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August 2019
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Thursday, 1 August 2019 Dereel → Napoleons → Dereel Images for 1 August 2019
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DSLRs revisited
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

My Olympus E-30, serial number G69501426, has arrived already, coincidentally exactly 9 years since my last SLR and almost exactly 27 years since I bought my last “real” SLR (one that I intended using), the Pentax Z1, so in to Napoleons to pick it up.

It was in quite good condition, even with a really clean monitor display, something that caused me problems with its predecessor. The reason is clear: it has hardly been used. The secret menus show a sum total of 1,295 shutter releases (interestingly, 176 with flash; with this camera I once again have a camera with built-in flash). Other interesting parameters are MCS 4073901000 (“this is an E-30 mumble”) and 711001 (“This camera was built in November 2007”). That's rather earlier than I expected based on the serial number: my first E-30 was bought in May 2009 and had a considerably lower serial number, but then clearly the number has two parts:

Camera       Serial       Prefix       Real serial
Old E-30       G67502432       G675       2432
“New” E-30       G69501426       G695       1426

But there's another reason why it's strange: the E-30 wasn't announced until 5 November 2008. So why is the build code a year older? Could it be that some of the components were common with the Olympus E-3, which was introduced a year earlier? Either way, it seems that the E-30 wasn't exactly the most-built camera of the last couple of decades, but also that the last 4 digits are the real serial number. So what's the difference between G675 and G695? Some geographical code, maybe?

But it forgets the time when the battery is removed, just like the Olympus E-PM1 that I bought 2½ years ago. It came with a Zuiko Digital ED 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, serial number 212721917, and a Zuiko Digital 40-150mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. Look at that aperture at 150 mm! It's actually the biggest I have, and it seems that there's also a cheaper version with f/4-f/5.6. But I've never seen much use for a lens of this range, and I doubt that I'll use it much.

OK, setup... haven't I forgotten a lot of things? Upgrade the firmware, try it out. What a horrible, tiny, dim viewfinder! Yet DSLR users claim that their viewfinders are better than on mirrorless cameras. And what a noise it makes! Autofocus is also nothing spectacular. With lenses designed for it, such as the Zuiko Digital ED 12-60 mm f/2.8-4.0 SWD, it's not clear that it's even as fast as the E-M1 with the same lens.

Still, for the purpose I need it for (Analemma photography) it should do the trick. It also came with quite a nice camera bag.


First Hellebore!
Topic: Stones Road house, gardening Link here

Since moving to Stones Road, our Hellebores have not been doing at all well. They barely flowered four years ago:


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Since then they seem to have been going through various phases of not-quite-dying. I had guessed that they didn't like the soil in which they were planted, and in January I transplanted them to the front of the house. That seems to have helped: today we had the first flowers on a plant that didn't look sick:


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Hopefully they'll do well now.


The daily NBN outage
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Something went wrong with the National Broadband Network “planned outages“ today: there was none. But they made up for it by inventing some “unplanned outages” (clearly a concept they're not used to). Today I got no less than five messages from Aussie Broadband:

Date: Thu, 1 Aug 2019 15:23:13 +1000
From: Aussie Broadband <support@aussiebroadband.com.au>
Subject: nbn Unscheduled Outage

NBNCo has let us know that your service at 29 STONES RD, DEREEL VIC may currently be affected by an outage.

NBN comments

01/08/2019 03:12pm AEST - nbn is investigating a network incident that is impacting services running from the Fixed Wireless POIs (Point Of Interconnect) in Ballarat, Cranbourne and Traralgon, VIC.

Network Engineers are currently performing remote troubleshooting, and nbn will provide updates as the situation progresses.

You can check the current status of this outage in the MyAussie App or Portal.

We will let you know once this outage has been resolved.

Date: Thu, 1 Aug 2019 15:33:50 +1000
Subject: UPDATED: nbn Unscheduled Outage

(content unaltered)

Date: Thu, 1 Aug 2019 16:54:47 +1000
Subject: UPDATED: nbn Unscheduled Outage

NBN comments

01/08/2019 04:20pm AEST - Network Engineers have advised that services have restored and they are now performing final health checks on the network.

Once network stability is confirmed, nbn will send out a final confirmation and close this ticket.

01/08/2019 03:12pm AEST - nbn is investigating a network incident that is impacting services running from the Fixed Wireless POIs (Point Of Interconnect) in Ballarat, Cranbourne and Traralgon, VIC.

Date: Thu, 1 Aug 2019 17:10:04 +1000
Subject: RESOLVED: nbn Unscheduled Outage

Dear Greg,
NBNCo has let us know that the outage affecting your service at 29 STONES RD, DEREEL VIC has been resolved.

If you are still having issues with your internet, please try restarting your modem/router.  If your service is still not working after that, you can try some of the troubleshooting tests on your MyAussie app/portal, or give our support team a call on 1300 880 905.

Date: Thu, 1 Aug 2019 17:35:46 +1000
Subject: UPDATED: nbn Unscheduled Outage

Dear Greg,
NBNCo has let us know that your service at 29 STONES RD, DEREEL VIC may currently be affected by an outage.

NBN comments

01/08/2019 04:58pm AEST - nbn advises that upon further investigation, it has been noted by Network Engineers, that although alarms appeared showing that there was service impacting outage, there was no impact to end users&#039; connection.

Therefore nbn have cancelled this Network Incident ticket.

It's easy to laugh at this, especially since there was no kind of outage. But this is the very first time in over 5 years that I've received any indication that the NBN is working on an unscheduled outage.


US sanctions against Javad Zarif
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

The USA (or rather its supreme leader, Donald Trump) have imposed sanctions against Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Foreign minister of Iran. The reasoning? “Mr Mnuchin described Mr Zarif as the Iranian "regime's primary spokesperson around the world"”

IDIOTS! That's his job! Are they really that stupid? Or is the reasoning fake news?


Friday, 2 August 2019 Dereel Images for 2 August 2019
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Qantas pain, try 2
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

It's been a couple of weeks since I last tried to book a flight on Qantas using my frequent flyer points. The time of the flight is coming closer; time to finally do something. The real problem is understanding what the silly names for their pricing mean:


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What's “Red e-Deal”? “Flex”? “Business” is clear, but the flights we're looking at don't offer it. I hadn't been able to find it on the web site, so I had to call them to find out. Spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find the phone number (which I should have noted last time I called them; it's 13 11 31, but there's also a number 03-9658-5302 “for overseas callers”. Called them up and was asked to enter my frequent flyer number and PIN. Dammit, where is it? Hung up, tried again. “A PIN was not recognised”. Huh? Check again. They want a # at the end, presumably because the software doesn't know how long a PIN is. Tried again. Same thing.

Gradually it occurred to me that the error message was wrong. Not “A PIN was not recognised”, but “That's not the correct PIN”. That was the old one that they had expired last month. Try again with the new PIN. “The estimated wait time is 2 hours”. 2 hours! And this for an enquiry made necessary because of their web site breakage, and from one of their most esteemed passengers (not me personally, clearly, but frequent flyers in general). I was able to leave a message to be called back, so did that and hung up at 10:27.

No call back after 2 hours. No callback after 3 hours. Finally, at 14:19:29, 3¾ hours later, I got the callback. But no, just joking, we've put you at the front of the queue, so you only have a 2 minute wait.

Finally connected to a barely intelligible Leuren (if I got the spelling right). What did they do to their phone system to make it so unintelligible? But finally I got my answer. Both “Red e-Deal” and “Flex” are exactly the same seats. The only difference is what happens if you want to change the flights. With “Flex” you can change and only need to (possibly) pay any difference in flight price. With “Red e-Deal” you will also have to pay a premium in points.

And how do I find this out from the web site? Simple: choose one and you'll be shown the terms and conditions (presumably only for the one you select). Leuren appeared to think that this is perfectly normal. The good news is that all “Qantas flights” include 20 kg of checked baggage. The one I'm looking at is Jetstar, but it seems that what they really mean is that any flight booked via this page comes with the 20 kg allowance.

What a company! If they treat their preferred guests like that, how do they treat the rabble? When I stopped flying 13 years ago I stopped for reasons far less than this appalling treatment.

