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 2010
Translate this page
Select day in October 2010:
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:
2010 May Jun Jul Aug
2010 Sep Oct Nov Dec
2011 Jan Feb Mar Apr
Today's diary entry
Diary index
About this diary
Previous month
Next month
Greg's home page
Greg's photos
Network link stats
Greg's other links
Copyright information
    
Groogle

Friday, 1 October 2010 Dereel Images for 1 October 2010
Top of page
next day
last day

Completing the pond
Topic: general, gardening Link here

CJ over again today for yet more work. After a bit of thought, we decided to remove the twisted beam above the posts in front of the garage, and to trim the post that was too high. We'll have to buy another beam to replace it.

Then CJ got to digging the remainder of the pond. There are some practical advantages to having a crook leg. Two months ago, before I had my accident, I had got what I thought was nearly finished, but it turned out to be a far cry. Here's the status as I left it, and as CJ finished it:


This should be Pond.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Pond          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2528 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, 28 July 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 28 July 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 28 July 2010 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Pond-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Pond 1          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2384 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 1 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 1 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Friday, 1 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

I'm going to fill the pond from the rainwater tank behind the greenhouse, and in the process discovered that, for some obscure reason, I had fitted a gate valve with a 2" thread, and I don't have matching fittings, so we couldn't fill the pond today. Started laying out the liner, which, as I suspected, wasn't that straightforward a matter. Left it half fitted to ponder how to make it look prettier:


This should be Pond-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Pond 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2352 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 1 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 1 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Friday, 1 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

Also did a little work on the greenhouse. Somehow it's always one step forward, two backward with the thing. Still, it looks as if we're getting there. A few more screws, then we can start glazing.

Also put together a garden bench that Yvonne had bought from ALDI yesterday. It doesn't look bad, but it highlights how important it is that we finally get our plants planted and the verandah tidied up:


This should be Verandah.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Verandah          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2048 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 2 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 2 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 2 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
Identifying bamboo
Topic: gardening Link here

Yvonne into town today, and on the way back stopped off at the roadside plant sales in Napoleons. It seems that they've sold the house, and maybe as a result there was a lot of stuff for sale. In particular, she found some bamboo, which she's been looking for, and brought it back with her. The question is: is it clumping or non-clumping? How do you tell the difference? It's interesting to note that a number of the stems show up in a straight line, which might suggest running bamboo. To be investigated.


This should be Bamboo-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Bamboo 1          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 2128 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 2 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 2 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 2 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Bamboo-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Bamboo 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 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 Saturday, 2 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 2 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 2 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
Satellite dropouts: worse and worse
Topic: technology Link here

I had hoped that my satellite dropout problems would get better again, but today I had one of the worst days ever: a total of 14 dropouts totalling over 30 minutes. That's a total of 28 dropouts in the last 3 days. Wrote a mail message to Paul Rees, and miraculously the dropouts stopped. Coincidence? Possibly, but either way I'm happier.


Geelong library, finally
Topic: technology, general, gardening Link here

Down to the hall at 15:00 today to visit the Geelong Regional Libraries mobile library that comes by here every fortnight. Managed to sign up with almost no problems (“Can you tell me a PIN number. You can use something that you're using already”). She was rather upset when I told her she should never ask people for a PIN they're already using. That's sad, because she was really quite helpful, but it's exactly this kind of attitude that offers criminals the opportunity for fraud.

She also found all my applications via the Internet from last month; it seems that they should have been processed, but weren't. She showed me some of the features on the web site (some of it appears to work), and I was amazed by the speed with which she brought up the pages. She's using wireless, of course, not satellite, and it brings home to me how horribly slow web pages are on satellite. Certainly it's time that I investigated wireless again.

Found a number of books that look potentially interesting, including one on propagating plants. Certainly a useful facility.


Saturday, 2 October 2010 Dereel Images for 2 October 2010
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Spring coming, once again
Topic: gardening Link here

What a long winter it's been! Today we finally got a second day with temperatures over 20° (in fact, 24.3°), and our first petunia is flowering:


This should be Petunia.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Petunia          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 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 Saturday, 2 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 2 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 2 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

That's a leftover from last year: the verandah is relatively protected, and the temperature never dropped below 0°. But the difference from last year is very clear from the flowering of the jasmine. The following photos were taken on 19 September 2009 and 26 September 2010; things haven't changed much since the latter photo:


This should be Jasmine-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Jasmine 3          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1312 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, 19 September 2009, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 19 September 2009, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 19 September 2009 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Jasmine.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Jasmine          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 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 September 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 26 September 2010, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 26 September 2010 Complete exposure details

 

Wunderground tells me that the highest temperature for the last 20 days of September last year was 28.4°, the lowest temperature was 1.5°, and the average was 12.4°. For the same time period this year the values were 22.7°, 0.5° and 9.7° respectively. In particular the 2.7° difference in average temperature is significant. Hopefully things will pick up now.


Dead camera battery
Topic: photography Link here

Six months ago it became clear that the older Li-Ion battery for my camera (bought in August 2007) was showing signs of age, so I bought a new one. Since then I've been using all three batteries in rotation (the third was the one that came with the camera). The old battery is probably weaker now, but it's still working—it's the new one that died today: the charger refused to try to charge it. Why?

Like the previous battery, I bought it on eBay. The price differentials are enormous: the original Olympus BLM-1 costs US $41 from B&H, and the postage comes to the same. The cheapest one I found today came from Hong Kong and cost $1.13 (+ $7 postage, if you believe that relationship). That's a factor of over 10:1. Even if they only last 6 months, that's worth it: the Olympus battery won't last 5 years. And as the other battery shows, there's no reason to believe that they die early.

So what caused this particular one to fail so early? There are a number of considerations:

In any case, decided that the next battery would not be the same type as the last one, and not Li-Poly. Did some searching and found one or two other batteries, also at wildly differing prices. In the end, decided for the cheapest one. If it's no good, at least I haven't lost much.


Investigating the bamboo
Topic: gardening Link here

Did some reading up on identifying bamboo, coming up with some really useful information like How Can I Tell What Kind of Bamboo Plant I Have?. I can sum this one up as “watch it grow. If it clumps, it's clumping bamboo. If it runs, it's running bamboo”. But there was better stuff too, including information from Lewis Bamboo with the interesting information that running bamboo might actually be better than clumping bamboo; certainly the photos they show give that impression. Ultimately we're going to have to watch it and see what it does.


Sunday, 3 October 2010 Dereel Images for 3 October 2010
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Greenhouse, bamboo, pond and irrigation
Topic: gardening Link here

A nice, warm spring day today, so tried to do some more work on the greenhouse. Got all of about 4 screws put in before I realised that I would have to go up on a ladder, not a thing that I want to do with my leg in its current state, so gave up, somewhat frustrated.

One of the things that I got out of reading up on bamboo is that it only grows for 60 days a year, in the springtime. Planting it now might be a bad idea: maybe it needs to have been in the ground for some time before it starts growing. But leaving it out of the ground is an even worse idea, so spent some time looking for where to put the stuff, coming to the conclusion that one clump should go where one branch the biggest of the remaining cathedral trees was located. Called CJ up, and he was really able to come over right away and chop it down:


This should be Cathedral-before.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Cathedral before          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2560 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, 3 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 3 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 3 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Cathedral-after.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Cathedral after          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2544 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, 3 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 3 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 3 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

Gradually there's not much left of the cathedral. The birch trees that we planted there are looking quite happy, but the biggest is still only 50 cm high. I wonder how long it'll take for them to reach 2 m.

While planting the bamboo, took a look at the roots:


This should be Bamboo-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Bamboo 1          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1856 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, 3 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 3 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 3 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Bamboo-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Bamboo 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1744 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Sunday, 3 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 3 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 3 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

There are some distinct shoots running off parallel to the main row of stems. Does that mean it's running bamboo? It almost looks like it. In preparation, planted it in an orientation in which we might reasonably allow it to spread in.

More work on straightening the pond liner, with some success. We've come to the conclusion that we should straighten the bottom part, fill it with water, and then repeat for the other parts. So that can wait until I get the fittings for the pump.

Instead took a look at the irrigation system. There's plenty to be done, including new lines for the birches and the vegetable garden, and replacing some of the micro-sprinklers with drip line, but now that it's getting warm and dry, we need to do some irrigation. Fixed obvious problems that had sprung up in the winter and confirmed that it works. I can then restructure the system at my leisure.


Getting to the bottom of the satellite problems
Topic: technology Link here

My satellite connection continues to be relatively good since my message to Paul Rees—only one dropout in the two days until this evening, compared to 21 in the previous period. He still claims that it's the modem, but clearly he doesn't (or won't) understand the issues—instead he has suggested that I transfer to another ISP. The IPStar technicians based their suspicion that the modem might be defective on failed login attempts and power cycling (the latter done manually by me). The errors we're seeing now are “can't communicate with modem”, and they occur at times of congestion, like today's one (reported at the end, from 09:46:48 to 09:48:23):

1286058794 1 5                                                          # Sun Oct 3 09:33:14 EST 2010
1286058900 0 2 freefall w3 www.auug.org.au                              # Sun Oct 3 09:35:00 EST 2010
1286058916 1 4 w3                                                       # Sun Oct 3 09:35:16 EST 2010
1286058942 0 4 ftp.netbsd.org                                           # Sun Oct 3 09:35:42 EST 2010
1286058999 0 1 freefall w3 ozlabs.org ftp.netbsd.org                    # Sun Oct 3 09:36:39 EST 2010
1286059035 1 2 w3 www.auug.org.au ozlabs.org                            # Sun Oct 3 09:37:15 EST 2010
1286059041 1 5                                                          # Sun Oct 3 09:37:21 EST 2010
1286059126 1 3 freefall www.auug.org.au                                 # Sun Oct 3 09:38:46 EST 2010
1286059152 1 3 www.auug.org.au ozlabs.org                               # Sun Oct 3 09:39:12 EST 2010
1286059179 1 3 ozlabs.org ftp.netbsd.org                                # Sun Oct 3 09:39:39 EST 2010
1286059225 0 2 w3 www.auug.org.au ozlabs.org                            # Sun Oct 3 09:40:25 EST 2010
1286059231 1 5                                                          # Sun Oct 3 09:40:31 EST 2010
1286059327 1 2 freefall www.auug.org.au ftp.netbsd.org                  # Sun Oct 3 09:42:07 EST 2010
1286059354 0 4 ftp.netbsd.org                                           # Sun Oct 3 09:42:34 EST 2010
1286059411 1 0 freefall w3 www.auug.org.au ozlabs.org ftp.netbsd.org    # Sun Oct 3 09:43:31 EST 2010
1286059447 0 3 freefall w3                                              # Sun Oct 3 09:44:07 EST 2010
1286059484 0 3 freefall www.auug.org.au                                 # Sun Oct 3 09:44:44 EST 2010
1286059532 0 2 www.auug.org.au ozlabs.org ftp.netbsd.org                # Sun Oct 3 09:45:32 EST 2010
1286059608 0 0 freefall w3 www.auug.org.au ozlabs.org ftp.netbsd.org    # Sun Oct 3 09:46:48 EST 2010
1286059684 0 0 freefall w3 www.auug.org.au ozlabs.org ftp.netbsd.org    # Sun Oct 3 09:48:04 EST 2010
1286059703 0 5                                                          # Sun Oct 3 09:48:23 EST 2010

In the whole 15 minute period there were only 4 entries without some kind of dropped packet, but only the last two represent the dropout. This has all the hallmarks of congestion-related problems; possibly the BST communication protocol between the modem and the base station can't handle congestion. It would be nice to know more about the topology, but it's difficult to find anything when your “technical” contact can't distinguish between power cycling and “no response”.


Monday, 4 October 2010 Dereel Images for 4 October 2010
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Finishing the pond
Topic: gardening, general Link here

Into town today to buy various things for the garden, in particular fittings for the pump so that we can fill up the pond. Also bought a shredder that will hopefully be better than the last one, and picked up Chris, who had left her car for service. Stopped off in Napoleons for yet another roadside plant purchase, and this time saw the owner of the house. It seems she hasn't sold after all; the “Sold” sign was on the corner of the main road and related to some house further down the road. Picked up a shrub marked “Greek Oregano”, which looks more perfumed than the stuff I bought out of the pots.

Back home and put the pump together—this stupid thing was delivered in two parts, the pump body and the regulator. There's a non-removable cable between the two, and the regulator needs to be screwed on top of the pump body. How do you do that? With great difficulty. Opened up the connector box to remove the cable, but the earth connector was crimped, so ended up twisting the cable not quite enough to have it come out straight after screwing in the regulator:


This should be Pump-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Pump 1          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1760 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, 5 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 5 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 5 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

Apart from that, though, things worked fine, and I filled in the bottom part of the pond as planned. We'll continue tomorrow. The effort was helped by some heavy rainfall in the evening—nearly 10 mm in a little over an hour. And that showed that we really do have some kind of leak in the roof of the front part of the house. As soon as Bryan is available, I'll get him to take a look.


Still more satellite problems
Topic: technology Link here

Replied to Paul Rees today, pointing out that I had only had one dropout over the weekend—and immediately the dropouts started again:

Date        Outages   Duration  Availability    Date
                      (seconds)
1285768800        7        547   99.37% # 30 September 2010
1285855200       14       1824   97.89% #  1 October 2010
1286028000        1         95   99.89% #  3 October 2010
1286110800       12       1123   98.70% #  4 October 2010

You'd really think that there's a connection, but he says there isn't, and it's really difficult to imagine that anybody would do that deliberately. But what is the problem? Most people don't monitor their satellite connections the way I do, but I can't completely reject his claim that they'd be in real trouble if everybody was getting the quality of service that I am. But he ignores my objection that the dropout cause is different, and claims that they have no congestion. If only I could come up with something conclusive.

It's interesting to note that not all dropouts cause a logout; there are long periods where the connectivity doesn't completely disappear, and the modem doesn't log in again. What I saw was:

1286156931 1 4 w3                                                       # Mon Oct 4 12:48:51 EST 2010
1286156936 1 5                                                          # Mon Oct 4 12:48:56 EST 2010
1286157022 1 3 ozlabs.org ftp.netbsd.org                                # Mon Oct 4 12:50:22 EST 2010
1286157079 0 1 freefall www.auug.org.au ozlabs.org ftp.netbsd.org       # Mon Oct 4 12:51:19 EST 2010
1286157106 1 3 freefall www.auug.org.au                                 # Mon Oct 4 12:51:46 EST 2010
1286157158 1 5                                                          # Mon Oct 4 12:52:38 EST 2010
1286157223 1 5                                                          # Mon Oct 4 12:53:43 EST 2010
1286157318 0 3 freefall w3                                              # Mon Oct 4 12:55:18 EST 2010
1286157324 1 5                                                          # Mon Oct 4 12:55:24 EST 2010
1286157409 1 3 ozlabs.org ftp.netbsd.org                                # Mon Oct 4 12:56:49 EST 2010
1286157415 1 5                                                          # Mon Oct 4 12:56:55 EST 2010
1286157541 0 0 freefall w3 www.auug.org.au ozlabs.org ftp.netbsd.org    # Mon Oct 4 12:59:01 EST 2010
1286157597 0 1 freefall w3 ozlabs.org ftp.netbsd.org                    # Mon Oct 4 12:59:57 EST 2010
1286157624 1 3 freefall www.auug.org.au                                 # Mon Oct 4 13:00:24 EST 2010
1286157661 0 3 w3 www.auug.org.au                                       # Mon Oct 4 13:01:01 EST 2010
1286157689 1 3 freefall w3                                              # Mon Oct 4 13:01:29 EST 2010
1286157721 1 3 freefall www.auug.org.au                                 # Mon Oct 4 13:02:01 EST 2010
1286157739 0 5                                                          # Mon Oct 4 13:02:19 EST 2010

During this time my IRC connection dropped 4 times:

04-10-2010 01:51:22 ERROR: read(fd=45): Connection error: Connection reset by peer
04-10-2010 01:51:22 ERROR: Error while reading on fd 45
04-10-2010 01:51:22 ERROR: client read_lines error, closing...
04-10-2010 01:52:29 ERROR: read(fd=46): Connection error: Connection reset by peer
04-10-2010 01:52:29 ERROR: Error while reading on fd 46
04-10-2010 01:52:29 ERROR: client read_lines error, closing...
04-10-2010 01:59:13 ERROR: read(fd=47): Connection error: Connection reset by peer
04-10-2010 01:59:13 ERROR: Error while reading on fd 47
04-10-2010 01:59:13 ERROR: client read_lines error, closing...
04-10-2010 02:00:00 ERROR: read(fd=48): Connection error: Connection reset by peer
04-10-2010 02:00:00 ERROR: Error while reading on fd 48
04-10-2010 02:00:00 ERROR: client read_lines error, closing...

The times here are in UTC, 11 hours behind us. It's interesting in passing to note that bip has a file descriptor leak here: it opens a new socket every time, but doesn't close the old one. And the ECONNRESET looks like a BST artefact, but the modem doesn't log in again. This all looks very much like some firmware problem to me.

In addition, traceroute showed some kind of connectivity:

=== root@dereel (/dev/ttyp7) ~ 46 -> traceroute -n w3
traceroute to w3.lemis.com (208.86.224.149), 64 hops max, 40 byte packets
 1  192.168.5.100  0.795 ms  0.713 ms  0.580 ms
 2  * * *
 3  * * *
 4  203.169.16.25  645.814 ms *  1108.002 ms
 5  203.169.17.38  639.379 ms  619.786 ms *
 6  * 114.31.193.18  850.290 ms *
 7  * 114.31.192.66  1033.690 ms *
 8  * * *
 9  * * 64.215.29.53  1371.278 ms
10  * * 67.16.142.214  964.178 ms
11  4.68.111.161  1148.492 ms  1252.629 ms  1562.973 ms
12  4.68.18.62  1013.070 ms  760.903 ms
    4.68.18.126  784.331 ms
13  4.69.134.249  780.014 ms * *
14  * * *
15  4.69.141.22  1553.153 ms  1577.434 ms *
16  4.69.135.253  2263.009 ms *  907.482 ms
17  4.69.132.89  1406.411 ms  834.837 ms  1249.011 ms
18  4.69.132.177  891.820 ms  836.731 ms *
19  4.71.162.14  851.655 ms  922.051 ms^C

By the time I stopped the traceroute, the connection was “up” again, but as the results show, there were a lot of dropped packets.


