Greg
animals brewing
food and drink gardening
general Stones Road house
language multimedia
opinion photography
technology
Greg's diary
November 2013
Translate this page
Select day in November 2013:
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Select month:
2013 May Jun Jul Aug
2013 Sep Oct Nov Dec
2014 Jan Feb Mar Apr
Today's diary entry
Diary index
About this diary
Previous month
Next month
Greg's home page
Greg's photos
Network link stats
Greg's other links
Copyright information
    
Groogle

Friday, 1 November 2013 Dereel Images for 1 November 2013
Top of page
next day
last day

Spring arrives at last
Topic: general, gardening Link here

It's been quite a cool spring so far:

mysql> select avg(outside_temp) from observations where month(date) = 10 and year(date) = 2013;
|  12.4300963328884 |
mysql> select avg(outside_temp) from observations where month(date) = 10 and year(date) < 2013;
|  13.2874295755175 |

0.85° may not seem much cooler on paper, but it certainly did in practice. But today, exactly at the beginning of the third month, things picked up, and I was even motivated to do a little garden work, mainly weed spraying.


Washing machine problems
Topic: general Link here

Somehow I get the feeling that God doesn't want us to wash our clothes. Firstly a couple of days ago a fallen branch destroyed our clothes hoist, and now our relatively new washing machine is falling apart:


This should be Washing-machine-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Washing machine 1          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 720 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 1 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 1 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 1 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

That panel on the side of the drum should be attached. It's not clear what its purpose is, but getting it back in was difficult: there are hooks on the side that fit into slots on the drum, and it looks as if the housing round the top of the drum needs to be removed to get it in:


This should be Washing-machine-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Washing machine 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1616 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 1 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 1 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 1 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Washing-machine-5.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Washing machine 5          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 624 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 1 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 1 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 1 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

Yvonne tried to find the local repair people via the Samsung web site, but it redirected her to Germany—another clever site, evidently. So she called up and had to give all her personal details before she could even get the name of the local repair people, Barclay's Appliance Centre at 2 Traminer Court, Wendouree, phone 5339 9034. Yes, they could send somebody out to look at it—$88 for the first half hour, plus about $75 travel time (this was calculated slowly at the rate of $1.50 per kilometre travelled, which doesn't make much sense). But $163 is a significant part of the purchase price. Considered taking it in in the car, but I was told it would take several days to look at it. Clearly people aren't interested in providing good customer service.

So I tried replacing it myself. It's not quite clear what it's even there for. I thought it might leak if I didn't put it in correctly, but it stayed there for several washing loads. I don't think we're done yet.


Saturday, 2 November 2013 Dereel Images for 2 November 2013
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Radiation Tower: finally!
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

The Radiation Tower is finished! Or at least, that's what Yvonne found in Facebook:

Yeah baby, booked in for the NBN today, been told the technician will be out in the next couple of weeks to hook us up......bye bye 15 gig @ $89 yippee........

I can't check myself: it seems I've been removed from the group. And of course the coverage map doesn't show any change, but what else is new? Hopefully it'll be installed before my current month of wireless coverage ends on the 20th.


Pizza tandur
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Our first experiments with the ALDI pizza oven showed that the thing is incorrectly designed, but also that it can reach temperatures significantly higher than the 250° of a typical household oven. Just the thing for tanduri chicken? Certainly worth trying.

It's not just the chicken that gets cooked in the tandur, of course: there's also the nan. In principle that's made the same way as a pizza, between the hot gases and the ceramic side of the tandur.

How to do that in the pizza oven? Like a pizza, you'd think. That has the added advantage that the cooking nan doesn't fall off to the bottom of the oven. But these things are hot, and there's a considerable danger of injury or scorching if you do it wrong. In the end I came to the conclusion to use two pizza stones (not the one supplied with the oven) and heat them on the upper shelves, then to use them alternately on the top shelf while grilling the meat on the middle shelf, with only a drip pan at the bottom:


This should be Tanduri-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Tanduri 3          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1552 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 2 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 2 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 2 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Tanduri-5.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Tanduri 5          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1824 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 2 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 2 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 2 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

How did it work? Not an unmitigated success. The first surprise was how quickly the oven heated up without the bottom pan. Then getting the nan onto the stone proved less than successful:


This should be Tanduri-7.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Tanduri 7          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1728 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 2 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 2 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 2 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

Apart from that, it was difficult keeping the oven warm once the drip pan was in place. A clear disadvantage of the metal construction is that the oven cools down as soon as you open the door, and it was difficult to keep the temperature above 250°. The nan didn't bake well, so I tried the others in the electric pizza ovens, first warming the tray on the stove:


This should be Tanduri-8.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Tanduri 8          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1264 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 2 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 2 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 2 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

None of the results were much good:


This should be Tanduri-10.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Tanduri 10          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1568 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 2 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 2 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 2 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Tanduri-11.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Tanduri 11          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1120 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 2 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 2 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 2 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

It's not clear how much the style of cooking had to do with that. The nan just didn't rise, and it doesn't look right. Probably time to review the nan recipe. On the positive side, the chicken didn't come out too badly, though I think it would benefit from higher temperatures. Clearly a lot of experimentation in the near future.


Sunday, 3 November 2013 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Quiet day
Topic: general Link here

Somehow didn't do anything worth mentioning today. A lot of Coursera videos, and that was about that. I suppose it had to happen some day.


Monday, 4 November 2013 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

NBN letdown
Topic: technology, general Link here

On the dot of 9:00 this morning, called up Exetel (1300 393 835, Option 1), spoke to Bernie and asked her to reinstate the order that they rejected last month. Yes, indeed, they still had all the details, but they'd have to reenter it manually. Their problem, I suppose, since they were prepared to do it.

But of course the NBN info still showed no service from the Radiation Tower, so they couldn't accept it. Called up the NBN and spoke to Adam, who told me that the tower was indeed not in service, but some people, notably in Browns Road (which goes past the edge of Chris Bahlo's property) already had service. So the map was correct there: that must be from the Rokewood tower. And for us still no radiation. Sent an email to my contacts on the project team and got the reply that the tower was complete, and that Ericsson are now performing the integration and commissioning phase of the equipment, which could still take 1 or 2 weeks to complete. Damn!


Old fogey certification
Topic: general, opinion Link here

It's been 1½ months since I applied for the Old Age Pension, and finally Centrelink (the confusing name for the Australian Social Services department) have taken notice, sent me a letter asking for more information, including this gem:

... a full copy of the current Centrelink schedule for you and your partner's income stream products.

Huh? Called up Centrelink and fought my way past this horrible voice non-recognition service and was told that I was in for a 25 minute wait. For the first 10 minutes I was bombarded with advertising and ring tones that gave the impression that somebody was about to answer, but then it went quiet. Too quiet. I think I was disconnected. What a pain!

The other questions were easier, so I gathered up my stuff and set off to Ballarat in a somewhat edgy mood. What a strange place Centrelink is! It took me a while to realize that the woman standing in the middle of the large room holding an Android tablet was in fact the receptionist. She took my details—nice that the tablet was able to identify me and what was needed—and told me I was in for a wait of 52 minutes. Not 51 or 53, but 52, as she confirmed. And the strange people Centrelink attracts!

After about 35 minutes I was called, and Lana took my information and explained that the “income stream products” were nothing to do with Centrelink: it's my superannuation. So I'll have to get that forwarded to them. All the rest was fine.

But then there's the German pension application, which Centrelink also has to process. I've been dreading it, but she filled it out for me, which also has the advantage of lending a certain authority to it. And she was very friendly about it, got things done quickly—as I said, faster than waiting on the phone for an answer. So all done bar the income stream products!


New DxO release
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

A couple of weeks ago DxO released version 9 of DxO Optics “Pro”, of which they said, with amazing chutzpah:

DxO Optics Pro is now even faster

That's of a photo processing package that is an order of magnitude slower than any other I know. Still, any speed improvement is good, so today I decided to try it out.

The user interface has changed: previously there were the relatively understandable tabs “Organize” (climb trees to find the files you want to process), “Customize” (select what you want to do with them) and “Process” (produce the corresponding output images). Now the “Process” tab is gone! You can still search for your photos (I use a shell script to link them to the same place each time), customize them (maybe it is marginally faster). And then? All I find is a new, buzzwordy function “Export”, to places like Flickr, like all the “Pros” do.

But that's the new, obvious word for “process”. You can also export to an application, whatever that may mean, or even to disk. And so modern terminology seems to prefer “export to disk” over “process”. O tempora! O mores!

It also offers a new, higher image quality, “PRIME” (capitalized to show how leet it is in comparison with the “High” quality), so I tried that. Now that there's no processing window, I can't see what's going on, but finally it finished—89 images processed in only 8 hours, 33 minutes and 39 seconds (513.65 minutes), or 11.54 minutes per image! Admittedly, the two cores reduce that to 5.77 on average, but it's still nearly 12 minutes if you want to process only one image. Previously it took about 50 seconds.

The issue, of course, was “PRIME”, possibly an acronym for something indicating beyond-glacial slowness. When I tried it with “High” quality it processed the images in 61 minutes, 13 seconds, or about 42 seconds per image. That's marginally faster than release 8, which took 74 minutes, 45 seconds, or about 48 seconds per image for the same images. The user interface also seems to be a little faster—now changes in sliders show their results in less than 5 seconds. That's still much slower than the immediate response of other packages. It's still by far the slowest package I know.

And the results? To be compared.


More bad language
Topic: technology, language, opinion Link here

So today I've had two different new examples of bad language: “income stream products” and “export”. What's wrong with them? They're bad in different ways.

“Income stream product” is clearly intended to be very specific. Presumably “stream” implies continuous, relatively even income, and “product” is some kind of wrapper. But that's a guess. To be specific, it also needs to be completely understandable. Presumably the people at Centrelink know exactly what it means and how it differs from other jargon terms that would sound the same to me. But unless you can look it up in a dictionary, they shouldn't be using it when communicating with the general public.

You can find “export” in the dictionary, of course. The Oxford English Dictionary has (as always) multiple meanings:

... Latin exportāre, < ex- out + portāre to carry.

†1. trans. (gen.) To carry (things or persons) out of a place; to take away, carry off. Also fig. Obs.

2. a. Comm. To send out (commodities of any kind) from one country to another.

Surprisingly it doesn't describe any usage in software. But it's easy to see how it could be used to mean “transfer to a different place”, for example a different computer system. Clearly that's the intention implied in DxO Optics “Pro”'s “Export to Flickr”. But “export to disk”? By default it writes back to the same directoryfolder where the input image resides. What does that have to do with exporting?

A discussion on IRC suggested that it's called exporting because it involves a loss of image quality. That doesn't make sense to me. Potentially it originally meant “save in a foreign format” (or, from the program's perspective “take out of my sphere of influence”), which would make marginal sense, and the loss of quality could be understandable if the quality of the conversion is sub-standard, like Microsoft “Word” creating HTML output.

But that's not what DxO does: yes, there's a loss of quality involved in any processing, but the output formats are a subset of the input formats. People pointed out that other software also uses the term “export” instead of “process”, so I suppose DxO is just trying to be modern.

But the real issue isn't even that it's a gratuitous change in terminology. Producing output images from DxO isn't primarily a question of where they end up: it's the processing that is involved. That's particularly evident with DxO, since it can take over 10 minutes to produce a single image. That's clearly (inefficient?) processing, not moving data from one place to another. So it's just plain misleading to call it “exporting”.