In fact, it seems that there is now a link from these descriptions that shows details for the buzzword (and only that buzzword). Why didn't I see it before? Why didn't Leuren know about it? My only guess is that it's nowhere near where I was looking:


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Digitalocean: torture our customers
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Qantas isn't the only company who seems to want to torture its customers. Got a message from DigitalOcean today: my credit has been used up, and I need to top it up. OK, log in. CAPTCHA: “Are you a robot?”. No, not today. “OK, recognize these buses, please”, including 12 fuzzy images that could be any kind of motor vehicle. FAIL. Oh, no, they were too polite to say FAIL, it just started all over again without explanation. Try a different browser? Traffic lights? Three browsers, three attempts to guess what their fuzzy images meant. Fail. Then I got email with a 6 digit code. At least that worked, and I was transferred to PayPal, which hiccoughed and then transferred $10 for me.

That, of course, had its consequence. By this time I was on my third browser, which caused PayPal to consider it to be a “device” and send me a message:

You???ve successfully activated PayPal One Touch TMon this device: Desktop Firefox FreeBSD

How likely are you to recommend PayPal based on your recent experience with One Touch????

Rate us now >
https://www.paypal-customerfeedback.com/?paypal-product-survey=&lng=en_US&ctry=AU&link_id=PPC004077_OneTouch_activationConfirmation&exp=with%2520One%2520Touch%25E2%2584%25A2&utm_source=unp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=PPC000477&utm_unptid=f8f31fc8-b4f9-11e9-b36f-441ea1479d34&ppid=PPC000477&cnac=AU&rsta=en_AU&cust=WU77GRKAXFZXQ&unptid=f8f31fc8-b4f9-11e9-b36f-441ea4179d34&calc=9688e261ee04a&unp_tpcid=remember-me-enabled-notification&page=main%3Aemail%3APPC000477%3A%3A%3A&pgrp=main%3Aemail&e=cl&mchn=em&s=ci&mail=sys

OK, I'd like to rate that very low. I didn't ask for activation of a TMon (their representation of ™on). But, strangely, this message was in (mutilated) text only. And clearly the URL had been quoted not once (" " → %20, etc), but twice (" " → %20 → %2520). Tried to recover the URL, but failed.

Are companies trying to make life hard for their customers? Maybe it's time to migrate from DigitalOcean. Sent a support request stating so, but got no reply.


Another week of NBN outages
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Somehow I'm getting far too many of these:

NBNCo has let us know that they are planning network maintenance in your area, and that your service at <strong>29 STONES RD, DEREEL VIC</strong> will be affected.<br>

The details are:
  - Start date and time: Mon 19th August 2019 07:00 AEST
  - End date and time: Mon 26th August 2019 20:00 AEST
  - Window: 181.0 hours

You may experience the following interruptions during the maintenance
  - 480 min
  - 480 min
  - 480 min
  - 480 min
  - 480 min

That's another 40 hours of “planned maintenance” spread over 6 working days. Are they ever going to stop?


Anke Hawke visits again
Topic: general Link here

Anke Hawke along for a couple of days to hold a clinic at Chris Bahlo's place. She, too, has a cold. Spent the evening looking at some videos that Yvonne took, noting that the M.Zuiko DIGITAL ED 7-14 mm f/2.8 PRO includes enough of the ground and the sky to skew the exposure. Looks like a case for manual correction.


New mixer tap head
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

The new mixer tap head has arrived. Now for the fun: put the new hose in position under the sink:


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The pull-out hose is at the bottom of the joint, but the threaded end looks different:


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Is it the same size? I'd be really jumping for joy if I disconnected the old union and discovered that the new one didn't fit.

Fortunately, and to my surprise, I was able to remove the broken end of the old head from the other end of the hose, and the new head just fitted straight in. The whole thing only took a few seconds.


Saturday, 3 August 2019 Dereel Images for 3 August 2019
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Anke Hawke clinic
Topic: photography, multimedia, animals, opinion Link here

Over to Chris Bahlo's place today to take video of the Anke Hawke clinic. My main interest here was to finally get some good audio in the recordings. I've had the microphone setup for over a year now, but I haven't had any good recordings: somehow the batteries failed on me every time. Today I bit the bullet and used alkaline batteries, and it worked:

That's pretty boring, of course; parallel to this I had another camera for taking closer clips, but this one was supposed to record the complete sound track.

And the results? Much better than just with the camera. Here's one of the parallel recordings with only camera:

But it's very clear that each person had one microphone (Anke right, Chris left looking into the camera). I need to find ways to merge things.


Optimizing hot water
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

So my new hot water system runs off electricity, not solar heat. And I have a photovoltaic power system that sometimes generates more power than it can get rid of. Wouldn't it make sense to use that excess power to heat the water?

Yes, of course, but how? The instructions suggest that there's some kind of communication system that can communicate with some kinds of inverter, but they make a number of assumptions, notably whether the inverter can know when it can discard energy. Probably it can: after all, it has to limit the power output to what the grid owners will allow, so it's clear when that is. But how does anything know when this situation will arise, and how low may the water temperature fall before the system heats without excess power being available? And in my particular case, of course, the circuit breaker for the hot water system is nowhere near the inverter.


Qantas pain, continued
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

So finally I'm in a position to book my Qantas flights for Yvonne. Established which ones she wanted, selected them—I was right! I was only given the terms and conditions for this specific kind of flight. And then? Where's the CONTINUE button?


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Just some unrecognizable credit card icons and GO TO JETSTAR.COM >. None seemed to make any sense. But then I paged up through the random nonsense that they put on the page and found:


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In other words, “Ha, ha, only joking”. And of course there is no “Continue to Jetstar”; presumably they meant GO TO JETSTAR.COM >. Did that and had to start all over again. Different prices, different conditions!


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Gone the 20 kg baggage allowance, but for “6,714pts” you can get it, and then for another $15 you can get an in-flight meal!

OK, we had established that Yvonne can get by with 7 kg carry-on baggage. Continue. Can't find the return flight. Oh. The flight was from Tullamarine, but the return flight was to Avalon. Qantas doesn't have any issue with that, but Jetstar does. That's a “multi-city” flight.

OK, select that (sigh). Click CONTINUE and get:


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I think this is the first time I have ever seen a SIGSEGV on a web site. And, of course, it was repeatable.

Back and tried again. But no, one chance is all you get. Now I have an EPERM:


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I thought things were bad yesterday, and arguably it was my fault for not reading every last detail of the page and following all links. But now I have:

  1. To book a flight, I first need to fight the Qantas site.
  2. When I'm done, again I have to read the entire page, continue to Jetstar, discard all my work and start again.
  3. To get a return flight to a different airport, I have to try to book a ”multi-city“ flight and confirm that their software is broken.
  4. And I only get one chance.

I wonder if this is a browser sensitivity. But do I care? Now how do I sell my 350,000 odd Qantas frequent flyer points? I certainly don't want to have to go through this again.


Clinic dinner
Topic: food and drink, general, opinion Link here

Had a number of people from the clinic around for dinner tonight:


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Apart from Anke and Chris Bahlo (of course!) we had Nele Koemle and Catherine, a young girl whom she had brought with her, thus meaning that we had to speak English.

Catherine sounded like she was British: everything we offered was disgusting. Well, only something in the hors d'œuvres and the truffles in the chicken. For good measure, “Jewish artichokes” (not on the menu) are also disgusting. Jerusalem artichokes, maybe? Ah, yes, Jerusalem artichokes. They're nothing like real artichokes. Never mind, real artichokes must be disgusting too.

One thing that was clearly not disgusting were the chips. Normally I measure 100 g for most people and 70 g for Yvonne, but that's with just the one course. How many with three courses and another side dish? I guessed at 80 g per person, which was definitely not too much.

We had two chickens with truffles (from an absent Margaret Swan) under the skin. Each weighed about 1.7 kg, which according to my cooking time page should have taken about 90 minutes at 180°. But I didn't cover the breast, and it was “done” (80°) in 75 minutes. Also a little on the overdone side. Back to 78° again?

The usual fun after dinner:


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Sunday, 4 August 2019 Dereel Images for 4 August 2019
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Clinic ends
Topic: general, multimedia, photography Link here

Today was the second and last day of the Anke Hawke clinic. I was only indirectly involved, processing the videos from yesterday. I have a big can of worms to open, notably relating to audio processing in videos.


