this “documentation” is! The Mitron can store up to 140 short dial codes, exactly the same thing as the Netcomm, even down to the use of atoi() to convert numbers (so entry 017 becomes entry 15). How do normal users even find out that they exist? Does the Linksys (which calls itself “Cisco” on the phone) have something similar? It seems that lots of relatively advanced features of these devices don't get used because people don't know about them.


Permits come in
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Gradually things are gaining momentum with the house. Today we received the building permit for the house by email and the certificate of consent for owner building the shed. Now we just need the modified planning permit and the building permit for the shed, and we're done! Until they think of something else we need.


Thon sous vide
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Yet more sous-vide cooking! Yvonne brought back some tuna when shopping today, and so I cooked it sous-vide. You can cook that as cool as you want, even eating it raw, but I took the lowest temperature that the books recommend: 43°, for 30 minutes.

It came out quite nicely, though it had this protein secretion that the books say happens only to salmon. The only issue, of course, is that 43° is luke-warm at best.


Thursday, 14 August 2014 Dereel Images for 14 August 2014
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Configuring CJ's ATA
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Called MyNetFone about CJ's unconfigured ATA. This time I spoke to somebody who told me he wanted to start a remote desktop on my “PC”. That's interesting simply because not all versions of Microsoft support it. But no, it wasn't really a remote desktop, that's just what he called it. Instead he wanted to use TeamViewer.

Problem: I don't want people messing around on my computers, and while TeamViewer is probably relatively safe, I always run it on pain, my XP laptop. And I had left that with CJ.

Reluctantly fired up dxo, the Vista box, and installed TeamViewer on that. Called up again, spoke to another barely audible person who said her name was Genevieve, though on a repeat it proved to be Harriet(te). Typical of the difficulties in communicating was when she (for once distinctly) said “Thank you very much, call”. Gave her the details, and she sent me through another copy of the email with the configuration details. She connected to the ATA with the user administrator (and not admin), and a relatively long password that I couldn't see, of course. Then she went to the previously missing “SIP Service Provider” tab and asked me to fill out the rest.

OK, that's easy enough. First answer the question from the browser: “Do you want to save this password?”. Harriet didn't even seem to notice. Then put in the config information. All seems to work, but how do I test it? The box has the address 192.168.20.1, and I didn't want to mess around with that. But I had already configured the information in my new ATA, and confirmed that it registered, so I should now be able to go back to CJ and connect it up.

And the password? It shows that they have a certain sense of fun. It wouldn't be fair to publish it exactly, since it seems to apply to all their boxen, but it's related to “MyNetFone rocks”.


Friday, 15 August 2014 Dereel Images for 15 August 2014
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Garden planning
Topic: Stones Road house, gardening Link here

Over to Stones Road again this morning to try to decide how to lay out the garden. It's not easy, especially since the season has already progressed so far. By the time the soil has been moved from the entrance, it'll be November, and too late to plant a lot of things. But if we could agree on the location of the trees to the north, we'd have made some progress. More measurement needed.

While over there, met with Warrick Pitcher, whom I wanted to cut a channel through the heaped-up soil to lay the power cable. But it looks as if that might be as expensive as doing the entire job, so we probably should get Warrick to dig the trench and Jim to lay the cable.


Garden flowers in late autumn
Topic: gardening Link here

My general apathy for gardening and the fact that we'll soon be moving out here have combined to ensure that I haven't paid much attention to the garden in the last few months, but the flowers continue to bloom. Not surprisingly, it doesn't look that different from last year. Somehow, though, the Acacias are particularly prominent:


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It wasn't like that last year; I suspect that these acacias are just coming to maturity, and now they're flowering much more than previously.

Others are not very different from last year, but for some reason our Fuchsia triphylla is looking very unhappy. Here last month and this month:


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The other fuchsias aren't flowering at all, however, unlike last year.


Telstra: super up-to-date
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Advertising from Telstra today to inform us that the National Broadband Network is now available—less than nine months after the event. But that's nothing. Look at the address:


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Cliff Taylor sold me the house in July 2007, and he hasn't been seen here since. And they've misspelt “Kleins Road” as “Kliens Road”. I'm a Telstra customer, for pity's sake! What incredible corruption do they have in their databases? Admittedly, it's not even the second time, but at least the third.

What a company!


ATA: finally
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Over to CJ's place this evening to connect up the ATA. It worked, fortunately. Now he's going to have to learn to live with another paradigm. Hopefully it won't involve me in too much work.


Yet another power failure
Topic: general, opinion, multimedia Link here

Another short power failure at 21:04 this evening. It took out teevee, which isn't on a UPS, and it took it forever for fsck to run (in the background, admittedly, but it slowed it down to a point that it was almost unusable). There's no point in buying another UPS now. Roll on the new house with battery-backed solar electricity!


Saturday, 16 August 2014 Dereel Images for 16 August 2014
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Truffles!
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Margaret Swan has been exceedingly generous and sent us a fresh truffle:


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So of course we're cooking truffle recipes at the moment.

Somehow things didn't run as smoothly as usual. Yvonne was in a hurry and a bit flustered, and we were late. She had bought some beef fillet last week for cooking sous-vide, and originally both she and Chris had wanted to grill it to make tournedos Rossini, but it wasn't really the right kind of fillet for that, so in the end, after half cutting it into steaks, we made it sous-vide after all. And then I couldn't find what I did with the bread for the entrée. It took a while to find it:


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The main course looked good:


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But somehow it wasn't overly tender. What temperature should I have chosen? As usual I've seen conflicting information. The Codlo cookbook contains the following table (page 79):

 
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That's a little confusing until you look at bottom right: the star with the P represents not the cooking time, but the time to pasteurize. But then a couple of pages later they specify 1 hour at 53° for rump steak. I had already established long ago that 53° is my sweet point for roast beef, so that's what I chose.

But the meat wasn't overly tender. Was that the cooking or the meat itself? It's reasonable to assume that with conventional roasting most of the meat is warmer than 53°. Maybe we should try it with a rump steak at 55°.

Once again, though, I find that there's no reason to brown the meat after cooking. That's just a hangover from the old way of doing things.


What shredders can shred
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

While preparing dinner, Chris was given the task of shredding the carrots and courgettes with the better of the two shredders we bought recently. It seems to take a lot of effort, and it doesn't stop with shredding the vegetables: as Chris discovered, it's also good for shredding fingers. Time to look for something else.


Sunday, 17 August 2014 Dereel Images for 17 August 2014
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Orchids in the forest
Topic: gardening Link here

In the past few weeks I've noticed a number of Pterostylis in the forest. Getting photos of them in the wild isn't easy, so I brought back a few flowers from this morning's dog walk. There were three clumps, and one of them had significantly shorter stems than the other two:


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They were all cut off at the base, so this really reflects their size. Are they just undersized? They look very similar. But on closer examination there's a significant difference: the smaller ones have a sheath over the head. Here first a tall flower, then a short one:


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In addition, the heads of the two long-stemmed flowers seem to be held at a different angle:


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It's difficult to see inside, but one of the long ones looks like this:


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Now to get some from Stones Road and compare them.


Monday, 18 August 2014 Dereel Images for 18 August 2014
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A computer for CJ
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

CJ Ellis showed up here today, apparently because he had wanted to do some work on our site, but got caught by the rain. Took the opportunity to help him transfer his home phone line to VoIP, which proved more difficult than I had expected.

First, of course, I had to set up access for him. CJ's not stupid, but he's 75 years old and has never really learnt anything about computers. For him nothing is intuitive. No point in trying to teach him the fine points of FreeBSD.

First, he needs a computer. There's a mob called Computers for Seniors that offers cheap computers for concession card holders. CJ qualifies, so took a look. They offer what appears to be a refurbished Lenovo ThinkCentre with 2 GB memory, 60 GB drive and lots of Microsoft software for $249 or $250, depending on which page you look at. I bought a ThinkCentre last year, but I only paid $99 for it (along with another $29 for postage). Looking on eBay shows that that kind of offer is still available. Found a very similar one, again for $99, but only $20 postage. Compared to mine it has a faster processor and double the disk, and also Microsoft “Windows” 7 “Professional”. So are the Computers For Seniors ripping people off? They're certainly not overly cheap, but they're also delivering a monitor, keyboard, mouse, lots of expensive Microsoft software and also a certain amount of training. But if anything CJ is even stingier than I am, and he has monitor, keyboard and mouse, so he was happy to take this one.

So: get him online. Sign up with eBay. Wait, first you need email. I don't think mutt is his kind of program, so signed him up with gmail. Problems again with eBay passwords; at least gmail doesn't tell you what your password should look like. And that gave him automatic signup with PayPal, which found his address, presumably from the credit card supplier. So now he has a computer on the way.

Printing out email? Simple, ^P. And the results were catastrophic:


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The fonts were terrible, and the text was truncated to the right. Why's that? Some problem with the FreeBSD browser? No, I had the same thing on Microsoft. The answer's obvious: gmail is too leet to print out pages using the standard functions. Instead you need to find the printer icon in the middle of the display, recognize it for what it is, and click on it. It then sends a PDF to the printer, which in my case wasn't very impressed:


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This appears to be a PDF compatibility issue between Chrome and my printer, possibly a font issue. If I have this kind of problem, I can see CJ having an uphill struggle. He called me from home later on to say that his fax didn't work with the VoIP phone—and this after spending $30 to change his home phone number to it, and promising to pay $200 more if he moves back to Telstra. Hopefully the fax issue isn't a show-stopper.


Tuesday, 19 August 2014 Dereel Images for 19 August 2014
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Runners punished
Topic: animals Link here

Despite all our experience, we let Nikolai and Leonid run again, towards the Corsicans, where we normally put out food for them. Things should have looked something like this:

But this time they shot over there, ate a couple of the treats we had laid out for them, and then ran off into the scrub. Leonid came back some time later, but this time it was Nikolai who didn't come back until some time later. When he did he had a number of twigs of Acacia paradoxa (kangaroo thorn) in his tail. I removed them, but he still wasn't happy.

It wasn't until we got home that we saw why. He had a relative large branch between his legs:


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The background in the last photo is an A4 envelope.

Looks like his days running free are over. Hopefully later this week we'll get the fences finished at the new property, and then we can let them run around there as much as they like.


Wednesday, 20 August 2014 Dereel Images for 20 August 2014
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Baking and telephones don't mix
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Today was bread baking day, something I don't usually mention. But Yvonne was in town shopping, and she called me exactly at the point when I was putting the dough into the bread pan:


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I wonder if I'll ever get all that dough off the phone.


More house happenings
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Lots of minor things about the new house today:

  1. Call from Duncan Thompson, the building supervisor, to tell me that he needs a boundary post for the property, since the fence line isn't on the property boundary. Called up the surveyors who did the soil test and established this discrepancy. Yes, they could do it, but it would be expensive because they would have to come from Melbourne. And he ventured the opinion that it would be about a day's work (why? It should be a matter of reading a GPS coordinate).

  2. Last week we received the Certificate of Consent for building the shed, and I forwarded it to David Kors, the surveyor, with the request to confirm that that was all he needed. No reply until today, so I called up. Yes, it was received, and the building permit was issued yesterday. One less problem.

