Greg
animals language
brewing multimedia
food and drink music
fiction health
opinion gardening
photography general
technology history
Stones Road house politics
Greg's diary
October 2008
Translate this page
Select day in October 2008:
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 31
Select month:
2008 May Jun Jul Aug
2008 Sep Oct Nov Dec
2009 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

Wednesday, 1 October 2008 Dereel Images for 1 October 2008
Top of page
next day
last day

On with the verandah in the morning. All this takes longer than we expected, but with a bit of work we managed to get the joists all laid out correctly and remarkably level. In fact, it looks like one of our problems will be that it has to join on to the old mini-verandah, which isn't as level. The following photo shows how the decking rises to the left:


This should be verandah-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: verandah 2          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 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 Tuesday, 30 September 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 30 September 2008, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 30 September 2008 Complete exposure details

 

Di Saunders is leaving tomorrow, and Yvonne wanted to give her a CD with some photos on it, to give to somebody who has (apparently) a computer but no web access, presumably running Microsoft. That proved more difficult than I thought: apart from the fact that some of the data is in AVI format, which Microsoft refuses to recognize (“In order to display this photo, Windows needs to know what program created it”). I wonder what the name of the program in the camera is. But after performing a search, “Windows” recognized the format (or maybe just the file name) and came to the conclusion that we had to buy software to display it.

Burning the CD was also a major issue: I made the mistake of giving the DVD burner in teevee, the one I had always used, to Chris Richards last weekend, and it seems that there are problems with the one in swamp, my test machine (which is, in fact, a more recent model). Made three coasters before trying to do it with the burner on boskoop, my Apple, instead.

How can people live with this stuff? Took a while to find that I needed an “application” called Disk Utility.app. I still can't work out whether it's prepared to make an ISO image, but trying to get it to burn the one I had was an impossibility: of course there's no way to type in the name, and it wouldn't let me select the file name of the ISO. Read the instructions, which told me to drag the icon from one window to another (“computers for the illiterate”). That didn't work either.

On a hunch, I did:

=== grog@boskoop (/dev/ttyp5) ~ 1037 -> ln iso iso.iso
      

Then I was able to select iso.iso, but not iso, even though it was the same file.

There was no way to specify burning speed, and burning took forever, with a ridiculous progress bar:

 
This should be Apple-progress.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: Apple progress
Dimensions: 384 x 134, 12 kB
Dimensions of original: 384 x 134, 12 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 1 October 2008:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

After an hour, I went back to swamp and burnt a DVD with it, which worked once I had got round to installing the right software and used the right DVDs—some old, dubious ones just didn't work at all. Back to the Apple and decided that it had given up on the drive, but it wouldn't let go: I couldn't stop the “Application”. That's not peculiar to Apple: what is it about DVD drivers that makes them stay unstoppable for so long? Turned off the (USB-attached) drive, which helped, but somehow managed to hang up the USB bus, to which also the keyboard and mouse were connected, and had to reboot. Gave up in disgust after that.

Apple has released more software updates, of course, a Java update. This time I was able to download about 800 kB before I got this message:

 
This should be notwork-error.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: notwork error
Dimensions: 428 x 178, 22 kB
Dimensions of original: 428 x 178, 22 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 1 October 2008:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Went out looking for it on the broken Apple web site, which tells me that the most recent updates were released on “09/15/2008”. It was the right page, alright: the previous Java update was mentioned there:


This should be Apple-4.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: Apple 4          Dimensions:          1152 x 864, 304 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, 1 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 1 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 1 October 2008

 

As the message at the top indicates (“2 matches”), this is the only Java update mentioned on that page. Tried to fake a URL for the one I was looking for, but it wasn't the same scheme. Finally went to Google, who found it immediately. Why is Apple's web site so broken? And, of course, it loaded at normal speed:

 
This should be Apple-download.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: Apple download
Dimensions: 420 x 132, 18 kB
Dimensions of original: 420 x 132, 18 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 1 October 2008:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

I'm beginning to think that Apple broke something in the software download system in a recent update.


Thursday, 2 October 2008 Dereel Images for 2 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Finally we've got to the point of putting the decking on the verandah. And once again, it wasn't the fastest thing in the world: the decking was almost all twisted or bowed, and some of it had knot holes. In addition, keeping things parallel was more of an issue than I had expected. After laying four widths (of 7 cm each), discovered that the last one was 2 cm out of parallel with the front of the verandah. Interestingly, that required a compensation of only 0.4 mm per board to get back into alignment by the other side of the verandah, so used a rather incongruous tool for the adjustment: a feeler gauge, in steps of 0.1 mm across the width of the verandah:


This should be verandah-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: verandah 3          Dimensions:          2800 x 3720, 768 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, 3 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 3 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Friday, 3 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

The weather was also quite warm, up to 26°, something I was no longer used to after the winter, and it wasn't very pleasant in the sun. Gave up after 3 hours, by which time we had done all of 8 boards out of 56. At this rate we'll take weeks to get it finished.

More work in the garden in the afternoon, and planted the Japanese maple close to the birches. We're still puzzling about the Japanese cherry—there are dozens of different types, and we don't know which one this is. We don't even know whether it flowers white or pink, though I suspect the latter.


Friday, 3 October 2008 Dereel Images for 3 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

On with the verandah today, in the process discovering that we're still making too many assumptions about the properties of the boards. In particular, keeping a constant gap from uneven boards is a good way to make each successive board bow more than the predecessor. In the end decided we'd have to measure from different places, and do a lot more by eye than by straight measurement.

On the way to that discovery, found that we needed a spacer thinner than the 5 mm sheet of metal we needed, say 4.5 mm. Where do you find something of that size? It took a while to dawn: a drill bit. They typically come in sets, and the one CJ bought the other day goes in 0.5 mm steps from 1.5 to 8 mm:


This should be verandah-2.detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: verandah 2.detail          Dimensions:          1461 x 1159, 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 Friday, 3 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 3 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Friday, 3 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

Finally managed to partially straighten things up, more by eye than by careful measurement:


This should be verandah-5.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: verandah 5          Dimensions:          2800 x 3720, 1392 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, 3 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 3 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Friday, 3 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

CJ's off on travel next week, and he left today, so we only laid another 8 boards; hopefully Yvonne and I will find time to do the rest before CJ comes back.

Had meant to do more in the garden in the afternoon, but it's raining again, and the brief appearance of spring is over. Spent the afternoon on eBay. It's amazing how long it takes to buy things.


Saturday, 4 October 2008 Dereel Images for 4 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

House photo day again today, which took up a lot of my time. Also read an article in c't about another “free” Microsoft-based photo processing program, PhotoPlus (or is that PHOTOPLUS? They use both forms), and spent far too much time installing that. It started with the registration: I had to enter details in their web site to get a registration key, but the mail never arrived. Initially it was greylisted, and after an hour or so somebody told me the key, which is generic and simplistic. Got the thing installed, started it and couldn't stop it again: you need to do something with it (not the tutorials) before the buttons are activated, and until then it takes over the whole Microsoft screen and won't go away.

Moved it to FreeBSD only to discover that wine didn't support it correctly:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/ttypk) /usr/local/wine/Serif 12 -> wine 10.0/Program/PhotoPls.exe
fixme:ntdll:server_ioctl_file Unsupported ioctl 24000 (device=2 access=1 func=0 method=0)
fixme:dbghelp:dump_system_info fill in CPU vendorID and feature set
wineserver: file_set_error() can't map error: Bad address

That last line repeated continually until I stopped the program. Clearly an implementation issue.

In the afternoon, racked my last brew of beer, which despite my concerns does seem to have completed fermentation, and did some work around the terrace. Cleaned away tons of swallow droppings, but didn't actually put on any new boards. I've decided that the swallows have to go. The current presumed batch of eggs can hatch and leave the nest, and then we'll remove the nest and any replacements.

Meanwhile, Yvonne did some burning off:


This should be fire-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: fire 1          Dimensions:          2800 x 3720, 1168 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, 4 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 4 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 4 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be fire-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: fire 2          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 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, 4 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 4 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 4 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be fire-5.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: fire 5          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 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 Saturday, 4 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 4 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 4 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

Those are only some of the fires we need to light.


Sunday, 5 October 2008 Dereel Images for 5 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Summer's here! Well, at least daylight savings time, the first time that it's changed over at the beginning of October. The weather forecast was wrong again today. It had promised cool, unpleasant weather, but in fact it was mild and very pleasant, and we spent most of the day in the garden. Managed to finally plant the Lilly-pillies (apparently Syzygium luehmannii, or maybe Syzygium smithii, or maybe something else again) that Yana gave us at least 2 years ago. They're looking quite happy, but the roots weren't, and in one case I only managed to salvage about a third of the root ball—they just came apart. I wonder whether they'll survive.

Also did some more burning off and planted a Acacia myrtifolia and a Pultanaea daphnoides in the east of the garden, and did some more pruning.

How do you prune a Salvia microphylla? The RHS treats them as shrubs that need almost no pruning. My reality is different: new, more vigorous growth comes up from the ground, while the flowers are on the old growth:


This should be salvia.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: salvia          Dimensions:          2800 x 3720, 2080 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, 5 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 5 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 5 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

From a point of view of appearance, I should just chop off all the old canes and leave the rest behind. But will they flower this year? I took the pragmatic approach and left the flowering canes. When the new ones flower, I'll remove the old ones.

Tried to do some more work on the terrace, and got three nails in one plank before I realized I still don't have the right method for ensuring that the boards are parallel. More thought required.

Still no confirmation mail for PhotoPlus, which for some reason should have come from avanquest.de. Did some investigation and found:

Oct  4 11:12:28 ozlabs postfix/qmgr[7756]: 86C7DDDD0B: from=<kontakt@avanquest.de>, size=4954, nrcpt=1 (queue active)
Oct  4 11:12:28 ozlabs postfix/local[11706]: 86C7DDDD0B: to=<graag@ozlabs.org>, orig_to=<noname@lemis.com>, relay=local, delay=382, delays=382/0.02/0/0.02, dsn=2.0.0, status=sent (delivered to command:  exec /usr/bin/procmail -t 2>>/home/grog/Mail/procmailerr || exit 75)

Where did it go? I have no idea. procmail showed that it was processed, and apparently triggered content for postmaster@auug.org.au, but then it didn't seem to go anywhere, certainly not to the postmaster file. I wonder if there's a bug in my handling:

From kontakt@avanquest.de  Sat Oct  4 11:12:28 2008
 Subject: Ihre Serif PhotoPlus 10  Kennwort: E-Mail-Best<E4>tigung
  Folder: formail -D 65536 msgid.cache                                     5004
procmail: [16564] Sat Oct  4 11:30:33 2008
procmail: No match on "^To:.*uk-homebrew@smartgroups.com"
procmail: No match on "^Subject: Postmaster Copy: Undelivered Mail"
procmail: Match on "^To:.*postmaster@auug"
procmail: Locking "/home/grog/Mail/Caughtspam/postmaster.lock"
procmail: Assigning "LASTFOLDER=/home/grog/Mail/Caughtspam/postmaster"
procmail: Opening "/home/grog/Mail/Caughtspam/postmaster"
procmail: Acquiring kernel-lock
procmail: Unlocking "/home/grog/Mail/Caughtspam/postmaster.lock"
procmail: Notified comsat: "grog@219001532:/home/grog/Mail/Caughtspam/postmaster"

That wasn't the only strangeness. I got a flurry of link failure messages from my web server, most referring to http://www.lemis.com/grog/diary-jan2008.php, and all on behalf of one client:

Referrer:       http://www.lemis.com/grog/diary-jan2008.php
Referenced URL: /grog/93803cecb0f8113c.gif
Remote host:    210.66.210.213.vpn.tomsknet.ru
Remote IP:      213.210.66.210
Local referrer: /home/grog/lemis.com/grog/diary-jan2008.php

Server data:    a:34:{
"REDIRECT_REQUEST_METHOD";
"GET";
"REDIRECT_STATUS";
"404";
"HTTP_USER_AGENT";
"Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; ru; rv:1.9.0.1) Gecko/2008070208 Firefox/3.0.1";
"REDIRECT_URL";
"/grog/93803cecb0f8113c.gif";
"REQUEST_URI";
"/grog/93803cecb0f8113c.gif";

The problem is, there's no such link in the page, and there never has been. What's there is a link to an external site:

      <p>
      <a href="http://www.nerdtests.com/nq_ref.html"><img
      src="http://www.nerdtests.com/images/badge/93803cecb0f8113c.gif"
      alt="I am nerdier than 100% of all people.  Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!" /></a>
      </p>

So how did this happen, and—apparently—for every link on the page? My best bet is that this is some kind of crawler masquerading as Firefox, and that it was broken, assuming that all links were on the same page.