Tuesday, 5 October 2010 Dereel Images for 5 October 2010
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Pond: try again
Topic: gardening Link here

Out this morning to see how full the pond was after yesterday's rain. I wasn't prepared for what I saw:


This should be Pond-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Pond 1          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1920 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, 5 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 5 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 5 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

On further examination discovered that a tiny stone had somehow slipped in between the liner and the sand, causing a surprisingly large tear:


This should be Pond-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Pond 3          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1552 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Tuesday, 5 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 5 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 5 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

I knew that pond liners are sensitive, but that's completely out of proportion. Did some thinking and noted that we only need ¾ of the foil, and if I were to turn it around, I could put the tear in the part that I don't intend to use. But this happened when there were only about 20 cm of water in the foil, and I don't like my chances of it happening again, possibly months after we have filled the thing up. So I'm giving the foil approach up as a bad job, and I think we'll probably concrete it instead. But first I need to consider the alternatives.


Moving away from satellite
Topic: technology Link here

The satellite networking woes continue. Potentially I might be able to get the current connection problems resolved, possibly by changing ISP, but some things are invariant: satellite latency in particular. I think it's time to return to wireless.

But which network? I really only have the choice between Optus and Telstra. I've had terrible support from Telstra in the past, but a lot of that related to the equipment they were using at the time: it required proprietary drivers, and they supplied some of the buggiest software I have ever seen. But now there are alternatives, and people have told me that the services are relatively reliable. Telstra seems to have lower latency, which could be important when using VoIP. I also know that we don't need an antenna here, while I would for Optus. But it's good to have the option to change, and it seems that the best way to achieve that is through a router such as the NetComm 3G9WB. This is the unit that Telstra sells for $299, but they're available on eBay at prices starting from under $100, most with the advantage that they can also—apparently—be used for the Optus network. So that's what I'll probably do.

Surprisingly, people I spoke to on IRC didn't see it that way: they recommended a Huawei E176 or similar, a USB dongle. Somehow I don't like the idea much. People use standalone ADSL modems and 802.11 access points (the 3G9WB is one); why not for 3G?


Veggie patch: finally
Topic: gardening Link here

In the afternoon, got round to connecting up the irrigation for one half of the veggie patch:


This should be Veggie-garden.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Veggie garden          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2672 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 6 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 6 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 6 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

That's all we need at the moment, and I really should put in taps so that I can control the irrigation of all four segments of the garden separately. At least something has succeeded lately.


Wednesday, 6 October 2010 Dereel Images for 6 October 2010
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Filling the vegetable garden
Topic: gardening Link here

There's still a lot to do before the greenhouse is finished, but the veggie patch is now ready for planting, and it has one advantage in common with the greenhouse: it is relatively protected from the wind. Currently we have been keeping lots of plants on the verandah, itself not overly wind-protected. But now spring really seems to be coming, so it made sense to move most of the plants to the veggie patch. In addition, Yvonne started transplanting some herbs: tarragon, sorrel and a cutting of Vietnamese mint. We would have continued, but rain stopped play.


New wireless router
Topic: technology Link here

More investigation of wireless options today. Took another look at the Optus web site, which annoys me greatly by not giving any direct links. When I found the page I was looking for, I understood nothing. Without any further explanation, it gives two sums ($30 and $240), claims they're equal, and elsewhere it gives prices per MB as well:

 
This should be optus.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: optus
Dimensions: 521 x 313, 48 kB
Dimensions of original: 521 x 313, 48 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 6 October 2010:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

There's absolutely no clarification what that's supposed to mean. While I was scratching my head, I got an unsolicited popup asking me if I wanted to “live chat”. That sounded like a good idea, so ended up connected to Will. Here part of the discussion:

You: "The first ever mobile broadband cap".
You: $30 - $240.
You: Is there any explanation of what that means?
Will: Hi Greg.  Yes there is.  Those plans are a bit confusing
You: You can say that again.
Will: The times you use the internet, there is a cost involved.  If
      you use it between 7am and 12 pm, you get charged 8 cents per
      mb.  If you use it between 12 midnight and 7am, it's charged at
      4 cents per mb
You: In any case, if I pay for all data, is the $30 in addition?
You: And what's the $240?
Will: No, the $30 is the cost you pay every month.  If you go over,
      the internet stops
Will: The $240 is how much value you get for paying $30
You: OK, so I pay $30 and get 240/0.08 MB?
Will: How it works out is if you use all the internet during the
      "peak" time, you can get up to 3 gigs of usage

You: One other thing: does an unlocked Telstra modem work?
You: I was looking at the NetComm 3G9WB.
Will: Yes, if it's unlocked it will work
You: Thanks.

Those prices actually look quite good, though the relationships are all over the place. For $30, I get $240 worth of traffic (8× as much, at least 3 GB, or 1¢ per MB). For $40 I get $560 worth (14× as much, at least 7 GB, or 0.57¢ per MB), and for $70 I get only $720 worth of traffic (10.3× as much, 0.78¢ per MB). Still, those look to be the cheapest options. Based on that information, bought a NetComm 3G9WB. And then I discovered that it can't do 3G at 900 MHz, which is what Optus is likely to use here (though Internode claim that it's 2100 MHz, which is supported by the modem. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Internode also claim that I can get coverage without any additional antennas, which seems unlikely to me.


Another deluge
Topic: general Link here

Heavy rain in the afternoon, catching Yvonne in the forest with Nemo. She was soaking wet by the time she got home. We must have had 18 mm of rain in about 10 minutes, and the gravel area in front of the kitchen filled up with about 2 cm of water, the first time I've seen that. I didn't have time to get any photos: we had leakage in the roof above the kitchen, including problems that tripped the RCD, like we did six months ago. Once is bad enough, but it's clear we're going to have to get somebody to go up there and investigate before we get any more heavy rain. At least things weren't quite as bad this time, and in the end the RCD stayed on.

In addition to that, when we finally got the power working, had trouble with the water pump. I still don't know quite what happened, but we didn't have any water in the house, though we had pressure outside. I think this must have been a side effect of the rain: the water filter was pretty dirty, though I had only cleaned it last month (normally I do it at the start of each season). After cleaning it, things worked again.

We did have three very short power failures; I didn't have time to pay attention to when.

One side effect was water in the pond again:


This should be Pond.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Pond          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1856 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 6 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 6 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 6 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

It won't stay there, of course, but it's a good indication of how much rain we had.


Panoramas with toy cameras
Topic: photography Link here

Yvonne has been claiming that her camera is defective: it won't focus properly. Took some photos to check, and had no problems with focus:


This should be Music.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Music          Dimensions:          3648 x 2736, 896 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 6 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 6 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 6 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

There's a little lateral camera shake there, and the picture quality is abysmal (36° ISO on a compact camera), but it's clearly sharp enough. Then she said that it only happened after a number of photos in sequence. So tried 16 photos of the verandah, without getting the problem. Probably it's just the typical difficulty of getting compact cameras to focus consistently. This one certainly annoys me by deciding which part of the motive it is going to focus on, and not giving me any choice in the matter.

So then I had 16 photos of the verandah, taken at random. Some were higher than others Decided to see whether I could stitch them together. Surprise: I could.


This should be Verandah.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Verandah          Dimensions:          7882 x 3298, 3984 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 6 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 6 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 6 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

Clearly the stitching isn't up to scratch, since I took the photos from different viewpoints, but it does suggest that I can stitch two-dimensional panoramas with Hugin. To be investigated.


Thursday, 7 October 2010 Dereel Images for 7 October 2010
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Shopping trip
Topic: general Link here

Into town with Yvonne today for a variety of things, many of which didn't work out. About the only thing I did that Yvonne couldn't do was to have my hair cut. On the whole, a rather frustrating morning, and one that showed that I still can't walk significant distances.


Limiting electricity usage
Topic: general Link here

The long, cold winter has had another effect: a bill for $2004 for the last 3 months' electricity. That's only partially due to heating: even in the warmer months the power consumption is far too high, and I'd expect to be able to knock $500 off the quarterly rates. I strongly suspect the fridges, but clearly it would be a good idea to measure the consumption of individual devices, so in town went to Jaycar to buy something to measure it—and they weren't there. This was in Bridge Mall, which I suspect is a little too up-market for Jaycar. I'm sure they're elsewhere, but I didn't feel like looking for them. Also to BigW to look for fridges, but they don't carry them. Round about then, decided my leg was too painful, so I'll use the web instead.


Progress with wireless networking
Topic: technology Link here

The wireless modem I bought yesterday is already here! That's the fastest I've ever received something bought on eBay. I bought it at 15:09 yesterday, and picked it up at the post office at about 10:10 today—a total of only 19 hours.

While in town, dropped in at the Telstra shop to pick up a SIM card. Blank look from the salesgirl. After I explained it to her, she went and checked. No, they only had SIM cards for USB dongles. I would have to order one by phone. A far cry from the speedy delivery of the modem itself.

Back home and investigated the modem. No instructions. None to be found anywhere on the web. But the underside contained most of the information I needed:

 
This should be modem-underside.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: modem underside
Dimensions: 718 x 603, 140 kB
Dimensions of original: 718 x 603, 140 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Friday, 8 October 2010:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Fired that up and was able to talk to it via a web browser, though it's very slow. But there wasn't much I could do without a SIM, so called up Telstra. I know why I kept putting it off. First I was connected to this HORRIBLE voice menu system (“So that I can direct your call, please tell me in a few words the reason for your call today”). My response: “I need a wireless SIM card”. The system seemed to understand that, and came back with “Is the enquiry related to the number you are calling from?”. No. “What is the number related to the enquiry?” None, of course. “Sorry, I'm having difficulty understanding that. What is the number related to the enquiry?”.

After a few shouts of “Consultant!” “Consultant!” “Consultant!”, I finally got connected to Stefan, who told me that they don't have a procedure to supply a SIM. If the SIM card was defective, he should connect me to technical support. I managed to stop him doing that, and he put me back to the voice menu monstrosity with the information that the correct keywords were “Mobile SIM card”. That worked, but then the system went on with “Before I connect you, some problems can be solved without having to speak to a consultant ...”.

More “Consultant!” “Consultant!” “Consultant!”, and I was connected to Tony, who understood that this was a new account, and connected me to Grant, who spoke quietly and took what seemed an eternity (must have been 20 minutes), but finally said he had set up the account. I asked him about the SIM card, and he said it would come with the device (which he hadn't even mentioned). He said that the device was free. I explained that I had the device, and according to their web site, I would have to pay $199 for the model I wanted (there are at least two different devices to choose from (“BigPond Elite™ USB” and “BigPond Elite™ Network Gateway”), but he hadn't asked me which one I wanted). He told me that they're all free now, and on my explicit question said yes, I would get a free gateway box.

Should I believe him? Everything seems to be so vague. It'll take a couple of days before the thing arrives, but I'm not counting on it being correct, especially based on my previous experience. But it does look as if I was a little hasty in buying the modem yesterday. Still, it's unlocked, so I could use it on other networks, so it's possibly premature to try to get rid of it again—especially since I don't trust Telstra to send me the correct device for free.

At the end of the talk, I was asked to do a survey on my customer experience, including saying what I didn't like. Did that, of course, and then waited. Nothing happened for a while—I was thinking that their voice detection technology would time out when I stopped talking, but instead it went back to the beginning again. Everything seems so flaky at Telstra.

So why did I have so much difficulty? I think the Telstra people are like the voice non-recognition system. They all don't understand “I want a SIM for wireless networking”. Instead, I need to sign up for wireless broadband. But how am I to know what buzzwords they have been programmed with?


Traveler DC 140
Topic: photography Link here

At ALDI bought a new camera for Yvonne, a Traveler DC 140 digital camera. 14 MP—that's higher than any digital camera I have ever had—and only $79. I wonder what the image quality will be like, but I'll compare that with her current Kodak M1093 IS after a bit of thinking how to do so. So far the impression isn't bad; it seems to have more knobs to turn than the Kodak does.


New monitor
Topic: technology Link here

Also bought an ALDI “fission” D22PF monitor (24", 1920×1080). It works, but it's clearly not “modern”: the buttons (which appear to be some form of touch sensitive area) are clearly marked, unlike all my other monitors:


This should be Monitor-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Monitor 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1280 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 8 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 8 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Friday, 8 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

I was expecting more brilliance from an LED monitor, but so far it doesn't seem spectacular. I'll play around with the settings and see if I can improve things.


More planting
Topic: gardening Link here

Went to Formosa Gardens to buy our hedging plants, and I realised I had forgotten to measure the length of the hedge, so we didn't know how many bushes we needed. But they didn't seem to have anything of interest anyway, so just looked around and bought some other stuff.

in the afternoon planted a fair amount of it: punnets of Thai basil, sage and chervil (the last of which we have been looking for for a long time). There are so many plants in these punnets that it seems ridiculous to grow from seed: a punnet costs about the same as a packet of seed, and while there are more seeds in the packet than seedlings in the punnet, there's more than we need even in the punnets. Counted about 20 sage seedlings, when we really only needed about 5. Planted the rest in tubes; maybe we'll find something to do with them.

Yvonne also finally planted the tomatoes, which have been waiting for a while, and also transplanted an artichoke, which hopefully will survive some relatively radical root damage.


Friday, 8 October 2010 Dereel Images for 8 October 2010
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Loosing the horses
Topic: animals Link here

The horses have been locked in the home paddock since Don Fortescue sprayed the other paddocks last week. Today we let hem out into the east paddock, which has the best grass. They often gallop around like crazy when they're let out, and again there were bloody kangaroos in the paddock, so I was interested to see what would happen, and went in with a camera. Unfortunately, nothing happened, and Yvonne had to chase off the kangaroos:


This should be Horses-Kangaroos-4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Horses Kangaroos 4          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2336 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 8 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 8 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Friday, 8 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Kangaroos-8-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Kangaroos 8 detail          Dimensions:          2521 x 1550, 624 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 8 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 8 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Friday, 8 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Kangaroos-11-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Kangaroos 11 detail          Dimensions:          2299 x 1502, 528 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 8 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 8 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Friday, 8 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
Traveler DC 140 test
Topic: photography Link here

Found a test of the camera by the German Stiftung Warentest. It doesn't seem to be up to Stiftung Warentest's usual high standard: it complains about typical problems with these small cameras, such as slowness (though it seems to be faster than the Kodak), lack of optical viewfinder (what small camera has one nowadays?) and plastic body. It does mention noise in the image, something you'd expect in a small camera with 14 MP, and that remains to be seen. They even had difficulty inserting the SD card—I don't know why. About the only thing they liked was the instruction manual, clearly better than the English one I got.


Two row panoramas and Traveler DC 140
Topic: photography Link here

After my playing around with Yvonne's camera the other day, did some more thought about making real multi-row panoramas. The hardware issue is to get the camera to pivot about the nodal point. To do that, I need to mount it on a pivoting rail with the pivot axis going through the nodal point. Surprisingly, it wasn't as difficult as I expected. I had expected to have to at least drill a hole in the L bar to ensure that the axis of the pan head also went through the nodal point, but fortunately I already had one in the correct place. About the only problem is that I can't turn the camera down too far without getting the tripod in the field of view. I can't see a way round that problem.

The big issue was getting photos of the setup, since I had to take them with compact cameras. Took the opportunity to compare the results of Yvonne's two cameras, the Kodak M1093 IS and the Traveler DC 140:


This should be Camera-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Camera 3          Dimensions:          3216 x 4288, 1472 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 8 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 8 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Friday, 8 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Camera-6.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Camera 6          Dimensions:          2736 x 3648, 1216 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 8 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 8 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Friday, 8 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

That's the Traveler on the left and the Kodak on the right. There's small choice in rotten apples, but it seems that the colours on the Traveler are rather gaudy. Both photos are terrible; I'll try more tomorrow.

And the panorama? I'm not sure. Yes, hugin stitched it together perfectly, but now I have converging verticals, something that I didn't before:


This should be verandah-panorama.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: verandah panorama          Dimensions:          5389 x 2956, 2896 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Friday, 8 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 8 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Friday, 8 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

I suppose I can straighten them with GIMP, but first I need to do some other playing around.


Playing with 3G modems
Topic: technology Link here

Talking about my 3G modem on IRC. What's a USIM?. I had assumed that it was a SIM with a different form factor, but it seems the difference is the information on the SIM. But if that's the case, why do they need special USIMs for this model? For the fun of it, put the SIM from the old BP3-EXT, after which it happily came up and found a wireless network, but of course it wouldn't let me log on. If Telstra had anything like technical support, they probably could have reenabled it while I was on the phone yesterday.

 
This should be modem-status-2.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: modem status 2
Dimensions: 700 x 725, 54 kB
Dimensions of original: 700 x 725, 54 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Friday, 8 October 2010:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

On a suggestion from Jashank Jeremy, tried to ssh to the box. Surprise! It worked, and gave me a castrated shell-like utility (even with Emacs editing bindings). It seems that it's running Linux, to judge from the output of some of the commands:

> lan show
br0            Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 00:60:64:1B:4C:41
                inet addr:10.0.0.138  Bcast:10.0.0.255  Mask:255.255.255.0
                UP BROADCAST RUNNING ALLMULTI MULTICAST  MTU:1500  Metric:1
                RX packets:153683 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
                TX packets:186037 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
                collisions:0 txqueuelen:0
                RX bytes:16284916 (15.5 MiB)  TX bytes:154038265 (146.9 MiB)

br0:0          Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 00:60:64:1B:4C:41
                inet addr:192.109.197.5  Bcast:192.109.197.255  Mask:255.255.255.0
                UP BROADCAST RUNNING ALLMULTI MULTICAST  MTU:1500  Metric:1

That's good news. I should ask them for the sources for the firmware. I wonder if the other modems also run Linux.


Saturday, 9 October 2010 Dereel Images for 9 October 2010
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

How many photos for a panorama?
Topic: photography Link here

House photos today. I'm still experimenting, and today I tried making my panoramas with fewer images than normal. The trimmed results looked OK, but I don't think it was a good idea. Here an example of the raw (untrimmed) results for one of the panoramas, one with 8 images (approximately 45°) and one with 7 shots (approximately 52° between images), followed by the trimmed versions:


This should be garden-ne-panorama-raw.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: garden ne panorama raw          Dimensions:          9438 x 2347, 4048 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 9 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 9 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 9 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
This should be garden-ne-panorama.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: garden ne panorama          Dimensions:          9438 x 1921, 4416 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 9 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 9 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 9 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

This should be garden-ne-panorama-dup-raw.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: garden ne panorama dup raw          Dimensions:          9233 x 2466, 3920 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 9 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 9 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 9 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
This should be garden-ne-panorama-dup.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: garden ne panorama dup          Dimensions:          9233 x 1830, 4080 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 9 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 9 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 9 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

For a single image, it doesn't seem to be worth it.


