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Saturday, 21 September 2019 Dereel Images for 21 September 2019
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Indian mee goreng?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

For some time I've been considering trying a dish in Wendy Hutton's “Singapore Food”: “Indian Mee Goreng”. The name belies its international nature: “Mee” (now “Mi” in Malay, “Mie” in Indonesian, pronunciation unchanged) is Straits Chinese for yellow noodles, “goreng” is Malay for “fry” or (in this case) “fried”. And despite the name, noodles are not part of the Indian cuisines.

This one interested me because it included karuveppilai (Curry tree leaves). But how authentic is it? Out looking for more recipes, coming up with some interesting results. Some of the recipes were called “Mee goreng mamak”. What's Mamak? It refers to Tamil immigrants who have embraced the Muslim faith, and they're apparently the originators of this mix.

There's this recipe from Kampung Singapura, which doesn't look bad, and this one from Nyonya Cooking, and a couple that I got rid of because of their insistence on irritating popups.

A number linked back to this recipe in Rasa Malaysia. This one is interesting because, though written in English, it includes ingredient names in Chinese (but not in Tamil):

It also comes up with the name “Uncle's fried noodles”. Why uncle? It seems that that's the original meaning of “mamak”, though it's not clear in what language. It sounds Malay, but it's not in my dictionary. It doesn't sound Tamil or Chinese. Wikipedia doesn't (yet) have an entry for it, though Mamak stall explains:

The Malaysian Mamak are Malaysians of Tamil Muslim origin, whose forefathers mostly migrated from South India to the Malay Peninsula and various locations in Southeast Asia centuries ago.

The word 'Mamak' is from the Tamil term for maternal uncle, or 'maa-ma'. In Singapore and Malaysia, it is used by children as an honorific to respectfully address adults such as shopkeepers. The silent K in 'Mamak' likely came about as a hypercorrection; since terminal Ks are not pronounced in Malay, a Malay who heard the Tamil word may have assumed there was a silent K at the end.

The things you learn.


Preparing Indian mee goreng
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

In the end I started with the Wendy Hutton recipe for Indian Mee Goreng, and modified it based on some of the other recipes:

Ingredients

quantity       ingredient       step
450 g       Hokkien noodles       1
90 g       squid tubes       2
90 g       firm dofu       2
110 g       fresh tomato       2
160 g       cooked potato       2
90 g       onion       2
95 g       soya sauce       3
38 g       dark soya sauce       3
38 g       sambal ulek       3
38 g       tomato sauce       3
1       egg       4
      oil       5
100 g       taugeh       7

Preparation

  1. Loosen noodles in hot water, then drain.
  2. Cut squid, dofu, tomatoes and potato into cubes. Cut onion finely.
  3. Prepare sauce mixture.
  4. Beat egg and reserve.
  5. Heat oil, fry onion gently until glassy.
  6. Add squid, dofu, tomatoes and potato cubes and fry over high heat until cooked. Add noodles and sauce ingredients. Mix well and cook until hot.
  7. Add taugeh and beaten egg. Cook until egg has set. Serve.

And the curry leaves? I forgot them! Next time. It didn't taste bad, though I somewhat overdid the dark soya sauce.


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It's quite heavy, and I don't see myself eating it every day.


Installing the new sprinkler relay
Topic: technology, gardening, opinion Link here

The weather's getting warmer, and I still haven't installed my new sprinkler relay. How did that work? Good thing I documented it when I received it. OK: first thing is that it still has an RFC 1918 address. Add an alias:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~ 80 -> ifconfig em0 192.168.123.123/16

Aargh! Too late I noticed that I had forgotten the all-important alias! OK, I can reset it:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~ 81 -> ifconfig em0 eureka
^C

Damn! I can't access any useful name server. OK, use the IP address:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~ 82 -> ifconfig em0 192.109.197.137
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~ 83 -> ping teevee
ping: cannot resolve teevee: Host name lookup failure
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~ 85 -> ping 192.109.197.134
PING 192.109.197.134 (192.109.197.134): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 192.109.197.134: icmp_seq=0 ttl=64 time=0.352 ms
^C

OK, we're on the LAN, but named has got itself into a huff and isn't responding. It should be running locally, right?

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~ 87 -> cat /etc/resolv.conf
search lemis.com
nameserver 192.109.197.137

OK, let's SIGHUP it:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~ 88 -> ps aux|grep named
bind        1747   0.0  0.1   100444   24752  -  Is   11Sep19      2:11.41 /usr/local/sbin/named -u bind -c /usr/local/etc/namedb/named.conf
root       93423   0.0  0.0    18848    2320 11  S+    2:47pm      0:00.00 grep named
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~ 89 -> kill -1 1747
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~ 90 -> ps aux|grep named
bind        1747   0.1  0.1   100444   34352  -  Ss   11Sep19      2:11.45 /usr/local/sbin/named -u bind -c /usr/local/etc/namedb/named.conf
root       93932   0.0  0.0    18848    2320 11  S+    2:48pm      0:00.00 grep named
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~ 91 -> ping lagoon
ping: cannot resolve lagoon: Host name lookup failure

Still no reaction. Dammit, let's restart it the normal way:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~ 95 -> service named restart
named not running? (check /var/run/named/pid).
named already running?  (pid=1747).

How I hate these silly error messages framed as questions! The situation doesn't help. Let's go back to the traditional way, at least in part:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~ 96 -> killall named
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~ 97 -> service named start
Starting named.
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~ 99 -> ping lagoon
PING lagoon.lemis.com (192.109.197.134): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 192.109.197.134: icmp_seq=0 ttl=64 time=0.288 ms

Finally! And that wasn't even the job I wanted to do. Back to the relay board. Yes, after adding the alias, I was able to talk to it and set the IP address and port (sprinkler.lemis.com, 192.109.197.180, port 80).

Ah, but that's an old, worn-out meaning of the word “port”. What the modern programmers of this board mean is a web page name. By default it was http://192.168.1.4/30000. Now it's http://sprinkler.lemis.com/80. OK, I can live with that, especially since it worked first time. I still don't know how to reset it, but I'll leave that to another day.

And next? I have to simulate web requests, because that's the only way I know to talk to the box. That should be simple enough, but how about checking that I can talk to it in situ first.

No! That's strange: I had been out there with euroa, my Microsoft laptop, and I was able to talk to the network with that. But it took a while, and it occurred to me that it had probably switched to the 802.11 interface.

So: the problem is probably not the old relay board (saves programming), but the network cabling between the pantry and the shed. So I have a completely different issue to solve.


Debugging network cabling
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Where do I start with the network cabling? In the middle, I would think. The house network is centred on top of a fridge in the pantry, behind a microwave oven that runs on the same wavelength:

 
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That's what it looks like now; when I installed it we had:

 
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The additional plate on the right is for teevee, installed when we moved the TV into the lounge room. So we have a total of 9 network connections: 8 rooms in the house, teevee and sprinkler. That's a large value of 9. Which is the connection for sprinkler? Where's my list?

I couldn't find it. But one thing's relatively clear: there's an issue with the cable, and just locating it doesn't mean it's fixed. What alternatives do we have?


Alternative network link
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

What do you do when you don't have an Ethernet cable? Wi-Fi, that silly name for 802.11. And how about that, I have a second Wi-Fi access point. Why not put that in the shed and run it as a bridge to the access point in the pantry?

One reason, I discovered, is because it's very hard to configure, at least with these el-cheapo boxes. The good news is: yes, they offer the function. The bad news is: so far they haven't delivered.

There are clearly some issues with the web interface: they don't show the client list, for example, although taskumatti was connected to the pantry AP (air-gw-1) the whole time. And the constant requirement to log in to the things makes me wish I had chosen simpler passwords.

The first issue was the rendering of the web page:


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That was on firefox; here Chrome was better:


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There was a reasonable amount of help on the page:

Enable Wireless Repeating

Enable this if you wish to use either Bridge mode or Repeater mode, and then select the mode you want for your environment.

Disable Wireless Clients Association

With this feature enabled, the client will not be able to access the LAN

Wireless Repeater.

In this mode, the "+host_name+"router will communicate only with another Base Station-mode wireless station. You must enter the MAC address (physical address) of the other Base Station-mode wireless station in the field provided. WEP can (and should) be used to protect this communication.

Wireless Base Station.

Select this only if this "+host_name+"router is the master for a group of Repeater-mode wireless stations. The other Repeater-mode wireless stations must be set to Wireless Repeater mode, using this "+host_name+"router`s MAC address. They then send all traffic to this master, rather than communicate directly with each other. WEP can (and should) be used to protect this traffic.

If this option is selected, you must enter the MAC addresses of the other access points in the fields provided.