Last Friday I lost an eBay auction under rather strange circumstances: the seller had two identical items on offer, at a starting price of $18.99 and a “Buy it now” price of $19.99. I decided to bid up to $19.50 on the first item, and take the second one if I was outbid. I was outbid—7 seconds before the auction ended, and for $20.00, and the other item disappeared. It's possible, of course, that two people really did buy the items, but it looked strange to me.

What was even stranger is that the same vendor offered the same item today for a “Buy it now” price of $18.99, less than the price I was prepared to pay on Friday. So I bought it. Then I discovered that the auction I had won had started on 8 September. So where was it yesterday? And why did anybody bother to outbid me if it was there already? Strange indeed.

Chris and Fifi Yeardley over for dinner. David's currently in Mariupol in Ukraine, and we're trying to work out where he goes next.

Watching TV, saw an ad from ABC for http://abc.net.au/earth:


This should be abc-invitation.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: abc invitation          Dimensions:          1280 x 720, 88 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, 5 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 5 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 5 October 2008

 

The trouble is that they've used this shortened domain name, which, as we have seen, is broken. The result, presumably over any satellite connection:

 
This should be abc-reality.detail.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: abc reality.detail
Dimensions: 432 x 145, 10 kB
Dimensions of original: 432 x 145, 10 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Sunday, 5 October 2008:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

When are they going to get their act together? As I said in August, “I wonder if it will get forwarded to the correct people”.


Monday, 6 October 2008 Dereel Images for 6 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Winter seems to have returned. The cool weather forecast for yesterday showed up today. Spent most of the time indoors, conveniently taken up with further research into the new system I'm planning to build. The first thing was to find the notes I had written; they were in an Emacs buffer, which is where I would usually find them, but X had crashed again in the interim, so I had to go looking for it in the file system. I was pretty sure that the file name was new-hardware, but locate came up with nothing. After some searching, discovered that I was right: I had written it to /var/tmp/new-hardware, but it seems that that directory is not included in the locate database. The things you learn in passing.

In the end it turns out that there's not too much to worry about except the display cards. Can I use nVidia cards in an AMD motherboard? I've seen things that suggest that there are problems, though on the face of it it seems unlikely. But what about connecting D Sub (VGA) monitors to the cards, which nowadays usually have DVI connectors? I've narrowed my search down to three cards, the Inno3D 9500 GT, a number of apparently identical Gigabyte boards, and Galaxy GeFoce 9500GT, all using the nVidia 9400 GT or 9500 GT cards. No documentation tells me if any of them definitely do or do not come with a DVI to VGA adaptor, not even the manual, which also doesn't mention any difference between the three cards with this chip set.

More interest in the ABC problems today. We've already established that the redirector at http://abc.net.au/ doesn't adhere to HTTP, which is at least part of the problem. But monitoring the transfer shows something else: if I use telnet to talk to the redirector, I get the correct answer (though at the wrong time):

=== grog@dereel (/dev/ttyp3) ~ 49 -> telnet abc.net.au 80
Trying 202.6.74.117...
Connected to abc.net.au.
Escape character is '^]'.
GET http://abc.net.au/foo/blah HTTP/1.0
HTTP/1.0 301 Found
Location: http://www.abc.net.auhttp://abc.net.au/foo/blah

Connection closed by foreign host.
      

That's too early; it shouldn't have responded yet. But the text is correct. If I use the web browser, however, the initial H doesn't come at all. So Peter Jeremy is probably correct in assuming that BST is at least partially to blame.

John Marshall followed further:

<john> rwsrv04> curl -IL http://abc.net.au/earth                        [17:34]
<john> HTTP/1.0 301 Found
<john> Location: http://www.abc.net.au/earth
<john> Then...
<john> HTTP/1.1 302 Moved Temporarily
<john> Server: Apache
<john> Location: http://www.abc.net.au/apps/earth
<john> Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
<john> Cache-Control: max-age=300
<john> Expires: Mon, 06 Oct 2008 06:34:27 GMT
<john> Date: Mon, 06 Oct 2008 06:29:27 GMT
<john> Connection: keep-alive
<john> Set-Cookie: ABCGuestID=72.246.53.12.261451223274567414; expires=Mon,
       06-Oct-2008 06:59:27 GMT; path=/; domain=abc.net.au
<john> Then..
<john> HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
<john> Server: Apache
<john> Location: http://www.abc.net.au/apps/earth/
<john> Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
<john> Cache-Control: max-age=300
<john> Expires: Mon, 06 Oct 2008 06:34:28 GMT
<john> Date: Mon, 06 Oct 2008 06:29:28 GMT
<john> Connection: keep-alive
<john> Set-Cookie: ABCGuestID=72.246.53.12.2614512232745687; expires=Mon,
       06-Oct-2008 06:59:28 GMT; path=/; domain=abc.net.au
<john> Then..
<john> HTTP/1.1 200 OK
<john> Server: Apache
<john> Content-Type: text/html
<john> Cache-Control: max-age=420
<john> Expires: Mon, 06 Oct 2008 06:36:28 GMT                           [17:35]
<john> Date: Mon, 06 Oct 2008 06:29:28 GMT
<john> Connection: keep-alive
<john> Set-Cookie: ABCGuestID=72.246.53.12.260521223274568563; expires=Mon,
       06-Oct-2008 06:59:28 GMT; path=/; domain=abc.net.au
<peter> It looks like the active command is (effectively) s=GET (.*)
        HTTP.*=Location: http://www.abc.net.au\1=
<john> Yep.  Apart from the initial whatever-it-is redirector, it looks like
       BAD apache re-write rules                                        [17:37]
<john> You don't usually expect 4 responses to the one request          [17:38]

Joined the ABC message board and left a comment there for moderation. I don't suppose I have to expect an immediate response:

 
This should be abc-messages.detail.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: abc messages.detail
Dimensions: 733 x 391, 38 kB
Dimensions of original: 733 x 391, 38 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 6 October 2008:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

The moderators have left nothing through in over two months! “Some delay” indeed! When will the web come of age?

While looking for my hardware notes, I found something interesting:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/ttyp3) ~ 59 -> l ~/*.exe
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis      474 Sep 25 16:31 /home/grog/r0xogdcp.exe
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis      474 Sep 25 16:39 /home/grog/wejemyky.exe
=== grog@dereel (/dev/ttyp3) ~ 51 -> file wejemyky.exe r0xogdcp.exe
wejemyky.exe: PDP-11 UNIX/RT ldp
r0xogdcp.exe: PDP-11 UNIX/RT ldp
      

That looks surprisingly like a Microsoft virus. On further examination, discovered that it was the stuff left behind by the broken redirects from http://link.bhphotovideo.com/:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/ttyp3) ~ 52 -> hexdump -C wejemyky.exe
00000000  01 01 08 0a 7d 3a 23 7e  00 00 00 00 48 54 54 50  |....}:#~....HTTP|
00000010  2f 31 2e 31 20 32 30 30  20 4f 4b 0d 0a 44 61 74  |/1.1 200 OK..Dat|
00000020  65 3a 20 54 68 75 2c 20  32 35 20 53 65 70 20 32  |e: Thu, 25 Sep 2|
00000030  30 30 38 20 30 36 3a 33  39 3a 32 36 20 47 4d 54  |008 06:39:26 GMT|
00000040  0d 0a 53 65 72 76 65 72  3a 20 41 70 61 63 68 65  |..Server: Apache|
      

I wonder if they had been exploited.

To the Yeardleys' for dinner in the evening.


Tuesday, 7 October 2008 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Another power failure this morning, for a change at 8:00 rather than in the middle of the night.

Mail from James “quozl” Cameron:

Enjoyed reading your Next-G experiences, and can confirm that most others suffer a similar fate when engaging support.

James is the bloke who has shown that it is possible to write a functional driver for the modem I had, even without the information that should be available to the Telstra people.

I'm still not done with the research for my new system. My questions to Megaware have still not been answered, possibly because yesterday was a public holiday in New South Wales. In the meantime read up on DVI, discovering that things are even less clear-cut than I thought:

Of course, almost none of the documentation I could find would tell me whether the boards had DVI-D or DVI-I interfaces; I'm pretty sure that DVI-A is as good as non-existent, since it's really only a way to connect VGA signals to a DVI plug, and in any case, all the cards I'm looking at are dual link, which eliminates DVI-A, but which of the other two do the cards have? On Peter Jeremy's indirect recommendation, checked the IJK web site, which offers similar hardware at marginally higher prices. But I got a quick response answering 2 of the 3 questions I had: the cards have DVI-I, and the shipping is so much cheaper that the overall price is better. Looks like I'll go with them, assuming they can get the processor (Quad AMD Phenom 9550).

Much later I came back here looking for information on what I had ordered and when. I drew a blank. After some investigation, discovered a mail message from IJK in multipart/alternative format, and in the HTML version only there was a link to the order status, which was still there. So now I know what I bought:

Products
1 x       WideTech WT-655 Power Supply:550w,12cm fan,SATA connector       $36.00
2 x       Kingston KVR800D2N6/1G 1GB N6DDRII 800MHz DESKTOP RAM       $50.00
2 x       Galaxy GXY-9500GT-E2 ( DDR2 ) GeForce 9500GT PCI-E 512MB DDR2 128-bit, NVIDIA SLI-Ready, dual-link DVI, 2560x1600 Resolution       $158.00
1 x       Gigabyte GA-MA790X-DS4 AM2+, AMD790X, FSB4000, DDR2, 2xPCIE2.0, SATA2, GbLAN, 1394a, ATX       $140.00
1 x       AMD HD9550WCGHBOX 9550Phenom 9550 AM2+ Quad-Core Processor 2.2Ghz 4MB Cache 95W       $195.00
1 x       Samsung HD103UJ SATA 1TB 7200rpm 32M Cache 3.0Gbps,       $158.00
1 x       Samsung HD501LJ SATA 500GB SATA2 300Mbps 7200RPM 16MB Cache       $79.00
2 x       IJK TR-29 DVI-I_m->VGA Adapter: DVI-I24+5 Pin Dual Link (M) to VGA (F) (for DVI output to VGA display)       $16.00
1 x       Freight ffregp Registered Post | Freight Insurance included^ (it added $0)       $25.00

More work on the verandah. The more I look at it, the more complicated things seem to get. Certainly the feeler gauge approach was seriously flawed because it assumes the planks are of even thickness. Now I think I'll use drill bits as spacers in 5 different places, and not deviate by more than 1 mm along the length of the plank.

