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Monday, 1 August 2016 Dereel Images for 1 August 2016
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New DxO
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Another update to DxO Optics “Pro” today, requiring a reboot to remind me that this is the Microsoft space. After restarting, I got an apparently benign error message:

EntityMemberChanged or EntityComplexMemberChanged was called without first calling EntityMemberChanging or  EntityComplexMemberChanging on the same change tracker with the same property name.  For information about properly reporting changes, see the Entity Framework documentation.

Now isn't that an interesting and intuitive message to the end user? Looks like a debug message that broke out. What does it mean? Race condition? I suppose I should send in a bug report and watch them mishandle it.


CJ's software problems
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Call from CJ Ellis today: his Google Chrome no longer worked.

How do you diagnose that? In the end he came over with the box and I plugged it in here. Boot up: ““Windows” did not shut down properly”. OK, boot up and recover, holding a lecture on proper shutdown techniques while I was at it. And then fired up Chrome, which worked as well as could be expected under the circumstances. All a matter of performance and patience, the lack of which was probably the cause of the problem in the first place. When I shut the machine down again, CJ complained that it took such a long time.

It occurred to me then that CJ has TeamViewer installed on his machine. But that wouldn't have helped: the clue was seeing how the machine booted up.


More focus stacking
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Our Schlumbergera is flowering, another pretty flower with enough third dimension to challenge macro lenses. Took a few photos, both with in-camera processing (“focus stacking”) and postprocessing stacking (“focus bracketing”). The results weren't too bad:


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But there are still issues with the external software, Focus Projects 3 “professional, which I used for the first image. Enlarging the image shows considerable bleed:

 
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I haven't seen that with the in-camera processing, like the second image. I suppose I should compare the results more carefully.


New dog next door
Topic: animals Link here

Garry Marriott's granddaughter Emily Spiteri and her boyfriend Craig Moller spent the last week on holiday in Bali, apparently getting back just before the latest volcano-caused flight cancellations. We had been collecting their mail for them in the meantime, and they came to pick it up. They bought a new dog a few weeks ago, Brudus, a Neapolitan Mastiff. He's currently only 15 weeks old, and very keen to make friends with our dogs. It'll be interesting to see how he develops.


Tuesday, 2 August 2016 Dereel Images for 2 August 2016
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Understanding HDR, yet again
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

I'm writing a presentation about raw imaging processing for the Dereel Camera Crew. That's not really necessary: a demonstration would be good enough. But I have a desire to express things as well as possible, and as usual it's a lot of work. Where do you start? Not with raw images, that's for sure. First you need to understand the background, and that's where I'm (currently) starting: the presentation has been through several restructures, and I'm probably not done yet.

Clearly the one area where raw images beat the hell out of JPEGs is recovering underexposed images. Here's an image which was roughly 4 EV underexposed:


This should be garden-nw-0-1EV-ooc.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: garden nw 0 1EV ooc          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 2624 kB
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And here it is recovered from JPEG and from raw. Run the cursor over either image to switch to the other image:


This should be garden-nw-0-1EV-fixed.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: garden nw 0 1EV fixed          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 3840 kB
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But that's not a particularly good example. Today decided to try an extreme example: the view outside from our lounge room. To my surprise, the difference in brightness was round 7 EV, more than I can capture with my Olympus OM-D E-M1 with a 3 exposure sequence. So I took 5 in intervals of 3 EV, at f/8 with exposure times between 2 s and 1/2000 s. Since I have been having issues with HDR rendering, I processed them both with enblend and with HDR Projects 4. The results were spectacular. First enblend then HDR Projects. Again run the cursor over either image to switch to the other image:


This should be Lounge-room-enblend.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Lounge room enblend          Dimensions:          9013 x 2216, 2928 kB
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Look at that second image: the whole top left is a complete mess:


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Image title: Lounge room HDR4 detail          Dimensions:          3335 x 669, 304 kB
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What went wrong there? High time to play around with HDR Projects and see what I could achieve. After a lot of time, came up with a result for one of the component images which looks better than the enblend version. Here the original Projects result, enblend result and the modified Projects result. As ever, the cursor over either image to switch to the next image:


This should be Lounge-room-2-HDR4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Lounge room 2 HDR4          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 1520 kB
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Image title: Lounge room 2 HDR4 optimized          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 2496 kB
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The obvious differences are the gradation and the sharpness. The out-of-box Projects 4 image is far too dark, and the enblend version is too soft. In addition, it's not as sharp as the Projects results: no anti-ghosting (and one of the images in the sequence was taken at 2 s exposure time).

At this point, it's worth looking at the component images I started with:


This should be Lounge-room-2-2EV.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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The first image is generally underexposed, but the next is arguably slightly overexposed outside, and the fourth is still underexposed inside. They're 3 EV apart, so I'd say that the scene really has a 10 EV range between inside and outside averages.

So: success? Not quite. How do I automate this so that all four images get the same treatment? More work ahead.


Wednesday, 3 August 2016 Dereel Images for 3 August 2016
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Centrelink Pension suspended
Topic: general Link here

I've just changed the payments from my superannuation fund, which requires informing Centrelink, the descriptively named Australian social services department. That should result in a modest increase in my pension. And that's what I was expected when we got two letters from Centrelink today (one for me, one for Yvonne; postage cost is clearly no objective). But what I saw was completely different:

Your Age Pension has been suspended because we have not received a reply to the trust and company letter we sent you.

Huh? Why no date reference? Why no reminder? Why didn't PPT handle this? Called up PPT and spoke to Helen Maggi, who wasn't aware of everything, but was sure that I would have handled it. Peter O'Connor was away in Melbourne. She said that she would follow up and get back to me, but she didn't by evening.

Sent an email to Peter at 18:08, to which, to my surprise, he replied at 18:37. It seems that this relates to the Lehey Family Trust, which has been inactive for years. And I'm very sure that I have not received any correspondence about the matter in the last few years. Have Centrelink messed up?


Factor: a week and counting
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Last week I started running /usr/games/factor on a 78 digit number. It got as far as the first four factors (3 19 83 4259) and then got stuck in a loop looking for the next. It's still going a week later:

USER  PID  %CPU %MEM   VSZ  RSS TT  STAT STARTED        TIME COMMAND
grog 2282 100.0  0.0 16484 3680 38  R+   27Jul16 10117:06.11 /usr/games/factor 123544353453454353443542545425425455425

Interestingly, the time 10117 minutes corresponds to 7.026 days, almost exactly the time it has been running. So those 100% are real.

More to the point, of course: how long will it run for? Will it ever complete in my lifetime? I suppose I should do some tests to see how the CPU time grows with the length of the number.


Thursday, 4 August 2016 Dereel Images for 4 August 2016
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Getting to the bottom of Centrelink
Topic: general, opinion Link here

So why did Centrelink stop my pension payments? Called them up today. They've made the phone lines even more difficult to use: now there's one of these horrible voice non-recognition systems there. Fought my way through that, and after the customary 15 minute wait was connected to Marisha, who told me that they had sent a letter to PPT, my financial advisers, on 21 June 2016. It asked a number of things, including about the family trust, and they had received no reply. They had not sent me a copy. She was prepared to send me one, but that required a fax: Centrelink doesn't do email!

Of course, PPT has a fax number, but they're not prepared to admit it on the web site. She had to call them up to get the number, 5331 7980. She sent off another copy of the letter and gave me a reference number 504 4420.

And the requested call from Peter? I did have one message waiting tone while talking to Marisha, but ignored it. Finally Peter called in the afternoon and told me effectively what he had said in his email: he thought that the family trust had been closed down. Why? And why did they not reply to the letter? And why did he not tell me of the letter when I met him last month? He promised to send me various documents for approval, but by evening I hadn't seen anything. Not happy.

While searching for details about the family trust, discovered it online. Problem: its main business location is VIC 3124. What's that post code? We're 3352.

It seems that there are two Lehey Family Trusts in Victoria. The other one relates to my uncle Max and cousin Mick. Apparently name clashes either don't matter or don't get checked for. OK, This one is ours. And of course we shouldn't even get started with the says that the Lahey family trust.


Full Google Maps!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Since Google Maps has downgraded to the New Look, it has refused to give me “Full Google Maps”. Why? It's not saying; the link just gives generics, not specifics to my installation. Sometimes I wonder if it's worth it: it seems so much worse than it used to be that I'm wondering if it's not deliberate.

Today, however, the unexpected happened. Looking for contact numbers on the PPT web site, I found an embedded map with an incorrect location:

 
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OK, follow the half
	link link at the bottom, and I got an unexpected message:

 
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OK, nothing I'd like better (well, within context). So I said Yes, and how about that, I was given full Google Maps.

So what's the story here? Google keeps telling me that my system is too wimpy for their maps, which now only work without limitation on operating systems for which you pay money, or in the case of Linux, as long as you at least use Google's browsers. But it's wrong! It seems I have found the correct stepping stones to get around their checks.

Am I being unfair? Maybe. But the complete lack of information about the real issues doesn't help.

Only later did I discover that the location was correct, just at a different scale from what I expected. But the mistake was worth while.


HDR fun, yet again
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

On Tuesday I finally managed to get a better image from HDR Projects 4, and to save the profile. That related to images with extreme dynamic range. How would that work with the relatively simple scenario of my house photos? Started with that profile and played around a while. And how about that, finally something better! Here are the results for last weekend, first the out-of-box HDR Projects results, then those with enblend, and finally today's results. Run the cursor over either image to switch to the next:


This should be e-from-house-HDR4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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Today's do look the best, though arguably they're still too gaudy. So spent some time trying to adjust them. It took me hours, and the results weren't convincing: it seems that saving profiles doesn't save the fine tuning, so in fact my two profiles (Lounge Room and Garden Photos) were identical. That makes them pretty useless for batch processing.

What do I do? RTFM one more time, of course, when I have time. Contact FRANZIS support? They don't seem to know what the word means. Instead I went searching for the saved profiles. As I suspected, they were identical:

--- /Photos/6-HDR4-grog/pp_vu_000000.ini        2016-08-05 17:24:38.918020000 +1000
+++ /Photos/6-HDR4-grog/pp_vu_000001.ini        2016-08-05 17:24:38.951361000 +1000
@@ -1,6 +1,6 @@
 [General]
-TimeStamp=1470274664
-DisplayName=Lounge-room-and-outside
+TimeStamp=1470281791
+DisplayName=Garden-photos-set
 Category=user
 SearchTag=
 VersionMajor=4

So where do I go from here? After RTFM, I suppose I'll have to compare various configuration files. Irritating, to say the least.

One interesting discovery was in one of the (preinstalled) configuration files:

C:/Program Files/Franzis/HDR projects 4/settings/pp_v2_701.ini

Interesting that they use / as a directory delimiter instead of \.


Friday, 5 August 2016 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 5 August 2016
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50 years Spotmatic
Topic: photography, history Link here

Fifty years ago today I got my second SLR, an Asahi Pentax Spotmatic. And I still have the camera:


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How times change.

In passing, it's interesting that late July/early August seems to have been the time to buy Pentaxes. From my calendar file:

Date       Event
24 July 1965       Greg buys first SLR (Pentax SV)
5 August 1966       Greg gets second SLR (Pentax Spotmatic)
2 August 1992       Greg buys last real SLR (Pentax Z1)
1 August 2010       Greg buys last SLR (Pentax SV)

Garden ornaments and furniture
Topic: general, gardening Link here

On Wednesday Yvonne had bought some garden ornaments from ALDI, but they proved to be too small. Into town today to meet her (she had been visiting the Geoffrey Cutter Centre) to consider alternatives:


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Which do I want? None of them, really. But Yvonne liked the middle two, so I left her to it and moved on to buy a blind at Spotlight. It's interesting to note that they're significantly larger and much heavier (concrete instead of plastic), but only cost double the ALDI price.

Yvonne has also been looking at lounge room seating arrangements, mainly second-hand offerings at new prices on Facebook. None of them have come close to being what I want—in particular, it seems to be modern to have low-backed armchairs which don't quite make it to the shoulders. Looked in the furniture shop with the forgettable name near Spotlight, and found three different ones:


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Unfortunately, the fold-out foot rest is too short on all of them. More of a problem, though, is that WYSIWYG: although they're all individual components, this is the only configuration in which they sell them. So we're no closer to a replacement for the old furniture.


Another induction “frypan”
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

While in town, also looked in the el-cheapo homewares shop next door to the furniture shop, looking for a frying pan which works with my induction cooker. They had them, at prices starting round $45 for a 28 cm one (barely large enough). On to The Good Guys, who seemed to have nothing; finally found a few hidden amongst lots of electrical equipment. And sure enough, I could buy pans up to about $100. But they had one there for what proved to be $23 (they're too polite to put the real price, and this one was marked both $24 and $24.95). It wobbled!

But maybe that was just that pan. Found a salesperson who somewhat grudgingly stopped her conversation with a colleague and confirmed yes, indeed, the pan I had had a flat bottom (it was half-wrapped in cardboard, so I couldn't check). OK, bought it, unpacked it and—the bottom was flat.

Somehow these prices are all over the place. We'll see if the pan stays flat after use; if not, at least returning isn't such an issue.


New radio
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

The radio that I ordered at the end of June has finally arrived—wasn't posted until 13 July. It's a Kaide KK-959, and it must have the distinction of being the only device I have with both instructions and inscriptions only in Chinese.


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I worked out how to use it as a radio, but there are other functions that will take time to decipher. At least I can use it for the original purpose, to trace faults in the electric fence.


Nikolai barks!
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

While watching TV in the evening, heard one of our dogs bark. That's unusual; only Leonid barks, and only when he's outside and wants to be let in. But this evening it proved to be Nikolai, of whom I wasn't sure that he had ever barked. It seems that something outside the front door interested him, but when I let him out, he ran around, sniffed a bit and came back.

A cat? A fox? Who cares? The remarkable thing is that he barked in the first place. I'm reminded of a clue in some Sherlock Holmes story.


Saturday, 6 August 2016 Dereel Images for 6 August 2016
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25 years of web sites
Topic: technology, history Link here

Coincidentally with the 71st anniversary of Little Boy, and almost coincidentally with the 50th anniversary of my acquisition of my oldest camera, it seems that today was also the 25th anniversary of the first web site. How time flies!


Breakfast with Lorraine
Topic: food and drink Link here

Lorraine Carranza over in late morning for breakfast/brunch. She brought some bacon with her, so I commented “no curry, then”. Lorraine: “Oh, I love curry”. So we put the bacon in the fridge and had nasi lemak instead. We'll have to wait another day to try out the new frying pan.


Another macro photo failure
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

While here, Lorraine brought a card with a pop-up cutout which she thought represents Notre-Dame de Paris.


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  Notre-Dame de Paris

It doesn't, of course, but it was pretty enough that I thought it would make a good subject for focus stacking.

What a pain these focus stacking settings are! You have to go down no less than 7 layers of menu to set it! And when you're done, remember where to press OK:

And the other thing I keep forgetting is: with the electronic shutter, flash sync is 1/13 s. I had it set to 1/250 to be on the safe side: normally the speed is 1/320. So after Lorraine left, I discovered that I had a whole set of images with the bottom 5% exposed. Damn! When will I remember all the pitfalls?

And the photo? A single image taken in accident because I had forgotten an OK somewhere. It's taken at f/20, but it's not sharp at the base.


Rearranging furniture
Topic: general Link here

Somehow I'm developing a little energy again, and today I rearranged some of the furniture in my office in preparation for installing the blind as a backdrop for macro photos in place of this somewhat strange vinyl I've been using for nearly 8 years:


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It's visible on the table between the shelving on the left. The empty shelf is also new: despite all the things we've got rid of, I still don't have enough space.

Was somewhat thwarted by the fact that the masonry plugs that I had bought didn't come with screws, and it seems that one of them will have to go through a stud, something for which it isn't designed. Somehow this stuff never works out as easily as I would hope.


Sunday, 7 August 2016 Dereel Images for 7 August 2016
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Understanding entrance pupils
Topic: photography Link here

One of the key issues in getting panoramas to line up is to ensure that the entrance pupil of the lens doesn't move from one view to the next. That's why there are tables like this one. And clearly I've been doing something right lately: average error less than 1 pixel, and on occasion maximum error only just over 1 pixel. That's very good.

Yesterday I took the panorama of my office, which is a particularly sensitive subject due to the closeness of some of the parts. But it, too, was excellent: average error 0.4 pixel, maximum 1.0.

And then I discovered something unexpected: for the lens (Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 8 mm f/3.5 fisheye), the correct setting on my rail should be 94 mm. And I had it set to 97.5 mm.

So what's wrong? Clearly 97.5 mm works better. Where did I go wrong? Incorrect source data? Incorrect measurements on my part? The difference is significant: if it's the former, it only affects this lens. If it's the latter, it affects all lenses. To be investigated.


Finding electric fence faults
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Finally got round to investigating the electric fence with the “transistor radio” method suggested in the ACMA page. Sure enough, there was a distinct “click” every time the actuator fired. All I had to do was to follow the fence and listen for where it was loudest.

But there was no recognizable difference. If I faced the fence, it was louder. If I turned my back to the fence, it was less loud. And that along the entire 400 odd metres of fence that I checked. I did find one wire that had slipped out of the insulator and was touching the (wooden) fence post, but after fixing that there was no change.

The actuator itself? The radio was just as loud there. I disconnected the fence and ran the actuator by itself. No noise.

My best guess is that the fence is a giant antenna, and that it's broadcasting the clicks along its entire length. But under those circumstances, how can I stop it? I can probably minimize it by partitioning the fence, but it doesn't sound like it will help much.


Monday, 8 August 2016 Dereel
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Nothing doing
Topic: general, photography Link here

Today was one of those days where I didn't do anything worth recording. I'm gradually getting fed up with the Coursera courses I'm doing, and so I have a bit of time to do other things. Offered to help Yvonne move furniture, but to my surprise she wasn't overly interested. Instead, spent much of the afternoon working on my raw processing presentation.


Tuesday, 9 August 2016 Dereel
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Adjusting power voltage
Topic: general Link here

Today was the day they dropped the power line voltage by 6 V, as discussed with Edward Radomski last month. For that they had to briefly disconnect power (obviously). They had given me a time frame between 9:00 and 13:00, and the matter should have taken 15 minutes. That's long enough for my UPSs to drain, so I set up the generator and cables, checked in advance that everything worked, and waited.

At 9:17 the power went out. OK, up, fire up the generator, turn Yvonne's monitor off (it's on the other UPS, the expensive Eaton device that's too refined for my generator), and then back into the office. I had just sat down and was observing that the input voltage from the generator was closer to the norm than from the mains (232-234 V instead of 245-253 V), when the printer powered up—it was all over, within 3 minutes. And as advertised, we're now getting 239-247 V. And for that I got out of bed early!


Pension panic: over?
Topic: general Link here

Mail from Peter O'Connell today. Our pension has been reinstated. I'll believe it when I see the bank statement.


More furniture rearrangement
Topic: general Link here

Finally got round to rearranging the furniture in the lounge room. Moved one of the glass cabinets to the left of the TV:


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Clearly there's no space to put the other one on the other side, and we're still wondering what to do with the large low table that Yvonne bought last December


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There's plenty of space behind the armchairs, and there will be even more if we ever get the winter garden built and move the bushes out there. But for now we'll just think about it.


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Induction hamburgers
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Home-made hamburgers for dinner today. In the past I used to do them in my grill pan over a gas flame for about 5 minutes, but the induction cooker put paid to the pan:


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Still, the induction cooker itself is pretty powerful. So took a steel pan and did them with the cooker. The results were amazing. Firstly, it got so hot that it produced a lot of smoke, completely overwhelming our toy range hood, and I had to lower the heat from the default 1800 W down to about 900 W. And even so, the hamburgers were done in 2½ minutes.

Clearly there's a lot to learn about induction cooking. It's amazing that I haven't read anything about this kind of issue.


