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Monday, 1 July 2019 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 1 July 2019
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Into Ballarat again
Topic: general Link here

Into Ballarat today for a number of things. First to Bakery Hill to pick up some wine glasses that I had been offered on Freecycle. The place turned out to be only 130 m from the Dorevitch pathology centre where I have my blood tests done, but I had never noticed it before, nor the Coles supermarket set back from the road. The place is a legal aid centre, and it looks it, with large locked doors with 15 cm thick glass. I wonder what kind of clientele they get.

While in town, also had my hair cut.


New lens
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

My M.Zuiko DIGITAL ED 7-14 mm f/2.8 PRO lens, serial number AC8A22385, arrived today, one of the reasons I went to town. Since I was in town, thought of what I could take photos of. Nothing reached out and grabbed me, but then I thought of Sovereign Hill. Now that I can get in for free, there's no reason not to go for 15 minutes or so, so off there on the way home.

7 mm (14 mm “full frame equivalent”) is really very wide for a rectilinear lens. Not overly surprisingly, my photos were more unusual than good:


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But I did get one relatively impressive photo, which after straightening cropped to this:

 
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Of course, a lot is in the cropping:

 
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I suppose that's one of the unavoidable issues with extreme wide angle rectilinear lenses, though I suspect that the subject helped.

And maybe this one isn't so bad either:

 
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Back home, the obligatory three-way comparison with my Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO:

 
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That's the fisheye lens converted to rectilinear, then the fisheye without remapping, and finally the new lens. The fisheye image is much wider, even after conversion to rectilinear coordinates. And surprisingly, there's little in the sharpness between the two, though I was impressed by the sharpness of the new lens. That's not something I usually pay much attention to, but this time it stood out:

 
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Woolworths renovation
Topic: food and drink, general, opinion Link here

Yvonne told me a while back that the Woolworths supermarket in Sebastopol has been renovated. She liked the result, and that I should take a look myself. I was looking for chilies, so in.

Not impressed. It doesn't help that the chilies I found were packaged in their own weight of completely unnecessary plastic, nor that they cost $150 a kilo! But the way they have laid out things means that you have to be about 80 cm tall to easily read the price labels. The trays are angled downwards to the front, and nobody has thought of where to put the labels, so they point downwards too. From my perspective, they're completely invisible:

 
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From the front it's not much better:

 
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You need to go to waist level to see them properly:

 
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Who thinks of these things? Supermarkets and labelling aren't exactly something new.


Video copy: done!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

The video backup copy that I started completed today at 13:58:12, not quite 48 hours after starting. 5.4 TB, about 31 MB/s. Not spectacular, but of course it's a SMR disk, so it kept taking breaks to rearrange the mess it has collected.


More wine
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Rather to my surprise, a courier delivered the wine that I bought on 20 June today, significantly violating the delivery guarantee of 25 June. “Keenans Bridge”. Tried a bottle in the evening. Not bad; and that's for only $75 per dozen, including delivery and (apparently) storage.


Tuesday, 2 July 2019 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 2 July 2019
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To the cardiologist
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Off with Yvonne to St John of God to talk with Rodney Reddy, a cardiologist: Yvonne has been having various pains that could point to heart issues. The result was good news and bad news. The bad news: yes, some valve insufficiency, but not (yet) very serious. Symptoms would be shortness of breath after exertion (which she doesn't have), but not any chest pains. And that was the good news: whatever the chest pains were, it wasn't the heart, though she has to go through further tests, including an X-ray today and a six hour perfusion test next week. As Yvonne said: this modern medicine is really a pain. In the Good Old Days you developed heart problems, you died, and you were done with it.


End of rein?
Topic: language, opinion Link here

While waiting at St John of God, “Pomegranate”, their in-house magazine, caught my eye. Why “Pomegranate”? I didn't find out. But they were talking about Virtual Reality for operations.

Virtual Reality? I have always associated that with the unreal. To quote Wikipedia:

Virtual reality (VR) is an experience taking place within simulated and immersive environments that can be similar to or completely different from the real world.

They were talking about it as visual assistance for surgeons. They claim that what they were doing was a first, but I think the “first” was really the use of the term in this connection.

But while leafing through the magazine, found this, which hit me in the face:

 
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“Hands over reigns”? Clearly his reign was at an end, but was he also at the end of his tether? I wonder if anybody noticed the spelling error.


Mouldy sourdough
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Started a loaf of bread today. More sourdough problems, mould in the corners:

 
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Time to look for a sourer, more vigorous starter?


Dark crystal
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

The wine glasses that I picked up yesterday were brand new, possibly a gift to a since-deceased parent, and quite pretty. These were advertised as being 12 cl, which roughly matches the crystal glasses that we already have that hold 100 ml of wine:

 
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But when I poured a normal glassful of wine, I only got 70 ml. OK, they'll do as sherry glasses, but why does the maker claim 12 cl? Volume full to the brim? No: on checking, I managed to get 106 g of water into one of them. I might have got a few drops more before it overflowed, but never 120 g:

 
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And is that the way you measure wine glasses? It's certainly not the way you measure beer glasses, which are measured (and marked, if they're not too polite) by the volume that they hold when filled normally:

 
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The mark about the number („Eichstrich“ or “Oak stroke”) is the point to which the glass is to be filled, leaving plenty of space for the head. Wine doesn't have a head, of course, but the glasses aren't intended to be filled to the brim.


Another power failure
Topic: general Link here

Another brief power failure this evening at 23:44:56.


Wednesday, 3 July 2019 Dereel Images for 3 July 2019
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NBN: three days planned downtime!
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

From time to time I get messages from Aussie Broadband telling me that the National Broadband Network is planning yet more downtime for my network link. The last ones were particularly draconian:

The details are:
  - Start date and time: Wed 10th July 2019 07:00 AEST
  - End date and time: Fri 12th July 2019 19:00 AEST
  - Window: 60.0 hours

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

The details are:
  - Start date and time: Mon 15th July 2019 23:00 AEST
  - End date and time: Tue 16th July 2019 06:00 AEST
  - Window: 7.0 hours

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

The best thing that I can say about that is that they're the first scheduled outages since the end of April. But so far I have saved 35 emails telling me of scheduled outages in the last 34 months. That's more than one a month!

Today, fortunately, no outage was planned. That didn't stop them, though: at 8:42 we went off the net. Bloody NBN! The was no signal on the NTD, so it pointed at the NBN.

The morning dragged by. The only difference was that the ODU light lighted up again, red: fault. Could it be that, by some coincidence, the problem wasn't with the NBN? Tried the Aussie Broadband App, which told me that there were no known outages. Tried to report a fault, with the same results as last time: stuck in a hanging test. Dammit, people, I can see that the thing isn't working! And why it says that loopback works when there's no connection just doesn't make sense.

Called up Aussie, worked my way through their menus, and got misdirected anyway: after 2 minutes I was connected with sales, who didn't understand when I said “My network link is down“, but promised to get me called back. That, it seems, wasn't possible, but she called me back and transferred me. 25 minutes to reach a support person (Chris), who confirmed (after some checking) that there was a scheduled outage, that they were upgrading the towers (what, again?), that it would continue for the next couple of days, that my service would then get better, and that they had had significant issues with fixed wireless. Why, oh why, didn't they install fibre 6 years ago? It would probably have ended up cheaper.

Chris also told me that I should reboot my NTD at regular intervals, and didn't believe me when I told him that that wasn't necessary. While we were talking, the link came back up (without reboot, as I pointed out). At 14:08:50, 19468 seconds (5.4 hours).

OK, I've had enough of this. Can I make a formal complaint? Yes, indeed, they'd be happy to, and I can expect a call back from NBN in one to two weeks. That's fast by NBN standards, as Chris laughingly agreed.

Still, there are issues that Aussie should address too:

And finally, of course: hopefully the planned outages for next week (9 hours!) won't happen.


Upgrading teevee
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

OK, time to upgrade teevee. Put the new 8 TB disk in my test box as a second disk, with the still-waiting eureso as the first. Partition, copy data, both the root file system from teevee and the video data from the backup disk.

Based on previous experience, time to turn off soft updates journaling on the file system. That's easy enough, but reenabling it requires removing the file .sujournal in the top-level directory. It's not easy: the file is protected by all sorts of strange flags that I've never heard of before. There must be room for improvement there.

That was all I could do today. Once again, days' worth of file copying. Tomorrow I'll upgrade the system on the root file system.


Thursday, 4 July 2019 Dereel Images for 4 July 2019
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Katong Laksa?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I eat two different kinds of laksa for breakfast: asam laksa and curry laksa. Well, that's what they're called nowadays. When I was a lad we called them Penang laksa and Singapore laksa respectively, and I greatly preferred the Penang laksa. But in the last few years I have developed a taste for curry laksa too.

I buy pre-prepared laksa paste, which typically only needs coconut milk and some kind of meat or fish, along with the noodles. I've more or less settled on the Richmond asam laksa and Tean's curry laksa pastes:

 
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But I'm always trying new things, and last time but one I was in Geelong I bought some “Katong laksa paste”, which somewhat put me off by wanting an addition of condensed milk:

 
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As a result, it took nearly a year for me to finally try it, today (without the condensed milk). It's very different! It has a nice smell of prawns, but it's hardly pedas at all, more like a coconut soup:

 
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Katong is known for its laksa, and it occurred to me: this is the Singapore laksa that I had when I was a boy. The curry laksa is something I haven't had before. And yes, I find the Katong laksa boring. It must be what we were given in Singapore in July 1995.


Upgrading teevee, day 2
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So now I have the teevee file system on the new 8 TB disk, masquerading as tiwi.lemis.com. Boot up. Oh:

 
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What's that? Spent some time scratching my head. Clearly init is there, but what's this reference to /dev/dev? Error 2 is ENOENT, “no such file or directory”.

OK, put the eureso disk back in front of the tiwi disk and boot. And it had difficulties too: couldn't mount linprocfs. That's not really necessary right now, but how did it happen? It seems that it somehow booted from the wrong disk! Is that an issue with /boot/loader.conf? I've had systems confused by whether the first disk is disk0 or disk1, but in this case the loader parameters were clearly disk0p2:, which has to be right.

And why just now? Now there's a kernel on /dev/ada1p2, which must be disk1p2 to the loader. Presumably it tried before, found nothing, and went back to /dev/ada0p2. But why? None of this makes sense. I'm still in catch-up mode from the things that have happened in the past week, so I had a good excuse to put it off until tomorrow.


Friday, 5 July 2019 Dereel Images for 5 July 2019
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Pink eggs
Topic: food and drink Link here

Once a week we eat poached eggs together. One for Yvonne, two for me. Problem: Yvonne eats duck eggs, I eat hen eggs. So they're not interchangeable. After an “accident” last week I suggested putting a bit of food colouring on the duck egg. OK, that's what she did:

 
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Well, it worked. Maybe she didn't need quite that much.


teevee upgrade, day 3
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Why am I getting these errors with the teevee upgrade? Did something go wrong with copying the disk image from teevee? In particular, did I somehow end up with a node /dev that wasn't a directory? First tried rsyncing the file system again. Changes, of course, but none that pointed to a problem copying the files the first time.