Tuesday, 5 November 2013 Dereel → Geelong → Dereel Images for 5 November 2013
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Looking after racehorses
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Today was Melbourne Cup day again, so even on IRC we were talking about horses. Callum Gibson ventured the opinion that racehorses are particularly pampered, and he was astonished when I said that they were mistreated.

OK, mistreatment is maybe excessive, but they ride the horses before they have finished growing, and they expect the utmost from them. Callum said, “yes, but athletes do that too”. Sure, but there are two significant differences: the athletes make a conscious decision, and they're adult. There would be an outcry if somebody put an 8-year-old in the same disciplines as adult athletes.

Horses are generally mature at age 5 to 6 years. Today we saw an example: one of the horses in today's race, Verema, broke her cannon bone and had to be put down. She (or “it”, as the article puts it), was only five years old, and had been racing for 1½ years. And it hardly got mentioned. Somehow that's typical of the abuse the animals have to go through.


To Geelong again
Topic: general Link here

Off to Geelong again already today to have my biannual gum checkup. I should have thought of that before we set off last week.


Navigation apps revisited
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

The journey to Geelong was useful for another purpose: another comparison of OsmAnd Maps & Navigation and the Nav N Go in my dedicated navigator. It was interesting:


DxO Version 9: more experience
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

While at the dentists, read the documentation for DxO Optics “Pro” version 9. This stupid bad language still gets on my nerves, but it seems that they've done a lot of improvement on the package. To be tried out when I get the time.


Web server down time
Topic: technology Link here

Stephen Rothwell updated our communal OzLabs weather server today, while I was in Geelong. It didn't take long to find that things didn't go well for http://www.lemis.com/. Error 403 (“Permission denied”) on all pages. Contacted Stephen and discovered that I hadn't read his warning letter closely enough, and that I needed a configuration change. Fortunately that didn't take too long.


Wednesday, 6 November 2013 Dereel Images for 6 November 2013
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

More DxO investigation
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

As planned, continued today looking at the new DxO Optics “Pro” version 9. It's certainly interesting.

The first thing I needed to do was to process the images from the GPS navigator as part of the article on GPS navigation apps. I couldn't be bothered to mount the camera on a tripod, so I took the images hand-held with the camera sensitivity set to 36° (3200) ISO. That created quite noisy images, just what I needed to try their new “PRIME” denoising, a term that proves to stand for Probabilistic Raw IMage Enhancement. One thing's sure: it's slow. And when processingexporting a second image, I discovered:

 
This should be dxo-times-2.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: dxo times 2
Dimensions: 371 x 112, 8 kB
Dimensions of original: 371 x 112, 8 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 6 November 2013:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

I had to wait for the first image to complete before I could start the second, presumably because of some limitation in their processingexporting logic. So much for dual core. It took nearly 30 minutes to process both images:

 
This should be dxo-times-3.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: dxo times 3
Dimensions: 262 x 111, 6 kB
Dimensions of original: 262 x 111, 6 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 6 November 2013:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

And the results? Varied. On one pair the results were very pronounced. Here first normal processing, then with “PRIME”. Running the cursor over either image shows the other one:


This should be Rokewood-bypass-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rokewood bypass 2          Dimensions:          3516 x 2005, 992 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 6 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 6 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 6 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Rokewood-bypass-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rokewood bypass 3          Dimensions:          3516 x 2005, 688 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 6 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 6 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 6 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

 
This should be Rokewood-bypass-2-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rokewood bypass 2 detail
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 98 kB
Dimensions of original: 600 x 450, 98 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 6 November 2013:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Rokewood-bypass-3-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rokewood bypass 3 detail
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 66 kB
Dimensions of original: 600 x 450, 66 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 6 November 2013:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

The problem there was that the image wasn't 100% sharp, so I tried again. This time the results weren't as obvious:


This should be Rokewood-bypass-6.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rokewood bypass 6          Dimensions:          3338 x 1862, 1184 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 6 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 6 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 6 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Rokewood-bypass-4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rokewood bypass 4          Dimensions:          3338 x 1862, 960 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 6 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 6 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 6 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

 
This should be Rokewood-bypass-6-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rokewood bypass 6 detail
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 92 kB
Dimensions of original: 600 x 450, 92 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 6 November 2013:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Rokewood-bypass-4-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rokewood bypass 4 detail
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 66 kB
Dimensions of original: 600 x 450, 66 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 6 November 2013:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

It's clear from the bars in the display at the bottom that “PRIME” hasn't been able to recover everything, but on the whole it does seem to do a very good job. Time to try on some other, older images, like the blue moon panorama I took nearly 4 years ago.

And apart from that? Yes, the interface is noticeably faster, without being anything like fast. Once the thing hung itself up on me. Some old bugs still seem to be present, like swapping the preview and result window on cropping and perspective correction. Once it even put one above the other (normally they're side by side). And at least one “fixed” bug has reverted: at least sometimes in the crop tool, the frame in the move/zoom window disappears, and you have to leave the tool to reposition the full-scale image. And they still have this horrible, not-fixable default fixed aspect ratio in the crop tool, which you have to disable Every Single Time. And it still can't handle a 2560×1440 display: the browser window doesn't display anything, and you're left with whatever was on the screen before:


This should be DxO-display-failure.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: DxO display failure          Dimensions:          2522 x 1416, 592 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 6 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 6 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 6 November 2013

 

On the other hand, they've added more new bugs and misfeatures than just the export function. Previously you could compare between the corrected and uncorrected image by clicking on the “Correction Preview” button. Now you have to press Ctrl-d. But that repeats, so you can only see the original image for a fraction of a second before you end up with a back-and-forwards display of each image.

In addition, it's almost impossible to find the name of the files to which the images are “exported”. The names have three components: the base name of the image (for Olympus, something like PB065521, a “suffix”, which has nothing to do with Microsoft-typical “extensions”, and which is typically something like_DxO, and then of course an unspecified extension. But then it's clear that a JPEG will get an extension of jpegjpg, isn't it?

But the suffix isn't so obvious. What if you want to create two different versions of the same image? Clearly you can do that by selecting the suffix. But how? Ah, that's “advanced”:

 
This should be dxo-export-1-detail.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: dxo export 1 detail
Dimensions: 649 x 529, 96 kB
Dimensions of original: 649 x 529, 96 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 6 November 2013:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be dxo-export-2-detail.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: dxo export 2 detail
Dimensions: 649 x 529, 100 kB
Dimensions of original: 649 x 529, 100 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 6 November 2013:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Why do people do this? Why can't they just tell you the name? And there's no reason not to display the “advanced” settings all the time. The space is there. Of course, it would be nice if they removed this meaningless “dpi” setting.


Modem comparisons
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

My wireless network congestion continues, though it's currently not as bad as it has been. But Internode support have sent me a new modem to see if that will make any difference. Yes, it did. It's a Huawei E3131, and my system doesn't recognize it:

Nov  6 10:43:12 eureka kernel: ugen6.4: <HUAWEI> at usbus6
Nov  6 10:43:14 eureka root: Unknown USB device : vendor 0x12d1 product 0x1c05 bus uhub8
Nov  6 10:43:14 eureka kernel: ugen6.4: <HUAWEI> at usbus6

In particular, it doesn't create any device nodes, so I can't use it. By contrast, the old E1762 reports:

Nov  6 11:13:31 eureka kernel: ugen6.4: <HUAWEI Technology> at usbus6
Nov  6 11:13:31 eureka kernel: u3g0: <HUAWEI Technology HUAWEI Mobile, class 0/0, rev 2.00/0.00, addr 4> on usbus6
Nov  6 11:13:31 eureka kernel: u3g0: Found 4 ports.

So I put it in dxo, my Microsoft box, and finally found a way to install the software that is also on the stick. It works. Interestingly, it gave me the shortest ping time I've even had with this connection, only 45 ms; previously I considered 65 ms to be good, though today I got 63 ms. It seems that a considerable part of the latency is in the device itself.

But what does this prove? Nothing, of course. Currently the connection is relatively free of congestion, so the fact that both modems perform similarly means nothing.

In passing, it's interesting to note that the Microsoft software applies some settings to the device that stop it reporting status via its status port. The modem was in a powered hub which I had connected to the Microsoft box. When I was finished, I just connected the hub toe eureka, my FreeBSD box, and connected again. It worked, but the statistics didn't: first I needed to power cycle the modem.


Thursday, 7 November 2013 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 7 November 2013
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Comparing DxO PRIME
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

As planned, spent some time converting the photos taken on 30 January 2010 with the new DxO Optics “Pro” version 9, including the blue moon with the ice-age-glacial “PRIME” denoising functionality—53 minutes for 7 images! And the results? It's still hard to say. The original images were processed with ufraw, not the best software in the world. DxO gave generally better-looking results. But there's not that much difference in the noise. In sequence are the image as processed by ufraw, the same image as optimized by Ashampoo photo optimizer, DxO with the “High” profile and DxO with the “PRIME” profile. These images are best viewed in the “big” size (original crop): click on each image to enlarge it. Running the cursor over either image shows the other one:

 
This should be Blue-moon-verandah-5-old-orig-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Blue moon verandah 5 old orig detail
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 82 kB
Dimensions of original: 600 x 450, 82 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 30 January 2010:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Blue-moon-verandah-5-old-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Blue moon verandah 5 old detail
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 124 kB
Dimensions of original: 600 x 450, 124 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 30 January 2010:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Blue-moon-verandah-5-DxO-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Blue moon verandah 5 DxO detail
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 224 kB
Dimensions of original: 600 x 450, 224 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 30 January 2010:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Blue-moon-verandah-5-DxO-prime-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Blue moon verandah 5 DxO prime detail
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 600 x 450, 168 kB
Dimensions of original: 600 x 450, 168 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 30 January 2010:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

The differences in the crop are due to the fact that ufraw uses the complete sensor data and doesn't correct for lens distortion. Clearly the original processed image was far too dark, and Ashampoo compensated. It's not clear that it did a worse job with DxO. But the real difference is between DxO “High” and DxO “PRIME”: almost nothing. That's not what I was expecting.


Doctor and haircut
Topic: general Link here

To the doctors Yet Again to have my skin looked at, and on the way finally had a haircut. It was at the end of the school day, and the crossing supervisor who push-started me two months ago was on duty just outside, so I went to thank him and offer him $10 for his help. He refused, but at least I had the chance to thank him.

At the doctor, nothing special, but it seems that there are new rules in place for monitoring diabetes, so I'll have to come back next week and have the once-over.


Black cars: danger
Topic: general, opinion Link here

I may have made a mistake buying a black car. People tend to overlook them. Today on the way into town I was driving along the BallaratColac road in Cambrian Hill (just north of Napoleons) when a Commodore pulled out of Laceys Road (which Google misspell “Lacys Road”) about 50 m in front of me. I managed to lock all four wheels:


This should be Skid-marks-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Skid marks 3          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1552 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 7 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 7 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 7 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

Fortunately I got out of the skid and managed to swerve to avoid him—by this time he was blocking the entire lane. Clearly he hadn't seen me. But this was in perfect visibility. Maybe I should have run into him and had the car replaced with something of a different colour.


Hydronic heating quote
Topic: general, opinion, Stones Road house Link here

Received a quote from Pivot today. It's amazing. It doesn't include any radiators, nor the installation. Instead he quoted for a solar hot-water system, which we already have. He attached a brochure for radiators at least 1.6 m high! Radiators should go in front of windows—how do they expect that to work? And I had already criticized the height of the 40 cm radiators. And the oven? No details. Time to look elsewhere.


