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Sunday, 14 January 2018 Dereel Images for 14 January 2018
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Server outage, day two
Topic: technology Link here

Yesterday's server outage was finished by 15:00:

=== grog@www (/dev/pts/1) ~ 3 -> date; uptime
Sat Jan 13 03:56:04 UTC 2018
 3:56AM  up 1 min, 2 users, load averages: 0.57, 0.22, 0.09

Or was it? Today we discovered that mail was not working. Why not? It was in fact working, just rejecting everything:

Jan 12 23:51:35 www postfix/smtpd[41627]: connect from unknown[60.168.180.5]
Jan 12 23:51:36 www postfix/smtpd[41627]: lost connection after UNKNOWN from unknown[60.168.180.5]
Jan 12 23:51:36 www postfix/smtpd[41627]: disconnect from unknown[60.168.180.5]

UNKNOWN? What's that? In any case, none of this was from systems I knew. OK, send a test message and see what happens. Nothing, not even a connect. This was from freefall.freebsd.org, and it's possible that the mail system might take a few minutes to send it. OK, use telnet and send the message directly. That worked.

OK, a second system? ffm.lemis.com? I don't have mail running there. ozlabs.org? Yes. And mailq showed that it couldn't connect to mx1.lemis.com, which is the same server.

After a bit more messing around, I noted the address of mx1: 192.109.197.81. That's in my old /24 net block. And how about that, the configuration fix that RootBSD made hadn't worked: my alias was gone. Fix that, and all was well.

Only indirectly RootBSD's fault: I had made a mess of the original config file, but the only way to test it was to reboot, and that's a no-no. But after fixing it, I would have noticed whether the alias address was there or not—if I had had the access I needed.

And that UNKNOWN? Almost by definition, it's spam, since it was going to the primary address and not the mx1 address. But it seems that it happens a lot, and I just didn't pay much attention before.

Later, while tidying up my Gmail folders, found the message about the upgrade. It had been identified as spam. But that alone doesn't explain it. I had looked for it yesterday and found messages going back to before Christmas (now in “Trash”), but not that one. Gmail is too polite to give times, but it seems that it must have arrived after I last looked.


Cloud storage
Topic: technology Link here

Spent some time looking at cloud storage options. This article looked promising, and so did some of the prices. I need about 250 GB at the moment, and it seems that I can get up to 1 TB for $10 or so a month, maybe cheaper. Or, as the article puts it for the first two, with adventurous exchange rates:

Price: 2GB free. 1TB for $10 a month (£6.58, around AU$11) with Dropbox Plus
Price: 15GB free. 100GB for $1.99 a month (£1.59, around AU$2.50). 1TB for $9.99 a month (£8, around AU$13)

But how? The article recommends the old favourites first: Dropbox and Google Drive. Off to read their description. Easy drag-and-drop interface! What's easy about that? How do I script it? Why can't I use standard tools for copying? It would be nice to use rsync, for example.

Part of the problem is that the documentation doesn't really describe what I want to know, only what somebody behind a mouse needs to know. And Google Drive's documentation suggests that it won't take images larger than 16 megapixels, and that they will be downsized. Is that correct? If it does, it kills it outright.

Why is this all so difficult?


TV problems
Topic: multimedia Link here

The new TV looks good, and the increase in size is a real boon. But since installing it, I've seen that some videos are jerky. It's particularly noticeable with Al Jazeera News, probably because of the text band that continually wraps across the bottom. It seems to jerk in roughly 1 second intervals.

Does this really have anything to do with the new TV? It wouldn't be the first time that the YouTube scripts were broken. OK, get out my field monitor and try using my newly arrived HDMI switch to move between them.

Multiple failure. Firstly, the switch has three inputs and one output. Secondly, it seems to have failed. Thirdly, just getting at this stupid HDMI connector behind the TV is a pain. HDMI is fiddly at the best of times, but with a socket pointed down towards the ground behind the TV it's not the best of times.

Finally I had done it, and how about that, on the field monitor it displayed correctly. So it does seem to be related to the TV. Maybe an artefact of scaling down from 3840×2160 to 1920×1080? Tried setting up a second server running at native resolution, which gave me other issues: for some reason I couldn't start an xterm on it.

OK, any information in the log file. You want information? I have information!

=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/5) /var/log 7 -> l Xorg.0.log
-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel  2,580,668,315 14 Jan 20:48 Xorg.0.log

2.5 GB! What's in there? Lots of repetitive information about the EDID. OK, I had this server started with -logverbose 6, but it shouldn't have been that much. Is writing to the log file slowing things down?

Remove verbosity, restart server. Problem gone? No, just reduced:

[  4654.883] (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0):
[  4655.475] (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): XXX TV (DFP-1): connected
[  4655.475] (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): XXX TV (DFP-1): Internal TMDS
[  4655.475] (--) NVIDIA(GPU-0): XXX TV (DFP-1): 340.0 MHz maximum pixel clock

The messages repeated once or twice a second. And yes, this TV also calls itself XXX TV. I've seen that before, and on that occasion I found a tweak that may or may not have worked. Unfortunately, the tweak was still in place, and it most definitely was not working.

So what's the problem? It looks as if the TV is sending some information, either status or a real reconnect, and that's causing the driver to do something that takes up time. It went away with the old TV, so it should be possible to fix it, possibly by telling the driver to ignore what the TV says altogether.

Why is this such a pain?


