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April 2018
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Sunday, 1 April 2018 Dereel Images for 1 April 2018
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Clocks back
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Daylight saving time ended this morning. I had planned ahead and reset my watch and alarm clock, leaving the cameras, cars and kitchen equipment to be done today.

And then I started cooking breakfast—before putting the clocks back! So we had breakfast an hour too early. The idea of resetting the clocks in the morning is good, but I really should do it first thing.

And then there were the cameras to sync. How do you do it accurately? The E-PM1 and E-PM2 require manual setting, including seconds, but when does the time take effect? I'm guessing when you press OK, but that's not 100% clear, and there's no way to get the camera to display seconds when running.

The E-M1s Mark I and II are simpler, at least in theory: you can synchronize with a mobile phone (“WLan”) and set to its time. It only took me 10 minutes, hindered mainly by this appalling OI.Share app, and also by the fact that I had done an unnecessary firmware update on the E-M1 Mark I and lost the credentials. But for some reason it acted as if it didn't recognize the Mark II either, though it was too polite to say so. And the photo (“scan”) of the QR code took four attempts because it couldn't get the exposure right.

When will they make cameras first-class net citizens? Internet of things indeed!


Huevos a la tigre
Topic: food and drink Link here

I've been trying various approaches to huevos a la Flamenca on a couple of occasions, but somehow it never quite worked out. In particular, it seems that the eggs should be grilled. I tried that again today, and was rewarded by watching an egg yolk burst just as I took it out of the grill, here at the top:


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The eggs also taste leathery when grilled this way, and the process is tedious. So I've started my own recipe, titled hueovos a la tigre (an inside joke), where the eggs are fried instead of grilled. I'm sure there's more work to be done on it. Here the current ingredients:

quantity       ingredient       step
200 g       potatoes       1
100 g       onions       1
5 g       garlic       1
50 g       chorizo, cooked and sliced       1
      oil or fat to fry       1
80 g       tomatoes       2
8 g       salt       2
60 g       peas       3
2       eggs       4

More spraying
Topic: gardening Link here

For once the wind was very light today, so I carried on with spraying weeds, something that I hate. And of course the wind came up, though not enough to be a problem.


Still more photo processing
Topic: photography Link here

More playing around with yesterday's house photos today. I now have managed to handle TIFF images and use Photomatix PRO, though there are still a number of loose ends. I've improved my cropstack script to only trim images where it's necessary—which seems to be just about every time with Photomatix—so I can leave the call as part of the script.

What I haven't managed is to work out how to group the images correctly. I made a big mistake a while back by introducing two image groups with the names house-from-ssw and house-from-ssw-2. The individual components (4 in the first case) have names like house-from-ssw-2-1EV and house-from-ssw-2+1EV, which lands the alphabetical sort sequence right in the middle of the second images. It would be straightforward to rename the second series of images to something else, but I already have hundreds of images with the old name, and potentially they're known on the web.

That might seem unlikely, but when I experimented with using PNG instead of JPEG for some of my old photos from 1970, and then changed my mind, I got hundreds of error messages where some web search engine was trying to access the old images. In the end I put in symlinks to shut them up.

Apart from that, Photomatix is showing more of its irritating Microsoft background, including reverting to its own idea of where I should be putting my images, and requiring me to climb trees to get to where I had been. Why can't these things have a concept of a working directory?


Monday, 2 April 2018 Dereel
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Shepherd's pie revisited
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

So we have leftover leg of lamb, which fits in nicely with Yvonne's request for shepherd's pie.

When did we last make that? It must have been some time ago. The only mention in my diary seems to be from 1 December 1963, and clearly I didn't cook it myself. The recipe dates from 26 March 2008, and the last relevant update dates from 21 October 2011. The format required updating as a result.

One of the components for shepherd's pie is mashed potato, something that we don't use for any other purpose. I found no less than three bags of “instant” mash in the pantry, with use-by dates of “23-06-09”, “19/10/10” and “04-02-12”, the first of them opened. Rejected the first because it had been opened, and the second because it requires a secret ingredient: “Flora Salt Reduced spread” (2 teaspoons). Decided on the last, from ALDI, which has one of the clearest instructions: ½ cup (55 g) of the powder (conveniently 24.4% of the 225 g package) with 1 cup (250 mL) of water. OK, we can't get away from the cups, but at least they give real quantities.

Problem: they're wrong. There's far too little water. I had to add probably another 60 ml of water to make a usable result. But that wasn't the only issue: I had written 150 g of mashed potato to 300 g of meat. And in the end I found that I needed 600 g. How could I have got that so wrong?

The other issue was the amount of gravy for the meat. In the course of time I had increased it from 300 ml to 350 ml, and that was marginally too much. Until proof of the contrary, I think I need to keep it the same as the weight of the meat.


Tuesday, 3 April 2018 Dereel Images for 3 April 2018
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Brunch with Lorraine
Topic: general, food and drink Link here

Lorraine Carranza along again for brunch this morning, this time with modified bacon and eggs: in addition to typical Anglo-Saxon fare, we had frijoles refritos and chorizo, which Lorraine found good, though I noted that she got through my baked beans first.


Extreme macros?
Topic: photography, food and drink, opinion Link here

I'm still having infection issues with my sourdough starters, and it occurred to me that they might make good subjects for macro photos, in particular with the new bellows that I got last June, and which I have never really used. So I set off and got a number of more conventional photos. The dish in the first photo is 11.5 cm in diameter (why exactly that diameter?), so it doesn't count as a macro. The next ones were done at 1:1 with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 60 mm f/2.8 Macro, and then again with 26 mm extension tubes:

 
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I think the difference in coloration of the last image is due to shadows thrown by the lens.

And finally with the bellows (full extension, of course). Which lens? This is a Pentax bellows (M42), so a good contender would be the SMC Macro-Takumar 50 mm f/4:

 
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But this stupid built-in lens hood got in the way, and I had to give that up. OK, how about the Raynox 35 mm f/2.8 that came with the bellows? That would have the added advantage of almost 50% more magnification.

So I mounted it, and tried to focus. In the end I gave up and tried to focus on a piece of printed paper:

 
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The distance from the front of the lens to the object can't have been more than a few millimetres. I can't take photos like that. I wonder what the previous owner did. I need a reversing ring. I have one, somewhere, but I haven't seen for 3 years, since we moved to Stones Road. It must be in some unexpected place in a moving carton. Do I go searching for it or buy a new one? For some reason new ones are surprisingly expensive, up to $40.

In passing, it's interesting to see how well the viewfinder display works with a mirrorless camera (first image above). This setup would have corresponded to an magnification of about 5:1, as the lettering shows, but the viewfinder illumination is completely normal.


Wednesday, 4 April 2018 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 4 April 2018
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Shopping again
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Off to Ballarat for our weekly shopping expedition. For once, Yvonne didn't have any doctor's appointments, but she made up for it by having her hair done. I took the opportunity to go to Dan Murphy's for supplies.

Timing wasn't what I expected. It must take between 10 and 15 minutes to get to Dan Murphy's, and Yvonne's hair dressing took 30 minutes. She called me just as I was loading my purchases into the car, and I suggested that she walk to Woolworths in Sebastopol, and that I would pick her up.

A quarter of an hour later I was there and found her having gone about two-thirds of the distance—not what I had expected. One forgets how far distances are when you go by car. In fact, it's 1.3 km, and Google Maps estimated 16 minutes. But then, it claims that I only needed 10 minutes for my journey.


Giant trout?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Seen at ALDI today:

 
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According to the bag, the fillets are 125 g each. A normal trout weighs about 800 g, but these must be the size of a salmon. I wonder if they're really some giant, mutant trout.


More NBN pain?
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

The DEREEL OUTPOST Facebook group came to life again today: NBN outages again. And somebody pointed to something I had said that today was the third day of outages. But all I saw was some pretty flaky connectivity round 10:10.

When we got home from town, though, it was another matter: we had had an outage of between 20 and 30 minutes (my current reporting is not very accurate). Was this an NBN-related outage? If so, hopefully we're finally done with them.


Back to gmail?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Since moving away from Gmail two weeks ago I have had lots of spam, not surprisingly. Is it worth it? My issues with Gmail were related to SPF, and that is only set for some sites, like FreeBSD. For FreeBSD I set my email address to send directly to Gmail, so that problem no longer exists. What about the rest? Can I do it with them too? It's worth a try.


Thursday, 5 April 2018 Dereel Images for 5 April 2018
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In a hole, dig faster
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Quote from Donald Trump today:

When you’re already $500 Billion DOWN, you can’t lose!

Never mind that saner people have noticed that the sum he mentioned (ostensibly the trade deficit between China and the USA) is incorrect. Wikipedia gives a sum of $ 347,038 million. Maybe he has knowledge that he hasn't shared before.

Now where have I heard this attitude before?


Free online storage!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Somebody on IRC pointed at this page today. Use other people's DNS cache to store your data.

Amusing.


Selfies revisited
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

My photos on the web are ancient. This one, currently on my home page, was taken on 2 February 2002:

 
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And then the “passport photo” at the top of my other pages, including my diary, is also of the same age, though I haven't preserved any of the Exif data, nor even the original. I think it was taken by Anthony Rumble on a Nikon DSLR round 4 September 2003:

 
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I haven't changed beyond recognition since then, but arguably the surroundings have. Time for a new photo.

First, the photo for the home page. Spent some time playing around, with remarkably poor results. This was one of the best:

 
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At least part of that is the lighting, of course, which I can improve. But why can't I look as if I'm enjoying myself? That's one of the reasons I have held on to Anthony's photo for so long.


Horse photos again
Topic: photography, animals Link here

Yvonne is gradually becoming more mobile, and though she's still not allowed to ride, she's doing plenty of groundwork. Today she asked me to take some photos, so I did, 668 shots in 10 minutes, an average of a little over one a second. And some were worth keeping. Yvonne likes this one because the horse (Carlotta) is sticking her tongue out:

 
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Friday, 6 April 2018 Dereel Images for 6 April 2018
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More online video sources
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

One of the online sources that I'm subscribed to is SBS On Demand, from the Australian broadcaster SBS. Before I stopped using broadcast TV, SBS was my channel of choice, and they have a reasonable number of foreign-language programmes. But SBS On Demand is so painful to use that I don't bother.