    Also asked about surveying the property boundaries. No, they don't do that. I'll have to find somebody else.

  3. CJ Ellis came in to tell us that the fence is pretty much finished, though he still needs to do some repair work on the existing parts.

  4. Mail from Tom Tyler of JG King asking which rooms would get a special wash basin, and what taps we wanted, since they were still unspecified.

    Did we really forget to specify this? No, part of the sheer unending bureaucracy that was the contract specified exactly what we wanted to get, in two different places, every page signed and initialed, including by Tom. What good is a contract if people don't read it? This wasn't primarily Tom's fault: he's just the interface—since Tessa Ambrose has refused to apologize for her rudeness, I won't have anything more to do with her. But the email was copied to her and Anthony Chambers, whom I don't know, so I assume that they also didn't read the contract.

More thinking about the boundary pegs. What exactly does Duncan need? A single boundary peg doesn't define a property boundary; you need at least two of them, and the other would be at the south-west corner 300 m away behind 50 m of scrub. That would make it pretty much impossible to measure the boundary. So he's going back to his boss to see what we can do: the obvious thing would be to accept the fence line as the boundary and build from there. It's on our property, so we're not running any risk of building too close to the boundary.


Dogs run free
Topic: animals, Stones Road house Link here

Now that the fences at Stones Road are complete, we can let the dogs run free there. Down to the property to walk around and show the dogs that it's fenced in—just barely at the south end of the west boundary—and let them run around. So we don't need to let them run free in the forest any more. No more runners!


Marriotts still here
Topic: general, opinion Link here

After walking the dogs, noticed that people were next door at the Marriotts. We don't have Garry's mobile phone number, and we wanted to ask some questions, so over to meet his granddaughter Emily, whom Yvonne met a couple of months ago when saving the trapped kangaroo. But when we got there, who came out? Garry. He's supposed to be on a 12 to 18 month drive around Australia, but every time I've been there, I've found him. I don't think he ever left.

On a more serious matter, it seems that his grandson had a serious motorbike accident, and they had to come back from Broken Hill while he was in intensive care. They're still hoping to make it further.


Thursday, 21 August 2014 Dereel
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No more runners
Topic: animals, Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Finally the fences are finished in the new property! Over with the dogs to let them run free: no more runners. And they really enjoyed it, running round and round in circles for some time.

That's warming, of course. How do they cool down? Not the way we expected: they jumped into the pond, Nikolai up to his chest:


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And the sludge in that pond stinks! Washed them off when we got home, and things weren't too bad, but clearly we're going to need Yet Another Fence.


A year of Android
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

It's been a year since I bought an Android tablet for real use. I had tried one a year before that, but had not persevered. Now I have been using a tablet for a year. What good is it?

The attraction of the tablet is flexibility. It promises:

And yes, it does all that. But the quality of the apps and even the implementation itself is enough to make me tear my hair out. Let's look at each use:

So, in summary: is Android worth it? It has a Linux kernel, after all. Can't I just ignore these appallingly bad apps and port real programs? No, it seems: all Android apps have to be written in Java, which may explain some of the issues: it appears that you can't just build C programs for Android. The idea is good, the implementation (including third-party apps) is emetic.

Some tell me “With an iPad you wouldn't have these problems”. Maybe not; I would probably have other problems instead. But the real issue is that I'm a voice crying in the wilderness, and arguably I'm the problem, not Android or iPad. But that doesn't help me. I'm using the tablet less and less.


Friday, 22 August 2014 Dereel Images for 22 August 2014
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Getting CJ's computer
Topic: general, opinion, technology Link here

Yesterday TNT tried to deliver CJ's new computer. Given where he lives, that's quite impressive, but why don't they try to confirm that somebody will be there to receive the parcel before driving an estimated 50 km to deliver it? CJ is very deaf, so he asked me to call them. Did so and got Yet Another Emetic Voice Non-Recognition Disservice. Finally got through to a human by the name of TracyStacey, who told me that she would put in a request for pickup from the depot in Ballarat and call me back. Given that I was about to leave, that didn't help much. Asked for the address of the depot. “Sorry, I can't give you that information”. Why not? She explained that she was a trainee, but it didn't seem to be her problem: they didn't know where the parcel is!

Asked to be connected to her supervisor, whose name proved to be Dishani, who explained that yes, their system is really that bad, and that after a failed delivery attempt they don't guarantee that the item be accessible anywhere for 24 hours! And the reason Stacey couldn't give me the address of the depot was that they didn't know what it was! Left her in no uncertainty about my opinion of the matter, and waited for her call back.

Fortunately that didn't take too long, and yes, the parcel was available at their depot at 8 Daveyduke Drive, Mitchell Park. CJ went there and picked it up with no further problems. But for me it was 40 minutes of completely avoidable trouble.

CJ returned in the evening and left the machine here. It's a Lenovo ThinkCentre, pretty much the same as the one I bought last year. And of course it needs software updates, so I left it overnight doing that.


More fence stuff
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Over to Stones Road to see how CJ was getting on with the fences. Things are looking a lot better, and he's found some novel ways to repair damaged braces:


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There's still some work to do with vegetation (here a Eucalypt):


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Dogs run free again
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

While at Stones Road, let the dogs run again. We tried to keep an eye on them, but somehow they managed to end up in the pond several times, not to mention the dam:


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This time we didn't wash them, and strangely they no longer stink. Nikolai even looked relatively clean after he had dried up.


Browser memory usage
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Lately firefox has been hanging frequently, and this morning I had to restart it several times in rapid succession. It seems that one of the unselected pages in “Restore session” was the problem.