A shredder that works
Topic: gardening Link here

Gradually my leg is getting better, and I can do more work in the garden. The soil in the vegetable patch is less than superb, so today spent some time mixing compost and soil (which we have left over from excavating the pond). Problem: this compost is over a year old, made at a time when I thought things like rose clippings would compost nicely. They don't, and I had lots of thorny twigs and other stuff that really needed to be removed. OK, I had built a compost sieve last year, so I could use that to sieve the stuff, in the process discovering that it works a whole lot better if you do it by hand (with gloves, of course).

But there were still the twigs. Sure, they will rot some time, but I can also shred them now that I have a new shredder—maybe. In April I bought a “shredder” from ALDI, and the results were really terrible. I bought a new one from Gays earlier this week, so this was a good chance to try it out. Surprise! It worked. It's easy to clog it up (and difficult to fix the problem), but with a bit of work it can produce good results. After what is really too much work ended up with some very passable soil for the garden. And now I know that the opinion I voiced nearly 2 years ago was wrong: twigs don't decay quickly enough. So now I can shred them before composting rather than after, and things should get a lot easier.


Sunday, 10 October 2010 Dereel Images for 10 October 2010
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

A hedge to the south
Topic: gardening Link here

We've been planning to plant a hedge to the south of the house for some time, between the shipping container (which we're planning to get rid of) and the road:


This should be house-s.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: house s          Dimensions:          2934 x 1296, 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 Saturday, 2 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 2 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 2 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

Yvonne has spent most of the weekend at a dog show, and at breakfast she suggested that I come into town and we finally buy some plants. We had already established that Formosa Gardens didn't have much choice, so off to look for the nursery we visited in June 2009. I didn't get the name at the time, so looked in the yellow pages and still didn't find it. In passing, it's interesting to know that in Australia, you don't put children in nurseries, only plants. If you want a child nursery, you have to look for child care centres.

Still, I had a good idea of how to get there, and put an approximate address into the navigator and set off, refusing to follow the instructions to turn right from Otway St into Victoria St: it's a dual carriageway, and I couldn't have got across the divide.

Finally found the place. It doesn't really have a name; it's just the Ballarat representative of a group of garden centres called Grow Master. Spent some time looking around and ended up buying a number of plants, not only for the hedge, but also a Camellia japonicaBlack tie” with bright red flowers, for far too much money ($70). But it's relatively big, and it'll flower this year, while others wouldn't. It's interesting to note the variety of flower forms that I can find on the web that are attributed to this name.

Yvonne off to her dog show, and I headed back home and laid out dripper lines for the hedge—something that I seldom do in advance. Yvonne back in mid-afternoon, and we decided how to lay out the hedge. That was surprisingly difficult, and it took us a while to come out with the results:

Plant       height       width       position from left
Grevillea “Robyn Gordon”       2 m       1.5 m       0.75 m
Callistemon “endeavour”       3 m       3 m       3 m
Grevillea longifolia       3-4 m       3-5 m       6.5 m
Acacia iteaphylla       3-5 m       3-6 m       10.75 m
Grevillea hookeriana       3-5 m       2 m       14 m
Grevillea hookeriana       3-5 m       2 m       16 m
Acacia “abundance”       2-4 m       1.5-2 m       18 m
Grevillea hookeriana       3-5 m       2 m       20 m
Grevillea longifolia       3-4 m       3-5 m       23 m
Callistemon “Hannah Ray”       5 m       1.5 m       25.75 m
Grevillea “Robyn Gordon”       2 m       1.5 m       27.25 m
Acacia iteaphylla       3-5 m       3-6 m       30 m

Managed to get all that in the ground. There's not much to see yet:


This should be Hedge.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Hedge          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 3344 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, 11 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 11 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Monday, 11 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

Also planted most of the plants we bought in Pomonal last month: Eucalyptus macrocarpa, Leionema dentatum and Grevillea lavendulacea x lanigera:


This should be Eucalyptus-macrocarpa.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Eucalyptus macrocarpa          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 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 Monday, 11 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 11 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Monday, 11 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Leionema-dentatum.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Leionema dentatum          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 2448 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, 11 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 11 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Monday, 11 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Grevillea-lavandulacea-x-lanigera.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Grevillea lavandulacea x lanigera          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 2176 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, 11 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 11 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Monday, 11 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

Finally turned our attention to the Camellia. Where should we put it? The label suggested that it would do well in a pot, and Yvonne had bought a nice big one in Napoleons recently, so put it in there on the verandah. Hopefully it'll be happy there; I'd guess that the pot weighs 150 kg.


Monday, 11 October 2010 Dereel Images for 11 October 2010
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Bloody wind!
Topic: gardening Link here

Woken in the middle of the night by high winds, which continued most of the night. When I got up in the morning, our freshly planted Camellia japonica was standing at an angle (in the hexagonal pot):


This should be Camellia-before.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Camellia before          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1664 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, 11 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 11 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Monday, 11 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

After some thought decided that the best we could do would be to tie stays to the two adjacent posts of the verandah. Now at least it's upright:


This should be Camellia-after.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Camellia after          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2224 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 11 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 11 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Monday, 11 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

But there's just too much wind there. We've already had citrus trees and Hibiscus rosa-sinensis suffer from the wind, and we're seriously considering putting in some kind of transparent screen in at least part of the verandah. In the meantime this should help, though.

Another problem with the coming of spring was the irrigation, which is now turned on. I had checked that it worked yesterday, but things didn't look very good this morning. Further checking established that the water filter—cleaned at the beginning of the season, as always—was completely clogged. We haven't used that much water. Is this maybe because we didn't use any at all for 5 months, and all the underground sludge collected round the bottom of the bore pipe? To be observed.


Spring at last?
Topic: general, gardening Link here

The wind peaked at 40 km/h at 3:26, and over the course of the day slowed down a little. Despite the wind, the weather was more pleasant than it's been for a while—another day with 24° maximum, and only a gradual drop to the evening. Time to tidy up the verandah: put up the hanging baskets and moved a lot of the “greenhouse” plants to the vegetable patch, where they're at least out of the wind and in the range of a sprinkler.

Spent some time on the verandah reading some of the magazines that have been piling up recently. I had hoped to be able to have dinner there, but it was just a little too cool by then.


Tuesday, 12 October 2010 Dereel Images for 12 October 2010
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Paulownia flowering
Topic: gardening Link here

Finally our Paulownia kawakami is flowering. Sadly, the flowers aren't very interesting in themselves:


This should be Paulownia-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Paulownia 2          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 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 Tuesday, 12 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 12 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 12 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Paulownia-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Paulownia 1          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 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, 12 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 12 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 12 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

I suspect that the view of the whole tree flowering is more impressive, but it'll be a year or two before it really flowers in abundance.


Greenhouse progress
Topic: gardening Link here

It's been almost a year since we started erecting the greenhouse. We haven't made much progress: working on it is like pulling teeth. In fact, there wasn't much left to do before we start glazing, but it's frustrating beyond belief.

When we started erecting the greenhouse, it was clear that we were going to need more screws. The originals were very old-fashioned: straight slit screws and square nuts, not very well suited to modern power tools:


This should be Bolt.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Bolt          Dimensions:          2029 x 1982, 688 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 22 October 2009, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 22 October 2009, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 22 October 2009 Complete exposure details

 

The bolts I bought instead had hexagonal heads and nuts, and they fitted well. Then I discovered that the heads were too thick: in many places, the glass lies just proud of the screw heads, held away from the metal by plastic liners. It would press against the heads of the bolts. So I had to buy some other screws more like the originals (on the right and front):


This should be Screws-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Screws 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 704 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 13 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 13 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 13 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Screws-5.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Screws 5          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 880 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 13 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 13 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 13 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

There are a number of problems here: I have to remove most of the bolts I put in (some aren't near glass), the screws are of very poor quality, and the nuts are so thin that it's difficult to get them on the thread (not helped by the poor quality of the thread). Today I replaced the remainder of the bolts, and it seemed that every location had its own particular trick to annoy me. But finally I have it done. The only thing we need to do before glazing is to go over to Chris' place to pick up the glass.


Finally lunch on the verandah
Topic: general Link here

The weather today was supposed to be rainy, but it was really warm at lunch time, and we were able to eat on the verandah for the first time since about April. It's about time: it's been a particularly long and unpleasant winter.


Another deluge
Topic: general Link here

Unfortunately it didn't stay that way. Round 15:00, just as Yvonne wanted to start putting down weed mat for the southern hedge, it started raining. Heavily. Between 15:00 and 17:30 we had 20 mm of rain, most of it in the first hour. And of course we had Yet Another roof leak in the kitchen, though not as bad as the others. In particular, we didn't have any issues with rain in the electrical circuits. But we're clearly going to have to do something about it very quickly.

Previously I've been thinking that we had some rot in that part of the roof—I'm sure that birds are nesting in one corner—but that's not where the leaks are coming from. Now I'm more inclined to believe that it's dirt in the rain guttering. We know we have clogged gutters, and where the leak happens there's a valley between two parts of the roof, so it's reasonably to assume that crud has collected there. Called CJ, who is busy all this week and the next, but he said he'd try to come past tomorrow. Hopefully we won't get too much more rain before then.


Satellite dropouts: enough is enough
Topic: technology Link here

My satellite dropouts continue, and I've received feedback from IPStar that suggests that the problem might be on the transmit side, between the modem and the BUC, probably a cable issue. Nothing relating to Paul Rees' claim that the modem is defective, and that I should replace it. The closest they come is “If the issue persist ... it is recommended to change the modem and cables to prevent re-visits.”. In other words, as a precautionary measure. But not with my money. But then, they also think that disconnecting the cables and letting the electrons drain out is a useful undertaking.

But I'm not the only one who can't handle the issue. bip's file descriptor leak finally came back to kill it:

11-10-2010 22:08:25 ERROR: read(fd=99): Connection error: Connection reset by peer
11-10-2010 22:08:25 ERROR: Error while reading on fd 99
11-10-2010 22:08:25 ERROR: client read_lines error, closing...

And that was all. The bip daemon died. Clearly bip can only handle 99 file descriptors. This means that I've had 92 dropouts since it was started (initial fd is 7).


Wednesday, 13 October 2010 Dereel Images for 13 October 2010
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Cleaning the gutters
Topic: general Link here

CJ over this morning to take a look at the gutters. He was quite successful:


This should be Cleaning-gutters-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Cleaning gutters 3          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1408 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 13 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 13 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 13 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Cleaning-gutters-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Cleaning gutters 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1184 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 13 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 13 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 13 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

That corner to the right of his head is where the leakage occurred, and as expected it was pretty much clogged up, so we can now hope not to have any more leakage into the house. He must have removed 5 kg of mess, and he's only done part of the house. He'll do the rest when the weather is better.


Pentax serial number database
Topic: photography Link here

Message in the mail today about a new Pentax serial number database, so for no good reason went and put in all my Pentax equipment, 9 in all, including 3 lenses that I no longer have: I wrote a complete inventory on 14 November 1967. In the process, discovered that when I exchanged 50 mm f/1.4 lenses with my father decades ago, there were more than cosmetics involved. The one I have now has a more protected rear element, and that was the reason for the exchange:


This should be Super-Takumar-50-1.4-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Super Takumar 50 1.4 3          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1344 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 13 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 13 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 13 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

The rear element of the older lens stuck out considerably further. Only today I discovered that they were in fact made with considerably different formulas. The one I have now has 7 elements, and the old one had 8.


Library web sites; the pain
Topic: gardening, opinion, technology Link here

One of the Dendrobiums that we got in Stawell last month is flowering:


This should be Dendrobium.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Dendrobium          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 496 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 13 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 13 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 13 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

It's time to learn more about orchids. And now that I'm a member of two local libraries, it makes sense to look for books there. Tried the Geelong Regional Libraries web site with my new “bar code” number, and was able to log in with no difficulties. But the search function? No categories. I'd like to be able to select “Gardening”, for example, but they don't even have “book”:

 
This should be geelong-search.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: geelong search
Dimensions: 619 x 400, 26 kB
Dimensions of original: 619 x 400, 26 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 14 October 2010:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Selected “General keyword” and got a small enough result set that I could search them manually:

 
This should be geelong-search-results.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: geelong search results
Dimensions: 744 x 531, 22 kB
Dimensions of original: 744 x 531, 22 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 14 October 2010:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

And I can request the item (button on the right), which

 
This should be geelong-request-confirmation.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: geelong request confirmation
Dimensions: 682 x 301, 12 kB
Dimensions of original: 682 x 301, 12 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Thursday, 14 October 2010:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Did that for a while, and then considered what I had requested. I don't know. There appears to be no way to get a list of current requests, and it happily allows you to request a book again without any further comment. About the only clue is the effective date of the request: on this occasion, done while writing up this entry on the following day, it expires on 12/04/2011 (presumably 12 April 2011, and not 4 December 2011), which is the same expiry date I got a day earlier. So a renewed request doesn't extend the date (why not?).

Only later did I discover that I could get more appropriate results by selecting “Subject keyword”. I'd have called that “Topic” or “Category”, but I suppose that “Subject” is not completely misleading. That gave me a list without most of the false positives. The other problems remain.

Clearly whoever designed this system didn't have the user in mind. Now that I have requested some books (I no longer know which) there's no indication that anybody will ever act on the requests. They certainly didn't act on my membership applications. There's also no way to cancel a request, which will certainly cause unnecessary work for the library. In summary, a typical “modern” web application that has nothing to do with normal people.

This doesn't just happen with the Geelong Libraries, though they're a good example. I've had the same issue with Safari Books Online, who really should know better. But it never ceases to amaze me that, 15 years into the “Internet revolution”, people still can't structure things with the user in mind.


Thursday, 14 October 2010 Dereel Images for 14 October 2010
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Telstra: Never get it right
Topic: technology Link here

It's been a couple of days since I got a notification that I could pick up my Telstra wireless kit at the post office, and I was planning to do it today. But then I got a letter from them, with generic instructions. But one thing was clear: once again they mentioned that I would have to pay between $100 and $199 for a router. So I called up Telstra again, after finding the well-hidden phone number 137663, which they obfuscate as 13 POND, and fought my way through this HORRIBLE voice menu system:

Me:       Wireless sales.
Menu:       Would that be sales? Is this for home, business, mobile or Internet?
Me:       Internet.
Menu:       And what phone number does this relate to?
Me:       This one.
Menu:       Sorry, I missed that. What phone number does this relate to?

Gradually it went through a loop asking for the same information over and over again, while I shouted “Consultant” again and again. Finally I was connected to a human, Michelle, who confirmed that there is no way to bypass this brain-dead system.

She also confirmed that, despite my very clear stipulation last week, I had been sent a USB stick. There was no way to correct it: they had to cancel the order and enter a new one, which once again took about 40 minutes.

There is also no way to just get a USIM card: customers must buy a device. And the USIMs aren't transferable from one device to another. I was about to complain when she said—wait for it—she would send me a wireless router free of charge. But she sounded a whole lot more on the ball than Grant last week. In particular, the money would be debited from my account, and I would have to call and have it refunded, but that she had made a note in my account that this was agreed to. I'd still much rather have something in writing.

She went through a lot of things that he didn't mention, including user name (yes, indeed, they will send me mail to an address @bigpond.com), which I had to change, because the last one was tied to the previous order, and a password, which had to have both letters and numbers and be no more than 8 characters long. I also had to listen to and agree to some legalese, and then she asked:

Michelle:       Are you running Windows 98, Windows XP or Windows 7?
Me:       No.
Michelle:       Sorry? Oh, is it a Mac?
Me:       No.
Michelle:       OK, what is it then?
Me:       FreeBSD.
Michelle:       FreeBSD? What's that?

Clearly I can't expect sales people to know every operating system. But there are still two issues here: firstly, why does she need to know? This is a router. I can connect multiple systems to it, and indeed I shall do so, including Apple and (on rare occasions) Microsoft. And if she really needs to know, why not just ask what I'm running?

Then she gave me a URL where I could track my order: my.bigpond.comforward/tracking. I said that didn't sound like a valid TLD, but she had never heard of that TLA, so I went through the motions, even to the point of reading out to her: “Firefox can't find the server at my.bigpond.comforward.”

Finally I let her off the hook, after telling her that the superfluous “forward” in the URL was confusing. Maybe she'll think about that and understand. But probably she'll just think that I'm stupid.

Finally finished, and once again was asked to rate my “experience”. This time I said that my issue hadn't been solved today (last week I said it had, but I proved to be wrong). So they asked me why:

Recording:       Can you please tell me why you think your query was not resolved today?
Recording:       (silence)
Recording:       Sorry, I didn't catch that. Can you please tell me why you think your query was not resolved today?
Me:       Last week I thought that the issue had been resolved, but it hadn't. This wee...
Recording:       Thank you for your help in maintaining our high quality standards. click

What a company!


Catching up on last week's tasks
Topic: general, gardening, opinion Link here

Into town today to complete the things I meant to do last week. First to the post office to return the Telstra USB stick, then on to A & J fibreglass for a quote for lining the pond with fibreglass. They couldn't give it to me on the spot, and wanted to work it out and get back to me. But looking at some of their other custom prices, I fear it might be 10 times as much as I'm prepared to pay

Then on to Midland Irrigation and bought some irrigation fittings, to Dan Murphy's to buy some wine, and to the Good Guys to look for refrigerators. Surprise, surprise: they had almost none. It seems that nowadays everybody uses a combined fridge and freezer. They only had about 4 different fridges.

What's the most important thing about a fridge? Power consumption and volume, I'd say. So I compared, helped by labels showing a nominal annual power consumption, backed up by a “star rating”. But it seems that the stars have been redefined, and some devices have the old star rating (up to 4) and newer, more efficient ones have up to 2 stars.

Apart from that, getting volume information was difficult; it's not on the labels, and I had to look inside to find out. And what about prices? The three I looked at more carefully had 240 l for $529 ($2.20 per litre), 370 l for $1,279 ($3.45 per litre) and 430 l for $1,429 ($3.32 per litre). You'd think that the per-litre price would drop with increasing volume. This is a very limited comparison, of course, but clearly it's worth investigating more.

The real question, though, is: what is using the power? Out to Wiltronics, the JayCar agent, who are now way out of town, and ended up buying a “Power Tech Plus” MS-6116 power monitor with three sensors, wireless transmission, central unit with display of all different parameters, and no documentation worth speaking of. It's marketed by Electus Distribution.

Back home, finally worked out how to set the thing, and set it monitoring the main fridge/freezer pair, the beer fridge (which is quite old and which I suspect of being an energy hog) and my computer. Initial results were surprising: as I expected, the computer uses about 300 W, but the fridges didn't live up to my expectation. The fridge/freezer pair uses a little less than the computer, and the beer fridge almost nothing—if I can trust the monitor. But all the power consumption pales into insignificance compared to the 100 kWh a day that I'm somehow using. Where does the power go? Even the (two) air conditioners only use 2.4 kW, so they'd need to be going full blast most of the time to reach that kind of usage.


Berlin as BBC sees it
Topic: multimedia, opinion Link here

Once upon a time, the British Broadcasting Corporation had an excellent reputation for accuracy and quality. That must be a long time ago. There's currently a three-part documentary about Berlin running on SBS television. We watched the first installment this evening. What a load of crap!

In most documentaries, you see mainly the subject of the documentary. The BBC has a different idea: you see mainly the presenter, usually close up. I suppose that makes it easier for them to get people to prepare these documentaries, but who cares? I want accurate insights. What I got was Friedrich (“Frederick”) the Great of Prussia positioned as some kind of prototypical Hitler. The information they presented was accurate but extremely one-sided: “Young Fritz” (in Germany he's usually referred to as “Old Fritz”) rebelled against his father and learnt classics and the flute. On the other hand, he was extremely violent (this is the man who abolished torture and corporal punishment, to the horror of the leaders of other countries). He was the idol of Adolf Hitler (so what? Is that his fault). The documentary is about Berlin, and it gives the impression that the NSDAP was somehow associated with Berlin (in fact, it had its stronghold in Bavaria).

Why do particularly the BBC bring out such one-sided, distorted views of events? In the case of the Germans, you'd think that they still haven't got over the last two world wars. It's not as if western European nations haven't continually fought, and indeed England and Prussia fought wars in Fritz' days. But the English seem to have a particular hatred for Germany, much more than for France. And then as 100 years ago their royal families were closely related: Fritz was the grandson of his Most Serene Highness George Ludwig, Archbannerbearer of the Holy Roman Empire and Prince-Elector, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, later to be known as George I, King of Great Britain. In a similar manner, George V of Great Britain was a cousin of Wilhelm II, King of Prussia and Emperor Germany. And the military angle? No question that the Prussians placed great importance on the military. I suspect that the British concept of “Teutonic efficiency” came from there, and my impression is that the British Army is probably the most efficient heir of the Prussian Army. In many ways, the British are more like the stereotype they make of Germans than the Germans are themselves (can you say “Police State”?). So it would be easy to explain this film as a reinforcement of prejudices.

But that's not a complete explanation. A while back we started watching some BBC documentary about Michelangelo Buonarotti by some pompous frog-eyed presenter who claimed that Michelangelo never did anything of any value. I don't understand why they do it, but the result is that when I see a documentary is made by the BBC, I automatically drop my expectations by a couple of notches.


Friday, 15 October 2010 Dereel Images for 15 October 2010
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Return of winter
Topic: general Link here

It's the middle of spring, and we've had a couple of nice days, including earlier this week. But suddenly that changed. I was woken in the middle of the night by rain, and by 9:00 we had collected 24 mm, and by evening it was about 36 mm. The temperature, which earlier this week had been up to 27°, had dropped to 9.4° by the time I got up, and continued to drop throughout the day; at 18:00 it was 7.8°, and by midnight it had dropped to 6.5°. In addition, it continued to rain and drizzle all through the day. A thoroughly miserable day.

As if that wasn't enough, we had no water when we got up. Investigation showed a thoroughly clogged water filter:


This should be Water-filter.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Water filter          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 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 Friday, 15 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 15 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Friday, 15 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

That can happen, of course, and that's why I clean out the filters on the first day of every season. But they're never that bad after three months, and the last time I cleaned this filter was only 9 days ago. The thing in common was heavy rainfall, which I think must be stirring up the crud on the bottom of the tank.

One silver lining: we now have reasonable proof that cleaning the gutters has solved our roof leaks. No more problems. Now I just need to investigate the cable I disconnected six months ago. The resistance between the wires was very low at the time, in the order of 100 Ω. Now it's in the 100 kΩ range—or is it? The first time I measured it it showed -147 kΩ, and there seems to be a DC voltage of about 0.5 V. I've seen small AC voltages on disconnected cables, presumably via inductive or capacitive coupling, but where can DC come from? I think I should find an electrician after all.


Inputting Greek characters
Topic: technology Link here

I've been trying for some time to find good documentation for the X compose key, but I've failed. But it's relatively simple to do it in Emacs, so spent some time playing around with that to teach it to input Greek characters. It works (modulo accents), but it's such a horrible kludge that I won't publish it. There must be a simpler way then creating an insert function for each individual character. I need to read up on what has happened to Emacs in the last 20 years or so.


Service desk pain: the light side
Topic: technology Link here

I've been through a fair amount of pain with service desk personnel lately. Somebody on IRC posted this cartoon, which sums up things well:

Support heaven
Saturday, 16 October 2010 Dereel Images for 16 October 2010
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Batteries and other frustration
Topic: general, photography Link here

Photo day today, normally not a big problem. But the weather lately made it a pain. Continually changing light, rain and wind meant that it took me nearly 4 hours to finish taking the photos.

In that time, a number of problems occurred: the batteries in my flash unit (which I thought had been put in only last week) showed empty when I turned it on. While putting them on to charge, it occurred to me that I should try out the new camera battery that I had received yesterday, the one I ordered two weeks ago, and which had only arrived yesterday. Decided it would be interesting to write down how many shots I get out of each battery, and took the photos of the verandah with it (36 shots).

That was all the weather allowed for a while. It was nearly two hours before I could continue. When I did, the battery was dead. Not just empty: just as dead as the battery it was supposed to replace. The charger refused to charge it. I suppose that's what I get for buying the cheapest I could find, but I'm still surprised. Sent a message to the vendor asking for a replacement or my money back; I think the latter would be more appropriate.

While waiting for the weather to change, noted a surprising number of errors from the weather station. Why? Noted that the batteries had run out after about 5 months' operation 6 months ago, and though it wasn't showing a “battery low” condition, it seemed reasonable that that might be the cause.

But where could I get new batteries? I had used the last ones for the power monitor a couple of days ago, and like the power monitor, the weather station doesn't like NiMH batteries. Found two more, but they weren't the right kind, so ended up swapping one of the fresh batteries from the power monitor (which takes 3) to have two like batteries for the weather station. Put them in, involving a ladder and a reminder that my leg still hasn't completely healed from the accident 6 weeks ago, then back to test the voltage of the old ones: 1.4 V and 1.6 V. Damn! I had taken one of the old batteries out of the station and put it back again. Back up the ladder and put the correct ones in, then to confirm that the weather station was now returning good data.

Negative. It wasn't returning anything at all. What's the problem? Checked the batteries in the internal unit, with the interesting discovery that it doesn't need them when connected to the computer: it uses USB current instead. Grabbed the old internal unit. Batteries (NiMH) flat, of course. Replaced batteries, still nothing. Finally it dawned on me that I had to reset the internal unit after replacing the batteries in the external unit. Did that, and things were back to normal.

Replacing the batteries in the power meter proved to reset it completely, so now I have lost my readings. I also had to go back and re-register the monitor units. What a pain! But what I saw was that the two fridges and the freezer that I measured used less power than my computer, probably about 10 kWh/day all told. That doesn't explain the 100 kWh, and it also suggests that there's no reason to replace the beer fridge, which uses much less than the others.


Mail verification gone wrong
Topic: technology Link here

A couple of days ago I noted that some of my mail was not being delivered. From my external server log:

Oct 14 00:31:13 w3 postfix/smtp[70285]: BEC613BB33: host mx2.servershost.net[205.234.223.160] said: 450 4.1.7 <grog@lemis.com>: Sender address rejected: unverified address: connect to mx2.lemis.com[192.109.197.135]: Connection timed out (in reply to RCPT TO command)

It's not surprising that mx2 isn't available: there's currently a routing error for that /24. But as the name suggests, mx2 is not the primary MX. Why didn't they contact mx1? Contacted Josh Stewart, who contacted the server admin. Their answer is, I suppose, typical:

the sender's mailserver isn't responding properly to sender verification on our side, which is a breach of RFC standard which clearly states that every mailserver MUST respond to sender verification properly:

Oct 14 06:03:12 mx13 policyd: rcpt=3026781, module=bypass, host=208.86.224.149 (w3.lemis.com), from=grog@lemis.com, to=lca2012@blug.asn.au, size=4376
Oct 14 06:03:13 mx13 postfix/smtpd[14734]: NOQUEUE: reject: RCPT from w3.lemis.com[208.86.224.149]: 450 4.1.7 : Sender address rejected: unverified address: connect to mx2.lemis.com[192.109.197.135]: Connection timed out; from= to= proto=ESMTP helo=

I suppose that they're implying RFC 2821. Well, OK, but it also states (section 5):

Multiple MX records contain a preference indication that MUST be used in sorting (see below). Lower numbers are more preferred than higher ones.

That applies to delivery attempts, but it's reasonable to assume it would apply to verifications as well. So why aren't they trying mx1 first? To be investigated.


Nemo the daemon
Topic: animals Link here

Chris Yeardley to dinner this evening, as usual on a Saturday. Today she discovered a box of old conference memorabilia, including the BSD daemon horns that were popular about 10 years ago. Nemo was more than happy to try them out:


This should be Daemon-19.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Daemon 19          Dimensions:          2773 x 2283, 704 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Saturday, 16 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 16 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 16 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Daemon-16.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Daemon 16          Dimensions:          3133 x 2339, 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 Saturday, 16 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 16 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Saturday, 16 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
Sunday, 17 October 2010 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Yet Another Weather Station
Topic: general Link here

Yvonne went into town with Nemo for training, which looks like happening every Sunday for the foreseeable future, and found a weather station which was on special at ALDI this week. It would seem that I have enough already, but this one is intended to monitor the temperature and humidity in the greenhouse. It's similar to, but not the same as, the one I bought last year. I had hoped that it would have a compatible external unit—both of them handle three channels, so I could display both external units on the same internal unit—but they weren't. They were close enough to interfere withe each other, though, and I spent quite some time before I could get both of them to work reliably. Here, too, it seems that you need to restart the internal unit after replacing the batteries on the external unit. I wonder what the issue is there.


Slowly in the garden
Topic: gardening Link here

My enthusiasm for working in the garden seems directly proportional to the quality of the weather. It's getting better now, and I did some very little work in the veggie garden. But I really need to start glazing the greenhouse. We're nearly there, but not quite.


Camera batteries
Topic: photography Link here

So I still don't have a reliable second battery for my camera. The old one is still working, but for how long? It's clear that I'm wasting my time on the el-cheapo batteries from China. I can guess the response to my mail message: “We're very sorry about the defective battery. Please return it and we'll send you an new one and only charge postage”. That would cost me more than I paid for it in the first place ($1.13 and $7.00 postage), and without any guarantee that it's any better. So checked where I bought my first battery 3 years ago. They're still around and selling batteries, and they're cheaper now than they were then ($14.50 instead of $16.99). That's still a lot more than the other one, but at least I can be confident that it works.

It's a pity I threw away my other dead battery. I should have kept it and taken it apart for comparison purposes. I strongly suspect that the one I got now is a forgery.


Mail non-delivery revisited
Topic: technology Link here

Spent a little more time investigating my mail logs to find out what was causing servershost.com to reject my mail. The results are interesting. Here's the initial attempt to deliver the message. To protect against spam, I've changed the recipient addresses:

Oct 10 23:46:42 w3 postfix/smtpd[29314]: connect from sat-gw-ext.lemis.com[180.181.112.227]
Oct 10 23:46:44 w3 postfix/smtpd[29314]: BEC613BB33: client=sat-gw-ext.lemis.com[180.181.112.227]
Oct 10 23:46:46 w3 postfix/cleanup[29632]: BEC613BB33: message-id=<20101010234642.GC86609@dereel.lemis.com>
Oct 10 23:46:46 w3 postfix/smtpd[29314]: disconnect from sat-gw-ext.lemis.com[180.181.112.227]
Oct 10 23:46:46 w3 postfix/qmgr[19567]: BEC613BB33: from=<frog@lemis.com>, size=4376, nrcpt=2 (queue active)
Oct 10 23:46:47 w3 postfix/smtp[29640]: BEC613BB33: to=<quiet1@gmail.com>, relay=gmail-smtp-in.l.google.com[74.125.93.27]:25, delay=2.9, delays=2.1/0.03/0.26/0.5, dsn=2.0.0, status=sent (250 2.0.0 OK 1286754407 r39si7806868qcs.32)
Oct 10 23:46:48 w3 postfix/smtpd[29329]: warning: 205.234.223.198: address not listed for hostname mx4.servershost.net
Oct 10 23:46:48 w3 postfix/smtpd[29329]: connect from unknown[205.234.223.198]
Oct 10 23:46:48 w3 postfix/smtpd[29329]: NOQUEUE: reject: RCPT from unknown[205.234.223.198]: 450 4.7.1 Client host rejected: cannot find your hostname, [205.234.223.198]; from=<postmaster@mx5.servershost.net> to=<frog@lemis.com> proto=ESMTP helo=<mx5.servershost.net>
Oct 10 23:46:48 w3 postfix/smtpd[29329]: disconnect from unknown[205.234.223.198]
Oct 10 23:46:54 w3 postfix/smtp[29639]: BEC613BB33: host mx2.servershost.net[205.234.223.160] said: 450 4.1.7 <frog@lemis.com>: Sender address rejected: unverified address: Address verification in progress (in reply to RCPT TO command)
Oct 10 23:46:54 w3 postfix/smtpd[29327]: warning: 205.234.223.198: address not listed for hostname mx4.servershost.net
Oct 10 23:46:54 w3 postfix/smtpd[29327]: connect from unknown[205.234.223.198]
Oct 10 23:46:54 w3 postfix/smtpd[29327]: NOQUEUE: reject: RCPT from unknown[205.234.223.198]: 450 4.7.1 Client host rejected: cannot find your hostname, [205.234.223.198]; from=<postmaster@mx3.servershost.net> to=<frog@lemis.com> proto=ESMTP helo=<mx3.servershost.net>
Oct 10 23:46:54 w3 postfix/smtpd[29327]: disconnect from unknown[205.234.223.198]
Oct 10 23:47:00 w3 postfix/smtp[29639]: BEC613BB33: to=<ourlist@blug.asn.au>, relay=mx3.servershost.net[66.225.214.101]:25, delay=16, delays=2.1/0.01/7.3/6.1, dsn=4.1.7, status=deferred (host mx3.servershost.net[66.225.214.101] said: 450 4.1.7 <frog@lemis.com>: Sender address rejected: unverified address: Address verification in progress (in reply to RCPT TO command))

Here the message comes in from my system and get delivered to quiet1. I then receive a connect from IP address 205.234.223.198, which doesn't resolve. Somewhere (obviously not in the HELO line) it must claim—incorrectly—to be mx4.servershost.net. The HELO claims to be mx5.servershost.net. At the moment it's not clear to me where the name mx4 comes from. Because the address doesn't resolve, my MTA refuses the connection. This repeats with a different HELO, mx3.servershost.net. None of these names resolve to the address 205.234.223.198.

Then mx2.servershost.net, which does resolve correctly, refuses the message with the note “unverified address: Address verification in progress”. At this point, servershost.net has presumably given up trying to verify the address against mx1.lemis.com and has moved on to mx2.lemis.com, which is currently unreachable. My MTA repeats the delivery attempt every 10 minutes until, 80 minutes later, I get the message:

Oct 11 01:03:59 w3 postfix/qmgr[19567]: BEC613BB33: from=<frog@lemis.com>, size=4376, nrcpt=2 (queue active)
Oct 11 01:04:00 w3 postfix/smtp[30284]: BEC613BB33: host mx2.servershost.net[205.234.223.160] said: 450 4.1.7 <frog@lemis.com>: Sender address rejected: unverified address: connect to mx2.lemis.com[192.109.197.135]: Connection timed out (in reply to RCPT TO command)
Oct 11 01:04:00 w3 postfix/smtp[30284]: BEC613BB33: to=<ourlist@blug.asn.au>, relay=mx3.servershost.net[66.225.214.101]:25, delay=4636, delays=4635/0.02/0.96/0.11, dsn=4.1.7, status=deferred (host mx3.servershost.net[66.225.214.101] said: 450 4.1.7 <frog@lemis.com>: Sender address rejected: unverified address: connect to mx2.lemis.com[192.109.197.135]: Connection timed out (in reply to RCPT TO command))

So here servershost.net has timed out on mx2.lemis.com. And it stays that way, for days on end:

Oct 14 00:31:13 w3 postfix/qmgr[19567]: BEC613BB33: from=<frog@lemis.com>, size=4376, nrcpt=2 (queue active)
Oct 14 00:31:13 w3 postfix/smtp[70285]: BEC613BB33: host mx2.servershost.net[205.234.223.160] said: 450 4.1.7 <frog@lemis.com>: Sender address rejected: unverified address: connect to mx2.lemis.com[192.109.197.135]: Connection timed out (in reply to RCPT TO command)
Oct 14 00:31:14 w3 postfix/smtp[70285]: BEC613BB33: to=<ourlist@blug.asn.au>, relay=mx3.servershost.net[66.225.214.101]:25, delay=261870, delays=261868/0.08/0.8/0.49, dsn=4.1.7, status=deferred (host mx3.servershost.net[66.225.214.101] said: 450 4.1.7 <frog@lemis.com>: Sender address rejected: unverified address: connect to mx2.lemis.com[192.109.197.135]: Connection timed out (in reply to RCPT TO command))
Oct 14 00:31:14 w3 postfix/smtpd[70081]: NOQUEUE: reject: RCPT from unknown[205.234.223.198]: 450 4.7.1 Client host rejected: cannot find your hostname, [205.234.223.198]; from=<postmaster@mx2.servershost.net> to=<frog@lemis.com> proto=ESMTP helo=<mx2.servershost.net>
Oct 14 00:31:14 w3 postfix/smtpd[70081]: disconnect from unknown[205.234.223.198]
Oct 14 00:31:14 w3 postfix/smtpd[70106]: warning: 205.234.223.198: address not listed for hostname mx4.servershost.net
Oct 14 00:31:14 w3 postfix/smtpd[70106]: connect from unknown[205.234.223.198]
Oct 14 00:31:14 w3 postfix/smtpd[70106]: NOQUEUE: reject: RCPT from unknown[205.234.223.198]: 450 4.7.1 Client host rejected: cannot find your hostname, [205.234.223.198]; from=<postmaster@mx12.servershost.net> to=<frog@lemis.com> proto=ESMTP helo=<mx12.servershost.net>
Oct 14 00:31:14 w3 postfix/smtpd[70106]: disconnect from unknown[205.234.223.198]

I can't know how often it tries to contact mx2, but in the intervening time it doesn't try to contact mx1 at all. That's not the way I'd expect it. Either it continues to try the verification, in which case I should see attempts to contact the primary MX in the log files, or it only does it when I retry the delivery. We can see the latter for the primary MX above (4th line). But even before that, in the same second where I try to deliver, I get a “timed out” message for the secondary MX. Clearly there's no time to time out there.