Friday, 8 November 2013 Dereel Images for 8 November 2013
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

More GPS navigation apps
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I still haven't found a good Android navigation app. I'm going to Melbourne tomorrow, so it's a good test. Spent some time looking for other apps, and came up with a package I can no longer trace. It has some other name somewhere, but it just identifies itself as “Navigator”. I had thought that it was NavFree, but the description in the toyshop looks very different. It's also based on OpenStreetMap. Is the navigation any better?

No. It was almost impossible to enter the details of where my cousin Mick lives (it didn't believe that the street number existed), and finding the South Melbourne Market took me 5 minutes offline. Nothing for the car. And I had thought that the OpenStreeMap maps were prettier than the ones for my GPS navigator. Surprise, surprise. Both rendering and accuracy seem to depend on the app. Here two comparisons, first of the area around here, then of the area round the South Melbourne Market. On the left “Navigator”, on the right OsmAnd Maps & Navigation:


This should be Navigator-Dereel.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: Navigator Dereel          Dimensions:          1280 x 800, 64 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 8 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 8 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 8 November 2013

 
This should be OsmAnd-Dereel.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: OsmAnd Dereel          Dimensions:          1280 x 800, 416 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 8 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 8 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 8 November 2013

 


This should be Navigator-market.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: Navigator market          Dimensions:          1280 x 800, 288 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 8 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 8 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 8 November 2013

 
This should be OsmAnd-market.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: OsmAnd market          Dimensions:          1280 x 800, 432 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 9 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 9 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 9 November 2013

 

The maps supplied with “Navigator” seem to be an order or magnitude worse than the ones supplied with OsmAnd. In particular, it's difficult to locate Dereel at all, let alone the streets. And of course I couldn't use the same maps across apps.

Then there is Wheris®, which is online. It didn't look bad—but it only works in portrait mode!

 
This should be Whereis-market-2.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: Whereis market 2
Dimensions: 800 x 1280, 608 kB
Dimensions of original: 800 x 1280, 608 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Saturday, 9 November 2013:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Why is it so difficult to find a good navigation app?

In passing, it's worth observing what a pain it is to take a screenshot with an Android tablet. You press the “power” and “volume down” buttons at the same time, without touching the screen and without turning the device. They really could have thought of something easier.


Measuring pH
Topic: general, animals, opinion Link here

We should be measuring the pH of Zhivago's urine, but when I tried to do so a month ago, the pH meter had gone crazy. So I ordered a new one. After a month, it still hadn't arrived, so I arranged a refund. Then yesterday it arrived. Time to pay for it? Not so simple: it doesn't work. It started off by showing the pH of water as 12.5 or so, so I tried adjusting it. After that, it went completely crazy, alternately flashing out-of-bounds values (I assume) and just counting up 0.2 pH at a time. In fact, pretty much what the old one had done. Is this something to do with inadequate moisture on the element? What a pain!

On the other hand, now the old one is working! It needed adjustment, which isn't surprising, but it works again. Somehow there's something here that I don't understand.


Saturday, 9 November 2013 Dereel → Melbourne → Dereel Images for 9 November 2013
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

To the Big Smoke again
Topic: general, food and drink, opinion Link here

Off to Melbourne today, mainly because my cousin Michael had invited us to a barbecue—the first time I've seen any of the family since my father's funeral, and the first barbecue in over 5 years.

On the way, we stopped as planned at the South Melbourne Market. Free parking, they say. And yes, they're not completely wrong, but you have to know where it is. There's plenty of paid parking too. After circling around several times, finally found the park house in Market Street and off into the market.

People had told me that the South Melbourne Market is much better than the Victoria Market. Maybe that expectation was half the problem: we were greatly disappointed. It didn't help that the place was so crowded that we could hardly move, and we didn't find nearly as much choice as in the Victoria Market. The prices were also significantly higher than I recall in the Victoria Market, though possibly that's because it was a Saturday. Finally found a cheese shop selling Gruyère, and asked the salesman what other genuine Swiss Cheeses they had. He offered me a Jarlsberg. I pointed out that that's not any kind of Swiss cheese, and asked if he had Appenzeller. He produced an Emmentaler, and even after I pronounced it very clearly, he didn't seem to understand.

That was enough. We looked in passing at some sorry-looking almost-fresh sardines, and decided to go to the Prahran Market instead. But how to get there? I knew it was pretty much on the way to Mick's, and we had two GPS navigators running (OsmAnd Maps & Navigation and my dedicated GPS navigator). Based on the pain I've had with OsmAnd in the past, I didn't even try to search there. And the GPS navigator didn't know Prahran Market; on a less specific search I found the Prahran Market clinic and hoped that it would be close.

How I love Melbourne traffic! Both GPS navigators took me down St Kilda Road, which has a strange 4 lane structure: the inner lanes are straight ahead only, and you have to first move across a nature strip to the outer lanes before you can turn. And the navigator I chose put me in the inner lanes without the option of leaving before my left turn into Commercial Road. And the traffic! I think I'd go mad if I had to live here. The 4.5 km took us about 20 minutes. Fortunately my guess was right: the clinic is right next to the market.

In the market, found a little of what we were looking for: sardines (cheaper and better than in the South Melbourne market), also Spanish Mackerel and cheese (still only Gruyère). The Prahran Market is in the middle of the Yuppie part of town, next to the most expensive kitchenware shop I have ever seen (The Essential Ingredient), so it says something that the prices here were lower than at the South Melbourne market. But I think that experiment has shown that the Victoria Market is probably the best after all. Just a pity it wasn't open today.

Mick lives straight down the road from the Prahran Market, another 4.5 km and 25 minutes. But finally we found it, and met up with all the old faces again. My sister Bev was here from England, along with husband Jerry and daughter Alice, both of whom I have not seen since my father's 80th birthday, over 10 years ago.


This should be Barbecue-6.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Barbecue 6          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1216 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 9 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 9 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 9 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Barbecue-10.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Barbecue 10          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1184 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 9 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 9 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 9 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Barbecue-14.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Barbecue 14          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1264 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 9 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 9 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 9 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Barbecue-18.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Barbecue 18          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1136 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 9 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 9 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 9 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Barbecue-27.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Barbecue 27          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1408 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 9 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 9 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 9 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

The funny thing is how people don't seem to have changed. And most of us were over 50, at least 3 of us over 80. How time flies!


Sunday, 10 November 2013 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

The day after
Topic: general, photography Link here

Spent a lot of the day processing yesterday's photos. And in my diary I referred to other occasions where I took photos, and looking back on them, it was clear that they needed improvement. Somehow spent most of the day doing nothing in particular.


Monday, 11 November 2013 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Lawn mowing and water for the horses
Topic: animals, general Link here

Yvonne started mowing the lawn today. She didn't finish. The mower got stuck in gear again, and also jammed against the border of a raised garden bed. The gear issue, which I don't seem to have mentioned before in this diary, has been repaired once already, but possibly a little too superficially, and I was half expecting it to happen again.

As it happened, CJ came along to look at laying some water pipes to the north paddocks—we're agisting some of Chris Bahlo's horses there, and they need their own water. About 140 m of piping needed.


(Re)Learning programming
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've been programming for nearly 45 years now, but I've always been interested in programming languages, and so a couple of months ago I signed up for an online Programming languages course from the University of Washington.

It's been interesting. One of the things about programming languages is that each has its own way of doing things. Yes, you can write FORTRAN in any language, and Rasmus Lerdorf has told me “Programming in PHP is simple. Just write C and put a $ in front of the variables”. But it's not that simple, and the course shows idioms that I wouldn't have thought of myself.

Finally we've passed SML, a language I'll probably never use again, and moved on to Racket, an obfuscatory name for a dialect of Scheme. I should be at home there, but I learnt all sorts of interesting constructs that would never have occurred to me without the course. Certainly an interesting experience, though it's still not clear how to debug the stuff. Still, I can see cases where I might use it again.


Tuesday, 12 November 2013 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Positive NBN news
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

We've all been more than a little unhappy about the direction the new Australian government is taking with the National Broadband Network, as I've commented repeatedly in the past. And so far there seems to be no sign of a change of direction—until today. Now it seems that Simon Hackett is joining the board of the NBN. That's hopefully good news. Simon has a much better understanding of the issues than most of the people on the NBN, very much including the current government. Hopefully he'll be able to maintain his viewpoints. Certainly the public opinion is very positive.


Wednesday, 13 November 2013 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 13 November 2013
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Laying the pipe
Topic: general Link here

CJ along this morning with his tractor to lay the pipe for the water troughs in the north paddock. Apart from the abysmal weather—we had 19 mm rain last night—he ran into other problems, literally:


This should be Trench.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Trench          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 2480 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 13 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 13 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 13 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

When I got back from town, he was gone, presumably to repair the tractor.


Still more pension pain
Topic: general Link here

LEMIS (SA) Pty Ltd ceased trading in 2007, but I've been too lazy to close it down. And now with my pension application it has come back to bite me: not just LEMIS, but also the Lehey Family Trust need to be described. Into town to see Peter O'Connell, who is in a flat spin before Christmas. The good news: LEMIS had a balance of $100 6 years ago, and that's gone, so there's not too much to do. But he ended up spending an hour going over all sorts of strange financials relating to the superannuation fund. By the end I was no longer sure what was going on, but hopefully we'll have things ready for another visit to Centrelink after my doctor's appointment tomorrow.


Thursday, 14 November 2013 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Age-related things, next instalment
Topic: general Link here

Into Ballarat Yet Again today for blood tests and another diabetic programme assessment. I had nearly 2 years ago, and I hadn't been overly impressed. But Dr. Majid tells me that things have improved, and so I did another one.

The most surprising thing was that they kept coming and looking for me while I was doing the blood tests (and, for some reason, an ECG that they had thrown in for good measure), though my appointment wasn't until later. I didn't even get time to eat my breakfast sandwich before they pulled me in and did the assessment.

Was it worth it? No. Yes, things have improved somewhat, and now I could get free physiotherapy treatment if I needed it. Good to know if the need arises, I suppose. But random measurements of blood pressure and sugar seem a waste of time when I have regular blood tests. And she said “Your nutrition is good. BMI of 25”. What does that have to do with nutrition? At least it shows that I'm not (quite) obese. Once again I'm left with the feeling that this programme is a poor copy of what the doctor does anyway.

To add insult to injury I forgot my morning allopurinol pill, which must be taken on time, and I had to get a prescription for more. And that was a problem in itself, because Yvonne had picked up some for me just yesterday, and they were reluctant to give me any more.

After that, Centrelink, stopping off at PPT to pick up some documents. This time I had to wait longer and got an officer (John) who, though friendly and helpful, wasn't as prepared to do all the work for me as Lara had been last week. So now I still have one form to fill out and somehow find proof that I stopped trading 6 years ago. I'm reminded of the adage that you can never prove the absence of a bug, only the presence.