OK, one step at a time. I have two disks: the disk that is intended to bootstrap eureka, and the one that will become the new teevee. Both are GPT volumes, and both are partitioned in the same manner: they have two system partitions and a larger file system for everything else. Here the current disk on teevee:

=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/8) / 34 -> gpart show
=>         40  11721045088  ada0  GPT  (5.5T)
           40          128     1  freebsd-boot  (64K)
          168    136314880     2  freebsd-ufs  (65G)
    136315048     41943040     3  freebsd-swap  (20G)
    178258088    136314880     4  freebsd-ufs  (65G)
    314572968  11406472152     5  freebsd-ufs  (5.3T)
  11721045120            8        - free -  (4.0K)

gpart is too polite to spell out what should be obvious: the third column of the partition entries is the partition number, so they're named /dev/ada0p1 (boot partition) to /dev/ada0p5 (large partition). /dev/ada0p2 and /dev/ada0p4 are both root file systems for two different systems: the idea is to install a new system on the alternative partition, something that has never worked that well, but not badly enough to reject the concept.

When I put only the first disk in the system, it boots normally from the second partition (/dev/ada0p4). That's controlled by /boot/loader.conf—in the first FreeBSD partition (/dev/ada0p2), which contains:

# For alternate system
currdev=disk0p4
rootdev=disk0p4

The loader doesn't believe in any of this ada nonsense, so it renames it to disk: disk0p4 corresponds to what the rest of FreeBSD calls /dev/ada0p4.

By chance, the disk on my test box also has this layout and boots from the second partition, /dev/ada0p4. The procedure, as I understand it, is:

Warning: not confirmed correct. In fact, it almost certainly contains errors or dangerous inaccuracies.
  1. The UEFI establishes the boot disk and loads the loader from the boot partition (in this case, /dev/ada0p1.
  2. The loader looks for the first FreeBSD partition, in this case /dev/ada0p2 (or disk0p2, as it calls it) and reads /boot/loader.conf from it and gets the information about where to boot from in the variables currdev and rootdev. Both default to the current partition (disk0p2).
  3. The loader then looks for a kernel on the partition specified by currdev (by default /boot/kernel/kernel) and boots it.
  4. The new kernel then mounts the partition specified in rootdev as the root file system.

The first problem I have: after I populated /dev/ada1p2 (the first FreeBSD partition on the new (second) disk), the loader loads the kernel from that partition instead of what is specified as rootdev in /boot/loader.conf on /dev/ada0p2. Why? I still don't understand. Looking at the loader variables at boot time shows another variable, loaddev, that is set to disk1p2: (note that colon at the end) and can't be changed. It is barely mentioned in the man page:

Then, devices are probed, currdev and loaddev are set, ...

And that's all. How does it get set? Where is there a memory of /dev/ada1p2? I still don't know. But I've discovered that if I try to boot from /dev/ada0p2 instead of /dev/ada0p4, things work as expected. For the moment, that's going to have to do.

And the second problem (the real one)? Why am I panicing on boot? In the evening it dawned on my: I had copied /dev/ada0p4 on teevee to /dev/ada1p2 on tiwi. The /boot/loader.conf still pointed to /dev/ada0p4. And, of course, the boot messages told me that much. From yesterday's boot messages:


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OK, that's something to try tomorrow. It still doesn't explain my boot problems with two disks. Found various man pages that I suspect are significantly out of date. It looks like time for some UTSL.


A bone! A bone
Topic: animals Link here

Walking the dogs today, Leonid found a dried-out bone (kangaroo?). Nikolai does this too, and brings them back home to eat them. But Leo seldom makes it that far. He plays around with them and finally drops them:


Saturday, 6 July 2019 Dereel Images for 6 July 2019
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Jefferson airplane coming in to land
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Donald Trump has done it again: he hijacked the US Independence Day celebrations to put himself in the limelight. Yawn. Even many US news services didn't bother to cover the event.

That proves to be a pity. Trump excelled himself:

“Our army ... took over the airports”. He was talking about the Continental Army in 1775. Or was it 1777 (Valley Forge)? Or maybe 1812 at Fort McHenry? He mentioned all three, but only the mention of airports got people's attention. And then he blamed it on his teleprompter! Parodies abound:

The Guardian has many more. But how is it possible that this has not concerned his supporters? Do they maybe not know that there were no airports at the time? Nobody seems to have noticed the other historical inaccuracies.

And then there was a reference to that great American, Alexander Graham Bell. Well, he was born in Scotland, but he emigrated to Canada and became a Canadian citizen. Is that American? For me it is, but the US Americans seem to think that they're the only Americans, and it was clear from the context that Trump thought that Bell had been a US American citizen. Doesn't anybody check these things? Or was that also the fault of the teleprompter?


Panoramas with 7-14 mm lens
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

House photo day again today, and of course I had to try it out with the new M.Zuiko DIGITAL ED 7-14 mm f/2.8 PRO. Despite being the widest available rectilinear lens for the Micro Four Thirds system, it's considerably narrower than the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO, so I mounted it vertically and took images at 60° instead of 90° steps.

Things worked out quite well. Here a comparison with fisheye (first) and rectilinear lenses:


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One of the things that had impressed me by both Olympus fisheye lenses (the other being the Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 8 mm f/3.5) was the extreme lack of flare. By comparison I had seen images from the Zuiko Digital ED 7-14 mm f/4 with extreme flare. That, too, was considered an excellent lens in its day. How would the new one do?

Much better, but still not as good as the fisheye. Here an example, first fisheye, then 7-14:

 
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That's an extreme case, straight into the sun, and neither lens does perfectly. Here in more detail:


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There are more reflections from the 7-14, and in particular the entire image is more washed out. Still, I'd say that's quite acceptable.


teevee upgrade, day 4
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So was my issue booting the new teevee just because of the incorrect entry in /etc/fstab? Yes! After that it booted, and I was back in familiar territory building a new world:

c++  -O2 -pipe -I/usr/obj/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/amd64.amd64/tmp/obj-tools/lib/clang/libllvm -I/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/contrib/llvm/lib/Target/X86 -I/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/lib/clang/include -I/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/contrib/llvm/include -DLLVM_BUILD_GLOBAL_ISEL -D__STDC_LIMIT_MACROS -D__STDC_CONSTANT_MACROS -DNDEBUG -DLLVM_DEFAULT_TARGET_TRIPLE=\"x86_64-unknown-freebsd12.0\" -DLLVM_HOST_TRIPLE=\"x86_64-unknown-freebsd12.0\" -DDEFAULT_SYSROOT=\"/usr/obj/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/amd64.amd64/tmp\" -DLLVM_TARGET_ENABLE_X86 -DLLVM_NATIVE_ASMPARSER=LLVMInitializeX86AsmParser -DLLVM_NATIVE_ASMPRINTER=LLVMInitializeX86AsmPrinter -DLLVM_NATIVE_DISASSEMBLER=LLVMInitializeX86Disassembler -DLLVM_NATIVE_TARGET=LLVMInitializeX86Target -DLLVM_NATIVE_TARGETINFO=LLVMInitializeX86TargetInfo -DLLVM_NATIVE_TARGETMC=LLVMInitializeX86TargetMC -ffunction-sections -fdata-sections -gline-tables-only -MD -MF.depend.Transforms_IPO_PruneEH.o -MTTransforms/IPO/PruneEH.o -Qunused-arguments -I/usr/obj/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/amd64.amd64/tmp/legacy/usr/include  -fno-exceptions -fno-rtti -gline-tables-only -std=c++11 -stdlib=libc++ -Wno-c++11-extensions  -c /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/contrib/llvm/lib/Transforms/IPO/PruneEH.cpp -o Transforms/IPO/PruneEH.o
In file included from /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/contrib/llvm/lib/Transforms/IPO/PruneEH.cpp:19:
In file included from /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/contrib/llvm/include/llvm/Analysis/CallGraph.h:51:
In file included from /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/contrib/llvm/include/llvm/IR/CallSite.h:32:
In file included from /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/contrib/llvm/include/llvm/IR/Attributes.h:20:
In file included from /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/contrib/llvm/include/llvm/ADT/ArrayRef.h:13:
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/contrib/llvm/include/llvm/ADT/Hashing.h:49:10: fatal error: 'llvm/Support/Host.h' file not found
--- Transforms/IPO/PassManagerBuilder.o ---
In file included from /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/contrib/llvm/lib/Transforms/IPO/PassManagerBuilder.cpp:18:
In file included from /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/contrib/llvm/include/llvm/Analysis/BasicAliasAnalysis.h:21:
In file included from /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/contrib/llvm/include/llvm/Analysis/AliasAnalysis.h:45:
In file included from /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/contrib/llvm/include/llvm/Analysis/TargetLibraryInfo.h:19:
In file included from /eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/contrib/llvm/include/llvm/IR/PassManager.h:47:
/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/12/contrib/llvm/include/llvm/IR/PassInstrumentation.h:58:10: fatal error: 'llvm/ADT/FunctionExtras.h' file not found
--- Transforms/IPO/PruneEH.o ---
#include "llvm/Support/Host.h"
         ^~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
--- Transforms/IPO/PassManagerBuilder.o ---
#include "llvm/ADT/FunctionExtras.h"
         ^~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What's that? The usual Subversion repo corruption, which I've seen far too many times before. Renamed the tree and checked out again, and everything worked, though this old machine took all day to build its world.

That still leaves the question open about why the other disk boots the kernel from the wrong disk.


New tracks
Topic: animals, general, opinion Link here

We know the area round Stones Road pretty well by now. We first investigated it nearly 7 years ago when the property on the corner of Westons Road and Stones Road was on the market, and it's been 5 years since I got our car jammed in Westons Road.

Seven years ago I took a photo to the north of Westons Road:


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And a couple of weeks ago I took another look, this time further west from the road:


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It looks as if we can't go any further along that path (maybe still Stones Road, though Google Maps thinks that the neighbour's driveway, off at an angle, is the continuation).

 
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But today, on looking further, I discovered that there's an unmade path off to the west, going probably 1 km. Went down for a few hundred metres and took this view to the north:


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That's Enfield State Park in the distance. Maybe I'll find the elusive way into the park along this path.


Steamboat again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Another attempt at Steamboat this evening, this time using a starter paste:

 
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In the past we haven't found it necessary to have a starter, just the broth. But it proved to be a good idea. Now I just need to find the right balance. Yvonne was happy with the result, but somehow I feel that there's something missing.


Sunday, 7 July 2019 Dereel Images for 7 July 2019
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A real bone!
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

As if to show Leonid what's what, today Nikolai found a more interesting bone than the one that Leo found on Friday:

 
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What is it? The obvious choice would be sheep or kangaroo. Did a bit of research and discovered that sheep have no front teeth on the upper jaw. And this page shows clearly that it's a kangaroo. Here an image from that page:

 
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That's a Red kangaroo, which we don't have round here. It's pretty clear that this would be an Eastern grey kangaroo, but the dentition is almost identical.


Bulgogi on table grill
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

More by accident than design, ate Bulgogi for dinner tonight. How do you grill it? We have a table grill, though I don't know where: we haven't used it for years. But we have the new raclette grill:

 
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It comes with a metal top (in fact, the only way to use it; the stone in this photo hadn't been used yet, and the first use scarred it for life). Problem: it doesn't get hot enough. It also gets very dirty, and since it's PTFE-coated, it's not clear how to clean the crusts off it. I'll have to dig out the gas grill before we try it again.

Strangely, we've done this before, on 28 October 2001. On that occasion I didn't have any issue with the heat. But that was a different grill.


Selfies and present from the tooth fairy
Topic: photography, health, food and drink, opinion Link here

Yvonne showed me this photo (from Facebook) a couple of days ago:

 
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Who's that? And what has happened? Our daughter Yana had her wisdom teeth removed a few days ago, and this was the first photo afterwards. I didn't recognize her. It wasn't for the white stuff foaming out of her mouth: it was the perspective (arms length). I suppose in these days of selfies, that should be easily recognizable, but it completely confused me.

Late this evening, a knock on the door: Donovan, a friend of Yana's, with a box:

 
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That's the elusive Seppeltsfield sherry that Dan Murphy (not the author of TECO) no longer carry, a "thank you" for financial support for the dental work. I am clearly indebted to the Council of Fairies.