When did I build that kernel?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

In the last few years, the identification of FreeBSD kernels has changed:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/19) ~ 4 -> uname -a
FreeBSD eureka.lemis.com 10.2-STABLE FreeBSD 10.2-STABLE #2 r290972: Wed Nov 25 11:38:38 AEDT 2015     grog@stable.lemis.com:/usr/obj/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/10/sys/GENERIC  amd64
=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/4) ~ 48 -> uname -a
FreeBSD teevee.lemis.com 12.0-STABLE FreeBSD 12.0-STABLE r349776 GENERIC  amd64

It's not clear when the second kernel was built—and that's part of the problem. Yes, I can look at the modification timestamp:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/4) ~ 55 -> l -T /boot/kernel/kernel
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  31,332,072  6 Jul 16:53:55 2019 /boot/kernel/kernel

But why have things changed? The old way provided much more information. Callum Gibson discovered that he could get it both way, and finally he found a link to an entry in /usr/src/UPDATING for 20180913:

20180913:
Reproducible build mode is now on by default, in preparation for
FreeBSD 12.0.  This eliminates build metadata such as the user,
host, and time from the kernel (and uname), unless the working tree
corresponds to a modified checkout from a version control system.
The previous behavior can be obtained by setting the /etc/src.conf
knob WITHOUT_REPRODUCIBLE_BUILD.

OK, that makes sense, up to a point. But it clearly comes from the viewpoint of a release engineer. And how many of them are there? What we really want is an entry WITH_REPRODUCIBLE_BUILD in /etc/src.conf (a file that I have never used) for those who want that kind of repeatability, and by default it should be disabled. As it is, I suspect that the vast majority of people who install from binary images will get this truncated information.


Monday, 5 August 2019 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 5 August 2019
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Coronary angiogram
Topic: health Link here

Up in the middle of the night to take Yvonne to the St John of God hospital for a coronary angiogram, slated to take the entire day (and a night if they found something that they needed to fix). Somehow made it there (15 minutes too early) and back in under an hour.

I had barely started breakfast (10:30) when Jacinta from St John's called to say that Yvonne was finished, that they had not found anything, and that I could pick her up any time between now and 12:30. Got directions—not the first time I've been lost in that hospital—and headed there to arrive at 12:30.

OK, in the lift, third floor, straight ahead. A wall. Looked around and found everything blocked to visitors. Ah, I had taken the wrong lift. Back to the ground floor, up the other lift, and without too much difficulty found Yvonne, who wasn't allowed to leave until 12:55, apparently to avoid bleeding from the point of entry of the catheter.


Frijoles de la olla: ¿Como?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Time to make some more frijoles de la olla. For the first time, I have fresh epazote to put in. But how much? It's powerful smelling stuff. The only recipe I could find specified “a sprig” for 375 g of beans.

Off to Youtube to look for recipes, in the process learning something about vowel shifts in Mexican Spanish. And every recipe was different! Some of the recipes also looked quite dubious, but it's clear that any dish as widespread as frijoles de la olla has to have many different recipes. I'll have to soak the beans overnight, but tomorrow I intend to take a significant part of one of my plants, but to omit garlic (which I can't taste in the result, and which isn't in any of the recipes I found) and fat. And since some of the recipes use green tomatoes, I finally have something to do with the green tomatoes that I froze a couple of years ago.


To the doctor again
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Into town in the afternoon—the third time today, making over 200 km—to see Dr Paul Smith, revelling in his new stethoscope—it seems that he has had his old one, which has finally given up the ghost, since he entered into medical school. As I said, clearly he's now a Real Doctor.

Both the stethoscope and the results of the chest X-ray showed nothing of interest except for an enlarged heart, which didn't concern him, though I should have asked in more detail. So the coughing could go on for a while (though it's already much better than last week), but no need for any further treatment. Thank God!


Hello world
Topic: general, food and drink Link here

I now have a new debit card from Transferwise, marked “Hello world” (apparently a punctuation-free representation of the text on the back, “Bye bye banks, hello world”). The special thing about it: I can pay in any currency and get extremely low exchange rates. First use requires PIN entry, so on the way to Paul, stopped in at Harris Scarfe and bought Yet Another frying pan, to replace one whose anti-stick coating has finally given up the ghost.


DigitalOcean: direct insults?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Finally got a response from DigitalOcean to Friday's complaint:

Thank you for contacting DigitalOcean!

Please let us know if there's anything we can help with, and have a wonderful day!

Best Regards,
Conor
Developer Experience Engineer II

Was this reply helpful? Let us know!

What kind of answer is that? Are they deliberately trying to annoy me? Answered, and “let them know”, but it looks as if the only thing keeping me with DigitalOcean is inertia.


Tuesday, 6 August 2019 Dereel Images for 6 August 2019
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Caring for an invalid
Topic: health Link here

Yvonne is still feeling under the weather after yesterday's coronary angiogram. I hadn't expected that, but it seems to be in the normal range.

What a month it's been! It's been over a month since Yvonne's first heart investigations, and 3 weeks since she got her cold/virus or whatever people call it nowadays. Hopefully things will soon be back to normal.


Dead freezer?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Clearly our number 2 freezer is not working well. OK, not to worry, let's put the stuff in number 1 freezer (the oldest, just waiting for this kind of duty). In the process found a number of plastic bags that had fallen down behind the baskets. Is it possible that they blocked the air flow? I suppose I should check things before I call in a repairman.


movavi software
Topic: photography, multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

So I'm looking for video processing software, and by chance movavi has a 40% off sale. Time to try the stuff out.

I had already tried their photo editor nine months ago, and came to a conclusion that it wasn't useless. So how about the video editor?

Things didn't work well:

 
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“your system does not support the necessary OpenGL version". I've seen that before. It's an obfuscatory way of saying “we weren't expecting this program to be run via remote desktop”. Try starting native. Sure enough, it didn't bring that message. Instead I got:


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OK, this is supposed to be a demo version. What do I select? Tried to shoot it down, but the Task Manager didn't want to know:

 
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OK, no data to save. Shoot it down. Try again. Same thing happened again, of course, so I selected the alternative “Fill in the feedback form and get 40% discount”. OK, you want feedback, I have feedback. But I didn't get the choice, only at the end:

 
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What language is that? Russian? Why did that happen? But I was still no closer. Finally I selected “Activate”, then “Cancel”, and I was left with a message:

 
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OK, ignoring things seems to be the way to go, and I ended up with what I think must be the standard screen:


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What does that mean? Just understanding it requires a lot of effort. Is it worth it? Even if I get it to work now, what are the chances that a future update will break the software?


Wednesday, 7 August 2019 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 7 August 2019
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New microwave oven
Topic: general Link here

Yvonne is still not allowed to drive, so we both went shopping in Ballarat today. About the only aspect of any interest was the purchase of a new microwave oven, a Sharp R350EW. It's 1200 W instead of 1100 W for the old Panasonic, has 10 power levels (marked in W) instead of 6 silly names (medium low, defrost, low...) on the Panasonic, and it's designed for people who can operate keyboards, rather than the multiple press that the Panasonic wants. Or at least, that's what I thought. You still have to press the power level button up to 10 times to set the correct level.

And the down side? The heating chamber is narrower! It hit me immediately when I saw it on display, but in fact it's only 9 mm narrower (33.7 cm instead of 34.6 cm). And the clock, once again, is only 12 hours. Why? Surely it costs them more to make 12 and 24 hour clocks than to just make 24 hour clocks and let people who want to to restrict it to 12 hours. And the display is far too bright. But we'll live with that.


Chromagen: instant response
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

While walking the dogs, got a phone call from Chromagen, answering my online request last week, What instant response! Left her with my decided opinions both about their products and their management. “Oh, you won't be needing any help, then?”.

Back home, found a mail message waiting:

Dear Greg Lehey,
Thank you for submitting your service request. Your reference number is 145660 http://portal.chromagen.com.au/portal/sections/ticketing/status.php?id=145660 click on the link to view the progress of your service request. Please note charges may apply on work which is not classified under warranty. All service calls are subject to Chromagen Australia’s warranty terms and conditions.

OK, follow the link:


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Look at the URL! And it still wants me to enter the number. OK, for the sake of completeness...