Wednesday, 10 August 2016 Dereel Images for 10 August 2016
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Site audit
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Matthew Sims, the Golden Plains Shire Investigations Officer, along this morning to conduct an onsite planning compliance audit of the planning permit for the house. I wasn't looking forward to it. It contains lots of boilerplate and generalizations, and I was sure that he would find something wrong. But no, it seems we're completely compliant, and he was done in five minutes. That's a load off my mind.


Census web site down, but no data corruption
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday was census day in Australia, and it seems the majority of the population chose to perform it on line. And then came the catastrophe: “Hackers”! They had to close down the site, and as of a day later, it's still down.

Typical Microsoft vulnerabilities, right? Went off to find details and gloat. But I wasn't prepared for what I saw:


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FreeBSD? Is that our fault? Sent off a message to the developers to discuss it, and in the meantime tried to find more details. That's difficult, since the reports were so vague and contradictory. One popular version is that it was attacks from other countries (“overseas” in Australian parlance). But it seems that, at least now, that's not possible. A reply from a FreeBSD developer:

Yeah, looking at it, it appears to just be a regular volumetric attack, overloading network link before ever reaching the FreeBSD box.

Traffic destined to that IP range appears to be being dropped as the edge of most networks, rather than actually making it to Australia.

That's borne out by claims that it was a router that failed. But the details are so vague that it could just as easily have been an overload of the server itself.

At least no data was lost—quite the contrary, if this part of a statement from Michael McCormack, Minister for Small Business (why him?):

Importantly, no Census data was compromised, no Census data was compromised and no data was lost. No data was lost.

Of course, as every database person knows, double data entry is just as much data corruption as loss of data.

It'll be interesting to see how this pans out. But at least there's not much pointing to a FreeBSD issue. In fact, is FreeBSD even involved? Netcraft thinks so, but I've never seen IBM do anything with FreeBSD before.


Thursday, 11 August 2016 Dereel
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Server overload
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

For some reason I forget, I wanted to look at something on the external server www.lemis.com today. And once again, as a couple of weeks ago, the system was swapping its little heart out. This time things looked different, though: there were up to 100 httpd processes running, apparently all doing something useful. But this machine only has 1 GB of memory, and the swapping just completely overloaded it.

OK, there are parameters to limit the number of concurrent servers. What are they again? Once I had a good understanding of Apache, but that was decades ago. Looking in http.conf, found:

# Limit on total number of servers running, ...
#
MaxClients 150

OK, that looked like something to tune. But the httpd.conf on www didn't contain the directive at all. Oh, horror, they've changed the syntax and the names and everything. So I'm going to have to RTFM! A bit of searching found lots of documentation like this one for MPM worker. But there are a number of different ones, and it seems that there was no mpm module listed in httpd.conf. About the only reference was a commented-out:

# Server-pool management (MPM specific)
# Include etc/apache24/extra/httpd-mpm.conf

OK, uncomment that and add:

LoadModule mpm_worker_module  libexec/apache24/mod_mpm_worker.so

Tried to restart and got:

Performing sanity check on apache24 configuration:
AH00534: httpd: Configuration error: More than one MPM loaded.

Huh? What else is loaded? Took a look inside httpd-mpm.conf and found a whole series of tuning sections, one per MPM module. But I don't have one loaded! Or do I? The comments in the file say:

# Only one of the below sections will be relevant on your
# installed httpd.  Use "apachectl -l" to find out the
# active mpm.

apachectl -l? Never heard of it. Neither had the man page. In fact, it doesn't describe any options at all. So I took a look and found:

=== root@www (/dev/pts/0) /usr/local/etc/apache24 77 -> apachectl -l
Compiled in modules:
  core.c
  mod_so.c
  http_core.c

OK, so it's not compiled in. How do I find what modules are loaded? More browsing the Apache documentation without finding anything useful. Finally found an answer on a forum: apachectl -M is your friend:

=== root@www (/dev/pts/0) /usr/local/etc/apache24 83 -> apachectl -M
Loaded Modules:
 core_module (static)
 so_module (static)
 http_module (static)
 authn_file_module (shared)
...
 php5_module (shared)
 mpm_prefork_module (shared)

Finally! mpm_prefork_module spawns one process per request, so it's clearly part of my problem. But where does it get loaded? With some searching through the subdirectory hierarchy, found modules.d/000_mpm_prefork_fallback.conf with the appropriate LoadModule command. Right, I had forgotten about this extension. It seems that the writer of httpd.conf had too, because there are lots of commented-out entries in that file. Still, nothing more needed than to comment it out and add a modules.d/001_mpm_worker.conf.

=== root@www (/dev/pts/2) /usr/local/etc/apache24 28 -> apachectl graceful
Performing sanity check on apache24 configuration:
[Thu Aug 11 07:24:07.401488 2016] [:crit] [pid 65206:tid 34401707008] Apache is running a threaded MPM, but your PHP Module is not compiled to be threadsafe.  You need to recompile PHP.
AH00013: Pre-configuration failed
Performing a graceful restart
[Thu Aug 11 07:24:07.461277 2016] [:crit] [pid 65207:tid 34401707008] Apache is running a threaded MPM, but your PHP Module is not compiled to be threadsafe.  You need to recompile PHP.
AH00013: Pre-configuration failed

OK, looks like I have more compatibility work ahead of me. I'll do that on a different machine (after all, I don't work for the Bureau of Statistics). In the meantime, knowing what MPM module I had finally allowed me to tune it, and things are back to normal.

Once this used to be so simple.


More unintelligible error messages
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

While working on the server overload issue, discovered a number of these messages:

pid 63711 (httpd), uid 80, was killed: out of swap space
pid 63932 (httpd), uid 80, was killed: out of swap space
swap zone ok
swap zone exhausted, increase kern.maxswzone

I've never seen that before. I wasn't out of swap space—I was only using about 35%. Took a look and found:

=== root@www (/dev/pts/0) /usr/local/etc/apache24 89 -> sysctl kern.maxswzone
kern.maxswzone: 0

That looks like a default value, the same as I have on my other machines.

=== root@www (/dev/pts/0) /usr/local/etc/apache24 91 -> man -k maxswzone
maxswzone: nothing appropriate

More web searching found nothing conclusive, but it seems to be related to running virtual machines, which would fit the situation. Still more missing documentation, possibly masking a bug.


More census crash background
Topic: technology, politics, opinion Link here

It's becoming clearer and clearer that the Census crash had nothing to do with FreeBSD. And it's not becoming much clearer what the real reasons were. But this tweet (a screenshot, of course, because you can't say anything useful on Twitter) seems to offer a plausible description.


Uploading data via web site
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

On Saturday the Dereel Camera Crew are coming to learn about raw image processing. I'm asking them to bring some sample images with them. And how do we upload them? Loading photos from cameras using commodity operating systems is such a pain that I don't want to get started. So I'll ask them to bring a laptop and upload the images themselves.

And how? CIFS? NFS? FTP? The modern way is to use a web page.

How do you do that? Simpler than it seems, apparently. This page on W3schools popped up first, but it's clearly based on this php.net page. Much of it seems irrelevant to my setup, but I did like this part:

    // DO NOT TRUST $_FILES['upfile']['mime'] VALUE !!
    // Check MIME Type by yourself.
    $finfo = new finfo(FILEINFO_MIME_TYPE);
    if (false === $ext = array_search(
        $finfo->file($_FILES['upfile']['tmp_name']),
        array(
            'jpg' => 'image/jpeg',
            'png' => 'image/png',
            'gif' => 'image/gif',
        ),
        true
    )) {
        throw new RuntimeException('Invalid file format.');

OK, what this is saying is: don't believe what you're told, believe what the name tells you, even if they're really executables. And refuse files with names like myfile.jpeg. *sigh*.

It worked relatively well when I tried it on eureka. But I had difficulties with dischord: “Sorry, there was an error uploading $src”. What error? I can't find out a way to get the upload function (move_uploaded_file()) to report an error. Various debugging displays suggest it's due to the client machine not supplying a MIME type. This stuff is so flimsy.


Rani: half cat, half devil
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

We can certainly see that Rani isn't all Felis domesticus. She's remarkably independent and disobedient, and she plays relatively roughly with Piccola, to the point where we're wondering whether we've done Piccola a favour by buying her. They used to lie together in a basket, but lately they've taken to separate baskets again.

She's coming on 9 months old now. Hopefully she'll calm down soon.


Friday, 12 August 2016 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel
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Visiting aged care again
Topic: general Link here

Off with Yvonne, Nikolai and Leonid this morning to visit the residents of the Geoffrey Cutter Centre and the Eureka Village Hostel. Things didn't go quite as planned: the GCC is “in lockdown” (a modern phrase meaning “quarantined”) due to an outbreak of gastroenteritis, so Yvonne and Leo couldn't go in. Instead she came with Niko and me and visited Eureka.

A number of things were different as a result, but we ended up with three people accompanying us, and though there were no more people there, it took us a good 50 minutes to get through. It's interesting comparing how Yvonne treats the people and how I do; I should learn something from it.


Coming up roses
Topic: gardening Link here

While in town, dropped into Growmaster, the plant nursery near the freeway entrance, who have apparently decided that a web site wasn't for them and given it to a squatter.

Bought a couple more climbing roses (“Red Lincoln” and “Iceberg”). We're still discussing where to put the ones we have, and in the end put them on the north side of the dog run, along with one of the old roses that we bought a few weeks ago, and which I seem not to have mentioned in my diary:


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First real garden work I've done in a long while.


Completing the dining room
Topic: general Link here

Also in town bought some suitable hooks and finally hung the wall tapestry that Yvonne has been waiting for for over a year:


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Gradually things are looking the way we want them.


Saturday, 13 August 2016 Dereel Images for 13 August 2016
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Camera Crew meeting
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

The monthly Dereel Camera Crew meeting took place this afternoon at my place, where I presented my raw processing presentation. It's not a big group, but I was expecting more than the two people who came (Carol Ann Moyse and Paul Shire). Paul, a professional photographer, was particularly interested, as he should be, and had lots of questions.

