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December 2014
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Monday, 1 December 2014 Dereel Images for 1 December 2014
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Increased building activity
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Up early this morning and over to the site, where Norm Baker and colleagues were laying the slab for the shed:


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Back home for breakfast, but on the way Chris Bahlo intercepted me and told me that Jodie from Bushmans was waiting for me on the Ballarat-Colac road. Off to pick him up and then delivered two water tanks to Chris' site and two to ours:


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And by that time, Norm had moved the shed 2 m west. I couldn't complain about that: that's the way it's on the plan, but not the way I wanted it. It'll take a corresponding amount out of the garden south of the house.

Martin and friends, the plumbers, were also there finishing things off. It seems that the solar hot water panels are smaller than we thought, only 1×2 m, so there was plenty of space:


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Time for breakfast? No, Martin needed more water, so off to get that for him and back again. Only then back home and finally got some breakfast, and was just preparing to go back again to meet up with Jim Lannen, the electrician, when Norm called up, finished, and wanted money. Over to pay him, then waited 30 minutes beyond appointed time for Jim before returning home again. Another half an hour and I was over there with Jim, where we didn't get far beyond agreeing on the details of the wiring.

Back again in the evening to take the dogs for a walk. Seven journeys! It's only 2.8 km each way, but with the delivery to Chris' place it made for a total of 48 km. What a day!


Tuesday, 2 December 2014 Dereel Images for 2 December 2014
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Air conditioning
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Into town for a blood test this morning, and also had a haircut. On the way passed the building site, where the air conditioning people were busy. Looked in again on the way back, where Jim Lannen was also putting in some fittings. By evening they had finished the ducting for the air conditioners:


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Gradually we're seeing some conflicts. Last week I discovered that we couldn't put the external gas cylinder where I wanted it, because regulations had to keep them away from windows. So we put it on the south side of the garage. Now we discover that the air conditioner compressor, which is also on that wall, needs to be 1.5 m away from the gas bottle, and that would put it in front of the fire-fighting tank. Yes, that can be done, but it seems silly. The alternative would be to move the gas cylinder further east and put the compressor where we had planned to put the gas. Not a big deal—except that the plumbers left yesterday, and they won't be back until final fit.

What do to? Spoke to Duncan, who found that they will charge $200, mainly travel time, to come and move it. Can we live with the air conditioner to the east? I haven't made up my mind yet.


Telecommunications without radiation tower
Topic: general Link here

While I was on site Matt, the air conditioner foreman, needed to call Karl, his boss. Where is there coverage?


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Fire fighting
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

One of the conditions for our planning permit was imposed by the CFA: provide a 10,000 litre (neither more nor less) steel or concrete tank with water reserved for fire fighting. Where can you get steel tanks? Nobody in town has them, and they couldn't even tell me where to get them. While trawling the web, found this site, which carefully avoids mentioning prices, and also this PDF from the CFA explaining details. It contains this warning:

WARNING: Do not print and store a hard copy of this Fire Service Guideline. Online version should always be used to ensure the Fire Service Guideline is the latest version.

What kind of nonsense is that? You find yourself in an emergency situation, power down, and you have to go to a web site to download the document again? Sometimes I wonder how many of these bureaucrats have ever been in a fire emergency.


Avoiding the metric system
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion, general Link here

It's been about 40 years since Australia converted to the metric system. Really? No, it's just superficial. I've ranted in the past about how timber is sold in lengths that are a multiple of 30 cm (for example, 1.8 m and 2.1 m, but not 2 m), a leftover from the foot. And a typical bucket has a volume of 9 litres (2 gallons), not 10.

Typical house water tanks are 22,500 litres (roughly 5,000 gallons). That irritates me. When we bought our water tanks, I took a more logical option: 25,000 l. That also stores more water, of course. But is it metric? This is what's written on the bottom of the tanks:


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Top left: “5500”. That's gallons, and it corresponds (according to units(1) to 25003.497 litres. While they sell the tanks in metric units, they're clearly thinking in Imperial units.

40 years and counting. How long will it take?


Wednesday, 3 December 2014 Dereel Images for 3 December 2014
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More air conditioning
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Over to the site round midday to talk to Karl Waldron about the location of the air conditioner external unit. He took a screwdriver and moved the gas connection about 1.5 m to the right:


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Problem solved. I don't know what Duncan or the plumbers would say, but we'll find that out tomorrow.


Borzoi at the wheel
Topic: animals Link here

We're taking the dogs to the Stones Road site for walking in the evening. Today Yvonne put the dogs in the car, but it took me a while to find Zhivago:


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NBN installation?
Topic: technology, Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Call from Walter Bonilla of the National Broadband Network today, reminding me of the network installation for Stones Road tomorrow. I had to remind him that we had already spoken, that there was no wall to attach the NTD, and that he was supposed to get the techies to call me. He volunteered the information that the installer was called Adam, and yes, he would call me before they came out. Somehow this organization sounds just as bureaucratic as all the others I have to deal with.


Thursday, 4 December 2014 Dereel Images for 4 December 2014
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Networking!
Topic: Stones Road house, technology Link here

Over to the building site this morning to meet with Duncan and discuss the bleak situation finding builders prepared to work over Christmas and the summer holidays. He was happy enough about the relocation of the gas supply, so that's one less problem.

Jim Lannen was there too with his apprentice, and they got as far as putting in the Cat 6 cable.


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But still no power! Discussed with Jim and Duncan, who both agreed that a call to John Willowhite of Powercor was in order. But as I was leaving, I discovered an extension cable in front of the house, and sure enough:


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We have power! It only took 4 weeks.

Walter Bonilla of the National Broadband Network had promised me—twice—that Adam, the network installer would call me before attempting an installation. The installation was due for this afternoon (starting at 13:00), but it wasn't clear if they would show up, and I didn't want to spend the afternoon waiting for them, so printed out a sign asking them to call me, and over to the site to put it next to the door.

When I got back, Yvonne was on the phone with Jack, the real NBN installer, who had just arrived. Back again and talked to them: no Adam, just Jack and his red-headed mate who did our installation last year. They had no issues with installing the equipment in a house with no walls:


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Once again a complete disconnect between the bureaucrats and the people who do the work. The only problem they had was that they didn't have an extension cable, so back home Yet Again to get one.

This was the third installation I've experienced, and there's nothing much to say about it. Signal strength was -86 dB, enough to drive all three signal strength lights on the NTD. And no, the installers didn't know what the LEDs really meant. This one is different: only the STATUS light flashes, whereas on the other two I have seen it flashes alternately with the ODU light. Jack told me that nobody had been able to explain it to them either, not even the manufacturer's representative, but from observation the flashing ODU light seemed to depend on the exact antenna (“Outdoor Unit” or ODU) that they installed.

Back later in the afternoon with eucla, my ancient laptop, and connected up with no further issues:


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One fewer potential problem to worry about.