Today, though, I took another look. Paris Etc (their capitalization) looked like a possibility. Please log in. OK. And I ended up with an empty screen that stayed empty for longer than made sense.

But I have the URL. Can youtube-dl make any sense of it? It seems unlikely, but yes, it could! It wasn't even interested in access credentials.

And the result? A 720p file with the lowest quality I have yet seen. In comparison with a German programme it's only 38% of the data rate:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/4) /spool/Series 3 -> mpid Paris-Etc-Ep1-1190068803700.mp4 31-Vater-und-Sohn--31--20180217-105500.mp4
31-Vater-und-Sohn--31--20180217-105500.mp4  VIDEO:  [H264]  1280x720  24bpp  25.000 fps  3584.1 kbps (437.5 kbyte/s)
Paris-Etc-Ep1-1190068803700.mp4             VIDEO:  [H264]  1280x720  24bpp  25.000 fps  1357.1 kbps (165.7 kbyte/s)

That's more than academic. The images are, at least in part, really rough:

 
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Can that be deliberate? Not beyond the bounds of possibility, but it stabilized after a while when the image stopped moving, suggesting bandwidth issues. And the rest of the film seemed less sharp, especially in moving scenes.

But that wasn't all. This series is Just Plain Strange, and it reminds me of what I discovered 21 years ago when we moved back to Australia: SBS' choice of material seems to be decidedly uncomfortable.


Saturday, 7 April 2018 Dereel Images for 7 April 2018
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Time for a new programming language?
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

House photo day again today, and I'm still having my fun with my processing software. Things like generating the “contact prints” still don't work correctly, and I'm having difficulty debugging the (very crufty) script that almost does the work.

Somehow I really don't like the Bourne shell programming language. 12 years ago I learnt PHP for a web project, and that proves to be easier for many things, even if many of my right-wing BSD friends laugh at me because of it. But it's not really designed for this kind of work, and some of the language details show it. Perl? That's an old, worn-out magic word, it seems. I don't know anybody who uses it any more, and my previous experience with it suggests that it's Bourne shell on steroids. Python? Not really designed for this kind of work either.

Is there really nothing better out there? The name doesn't even need to start with P.


Progress is coming. Get used to it.
Topic: multimedia, technology, food and drink, general, opinion Link here

I still read the daily email from How-to Geek, though much of it seems poorly prepared. Today I was told why smart fridges are the future. It seems that the clever thing about them is that they contain a camera, enabling you to see what's in there without opening the door, and also while you're shopping.

Somehow I can't relate to that. I often enough have difficulty finding things in the fridge with the door open. How many cameras do I need to be able to show all the shelves? Two per shelf (the second to show what's in the door)? Is that what they have? And when I want to buy groceries, it's based on recipe planning. The fridge can't help you there, but the, I suppose that's no longer modern.

But the article goes on. Some of the headings are:

They Have Touch Screens, Which You Probably Use in the Kitchen Anyway

Well, no. I'm grudgingly having to accept the presence of touch screens, but for me they're the second worst form of data entry. Not only do I not use them in the kitchen, I avoid using them anywhere. But how do you use a touch screen with greasy fingers?

They Have Alexa Built-In, Which Is Handy in the Kitchen

And this is the worst: voice input. I have to admit, though, that it might come in handy in the kitchen when you have both hands dirty, though I can't think what use it could be yet. Neither can the article, as I investigate below.

This Is Where Appliances Are Heading, So Get Used to It

I suppose I'm going to have to accept that things are going in this direction, but it doesn't mean that I like it, and hopefully the market will mature, change direction and come up with something useful.

So what are the advantages of voice input? Conveniently, there's another article on that topic:

So what useful functionality are we left with? Arguably a way to write things on a grocery list, assuming (a big assumption) that Alexa can handle it. No thanks. I suppose I might find a way to do that via my mobile phone one day when I'm bored, but I'd have to be very bored.

But wait! There's more! They have an article on Why you don't really want a smart TV.

Well, I know why I don't want one, but I was guessing that my reasons have nothing to do with the reasons in the article. But in fact, there is a resemblance. They mention how difficult they are to use and suggest a set-top box instead. They don't mention the alternative of connecting a computer to a dumb TV, like I do. Dammit, even Microsoft would run rings round Android TV . The thing that they mention that I didn't complain about was the privacy aspect of the TV listening to what I'm doing, and apparently the software embeds commercials in whatever it's doing. Not in my lounge room.


Sunday, 8 April 2018 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 8 April 2018
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Buying flower bulbs
Topic: gardening, general Link here

The new beds that Warrick Pitcher laid out in January still haven't been planted: summer's the wrong time, and we couldn't make up our mind what to plant. But time is moving on, and it's time for spring bulbs. Last year we bought some cheap bulbs at the Ballarat Market, so off there today to get some more.

Out of luck. They weren't there, and in fact the market was pretty empty. That didn't stop us buying some things, including a bright red flowering Carpobrotus and three tubes of blue Chaenostoma cordatum, sold as Sutera cordata:

 
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We did find some bulbs, but almost only lilies, at horrendous prices:

 
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We bought a total of 9 of them, which should have cost $19.50, along with a couple of Dutch iris for $1.50 each. But we only paid $15, a ⅓ reduction in price. Still not exactly cheap.

Then on to ALDI, where we bought a stand for hanging pots, along with the pots themselves, in the process marvelling at their pricing:

 
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Clearly a variant on “buy one, get one free”: the baskets were effectively free.


Strange cloud formation
Topic: general Link here

On the way into town, saw these clouds:


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What are they? The ones at the top are clearly Cirrus, but what are the ones below? Time to start investigating cloud forms again.

In passing, the slightly higher bulge in the horizon is Mount Buninyong:

 
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End of the DSLRs?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I've been waiting for the demise of DSLRs almost since I bought Yana her first Canon EOS 20D, 12 years ago. And clearly things are slowly moving in that direction.

But it is slowly? This article suggests that there might be a sudden change in the very near future. Certainly it seems that Canon is thinking seriously in that direction. And for some reason everybody is talking about “full frame” cameras. I don't see any point in that form factor any more, but since when has marketing paid attention to my opinions—or the facts?


Monday, 9 April 2018 Dereel Images for 9 April 2018
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More flash pain
Topic: photography, opinion, gardening Link here

Taking photos of the Chaenostoma cordatum should have been straightforward. It's just a plant, after all. But I had wanted to use focus stacking to get the whole plant in focus.

I didn't get that far. The first step was to mount the camera on the tripod with remote viewfinder and the Olympus STF-8 macro flash unit:

 
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The first photo, unbracketed, was less than inspiring:

 
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OK, we need fill-in flash from behind. The STF-8 only works on the camera, so I needed some kind of repeater. That's more difficult than it sounds: the pre-flash of the TTL measurements would trigger any dumb slave receiver, so I needed to use something that understands the Olympus flash protocol. And for me that means the mecablitz 58 AF-2. I put it beside the plant, pointing at the backdrop:

 
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Next, work out how to use the remote flash stuff. That's simple on the STF-8: leave it as it is. Set the slave flash to slave, channel 1, group A. And that's all I could set. The rest was on the camera. As usual, just finding the method in the “instructions” was a problem. Summary: Camera menu 2, set RC mode on. Then, it tells me, “The LV super control panel switches to RC mode”. What does that mean? I've searched the entire manual and found no definition for “LV”, though it appears that it stands for “Live View”, a carry-over from the DSLR days. Elsewhere it states:

Press the blob button to switch between live view and viewfinder shooting (live view and super control panel display). If the super control panel (P. 50) is displayed in the monitor, the viewfinder will turn on when you put your eye to the viewfinder.

“Live view” and “viewfinder” “shooting” are now the same thing. It looks as if this one hasn't been updated since the DSLR days either. But it does indirectly confirm my impression that “LV” stands for “live view”.

And in the LV Super Control Panel I was able to set the behaviour. I thought. The next image came out:

 
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OK, I wanted the background burnt out. But this seems to have burnt out the foreground too. Admittedly, the flash was on manual, so it could really have overexposed the foreground via bounce flash. Set it to TTL as well:

 
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That's arguably correctly exposed for the background, but the foreground is completely underexposed.

What's going on here? After quite some time I have decided that the system has optimized the total flash intensity without regard for the areas that I wanted illuminated. Since the mecablitz is about 50 times as strong as the STF-8, it wins, and my subject is underexposed. I suppose there's a way to adjust things, but like every time I use one of Olympus' flash modes, I find that I could have done it better manually.


NBN: Still more outages
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

The National Broadband Network promised three outages over the last month. Or were they 9? Or maybe only one? Who can tell based on the information I have received? All I can say is that we had three outages, and the last scheduled date was two days ago.

But then we had an outage today! And an outage! And an outage! In total, there were six of them. From my NBN stats page:

Start time       End time       Duration       Badness             from       to
            (seconds)
1523241136       1523241239       103       0.009       #       9 April 2018 12:32:16       9 April 2018 12:33:59
1523241664       1523242689       1025       8.471       #       9 April 2018 12:41:04       9 April 2018 12:58:09
1523248702       1523248836       134       0.599       #       9 April 2018 14:38:22       9 April 2018 14:40:36
1523250998       1523252201       1203       1.665       #       9 April 2018 15:16:38       9 April 2018 15:36:41
1523252625       1523253946       1321       8.491       #       9 April 2018 15:43:45       9 April 2018 16:05:46
1523254277       1523254426       149       10.876       #       9 April 2018 16:11:17       9 April 2018 16:13:46
Date       Outages       Duration       Availability             Date
      (seconds)
1523196000       6       3935       95.45%       #       9 April 2018

Yes, they were scheduled outages, just two days late, during their ambiguously formulated “back up” time, which doesn't mean when the link is back up, but an alternative if things go wrong the first time.

This time the total outage time was round 72 minutes, considerably better than the 7½ hours that I had on 15 March and another 7½ hours that I had on 27 March. But the continual bouncing made me wonder whether it was worth it.