Monday, 8 July 2019 Dereel Images for 8 July 2019
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teevee upgrade, day 5
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

In to the office this morning to discover that nothing had gone wrong with the port upgrade on tiwi, the new teevee:

[1005/1010] Extracting Lohit-20140220_2: .......... done
[1006/1010] Upgrading CoinMP from 1.8.4 to 1.8.4_1...
[1006/1010] Extracting CoinMP-1.8.4_1: .......... done

Message from python36-3.6.8_2:
...

Well, almost nothing. It had deleted a number of ports, still fewer than expected. But I had been prepared for that. That's why I copied the output to a mail message to myself.

But where was the mail message?

Jul  8 09:40:52 eureka postfix/smtpd[32172]: connect from tiwi.lemis.com[192.109.197.177]
Jul  8 09:40:52 eureka postfix/smtpd[32172]: EEBEB264CDA: client=tiwi.lemis.com[192.109.197.177]
Jul  8 09:40:52 eureka postfix/cleanup[32229]: EEBEB264CDA: message-id=<20190707234051.2AB7089D57@tiwi.lemis.com>
Jul  8 09:40:53 eureka postfix/smtpd[32172]: disconnect from tiwi.lemis.com[192.109.197.177] ehlo=1 mail=1 rcpt=1 data=1 quit=1 commands=5
Jul  8 09:40:53 eureka postfix/qmgr[2129]: EEBEB264CDA: from=<>, size=20061, nrcpt=1 (queue active)
Jul  8 09:40:53 eureka postfix/smtp[32230]: EEBEB264CDA: to=<root@tiwi.lemis.com>, relay=tiwi.lemis.com[192.109.197.177]:25, delay=0.11, delays=0.11/0/0/0, dsn=2.0.0, status=sent (250 2.0.0 Ok: queued as 14BA989D3F)
Jul  8 09:40:53 eureka postfix/qmgr[2129]: EEBEB264CDA: removed
Jul  8 09:40:53 eureka postfix/smtpd[32167]: connect from tiwi.lemis.com[192.109.197.177]
Jul  8 09:40:53 eureka postfix/smtpd[32167]: 17001264CDA: client=tiwi.lemis.com[192.109.197.177]
Jul  8 09:40:53 eureka postfix/cleanup[32229]: warning: 17001264CDA: message rejected: hopcount exceeded
Jul  8 09:40:53 eureka postfix/smtpd[32167]: disconnect from tiwi.lemis.com[192.109.197.177] ehlo=1 mail=1 rcpt=1 data=0/1 quit=1 commands=4/5

Damn! Mail loop. But why? I get other mail from tiwi. To be examined. I'm guessing a misconfiguration on eureka, because I have no issues sending this kind of mail from teevee. But at the moment that's not the issue: I now don't have any record of which ports were deleted. Was the message saved in some postfix directory? Not that I can see. Next time I should use the more reliable alternative of Log:

Log ()
{
    xtset `uname -n | sed 's:\..*$::'`:`pwd`: $* `date`;
    ( echo '=====' `date` on `hostname`: $*;
    $TIMECMD $* 2>&1;
    echo $1 finished at `date` ) | tee -a Log.log;
    cd .
}

There were also something like 1500 lines of output from various upgraded ports. Fortunately they were still on the xterm display, so I was able to copy them. Am I going to read them? Only if something goes wrong.


Bentong, 50 years ago
Topic: history, opinion Link here

Fifty years ago I had just returned to Kuala Lumpur and was playing around with my Citroën Traction avant. I set off with Ahmad bin Mahmuddin for Bentong, where he has family. Not very far, only about 70 km, but across the Genting Simpah pass with a car in less than perfect condition, it was almost an adventure.

How times have changed! Almost more to the point, today was also the anniversary of my arrival in Dereel, 12 years ago—nearly a quarter of those 50 years! The recollection had one good thing: finally got round to answering a 6-month-old email from Ahmad (now simply Haji Ahmad Mahmuddin, without the old “bin”).


Rest for the weary
Topic: general, animals, opinion Link here

I never cease to be surprised by the amount of litter that we find on the side of the road when walking the dogs, mainly old VB cans. But today I saw something that puzzled me:

 
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Is that litter? Lost? Left on the roadside by a considerate person for people or kangaroos to rest?


Dot Matrix meets Sir Christiane
Topic: general, fiction, opinion Link here

Some things you think can only appear in films, especially in parodies like Spaceballs, like this character (“Dot Matrix”) from Chosen One of the Day: Dot Matrix:

 
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And then in the afternoon I saw:

 
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Tuesday, 9 July 2019 Dereel Images for 9 July 2019
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MediathekView pain
Topic: multimedia, technology Link here

Every morning I use MediathekView to update my list of German TV programmes. But today I got a message: „Das Laden der Filmliste hat nicht geklappt“ (“Loading the film list didn't work”). Why? Ah, this is a modern program (written in Java, no less). Don't annoy the user with information.

OK, this has been running for a while (and using gigabytes of storage). Let's shoot it down. Oh, no, please don't do that! I'll have to dump core.

And dump core.

And dump core.

Why did it take so long? It dumped 6 GB of core, and at an average transfer rate of 60 MB/s, that's still 100 seconds. I think that's the biggest core dump I have ever seen. Time to restrict the size of my core dumps. What human can analyse a 6 GB Java core dump? Well, in this case most people could. Ultimately it says “Signal received, core dumped”.

Restart MediathekView. Same problem. Tried it on a different system. Same problem. I've seen this before: there appears to be something in the film lists themselves that triggers problems. Check configuration. Nothing obvious, but there's a second menu path to “Load film list” there, and it works.

And for how long? I can see more pain coming.


teevee upgrade?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So now effectively teevee has been upgraded. What do I need to do?

Simple, isn't it? But the devil is in the detail. Why move the display card? I've continually had issues with the Nvidia display cards that I have been using for years: the drivers keep changing, and they don't always work. That's one of the main problems I've had with upgrading. And then, by chance, I received a Radeon card with a computer that I bought. It Just Worked. And it just works in tiwi now.

Problem: it doesn't have an HDMI output. My TV doesn't have any other sane input. So either I buy an adapter (another can of worms?) or a new card. In the meantime I can't really use it. I'm left with two options: reinstall an Nvidia driver for the new system, or buy a new Radeon card.

Actually there's a third option, the one I have so far chosen: procrastinate.


Which ports were removed?
Topic: technology Link here

Yesterday's port upgrade had a problem: I lost the log file. Peter Jeremy commented that there's a way around it: pkg (which also calls itself pkg-static some of the time) logs them:

Jul  8 09:15:40 tiwi pkg[51138]: py27-setuptools-40.8.0 deinstalled
Jul  8 09:16:26 tiwi pkg[51138]: mysql56-server-5.6.43 deinstalled
Jul  8 09:16:35 tiwi pkg[51138]: mysql56-client-5.6.43 deinstalled
Jul  8 09:19:24 tiwi pkg[51138]: samba47-4.7.12 deinstalled
Jul  8 09:21:09 tiwi pkg[51138]: talloc-2.1.14 deinstalled
Jul  8 09:21:09 tiwi pkg[51138]: tevent-0.9.37 deinstalled
Jul  8 09:21:09 tiwi pkg[51138]: tdb-1.3.16,1 deinstalled
Jul  8 09:30:09 tiwi pkg[51138]: bind914-9.14.0 deinstalled
Jul  8 09:30:11 tiwi pkg[51138]: llvm39-3.9.1_7 deinstalled
Jul  8 09:30:12 tiwi pkg[51138]: llvm50-5.0.2_3 deinstalled
Jul  8 09:30:13 tiwi pkg[51138]: llvm40-4.0.1_13 deinstalled

How many of those do I need? I install things like MySQL, Samba and BIND as a matter of course, but I don't actually use them. Maybe I should just wait and see. At least this time it didn't remove Emacs.


Qantas pain
Topic: general, opinion Link here

It's been over 13 years since I last travelled in an aeroplane, and I'm happy that way. But next month Yvonne has to fly to the Gold Coast for a seminar. OK, time to use some of the frequent flyer points that I still keep accruing.

Log in to the Qantas frequent flyer portal. Sorry, wrong PIN. Dammit, the PIN was correct. What's wrong with their system? OK, select “forgot PIN”, and they sent me an email, conveniently in HTML but with a URL in plain text:


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OK, paste that URL into the browser and get:

 
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What answers should I give? My saved information didn't include any information for maiden name and date of birth, so presumably I supplied the correct information. Postcode? Date of joining? How should I know? When did I last update my profile? Where's my card? The last one expired years ago, and I threw it away. And they're too polite to annoy me by sending me new cards when I clearly don't fly any more.

They offer an alternative method. Click on it and get:

 
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What's that number? There is no phone number that matches that pattern: +610 is invalid. More to the point, though, without asking me they sent a security code to a phone number that is no longer registered with me. That's a blatant violation of security, though probably, if the number is in service, the receiver wouldn't be able to do much with it.

OK, nothing for it, call them on the phone. Tried their automatic reset thing, but of course that didn't work. Call again, connected to John, who couldn't hear me: something wrong with the phone connection. Call again, connected to mumble, something like Loo, but proved to be spelt Elue. With almost no checking, she connected me to a phone-based system where I could type in a new PIN. Done! Well, please wait for the phone survey at the end. Willingly! And of course, after a long delay, it just hung up on me.

OK, let's update my profile. OK, tell me your post code and date of joining. Dammit, that's what I'm trying to find out! Another phone call, this time with Jing, who changed my phone number and address (the latter incorrectly). So I could get a security code sent to my phone. HOW I hate this concept of expecting any phone communication to be secure!

FINALLY updated my profile, discovering that I could be on Christmas Island:


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OK, after all that (an hour?), try to make a points redemption:

 
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Why prices? Ah, if you really want points redemption, you also need to select “Use Points”:

 
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What does all that mean? I had planned to book a business class flight, but look at that price! I think I sent her first class to Lima and back for less than that 17 years ago. Clearly they've increased the number of points you need to compensate for the smaller number of points you receive for any transaction.

Yes, we can afford that, but the only flights are at the wrong time. OK, let's take a look at a flight round the time that she wants:


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What's the difference between those three? Who knows? They're even too polite to remind me of the date of the flight or tell me what equipment they use. Spent some time searching, and coming to the probable conclusion that the price had nothing to do with the seats, along with the definite conclusion that any change would cost roughly the same as the cost of the flight.

What a pain these people are! I'm glad that it's Yvonne flying, and not me.


NBN: We have worse in store
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've been complaining more than usual about the National Broadband Network recently. Maybe they've noticed and tried to make things even more difficult. Today I received Yet Another email announcing long planned outages:

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

The details are:
  - Start date and time: Thu 25th July 2019 07:00 AEST
  - End date and time: Fri 2nd August 2019 22:00 AEST
  - Window: 207.0 hours

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

Yet more daytime work! Over 7 business days they're planning a total of 30 hours of downtime! The window information is inaccurate, since they're clearly planning to do this in normal working hours.

Will this never stop? Is there no accountability?


More Enfield State Park
Topic: general, animals, opinion Link here

Walked the dogs past the end of Stones Road and to the edges of Enfield State Park again today, this time going a little further, until we discovered a fence. For some reason I didn't take a photo, but though it was knocked down in places, it precludes getting through by car or horse.

On the way back, evidence of a bygone day:

 
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I wonder when that was built, and why.