Tools for Android
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I'm gradually making friends with Android, but it's not easy. Under the surface it looks almost like a real machine:

u0_a83@android:/ $ df
Filesystem             Size   Used   Free   Blksize
/dev                   403M    64K   402M   4096
/mnt/asec              403M     0K   403M   4096
/mnt/obb               403M     0K   403M   4096
/system                531M   322M   208M   4096
/system/media           98M    67M    31M   4096
/cache                  98M     4M    94M   4096
/persist                 9M     4M     5M   4096
/data                  923M   439M   484M   4096
/storage/sdcard0      1952M  1863M    88M   4096
/mnt/secure/asec: Permission denied
/storage/sdcard1      14983M   704M  14278M   32768
/mnt/asec/au.com.sensis.whereis-1    31M    30M     1M   4096
/mnt/asec/com.sygic.aura-1    45M    44M     1M   4096
/mnt/asec/com.sonelli.juicessh-1     4M     3M     1M   4096
/mnt/asec/cm.aptoide.pt-2     4M     3M     1M   4096
/mnt/asec/com.navngo.igo.javaclient-1    19M    18M     1M   4096
/mnt/asec/com.esocialllc.vel-1     3M     2M     1M   4096
/mnt/asec/com.icecoldapps.sshserver-1     2M     1M     1M   4096

Apart from a completely ridiculous number of “file systems”, there's this problem that df outputs values in so-called “human readable” form—for some definition of “human” that doesn't include me. I'd rather see the results in megabytes:

u0_a83@android:/ $ df -m
Filesystem             Size   Used   Free   Blksize
-m: No such file or directory

Other things look strange too:

1|u0_a83@android:/ $ df .
Filesystem             Size   Used   Free   Blksize
.                        0K     0K     0K   4096

The trouble here is that it's BusyBox some of form or another, a stripped-down version of something approaching the GNU tools, ideal for a bare-bones machine. Compare it with the Control Data 7600, the supercomputer of 40 years ago with which I like to compare modern machines, and also adagio, my first BSD machine of a little over 20 years ago:

      CDC-7600       adagio       Android
Cores       2       1       4
Processor speed       36 MHz       33 MHz       1200 MHz
Memory       4.3 MB       16 MB       1024 MB
Storage       2.4 GB       325 MB       20 GB

The specs for Android are the exact specs of my tablet. Memory for the 7600 is the maximum possible. I'm guessing at disk storage (say 8 disks of 3330 calibre. Wikipedia says they're 200 MB per pack, but I recall 300 MB). So it's no longer appropriate to call a tablet a “minimalist” machine. In particular, it has much more memory and storage than adagio. So why are the utilities so bad?

I've spent lots of time looking for better tools, so far without success. The toyshop lives up to its name, and the GNU project only mentions it to rant about freedom. So far I haven't even been able to find software development tools to do it myself.

On a slightly different tack, it seems that Android apps are deliberately castrated. I've found Flightradar24, which is quite interesting, but which seems to have timing problems in my network. It offers lots of information about flights, including current position, altitude, speed, source and destination. And they have an app for Android. Installed that: only flight number is available. For anything else you need to buy a paid app. But why? One reason is that the web site doesn't work well on Androids. Expand the map beyond a certain point and the other information disappears:


This should be Flightradar-browser-2.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: Flightradar browser 2          Dimensions:          1280 x 800, 1232 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 15 November 2013

 
This should be Flightradar-browser-1.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: Flightradar browser 1          Dimensions:          1280 x 800, 1536 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 15 November 2013

 

But that's still so much better than the app:


This should be Flightradar-app-2.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: Flightradar app 2          Dimensions:          1280 x 800, 432 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 15 November 2013

 

That's the only information displayed. All this information, displayed in the browser, is missing:

 
This should be Flightradar-browser-2-detail.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: Flightradar browser 2 detail
Dimensions: 285 x 609, 120 kB
Dimensions of original: 285 x 609, 120 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Friday, 15 November 2013:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Add to that the emetic advertising, continually goading you to upgrade, and you wonder why you bother.


Friday, 15 November 2013 Dereel Images for 15 November 2013
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Garden flowers in late spring
Topic: gardening Link here

The middle of the month again, time for the monthly garden flowers photos. One of the biggest surprises are the roses. I haven't exactly pampered them, but they're all looking surprisingly happy, including at least one that I really had meant to throw out, and which haven't seen blooming for years (the first one below):


This should be Rosa-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rosa 2          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1744 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 15 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Rosa-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rosa 3          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 2128 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 15 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Rosa-Phyllis-Bide.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rosa Phyllis Bide          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1984 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 15 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

Even the Iceberg rose that I bought two months ago is flowering:


This should be Rosa-iceberg-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rosa iceberg 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1632 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 15 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

I had planted some morning glories to fill the gap until they grew, but so far they haven't shown any signs of germinating. Somehow they're particularly unreliable.

The other surprise was what appears to be a poppy:


This should be Poppy-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Poppy 1          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1536 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 15 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Poppy-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Poppy 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2192 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 15 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

I did try to grow poppies not far from there very early on after arriving in Dereel, and I tried again a couple of years ago, but this is the first time I've actually seen flowers.


Microsoft bashing, 15 years on
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Mail from Bob Nelson today, who had dug out an old copy of The Complete FreeBSD, third edition. He was concerned by a couple of things I said about Microsoft.

Now it's not exactly a secret that I don't like Microsoft, but nevertheless it was interesting to see what it was that concerned him. The first was a reference to Microsoft's “Operating System” Bob thought that the quotes were inappropriate. But in the context, no, they weren't. I was referring to “Windows” 95, which was not an operating system at all, but a graphical interface to MS-DOS. Calling it an operating system would be like calling X an operating system. In fact, the Wikipedia entry for “Windows” contains a very similar statement:

Windows 1.0 is not a complete operating system; rather, it extends MS-DOS.

The same applies to “Windows” 95. This passage is no longer in the last edition.

The other issue he had was the statement, also no longer present:

If you like Microsoft's “Windows 95” environment, you might prefer fvwm95, which is similar. Before you do, however, consider the advantages of other window managers: Microsoft's environment does not scale well.

That is correct. On each display of my X desktop I can have up to 30 windows. fvwm can handle that quite easily. My current Microsoft Vista desktop only displays 10 icons, after which I'm not sure how I can find the rest. But that's one of my long-running rants that doesn't just relate to Microsoft.

Then, of course, Bob asked me if I actually used Microsoft. At the time I published that edition (17 May 1999) I did not use Microsoft at all. Since then I've been forced to use it because it's the only viable platform for lots of photo processing software. And as I've continually ranted, I still don't like the interface. But it's no worse than other commercial software that uses these paradigms. The fact that Apple has a BSD-like system underneath the glossy exterior is not overly relevant, because they do everything they can to hide it.


The pipe, finally
Topic: animals, general Link here

CJ back today to finish laying the pipe for the troughs in the north paddock. It took him all day, with help from Yvonne. But now it's all done bar the fittings at the end:


This should be CJ-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: CJ 3          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1776 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 15 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Pipe.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Pipe          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 2224 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 15 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 15 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 


Pizza oven, try 2
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Another attempt to cook pizzas with the pizza oven today. My infrared thermometer still hasn't arrived, so again I had to guess how hot the slab was. By the time the oven temperature reached 204° (it's too leet to show 200°), the slab was so hot that I couldn't leave the pizza on it long enough for the crust to brown. But at least I didn't burn them too much this time.

I find my opinion confirmed: putting the stone at the bottom of the oven and heating from underneath is Just Plain Wrong. Next time I'll put the round stones on the upper shelves and see how that goes.

On the positive side, found a better way to put the pizze in the oven, without buying a ridiculously expensive peel: put them on the underside of the metal pans for the electric pizza ovens with a bit of maize flour to help them slide.


Saturday, 16 November 2013 Dereel Images for 16 November 2013
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

DxO release 9: faster after all
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

I've commented in the past both on the glacial speed of DxO Optics “Pro” and the chutzpah they had to claim that release 9 is “even” faster. My own tests confirmed only the former allegation. But over the last couple of days I've processed a large number of photos with release 9, and yes, indeed, it's notably faster. Here the times:

Release       Image count       Time       Time per image (s)       CPU Time per image (s)
8       128       109:13       51.2       102.4
9       108       56:56       31.6       63.2
9       60       37:34       37.6       75.2
9       67       38:06       34.1       68.2

On average, that's roughly a 33% speedup. All these times are elapsed time on a dual core machine, so the real processing times are double the elapsed time (last column). And despite the speed improvement of release 9, it remains glacial.


Local cooling
Topic: general, gardening, opinion Link here

Global warming is real, there's no doubt about that. But on a local scale, things look very different. Last month, New South Wales had record high temperatures and bushfires. But here it's a very different situation. Spring is coming to an end, and we're still running the heating most of the time. Last month was on average 0.65° cooler than the seasonal average for October, and so far this month has been 2.1° cooler than previous years:

mysql> select year (date), avg(outside_temp)
       from observations
       where month(date) = 11
       and day(date) < 17
       group by year(date);

+-------------+-------------------+
| year (date) | avg(outside_temp) |
+-------------+-------------------+
|        2010 |  14.5809737208732 |
|        2011 |  16.9617220893251 |
|        2012 |   15.043865298868 |
|        2013 |  13.4356201215144 |
+-------------+-------------------+
mysql> select year (date), avg(outside_temp)
       from observations
       where month(date) = 11
       and day(date) < 17
       and year(date) < 2013;

+-------------+-------------------+
| year (date) | avg(outside_temp) |
+-------------+-------------------+
|        2010 |  15.5324272180124 |
+-------------+-------------------+

Sunday, 17 November 2013 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Comparing DxO releases
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Comparing the processing times of DxO Optics “Pro” releases 8 and 9 also gave me an opportunity to compare the images themselves. They should be the same, right? Well, I've been applying the “Artistic HDR” profile (which they call a preset), and they seem to have fine-tuned that. The results are most visible in images with a lot of white, but unfortunately I didn't compare any of them, and given the processing time, I'll put it off for some other time. But even in more normal images some differences are obvious.


This should be garden-centre-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: garden centre 1          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 4816 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 16 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 16 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 16 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be garden-centre-1-DxO-8.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: garden centre 1 DxO 8          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 2576 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 16 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 16 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 16 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

There's not much in it, but the version with release 8 is somewhat brighter.


New insights into leprosy
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Watching The Nun's Story on TV this evening, and looked up Leprosy on Wikipedia. It reports an amazing insight:

The most widely held belief is that the disease is transmitted by contact between infected persons and healthy persons.


Strange mail issues
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yvonne mentioned a couple of problems with mail today. One was her own fault, but the other puzzles me. w3.lemis.com refused a message to Chris Bahlo with a failed A record lookup:

Nov 17 02:42:40 w3 postfix/smtpd[45217]: connect from 1032.x.rootbsd.net[208.86.224.149]
Nov 17 02:42:41 w3 postfix/smtpd[45217]: 976AD3B9B3: client=1032.x.rootbsd.net[208.86.224.149]
Nov 17 02:42:42 w3 postfix/cleanup[45475]: 976AD3B9B3: message-id=<20131117024239.GB1265@lagoon.lemis.com>
Nov 17 02:42:42 w3 postfix/smtpd[45217]: disconnect from 1032.x.rootbsd.net[208.86.224.149]
Nov 17 02:42:42 w3 postfix/qmgr[11423]: 976AD3B9B3: from=<ylehey@lemis.com>, size=1866, nrcpt=1 (queue active)
Nov 17 02:42:42 w3 postfix/smtp[45476]: 976AD3B9B3: to=<christiane@narrrawin.com>, relay=none, delay=0.61, delays=0.57/0.01/0.03/0, dsn=5.4.4, status=bounced (Host or domain name not found. Name service error for name=narrrawin.com type=A: Host not found)
Nov 17 02:42:42 w3 postfix/cleanup[45475]: 372DB3BA99: message-id=<20131117024242.372DB3BA99@w3.lemis.com>
Nov 17 02:42:42 w3 postfix/bounce[45477]: 976AD3B9B3: sender non-delivery notification: 372DB3BA99
Nov 17 02:42:42 w3 postfix/qmgr[11423]: 372DB3BA99: from=<>, size=3778, nrcpt=1 (queue active)
Nov 17 02:42:42 w3 postfix/qmgr[11423]: 976AD3B9B3: removed
Nov 17 02:42:42 w3 postfix/local[45478]: 372DB3BA99: to=<ylehey@lemis.com>, relay=local, delay=0.02, delays=0.01/0.01/0/0, dsn=2.0.0, status=sent (delivered to mailbox)
Nov 17 02:42:42 w3 postfix/qmgr[11423]: 372DB3BA99: removed

How could that happen? w3.lemis.com is also ns1.narrawin.com. It took a long time to sink in: Yvonne had misspelt the domain name.