An ATA for Stones Road
Topic: technology, Stones Road house Link here

Now that we have a network connection, the obvious thing to do is to set up VoIP to make up for the appalling mobile coverage in the area (thanks, Wendy). All I need is an ATA. After last month's damage, I only have one, with the other on order. But what's wrong with the defective one? No power indication. Is it possible that there's a fuse in there somewhere? Took it apart and examined the board:


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Sure enough, there's a surface mount fuse just next to the power connector at top left. Unfortunately, it wasn't blown. “For every problem, there is a solution that is simple, elegant and wrong”


A year of E-M1
Topic: photography Link here

It's been 12 months since I got my Olympus OM-D E-M1. I've taken round 16,000 images with it. And I still don't understand it. How I wish it came with documentation.


Friday, 5 December 2014 Dereel Images for 5 December 2014
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Visitors again
Topic: general Link here

It's going to be a busy weekend for Yvonne: she's off to Warrnambool for a horse “clinic” with Robyn Hood, and Margaret Swann arrived this afternoon to accompany her.


Simonds 14 week wonders
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Today was the day that Simonds were due to commence work on Chris Bahlo's house. How far did they get? Nowhere. But as I see it, announcing the start date means that the clock is ticking, and according to the contract Chris will be able to move in in 98 days, on (Friday) 13 March 2015. Is that an omen?

Jim Lannen along with an invoice and the information that his apprentice was over there putting in the wiring, so over there to talk to him about some minor details. Duncan has told them that they have until the end of next week, and it seems that Jim is taking advantage of that.


Saturday, 6 December 2014 Dereel Images for 6 December 2014
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Winter in December
Topic: general, photography Link here

Yvonne and Margaret off to Warrnambool early this morning, midst pouring rain—in the 2½ hours it took them to get there, we had 7.8 mm rain. Hopefully things were better in Warrnambool.

The weather was so bad that I had to stop my weekly photos after a single view, which I used to compare HDR and normal exposures:


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The first is clearly the HDR version. Run the cursor over either image to compare with the partner. And it makes it clear that the HDR version is worth the trouble. It's also interesting to note that the normally exposed version had an exposure of 0.3 s; there was also a third with an exposure of 2.5 s, which contributed to the shadow detail:


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What lighting!


Sunday, 7 December 2014 Dereel Images for 7 December 2014
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Luigi Rizzo visits
Topic: general, technology Link here

Another dreary, moist day, and somehow got nothing done. About the only thing of interest was when Luigi Rizzo and his friend Valeria came for dinner. Spent some time showing them some kangaroos which had obligingly appeared in the north paddock, then Yvonne and Margaret Swann returned from Warrnambool, where the weather had been better. Had dinner, and Luigi and Valeria were off again.


Monday, 8 December 2014 Dereel Images for 8 December 2014
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Unblocking drains
Topic: general Link here

For some time we've had problems with the drain from the laundry, and also in the kitchen, which feeds into the same drain. Last month Mari Hendriks came to take a look, but he didn't have the tools to do the job. Since then it has got to the point where the kitchen sink hardly drained at all.

Today I finally got round to doing something about it, and checked the web. The specialist people have cameras they send down the drain to see what's wrong. After a bit of consideration, called Ballarat Emergency Plumbing, who promised me a fixed price ($250!) and service by 14:00 today.

They arrived just before that time ran out and took a look at the laundry drain first:


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Almost before I knew it, they had got rid of the blockage, which they say was near the entrance to the septic tank, nowhere near where I had expected it. But the kitchen sink was still as blocked as ever. It took them another 20 minutes to discover that it had a separate entrance to the sewage, dig it up and clean it out:


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As I had expected, it was full of fat. What a mess!

The total time they spent was less than half an hour. Was that worth $250? I think it was. If Mari had done it, he might have had to dig up under the verandah, and it would have taken him hours, for which he wouldn't have been any cheaper. One load off our minds, anyway.


Selling Kleins Road
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Bram Gunn along this afternoon to arrange the sale of our present house. To my surprise, it has been nearly 2 years since we first talked to him about selling the house. And in that period he hasn't changed his estimation of what we will get for it.


Moving the water tanks
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Last week Norm Baker promised to move the water tanks for me when he had finished the shed slab, so we left them in front of the house. But he didn't move them, promising to do it when he scored the slab. Gradually things are getting urgent, so I went over with Chris yesterday, but we couldn't budge the things. Today called up CJ and arranged to meet him. I thought here, he thought there, but I arrived there just as he was leaving. Still only two of us, but this time we tried a different method, and finally got them on top of the slab, where Norm has had thoroughly inappropriate grooves cut into the slab:


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What are they for? They're exactly in the middle of each side of the slab, but there's nothing that aligns with that.


Tuesday, 9 December 2014 Dereel Images for 9 December 2014
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More garden flowers
Topic: gardening Link here

Our Protea cynaroides “King White” is flowering:


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And to my great surprise, a plant that has been here since before we moved here has flowered for the first time:


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I hadn't realized that it flowers at all. It's not overly pretty, but who knows how it could develop.


Bricks and Gyprock
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Not much work on the house, but things are arriving:


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So did a strangely coloured front door:


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Did we really order that? Where did I hide the specs? To be checked.


Repairing electric fence actuators
Topic: animals, general Link here

Our electric fence actuator is older than the hills. Well, older than our presence in the Adelaide Hills. We bought it second hand over 17 years ago, and it's no longer packing much of a punch.

It should be clear before looking further what the problem is: the electrolytic condenser. In many ways, it's like an electronic flash gun. And since these devices cost a surprising amount of money, it seems worthwhile replacing the condenser.

The unit is amazingly primitive. I suppose the inscription “solid state” gives an idea of its age: at a time when transistors were something new. But even so, it's a mess:


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The condenser itself is only 12 µF, but 600 V DC (also with an AC rating, which doesn't make much sense here). But at rated voltage, that's only 7.2 mJ, a far cry from the claimed ratings of modern units, 0.1 to 0.5 J.


Wednesday, 10 December 2014 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 10 December 2014
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Another mystery flower
Topic: gardening Link here

Spring is over, and most of the wildflowers have finished flowering, but here's a new one:


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What is it? Again, no idea, and I can't find it in “Wildflowers of the Brisbane Ranges”,.


Blood test results
Topic: general Link here

Into town to get the results of my blood tests. Better than the last one, with the exception of the Vitamin B12 values, which are low. Funny, I've been taking vitamin tablets with 5 “mcg” (i.e. µg) B12 in them for over a year now. But Majid says that it needs to be injected, so I'll be in for a few monthly injections. Time to find more about the issues.


House for sale
Topic: general, Stones Road house Link here

Our old house is listed on the web:

47 Kleins Road Dereel

Horse Property on 20 Acres (approx) with Large, Period Home

This attractive property would ideally suit a serious horse enthusiast with a family. An efficient bore is in place (1,800L/hr). The large house features: 4 bedrooms (ensuite and WIR to master); 2 study/office areas; formal lounge; living room; dining room; well-appointed kitchen with gas cooktop, electric oven and dishwasher; polished timber floors in most of the living areas; 2 electric split systems; ducted LPG heating; wood heater and open fire; solar/electric HWS and verandahs overlooking the extensive gardens. The land is well fenced, has a large dam, numerous paddocks, horse shelters and yards, assorted sheds, tack room. small hay shed, fresh-water tanks and a garden sprinkler system. The cottage style gardens add to the serenity of this rural lifestyle property.

It'll be interesting to see how that pans out. Last time, almost exactly 8 years ago, I tried to tell the estate agents what to do. I don't think that was to anybody's advantage, and this time I'm leaving it entirely to Bram (20 acres? What's that? It's 8 ha!).