How well did I address things? I'm not sure. It seems that the illustrations of how pixels work really was worthwhile. as were the underexposure examples. But Paul knew how to fix the underexposed image with Photoshop—“It'll only take me 10 seconds”. Five minutes later he came up with an image which really did lighten up the shade area and keep the skies from burning out. The latter was straightforward enough with selective processing, something that I wasn't discussing. The shadows were lightened, but as Paul agreed, they looked terrible. Unfortunately I didn't keep the image for comparison's sake. At least it showed the expected results.

Spent a lot of time comparing images, but somehow didn't come to any real breakthrough conclusion. Paul has all the infrastructure he needs to process raw images, but for some reason he's worried about space: 17 MB for a raw image, 8 MB for a JPEG. That's 940 raw images on his 16 GB memory card. And yes, he says, he can take that many in an hour taking football photos. Still, he intends to use raw images for some things.

Carol intends to use raw, and she's currently considering buying either Lightroom or DxO Optics “Pro”. I discovered I had forgotten to even mention Lightroom in my presentation. Admittedly, I don't like it. See this article: I don't like software that wants me to see things its way. Paul initially said that it was great, but later on came up with exactly my objections: hard to use, counterintuitive. I'll be interested to see what Carol chooses.


File upload: no go
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

My file upload web page works, sort of, at least for me. Today we tried it in earnest, and one limitation became evident immediately: only one file at a time. Possibly there's a solution for that, but there was worse to come: it just failed silently. Select a file, press submit, and no response, not even the debug output that should have appeared. How do you debug that?

One thing is clear: not during the presentation. Paul suggested using Dropbox instead, which sounded like complete overkill to move relatively large quantities of data 10 metres across the local network. But he signed me up anyway, and we waited for a confirmation message.

And waited. And waited. It took 45 minutes! By that time the presentation was over, so I could look at it. First I had to install an app. All the binaries were for Linux, so I had to build from source:

 
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That proved to be wanting to say:

cd ./nautilus-dropbox-1.6.1; ./configure; make; make install;

That was a non-starter, of course, because the version is now 1.6.2. But running configure gave me:

checking for NAUTILUS... configure: error: Package requirements (libnautilus-extension >= 2.16.0) were not met:

Package libnautilus-extension was not found in the pkg-config search path.
Perhaps you should add the directory containing `libnautilus-extension.pc'
to the PKG_CONFIG_PATH environment variable
Package 'libnautilus-extension', required by 'world', not found

That could happen just as easily under Linux. Why don't they have any information in the installation instructions? And where is the port? Do I care? It seems that:

Any file you save to your Dropbox will automatically save to all your computers, phones and even the Dropbox website.

I'm not sure I even want that.

Went to Dropbox and sure enough, it works fine without the app. And maybe it's worth having. At least it doesn't cost anything.


Sunday, 14 August 2016 Dereel Images for 14 August 2016
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Gyros on induction cooker
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

From time to time we make “Gyros“. The correct way is on a large rotating vertical spit, of course:

Gyros or Döner

But that's not practical on a small scale. So we cut the meat first and then fry it.


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The problem is keeping the heat; due to the surface area, the meat loses lots of juice, and that cools things down to round 100°. So how about this amazingly hot induction cooker? Tried that:

This was also intended to show how badly the range hood works, but that seems to have failed. In any case, it took 5½ minutes to cook the gyros, and it wasn't without some weeping. At least the kuali gave me the chance to move the meat to one side while the juices evaporated.


Monday, 15 August 2016 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 15 August 2016
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Going shopping
Topic: general, food and drink Link here

We've been planning a number of things to do in Ballarat lately, and today we finally got round to doing it. Off first to the local car accessories shop in Sebastopol and finally bought new floor mats for Yvonne's Commodore. They're completely worn out, and though that didn't worry Yvonne, it worried me: I drive barefoot.

Driving barefoot also has other issues. Now we have an in-house garage, I don't need to put on any footwear to get into the car. And so it was that we arrived at the accessories shop with no footwear at all. After an abortive visit to ALDI, off to Big W (who now have their very own web site) to look for thongs, which I needed anyway. $15! Looking more carefully, found others which looked pretty identical for $5. Somehow pricing of commodity items is completely haphazard.

Then to Dan Murphys to look for better beer. I've been drinking Oettinger for some years now. It used to be a fairly typical German Hellbier, but I get the impression that its quality is waning. Ended up coming out with Budweiser, Pilsner Urquell, Beck's, Bitburger and Tsingtao.

Then on to JB HiFi looking for a radio alarm clock. The mains voltage at home is now “normal” (235-245V), but the ancient alarm clock in the bed (now nearly 30 years old) has gained a whole hour in last couple of months, about a minute a day.

Didn't find anything I liked there, and the comparison with the camera prices suggests that the days of loss leaders is gone, so on to The Good Guys, where I saw the same alarm that I had been looking at at JB HiFi, just 25% cheaper. But there was only one left, and it was damaged, so found another one for $24.

On via Bunnings to Harvey Norman to look at lounge room suites. There were a fair number that looked like possibilities, until we were told that almost none of them were configurable. If I'm going to spend several thousand dollars on furniture, it should at least fit my needs.

On to the third ALDI looking for a sump pump, and finally found one, along with a toy USB microscope. Is it any good? Who knows? Who caress? With ALDI I can bring it back.


Which beer?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Quickly chilled my beers when I got home, and later compared Oettinger and Budweiser. My suspicions were confirmed: the Budweiser was much better. At the very least, that's the end of my Oettinger phase. Now to compare with all the others.


Impossible lighting
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

The photos I took at Harvey Norman were terrible. The place has fairly large glass windows, but of course the lighting inside is much warmer, and getting a good colour balance is almost impossible. In addition, there's an amazing amount of flare from the windows:


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Is there any way to improve that?


Tuesday, 16 August 2016 Dereel Images for 16 August 2016
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Garden flowers in late winter
Topic: gardening Link here

Winter is drawing to a close, but we still have flowers in the garden, in fact more than I had expected, though there's no sign of the Hellebores yet. On the other hand, the Camellias are flowering better than I've seen them, and a couple of persistent Cannas and Petunias are not quite dead:


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The last rose of summer is (just) faded and gone. Here photos taken on 13 August 2016, along with the new growth of the climbers that we planted only the day before:


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Finally we have a significant number of spring bulbs, mainly daffodils, and the gazanias are also flowering happily:


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The Cyclamen that I've had for ever is also flowering much more happily than last year:


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Hanging pictures
Topic: general, gardening Link here

We've been in this house over 15 months, time (Yvonne says) to hang some pictures. Finally we have everything in place, and Yvonne has decided where the pictures should go.

The house has a steel frame, so we use anchors are designed for plasterboard, not wood, and instead of the conventional wisdom that says you put the screws into the stud, you have to avoid them. That's OK: we have a stud finder. But on one occasion it didn't help us much:


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The problem was the diagonal braces like these:


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They're made of thin strips of steel, too thin to trigger the stud finder, though possibly the indicators could have helped if I had known.

Finally we got things installed:


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We can't do much in the lounge room yet, since we still haven't decided on the final layout. This is all we ended up with:


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I thought that was the end of the matter, but then I discovered that Yvonne has pictures for another three rooms. Mañana.


Baked beans
Topic: food and drink Link here

Baked beans are a staple of British breakfast, one part that I'd rather forget, at least the way I've always had them. But look a little beyond and you get something like cassoulet, something on a completely different level. And a traditional bacon and eggs breakfast really wants some kind of starch. With huevos rancheros I eat frijoles refritos, so why not white beans with a British breakfast?

I tried one approach about a month ago. They still tasted too British. Today I tried again, this time with lots of garlic and onions. We'll see how that works out. Here's today's recipe; the definitive one is in my recipe collection

quantity       ingredient       step
500 g       dried white beans       1
130 g       chorizo       2
100 g       rind of the bacon       2
480 g       tinned tomatoes (800 g can)       2
50 g       tomato purée       2
45 g       garlic       2
180 g       onion       2
3 g       dried oregano       2
2 g       dried thyme       2
      water to cover       2
25 g       salt       3

The quantities proved to be too much; in particular I had an accident with the tomatoes and used double the quantity planned.

Preparation

  1. Soften the beans by boiling in water and leaving to soak for 2 hours, or by soaking overnight.
  2. Add all the ingredients except the salt, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove chorizo and cut into small pieces. Remove rind and discard. Replace chorizo, add salt and simmer until cooked, about 4 hours.

In passing, it's amazing how US-centric the Wikipedia page is. Hash browns indeed! I spent far too long in England, much of the time between 1961 and 1972, and I never heard of hash browns until I went to the USA in 1982.


Wednesday, 17 August 2016 Dereel Images for 17 August 2016
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Failed panorama
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

I had to take photos of yesterday's picture hanging, of course. The first idea was a panorama taken from the middle of the (circular) table in the middle of the room.

How do you mount the camera? It has to be placed on top of the table, of course. But with the panorama bracket my real tripod is about 85 cm high, probably too high for the view I wanted. So I mounted it on a toy tripod I bought years ago. There's a carousel (“lazy Susan”) in the middle of the table, so I used that as a rotator.

The results were underwhelming:


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Yes, of course I can crop the table surface, and I did:


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But there are at least two serious problems: first, the white balance (created automatically by HDR Projects 4) is way off, and secondly the foreground shows clearly a mess due to the rotation of the carousel. I tried this with the enblend method, but Hugin got completely confused with the position of the carousel.

Somehow I'm getting the feeling that I made a mistake buying HDR Projects, especially since FRANZIS seems to have no support at all.


Toy microscope: toy
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

On Monday I had tried out the toy microscope that I bought on Monday. FreeBSD recognizes it as something that webcamd could handle, though it couldn't:

Aug 15 18:29:20 eureka kernel: ugen0.4: <Etron Technology, Inc.> at usbus0
Aug 15 18:29:20 eureka devd: Executing '/usr/local/etc/rc.d/webcamd start ugen0.4'
Aug 15 18:29:20 eureka devd: Executing '/usr/local/etc/rc.d/webcamd start ugen0.4'
Aug 15 18:29:21 eureka devd: Executing 'logger Unknown USB device: vendor 0x1e4e product 0x0109 bus uhub2'
Aug 15 18:29:21 eureka devd: Executing 'kldload -n snd_uaudio'
Aug 15 18:29:21 eureka kernel: uaudio0: <USB Microphone> on usbus0
Aug 15 18:29:21 eureka kernel: uaudio0: No playback.
Aug 15 18:29:21 eureka kernel: uaudio0: Record: 32000 Hz, 1 ch, 16-bit S-LE PCM format, 2x8ms buffer.
Aug 15 18:29:21 eureka kernel: uaudio0: No MIDI sequencer.
Aug 15 18:29:21 eureka kernel: pcm6: <USB audio> on uaudio0
Aug 15 18:29:21 eureka kernel: uaudio0: No HID volume keys found.

