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Sunday, 1 August 2021 Dereel
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Working around Microsoft breakage, part 815
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Part of my pain with processing yesterday's photos from the Olympus E-1 and E-330 was that DxO PhotoLab didn't understand the raw format, and the Olympus Workspace program didn't understand network mounts: it insisted on me climbing its directory tree, which only showed local file systems.

But there's a solution to that: symbolic links, a term that Microsoft has apparently not renamed. Pages like this tell you how to create them. You need to be root Administrator to use such powerful tools, and it seems that “Windows” 10 no longer has the same interface to start an Administrator shell COMMAND.EXE: you need to search for it and then right-click “run as administrator”. Or that was the only way I found, anyway.

Then it's simple enough, modulo distinctions between real files and “folders”:

C:\Users\grog> mklink /d P:\2-grog Rawphotos

This corresponds pretty directly to

ln -s /Photos/2-grog Rawphotos

In passing, it's interesting how close this name is to my mklinks program, though the similarity in functionality is only marginal.


July/August: a time for cameras
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Seen in my calendar today:

Aug  1  Greg buys last DSLR (Olympus E-30), 2019
Aug  1  Greg buys last SLR (Pentax SV), 2010

That's no longer really correct, but in fact it never was. Opening up a few weeks either side, including entries that I need to write, I have:

Jul 13  Greg buys Olympus E-1, 2021
Jul 24 Greg buys first SLR (Pentax SV), 1965
Jul 31  Greg buys Olympus E-330, 2021
Aug  1  Greg buys last DSLR (Olympus E-30), 2019
Aug  1  Greg buys last SLR (Pentax SV), 2010
Aug  2 Greg buys last real SLR (Pentax Z1), 1992
Aug  5 Greg gets second SLR (Pentax Spotmatic), 1966
Aug 23 Greg buys first DSLR (Olympus E-510), 2007

But how do I summarize? Of those cameras, I had never intended to use 3 of them. I tried to indicate that with the “real SLR”, but it doesn't make much sense. The real thing, though, is how many of the cameras fit into this relatively short time frame.


Monday, 2 August 2021 Dereel Images for 2 August 2021
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KL Hokkien Mee
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I've been thinking about cooking KL Hokkien Mee for months now. It's been a few weeks since Yvonne bought one of the ingredients, fresh Hokkien noodles, so it was gradually becoming time.

What's the problem? The recipe! I can find dozens of them, but they all require interpretation, and for once it's a dish that I don't know. The dish looks very different from Singapore Hokkien Mee:

https://rasamalaysia.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/hokkienmee3.jpg

It uses lots of dark soya sauce, and thus the unusual colour. It also needs fried pork fat, something almost called lardon in French or Grieben in German, but I can't find a good English word. leo.org points me to the English word “greaves”, and the OED confirms that that's the word. The only problem is that I've have only once heard that word before, the surname of “laughing Larry” Greaves, whom I knew hardly more than 50 years ago. I had never heard it in a culinary connection, and I suspect that many others haven't either.

So: what recipe do I try to interpret? The most promising seem to be from Rasa Malaysia and Nyonya Cooking. Both go into some detail to explain the dish (in subtly different ways), and both have recipes that are really hard to follow. I chose the Rasa Malaysia recipe because it was marginally easier to interpret, but I still had no clear indication how many servings it was made for, and it has things like

  • shrimp, allow about 3-4 per person
  • white fish balls, allow about 2-3 per person
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 250 g (8 oz.) thick hokkien noodles

Apart from guessing what she means by “shrimp” (I guessed prawn), how big? And does she really want to serve 250 g of noodles per person? So I guessed that some quantities were per serving, and others for the complete dish (an unknown number of servings). And since I'm planning this for breakfast for myself only, I prepare a lot in advance, so that I can freeze it in individual portions.