Air conditioner confusion
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Call from Karl Waldron today about the wiring for the air conditioner controls. He had asked Jim Lannen to do it, but without giving him (or me) enough information to understand what was to be done. There are two different sets of control cabling: one between the internal and external units, a single pair STP cable, and the cables to the temperature controllers, which are Cat 5E. For some reason Karl is happy to lay the latter, but not the former. He sent me the wiring diagram, which of course doesn't show the physical location of the connectors, nor the nature of the plugs.

Called up Actron and spoke to Vijay, who put me through to Luke. Yes, it's standard STP, and apart from a metal P clip for the braid at one end, it's screwed directly into the units. A lot easier than putting RJ45 connectors on the Cat 5. Why doesn't Karl want to do that?


Thursday, 11 December 2014 Dereel Images for 11 December 2014
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More litterer's beer
Topic: general, opinion Link here

It's interesting to note how many beer cans we find on the road when walking the dogs. And although I wouldn't spoil a good story by sticking too accurately to the facts, it's really true that so far all the empty beer cans I've found are from Fosters breweries, who now seem to be calling themselves Carlton & United Breweries again.


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Admittedly I've seen a number of empty soft drink cans, though not as many as empty beer cans.


Reconsidering the electric fence actuator
Topic: technology, animals, opinion Link here

Now I have a new capacitor for my electric fence actuator. Before soldering it in, I took a look at the circuit board:


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25 µF? The capacitor I took out was 12 µF, and that's what the replacement is. Why? The whole board looks as if it might have been modified. Can this board still handle a 25 µF capacitor? To be considered.


Insulating the house
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Over to the Stones Road site today to look at what was going on. They've delivered the insulation:


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Found a bloke inside installing it.


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He tells me he'll be finished by tomorrow, made easier by the fact that they're only insulating external surfaces (walls and ceiling).

The ducts for the vacuum cleaner system have been installed:


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And everything else looks fine, though one power point frame is missing a screw:


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Hopefully that will not be a problem. And we're still waiting for the noggings for the TV mount:


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Called up Duncan about that, and he says he'll put them in tomorrow.

Jim has now finished the preliminary wiring, including a surprisingly thick STP control cable for the air conditioning. Where are the Cat 5E cables? That's Karl Waldron's responsibility. Called him up and he told me that he would install them ”later”, presumably when he installs the equipment. Why? It seems he has the cables on order, apparently pre-terminated, and they haven't arrived yet. Somehow cabling seems to be more of an issue than makes sense.


Walking four dogs again
Topic: animals Link here

Since we sold Tanya we've only had three dogs to walk, and that has been a handful. But since Chris Bahlo's dog Vito died last month, the other dog, Nina, has been getting closer to our dogs, and for the past few days she has been coming on walks with us. At least she listens when Yvonne calls her, so she's not that much of a burden. But we can see the differences:


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Simonds 14 week houses
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

The 14 week period for building Chris' house started last Friday. There's not much to be seen of it:


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Chris received a message from Nicole at Simonds today: it seems that the storm water calculations are so complicated that they've been working on them for two weeks.

What kind of nonsense is that? Firstly, there's nothing complicated about Chris' property. If it takes their designers 2 weeks, that's their problem, not Chris'. I hope they're not going to use that as an excuse to delay the completion date. That would be worthy of a complaint to the ACCC.


More free agistment
Topic: general, opinion Link here

While looking at Chris' property, found that once again (probably continually) the Yeardleys' sheep are on it:


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How can they get away with that?


Friday, 12 December 2014 Dereel Images for 12 December 2014
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Nikolai: runner?
Topic: animals Link here

Nikolai continues to be a problem: when we let him off the leash in the open, he doesn't come back until he wants to. Fortunately he usually does want to, but we want to be able to rely on him. We can let him loose in the Stones Road property, which is properly fenced—except that he has taken to chasing the horses. We're planning a couple of sessions with Chris Bahlo and a stockwhip, which should solve the problem, but in the meantime he's on the leash most of the time.

This morning, while walking the dogs, Yvonne suggested I let him off the leash. Off he went into the bracken, not fast but far. And we didn't see him again. Calling didn't help, and we went home without him. I then set off in the car and found him only a couple of hundred metres from the house; he couldn't have been more than a minute behind us. Does that count as a runner or a lack of patience on our part?


A year of NBN
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

A year ago today my network problems were solved with the installation of National Broadband Network fixed wireless. What a relief it was. It still is, and that's why we had the second installation done in Stones Road last week.

Why so early? I don't trust the current government not to kill off new installations on the NBN. With good reason, it seems, if this article is to be believed.

That's from The Register, not exactly the most neutral of publications. What's behind it? Should a country nationalize Internet topology? Australia has a particular problem because, although it's a highly developed country, the population density is very low, which makes providing fair network access to people outside the towns. But probably the real reason was that past governments have allowed Telecom AustraliaTelstra to provide both network infrastructure and also end user services, an obvious conflict of interest.

The clear solution then would have been to split Telstra into two different companies, so that the network infrastructure provider would not favour the end user service provider. But the last government decided instead to implement the NBN. It seems to contradict the concept of internetworking. But it works, and given the inability of all governments to implement a fair and functional network infrastructure, it might be the best way.


The pain of selling
Topic: general, Stones Road house Link here

Bram has a prospect for our house already. They'll be coming on Monday. Sounds like good news, but it means that we're going to have to tidy up the incredible mess that the house is in. What a pain!


Saturday, 13 December 2014 Dereel Images for 13 December 2014
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Preparing for sale
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Craig Mayor over this morning to help tidy up the house in preparation for sale. He got a lot of things done, while I got relatively little done inside. At the end of the day, though, things looked a lot better.

The new house looked no different than on Thursday, though: the ceiling insulation still hasn't been installed, and the noggings for the TV are still missing:


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But I don't suppose the inside walls are on the critical path.


Roasting Kassler
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Kassler for dinner again today. My cooking time page suggests 75 minutes per kilogram, but normally a roast is quite small. Today it weighed 555 g. So 42 minutes? Yes, although the diameter was quite small, that worked out. I still don't understand why it takes so long.


Sunday, 14 December 2014 Dereel Images for 14 December 2014
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More sale preparation
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Craig and Leah Major over today to help tidy up the house in preparation for the inspection tomorrow. They stayed all day, and the difference was obvious. I spent most of the day tidying up the incredible mess on the dining room table. I didn't finish, but by the end of the day the table was clear, so once again we could eat there, just in time for Chris Bahlo's birthday dinner.


Break the drains!
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

The bricks were supposed to have been unloaded in front of the house. That's not quite what happened:


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The stormwater drains, shown at bottom left, run parallel to the house front and directly under the bricks. That's exactly what Mari and Warrick were worried about: put a heavy weight on top of the freshly laid drains and damage them. How do we know if they've been damaged or not? It could take years to find out.


Crack!
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Over with Chris Bahlo and the dogs to the Stones Road property today. Chris brought her stockwhip and waited for the dogs to chase the horses. Crack! And suddenly the dogs weren't interested any more. Admittedly, it made a lot of noise, more like a pistol going off. Clearly a success—Nikolai even came to me immediately when I called him.