While doing that, shot down all my browsers and npviewer.bin. Shooting down Chrome was a surprise: I regained 10 GB of RAM! As I said on IRC a couple of days ago, if EMACS once stood for “Eight Megabytes And Continually Swapping”, they should introduce the term EGACS for web browsers.


VoIP ATA configuration
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So now I have two VoIP connections, one via a NetComm V210P and the other via a Linksys PAP2T. Theoretically I could run both services via the Linksys, but it doesn't have a POTS input. But it does have the advantage of relatively complete syslog facility, so it seemed good to use it for the VoIP input line so that I could log callers' phone numbers. Reconfigured it and discovered that, although I could call it, the phone didn't ring. What's wrong there?

Spent a lot of time examining all the myriad configuration details of the ATA. It's a US model. Differences there? Fortunately Daniel O'Connor has an SPA112, the successor model, and we were able to compare configurations. No, all the same. Finally I swapped the cables to the (dual line) phone. It worked! Somehow there must be an issue with the phone.

And logging the phone numbers? No, it doesn't do that. even at the highest log level I couldn't get anything useful:

Aug 22 16:00:12 officephone 00259C6E4420 [0:0]AUD ALLOC CALL (port=16400)
Aug 22 16:00:12 officephone 00259C6E4420 [0:0]RTP Rx Up
Aug 22 16:00:15 officephone 00259C6E4420 [0:0]AUD Rel Call
Aug 22 16:00:15 officephone 00259C6E4420 CC:Ended

I could have sworn that the old SPA-3000 could do that, but it seems that the syslog facility on the PAP2T is mainly intended as a debug aid for the firmware developers. It does record the number, and makes it available in one of the myriad configuration pages on its internal web server, but that seems to be the only place. It also didn't display on the phone. Did some RTFM, which showed—apparently—that the phone doesn't have the facility. It's a Panasonic KX-T2378, probably 15 years old, so that's not so surprising.

Still, phones don't cost much any more, How about a new one? After scouring eBay, found nothing suitable. There were only one or two dual line phones, both without the headphone jack that the Panasonic had and that I use all the time. Possibly the way to go is with DECT phone and Bluetooth, but that starts getting pricey. So for the time being, I'll stick with what I have.


Saturday, 23 August 2014 Dereel Images for 23 August 2014
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Firefox stupidity
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

While rsyncing my web pages this morning, saw something surprising:

js/
js/Ge-29490ge2.html
       17482 100%   14.58kB/s    0:00:01 (xfer#4, to-check=5234/11363)
js/Ge-29490ge2_files/
js/Ge-29490ge2_files/ca-pub-5294144413784354.js
         108 100%    0.09kB/s    0:00:01 (xfer#5, to-check=5222/11363)
...

Had somebody broken in and placed a Javascript exploit? Took a look at the stuff and discovered that it was a web page saved by firefox. Yet Another Example of its complete misunderstanding of file system hierarchies.


Setting up Microsoft, again
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Into the office this morning to find that CJ's computer had finished its upgrades and rebooted. And, of course, there were upgrades waiting. Tried installing them and got not one, but two of typical Microsoft 8 digit hex error numbers, 0x80070490 and 0x800f020b. I now know better than to try to decipher them, and tried again. Sure enough, this time only one error, 0x800f020b—with a difference. I followed the “Get help with this error” link and got no less than 8 hits—none of which referenced the error number:


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Clearly they thought that they were close enough.

Followed my Microsoft HOWTO page, which proved to be quite helpful. This operating system is Microsoft “Windows” 8 Professional, so it supports Remote Desktop. But I couldn't get it to work this time:

 
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“If you are not a member of the Remote Desktop Users group or another group that has this right, or if the Remote Desktop Users Group goes not have this right, you must be granted this right manually”.

What does that mean? I didn't know that Microsoft knew the concept of a group. Went looking and came up with lots of stuff, most of which related to “Windows” “Server”. This page describes something that might work, but it looks far too painful.

Click on Start and then click on Administrative Tools and then click on Local Security Policy. Then click on Local Policies and then User Rights Assignment. Then double click on “Allow log on through Remote Desktop Services” option. Then, under Local Security Setting tab, click on “Add User or Group” button, and then give the username or group name and click on OK. Then click on Apply and then OK.

Tried that, but it came up with concepts that I didn't understand and that it didn't clarify. It seems as if you need to specify remote access for every single object, whatever an object may be. That's too much pain. In the end I just made CJ's account an administrator—for now—and that did the job.

Remote desktop won't work easily when the computer is at CJ's place anyway, but I can see myself needing to help, so I installed TeamViewer. It Just Worked—one of the easier to use things on Microsoft platforms. Of course, it remains to be seen if it works when it's in situ.


Picking up Chris' belongings
Topic: general Link here

Chris Bahlo still has belongings at the Yeardleys, but Tuyết has refused to let her pick them up. Chris sent her a letter last week informing her that she was coming tomorrow with some big strong men (from her martial arts class) to pick the stuff, but she hasn't received confirmation that she has received it, and she doesn't want to trouble them to arrive and find that she won't be let in. So today we went over to see if we could get some of the smaller stuff without their help.

No Yeardleys. And to my surprise the house wasn't locked:


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So we filled up my car and brought it back to our shipping container:


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I suspect that that wasn't Tuyết's intention. I wonder if there will be some sort of retaliation now.


Sunday, 24 August 2014 Dereel Images for 24 August 2014
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HDR insights
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I didn't do my house photos yesterday because it was so windy. But it was again today. So I considered: one of the biggest issues with wind is that my HDR images get ghosting. I take 3 images with 3 EV difference and then merge them with enfuse. An obvious way to limit the ghosting is to merge only two images, 6 EV apart. That's still much less difference than the 12 EV that the sensor can understand.