Wednesday, 10 July 2019 Dereel
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50 years of Unix?
Topic: technology, history Link here

Unix is 50 years old, more or less. At the start it seems to have been a way for Ken Thompson to get out of visiting relatives in summer 1969. In three weeks, so the stories go, he laid the foundations of Unix on a "little-used PDP-7”. What he actually did then depends on whom you ask. In a recent interview he stated that he spent a week each writing an editor, an assembler and an operating system. But we still don't know exactly when.

Warner Losh has been doing some investigation of the “little-used PDP-7” and came up with this photo from DEC sales literature:

The interesting thing there is: no disk. Warner has found the DEC service records, according to which only 99 PDP-7s were produced, a number currently at variance with the Wikipedia page. And only two of them (not including the one in the photo above) had disks! Ken's machine (serial number 34) had an RB09 disk, also called RD10, with a whopping 1 MB of storage! And the other one had a different disk (RA01) So Ken's PDP-7 was the only machine in the world that could run Unix in 1969, and it seems that one of the reasons that the machine was "little-used" was that it was already obsolete.

It's amazing how little we knew about the real origins of Unix.


X configuration revisited
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So how did my upgrade of teevee work out? Finally dragged out a mouse and tried things out. My all-important mpv worked, but not without grumbling:

Playing: 6-Schnitzel-dell-arte--6_6--20190422-163000.mp4
 (+) Video --vid=1 (*) (h264 1280x720 50.000fps)
 (+) Audio --aid=1 (*) (aac 2ch 48000Hz)
 (+) Subs  --sid=1 '6-Schnitzel-dell-arte--6_6--20190422-163000.srt' (subrip) (external)
Xlib:  extension "GLX" missing on display ":0.0".
[vo/gpu/opengl] GLX not found.
Xlib:  extension "GLX" missing on display ":0.0".
Xlib:  extension "GLX" missing on display ":0.0".
[vo/gpu/opengl] GLX not found.
Xlib:  extension "GLX" missing on display ":0.0".
error: XDG_RUNTIME_DIR not set in the environment.
error: XDG_RUNTIME_DIR not set in the environment.
[vo/gpu/vulkan] vkEnumeratePhysicalDevices(vk->inst, &num, NULL): VK_ERROR_INITIALIZATION_FAILED
Failed to open VDPAU backend Shared object "libvdpau_r600.so" not found, required by "mpv"
[vo/vdpau] Error when calling vdp_device_create_x11: 1
[vo/xv] Warning: this legacy VO has bad quality and performance, and will in particular result in blurry OSD and subtitles. You should fix your graphics drivers, or not force the xv VO.
AO: [oss] 48000Hz stereo 2ch s32
VO: [xv] 1280x720 yuv420p
AV: 00:05:38 / 00:44:44 (12%) A-V: -0.000

Admire these emetic but easy-to-read coloured output lines.

Where does GLX come from? It's in the Xorg.conf file on teevee, but here I'm using a Radeon card without any X config file. How do I get it loaded? Yes, of course I can create an Xorg.conf, but the whole idea was that that sort of thing was no longer needed. And what's this reference to VDPAU? Do I need that, or was that an attempt to recover from missing GLX? VDPAU seems to be an Nvidia thing, so maybe sticking to Nvidia cards would be the easier way.

Other programs were less forgiving. Hugin refuses to run without GLX. So one way or another I'm going to have to select it. More procrastination while I decide how.


More power failures
Topic: general Link here

I should run my MySQL queries every day. Today we had not one, but two short power failures, at 19:35:15 (1 second) and 20:46:04 (2 seconds). And of course that was the only way I could find out about them.


Thursday, 11 July 2019 Dereel Images for 11 July 2019
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teevee: back to Nvidia
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Enough procrastination with tiwi, the new teevee. Time to test with the Nvidia card, of which I had one lying around. I wasn't overly surprised when I couldn't start X:

(==) Using system config directory "/usr/local/share/X11/xorg.conf.d"
(EE)
Fatal server error:
(EE) no screens found(EE)
(EE)
Please consult the The X.Org Foundation support
         at http://wiki.x.org
 for help.

To be fair, it also referred to /var/log/Xorg.0.log, but I knew that. There I found the explanation that should have been in the startup message:

[   785.886] (WW) NVIDIA(0): The NVIDIA GeForce 9500 GT GPU installed in this system is
[   785.886] (WW) NVIDIA(0):     supported through the NVIDIA 340.xx Legacy drivers. Please
[   785.886] (WW) NVIDIA(0):     visit http://www.nvidia.com/object/unix.html for more
[   785.887] (WW) NVIDIA(0):     information.  The 390.87 NVIDIA driver will ignore this
[   785.887] (WW) NVIDIA(0):     GPU.  Continuing probe...
[   785.887] (EE) No devices detected

That's part of the pain of using Nvidia. OK, install the old driver. What's it called? pkg wants exact names.

=== root@tiwi (/dev/pts/0) /etc 8 -> pkg search nvidia-driver
nvidia-driver-390.87_3         NVidia graphics card binary drivers for hardware OpenGL rendering
nvidia-driver-304-304.137_4    NVidia graphics card binary drivers for hardware OpenGL rendering
nvidia-driver-340-340.107_4    NVidia graphics card binary drivers for hardware OpenGL rendering

OK, remove the current driver (nvidia-driver-390.87_3) and install the 340 version (nvidia-driver-340-340.107_4).

=== root@tiwi (/dev/pts/0) /etc 15 -> pkg delete nvidia-driver-390.87_3
=== root@tiwi (/dev/pts/0) /etc 16 -> kldunload nvidia
=== root@tiwi (/dev/pts/0) /etc 17 -> pkg install nvidia-driver-340-340.107_4
...
New packages to be INSTALLED:
        nvidia-driver-340: 340.107_4
        mysql56-client: 5.6.44

Number of packages to be installed: 2

Why on Earth does a graphics driver require MySQL client, and a specific (down-rev) version at that?

=== grog@tiwi (/dev/pts/1) ~ 3 -> pkg info | grep mysql
mysql57-client-5.7.26          Multithreaded SQL database (client)
php56-mysql-5.6.36_1           The mysql shared extension for php
php56-mysqli-5.6.36_1          The mysqli shared extension for php
qt4-mysql-plugin-4.8.7_4       Qt MySQL database plugin
qt5-sqldrivers-mysql-5.12.2    Qt MySQL database plugin

OK, what the hell, we can tidy up later.

[1/1] Fetching nvidia-driver-340-340.107_4.txz: 100%   80 MiB 269.6kB/s    05:10
Checking integrity... done (1 conflicting)
  - mysql56-client-5.6.44 conflicts with mysql57-client-5.7.26 on /usr/local/bin/mysql
Checking integrity... done (0 conflicting)
Conflicts with the existing packages have been found.
One more solver iteration is needed to resolve them.
The following 2 package(s) will be affected (of 0 checked):

Installed packages to be REMOVED:
        qt4-mysql-plugin-4.8.7_4

New packages to be INSTALLED:
        nvidia-driver-340: 340.107_4

Yes, do it already...

Proceed with this action? [Y/n]:
[1/2] Deinstalling qt4-mysql-plugin-4.8.7_4...
[1/2] Deleting files for qt4-mysql-plugin-4.8.7_4: 100%
[2/2] Installing nvidia-driver-340-340.107_4...
[2/2] Extracting nvidia-driver-340-340.107_4: 100%
=== root@tiwi (/dev/pts/0) /etc 18 -> kldload nvidia
kldload: can't load nvidia: module already loaded or in kernel
=== root@tiwi (/dev/pts/0) /etc 20 -> kldstat
Id Refs Address                Size Name
 1   43 0xffffffff80200000  24451c8 kernel
 2    1 0xffffffff82646000  134d1e0 nvidia.ko
...

Dammit, I specifically kldunloaded the driver, and it didn't complain. Do it again:

=== root@tiwi (/dev/pts/0) /etc 22 -> kldunload nvidia
kldunload: can't unload file: Device busy

Dammit, I'm going to have to reboot! OK, did that, and it came up and worked, without the GLX error messages that I got yesterday.

And then I discovered the contents of /boot/modules:

-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  14,321,504 23 Jan  2018 nvidia-340.ko
-r-xr-xr-x  1 root  wheel  19,276,536  8 Jul 10:25 nvidia.ko

I already had a copy of the old driver there! I really should look before I do these things.

But there was something wrong with the mouse: I couldn't mark text normally. It jittered in a way that I've only seen when the window manager gets stuck in a restart loop. But that wasn't the case here. What could it be? I've seen significant issues with Logitech mice, almost certainly a bug in the completely opaque FreeBSD driver. In this case the mouse was identical with the one on eureka, right next to it. The mouse on eureka seemed to be working correctly, but I don't understand how the (wireless) mice pair with the dongles, and I wouldn't put it past there being some kind of interference. But that's enough pain for one day. Mañana.


Another bloody NBN outage! Another! Another!
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

In the middle of the morning, got an unexpected “site not accessible” error. Dammit, I'm off the NBN again! Off out of the office, furiously cursing, but discovered that the outage wasn't that long, “only” 20 minutes. But it wasn't alone. Two more, a total of 35 minutes in a 90 minute period:

1562805630 1562806828   1198  0.005 # 11 July 2019 10:40:30 11 July 2019 11:00:28
1562807924 1562808605    681  3.285 # 11 July 2019 11:18:44 11 July 2019 11:30:05
1562810598 1562810856    258  1.806 # 11 July 2019 12:03:18 11 July 2019 12:07:36

When is this ever going to stop? And why wasn't it reported? Oh, it was. When it came back, took a look at the warnings that seem to be a standard part of my Aussie Broadband home page:


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And how about that, they're all there, in random order:

 
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But look at it! Four scheduled outages between 8 July and 2 August, covering a total of 15 days out of 25 (13 work days out of 20), 2 of them twice, and potentially 323 hours!

Words fail me.


Lies, damn lies and Statista
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

I get at least one statistic every day from Statista, and some are quite interesting, though I often have my doubts about the depth of their research. Today was particularly interesting. The heading for the mail message read “Australian 5G Slower than 4G”.

OK, that looks interesting. And sure enough, that's what their bar chart shows:

And they state in the text:

Elsewhere, the fact that the technology is not fully mature is certainly evident in some countries such as Australia where 4G outperformed 5G in download speed.

People, look at your own chart! It shows that Australian 5G is in the middle of the chart, well ahead of the United Kingdom and all mentioned European countries except Switzerland. I would certainly be happy with a download speed of 792 Mb/s, though I'm not sure what I'd do with so much speed. But it seems that Australian 4G leads the world with 960 Mb/s!

Is that right? Nominally I'm connected to the National Broadband Network with 4G, though that's not exactly typical. Maximum speed: 50 Mb/s.

Where in Australia can you get nearly gigabit speeds with 4G? Discussion on IRC. Nowhere that anybody knows of. Typical speeds reported were 10-20 Mb/s. A reference would have been good, but (atypically) they didn't supply one. This greatly detracts from their credibility, especially as they clearly didn't look carefully at their own data.


Friday, 12 July 2019 Dereel
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teevee upgrade, day 9
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I haven't exactly been in a hurry upgrading teevee: there was no hurry. The only issue was the impending filling up of the /spool file system, which today still had 50 GB free.

So: what was there still to do? Why did the mouse not work correctly? Grabbed the mouse from teevee and plugged it into tiwi. Works normally. So it seems that my suspicion of some interference between the two Logitech mice might really have been the issue.

OK, what else?

Did that, and the box came up as tiwi! Where were my mods to /etc/rc.conf? Not there. They were on the other disk, the one I should have moved. Did that, and everything Just Worked.

What a relief! But really it shouldn't be that difficult. What were the real issues?

On an unrelated note, MediathekView updates now work normally. What caused that difference? It's not the configuration, which I copied unchanged.