ZDF: now you see me, now you don't
Topic: multimedia, opinion Link here

One of the TV series that Yvonne wants to see is „Der Landarzt“ (“The country doctor”), a series that we watched in Germany. Last week I got a message telling me that series 18 was coming on ZDF, starting on last Saturday.

But MediathekView didn't list it. Dammit, another false negative. Off to ZDF to look for it. Not there, either:


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Yes, that's just the beginning. Look at that stylized right arrow in the middle of the last entry. Like so many other misguided web sites, ZDF thinks that everybody should share in the pain of “swiping” that the designers of mobile phone software have inflicted upon us. But after “swiping” to the end, it still wasn't there.

OK, try again. There's a search function:

 
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20 results, sorted by “Relevanz”. And nothing even remotely relevant. Papa Doc? What kind of country doctor was he? And again, no match for the search criterion.

OK, what about the programme? That's hidden behind the “Live TV” link, and sure enough, I can find the (not exactly live) programme details for nearly a month in advance, and many months ago. Maybe they postponed the series by a week? And sure enough, they claim to be broadcasting it this coming Saturday—but the third and fourth episodes! OK, back to look at the programme for last Saturday:


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It's there! So why didn't I find it? OK, there's a „Sendung verpasst“ (“missed the broadcast”) page, where you can download what was broadcast:


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Same time, same channel, different content.

Why do these things still happen?


Planting the new plants
Topic: gardening Link here

One of the things that we bought on Sunday was a flower basket stand, for which we bought the baskets I mentioned yesterday. Put it together and planted the Chaenostoma cordatum in three of the baskets:

 
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It's a strange time of year to plant things like this. I wonder what to do when the weather gets cold, in about a month.


Tuesday, 10 April 2018 Dereel Images for 10 April 2018
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FreeBSD: why no desktop market share?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

A week or two ago there was a question on Quora: “Why does FreeBSD have virtually no (0%) desktop market share?”.

Good question, one worthy of clarification. What's a desktop? What's a market? I wrote an answer making assumptions in both case, and (somewhat to my surprise) it was relatively well received.

Later, Terry Lambert also wrote a response. I can't call it an answer, because it went off on a tangent about the uselessness of X. Terry's not stupid, and some of the things that he wrote made sense. Only they didn't have anything to do with FreeBSD. The only mention of FreeBSD was to note that Linux and FreeBSD both have the same issues with X.

Still, worthy of reading, and I spent a lot of today thinking of how to address it, probably more effort than necessary. But it's worth summarizing: He blames a lot of X's perceived problems on early design decisions to run on “cheap hardware”, and to separate core display functionality from services like window management and widgets.

What's wrong with that? Look at Microsoft, which barely has window management, and you'd have to applaud the designers for their foresight. But, although he doesn't say so, I don't think Terry is looking at Microsoft: he's looking at Apple. And possibly it has more consistent window management. Only it's so primitive that it's one of the reasons I don't use Apple.

And the widgets? He didn't elaborate, and I didn't understand. I suspect that it would make more sense if you had a good knowledge of both X and Apple widget approaches. Maybe he's making an implicit “there can only be one” claim.

But it's worth thinking about the efficiency viewpoint. A different architecture could greatly improve performance. But X has survived and thrived for decades with its archaic design decisions, and I don't have any significant performance issues. Isn't that an indication of success?


German nationality?
Topic: politics, history, general Link here

Yvonne was born in Weimar a few months before the foundation of the DDR. At the time, the area was occupied by Soviet troops.

What was her nationality at birth? Clearly she wasn't a citizen of the DDR—that happened automatically later. Was she stateless? That seems unlikely. Was she a citizen of the German Reich? That collapsed years before she was born.

Where do you ask a question like this? I recently discovered a German version of Quora and asked the question.

The answers were interesting, in particular this one: Thuringian. It seems that there was no German nationality until Hitler's Gleichschaltungsgesetz. Until then, nationality was a matter of the „Land“, not the Reich. If you accept the validity of the Gleichschaltungsgesetz after the collapse of Hitler's regime, then she was also German. Otherwise she was just Thuringian.


Fallout from Trump's indecision
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Last week there was another atrocity in Syria, people poisoned with chlorine. And fearless leader got up on his hind feet and promised retribution.

He's done that before, with no noticeable effect. Should he do so again? The balance of power in Syria is complicated, and it's not clear if the current relationship with Russia would survive it.

But he didn't have to worry. His faithful ally did it for him, even if they—currently—don't want to admit it.

Or did they? What they struck was an Iranian base in Palmyra. Nothing to do with the chemical attack, everything to do with Israel's preoccupation with Iran. To quote:

It followed a vow by President Trump to respond to an apparent chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government near Damascus. It did not appear to have been in response to that event, raising the possibility that Israel had merely seized the opportunity to take out what it saw as a threat to its own security.

That's a good way to spread the conflict even further afield.

Bravo, Trump, for encouraging a regime that even before was far more aggressive than would have been possible without US protection!


Wednesday, 11 April 2018 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 11 April 2018
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Yvonne: recovered
Topic: health, general, animals Link here

Into Ballarat this morning to take Yvonne to the Base Hospital for a final X-ray and examination. I went shopping during that time, but she was finished far more quickly than I had expected. Verdict: she's recovered, after only three months. She can drive a car again. More importantly, she can ride again:

That was the most important part for her


Where are the noodles?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Shopping at Woolworths is a never-ending source of mirth. I needed to buy Capelli d'angeli. OK, look for noodles:

 
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The sign at top left is clear: here be noodles. But they're all instant noodles, nothing raw at all. Ah, you want pasta? That's down at the other end of the row, barely visible in the bokeh.

And they have “upgraded” their checkout software. Now you can't just pay with (credit) card:

 
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I don't want no steenking Card (Split Payment). I just want to pay. Maybe I should have selected “Other”, but I tried the Split Payment for the fun of it and got:

 
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Yes, I suppose I should have selected Full Payment, but I was too busy taking photos. I managed to pay, but it makes you wonder what these PoS terminal programmers are thinking (or smoking).


Eliminating haze
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

The current Wikipedia photo of Mount Buninyong could do with improvement:

So when passing through Cambrian Hill this morning, I thought of taking a photo. Problem: it was hazy. Solution: DxO PhotoLab has functionality to see through the haze. To be on the safe side, I took HDR images (my normal -3EV/0EV/+3EV triplet), this time with no offset, and processed them both with and without haze removal. After passing them through Photomatix PRO, I had (first without haze removal, then with):

 
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Yes, I could enhance things, but clearly neither of those are candidates for replacing the current image. And I don't see that the haze reduction has improved things at all. What I now see are blobs in the sky that weren't there in the original, along with noise in the sky that stops close to the bottom. Time to wait for better weather.


House forest revisited
Topic: animals, general Link here

For various reasons we haven't been to the “forest” area at the other end of the property for some months now, but today we finally got around to it. The dogs were ecstatic:

 
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I think Nikolai sensed a kangaroo.


Monopod
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

On the way home today, picked up my latest toy, a cheap monopod. There's not much to it, just a stick. The image on the seller's page gives a couple of details:

The obvious one is that it's too short. I considered that when I bought it, and I thought it might be OK for Yvonne. Maybe it is—she thinks so—but it's too short for me (1.55 m). I planned to use it for the videos above, but it proved not to help at all.

Apart from that, it's fine. Time to look for a longer monopod. It's interesting to note that the monopod that in the image is not the one I have: it has a long top joint, and the others are also folded together. Something in between would be just right.


Thursday, 12 April 2018 Dereel Images for 12 April 2018
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Still more outages!
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Aussie Broadband have announced still more NBN outages!

We have received the following advice from nbn:

This notification is to let you know that we will be performing network maintenance work. Due to this activity the services listed below will experience a loss of connectivity for up to 1 hrs 0 mins during the change window.

nbn estimates the above interruption will occur between:

Start: 12/04/2018  11:00:00 PM
End:   13/04/2018  01:00:00 AM

START DATE:         Thu 12th April 2018 23:00 AEST
END DATE:           Fri 13th April 2018 06:00 AEST
CHANGE WINDOW:      7 hours

START DATE:         Tue 1st May 2018 08:00 AEST
END DATE:           Thu 3rd May 2018 20:00 AEST
CHANGE WINDOW:      2 days 12 hours

Dammit, we've had 59,454 seconds (16½ hours) of outages already in the past four weeks, all of it during the day. When will it ever stop?

Time to give the NBN a call. Where's the phone number? They've hidden it! All I could find was a “contact form”, which required me to give name, address, email address and telephone number. But it didn't accept my phone number (fully qualified according to the E.164 standard, to be on the safe side):

 
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OK, I could spend some time deciding what format they want, but why can't they stick to the standards? That's particularly bad for a company like NBN.

Of course, Google knows the number: 1800 687 626, which they once preferred to obfuscate as 1800 OUR NBN. But by then I was so annoyed that I decided to document things first.


Computing: extreme masochism
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Going through my email list, I saw this partial subject line:


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“If You Want to Use A Phone as Your Main PC, You Shou...”

How do you complete that? My best guess was “If You Want to Use A Phone as Your Main PC, You Should Get Your Head Read”, but no, it recommended Android. Based on my experience, that's a real condemnation of Apple. But reading the article was marginally interesting: it seems that you can connect various peripherals (“Sometimes a touchscreen just isn’t enough”, “you could also cast your device’s screen to a Chromecast-connected TV for a wireless experience”). Yes, as the Germans say, you could put rivets in your ears, hang pancakes off them and pretend to be a Dachshund. But I suppose it's something to keep in mind if I ever find myself in that emergency.


Selfies revisited
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I'm still thinking of updating my title photos, and spent some time today playing around with what essentially are selfies, though with much more equipment. It's amazing how much effect just a small difference in lighting and angles have. I made the mistake of mounting the forward-pointing monitor above the camera, not a good place to look at: the mounting of the camera (15 cm below the lens) looks better.

And in the end, my appearance hasn't changed that much in the last 15 years:

Greg's old photo Greg's new photo

 


Friday, 13 April 2018 Dereel
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NBN insights
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

As promised, discovered that we had had a further 5 National Broadband Network outages overnight, still only a total of a little less than 15 minutes in total. But that's now 15 planned outages in just over 4 weeks, now a total of 60,304 seconds (16¾ hours). And they're promising even more.

