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Thursday, 14 December 2017 Dereel Images for 14 December 2017
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Scaredy cat
Topic: animals Link here

One of the first things I do in the morning when I get up is go to the laundry and let Piccola out: she hears the blinds going up and starts meowing. When I let her out, she heads straight for the front door and goes out for about 15 minutes, after which she returns expecting food.

But not today. She wasn't there. Had Yvonne got there first? Normally I hear her meowing, but not today. Checked. No Yvonne. Back to the laundry and looked behind the washing machine:


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What was she doing there? Had she fallen down? I moved the drier (beyond the bottom of that photo) to one side, and she got out, and went out into the house.

To the front door. No Piccola. Gone again. After some searching I found her in a cabinet in the corner of the lounge room. She got out and went behind another cabinet.

What's all that about? We had noticed that she had stayed in the garage all yesterday evening. The garage is one of her favourite places, but normally she comes to us in the lounge room in the evening, and this time she didn't call. She had eaten her food, so it didn't seem likely that she was sick, and she wasn't obviously injured. During the course of the day it became clear that she was afraid of something—very afraid. But what? It wasn't the dogs: she went up to them and rubbed against them as usual. She calmed down by evening, but it still wasn't over.

The Marriotts are looking after a couple of Jack Russell terriers for the while. Did one of them chase her? She'd not injured, but it could have been a close call.


DBDRV assessment
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Llewellyn Pritchard (“LP”) of the DBDRV along today to assess my issues with the house, joined by no less than three people from JG King: Evan Dower, (General Manager), Ashley Barker (Maintenance Manager) and Michael Gibess (Area Manager, spelling as reported by DBDRV). It seems that this was their first experience with DBDRV, which is apparently quite a new institution, thus the large number of attendees. Things didn't go overly well.

I had prepared a printout of the installation manual for the cooktop, and showed LP the diagram showing how to set up the low flame, as two years ago:

 
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No, he didn't say “but that's just a drawing”. He said that it was an artist's impression. So I showed him once again how it was possible to adjust the flame lower by setting the knob between “off” and “full”, something that surprised him—he apparently didn't know this was possible. Here the difference, first “minimum” and then the way it should be:


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I was left with the impression that he had never seen any of this before. He did, however, take detailed notes.

It was similar with the range hood. To test it, he put a sheet of A4 paper against the filter! And only in the middle, where it (barely) works. And like his predecessors, he chose a random piece of paper (in this case part of the cooktop instructions) without considering that the filter might be fatty. No measuring instruments. In fact, he had to ask me how I measured my 110 m³/hr, and I had to spell anemometer for him.

He then asked for a ladder to take a look in the roof to confirm or deny the statement of a previous inspection that there were two bends in the ducting. He didn't get more than his shoulders through the manhole, and he didn't see anything to confirm the two bends. He also didn't shut the manhole when he came down, and I had to do it after he left.

The floors were a different matter. I had said that there was a difference of up to 5 mm in the level across the diagonal of a side table we use in the lounge room (64 cm; I had previously said 50 cm, but who cares?). Evan said that the standard (“code”) specified an unevenness of up to 4 mm across 2 m, so my claims weren't important. I asked LP to explain to him that the former was sufficient to show the latter, but he didn't know either, and Evan pointed out that he had once been a surveyor, so he knew what he was talking about... God help us.

LP pulled out a laser level and measured the level at exactly 4 points one and two metres away. And how about that, he found a discrepancy of 5 mm. That has absolutely nothing to do with the issue at hand, but he seems to be satisfied with it.

In passing, Evan blamed the unevenness of the slab on the “accident” we had had, where Brett Chiltern had damaged the storm water pipes:


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That's nonsense, of course. The amount of water that leaked was less than the rainfall in an average winter, the location was about 10 metres away from where we were measuring, roughly at the corner of the eave overlap at top right of the plan extract below, and it had nothing to do with the house slab.


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But I'm quite impressed that he has gone to the trouble to read my diary.

With the windows, LP referred to the plans:

 
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The window in the lounge room (“family” in the plan) is marked PAW1527.DG, and the door to the verandah is marked SSD2127-3.LOWE. Clearly the DG means “double glazed” and the “LOWE” means “Low E”.

Is that clear? I asked them what the other code meant. Ash knew that the numbers were a code for the dimensions (height, then width in dm?). They decided that W is Window, and by extension D must mean Door. And PA? After a little discussion they decided that A stood for Awning, and about 10 minutes later, after further input, they concluded that P was an abbreviation for the supplier name. Sorry, people, that's not clear even to you. It's certainly not clear to people who only speak English.

So. What's going to happen? We'll see. Certainly LP seemed neutral enough, and he tried hard, but I have the feeling that he hasn't the necessary technical skills to assess the issues. Maybe Evan is correct when he says that this is the first time clients have raised issues like this: they seem to transcend their understanding.


Friday, 15 December 2017 Dereel Images for 15 December 2017
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Piccola still afraid
Topic: animals Link here

Piccola is gradually recovering from her shock, whatever it may have been, but she didn't leave the house all day, and she seems to be afraid to go into the laundry. Why? What could have happened in there?

In any case, it's clear that it will take a while for her to recover. She spent a lot of time in the garage again, and over night we left her in the house with the doors to laundry and garage open.


Garden flowers in early summer
Topic: gardening Link here

Middle of the month, time for my monthly flower photos. This month I somewhat extended my range by taking photos of many tiny (wild?)flowers that I had previously ignored. That included focus stacking, something that wasn't completely successful.