Clearly the "+host_name+" was intended to be replaced by the marketing name of the router (Goldweb, Copyright © XXX Systems, Inc., according to the web pages). So I set things as described, first tripping over this detail:


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That's the slave side. The IP address is the address of this (slave, repeater) AP, the MAC address is the address of the other (“Basic station”) AP. First time round I set the IP of the base station, which it happily set, taking both off the air in the process. And the “LAN Configuration” refused to set the address for some reason; I could only set it here.

In the end I had the confirmation on base station and repeater respectively:


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So it seems that it should work. But it didn't. I was able to associate with the slave AP (by disabling association with the master/base station), but it only worked when the slave was connected to eureka with an Ethernet cable. Do I have issues with overlapping IP addresses? That shouldn't be a problem. Or ARP on the other side? This stuff is far too painful.


PV inverter calibrating again!
Topic: Stones Road house, general, technology, opinion Link here

My solar electricity inverter has started calibrating batteries again, running 18 hours from 2019-09-20 17:53:43 until 2019-09-21 11:54:43, and once again draining battery capacity to 0. It's been a month since the last time, and on that occasion Fred had promised to get a statement from the manufacturers of both the inverter and the battery. Nothing yet. Time to set a deadline: 11 October, which should give them more than enough time. After all, next month they should be installing the other battery. If they're not compatible, they'll have to install an alternative instead.


Sunday, 22 September 2019 Dereel Images for 22 September 2019
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More network pain
Topic: technology Link here

While looking for something completely different today, saw this in the log files, repeating about once a minute:

Sep 22 09:04:11 eureka grog: Restarting SMTP tunnel
Sep 22 09:05:31 eureka grog: Restarting SMTP tunnel

That's the tunnel that enables me to send mail from my local network to the world, bypassing Aussie Broadband's well-meant blocking of outgoing port 25. But why is it failing? Try restarting manually:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/31) ~ 1 -> mailtunnel
ssh: connect to host mail.lemis.com port 22: Host is down

Damn! That's www.lemis.com. Has it crashed?

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/31) ~ 3 -> ping www
PING www.lemis.com (208.86.226.86): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 208.86.226.86: icmp_seq=0 ttl=49 time=262.219 ms
...

No, that's OK. So what's going on? Look at the message again. It's looking for mail.lemis.com, not www. The address is 192.109.197.81, but it's really an alias at www. Why? I'm sure I once had a good reason, maybe to ensure that it's in my /24.

OK, has it forgotten the alias? ifconfig tells me:

      xn0: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1500
        options=503<RXCSUM,TXCSUM,TSO4,LRO>
        ether 00:16:3e:06:34:53
        inet 208.86.226.86 netmask 0xfffffffc broadcast 208.86.226.87
        inet6 fe80::216:3eff:fe06:3453%xn0 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x2
        inet 192.109.197.81 netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast 192.109.197.255
        nd6 options=29<PERFORMNUD,IFDISABLED,AUTO_LINKLOCAL>
        media: Ethernet manual
        status: active

No, it's there. Damn! Have RootBSD forgotten the routing again? Where does the traceroute end?

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~ 123 -> traceroute mail
traceroute to mail.lemis.com (192.109.197.81), 64 hops max, 40 byte packets
 1  *^C

Nowhere! Bing! This is (almost) the same address as in my local network. And when I recovered the mess I made yesterday, I set the net mask to 0xffffff00:

em0: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1500
        options=4019b<RXCSUM,TXCSUM,VLAN_MTU,VLAN_HWTAGGING,VLAN_HWCSUM,TSO4,VLAN_HWTSO>
        ether bc:5f:f4:c9:9b:bf
        inet6 fe80::be5f:f4ff:fec9:9bbf%em0 prefixlen 64 tentative scopeid 0x1
        inet 192.109.197.137 netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast 192.109.197.255
        inet 192.168.123.123 netmask 0xffff0000 broadcast 192.168.255.255
        nd6 options=29<PERFORMNUD,IFDISABLED,AUTO_LINKLOCAL>
        media: Ethernet autoselect (1000baseT <full-duplex>)
        status: active

That meant that the system looked for mail locally rather than go out to the global Internet. Change it:

        inet 192.109.197.137 netmask 0xffffff80 broadcast 192.109.197.255

After that, all worked normally again.