On the way home, Chris was examining her whip. Needs a new cracker: this one isn't loud enough.


Monday, 15 December 2014 Dereel Images for 15 December 2014
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House progress
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Over to Stones Road in mid-morning to find Duncan attaching two pieces of wood to the wall of the “media” room to attach the TV. They don't look very even:


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The locations from bottom left of the wall are:

      start       finish
Horizontal       1.65 m       2.11 m
Vertical       1.14 m       1.56 m

Duncan tells me that the frame needs to be attached by coach screws, so there's no pressure on the plasterboard.

Part of the house frame also looks less than even:


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Yes, the meter box is in the way, but do the columns have to be at such an angle? It's a good thing none of this will be visible when the house is finished.

The insulation is now finished, so they tell me. No insulation at all in the inner walls, probably a throwback to the days when Australian houses were heated from one room only. And for some reason there's no insulation behind part of the bath:


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Why? The plasterers and Duncan couldn't tell me, though they all agreed that it was “normal”.


Garden flowers in early summer
Topic: gardening Link here

Middle of the month again, time for garden flower photos. We're gradually coming to the end of this garden, and this year didn't look very different from last year. About the only things of interest are the continued recovery of the Tree fern and the vigour of the Clematis:


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We'll take the tree fern with us; the Clematis stays, but we'll buy at least new plant for the new house.


Tuesday, 16 December 2014 Dereel Images for 16 December 2014
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Terrorists? Or just madmen?
Topic: history, opinion Link here

This morning a relatively mild case of hostage taking in a Sydney cafe finished after over 16 hours. A mentally disturbed man with a shotgun took 17 people hostage in the middle of Sydney. In the course of freeing the hostages, two of them died: the manager of the cafe, Tori Johnson, was shot, and Katrina Dawson died of a heart attack. The perpetrator was also shot dead by police. The exact details are still sketchy, as is the reason for the incident.

That's really unusual in Australia. In the USA, it seems that mentally disturbed people shoot people all the time, to the point that they don't all get reported. But the world-wide reaction was immediate. The perpetrator had a black flag with the shahāda hoisted in the window. The incident happened—probably not by chance—immediately opposite the Seven Network newsroom, so there was plenty of TV coverage, clearly reporting the ISIL flag. Muslim terrorists!

ISIL is enough of a problem already, but they had nothing to do with the incident. This kind of incident and reporting discredits Islam. All relevant Muslim representatives unequivocally condemned the incident, of course, but the damage could be done. And it's just too easy for mentally disturbed people to perpetrate this kind of atrocity.

I don't have an answer to the problem—who does? But today Yvonne told me that she had heard from Jenny McArdle, now in New Zealand, who apparently has worked both at the cafe and at the chambers where Katrina Dawson worked, and she knew both the victims. How much closer does that bring the matter? It certainly changes the perspective.


Bricks!
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

The brickies are there:


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Gradually it's getting to look like a house.


Wednesday, 17 December 2014 Dereel Images for 17 December 2014
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One year and counting
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

A year ago today we committed to buying the new house. At the time we were expecting to move in in September, and we found that slow. And what do we have to show for it now? A frame with a few bricks around it?


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It'll still be March before we can move in, and I wouldn't hold my breath about that. But the brickies are making progress, and for some reason today they put a fence around it. I wonder why.

It has been quite windy lately, and it shows:


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Fortunately it wasn't damaged, but it's clearly time to put the tanks in place and get some water into them.

Craig Mayor and his mate Bill along today to look at the plans for the shed. Sure, no problem, they can build it. But not until the New Year! I could have sworn that Craig had said something about next week, though of course the first day of Christmas falls pretty much in the middle of the week. Somehow this shed is much more pain than I had expected.


Sourdough revisited
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

On IRC, Gregory Orange was talking about sourdough. He had found a web site with instructions.

I've been there before, and I still find it complete nonsense. Pointed people at it, and on Peter Jeremy's suggestion collected the diary entries into a rant.


Understanding exposure
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

The grey cards I ordered some weeks ago are now here. I wanted to use them to understand flash exposure. First, though, understand any kind of exposure. If I take a correctly exposed photo of a grey card, what should the resultant image look like? My first assumption was that the pixel values in a JPEG (range 0-255) would all be 128. But is that right? This page refers to a 12% grey card (most, like mine, are 18%), but suggests generating a “centred value”, presumably in the histogram, for an 18% card, or maybe measuring the 18% card and then opening ½ stop. But then this page by the same author shows a histogram with the pixel values closer to 110, so maybe what he's saying is that an 18% card will be underexposed.

This page goes into more technical detail, but his calculations in obsolete units cause my eyes to glaze over. He does, however, claim that camera meters are calibrated for 12% grey cards, and that measurements of a grey card will be ½ stop underexposed.

OK, we can test that. I did some test shots just of the card, illuminated by the modelling light of one of my studio flashes, to see what camera and hand-held meter made of it. I used the E-30, the E-M1 and the E-PM2, in each case with the same lens, the Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm F2.8-4.0 SWD, using both centre-weighted and spot measuring modes, as well as the Sekonic L-308S exposure meter in incident and reflected modes. The results in EV, corrected for the same sensitivity (I had accidentally left the E-PM2, Yvonne's camera, set to Auto ISO):

Device       Centre-weighted       Spot
E-30       6.0       6.0
E-M1       5.7       6.0
E-PM2       5.7       5.7
      Incident       Reflected
L-308S       6.2       6.1

Given that the resolution of exposure in the cameras is ⅓ EV, that's quite a good correlation. And it refutes the claim that exposure meters will show different values for reflected and incident light.

How do the images look? How do you tell? Every raw converter worth its salt makes assumptions that aren't helpful here. So I took the images in JPEG as well. The results, though relatively consistent, weren't quite what I expected. Here from left to right the DxO Optics “Pro” histograms for the E-M1, the E-PM2 and the E-30:

 
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The E-M1 and E-PM2 produce almost identical results, while the E-30 shows higher values. But the white balance is completely out of whack! Why? It was set to Auto, and you'd expect it to treat a uniformly coloured surface as grey. Back to the drawing boardtripod with the E-M1 and first set custom white balance. That looked better:

 
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But now the peaks are to the right of centre. Why? It's not the exposure, which is unchanged. It was, however, shot in aperture priority mode at round f/8, while the previous ones were shot in P mode at f/4. Many lenses don't deliver their advertised maximum aperture and thus underexpose in these circumstances. Is the lens getting in the way of the measurement?

At the end of the day I'm not much closer. One thing's clear: with my cameras I can't really get much closer than ⅓ EV to the correct exposure, because that's the granularity of their settings. Never mind if the exposure meter tells me f/4.1 or f/4.2 (the latter being decimals of an EV), I can't set that. And then there's an obvious discrepancy between the E-30 and the other two, suggesting that it's roughly ½ EV more sensitive than the other two. DxOMark disagrees and finds that all three sensors are very close together (click on “Measurements” to see the graph reproduced below), and that they're roughly 1 EV less sensitive than claimed:

 
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So what's the answer? There are too many variables, and fortunately it's not usually necessary to go to this level of measurement. But it means that my flash measurements will be even less useful.