Over with Chris and Fifi to visit Loes Pearson later in the afternoon. Fifi still hasn't got her visa, and we need to provide lots more paperwork.


Wednesday, 8 October 2008 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Finally I've decided on my new system! IJK have confirmed that they can ship everything—the last thing to come is the processor, a quad core AMD Phenom, due in stock tomorrow. Time to start the migration process, which will start with a new teevee with the “1 TB” drive. Spent some time working on my “new system” web page, which is such terrible shape that I won't link to it now. Also downloaded an ISO from Wideband's mirror server—amazing that you can get free downloads on a satellite connection—and noted that the performance degradation I've observed in the past didn't occur on this transfer. I'm getting a good proportion of my 1 Mb/s bandwidth:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/ttyp0) /src/ISOs 9 -> ftp -v http://mrwl.mirror.wide.net.au/pub/freebsd/7.0/7.0-RELEASE-i386-disc1.iso
Requesting http://mrwl.mirror.wide.net.au/pub/freebsd/7.0/7.0-RELEASE-i386-disc1.iso
100% |*****************************************************************************|   509 MB  115.79 KB/s    00:00 ETA
534177792 bytes retrieved in  1:15:04 (115.79 KB/s)

Installation is still a pain. This time the install of Emacs failed because of conflicting ports installed by the old version of X.org, so removed all ports and started again. And, as always, it took forever.

Tony Nesci along to take another look at the air conditioner problems. He found a minute leak which accounted for about 1.05 kg of R412A refrigerant, and fixed that, convinced that that was the problem. I felt quite sorry for him when it proved not to be the case. After further discussion with Fujitsu, they've decided to replace the whole unit. Isn't that an expensive alternative to providing useful diagnostic tools? The problem is that the unit cuts out when it should continue heating; all you need is some kind of logging that explains why it cut out.

More work on the verandah. Try as I might, I seem to have difficulty getting the warps out of the boards. At least things look tidier now.


Thursday, 9 October 2008 Dereel Images for 9 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Into town today for a multitude of tiny things: picked up the studio equipment that I had bought on eBay last week, and which arrived very quickly, bought some new thongs, and off looking for cloth for studio backdrops and some curtain rails. Also to Bunnings looking for various garden stuff, almost none of which I found. I did buy a soil moisture measurement device, which promises to be of use.

Back home and unpacked my toys. To my surprise, my soil was too dry. In fact, everything was—even water:


This should be moisture-meter.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: moisture meter          Dimensions:          1668 x 3316, 544 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, 10 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 10 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Friday, 10 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be moisture-meter-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: moisture meter detail          Dimensions:          1092 x 832, 112 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, 10 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 10 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Friday, 10 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

With a bit of salt in the water, it showed higher readings, up to or beyond 10. Clearly another toy, measuring voltage and pretending to be able to guess moisture from that value. I'd take it back, except that Bunnings are such a pain that it's not worth the trouble. I'll just not go there again instead.

The studio lighting was another matter. On the one hand I found a damaged umbrella:


This should be umbrella.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: umbrella          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 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 Thursday, 9 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 9 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 9 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be rivet.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: rivet          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 1392 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, 9 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 9 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 9 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

The first photo shows the spoke hanging down to the left. Potentially I could fix it, but the second image, of the rivet, shows that it's a manufacturing defect, and I should have a right to good merchandise. Sent a message to them asking for what to do.

On the other side, the equipment is quite good. The stands are solid, in fact more solid than my tripod. It proves what I thought at the beginning: the description on eBay is really bad, and in fact the equipment has additional features that weren't immediately apparent.


This should be lamps.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: lamps          Dimensions:          2800 x 3720, 800 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, 10 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 10 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Friday, 10 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be lamp-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: lamp 1          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 1168 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, 10 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 10 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Friday, 10 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be lamp-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: lamp 2          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 848 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, 10 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 10 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Friday, 10 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

The second two photos show the back of the lighting units, one taken with normal flash, and one with the other lamp, showing how much better the illumination is like that. Things that weren't described in the eBay auction include the slave flash capability (not, as the instructions claim, on the back of the unit, but on top), although the units come with sync cables (4m long, also not mentioned), they're not really needed. That's good, too, because I'd need an adaptor to set off both flashes from the same master. One thing I did get out of the auction was that the flash power adjustment is analogue (that's the black knob just above the centre axis, currently pointing at ½), which will make it difficult to guess exposures. On the other hand, the guide number 32 appears to include the umbrellas, so for most things I can use an aperture in the range of f/8 to f/22.

More work on the verandah. Finally I'm getting my act together, and things are both going faster and becoming more accurate. Hopefully we'll have the boards finished by the time CJ comes back.


Friday, 10 October 2008 Dereel Images for 10 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Mail from IJK today: my hardware is ready. All I need to do is pay for it. For that, I had to go to the positively emetic ANZ bank web site and transfer the money. I'm getting in practice now: I only had to restart once, and I was done in less than 30 minutes. But that's the modern web for you.

As requested, sent off a reply to IJK and got a rather strange response:

HI
what info did you send to us
thanks

It included a mutilated header (my date Fri, 10 Oct 2008 11:00:52 +1100 was changed to Friday, October 10, 2008 11:00 AM, without time zone, clearly a Microsoftism), but nothing else. Sent a reply and got another message telling me that my order would be cancelled if I didn't pay within 7 days. Nothing useful. Sent a number of increasingly irate messages during the day and finally got another reply:

pls tell us ur phone # .

If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact me.

Somehow Microsoft email has got to the stage that many people just can't use it any more.

Continued installing the new teevee. While trying to install Project X, got a strange message:

===>   projectx-0.90.4.00_2 depends on file: /usr/local/diablo-jdk1.6.0/bin/java - not found
===>    Verifying install for /usr/local/diablo-jdk1.6.0/bin/java in /usr/ports/java/diablo-jdk16
===>  Vulnerability check disabled, database not found

 Because of licensing restrictions, you must fetch the distribution
 manually.

 Please access

 http://www.FreeBSDFoundation.org/cgi-bin/download?download=diablo-caffe-freebsd7-i386-1.6.0_07-b02.tar.bz2

 with a web browser and "Accept" the End User License Agreement for
 "Caffe Diablo 1.6.0".  Please place the downloaded
 diablo-caffe-freebsd7-i386-1.6.0_07-b02.tar.bz2 in /usr/ports/distfiles.

So I tried that, accepted what few conditions they imposed, and pressed the button to download, and—nothing! Tried again on ceeveear (Debian Linux) with iceweasel, and it worked fine. On comparison, it seems that I had a flash incompatibility; but I had exactly the same version of flash on both systems. And this wasn't any old web site; it's the FreeBSD foundation, using tools that don't work well on FreeBSD. Clearly we have a serious problem with web browsers, almost enough to make me change systems.

While I was at it, took a look at the empty space in the description of my studio equipment, and it proved that that, too, was a flash problem—the flash content even included information about the slave (electronic) flash capability, which yesterday I had reported as undocumented. Also heard from the vendor: they're sending a new umbrella. That's the right kind of service. The light tent that I bought under somewhat strange circumstances last weekend is not. On Sunday they sent me a message saying that the package would be sent out:

It takes around 36 hours, for your order will be packed and dispatched after it is
fully checked and passed by our QC team to ensure our products&#x2019; quality.

You will receive a shipping notification with all shipping details from us, once your order leaves our warehouse.

And that was all. The package should be coming from Melbourne, which is overnight, but 5 days later it still isn't here. Sent a reminder, but got no reply.

More work on the verandah; we're finally getting somewhere. 14 boards to go, and rather surprisingly, it looks as if we'll have an exact number of boards.

Chris over in the afternoon. She has had no network connectivity since yesterday evening, and thought, not without justification, that the problem was with IPStar. That wasn't the case, however: I've had good connectivity all the time. Further investigation suggests that LiSP, her “ISP”, have financial problems (or, as they put it, “technical problems with our upstream provider”). I wonder how the Broadband guarantee works there; last time I looked, people weren't allowed to change ISPs.


Saturday, 11 October 2008 Dereel Images for 11 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Phone call from David at IJK computers today, trying to understand what the sales department had asked him to resolve. He saw my mail messages, confirmed that they got there, but didn't understand why the sales department had had trouble with them. I suggested that he should maybe give them some coaching in using email.

Finally it's getting warmer—almost too warm, in fact, and I couldn't do any work on the verandah until afternoon, when the sun was behind the house. Instead more work on my house photos; the time has come to retire some viewpoints, and to make up for it I'm adding others, and also some panoramas:


This should be verandah-panorama.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: verandah panorama          Dimensions:          4662 x 1601, 2656 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, 11 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 11 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 11 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

hugin is a little strange to use—I'm never sure when to do what—but in two things are fairly clear: I can just use the default values, and that hugin is the kind of program I advocate, merely a front-end to a series of programs, and the real story is in a Makefile (which it considerately saves if you ask it to)—so I should be able to suck the details out of it and add it to my automated scripts.

In the afternoon did some garden work and added another 4 boards to the verandah, after which things got more complicated. We only have 68 cm to go, or 9 boards, and I don't have that many unblemished boards, so I had to cut the ones I had into usable pieces. It's non-trivial working out how to use the remaining partial boards, but it looks as if we'll have enough and even a little left over.

Chris Yeardley along for dinner. It's fairly certain now that LiSP, her ex-ISP, has gone bankrupt, and she's looking for a new ISP. Interestingly, IPStar themselves are offering interim hosting for up to 30 days for free.


Sunday, 12 October 2008 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Over to Chris' place to take some horse photos today, returning with a lot of Asian foodstuffs that Fifi had left behind when she left.

Back home and took a look at Chris' Dell Inspiron 5150, on which she had installed PC Linux OS. I don't know what it is about that name, but it irritates me. In any case, what little understanding I have of Linux system administration relates to Debian and, to a lesser extent, Fedora, so I suggested I install Ubuntu on it. Started that off and went away. When I came back later, the machine had powered down, something that Chris had also mentioned. But this time it had happened without completing the installation. Tried again and watched it: the fan was going all the time, and then it sped up even faster and powered down; clearly the machine (a 3.2 GHz Pentium 4) was overheating. Tried again, turning the CPU speed to minimum, but I was unable to complete the installation.

Instead, took the disk out an put it in my Inspiron 5100, where the installation completed normally, and I was able to continue on Chris' machine—which no longer got so hot. Are there issues with the Linux installation environment that ignore thermal constraints?

Interestingly, the new machine recognized Chris' Belkin USB wireless interface, claimed it was up, but couldn't get it to transfer any data. She said that it worked out of the box with PC Linux OS. I wonder if that's related to Ubuntu or my environment.

On with the verandah, getting another four complicated boards attached before Chris came over to discuss her machine and network connection. Only 7 boards to go now. Inside and finally got Chris back on the network, through IPStar's transition thing. Looks like she'll be looking for a new ISP tomorrow.


Monday, 13 October 2008 Dereel Images for 13 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

CJ was due to come this morning, but it rained a little, I hadn't quite finished the boards on the verandah, and I certainly hadn't done my homework about the roof, so we put it off until Thursday. In the meantime, I finally did finish the boards, coming up surprisingly neatly at the front. Thank God for that!