Called up Aussie Broadband today, mainly for a billing inquiry, but also took the opportunity to talk to support about the NBN fiasco. Spoke to Rob, who did, indeed, have a few interesting comments. It seems that they're upgrading the towers to dual frequencies. So far they operate in the 2,300 MHz range, but they're adding support for 3,500 MHz. It wasn't immediately clear what the purpose was, though possibly bandwidth would be one option. Rob thinks it's not to be able to add further customers, and there's a possibility I'll hear from Skybridge to replace the ODU (antenna) and IDU (NTD). Another potential outage that might actually have some benefit.

And why so many outages? I already knew that the uplink (a term that he didn't seem to understand in this context) doesn't necessarily go to a POI: it can be daisy-chained off other towers, so any work on that tower will also take ours offline. Rob was disparaging about the way the have no backup link; it would cost very little to have an alternative route to the POI, but they don't do that.

He mentioned other maintenance work that might be needed, in particular cabling on the tower. Aussie still run a WiMax service, and it seems that one of the biggest problems they have is cockatoos chewing through the cabling. You'd hope, though, that the NBN had learnt from others' prior experience and placed all cables in metal conduit.

And the possibility of a complaint? As I suspected, the Telecom Industry Ombudsman is no use. They will just take action (if at all) against the ISP, not NBN. His suggestion matched my thoughts: local Federal MP. Now when are the next elections?

Other points of interest: he stated that they seem to have a better than average relationship with the NBN, and that they get informed about upcoming outages as a result. That might be one reason why other ISPs don't inform their customers: they don't know in advance. I'm not too sure how accurate that information is, though.

He also pointed me at Oztowers, which gives information about mobile telephone and NBN towers. The search function is flaky: it accepts (and ignores) “suburb” names like “Dereel”, and to get results you need to input the post code and then select the town from a drop-down list. It's also not overly accurate: it lumps Dereel's NBN tower and the Telstra tower together, and it shows the Telstra service as “Proposed Service”, although it's been up and running for over 4 months. It also shows interesting information about frequencies, that the NBN 3,500 MHz service is “proposed”, while in Sebastopol, Buninyong and Enfield it's apparently active.


More gardening
Topic: gardening Link here

Mick the gardener along this morning to do more work. Gradually it's looking better. Maybe next spring we'll finally have something that looks worthwhile.


Saturday, 14 April 2018 Dereel Images for 14 April 2018
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Power fail!
Topic: general, technology Link here

Up this morning to be told by Yvonne that “the server is offline”, apparently something that her software had told her. Sure enough, eureka was down after a prolonged power failure.

And why not the others? Some time ago I put eureka on its own UPS because of issues I had had with the house wiring. Originally it was in series with the house UPS, but issues with power distribution caused it to complain all the time, so I connected it to a non-UPS power point. And clearly the dedicated UPS didn't maintain the power as long as the house UPS.

How long? Hard to day, of course. lagoon reported communication at 2:43, but the next scheduled log message at 2:49 didn't happen. So I could guess at 2:46. How long had the power been out? Under daytime conditions the UPS reports a capacity of 20 minutes, but without the monitors it's more like 40, meaning a guessed outage start of 2:06. The power came back at 3:58, so it seems that the house UPS (running effectively lagoon and teevee, as well as a couple of alarm clocks) happily weathered an outage of 2 hours or so. Clearly I'll need to put the UPS in series again, until we can finally get battery-backed solar electricity.

Reboot was no fun:


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What caused that? The obvious thing is that the message came from a FreeBSD component, so it's not as if the disk was completely trashed. It came after loading /boot/defaults/loader.conf, which also loads /boot/loader.conf if it's there. Incorrect configuration? Dammit, why do these things have to happen just after getting up? But things looked correct, only the loader variables loaddev and currdev pointed to different disks. OK, try resetting currdev:

 
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But even after getting it up, I had difficulty loading kernel modules. I had to specify the complete path to load the nvidia driver.

It worked, but have I booted the correct kernel? The kernel is dated:

FreeBSD eureka.lemis.com 10.2-STABLE FreeBSD 10.2-STABLE #2 r290972: Wed Nov 25 11:38:38 AEDT 2015     grog@stable.lemis.com:/usr/obj/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/10/sys/GENERIC  amd64

The alternative boot partition is dated 14 June 2017, but looking back at my diary there's no evidence that I ever tried to boot it. I was playing around with updates via virtual machines (eureso) at the time, and it looks as if I copied the files but never ran them.

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/6) ~/Downloads 12 -> strings /destdir/boot/kernel/kernel| grep FreeBSD | less
FreeBSD 11.1-BETA1 #4: Wed Jun 14 10:52:17 AEST 2017
    grog@eureso.lemis.com:/home/obj/eureka/home/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/11/sys/GENERIC

Also a reminder that it's high time that I finally upgrade the system.


Wild weather
Topic: gardening Link here

Really nasty weather today, with lots of rain and wind gusts of up to 54.7 km/h, one of the highest ever recorded. And as feared, the protection that Mick put round the Hibiscus yesterday didn't hold:

 
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Not only did it fall over, it took the plant with it. Fortunately it doesn't seem seriously damaged. Replaced to toy stakes with a steel dropper; hopefully that will hold.


Garage sale!
Topic: general Link here

Five years ago there was a coordinated mass garage sale in Enfield, 14 of them. Not to be outdone, Julie Dongahy has organized the mother of all garage sales, about 30 of them, stretching from Napoleons to Rokewood, a distance of over 30 km.

The Enfield event was quite a success, so put most of the addresses into my GPS navigator, and in late morning off to take a look. About half of them weren't there! Here an example:

 
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We had to look a little further to see what was left:

 
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In the end we only went to Dereel and Enfield, though Yvonne had looked in in Rokewood Junction earlier. We bought things at only two places. Yvonne had cautiously withdrawn $200 from the bank, but we spent $11 total, including $2 for a portable CD player/cassette player/radio, whose CD part proved to be completely non-functional.

Do I take it back? I'd get the money back, but it's almost not worth the petrol. 10 km there and back would use about 1.1 l petrol, currently round $1.60.


Sunday, 15 April 2018 Dereel Images for 15 April 2018
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Targeted spam
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

It seems forever since I signed up with LinkedIn, and I continually get link requests from people I've never heard of, this despite my request on my profile page to establish contact before just blindly asking for a link. That's not surprising, though: it seems that they have modified their web site and either removed the “about me” section or made it so difficult to find that I can't find it even when I know it was there.

My policy with such requests is: if they're linked to somebody I know personally, I usually accept it. Otherwise I ignore it (I can no longer say that I don't know the person).

And so it was today, almost:

From: Brian Poxon <messages-noreply@linkedin.com>
To: groggybrew@lemis.com
Subject: Brian sent you an invitation on LinkedIn

Brian would like to stay in touch on LinkedIn.

Brian Poxon
Housemaster, Tower House at Dean Close School, Cheltenham
Gloucester, United Kingdom

That doesn't look like normal spam. Could he be somebody that I knew at school? Looking at the web site, it looks very much in the style of my school, but is there a Brian Poxon there? I couldn't even find what houses there were.

Went to take a look and discovered that it was sent to an email address not linked with my LinkedIn membership. But the headers look correct: the message did come from LinkedIn. Why did they send it to an address that I never mentioned to them? And how did they associate it with my account?

By contrast, the other less obvious spam to a specified address was clear:

  65     14-04-2018 Facebook             To grog4711@l ( 243)     Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook hearing was an utter sham

You just need to look at the headers:

Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2018 07:58:41 +0200 (CEST)
From: Facebook <facebook@incognitomails.gadgetbingo.com>
To: grog4711@lemis.com
Subject: Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook hearing was an utter sham

That only has a hope of working because toy MUAs are too polite to show email addresses.


House photos under difficult circumstances
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

The weather this weekend has been particularly bad. Yesterday it was far too windy for my house photos, and it really was today as well. But there's no sign of it letting up, so I took them anyway.

Surprise, surprise! Photomatix PRO managed to merge the HDR sequences really well. Here an example where La Tigre was moving as I took the sequence (run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour):

 
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The poor image quality is because two of the images were exposed 3 EV from the correct exposure, and I corrected it to make the comparison more uniform. And somehow Photomatix managed to make this out of it:

 
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I'm quite impressed, especially since this was out of the box. The branch above the horse's back is a good example of what the wind was doing at the time.


Moving data in the modern age
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I'm coming ever closer to an all-out rant about the lack of interoperability of modern computing devices. If there's one function that is absolutely basic, it's moving data from one place to another (“copy”, to use an old, worn-out magic word). Today I read an article “the best ways to automatically back up the photos on your smartphone”.

Isn't that simple? Copy them to your computer? That's what I do, even with a phone. Why should I need a different method because it's a phone? Ah, but I don't understand: this is modern: use Google Drive, Amazon Prime Photos, Dropbox or iCloud (if you want to lock yourself into Apple for the rest of your life). Some of these even cost money, and they ensure that you can't get at them if you're off the net for whatever reason. When you're on the net, it still takes time to transfer an image. Sigh.


Another garage sale
Topic: general, food and drink Link here

So we managed to spend $11 on our garage sale yesterday. Clearly that wasn't enough for Yvonne, so today she decided to go to Julie Donaghy's sale, which was still ongoing. And sure enough, she managed to spend another $11.

While we were there, discussed the pomegranates that we had picked up last month. We had left them a couple of weeks to let them ripen, but clearly it wasn't enough, and they were still unripe inside.

 
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Paul took me to the tree again, where there were a couple of fruit already splitting open. Clearly they're as ripe as they can get:

 
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But are they ripe enough? They look nothing like the photo in Wikipedia:

Image

 


Monday, 16 April 2018 Dereel Images for 16 April 2018
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Plumbing woes
Topic: general Link here

Got up this morning and discovered that we had no hot water. Dammit, it's only been three weeks since I reset the circuit breaker on the hot water system. Out to do it again, but it hadn't tripped. The power switch? It certainly didn't look “on”, but it had worked in the past. Played with it a bit, confirming that it still wouldn't remain in the “on” position, then to the meter box to turn on power boost. And the difference in the meter blink showed immediately that it was now heating, as did the voltage on the top side of the circuit breaker. So: time to replace the switch?

