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May 2019
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Wednesday, 1 May 2019 Dereel Images for 1 May 2019
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Power failure!
Topic: Stones Road house, general, technology, opinion Link here

While getting up this morning, heard a “beep” from outside. What was that? Yvonne resetting the RCD for the “non-UPS” circuits at the back of the house. It had tripped again, like it had three months ago.

Why? That's what I asked last time.

Then in to the office to discover eureka, my main computer, dead in the water. Why? That didn't happen last time. Coincidence? A quick look at dischord, the Microsoft box, showed that it was still in sleep mode. All pointed towards eureka shutting down spontaneously.

Recovering eureka was a story in itself, but later I discovered that dischord had been disconnected too—it just recovered automatically, something that I should set in the eureka configuration. The explanation, at least partially: previously I had had my office computers connected via a local UPS to the larger UPS in the shed, but that tended to fluctuate a lot, causing the office UPS to beep annoyingly. So after installing the solar power I had connected to the “non-UPS” power point in the office. And though it's not on the same circuit as the bedrooms, both circuit breakers are served by the same RCD. So the failure was understandable, though some of the details were not.

So what caused the failure? An outside pump sounded a likely culprit, especially as both times it happened in the middle of the night, when we spray the garden. Outside to check: no, the bore pump still had pressure, so it hadn't experienced a power cut while operating. House water pump? No, that had worked as well during the outage. Checked everything that I could think of, but to no avail.


Recovering eureka
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Rebooting eureka was an experience in itself. It failed to boot with an error I had never seen before, something about an inability to load some lua menu. I didn't think to take a photo: I was supposed to go be going into town for a blood test.

But all the parameters looked right. What happens with just boot? It booted! But at a snail's pace. I couldn't even enter more than about one character per second on the keyboard. And I got lots of messages that I have never seen before, roughly at 10 second intervals:

uhub_reattach_port: giving up port reset - device vanished

The good news was that the journals recovered the big file systems almost instantaneously. But the thing was still so slow, and in the end I shut it down to see if a power-off would help. That, too, took for ever, and it didn't help.

OK, try again and see if the BIOS UEFI setup could help. No, that all looked normal, but the system and keyboard response was just as slow as when running FreeBSD, so it wasn't related to FreeBSD. In the end, dammit, reset UEFI to defaults. Rebooted. And it worked.

What went wrong there? A power failure shouldn't cause that kind of problem. Is the motherboard on the way out? Time to think of a new machine: after all, this one is over 5 years old.


Solar power monitoring strangeness
Topic: technology, Stones Road house Link here

One of the problems that I had from the power outage was the loss of 2½ hours worth of data from the solar power inverter. Not much I can do about that, though it's interesting to note when the database updates finished: 6:40. That's when the office UPS died, of course. Was there anything of interest in the data in the hour before? Not that I could see. It would be really nice if the inverter would log things like mains voltage, which I suspect might play a part.

And how did the ingeconsunmonitor.com site deal with the lack of data? Superbly!


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It has complete usage data for the time of the outage, including the spike at 7:00 when I turned on the air conditioner, something that couldn't have been guessed. So somewhere the inverter is storing this information and supplying it when the network connection is restored.

But where? Started up an Wireshark to see what it was doing, but apart from discovering that it sends quite a bit of data, there wasn't much to be found.

So where is it stored? I know the pages http://inverter.lemis.com/ems/last7Days and http://inverter.lemis.com/ems/summary, but of course it's far too modern to give me anything useful at http://inverter.lemis.com/ems/. But clearly there's more to be found for him who searches.


The weather breaks
Topic: general Link here

The first 4 months of this year have been some of the driest on record, but with the new month that changed. We had a total of over 35 mm of rain today, including a quite violent thunderstorm with hail this evening. We can do with much more.


More power insights
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

We were watching TV when the thunderstorm passed through, and we had to raise the volume to hear anything over the noise of the storm. And then the TV turned off. Just the TV, not teevee (the computer that drives it) or the lights. Another RCD trip! Back into the garage to turn it on again, and got a few metres from the switchboard before it failed again. And later on it failed a third time.

One thing that's clear: it's nothing in my office. The UPS was now on the external UPS circuit again, and I've turned off the printer, which only gets used once a month and thus shouldn't be on anyway. On the other hand, it was raining this morning, too, when the power failed. So somehow it confirms my suspicion that it's related to moisture outside the house. But we only have three external power points. Two aren't connected, and the pump on the third is not turned on.

How are these external power points constructed? You'd hope a DPST switch. Maybe we should consider connecting them to a separate RCD.


Thursday, 2 May 2019 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 2 May 2019
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Blood test again
Topic: health Link here

Into Ballarat this morning for another blood test. For once, I wasn't attended to immediately: I had to wait 10 minutes. I had thought that this might be due to the relatively late hour (10:30), but it seems that they were short-staffed. And after all, 10 minutes is typical to good at other places. And somehow I couldn't think of anything else to do, so back home again.


Android navigation revisited
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

My GPS navigator has expired: it thinks that the date is some time in 1999, and there seems to be no way to adjust it. OK, it's over 5 years old, so it's probably time to replace it anyway.

But are standalone GPS navigators still the way to go? Nearly every mobile telephone, even my el-cheapo Nokia 3, has not only a GPS receiver, but also accelerometers and a compass. Why not use that instead?

An obvious reason would be my previous experience, which has brought nothing but frustration. Still, practice makes perfect. Finding my way to the Dorevitch collection centre in Victoria Street is not easy, since it's in a side road only accessible from the Bakery Hill roundabout. A good chance to try out Google Maps again. OK, Google, take me to 53 Victoria Street.

No reaction. When does this voice recognition work, when doesn't it? It took me 4 stops and a lot of messing around, and finally it found a route. One of the issues is that I normally have mobile data turned off, and it didn't like that. Did it say so? No, these things have voice recognition and only very limited voice output. When I stopped to look, I discovered a confusing message on the screen that I finally construed to mean “please turn on mobile data”. And of course, once it found the route, it said... nothing.

And the map was strange. It's convenient to put the phone horizontally in front of the speedometer, but then it only gave me half a display. Here the same place horizontally and vertically: