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Friday, 19 January 2018 Dereel Images for 19 January 2018
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The difference between life and death
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Decades ago Yvonne used to ride without a helmet. That terrified me, and I worked on her to ensure that she always used a helmet. That paid off. This is what the helmet looked like after her accident on Sunday:


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As it was, she didn't even have concussion. Without the helmet, there's a good chance that she would have been dead.


NBN: the experts
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday I added a link to the National Broadband Network web site in the outage article. I check all links, of course, but I wasn't prepared for this one:


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What an advertisement! And what grammar!


Dead pump
Topic: general Link here

Call from Jarrod at UPI today: the pump that I took in on Monday has has extensive water damage, and a repair isn't worthwhile. It seems that pumps aren't waterproof, and in particular the electrical side isn't protected against water. I wish they had told me that earlier.


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

Today was the hottest day since I installed the weather station in this location: 43.5° maximum. Thank God for air conditioners! But round 14:45, the power failed. Out to start the emergency generator, which mercifully worked, and to hope that the failure wouldn't be long. The Powercor outage page was its usual useless self, showing the whole of post code 3352 blacked out, although the postal district has nothing to do with the distribution topology. The cause was “under investigation” for the duration of the outage, but the location kept changing: first Magpie, then Mount Clear, then the Buninyong-Mount Mercer Road, and finally (the way they put it):

Fault location: BUNINYONG GOLF CLUB - LEARMONTH STREET, BUNINYONG

As so often, all users south of Buninyong were without power, and they put in an estimated restoration time of 17:00, a brave estimate given that they didn't know what or where the failure was. Within 30 minutes, this had slipped to 18:00.

In the middle of all this, the generator stopped. I had half expected that: I hadn't filled the tank. Filled the tank, but nothing that I could do would restart the generator. And then I saw:


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What's that thing hanging down? On closer examination, it proved to be the spark plug lead. Where's the plug? From a normal perspective, you can't see it:


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But climbing on the ground, it's (barely) visible above the rocker cover:


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Why did it come off? It didn't seem to fit very well, and it wasn't the time to investigate. Put the thing back on again, and it started immediately.

The temperature in my office climbed, and by 16:00 it had reached 27.3°. And then the power came back, at 16:03! Not that bad after all.

It stayed on for nearly an hour, until 16:57, by which time the office temperature had only begun to drop. Then, while I was watching the news on TV, it failed again and didn't come back until 17:26. No change on the Powercor web site, apart from the location. This time I didn't reboot all the non-essential computers.

A good decision. At 18:29, while I was preparing quite a complicated evening meal, requiring the deep fryer, and with office temperature still at 26.4°, it failed again! Out to restart the generator, which had lost its spark plug lead again. Back in, and almost immediately the power came back, at 18:32.

On with dinner preparations. And then it failed again, at 19:22. More vehement cursing, but this time I had barely got back from starting the generator when it came back, at 19:24. And, oh wonder, it stayed on.

Should I complain about this? The last two outages suggest an electrician taking the power down briefly to do some repair work. The estimated restoration time had gradually increased to 19:30, and they actually kept to that. The alternative would have been to have had the power off all the time. At least this way we were able to run the air conditioner. The real issue is that there is no way to know what is going on.

Well, you could go to the fake news, in this case the Ballarat Courier, which knew that it was due to politics and the failure of a power station. And potentially that would explain the second outage: it seems that the station really did fail, round 16:00, as their update at 15:40 predicted. But why should it only affect people who had already had what appeared to be a localized power outage? I can blame Powercor for not explaining the cause of the wandering power failure, but I think that the Courier editors are extrapolating their expectations with little concrete evidence.