Still more NBN outages!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Mail from Aussie Broadband again today:

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

The details are:
  - Start date and time: Mon 15th July 2019 23:00 AEST
  - End date and time: Tue 16th July 2019 06:00 AEST
  - Window: 7.0 hours

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

OK, I know that. I received notice on 25 June, and it was in yesterday's screen shot (which politely omitted the duration). What's new?

It's no longer in the outage list! Ha ha, only joking, read the Subject: line:

Subject: CANCELLED: NBN is planning some maintenance in your area

And that was the only place in the entire message that the fact was mentioned.


Saturday, 13 July 2019 Dereel Images for 13 July 2019
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Analemma photos?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I've recently discovered a (small) number of photos of an analemma, the locus of the position of the sun at mean solar noon throughout the year:

That's from “Colorado Analemma” (and not analema colorada), in the Northern Hemisphere. I've only seen one photo of an analemma in the Southern Hemisphere (upside down, of course), but it's not complete. Wouldn't that be something for me to do?

What are the issues? It proves that mean solar noon here is almost exactly 12:25:00 (to be more exact, that's in the middle of our property; in front of my office it's 12:25:0.29). I need to find a view of the sun in the middle of winter—pretty much now, as it happens. The elevation in mid-winter is 28.79° (today it was 30.35°), and in mid-summer it's (logically enough) 75.58°. The easiest thing would be to set a lens with an angle of view of 80° or 85° and the one side at ground level.

Another thing: I'm pointing directly at the sun. Won't that damage the sensor? This is one case where a DSLR might make more sense, since it only exposes the sensor when the shutter is released. But I've taken photos with the sun in them on frequent occasions, even today with my house photos. Still, it pays to be cautious, so let's take the photos with the Olympus E-PM1.

Finally, what exposure? I want both the sun and the surroundings to be well exposed, so possibly a couple of stops underexposure? Now's the time to try bracketing.

Finally out to try things out. Dammit, I forgot that this thing doesn't have a viewfinder. No time to go in and find the VF-2, I had to point and shoot.

The results weren't encouraging:

 
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My guess at the horizon was way off, and the sun was a big blob, nothing like what I was looking for. The first image, with -2 EV compensation, looked better:

 
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But there's still significant flare. Probably I'll have to experiment with other lenses. I've already established that the M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye has less flare, but the angle of view is (probably) too wide, and I'm not convinced there either. And clearly I'll have to reconsider the angle of view: the fence at the bottom is good for alignment.

And the exposure compensation? Just another photo to merge, I think.


Trust your mobile phone!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

In this diary I've made it abundantly clear that I don't share the general enthusiasm for mobile phones, and in particular that I don't consider them secure. My friends laugh at me, but as long as I don't understand the security implications, I don't trust them. And they're just too complicated to be safe. Just a few days ago I had a case where Qantas sent a security code to an expired mobile phone number. How much information was in there? Probably not enough to be dangerous, but who knows?

And then today How-To Geek published an article on mobile phone theft, including identity theft. I don't know if it could happen in Australia, but I don't care: it's just one thing that I wouldn't even have thought of if I tried to analyse mobile phone security.


Food!
Topic: food and drink, general Link here

Chris Bahlo is so busy lately that our weekly Saturday evening dinners, which we've been doing for nearly 12 years now, are becoming less frequent. But today she showed up just before dinner, bearing gifts. She had had an issue with sheep on her property, not for the first time. But on previous occasions she knew who the owners were. This time, it seems, she didn't, and she wasn't able to establish who they belong to.

OK, the law is clear on that: they're hers. So a week ago a friend of hers butchered one of them, and today her gifts included a rack of lamb, 2 bags of minced lamb shoulder (cold and frozen), a leg, and another piece from the leg. Looks like we have enough lamb to keep us going for a while, especially since there's another lamb fattening up on her property. One result is that she's interested in the old freezer that we replaced in January, and which I haven't got round to putting on eBay yet:

 
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That'll save a lot of work.


Old TV series
Topic: multimedia, opinion Link here

Watching series on TV instead of individual films has a significant advantage: you know what to expect. Films, especially from the USA, seem to try to push the envelope and present different, problematic situations, frequently violent.

So we watch a lot of TV series, most of them not from the USA. We did that over 50 years ago too, and I noted some in this diary at the time. Many are still available. The Flintstones? We downloaded some episodes. What a load of nonsense! Other things, like The Munsters and Get Smart, are better, and they have a certain cult following. We also took a look at the very first year of Doctor Who, which was amazingly badly preserved. In the end, we have given up on most of them.

Then Yvonne came up with a German series, “Die Firma Hesselbach”. Yes, I had heard of them, but didn't think they were worth watching. Still, she wanted to see one, so downloaded a couple of episodes, and today we looked at „Der große Kunde“, first broadcast on 11 April 1960, by far the oldest TV production I have ever seen (Doctor Who was first broadcast on 23 November 1963, nearly 4 years later). Part of that might have to do with the TV standards at the time: the BBC still used the old 405 line standard, while Germany had been using the 625 line standard that later became PAL. I think, though, that it was recorded on film, not tape.

But the interesting thing is that the episode seemed plausible. You can't say that for any of the other ones we've looked at from those days—nor for many of the series we look at nowadays.


Sunday, 14 July 2019 Dereel
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Understanding Trump supporters
Topic: politics, technology, opinion Link here

Question on Quora today: “If you live outside of the United States, what do you personally think about Donald Trump?”.

Just the thing I like to answer:

Like nearly everybody outside the USA, my feeling towards Trump is a mixture of amazement, contempt and fear. Amazement that the USA could elect such a person to rule them, contempt for his behaviour, and fear for what he might still do to the world economy.

Of course I got a comment from a Trump supporter:

All that matters is the American workers. And $ is not the only thing of importance. I would hate to live in a nation where most citizens only elect those who will increase their incomes. It would be worth some sacrifices to get factories back here, even if we have to pay more for products. MADE IN AMERICA! And Trump is defending our sovereignty. We need to close our border to the south to stop the barbarian invasion. Don’t want to wind up like Europe, but there is some hope with them because they are shutting down borders to the hordes of savages trying to enter.

Clearly a well-balanced perspective. So I answered like that. And got an answer: “Thank you”.

So: did he get the better of me, or did he really miss my point and take it as a compliment? I think that Hanlon's razor applies here.

It's also interesting to note that the comment was tempered with the realization that things are not as rosy on the financial front as Trump once claimed. Has he been able to dupe them yet again?


Smart kitchens?
Topic: technology, food and drink, general, opinion Link here

A few weeks ago HowTo Geek had an article on “smart bedrooms”, which I tore apart. They're at it again, this time with smart kitchens.

The same nonsense? Not necessarily. I really don't see significant applications of independent, non-standardized technology in the bedroom, but it's already there in no uncertain terms in the kitchen. And I've already argued against interoperability in the case of refrigerators. So it was worth reading.

But it immediately became clear that we weren't looking in the same direction. They start off with a “smart speaker” and a “smart display”. OK, I've been using laptops in the kitchen for decades. What's the advantage of their devices?

With a smart speaker, you can set multiple named timers to keep track of your food cook times.

Yes, we have that too. Just conventional timers. Is it really easier to set a time via a “smart speaker”? Possibly, but I don't have enough confidence in the interface to bother to try them out. Maybe I can simulate something on a laptop, but I haven't found the need.

It goes on:

If your recipe calls for a measurement you don’t have, you can ask for a conversion, like “how many teaspoons in two tablespoons?” or “how many cups in a liter?” when you need to convert to another measuring system.

No, that way madness lies. How can a smart speaker tell me how many teaspoons there are in 2 tablespoons? That depends on where the recipe comes from. And if I have a recipe in archaic units, I first spend some time sanitizing it before I start cooking and find myself in a bind.

But then it gets better: with a smart display you can show the current state of the timers you set. That implies that with a smart speaker you have no idea what's going on between setting a timer and it completing. Sorry, that's a great disadvantage compared to a $5 digital timer, and confirmation of my lack of confidence in the technology. There are other things too, none of them confidence-inspiring:

And they can speed up the grocery list. Rather than spend an hour or two once a week looking through what supplies have to determine what you need to buy, you can make a grocery list as you go. Every time you use the of something [sic], you can tell Google or Alexa to add “ketchup” or “cumin” to the shopping list.

And you can't just write it down on a pad? Arguably it means that you don't need to dry your fingers, but again I don't see enough advantage.

Next they go on with “smart lights”. I've already mentioned that in my article on smart bedrooms.

That was the first half of the article. What kitchen-related stuff is there? Almost nothing. But now it starts. A “smart oven”. Yes, I've thought of that too: have a computer control the individual heating elements and monitor temperatures in different places. I'm sure that I could find useful things to do after a bit of experiment.

Ah, but that's not what they're talking about. Their smart oven is a glorified toaster oven:

What's the advantage? No guesswork?

Most smart ovens look like an oversized toaster oven and work off similar principles. Typically they house a camera pointed at the food you place in the oven. Artificial intelligence examines the food, recognizes the ingredients, and then determines an optimal temperature and cook time. Some smart ovens have automated cooking programs; you choose the dish through an app, and it walks you through steps and finishes up the cooking for you.

That sounds so far from anything that could work that I'd really like to try it. But only if I could return it, because I'd almost certainly do so. You can see the lack of relationship to reality with:

If you’re the kind of person who can never remember how long it takes to hardboil [sic] an egg, you’ll appreciate the simplicity of putting an egg in your oven, choosing hardboil in an app, and walking away.

Hard boil an egg in a toaster oven? What have these people been smoking? And their “smart oven” has a significant disadvantage compared to a real oven: it's far smaller, and almost certainly doesn't have the flexibility of a real oven.

And then there's a smart faucet (a US American word for tap):

With Google Assistant or Alexa integration, you say things like “dispense two cups of water” or “turn off.”

It would be interesting to see how accurate these things are. Certainly they're (currently) clumsy—even the article notes that, contradicting itself:

The voice commands aren’t very intuitive. For Alexa, you’d say, “Tell Delta to dispense one cup of water.”

I can just imagine the frustration of trying to find the right incantation to turn the tap off while it continues to spray water everywhere. And how do you control the temperature? This very positive article describes their favourite in some detail. No mention of temperature control. Some other “smart faucets” do have temperature control, but they're not voice-operated.

And gradually they're running out of ideas. Smart scales?

For recipes that originate outside the U.S., a smart scale may come in handy. They usually connect through Bluetooth and give you a readout on your phone or tablet.

Why only for recipes that originate outside the USA? Presumably because the US Americans use volumetric measure. But what's the advantage? More technology, same result as a conventional scale that displays directly.

And, apart from a cleaning robot, that's it. At least they specifically advise against smart refrigerators, though not for same reasons that I reject them: they're concerned about security aspects. Somebody might see the size of your truffles and break in?

In summary, what useful ideas are there? Maybe a dictation system for the shopping list. If the smart ovens came in the same format and flexibility as conventional ovens, and if they allowed direct control (not just an “app” written by somebody who doesn't know what I want), they might be useful. Internet access to check on things, just barely possible. The smart display does that, in order to show you, far too late, a YouTube video of a recipe similar to the one that you're currently cooking. A laptop can do that too, but I've never found a use for it in the kitchen.

And what's missing? At the very minimum, temperature control. It would be really nice to find something that would fry steaks correctly without careful observation, or bring food to the boil and then simmer at a constant rate. But that's too complicated.

So, once again, with the possible exception of dictating shopping lists, a useless set of tools designed by people who don't cook, and nothing that I didn't have 20 years ago. A pity.