So: what's the problem? There are several:

  1. Reverse DNS for 223.234.205.in-addr.arpa was incorrect. It was clearly reachable, because my MTA got the PTR record for 205.234.223.160, so I assume the record for 205.234.223.198 was missing. It's there now, and it resolves to mx4.servershost.net., but clearly it didn't at the time.

  2. DNS for servershost.net is inconsistent with 223.234.205.in-addr.arpa. mx4.servershost.net (still) resolves to 66.225.237.241.

  3. My secondary MX has been down for a long time. Should I change DNS to reflect the problem? It's tidier, but it shouldn't be necessary.

  4. There seems to be something very strange about the way the servershost MTA retries failed verification attempts. It shouldn't report a timeout without a retry, and clearly there's no time for a retry in those log messages.

So what do we do about it? Nothing. They've put in a whitelist entry. But that shouldn't be necessary any more, as long as their reverse DNS continues to work.


Monday, 18 October 2010 Dereel
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Disk on the way out
Topic: technology Link here

Up this morning to be told by Yvonne that she had computer problems: “NFS: cannot mount dereel:/src: timeout”. Into my office to confirm that dereel was dead. Even a reset didn't help: I had to power cycle it. After I finally got it back, the messages looked familiar:

Oct 18 02:29:21 dereel kernel: ad8: FAILURE - SETFEATURES SET TRANSFER MODE status=51<READY,DSC,ERROR> error=84<ICRC,ABORTED>
Oct 18 02:29:22 dereel kernel: ad8: TIMEOUT - READ_DMA retrying (1 retry left) LBA=130454327
Oct 18 02:29:31 dereel kernel: ad8: WARNING - SETFEATURES SET TRANSFER MODE taskqueue timeout - completing request directly
Oct 18 02:29:35 dereel kernel: ad8: WARNING - SETFEATURES SET TRANSFER MODE taskqueue timeout - completing request directly
Oct 18 02:29:39 dereel kernel: ad8: WARNING - SETFEATURES ENABLE RCACHE taskqueue timeout - completing request directly
Oct 18 02:29:43 dereel kernel: ad8: WARNING - SETFEATURES ENABLE WCACHE taskqueue timeout - completing request directly
Oct 18 02:29:47 dereel kernel: ad8: WARNING - SET_MULTI taskqueue timeout - completing request directly
Oct 18 02:29:47 dereel kernel: ad8: TIMEOUT - READ_DMA retrying (1 retry left) LBA=130454319

That's suspiciously like the problems I had four weeks ago, even the same disk. It's not clear what causes this to happen in a way that wedges the whole machine, but it's clear that for the price of a disk, it's not worth worrying about. I'll get a new disk Real Soon Now (on Thursday, in fact). In the meantime, spent the day creating a duplicate file system on an external USB drive in case it really dies quickly.


Power consumption: where's it going?
Topic: general Link here

I have now monitored the power consumption of the three most likely circuits in the house for something over 24 hours. The results:

Circuit       23 hours       39.5 hours       24 hours
                  (calculated)
Fridge/freezer       3.5       6.1       3.7
Beer fridge       0.7       1.2       0.73
Computer       6.3       10.3       6.3
Total                   10.7

So: my three heaviest users consume 10.7 kWh out of a daily sum of between 50 and 100 kWh. Where does the rest go? All to the air conditioners? If they were running full time all the time, they would only use 115 kWh, and in practice they're just running some of the time. Or do I have inaccurate measurements, either from the power monitor or the electricity meter? More investigation required. In the meantime, moved them to new circuits to monitor them. It seems that teevee only uses about 80 W when not displaying TV. Is that plausible?


Garden progress?
Topic: gardening Link here

Chris and Yvonne brought over the glass for the greenhouse today, but the weather was a little varied, and we didn't actually put any glass in. It looks as if most of the glass is there, and there are samples for the panes that are broken, so we can take them in and hope for accurate replacements.

In the afternoon, between showers, put in some weed mat around the new native hedge in the south bed. It would have been much easier if we had done it before planting them:


This should be Weed-mat-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Weed mat 2          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 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 Tuesday, 19 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Tuesday, 19 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Tuesday, 19 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

But it's time for it to stop raining. I really need to get rid of the weeds that are popping up all over the place.


Panorama adapters, yet again
Topic: photography Link here

My attempt to get hold of a Pano-MAXX bracket seems to have failed: my contact person hasn't responded for nearly a month. In the meantime I'm not even sure if I want one. Did more investigation and came up with at least three possibilities:

Spent some time updating the Panotools Wiki page, but didn't come to any particular conclusion.


Chapatis and tortillas
Topic: food and drink Link here

Finished off some Indian food this evening, and made chapatis for them. This time I made a mistake and put in double the amount of ghee (25 g for 100 g atta). I realised the mistake before I finished kneading the dough, but decided to see what it was like anyway.

Result: too much ghee. A factor of about 1:8 by weight seems reasonable. In passing, it's interesting that my recipes currently show 145 g water for both chapatis and tortillas—using 200 g atta for the former and 100 g masa harina for the latter, exactly twice as much water for tortillas as for chapatis.


Tuesday, 19 October 2010 Dereel Images for 19 October 2010
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Greenhouse: glazing starts!
Topic: gardening Link here

A year ago today David Yeardley gave me the greenhouse. It's been a long, frustrating job putting it together, but today we started a new phase, the first pane of glass:


This should be Greenhouse-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Greenhouse 1          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1648 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 20 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 20 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 20 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

True to the level of frustration I've experienced, it'll have to come out: I noticed too late that this corner (and only this corner) of the greenhouse is bent out of shape:


This should be Greenhouse-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Greenhouse 3          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 2368 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 20 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 20 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 20 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Greenhouse-4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Greenhouse 4          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1280 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 20 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 20 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 20 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

So I'll have to remove the glass, straighten the member, and then replace it. But at least it shouldn't be that difficult any more. Fortunately, I've found the glazing plan for the greenhouse, so I can be pretty sure what to do. There are strangenesses like having the vertical panes abutting each other, but the roof panes overlapping (by how much? Suck it and see, it seems). The clips look very flimsy, but somehow the pane I put in is nice and snug. Here a view looking down at the top of the pane:


This should be Greenhouse-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Greenhouse 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 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 Wednesday, 20 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 20 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 20 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
Power consumptions: lies, damn lies and statistics
Topic: general Link here

It's now been another day since I started measuring the power consumption of different circuits, one of which was the laundry, which not only has another fridge in it, but of course the washing machine and dryer. Here are the results I measured:

Circuit       25 hours
cvr2       2.9
Laundry       0.2
teevee       1.8
Total

0.2 kWh for the laundry? That's impossible. Yvonne did some washing in that time, including running the dryer for 2 hours, and then there's the fridge. This thing is lying through its non-existent teeth. Completely useless; it'll have to go back.

Still, why is it lying? I suspect that it's relying on wireless broadcast of the power consumption, and there's no way to know whether data gets lost. It doesn't even signal when it hasn't heard from the other end in a certain period of time. That's just not acceptable.


Other garden work
Topic: gardening Link here

The weather is getting less miserable again, and spent a bit of time mulching old twigs. It works, but it's slow, and I wonder why I bother.


Returning the ALDI Traveler DC 140
Topic: photography Link here

Yvonne has decided that she doesn't want the ALDI Traveler DC 140 digital camera after all. She was looking for something to replace her Kodak M1093 IS, but it wasn't better enough for her. Not surprising, since it's one of the cheapest cameras I have ever seen. But before I sent it back, I wanted to compare it with the other camera, and for good measure I took my OLD Nikon “Coolpix” L1 and my E-30 as well.

How did it go? I've done a complete comparison page, but in summary:

But in summary, the Traveler is better than the Nikon. At $79, it's really not a bad camera, just not one that we need.


New camera battery, take 2
Topic: photography Link here

The battery I bought on Sunday is already there. Charged it up—why do these things charge so quickly when new? I suspect they are already part-charged—and put it in my camera. Nothing at all!

Further investigation was inconclusive: the battery had a normal voltage (8 V for a “7.4 V” battery, unlike the previous one, which shows no voltage at all), and when I put it back in the camera, it worked normally. My best guess is some contact issue, but given my recent experience it was a little unnerving.


Wednesday, 20 October 2010 Dereel Images for 20 October 2010
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Gardening preempted
Topic: gardening Link here

We had lots of things to do in the garden today, including weed spraying, for which the weather was ideal. But Yvonne had returned with the Telstra wireless package, so I had to spend the afternoon installing that.


How to set up a Telstra wireless router
Topic: technology Link here

Finally got my Telstra wireless router today. It's a long story, so I'll start with the setup instructions:

And that's it. Well, first you need to find out how to do it. Clearly that's too difficult for a beginner, so Telstra have a “user friendly” way to do it. Based on my prior experience with Telstra, I first tried it that way:

How to set up a Telstra wireless router, Telstra's user friendly method

Today's package really contained a wireless router. Last week they had sent me the wrong device, a USB stick, despite very clear instructions that I wanted a specific wireless router, the 3G9WB, which I already had. So what arrived today? The wrong device again, a “BigPond Elite Wireless Broadband Network Gateway”, more easily identified as model 3G21WB. That's a better model, so I shouldn't complain unless they want money for it. The software (and the instructions above) are equally applicable to either box.

So: how do I install? There was a sticker on the bag containing the router:

WARNING- Insert the USB key into your PC before you set up this device.

Isn't that over the top, having a separate key for the box? And what use is it if it's shipped in the same package? Anyway, did that:

umass0: <CHIPSBNK v3.3.9.7-7, class 0/0, rev 2.00/1.00, addr 2> on uhub5
cd0 at umass-sim0 bus 0 target 0 lun 0
cd0: <CHIPSBNK v3.3.9.7-7 5.00> Removable CD-ROM SCSI-2 device
cd0: 40.000MB/s transfers
cd0: cd present [125440 x 2048 byte records]
(cd0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): READ(10). CDB: 28 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0
(cd0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): CAM Status: SCSI Status Error
(cd0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): SCSI Status: Check Condition
(cd0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): UNIT ATTENTION asc:28,0
(cd0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): Not ready to ready change, medium may have changed
(cd0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): Retrying Command (per Sense Data)

This repeated until I removed the stick. So it's some kind of CD substitute. Maybe it's a good idea to put it on USB, but clearly it's not legible on all machines. So I looked at the single sheet quick start guide, which didn't even tell me to connect the router to the network. It made it clear that the stick wasn't a key at all, but it contained the “software” for the router, and that it would run on Microsoft Operating Systems (yes, that's really what it says) or Apple. I chose the latter.

The first thing that comes up on the screen is an overview:


This should be Telstra-1.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Telstra 1          Dimensions:          1410 x 1076, 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, 20 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 20 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 20 October 2010

 

I clicked on “STEP 1”, but nothing happened. The link to the right is help. What I had to do was note the tiny “Start >” button at bottom right. But I suppose this is intuitive for beginners. Next I had a joke:

 
This should be Telstra-1a.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Telstra 1a
Dimensions: 792 x 296, 12 kB
Dimensions of original: 792 x 296, 12 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 20 October 2010:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

That's really clever, putting the EULA where you can't find it until you've finished the installation. But nobody reads EULAs anyway. Then there was the inevitable “there can only be one”, which I ignored, and a choice of what to install.

 
This should be Telstra-2.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Telstra 2
Dimensions: 512 x 261, 36 kB
Dimensions of original: 512 x 261, 36 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 20 October 2010:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Telstra-3a.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Telstra 3a
Dimensions: 732 x 223, 28 kB
Dimensions of original: 732 x 223, 28 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 20 October 2010:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

It went and did things, then told me to plug the modem “into the computer”, and went looking for it. In vain:


This should be Telstra-4a.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Telstra 4a          Dimensions:          907 x 281, 20 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 20 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 20 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 20 October 2010

 

Round about this time I took a look at the label on the base of the device, which gave me default IP address, user name and password. I established that I could communicate with the device with no difficulty with the web browser. So: another Telstra/Apple breakage, like the ones I had 3 years ago? Decided to bite the bullet and try it on Microsoft. That was even better. The program crashed on starting:


This should be Telstra-7.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Telstra 7          Dimensions:          922 x 376, 32 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 20 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 20 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 20 October 2010

   
This should be Telstra-8.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Telstra 8
Dimensions: 712 x 416, 12 kB
Dimensions of original: 712 x 416, 12 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 20 October 2010:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Telstra-9.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Telstra 9
Dimensions: 703 x 529, 12 kB
Dimensions of original: 703 x 529, 12 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 20 October 2010:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry
 
This should be Telstra-21.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Telstra 21
Dimensions: 668 x 348, 26 kB
Dimensions of original: 668 x 348, 26 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 20 October 2010:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

The message in German isn't Telstra's fault. It's Microsoft's: for some reason my keyboard mapping switches to German at random and without any obvious cause.

What was causing it? I still don't know, but Daniel O'Connor pointed me to a Microsoft support note that suggests it's a Microsoft bug, fixed over 3 years ago. I suspect it's related to one of these horrible things about GUIs: how do you know when you have started a program? Sometimes they get started automatically, sometimes you need to click on a pretty picture, sometimes you have to click on the picture twice in succession. This can also happen if the thing is slow to show that it's starting, as it appears is the case here. I suspect I may have tried to start it multiple times. Finally I got one instance of the program not to crash, and continued with an installation very similar to the one on Apple. And then I got this message:

 
This should be Telstra-22.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Telstra 22
Dimensions: 517 x 398, 14 kB
Dimensions of original: 517 x 398, 14 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 20 October 2010:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

Yet another “there can only be one”. They don't say why the IP address range 169.254/16 is invalid (nor why they didn't bother to check if it was really in use; it wasn't), but the “more than one network” gets me. Isn't that what routing is all about? And this is a router, even if they call it “network gateway”. In any case, the installation failed with the same “can't find device” message that I got with Apple.

Still, I wanted to get things working, so I disconnected pain (the Microsoft box) and the router from my home network and tried again with just the two devices connected by the supplied Ethernet cable (no, it wasn't crossover). Still no joy. Then it dawned on me: “static IP address”. The whole installation software makes the unstated assumption that I'm running DHCP, and that—in an existing network—I will get it from the gateway box I'm installing. In other words, all this excessive rigmarole can't work. But who know, maybe normal users find this easier than my version.

Then Andys came up with the instruction manual, which describes in excessive, fuzzy and inaccurate detail effectively what are my setup instructions above:


This should be Telstra-30.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Telstra 30          Dimensions:          1578 x 529, 50 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 20 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 20 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 20 October 2010

   
This should be Telstra-30-detail.gif.  Is it missing?
Image title: Telstra 30 detail
Dimensions: 349 x 296, 34 kB
Dimensions of original: 349 x 296, 34 kB
Display this image:
thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
Display all images on this page as:
thumbnails    this size
Show for Wednesday, 20 October 2010:
thumbnails    small images    diary entry

“Type the APN into the APN field”. Where's the APN field? There is none, not even in their image, which apart from the fuzziness is pretty much what I had. It proves that they've changed the title to “Profile”, which might even make sense, but they haven't completely updated the documentation.

The whole business of setting up the modem took over an hour, most of which was completely unnecessary. But wait, there's more!

Signal strength issues

After configuring the gateway, I got a connection which told me it was HSPA+. That sounded OK, but while I was looking, it went away again. Further investigation showed that I barely had enough signal to stay up more than some of the time. But the 3G9WB modem had been showing signal continuously. It has an external antenna; the new one doesn't.

So: if the other gateway has a steady signal, maybe I should use that. But last week Michelle told me that the SIM cards won't work in any other device. Still, it wouldn't be the first time I had heard nonsense from Telstra, so I tried it, and of course it worked.

But what's the issue with the new modem? Took one of the antennas off the old BP3 modem that Telstra doesn't want back and tried it out, measuring the signal strength as I went. When that didn't prove to be enough, went looking for the old rod antenna that Telstra didn't want back last time, and plugged that in. The results were interesting, and I tried them for the old router as well. Here's a summary:

Gateway       Antenna       dBm       bars
3G21WB       small       -86 - -90       none
3G21WB       big       -92       2
            -88       none
3G21WB       none       -88       none
3G9WB       small       -94       1
3G9WB       big       -89       2

The strange thing here is that the signal seems to get lower when I add better antennas to the 3G21WB, though the signal bars seem to get better. Have they messed the thing up? In any case, there's plenty of fun to play around with in the next few days.


Join the professionals!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've been a member of LinkedIn for some time, mainly because it's free. I've never seen any particular benefit in it. But that is maybe because I don't have LinkedIn Premium. Today I got a message offering me this service:

Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-transfer-encoding: 8bit
Dear Greg,
Find and manage high quality contacts with LinkedIn Premium. Get started today and get 1 month free!*
LinkedIn Premium helps you be more productive, with tools such as:
\225InMail: Contact anyone on LinkedIn without an introduction - response guaranteed!**
\225Expanded Profile Views: See expanded profiles of everyone on LinkedIn, including people outside your network
\225Who's Viewed My Profile: See a complete list of who's viewed your profile on LinkedIn

Now isn't that professional?


ARKive
Topic: photography, gardening Link here

Mail from Rebecca Taylor of ARKive today. ARKive is a conservation initiative run by some Big Names, and for some reason they want to include this photo of our Paulownia kawakami:


This should be Paulownia-kawakamii-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Paulownia kawakamii 3          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 2224 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 20 September 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 20 September 2010, small
Diary entry for Monday, 20 September 2010 Complete exposure details

 

It's an honour, of course, but I really can't see why they like that photo. Still, an interesting initiative, and I'll certainly allow them to use my images.


Yet Another Mystery Plant
Topic: gardening Link here

Yvonne came back with another mystery plant which she saw growing in the forest:


This should be Mystery-plant-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Mystery plant 1          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 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 Wednesday, 20 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 20 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 20 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Mystery-plant-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Mystery plant 3          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 992 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 20 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 20 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 20 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 
This should be Mystery-plant-8.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Mystery plant 8          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 880 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Wednesday, 20 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 20 October 2010, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 20 October 2010 Complete exposure details

 

Bev Hardenberg thinks it might be a Melianthus major, for which I have found a number of conflicting reports, as the common names Giant Honey Flower and Kruidjie-roer-my-nie suggest. More investigation needed, in particular whether it's a good plant to have or not.

  • I later found out that yes, indeed, this is Melianthus major, and it's on sale in a Ballarat plant nursery.