KL Hokkien Mee, Dereel thing

Pork

For 4 portions

quantity       ingredient       step
450 g       fat pork belly       1
10 g       garlic       2
50 g       light soya sauce       2
10 g       oyster sauce       2
6 g       sesame oil       2
6 g       cornflour       2
  1. Remove the layer of fat from the belly. I'm assuming that this will be about 100 g. Cut into 1 cm cubes and fry in a pan until the Grieben are crisp. The name appears to be chu yau cha (猪油渣)

  2. Cut the remaining meat into slightly larger cubes and marinate in the other ingredients for at least 15 minutes.


    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210802/big/KL-Hokkien-Mee-3.jpeg
    Image title: KL Hokkien Mee 3          Dimensions:          3837 x 3703, 2122 kB
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Noodles

Prepare the noodles according to instructions. Mine wanted to soak them in hot water mainly to separate them. It didn't work well:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210802/big/KL-Hokkien-Mee-6.jpeg
Image title: KL Hokkien Mee 6          Dimensions:          5287 x 3888, 2070 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210802/big/KL-Hokkien-Mee-8.jpeg
Image title: KL Hokkien Mee 8          Dimensions:          5268 x 3888, 2059 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210802/big/KL-Hokkien-Mee-8-detail.jpeg
Image title: KL Hokkien Mee 8 detail          Dimensions:          1402 x 989, 183 kB
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After rinsing, I had to separate a number of groups that had stuck together.

Assembly

Per serving

quantity       ingredient       step
70 g       marinated pork (see above)       1
      fat from pork rendering, to fry       1
50 g       medium prawns (about 4)       2
50 g       fish balls (about 4, see discussion)       2
7 g       garlic       2
60 g       choi sum       2
180 g       loosened Hokkien noodles       3
20 g       dark soya sauce       3
10 g       light soya sauce       3
45 g       chicken broth       4
5 g       cornflour       5
      water to mix       5
10 g       chu yau cha (see above)       6
  1. Fry the pork in fat over high heat.

  2. Lower the temperature and add garlic, fish balls and choy sum stalks only. Cook.


    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210802/big/KL-Hokkien-Mee-14.jpeg
    Image title: KL Hokkien Mee 14          Dimensions:          5226 x 3888, 3752 kB
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  3. Add noodles and soya sauces, heat.

  4. When hot, add the chicken broth and choy sum leaves. Stir and bring to the boil.


    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210802/big/KL-Hokkien-Mee-16.jpeg
    Image title: KL Hokkien Mee 16          Dimensions:          5284 x 3888, 3688 kB
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  5. Just before serving, add the cornflour mixture.

  6. Bring back to the boil, mix well, add chu yau cha and serve:


    https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210802/big/KL-Hokkien-Mee-24.jpeg
    Image title: KL Hokkien Mee 24          Dimensions:          3555 x 3448, 1928 kB
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Discussion

A number of things became clear when making this dish:


Old camera insights
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

My “new” Olympus E-1 looks almost unused, something confirmed by the secret menus:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210713/big/Olympus-E-1-status-10.jpeg
Image title: Olympus E 1 status 10          Dimensions:          2621 x 1961, 389 kB
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R is the number of shutter releases in the life of the camera: 425. There have been single days where I have taken more than that number of photos.

It's also interesting to note that this is the only Olympus DSLR that I have had with a lock button on the mode dial. Here the E-1, the E-330, the E-30:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210803/big/E-1-Mode-dial-2.jpeg
Image title: E 1 Mode dial 2          Dimensions:          4617 x 3456, 1708 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210803/big/E-330-Mode-dial-2.jpeg
Image title: E 330 Mode dial 2          Dimensions:          4615 x 3456, 1862 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210803/big/E-30-Mode-dial.jpeg
Image title: E 30 Mode dial          Dimensions:          4610 x 3456, 1404 kB
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On the other hand, my OM-D cameras all have a lock button:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210803/big/E-1-Mode-dial.jpeg
Image title: E 1 Mode dial          Dimensions:          4615 x 3456, 2193 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210803/big/E-1-II-Mode-dial.jpeg
Image title: E 1 II Mode dial          Dimensions:          4612 x 3456, 2232 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210803/big/E-5-III-Mode-dial.jpeg
Image title: E 5 III Mode dial          Dimensions:          4615 x 3456, 1553 kB
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But to my disappointment, the button on the E-1 didn't work, and I couldn't turn the dial. I could push the button in, but it didn't come out to the “unlocked” position. What do I do? Force the dial? Get a pair of pliers and pull it out? Or simply RTFM?

RTFM proved to be the correct approach. It doesn't work the same way as on later models: you have to hold it down to turn the dial. And it works perfectly.

In passing, it's interesting to note how the settings on the mode dial have evolved. The E-1 has the bare minimum, but the E-330 and the E-30 have various “Art” and “Scene” settings for people who might find them useful. I never used them, and I'm not sure exactly what they do. It seems that others don't either; on the E-M1 and E-M5 Mark III they have shrunk to “ART” and “SCN” only, and the E-M1 Mark II no longer has “SCN”, but it does have three settings for custom modes. The custom modes themselves have been there forever, including in the E-1, but only the E-M1 Mark II (in my collection) has dial settings for them. Even the later E-M5 Mark III doesn't. And on the E-30 only, the dial moved to the other side of the camera.


Larissa and Elena
Topic: animals Link here

Elena has been with us for 10 days now, and she's great friends with Larissa:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210802/big/Larissa-Elena-2.jpeg
Image title: Larissa Elena 2          Dimensions:          5184 x 3888, 3363 kB
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It's also interesting to see how they have evolved in that time. Their heads look much more like Borzois now.


Tuesday, 3 August 2021 Dereel Images for 3 August 2021
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Olympus serial numbers
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

One of the things that interest me about my collectible cameras is when they were made. In the case of the Olympus DSLRs, that's relatively simple: with the secret handshake you can access 4 pages with information about the camera. The interesting one in this case is page 3, here from my E-1:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210713/big/Olympus-E-1-status-8.jpeg
Image title: Olympus E 1 status 8          Dimensions:          2606 x 1979, 434 kB
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The values are:

On a less secret level, the Exif data for the Olympus cameras contains 5 fields that use the term “serial number”. For the same E-1:

Serial Number                   : 500015490
Internal Serial Number          : 4001412000294102
Lens Serial Number              : 180002977
Extender Serial Number          :
Flash Serial Number             :

Clearly the last three have nothing to do with the camera, and the serial number is obvious. But the “Internal Serial Number” is the MCS from the secret menus. And it's there in all Olympus bodies that I have seen. So every single photo that the camera takes gives the information about its month of manufacture. Sadly, that's the only parameter from the secret menus that I have found in the Exif data.

But wait, there's more! After months with no E-1s on the market, a number have cropped up in the last month. Michaels Camera & Video have two on offer, both of which have seen many better days (and thus are on offer as “parts only”):

http://dunham.org/grog/Day/20210803/E-1-1.jpg http://dunham.org/grog/Day/20210803/E-1-2.jpg

The bar code on the bottom is probably from the previous owner, apparently RMIT, who have also engraved that detail on the CF card cover. But another detail is interesting:

http://dunham.org/grog/Day/20210803/E-1-3.jpg

That serial number is completely different from the one on my camera. And the identification plate is missing on my camera:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210804/big/E-1-underside-2.jpeg
Image title: E 1 underside 2          Dimensions:          5184 x 3888, 4039 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210804/big/E-1-underside-3.jpeg
Image title: E 1 underside 3          Dimensions:          1409 x 1264, 648 kB
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What does that mean? The almost anonymous author of biofos writes:

NOTE: I have two E-1's, one bought in UK serial number 5000118XX that displays the MCS code (4001)310 - October 2003; the other was sourced from US serial number 140081XX that displays the MCS code (4001)310 - also October 2003. Please note the different enumeration of the serial numbers, presumably for different continents.

In principle this would suggest that the RMIT cameras were sourced from the USA, and that mine was more like the UK versions. But the presence of the European type plate on those cameras and not on mine seems to contradict that. The pattern of the serial numbers of the RMIT cameras is not quite the same as the second biofos camera, but that's also one digit shorter (presumably a typo), so it could really be 1460081XX.


More memory
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

It's clear that a number of my machines need more memory. There's not much that I can do about eureka, which already has its maximum complement of memory (32 GB), though it can do with much more. I'm going to have to face the prospect of replacing it with something with much more memory, at least 64 GB. And to think that I once wrote (“Installing and running FreeBSD”, just over 25 years ago):

you will need a computer with an Intel 386 or better CPU, which should have at least 5 MB of memory.

Web browsers have a lot to answer for.

But I have a number of other machines, notably ThinkCentre M93ps, which have only 8 GB of memory. teevee and dereel run FreeBSD, and they're clearly struggling. distress runs Microsoft “Windows” 10, and it too suffers from excessive disk access, sometimes maxing out the disk for minutes at a time. It's not clear what's causing that (maybe the lack of a recent reinstall?), but potentially more memory could help there.

So: at least another 8 GB of memory. I can try it out in distress first, and if that doesn't help, I can use it in one of the FreeBSD boxes. But last time I tried to increase memory, I ran into compatibility problems, something to do with the voltages.

OK, see if I can get memory specifically advertised for ThinkCentres. Yes, including the mention specifically of the M93p. $55 odd for 8 GB of SO-DIMM memory. No mention of voltage.

OK, RTFM time (the Hardware Maintenance Manual). No mention of RAM voltage, just the fact (in three different places) that you can mix and match 2 GB, 4 GB and 8 GB modules in any combination. Somewhere I saw a mention of 1.35 V, but it wasn't in an official document. And my diary entry last year mentions something about 1.8 V in some (dammit!) unspecified document.

OK, what do I have in dereel? It has 2 2 GB modules and 2 4 GB modules. Take them out and take a look:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210803/big/4-GB-DIMM-2.jpeg
Image title: 4 GB DIMM 2          Dimensions:          4841 x 1088, 1061 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210803/big/2-GB-DIMM-2.jpeg
Image title: 2 GB DIMM 2          Dimensions:          4841 x 1088, 1001 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210803/big/4-GB-DIMM-1.jpeg
Image title: 4 GB DIMM 1          Dimensions:          4924 x 1112, 947 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210803/big/2-GB-DIMM-1.jpeg
Image title: 2 GB DIMM 1          Dimensions:          4922 x 1116, 1119 kB
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No mention of voltage anywhere! Could it be that I was on the wrong track last year? In any case, the memory offered specifically for the M93p seems the best bet, especially since I can return it if it doesn't work, and if I buy 4 of them the price becomes quite competitive.

But do they really fit? The CPU cooler overhangs the memory slots:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210606/big/ThinkCentre-2.jpeg
Image title: ThinkCentre 2          Dimensions:          5184 x 3888, 2224 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210606/big/ThinkCentre-4.jpeg
Image title: ThinkCentre 4          Dimensions:          3686 x 5038, 2597 kB
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And SO-DIMMs are twice the height. We'll see. Even if they don't, I can fit up to 3 of the modules in any machine, which with another 4 GB module will give me 28 GB, which should be enough. So ordered some.


Wednesday, 4 August 2021 Dereel Images for 4 August 2021
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Another PV recalibration
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

A few months back I thought I had established how the newer firmware for our PV inverter handles battery recalibration: basically, charge to 100% and be happy, and do that once a month. But in subsequent months it seems to have been less clear. In particular, last month it was spread over 3 days, from 2 July to 5 July. And this month it started this morning at 02:45:23 and went on until 07:39:47. Once again no loss of PV power: there was none until after the recalibration was over.


What memory modules?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

People read yesterday's article on new memory modules and were confused. Yes, they were SO-DIMMs, and what I had in my photos were normal DIMMs. And as I had noted, they're not the same shape. But the seller specifically stated that they would fit my exact ThinkCentre model, the M93p; that's why I bought them.

But I had thought that they were just higher. Juha Kupiainen tells me that they're the same height, just half the width. And how about that, the item listing had a photo that showed the dimensions, though rather fuzzily: 67.6 mm. And that's what the Wikipedia page DIMM states:

Regular DIMMs are generally 133.35 mm in length, SO-DIMMs 67.6 mm.

But they specifically state that they'll work in the M93p (and a whole lot of other ThinkCentres). Clearly something's wrong, but what? Sent them a message, but the RAM is on its way, and they didn't reply. I have little hope that it will fit.

OK, what do I take instead? Out of the discussion, I discovered that the term “PC3” means 1.5 V components, and “PC3L” means 1.35 V. And yesterday's investigation shows that the two sets of DIMMs are different in three ways: one pair is 2 GB parts, the other 4 GB parts. And the 2 GB parts are PC3-10600U, while the 4 GB parts are PC3L-12800U: different voltages and different speeds. So whatever problem I had last year does not apply to these boxes. So I ordered another 32 GB of DIMMs. We'll see what the first delivery brings.