Monday, 15 July 2019 Dereel Images for 15 July 2019
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Pension adjustments
Topic: general, opinion Link here

There has been a certain amount of talk about pension increases in the Australian media, and on checking I see that pension rates have increased slightly in the time that we have been receiving the age pension, though it's marginal. So when I received a surprising amount of mail today, the two from Centrelink (the intuitively named Australian Social Services) looked exciting.

Ha, ha, not for you. Pension down by $7 per fortnight (the bizarre time unit they use). Thank you, Centrelink. This kind of fluctuation (it also goes up) seems to happen several times a year for reasons that they're too polite to explain, but I can't recall it ever being very different from the current levels, though maybe we're at the lowest rate right now.

But wait, there's more. Another letter from the deutsche Rentenversicherung. Change in pension. Another 33.95 € per month, along with details of how to complain if you're not happy („Rechtsbehelfsbelehrung“, literally "Rights be-help instruction") and a certificate to be filled out („Lebensbescheinigung“, literally “life certificate”), to be filled out by a Justice of the Peace who has never seen me before, but not by my General Practitioner.

That more than makes up for the shortfall with Centrelink, and in fact we don't have any financial concerns. But somehow it seems that we're getting more and more money from Germany and France, and nothing much seems to change in Australia. Can I be bothered to go back 5 years and see what things were like then?


Tuesday, 16 July 2019 Dereel Images for 16 July 2019
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Winding up LEMIS
Topic: history, technology, general, opinion Link here

I founded LEMIS pretty much exactly 40 years ago, at a time when microcomputers were becoming a force to be reckoned with. Almost nobody knew about them—even at work few people had any contact with them—but I could see that there was to be a great future. This was two years after the introduction of the Apple II, and two years before the introduction of the IBM PC, the computer that would bring microcomputers into the mainstream.

Microcomputer? Isn't that PC? Yes, it is now. It wasn't at the time, and that's why I called the company “Lehey Microcomputer Systems”, abbreviated to “LEMIS”. I even gave notice at my well-paid day job in order to be able to address the job full time. Fortunately my company talked me out of it: I would have gone bankrupt within months. I may have seen the technical side of things, but I've never been a businessman, and I had absolutely no plan about how to earn money.

Thirteen years later I finally did leave my company and found LEMIS GmbH, a company that I kept running until I left Germany. Then it was LEMIS Pty Ltd in Australia. In each case, I made enough money to survive.

That ended twelve years ago when I retired. But I didn't wind up LEMIS. It required a certain amount of administrative effort, and who knows, I might need to revive it again. So I've been paying my annual fee to ASIC for thirteen years, and nothing has come of it.

Enough! Get Thomas Elford of PPT to do the necessary. I might be able to do it myself more cheaply, but that way more procrastination lies.


First signs of spring
Topic: gardening Link here

It's been less than a month since the winter solstice, but gradually there are signs that spring is on its way:

 
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I'm particularly happy with this Camellia japonica, which hasn't looked very happy since we moved here, but at least it has lots of buds this year.


Towards a 28th amendment
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

The founding fathers of the USA were remarkably far-sighted people, and it's a sign of that far-sightedness that the constitution that they wrote has survived intact with only 27 amendments. The French constitution has been rewritten several times during that period.

One of the weaknesses that I see in the constitution as it stands is the fact that the president has too much power. The lawmakers have seen that too, and at least tw amendments try to limit that power: the 22nd amendment limits a president to a maximum of not quite 2½ terms in office, and the 25th amendment addresses presidential succession. Currently it's under discussion because it could arguably be used to force Donald Trump to step down. And then there's the 12th amendment, which arguably also seeks to limit power by ensuring that the president and vice president should not be too close to each other.

But somehow it's not working. Donald Trump treads on the ideals of US independence. Consider:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Never mind what he does to non-US Americans (against which the Declaration does not discriminate). What does he do to the citizens of his country? He tweets divisiveness and downright lies:

So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!

These people are representatives of the US population, the people whom he has sworn to defend! And who is he to tell people how to run this once great nation?

The people in question are Ayanna Pressley (born in Cincinnati), Rashida Tlaib (born in Detroit), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (born, like Trump himself, in New York City) and Ilhan Omar (by some mishap born in Mogadishu, but a naturalized US citizen).

So what do they have in common? They're Democrats (the party), and they're “women of color”, a term many US Americans use to describe anybody who is the slightest bit “tainted” by non-white blood.

What disgusting behaviour! Is that worthy of a president of the USA? No, of course not, and the House of Representatives, even the vast majority of the Republicans, condemned it in no uncertain terms. Omar stated that Trump had “openly violated the oath he took” by allowing “human rights abuses” at the US-Mexico border, amongst other things. And yes, his oath was to the constitution, of which the First Amendment guarantees religious freedom. In passing, it's surprising that I couldn't find any reference to this statement in a mainstream US newspaper.

More to the point, though: he lied. That's nothing new; the Washington Post is keeping a fact checker's database which currently has tallied 10,796 lies. And of course there's the old saw:

How do you tell if a politician is lying?

His mouth is open.

But Trump has taken this far beyond normal lies. There are lies that he repeats again and again, even after being called to account. Three of these representatives were born in the USA. Barack Obama was born in the USA. But he repeats the lies again and again, and people believe him.

Clearly the USA needs to do something to limit this damage, which is tearing the country apart. One thing is obvious: a large minority of the US population don't care that he is eroding the democratic principles of the US constitution. Pandering to them gets votes, but it damages the country in the process.

I'm sure there will be a post mortem after the Trump presidency (hopefully in 18 month's time). Will they create a 28th Amendment? What would be in it? At the very least, much more adherence to the ideals of the constitution. And somehow there should be a method to call any politician to account and get him to retract claims that are demonstrably untrue. It won't be easy, but it's necessary.

This is only part of the issue, of course. I haven't even mentioned how the president is at odds with Congress about foreign policy, but that he gets his way, something that has a more direct effect on most people in the world. But that's a different can of worms.


Wednesday, 17 July 2019 Dereel Images for 17 July 2019
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More signs of spring
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

It should still be deepest winter, but more flowers are coming out. The “Uncle Max” Hibiscus is now flowering about as much as I have ever seen it;

 
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There are also a large number of buds on their way. Why now? Maybe a reaction to fertilizer? This photo also shows the Epazote at front right: the two that got the fertilizer are growing much better than the other two.

Roll on springtime.


Thursday, 18 July 2019 Dereel Images for 18 July 2019
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Another NBN outage!
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

More mail from Aussie Broadband today:

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: Fri 2nd August 2019 00:00 AEST
  - End date and time: Fri 2nd August 2019 06:00 AEST
  - Window: 6.0 hours

OK, nothing new that we have an outage. But isn't this in the middle of the behemoth 9 day outage that I grumbled about last week (not the first time this month)? Yes, indeed:

 
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Still, I suppose it must be difficult to schedule an outage during periods of normal service when there are so few of them.


BN services are now available
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

It has proven to be a good idea to put a permanent answering service on my main phone line. The number of spam calls has dropped to 8 in the last billing period, and of course nobody left a message to be called back.

Until today. Then I got a voicemail message:

BN services are now available in your locality. So, for uninterrupted service, press 1 to speak to a technician.

BN? A robocall that doesn't recognize an answering service message when it hears one, and thus doesn't wait for the beep.

But more to the point: what is right about this call? There were four of them, all faking different caller numbers: 0355677048, 0359406341, 0350468074 and 0353938766. Apart from the legality of this faking, why do they bother? And yes, it's correct that we have National Broadband Network coverage the majority of the time, but that's been the case for nearly 6 years now. And of course the promise “for uninterrupted service” is just plain ludicrous.

I wonder what company is behind it. Clearly one to avoid. Would you trust a company that shotgun spams and can't recognize an answering service?


Garden flowers in mid-winter
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

It's mid-winter (close to a month after the solstice), time for the monthly garden photos.

Somehow we don't seem to be doing very well. While walking the dogs down Westons Road, we saw these beds in the property that we looked at but didn't buy seven years ago:


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In particular, that Hardenbergia violacea in the second image looks very different from ours:

 
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Why? It looks as if the ones in Westons Road aren't watered at all.

Somehow there's nothing very unexpected this month. It's mid-winter, of course, which helps. But despite the milder-than-usual weather, the things that normally do well in winter, like the roses and the tomatoes, look anything but happy this year:

 
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Still, they're looking better than the Hibiscus and Hardenbergia violacea (above) that had been looking bad for a while:

 
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I still don't know why they died.

The Petunias that struggled through the summer are now struggling through the winter:

 
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And the first yellow Narcissus (plant) are now flowering:

 
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And the succulent bed continues to improve:

 
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And that's about the lot. Not a very inspiring collection this month.


Friday, 19 July 2019 Dereel Images for 19 July 2019
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Toothache?
Topic: health Link here

For the past couple of days I've had pain at the back right of my lower jaw. That's not the first time, and last time it proved to be due to mechanical problems with my wisdom tooth, which I thought had been fixed. Clearly, though, it's related to the work done on my gums some while back. OK, assume that something is stuck in the gums, clean them out as best I can, and rinse with chlorhexidine before going to bed last night.

That didn't help much. Woke up two hours later with considerable pain. More scraping, pressing (confirming that the pain was on the front of the hindmost wisdom tooth), rinsing, and finally got back to sleep.

To my surprise, this morning there was almost no pain. Did the pressure help? In any case, a good thing that I didn't have to go to the dentist again.


Skin removal
Topic: health Link here

Yvonne has had some skin issues that proved to be related to actinic keratosis (called “solar keratosis” in Australia). I've had that in the past, too, and it was removed with cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen). But Yvonne had left it too late for that, so she had to submit to a surprisingly complicated course of treatment. First two weeks of skin softening, then today to have the lesions removed. She was warned that the first few days would be less than pleasant, and they were right:

 
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It didn't help that she also has a cold. Not a good day for her.


Range hood illumination
Topic: general, food and drink, opinion Link here

I've grumbled on countless occasions about our horrible SMEG range hood: it just doesn't work as advertised. It has another less objectionable but just as irritating “feature”: the lighting. There are two halogen lamps on the underside of the device:

 
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The first issue is clear: they're halogen lamps, which are not standard, and they burn out. So I had to get them specially about a year ago.

And what did I do with them? I had 20 odd of them, and I put one in the hood. The others? No idea. In the meantime, both globes have burnt out, including the one that I put in over a year ago. Nothing for it, order another 20, which arrived today.

What a pain this thing is! Apart from my ability to lose the replacement globes, we have:

  1. You can't replace them in place, because the position is too complicated.

  2. Removing the inset is complicated by the clips holding it in place. In principle you should pull it straight out, but how? And pulling one side out puts it at an angle that makes it different to get the other side out.

  3. Then there's this rim that holds the glass in place:

     
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    That doesn't come out easily. The best I could do was to unhook one of the three clips, allowing the glass to fall onto the cooktop. Fortunately it didn't break.

  4. Removing the lamp wasn't that difficult, but putting the new one in was: you need to push from a position that isn't reachable.

  5. Then you need to replace the glass and the clip. But the glass doesn't want to go into the right position, preventing the clip from closing.

The whole thing took about 15 minutes, of course not including getting the globes. I should have taken photos, but somehow I was too busy just doing the work.

Why don't the makers think of maintainability?


Equivalent apertures again
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

A frequent objection against the Micro Four Thirds system is that there is too much depth of field. People talk of “equivalent apertures” and such nonsense.

What's an equivalent aperture? People have known about that concept for over a century: if you increase the length of a lens, you must increase the diameter of the aperture in proportion. If you can get a certain exposure on a 60 mm lens with an aperture of 15 mm, you'll need a 30 mm aperture with a 120 mm lens, and a 50 mm aperture with a 200 mm lens.