As if that wasn't enough, the plumbing work done in January is annoying me: for some reason, the drainpipe in the bathroom is leaking, and I can't just tighten it up. It appears to not be inserted correctly—there's a distinct kink in the joint just below the shelf in the middle:

 
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But that's above the S bend. The only one that could leak should be the other one in the middle, and that's where I think the problem is. One way or another, what can that have to do with the plumbing work, and why should it just start now?

And then the tap in the kitchen isn't working properly. It has a switch button that switches between a jet and a spray. The spray has always been a bit lop-sided:

 
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But now the button no longer switches back to the jet alone. There's always a bit of spray left:

 
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I have another head from the one that I bought last October, but it needs gluing together. I suppose I'll have to address that.


Another monopod
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

The monopod that I received last week seems reasonable enough, except that it's too short for me at only 1.55 m. So I gave it to Yvonne, who thinks that she can get by with it because she doesn't use a viewfinder. For myself I ordered a new one, $1 more expensive and 26 cm longer. And it's here already! A little more sturdy, high enough (in fact, 1 or 2 cm too high, which I can easily adjust). About the only downside are the slightly stiff and too-small clips to hold the sections in place.


USB video converter
Topic: multimedia Link here

Chris Bahlo has bought a converter to digitize her VHS cassettes. It doesn't work well, and she has asked me to do it for her (with my primaeval copy-to-DVD-recorder). But I asked her for the device so I could take a look at it:

 
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Plugging it in to eureka didn't show anything exciting:

Apr 16 12:47:40 teevee kernel: ugen5.5: <ARKMICRO USB2.0 PC CAMERA> at usbus5
Apr 16 12:47:40 teevee root: Unknown USB device: vendor 0x18ec product 0x5850 bus uhub8
Apr 16 12:47:41 teevee kernel: uaudio0 on uhub8
Apr 16 12:47:41 teevee root: Unknown USB device: vendor 0x18ec product 0x5850 bus uhub8
Apr 16 12:47:41 teevee kernel: uaudio0: <USB2.0 MIC> on usbus5
Apr 16 12:47:41 teevee root: Unknown USB device: vendor 0x18ec product 0x5850 bus uhub8
Apr 16 12:47:41 teevee kernel: uaudio0: No playback.
Apr 16 12:47:41 teevee kernel: uaudio0: Record: 48000 Hz, 1 ch, 16-bit S-LE PCM format, 2x8ms buffer.
Apr 16 12:47:41 teevee kernel: uaudio0: No MIDI sequencer.
Apr 16 12:47:41 teevee kernel: pcm4: <USB audio> on uaudio0
Apr 16 12:47:41 teevee kernel: uaudio0: No HID volume keys found.
=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/5) ~ 3 -> usbconfig
...
ugen5.5: <ARKMICRO USB2.0 PC CAMERA> at usbus5, cfg=0 md=HOST spd=FULL (480Mbps) pwr=ON (200mA)

I suppose I should follow this up, but I think I'll be happy enough if I can find the cabling for my VHS and DVD recorders.


Tuesday, 17 April 2018 Dereel Images for 17 April 2018
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Garden flowers in mid-autumn
Topic: gardening, photography Link here

The middle of the month is gone, but the weather was so bad that I didn't have time to take my monthly garden flower photos.

The beginning of the month was mild, and things flowered relatively well. But then we had a few days of strong winds and heavy rain, and that made a big difference—also in the fact that I didn't take the photos until 17 April.

There's not very much to say. The roses have recovered well after getting more water:

 
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The Alyssum outside the office has recovered:

 
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The Buddlejas are still all alive, but the smaller of the two established plants is looking less happy than it should:

 
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It's not dead, but it's not exactly thriving either. The recent wind may have something to do with that. The other bush isn't looking very good either:

 
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On the other hand, all of the cuttings I made last month are all still alive, and the photos are in the “also ran” below.

The potted Mandevillas are looking good, though:

 
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I'm half inclined to leave the white one in the entrance, where it's relatively protected.

The Mandevilla laxa and Clematis seem to have finished flowering, though in the case of the Mandevilla it could have been mainly the wind:

 
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The first image shows the location of both a Clematis and the Mandevilla.

Despite the weather, the buds on the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis in the garden seem to be ripening:

 
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ANZ: We lost your money, but we don't care
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Last month I had a lot of pain with ANZ Bank because of a transfer that hadn't arrived. They weren't encouraging, but I still wasn't prepared for the letter I got:

 
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Diary entry for Tuesday, 17 April 2018

 

To summarize: “You asked us to transfer money. We did it. It's gone, and we can't say where it is. Bad luck”.

Bad luck? I gave them instructions to perform a transfer. They removed the money from my account, but it didn't arrive at the destination: they lost the money. And not only will they not tell me why (“privacy concerns”—what kind of privacy?), they want to know nothing more about it. About the only information of any use was that it was an “unintended recipient”. If this unintended recipient refuses to return the money, it's a criminal act. What privacy?

After I cooled down a bit, at 14:17 I called their complaints number (1800-805-154) and spoke to Dami[ae]n, who told me that I couldn't get my money back because it was an “Internet” transfer. With a little further prodding, he was able to give me details that the bank didn't see fit to include in their letter: the money had gone to a Gordon. He didn't give the surname, but that sounds like the intended recipient. So why did they write unintended recipient? Oh, that's what they do. What privacy concerns? He couldn't say. But Gordon had been informed and had refused to return the money. He even suggested that Gordon might have been acting dishonestly. Modulo un, that was my assumption. But since when do banks use privacy to cover up illegal activities?

He offered to send an official letter to my ANZ email address, but I refused. Based on their previous activity, I don't trust them any more. Asked for a resolution of the voice non-recognition system too, and he told me that there was none: there's no way around it, because it's the easiest. So I gave him some of the responses (“A response was not received”, “Please select one of the options”, “Please answer Yes or No”), and of course he was just as confused as I was. But if they claim to me that it's the easiest when I tell them that I have significant problems with it, they can't be listening.

So did they really contact Gordon? Dami.n gave me the account details to which the money had been transferred. Called Gordon up. Yes, that's his account. No, nobody had contacted him. He checked, and the money was there.

Case closed? On one level, yes. But ANZ had managed to make a mountain out of a molehill, and sent me a form letter which was Just Plain Wrong. And Dami.n doesn't seem to find anything wrong in that.

Thinking about this matter, it seems that there's an excellent opportunity for dishonest programmers to make money here: write the software that performs the transfer, identify exceptions (transfer to a non-existent account number, for example) and transfer to a different short-lived account of which they are the beneficiary. Since the bank is not interested in following up on lost transfers, there's little chance that they will be caught.

I am left, more than ever, with the impression that ANZ just Doesn't Care. How can any professional entity write “unintended” when they mean ”intended”? And how can their complaints line defend this incompetence? Time to change to a new bank? Yes, in principle. But where do I find one that's better?


Planting bulbs
Topic: gardening Link here

Finally got round to planting the bulbs that we bought 10 days ago. Most of them went into the new bed in front of the shade area, though I planted a couple of lilies in front of the “verandah”, one in the semi-circular beds, and the two Dutch iris in the bed in front of the music room.


Deciphering Exif lens details
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

Looking through my photos, I discovered this in the Exif popup:

 
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What's wrong there? The lens is wrong. The lens is an M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100 mm f/4.0 IS PRO, which is identified in the Exif data like this:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/23) ~/Photos/20180417 81 -> exiftool Rose-4.jpeg |grep Lens
Lens Type                       : Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS Pro
Lens Firmware Version           : 1.303
Lens Properties                 : 0xc140
Lens Info                       : 12-100mm f/4
Lens Model                      : OLYMPUS M.12-100mm F4.0
Lens Serial Number              : ACC214354
Lens ID                         : Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm F4.0 IS Pro

No idea why there are three different parameters for the lens, “Lens Info", “Lens Model” and “Lens ID”, all different, but clearly I've managed to get the second when I wanted the third. Why? I know why: a while back I went back to look at some photos taken by Danny Sluggett of the Mount Barker Courier 15 years ago. The camera was a professional Nikon D1 with a whopping 2624 kP:

 
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And its Exif data is completely different:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/23) ~/Photos/20030307 86 -> exiftool grog-in-office-6.jpeg | grep Lens
Lens Type                       : AF
Lens                            : 14mm f/2.8
Lens F Stops                    : 5.92
Lens Spec                       : 14mm f/2.8 AF

So I had spent more time trying to frob my exposuredetails() function to adapt to both. It worked for these few old Nikon images, but no longer for mine. After some time messing around, I got Olympus to work again, but broke Nikon again. With a bit more work I can get both to work, but what a pain! And I still need to work out why my exifx script, which calls the same function, returns nothing at all for the lens.

Aren't standards wonderful?


Wednesday, 18 April 2018 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 18 April 2018
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More fun in Ballarat
Topic: health, general, food and drink, opinion Link here

We've been looking for a lounge room suite for years now, and we haven't been able to make up our minds. Gradually I've been tending (back) towards a conventional 3 seater sofa and two armchairs, with leather covering. But it's been a long conversation discussion, and I was expecting more of same.

But then yesterday Yvonne found a second-hand suite in Miners Rest on Facebook, and she liked the looks of it. OK, worth taking a look—it's a lot closer than Melton, where we saw one last May.

Today was shopping day anyway, so off with Yvonne to town, where she also met up with Doctor Paul Smith, where we spent a considerable amount of time talking about jousting and other mediaeval pastimes: Chris Bahlo was having a lesson at the same time. Also a bit about Yvonne's osteoporosis treatment, which will be with Denosumab,

Then off to Miners Rest, not without difficulty: we went via the freeway, and the exit was anything but obvious:

 
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What a dangerous intersection! It would be easy to miss the connection to the carriageway on the other side and drive up the first half of the dual carriageway in the wrong direction! I didn't make that mistake and crossed over—to the slip road back onto the freeway! The photo doesn't show how difficult it is to recognize, but a little more signs would have been of great help. There's no sign at all pointing to Miners Rest, which is the next locality to the right.

Finally got there. The place looked a little different from the Google Map Street View:

 
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The suite looked pretty much as advertised:

 
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Yvonne liked it, the price was right, so we took it. Not exactly what we had planned, but at least that's one thing fewer to worry about.

Almost. How do we get it home? It's a bad time right now when Chris Bahlo doesn't have a tow car, but we thought of borrowing her sister Melanie's horse float, which is at Chris' place. But maybe we're too old for do it yourself. On the way back into town, dropped in at Focus on Furniture, where we bought our sideboard three years ago. They had had a contractor deliver the thing, and when he arrived he indicated that he was open to other transport stuff. OK, got his address—if he's the same bloke: Linden (that's how they spelt it, and not the Lyndon that I would expect), phone number 0414 388 474. Called him up in the afternoon, and it looks like he can get it here in the next day or two.


Bloody banks!
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Chris Bahlo's Landcruiser is on its last legs. It blew a head gasket a year ago, and my best bet is that the (very expensive) repair was not done correctly, and it has been showing every indication of a damaged gasket for some months now. It has other issues too—after all, it is about 25 years old, and she's had it for over 3 years. Time for a new car.

She needs financing, of course. And for well over 2 years we've had money in a monthly term deposit, earning very little interest. So we agreed to split the difference: I lend the money at an interest rate between what she would pay and what I would get.

That involved two transfers: from the term deposit with Central Victorian Investments and from my bank account with Bank of Melbourne. In principle the transfer from Bank of Melbourne should be trivial: just do an “Internet” transfer. But they wanted a reference number, and there was no field on the transfer form to allow that:

 
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OK, I had to sign a document for the Central Vic transfer anyway, so did that while we were in town, and then down to the Bank of Melbourne to do a transfer from the bank.

Surprise, surprise: they can't do that from the bank. I had the options:

  1. A “Bank cheque”, a guaranteed means of payment. That costs money, about $10 in my recollection, but I didn't get as far as to find that out. They want 3 days to clear the cheque. And that to the same bank group (Westpac). Why? I put it to Ben, the cashier, that it was either an indication of the complete failure of their computer systems, or a deliberate choice to annoy the customer or increase their profits (interest on thousands of pending bank cheques). He disagreed of course, but I don't know if it's because he wasn't allowed to disagree, or he didn't understand. He just said “we have separate computers” (“and never the twain shall meet”).

  2. An instant transfer, where the money arrives as soon as the transaction is completed at my end. This suggests that their computers can do quick transfers, making it even less plausible that it should take 3 days to clear a bank guaranteed cheque.

  3. “Internet” banking. I pointed out that there's no field to enter a reference. Oh yes, there is:


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    That's not the term that they normally use, and there's no indication that the recipient will see that—on the contrary, it suggests that the comment is private, which under some circumstances could be embarrassing. Is this incompetence or malice? I think that in this case I'll accept Hanlon's razor.

    It seems that I also have a limit that was lower than the $14,670 that I wanted to transfer. Never mind, he could fix that. Just log in to your “Internet” banking (you do have your details, right?) and he would do the rest. A good thing, too, because he had one of the weirdest keyboards I have ever seen, clearly designed by somebody who had never learnt to type: instead of a palm rest below the main keyboard there was a numeric pad and some other stuff. It's not this keyboard (mercifully, there are very few to be found on Google Image Search), but it's similar:

    Finally he was finished, and then the system wanted to send a “secure code” to my phone number—back home, of course. He offered to validate my mobile phone, but that way madness lies. So that didn't work either.

  4. Cash. He could pay me the whole amount in cash, and I could take it across the road to Westpac and pay it in there. And that was the last possibility! The bank just Does Not Have a normal transfer facility!

    In the end, I opted for the cash payout. They didn't even have $100 notes! Take it to another bank with equally incompetent methods? No way. We took it to the car sales place and watched an accountant laboriously count the money:

     
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All in all, over an hour of effort for something that should have taken a minute, not to mention the insecurity of carrying so much cash. One of the reasons I have a bank is to that I don't need to do that. Clearly the bank has failed. Only yesterday I was grumbling about ANZ. But their incompetence seems to be symptomatic. They still haven't made it into the 21st century, and least not conceptually. And what a breath of fresh air Central Vic is in comparison. I should have transferred all the money via them.

And on the way home I recalled my days at Tandem Computers, where nearly every bank in Europe was our customer. We had developed a collective noun for bankers: a “wunch”, which, I see, has now turned up in Wiktionary.


Still more bulbs
Topic: gardening, food and drink Link here

Stopped off at Bunnings on the way back to town, and ended up buying still more bulbs: Hyacinth, Freesias and 5 Crocus sativus, which, if all goes well, will produce 15 strands of saffron, weighing about 1 mg:

 
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It wasn't until some time later that the Freesias are exactly the cultivar that I found last October. So much for the effort I went to then.


Paw paw? Papaya?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I've ranted frequently about how Woolworths use fantasy names for foodstuffs. Today I wanted to buy a papaya, but the ones at ALDI didn't look very good, so I tried at Woolworths, where I found only half “paw paws”.

 
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So I asked an assistant, who told me that they didn't have any papayas, only paw paws. OK, half what I expected.

But he went on to say that paw paws weren't as sweet as papayas. That's the first time I've ever heard that they were different fruit. Looked around and found “red papayas”, whatever they are, along with “paw paws”:

 
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Interesting enough to try one. I'll find out what they really are the next breakfast or so.


Smoking?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Stopped in at Wendouree Wholesalers (in Delacombe) for some caraway seed. They have put in a showroom since I was last there, and they have a number of things for sausage making, including skins and chemicals. But the most interesting thing was an electric smoke oven. I've been thinking of building a smoke oven for some time, and seven years ago I bought a gas-run oven from ALDI. That was a disaster: apart from the inherent temperature regulation problem, the thing couldn't be adjusted to normal smoking temperatures. The best thing about it was that it came from ALDI, so I could take it back, no questions asked.

This electric oven has a thermostat, of course. But can it do cold-smoking? Spoke to Craig, one of the assistants, who has one and uses it a lot. Lowest temperature he can set is 30°, barely low enough for cold-smoking. But will it smoke at that temperature? The chips are heated over the element, and if it doesn't get warmer than 30°, it won't smoke. Left with intentions to do more research.


Thieving Nikolai
Topic: animals, food and drink Link here

New dog food today, so I put today's portions in the kitchen to warm up to room temperature. Came back some time later to find one of the bowls on the floor empty, with Piccola licking the juice. The food (beef and chicken frame) was gone, but I soon found the culprit:

 
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No more food for him this evening. Leonid got the frame. I wonder if Nikolai understands.


Thursday, 19 April 2018 Dereel Images for 19 April 2018
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Present from Piccola
Topic: animals, general Link here

One of the first things I do in the morning is go into the laundry and feed Piccola. Not an interesting view, and this morning nothing looked very different:

 
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But what's that line sticking out from the corner of the door? From the other side it was much more obvious:

 
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The biggest rat I have ever seen!

 
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With tail it's 40 cm long, nearly as long as she is. How did she catch it? She was clearly not interested in eating it, so I offered it to the dogs, and after a while Nikolai half-heartedly picked it up (after all, he had gone short last night). Then Petra Gietz, who was here today, asked about how the rat died. Poison?

Good question. I don't know of anybody round here who uses rat poison, but who knows? The rat looked completely uninjured, which doesn't seem right for a rat caught by a cat. So sorry, Niko, no rat for you.


Another laksa
Topic: food and drink Link here

I've been trying a number of different pastes for curry laksa over the last few months. Today was a new one:

 
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I wasn't overly hopeful: the packaging looks silly. But it does come from Malaysia, close enough to Singapore to have a chance of being authentic. And indeed it wasn't bad:

 
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Changing furniture
Topic: general Link here

So now we have a new lounge room suite. What do we do with the old one? Yvonne had the idea of putting it on the Dereel Buy Swap Sell Facebook group, so I had to take some photos:


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It's amazing how dirty it looks! It's nothing like that bad in real life.

 
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We talked to Petra about what we should ask for it. We've had it for 17 years, and I was thinking of asking $200. It seems that that wasn't too high: Petra's daughter Stephanie is looking for a new lounge room suite, so she arranged to have it taken back with the same bloke (L[iy]nd[eo]n) who delivers ours. That's excellent. That way we don't need to find a place to put it until sold, and we don't have to move it at all.

Arranging the transport was still non-trivial. When could L.nd.n do it? When could Debra (the seller) be available? After a surprising number of phone calls we agreed on 9:00 tomorrow morning.


Friday, 20 April 2018 Dereel Images for 20 April 2018
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Red papaya?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

So what's a red papaya? Cut open the one I bought on Wednesday:

 
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Papaya? Red? It's a particularly boring melon. Went looking, and sure enough, found this page from Papaya Australia, which shows these two, which it calls “red papaya” and “yellow pawpaw” respectively:

I have a very strong suspicion that this is more bad language, but this tells me a number of things:


New lounge room suite, day 3
Topic: general Link here

Linden (as his name proved to be) was supposed to pick up the new lounge room suite in Miners Rest at 9:00 this morning and bring it here. OK, we're in no particular hurry, but when by 11:40 we still hadn't seen or heard anything, it seemed strange, especially since I had never received a call back from Linden. What if something had gone wrong and he had the wrong number and couldn't contact me? Called up Debra, who confirmed that the furniture had been collected at 9:10. OK, maybe Linden did have trouble contacting me. Called him up. No, all OK, he'd be there in 25 minutes.

Three-quarters of an hour later I saw a truck arrive at the gate. OK, must be Linden. Waited. Waited. And then the phone rang: Linden, “Is your house number 29?”. At least he had the right phone number.

Unloading the furniture was fun, Still, we got things arranged:


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Linden had a number of comments to make. I get the feeling that he is better educated than his job would indicate.


More thoughts on wide-angle photos
Topic: photography Link here

Taking a photo of the lounge-room suite isn't easy. Here's before and after, stitched together with Hugin:


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They're stitched together from 3 components, with a cylindrical projection. What alternatives do I have? Rectilinear?

 
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Fisheye?

 
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On the whole, the fisheye version looks less strange than the rectilinear version. But somehow there just doesn't seem to be a good projection of this kind of angle.