 
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Possibly this is because they deleted the request. I'd prefer to see it as a further indication of their incompetence.


Peking duck, ALDI style
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

One of the things that we picked up at ALDI today was a “Peking duck kit”. Who knows, maybe it's not bad. Ate it this evening. Basically it's duck, pancakes and hoi sin sauce, just add spring onion and cucumber.

Amusingly, the meat and the pancakes came with individual expiry dates (the pancakes in October, duck in December). But this is Peking duck?


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No crispy skin there, and clearly not something that I would repeat. But it wasn't too bad, and the pancakes were quite good, saving me a lot of work. Now if they would only sell the pancakes separately.


Thursday, 8 August 2019 Dereel Images for 8 August 2019
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Chinese currency manipulators!
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

So Donald Trump has complained that China is a currency manipulator. Yes, correct, but in fact his complaint is that China stopped currency manipulation. From this statistic:

the Chinese central bank was criticized for letting the devaluation of its currency happen instead of stepping in, a gesture interpreted by many as a rebuttal for the new round of tariffs announced by Donald Trump late last week.

So which is manipulation? Stepping in or not stepping in? According to currency manipulator,

“Currency manipulator” is a term used by governmental authorities such as the United States Department of the Treasury to designate countries that engage in a certain degree of currency intervention, a monetary policy in which a central bank buys or sells foreign currency in exchange for domestic currency, generally with the intention of influencing the exchange rate and commercial policy.

The US Treasury doesn't make it easy to find its definition of “currency manipulation”, but this page quotes it, along with comments:

According to the UST a country is a currency manipulator when it does the following three specific things:

But what do those first two items have to do with currency manipulation? Only the third is currency manipulation. As I see it, the first two moderate the third: it's only currency manipulation if they also apply.

When will the USA get sensible politicians? It seems that Trump still thinks that China is paying his tariffs.


Some little garden work
Topic: gardening Link here

Almost before I know it, winter is coming to an end, and I haven't pruned the roses. In fact, I didn't prune them at all last year, making it even more urgent. Did a bit of pruning, but soon ran out of energy.

Also planted one of the epazote plants in the north part of the garden. I don't know if it will make it, especially since it's currently so wet, but I have plenty of seeds.


Deep freeze: problem analysis
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

A couple of days ago I established that my malfunctioning freezer had some blockages round the back behind the baskets. Could they have been the cause for the problems? Turned it on again and put a basket of food in there. But once again the fronts of the baskets had frozen condensation on them, suggesting that they had reached 0°. Why? And where does the moisture come from? I'm pretty sure that the seal is OK, and there was nothing moist inside.


Qantas: Begone foul frequent flyer!
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Another attempt to book Yvonne's flight today, and again, on transferring to http://www.jetstar.com/:

 
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OK, this is getting urgent. Time to call up Qantas on 13 11 31 and booking it manually. And again the “estimated wait time is over 1½ hours”. Arranged for a callback, which finally occurred after I thought they had forgotten it, somewhat after 3 hours later. Spoke to Elly, a very clearly non-native English speaker, who went offline for 4 minutes to come back and tell me that neither of the flights that I wanted was available. Managed to shut her up long enough to check their web site. Both still on offer:


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No, wrong, start of a long explanation. Sorry, Elly, connect me to your supervisor.

12 minutes later she came back offering me alternative flights. No, I want the ones advertised on their web site. Please connect me to your supervisor now, and tell me that you're going to do so. Finally, on the third request, she said yes, she would connect me to her supervisor.

A quarter of an hour later the phone line went dead.

What's wrong with this company? Before signing off, they did manage to present another error message:


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Went looking on the Jetstar site, but found very little of help. It seems that you have to pay them just to talk to them on the phone! And there's no evidence that you can access the site with Qantas Frequent Flyer credentials. But their help page offers help: just use live chat.

What live chat? Ah, they're too polite to say, or maybe it's privacy concerns. All I got was another error message, which continued for as long as I could bother looking, though an hour later it was gone:

 
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To even talk to Jetstar's web site, I needed to register an email address and password, the latter something like “Never More!. It accepted that, but fortunately I displayed it before sending it off: it had removed the space!

OK, it looks like Qantas has succeeded: they've prevented me from using my frequent flyer points. How about a web search for normal flights?

 
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The interesting thing there is that somehow Google managed to find my flight destinations and dates, something that Qantas couldn't remember. Where did they get them from?


Friday, 9 August 2019 Dereel
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Qantas: complaint!
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

OK, it's clear that the service that I have received from Qantas is unacceptable. Should I try calling them again? That can take the best part of a day, not to mention the annoyance. So called Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 81 81 and spoke to Simon, who explained that there's a special group addressing this kind of problem, the Airline Customer Advocate, and that I should talk to them. He gave me the number, 1800 813 129, but that didn't help much. First I needed to fill out a (very bureaucratic) form, and one of the questions was “have you sent a written complaint to the airline?”. No, so of course it said “do that first!”, but was too polite to tell me how.

Google was more forthcoming: https://www.qantas.com/au/en/support/contact-us/customer-care-feedback-form.html. OK, filled that out, with the obligatory one line per paragraph:

I have been trying for 2 weeks to book a rewards flight.  My experience suggests that you are doing everything to stop me from doing so.  Your web site makes me select flights, and then tells me "Ha ha, only joking, go to Jetstar and start again with different terms, conditions and pricing".  When I proceed to JetStar I get one of three different web site crashes.  Calling your customer help line 131131 resulted in up to 3½ hour delays, after which I was told that flights on the web site were not available, though I was able to confirm during the discussion that they still were.  I asked to be connected to a supervisor, but after 15 minutes the line went dead.

This web site is no exception.  After filling in the entire form, I receive a message that you don't like my browser, and I first need to perform a software update.  I find that offensive.

Is this the way you want to treat your frequent flyers?  How do you treat normal people?

But of course that wasn't going to help much, and I didn't want even more annoyance. How about just buying a flight? That proved to be more expensive than I had expected, round $300. Sure, we can afford that, but dammit, I've been collecting these Qantas points for decades now, and they keep devaluing them. Isn't it time to find a way to use them?

I couldn't think of one, so I put it aside for some other time.


NBN: some uptime possible
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've been grumbling more and more about the National Broadband Network's continual “scheduled outages”. How can they get away with them? Last week I noted another 48 hours for this month.

But that, it seems, is only the start. Today I received two more scheduled outage notices:

The details are:
  - Start date and time: Mon 26th August 2019 07:00 AEST
  - End date and time: Sun 1st September 2019 20:00 AEST
  - Window: 157.0 hours

You may experience the following interruptions during the maintenance
  - 480 min
  - 480 min
  - 480 min
  - 480 min
  - 480 min

The details are:
  - Start date and time: Mon 2nd September 2019 07:00 AEST
  - End date and time: Mon 9th September 2019 20:00 AEST
  - Window: 181.0 hours

You may experience the following interruptions during the maintenance
  - 480 min
  - 480 min
  - 480 min
  - 480 min
  - 480 min

That's 120 hours outage in three weeks! Considering that they're doing it during working hours, that's effectively taking the NBN offline for some people for 3 weeks!

Yes, I know it won't be quite like that. But when are they finally going to stop this nonsense? Only a monopoly can afford that kind of luxury; otherwise they would lose all their customers. I wonder how things will be if 5G ever makes it to Dereel.


More freezer considerations
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Why is freezer number 2 not working correctly? Why, is freezer number 2 not working correctly? There seem to have been two issues: one was condensation on the items at the very top, which might have been due to blocking the fan at the back. But after removing that, there was still moisture is condensing on the front of the baskets. Where is it coming from? The seal seems perfectly intact, so any moisture must already be inside the freezer.

One other question is obvious: what's the temperature in there? It's difficult to measure the temperature in a freezer, since it changes drastically as soon as you open it. Today I grabbed a remote meat thermometer (with cable) and tried that in a closed freezer. No go: it didn't display below 0°, which is reasonable enough.

But wait! There's more! Well, more thermometers, of a different kind. Tried one of them, and sure enough, it worked, showing a median temperature of about -22° in number 3 freezer (the new one that I bought a year ago). Is that correct? It may be reading a little low, but clearly it's in the right range. OK, freezer number 1 (20 years old?). Also in that range, cycling through about 5° (-19° to -24°). And freezer 2, the problem one? The same again, observed over several hours.