More talk on IRC about the problems I had recently with downloading software from the FreeBSD Foundation web site. It seems that flash isn't involved. Oh well; I can't really be bothered chasing this stuff up on the old machine.

Equal rights for photos!

My panorama photos have brought an issue to light: how large should they be in comparison to standard portrait and landscape photos? The latter have a longer side of 300 pixels (for “thumbnail” size) or 600 pixels (for “small” size), but if I apply that to photos with extreme aspect ratios, the other side gets far too small. I've been dodging the problem by imposing a minimum shorter side, but that can end up making the photos unnaturally large.

Clearly what's needed is a generic size; I decided on a number of pixels (67,500 for tiny, 270,000 for small). This requires a number of calculations, including a square root, something that you can't do in a shell script. On Callum Gibson's recommendation, used dc, a program I've never used before. I suppose you can get used to it, but it's rather arcane; this excerpt from the Makefile gives the idea:

            MYWIDTH=`dc -e "2k$$HORIZPIXELS $$PIXELS ${PIXELS$@}/v/.5+0k1/p"`

This sets the “precision” (number of digits after the decimal point) to 2 (2k), pushes three values on the stack (shell variables HORIZPIXELS and PIXELS and the make variable concatenation ${PIXELS$@} (where $@ is the size), then divides ($$PIXELS by ${PIXELS$@}), takes the square root (v), divides HORIZPIXELS by the result, adds .5 for rounding, resets the “precision” to 0 (0k), and divides the result by 1 to get a result with the new precision, and prints it out. But at least it works. The question is, is it appropriate? I haven't made up my mind yet. It certainly has an effect on things like the excerpt of the Google Maps web page below.

It's possible that I'll change the algorithm in the future, and that could alter the size of images on this page, since they're generated from a PHP script. At the time of writing, the image below has dimensions of 594x115 (tiny) or 1188x230 (small), which makes it rather wider than I'd really like.

Use Microsoft if you want to shop here

More contact from IJK computers today, this time from Jon Mascord, the sales manager, who told me:

Greg,  we have been recieving your mail as an empty body with these 2
attachments.   That's why some of the sales here have no idea whats going on
with your messages and have not replied to them.      In any case , from
what I can tell your payment has been recieved and we should be shipping out
today.

I replied explaining the structure of MIME messages, and pointing out that the problem was really just the way “Outlook Express” presented them:

Well, there's no such thing as an empty body with attachments.  The
attachments *are* the body, and if that's all there is, they should
look at them.  I note that neither you nor David had any difficulty
reading the mail.

I see now that you're using Microsoft "Outlook Express", which for
some reason doesn't display anything under these circumstances.
That's fine, of course, but you need to understand the strangenesses.
The full version "Outlook" doesn't have this particular problem.  As I
said to David on Saturday, it would be good to explain this situation
to your sales staff.

To that I got the strange reply:

You can twist the meaning of "body" and "attachment" all you like , but
going on simple definitions there was no body and there was 2 strange (to a
non technical person) attachments.

Yes,  we are using "Outlook Express" which is one of ; if not the most
widely used mail program; so I would probably suggest trying to fix the
issue at your end to avoid similar problems with those who wish to
help/reply to you.

I'm sure Jon doesn't really mean to say “forget Internet standards, in particular RFC 1521: the de facto standard is “Outlook Express”, and if you want to shop here, you need to work around the deficiencies and those of our sales department”. But it certainly sounds like it, and the attitude is far too prevalent. And in this case it's silly, too, because both he and David have had no problems reading my mail. But clearly he thinks it's my fault, and not that of “Outlook Express” or the poor staff who are required to use it.

Köter Rex and the panic-stricken riding school

One of the TV programmes we watch frequently is “Kommissar Rex”, called “Inspector Rex” in English. It's a very silly detective story played in Vienna, where the lead role (and arguably the most intelligent actor) is a German Shepherd dog called Rex. We watch it less for the story than for the Austrian ambiance, which can be quite quaint or amusing. Today we watched an episode that took place close to the Hofburg, which interested Yvonne more because of its proximity to the Spanish Riding School (in German Spanische Hofreitschule), so I checked Google Maps to see. For the fun of it, and to check Google's spelling checker, I entered “panische Hofreitschule” (“panic-stricken riding school”). It found it alright, but the message looked a little reduplicated:

 
This should be wien-vienne-vienna-vienna.detail.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: wien vienne vienna vienna.detail
Dimensions: 392 x 76, 4 kB
Dimensions of original: 392 x 76, 4 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Monday, 13 October 2008:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

That's four occurrences of the name of the city: Wien (German), Vienne (French) and two Vienna (English).

And “Köter Rex”? That predates the TV series, itself not the newest, by more than 10 years. In October 1982, shortly after I met Yvonne, whose maiden name is Ködderitzsch, we visited her father, who lived in Altea on the Costa Blanca in Spain. He had a German Shepherd dog, and of course he was called “Rex” (aren't they all? It's worse than “Rover” in English). I found the combination “Rex Ködderitzsch” amusingly close to “Köter Rex”, so that's what I called him. “Köter” translates roughly as “mutt” in English. When the TV series came along, I transferred the name to the series as well.


Tuesday, 14 October 2008 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Finally the deck is finished! Well, mainly. I still need to trim some planks, put base boards on and decide whether I want a rail. But it gave me time to relax today.

More work on installing the new teevee, more frustrating than I had expected; merging X configuration files should be easier.

Also did a little work in the garden, and cooked some curries, strangely at Yvonne's request. Chris over to help us eat them in the evening.


Wednesday, 15 October 2008 Dereel Images for 15 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

For some time we've been aware of a stray cat that seems to live under the house. There's evidence that she (I think it's a she) is making friends with Lilac:


This should be cats-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: cats 2          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 1168 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, 15 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 15 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 15 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be cat.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: cat          Dimensions:          2800 x 3720, 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 Wednesday, 15 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 15 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 15 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

Lots of stuff to do in town today; somehow even preparation takes a long time. In the end, decided we wouldn't be able to make it all, so left shortly after midday and took the Commodore to Vic England for service, in the process discovering that the Magna was slowly losing steering fluid. Also to the post office and picked up the hardware from IJK computers and a new umbrella for my studio equipment, as promised. By contrast, despite a couple of reminders, I've heard nothing about the light tent that I bought under nearly two weeks ago. That one looks like a case for negative feedback.

Years ago Yvonne had found some stuff to put under Lilac's feeding bowl. but it had proved useful as a backdrop for photos too; unfortunately it was a bit small, and also there was a fold in the middle. Today went looking for something similar and drew an almost complete blank. Finally found an offcut of some vinyl at a carpet shop. It's not as quiet in its pattern, and it's a lot thicker, which could cause problems, but it only cost $5, so I can afford to experiment.

And that was all we had time for. On the way back home, stopped at Dahlsens to look around, coming out with a few plants and a hover mower, the latter 50% reduced because it was the last one. What we didn't buy was a RhododendronWhite Lady” that I had really liked the look of; unfortunately the only specimen they had was very large, in not very good condition, and cost $70.

On the other hand, Yvonne saw a Rhododendron that she wanted too, but we couldn't make up our minds fast enough, and somebody else bought it. Decided to head on to Avalon nursery in Haddon, where we looked in vain for interesting plants, and finally left empty-handed, getting home round 16:00.

The lawn mower was a disappointment: it doesn't work. It's supposed to lift off the ground to give a constant mowing height, but it didn't. Is this why they're not on the market any more? Anyway, there's a 30 day “satisfaction guarantee”, and it's failed that, so it'll go back on Friday.

Unpacked the hardware, which looks well packed and what I ordered. Was rather surprised by the Microsoft software boxes, until I found they contained the disks. Also read the instructions that came with the PCI-E display cards (which, as promised, included two DVI-I connectors and one VGA adaptor) and read with horror:

Press this AGP card into the AGP slot firmly and make sure it is fully installed.

A bit of panic showed that this was just bad documentation; but then, who ever reads the docco? On the other hand, it's nice to see really big file systems:

=== root@teevee (/dev/ttyp1) /etc 16 -> df -k /spool
Filesystem  1024-blocks     Used     Avail Capacity  Mounted on
/dev/ad8s1d   946029118 37955188 832391602     4%    /spool

It's difficult to see that there is one less digit in “Used” than in “Avail”. All the more reason for measuring the values in megabytes instead of kilobytes; there might even be a case for measuring in gigabytes:

=== root@teevee (/dev/ttyp1) /etc 17 -> df -m /spool
Filesystem  1M-blocks  Used  Avail Capacity  Mounted on
/dev/ad8s1d    923856 37065 812882     4%    /spool
=== root@teevee (/dev/ttyp1) /etc 18 -> df -g /spool
Filesystem  1G-blocks Used Avail Capacity  Mounted on
/dev/ad8s1d       902   36   793     4%    /spool

Now I have the new hardware, there's all the more reason to get the new teevee working, since I need the case of the old one for the new system (should I call it dereel or eureka?). Gradually things are coming into place, but I still need to apply my own patches to mplayer. I'm not looking forward to that.


Thursday, 16 October 2008 Dereel Images for 16 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

CJ along this morning to help put up the roof for the verandah, which I've decided to call a stage—and I had fresh doubts. The problem is the height of the construct: 20 cm high beam, with 15 cm rafters and 5 cm battens on top of that, a total of 40 cm. The starting point on the other side is quite low, and even without a drop, I'd end up with the lower side of the beam about 1.90 metres above the floor, convenient for me to bang my head against, and also not very attractive.

Did some discussion, and over to the Dereel Hall (next door, about 1.6 km away), where CJ had seen a similar construction:


This should be toilet-block-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: toilet block 1          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 1392 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, 16 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 16 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 16 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be toilet-block-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: toilet block 2          Dimensions:          2800 x 3720, 1056 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, 16 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 16 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 16 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

This one uses more flimsy wood than I chose, but the height is just as much, so changing things wouldn't help much. Did some discussion of what we could do, and came to the conclusion that we should put up more posts on the other side of the stage and put the rafters between them. But then it occurred to me that I'd need a post in the middle of the stage, something that I really don't want to do. One way or another, we still don't know how to do it, so postponed yet again, and CJ set to helping Yvonne chop down an Acacia that had long been slated for removal, and then burnt it off, along with a lot of stuff that still hasn't been done:


This should be removing-wattle-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: removing wattle 1          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 1968 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, 16 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 16 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 16 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be burning-wattle-4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: burning wattle 4          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 1584 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, 16 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 16 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 16 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

We've been waiting to finish the roof before planting the plants around the stage, but the weather is getting warmer, and we can't wait any more. In the afternoon, set to preparing beds for vegetables and herbs, not helped much by the flies, which seem a lot worse this year than last; hopefully that's not a result of the horses round the place.

While doing this work, we saw a lot of traffic to the swallow's nest. Presumably they're not happy that we're there so often. Well, tough. We tried to warn them two months ago, but they had to rebuild the nest. Maybe they'll change their mind next year; in the meantime, with the help of a mirror, confirmed that they have four eggs on the way:


This should be swallows-nest-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: swallows nest 1          Dimensions:          2344 x 3574, 1504 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, 16 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 16 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 16 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be swallows-nest-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: swallows nest 2          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 1840 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, 16 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 16 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 16 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

Also work on the new teevee. I have been running a modified version of mplayer on the old machine, and due to library changes, it no longer works on FreeBSD 7.1. mplayer itself has changed considerably between versions “1.0pre8” and “1.0rc2”, though with names like that you'd expect the structure to remain stable at least until they can release version “1.0” (several years after ostensibly stable versions became available). Finally got it finished, not without some problems.