Bogrács gulyás
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

We planned bogrács gulyás for dinner this evening. But what does that mean? It's Magyar, and the translations I have seen say something like “cauldron goulash”. And Google translate translates it as “potato goulash” or just plain “goulash”, depending on whether there's a space between the words or not. But why “cauldron”?

Nowadays, of course, we have Wikipedia, which (currently) shows the kind of cauldron implied:

The implication is that this is the original goulash, and the name really means “herdsman cauldron”. Magyar is hard to understand at the best of times, but this one is interesting, almost more a part of tradition than a straightforward recipe name.


Melanie and Will again
Topic: general Link here

Chris' sister Melanie has been here relatively frequently lately, because her horse is here. The last two times she had wanted to bring her son Will with her, but he had been unwell. Today was the other way round: he was supposed to be unwell, but she brought him with her.

 
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Unfortunately, he took a liking to Piccola, and discovered that he was allergic to (specifically) Siamese cats (as Melanie clarified). Fit of coughing, and off home early for the medications that Melanie had forgotten to bring.


A new car!
Topic: general Link here

Chris Bahlo had arrived for dinner with a bottle of champagne to celebrate her new car. I saw it in the daytime, but was too busy to take a photo. Here it is as they're leaving, taken under lighting conditions where I could barely see the car:

 
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Saturday, 21 April 2018 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 21 April 2018
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New kitchen equipment
Topic: general, food and drink, technology Link here

Into town this morning with Yvonne, she to Pilates, I to buy some kitchen appliances from ALDI: a range hood and an induction cooktop, branded “Stirling SICT60”.

Why? They're cheap, and I can bring them back again if I don't like them. The most important reason, though, is that buying them is the only way to find out the specifications, maybe only by trying them out. They'd save themselves a lot of money with better descriptions.

The first shop (town centre) didn't have any cooktops left, 1 hour after opening. Off to the shop in Learmonth St, near the now-defunct Masters, where they did. Then back into town with intent to pick up some odds and ends at Woolworths, but I didn't have time. The expedition had used up the 60 minutes of Yvonne's training, and I had to pick her up first.

Woolworths is a never-ending source of commentary. After previous experience, I use coins to disengage a trolley, not tokens. Today I put my coin in the trolley, but it didn't let go of the chain. Fortunately the one in front wasn't connected, so I ended up with two trolleys, and couldn't get my coin out of the slot:

 
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Off to the information desk, and offered the assistant both trolleys for $1. She jiggled on the chain a bit, extracted my $1 and gave it to me. The speed with which she did it suggests a certain amount of experience.

Checking out was fun. All except one of the checkout terminals was occupied, and the other one was busy dumping its heart out. The information stated that it was dumping diagnostic information to a file with a name starting with C:\.... Tried to take a photo of it, but an officious shop assistant got in my way:

 
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I suppose one could identify her by her tattoo.


Planting bulbs
Topic: gardening Link here

Somehow I've been very busy lately, and so it's not surprising that we haven't planted the bulbs I bought on Wednesday. I wasn't expecting them to start sprouting, though, but the Crocus sativus had developed shoots up to 5 cm long. High time to plant them.

How deep? How far apart? Take your pick:

 
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That's on the same piece of paper! I don't even understand the symbols at the top. Does the “10 cm” mean flower height?


Sunday, 22 April 2018 Dereel Images for 22 April 2018
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Fog under 200 m
Topic: general Link here

Common wisdom has it that what we call fog in Australia is called mist elsewhere. In Germany, fog starts with visibilities of 150 m and less. But today we had something that almost came close:

 
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The trees in the “house forest” are about 200 m away, and they're not really visible.


Another injured kangaroo
Topic: animals Link here

The dogs were very interested in something up on the fence on the east side of the property (towards the road) today. When Leonid barked, I went out in hope of finding the cat that had been reported missing in Westons Road a couple of weeks ago. But no such luck:

 
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A young Eastern grey kangaroo, with both legs broken. How did that happen? Yvonne called up Vince at the Wala animal sanctuary. He sent out Gary, who was with him four years ago.

In the meantime, the dogs came and took a (very cautious) look:

 
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There wasn't much that Gary could do, of course. He was also amazed at the extent of the damage:

 
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A shot with a rifle, which made its eyes pop out:

 
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He then checked its sex? Why? It's obvious: a female could have had one or more joeys in her pouch. It seems that if their eyes are open, they have some hope of survival. But in this case it was a male.

And what was the cause? It was up against the sheep mesh fence, and I wondered if it might have got caught in the fence like so many other cases that we have seen round here. But no, Gary thought that it had been run over. For a while I was left feeling malice towards the driver, but of course there's little you can do to avoid this kind of accident, and most of us have had it, myself three years ago. But he could at least have called the wildlife people.


Flash: fixed?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

For years I've complained about poor exposure with flash. But my recent attempts, with the Olympus STF-8 and the mecablitz 58 AF-2, seem to have been relatively well exposed. For the first shots of the kangaroo, I had set the camera to add +1 EV to the flash exposure, but that caused the images to be overexposed by about 1 EV, maybe only ⅔ EV. Why have things changed? Maybe the subject?


Monday, 23 April 2018 Dereel Images for 23 April 2018
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Power fail
Topic: general Link here

Restless night. Leonid barked for some reason round 3:45, and I couldn't get back to sleep. Round 5:46 I heard a “beep” from somewhere, and off to the office to find the UPS grumbling to itself, apparently being fed voltages that were all over the place.

The oven and adjacent microwave oven had reset their clocks, so clearly we had some kind of power failure. The microwave oven in the pantry showed 7:02. What does that mean? That it didn't fail? It resets to (paradoxically) 1:00 on a power failure and carries on running, so it could indicate a failure at 23:44. On the other hand, I can't set the clock manually: I've lost the instruction manual, and if clock setting still works, it's well hidden. The time displayed doesn't match the time of the previous outage (2:06).

Strangely, I was woken by a “beep” at 5:46 the following day, though there were no problems. Did the sound come from somewhere else?

More NBN outages!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

In the early afternoon we disappeared from the net. I had just got round to grumbling when it came back again—for all of 7 minutes. Took a look at the NTD, which showed:

 
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That orange LED is labeled “ODU fail”, implying (incorrectly) a defect in the “outdoor unit”, which other people call an antenna. Again, the connection came back pretty quickly.

But it continued like that, and after 15 minutes starting at 14:50, I headed off to the Radiation Tower to see if anything was going on. Sure enough:

 
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Went in and found a technician replacing a module:

 
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He was quite informative. Yes, this was a scheduled outage, and he was replacing an amplifier module which they thought could be defective. We'd be up again quite soon (which he later clarified as “an hour or two”). The whole thing relates to the modifications they performed to support 3.4 GHz connections. The modifications themselves are complete, and we now have an uplink bandwidth of a whopping 394 Mb/s, almost enough to sustain 16 parallel downloads at 25 Mb/s. He couldn't tell me what the bandwidth had been before, but no wonder we run into congestion at peak usage periods.

3.4 GHz? I had been told 3.5 GHz, and OzTowers agrees with me. Was the technician mistaken, or is the truth somewhere in between?

Was the maintenance really scheduled? We still have the prospect of another 4 hour outage some time in early next month, and we were informed of that. Given the nature of the work, I think this was unplanned, but of course he got a job order.

The cabinet was open, showing a surprising amount of equipment, most of which was difficult to identify, though there were a large number of (probably redundant) power supplies.

 
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Possibly the most interesting part was the plan on the door:

 
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I was quite impressed by the appearance of the installation, and he told me that it was much more modern than the Telstra tower 100 m away. He was from Decon, who do work for Telstra as well.

True to his word, the connection bounced several times (probably for testing), and finally came back up at 16:50. 9 outages today (102 minutes), a total of 28 (1,107 minutes, 18.4 hours) in the past 40 days, an availability of only 98.1%. Will they finally get their act together?

Date       Outages       Duration       Availability       Date
            (seconds)
1521032400       1       26968       68.79%       # 15 March 2018
1522069200       2       27326       68.37%       # 27 March 2018
1522764000       1       1225       98.58%       # 4 April 2018
1523196000       6       3935       95.45%       # 9 April 2018
1523541600       5       850       99.02%       # 13 April 2018
1524405600       9       6098       92.94%       # 23 April 2018

I get the impression that they don't have much in the way of diagnostics, and that today's effort involved a lot of “suck it and see”.


When to plant Crocus sativus?
Topic: gardening Link here

Callum Gibson noted my article about the conflicting information for my Crocus sativus bulbs, and read it more carefully than I did. The bulbs were sold for planting now and ostensibly flowering in the spring. That wasn't what I had recalled, but the label was clear:


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But it seems that this is another discrepancy between the small and the large print:


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No wonder they're shooting now:

 
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They should be flowering!


Yana back again
Topic: general Link here

Our daughter Yana is back in town, for the first time in two years. Another dinner (Chris Bahlo came along for the fun of it), but not much else, not even photos.


Tuesday, 24 April 2018 Dereel Images for 24 April 2018
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Change in activities
Topic: general Link here

Surprisingly, Yana's presence has resulted in a change in activities. She and Yvonne decided to do some sculpting:

 
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Later they went into town to buy a bag of oranges to make cocktails with:

 
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And Yana has become one of the smart phone generation:

 
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Analogue multimedia revisited
Topic: multimedia, opinion Link here

It's been over a week since Chris Bahlo brought me a VHS cassette to copy. In principle I have everything that I need to copy—except for a cable connecting the equipment to the monitor (TV). Today I finally got round to scouring the shed for a suitable cable.

In to the lounge room to discover that it was 10 cm too short to fit where the DVD recorder (the old Digitrex GKX-9000) was, so ended up with the equipment balanced on a loudspeaker:

 
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And then surprise! The TV has no composite video input! It's still shown in the input select menu (the yellow one under AV), but the jack is missing on the back:

 
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It's not that long ago that TVs started coming with composite video input, and now it's gone again. So I basically can't use the old VHS recorder any more, because it doesn't have anything else. Still, the Digitrex has component output, so I was able to connect it like that and feed the VHS input through it:

 
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I had forgotten what terrible quality VHS and DVD are!