Grass in seed
Topic: gardening Link here

Last winter we had issues with biodiversity offsets, apparently because of the kinds of grass we had on the property. At the time there was almost nothing to go by. Not so now:


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The grass is about 50 cm high. But what is it? It's neither Kangaroo grass, Wallaby grass nor Achnatherum calamagrostis, which is probably what they mean by “Spear grass”. I still can't find a reliable illustration of “Blue devil”, but it seems to be Eryngium fontanum, related to the Eryngium bourgatii that we have in the garden:


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That's so far from being a grass that I wonder what they really mean.


Thursday, 18 December 2014 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel
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To the doctor again
Topic: general Link here

Into Ballarat today armed with 3 ampoules of Hydroxocobalamin, a form of Vitamin B12. I've been diagnosed with Vitamin B12 deficiency, a surprisingly scary condition, and I'm getting the ampoules injected over the next 2 months. The good news is that that should be sufficient Vitamin B12 for the next three years, so I'm not in danger, but how did it happen? Most of the causes don't apply to me, so we're doing yet more blood tests, looking for levels of homocysteine, gastric parietal cells and “intrinsic factors”, whatever that may mean. Isn't growing old fun?

In passing, Cobalamin is a strange substance. It contains cobalt, not a typical element in living tissue, and even the 0.1% solution is bright red:


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It must be really intense in the pure form.


Selling the house
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Bram Gunn along with a couple interested in buying our old house today. We had to vacate the place, but we saw him afterwards, and it seems they're interested enough to want to come back on Monday and take another look.


Friday, 19 December 2014 Dereel Images for 19 December 2014
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OI.Share revisited
Topic: photography, technology, opinion, Stones Road house Link here

It's coming up for Christmas, time for our annual Christmas letter to our friends. Last year we wrote that we expected to be in the new house by now, so we thought it appropriate to take this year's photo there:


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Somehow we didn't look as happy as last year:


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This wasn't the only photo we took, but none of them were better. Why? This year we had to get three dogs to stand still instead of only one year, but a big issue was controlling the camera:


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The camera no longer has an infrared remote control: instead you control it via an 802.11 link. The claim of networking was one of the reasons I bought the camera, but it doesn't support networking, just the single 802.11 link to a smart phone.

If that weren't enough, the app is typical Android: it seems to have been written in a different universe. It changes camera settings (insists on storing a JPEG image that I can then throw away), displays the taken image even when the camera settings tell it not to, and does it so slowly that the camera, which normally can take up to 10 photos per second, can't manage more than about 0.2 photos per second with remote control. And of course there's no tactile feedback when you press the shutter release area on the screen, and the camera is so quiet that you don't know whether you've taken a photo or not without looking at the phone.

That's nothing new: last year I had exactly the same problem. It's a crying shame that they can't do better.


Progress slows towards Christmas
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

The brickies are still working on the house, but there are only two of them, and I don't see them being finished before the first week in January. They've managed to dislodge some of the wall insulation above the fuse box:


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The plasterers have been in, just long enough to distribute some of the boards in various rooms:


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I don't suppose we'll see much change this year.


Saturday, 20 December 2014 Dereel Images for 20 December 2014
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Simonds: Day 15 of 98
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

According to Simonds, they were due to start building Chris Bahlo's house on 5 December. They have a guaranteed build time of 14 weeks, but they ran into trouble because their engineers didn't know how to design drains. In the end, after they had drained the water in the wrong direction, Chris gave up. But now it's Christmas time, and the current state of play is:


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They're now shutting down for Christmas until 5 January 2015 (JG King aren't), so it will be at least a month since the announced start of construction before they actually do anything. I wonder if they have put some excuse in the contract, or whether they will really build the house in 10 weeks.


Free agistment, continued
Topic: animals, general, opinion Link here

There may be no signs of building on Chris' property, but there are certainly signs of grazing:


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I counted a total of 37 sheep. I've grumbled about this before. Is it just that the Yeardleys are unaware of the fact? Hardly. Looking at the panorama, I see in the distance on the extreme right:

 
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That's David and Tuyết in their driveway, presumably just back from shopping and (not visible here) looking in my direction. At least they have seen me, so it's going to be difficult for them to claim that they were unaware of the problem. It'll be interesting to see whether they now do something about it.


Sunday, 21 December 2014 Dereel Images for 21 December 2014
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Rokewood market
Topic: general Link here

Chris and Yvonne wanted to go to the Rokewood market today, so along with them. The Dereel market isn't much, but in Rokewood it was even less:


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Yes, that's really the entire market. Somehow Chris and Yvonne found something to buy anyway.


Lesson too well learnt?
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Over with the dogs to the Stones Road property today to let them run around. But they didn't. Nikolai went into the house and hardly came out; Leonid ran around in the front part (as we wished), but not much. I think that the lesson Chris taught them last week was almost too good. Now we'll have to show them how far they can go in the back paddocks.


Rendang, next try
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

It's been some years since I last tried to cook rendang daging lembu from the cookbook ”Makanan Lazim Malaysia” (Vista Productions Ltd., Singapore, 1980). It wasn't a success: too much pepper, too much onion. So put it off for a long time.

In the meantime we have the sous-vide cooker, which also claims to be a “slow cooker”. At any rate you can cook in it without a vacuum bag. And that's pretty much what you need for rendang: long, slow cooking and evaporating the liquid.

So today I tried again, this time giving in to the idea of using chili, and using only 10 g of pepper instead of 50. But it was still too much pepper: it makes the dish bitter, and I've decided that, (dubious) tradition or not, I won't put any pepper in the next one. It's also interesting to note that, although cooking the dish with the lid off reduced nicely, the cooker was barely strong enough to maintain the temperature under those circumstances. And the 5 hours wasn't really enough.


Monday, 22 December 2014 Dereel Images for 22 December 2014
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More E-M1 problems
Topic: photography Link here

Last month I knocked my camera, not badly, but some time after that I saw a green flare in the viewfinder. It wasn't bad at the time, but it got worse, and now it's clear that I'll need service. There's a collection of curved reflections in the viewfinder, not on the same focal plane as the image. They're only there when the viewfinder is active, so they must have something to do with the viewfinder illumination. Here the viewfinder in focus on the left, the artefacts in focus on the right. The first row is with the lens cap on, the second looking at an (out of focus) object through the lens.


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What causes this? Recently Olympus released a firmware update for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 with the description:

The issue in firmware version 2.0 and 2.1 where bright points appear in some images has been resolved.

Was it that? No, of course not. And did it have anything to do with the knock? It wasn't a very heavy knock, and the fact that things have got much worse since then suggests that the issues aren't related. One way or another, it's a good thing that this camera has a 2 year warranty. It has been more unreliable than any real camera I have ever had. Only the horrible Casio QV-5000 SX was worse.


Merry Christmas!
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

I've finally finished my Christmas Card. In past years I've sent it out just as a URL, like here. But that's not really much use to somebody out of range of high speed networking. So I printed the page as a PDF document and appended it to the message. The HTML version is interactive, so it's preferable, but why not offer the PDF too?