The Anigozanthos (kangaroo paw) plants are doing very well. This is the one that Sasha chewed on a couple of years ago. It has recovered well:


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And these are the ones that Petra Gietz gave us a year ago:


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The Box elder is growing relatively fast, though not enough for Yvonne's liking:


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The Buddlejas in the south are doing from well to badly. This one is over a metre tall and is developing flower heads that we expect next month:


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This one is only about 40 cm high, but it's looking a lot better than last month (first photo):


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That may be due to the liberal dose of fertilizer I gave it. On the other hand, that doesn't seem to have helped this one, which is barely alive:


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The Clematis that we paid so much money for last month are still there. And that's all. They don't seem to have grown at all:


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The grass spike that I identified last month has now flowered. First, last month:


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This month it seems to be fully open:


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The thing must be about 3 m tall.

The black grass that we brought from Kleins Road, and which never seemed to do very much, is also flowering:


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And the Hebes are also finally flowering relatively consistently:


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I think this is an indication that they need more fertilizer than I have given them in the past.

The Leucospermum cordifolium is now also in full flower, though there are still more heads maturing:


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And the various lilies that we have planted over the last couple of years are all coming up now:


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The Cannas are in full flower:


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The big tree fern is looking presentable again, and the little one appears to be raising a finger at the person who cut off all its shoots:


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The roses are doing OK, but not well, possibly because they haven't been cared for. Time for more regular pruning:


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Indoors there's not much to see. The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis are currently hardly flowering at all. This is the best that I could bring up today (15 December), though more are on their way:


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The Phalaenopsis are still flowering, though it's clear it won't last much longer now:


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And though the Begonias are not overly profuse, they have grown extensively:


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Time to trim them.

Wildflowers?

There are lots of smaller flowers on the property that might be considered weeds, but maybe they're not. Here are some that I've identified:

This one looks something like a Dandelion, but it doesn't develop puffballs. It also grows in water. Somewhere I have seen an indication that it's an Australian native:


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This one is really tiny, with flowers only a couple of millimetres across. It's visible in the first photo (amongst the Carpobrotus) only on careful examination.


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Yvonne thinks, probably with some justification, that this might be a species of Lobelia, and thus exotic:


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This one is growing in the nature strip between the house and the road. It's the first time I've seen it, and it, too, might be exotic:


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This is another tiny one, but apparently distinct from the previous. The hose in the background is 19 mm in diameter.


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Here's yet another. The leaves are different. Hopefully I can get a better photo:


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Here's yet another that looks similar, but only at first sight. I need better photos:


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This one is everywhere this year, even in our old pots:


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And this one I've seen before. Again I need better photos:


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More focus stacking fun
Topic: photography Link here

I took two cameras with me for the garden flower photos: the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark I with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100 mm f/4.0 IS PRO for the normal photos, and the OM-D E-M1 Mark II with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 60 mm f/2.8 Macro for closeups, using focus stacking (20 images with a focus differential of 2, taking about 1.5 seconds for the sequence (why?)), and rather incautiously hand-held. In all I took 400 images for 20 photos. Things didn't all work out well, mainly because of the wind. Here an example, on which I hope to improve:


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More Android TV pain
Topic: multimedia, opinion Link here

I really want to understand what advantage, if any, there is in Android TV. Today I had another go, trying to watch something on YouTube that I had been watching on my computer earlier (Kirk McKusick talking about the history of BSD). I failed.

First, of course, I had to log in. I had the Bluetooth keyboard, which now pairs happily, and I was able to log in to Google with that, but I couldn't find a way to enter a text to YouTube. I was only able to choose what it offered me. Yes, it included my “subscriptions”, but I hadn't subscribed to this one. There seems to be no way to configure the thing to accept text.

As I see it, we have gone through the following transition:

  1. About 1965: Plain text input to (keyboard) and output from (printer) the computer.
  2. About 1990: Graphical display (output) with keyboard and mouse.
  3. About 2005: Small mobile devices where keyboards are impractical. Make up for this extreme disadvantage by guessing what the user wants.
  4. About 2015: Large immobile devices, where Android sounded like a good idea to somebody. Drag over the disadvantages of the small, mobile devices and make them worse by not providing a keyboard. Instead rely on “we know what's good for you”, supplemented by the frustration of voice input.

The trouble with the TV is that the evolution has taken it out on a limb that makes it almost useless. The voice input didn't work for me At All. No misrecognition, just no evidence that it was even active. But I couldn't find a way to type into what looked like an input field.

Are keyboards “inappropriate” devices for TVs? I visited the Marriotts next door in the afternoon, trying to give away my old TV, but they have just bought a new one themselves. It, too, is “smart”, but since it was only half the price of mine, it comes with a double sided remote control:


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Still, even this logical idea has its limits: unless Kogan also has a different implementation of Android TV, it's not much use. And it's so tiny that it's not very useful. Why do you need a tiny keyboard for an enormous TV? Most people use normal sized keyboards for computers, so why not for TVs?

The Marriotts agreed with me: Diane wanted to connect a normal computer keyboard to the device. That would probably work, since the thing has a USB connector, and in fact that's how the remote control talks to the computer. A cable would be a nuisance, but infrared connections, like in my current setup, should work fine. But once it's connected, what can you do with it against such a broken system?


Spotify: another reason not to use us
Topic: multimedia, opinion Link here

Spam from Spotify today:

 
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Get beats, not breaks? What does that mean? That their “songs” should have rhythm and not be broken? More likely, a commercial break? Do they have them? Reading the small print confirms:

 
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I didn't listen to their music long enough to notice that. But look at those prices! That's more than Netflix charges!

I really want to find some advantage in this system. It was introduced about a quarter of a century after I first started using X, and I can find absolutely no advantage in it whatsoever.

Where's the progress? What am I missing?


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


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