  • Thursday, 21 October 2010 Dereel → Geelong → Dereel Images for 21 October 2010
    Top of page
    previous day
    next day
    last day

    Telstra cancels Internet connection
    Topic: technology, opinion Link here

    So finally I have my Telstra wireless connection up and stumbling. The connection itself is straightforward enough: all I needed was the SIM and the configuration. But it has taken over two weeks:

    Clearly this is another incident of incompetence. It must refer to the USB stick, which had to be cancelled. I had refused to accept it, but they sent me a bag anyway. And of course—there can only be one—there's no need to refer to which contract they're talking about. But I do have a couple more addresses to add to my collection.


    Off to Geelong
    Topic: general Link here

    Yvonne had some dental surgery to be done in Geelong today, so off to combine it with a bit of shopping.


    New monitor and disk
    Topic: technology Link here

    First to MSY, where I bought a replacement for the disk that is failing, and also a new monitor. Earlier this month I had bought an LED-illuminated monitor from ALDI in the assumption that the pixels themselves were LEDs. That's not what “LED monitor” means, as I discovered, and in fact the monitor was neither particularly cheap nor particularly good: in particular, the angle of view was very limited. So today I bought a replacement (plenty of time to return the other monitor to ALDI) by a company called Λοc, (do you pronounce that “Loss”? I'm reminded of ΚΙΛ) for $178 compared to ALDI's $219. The disk (1 TB) also cost only $63. 25 years ago I bought my first “hard” disk, a Seagate ST225R with 20 MB. It cost me $720. The same amount of space on the new disk would cost $0.00126.


    The Geelong Regional Libraries, for real
    Topic: general, gardening, photography, technology Link here

    Then to the real, physical Geelong Regional Libraries to return some books and look for some others. Got one of the staff to show me how to reserve books, something that didn't work for me, but which worked fine for him. Maybe it requires Microsoft “Internet Explorer”, but he agreed that that shouldn't be a requirement.

    Looked round the shelves and found a number of books. It's a pity photography is so poorly represented. Ended up taking a number of books about orchids, one (for the fun of it) on repairing (analogue) cameras, and a couple of popular books on computers (“Wireless Networks for Dummies”; maybe I can get an understanding of why I can't get Telstra's “user friendly” install to work).


    Asian cookery ingredients and the Tower of Babel
    Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

    Then to the local Asian grocery, which is pretty well-stocked. But then I was looking for things like daun salam, a kind of leaf not unlike bay leaf, and biji kemiri, an Indonesian ingredient which I don't know, but which is supposedly replaceable with Macadamia nuts. This whole area is fraught with nomenclature problems, made no easier by idiotic bureaucrats, and I didn't find the latter. Maybe I found the daun salam:


    This should be Mystery-herb.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Mystery herb          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1024 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Friday, 22 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 22 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Friday, 22 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     

    I think that's daun salam, but I won't find out until I open it. I later discovered that biji kemiri is the Indonesian name for what the Malays call buah keras, which translates into English as candlenut. And I have them. This is one of the very few Malay words that isn't the same as in Indonesian: in principle they're both the same language.


    Yet Another Weather Station
    Topic: general Link here

    Finally Yvonne was finished, and off to the local ALDI to buy some miscellaneous things. While there, discovered that they had the old-style weather stations that, as I discovered, were better than the one I bought on Sunday. In particular, the external units interfere with each other, and there's no way to reset the min and max values on the new one: it auto-resets at midnight, making it almost impossible to record accurate values. So bought one; the other one can go back.


    Still more mystery flowers
    Topic: gardening Link here

    ALDI in Geelong have some nice flowers in their car park:


    This should be Flowers-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Flowers 1          Dimensions:          2816 x 2112, 896 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Thursday, 21 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 21 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Thursday, 21 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    This should be Flowers-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Flowers 3          Dimensions:          2816 x 2112, 512 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Thursday, 21 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 21 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Thursday, 21 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     

    What are they? Not for the first time, I don't know. But while examining them, one of the stems broke off, so brought it home. We'll see if it strikes.


    Other energy monitors
    Topic: general, opinion Link here

    Mail from Michael, the one without the surname, today, agreeing that the Jaycar energy monitors aren't worth having. Instead he recommends this device

    It's good to know that it works, and Michael says that individual usage meters are on the way out, but is that correct? I know how much overall power I'm using—the electricity meter tells me that. What I want to know is which device is using it. This device seems to do both, but the web pages I have seen are a little thin on detail.


    Friday, 22 October 2010 Dereel Images for 22 October 2010
    Top of page
    previous day
    next day
    last day

    Greenhouse work: little progress
    Topic: gardening Link here

    I'm really motivated (by my current standards, anyway) to finish this greenhouse, but somehow the weather's never right. In the past the weather has been too cool, but today it was too warm—the temperature was over 28°. Still managed to make some minor progress: decided not to remove the pane I had already put in, but instead to bend the frame to shape with a pair of clamps and a length of wood:


    This should be Greenhouse.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Greenhouse          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1920 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, 23 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 23 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Saturday, 23 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     

    Spent some time fitting (rubber) glazing strip and (metal) clips to the end of the greenhouse, in the process learning to make my own clips from the strip that I bought a few months ago. For reference: the strips should be 50 mm long before bending.

    Finding the correct glazing strips is not easy, and I'm sure we've lost some. Hopefully I can find a replacement: they're essential for protecting the glass from the screw heads. So far there's not much to be seen, but it will make it a lot easier to put in the glass when I'm done.


    Wireless for dummies
    Topic: technology, opinion Link here

    Spent some time reading some of the books I borrowed from the Geelong Regional Libraries yesterday, including “Wireless all-in-one for Dummies”, which I thought might help me understand the consumer mentality. But no, the relevant part is a recipe book: press here and this will happen. And it turns out to be a collection of documents about a number of different topics, including GPS. It's the second edition, published 2010, but the GPS section looks like it hasn't been updated in 10 years. They barely touch on the idea of a GPS navigator rather than a simple receiver—after all, they're far too expensive for mere mortals. I have a GPS receiver which looks similar in functionality to the one described in the book. It's a Garmin <mumble>, and I bought it in April 1997.

    I suppose it was also about 10 years ago that the “Dummies” books were all the rage (but nothing like the rage I experienced when I bought “UNIX for Dummies” for Yvonne). At the time I thought that, despite the silly name, they weren't too bad. I'm beginning to think that the concept is wearing thin, and the books are receiving only minimal maintenance.


    Repairing analogue SLRs
    Topic: photography, opinion Link here

    Another book that I borrowed was “Camera maintenance and repair”, by Thomas Tomosy. It was published in 1993, and clearly it refers to analogue cameras. But one of them is the Asahi Pentax “Spotmatic”, which I still have. If I ever want to repair it, I at least know where to get instructions.


    Wireless reception problems everywhere
    Topic: technology, general Link here

    Making progress with this Telstra 3G21WB modem is hampered by reception problems. Yesterday reception was flaky; today I got nothing at all, even under the circumstances where it worked yesterday. I wonder if it's defective. As soon as I can drum up courage to call Telstra, I'll do so. Maybe I should just put it in the envelope they sent me yesterday.

    That wasn't the only wireless issue: I've already noticed that the power meter is as good as useless, and I suspect wireless connection problems there. And the external transmitter of the weather station I bought yesterday also seems to have problems. The Telstra modems run in the 850 MHz band, and the power monitor broadcasts at 433.92 MHz, so they can't be interfering with each other. I haven't been able to find out what the frequency of the weather stations is. We'll see what happens when I return the power monitor.


    Paradise in Omeo
    Topic: multimedia, food and drink, opinion Link here

    Seven years ago we spent a night in Omeo. Yvonne was not amused. But there must be more to Omeo than what we saw. So when a travel documentary came on on Seven Two (or is that 7TWO?), I decided to record it.

    The kindest things that I can say is that this is not our kind of documentary. It was 16:9 material which for some reason had been compressed into 4:3 with bars on either side, so I had to reconfigure the projector to show it correctly. It looked more like advertising than a real documentary film (“Come and stay in our tin shed for only $95 a night”—really!). And in between, for no obvious reason, we had somebody who claimed to be a cook (or maybe a chef), and showed how to make Tacos, or maybe they were Nachos—he wasn't sure and didn't care. I don't care to remember the recipe, but basically it was mincemeat and tomatoes mixed in with some Mexican spice powder whose name was doubtless made very clear, but which I have mercifully forgotten. And at the end of it, he put an aluminium takeaway container onto a real plate and poured the whole mess into it:


    This should be Omeo-nachos.gif.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Omeo nachos          Dimensions:          1920 x 1080, 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 Friday, 22 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 22 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Friday, 22 October 2010

     

    You'd think that people like eating out of takeaway containers. Or maybe that is the only way you could stomach this stuff.


    Power failures and UPS problems
    Topic: general Link here

    Another power failure at 21:21, only a second or two. And teevee and the projector failed. Why? They were on a UPS, and even a weak UPS should be able to weather a 1 second dropout. To be investigated. And of course, when I rebooted, the computer didn't respond. After a bit of searching, discovered that the batteries in the (wireless) keyboard had chosen that moment to stop functioning. Why do these things always gang up on me?


    Saturday, 23 October 2010 Dereel Images for 23 October 2010
    Top of page
    previous day
    next day
    last day

    Panoramas: what I really need now
    Topic: photography, opinion Link here

    House photo day today, and once again playing around with panoramas. I've been meaning to buy some panorama bracket or another, but so far, despite everything I've seen, I haven't found any one bracket that fits all my requirements. As I said some months ago, I need something that can:

    1. Rotate the camera about the nodal point.
    2. Level the camera independently of the tripod.
    3. Switch from horizontal to vertical orientation, preferably without remounting the camera.
    4. Rotate the camera in specific increments for equally-spaced images.

    And there's nothing on the market that fulfils criterion 3. Maybe some would do it with remounting the camera, but even that seems doubtful. Since my playing around with vertical panoramas a couple of months ago, I now have this functionality, though it's kludgy. I've had criterion 1 for some time. What I still don't (really) have are criteria 2 and 4. In May I observed that criterion 4 wasn't so important. But I'm no longer so sure. The question is, how do I do it? I've settled on increments of 30° for vertical and 45° for horizontal panoramas, and so far I've been doing it by lining up things with the autofocus point markings in the viewfinder. And that's been a pain. But the pan head has markings every 15°, and today I discovered that it's a whole lot easier just to align the tripod by them.

    So all that's left is the leveling. I've been doing that with a ball head under the pan head. It works, but it's very fiddly adjusting it, not helped by the low resolution of the bubble level on the head. Probably this is the most important thing to get. And they're not even overly expensive—$100 will buy you a couple of different ones. The best choice appears to be the Manfrotto 338 Leveling Head:

    Manfrotto 338

    At the time I commented that adjusting screws at 120° intervals were less than optimal; you really need two at 90°, and that should be enough. But today I read a number of reviews on the Adorama and B&H web sites and discovered another issue: the screws are very stiff, and it makes the thing difficult to use. On top of that there's no indication that the bubble level is any more accurate than the one on my ball head. So yet another device that doesn't live up to my expectations.


    Rearranging the house plants
    Topic: gardening, general Link here

    Four months ago we moved the Ficus benjamina from the kitchen to the lounge room, since it wasn't happy with the place we had put it in January:


    This should be lounge.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: lounge          Dimensions:          5703 x 2010, 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 Wednesday, 30 June 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 30 June 2010, small
    Diary entry for Wednesday, 30 June 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    This should be Ficus-benjamina-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Ficus benjamina 1          Dimensions:          1308 x 1284, 288 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Wednesday, 30 June 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 30 June 2010, small
    Diary entry for Wednesday, 30 June 2010 Complete exposure details

     

    It didn't like that change either. It came after another relocation from the west window of the dining room, and it's still losing many more leaves than it's regaining, so reluctantly moved it back to the place it had been before the January move:


    This should be Ficus-benjamina.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Ficus benjamina          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1520 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Sunday, 24 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 24 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Sunday, 24 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     


    Time for a spring clean?
    Topic: general Link here

    Moving things around in the dining room meant moving one of the carpets, which is spectacularly dirty. The dirt that seems to have filtered through it is a good indication:


    This should be Under-carpet.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Under carpet          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1344 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, 23 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 23 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Saturday, 23 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     


    UPS problems with teevee, not resolved
    Topic: technology Link here

    While we were doing that, checked the UPS for teevee, which had failed to take over during a 2 second power outage. It worked perfectly. This time the projector was not running; was that overloading the UPS? It didn't say anything.


    Pottering along in the garden
    Topic: gardening Link here

    We still have too many plants in pots, in particular some unhappy looking parsley. Finally got round to mixing up some soil and compost and planting it in the bed on the east side of the laundry. Nothing on the greenhouse: it was too windy. I wish I could do a bit more.


    Sunday, 24 October 2010 Dereel Images for 24 October 2010
    Top of page
    previous day
    next day
    last day

    Home alone
    Topic: general, animals Link here

    Yvonne and Chris went to Olivaylle to pick up some horses, a marathon 730 km with a horse float. Somehow I'm not very active when she's not here, and the fact that Nemo was confined to his kennel all day long didn't help much either. And then I was thrown out of bed early by the arrival of Don Fortescue to spray a paddock he forgot earlier this month.


    Greenhouse: slow and unsteady
    Topic: gardening Link here

    Spent some time in the garden looking at the greenhouse. This is so frustrating! First loosened the clamps to see how well the rail had straightened—not at all. And then, after finally putting in a few more panes of glass, discovered that I had overlooked another bent rail:


    This should be Greenhouse.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Greenhouse          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 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 Monday, 25 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 25 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Monday, 25 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     

    That'll clearly have to come out, and I'm wondering about the other one. This continual discovery that I have to revert all my work is really getting on my nerves, so gave up and took a look at other work instead, and did a considerable amount of weeding.


    Wireless problems without end
    Topic: technology Link here

    The 3G21WB has been turned on continually now, and I have both devices running syslogd to dereel (to configure that, you need to go to the Diagnostics tab, not Advanced settings). It seems that the 3G9WB lost the connection no less than 6 times in the night from Friday to Saturday, logging messages that remind me of the early 1990s:

    Oct 23 09:13:24 pong-gw pppd[466]: Modem hangup
    Oct 23 09:13:24 pong-gw pppd[466]: Connection terminated.
    Oct 23 09:13:55 pong-gw pppd[466]: Couldn't restrict write permissions to /dev/ttyUSB0: Read-only file system
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]: abort on (NO DIAL TONE)
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]: abort on (NO ANSWER)
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]: abort on (NO CARRIER)
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]: abort on (DELAYED)
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]: send (AT^M)
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]: expect (OK)
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]: ^M
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]: OK
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]:  -- got it
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]: send (ATZ^M)
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]: expect (OK)
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]: ^M
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]: ^M
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]: OK
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]:  -- got it
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]: send (ATD*98*1#^M)
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]: expect (CONNECT)
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]: ^M
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]: ^M
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]: CONNECT
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]:  -- got it
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw chat[7992]: send (^M)
    Oct 23 09:13:56 pong-gw pppd[466]: Connect: ppp0 <--> /dev/ttyUSB0
    Oct 23 09:14:09 pong-gw pppd[466]: Could not determine remote IP address: defaulting to 10.64.64.64
    Oct 23 09:14:09 pong-gw pppd[466]: local  IP address 124.180.39.220
    Oct 23 09:14:09 pong-gw pppd[466]: remote IP address 10.64.64.64
    Oct 23 09:14:09 pong-gw pppd[466]: primary   DNS address 61.9.133.193

    That was the last dropout, and since then there had been no more. Hopefully I'm not going to have the same kind of problems here. SkyMesh, not to be outdone, dropped the satellite connection from 2:31 until 4:36, one of the longer outages. Doubtless that's a modem fault too.

    But the other 3G21WB hasn't reported anything since Friday. I suppose it would be typical that it doesn't report loss or gain of signal (which might have been the cause of the problems above with the 3G9WB), but at the moment it looks more like it hasn't received a signal at all.

    That's not the only lack of signal. Spent more time looking at the new weather station, which had lost its connection with both outside units again. It could be the position, of course, though it wasn't obvious. This time I swapped the two units. No, it wasn't the position. The new unit still lost connections, and the old one kept them. Looks like at least the internal unit needs to be returned.


    Monday, 25 October 2010 Dereel Images for 25 October 2010
    Top of page
    previous day
    next day
    last day

    Finally a day to spray
    Topic: gardening Link here

    I should be working on the greenhouse now, especially since David Yeardley is coming back home later in the week, and it seems he expects to see it finished. I don't see that happening, though I would like to make some more progress. Still, he had it in pieces for decades, so I think I'm making comparatively fast progress.

    Today's excuse was the weather: warm, sunny and little wind, just what I needed to spray the weeds which are threatening to take over the garden. Yvonne wanted to mow the lawn, but we discovered we had a flat rear tyre. Brought the air pump to pump it up, but of course it has a plug for a cigarette lighter socket, and this el-cheapo lawn mower doesn't have a cigarette lighter. Got my car, drove in and over the wooden rail that has been waiting to be put on the posts to hang mesh off, breaking it into three pieces. Pumped up the tyre and confirmed it has a (quite fast) puncture. CJ will be along tomorrow; maybe he can repair it.


    Wattle bird visit
    Topic: animals, general Link here

    Over the course of the day, both Yvonne and I had a Wattle bird land on the window frame, apparently wanting to get in. It didn't stay long, and this is the only photo I got:


    This should be Wattle-bird.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Wattle bird          Dimensions:          3504 x 2729, 1264 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Monday, 25 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 25 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Monday, 25 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    Telstra technical support: a new level of support
    Topic: technology Link here

    It's pretty clear that my new 3G21WB is not performing as planned, so I should return it. Finally drummed up the courage to call Telstra and tell them so. Fought my way through the emetic voice menu system with relatively little pain:

    Menu:       So that I can direct your call, please tell me in a few words the purpose of your call today.
    Me:       3G sales.
    Menu:       Would that be Internet over the mobile network?
    Me:       Yes.
    Menu:       Is the number linked to the number from which you are calling?
    Me:       Yes.
    Menu:       Bong Bong    Bong Bong
    Menu:       To know I'm speaking to the right person, please tell me your date of birth or type it into the phone.
    Me:       28 September 1948.
    Menu:       Sorry, I missed that. Please type your date of birth into the keypad.
    Me:       [Silence]
    Menu:       Hold on while I connect you.

    Maybe next time I should just say nothing and see what happens. I suspect that this Bong Bong means that something has gone wrong with the system, though it's not clear why the customers should hear it. And again I was asked to leave feedback at the end of the call, though maybe that happens on every call; it certainly does in my case.

