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Wednesday, 15 November 2017 Dereel Images for 15 November 2017
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Garden flowers in late spring
Topic: gardening Link here

Middle of the month again, time for my monthly garden flower photos. Last month things were rather depressing, but things are looking a lot better now. The Paulownia kawakamii that had suffered so much in the frost earlier this month seems to be coming back strong. Here two weeks ago and today:


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The last image shows leaves that completely disappeared 10 days ago.

The Banksia that had suffered frost damage last month has also recovered well. Here the first two from last month, and now today:

 
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The Senna aciphylla that we planted last December has not only lasted out the winter: it's still flowering, something that we never saw in Kleins Road:

 
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And the roses are flowering profusely, notably this climber:

 
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It's a pity that it doesn't have a nicer colour.

The more established roses are also coming up well:

 
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But the ones in the new bed are not:

 
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I'm not sure why that's the case.

The tree ferns are coming back, though the first one seemed to be nearly dead, and I'm not sure that it will make it. But the other has come out with new fronds, late but strong:

 
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The Adenanthos sericeus (“wooly bushes”) that we planted behind the riding arena are gradually growing, despite the grass around them:

 
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Another plant that has taken its time is an Anigozanthos (“Kangaroo paw”) that the Marriotts gave us a couple of years ago, which Sasha then mutilated, and we nurtured back to health. It's doing very well now:

 
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This one was a surprise:

 
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It's a grass that Yvonne bought years ago for the colour of its foliage. We didn't know that it would flower like that.

A year and a half ago we also planted a couple of crawling Grevilleas in the D bed. Neither has done very well, but this one now finally seems to be coming:

 
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The Grevillea bronwenae that we bought in Pomonal last month doesn't seem to have changed much, but appearances are deceptive. It's coming up with lots of new buds:

 
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And the Eremophila nivea that we bought at the same time has also carried on flowering, though I suspect it would like less wind:

 
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The Hebe that was looking so sick last month is no longer looking sick. It's dead. But others are looking very good, notably this one:

 
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On the south (shade) side of the house, the Vinca minor seem to be taking over:

 
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The Buddlejas have had different results. These two are in a row together, about 3 m apart:

 
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It's not clear why the second is so sick, but hopefully it'll recover this year.

And this plant (wildflower? weed?) probably needs more attention:

 
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I've seen it before, but never really had time to investigate it.


Planting Clematis
Topic: gardening Link here

I've been dragging my feet about the Clematis plants that I bought the weekend before last. Part of the issue is erecting the trellis, for which I have found various grounds for procrastination. The other was the discovery that the Mandevilla laxa that I had wanted to replace was in fact not quite dead:

 
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So I ended up planting one Clematis a little to the left:

 
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That wasn't as simple as it seemed. Clematis tie themselves in knots, and on removing the plant from the pot, I managed to break one of the two stems:

 
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The flowers came into a vase, and I've planted the lower part in soil. We'll see if it takes root or not.


Black hole Sunshine West
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Received another parcel today which had spent the last 5 days maturing in Sunshine West:

 
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After turning the right way round, I established:

I've noted this before, but I never cease to be amazed. There must be some good business reason for this, but I don't see it. Is there really that little postal traffic between Melbourne and Ballarat? I'd love to find a plausible official explanation.


New display card for teevee
Topic: technology, multimedia Link here

The package that Australia Post so lovingly matured was a display card for teevee, my multimedia box (or TV driver). Yes, of course it has a display card, but it's full height, and I wanted to migrate teevee to a Lenovo ThinkCentre:

 
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How do I migrate easily and with fallback? I can't even just take out the disks from teevee and put them in the new machine (provisionally called tiwi): if something goes wrong, I'll have to rebuild again, and I won't have the option of comparing how they behave. In any case, there are two disks, and the ThinkCentre can only hold one.

The right way is to install a new operating system on a new disk, and use that. But that takes time and requires configuration. Instead I got an old disk and simply overwrote it with the contents of teevee's root file system. And how about that, it worked!

Put in the display card, which fortunately fit:

Fired up X. How about that, it worked out of the box! And yes, I could watch TV on it. One of the most painless rebuilds I've had.

Moved it to the lounge room and connected to the TV. Yes, that worked too, including the sensitive things like the remote control. About the only issues were files that were dependent on the host name, like ~/.xmodmap.tiwi and ~/.xmodmap.teevee. But all very minor.

But then I tried to watch a film, and I noted random artefacts, almost like scratches on a film. And from time to time the TV blacked out and took a few seconds to resync.

What causes that? The obvious culprit is the TV, with which I've had fun in the past. Connected up teevee (see, it's good to have a fallback), and things worked correctly.

X configuration? I hadn't changed it from the old config, but surprisingly that was correct. It turned out that the new card is electrically almost identical to the old one. The dmesg output is really identical:

nvidia-modeset: Loading NVIDIA Kernel Mode Setting Driver for UNIX platforms  384.90  Tue Sep 19 17:29:32 PDT 2017
nexus0
nvidia0: <GeForce GT 710> on vgapci0
vgapci0: child nvidia0 requested pci_enable_io
vgapci0: child nvidia0 requested pci_enable_io
vgapci0: Boot video device

What about /var/log/Xorg.0.log? Normally it's almost impossible to compare the two, but this time there were very minor differences, mainly related to the fact that I had inadvertently put in two sets of font specifications:

[    28.494] (**) FontPath set to:
        /usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/misc/,
        /usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/TTF/,
        /usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/OTF,
        /usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/Type1/,
        /usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/100dpi/,
        /usr/local/lib/X11/fonts/75dpi/,
        /usr/local/share/fonts/misc/,
        /usr/local/share/fonts/TTF/,
        /usr/local/share/fonts/OTF/,
        /usr/local/share/fonts/Type1/,
        /usr/local/share/fonts/100dpi/,
        /usr/local/share/fonts/75dpi/

That's clearly not the problem: in fact, this works on tiwi, while teevee doesn't appear to have the path /usr/local/bin/X11/fonts.