But it didn't work. In many cases, align_image_stack wasn't even able to align the images. And where it did, the results were less than stellar:


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Run the cursor over either image to compare with the partner. It's interesting, though, to notice the improved shadow detail in the trees to the right of the image in the washed-out version. And the curvature is due to the fisheye lens being used.


Open sesame!
Topic: general, food and drink, opinion Link here

Baking bread rolls today, some of which we coat with sesame seeds. Putting the 1 kg jar of seeds back in the pantry didn't quite work:


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GRRRR!


Monday, 25 August 2014 Dereel Images for 25 August 2014
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CJ's installation and random Microsoft pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So basically CJ's computer is ready, and I had planned to give it to him today. But how is he going to back it up? The way Microsoft people always do, I suppose: not at all. The least I could do was to make a copy of the disk image. And to ensure it compresses well, it makes sense to zero out all the unused file space, in this case about 90% of the total.

With real computers I do this with a little program called zerofile, which creates a file and writes binary zeros to it until the file system is full. But I don't have software development tools for Microsoft, so I ended up creating a file of the requisite size on eureka and then copying it across. How about that, Microsoft still has an ftp client as standard, so apart from waiting for 130 GB of data to go across the LAN, there was no particular issue. On eureka it was amusing to note:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/17) /Photos 51 -> l zeros
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  wheel  130,023,424,000 25 Aug 14:10 zeros
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/17) /Photos 52 -> time bzip2 zeros

real    25m46.203s
user    19m59.374s
sys     0m58.130s
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/17) /Photos 53 -> l zeros.bz2
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  wheel  90,674 25 Aug 14:10 zeros.bz2

90 kB may look large for a compressed file of all binary zeros, until you realize it's 0.7 ppm of the original.

Spent the rest of the day copying the disk image back to eureka: my test box only has a 100 Mb/s interface.

And while I was working on it, dischord, my photo processing Microsoft box, kept waking up from sleep. That's bad, because there's something wrong with hibernation mode, and if I don't power cycle it after hibernating, it hangs. What's causing it? The mouse? After a couple of instances went looking and found a number of hits, all apparently for “Windows” 7. This one made the most sense, modulo the baroque means of entering the control panel, but it doesn't work via Remote Desktop. Still, hopefully things are OK now.


JG King: worse than incompetent
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Letter in the mail from JG King this morning, asking me to endorse the accompanying plans, since there was an unspecified error relating to the washbasin in the previous plans. There was certainly an error in the plans they sent: they were for a house for Jessy Mathew at Lot 51 Charolais St, Delacombe, and presumably he had my plans. What a breach of contractual privacy!

What a catastrophe! Presumably she got my plans too. Sent an email to Tom Tyler, and—considering he's on leave—got a quick reply, followed by a call from Wayne Jones in which he said very little beyond the fact that estimating need our signatures before house construction can start, and the claim that these were the only plans sent out last week, and that Britney, the secretary, had made the mistake. At least he didn't contradict my statement that this has clearly shown up areas where they need to pay more attention. But any hope of getting a firm start date from him were doomed from the start.

What a company!


Tuesday, 26 August 2014 Dereel Images for 26 August 2014
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Finishing CJ's computer
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Finally the backup was done, so I put the disk back into CJ's computer and booted. “Your computer was unable to start\nStartup Repair is checking”.

My fault. When I had put the disk in the test machine, it started booting from it instead of from the FreeBSD disk. I had powered down immediately, but this suggest that it wasn't quite immediately enough. So I left “Startup Repair” running. What does it do? Looks like an fsck, and it took about the same time.

At the end: “Startup Repair cannot repair this computer automatically”. What does that mean? Followed various links, but there was nothing sensible there. In the end, I just rebooted, and everything just worked.

So: what was the problem? Until proof of the contrary, I'm guessing that “can't repair this computer automatically” means “didn't find any problems”. About the only effect of the effort was that, despite promises to the contrary, some of the configuration details (like single-click mouse) had been reset.

Round to CJ's in the evening to install the machine. No particular problems, though I couldn't find a driver for his printer (more Microsoft nonsense), and I also couldn't find the games he was looking for. But I have Team Viewer access, so I can do that later.


Coffee fountain
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I've been using an ALDI espresso capsule coffee machine for some time now, and it's quite successful. But this morning it didn't work normally: there was a sound like an explosion, and lots of water poured into the cup. I turned it off immediately and looked at the cup. It was full of coffee grounds:


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Further investigation showed that the capsule had ruptured outside the filter area. Here's a comparison: the one on the left has a hole at 5 o'clock, and that must be where the coffee got out:


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What use on-camera flash?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

The photos of the ruptured coffee capsule were taken with my studio flash, triggered by the mecablitz 58-AF-2. First I tried the flash directly. The results were useless, not only because of the closeness of the subject:


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Run the cursor over either image to compare with the partner. Somehow I still can't get good results from on-camera flash.


Wednesday, 27 August 2014 Dereel Images for 27 August 2014
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Air conditioning: solved?
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Long talk with Wayne Matthews of GJ Bradding in Bacchus Marsh today, one of the few air conditioning people who seems to know what he's talking about. He came up with not one, but three solutions to the issue of heating rooms individually to the correct temperature: Daikin, Fujitsu, and one I had never heard of: Actron. We've already had Daikin and Fujitsu (and despite the negative experience with Fujitsu, I'd consider them: it looks as if they have solved the issues we had at the time). But both of these would be “split systems” with individual outlets mounted on the walls, or potentially in the ceilings. In either case, the fan is directly in or adjacent to the room, and the noise is correspondingly loud.