I've had trouble sending this letter in past years, mainly finger trouble, so I checked the logs on my mail server:

Dec 22 01:58:41 www postfix/cleanup[94666]: 0117B1B72843: message-id=<20141222015254.GJ15342@eureka.lemis.com>
Dec 22 01:58:41 www postfix/cleanup[94666]: 0117B1B72843: resent-message-id=<20141222015838.A123CF75D4@eureka.lemis.com>
Dec 22 01:58:53 www postfix/smtpd[94675]: connect from unknown[123.124.153.126]
Dec 22 01:58:54 www postfix/smtpd[94675]: NOQUEUE: reject: RCPT from unknown[123.124.153.126]: 450 4.7.1 Client host rejected: cannot find your hostname, [123.124.153.126]; from=<lijuan@tianlu-tech.com> to=<chirs@narrawin.com> proto=ESMTP helo=<WebServer.Tianlu-tech.com>
Dec 22 01:58:54 www postfix/smtpd[94675]: disconnect from unknown[123.124.153.126]
Dec 22 01:59:01 www postfix/smtpd[94675]: connect from mail110.syd.optusnet.com.au[211.29.132.97]
Dec 22 01:59:01 www postfix/smtpd[94675]: E43271B72851: client=mail110.syd.optusnet.com.au[211.29.132.97]
Dec 22 01:59:02 www postfix/cleanup[94676]: E43271B72851: message-id=<0C8103961F8F417FA4F9AAE075FE566B@ReceptionPC>
...

That first line was the start, but the rest is background spam rejection. But after 20 seconds, it still hadn't finished. Why not? Looking at my local machine, I saw:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/15) /usr/local/etc/postfix 72 -> mailq
-Queue ID- --Size-- ----Arrival Time---- -Sender/Recipient-------
A123CF75D4* 18818304 Mon Dec 22 12:58:38  groggyhimself@lemis.com
                                         04711foo@comcast.net
                                         somebody@ifp.fzk.de
...
-- 18385 Kbytes in 1 Request.

18 MB! Even my relatively fast uplink would take nearly 2½ minutes to send it. And pity the poor, misguided users of tablets and smart phones who have to pay to receive the thing! This message went to about 190 different people. OK, shut down postfix on the local machine, delete the message and resend it without the attachment. But how? In the Good Old Days I'd have gone into the (sendmail) spool and deleted it. But we're civilized now. There must be a way.

Yes, how about that, there is. postsuper is your friend:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/15) /usr/local/etc/postfix 75 -> postsuper -d A123CF75D4
postsuper: A123CF75D4: removed
postsuper: Deleted: 1 message

NiZn battery life
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I have been dubious from the start about my NiZn battery charger: it charges batteries in pairs, and it's fussy about the kinds of batteries it handles together. Recently I bought one which claims to do it better, which as one LED per battery, and which performs operations like “low mA charging (recovering battery)”. So when I found a battery with the record low voltage of 0.070 V, probably a candidate for throwing away (voltage should never be below 1.5 V), I tried it. At the same time I charged two normal batteries.

The charger didn't even recognize the low voltage battery, so I put it in the old charger with another throwaway candidate (0.980 V). It charged them, and at the end they had voltages of 1.825 V and 1.941 V (!). Saved? Hardly. A day later they had 0.203 V and 1.667 V. The latter is close to the voltage of a discharged battery, and clearly the first has had it.


Simonds: progress!
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Simonds have finally done something on Chris Bahlo's building site:


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Unfortunately a sign on the gate doesn't help much. It's been 17 days so far.


Tuesday, 23 December 2014 Dereel Images for 23 December 2014
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NiZn batteries revisited
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I had thought that yesterday's experiments with flaky NiZn batteries would be enough, but Peter Jeremy suggested that I try recharging the batteries again in the new charger. OK, that's easy enough. Initially the charger once again didn't want to recognize the really flaky battery, but after a while it changed its mind and started charging normally. At the end the worse battery had a voltage of 1.778 V, almost normal, and the other had 1.656 V. I'll leave them for a while and see what happens, but one way or another it's fairly clear that they're done for.


House progress!
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

It's the week of Christmas, and normally builders go away and don't come back for a month, until after Australia Day on 26 January. But not our bricklayers, who are still hard at it:


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Brendan tells me that he'll be back again on Saturday. We're really making progress.


Wednesday, 24 December 2014 Dereel Images for 24 December 2014
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House progress
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Work on the house continues despite Christmas. In fact, we have reached the “lock-up” stage:


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What does “lock-up” mean? It's a bureaucratic term, of course, defined by the Domestic building contracts Act 1995, section 40:

"lock-up stage" means the stage when a home's external wall cladding and roof covering is fixed, the flooring is laid and external doors and external windows are fixed (even if those doors or windows are only temporary)

So: is that the current state? Of course not:


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Where do they get these ideas from? Are they just trying to annoy me at Christmas time, demanding payment within 7 days only (whatever that is supposed to mean)? My investment people are on holiday until after New Year, so it's not going to happen. But then, JG King are also on holiday. What a mob of incompetent bureaucrats! Wrote a message to Tom Tyler asking for an explanation, but of course, like most people, he's not there this week.

In the process, reading the contract again, found the explanation for a discrepancy I noted last month. The percentages they ask are higher than provided for in the Act. But of course there's an escape clause. On page 44 of the contract, there's the statement:

The parties agree

(i) That the progress payments fixed by the section 40 of the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995 do not apply, and

(ii) that instead the percentage of the Contract Price and amounts payable are as follows:

So all perfectly legal. But given that the contract is over 200 pages long and mainly boilerplate, you'd think that anybody acting in good faith would draw your attention to this sort of detail. A lawyer certainly would. Another black mark for JG King.


Fencing progress
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

CJ has been busy on the Stones Road property over the last few days, and we now have a number of subdivisions:


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Time to repair the electric fence actuator. That's simple: just solder in the capacitor.


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Only it's bigger than the original capacitor, and it no longer fits in the area intended. I really hadn't expected that, given that the original would now be 30 years old, but it was probably rated at 350 V, and the new one is rated at 1200 V. I can probably just put the PCB back on longer screws, but first I have to find some.


Bugs for Christmas dinner
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

For years I've been insisting on a traditional Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, and Yvonne has accepted more grudgingly each time. Finally I had to give in, and we had seafood for dinner:


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And we couldn't finish it! One of the things that I've never eaten before were Moreton Bay Bugs, which, it seems, are a kind of lobster. We got them cooked and had to open them. They're rather misleading in their shape:


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With the exception of the half-oval plate in the middle, all the meat on the bug is on the (curled up) left hand side. How do you open them? For once, Stephanie Alexander's The cook's companion to the rescue, though the copious index didn't include Moreton Bay Bugs, only unspecified bugs (there are also Balmain Bugs, which are only vaguely related). It seems that you slit up the sides of the tail and then lift it up:


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At the end, like with most crustaceans, there wasn't much left. Here an intact bug, the tail (left) and the shell of the tail (right), and then the entire meat (in the dish) and the inedible remains outside.


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Chris got the last word, though. While she was shopping on the way home, she found a fresh turkey marked down 50%, and bought it. But Yvonne refused to let me cook it tomorrow: it went into the deep freeze to wait for winter.