Monday, 18 November 2013 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Maintaining household goods
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Modern appliances are remarkably reliable. A good thing, too. In the olden days if something broke down, you could take it for repair for a fraction of the replacement cost. That's still true, but the fraction is getting larger. Currently I have three appliances that have minor problems:

  1. The washing machine, which we bought for $595 nearly 3 years ago. Earlier this month some panel on the inside of the drum became detached, and I couldn't reattach it. I've already established that a repair would cost 27% of the purchase price, at the very least. It doesn't seem to do any harm if it's not there, so it's not going to be replaced.

  2. The display on our oven. I bought it for $399 4 years ago, and it was probably too much. Now several segments have failed on the clock. Fix it? Not a chance. Even if I could find the component, it would be prohibitively expensive.

  3. The internal light in our microwave oven has burnt out. How do you replace it? There's no obvious opening to get at it, and dismantling microwave ovens is something to be very careful of. Take it to a repairer and it will cost at least $50—and that for an oven that probably cost less than $200.

But wouldn't it be nice if the designers thought about these little things?


Attending to the house
Topic: general Link here

Gradually there are more and more things to do around the house, things to which I should be paying more attention. There's the water trough in the north paddock, and also I need concrete for the new clothes hoist. Into town today to buy some bits and pieces, attending to other details at the same time. For once things went relatively smoothly.


Tuesday, 19 November 2013 Dereel Images for 19 November 2013
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

ABS survey
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

While I was in town yesterday, somebody from the Australian Bureau of Statistics came by and told Yvonne that we had been selected for a Survey of Income and Housing. She left a letter, which proved to contain a “Web Address”, numerical user identifier and password, containing upper and lower case letters, digits and a special character. I was to go to this “Web Address” to say when it would be convenient to conduct a survey of unspecified duration.

Do I want to do this? This kind of bad language raises prejudices which too often prove to be justified. They were today, too. The link tried to do some clever trick that failed, and produced the message:

The interview should be started in a new window. This window can be closed.

Some browsers (like Google Chrome) minimize pop-up windows, usually at the bottom of the window. Please check if this has happened. If this is the case, you can drag this window into view with your mouse.

If for some reason the interview did not show up in your window, you can try and start it by clicking here.

The here link was to . I have JavaScript enabled, and it worked. No idea what they were trying with the first page.

First thing I have to do is change the password, from something like s?fPF8qX (conveniently 8 characters to limit the number of allowable combinations) to my choice of something like No Way Jose!. But that's not allowed:


This should be abs-1.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: abs 1          Dimensions:          821 x 680, 122 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 19 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 19 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 19 November 2013

   
This should be abs-1-detail.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: abs 1 detail
Dimensions: 402 x 86, 12 kB
Dimensions of original: 402 x 86, 12 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Tuesday, 19 November 2013:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Why do they do that?

When I was done, there was another warning:


This should be abs-3.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: abs 3          Dimensions:          1402 x 283, 26 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 19 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 19 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 19 November 2013

 

And of course the Close button didn't work.

The real question is why I need all this secrecy. All I had to do was specify a telephone number and time when I could conduct the interview. Well, I could specify a time range, not a time. It would have been a lot easier to call 1800 060 912 and tell them there. If this is the level of professionalism that pervades the ABS, I'm not overly confident about the validity of the results they get from the survey.


Connecting the water trough
Topic: general Link here

In the afternoon got round to connecting up the pipe to the water trough in the north paddock. The cool weather we've had this month took time off to make my life a misery:

Click to see larger image

The top temperature of the day was 33.8°, and when I did the work it was still over 30°. It didn't take long, but somehow I'm getting too old for this kind of work. And when I was done I discovered that the ball valve of the trough is clogged up. Not badly enough to completely stop the flow of water, but we'll have to see if it can keep up with 8 thirsty horses in the middle of the summer.


New camera?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I've been watching the prices of the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 with interest for some time. It has been out for over two months now, and there still seem to be supply difficulties. In the USA neither B&H Photo Video nor Adorama can deliver, though the price ($1,399) looks good, and they don't even offer the new M.Zuiko 12-40 mm lens. Both are ostensibly available on eBay, of course, at prices varying between $1,460 and $2,100 for the body only or $2,289 to $3,017 with the lens, all prices adjusted to include shipping.

What does that mean to me? Currently the exchange rate of the Australian dollar is about $0.94, and I have to pay 10% GST, so the cheapest camera with lens would end up costing me about AUD 2,679. But there's a problem buying overseas: the warranty may not be honoured in Australia, and if anything goes wrong I might end up having to send it back to Hong Kong or Japan or worse. How much peace of mind is it worth to buy locally?

Went looking on StaticIce and discovered, to my surprise, that the prices are much lower here! The range I found was between $2,229 and $2,400. Why the discrepancy? Can they deliver?

Started collecting information on a web page. It was worthwhile. Not all the suppliers had stock, some are not in Australia, some offer dubious things like 2 year Australian warranties (to the best of my knowledge, Olympus Australia only offers a 1 year warranty), and there was a marked difference between the shipping costs, from $0 to $50.

Finding the shipping costs isn't easy. In many cases (clearly the more expensive ones) they don't state the prices, and to find out you first need to add it to a cart and proceed halfway to checkout. Even that's not easy: one of them required me to choose a colour, and wouldn't let me continue until I chose the only colour available:

 
This should be select-colour-2.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: select colour 2
Dimensions: 349 x 171, 14 kB
Dimensions of original: 349 x 171, 14 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Tuesday, 19 November 2013:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

In the end, including shipping, the cheapest camera proved to cost $2,249—maybe. They offer free shipping to metropolitan areas, so I checked with their emetic shipping calculator (“Enter province and ZIP code”), and it told me what they had said before: free shipping to metropolitan areas. Only I'm not in a metropolitan area, and that's what the post code is for. Still, they're also coincidentally the only company who claims to be able to ship in 1 to 2 days.

Then there's the question whether this is grey market stuff, and if so what problems that might cause. Olympus is offering free accessories for cameras bought before the end of the month. If I buy one of these, will they honour the receipt? Still more investigation needed.


New USB tuner
Topic: multimedia, technology Link here

Yvonne back from shopping today with more toys from ALDI: two USB TV tuners and an 802.11 range extender. One of the tuners can go back unopened: there's no way to connect two to a standard TV cable. The other one probes under FreeBSD without revealing very much:

Nov 19 17:30:26 teevee kernel: ugen0.5: <Realtek> at usbus0
Nov 19 17:30:26 teevee root: Unknown USB device: vendor 0x1d19 product 0x1101 bus uhub2
Nov 19 17:30:26 teevee root: Unknown USB device: vendor 0x1d19 product 0x1101 bus uhub2

So now I'll have to revisit the whole tuner setup under Linux. I'm not sure I want to.


Trisha Wren here again
Topic: animals, general Link here

Trisha Wren arrived today to hold another horse clinic.


Wednesday, 20 November 2013 Dereel Images for 20 November 2013
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Another power failure
Topic: general Link here

Another power failure this morning, a brief one. Still, things seem to be better this year. It's been over 4 months since the last failure, and over 8 months since any longer-lasting failure.


Horse clinic
Topic: animals, general Link here

Today was the horse clinic with Trisha Wren. This time it was at our place:


This should be clinic-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: clinic 1          Dimensions:          6950 x 1611, 2880 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 20 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 20 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 20 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

It's a pity that the weather was so cool, but everybody seemed to be happy with the results. Many more photos on Yvonne's photo pages.


New toy
Topic: general, food and drink, technology Link here

A few weeks back I bought an infrared thermometer on eBay, and today it finally arrived. The main purpose is to measure the temperature of the pizza stone in the pizza oven, but of course that won't be for a while. In the meantime I played around with it a bit.

One thing's clear: it's not the kind that you can stick into your ear and measure blood temperature. I tried that and got a temperature of about 23°. But pointing it at hot and cold objects show that it works, at least in principle. The trouble is that it's a spot measurement, so the variation between -18° and -14° in the deep freezer, or 190° in the corners of the oven to 210° in the middle, could be correct. Heating a frying pan gave higher temperatures directly above the flame than in the corner. So it looks like it's something I'm going to have to learn to understand.


Exploring the ALDI tuner
Topic: multimedia, technology Link here

Discussion about the ALDI tuner on IRC today. Jürgen Lock suggested that I try installing the webcamd port, so did that and tried it out:

=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/0) /usr/ports/multimedia/webcamd 8 -> webcamd
Attached to ugen0.5[0]
webcamd: Cannot find USB device

Clearly it was lying: it did find /dev/ugen0.5. But why? It seems that to get debug output you need to rebuild the port, so did that and got lots of messages on the screen, many of them obviously errors. But the real one that stood out was:

ERR: : : this USB2.0 device cannot be run on a USB1.1 port (it lacks a hardware PID filter)

Now isn't that something that should only appear in debug output? After that, it was recognized, and it created a whole lot of devices:

=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/0) /usr/ports/multimedia/webcamd 20 -> webcamd
Attached to ugen1.2[0]
Creating /dev/dvb/adapter0/demux0
Creating /dev/dvb/adapter0/dvr0
Creating /dev/dvb/adapter0/frontend0
Creating /dev/lirc0
Creating /dev/input/event0

That's about all I can do now, since I don't have an antenna connection there.


Buying a new camera, continued
Topic: photography Link here

On with my investigation of the purchase of an Olympus OM-D E-M1 today. What did the discrepancies mean? Why some with 1 year warranty, some with two? Why some with free accessories, others without? Called up Olympus on 1300 659 678, once I found it here, and discovered that the Olympus Australia warranty is indeed for 2 years, and that only cameras supplied from Australian stock are eligible for the special offer. That skews the prices even more: I need an MMF-3 adapter for my existing lenses, and they cost at least $175. And the offer I had been looking at is grey market stuff that doesn't include the special offer. On the other hand, this one does. So gradually my prices are going up. I started at $2,229, which proved to be $2,278 when shipping was factored in, went to $2,249, but both would require separate purchase of the MMF-3, so that would bring me to over $2,425. Now the $2,308 of the third offering (Digital Camera Warehouse) looks the best. Called them up. Yes, they have the body, but not the lens. They took an order anyway to keep my place on the queue, without requiring a deposit.

Called all the other people offering the camera below $2,300, and it was the same story everywhere: no M.Zuiko 12-40 mm available. This seems to be a general issue; I haven't seen any offered on the US sites, for example.