    I was connected to Ellie, who confirmed that the price of the modem would be refunded, and told her that the new modem (3G21WB) didn't get any signal, and that the old one (3G9WB) worked fine, so it had to be a problem with the new modem. She spent some time trying to tell me that the old modem can't work because the USIM will only work in the modem for which it is designed. She asked me what was written on the old modem—clearly she didn't know the model numbers, just the buzzwords—and who it was made by. I finally explained to her what the 3G9WB was, and that it was still in their product range, but she told me it wasn't, because it was too slow. Telstra, she says, has “upgraded its signals” (and not, as I suggested, the protocols) and now has the fastest mobile data network in the world. Wikipedia disagrees: Telstra has up to 21 Mb/s, while Swisscom and Vodafone (in the Netherlands) offer 28 Mb/s. And the 3G9WB can only handle 7.2 Mb/s. But I don't get anything like that, so the comparison is meaningless.

    In any case, she wasn't able to replace the modem. That's a technical support job. So, 10 minutes into the call, she connected me. 7 minutes later Mel answered. I told her what the problem was, that the 3G9WB worked and the 3G21WB didn't. She put me on hold for a while and then told me that she couldn't open my account, which is why my Internet connection wasn't working. I asked her to listen very carefully, explained again and asked if she understood. Yes, she said. The problem was that I had “lots of connections”, which appeared not to refer to TCP sessions (I suspect she doesn't know what TCP is), but Telstra devices mentioned in my account. I pointed out that I had only the landline phone and the 3G connection. She repeated the phone number (correctly), and then put me on hold again, 20 minutes into the call.

    Five minutes later I was connected to Jeremy, who had been supplied no information, but who seemed to understand the issue. Unfortunately, he was in activations. It seems that, despite everything I had told her, Mel had thought that the account hadn't been activated. Jeremy couldn't help me and needed to connect me to back to technical support. I explained that they didn't seem to understand normal problem descriptions, so he offered to confirm with somebody who would understand the issue. He also left me his direct phone number in case I needed more help. I'm reminded of the xkcd cartoon, just that this time I really did get a phone number.

    At 30 minutes into the call he connected me with Laurel, who listened to the same story and said “I'd like to see the status of the modem”. I told her I had a connection to the built-in web server, and asked what she wanted to know. First question: “Is the power light on?” So much for understanding.

    By this time I was getting quite irritated, and told her that she should confine her questions to the device status. But in retrospect I don't think any of the “technical support” people know anything about the web server. She said “just a moment here, OK?” and put me on hold, 33 minutes into the call. Next thing I saw was:

    Oct 25 17:10:26 pong-gw pppd[466]: Modem hangup
    Oct 25 17:10:26 pong-gw pppd[466]: Connection terminated.
    ...
    Oct 25 17:10:58 pong-gw pppd[466]: Connect: ppp0 <--> /dev/ttyUSB0

    This is the first time the modem was disconnected since Friday, so it's pretty clear to me that Laurel did it. How people infuriate me when they do that! When I got off hold I was connected to Marie, who claimed to be a supervisor (I thought Telstra didn't have them). She wanted to know the IMEI of the device, and that it wasn't available on the web server (I later discovered it is: tab DiagnosticsNext G network), so I got the modem and read it to her. She told me it was connected. I told her that it was on my lap with no cables connected, but that didn't matter to her.

    How can that happen? Does the USIM also contain the IMEI and claim to be the wrong device? Or does the monitoring software jump to conclusions? One of the issues might be that “locked” devices can really not use other USIM cards, and that mine only works because it has been unlocked. But if that's the case, what a triumph of bureaucracy over technology that would be!

    Then she asked me what operating system I'm running. “FreeBSD”. “Sorry, I'm not sure what it is”. Never mind, not important.

    What operating system are you running? “FreeBSD”. “Sorry, I'm not sure what it is”. Never mind, not important.

    Went through a couple more iterations of this, with me trying to break out, and then: “What operating system are you running? Is it Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7?” “No. It's FreeBSD.” “Sorry, I'm not sure what it is. Look for ‘My Computer’ on your desktop”. “Sorry, I don't have a desktop”. “Look for the Start button at bottom left”. “I don't have a Start button”.

    Finally she asked me to spell FreeBSD for her, and said “So, this is your operating system, right?” Well, it might have taken five times, but finally she understood. “Did you try it on a Microsoft operating system?” Yes, and the installation crashed and didn't recognize the modem. I explained that the crash was due to Telstra using old, buggy Microsoft libraries, but I think the fact that it didn't recognize the modem was enough for her, and so she finally, after 50 minutes on the phone, agreed to replace the modem.

    So, what went wrong here? Maybe I was trying to be too helpful and give them information that would shorten the diagnosis. But they have scripts they need to go through, so maybe next time I should get them to go through them and see if it works any better. It certainly can't be any worse. In summary, though, I think Telstra technical support is much worse even than the appalling standard they had three years ago.


    SkyMesh routing issues
    Topic: technology Link here

    SkyMesh hasn't been doing any better either. I haven't had another dropout, but there was a routing issue with the USA (only) that lasted nearly 2 hours:

    1287966847 1 5  # Mon Oct 25 11:34:07 EST 2010
    1287966934 1 3 w3 ftp.netbsd.org        # Mon Oct 25 11:35:34 EST 2010
    1287966962 1 3 w3 ftp.netbsd.org        # Mon Oct 25 11:36:02 EST 2010
    ...
    1287973020 1 4 ftp.netbsd.org   # Mon Oct 25 13:17:00 EST 2010
    1287973036 1 4 ftp.netbsd.org   # Mon Oct 25 13:17:16 EST 2010
    1287973041 1 5  # Mon Oct 25 13:17:21 EST 2010

    w3.lemis.com is important, so I was able to solve that routing issue with a simple:

    === root@dereel (/dev/ttypf) /home/grog 4 -> route delete w3
    delete host w3

    That brought it back in line with the default route, which is via Telstra.

    Looking at the problem, it appears to have happened in IPStar's network, specifically 203.169.17.38 (“we don't need no steenking PTR records”). Here traceroutes from both ends:

    === grog@freefall (/dev/pts/2) ~ 8 -> traceroute sat-gw-ext.lemis.com
    traceroute to sat-gw-ext.lemis.com (180.181.112.227), 64 hops max, 40 byte packets
     1  vl-225.bas-b1.sp1.yahoo.com (69.147.83.3)  0.423 ms  0.348 ms  0.273 ms
     2  ge-1-0-0.msr2.sp1.yahoo.com (209.131.32.42)  0.264 ms  0.232 ms  0.272 ms
     3  ae-0-d151.pat2.pao.yahoo.com (216.115.107.74)  0.855 ms  0.825 ms
        ae-1-d151.pat2.pao.yahoo.com (216.115.107.78)  0.856 ms
     4  paix.bdr01.sjc01.ca.vocusconnect.net (198.32.176.134)  0.813 ms  1.253 ms  1.004 ms
     5  ge-0-0-2-10.bdr01.sjc01.ca.VOCUS.net.au (114.31.199.60)  157.378 ms  159.421 ms  157.785 ms
     6  ge-0-1-0-126.cor02.syd03.nsw.VOCUS.net.au (114.31.192.100)  157.608 ms  157.127 ms  157.186 ms
     7  ge-0-3-2.bdr02.syd03.nsw.VOCUS.net.au (114.31.192.65)  157.781 ms  157.438 ms  157.788 ms
     8  as7477.syd03.nsw.VOCUS.net.au (114.31.193.22)  157.797 ms  157.982 ms  158.043 ms
     9  203.169.17.37 (203.169.17.37)  160.860 ms  160.105 ms  161.353 ms
    10  203.169.16.34 (203.169.16.34)  204.674 ms  204.968 ms  204.435 ms
    11  203.169.16.38 (203.169.16.38)  207.026 ms  207.440 ms  205.024 ms
    12  * * *
    === grog@dereel (/dev/ttypg) ~ 5 -> traceroute w3
    traceroute to w3.lemis.com (208.86.224.149), 64 hops max, 40 byte packets
     1  sat-gw (192.168.5.100)  0.674 ms  0.298 ms  0.296 ms
     2  192.168.1.33 (192.168.1.33)  1122.692 ms  1073.481 ms  937.343 ms
     3  203.169.16.37 (203.169.16.37)  923.676 ms  1038.370 ms  932.031 ms
     4  203.169.16.25 (203.169.16.25)  961.222 ms  951.135 ms  932.050 ms
     5  203.169.17.38 (203.169.17.38)  932.005 ms  970.558 ms  930.533 ms
     6  * * *
    === grog@dereel (/dev/ttypc) /var/tmp 80 -> whois 203.169.16.0
    ...
    inetnum:      203.169.16.0 - 203.169.23.255
    netname:      IPSTAR-RETAIL
    descr:        IPSTAR Australia, Satellite Broadband Provider, Australia

    Sent them a mail 30 minutes into the outage, but got no reply.


    Weather stations: off and on
    Topic: general Link here

    After the communications failure with the new ALDI weather station, moved it back to the kitchen again. And this evening it was receiving both external units without problems, although I had moved one even further away. I wish I understood what's going on here.


    Leveling bases for panoramas
    Topic: photography, opinion Link here

    Another mail from Michael without surname, this time about leveling bases. He mentions a source of decent levels, and also the opinion that Manfrotto 338 would be a pain to use (presumably even if the adjusting screws weren't so stiff), simply because of the time it takes to adjust them. He pointed me at another leveling base from Acratech:

    Image

    It certainly looks robust, and it gets good reviews on the camera shop web sites. It took me a while to understand how it works: its just a glorified ball head! That means no fine adjustments: once you loosen up, you have to start the adjustment from scratch.

    And that got me thinking: at least in the price range I'm looking at, there seems to be nothing useful available. What would it cost to take two hinges, mount them on top of each other at right angles, and add two adjusting screws? I might even do it myself.


    Tuesday, 26 October 2010 Dereel
    Top of page
    previous day
    next day
    last day

    Garden progress
    Topic: gardening Link here

    CJ along today to help with some of the garden stuff. He put up the remaining wooden rails (we were able to salvage enough from the breakage I caused yesterday) and then (with Yvonne's help; my leg is still a problem) the wire mesh on top of them, apparently no pleasant work. Then he dug some trenches along the edges of the southern hedge, pulling the weed mat into them to (hopefully) stop grass running underneath. Also took a look at the tyre of the lawn mower, which he wasn't able to repair. We'll have to take it into town.

    I did some more work on the greenhouse, which continues its excruciating frustration. Decided to remove the bent rails so that we could straighten them:


    This should be Greenhouse.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Greenhouse          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 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 Monday, 25 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 25 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Monday, 25 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    This should be Greenhouse.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Greenhouse          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1920 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, 23 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 23 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Saturday, 23 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     

    That bent horizontal rail was held in place by four screws. It took me half an hour to remove it: the heads of the screws were completely worn out by one attempt at tightening them, and I had to drill them out. CJ was using the power drill, so I used a battery drill, getting through both battery packs in the process. The other (vertical) rail, which I had tried to straighten with the length of wood, was even worse: the bottom was in a concrete base. CJ brought a sledge hammer and managed to get it to shape, and we straightened the other one. After my pain with Telstra (below) I returned and put things back in again. Now we should be able to glaze; I'm just wondering whether we shouldn't clean the panes before inserting them.


    Telstra technical support: we do networking
    Topic: technology Link here

    Discovered today that a message has been hanging in my mail queue for over a day:

    Oct 26 00:15:25 dereel postfix/smtp[80940]: connect to mail[208.86.224.149]:25: Connection refused
    Oct 26 00:15:25 dereel postfix/smtp[80940]: 74812A1090: to=<nospammer@gmail.com>, relay=none, delay=36325, delays=36325/0.01/0.08/0, dsn=4.4.1, status=deferred (connect to mail[208.86.224.149]:25: Connection refused)

    A quick check with tcpdump showed that no connection requests were making it to the MTA on mail.lemis.com, which was functioning normally (and has been doing so for 16 months). I seem to remember that Telstra blocks port 25, but I thought this would be a good idea to try out whether their support scripts would be more effective than me telling them what the problem was. Summary: no. After over an hour on the phone, they hadn't even understood the problem to the point that they could give me an answer. One of the problems is clearly that I'm not using any software that their scripts understand, and at the end of it, I think they still thought that it was my software (“Can you spell ‘postfix’?”). Clearly next time I'm up to a run-in with them, I'll do the whole thing with the Apple.

    Telstra pain: the details

    In more detail, it took me three phone calls before I finally gave up.

    Call 1 was abortive:

    Menu:       So that I can direct your call, please tell me in a few words the purpose of your call today.
    Me:       I can't send email
    Menu:       So that would be email, right?
    Me:       Yes.
    Menu:       Hold on while I connect you. Feep

    The Feep was some kind of noise in the line, reminiscent of a modem. But it wasn't that, and it didn't go away when I hung up. Spent some time fighting my way back via the VoIP ATA and other places before I traced it to the headset connected to my phone. When I disconnected it and reconnected it, the problem went away. I've never had that before, and it's about the last thing that I would have expected given the circumstances of when it happened.

    Call 2 got me to a second-level voice menu that at least asked questions that I could answer with “yes” or “no”. Got connected to a Dan pretty quickly, and told him I couldn't send email to my external server. He asked me for the email address, and I gave him the address (nospammer@gmail.com in the messages above). “Sorry, gmail.com is not hosted through Telstra”. I explained that this was a connection between my machine, via Telstra, to my external mail server. He suggested I should contact BigPond premium technical support, which costs money. Looking (later) at the price list, it costs a lot of money, starting at $99, and none of the services relate to “Debug Telstra network”.

    I told him that I was not prepared to pay money to fix a problem that existed with their network. After a while he asked the name of the external server, so I gave that to him and pointed out that the only connection difficulties were via the Telstra network. He asked “what is the incoming mail server?”. I didn't understand the question, and told him again that I was trying to connect to mail.lemis.com. His answer: ”bear with me”, and he put me on hold, 7 minutes into the call.

    8 minutes later he came back and told me I should use mail.bigpond.com. I told him I didn't want to use it, and that I have my own mail server. His next question: “Is this Internet or email?”. I asked him what he meant by “Internet”, and didn't get a conclusive answer; later I think he meant web. His next question: “Are you connected to the Internet?”. Sometimes I wonder what goes on these peoples' brains.

    Then he said that he would connect me to the web service people. I told him that this had nothing to do with the web, and explained again that no TCP packets (yes, he claimed to know what TCP is) were getting through to the remote server, so they were getting lost in the Telstra network. He said “hold on, I'll put you through to the right area” and put me on hold again, 20 minutes into the call.

    I waited in a queue for about 10 minutes until CJ came in and wanted to talk to me, so put Yvonne on the phone to wait for a response. That happened almost as soon as I got outside, so back inside and spoke to Rahul, who was in... BigPond Premium Hosting. To his credit he sounded like he knew what he was talking about, but it had nothing to do with my problem. 35 minutes on the phone and nothing achieved.

    Finished my talk with CJ and then back in and tried again.

    Menu:       So that I can direct your call, please tell me in a few words the purpose of your call today.
    Me:       I can't send email
    Menu:       Is that something to do with your bill?
    Me:       (silence)

    Somehow I got connected to Technical Support, where the voice menu noticed that I had called recently and wanted to know whether it was about the same problem. At least that is a useful feature. Got connected to Ron:

    Ron:       Can I have your user ID, please
    Me:       groggy@bigpond.com
    Ron:       Are you using a desktop or a laptop?
    Me:       Desktop.
    Ron:       Which Windows version are you running?
    Me:       I'm not running “Windows”
    Ron:       Oh, is it a Mac?
    Me:       No.
    Ron:       Sorry, then we can't support you. We're not trained in the software.
    Me:       This isn't about the software, it's about the network, specifically TCP. You do know what TCP is, right?
    Ron:       Sorry, no.
    Me:       What about IP? Do you know that?
    Ron:       Sorry, no.
    Me:       Can you put me through to somebody who understands networking?
    Ron:       I understand networking.
    Me:       I'm seeing packets going into your network and not come out the other end. Somewhere in between they're getting lost. How can I explain this to you?
    Ron:       I don't think you can. I'm not trained in this software.
    Me:       Please connect me to your supervisor.

    7 minutes into the call I was connected to somebody who claimed to be his supervisor, and whose name proved to be spelt “Rome”, though it was difficult to establish this: his English wasn't the best. He did seem to understand the issue a little better, though he seemed unclear on terminology, and continually referred to the servers as clients. He, too, told me that I should use mail.bigpond.com, and asked me why I didn't want to. I told him I needed control of the MTA, and that I didn't want to be affected by blacklists, which he accepted. But he still wasn't able to handle the packet loss issue, and once again wanted to connect me to BigPond premium technical support. I told him that I did not want to have to pay for fixing problems in Telstra's network, and asked him to take in a formal complaint, which he did (reference number SR1-51041273695). And that was all for 26 minutes on the phone, a total of over an hour.

    Interestingly, this time I didn't get any Bong Bongs from the voice menu system, and at the end of the call I wasn't asked what I thought of my “support experience”


    Working around Telstra breakage
    Topic: technology Link here

    Yes, I consider blocking port 25 to be deliberate breakage of the network connection. I can understand the concerns (don't spam; wouldn't you want to use an expensive wireless connection to spam?), but there need to be other ways to ensure that that doesn't happen. In my case, of course, the solution is simple: a tunnel.

    Not for the first time, I restarted my mailtunnel script:

    #!/usr/local/bin/bash
    # Set up and maintain mail tunnel to mail
    # $Id: diary-oct2010.php,v 1.67 2012/10/11 23:00:16 grog Exp $
    while :; do
      logger Restarting SMTP tunnel
      logger `ssh -n -N -L 2026:mail.lemis.com:25 mail.lemis.com`
      sleep 5   # don't flood
    done

    Then /usr/local/etc/postfix/transport contains:

    lemis.com    :
    * smtp:localhost:2026

    The only irritating thing about this is what the outgoing headers look like:

    Received: from w3.lemis.com (w3.lemis.com [208.86.224.149])
            by mx1.freebsd.org (Postfix) with ESMTP id 75F888FC16
            for <flog@freebsd.org>; Wed, 27 Oct 2010 00:12:20 +0000 (UTC)
    Received: from dereel.lemis.com (1032.x.rootbsd.net [208.86.224.149])
            by w3.lemis.com (Postfix) with ESMTP id 58C953B795

    Wednesday, 27 October 2010 Dereel Images for 27 October 2010
    Top of page
    previous day
    next day
    last day

    Neighbour's cats
    Topic: animals Link here

    The Nottles across the road have a number of cats, clearly of sturdier stuff than our own. There's a Lilac Burmese called “Silly cat” that looks for all the world like Lilac (for obvious reasons) and also a striped cat, both of which frequently come here. Today the striped cat was on the verandah and didn't show any particular inclination to leave:


    This should be Cat-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Cat 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1184 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Wednesday, 27 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 27 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Wednesday, 27 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     

    It was still there when I went and got Lilac, and only ran away when I opened the door. Lilac didn't see it for some reason. Still, the Nottles are leaving in only a couple of weeks, even though their house hasn't been sold, so I don't suppose we'll be seeing much more of it.