Still more flash problems!
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Somehow I still have nothing but problems with flash exposure. While taking the photos of the bugs, I got these two images:


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What went wrong there? The first image was taken in the P (“Program”) setting, and for some reason the camera selected an aperture of f/2.8. The second one was taken in A (aperture priority) mode and the aperture set to f/8. But why do these things happen? Even a toy camera can do better.


Thursday, 25 December 2014 Dereel Images for 25 December 2014
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Turkey breast sous-vide
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

First day of Christmas today, and as a concession Yvonne allowed me to cook turkey—not the whole animal, but only a breast. Still, it weighed 1.2 kg, about half what a grown turkey weighed 100 years ago.

The old problem in roasting turkeys is to get both the breast and leg cooked correctly. I didn't have that problem here, but clearly the cooking temperature is an issue. Sous-vide to the rescue!

Codlo's cooking guide suggested 62° for breast (for 1.5—3 hours) and 70° for the leg, for 8—12 hours. The latter temperature looks on the low side, but possibly the long cooking time can soften up the connective tissue. Not my problem today, anyway.

So I made it like that, and it seemed OK, if a little pale:


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I let it cool down a bit before grilling, which took a surprisingly short period of time:


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And the taste? Correctly cooked, but boring. But that's turkey for you. Other parts might have tasted more interesting.


Friday, 26 December 2014 Dereel Images for 26 December 2014
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Water! Water!
Topic: Stones Road house, animals Link here

Brendan wants to lay bricks tomorrow, and for that he needs water. Craig has been carting water for us, but he's in Geelong with his family at the moment, so he can't help. Yvonne and I took a look at Chris' new water tank, which she has never used, and it seems to have had some chemicals in it. So over to the building site to pick up Craig's tank, rather surprising ourselves that we managed, and back home to partially fill it.

Brought it over again, and took the dogs with us. Chris isn't here, so she won't need her Landcruiser, and it's not clear how to stabliize the trailer without it. Craig somehow managed to manoeuvre the full tank (weighing about 1.1 tons) onto a palette, but we couldn't do that. So we left the car there.

How do you lock a Landcruiser? It didn't seem to have central locking, and the rear flap didn't have a lock. While looking at it Bang! ... and Zhivago had jumped in:


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That's quite a height, and it's not clear why he wanted to.


Pumping pigs
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

While examining the electrical cabling (and discovering that Jim had forgotten to lay cables to the shed), discovered this:


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The mind boggles.


Saturday, 27 December 2014 Dereel Images for 27 December 2014
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Where's Brendan?
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Brendan, the bricklayer, told me that he would be working today. But when we went over there there was nothing to be seen. Not a big issue in itself—who expects a brickie to work over the weekend in Christmastide?—but I wish we had known before we took the water over there. Apart from the effort, it means that Chris' Landcruiser is out of commission until we can find a way to decouple the trailer.


Sunday, 28 December 2014 Dereel Images for 28 December 2014
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NBN problems again?
Topic: technology Link here

Watching TV this evening, wanted to check on something on the web. No connection. Further checks showed that we were off the net again! What's wrong with the National Broadband Network?

OK, go through the motions. First restart dhcpd. That was it! Immediate connection.

So what went wrong? We went offline at 20:45, and all I see in /var/log/messages is:

Dec 28 20:15:26 eureka dhclient[18871]: unknown dhcp option value 0x52
Dec 28 20:45:26 eureka dhclient[18871]: unknown dhcp option value 0x52
Dec 28 21:07:44 eureka ntpd[948]: sendto(202.142.142.241) (fd=25): No route to host
Dec 28 21:08:41 eureka ntpd[948]: sendto(192.189.54.33) (fd=25): No route to host
Dec 28 21:12:23 eureka ntpd[948]: sendto(203.161.12.165) (fd=25): No route to host
Dec 28 21:15:26 eureka dhclient[18871]: send_packet: No route to host
Dec 28 21:15:40 eureka last message repeated 3 times
Dec 28 21:16:04 eureka dhclient[60636]: unknown dhcp option value 0x52

The “unknown dhcp option” is the RFC 3046 relay agent information option that tells the server where I am, and the message is normal. It happens every 30 minutes when the client renews the lease.

We didn't go offline until the second message. But then nothing further happened. ntpd reported problems only some time after we went offline, and on the dot of 30 minutes later dhclient claimed it couldn't contact the server. That shouldn't be a problem: dhcpd is responsible for setting up the route, amongst other things. But I had to stop it and restart it (coincidentally only 24 seconds later, as the PIDs show). And then it worked. Is this a dhcpd bug? It's hard to blame it on the NBN, though possibly it started with some glitch in the NBN.


Monday, 29 December 2014 Dereel Images for 29 December 2014
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Toyota: security through obscurity
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Last week we tried in vain to find out how to lock the tailgate of Chris Bahlo's Landcruiser. Fortunately we didn't need to, since it has central locking, but it proved that Chris didn't know either. But Alastair Hogge on IRC knew: there's a “Toyota” emblem located in the middle of the top half of the tailgate, next to the rear windscreen wiper. Slide that down or up you'll find a lock.

Today we checked. As described:


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Why did they do it like that?


Where's my front door?
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Last week we received a letter from JG King claiming that the house was at lock-up stage. No way, and today Brendan confirmed that he wouldn't really have the brickwork completed until mid-next week or so. But there's no front door either.

Front door? I've already noted that I was surprised by the door they delivered:


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It took until today to check all my documents, not helped by the appalling quality of the text in the contract. But it clearly (if not overly intelligibly) states “Front Door  Selection XS3  Glazing  KOOKABURRA JEWEL  Glass Options”. With only a few minutes working around Yet Another Broken Web Site, found it on the Hume Doors web site, which, modulo glazing, looks like this:

Image

I recall some discussion at the time that it might not be suitable for BAL 19, but we didn't change it, probably because this document shows that all we need for the XS3 to reach BAL 19 is a metal mesh fly screen—something that's already in the contract (item 4—1) already. Of course, maybe this is the door before glazing. But the side panel has plain glass, which isn't correct. It's time to set things right.


Another dhcp failure!
Topic: technology Link here

This evening it was Chris who told me that we were off the net. Same problem as yesterday. Time to do some tracing.


McGurk effect
Topic: general, opinion Link here

I'm doing a course on brain structure with Coursera. It's rather basic, but I've learnt a number of new things. One which really blew my mind is the McGurk effect, demonstrated in this extremely brief clip:

What you hear depends on two things: whether your eyes are closed or not, and who you are. The sound is really what you hear with your eyes closed. With your eyes open, the appearance of the face misleads you, but Yvonne, Chris and I each heard a different sound (“gla—gla”, “fa—fa” and “da-da” respectively). It's so fascinating because even when you know what he's saying, your brain is fooled into hearing something else if you look at his lips.

That's not the only one, of course. YouTube has a plethora of them. I'm really surprised.


Tuesday, 30 December 2014 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 30 December 2014
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Blood tests and biology
Topic: general Link here

Into Ballarat again this morning for more blood tests, this time such unusual ones that Pam, the nurse, had to look them up. It wasn't until after I got home that I discovered that I had left my Android tablet there. Maybe I'm subconsciously trying to get rid of it.