Friday, 17 October 2008 Dereel Images for 17 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Another toy in the mail today: a flash remote control. You put a transmitter in the flash shoe, and connect the flash to the receiver. Couldn't wait to try it out, of course, not even for breakfast. It did nothing. I tried all combinations of the two DIP switches, to no avail. Finally checked the battery:


This should be remote-control.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: remote control          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 944 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, 17 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 17 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Friday, 17 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be battery-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: battery 2          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 560 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, 17 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 17 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Friday, 17 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

It's barely visible, but the whole thing was packed in plastic. After unpacking—in itself surprisingly difficult—it worked, sort of: there appears to be some timing issue, and while I can run the studio flashes at 1/320 s when connected directly, I need to increase the time to 1/200 s with this device. Still, that's more than the 1/180 s that Olympus allows.

More work in the garden, while Yvonne went shopping. She came back with my final toy, the light tent that I bought on eBay nearly two weeks ago. While the last couple of things came from Hong Kong, this one came from Melbourne; clearly it couldn't have been posted earlier than Tuesday of this week, and probably on Wednesday. I still have received no reply to my messages asking what's going on, so this people get a neutral feedback—neutral because the thing seems to correspond to the description (though they didn't mention that all the cloth is full of wrinkles, which makes me wonder how to use it at all).

Instead, tried out my new vinyl backdrop taking some photos of my 1824 Savary jeune, in the process discovering that it's really an 1826 Savary jeune:


This should be savary-15.detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: savary 15.detail          Dimensions:          1294 x 1774, 352 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, 17 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 17 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Friday, 17 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

Had a surprising amount of difficulty with white balance, requiring me to manually correct it in almost every case. That may be due to the different colour temperature of the modelling lights and the flash. I need to find a better solution.

Continued work on the new teevee, noting a couple more problems. In particular, mplayer didn't build with XvMC support, one of the main reasons I bought nVidia cards for my new machine. Spent some time investigating, and found this the Makefile:

OPTIONS+=       NVIDIA "Enable experimental nvidia xvmc driver" off

Tried that (make -DNVIDIA=on all), to no avail. Then I found another line:

.if defined(WITH_NVIDIA) && ${OSVERSION} < 600033
LIB_DEPENDS+=   XvMCNVIDIA.1:${PORTSDIR}/x11/nvidia-driver
CONFIGURE_ARGS+=        --enable-xvmc \
                        --enable-xvmclib=XvMCNVIDIA
.endif

What's that OSVERSION limitation there? Checked the CVS logs and found some mention of disabling support for

1.157        (miwi     13-Mar-07): .if defined(WITH_NVIDIA) && ${OSVERSION} < 600033
1.106        (vs       08-Nov-04): LIB_DEPENDS+=        XvMCNVIDIA.1:${PORTSDIR}/x11/nvidia-driver
1.106        (vs       08-Nov-04): CONFIGURE_ARGS+=     --enable-xvmc \
1.106        (vs       08-Nov-04):                      --enable-xvmclib=XvMCNVIDIA
1.106        (vs       08-Nov-04): .endif

The log entry for revision 1.157 states:

... it prevents building very recent 6.x and 7 installations with the binary nvidia driver due to a currently unresolved linking problem with libm.

The issue was that it referenced (I'm not sure you can say “needed”) an older version of libm. But that's easy: just provide it. I did that, removed the restriction, and built. The build showed all the nice xvmc modules being built, but the resulting executable still claimed it couldn't do XvMC!

Round about here I gave up, at least for the day. The interesting thing is that the new processor is so much faster than the old one that you don't really need XvMC to decode 720p HDTV, the highest we get here. But it's very frustrating to see this kind of regression.

Another problem I have is with the nfe driver (apart from the horrible font size changes that the FreeBSD web pages impose): after a cold start, it doesn't work. It reports things like:

Oct 17 08:51:52 teevee kernel: nfe0: discard frame w/o leading ethernet header (len 0 pkt len 0)
Oct 17 08:51:52 teevee kernel: nfe0: discard frame w/o leading ethernet header (len 4294967295 pkt len 4294967295)

Experiment shows that an ifconfig nfe0 down up is enough to fix the problem, and it stays fixed across a reboot. But how do you handle that on a machine that doesn't have a keyboard and relies on a network connection to work at all? It proves that the following entry in /etc/rc.conf is sufficient:

ifconfig_nfe0="192.109.197.158 down up"

The command is passed directly to ifconfig, so you can put what you want in there. It's also interesting to note that transfers with this NIC are as fast as I have seen on 100 Mb Ethernet, up to 11.2 MB/s sustained traffic.

Why I hate the web

I put a lot of photos on the web, and I spend a lot of time trying to present them the way I want them to look. Others don't go to so much trouble: they put their photos on services like flickr. It's very popular. Today I got a couple of URLs from a friend of mine, each showing a collection of photos. After trying to work my way through them, I can't understand why people would want to use it:

To accentuate the fact that this is not a problem peculiar to flickr, I got another link later in the afternoon, again to an online photo site with similar restrictions. I think the real issue is the attempt to find a solution that will work for everybody without adjustments. That's bound to give second-rate results.


Saturday, 18 October 2008 Dereel Images for 18 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

House photo day again today. It didn't take as long as usual, not even as long as fixing yesterday's photos. But it's clear why I never get anything done:


This should be studio-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: studio 1          Dimensions:          2736 x 3648, 976 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, 18 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 18 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 18 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be studio-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: studio 2          Dimensions:          3648 x 2736, 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 Saturday, 18 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 18 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 18 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

On the front left is the new photo tent, then the studio lights (flashing against the walls), the photo backdrop I bought the other day, and behind (right photo) are the components for the new machine I'll build as soon as I get the other ones sorted out. Behind that, invisible, are some brewing equipment that remind me it's time to brew another batch of beer, and behind the curtains is the stage, which still needs a roof.

As last year, the jump from cool late winter days to warm early summer days appears to have occurred without much intervening spring. Today the temperature was 30°, and though I did some work in the garden, it wasn't really the weather.

Instead spent a surprising amount of time with the final touches to teevee. On the one hand, it went well, on the other hand I seem to have lost a script (or maybe a shell function), and for some reason mplayer was reporting incorrect times and offsets when restarted in the middle of a film. Finally found what was causing that. In the function new_demuxer () I found:

   d->movi_start=stream->start_pos;

When you use the -sb option (start byte offset), stream->start is set to that offset; otherwise it's set to some value close to the start. Is that what we want? I don't know; I suppose it depends on the intention of the -sb option. If it's for skipping junk at the beginning of the file, it's the right choice. If it's for starting in the middle, it's wrong. I'm not going to get involved in that one. For me the solution is simple:

-  d->movi_start=stream->start_pos;
+/* XXX this makes no sense when we've started with -sb */
+/*  d->movi_start=stream->start_pos; */
+  d->movi_start = 0;

That might even explain why mplayer doesn't respect the offsets I set when I restart, and starts a little further on instead. To be observed.


Sunday, 19 October 2008 Dereel Images for 19 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Dirt in water supply
Topic: general Link here

There's something strange about our water system. We've seen various particles in the filter mesh that I suspected came from the water tanks, but several months ago I put in a filter, and they're still collecting:


This should be granules-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: granules 3          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 800 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, 19 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 19 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 19 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

What are they? They're relatively hard, as if they were of mineral origin. Do we have a corrosion time bomb on our hands?


New Leucospermum
Topic: gardening Link here

Last month Diane Saunders brought me a couple of plants as a birthday present. One of them, a Leucospermum conocarpodendron/galbrium cross, with the rather silly name “Mardi gras ribbons”, promises to be quite pretty, and there are many smaller buds coming out:


This should be Leucospermum-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Leucospermum 1          Dimensions:          2800 x 3720, 656 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, 19 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 19 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 19 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Leucospermum-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Leucospermum 2          Dimensions:          2800 x 3720, 784 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, 19 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 19 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 19 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 


New main computer system, finally
Topic: technology Link here

Now that teevee is running relatively well, the next step would be to build the new machine. Well, almost. The motherboard in the old teevee is still relatively usable, while that in ceeveear is a little dubious: Linux doesn't want to trust the ACPI, I couldn't get XFS to run in DMA mode on the second IDE controller, and the Ethernet interface kept hanging. All of this could be a problem in the Linux version, of course, but it also isn't very fast, so it made more sense to use the old teevee as the new ceeveear, and use the old case of ceeveear (pretty much the same as all my cases) for the new machine.

Moved the disk, tuner and Ethernet card to the new motherboard, and it worked relatively well. Almost. It couldn't bring up the Ethernet interface, eth1. Further examination showed that it only knew about eth3 and eth4, and still further investigation showed that the motherboard has an on-board NIC, thus the two interfaces. I still don't understand how Linux numbers its NICs; does it remember all that have ever been there, and keep incrementing the numbers? In any case, it proved that the on-board Ethernet chip works fine (until proof of the contrary), so I used that. For further reference: the files that need to change (at least in KnoppMyth, a Debian-based distro) are /etc/network/interfaces and (in this case) /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth3.

Next to the real machine. What should I call it? I started using two computers on my desktop about 15 years ago. Then they were called allegro and freebie. When I came back to Australia, I renamed them wantadilla and echunga. So when I got here I called them dereel and eureka. But now I'm going back to a single machine. What should it be called?

Years ago, when we got our first Tandem Integrity S2, we called it trio, because it had three pseudo lock-step CPUs. And then we renamed our LXN to solo, for obvious reasons. Then, after I left Tandem, James Cox named their next machine quattro, presumably because he knows more about cars than music. I don't even think it had 4 CPUs. Years later, when working on SMPNg, I called my dual processor machine zaphod, as you do. And the single processor test machine was called monorchid. That's still running, now called brewer, but the kernel is still MONORCHID. This new machine has a quad core, so I think I'll call it quartet, to finally make my point to a James Cox who has completely forgotten about the incident.

The components are interesting: one of the reasons I bought a new machine was to save power (one machine instead of two), but I wonder if I'll achieve that goal. The difference in the power supplies is particularly obvious. The new supply is on the left.


This should be power-supply-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: power supply 1          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 1040 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, 19 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 19 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 19 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be power-supply-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: power supply 2          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 928 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, 19 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 19 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 19 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

Set to putting the new machine together; the biggest problem was the documentation. AMD delivers a sheet of paper about A2 in size describing how to install all its processors. It's up to the user to unfold it correctly and find the descriptions for the processor in question. There's text in about 10 languages, but only the warranty descriptions and warnings about how not to hurt yourself. The installation instructions themselves are IKEA-like, only drawings and arrows, some of which I didn't understand. The important thing, of course, is to get the cooler over the processor. Do you need to add thermal grease? According to AMD and also the motherboard installation instructions, yes. Then there's a text somewhere else explaining that the cooler already comes with a coating of thermal grease. And how do you attach the cooler? Arrow! And the drawing doesn't show the lever. Here's how it should look when it's finished:


This should be cooler-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: cooler 1          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 928 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, 19 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 19 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 19 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be cooler-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: cooler 2          Dimensions:          2800 x 3720, 912 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, 19 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 19 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 19 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

Installing the motherboard was a similar story, as was installing the display card. According to the motherboard instructions, you must connect an additional 12V supply to PCIe x16 display cards. But there's no connector on the cards. Which output does the BIOS come up on? No information. I guessed the upper one, and indeed it worked, but maybe only because it detected the monitor. What happens when it comes up with two monitors remains to be seen.