Which adapter: MMF-[123] or copy?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

The bundled offers for the MMF-3 adapter make the Australian stock cameras much more interesting, but they're not the only game in town. There are also older adapters, the MMF-1 and MMF-2, and there are copies on eBay starting at about $45. What's the difference? Kelly at Olympus couldn't tell me beyond the information that the MMF-3 is weatherproof. Is that important? I only have one weatherproof lens, and that may go anyway. Asked on the German Olympus forum and got the kind of reply that I expected: yes, the older ones are the same except for the weatherproofing, and the copies are of terrible quality, and they're particularly problematic with wide-angle lenses. Is it worth the risk? I could get a free HLD-7 battery holder instead, effectively increasing my expenditure by only about $45. To be considered.


Yet another building site?
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

I had a call from Liam Crowley of Blue Ribbon a couple of days ago. We had visited a house he had for sale in April, and at the time told him that we really wanted a vacant lot. And he remembered! Now he's found a site in Snowgum Road, which we had looked at round the same time.

Off alone in the afternoon to take a preliminary look (Yvonne was busy with the horse clinic). It's not completely empty: in fact, there are an amazing number of sheds on it, and potentially I could use one for my office, thus enabling us to build a smaller house. Certainly an interesting idea. I'll have to take Yvonne there soon and we can discuss it.


Thursday, 21 November 2013 Dereel Images for 21 November 2013
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Australian diplomacy
Topic: general, opinion Link here

It's been over two months since I voiced my opinion that Australia's relations with Indonesia would deteriorate as a result of the change of government. How little I guessed! It seems that it's taken interested parties months to analyse all the information that Edward Snowden leaked, and that Australia, not to be outdone by the USA tapping Angela Merkel's mobile phone, has done the same with Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the president of Indonesia.

That's not overly surprising: as diplomats say all over the world, they spy on all sorts of things, and previously the spy agencies had pretty much free rein. Clearly that has changed since Snowden, and other countries have promised to review their policies as a result of the leaks. But not our Tony! A Real Man stands up for mistakes, even in this case when they were clearly made during the term of the previous Labor government. And an apology? Forget it, man. These things happen. What a man! And all this time he's turning back the boats. Or is he? They're not reporting any more.

Still, before the election he promised to bring the budget back into surplus, and to repeal this silly Carbon Tax and Mining Tax and all the sources of income the previous government had implemented. How does he do it? Ah, we wouldn't understand that, which is why he's not telling. But in the meantime he wants to put the country much further in debt. All a clever trick, I'm sure. How long will it take before he does something so stupid that there will be a new election?

Somehow I like this viewpoint:

Monkey business


Snowgum Road revisited
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Over to Snowgum Road again today with Yvonne to take another look at the block of land. It's still interesting, but we need to let it go through our heads.


DxO support for E-M1
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Rather to my surprise, DxO has already announced support for the Olympus OM-D E-M1. Which lenses? A number of Panasonic lenses as well as from Olympus—but only micro-FT lenses! In general the optical quality of the µFT lenses is less than that of the Four Thirds lenses—the only one that really qualifies as professional is the still-undeliverable M.Zuiko 12-40 mm. To make up for that, they've decided that the E-M1 is a professional camera (my E-30 isn't), so I'd have to pay double the price for dropping support for my existing lenses. That would be the last straw.

So off looking for alternatives. I still haven't done a rigorous comparison of the results from Olympus Viewer, so took some photos with the three lenses I use most of the time and processed them. Comparison? No, it's too early for that. Here's one example. In sequence, the image as processed by Viewer without distortion correction, by Viewer with distortion correction, by DxO with distortion correction, and by DxO without distortion correction. Note that the two middle images are the ones with distortion correction:


This should be PB216012-Oly-no-correction.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: PB216012 Oly no correction          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 7040 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 21 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 21 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 21 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be PB216012-Oly-corrected.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: PB216012 Oly corrected          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 6976 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 21 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 21 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 21 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be PB216012-DxO-default.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: PB216012 DxO default          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 4416 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 21 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 21 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 21 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be PB216012-DxO-no-correction.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: PB216012 DxO no correction          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 4256 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 21 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 21 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 21 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

Run the cursor over each image to see the next image. Things aren't made any easier by the fact that Olympus crops the original image differently from DxO. I'll have to do some further processing to really see the differences.

To put my point across, decided to post on a DxO forum. Signing up was interesting:

 
This should be dxo-non-pro.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: dxo non pro
Dimensions: 560 x 211, 22 kB
Dimensions of original: 560 x 211, 22 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 21 November 2013:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry


Friday, 22 November 2013 Dereel Images for 22 November 2013
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

More photo processing comparisons
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Yesterday's processing comparisons were interesting, but clearly it would make sense to have a more geometrical subject. I had found a test chart as PDF on the web some time back and printed it out as an A4 sheet, so that seemed worth trying.

The results were not good. It's amazingly difficult to position a camera exactly in front of so small a test chart, especially given the barrel distortion that the Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6 and Zuiko Digital ED 12-60mm F2.8-4.0 SWD produce close-up at short focal lengths (the 9mm lens was about 10 cm from the chart) On the other hand, that's a good test of the processing software.

They didn't do well. DxO Optics “Pro” was by no means perfect, but it did significantly better than Olympus Viewer. Here Viewer on the left, DxO Optics “Pro” on the right:

Run the cursor over each image to see the other image. Things aren't made any easier by the fact that Olympus crops the original image differently from DxO.


This should be PB226018.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: PB226018          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1152 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 22 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 22 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 22 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be PB226018_DxO.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: PB226018_DxO          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1024 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 22 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 22 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 22 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

That's just the distortion, of course. What about chromatic aberration? That will require even more work. But even this makes it clear that Viewer is not a substitute for DxO.


Pensions: still not out of the woods
Topic: general Link here

Call from Simone at Centrelink at 16:22 today. She didn't like the last balance sheet that I supplied for LEMIS, because it was too old. She wants a new one dated 30 June 2013 (end of financial year). And today's the last day, and she called 38 minutes before close of business. I could have faxed it to her, but who uses fax nowadays? And she wouldn't take email. Somehow these government agencies are still stuck in the last millennium. Presumably their concern is security, but the idea that a fax is secure comes from a bygone age where people didn't understand that technology. In any case, she gave me until Monday evening to supply the information, otherwise my application for a pension will be rejected. Now to find a fax machine.


Good pizza despite the oven
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Now I have my new infrared thermometer, it was time to try another pizza in the gas oven. My hypothesis was that the stone should be placed higher in the oven, where the oven itself is warmer, and the stone is not overheated by the flame at the bottom. But what's a good temperature? Went looking on the web and found surprisingly little. I found two pages, both of which confuse the issue by using the Fahrenheit temperature scale.

This page goes into great detail about the theoretical background, and suggests what I've already decided, that the pizza needs to be cooked higher in the oven. And it describes using an infrared thermometer to measure the stone temperature. It suggests that at the bottom of the oven, the stone will reach 360° (680°F) when the oven temperature is 290° (560°F), but it doesn't specify what temperature to aim for. It seems to be more a plan for an experiment than a report on the results. It's a blog, so it's reasonable to assume that he reported on the results elsewhere, but I didn't find them.

The other page is definitely a results page. It describes things in detail, actually showing photos of the infrared thermometer in action—something that not even I thought of doing: after all, it's just a reading. After 50 minutes, his stone was still only at 175°, and it took him 90 minutes to get it to 240°. Then he started baking, but only because his son wanted to eat. Once again no suggestion of what temperature he should be aiming for.

So: I heated the stones on the two upper shelves. It took about 30 minutes for the oven to heat to a little over 300° (I must really replace that horrible guesswork thermometer), by which time the upper stone was at 260° and the lower was at 240°. The temperature in the oven dropped to about 270° when I opened it and put the pizze in, but then went up to about 310° when I shut it—all this with the flame on full blast. After 10 minutes the upper pizza was through and nicely browned. On removing the pizze, the stone temperatures had dropped to about 170°. The lower pizza was through and almost not browned at all:


This should be Pizze.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Pizze          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1712 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 22 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 22 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 22 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

So: where do we go from here? Both bases were excellent, crispy but not burnt. So I'd say that 250° is a reasonable temperature for the stone, and if I'm doing 2 pizze, I should move the lower one to the top shelf for another couple of minutes.

One thing's abundantly clear: the design of the oven is Just Plain Wrong. That's only ALDI's fault to the extent that the copied a much more expensive, but equally badly designed oven.


Don't use “Internet Explorer”!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Participated in another silly survey today. About the most interesting part was at the beginning:

 
This should be noie.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: noie
Dimensions: 581 x 127, 10 kB
Dimensions of original: 581 x 127, 10 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Friday, 22 November 2013:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

How times change!


Saturday, 23 November 2013 Dereel Images for 23 November 2013
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Paving the way to hell
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

My programming languages course has now moved from Racket to Ruby, and the first assignment is due in soon. It's difficult to keep up with the sheer volume of lectures, but finally I started today:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/4) ~/Coursera/Programming-Languages/assignments 3 -> ruby hw6runner.rb original
/usr/local/lib/ruby/1.9/rubygems/custom_require.rb:36:in `require': cannot load such file -- tk (LoadError)
        from /usr/local/lib/ruby/1.9/rubygems/custom_require.rb:36:in `require'
        from /eureka/home/grog/Coursera/Programming-Languages/assignments/hw6graphics.rb:6:in `<top (required)>'
        from /eureka/home/grog/Coursera/Programming-Languages/assignments/hw6provided.rb:3:in `require_relative'
        from /eureka/home/grog/Coursera/Programming-Languages/assignments/hw6provided.rb:3:in `<top (required)>'
        from hw6runner.rb:3:in `require_relative'
        from hw6runner.rb:3:in `<main>'

What's that? A bit of playing with ktrace showed that it was looking for a file with a name like /usr/local/lib/ruby/site_ruby/1.9/tk.rb. And sure enough, it wasn't there.

More investigation showed the message, produced during the build, that would normally have scrolled off the screen:

Some of the standard commands are provided as separate ports for ease of upgrading:

devel/ruby-gems: gem - RubyGems package manager
devel/rubygem-rake: rake - Ruby Make

And some of the standard libraries are provided as separate ports
since they require extra dependencies:

converters/ruby-iconv: iconv module
databases/ruby-gdbm: GDBM module
x11-toolkits/ruby-tk: Tcl/Tk modules
japanese/ruby-tk: Tcl/Tk modules for Japanized Tcl/Tk
lang/ruby-mode.el: Emacs lisp modules

OK, try that:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/4) ~/Coursera/Programming-Languages/assignments 5 -> cd /usr/ports/x11-toolkits/ruby-tk
bash: cd: /usr/ports/x11-toolkits/ruby-tk: No such file or directory

Huh? It took a bit of searching and help from Jashank Jeremy to find the message:

x11-toolkits/ruby-tk||2013-10-15|Has expired: Does not work with Ruby 1.9

Well, it apparently works with Microsoft, Apple and Linux. Why not with FreeBSD? It looks like somebody decided to remove the port rather than fix it, and they didn't even update the pkg-message file. That way madness lies.

I'm finding the ports more and more frustrating, and if things continue like that, nobody will want to use FreeBSD any more. In this case, I did what would have been unthinkable only a couple of years ago: I installed on Microsoft, simply to get things done more quickly. But gradually Linux is looking more and more attractive.