OK, try in dischord, for which the package had supplied software. The results weren't impressive, and so I went trying alternatives with cameras. The maximum I can get with my M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm F2.8 Macro is 1:1 magnification (a field of 17×13 mm), so I put my SMC Macro-Takumar 50 mm f/4 on bellows:


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One of the most stupid design decisions for this lens was the integral lens hood, which means that the front of the lens almost touches the subject. Of course, the lens should be mounted with a reversing ring, but I couldn't find mine. The total extension was about 265 mm, corresponding to a magnification of 5.3:1, or a field of view of 3.3×2.5 mm.

Here a couple of comparisons. I've cropped the Olympus image. First, a Lithium battery:


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In sequence the Olympus lens, the Macro-Takumar, and the microscope:

 
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I couldn't get rid of the blue fringing. That wasn't the largest magnification, but changing objectives did nothing useful:


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Next, an Australian 50¢ coin, in the same sequence:


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And finally a National Semiconductor 2708 EPROM, all 1 kB of it:


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The date code suggests that it was made round 26 October 1977.

 
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In summary, there's nothing that this microscope can do that I can't already do better with the lenses I already have. I should probably try an adapter for a real microsocope.

In passing, it's disappointing how uninteresting the surface of the EPROM is. About the only thing of interest is that the etching seems to be very uneven.


Thursday, 18 August 2016 Dereel Images for 18 August 2016
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Breakfast observations
Topic: food and drink Link here

One of the more unusual components of a cassoulet are couennes, cooked pork rind cut into thin slices. OK, my baked beans are something like a poor man's cassoulet. And I just cooked them with a lot of pork rind. How about chopping them up and freezing them for later use?


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Also ate the first new batch of baked beans for breakfast. Too much oregano, thyme and tomato. And I have 24 portions!


Time for pruning
Topic: gardening Link here

Now that my site audit is over and spring is just round the corner, it's really high time to prune the roses and cut down the dead cannas. And somehow I found the energy to do so. One of the roses still has a bud on it; that part will get pruned after it's gone


Cabillaud à la sauce jaune
Topic: food and drink Link here

Yvonne bought some cod yesterday, not a fish found in Australian waters. How do we cook it? I always have difficulties with fish recipes, but today we finally found something useful: cabillaud à la sauce jaune, cooked sous vide:


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For once, both of us were unreservedly happy with the result.


Friday, 19 August 2016 Dereel Images for 19 August 2016
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Which reversing ring?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

While taking the microscope test photos during the week, I discovered that I had mislaid the reversing ring for my Pentax lenses (49 mm filter mount to M42 lens mount). How long would it take me to find it, assuming I find it at all? How much would a new one cost? Looked on eBay and found an adapter to micro Four Thirds for $2 including postage, so ordered that.

It wasn't until some time later that I realized that that doesn't help much. Yes, the camera has a micro Four Thirds lens mount, but I need to attach the lens to the bellows, and they're M42. OK, look again. Almost nothing! Once M42 was the lowest common denominator, something like the FAT file system. But it's been decades since either were used in earnest in new equipment. And now there were only one or two, the cheapest of which (used, with shipping) came to $29. Others cost up to $58. By contrast, new bellows are available from $18—only not for Olympus.

Why is this so complicated? Sure, I could spend my $40 for an adapter, but that seems excessive just for experiments,


Even better pizza?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

On Wednesday Yvonne bought some pizza baking flour, a special from ALDI, so today we ate pizza. Gradually things have been getting better and better, but I've always made the dough with normal bread (wheat) flour. This stuff does seem to be different, though it's not clear how. The flour is from molini Pizzuti, and it states (only in Italian):

Farina ottenuta con grani teneri italiani miscelati in modo ottimale per ottener una pizza secondo i requisti tradizionali

What does that mean? Not much. You'd expect hard wheat, not soft wheat, but maybe exactly that is the difference. In any case, it rose much more than our previous ones, and it was probably the best base we have ever eaten. Coincidence? We'll try a few more and see.

The dough recipes are interesting too. The proportions of flour and water are 5:3 (167%), rather than my ratio of 3:2 (150%). But the yeast is completely different. I use probably too much dry yeast (3.2% of the weight of the wheat), but the recipe here states only 1%.

Or does it? Yes, it does, but only in English. In Italian it's 5%! Looking more carefully, we have:

Ingredient       Greg       molini Italian       molini English
Flour       500 g       500 g       500 g
Water       334 ml       300 ml       300 ml
Yeast       16 g       20 g       5 g
Salt       16 g       10 g       10 g
Olive oil       40 ml       1 small spoon       15 ml
Sugar                   pinch
Cooking temperature       250°       250°       not specified
Cooking time       8-9 min       10-15 min       not specified

Some of this may be due to use of (unspecifiedly) different yeasts, but it's interesting to note the cooking temperature: our oven claims that 220° is correct. And our cooking times are the observed times. Maybe the Italian recipe is not assuming fan forcing.


Saturday, 20 August 2016 Dereel Images for 20 August 2016
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Nasi lemak, Singapore style
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

There appear to be two different traditions for nasi lemak, which I consider to be the Singapore and Kuala Lumpur traditions, mainly because that's where I've eaten them. The big difference is the amount of liquid: Singapore nasi lemak is relatively dry, while Kuala Lumpur nasi lemak is served with something like a curry:


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I've found the Singapore version too dry, so I tend to eat the KL version. But variety is a good thing, so today I tried a Singapore-style dish with a deep-fried chicken wing:


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And how about that, for the first time the flavour of the rice really came through. I should reconsider my choice.


Excessive packaging
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Yvonne bought some new towels at Aldi yesterday. Unpacking them considerably lessened the weight:


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Why do people have to use so much packaging?


Goodbye Android
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

My Android tablet is not even 3 years old, but it has become almost impossible to charge it: both power inputs make such poor contact that it's hard to tell whether it's charging or not, not in the slightest helped by the fact that the device takes about 20 seconds to show any reaction when a charger is connected.

Over the past few days it seems to be suffering from a further issue, possibly dead battery: while connected to the charger it would intermittently display the logo (the first thing it does when starting to charge), and then turn off again. Today I moved it from my desk to my battery charge area on the other wall, and tried to turn it on. It powered up! But:


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What kind of nonsense is that? Somehow Android seems to have made everything more complicated. How can end users stand it? I can't. Clearly I didn't have much choice, so I pressed Reset Tablet. It powered down, and I couldn't get it to power up beyond the initial logo. Power problems? Bricked? How can I tell? Do I care?

Yes, I do care. Despite the appalling user interface, tablets should be able to do lots of things that I need. But the combination of excessively complex implementation and excessively buggy and badly thought out apps makes them almost unusable for me. Should I try Apple instead? My suspicion is that the biggest difference will be the price.


Google translate triggers
Topic: language, opinion Link here

I don't speak Italian well enough to translate all nuances, so I sometimes use Google Translate, which despite everything sometimes does better than I. But typing in the text on yesterday's pizza flour, I made a typo which completely changed the meaning. Here's my version with typo:

Farina ottenuta con grani teneri italiani miscelati in modo ottimale per ottener una pizza secondo i riquisti tradizionali

Flour obtained by Italian soft wheats mixed in an optimal way for granting a pizza according to the traditional riquisti

The issue here is that I wrote “riquisti” instead of “requisti” (“requirements”), so of course that couldn't be translated. But when I fixed that, the entire structure of the statement was pessimized:

Farina ottenuta con grani teneri italiani miscelati in modo ottimale per ottener una pizza secondo i requisti tradizionali

Italian soft wheat flour obtained with mixed optimally to get yourself a pizza according to traditional requirements under


Tagine with prunes and almonds
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

A few days ago Mohammed Ifadir recommended me a recipe for a beef tagine with prunes and almonds, so we planed to make it today, in the meantime deciding that lamb would be better:


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It turned out to be OK, though I wasn't as happy as Yvonne and Chris were, though it wasn't obvious:


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The real issue was the amount of work I needed to come up with my version The original recipe had a surprising number of problems (at least in my view).


Cat's rights
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Rani certainly feels at home, though we don't always see eye to eye on who has priority:


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Sunday, 21 August 2016 Dereel
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Home alone
Topic: general Link here

Yvonne off today with Chris Bahlo to deliver and pick up some horses, including three ponies for Amy, the daughter of Helen Miller. They were gone all day. I spent most of the day cooking.


Slow bread
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Bread baking again today. I've noted in the past that some of my sourdough starters rise very slowly. But that wasn't the case for strain D, the one I used today: last time, on 13 June 2016, the bread rose in less than 2 hours. So I wasn't concerned today.

But for some reason it took forever; after nearly 7 hours it didn't seem to be rising any more, though it had just barely risen to the top of the pan. Why the difference? I need to pay more attention to the oven temperature during rising.


Breakfasts of the world
Topic: food and drink, technology, opinion Link here

Quora is a strange site. People ask questions, anybody can answer them, including myself. But many questions are just plain silly, and there are very qualified people who answer many of them, so I seldom bother. Recently there was a question on the Zika virus. A good answer came from a certain Hillary Clinton (slamming the Republican party for not doing more). And another asked what kind of vice-president Tim Kaine would make. Answer came from Tim Kaine. So clearly it's not completely irrelevant.

But by coincidence I found, a while back, a breakfasts of the world post. There's some interesting stuff in there, and of course some stuff that I'd never think of touching (typically overly sweet and processed US food), but a surprising number of suggestions of the kind I've been looking for for some time. It's just a pity that it's so brittle: I can't find a way of limiting the view to the recipes that look interesting.