The positive side of HDMI
Topic: animals, technology Link here

I may have cursed the HDMI cables that I was playing around with this afternoon, but one person found them convenient:


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Silly galahs
Topic: animals, photography Link here

In South Australia we had lots of galahs round the property, but since moving to Dereel we haven't seen many. But lately we've had a number

Came out the front door today and found a number sitting in the dead tree in the “nature strip”, beautifully illuminated by the setting sun. Back inside to get a camera and lens. They were still there when I came out again, but the sun wasn't:

 
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With any luck they'll hang around for a while and give me other chances.


Riding is fun
Topic: animals, general, health Link here

While I was watching the news today, Chris Bahlo came in and said “you're needed here”. Out to find Yvonne in anything but good condition. They had been out riding, Yvonne on La Tigre. La Tigre had tripped, falling on her face and scratching her nose a bit. Yvonne had gone flying over La Tigre's head, rolling over a couple of times, landing on her back and winding herself. She also managed what promises to be a superb black eye.

Took Chris home, who told me on the way what had happened, and back to find Yvonne having changed her mind about not needing medical attention. Off to the Ballarat Base hospital, for the first time getting people to come out and collect her out of the car. Parked, and then in to take a look:

 
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Doctor in shortly after that, and confirmed that there was nothing extremely serious wrong with her, but that they would need to perform some scans. I came home and waited. Finally, round 21:45, I got the results: ribs 4 and 9 on the right broken, vertebra T6 crushed, vertebrae T7 and T10 both with broken transverse processes. Fortunately there was no impact on the spinal cord. They were still waiting for a surgeon to come and take a look, and there was a possibility that she would be operated on tomorrow, either in Ballarat or in Melbourne.

Then I spoke to Yvonne, who said much the same thing, but also that they were planning an MRI scan tomorrow, and that there was a possibility of a shoulder blade fracture.

Round 0:25 she called again. The surgeon had decided that there was no immediate need for surgery, and further decisions would be made after tomorrow's MRI scan.

What a weekend!


Monday, 15 January 2018 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 15 January 2018
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Garden flowers in mid-summer
Topic: gardening Link here

Middle of the month, time for the monthly flower photos. There's certainly progress to be seen since last month. The Acer negundo (Box Elder) is growing happily. Here last month and this month:

 
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On the other hand, the birches seem to think that it's autumn.

 
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Not enough water? Too warm? Too much sun?

As expected, the Buddleja is flowering. Again the first image is from last month:

 
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The Clematis are also gradually recovering:

 
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On the other hand, the Hebes are doing differently. The white-flowering ones are happy, but the purple-flowering ones less so. Otherwise they look happy enough, so maybe this is just a seasonal thing:

 
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That's definitely the case for the Leucospermum cordifolium, which has reached the end of its flowering period:

 
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The roses weren't at all happy last month, but they're coming back in force:

 
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I think that was related to the problems we had with the irrigation.

The salvias in the north bed looked pretty much dead in early October, but they've recovered well:

 
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I'm somewhat ambivalent about this one, a thistle. On the one hand, it's pretty, but it's also a weed:

 
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The tree ferns are doing well enough, especially the one that Mick nearly killed off:

 
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Indoors, despite my expectations, the Phalaenopsis is still flowering, though it's on its last legs:

 
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As always, more photos on the photo page.


Yvonne's progress
Topic: health Link here

Call from Lara, a registrar (what do they do? Wikipedia seems vague, but this page, from the AMA, suggest that's it a trainee specialist) this morning. The MRI scan had shown that Yvonne also has a fractured scapula (shoulder blade), as we had feared, and that the crushing of vertebra T6 had resulted in fragments intruding into the spinal canal. In addition, the anterior ligament had ruptured.

It seems that operation is a last-ditch option for this sort of thing. The spinal cord has not been compromised, so they planned to fit a brace later this week, which she will need to wear pretty much all the time for the next three months. More to be determined by Mr. Tom Morris, the neurosurgeon.

Into town later in the day, first to take the water pump in for repair, then to the hospital. The new main entrance is open, and the entrance hall takes up enough space for a whole small hospital. Got directions to the ward (“Ward 2 North”). Getting out of the lift showed that I was in the right place:

 
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But where did I go from there? Looked around in all directions, and finally found it:

 
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Hand cleaning station? Danger? Keep out? That's just to fool intruders. It's the little red sign in the distance.

Yvonne is not feeling well:

 
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Since I spoke to Lara, it seems that things have changed. They want to try fitting the brace today, and if everything goes well, there's a possibility that she will be able to come home tomorrow. I'm not holding my breath. They have also told Yvonne that it'll be a year before she can ride again, which does nothing to help her frame of mind. I'm just glad that she won't be in a wheelchair.

I had brought euroa, the Microsoft laptop with me, and sure enough, the hospital has an 802.11 wireless network for patients. And sure enough, I couldn't connect. No WPA key, just a disclaimer to accept. Or so they say: I never got that far. Part of it seems to be that I had one of four wireless interfaces set up with a static IP, but even after I fixed that, I still couldn't connect. Never mind, Yvonne's not really in a position to use a computer at the moment.


Image stabilization in practice
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Some of the photos I took this morning were in very limited light. Never mind, I was using the ultimate combination of image stabilized camera and lens: the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100 mm f/4.0 IS PRO. Together, they say, I should get roughly 6.5 stops of image stabilization. So the 1/6 s I used should have compared to about 1/500 s without stabilization.

Not quite:

 
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With flash, all was well. For once, the flash wasn't obtrusive:

 
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But why are the results that bad? I have relatively steady hands, and I was careful not to shake the camera. That's really quite disappointing.


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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