Still, the installation worked without a problem, and it's certainly a lot faster than the old machines. Installing all the software will keep me busy for days to come.


Hops and vegetables
Topic: brewing, gardening Link here

Also found some time to bake some bread and do some garden work. I desperately need to tie up my hops:


This should be hops.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: hops          Dimensions:          2800 x 3720, 1696 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, 19 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 19 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 19 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

I didn't have time for that, but I'm going to have to find it soon. On the other hand, we're gradually adding a veggie patch round the corner from the kitchen:


This should be veggie-patch.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: veggie patch          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 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 Monday, 20 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 20 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Monday, 20 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
Monday, 20 October 2008 Dereel Images for 20 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Dying keyboard
Topic: technology Link here

Yet another keyboard is falling apart! That's quite a drama, because it's a Northgate OmniKey Plus, and I can't find any comparable modern keyboard. The problem is that the Enter key sticks down, producing interesting results. A couple of months ago I damaged the mounting of the Enter key on another keyboard, so this time I was a little more careful. The key is quite large, and in addition to the switch connector, there's a secondary guide and a stabilizing clip:


This should be keyboard.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: keyboard          Dimensions:          2800 x 3720, 768 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, 20 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 20 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Monday, 20 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Enter-key-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Enter key 1          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 640 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, 20 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 20 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Monday, 20 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Enter-key-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Enter key 2          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 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 Monday, 20 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 20 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Monday, 20 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be clip.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: clip          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 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 Monday, 20 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 20 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Monday, 20 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

It seems that it was the secondary guide which was jamming. A bit of graphite on the part of the key that goes into the guide (grey in the photo above) seems to be all that was needed. The clip on the right holds the stabilizing clip to the base plate; on the other keyboard I managed to damage it so that it slipped through the hole.


Sick lime
Topic: gardening Link here

For some reason, our Kaffir Lime tree is not doing well. It's losing its leaves (some, admittedly, picked by me), and the new shoots are dying off:


This should be dying-lime.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: dying lime          Dimensions:          2800 x 3720, 784 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, 20 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 20 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Monday, 20 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be dying-lime.detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: dying lime.detail          Dimensions:          1115 x 1236, 134 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, 20 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 20 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Monday, 20 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

The shoot off to the left of the stem near the blue baling twine was definitely recognizable as a double leaf yesterday, but today it seems to have withered away. What's the problem? Not enough water? Too much wind? It's getting watered via the sprinkler system, but possibly not enough.


Understanding investment portfolios
Topic: general, technology Link here

Into town for a discussion about my investments. Somehow Peter and I don't see eye to eye on what a report should include. The reports I get are multi-page with coloured pie charts, but do they tell me what I want to know? I handed Peter a sheet with the following written on it:

What I want to know:

  • How much did the portfolio earn last quarter?
  • How much did we estimate the portfolio would earn last quarter?
  • How did the portfolio value change?

As he said, he would need a calculator and a bit of time to extract that information from that report and the previous one. But isn't that the most important information? It seems that part of the problem is what I continually rant about: the software tells you what you can know, and the software they have doesn't cater for this kind of information. In my book, that makes the software both inflexible and badly designed. With almost any directly accessible database it should be trivial to get the information I need.

The good news, though, once I extracted it: despite the dismal market situation, my portfolio is performing well, and income exceeded outgoings by 60%. If it stays that way, we have nothing to worry about.


Hovermowers: thing of the past?
Topic: gardening Link here

To Dahlsens to return the hover mower last Friday, but they found the problem: it had been assembled (by them, before going on display) with the blade the wrong way round. After replacing it, it did lift off, though not very far, so I took it back again. Also bought some smaller Azaleas and a Fuchsia, at much better prices.

Back home and tried out the mower again. Yes, it works better. But it's still not good. These silly safety mechanisms require you to squeeze with both hands all the time, and even after a few minutes it becomes very uncomfortable. In addition, it doesn't really hover high enough to make it easy to move it. I think it'll go back again.


Mystery flower
Topic: gardening Link here

Yvonne in in the evening with another flower:


This should be flower-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: flower 1          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 768 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, 20 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 20 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Monday, 20 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be flower-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: flower 2          Dimensions:          2800 x 3720, 832 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, 20 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 20 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Monday, 20 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

It's from a plant that grows in the paddock, and which we're told is poisonous, possibly a nightshade. I must take more photos and add it to my mystery plants page.


Tuesday, 21 October 2008 Dereel Images for 21 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

More work on installing the quartet today, which went relatively smoothly. Did an experiment to parallelize the software build process, with the command:

=== root@quartet (/dev/ttyp1) /usr/src 20 -> for j in `jot 10`; do
root@quartet /usr/src 20 ++ rm -rf /usr/obj/*
root@quartet /usr/src 20 ++ echo $j
root@quartet /usr/src 20 ++ time make -j $j buildworld >> Make.log 2>&1
root@quartet /usr/src 20 ++ done

This builds the complete system software with between one and 10 parallel threads. The results were interesting: up to 4 threads (the number of CPUs) showed a significant performance increase, almost linearly, but after that it tailed off markedly, as the following graph (thanks to Callum Gibson) shows:

make times

I wonder how much that has to do with the SMP implementation and how much with the limitations of the build process.

Some discussion about the granules in the water, without much in the way of conclusions. The general feeling is that it's probably something with calcium in it, but how did it get there? Conceivably it could have come into the system in dissolved form (calcium bicarbonate, for example) and then precipitate in the hot water system. Took a look at the filter, which showed nothing of great interest.

One of the more interesting things about Tinyurl is that you can choose your own abbreviation (as it turns out, with a minimum of 6 characters). Tried it today and generated two which could be of use to point people at:

More experimentation with studio photos today. I have a lens which I want to sell on eBay, and for that I need a good photo. I've already taken something with my umbrella setup, but that was the main reason for buying the tent that took so long to arrive. Today did some comparisons. Left the umbrellas, right the tent:


This should be lens-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: lens 1          Dimensions:          2800 x 3720, 656 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, 21 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 21 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 21 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be lens-5.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: lens 5          Dimensions:          2800 x 3720, 608 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, 21 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 21 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 21 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

It's clear that the tent really is worth the trouble, though it's not a complete solution in itself, as a couple of bassoon photos show:


This should be butt-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: butt 3          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 768 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, 21 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 21 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 21 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

Also discovered that the uneven lighting I've been seeing in some photos isn't due to uneven lighting, but the shutter speed. It seems that my assumption that 1/320 s will work with flash doesn't apply all the time. At 1/250 s it works fine, as the lens photos show.

Phone phishing: the next security catastrophe

Phone call this morning from somebody claiming to be Jasmine from Red Energy, my electricity supply company. She had something to discuss with me, but of course first she wanted to authenticate me: she asked for my date of birth.

Yes, of course the URL above makes it easier by limiting results to those containing the year of my birth. Without that, you'd still find it, but you'd have to wade through (currently) about 11,500 results

This isn't the first time that I've mentioned this in this diary, but it seems to be becoming more prevalent. There are two obvious problems here: first, my date of birth is easy to find on the web, and secondly, how do I know who “Jasmine” is? I asked her to authenticate herself, and of course, she said “I can't”. So I refused.

Called back to Red Energy (131 806) and spoke to Emma, who clarified the problem they had: last quarter's electricity bill was so high that they weren't allowed to direct debit the sum without my express permission. So why wasn't something mentioned on the bill? She didn't seem to think that was necessary.

And of course she didn't understand the issue. She explained—several times—how they would be liable to criminal charges if they abused the information they got. In the end I gave up and asked for a security representative to call me back.

In the meantime, discussed the matter on IRC:

* groOgle receives a phone call.                                        [12:52]
<groOgle> "Hi, I'm Jasmine from Red Energy.  I have an issue with your
          electricity bill".
<groOgle> "First, can you please tell me your date of birth?".
<groOgle> What's wrong with this picture?
<callum> phone spam!?                                                   [12:53]
<callum> or maybe phone phishing?
<groOgle> Exactly.
<groOgle> It really was Red Energy, of course, as I confirmed when I called
          back.
<groOgle> But I complained, and they don't understand why.
<callum> dear oh dear                                                   [12:54]
<callum> although everyone knows your date of birth.
<callum> so it wouldn't have proven anything.  Perhaps if you'd given them the
         wrong date...                                                  [12:55]
* uridium nods
<uridium> Red Energy ..  sounds positively socialist.
<callum> Equal voltage for everyone!                                    [12:56]
<groOgle> callum: That's the other issue.
<groOgle> I was talking with my investment advisor about that yesterday.
                                                                        [12:57]
<groOgle> He doesn't understand either.
<callum> My bank use a password/passphrase in addition to birthdate.
<groOgle> Do they also call you up and ask for it?                      [12:58]
<Darius> groOgle: all too common :(
<groOgle> My bank does that too, but they don't call me up.
<groOgle> Telstra does that too, and they *do* call you up and ask for it.

Red Energy did call back, represented by Kate, who discussed the matter and understood it. I suggested that they should print a code on the electricity bills which the representatives could quote to confirm that they really were who they said they were. That's only half the issue, though; until the man in the street understands the issues, it'll still be possible.


Wednesday, 22 October 2008 Dereel Images for 22 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Yvonne woke up this morning feeling decidedly unwell. It appears she's caught a cold, and she spent the whole day in bed. That didn't have any direct effect on me, but it's surprising how large the indirect effect is.

Tony Nesci along round midday with yet another approach to fixing the air conditioner: he removed all the refrigerant, weighed it and refilled with the correct amount. That was well worthwhile: according to the specifications panel, the correct charge should be 3.3 kg; in fact, he removed 6.7 kg:


This should be air-conditioner-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: air conditioner 3          Dimensions:          2736 x 3648, 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, 22 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 22 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 22 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be air-conditioner-4-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: air conditioner 4 detail          Dimensions:          877 x 415, 78 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, 22 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 22 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 22 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

That included the 1.05 kg that he put in—on Fujitsu's instructions—a couple of weeks ago. After replacing the 3.3 kg, the machine worked!

What's wrong with this situation? Many things:

Even the information on the specification panel is not beyond doubt. It also states that this unit is for 240 V supply; in fact, Australian mains are 230 V. It's possible that the unit is really not correctly matched to the Australian power system, but I suspect that it's simply sloppy documentation. Nobody goes and changes the voltage input based on that panel, but air conditioner technicians will charge the 3.3 kg based on the panel.

From my own point of view, it's clear that I, too, had jumped to the wrong conclusions. I'll have to completely rewrite my product review in light of this information.

Also did another comparison of the parallelism of software builds, this time building kernels. The results weren't as clean as when building worlds, presumably because of the more monolithic nature of the build:

Kernel build times

Finally I was brave enough to try the X configuration for quartet, with only one card. It gave me only one display. Did some playing around with the nVidia tools, and still got the same results. Playing around, including without X, showed:

Spent some time browsing the web and found a description on the nVidia web site (why do they use ftp protocol?)