OK, that's in a basket. What about between door and basket? For the rest of the evening, I saw pretty much the same temperature, as you'd imagine in a properly functioning freezer with a closed door. And no moisture. Tomorrow I can continue observing.


Power fail
Topic: general Link here

Not one power failure today, but three, between 2:19 and 15:33. Still, that's 14 failures since installing the solar electricity system 4 months ago

I didn't discover this outage, like a number of others, until 13 August.

Saturday, 10 August 2019 Dereel Images for 10 August 2019
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Qantas: success!
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Somehow I couldn't accept the idea of giving up on Qantas and just buying a ticket. Somehow I need to work around the myriads of bugs.

One obvious thing was that I was trying to book flights with Jetstar only. Sure, they offer them, but with different conditions. Why? What if you need at least one Qantas flight in the itinerary? That had been my original intention—that way Yvonne could fly business class—but I couldn't find one at an appropriate time.

But how about a connecting flight? Maybe that would work. Not ideal, but at least we could get the ticket. Off to check on the Qantas site for the umpteenth time, and to my surprise found a direct return flight from Coolangatta to Melbourne at exact time we were looking for. Was that there before? It's hard to believe, and based on their web site breakage it could have been hidden where I wouldn't expect it.

OK, book to Coolangatta on the (Jetstar) JQ436, the one I had been trying to get all the time, and which Qantas' Elly told me on Thursday was no longer available. And the conditions were as stated on the Qantas site, not as stated on the Jetstar site. And then QF881 on the way back, this time business class. All went well, and I was able to book the flight with no difficulty:


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Finally! It's taken 32 days!. I'm so relieved that I don't feel relieved.

What went wrong here?

So what's really going on? I'd say that there's a good case of Hanlon's razor here: their web site is terminally broken, in particular communication with their subsidiary, Jetstar. Their frequent flyer phone support is some of the worst I have ever seen, though it's not clear how I got through quickly enough on one occasion. And their system is so opaque that even their consultants can't navigate it. At the very least they need better training for their consultants.

I wonder if I'll at least get an apology based on my complaint.


Analemma experiments
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

My experiments with analemma photos have not been very successful so far. In particular, the sun's disk is spoilt by flare:


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Probably I need still much less exposure. Tried today with the E-30 and the Zuiko Digital ED 9-18 mm f/4.0-5.6 fitted with an infrared filter. Success, of a kind:

 
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That's f/8 at 1/8000 s, EV 19. I've established that the filter corresponds to about another 10 EV, so we're looking at about EV 29. But I tried bracketing, and took another shot at 1/1000 s (EV 16). Nothing to be seen, despite 3 EV more exposure! A thin cloud in front of the sun. I wouldn't have expected it to make that much difference.

What next? How do I align photos like this one? Nothing else is visible.


Art for sale
Topic: general Link here

Yvonne has agreed to exhibit some of her paintings at the Dereel Hall for the next month or so. Over with her to help transport them, leaving others to hang them in the hallway:


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After a bit of playing around, ended up with 6 horse-related pictures in the hallway and another 3 dog-related ones, including the prototypical vicious hunting dog, in a staircase:


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She's allowed to put up pricing and other info, but I don't see anything selling. Apart from the fact that the typical client is not a Dereel resident, the place is hardly ever open.


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

Salmon steaks for dinner tonight, about 4 cm thick. Yvonne suggested doing them in the air fryer. OK, the small (“digital”) one will do that. What temperature? The instruction manual recommended between 10 and 23 minutes at 180° for steaks, which seems excessive. In the end I gave them 8 minutes at 180°, which seems about right, leaving them slightly raw in the middle.


Sunday, 11 August 2019 Dereel Images for 11 August 2019
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Qantas bugs again
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

My issues with Qantas have been worked around, but today when I looked at a tab I had opened yesterday, I saw:

 
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What can I say? That seems to be normal.


Tight panoramas
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Yvonne's paintings are hanging in a hallway maybe 1.5 m wide:


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How do you take a photo like that? That one is the result of stitching four photos together with Hugin, but I'm not very happy with it. It starts with the individual views:


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Part of the issue is doubtless that I didn't take the photos from exactly the same position. But the real problem is representing each painting correctly without distortion. Clearly I failed.

There are more issues than I expected:

  1. Align the images. That's relatively straightforward, though the control point detector fixed on very different things from the human eye. In particular, it didn't find a single corner, resulting in very suboptimal alignment. So I had to do it manually.
  2. The projection. In the end I chose rectilinear, corresponding to a focal length of about 2.7 mm.
  3. The horizon. As it started, the left end was far higher than the right end. The Hugin Move/Drag tool helped there: select the left and pull it down.
  4. The shape of the individual paintings. Here, clearly, I failed. There are ways to move things around with Move/Drag, and some of them looked better than others, but somehow I don't quite understand the transformations.

Next time with a fisheye lens?


Rain, rain, rain...
Topic: general Link here

It's been very wet recently. In the last 4 days we have had nearly 50 mm of rain. Apart from the sodden paddocks (one of the reasons we first considered leaving Germany 25 years ago), there's the issue with fallen trees, here in Harrisons Road:


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That's very close to the mattress that got dumped or lost along that way a few weeks back, here visible on the side of the road in the first image:


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Monday, 12 August 2019 Dereel Images for 12 August 2019
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More freezer insights
Topic: general, food and drink, opinion Link here

I've been monitoring the temperature between the baskets and the door of freezer 2 (the one that gave me concern last week), and the results are interesting. It maintains a displayed -21° or so most of the time, but when I open it the temperature rises very quickly. Even a couple of seconds are enough to raise it to -9°, and any significant opening time can raise it to +2° or so. But the fronts of the baskets no longer ice up, so I've gradually been moving the baskets back from freezer 1 to freezer 2.

Surprise! Now I'm getting the icing again! My best bet is that that's simply because I open it so frequently (something that I need to do). That's only the case with this freezer, so that would be enough explanation. Clearly it's a good idea to open it as seldom and as quickly as possible.


Qantas: that's a complaint resolution?
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Email from Qantas today, titled “Email History”, and with the subject “Qantas Loyalty - SR2564610” regarding Friday's complaint. Resolved? No. This “reply” isn't worthy of the name. I get the feeling that the respondent didn't even read the complaint.

Some of that could be the format of my message. I wasn't allowed to enter real text, so I had to enter it as one-line-per-paragraph text:

I have been trying for 2 weeks to book a rewards flight.  My experience suggests that you are doing everything to stop me from doing so.  Your web site makes me select flights, and then tells me "Ha ha, only joking, go to Jetstar and start again with different terms, conditions and pricing"....

But that wasn't illegible enough for Qantas. By the time its system had processed it, we had:

 Customer: Greg Lehey <br> Phone: 61353090418 <br> Email: grog@lemis.com <b=
r> Frequent flyer number: 1601615 <br> Airline:  <br> Flight number:  <br> =
Departure date:  <br> From:  <br> To:  <br> Category: Frequent Flyer Progra=
m <br> Sub category: Award Flight Bookings <br> Feedback nature: Complaint =
<br> Question: I have been trying for 2 weeks to book a rewards flight.  My=
 experience suggests that you are doing everything to stop me from doing so=
.  Your web site makes me select flights, and then tells me "Ha ha, only jo=
king, go to JetStar and start again with different terms, conditions and pr=
icing"...

And the response? Boilerplate, in a nutshell saying “sorry your preferred flight wasn't available”. IDIOTS! What I complained about was:

  1. Your web site makes me select flights, and then tells me "Ha ha, only joking, go to Jetstar and start again with different terms, conditions and pricing".
  2. When I proceed to JetStar I get one of three different web site crashes.
  3. Calling your customer help line 131131 resulted in up to 3½ hour delays,
  4. ... after which I was told that flights on the web site were not available, though I was able to confirm during the discussion that they still were available.
  5. I asked to be connected to a supervisor, but after 15 minutes the line went dead.
  6. This web site is no exception. After filling in the entire form, I receive a message that you don't like my browser, and I first need to perform a software update. I find that offensive.
  7. Is this the way you want to treat your frequent flyers? How do you treat normal people?