Monday, 22 August 2016 Dereel Images for 22 August 2016
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My Health Record: status
Topic: technology, politics, health, opinion Link here

The Australian Government has shown, at the very least, that it's no better at providing online services than other governments, and there is evidence, such as the recent botched census, that it's doing much worse.

Today I was pointed at this article complaining about the My Health Record web site. In principle the idea is good: keep all health information (how much?) in one place. I currently have the issue that I'm probably going to change my GP. How does he access existing information? Does he access existing information?

So off to register. It's part of this horrible my.gov system. OK, I'm signed up for that: I had to use it to change my registered address last year. so in to log on. How I hate these stupid “secret questions”! “What is the name of the first street I lived on?”. That's secret? I've chosen an answer that has nothing to do with the real address and everything to do with my opinion of the question, but on reflection it would be interesting to see what would happen if I entered, say, جالان بودو لاما. And of course the terms and conditions of use have changed, so I had to agree to a 30 page document full of legalese and redefinitions of common words:

Inbox An online correspondence service that enables you to receive, view, print and save Messages from myGov and Participating Member Services

Where's the overview? Do they even know themselves what they have changed? Anyway, it's probably OK, but why require me to agree to something that I can't fully understand?

Then another silly “secret question”. And then they wanted me to enter my mobile phone number to send me an SMS (“required”). That won't work for two things: firstly, I'm out of range, and secondly I don't have an SMS service.

It's worth thinking about this, though. This service is supposed to be for all Australians. Why are they limiting their service to people who have a mobile phone and are in mobile phone range (thus excluding Dereel)? Somewhere it seems that I can disable the requirement (so why is it a requirement?; I couldn't have used it last time) by modifying my profile, so I tried logging in again, past yet more of these stupid questions, and then the SMS page again: it seems that you can't disable it until you've used it.

At this point one thing becomes clear about Australian authorities: they seem to be beyond the law. The Government can ship innocent people to tropical prison camps and not be accountable for the conditions. The police can bungle things beyond belief and not have to account for their actions. And here people (bureaucrats fired from a job in some developing country for excessive bureaucracy?) can produce web sites that are so completely impenetrable that many people can't access them.

Back to the attempts to set up my account. It seems that you can get past the SMS by pressing the Cancel button. What security! What's the point of the SMS in the first place? And then, though I signed in to my.gov, I ended up with my Medicare profile. Still with the old address! That's what I changed a year ago, and it is correct on the records. So this site contains data that is at least 12 months out of date! It wanted me to type in all sorts of information from my Medicare card, but not in the format written on the card. In particular, I had to remove the spaces in the card number. Yes, all sorts of idiots want you to do this, but it's still wrong. And of course it wanted my date of birth (another secret value) in numeric-only format. Then Yvonne's date of birth! Is it beyond the bounds of possibility that a wife refuses to tell her husband her date of birth?

Finally I got to the point where I gave up:

What is the BSB number for the bank account that your Medicare refund is paid into?

Do not include spaces or dashes
For example: 123456

What is the bank account number that your Medicare refund is paid into?

Do not include the BSB or any spaces in your account number
For example: 123456789

Sorry, there's no answer to that. In bygone days Medicare didn't transfer to bank accounts: they sent cheques. And though—to their credit, for once—they now only transfer to bank accounts (so you need a bank account to be insured), we have never had a transfer done. End of story.

Reading the article suggests that some of this is known. It points to the Frequently Asked Questions for Healthcare Providers page, which contains such statements as “... the information in a patient’s My Health Record is not a complete record of a patient’s clinical history”.

So what use is it?


Tuesday, 23 August 2016 Dereel
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Rescanning old photos
Topic: photography, history, opinion Link here

On 28 August 1964—not quite 52 years ago—I walked around Kuala Lumpur with a new Kodachrome slide film in my 20 year old camera and took photos of the sights. It was an interesting time: Malaysia as a nation was less than 12 months old, and the very first celebration of the National Day for the whole of Malaysia was due three days later. The independence celebrations the year before had been postponed by 16 days due to Konfrontasi from Indonesia. So many of the buildings in town were decorated.

It turned out to be one of the most interesting sets of photos I've taken, and I continually receive requests to use them. Why? It seems that there are very few photos of KL from the time.

Mine were scanned in round 12 years ago with my useless Canon 9900F scanner, and they did not look good. But it's been nearly 9 years since I bought the replacement Epson “Perfection” 4990 PHOTO, which does produce better results, so it seemed like a good time to re-scan them.

The results were much better. Here the Secretariat, now called the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, before and after:


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And here the Masjid Negara, still under construction:


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Much of the reprocessing involved colour balance, not all of which was successful. I need to find better tools.

And it took all day for a single film! Yes, the resolution was higher (mainly 2400 dpi), but I scanned the Secretariat photo at 4800 dpi, and it only took about 50% longer. Maybe it had something to do with the dust reduction.

Now a long re-scan of lots of my photos of the 1960s...


Wednesday, 24 August 2016 Dereel Images for 24 August 2016
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More slide scanning
Topic: photography, history, technology, opinion Link here

My slides of 28 August 1964 are now all scanned in, and I should have continued with other things, but there are still a number of issues.

First, the slides are in cassettes for the projector I once had, and the boxes (made by Ernst Leitz GmbH, Wetzlar, in the days before they called themselves Leica camera) hold two cassettes. The other one is dated August 1965, and I found it scanned in dated 3 August 1965. But now I have found my exposure record, which gives much of the normal information now supplied in EXIF data (though surprisingly not the date for each image, just start and end date for the film). From that and from my diary for August 1965 I can now confirm that it was the first slide film (and third film of any kind) taken in my first SLR, the Asahi Pentax SV I bought on 24 July 1965. Most of the photos were indeed taken on 3 August, but it took up until the end of the month to finish the film. So of course I scanned it in again and put the photos on the appropriate dates.

But there are other issues. The colours are still not all what I want, and of course the EXIF data is missing. How do I add the EXIF data? I could get a pretty GUI application to do it, but that would take forever, and there's no way to repeat things—all the usual GUI issues. So time for a new script: write down the details in code form in the Makejpeg file, the one I use in my normal processing.

That's still not enough. How do I say what the film was? EXIF doesn't provide for that. It looks as if I'm going to have to abuse the comment field. Did some work, mainly to get an idea of what I needed to do, but didn't finish it.

The other one was how to correct for film characteristics, especially when underexposed. I found plenty of software to corrupt digital images to look like film shots, but not the (more obvious) other way round. What about scanning software? After a while found SilverFast, which claims to understand Kodachrome. The film in August 1964 was Kodachrome II (15°/25 ISO), so that might be interesting.

First attempts showed a far inferior user interface to that of the more modern Epson software, and when I finally worked out how to get the noise reduction to work, it was no better: it proves to be a hardware function anyway, so that's not surprising. Further investigation shows that I had been there before. As I said at the time, theres no indication that it does any better than the software supplied with the scanner. And the Epson software has improved: I can now scan images to 16/48 bit TIFFs.

But then I couldn't use the Epson software any more! The “Professional” (i.e. sane) mode no longer delivered thumbnails! Much cursing, swearing and investigation. The ”Home” (toy) mode does, and I hadn't even touched the scanner, so it's nothing to do with the individual images. Spent nearly an hour trying all combinations, including the standard Microsoft options of rebooting and power cycling, to no avail. About the only thing I noticed was that the scan options now appeared automatically:

 
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Previously I needed to reset them for Every Single Scan. My best bet is that SilverFast somehow interfered with the scanner settings, possibly in the “driver”, which, however, it didn't install.

What a waste of time!


New car mechanic?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Chris Bahlo has had both her cars serviced by Brad Witham of BPWAUTOMOTIVE in Enfield, and she's been very happy with the service and the results. We were thinking of trying him too, though we're really happy enough with the Sperbers in Sebastopol. But it seems we might be too late.

The way I understood it, he turned down a service request from somebody in Enfield (not enough time). But the wife didn't accept that, and lambasted him on Facebook. That got taken down, but shortly later he received a letter from Matthew Sims of the Golden Plains Shire council:

It appears that said wife dobbed him in. Now isn't that neighbourly? And clever, considering that they, too, wanted his services, and there's no other mechanic within 15 km. It also begs the question as to whether the zoning regulations are appropriate.


Thursday, 25 August 2016 Dereel
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Your local car mechanic
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Chris Bahlo wasn't the only person to be upset about Brad Witham's problems yesterday. A long thread about the matter, including a surprising amount of obscenities, and even an online petition not to shut him down. It's not clear how much that can help: rules is rules. But it's interesting to see how many people signed it. We're not exactly thick on the ground out here in the country: Enfield has a population of 394 according to the last completed census. And by evening the petition had more signatures than that.

But what can be done? The issue is that the zoning does not (allegedly) allow operating a car repair workshop. Does it really explicitly exclude it, or is it a matter of interpretation? And if so, how does it get interpreted?


Rearranging photo albums
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

One of the results of my renewed attention to the photos of 50 years ago is that I now know better when they were taken, and in some cases I have a better description of what they are. I arrange my photos by date, so this means that some of the photos had to be moved to different directories, and of course some (maybe overlapping) needed to be renamed.

Not a problem in itself. But it seems that my parents in particular are very popular, maybe because of their smoking habits. I moved these photos of my parents from 3 August 1965 to 4 August 1965 and 31 August 1965 respectively:


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And overnight I had 26 “missing image” reports from search engines looking for my father, and another 9 looking for my mother.

Another issue is the photos taken on 28 August 1964. At the time I just gave them names like KL-8.jpeg, but in at least some of the cases I had more descriptive names, such as Bank-Negara-Malaysia.jpeg. How do I rename them without getting more misses?

One obvious method would be something like a 404 document, but that could rapidly get unwieldy. For the time being, I'm using (symbolic) links, and ensuring that the old names don't show up in the list of photos. This works for the photos with change of date as well. But somehow it's still not optimum: there should be some kind of redirect.


Still more scanning and processing
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Why does my scanner no longer show thumbnails in “professional” mode? If it's a setting, maybe the old Microsoft “reinstall” trick will work. And maybe it won't. And maybe I'll just lose all scanner functionality.

A safer bet would be to try it on a second machine. Did a bit of digging and found the disc for dxo.lemis.com, the predecessor of dischord, running Microsoft “Windows” Vista. And how about that, it worked normally. So it seems most likely that the problem was some interference from SilverFast. I'll leave it the way it is for the time being, until I decide whether I want to use SilverFast or not.

One reason might be another issue I have with the software: it crops the slides aggressively, and I can't find a way to adjust it. Here a possibly recognizable image scanned with the old Canon scanner and done again today with the “Perfection” 4990 PHOTO:


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The sides have been severely cropped, less so top and bottom. What's causing that? I've noticed in “Home” (toy) mode that a frame appears (showing the cropping), but I can't find a way to change the cropping in “Professional” mode.

Apart from that, I had some mechanical problems with the scanner: on one occasion it appeared to jam. Took it apart and investigated, after which it worked again. But is this maybe all telling me that it's time to replace the scanner, which is already 8 years old.


EXIF creation script: done?
Topic: photography, technology Link here

More playing around with my script for entering EXIF data into the scanned photos today, and got something relatively useful. Clearly there's material for much more playing around here.


Friday, 26 August 2016 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 26 August 2016
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Eureka village again
Topic: animals, general, opinion Link here

Into town again with Yvonne, Nikolai and Leonid to visit the residents of the Geoffrey Cutter Centre and the Eureka Village Hostel. Somehow Niko wasn't in the mood, but nevertheless we held out longer than normal; Yvonne showed up just as I was signing out.

Even in the four months since we started doing these visits, it's clear how some of the residents are deteriorating. Yvonne has it worse: one of her residents has died, and another is in very poor condition. We're not sure that she will still be there next week.


Still more photo processing
Topic: photography, technology, photography Link here

Gradually I'm coming to terms with scanning the old photos, and about the only issue I still have is the excessive cropping, which I haven't been able to fix. Found a reference guide for both the scanner and the software, conveniently in multi-page, hard to navigate HTML, but at least it contains some information. Not, unfortunately, information on how to change the crop. About the only thing I discovered is that while the “Home” settings display the crop (and confirm that it's too small), I can't change it:

 
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It did, however, tell me that some of the buttons in the “Adjustments” section create additional windows that modify the function. Nothing spectacular, but non-obvious. Did some more playing around with the various check boxes found this one, hidden at the bottom of the screen and away from all the others:

 
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“Thumbnail”? What does it do? Deselected it and... the thumbnail display was replaced by a raw view, just like I had been having on dischord. Was that the problem I was having? Plugged the scanner back into dischord and confirmed, yes, the box was not ticked, and yes, when I ticked it I got the thumbnail view again!

So this was a user error. Somehow I still feel that this should have been more obvious.


Saturday, 27 August 2016 Dereel Images for 27 August 2016
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More breakfasts
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I'm still on the prowl for different interesting breakfasts, and it seems that there are a lot of East Asian dishes that might fit the bill, though I note that in my childhood I wasn't always happy with such fare.

But there are a lot of dishes in the breakfasts of the world collection that are East Asian and based on rice. I can do that! I've been cooking nasi goreng for nearly 50 years. Why not for breakfast?

So today I made one, without ham for once (we get more than enough of that in other dishes). Somehow it was boring. Another dish to work on. The biggest discovery was that I needed about 320 g per portion; for nasi lemak I only use about 140 g rice.


Getting to the bottom of scanning
Topic: photography, technology, language, opinion Link here

Did some more playing with the crop rectangles on the “Home” mode previews, and was able to move them around or diminish them, but not to enlarge them:

 
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Reading the reference guide, however, was illuminating. It seems that there is a way to remove the crop: just click on the Delete Marquee button. And sure enough, it's gone, and I can scan the entire area of the slide (which it recognizes correctly).

Only: this only works in toy “Home” mode, which of course is far too simple to understand 16 (“48”) bit pixel depths. Otherwise it would work. But for some reason (which is looking more and more like a bug) I can't create or modify “marquees” in “Professional” mode.

What to do? I've more or less come to the conclusion that I should put up with what I have with the scanning software. It would be nice to find a way around it, though.


Goodbye Misery
Topic: history Link here

Three months ago we had a Camera Crew outing to take photos of the Mount Misery Creek Bridge. At the time I wasn't happy with my photos, and didn't post many.

But now I heard that the bridge has collapsed, so off to take a look. Yes, indeed. It looks as if a tree branch fell on it. Here three months ago and now:


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Also walked downstream and found Misery Creek itself:


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Somehow I'm still not happy with the photos.


Factors: enough!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

A month ago I started doing some factorizations of large numbers. The last number I tried was 1235443534534543534435425454254254554254325542543254325524524543254325425243543, and it kept the machine busy for quite some time.

In fact, today, after a month, it was still going strong:

USER  PID  %CPU  %MEM     VSZ     RSS TT  STAT STARTED  TIME        COMMAND
grog        2282 100.0  0.0   16484    3680 38  R+   27Jul16  44835:12.87 /usr/games/factor 123544353...

That's 44835 minutes of CPU time (1868 hours, or 31 days). That's enough, and I pulled the plug. I'm still trying to ascertain the relative performance of this machine (eureka.lemis.com with a Control Data 7600, the supercomputer of the early 1970s, but last time I decided on about 240 times the power. So this would have corresponded to 240 months or 20 years of CPU time on the 7600.

How long before completion was it that I interrupted the calculation? I'll never know, but it's quite possible that I would not have found out in my lifetime. A couple of weeks ago I started a series of factorizations of numbers with an increasing number of decimal places. The results were nothing like what I expected:

0m0.000s       0m0.001s       1234567       127 9721
0m0.000s       0m0.001s       12345677       29 425713
0m0.000s       0m0.001s       123456777       3 5779 7121
0m0.000s       0m0.001s       1234567777       31 39824767
0m0.005s       0m0.000s       12345677777       23 9473 56663
0m0.001s       0m0.000s       123456777777       3 3 3 4572473251
0m0.001s       0m0.000s       1234567777777       499 2474083723
0m0.074s       0m0.004s       12345677777777       65500219 188483
0m0.000s       0m0.007s       123456777777777       3 313 131476866643
0m2.137s       0m0.119s       1234567777777777       431603 2860424459
0m0.001s       0m0.000s       12345677777777777       17 19 2467 15493276297
0m0.031s       0m0.000s       123456777777777777       3 251789 163439464231
0m0.004s       0m0.000s       1234567777777777777       806051 1921687 797021
0m0.124s       0m0.000s       12345677777777777777       72679 169865817881063
0m0.002s       0m0.000s       123456777777777777777       3 3 13717419753086419753
0m0.001s       0m0.000s       1234567777777777777777       67 18426384742951907131
0m0.002s       0m0.000s       12345677777777777777777       59 209248775894538606403
0m0.001s       0m0.000s       123456777777777777777777       3 43 21467 44581417296271139
0m0.018s       0m0.008s       1234567777777777777777777       31 61 121291 2288801 2351726417
0m0.000s       0m0.008s       12345677777777777777777777       1597 7730543379948514575941
0m0.034s       0m0.000s       123456777777777777777777777       3 848201 48517107689402935459
0m0.001s       0m0.000s       1234567777777777777777777777       587 3121 673880776744981257251
1m50.276s       0m3.810s       12345677777777777777777777777       186271155449 66277989998070073
0m0.027s       0m0.000s       123456777777777777777777777777       3 3 103 103 174017 7430299190958247801
0m0.183s       0m0.000s       1234567777777777777777777777777       617 4297 1542978193 301789851790961
0m4.007s       0m0.079s       12345677777777777777777777777777       1187321 309968759 33545082472929743
0m0.001s       0m0.000s       123456777777777777777777777777777       3 17 23 23 379 12073964082665074670876897
0m1.713s       0m0.071s       1234567777777777777777777777777777       2254297 478324313 1144936361634029057
12m27.808s       0m24.835s       12345677777777777777777777777777777       19 287812367 2287981471 986732385757819
0m0.055s       0m0.016s       123456777777777777777777777777777777       3 29 113 155740729 1081027 74589637620232949
0m0.000s       0m0.008s       1234567777777777777777777777777777777       167 1429 5173283011769789089886473844939
0m0.031s       0m0.000s       12345677777777777777777777777777777777       19477 961777129 659050096668744181364069
30m53.735s       0m55.345s       123456777777777777777777777777777777777       3 3 3 47 97 175068983269 5728914909308667386281
32m21.913s       0m58.636s       1234567777777777777777777777777777777777       31 673 6599 16146892140145892239 555355538039
0m0.001s       0m0.000s       12345677777777777777777777777777777777777       89 157 883538093306933212465310082142544749
0m0.003s       0m0.000s       123456777777777777777777777777777777777777       3 131 131 27472883 87286454875463155402558915793
0m14.694s       0m0.394s       1234567777777777777777777777777777777777777       937 99006269 24740062541 537912775540677993649
0m0.997s       0m0.063s       12345677777777777777777777777777777777777777       109 31279307 3621023281580221996939968274760479
90m24.888s       2m40.624s       123456777777777777777777777777777777777777777       3 43 13463 66103 966126495913 1113084715010937725209
0m9.847s       0m0.520s       1234567777777777777777777777777777777777777777       12941 207122714731 943857913 487992053102193062999
1228m58.503s       57m36.621s       12345677777777777777777777777777777777777777777       6029 1606797419098148082891317 1274408115308404289
0m0.119s       0m0.008s       123456777777777777777777777777777777777777777777       3 3 1177219 11652394119604270533423619354670982844387
0m0.002s       0m0.000s       1234567777777777777777777777777777777777777777777       17 127 571823889660851217127270855848901240286140703
0m0.047s       0m0.000s       12345677777777777777777777777777777777777777777777       1459993 24670589 342755668533068283477847259441834701
0m0.001s       0m0.000s       123456777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777       3 181 227360548393697564968283200327399222426846736239
0m0.005s       0m0.000s       1234567777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777       1289 1776421 141942623 3798422723291081145811040120017771
6223m12.236s       725m32.364s       12345677777777777777777777777777777777777777777777777       19 (incomplete)

I had hoped to see some correlation between the size of the number and the CPU time needed to factorize it, but there seems to be no correlation. The best I can guess is that the time is strongly dependent on the size of the last-but-one factor. This it takes nearly a day to factorize 12345677777777777777777777777777777777777777777 (second-last factor 1606797419098148082891317), while it takes only a fraction of a second to factorize 123456777777777777777777777777777777777777777777 (second-last factor 1177219), though it's 10 times the size.

Why not the largest factor? I'm still puzzling that one. I suspect it has something to do with the point at which the division attempts are abandoned.

The other thing of interest is the surprising amount of system time. Context switching? The CPU times suggest that one processor was pretty much 100% busy all the time.


Last rose meets first tulip
Topic: animals, gardening Link here

Wandering round the garden, noted that the roses we planted two weeks ago are coming on:


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That was the one I was most concerned about; the “Red Lincoln” had already been growing vigorously:


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And now?


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Gone! The mesh behind it was the north side of the dog run, and so it was easy to guess what happened to it. Into the run and found these remains:


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What's the chance that it will survive? None if I don't replant it, so planted it into a pot. I'm not holding my breath, but roses are tough things.

To prove the point, last year's roses haven't completely given up:


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That's rather incongruous when I consider that our first tulips are already flowering, far earlier than I had expected:


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

Roast beef for dinner tonight, made from Girello, clearly not a traditional cut for British roast beef. I cooked it sous vide for 4 hours at 52°, and it was neither pink nor tender enough. Probably I should first have checked what I did last time, though there I forgot to note what temperature I ultimately chose, nor how tender it was. Next time I did it exactly as today, and came to the same result. When will I learn?

Based on what French sources say about the cut, I suspect that we should either do it overnight, or (preferably) find another cut. But what's available in Australia?


Dinner: more misery
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Yvonne made a dessert of fruit in vanilla cream this evening. Clearly it wasn't happy. This is what Chris got when she served herself:


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It was lifelike enough that my camera recognized a face.


Sunday, 28 August 2016 Dereel Images for 28 August 2016
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White oil: the easy way
Topic: gardening Link here

One of the standard garden sprays is “white oil”, a mixture of oil and detergent which, to quote this page, suffocates “sucking and chewing insects like aphids, scale, mealy bug and citrus leaf miner”. It's easily made, but I've always had to look up the quantities. One cup of dishwashing detergent, two cups sunflower oil. If you're using Australian cups, that'll give you 750 ml. You use one tablespoon to make a litre of spray. If you're using Australian tablespoons, that's a ratio of 50:1, so the wine bottle of concentrate is enough for 37 litres of spray.

How long does that last? About 6 months, independent of use; the detergent reacts with the oil, making a horrible mess. But why make concentrate in the first place? Now that I know the quantities, it's easier to say “Put 10 cm³ of detergent, 20 cm³ of oil and 1.5 litres of water in a 2 litre sprayer, close, shake well”.

Why not a full 2 l? The stuff foams, of course, due to the detergent. You can wait an hour or so until it subsides, or possibly put it in last, but I'm not sure how well it would mix then.


More mystery flowers
Topic: gardening Link here

There's every sign that spring is on its way. The tulips are coming already, and a number of flowers are coming up on the south fence to the Marriott's property, notably this one:


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The flower looks like any number of similar Asteraceae flowers, but this one seems to have a somewhat succulent stem.

Also the Cyclamen that I've had for ever has defied the complete lack of attention it has received, and is flowering better than I recall it ever having done:


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Then the Pterostylis are coming again:


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I had thought that they were early, but it seems that two years ago we had many more earlier in the month, and two years ago today we had “over 1000” of them in the same place where I only found a couple today.

On the other hand there's this one:


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I've seen it before, but a month later. I seem to remember that there was a common name with “rice” in it, but I can't find the details.


Bracken
Topic: gardening Link here

There's one plant of which we have far too much: Bracken (redundantly called called “Bracken fern” in Australia), presumably Pteridium esculentum. Most of the “house forest” at the west of the property (about 2000 m²) has a dense undergrowth of it. Last summer the horses were in there, and they managed to clear a significant amount of it, so we've taken to treading on the stems. It seems to be working, though of course at this time of the year many new shoots are coming up:


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They don't resemble any image that I've found on line, though it's possible that these are the smaller plants with the sex cells. Out with them!


Monday, 29 August 2016 Dereel Images for 29 August 2016
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More historical photos
Topic: photography, history Link here

Between July 1965 and April 1968 I kept a detailed notebook of every photo I took, and in other cases I can get information from my diary entries up to late 1970. But I have many slides taken between 1970 and 2000 where I'm not sure of any detail except the film itself.

Today was a case in point: I found some slides dated June 1983, clearly taken in Switzerland. That's an interesting memory, and I can identify a number of the photos. But where's this?


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How do I even find out? Yes, of course, it's typically Swiss, but there's nothing that points to the location. The only car registration I can find (in a different image) is from Ulm in Germany. And none of the signs have much to say:

 
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And yes, the last two were at the edge of the image. Patience, Hope and and old Swiss wine room. Strange first two names, but can I find the middle one? The complete text has to be Cafe zur Hoffnung. What does Google make of that?

The very first hit seems promising, but it doesn't show any photos. But putting the same text into "Google images". Apart from the obligatory false positives, there's this one:

That's an amazing coincidence. As far as I can tell, the two images were taken a couple of metres apart. So it's in Stein am Rhein, one of the few parts of Switzerland on the right bank of the Rhein, and I can even find (but not link to) similar views in Google Maps. Somehow it looks prettier now.


Tuesday, 30 August 2016 Dereel
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Animal pedigrees
Topic: animals, photography Link here

After finding some photos of Dimitri de la Polianka in the last couple of days, it occurred to me to do a Google search. How about that, several hits, at least one of which was a false positive. The most interesting was the link above: it's in theborzoifiles.net, where we have our other dogs listed. But Dimi wasn't there last time I looked. There's no doubt that it was he; though we couldn't find his paper pedigree (must be in a file that is either still in the shed, or which we threw away when moving here), we both recognized both his sire Volski de la Commone (as written; I thought it was Volski de la Commune) and his dam Uliana de Morton Hall. So I updated the entry. But it also contains what must be a false positive: “Known offspring Juliana Nadia de la Polianka”. That's news to me, and we would have known.

Possibly another false positive explains the situation:

persoonlijk zullen wij nooit Dimitri de la Polianka vergeten, de mooiste barzoi, volledig wit, ...

Dimi wasn't white! But Dimitrov de la Polianka was:

Image

So maybe he was the sire of Juliana Nadia. Looking back at Juliana's dam Foly de la Polianka gives certainty: she had a male offspring Juan Juanovitch born on the same day with sire Dimitrov.

I also found Dimitri on another web site, which is unfortunately not as easy to read, navigate or update. Some Zoloto dogs are there, including Zoloto Zoviet Zoe (too polite to supply a link), a litter mate of Zhivago, but none of our dogs. I wonder how many dogs there are there who are not in the other list.


More photo processing stuff
Topic: technology, photography Link here

Lots more image scans today, in the process improving my EXIF creation script. I've let myself in for a lot of work.


Wednesday, 31 August 2016 Dereel Images for 31 August 2016
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More slide scanning pain
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

On with my slide scanning today, though I'm not sure it's a good idea. Spent most of the day looking at the slides taken on 28 April 1967, in the Bay of Bengal near the Nicobar Islands. I'm really not happy with the results:


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The colours are all wrong! I noticed this a couple of days ago with the images taken on 19 June 1983, but here I couldn't find any way to improve them. Spent some time looking at the photo tools at my disposal, in the process learning to appreciate the ones I use better. Almost nothing offers the ability to correct second order colour casts (typically magenta in the shadows and green in the highlights). Managed to refine my scripts, but that was about all.

Surely there must be some software out there that caters to recovery of old images!


Looking for a slicer
Topic: food and drink, general, language, opinion Link here

One of the most common kitchen utensils in Germany is an Allesschneider, literally an “all-cutter”:


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I can't think of a good English word. Neither, it seems, can the industry. The going name in Australia is “deli slicer”, a word that bears unraveling. “Deli” is mutilated from delicatessenDelikatessen, another German word. I had always assumed that it was formed from „delikat“ (which really does mean delicate) and „Essen“, meaning (in this case) food, but it seems that it was borrowed from French « delicatesse » by Dallmayr of München some time in the 18th century, and that „Delikatessen“ is the plural formed according to German rules. And of course Duden tells me that the French word was derived from Italian “delicatezza”. The German word „Feinkost“ (“fine food”) is the best description: specialties of various kinds. Nowadays in the USA it seems to be a sandwich shop, though here in Australia it seems to have kept the original meaning.

So a “deli slicer” is a kind of machine used in a delicatessen, whatever that may be. What do I need one for in the kitchen? Yes, I can use it for slicing sausage, ham or cheese, but the main use is slicing bread, thus the German „Allesschneider“.

But they're as good as impossible to find in Australia! We did find one ten years ago, though I didn't note at the time that I finally relented and bought it. Gradually it's on its last legs, and we're looking for a replacement.

Yes, they're available, mainly on eBay. They start at ridiculously round $45, so low that I'm doubtful that they would last. The Sunbeam unit that we bought 10 years ago is still on the market, apparently unchanged, and starting at $185.

What about in Germany? The German Stiftung Warentest did a test nearly 8 years ago, and came up with significant differences. Unlike in Australia, those models are no longer on the market, but it seems that Bosch got the best results.

Off to look at the Bosch web site, marvelling not for the first time at the amazing difficulty of finding anything. And when I did, once again the listed models were nothing like what's available. But the prices started at 43 € to 255 €. That's an amazing range. Off looking for instructions, which are available if you can find them, like this one And they don't really make it clear what the difference in quality is. About the only difference I could find was the ability to turn the thing on and leave it on, and to alter the speed of the motor, both only in the most expensive models. I'm still confused.


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