Roasting chickens: how?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Roast chicken for dinner tonight. That's nothing special, apart from convincing Yvonne that yes, it really does need 50 to 55 minutes per kilogram. On this occasion a 2.3 kg chicken took 117 minutes, or about 51 minutes per kg. But where do you put the temperature probe? In the past I've put it in the breast, but today I managed to place it in an inappropriate place no less than 3 times, making a mess of the breast in the process. I need to find an easier and reliable way to do it.


Sunday, 24 November 2013 Dereel Images for 24 November 2013
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

More house investigations
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Out to Snowgum Road again today to take another look at the house and think more about what we could do with the place. The rooms in the shed aren't particularly big: as we discovered, the bedrooms are 2.8 m²×3.8 m² and 2.8 m²×4.8 m², and the total area of the shed (which also includes bathroom and kitchen corner) is 72 m², so that only leaves about 35 m² for the main room:


This should be lounge-room.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: lounge room          Dimensions:          9169 x 2721, 3280 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 24 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 24 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 24 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

On the other hand, there's a complete 72 m² shed next to it, which Craig seems to be extending to give it walls:


This should be West-shed.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: West shed          Dimensions:          9142 x 2682, 4080 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 24 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 24 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 24 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

That might make a perfect office for me. But there's a lot to think about.


Too many panoramas?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

At Snowgum Road I took at total of 40 photos, 5 groups of 8 for circular panoramas. And somehow, even to me, they look funny:


This should be North-verandah.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: North verandah          Dimensions:          9144 x 2694, 4368 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 24 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 24 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 24 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

Theoretically I could take sections of them and process them just as extreme wide-angle shots, but that's not so simple:


This should be North-verandah-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: North verandah 1          Dimensions:          3805 x 1906, 1488 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 24 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 24 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 24 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

Time to think more about how to take this kind of photo.


Chapati temperatures
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Pizze aren't the only thing that get cooked by heat from below; various other breads are cooked in a similar fashion. In the case of chapatis and tortillas, that's the only source of heat. So now that I have my infrared thermometer, I was interested to see what the optimal temperature is.

Heating up the comal takes a couple of minutes, and in the past I haven't really had an indication of when it was hot. After today I have a better idea, but the biggest insight is into how poor the temperature distribution is. The comal is about 5 mm thick cast iron (I think), and I heat it over a gas ring. The thermometer shows that directly above the ring, the temperature can be 290°, while in the middle or on the edge it can be as low as 190°. But somewhere in that range seems to be what I should be aiming for. A good thing that it's not critical.


Monday, 25 November 2013 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 25 November 2013
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

No NBN in Dereel
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Phone call from Chris Bahlo during breakfast. The people from the NBN were there to install her antenna!

Well, it's really David Yeardley's installation—Chris would never have chosen Telstra—and they can be connected because the NBN has determined that they're in the range of the Rokewood tower, while we are not. But more to the point, nobody was home except for Minh Chau, and since she's under age, they wouldn't accept a signature from her. So one of us had to go over, and out of curiosity I volunteered.

Unfortunately in vain: they had moved on, and would come back later, by which time David would be there. So I didn't get to see anything.

Later on IRC Chris told us the sad news: no coverage. Looking at the coverage map, it's borderline:


This should be NBN-coverage-2.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: NBN coverage 2          Dimensions:          963 x 506, 272 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 9 October 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 9 October 2013, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 9 October 2013

 

But if they only find out on installation day whether there's really coverage or not, it makes me worry about the coverage in Snowgum Road, which is also pretty much at the end of the coverage maps:


This should be NBN-coverage.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: NBN coverage          Dimensions:          961 x 568, 138 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 25 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 25 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Monday, 25 November 2013

 

Coincidentally another possible block of land has cropped up in Stones Road, though the neighbours aren't necessarily the kind we'd like to have. It's funny how these things come in groups.


Dealing with bureaucracy
Topic: general Link here

I've managed to “borrow” a fax machine from Chris Bahlo, on the condition that I never return it. Set it up and faxed the required documents to Centrelink—probably for security reasons, they refused to accept email, so I printed out the emails and faxed them.

How do I get a confirmation that they arrived OK? I only had a fax number, so I couldn't call up and ask. So I decided to take them to Centrelink in Ballarat and give them to them in paper form.

That didn't work quite according to plan. They refused to accept the documents! So I had to post them (admittedly in a free postage envelope they gave me). But it's amazing how out of date their procedures are.


Becks Bier: which one?
Topic: brewing, opinion Link here

A few days ago ALDI had German-brewed Becks beer on special. Last time they had some too, brewed in Germany and tasting quite different (and better, particularly the hops) from the beer normally on sale in Australia, so this time I bought a number of slabs. What a disappointment! It didn't even taste as good as the Oettinger that I normally drink, but it cost 50% more. So it went back.


New backup disks
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

To Officeworks to buy some new backup disks (or, as they put it, “hard drives”) for my photos. 4TB each, and to hedge my bets (and also tell them apart) I bought one Seagate, one Western Digital. How the old units fail with file systems of this size:

Filesystem    512-blocks Used         Avail Capacity  Mounted on
/dev/da2p1 7,812,344,416   16 7,734,220,960     0%    /photobackup

Normally my backups are just of the day's photos, and they take about 10 minutes, mainly with rsync checking the directory trees of the two disks. Now I need to copy 2 TB at about 10 MB/s (why so slow, incidentally?), so the backup will take several days. How times change!


Tuesday, 26 November 2013 Dereel → Melbourne → Dereel Images for 26 November 2013
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Off to Melbourne again
Topic: general, animals, food and drink Link here

It's only been a little over two weeks since we were last in Melbourne. Usually I go there once or twice a year, and Yvonne even less frequently, but today we had a couple of reasons: we didn't finish our market shopping last time, and Ron Frolley's bitch “Princess” had a litter of puppies last month, one of which Yvonne would like to have. So off again, on the way taking a look at the building site we had seen yesterday. On the way, saw a third site for sale! That's more in the last week as we've seen in the previous year!

On via Enfield to leave Zhivago with Bindy and the O'Deas to the Victoria Market, where we discovered we had come without sufficient cash. Still, no worry, to the ATM. But which one? Most wanted $2 or $2.50 for a transaction, and we didn't have much cash in our ANZ account. Finally found a Westpac ATM, which gave me the (adequate) account balance for my Bank of Melbourne account—but wouldn't let me have any money. It seems this was its way of saying “sorry, ATM empty”. Where's the next one? It didn't want to say. Finally got some money out of the ANZ account, which turned out to be enough: more and more market stalls are taking credit cards nowadays.

Then off to Casa Iberica for some masa. They lived up to their name: about the only people I heard who weren't speaking Spanish were speaking Portuguese instead. Got my Masa, while Yvonne got about 10 times as much.

Then off to Warrandyte to see Ron. He has built a new deck since we were there last year, and we spent some time erecting a somewhat baroque sunshade:


This should be Lunch.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Lunch          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 3696 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 26 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 26 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 26 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

They have also bought an ALDI pizza oven, but not yet used it, so spent some time talking about that. Time for a web page on the subject.

After lunch—particularly flavoursome quiche—time to look at the dogs. It's surprising how difficult it is to get good photos:


This should be Borzois-7.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Borzois 7          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 3952 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 26 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 26 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 26 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Borzois-9.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Borzois 9          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 4048 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 26 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 26 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 26 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Borzois-20.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Borzois 20          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 3264 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 26 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 26 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 26 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Borzois-22.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Borzois 22          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 3136 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 26 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 26 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 26 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Borzois-31.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Borzois 31          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 3600 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 26 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 26 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 26 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

And then back home again. Despite freeways most of the way, 70 minutes to get the 52 km to take us out of Melbourne via a really ridiculous route. High time for them to complete the East-West Link. 350 km and all day just for some shopping and looking at some dogs!


Disgust with “Coalition”
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Tony Abbott and his team have been in power for a little over two months now. They haven't been idle. Unfortunately, just about everything they've done appears very negative in my eyes: they've pissed off Indonesia even more thoroughly than I predicted, they've disbanded the Climate Commission, they didn't send a representative to the Warsaw Climate Change Conference, they condone illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine. It also seems that they've gone back on their promise to keep school reform.

In the past I could summarize my views on politicians and political parties as “some do some things better, others do other things better”. But what positive things has the current government done? He seems to represent everything that is wrong. In that context it's interesting how much criticism he's getting in the press, and indirectly in the opinion polls: Labor is ahead of the Coalition for the first time in years. Now how can we get rid of the idiot?


Wednesday, 27 November 2013 Dereel Images for 27 November 2013
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

No NBN, part 2
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Exciting junk mail in the letterbox today:


This should be Aussie-NBN.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Aussie NBN          Dimensions:          1364 x 434, 224 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 27 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 27 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 27 November 2013

 

Could it be true? Have they finally got the Radiation Tower up and running? Took a look at the rollout map. Nothing. But then what do they know? Called up NBN on 1800 687 626 and spoke to Christine, who told me the same old story: construction commenced in August, and it normally takes 12 months to complete. Why do they repeat that nonsense? She seemed put out when I told her that that was nonsense, but promised to forward it to her superiors. I wonder if she did. For the third time I was asked to take a short survey at the end and was asked if I wanted a call back. For the third time I gave my phone number and was told that I would get a call back within one business day. Maybe it will happen this time.

Then called Aussie Broadband on 1300 880 905 and spoke to Jackie, who told me that coverage was available nearby, and that it would obviously soon reach us. I think she was thinking in terms of fibre. In any case, she took my number and promised to call when the service was available.


Thursday, 28 November 2013 Dereel Images for 28 November 2013
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Finally! NBN!
Topic: general, opinion, technology Link here

Started writing up my diary for yesterday and brought up the NBN rollout map. And what do I see?


This should be NBN-finally.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: NBN finally          Dimensions:          961 x 470, 114 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 28 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 28 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 28 November 2013

 

So Aussie Broadband were only slightly wrong in their timing. And once again the NBN have demonstrated how completely useless their information is. Yesterday, just the day before it became available, they were pretending that the service wouldn't be available until August 2014. What a useless system! Hopefully the network itself will be better.

So: once again tried to sign up with Exetel. Called up 1300 393 835 and spoke to Shannon, who had all my details. Nevertheless she couldn't process my order until I gave her a mobile phone number. Why? So that the technician could call me on it to install the service. It took 5 minutes of agitated argument to convince her that there was no point calling a number in an area where there was no service, and that a landline would also work. That's the result of dealing with a company that primarily supplies mobile phones, I suppose. But finally I got it through, and if I can believe them, in 15 to 20 days I should be connected to the NBN. Not a minute too soon.

Shortly later the confirmation email arrived, with a badly typeset PDF confirming the details:

Contact Mobile(Optional): 0400000001

Optional? So why all the nonsense about not being able to process the order without it?

Later in the day got a call from Jackie at Aussie Broadband, telling me that the NBN service had been available since Tuesday—she appeared to have forgotten that we spoke only yesterday, and that NBN had told me then that the service was not available. Clearly Aussie's mailout was based on information from NBN, but the “information” line didn't know anything about it. And of course I didn't get my phone call back. There's a level of incompetence here that seems to pervade the NBN. I wonder if the undoubted technical issues are even the main reason for the slow rollout.

I feel almost bad about not signing up with Aussie. They're clearly doing their job recruiting people, and I got the feeling that there are real people in their sales department, and not a group of scriptreaders in the Philippines. Discussed it with Jackie and agreed that I could sign up for a month later on. If Exetel gives me further cause for grief, that might be an option.