How many of those points were answered? None of them. Instead an incorrect claim that the flights were no longer available (I ended up booking one of them a few days later).

So why this nonsense? Somehow you could really get the impression that they're trying to annoy people, but I think this is yet another case of Hanlon's razor.


Paintings: fisheye attempts
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Yesterday I tried to stitch a panorama of Yvonne's paintings at the Dereel Hall, without spectacular success:


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I thought that it might be better to take photos with a fisheye lens, which would cover the width in a single photos. Yvonne went over there, and took a few photos for me. No, that's not the solution:


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The second is DxO PhotoLab's reformatting of the image. Yes, I could crop it and maybe modify it a little, but not much at all. For the time being it's the one that got away.


Tuesday, 13 August 2019 Dereel Images for 13 August 2019
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Updating solar power monitoring
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

When the solar electricity system was installed I spent a lot of time investigating the information that it provided, but of course that gradually became less interesting. I'm still collecting ridiculous quantities of data:

-rw-rw----  1 mysql  mysql  1,103,101,952 14 Aug 12:40 /var/db/mysql/household/powerstats.ibd

But I'm not doing much about evaluating it, and I'm not saving some other, more succinct information. Today I did something about it: I still need to find a way to save JSON in a database, but at least I can save it as text, and also evaluate any issues with the inverter. That gave me a number of power failures, none of them long,


Understanding Android, next example
Topic: technology, general, opinion, food and drink Link here

I'm off to Geelong next week to see Leela, the periodontist. Clearly time to call Jason Yap of the Gourmet Asian Grocery and order some dofu puffs, of which he normally doesn't have enough.

What kind? I forget. Never mind, he sent me a message (what kind?):

 
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Found a way to answer, but clearly that was a good use of the facilities available. I should learn how to use them.

But how do they fit into frameworks? Standards? He only had my phone number, so presumably this is an extended SMS (MMS?). So there's immediately a down side: how do I save it anywhere? I'm sure that there's an app for it, but basically it runs in parallel with email, and there's no obvious reason why it should.

And then there's another interesting detail: it's clearly identified as coming from “Gourmet Asian Grocery”. How does it get that information?


Wednesday, 14 August 2019 Dereel Images for 14 August 2019
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Dereel Bushland Reserve again
Topic: general, animals, gardening Link here

We used to walk the dogs to the „Große Linde“ (big Linden tree, in reality a conifer) before we decided to walk further. Then a few weeks ago I went further, down to the creek, before the track deteriorated and I turned back. Today we had the first indications of spring with the flowering wattles:


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So we decided to try to get further: after all, the track was heading back to Bliss Road before petering out.

No luck:


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That's looking roughly north from the south-west end of this walk:

 
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A pity, in a way. Maybe I should put some boots on (a rare thing indeed) and we should rough it.


Rejoicing in a bone
Topic: animals Link here

While walking, Leonid found a bone (kangaroo skull again, maybe?). He really enjoys playing with the things:


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I think it probably looks better with video, like last month.


Eliminating all information from labels
Topic: food and drink, general, opinion Link here

Yvonne bought some chicken skewers again today. It took me a while to find them in the fridge:


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At first I thought it said “Lamb”, but it's a compressed almost consonantal representation of “Lamb and Garlic”. And what? RSPCA Approved? Maybe that means that it's vegetarian. More importantly, how much does it weigh? What price per kilogram? Once those were required by law; why have they removed them? Yvonne thought that maybe it was a per-piece price, but even that would need to be stated. And I can't see how 6 skewers can cost $4.14.


Thursday, 15 August 2019 Dereel Images for 15 August 2019
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More walking tracks
Topic: general, animals, gardening, opinion Link here

One of the issues we have round Stones Road is that there are few places to go walking without turning back half way. Yesterday we were thwarted in the Dereel Bushland Reserve, but what about to the North in Enfield State Park? At the beginning of last month I walked down Spearys Road as far as practical, but it occurred to me later that there are two places which almost meet (run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour):

 
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There's quite a dip visible from the south, and I'm not sure we'll get up the other side, so we'll try again from the north.

On the way back today I took another look at the plant that I had identified last month:


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I had thought that the beige spheres were buds—the buds of Paulownia kawakamii look similar—but it seems that they're something like berries:


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Also noticed Lorraine Carranza's pretty Leucadendron in flower. She gave us one that we now have by the entrance of the house, but it isn't flowering yet:


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Friday, 16 August 2019 Dereel
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More TV programme sources
Topic: multimedia, general, opinion Link here

Over the last two years or so we've been downloading TV programmes mainly from ARD and ZDF, the German free-to-air broadcasters. That's all perfectly legal, but there's only a certain amount of stuff available. There are other countries too, apart from Germany. In Australia we have, in particular, ABC, the national broadcaster, and SBS, the “Special Broadcasting Service”, which is intended "to provide multilingual and multicultural radio and television services that inform, educate and entertain all Australians and, in doing so, reflect Australia's multicultural society". As I see it, they're only moderately successful, but they do have the occasional film that isn't too strange.

I get frequent newsletters from SBS advertising programmes that I can download, at 720p resolution but low quality. And the content is also strange; the concept reminds me of what people in the UK thought of “French films” 50 years ago. Still, there are occasionally things worth watching.

And ABC? They have this thing called iView, which never seems to work for me. How about downloading things? No, you can't do that; well, at least the ABC didn't plan for it. Spent some time today looking at how to do it, and came up with this description, requiring me to install special software on a Microsoft box to download it. I was able to confirm that YouTube Downloader can't do anything with them:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/4) /spool/Series 4 -> yt https://iview.abc.net.au/show/dirk-gently-s-holistic-detective-agency
[generic] dirk-gently-s-holistic-detective-agency: Requesting header
WARNING: Falling back on generic information extractor.
[generic] dirk-gently-s-holistic-detective-agency: Downloading webpage
[generic] dirk-gently-s-holistic-detective-agency: Extracting information
ERROR: Unsupported URL: https://iview.abc.net.au/show/dirk-gently-s-holistic-detective-agency

Why is this so difficult? And it seems that the ABC is also still in the 20th century, with resolutions like 716x404. Is it worth the pain? They offered a newsletter, presumably like the one that SBS sends me, but pressing on the “Sign up” (sorry, “SIGN UP”) button didn't do anything obvious.

I should really look in other countries. In the UK they have some reasonable content, but it's geographically limited. What I've seen of French offerings doesn't excite me. And somehow I can't find anything worth watching in the USA; it's as if they're on a different planet, with all the shows either violent or fantasy or both.


Saturday, 17 August 2019 Dereel Images for 17 August 2019
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Power fail!
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Looking through my daily log files this morning, I saw:

lagoon.lemis.com kernel log messages:
+Copyright (c) 1992-2018 The FreeBSD Project.
+Copyright (c) 1979, 1980, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994
+       The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
+FreeBSD is a registered trademark of The FreeBSD Foundation.
+FreeBSD 11.1-STABLE #2 r327971: Mon Jan 15 16:30:36 AEDT 2018
...

Huh? Those are boot messages. What are they doing here?

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/31) ~ 1 -> date; ruptime
Sat 17 Aug 2019 09:57:52 AEST
eureka                     up   25+19:00,    17 users,  load 0.77, 0.80, 0.69
lagoon                     up       9:22,     3 users,  load 0.20, 0.15, 0.13
teevee                     up       9:22,     2 users,  load 0.07, 0.13, 0.14

Two machines rebooted at 0:35! Why? The obvious reason would be a prolonged power failure that drained the UPS that they're on. But there was no power outage. And the photovoltaic system showed no issues. The most obvious thing was a drop in grid voltage to “only” 241 V at 0:27, but at that time lagoon was running and logged an otherwise uninteresting event. And 241 V is still well over the nominal 230 V here.

That looks like this horrible Eaton UPS doing its own thing again. It saved me once while we were working on the system a few months ago, but just failing like that is pretty much the opposite of what it's there for. Maybe I should remove it after all.


More ABC investigation
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

Is ABC iView worth the trouble? In the past I never thought so, but I have a way to download the programmes. So why don't I look at what I can find? Installed allavsoft on dischord, my Microsoft box, and tried downloading.