It seems that the link broke some time between 2008 and 2017.

which told me what to do. You'd have to guess: a single head X configuration doesn't include PCI IDs, while multi-head ones do. I knew that, but I couldn't find the PCI ID for the second head. That's clear now: it's the same ID, and you distinguish with the Screen keyword. So the difference in the Device section is:

Single head:

Section "Device"
    Identifier     "Device0"
    Driver         "nvidia"
    VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
EndSection

Multi-head:

Section "Device"
    Identifier     "Device0"
    Driver         "nvidia"
        BusID       "PCI:1:0:0"
    Screen         0
    VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
EndSection

Section "Device"
    Identifier     "Device1"
    Driver         "nvidia"
        BusID       "PCI:1:0:0"
    VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
    Screen         1
EndSection

Thursday, 23 October 2008 Dereel Images for 23 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Yvonne is still sick! She stayed in bed all day. I don't know when she's been hit this hard by a common cold.

Spent more time bringing up the new computer. Changing system names is a real mess; I should have remembered that from last time I did this, only a little over a year ago when I moved here and renamed wantadilla and echunga to dereel and eureka respectively; I still haven't completely recovered from that change. So once this mess is over, I'll rename quartet to dereel.

Finally got brave enough to try starting X on quartet with all three graphics cards installed. It needed bravery: the first time round, the system paniced:

#6  0xc0a8833b in calltrap () at /usr/src/sys/i386/i386/exception.s:159
...
#9  0xc1228c82 in nvidia_get_card_info () from /boot/modules/nvidia.ko

There was no saved log file, of course; it hadn't been flushed to disk before the system crashed. So I NFS mounted /var/log and tried again.

In passing, it's annoying to note that 3 cards are all that I can put in this machine, at least if I use the current PCIe x16 cards:


This should be motherboard.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: motherboard          Dimensions:          3720 x 2800, 1360 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, 24 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 24 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Friday, 24 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 
This should be motherboard.detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: motherboard.detail          Dimensions:          1669 x 1416, 400 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, 24 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 24 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Friday, 24 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

The PCIe graphics cards are one with the brass coolers, while the old PCI card in the right-hand slot has an aluminium cooler. The left-hand PCI slot, barely visible under the heat sink, is blocked by the right-hand PCIe card. I suppose I could find thinner ones, but there's obviously a reason that the PCIe slots are so far apart.

Lots more experimentation finally got things working. It was clear that the old card was confusing the nVidia driver, so I removed it and gradually added heads. It appeared as if one of the many problems was the lack of a monitor on the outputs, so dragged in a couple of monitors, and connected the other two outputs to monitors on my desk. Like that I got four monitors up and running. The ones on the desktop are the second from the left and the extreme right:


This should be X-test.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: X test          Dimensions:          2800 x 3720, 1104 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, 23 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 23 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 23 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

Left it at that for the day; now I'm more or less ready to replace at least some of the heads on my desktop, and after that things won't be so time-critical.

Random things still crop up. Printing didn't work:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/ttyp4) ~ 10 -> ps | lpr
lpr: Error - scheduler not responding!

This looked as if lpd wasn't running, but in fact it was. After a lot of searching, discovered:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/ttyp4) ~ 11 -> wh lpr
-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel   22528 Oct 20 12:25 /usr/local/bin/lpr
-r-sr-sr-x  1 root  daemon  29368 Oct 19 16:48 /usr/bin/lpr

There are two programs called lpr; the second was installed by CUPS, in turn installed by some port which thinks it needs it. I've had problems with CUPS in the past, so much so that I gave up trying, despite various claimed advantages. At any rate it doesn't seem to be an upwards compatible drop-in replacement for the BSD spool system. Possibly it's looking for a CUPS version of lpd. In any case, renaming /usr/local/bin/lpd to /usr/local/bin/lpd.cups solved the problem.

Peter Jeremy commented on the air conditioning saga, and asked about how much refrigerant is required for the tubes connecting the inside units to the external units. In our case it's considerable. The answer (which Tony Nesci told me last time he was here): 30 g per 3 metres. If this sounds like a roundabout way of saying “10 g per metre”, you need to understand that it's “metric”; it almost certainly used to be “1 ounce per 10 ft”, and it applies to the distance between the units, not both tubes. With the amount we're talking about here, it would make about 300 g. But in this case, Fujitsu have explicitly stipulated that no extra refrigerant should be added.


Friday, 24 October 2008 Dereel Images for 24 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Yvonne's still in bed! She's gradually getting better, and by the evening she was able to get up and watch TV for a while, but there's still a way to go.

Into town to do the shopping, surprisingly late, and didn't get everything finished. Back home, spent a lot of time trying to work out why I can't run powerd on quartet; it seems that some sysctls aren't being initialized. Spent some time looking through the code—the first kernel code I've looked at in a while—and in the end, it almost looks as if the processor chip is not returning the correct status bits to indicate that it is capable of power throttling. cpuid reports:

80000007 00000000 00000000 00000000 000001f9

It seems that the last word on this line requires a 0x6 set, but the contents are 0x1f9. There's a question, of course, as to whether this is just out-of-date FreeBSD software. To be investigated.


Saturday, 25 October 2008 Dereel Images for 25 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Yvonne's finally up and feeling relatively recovered. Thank God for that!

Once again photo day, but today's processing was different: now I have the stuff on quartet, so somehow I need to distribute the processing across four CPUs. How do you do that? The canonical way is with make, but that's a relatively complicated way, especially if you're passing arguments. One example is a script that converts the full-size images to smaller ones. It requires five variables: the name of the tools directory, the name of the directory into which to place the image, the size of the image, the number of pixels it should have, and the name of the web directory. Did some work and came up with a solution for one of the conversion programs (raw to JPEG), requiring make to start a script that runs make again, which in turn runs a second script in parallel. You can pass that all to make with corresponding -D descriptions, but then you still end up with a shell script full of $$ and \. There should be a simpler way.

On with the conversion of quartet to the new dereel, renaming the old dereel to swamp in the process. It's clear that I have a basic problem with the display cards I'm using: I can't find a way to run the GeForce 9500 cards in dual head mode without the proprietary nvidia driver. That works fine as long as they're the only cards in the system. But when I physically add a GeForce 4000MX card, not supported by this incarnation of the driver, and even if I don't mention it in the configuration file, the driver goes and pokes around in it anyway and ends up crashing the system. Dragged out a few other PCI cards, all well over 10 years old, and tried the newes one, a Matrox MGA 2064W, but X no longer recognizes it and instead selects the vesa driver. For some reason, that didn't work either—it just crashed the system. Maybe the nividia driver is still to blame. Maybe it doesn't coexist with any other drivers. In the end, decided to fire up the new dereel with only four displays, and wait until later before adding the fifth.

Today the weather was relatively dull, and the resultant photos looked correspondingly dull. Played around with ufraw and found some knobs to tweak, in particular the transfer curves, which somehow manage to work better than they do in xv. There's also a way to save them, so I was able to convert the whole set of photos with the same curve. Well, once. When I tried again later, I got:

=== grog@dereel (/dev/ttyp5) ~/Photos/20081025 77 -> ufraw-batch --base-curve=outdoor-sunless.curve PA254933.ORF
ufraw-batch: 'outdoor-sunless.curve' is not a valid base curve name.

Why? Does this message mean that it no longer likes the name syntax (maybe because I didn't put a space in it?), or what other reason? ktrace shows that it doesn't try to access any file of that name, and the man page is not very reassuring about the way the program works:

               CURVE can be the filename (without path) of any curve that was
               previously loaded in the GUI.

Why without a path? What's it trying to do? And how do you load a curve with the GUI?

More input from Peter Jeremy on the power management of the Phenom: it seems that they've changed the setup:

<peter> groOgle: Regarding cpufreq, have a read of
        http://www.amd.com/us-en/assets/content_type/white_papers_and_tech_docs/31116.PDF
        - particularly pages 291-292.  AMD have obsoleted the VID/FID bits and
        replaced it with a new flag (cpuid(0x80000007)[3] & 0x80) which points
        to a collection of new registers.                               [19:50]
<peter> FreeBSD doesn't currently support the new P-State registers but that
        document appears to include enough detail to implement it.  (It looks
        like you can control the core frequencies independently).       [19:56]

I wonder if I care enough to fix the code.


Sunday, 26 October 2008 Dereel Images for 26 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

More photo work today, this time with the new dereel, which has four processors. Finally got round to looking at the issue of doing things in parallel, and came up with a small program which reads commands from stdin and executes them in parallel. I'm not really happy with the approach—it means considerable rewriting of existing scripts—but it does the job. I need to think of a better approach.

Followed up on Peter Jeremy's link yesterday and found the strangest license agreement yet. Most appear to be truncated, but this one doesn't even say what the license is for:

 
This should be unknown-license.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: unknown license
Dimensions: 702 x 520, 56 kB
Dimensions of original: 702 x 520, 56 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Sunday, 26 October 2008:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Is it the document? That's from AMD. Is it Acroread? On the face of it, it must be, but why does it appear now? I've long since accepted the license, such as it appears to be. It certainly shows the stupidity of this licensing approach.

Found a strange mess of convoluted files in /home/grog/.wine-virgin—somehow I had had a circular symbolic link in the structure, and when I copied it across to the new machine, unravelling the symlinks, it kept copying until it hit PATHMAX, the maximum path name length of 1024. By that time it had copied about a million files. Deleted them and saw something I've never seen before:

Oct 26 11:27:27 dereel kernel: ad4: FAILURE - out of memory in start

That's from the disk driver, and it's fatal. I had to reset and reboot the machine, and even then it failed in fsck after about an hour with a full lost+found directory. That repeated a couple of times before I got the whole mess sorted out. It seems that this is a known issue with soft updates, and I should have disabled them. Certainly one argument against soft updates.

Finally got round to putting up some wires for my hops. During the work, found a surprise in the garage:


This should be ferret-6.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: ferret 6          Dimensions:          3648 x 2736, 1376 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, 26 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 26 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 26 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

It's a ferret, and clearly a tame one; far from running away, it came towards me. As usual I had sandals on, and I wasn't sufficiently confident to let it touch them, but it was clear that it must be some kind of pet. When Yvonne came back, I showed it to her. “A weasel! Careful, it might have rabies!”. I suppose some reactions die hard; there's no rabies in Australia.

In the afternoon, another purchase on the Web, and another stupid “Verified by Visa” form:

 
This should be vbv.detail.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: vbv.detail
Dimensions: 390 x 883, 34 kB
Dimensions of original: 390 x 883, 34 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Sunday, 26 October 2008:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

This has never worked for me, and as the image shows, it didn't work today. In the past I've been able to get by the problem by selecting “Enrol later”, but today I didn't get that option. Called up the service line, once I had found the number (13 33 50), selected “Verified by Visa” from the menu, and was connected to Sarah, who immediately put me through to Bennett in “Internet” (i.e. web) banking. He reset the flag which suppressed the “Enrol later” selection, allowing me to do my transfer—this time. At the end, I was told I would have to enrol next time. That's enough reason to change my credit card.


Monday, 27 October 2008 Dereel Images for 27 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Woke up just before 3 am to hear the UPSs beeping and no power. It came back at 3:14, but stayed only for 7 minutes before dying again. To add insult to injury, the fire alarm outside my bedroom door started beeping slowly, about once a minute, indicating that the battery needed changing. Despite everything I did, I couldn't get back to sleep: the next beep came at exactly the wrong time.

How do you remove a fire alarm? They're all different, and this is the first time I have dealt with one of this kind. In the end, a bit of force did the job, and I finally got some sleep. Later I discovered that the alarm has a non-replaceable rechargeable battery that should maintain its charge for 2 months. Looks like we need to replace it.