What I really want is a ducted system with individual temperature control. And as I commented months ago, that doesn't seem to be possible. Why not? Why not indeed: that's exactly what Actron is offering. It all looks very good, and potentially we'll take it. It wasn't until later that it occurred to me that we still have the issue of “return air”. Still more investigation required.


JG King: progress?
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

JG King finally sent us the correct plans to endorse. 14 sheets, all but of one of which appear unchanged. There were only two differences on that sheet (here the old version):

 
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The two differences were: the text “TAPWARE TBC” had been removed, and this funnel-shaped basin (“vanity”, more bad language) had been flattened. I had already commented on the strange shape in the plans, but they only changed it in the bathroom, not in the “en suite”. Tom Tyler had told me that this was just a representation, which makes sense to me, but why did they need to change it? And what does “TBC” mean? My guess is “to be confirmed”, but sorry, people, if you're going to be so anal about these things and write it in contracts, the meaning should be spelt out. And in any case, we already had a text document, also signed in blood, spelling out exactly what is to be installed in more detail, for example that we will supply the wash basin ourselves.

So I commented every page (”no change“) and explicitly pointed out the differences. I feel decidedly overrun by bureaucracy.

Yvonne dropped the plans off while shopping in town, and took the opportunity to ask for somebody to give her a definite date for start of construction. They finally dragged out a somewhat dishevelled-looking Wayne Jones who promised to get things started by next week. I don't know whether he will, but I did get a call from him shortly later addressing another issue they had forgotten about: A week ago there was the issue of boundary pegs, and the ball has been in Wayne's court since then. Now he'll finally do something about it.

Also a call from Gareth at the council telling us that we had to start construction of the house and shed simultaneously. I had views of people with starter's pistols checking conformity, but it seems that what he had really meant to say was that the shed can't be started before the house (so that we can't live in the shed while waiting for the house to be completed). Not an issue, but I wonder how they would enforce that, given that there's no such clause in the permits.


Couriers: autres pays, autres mœurs
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Phone call from a Latifa today, clearly from somewhere in South-East Asia. But she claimed to be from CityLink, which sounded like a scam. But no, it was an issue of environment. She was in Kuala Lumpur, and she was ringing to apologize for the lack of delivery of a book with this panorama in it:


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I should have received the book two months ago, but something slipped between the cracks, and it wasn't until I reminded the sender yesterday that they checked up. Latifa even took the blame for the mixup. What a difference from Australian couriers!


Dogs running free: not there yet
Topic: Stones Road house, animals Link here

Over to the property this afternoon to let the dogs run around, bumping into Craig Mayor while we were there. He's tidying up the mess at the back of the property:


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The dogs are really enjoying being allowed to run free, and they take in the whole length of the property—and then some. Nikolai found a hole in the fence to the south, and was through it before we even noticed it:


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Time for CJ to finish the job.


zerofile for Microsoft
Topic: technology Link here

Comment from Andy Snow on IRC today: it seems that a program like my zerofile is available from Microsoft as sdelete.exe. It seems that the main purpose of the program is to obliterate the content of an existign file and then delete it, but the -z option (and yes, really -z and not /z) performs the function of zerofile.


Thursday, 28 August 2014 Dereel Images for 28 August 2014
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More Drosera
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

The weather is gradually getting more spring-like, and today we had a top temperature of 20.7°. Various flowers are preparing to flower, and over the last couple of weeks we've found many more Pterostylis and Drosera patches. We must have over 1000 flowering Pterostylis on our Stones Road property alone, and the Drosera are now changing in appearance:


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I haven't seen any description of the red spots in the tentacles, but then there are so many different kinds. The last image looks like it might be the start of a flower shoot.


MTM: A new TLA
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Discussing the National Broadband Network on IRC today, Andy Farkas came up with a new TLA: MTM. What's that? We had a number of guesses. It seems that he meant “multi-technology mix”, but it can also be expanded to “Malcolm Turnbull's Mess”.


Another power failure
Topic: general Link here

Another short power failure at 19:47 this evening, requiring yet another hours-long fsck. How I'm looking forward to being rid of them!


Friday, 29 August 2014 Dereel Images for 29 August 2014
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The cost of being a pensioner
Topic: general, opinion Link here

We're getting a surprising amount of paperwork because of our pensions lately. Part of it is understandable: we have five different “income streams”, to use the Department of Human Services (formerly the stupid name “Centrelink”) terminology, and that from three different countries. Today we got two identical completely confusing forms from DHS, one each to Yvonne and me, both asking whether we are liable for tax declarations. A good thing I have a financial adviser.

Also Yvonne's first pension payment from France. It was directly in Australian Dollars, and the bank had deducted $6 fees for some reason. By contrast the German pension fund pays in Euros, and there are no fees.

But what about the exchange rate? Went looking for my last payment, dated 25 August. Exchange rate 0.729567. What was the Interbank rate on that day? 0.70373 €. The difference represents 3.67% of the total! We're getting about 1,567 € per month, so that's a fee of abut $82 Every Month! There must be a cheaper way.

Called up ANZ and was connected with Chris, who had nothing useful to say. Them's the fees. If you want, you can decide when the conversion is made and thus maybe profit by exchange rate fluctuations, but that's about all. I asked her to report my dissatisfaction—4 times—but it seems that the word “report” is not in her vocabulary.

But we've been here before when my father's will was paid out from the UK, and for that purpose we opened a special account with St. George Bank, which I still have, though it has changed its name to Bank of Melbourne. Called them up and spoke to Mio, who wanted to ask me security questions—me, a new customer! But I do have an account, so I pulled it up on the web and started reading things to him—until their web server became unresponsive for nearly 10 minutes. He kept me on the line for nearly 20 minutes trying to find out what to do. Finally he told me I should contact the Treasury and Foreign Exchange department on 1 300 665 616, and—only after being requested—connected me to them.