They want money! Yes, I can download 5 programmes for free, but that's it. And of course, like all Microsoft programs, I can't work out where it has put it. In a “folder” called Download. But it wasn't the Download “folder” that the GUI chose to show me. Why can't Microsoft finally adopt complete path names? Finally I found it, as suspected low resolution:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/7) /spool/Series/Dirk-Gently 32 -> l
total 414
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  home       65,885 17 Aug 16:39 Dirk-Gently-s-Holistic-Detective-Agency---Series-1-Ep-1-Horizons.en.srt
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  home       61,558 17 Aug 16:39 Dirk-Gently-s-Holistic-Detective-Agency---Series-1-Ep-1-Horizons.en.vtt
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  home  433,446,897 17 Aug 16:39 Dirk-Gently-s-Holistic-Detective-Agency---Series-1-Ep-1-Horizons.mp4
=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/7) /spool/Series/Dirk-Gently 33 -> mpid Dirk-Gently-s-Holistic-Detective-Agency---Series-1-Ep-1-Horizons.mp4
Dirk-Gently-s-Holistic-Detective-Agency---Series-1-Ep-1-Horizons.mp4    VIDEO:  [H264]  1024x576  24bpp  25.000 fps  949.3 kbps (115.9 kbyte/s)

Is it any good? I haven't looked at it yet. But while messing around, found this in the Wikipedia page:

In 2012 the ABC sent a legal notice to the author of an open source program called Python-iView which enabled users to download videos from the ABC.

OK, ABC, I get the message. Low res content where others offer higher res. And you want to tell me how I can watch it. Goodbye.

About the only thing that I did get to work was the newsletter, on the third attempt. At least that way I'll know what I'm missing.


Towards better analemma photos
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

I still haven't worked out a good way to take my analemma photos, but I should at least experiment. Set up a tripod and head to point (hopefully) to the full range of the analemma, and took a number of photos. First, one with the infrared filter, 1/1000 s at f/8:


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How can I align that with anything else? I can't use control points, because the only one is the sun, and it would annul the purpose of the series to align on that. So I'll have to just hope that the camera (on a tripod) doesn't move between shots, and overlap them manually. But that, too, doesn't work well. Here's a corresponding shot, more or less correctly exposed:


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How do I do that? It proves that Hugin is not cut out to do this, and there's a second issue: yes, I can get them to align, but how do I remove the mess around the sun in the second image?

With difficulty. After a lot of messing around, the best I could get was this:


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Back to the drawing board.

In passing, it's interesting to note how exact you need to be. These two images were taken 136 seconds apart (run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour):

 
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Under those circumstances, my intention of taking the photo at exactly 12:25:00 didn't quite work: the second one (the “real” one) was taken 37 seconds too late.


Circular walk: thwarted
Topic: general, animals Link here

As planned on Thursday, off today to try to close this loop:

 
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Up there to the fence that I found last month, noting in the process that it was less easy to cross than I had hoped. At first sight it's a flattened fence:


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But come up close and there's a single strand of barbed wire about 60 cm off the ground:


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Found a way across further to the north, but Yvonne didn't want to come. She decided that it must be private property. All that way for (almost) nothing: I did manage to get a view to the east:


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On the way back, ran into Fiona Drayton and friend on a—what? I call it a trap, but Yvonne tells me it's a gig:


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Skewered kidneys
Topic: food and drink Link here

Yvonne bought some lamb kidneys on Wednesday—high time to eat them. But how? In the past we've eaten them en casserole, though I note that I don't have a recipe for that online. But this time she wanted them on skewers, in the process forgetting that we already had a recipe. Never mind, this time we did it in the hair dryer (the larger of the two “air fryers”.

How long? After 16 minutes at 210° they looked OK, but they were somewhat underdone in the middle. Next time I'll give them 20 minutes.


Sunday, 18 August 2019 Dereel Images for 18 August 2019
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NBN slower?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

For some time I've noted an interesting detail in my National Broadband Network monitoring data:

NBN link statistics

Some time round 11 July the link latency (blue trace) increased by 3 ms. Why? Are they going to do something about it in one of their never-ending “planned maintenances”?


Bubbles?
Topic: general Link here

Walking the dogs through very wet weather, found this:


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A surprising number of bubbles were rising from a puddle in the road. Why? How? The puddle must have been there for hours, and the road is generally wet enough to have no air pockets, in fact wet enough for me to wear a hat and inspire Yvonne to take a rare photo of me with the dogs:


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Monday, 19 August 2019 Dereel → Geelong → Dereel Images for 19 August 2019
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Another bloody power failure!
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Woke up in the middle of the night at... when? It was dark, and so was the display on my bedside clock. Damn! Had we had the dreaded nightly power failure coupled with the air conditioner draining the remaining battery power?

Out to take a look at the damage. No, all was running, and the kitchen devices proclaimed 4:55. Only the UPS circuits were down, including all computers. RCD? No, it was all OK.

Damn! It must be the UPS itself. I had an issue with it only 2 days ago. But it's outside in the shed, and it's dark.

Back to bed and thought over the options. The obvious thing to do is to remove the UPS from the circuit; since the installation of the photovoltaic system four months ago it's no longer needed. But how do I do that? From memory, one of the connections was hard-wired, and the other had a 15 A plug, not standard. Which is which? Clearly the 15 A plug would be on the input. All I need to do is to remove the connector to the UPS on the (hard-wired) output side and put the 15 A plug on it. But that would destroy the cable, which could be expensive. Do I have alternative cables? Last time I messed around with the induction cooktop I couldn't find one. Do I have time to drive into Ballarat and buy something? I have to leave for Geelong at 12:40, which might make it a bit tight.

Call in an electrician? What's the chance of getting him here today? None of the ones I know, anyway. Get by without the UPS circuits for a while? All the computers were on one, but eureka and teevee have non-UPS circuits available, and I could lay an extension cable for lagoon. But then there's the house lighting, all on UPS. We could work around that, too, but it wouldn't be fun.

But what's wrong with the UPS in the first place? Maybe it's trivial to “fix”. Round 6:10 got up and marginally dressed and out, still in the dark, to the shed. OW!


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What happened there? The way to the shed goes through the laundry, behind this door:


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And I had walked into one of the rubbish bins, which (from in front) has a convenient pedal for opening it. This morning I proved that it was not so convenient from the side.

Out to the shed before discovering how badly I was bleeding. The UPS showed normal operation! I think so, anyway. It's not easy to see what it's thinking:


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To even read the display, you need to kneel and press the ESC button:


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Contact issues, perhaps? Toggled the switches, unplugged and plugged the cables. Nothing. Power cycle? How do you power cycle it? Clearly the IO button at bottom right, but just a press? No. Long press? No. If you're kneeling on the floor looking at the display, it's clear: press, release, press again. And then it doesn't turn off; maybe it goes onto passthrough, which would really be what I want. If it happens again, I'll try that. But I turned it on again and noted with relief that it showed that it was supplying about 400 W to something. Back into the house. Yes, up and running.

Next, reboot eureka, which is still horribly down-rev. And for some reason the boot loader stops saying “can't find /kernel”. As I discovered last month, the solution is to ignore it and type boot. And that worked this time too. High time to upgrade the system.

That wasn't the end of it. Later, checking my eternal National Broadband Network problems, I discovered that my graphs weren't being updated. Further investigation showed that one of the scripts was failing with the message

awk: trying to access out of range field -1
 input record number 1493, file
 source line number 1

Isn't that helpful? It took a while to discover that one of my log files had a spurious line of binary zeroes, apparently written when the system went down:

1566146684 29.0529 5 0.0        # Mon 19 Aug 2019 02:44:44 AEST 21.904 ms
1566146744 30.2792 5 0.0        # Mon 19 Aug 2019 02:45:44 AEST 23.693 ms
^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@1566159705 31.5946 5 0.0        # Mon 19 Aug 2019 06:21:45 AEST 21.759 ms
1566159765 30.7409 5 0.0        # Mon 19 Aug 2019 06:22:45 AEST 21.916 ms
1566159825 29.7203 5 0.0        # Mon 19 Aug 2019 06:23:45 AEST 21.996 ms

On the positive side, that gave me a good idea of when the power went down on eureka. On lagoon it was 02:34:37, which implies that the office UPS only lasted for 10 minutes, less than I would have expected.