    Telstra support will fix your network problems
    Topic: technology, opinion Link here

    Callum Gibson pointed me at an article in the Sydney Morning Herald today: Telstra experts are now prepared to access your computer remotely and fix the problems for you. To quote:

    “We understand that for some people, explaining the problem can be a major hurdle and this new tool helps bridge the distance between technical support staff and our customers,” said Rebekah O'Flaherty, Telstra's consumer executive director.

    Yes, I've found that explaining the problem is not just a “hurdle”. It can be almost impossible. I'd first have to teach them the basics of networking. But letting a Telstra “support” person into my machine? What a horrible thought! Even if I let them access pain, my Microsoft laptop, I can't imagine what kind of mess they would make of it. The first thing would probably be to enable DHCP on the box and the modem, thus completely cutting the machine out of the network. But it got me thinking: Telstra has password authentication for its wireless routers. To make sure that doesn't pose any problem to access the device, the information is printed on the base of the modem:

     
    This should be modem-detail.gif.  Is it missing?
    Image title: modem detail
    Dimensions: 742 x 266, 74 kB
    Dimensions of original: 742 x 266, 74 kB
    Display this image:
    thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
    Display all images on this page as:
    thumbnails    this size
    Show for Thursday, 28 October 2010:
    thumbnails    small images    diary entry

    So I can get into probably 99% of all such routers. That's a clear case for changing the passwords. Went to do that and was confronted with Yet Another Idiocy:

     
    This should be stupid-password.gif.  Is it missing?
    Image title: stupid password
    Dimensions: 389 x 137, 6 kB
    Dimensions of original: 389 x 137, 6 kB
    Display this image:
    thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
    Display all images on this page as:
    thumbnails    this size
    Show for Wednesday, 27 October 2010:
    thumbnails    small images    diary entry

    How does that enhance security? In any case, found that there are in fact three user names on the box: user, support and admin, all by default with the password the same as the user name. Fixed all three; at least now no moron will be able to access my modem without my permission—I hope they haven't left a back door.


    Telstra blocking port 25: breach of contract?
    Topic: technology Link here

    It's clear that Telstra is blocking port 25, and today Callum Gibson—again—pointed me to a FAQ describing the matter—they call port blocking “managing”. In principle it's not much of a problem to work around it. But are they allowed to do it? Spent some time today reading the terms and conditions of service, nearly all of which seem to relate to my obligations. Nothing to do with what service they're really offering, and given that they seem to think that the Internet is a program, it's not clear what they really are offering. But section 4, “limits of the service” makes no mention of blocking specific ports. It does mention the possibility of supplying my own modem, something that the sales people say is impossible.


    Greenhouse, finally!
    Topic: gardening Link here

    Now there's not much excuse for not finishing the greenhouse, so spent some time in the afternoon glazing the end opposite the door. It's much slower work than assembling a new greenhouse: in particular, the glass is dirty and needs to be cleaned, and finding the correct glazing strip is also an issue. With a new greenhouse you get a roll of the strip and cut it to size. Mine is already cut to size, and I need to find the correct piece.

    Got the end almost completed. One of the panes has a corner broken out of it, so I'll leave that until the end, when we'll have to go and get some more glass. And tomorrow one of the sides?


    Thursday, 28 October 2010 Dereel Images for 28 October 2010
    Top of page
    previous day
    next day
    last day

    More greenhouse progress
    Topic: gardening Link here

    On with a little work on the greenhouse today. It's pretty slow going, but I managed to get the other (door) end finished, and also a couple of panes on one of the sides. It's now enough to make it worthwhile moving plants there from the verandah.


    Telstra: the story goes on
    Topic: technology Link here

    I have an outstanding complaint with Telstra, so when I got a call from Obbie at Telstra, I thought it was that. But no, he was following up on my call on Monday. It seems that Marie, the “supervisor”, had not filled out any details for the request for a new modem, so it hadn't been sent, and Obbie wanted to start the diagnosis all over again. I explained that the 3G9WB worked and the 3G21WB didn't, which was enough for him. But there's another issue here that has been nagging me: what if the 3G21WB is just not as good as the 3G9WB in weak signal situations? I asked him about that, and he said, no, there's no problem with the 3G21WB in general, so it must be the unit. And, as Marie said on Monday, I'll have it in 3 or 4 business days. He wasn't able to give me an alternative contact who actually knew what they're talking about.

    On the positive side, looked at a FAQ which tells about “unmetered” traffic (traffic that doesn't count towards the monthly allocation), and discovered that http://mirror.aarnet.edu.au/ is supposed to be on it. That's better than last time, when there was nothing useful at all, and I note that they have FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD there, so that's some advantage.


    How needs speling?
    Topic: opinion Link here

    Letter from O'Reilly's royalty department today, enclosing a US tax office declaration for me to fill out and return. Sent on 20 October 2010, took a week to get here, and they want me to get it back to them by 5 November 2010 in the “enclosed prepaid envelope” (pre-paid only in the USA, of course). If the letter had arrived tomorrow instead of today, I wouldn't have been in a position to reply until next Thursday, 4 November 2010. Since this relates to people outside the USA (“AU”, as the address said), you'd think they'd think a little better. But then, look at the email address she gave me:

     
    This should be royalties-detail.gif.  Is it missing?
    Image title: royalties detail
    Dimensions: 772 x 298, 56 kB
    Dimensions of original: 772 x 298, 56 kB
    Display this image:
    thumbnail    hidden   alone on page
    Display all images on this page as:
    thumbnails    this size
    Show for Thursday, 28 October 2010:
    thumbnails    small images    diary entry

    It's certainly not as bad as Telstra, and at least it's not the proof-reading department, but is that really the way professionals behave?


    Getting a good photo of the Paulownia
    Topic: gardening, photography Link here

    How do I get a good photo of the Paulownia kawakami? It's all in the lighting, clearly, and today I spent a lot of time trying different combinations of flash for the foreground and exposure compensation for the background. I'm still not happy. Here one of the better attempts:


    This should be Paulownia-13.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Paulownia 13          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 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, 28 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 28 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Thursday, 28 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    Friday, 29 October 2010 Dereel Images for 29 October 2010
    Top of page
    previous day
    next day
    last day

    Ballarat Gardens in Spring, day 1
    Topic: gardening Link here

    Today was the first day of this year's Ballarat Gardens in Spring event. Off to Buninyong to visit the Jamiesons, who have a garden in some ways reminiscent of our own, but in other ways very different. The have a nice tree fern in the entrance, which they say has really taken off since they put shade cloth over it:


    This should be Fern.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Fern          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 3792 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Friday, 29 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     

    Because they had many of the same kinds of plants that we do, we didn't buy much, just a particularly pretty everlasting daisy (Xerochrysum bracteatum):


    This should be Everlasting-daisy-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Everlasting daisy 1          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2576 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Friday, 29 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    This should be Everlasting-daisy-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Everlasting daisy 2          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 2176 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Friday, 29 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     

    Hopefully that's the colour we'll get.

    Then on to the Deans in Ligar St. They have an amazing amount of stuff on quite a small plot. One difference from our place and both of the gardens we saw today is the location: houses all around tend to keep the wind down and also encourage shady spots, both of which we have to make for ourselves. They have some nice layouts, though, and that's something that we should think about. Bought a number of plants, including a a Corydalis and a Senecio, neither of which I had heard of before:


    This should be Corydalis-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Corydalis 1          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2768 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Friday, 29 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    This should be Corydalis-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Corydalis 2          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1808 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Friday, 29 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    This should be Senecio.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Senecio          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 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 Friday, 29 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Friday, 29 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     

    Also a Clematis recta, apparently a bush form of Clematis, and a ground cover rose which according to the label is a “Nixi” (or maybe “Mixi”) rose, though I can't find any reference to a rose of that name in Wikipedia.

    Yvonne later told me that the word is “Mini”.


    This should be Clematis-recta-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Clematis recta 3          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1824 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Friday, 29 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    This should be Nixi-rose-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Nixi rose 2          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1808 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Friday, 29 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     

    And then yet another variety of Sedum and some Zebra grass:


    This should be Sedum.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Sedum          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 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 Friday, 29 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Friday, 29 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    This should be Zebra-grass.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Zebra grass          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1632 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Friday, 29 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    Water filters: clogged again
    Topic: general Link here

    I don't know what it is about this year, but both our water filters have got clogged up again:


    This should be Filter-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Filter 1          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 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 Friday, 29 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Friday, 29 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    This should be Filter-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Filter 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2032 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Friday, 29 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     

    Normally I can leave 3 months between cleaning them out, but the last time I cleaned them was only two weeks ago, and it's now the third time this month. Why does this happen?


    More variations in the verandah photos
    Topic: photography Link here

    I normally take my weekly photos on Saturday, or possibly on Sunday, but it looks like the whole weekend will be rained out. In addition I'm going to be busy tomorrow with people from Linux Australia to plan to hold linux.conf.au in Ballarat, so decided to take the photos today. Certainly the idea of using the markings on the tripod has made things much easier, but I still need to remember the offsets; ended up doing a whole lot of horizontal images in 30° increments instead of 45°. That, the photos from this morning, and some mistakes I made which required repetition, meant that I filled up my 8 GB memory card for the first time ever. Processing was hampered by yet another disk crash. I really need to upgrade both hardware and software in dereel, but it won't happen until Sunday at the earliest.


    Telstra: breach of contract
    Topic: technology Link here

    Despite all my problems with Telstra, the network connection has been relatively stable. And then, in the evening, I noticed this in the log files:

    Oct 29 18:14:14 pong-gw pppd[466]: Modem hangup
    Oct 29 18:14:14 pong-gw pppd[466]: Connection terminated.
    ...
    Oct 29 18:14:46 pong-gw chat[16007]: send (^M)
    Oct 29 18:14:46 pong-gw pppd[466]: Connect: ppp0 <--> /dev/ttyUSB0
    Oct 29 18:14:49 pong-gw pppd[466]: Modem hangup
    Oct 29 18:14:49 pong-gw pppd[466]: Connection terminated.

    This went on and on in a loop, so called Telstra (13 7663—I'm beginning to remember this number). Spoke to Chris, who told me I had been disconnected because another modem was on its way—maybe. So now they expect me to do without a connection for at least the weekend. Demanded that he reconnect the service immediately, but he said he couldn't do that: the modem was on its way. Asked him to connect me to his supervisor, and he hung up on me.

    Swore violently, then called again and told the stupid voice menu: “Complaints”. Bong Bong. That word doesn't seem to be in its vocabulary. Finally did get connected to Steve in complaints, who sounded saner than most people I've had to deal with at Telstra. He took my details, said he'd contact second-level support, who are better than the first (they're on-shore, for all the difference that makes), but there's no way for customers to contact them. He also discovered that Telstra have changed their tariffs (“plans”) since I signed up, and I can now get 1 GB per month more for $20 less, so he signed me up for that.

    That was, however, the only positive outcome. He also connected me to Matt, who took the details, but after a bit of fiddling around discovered that the system wouldn't let him reactivate the modem. I suspect that this is part of the bureaucracy that insists on having the USIM card matched to the modem for life.

    But we have a contract: Telstra sells me networking services, and charges good money for the service. There is no technical reason, nor any fault of mine, why they should disconnect the connection. So I consider it breach of contract. Back to satellite, at least for the weekend.


    Saturday, 30 October 2010 Dereel Images for 30 October 2010
    Top of page
    previous day
    next day
    last day

    Preparing for linux.conf.au
    Topic: technology Link here

    Today people from Linux Australia came to visit Ballarat with a view to holding linux.conf.au here, so in to town to meet them: Donna Benjamin, Mike Carden, John Ferlito and Pete Lieverdink. From our side we had Josh Stewart, Sasha Ivkovic (taking time off from his son's birthday party), Duncan Macneil and Cam Tudball. First to look around the university. I've been there before, of course, but this time we had the official showing round of the facilities. I think the LA delegation was quite happy with what's available, though I would have liked to see more than two lecture theatres capable of holding 200 people. Still, I'm a whole lot happier about the venue than I was a few months back.

    Then off to the shores of Lake Wendouree, near the Botanical Gardens for a barbecue (supplied by Josh), somewhat hampered by the weather. It wasn't as bad as the Bureau of Meteorology had forecast, but it was quite wet:


    This should be Barbecue-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Barbecue 1          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 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 Saturday, 30 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 30 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Saturday, 30 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     

    After that, down to the Art Gallery, where Josh is thinking of holding some social event:


    This should be Art-gallery.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Art gallery          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1136 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Saturday, 30 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 30 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Saturday, 30 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     

    They have some interesting stuff there, but somehow nothing that really strikes me. Still, it should be a good ambiance, probably better than the Natural History Museum in Sydney in September 1998:


    This should be Ghost-rider.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Ghost rider          Dimensions:          900 x 1200, 224 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Wednesday, 16 September 1998, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 16 September 1998, small
    Diary entry for Wednesday, 16 September 1998

     

    Then off to coffee and to discuss the details. They haven't said “yes” yet, but it's looking very much as if they will. Ballarat is somewhat like uncharted territory here: it would be by far the smallest town in which linux.conf.au was held, but because of the location (only an hour's train ride from Melbourne) we suspect we'll get more attendees than places like Hobart or Dunedin. So we're currently still working on an assumed 650 attendees.


    This should be Coffee-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Coffee 3          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1152 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Saturday, 30 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 30 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Saturday, 30 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    This should be Coffee-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Coffee 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1408 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Saturday, 30 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 30 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Saturday, 30 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    This should be Coffee-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Coffee 1          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1440 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Saturday, 30 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Saturday, 30 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Saturday, 30 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     

    Down to the Hotel Mercure after that, where they have a dining room that will take 600 people. Things are looking positive.


    Yet another dead battery!
    Topic: photography Link here

    I replaced the Li-Ion battery in my camera less than two weeks ago, and so far it has been working fine. But today it was empty—after 776 photos. That in itself wouldn't have been an issue, but it did it without warning: normally I get a “low battery” indication, but this time it went from “battery OK” to completely dead. And, once again, I couldn't recharge it. What's going on here? I've had 6 BLM-1 batteries for my Olympus cameras. Two were original and I've had no problems with them. The oldest one, which I bought on eBay, is now well over 3 years old and still functional. But the other three I bought this year, and they have all failed this month, the last two on first charge. What's the problem? It's easy to suspect the charger, but the symptoms don't fit: the old batteries still work, and the ones that have failed have failed in the camera, not in the charger.


    Dinner at the Yeardleys'
    Topic: general Link here

    David Yeardley is back on dry land (well, relatively) for a couple of weeks. Over to dinner at their place in the evening. Despite promises I can't think of anything embarrassing to say.


    Sunday, 31 October 2010 Dereel Images for 31 October 2010
    Top of page
    previous day

    Ballarat Gardens in Spring, day 3
    Topic: gardening Link here

    In the last 24 hours the weather did, in fact, hold up to predictions. Elders Weather had predicted 20 to 40 mm, but in fact we got 53.9 mm, nearly 10% of the yearly rainfall. It started to dry up around mid-morning, so we decided to go and see some more open gardens. The event goes on until Tuesday, but today was the last day for all of the places we wanted to see.

    First off to Humffray St to see “Cameron House”:


    This should be Cameron-house-entrance.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Cameron house entrance          Dimensions:          4100 x 2303, 1760 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, 31 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 31 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Sunday, 31 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    This should be Cameron-house-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Cameron house 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2544 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, 31 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 31 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Sunday, 31 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    This should be Cameron-house-Echium-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Cameron house Echium 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2048 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, 31 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 31 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Sunday, 31 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     

    The property is very small, much smaller than our garden, but they've packed an amazing amount of stuff in there. One thing in particular is becoming clear to me: many of these gardens have some kind of shade area done with shade cloth on a frame. Here a couple of examples, the first from Friday, the second from Cameron House:


    This should be Fern.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Fern          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 3792 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 29 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Friday, 29 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    This should be Cameron-house-12.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Cameron house 12          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1712 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Sunday, 31 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 31 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Sunday, 31 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     

    We should probably do the same: it would certainly be a good environment for many of our plants. Bought a Hosta and an Echium, the later a little the worse for wear for slugs:


    This should be Hosta.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Hosta          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 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 Sunday, 31 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 31 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Sunday, 31 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    This should be Echium-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Echium 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 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, 31 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 31 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Sunday, 31 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     

    Then on to Miners Rest to see the only modern house. It's just a few doors down from a display house we looked at earlier this year when we were thinking of building a new house. Like the house, the garden is relatively new, and there wasn't too much to be seen there except for their greenhouse:


    This should be Greenhouse-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Greenhouse 1          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1936 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, 31 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 31 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Sunday, 31 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    This should be Greenhouse-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Greenhouse 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1712 kB
    Make a single page with this image Hide this image
    Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
    Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
    All images taken on Sunday, 31 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 31 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Sunday, 31 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    This should be Greenhouse-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Greenhouse 3          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1312 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, 31 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 31 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Sunday, 31 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    This should be Greenhouse-4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Greenhouse 4          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1808 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, 31 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 31 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Sunday, 31 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     

    Those photos might come in handy at some later time. Yvonne bought a Begonia which they claim will grow under very low light levels; we'll see. Their own lounge room was much brighter than ours.


    This should be Begonia-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Begonia 2          Dimensions:          3024 x 4032, 1008 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, 31 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 31 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Sunday, 31 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     

    Finally to Sherrard St, where they had an incredible number of plants. Bought a couple of Geranium dissectum. Yvonne also got some Rosa banksiae and some ground cover:


    This should be Geranium-dissectum.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Geranium dissectum          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 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, 31 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 31 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Sunday, 31 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    This should be Rosa-banksiae-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Rosa banksiae 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 576 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, 31 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 31 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Sunday, 31 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    This should be Ground-cover-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Ground cover 2          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2016 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, 31 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 31 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Sunday, 31 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     
    This should be Ground-cover-4.jpeg.  Is it missing?
    Image title: Ground cover 4          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1088 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, 31 October 2010, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 31 October 2010, small
    Diary entry for Sunday, 31 October 2010 Complete exposure details

     

    Also took some free Sparaxis, which have now finished blooming. Hopefully they're different colours from the ones we already have.


    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-oct2010.php,v 1.67 2012/10/11 23:00:16 grog Exp $