That's why nobody talks about the diameter of the aperture any more, just the ratio of the aperture to the focal length (f): each of the above apertures are f/4. Of course, people nowadays have forgotten about optics, and they call it F4 instead, which has little intrinsic meaning.

And of course different size images have been around forever too. When I started in photography, “5x4” cameras (12.7x10.2 cm, diagonal 163 mm) were the norm for “serious” photography, and 35 mm was still considered inferior.

Of course, the difference in depth of field between the two formats was enormous. A 35 mm (“full frame”) camera with a circle of confusion of 15 μm and a 50 mm lens at f/4 focused at 10 mm has a depth of field from 8.065 m to 13.158 m, a depth of 5.093 m. For the same angle of view a 5x4 camera needs a lens with focal length of 188 mm, and it will get a similarly sharp image with a circle of confusion of 56 μm. With those parameters, the depth of field at f/4 and 10 m is 1.273 m (9.404 m to 10.677 m). To get corresponding depth of field the 5x4 user would have to stop down to f/15.

The same applies in the opposite sense to smaller sensors than 35 mm. But now people talk of “equivalent aperture”, something I've never heard before. Conveniently, Micro Four Thirds has almost exactly half the image diagonal of 35 mm, so the equivalent focal lengths are also half. And looking at the previous example, the depth of field corresponding to 50 mm f/4 would be 25 mm f/2.

What a horrible disadvantage! That's why Micro Four Thirds cameras need such wide apertures! Of course, that leads to overexposure, so photos taken on a Micro Four Thirds camera at 25 mm f/2 and ISO 200 compare to photos taken on a “full frame” camera with 50 mm f/4 and ISO 800. Some people claim that this is an advantage of “full frame”.

The real issue, of course, is: what's the primary importance of setting an aperture? Set it wrong and you get underexposed or overexposed photos, every time. You also get a different depth of field. But how often is that important? And how often do you want a shallow depth of field? Looking back at the photos I took 50 years ago, a large proportion with the 50 mm f/1.4 Super Takumar, I'd guess that for every one where the depth of field came out well, there were 100 where it was too shallow, and where I missed the correct focus.

All this came out today when I saw something bright red in a Grevillea rosmarinifolia bush. The flowers look like this:

 
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But what I saw was:

 
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OK, I can blow that up:

 
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Damn! Missed the focus, which ended up on the twigs in front of the bird:

 
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If this had been a “full frame” camera, things would have been even worse.


Saturday, 20 July 2019 Dereel Images for 20 July 2019
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Moon landing: jumping the gun
Topic: history, general, opinion Link here

On radio news today I heard that various people round Australia were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first human landing on the moon.

Why today? The anniversary is tomorrow, as I knew at the time. Checking brought me to this Apollo 11 timeline, which confirmed: landing at 20:17:39 GMT on 20 July 1969. That was 4:17:39 in Kuching (where I was at the time) and 6:17:39 here in Eastern Australia. Interestingly, the time I found (and didn't refer to) when I entered the diary (1 November 2016) was 4:17:40. I'm more inclined to believe nasa.gov.


Cold!
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Yvonne still not feeling at all well today. The main cause seems to have been a cold that she picked up earlier in the week, and which has (hopefully) now fully developed, but clearly yesterday's skin treatment didn't help. She stayed in bed all day and ate nothing, and the dogs and cat kept her company:

 
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What terrible things colds must be!


New dog walk route
Topic: general, animals, gardening, opinion Link here

Walking the dogs by myself, of course, and decided to go up Spearys Road, past where Lorraine Carranza lives. We've been there before, but at a time when we didn't walk such distances regularly. Noted with amazement that the neighbour across the road from Lorraine has installed 16 solar panels (presumably for electricity) facing south-east, on the shed to the north-east of the driveway:

 
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Those light strips are not the panels, which must have been installed later, but that's where they're located. Now why did they put them there? They can only get any sunlight before about 10:00 in the morning, and the north-west roof of the house would have been far more suited.

Didn't get very far beyond there: it's very muddy.

 
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But I found an interesting plant that I can't identify:

 
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What is it?


Towards analemma
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I'm still thinking about photos of an Analemma, like this one that I considered last week:

The first thing, which I didn't manage last week, is getting a good image of the sun. Clearly it needs much less exposure than the surroundings, but we can do that: just merge two images taken at different exposures.

But photos into the sun are ideal for flare and diffraction artefacts:

 
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Which lens should I use? And at what aperture? I have four to choose from: the Zuiko Digital ED 9-18 mm f/4.0-5.6, the Zuiko Digital ED 8 mm f/3.5 fisheye lens, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14 mm f/2.8 PRO and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO. If I continue with my plan to buy a DSLR to avoid sensor damage, I'll be limited to the first two. Tried them all out on the E-PM1, again with less than stellar results. The photo above was taken with the 7-14 mm, and these with the 9-10, 8 mm FT fisheye and 8 mm μFT fisheye PRO:

 
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Ultimately there's small choice in rotten apples. Whichever I choose, I'll have to tidy up the image to make it into a circle again.


Useless historical TV series
Topic: multimedia, opinion Link here

Yvonne stayed in bed this evening, so I tried to watch some of the historical TV series that she doesn't like. After a couple of attempts, I think that I agree with her. The Tudors has so little to do with history that I had difficulty finding a relationship; the second episode appears to refer to the Field of the Cloth of Gold, but it's so vague that I can't be sure. What it does resemble is all these other horribly violent shows that come from the USA, though it seems that other countries are responsible for it as well.

OK, try Harlots. That's fiction, of course, but it is supposed to take place in 18th century London. Unfortunately, it's boring. And why are there so many rich black people in it? That doesn't seem the slightest bit plausible. At least there's no significant violence, at least in the half episode that I was able to stomach.

Leonardo? This one is from the United Kingdom, but it's even more violent than the US American ones. And historical relevance seems to be irrelevant to the plot.

What a pity! A well-thought-out historical series would be quite interesting. It seems that there's another Leonardo coming out this year. Will it be any better? I have little hope.


Sunday, 21 July 2019 Dereel Images for 21 July 2019
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Moon landing anniversary
Topic: history Link here

The people who jumped the gun on the anniversary of the moon landing yesterday were either in the minority, or they joined the people who celebrated it today. One particularly interesting page was “Apollo 11 in Real Time”, which showed the landing as it happened, even with a (now useless) synchronization 50 years to the second after it happened.


We don't need no steenking computers
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've been thinking of uploading some panoramas of places round here but outside the Street View range to Google Maps. I've seen plenty of them, but how do you upload? The map pages are too polite to assume that I don't know, but with a bit of googling I found this thread. Simple: you can't. You need a mobile phone to do it!

O tempora! O mores! There are two basic but very serious issues:

  1. The only way to do it is with the wrong tool. A mobile phone is, well, a mobile phone: it's for when you're moving around, and it's for making phone calls. Sure, you can do other things with it if you can put up with the smart (pain), but that's really only a substitute for the real thing.
  2. The software that runs on the phones is so incompatible with real computers that it's a serious issue just to provide the same functionality on both platforms. That's a declaration of technical bankruptcy.

I really don't know what to say.


Android and computers: bridging the gap
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

While looking for something else, came across scrcpy, a program that can display Android screens on a real computer, and access them with keyboard and mouse, something that I've been looking for for a long time. It's even in the FreeBSD ports collection. So installed it, started it, and got “an error message”:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/5) ~ 1 -> scrcpy
adb: error: failed to get feature set: no devices/emulators found
ERROR: "adb push" returned with value 1

That's not what the instructions said. It looks like I'm going to have to go beyond RTFM to UTSL. But it also looks as if it might be worth it.


Yvonne still sick
Topic: health, general, opinion Link here

Yvonne's cold has really disabled her, and she spent today in bed as well. That's been nearly a week, and she's only just getting over the worst of it.


Monday, 22 July 2019 Dereel Images for 22 July 2019
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Mojo: not working
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

A few months back I examined a pack of Asam Laksa that I have had for some time, made by a company calling themselves “Mojo Karé-Karé”. It was complicated enough that I took the easy way out and cooked something else.

 
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But I have to eat it some time, and my rations of laksa paste are running out. OK, look at the issues:

In the end I came up with a total of 1.4 l of liquid, including the paste, some weak chicken broth and 75 g of tamarind concentrate. That also corresponds well with the difference in weight between the other pastes (which include the tamarind) and this one.

But look at the stuff!

 
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That looks nothing like Penang laksa. The blackish scum on the surface is pepper! The original has no pepper at all.

And that's the way it tasted. Not enough salt, which suggests that I added more water than they had intended. But on the other hand it was so hot as to be unpleasant. No thanks, this mojo doesn't work.

In passing it's interesting how different hotness from pepper is from hotness from chilis. This burnt my tongue; chilis burn the back of the mouth.


More solar electricity issues
Topic: Stones Road house, technology, opinion Link here

It's been sunny lately, and we've been generating a fair amount of electricity. But today the daily report came from Spain:


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Huh? Almost no power! But we had lots of sunshine. Time to look at my database:

mysql> select tstamp, Pac, Status, SOC, VBat, PacGrid, PacBat, PacPV, FromPV, W1
       from powerstats
       where tstamp > "2019-07-22 10:00"
       limit 4;

+---------------------+------+----------------------+------+------+---------+--------+-------+--------+------+
| tstamp              | Pac  | Status               | SOC  | VBat | PacGrid | PacBat | PacPV | FromPV | W1   |
+---------------------+------+----------------------+------+------+---------+--------+-------+--------+------+
| 2019-07-22 10:00:01 |  806 | On-grid (calibrating |   73 |  263 |       0 |    896 |     0 | 0      |   17 |
| 2019-07-22 10:00:02 |  751 | On-grid (calibrating |   73 |  263 |       0 |    833 |     0 | 0      |  -21 |
| 2019-07-22 10:00:03 |  750 | On-grid (calibrating |   73 |  263 |       0 |    815 |     0 | 0      |    4 |
| 2019-07-22 10:00:04 |  767 | On-grid (calibrating |   73 |  263 |       0 |    884 |     0 | 0      |  -12 |
+---------------------+------+----------------------+------+------+---------+--------+-------+--------+------+

I've seen that before, and we spent a lot of time looking for the cause on that occasion. The status isn't so important in itself, but the attribute PacPV was: it wasn't using any power from the array, despite bright sunshine. But this time it had been going on for a long time, and (at 12:50 on the 22nd) it was still continuing, after 42 hours:

+---------------------+-------+----------------------+------+------+---------+--------+-------+--------+------+
| tstamp              | Pac   | Status               | SOC  | VBat | PacGrid | PacBat | PacPV | FromPV | W1   |
+---------------------+-------+----------------------+------+------+---------+--------+-------+--------+------+
| 2019-07-20 18:50:50 |  -998 | On-grid              |   21 |  260 |       0 |  -1008 |     0 | 0      | 4234 |
| 2019-07-20 18:50:51 | -1002 | On-grid              |   21 |  260 |       0 |  -1009 |     0 | 0      | 4226 |
| 2019-07-20 18:50:52 |  -998 | On-grid (calibrating |   21 |  261 |       0 |  -1017 |     0 | 0      | 4223 |
| 2019-07-20 18:50:53 | -1000 | On-grid (calibrating |   21 |  261 |       0 |  -1004 |     0 | 0      | 4227 |
+---------------------+-------+----------------------+------+------+---------+--------+-------+--------+------+

What to do? Restart the inverter? I suppose I should contact Fred first. Did that, and after a while he called me back and said that he didn't have adequate access, and that he would come by.