Another bloody PV recalibration!
Topic: Stones Road house, technology, general, opinion Link here

Nice, bright sunshine today, but somehow the PV system didn't want to know. Checking, found that it had entered another recalibration cycle. Damn that. I'll power cycle the thing.

That worked, though it takes the inverter a while to become fully functional again. In fact, it took a very long while. It worked fine, but I couldn't access it on the network. What happened? Looking through the output of arp, I saw:

? (192.109.197.201) at 00:25:ca:0b:fe:05 on em0 expires in 1140 seconds [ethernet]

Damn, I should really write down the MAC addresses of my devices. But then, that's what dhcpd does, in /var/db/dhcpd/dhcpd.leases. And sure enough:

lease 192.109.197.246 {
  starts 0 2019/09/22 02:21:20;
  ends 0 2019/09/22 02:28:31;
  tstp 0 2019/09/22 02:28:31;
  cltt 0 2019/09/22 02:21:20;
  binding state free;
  hardware ethernet 00:25:ca:0b:fe:05;
  uid "\001\000%\312\013\376\005";
}

Same MAC address. Why did it change? I thought you could rely on DHCP servers to keep the same IP address as long as there were no conflicts. And where's the entry for the new IP address? Never mind, I have other fish to fry. Update my DNS config to have inverter.lemis.com point to 192.109.197.201, and it worked again.


Network problems, part 2
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Just to annoy me, my mobile phone, taskumatti.lemis.com, beeped at me again: “beep-beep....beep-beep” What does that mean? It shows a dark grey on black message for about 5 seconds, and then it goes away, never to be seen again: when I turn the thing on, there's no sign that it ever existed.

OK, in the past it has meant “we're off the net”. Took a look at the status. Yes, off the net.

Why? The rest of the network was working normally. Look more carefully at the configuration: IP address 192.109.197.200, name server 192.109.197.152, network gateway 192.109.197.152.

That's wrong! The name server and gateway are eureka, 192.109.197.137, and taskumatti should be 192.109.197.239. But 192.109.197.152 rings a bell: that's air-gw-1.lemis.com, the master Wi-Fi AP. Checked the configuration: yes, it has taken it upon itself to be a DHCP server, something that I most certainly did not ask for.

OK, reset that, and all was well. But 192.109.197.200 also rings a bell: the new address for inverter.lemis.com was 192.109.197.201, and a check for the range for eureka's dhcpd shows that it starts at 192.109.197.224. OK, that explains the problems I had with the inverter. It also means that the inverter has no longer any connection with the global Internet. I'll have to wait until the lease expires, after 24 hours.


Tracing the network fault
Topic: Stones Road house, technology, gardening, opinion Link here

All that was noise keeping me from my real business of the day: finding out what's wrong with the house network cabling. Why do I have 9 connections in the pantry for 10 network connectors? What matches what?

Off with a real laptop (eucla.lemis.com, an ancient Dell Inspiron 5100 running FreeBSD 9.0) to take a look. The results were not encouraging. I didn't get round to checking the hard-to-access jack behind my bed, but I found at least two jacks that were dead: in the guest room and the second one in the lounge room. By the end I had established the following mapping in the pantry:

Wall plate       Main switch       AP       Location
1       1             Dining room
2       2             Greg office
3       3             Yvonne office
4       4             Greg bedroom (?)
5       5             library
6             1       Yvonne bedroom
7             3       dead (guest room?)
8             2       dead (lounge room?)
9       8             lounge room
      7       4       interconnect

Connection 7 was not plugged in; I can't recall why, but it didn't work. It's unlikely that that was the connection to the shed. And wall plate connection 8? It could have been the shed, but that doesn't explain the dead connector in the lounge room.

Still, there are at least 2 dead connections. How can I tell whether the one in the shed is one of them? I did get as far as confirming that it didn't work at all with eucla, so it's not clear how much searching will help. About the best I can guess is that this is yet another legacy of the Great Jim Lannen.

So where do I go from here? Bridging my APs didn't work. How about looking for dedicated Ethernet/Wi-Fi bridges? Off to eBay, where I found a large number of devices with dubious descriptions, mainly from sellers who sell a choice of cheap items or the real thing to get themselves higher in an order-by-price list.

But one description referred to powerline Ethernet. Bingo! I bought a couple of TP-Link TL-PA411 power line adapters 6 years ago. They were pretty terrible performance-wise, but for this purpose they'd more than fit the bill. Where are they? Off to look for them, so far without success.


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. It's also not a vehicle for third-party content. 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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