Copying music to SD card
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

How do I copy music files to an SD card? In principle it's simple: Mtools are your friend. But there's some issue with the sequence: the files are stored on a FAT file system, but the player (mine, at any rate) is too stupid to read file names, let alone sort by name, so it plays them in the sequence in which they're stored in the directory, effectively random. In the past I wrote a script to do something like that, but it wasn't exactly what I expected. OK, copy one for one and see what happens.

That probably worked, but after a few directories I got a message that I have never seen before:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/7) /src/Music/MP3/Bach-JS/Magnificat 48 -> for i in *; do mcopy $i d:; done
No directory slots

What's that? There were 74 files in the directory. Is that all that FAT can handle?

No, of course not, as didn't occur to me until later. On cameras they routinely store hundreds, even thousands of files in a directory. A limitation of mtools maybe?

I didn't get a chance to try out the new card. Just before leaving for Geelong, Yvonne noticed that my front tyres were flat. Well, at any rate seriously underinflated. No time to get out the air compressor and fix things: I took her car instead, which doesn't have an MP3 player.


Periodontal checkup
Topic: health Link here

Despite my somewhat belated departure, arrived in Geelong with a good 15 minutes to spare. They made up for that by being 20 minutes late, something that almost never happens. And the periodontal checkup was uninteresting—things look as good as they ever have done.


Shopping in Geelong
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

After the periodontist, off to Belmont looking for foodstuffs. I regularly go to the Indo-Asian Grocery Store and Gourmet Asian Grocery, but recently Google has come up with a couple more: the “Best Indian Grocery Store Geelong” and the “Geelong Belmont Asian Groceries Sto” (tastefully truncated), both without any useful URL, but at least there was an indication on the map: both on the other side of High Street, but within a few hundred metres of the first two.

OK, first to Best Asian:


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I really only wanted that typically Indian food, Masa harina. No, they didn't have it. Other maize flour? No, no maize flour. Took a look around, found some Makki Atta, the same brand as this stuff that we bought last year:


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But I didn't need any of that: it's not much good, and anyway I have some.

In fact, I don't. We gave it to the dogs.

Off to Indo-Asian, where thankfully they had plenty of Minsa masa harina. I keep running out, so this time I bought 4 kg, which should keep me going. The shopkeeper tells me that only Mexican and South American people buy it, specifically for tortillas, and also that Maseca (which I would have preferred) is currently not available, and that he keeps trying to get it.

Then to the Gourmet Asian Grocery, a very distinctly Malaysian place:


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There were a couple of older Chinese people talking to Jason Tan, the owner, in an English that reminded me of my childhood. The Malay suffix “-lah” (an exclamation mark) clearly still lives on in Malaysian English.

I had ordered some dofu cubes, and Jason had put them aside at the back of the fridge, but it seems that somebody had plundered them, and I only got 4 rather than the 5 that I had ordered. Also bought a large amount of other stuff.

Finally to “Geelong Belmont Asian Groceries Sto”, only marginally recognizable by that name:


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It also appeared to be shut:


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And there was no sign of an Internet cafe (isn't that a little anachronistic nowadays?).

This one was interesting. Gourmet Asian Grocery is Malaysian, but the people in this shop all spoke Mandarin Chinese to each other, something that I've seldom heard in Australia. I'm also not sure how well the shopkeeper speaks English; the only things she said was the price. Didn't buy much there, but she did have some noodles and prawns.


Tuesday, 20 August 2019 Dereel Images for 20 August 2019
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Mee soup again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

After yesterday's purchases, it was clear that I should have some East Asian food for breakfast, preferably something I hadn't had before. Tried this mi udang from Teans Gourmet:


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The results? OK, I suppose:


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But then I looked through my diary. I've had this before, and I wasn't as happy last time:


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In fact, I'm not even sure that what I ate today wasn't bought some time ago.


Wildflowers?
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

When walking the dogs, I find various plants on the wayside that might fit the category of “weed”. But what are they? Are they only local? This one here is borderline: it's interesting enough to classify as something interesting, but it spreads easily.


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It seems that the white flowers are mature pink flowers. I must find out what it is.


How many web sites?
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

An interesting statistic from Statista today: How many web sites are there?

It seems that there are currently round 1,710 million A records for web sites out there, up from round 250,000 when I first went on line. But the real thing of interest is the language they use!

On 6 August 1991, British physicist Tim Berners-Lee at CERN in Switzerland published the first ever website, the WorldWideWeb (W3). By the end of 1992 there were ten websites online and, after CERN made the W3 technology publicly available on a royalty-free basis in 1993, the internet gradually started to grow into the all-encompassing giant that it is today.

So the WorldWideWeb [sic] was simply the CERN web site? The things you learn! And the rest are the “internet” (note the lower case, clearly written by somebody who doesn't know the difference between “internet” and “Internet”).

How times change.


Wednesday, 21 August 2019 Dereel Images for 21 August 2019
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Australia Post: So nice, so nice, we do it twice
Topic: general, technology, photography, opinion Link here

Last week I bought a flash unit on eBay, and nowadays Australia Post supplies emails with something like tracking information, and eBay does its best to second-guess. It arrived at “Napoleon” (Australia Post's name for Napoleons) on Monday. Today Yvonne picked it up on the way back from shopping. The emails read:

From bounce-1441751_HTML-1600721773-30696508-10784680-53441@bounce.notifications.auspost.com.au
     Mon Aug 19 10:05:03 2019
From: Australia Post <noreply@notifications.auspost.com.au>
To: groggyhimself@lemis.com
Subject: Your delivery is ready to collect
Date: Sun, 18 Aug 2019 18:03:52 -0600

From ebay@ebay.com  Mon Aug 19 11:15:04 2019
Date: Sun, 18 Aug 2019 18:10:14 -0700
From: eBay <ebay@ebay.com>
To: groggyhimself@lemis.com
Subject: ???? ORDER DELIVERED: METZ Mecablitz 15 MS-1 Digita???

From bounce-1441751_HTML-1600721773-30696513-10784680-317195@bounce.notifications.auspost.com.au  Wed Aug 21 14:45:03 2019
From: Australia Post <noreply@notifications.auspost.com.au>
To: groggyhimself@lemis.com
Subject: Your delivery has been collected
Date: Tue, 20 Aug 2019 22:42:01 -0600

I particularly like the time zones. I can understand eBay using a time zone UTC-7, but why on Earth does Australia Post use UTC-6 (presumably North American Mountain Time), and 16 hours behind local time?


Free Software workshop in Ballarat
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Mail from Ben Sturm today, somebody whom I don't know, but who seems to have been active in Ballarat for 15 years. He's running a workshop next week with the title “Contribute to Free and Open Source Software Workshop”, and was hoping that I could find participants. I can't, but it sounds like a good idea. It seems that it's part of a government-sponsored Digital Information Festival which will start in a couple of days' time and run for 2 weeks. I wonder how that will pan out.


Garden flowers in late winter
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

It's late winter, a month before the equinox, and I've decided to change my monthly photos to match equinoxes and solstices. Gradually spring seems to be coming. This month has been particularly wet, nearly 80 mm in the past 31 days, and some of the plants seem to be suffering from it, like maybe this Epazote that I planted only last week:


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At the top of the list of other sick-looking plants is most definitely this Corymbia ficifolia that we bought only two months ago. Here on planting and now:


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What went wrong there? Is it the plant, the planting, or the planting location? Certainly nothing seems to grow right there.

The Salvia microphylla that we bought at the same time also doesn't look happy:


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But its neighbour also looked like that a year ago, so I haven't given up hope on that one.

And then there's the Agonis flexuosa that we bought as the same time. Here last month and today:


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Which of those look better? We'll see how it does, but I'm not overly concerned.

The Alyogyne huegelii on the north side of the house is doing better now than it ever did in the summer:


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That's not a very normal time for a hibiscus-like flower. I wonder if it's just the freedom it experienced after the tomatoes are gone.

The Camellia japonica in front of the house is looking better, even if the leaves give cause for some concern:


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The island in the driveway is now almost completely covered in Carpobrotus, to the extent that we have had to cut it back:


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The Leucodendron could look happier:


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