At the other end was Stephen Arnold, a real live banker! After the typical help desk people, I had forgotten that such people exist. Yes, they just call it a Euro account (I would have called it a Euro/Australian Dollar account), and they put 1% on the exchange rate instead of the retail rate of 4%. So it looks like we'll go there.


CJ's next problems
Topic: technology, general Link here

CJ Ellis along today with computer and VoIP problems. He couldn't find how to send a message with Gmail, so he had deleted all the important messages he had instead. And he is getting continuous calls on his phone. How is that happening? Called up MyNetFone and spoke to Harriette, with whom I had spoken a couple of weeks ago. This time she was more intelligible and wanted to configure the ATA to reject the calls. On enquiry, it seems that she was going to set a different port to listen on, though that might just be my interpretation. In any case, that means that CJ needs to be there at home, so who knows how that will pan out.


Bindy runs with the dogs
Topic: animals Link here

Zali O'Dea along this afternoon with Roni and Bindy to take the dogs to the property for a run


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... and a swim:


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It's interesting how gentle the dogs are to Bindy in comparison with each other. Also interesting how their coats match: Nikolai and Leonid are ¾ brothers (same sire, dams are sisters), but Leonid's coat looks more like Zhivago's. On the other hand, Bindy's coat looks like Nikolais, although she's Zhivago's daughter.


Hot pixels: now you see them, now you don't
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

The other day I was bringing the dogs into the kitchen when I saw two cats lined up in front of them, and a stallion in front of that. What a photo opportunity! So of course I didn't have a camera with me. Chris was nearby, and she had a smart phone, which took this photo:


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There were four of them in all, and not surprisingly they didn't come out very well. The second cat (Shadow, in the sun) is visible only as a dark blob in front of the horse's head. But when I looked at them, they all had random hot pixels. Discussed it on IRC, and nobody else could see them. Went back to have another look, and I could no longer see them either.

How did that happen? I “didn't change anything”, and I had seen it on different displays and with different software. I'm puzzled.


Pruning roses
Topic: gardening Link here

I've done almost nothing in the garden for a year or so, but there are several reasons to start again. Firstly, numerous plants, notably the roses—many of which we want to take with us—need pruning, and secondly the garden should look good when we put the house on the market. Craig's going to help with most of that, but today I had a go at the roses, which weren't happy. In particular Lili Marleen attacked me, but didn't do too much harm.


Solar electricity: finally?
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

I've been dragging my heels on multiple fronts with the house, but now that the Abbott government is thinking of abolishing the solar energy rebate, it's time to do something. On Chris Bahlo's recommendation, called up Integra Solar on 1 300 658 712 and spoke to John, who seemed to have a reasonable grasp of things, though he was surprised when I told him I was expecting to use an average of 500 W over the day. That's nothing; even a 2 kW system would be enough for that, since it delivers 8 kW. Why do I need to explain the difference between a kilowatt and a kilowatt hour to somebody in his position?

He'll get back to me with a quote, but one thing of interest is that the batteries should be dimensioned so that they will not be discharged by more than 50% on a regular basis, and that then they could last 5 to 7 years. That's not very much, and it makes me wonder whether we should be using batteries at all.


Selling the CX
Topic: general, opinion Link here

In the last millennium, about 16 years ago, we bought a very second-hand Citroën CX. This photo was taken almost exactly 15 years ago:


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Round 2001 I put up a page about it offering it for sale. It finally went on 9 March 2007, though I still haven't seen any money for it yet, but I forgot to update the page. Today got a call from Richard Ward in Sorrento, Victoria, wanting to buy it. Some things seem to last for ever.


Saturday, 30 August 2014 Dereel Images for 30 August 2014
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More wayside flowers
Topic: gardening Link here

As spring comes, so do new flowers on the wayside:


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It's about 40 cm high and looks like a Galanthus, but not of a kind I know. How did it get there?

Since I first found Drosera in the forest, we've found many more. These are the same ones I saw a couple of days ago.


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Clearly it's developing (flower?) shoots. I'll keep an eye on it.


Camera viewfinders through the ages
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I forget the make of my first camera. It was a 35mm with a 45 mm f/2.8 non-interchangeable lens and no rangefinder. I got it from my father when he bought his Canon in 1956, and I suspect he bought it in Japan in August 1945. The viewfinder was correspondingly primitive, and when I got my Asahi Pentax SV I was over the moon. The “Spotmatic” was even better.

Decades later came digital cameras. All compact digital cameras in recent decades have a live view electronic viewfinder, but until relatively recently DSLRs didn't. I bought the very first DSLR with live view, the Olympus E-510, for exactly that reason.

I was somewhat disappointed. Live view considerably slowed things down, and focus was hit-or-miss. My next camera, the E-30, didn't change the situation much.

But now I have an Olympus OM-D E-M1, and it really delivers what it promises. Sort of. There's no difference in speed or focus accuracy whether you look at the monitor on the back or the (electronic) viewfinder, which is also an order of magnitude better than the optical viewfinders on all my previous cameras. But composition? Today I had two examples:

  1. Taking photos of some flowers on the wayside was difficult, because they were small, and I needed to have the camera on the ground pointing upwards. There's no way I could have used the internal viewfinder to get this view:


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  2. During the morning I went to the Stones Road property to take some panoramas, taking Nikolai and Leonid with me. The camera was set up for panoramas, but I wanted the opportunity to take photos of the dogs too, so I took Yvonne's camera along with me. It's an Olympus E-PM2 with many of the same features as mine, but without the internal viewfinder. I was not very successful: in the bright sun, the viewfinder was almost useless, and the best I got was this:


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    That's right, the dogs weren't even there in the second photo. But I didn't see that until later. And to be safe I had set the lens to relatively wide angle; in fact the first photo is interesting because it shows both dogs completely off the ground:


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    But look at the image quality!