Off to walk the dogs, and when I got back I found:

+---------------------+-------+----------------------+------+------+---------+--------+-------+--------+------+
| tstamp              | Pac   | Status               | SOC  | VBat | PacGrid | PacBat | PacPV | FromPV | W1   |
+---------------------+-------+----------------------+------+------+---------+--------+-------+--------+------+
| 2019-07-22 13:09:12 |  3013 | On-grid (calibrating |    0 |  216 |       0 |   3344 |     0 | 0      |   51 |
| 2019-07-22 13:09:13 |   -86 | On-grid (calibrating |    0 |  216 |       0 |     -4 |     0 | 0      | 3016 |
| 2019-07-22 13:09:15 | -1003 | - (calibrating batte |    0 |  215 |       0 |   -947 |     0 | 0      | 3947 |
| 2019-07-22 13:09:16 |   142 | - (calibrating batte |    0 |  215 |       0 |  -4302 |  4444 | 0      | 2329 |
| 2019-07-22 13:09:17 |   -95 | - (calibrating batte |    0 |  215 |       0 |  -4307 |  4212 | 0      | 2717 |
| 2019-07-22 13:09:18 |  -105 | - (calibrating batte |    0 |  215 |       0 |  -4307 |  4202 | 0      | 2727 |
+---------------------+-------+----------------------+------+------+---------+--------+-------+--------+------+

What happened there? Suddenly it started working and delivered a good 4 kW, as I would have expected. Was that Fred? At the time he should have been on his way here.

When he arrived, he first updated the firmware to 3.11.2, and then checked a lot of things (and confirmed that he was happy that I hadn't just reset the inverter). But while looking at the graphs, we came across something strange. Here's the graph for Saturday, 20 July, when things started round 18:50:


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The khaki-coloured area represents the battery state of charge (left axis, 0 to 100%). The magenta line is the power from the PV array, and the purple line is power from the grid (conveniently inverted), both on the right axis (W). So at 18:50, the battery state of charge dropped to 20%. That's a signal to start charging from the grid, up to 50% as I had it set, like the steps in the early hours of the morning. But it didn't stop at 50%! It went up to 100%.

And then? A new day, more surprises:


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Yes, it started to discharge after hitting 100%. But it didn't stop at 20%! Instead it dropped all the way to 0%, which, as Fred had confirmed, is a good way to destroy the battery. And it did it again, all the way to 100%, three times in the course of the day.

And the PV array? Disconnected for most of the day. Why?

Things continued like that today:


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Once again a brief burst of power from the PV array in the early morning, but then it stopped.

Also spent some time trying to get information from the battery pack. Finally Fred had it on his laptop:


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What does that mean? Clearly that the programmer didn't know up from down, but what else? Fred went out to the web to find out, but the results that he got were inconclusive. Serious issue, anyway: level 2. And the durations varied from 53 seconds (at 13:8:18 today) to 8 minutes, 10 seconds (from 17:29:25 yesterday).

Comparing the times with the graphs above, I expected to see a relationship with the deep discharge, and indeed that's what I saw, sort of:

+---------------------+-------+----------------------+------+------+---------+--------+-------+--------+------+
| tstamp              | Pac   | Status               | SOC  | VBat | PacGrid | PacBat | PacPV | FromPV | W1   |
+---------------------+-------+----------------------+------+------+---------+--------+-------+--------+------+
| 2019-07-22 03:32:13 |  2094 | On-grid (calibrating |    0 |  223 |       0 |   2304 |     0 | 0      |  -26 |
| 2019-07-22 03:32:14 |  2102 | On-grid (calibrating |    0 |  223 |       0 |   2319 |     0 | 0      |  -13 |
...
| 2019-07-22 03:33:49 |  2503 | On-grid (calibrating |    0 |  214 |       0 |   2771 |     0 | 0      |   35 |
| 2019-07-22 03:33:50 |   -94 | On-grid (calibrating |    0 |  213 |       0 |     -1 |     0 | 0      | 2768 |
| 2019-07-22 03:33:52 |  -995 | - (calibrating batte |    0 |  213 |       0 |   -976 |     0 | 0      | 3156 |
| 2019-07-22 03:33:53 |  -999 | - (calibrating batte |    0 |  213 |       0 |   -954 |     0 | 0      | 3131 |
+---------------------+-------+----------------------+------+------+---------+--------+-------+--------+------+

There's a question about whether the battery time is synced correctly, but until 3:33:49 the inverter was drawing power from the battery, and then it started charging. During the discharge phase it didn't draw any current from the grid, and then of course it not only took its power from there, but also enough to charge the battery.

And what happened today at 13:09?

+---------------------+-------+----------------------+------+------+---------+--------+-------+--------+------+
| tstamp              | Pac   | Status               | SOC  | VBat | PacGrid | PacBat | PacPV | FromPV | W1   |
+---------------------+-------+----------------------+------+------+---------+--------+-------+--------+------+
| 2019-07-22 13:09:12 |  3013 | On-grid (calibrating |    0 |  216 |       0 |   3344 |     0 | 0      |   51 |
| 2019-07-22 13:09:13 |   -86 | On-grid (calibrating |    0 |  216 |       0 |     -4 |     0 | 0      | 3016 |
| 2019-07-22 13:09:15 | -1003 | - (calibrating batte |    0 |  215 |       0 |   -947 |     0 | 0      | 3947 |
| 2019-07-22 13:09:16 |   142 | - (calibrating batte |    0 |  215 |       0 |  -4302 |  4444 | 0      | 2329 |
| 2019-07-22 13:09:17 |   -95 | - (calibrating batte |    0 |  215 |       0 |  -4307 |  4212 | 0      | 2717 |
+---------------------+-------+----------------------+------+------+---------+--------+-------+--------+------+

The same thing as before, except that this time it drew power from both the grid and the PV array, all the way up to 100% Why? It should have stopped drawing power from the grid after 50%. In any case, things seemed to be working again.


Power fail!
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

While Fred was here, we had what appeared to be network issues. In to my office. No power. The RCD in the switchboard had tripped, presumably while we were working on the inverter, and I hadn't found out until the office UPS had powered its heart out.

Damn! Just when I needed it. And for some reason I had these eternal boot configuration errors again. What's all this LUA crap? I thought this system was too old for that. So, is it disk0p4 or disk1p4? The former was set, and the boot failed, so I tried the latter. Still fail. After some time accepted the parameters as they were and typed in boot and—it booted. So what was all that about?

But I couldn't get X to come up. The second monitor from the left wasn't recognized. After a bit of messing around, replaced the monitor, and it worked. Is the monitor defective, or was there some communication issue? Mañana. At least I had a replacement monitor.


Finally rid of the old fridge
Topic: general Link here

Chris Bahlo over this afternoon to pick up the old fridge that I still haven't sold on eBay. I have certain reservations about the power consumption, since she's on only photovoltaic power, but we can try it out. Loading and unloading was easier than I thought:

 
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Power fail!
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

As if the day's fun hadn't been enough already, another (real) power failure this evening at 23:02:02.

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

Tuesday, 23 July 2019 Dereel
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Analysing the power issues
Topic: Stones Road house, technology, opinion Link here

Call from Fred early this morning: he had heard from Spain that the behaviour we had heard is normal. Hrmph. I don't like the idea of having my system run out of specs and not using available solar power. He's going to find out how often they intend to do this.

Spent a lot of time analysing the data, and came to a number of insights:

So what does it all mean? I have a number of questions:


We're the great killers of Iranians!
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Article in the Times of Israel today:

Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi boasted Sunday that Israel is the only country in the world that has been “killing Iranians.”

Regional cooperation! Let's all get together and string up some niggas Iranians! Don't “be worried about the Trump administration’s “cautious” response” to the current situation with Iran!

I had hoped that the article might carry some kind of condemnation of such abhorrent behaviour, but no, I can't see anything beyond “boasting” that suggests that the Times of Israel, normally not overly aggressive, disapproves of such conduct.

One I greatly admired the Israeli government. But that was half a century ago. Clearly, to preempt criticism from some rabid Israelis, I have become anti-Semitic because I disapprove of racism and violence.


Wednesday, 24 July 2019 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 24 July 2019
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Infection!
Topic: health, opinion Link here

There's no question about it, Yvonne has infected me with her cold.

Cold? I don't get colds! Well, at any rate, I have a sore throat, runny nose and a cough. Is it a cold? Apart from those symptoms, I feel fine. But the cough is a concern: when I get one, it tends to develop into bronchitis, and only antibiotics will solve the problem. Called up the doctors, and of course Paul Smith isn't available until Monday, so ended up with an appointment with Matt Pilkington.

To my surprise, Yvonne decided that it was time to see a doctor too, so we double-booked the appointment, which pleased Matt little. But he confirmed normal temperature, blood pressure and blood oxygen for both of us, and some noise in the lung for Yvonne, but not for me. Never mind, he prescribed us both Amoxycillin, 15 tablets over 5 days. And then stop, though the packages have 20 tablets. I had always heard that you should finish off the package.

Off then to have a complete stranger confirm my identity and that I was alive (Justice of the Peace signing a „Lebensbescheinigung“ or “Certificate of Life” for the Deutsche Rentenversicherung at the police station), since Matt clearly wasn't qualified, and on to ALDI, where I discovered that I wasn't qualified to use the trolleys:

 
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This proved to be the case: in the fun of taking the photos, I forgot how to use the things and didn't clip it into the daisy chain, leaving my $1 token behind.

 
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Grr.


The world run by idiots?
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

In the mail this morning:

 
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Certainly I'm no fan of Boris Johnson, and I fear that he might do his country almost as much harm as Donald Trump has done to his country. But they're not comparable. Trump has no redeeming virtues; Johnson at least has some idea of what he's doing, even if it's not in anybody's best interest.

And maybe the British parliamentary system (the one the US Constitution was supposed to improve on) will prove less subject to manipulation. One way or another, Johnson has a hard job ahead of him.


Thursday, 25 July 2019 Dereel Images for 25 July 2019
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More throat issues
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Spent a bad night thanks to my chest or throat problems. Ended up with a lot of phlegm (“green slime”) that didn't want to come up, involving a lot of painful coughing. Do I have a cold now? No temperature, don't feel bad apart from the phlegm. But maybe that phlegm is a sign that the antibiotics are working.


¿Como hacer una tortilla de masa harina?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I've been making tortillas from masa harina for ten years now, and gradually it's becoming relatively simple. But in those 10 years lots of YouTube videos have come online. Spent some time looking at some of them, noting how much difficulty I have understanding Spanish with no subtitles. Como Hacer Tortillas De Maseca - Masa Perfecta Para Antojitos sounded like a particularly good choice, since Maseca is one of the better brands available round here, even if I haven't used it in a while. And she gave quantities. Well, sort of: 2 cups Maseca, 1¾ cups of water.

It wasn't the only one. Como Hacer Tortillas De Maseca looked good too until I discovered that she wanted wheat flour in the tortillas. To make them hold together better, maybe?

Back to the normal one. What's that in sane units? Went to some difficulty to measure out a “cup” of my current masa, and discovered that 150 ml of masa weighed 80 g. For that I was supposed to have 131 g of water for 80 g harina, or a ratio of 1:1.64. Surprisingly, that's less than I had been using (1:1.8): somehow the dough looked softer than mine.

Tried the new quantities, and not surprisingly, not much changed. Somehow in the videos the tortillas inflate and cook quickly without browning. Mine brown and cook slowly without inflating. It can't be that the comal is too cool; I had temperatures round 250°. And somehow they managed perfectly circular tortillas, while mine are a little uneven at the edges.


Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

At ALDI yesterday I bought some coffee sweetener pills. Normally I use—what? I thought it was Aspartame, but why not check?

 
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