More building sites
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Off to take a look at the other two building sites that have popped up on the web this week. The one in Harrisons Road doesn't have much to say for itself except for a direct view of the Radiation Tower: the closest electricity is 300 m away, and the soil doesn't look very fertile. And they want nearly $100,000 for it.

Took a look at the one on the corner of Grassy Gully Road and Stones Road. It looks much bigger than the 2 ha (“5 acres”) that they claim. A very nice plot of land, good soil, neither bracken nor reeds. But a single flower in the middle of the paddock:


This should be Flowers-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Flowers 1          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1661 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 28 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 28 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 28 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Flowers-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Flowers 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1408 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 28 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 28 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 28 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

The only thing that puzzled me was the electricity. Jarrod, phone 5333 7773, whom we met in April, told me that there was an electricity pit at the north-eastern corner of the property. But the power line ran across the property with a only a single pole in the middle north. That's not where we would want to build the house, so took a look at the next pole to the west, on the other side of the road, but probably cheaper to connect to where we want to build the house.

And then we saw the real estate sign: it was the property on the other side of the road! The pit was right next to the pole. Rather disappointed, took a look at it, but it also looks very good:


This should be Stones-Road.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Stones Road          Dimensions:          12018 x 1887, 6025 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 28 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 28 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 28 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

Certainly a good option. We'll have to do some homework, but at $65,000 less than the Snowgum Road property, it looks like the obvious choice. The main issue is probably the bushfire rating.


Bratwurst again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

In Melbourne the other day we bought 8 kg of meat to make Bratwurst: I had bought 12 m of hog casings a few weeks back, and I wanted to use them all up in one go. Compared to collagen casings (first photo) they're strange:


This should be Casings-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Casings 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1807 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 28 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 28 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 28 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Casings-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Casings 1          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1473 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 28 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 28 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 28 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Casings-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Casings 3          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1701 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 28 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 28 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 28 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

They're also much thinner than the collagen casings, allowing more to be pushed on the filler:


This should be Sausage-making-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Sausage making 1          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2163 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 28 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 28 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 28 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Sausage-making-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Sausage making 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1461 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 28 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 28 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 28 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

It took us a couple of hours, during which I discovered that the pork belly I had bought had far more bones in it than I had expected, so we were low on sausage mix, and were left with about 2 sausages' worth of casing left over. Decided to freeze that and see how it survives that next time—which will be in some time, after we've eaten a total of 68½ sausages.

And how do they compare with the collagen-cased sausages? They didn't split!


This should be Sausages.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Sausages          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2307 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 28 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 28 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 28 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

And they tasted much better. Why? One reason might be that, as I discovered later, I had forgotten the eggs. That certainly does no harm, and I'm left wondering whether the main purpose is just to make it easier to fill the sausages. But I didn't have any trouble today. Looking at the recipes on the web, they seem to be equally divided between recipes with and without egg.


More bad language
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

While signing up with Exetel today, Shannon asked me if I wanted a modem. Huh? Why do you need a modem when NBN supplies a layer 2 bridge? She couldn't tell me either, of course, but it seems that she meant a switch or maybe a router. So why call it a modem? It seems that the central home networking box, including ADSL modem, a switch, NAT, firewall, and probably 802.11 access point, has come to be referred to as a modem. Now the successor devices no longer have the ADSL modem component, but the name has become established, and though it's no longer a modem, that's what they call it. I'm reminded of the smile of the Cheshire Cat.

Looking at the information in the signup messages brought some confirmation:

As the NBN service presents as a 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet Interface, technically you can connect a single PC directly to this interface. However, Exetel does not recommend this approach as service performance and security may be impaired. Exetel’s recommended approach is to utilise a Router that has an Ethernet WAN Interface that can manage the Internet connectivity session as well as provide Firewall and Network Address Translation (NAT) capability. Exetel has such a Router for sale as follows - https://www.exetel.com.au/modemorder/index.php.

That's relatively reasonable, but look at that URL! And Aussie Broadband has similar statements:

NBN Compatible Router

To use broadband you'll need a NBN compatible modem, which is the device that connects you to the Internet. If you're coming from an existing provider your current modem may be compatible, or Aussie Broadband can supply a range of pre-configure and tested modems.

Clearly the author of this statement is terminally confused. Not only is it not a modem, it's not the device that connects you to the Internet, and there's no issue with compatibility as long as it handles Ethernet. And if it were a modem, no non-NBN modem would work.


Friday, 29 November 2013 Dereel Images for 29 November 2013
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Buying a new camera, part 3
Topic: photography Link here

As I've mentioned, Olympus Australia have a promotion of a free MMF-3 or a HLD-7. That's why I ordered a camera last week. But the offer runs out tomorrow. Somebody had suggested that Olympus would extend the offer because of the lack of availability of the lenses, but that's worth checking. Called up Olympus on 1300 659 678 and discovered no, the offer will end tomorrow. Called up Digital Camera Warehouse, who told me that my order alone would be enough, and that I'm next in the queue for the lenses. That's what they say. It looks as if I'll get the lens in the next few weeks anyway, so it seemed better to buy it now and avoid any problems getting Olympus to honour the offer.

After that, of course, I had to apply for the promotion:


This should be Olympus-crash.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Olympus crash          Dimensions:          1441 x 895, 142 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 29 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 29 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 29 November 2013

 

All Microsoft debug information that no user should ever see. It was repeatable under Chrome, but I was able to access the site under firefox. It wanted silly things like my date of birth, which it wanted in an unspecified format and would accept no other. Finally I entered 01/01/1901 and it was happy. Why do people do these things? Why should it want to know my date of birth in the first place?


DCW credit card security
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

One of the more interesting issues completing my purchase with Digital Camera Warehouse was that they didn't simply accept my credit card on the phone: they did a sample booking between $1 and $2 and asked me to check the sum and report it back to them. Given the horrendous lack of security in the online market, that seemed not to be a bad idea. Only problem was, of course, that ANZ didn't play along: the updates to the online banking site can take hours or even a day. So I had to call them up and get the information on the phone, with only my “secret word” as identification. Still, kudos to DCW.


More land stuff
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

The biggest concern we have about the block of land in Stones Road is the Bushfire Attack Level. The land itself is fairly clear of trees, and it's flat, but there are significant trees both to the north and to the west, the most dangerous directions. We won't know until they assess it after applying for a planning permit, but it would be good to get an idea before we buy it. So off to take another look.

In itself, that was inconclusive. The trees to the west are a long way from where we'd want to build the house, probably 250 m, and the trees to the north are interrupted by another house. But while we were looking, a bloke from the property on the south came out and introduced himself: Gary, the seller, and apparently quite a nice person. He told us that he thought that his dam was spring-fed, and that it had never dried out, even when keeping four horses in the summer. Better still, we could use the back part of his land as well, about another hectare, and including the dam: he doesn't use it, and the alternative would be to put up fences, so this way would prove cheaper. Things are looking better all the time.


NBN wants residents
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Looking Yet Again at the NBN rollout map for some reason, and it asked me if I wanted to take a survey after visiting the site (which involved explicitly closing the window when I was done). It confirmed my negative impression of the NBN bureaucracy, producing the smallest window I have ever seen:

 
This should be NBN-survey.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: NBN survey
Dimensions: 110 x 126, 6 kB
Dimensions of original: 110 x 126, 6 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Friday, 29 November 2013:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Without the frame it must be about 100×100 pixels. Once I had enlarged it, it wanted to know what kind of visitor I was, a button list of course. What kind didn't it mention? Users. So I entered that:

 
This should be NBN-survey-2-detail.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: NBN survey 2 detail
Dimensions: 504 x 519, 46 kB
Dimensions of original: 504 x 519, 46 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Friday, 29 November 2013:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Wrong answer. They only wanted to hear from “Residents”, whatever they may be:


This should be NBN-survey-3.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: NBN survey 3          Dimensions:          1015 x 303, 32 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 29 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 29 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Friday, 29 November 2013

 

Doesn't that illustrate their viewpoint admirably?


Saturday, 30 November 2013 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 30 November 2013
Top of page
previous day

More building investigations
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Continued looking at building a new house today. We had left it some time at the end of March with an offer from McMasters. Will they still honour it? Hard to say, since I could no longer find the offer. But it seemed reasonable to go and see what houses are on display now, so off to Alfredton, where we discovered that the building phase there is pretty much over. Only found three display homes still open, obviously the same ones we saw in March, and the people at McMasters were very busy with somebody else, so moved on to Lucas, which I had visited in April, but which Yvonne had not yet seen.

I'm still rather taken by the display home that Simonds have there, but at the time I had had trouble getting them to do the additions I wanted. That was David Major, who had in general not shown himself to be very flexible. Today I spoke with Paul Martin, who was considerably more cooperative. So now we just need to find the offer from McMasters, see if we're still happy with it, and see if Simonds can offer something competitive.

Back home via Sebastopol, where we had expected to see more display homes, but there's nothing there yet. We were left wondering why we went there in the first place.

On the way home, past a house we had seen in Enfield, not far from where we had nearly bought the land. The house has a garden with some interesting ideas, so took some photos.


This should be Enfield-garden-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Enfield garden 1          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2688 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 30 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 30 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 30 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Enfield-garden-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Enfield garden 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 3008 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 30 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 30 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 30 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Enfield-garden-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Enfield garden 3          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2384 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 30 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 30 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 30 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Enfield-garden-4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Enfield garden 4          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2912 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 30 November 2013, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 30 November 2013, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 30 November 2013 Complete exposure details

 

It has changed in the last 6 months. A pity I didn't take any photos at the time.


NBN coming nearer
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Mail message from Exetel today:

We have been notified by NBN that an appointment has been made for a technician to visit your premises to complete the installation of the Fiber Broadband.

Appointment date:

Thursday, 12 December 2013, 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM

“Fiber” broadband! Not even “fibre”. Still, I suppose fixed wireless is the invisible fibre. But after 2½ years of waiting, we finally have a date. The relief was overwhelming. Hopefully everything will go smoothly.


Bushfire attack levels
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Round here, the term BAL has only one meaning: “Bushfire Attack Level”. But it wasn't even in Wikipedia. More importantly, though, how do you calculate it? It relates to the radiant heat that a dwelling can be expected to withstand, rated in kW/m². The people who devised the scale appear to be related to the people who designed the thermometer in my pizza oven: the only ratings are 0, 12.5, 19, 29, 40 and “flame zone”. By comparison, bright sunlight would be about 1.3 kW/m².

Dereel is in a bushfire overlay area, which means that the minimum rating is 12.5, which attracts additional construction costs of about $3,500. But the property in Stones Road could be rated as high as 29, which would cost a further $10,000, a significant part of the asking price.

Went looking for online calculators and found a few, all with a particularly emetic interface. This one required a new page for every parameter and gave me a rating of 0, until I realized that the questions were misleading. After various attempts I ended up with ratings between 12.5 (in the south of the property) or 19 (further north). This one comes without instructions, or even the explanation of what the first parameter (FDI) means. Wikipedia doesn't know that one, either. But it, too, seems to think it's only 12.5. Then there's this one, so user-friendly that you can't run it yourself. But it says it's based on the algorithm in AS3959, a standard that costs money just to look at. It would be interesting to find out about the algorithm, though.


Top of page Previous month Greg's home page Today's diary entry Next month Greg's photos Copyright information

Valid XHTML 1.0!

$Id: diary-nov2013.php,v 1.41 2015/11/23 07:00:01 grog Exp $