    The E-PM2 is a nice little camera, and the internal viewfinder would have made it less little, so it makes sense to leave it out. But somehow it makes composition that much more difficult, even in situations with less extreme light.


Guessing entrance pupils
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I've been taking my panoramas almost exclusively with my new Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 8 mm f/3.5 fisheye lens lately, but the results aren't as good as with the Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6. Why? Could it be that I haven't mounted it correctly for its entrance pupil? Does it even have an entrance pupil?

One way of checking that is to try two sets of shots of the verandah, one with the camera mounted 2.5 mm further forward, one 2.5 mm further back. And sure enough, though the results were still not perfect, the one mounted 2.5 mm further back closed better (first image), though there are still issues with both:


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Specifically, Hugin found an average error of 9.4 pixels and a maximum of 25.3. After removing control points with an error greater than 7 pixels, it found an average error of 3.6 pixels and a maximum of 12.8. By contrast, the other image had an average error of 7.4 pixels and a maximum of 19.3. After removing control points with an error greater than 7 pixels, it found an average error of 3.6 pixels and a maximum of 11.8. None of these values are good; I'd usually get round 2 or 3 pixels with the 9-18 mm lens.

The stitching errors are similar, so I suspect that this might be a limitation of the lens. The concept of an entrance pupil makes various assumptions, and some extreme wide angle lenses break the assumptions. Maybe I should use the 9-18 mm lens for better quality photos.


Tony Abbott let free
Topic: opinion Link here

Edwin Groothuis caught this one from some news programme on TV:

That's Tony Abbott, the prime minister of Australia. But it seems that the image is real; they just kept the caption a little longer than necessary. Deliberately?


Alternative foreign exchange methods?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Andy Snow commented on my money transfer issues yesterday. He recommends Oz Forex, and indeed—once you fight your way through the maze of twisty little web pages—it seems that they do offer good rates. This page claims in a rather obfuscatory way that they give the best rates:

 
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The links shown here were updated on 15 April 2017: the name “Oz Forex” was obviously too descriptive, so they've changed it to OFX. They have retained the obfuscation elsewhere, but in this case the information was apparently too clear: they've removed it.

But what are they? This depends on the exchange rate, which according to the description relates to 8.12 AM, Monday 16 June 2014. What time zone? They're too leet for that. Let's assume Australian Eastern Standard Time (UTC+10), which corresponds to 20:12 UTC on Sunday, 15 June. That's a silly time, because nearly all the major world markets are closed.

But OANDA tells me that the Interbank rate on that day was $0.93940. At that rate AUD 30,000 convert to USD 28,182.0 (as OANDA put it). St. George's 1% would make USD 27,900.2. That's close enough to OzForex's rate to be explained by fluctuations in the exchange rate. The rate they claim for St. George ($27,062, which they express as $27,945 - $883) corresponds to 4%. And that's not correct. It's also my understanding that St. George doesn't charge additional fees—they certainly didn't when I did my transfers from the UK. On the other hand, read further down on that page and discover that OzForex does charge a $15 fee for the typical transfers I would make. They only waive it if you transfer more than $10,000 at a time.

Most of the pages assume you want to transfer money out of Australia, and it took me a while to find whether it's possible to transfer to Australia. But yes, this page describes exactly my scenario.

Well, not any more. The original page describes overseas investments. The new one is apparently restricted to property.

So, I have a couple of questions to answer:

A phone call or three to be done on Monday.


Sunday, 31 August 2014 Dereel Images for 31 August 2014
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Still more Drosera?
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

There are still more plants out there that look like a Drosera species. Found this one on Klein's Paddock:


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It's clearly not the same as the one I first saw: that one has all the tentacles on the ground, and almost no stalks yet. Is it even a Drosera? First I need to get better photos.


Still no power in Stones Road!
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Call from Jim Lannen, the electrician, today: Red Energy, who should have contacted me 10 days ago, claims that I'm unreachable on the phone. Anybody who knows me knows that that's unlikely. What have they been doing? It seems that everything is conspiring to delay things.


Houdini strikes again
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

We've put a fence around the pond in Stones Road because the dogs got in there, and the water stinks. We still let them in the big dam, and Zhivago takes full advantage:


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But somehow Nikolai managed to get in the small pond anyway:


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How did he manage? There's no hole. And he had difficulty getting out again, even when I lifted the fence for him to get under. I don't think he likes that approach; possibly he jumped over it.


Disappearing firewood?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

There's still a lot of firewood on the property, left over from cutting down the Acacia melanoxylon. But somehow I thought that there was more. Now the piles are only this big:


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I'll have to keep an eye on that until it gets picked up.


Spiroolli?
Topic: food and drink Link here

Yvonne has been interested in vegetable shredders for a while, and a couple of weeks ago we tried the first ones. They did the job, but required a lot of effort and they're not completely harmless. After slicing Chris' finger we decided to try a different approach and bought a Spirooli—or did we? It's a machine with a crank for cutting the vegetables, along with three different graters. There are a surprising number of videos on YouTube, like this one:

But where's the name? Nothing on the box. Is this the original or a copy? Yet another YouTube explains, unconvincingly, how to recognize a “knockoff”.

In any case, the thing works, up to a point. The noodle-like strands of carrot and courgette are pretty much the same as with the cheaper hand-held units, but so far we haven't had much joy with the potatoes, hence the lack of photos. It also requires a surprising amount of pressure. I wonder how long Yvonne will persevere.


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