The most obvious issue would be differences in the frequencies of the output signal. But not only was the output similar enough to be easy to compare, there was no significant difference at all. About the only real difference was the fact that the old card also has a VGA output, so there was more information about the fact that it was connected.

OK, try 3. xvidtune. Oh. Can't run it over the network. But the man page shows me that there's a -show option, which just prints out a mode line, all that I wanted. Try that:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/4) ~ 3 -> xvidtune -show
"1920x1080"   148.50   1920 2008 2052 2200   1080 1084 1089 1125 +hsync +vsync
=== grog@tiwi (/dev/pts/4) ~ 5 -> xvidtune -show
"1920x1080"   148.50   1920 2008 2052 2200   1080 1084 1089 1125 +hsync +vsync

They're identical!

What does this leave me with. Defective HDMI cable? Maybe the card has a defective HDMI output: I tried it via DVI in the office, and it worked there. Dirty connection? The obvious first thing would be to reseat the cable, reboot the machine, and see if the problem still occurs. If it does, try the new card in teevee and see what happens there.


eBay “make an offer”
Topic: general, photography, photography Link here

So I've decided to buy a FW760 camera (“field”) monitor. Caution is required: the standard offering comes with neither battery, charger (obviously) nor micro HDMI cable, though there are bundles with those “accessories”. The cheapest bundle I could find on eBay was for $225, but that was a bid, not “Buy it now”. The cheapest “Buy it now” was from LinkDelight for $230 or “Best offer”. OK, what's a reasonable offer? Sent off an offer for $220, which was refused. At the same time, they raised the price to $246! Sent off a stiff comment offering $225 as last offer, and got a counter-offer of $239.

Sorry, LinkDelight, this isn't the way to delight your customers. I'd rather pay more and buy elsewhere.


Pizza with mozzarella
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Pizza again for dinner today, although we had it less than two weeks ago. But on Sunday Yvonne was at Heldane's Icelandic stud on Sunday, colocated with Shaw River Buffalo Cheese: Amy Heldane does the horses, and her sister Thea Royal does the cheese, some of the only buffalo cheese in Australia. So of course Yvonne brought some Mozzarella back with her:

 
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Once again I had difficulty with the dough: I had to add about 7% to the stated quantities. I had a similar problem last week, which I attributed to incorrect measurements. Is this a problem with the different flour that I hadn't noticed before?


Thursday, 16 November 2017 Dereel Images for 16 November 2017
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Rain!
Topic: gardening, animals Link here

Yesterday I took my monthly garden flower photos, but only today things had changed completely. We had nearly 30 mm of rain, causing near-flooding in front of the house, despite all the precautions we had done earlier in the spring:

 
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Piccola was not amused:

 
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That also emphasized a problem that we've had in the central bed for some time:

 
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The patch of green in the first photo is the creeping Grevillea that I mentioned yesterday:

 
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But the second photo shows its partner, planted at the same time, but subject to repeated drowning. It's only barely alive: time for some rescue.

The pile of soil that Jamie delivered last week was in the drain from the road. We knew that at the time, and my response was “Hopefully Warrick will make it here before the next rain”. He didn't:

 
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The other thing that is becoming clear is that the drain from the street via the entrance isn't ideal. On the one hand it's clear that the entrance should be wider to cater for trailers coming round the corner, and on the other hand there's a natural drain to the left of the driveway:

 
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Completing tiwi
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday's upgrade attempts for teevee were almost completely successful, except for the issues with the display. I established a procedure, and today I tried it out.

First, connect the cables again, paying special attention to the seat of the HDMI cable. And it worked! Was it really just a badly sitting cable? After some consideration, I've decided “yes”.

Next step is to move the physical disks around. My media are still on teevee, which is less than optimal.


More ibises
Topic: animals Link here

Our solitary Ibis hasn't returned. Presumably he found his mates:


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Trellis: finally
Topic: gardening Link here

It's been nearly two weeks since we bought the new Clematis plants, and a week since we bought the trellis. Time to put the trellis up? Yes. And it went smoothly. The biggest problem was untangling the plant without breaking off anything significant. I managed that, but we lost all the petals on the two flowers. Still, it's in place now:

 
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The soil was pretty wet, but hopefully that'll go in a matter of hours.

LinkDelight: revenge is sweet
Topic: general, technology Link here

I was really upset by the way, far from accepting my “best offer” on eBay, LinkDelight increased the “Buy it now” price of the FW760 monitor from $230 to $247. But they also had one on auction, initial bid $225. OK, wait until the end and then buy... for $225, the price they had rejected yesterday. That feels good.

To be fair to LinkDelight, their price was probably really too low. But if you offer “Buy it Now” and “Best Offer”, you shouldn't increase the price when people make an offer, at least not for that one person.


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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