Saturday, 20 January 2018 Dereel Images for 20 January 2018
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nVidia bug cornered
Topic: multimedia, technology Link here

On today with my attempts to stop the nvidia driver from reconnecting to the TV one or two times a second. One of the suggestions I had seen (where? lost the URL) was to revert to an older version of the driver. OK, I can try that. Currently FreeBSD has three versions in the Ports Collection:

=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/1) ~ 13 -> pkg search nvidia-driver
nvidia-driver-384.98           NVidia graphics card binary drivers for hardware OpenGL rendering
nvidia-driver-304-304.137      NVidia graphics card binary drivers for hardware OpenGL rendering
nvidia-driver-340-340.104      NVidia graphics card binary drivers for hardware OpenGL rendering

I had nvidia-driver-384.98 (the latest) installed. OK, remove, install nvidia-driver-304-304.137, reboot, and see how that worked. Not good:

Jan 20 16:16:19 teevee kernel: NVRM: The NVIDIA GPU 01:00 (PCI ID: 10de:128b) installed
Jan 20 16:16:19 teevee kernel: NVRM: in this system is not supported by the 304.137 NVIDIA FreeBSD
Jan 20 16:16:19 teevee kernel: NVRM: graphics driver release.

But there's still nvidia-driver-340-340.104. OK, install that, reboot, and it worked! Before I had continual:

[ 33214.143] (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): XXX TV (DFP-1): connected
[ 33214.143] (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): XXX TV (DFP-1): Internal TMDS
[ 33214.143] (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): XXX TV (DFP-1): 340.0 MHz maximum pixel clock
[ 33214.143] (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0):
[ 33214.720] (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): XXX TV (DFP-1): connected
[ 33214.720] (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): XXX TV (DFP-1): Internal TMDS
[ 33214.720] (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): XXX TV (DFP-1): 340.0 MHz maximum pixel clock
[ 33214.720] (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0):

The number in brackets is a time in seconds (since boot?). The messages were gone. Instead I had other messages that I recall from years ago:

[   830.918] (WW) NVIDIA(GPU-0): The EDID for XXX TV (DFP-1) contradicts itself: mode
[   830.918] (WW) NVIDIA(GPU-0):     "1920x1080" is specified in the EDID; however, the EDID's
[   830.918] (WW) NVIDIA(GPU-0):     valid HorizSync range (30.000-80.000 kHz) would exclude
[   830.918] (WW) NVIDIA(GPU-0):     this mode's HorizSync (28.1 kHz); ignoring HorizSync check
[   830.918] (WW) NVIDIA(GPU-0):     for mode "1920x1080".

That's almost certainly correct, but it was only once. Or was it? It occurred again at time 2173.262, 13725.539, 16071.715 and 20527.052, rather less than once an hour, but at seemingly random intervals. Why? It would be nice to know, but I can live with that. It's clear that there's something wrong in the XXX TV's behaviour. But it's equally clear that the newer driver can't handle it as well, and there are clearly many devices that show this behaviour.


Rebooting teevee: finger trouble
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

The first time I rebooted teevee, I saw, half a second too late: it was eureka, my “always up” machine! AAARGH! But there was nothing to be done with it. On my way to the office to watch the reboot, I thought of David Newall, who, years ago, once unnecessarily rebooted www.auug.org.au, in the days where the site still meant something. I ensured that wouldn't happen again by renaming the shutdown command to something that wouldn't be chosen by accident:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/5) ~ 4 -> mv /sbin/shutdown /sbin/shutdown-if-you-must

As if that wasn't bad enough, the system wouldn't come up again! Can't find /kernel! After a bit of messing around, it seems that the BIOSUEFI setup had chosen one of the external USB disks to boot from. Disconnect them and all was well.


The ghosts that I called...
Topic: general, opinion Link here

While I was playing around with the X drivers on teevee, I got a call from a spammer (hint: you answer, and get no response in 5 seconds). But the number was valid, and he called back almost immediately. Not a spammer: David Newall, with whom I haven't spoken in over 10 years—just after I was thinking of him. He was in Horsham, on his way to Melbourne, and he had had trouble with Bluetooth (doesn't everybody?). Looks like he'll be here tomorrow.


This page contains (roughly) yesterday's and today's entries. I have a horror of reverse chronological documents, so all my diary entries are chronological. This page normally contains the last two days, but if I fall behind it may contain more. You can find older entries in the archive. Note that I often update a diary entry a day or two after I write it.     Do you have a comment about something I have written? This is a diary, not a “blog”, and there is deliberately no provision for directly adding comments. But I welcome feedback and try to reply to all messages I receive. See the diary overview for more details. If you do send me a message relating to something I have written, please indicate whether you'd prefer me not to mention your name. Otherwise I'll assume that it's OK to do so.


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