Then on to Wendouree to pick up some free biology textbooks. He had left them outside his front door along with books on a number of other topics. One was a folder about some chemical stuff from ICI. Nothing I needed, but it reminded me of my time in Welwyn Garden City. Browsed through one of the textbooks—they're supposed to be university level, but the oldest, published in 1962, was for GCE 'O' level, probably similar to what I would have learnt from had I done biology at school. It's not much use as a textbook now, but it'll be interesting to see how it compares with modern texts. And by coincidence it was written by a teacher in Welwyn Garden City, not exactly a well-known place. Coincidences are funny things.


Bushfires and house sites
Topic: technology, general, Stones Road house Link here

We've had another “bushfire” in Dereel. Nothing overly serious, fortunately. 22 ha burnt, but no particular damage, no injuries. This morning Dan from the CFA came by to collect a donation we've been trying to make, and told me that it had started from an overheated compost heap in Leigh Court, and quickly jumped the BallaratColac road:


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Not overly interesting until you consider that this is next to a property we investigated last year. At the time it was clear that last year's bushfire had stopped at the east end of the property. This one stopped pretty much at the south end (it's off to the left in the photo above, which looks east). A good thing we didn't buy it.


Tracing the DHCP issues
Topic: technology Link here

Why is my DHCP not renewing its leases cleanly? Started running a wireshark trace on bootpc and discovered that the DHCP server only responds when it feels like it:

10:04:36.806443 IP aussie-gw.lemis.com.bootpc > radiation-tower.aussiebb.net.bootps: BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300
10:04:40.807439 IP aussie-gw.lemis.com.bootpc > radiation-tower.aussiebb.net.bootps: BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300
10:04:50.808421 IP aussie-gw.lemis.com.bootpc > radiation-tower.aussiebb.net.bootps: BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300
10:04:57.809439 IP aussie-gw.lemis.com.bootpc > radiation-tower.aussiebb.net.bootps: BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300
10:05:12.810434 IP aussie-gw.lemis.com.bootpc > radiation-tower.aussiebb.net.bootps: BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300
10:05:35.811432 IP aussie-gw.lemis.com.bootpc > radiation-tower.aussiebb.net.bootps: BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300
10:06:15.812437 IP aussie-gw.lemis.com.bootpc > radiation-tower.aussiebb.net.bootps: BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300
10:07:24.813424 IP aussie-gw.lemis.com.bootpc > radiation-tower.aussiebb.net.bootps: BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300
10:07:24.860089 IP radiation-tower.aussiebb.net.bootps > aussie-gw.lemis.com.bootpc: BOOTP/DHCP, Reply, length 300
10:37:24.521438 IP aussie-gw.lemis.com.bootpc > radiation-tower.aussiebb.net.bootps: BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300
10:37:24.577935 IP radiation-tower.aussiebb.net.bootps > aussie-gw.lemis.com.bootpc: BOOTP/DHCP, Reply, length 300

Why all these requests without reply? Am I getting some ICMP messages relating to the issue? How do I catch them? The remote address (radiation-tower.aussiebb.net) is my default gateway, so just tracing all ICMP results in a lot of noise. Decided to make two separate traces, so that I can home in on the correct time for the ICMPs. Left it running all day.


Wednesday, 31 December 2014 Dereel Images for 31 December 2014
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More traces, no insights
Topic: technology Link here

More DHCP traces today, both bootp and ICMP. Got some extreme examples of the problem:

18:21:25.932442 IP radiation-tower.aussiebb.net.bootps > aussie-gw.lemis.com.bootpc: BOOTP/DHCP, Reply, length 300   Last successful renewal
18:51:25.917433 IP aussie-gw.lemis.com.bootpc > radiation-tower.aussiebb.net.bootps: BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300
... 46 more unanswered requests
19:13:36.067439 IP aussie-gw.lemis.com.bootpc > radiation-tower.aussiebb.net.bootps: BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300
give up, send request to broadcast address
19:14:27.068420 IP aussie-gw.lemis.com.bootpc > 255.255.255.255.bootps: BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300
... 12 more unanswered requests
19:21:17.080421 IP aussie-gw.lemis.com.bootpc > 255.255.255.255.bootps: BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300
Issue a DHCPDISCOVER
19:21:26.099194 IP 0.0.0.0.bootpc > 255.255.255.255.bootps: BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300
Two replies in less than 300 ms
19:21:26.392024 IP radiation-tower.aussiebb.net.bootps > aussie-gw.lemis.com.bootpc: BOOTP/DHCP, Reply, length 300
19:21:26.396913 IP radiation-tower.aussiebb.net.bootps > aussie-gw.lemis.com.bootpc: BOOTP/DHCP, Reply, length 300
And this one?  Why?
19:21:28.025623 IP 0.0.0.0.bootpc > 255.255.255.255.bootps: BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300
19:21:28.073020 IP radiation-tower.aussiebb.net.bootps > aussie-gw.lemis.com.bootpc: BOOTP/DHCP, Reply, length 300

On the other hand, the ICMP trace showed nothing at all.

There are a number of issues here:

Except for the last point, this suggests that there's something funny about the DHCP configuration at the other end. But the last exchange was initiated by my dhclient, and it results in the apparent reconfiguration of the interface:

Dec 30 19:21:28 eureka dhclient[14352]: unknown dhcp option value 0x52
Dec 30 19:21:28 eureka dhclient: New IP Address (xl0): 180.150.4.128
Dec 30 19:21:28 eureka dhclient: New Subnet Mask (xl0): 255.255.255.0
Dec 30 19:21:28 eureka dhclient: New Broadcast Address (xl0): 180.150.4.255
Dec 30 19:21:28 eureka dhclient: New Routers (xl0): 180.150.4.1

In fact, the values are unchanged. But there's something funny going on. As Peter Jeremy points out, I have a second connection in Stones Road, and I can try monitoring things there, both with a FreeBSD dhclient and with an el-cheapo router.


Australia oppresses Palestine
Topic: opinion Link here

Gradually most of the world is coming to recognize that keeping a whole people under siege is not compatible with human rights and dignity. Nobody should understand that better than the people whom Hitler nearly eradicated 70 years ago. But it's exactly those people who have kept the Palestinian people in prison since 1967. How can the get away with it?

Ah, but they have a friend, a self-proclaimed defender of liberty. But that's their liberty. And Israel's liberty, of course, and their legitimate security concerns, but not somebody else's liberty. And they have a veto in the UN Security Council.

The Palestinians are fed up with waiting, though it has only been 47 years. And the Israelis are building high-quality housing in the area. Why should the Palestinians complain?

But complain they did, with a draft resolution submitted to the Security Council today. It was defeated. Eight “yes” votes, five abstentions, and two “no” votes. Our defenders of liberty were clearly one of them. But Australia? No, that wasn't Australia that voted no. It was this appallingly bad government that, in their ignorance, marginally more than half of the population elected.

Still, Australia is a well-integrated multicultural state. All Australians will stand behind the vote, especially the Muslim citizens who came here because of the catastrophic conditions in the Middle East. I'm disgusted.

And isn't it time to reconsider who should have a veto in the Security Council? Russia, who have flagrantly violated Ukraine's sovereignty? USA, who invaded Iraq and Afghanistan in the name of liberty, using falsified evidence, and left both countries much worse off than when they arrived? Isn't it time to forget who were the “winners” and “losers” of the Second World War?


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