 
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Things are so much better now.

But I still had difficulties copying Chris' cassette. It's NTSC, and something in the daisy chain didn't like it. This is what I got on the TV:

 
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What now? It could be that it's the TV that doesn't understand NTSC, but one way or another I need to find a way to convert the images to something that the TV can display. Maybe I should take another look at Chris' converter. She probably didn't expect the tape to be the issue.


Israel: too far is too far
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

I've been concerned for some time about the way the State of Israel treats the people and territory that it conquered over 50 years ago. But it's difficult to criticize without being called anti-semitic (“Semitic”: Jewish or Arab; “Anti-Semitic”: Anti-Jewish). In particular it's hard to believe that their actions are in accordance in with international or national law.

I've been getting a daily feed from the Times of Israel for some time now, and recently they published this article by a prominent Jewish lawyer, who effectively says the same thing. Now if only they would pay attention to this kind of criticism.


Wednesday, 25 April 2018 Dereel Images for 25 April 2018
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Photos of Greg, try 2
Topic: photography Link here

Spent another considerable period of time trying to get more up-to-date photos of myself than what I've had on the web for the past 15 years or so. Gradually I'm getting there. This is the one I have at the top of most pages (including this one, at least currently). First the old one, then the one I tried two weeks ago, then today:

Greg's old photo Greg's newer photo Greg's old photo

And finally a photo of me at my desktop:

 
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In passing, it's interesting that for 15 years I didn't notice how much excess space there is at the top of the first photo. Is the bottom one too short? I tried this alternative, mainly for the photo at top left (In faded ink from the late 1980s: “The extra far, far, furthest side: Greg discusses a Guardian TPR with the Ayatollah”):

 
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New induction cooker
Topic: food and drink, technology Link here

Finally got round to looking at the induction cooker that I bought at ALDI on Saturday. It certainly looks OK:

 
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But how does it work? Unlike their el-cheapo induction cookers, this one doesn't specify the amount of power used at each level, though it does state that levels 1 and 2 are (both) suitable for “Delicate warming for small amounts of food”, “Gentle simmering” and similar. Are they? I can't put my hand on the instructions for the portable unit, but I seem to remember similar claims.

There are two fields with a maximum of 2000 W output (front right and rear left), while the other two have 1500 W. But they're all the same size. The dotted cross on the glass shows the limits, as I discovered after shining a light through the surface:

 
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Only 18 cm! The smallest pans I have are about 26 cm, and my biggest ones are 32 cm. It looks as if my current device has the same diameter, so that would be too small. Still, I can try it out. The good news is that it's well sealed, and there appears to be no reason not to just put it on the cooktop—once I have found a plug for the thing.

And that's another problem I hadn't thought of. With all four elements on at full power, the thing uses 7 kW. That makes it the (potential) biggest power consumer in the house, using more than half the rated 11.3 kW that Powercor allows us. The ”Specifications” in the instructions are too polite to mention the circuit breaker current requirements, but it's on the cable itself: 25 A, corresponding to 5.65 kW.

 
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How do they get away with that? A 32 A breaker would be barely enough. Clearly they're not expecting anybody to use all four fields on full power; even their “troubleshooting” doesn't mention “Cooktop trips circuit breaker”.


Kitchen woes
Topic: food and drink Link here

Somehow I spent most of today in the kitchen. Part was cooking food for this evening, but also a lot of tidying up, including freezing the remainder of the bogrács gulyás that I made last week. But one of the containers was too flimsy, and as I pressed the lid on, the contents escaped over the cooktop, the floor and me:

 
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Joy without measure.


Thursday, 26 April 2018 Dereel Images for 26 April 2018
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The morning wakeup call
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Lying awake in the morning, heard a “beep”. That's not the first time. And this time it was at 5:44. I was woken at 5:46 on Monday, and again on Tuesday. Out to take a look. No, no evidence of any power failures.

So what is it? I'm normally asleep at this time of morning, but maybe there's something that normally beeps at this time (though the difference between 5:44 and 5:46 is real). What could it be?


Goodbye Yana
Topic: general Link here

Yana off back to Melbourne after breakfast this morning.


Planting bulbs
Topic: gardening Link here

I've left the Crocus sativus half uncovered for a few days, because the shoots had come out in all directions. Here two days ago and today:

 
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In fact, they have barely changed, so today got round to covering them over, and also planting most of the Freesias and Hyacinths that we bought last week. And while I was looking at it, noted that our Hibiscus rosa-sinensis in the garden is finally flowering. I don't seem to have noted when we planted it, but it must have been two years. Sadly, it's not very pretty:

 
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To my surprise, the Clematis Edomurasaki is flowering again:

 
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On the other side of the house, one particular Hellebore is causing concern:

 
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I'm not sure what is causing it, but new shoots come and then die off again. There are first signs here:

 
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Other Hellebores in the vicinity are doing well.


Friday, 27 April 2018 Dereel Images for 27 April 2018
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ANZ: We prove our incompetence
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Last week I had complained about ANZ's handling of an apparently lost money transfer, and I wanted an explanation for:

Today a response arrived. How many of these points did they answer? None of them:

My understanding of your concern is
On 13 March 2018, you have transferred $120.00 to a nominated account. The intended recipient has contact you to advise that they have not received the funds.
So far correct.

ANZ has attempted to recall the funds however, this has been unsuccessful.

Original punctuation, and no explanation of why it was unsuccessful.
As a resolution, you are seeking the payment of $120.00 returned to your account.
No. Where did they get that idea?
On 17 April 2018, we have confirmed the BSB and account number of the indented [sic] recipient and we have noted no discrepancy with the account information
So why did they write unintended? And why did the original letter not state this?

And apart from boilerplate, that's all. That doesn't answer any of my questions.

Although the letter was clearly personal, it shows a lack of insight that I find horrifying. Nowadays “unprofessional” tends to mean corrupt, and there's no evidence of that, but this behaviour appears to be the work of a rank amateur, and it seems to be systematic: the customer service people seem to be completely incompetent. What can I do now? Publishing this information would be a good first step.


Another NBN outage!
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

In late morning, yet another NBN outage. Was the techie right on Monday when he didn't sound overly enthusiastic that his replacement would solve the problem? After we had been off the air for a bit over an hour, went over to see what was going on:

 
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Is that the same van as on Monday? With extreme cropping I was able to get:

 
This should be Decon-service-1-rego-myset.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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But that didn't help. On Monday I took the photo of the van from the rear, and the tail gate was open, so I couldn't see the rego:

 
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Still, same company, same type of van, so presumably the same matter. I didn't go to talk to the techie this time; he has enough to do.


Image detail issues
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

The photos I took of the Decon van were done with the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60 mm f/2.8-4 on the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. Which image stabilization should I use? Both camera and lens have image stabilization, but this combination doesn't work together. In the past I've found that the in-body stabilization is better than the lens stabilization, but there's some anecdotal evidence that lens stabilization is better at long focal lengths. These images were taken at 300 mm (600 mm equivalent on full-frame sensors), so I tried both ways:

 
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Any difference? Hardly. But then I did an extreme blow-up of the rego plate (corresponding to a focal length of 5,184 mm, or 10,368 mm full-frame). And not surprisingly, there was a little unsharpness. But it wasn't due to camera shake, and it differed between the two images:

 
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What caused that? I thought it might be the DxO PhotoLab processing parameters, but setting the default made no difference.

What could it be? There are so many possibilities:

  1. Other DxO processing parameters.
  2. The lens.
  3. The camera.
  4. The stabilization.
  5. Air currents.

I can try some of them. I think the obvious next one would be Olympus Viewer.


What's local time?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Everybody knows what local time is, right? I thought so, anyway. In fact, there's no accurate definition. For me, it's obvious that it's the time used at a particular location, in other words as defined by your local time zone.

But it seems that some people (in India?) use in a different sense. Earlier this month I commented on an answer in Quora sto the question “What is the longitude of a place whose local time is 11:00am when it is 9:30am at longitude 15 degrees?. He answered:

the standard Time is calculated by time zone only but local time has 4 min difference at every longitudes. And longitudes play very important roll to calculate the time. there are 24 time zones in the world and according to that question I think this the way to calculate. and only because of longitudes time can be calculated. Greenwich Prime Meridian is the base line to divide the world into eastern hemisphere and western hemisphere and this is the longitude only.

That's not correct, of course. But clearly it's being taught. It seems that some people (India again?) use the term “local time” to mean mean solar time, also known as local mean time, an obsolete method used to even out the effects of eccentricities in the earth's orbit before the advent of time zones. There's no basis for this assumption: local time is the time that you will see on clocks in any specific location, and it's defined by the time zone.

This definition does serve one purpose, though: if I'm correct, it explains these nonsensical questions, at least when “local time” is specified.

It's probably worth summarizing the different forms of time:

Solar time       Time based on the position of the sun in the sky
Equation of time       Description of the time shifts caused by the eccentricity of the earth's orbit
Mean solar time       Solar time corrected for the eccentricity of earth's orbit
Local mean time       Solar time at a particular location
Standard time       Time defined by a time zone
Local time       The time used at a specific location, usually standard time
Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)       Time standard for time zones
Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)       UK Civil time in winter, close to UTC
Time zone       A geographical area with the same standard time and legislation

For the purposes of time calculations, only time zone, UTC and local time are of interest.

What's missing here is the definition of local time. Search for definition local time and I get:

There are two conflicting versions here: one is the official time based on the time zone, the other is the mean solar time. Looking at the references, the ones I would rely on would be https://www.collinsdictionary.com/ and https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/. The reference at http://www.dictionary.com/ dates itself: it's nearly 200 years out of date, before time zones came into existence.

Or so I thought. It seems that all three of these links actually define the term both ways, though the https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/ quote refers to solar time rather than mean solar time.

As usual, the Oxford English Dictionary clarifies:

local time n. (originally) time at a particular place reckoned from the instant of transit of the mean sun over the meridian at that place (which defines noon); (now more usually, and sometimes as a postmodifier) time as reckoned in the time zone containing the observer or the specified place;

So the meaning changed with the advent of time zones, as one would expect. The quotations show the last use of the old meaning in 1865:

1865 Catholic World Apr. 127/1 Railway time is gradually beating local time.