Woke round 9 am to find that the power still hadn't been restored, and the phone wasn't working either. Down to the General Store, where there had been no power failure, and called up Powercor on 13 24 12, speaking to Tim. While we were talking, at 9:44, the power failed—two recloser events followed by a complete failure. That looks like two unrelated power problems, both affecting us.

Back home and tried to ignore the failure. Fortunately the phone had started working again—I wonder if one of the electric phones did something silly when the power went away—so called back just after 12:00 and got a recorded message telling me that power would be restored by 12:00. Spoke to Shane, who couldn't give me any more detail, but suggested I call back at 13:00.

Spent the time wiring up some more hops, but even that could have done with power tools. Got three more done, so I'm now about half way. Called Powercor back just after 14:00 to hear the recorded message that power should be restored by 14:00. Spoke to David, who told me that there were a number of failures today; our failure affected 706 customers between Corindhap and Mount Mercer, but it was dwarfed by another one in Hamilton, where 30,000 people were affected. He couldn't tell me what the cause was, and they had gradually given up trying to quote a fix time.

Off with Yvonne to Diggers St Erth garden near Blackwood, where we spent a lot of money on some quite reasonable looking books and some gardening equipment; looks like we'll grow some vegetables after all.

Got back round 18:00—still no power. Called up for a fourth time and spoke to Jacinta, who told me that all power had been restored for the 9:44 failure by 18:00, but they couldn't tell me when they would have time to look at our problem—after 15 hours down! The team leaders had gone home, and the dispatch room people weren't prepared to give her any indication. Left a complaint with them and outside again, while Yvonne prepared to move to Chris' place for the night.

Helen from across the road came over to complain about the situation. It seems that they have two phase power, so they only had lost half their power. Clearly this was another case of a fuse giving out. About 30 minutes later a Powercor van showed up, I told him about the half power, and he headed off to look at the fuse. It wasn't as simple as I had expected: one of the cables going into the fuse housing had been broken off by a combination of wear and weather:


This should be fuse-holder.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: fuse holder          Dimensions:          3648 x 2736, 1376 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, 27 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 27 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Monday, 27 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

Baz, the technician, had to change the fuse housing:


This should be power-work-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: power work 1          Dimensions:          2736 x 3648, 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 Monday, 27 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 27 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Monday, 27 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

That didn't work immediately. The new fuse housings are probably a lot better weather-proofed, but they don't seem to attach to the pole as well as the old ones, and the connection's pretty wobbly. But it didn't take too long, and at 19:31 we were back up again, after about 17 hours without power.

We had a similar problem this time last year, as the result of a storm, and we were without power for 14 hours. There had been some bad weather last night, but not nearly as bad as last year, but this time we were without power for 17 hours. I'm not at all happy, and I fear that we are going to have more problems.


Tuesday, 28 October 2008 Dereel Images for 28 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Spent a lot of time today tidying up yesterday's mess, which mainly involved documenting the situation. In the process also wrote a letter to ANZ asking them to keep me away from this stupid “Verified by VISA” scheme. I wonder if they'll do anything. It's interesting to note that there's a general sentiment that this is nonsense, and The Register has reported potential exploits similar to those I described earlier.

Also spent a bit of time playing around with nvidia-settings, a program to tune the video cards. It does quite a good job: my old Hitachi 813 monitors (now 8½ years old) are fading badly, but the settings can almost compensate for it. It's also one of the few GUI programs that seems to do its thing right, including immediate context-dependent help in a separate window. Just a pity that I can't find out how to set some of the things it reports on, such as “PowerMizer”.

Phone call from Eddie Barkla from Powercor to apologize for what happened yesterday. He confirmed what I suspected: the problems are systematic, in this case (wouldn't it have to be!) with their computer system. So the only way for them to recognize the first of two problems, where the second masks the first, is manually. You'd think that the very least would be that they would merge the problems and confirm that all symptoms have been eradicated. The real issue, though, is why it took them so long to fix the main problem: power was down from 9:44 to 17:00.

Also asked him to check on the mounting of the fuse holder. I wonder if that will happen.

A bit more garden work—it's sorely needed. Planted one of the plants we bought yesterday, a Salvia “Indigo Spires” (what kind of name is that? It's a cultivar without a species), which we hope will be like the blue Salvias we saw in the Royal Melbourne Botanical Gardens a few months ago. We were also going to plant some Ipomoea (Morning Glory), but tripped over the instructions: on one packet (alba) it said “pour hot water over seeds, then plant”, and on the other (tricolor) it said “pour warm water over the seeds and soak for two hours”. But how hot? How warm? This is the first I've heard of this treatment, and all my clever gardening books don't mention it. I wish this kind of detail were more generally available.

Also some irrigation stuff; I'm gradually encircling the stage with irrigation.


Wednesday, 29 October 2008 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

More work on the new dereel today, and managed to migrate the web server. Apache wasn't as much trouble as I thought, but squid and PHP were more—the latter got installed without things as basic as Perl-compatible regular expressions, and just finding them was a problem (it's in the port www/php5-extensions, while PHP itself is in www/php5.

More work in the garden, making slow progress. It's time we put the roof on the stage. Called CJ up, and he's planning to come to look at things on Friday.

Yvonne off to Bannockburn with some horses and Tina, our whippet bitch, who hasn't been well lately. She's 11½ years old, and we fear her time is coming, but today she returned with some pain killers.

Another bloody power failure! This time it was only 1 second, but it took me 45 minutes to recover: I discovered I had connected dereel to a power board which wasn't UPS protected. At least the fsck didn't take the interminable time it did on Sunday. But it also gave me a list of things that didn't restart on reboot: squid, synergys, my external mail tunnel and my satellite statistic gatherer. To be fixed.


Thursday, 30 October 2008 Dereel Images for 30 October 2008
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

From time to time I get messages from my 404 document that make no sense at all, for example:

Referrer:       http://www.lemis.com/index.html
Referenced URL: http://www.lemis.com/grog/photos/20021129/big/snail.jpeg

Referrer:       http://www.lemis.com/index.html
Referenced URL: http://www.lemis.com/grog/photos/20031126/big/bikeshed.jpeg

Referrer:       http://www.lemis.com/index.html
Referenced URL: http://www.lemis.com/grog/telstra/dslstats-20060724.big.png

Typically they come in large groups from the same client, so I'm assuming that this is yet another kind of crawler. But how broken they are! First, http://www.lemis.com/index.html doesn't refer to any of these pages, and secondly they're mutilated: all the links would have been valid had the client not downshifted them: http://www.lemis.com/grog/Photos/20021129/big/snail.jpeg, http://www.lemis.com/grog/Photos/20031126/big/bikeshed.jpeg and http://www.lemis.com/grog/Telstra/dslstats-20060724.big.png. I wonder who writes this stuff; there's no earthly reason to downshift the URLs. Added a comment in the 404 document, but I doubt anybody will read it.

Finally got round to selling my Zuiko 14-42 lens on eBay. Or is that “lense”? Of course not, but it's surprising how many people misspell it that way. I suppose there will be even more now that eBay themselves spell it that way:

 
This should be lense.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: lense
Dimensions: 331 x 87, 4 kB
Dimensions of original: 331 x 87, 4 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 30 October 2008:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Filling out the forms shows the usual format breakage:

 
This should be instructions.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: instructions
Dimensions: 520 x 81, 6 kB
Dimensions of original: 520 x 81, 6 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 30 October 2008:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

I had to look at the source of the page to discover what was written underneath Browse...: it's a recommended size. And somehow the item came up as being in Adelaide, but when I tried to change it, I was only able to change the (incorrect) postal code:

 
This should be location.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: location
Dimensions: 447 x 337, 18 kB
Dimensions of original: 447 x 337, 18 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 30 October 2008:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

After entering my post code it came up with the information “Adelaide, 3352”. It wasn't until I tried tabbing through the window that I found the name of the town hidden beyond the bottom. They had conveniently supplied it without a scroll bar to hide things better:

 
This should be location-2.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: location 2
Dimensions: 428 x 323, 16 kB
Dimensions of original: 428 x 323, 16 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 30 October 2008:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Is this the best people can do after ten years of “progress”?

Chris along for dinner in the evening.


Friday, 31 October 2008 Dereel Images for 31 October 2008
Top of page
previous day

Plenty to do today—I was supposed to brew, but somehow I put it off yet again, and instead baked. I can brew tomorrow, as Rumpelstiltskin said. Spent some more time working on migration issues; it's surprising how much work it is. Also some work in the garden: our Ipomoea (Morning Glory) seeds had not only taken well to being covered in hot water, but were actively germinating, so we had to find somewhere to plant them.

It's been over two weeks since I applied for a VoIP connection for my satellite link, and finally I chased people up about it. It looks as if I'm the first person they've had who supplied his own equipment, and the sales people didn't really know what information I needed. Once I got it, though, it took about 4 minutes to configure: 3 to search the maze of little twisty menus, all different, that the SPA 3000 supplies, and one minute to configure it—and it worked! Compared with previous confrontations with the SPA 3000, that's marvellous, especially since the last time the connection was unbelievably bad over satellite.

Unfortunately, it didn't last. There's some configuration problem on the server that allows registration when the unit powers up, but not afterwards:

U 192.109.197.162:5060 -> 202.142.143.234:5060
REGISTER sip:voice.wide.net.au SIP/2.0.
Via: SIP/2.0/UDP 192.109.197.162:5060;branch=z9hG4bK-c448b068.

#
U 202.142.143.234:5060 -> 192.109.197.162:5060
SIP/2.0 100 Trying.

#
U 202.142.143.234:5060 -> 192.109.197.162:5060
SIP/2.0 401 Unauthorized.

What's the problem there? It's clearly not from my end, anyway.

While on the topic of phones, Yvonne picked up a SIM card for her mobile phone from Optus. They're no more sympathetic than Telstra, but their prepaid mobile phone credit expires more slowly. We barely use mobile phones, but Telstra's cheapest tariff costs at least $13 a month, most of which expired unused. Optus has a $30 “plan” (i.e. tariff) that lasts 6 months, only $5 a month, so it's worth it. But on putting the SIM in Yvonne's phone, I got the message “SIM blocked”. Called up Optus to ask what that meant and got another stupid voice menu system, as bad as the one Telstra uses.

Finally got past that, got the confirmation of my fears that the phone was locked to Telstra. But it seems you can unlock them over the phone—for Telstra the number to call (with another stupid voice menu!) is 1 300 720 179. They tell you how to extract the IMEI number from the phone (*#06#), but they don't tell you how to keep it on the display long enough to copy it, nor that the number is written somewhere near the SIM card slot, which in these circumstances is clearly the preferable method. It didn't cost anything, so unlocked mine too, which also needed it. The Optus cards certainly don't have the coverage they claim to have in their brochures—that would be grounds enough to return it, since we can barely use the phones here—but in fact we don't want to use them here, and they should work OK in Ballarat.

My lens has sold already, with “Buy it now”. Is that a good or a bad sign? I got $120 for it, while the last similar object sold for $85, From that point of view I suppose it's good; and a higher “Buy it now” price might just have got me my equivalent of $85.

We need to progress with the stage. CJ came along on the way back from a funeral and discussed the matter; we're planning to build a back-slanting roof with a gutter against the house.


This should be cj-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: cj 1          Dimensions:          2736 x 3648, 1072 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, 31 October 2008, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 31 October 2008, small
Diary entry for Friday, 31 October 2008 Complete exposure details

 

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-oct2008.php,v 1.84 2017/07/28 03:57:29 grog Exp $