One thing that has come out of all this is how confusing the choice is. I was confused by the dimensions of the modules. Juha, a hardware man who knows his stuff, was also not 100% sure. It seems that this seller is confused by which devices take which modules. Elsewhere I saw, in an advertisement for PC3-12800 DIMMs (DDR3):

Warning: Before purchase, please make sure your computer support DDR4 2133 ram if not sure, please contact us to check.

And I also found DIMMs offered by the same seller, same price, apparently exactly what the machine needs, but without any indication that they would fit the M93p. But I won't buy from them until it's clear that we can come to some agreement.


Thursday, 5 August 2021 Dereel Images for 5 August 2021
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Investigating Larissa's legs
Topic: animals Link here

Two weeks ago Melissa Wisbey came along to investigate the cause of Nikolai's pain. While she was there, she took a look at Larissa as well, and found some issue with her left hind leg (in fact, pretty much in exactly the same place where Niko had broken his leg). We've been keeping an eye on that, and particularly after Elena arrived, we've had an opportunity to compare. It may not be serious, and she may grow out of it, but there's some issue.

Melissa came again today to take another look:


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Diagnosis? Some stiffness, but she could grow out of it. In the meantime, no running around for 3 weeks.

3 weeks! That's half a lifetime! Well, not quite, but it is a seventh of their previous lifetime. They won't be happy.


More Phat Thai insights
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Three weeks ago I tried a new kind of Phat Thai sauce, and came to the conclusion

80 g for a single portion. That worked, sort of. It doesn't taste very interesting.

The jar is still not empty, so I made it again this morning. Yes, still not very interesting. But 80 ml is too much; 60 ml might do better, at least for normal noodles.


Backup problems?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

From time to time I get this kind of message out of my overnight backup:

  DUMP: DUMP: 1849075 tape blocks
  DUMP: finished in 271 seconds, throughput 6823 KBytes/sec
  DUMP: level 2 dump on Thu Aug  5 04:00:00 2021
  DUMP: error reading command pipe: Socket is not connected
  DUMP: The ENTIRE dump is aborted.

The error is presumably related to dumping compressed data across an NFS connection. But why then? The second line clearly states “DUMP: finished”. And checking the dump, that's correct. It is complete. So why then?


More curries
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Time to make some ayam lemak today. It calls for 1 kg of chicken, and since it also uses one can each of tomatoes and coconut cream, the 1 kg is pretty exact. But the package we got was 1.3 kg. What to do with the remaining 300 g?

Finally try out some of the old curry pastes that have been languishing in the larder. I have two different Madras curry, one from Pataks, and the other “Monika”, recommended (I think) by the bloke who runs Indo-Asian Grocery Store in Belmont:


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I've decided that Pataks are far too British for my liking, and the Monikas had been expired longer, so I chose that.

Bad choice. It's one of these strange Indian curry pastes that is designed to be used more sparingly than one might think. Result: very salty dish. I had to add some yoghurt to it to make it palatable.

And then it is full of fenugreek, a spice that also seems to be typically British. It's a good thing that I only made a small quantity; somehow I'll be able to eat it in the course of time.

In passing, is this even an Indian dish? The Wikipedia page (currently) states:

many claim it was created in curry houses in Britain during the 1960s.

Friday, 6 August 2021 Dereel Images for 6 August 2021
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Larissa trapped
Topic: animals Link here

Today's the first (or maybe second) of 21 days where Larissa and Elena are not allowed to play outside together. As suspected, they don't like it.

Today I put Lara in the garden and Lena in the paddock behind the house. They're separated by a fence, but they could see each other. Left them like that for a while, looked outside and couldn't see either of them. But I heard one of them yelping. Out to take a look and found:


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Somehow she had got herself caught in the sheep mesh with body parts sticking through three different areas. These photos were taken after I removed her left hind leg from the section to her left. No easy way to get her out, so in the end I cut the wire and let her out:


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She doesn't seem to have been injured, but we'll have to keep a special eye on her. Not quite what we intended when we kept them apart.


myGov, 6 years later
Topic: health, technology, opinion Link here

Six years ago I tried to sign up with MyGov, an Australian Government “service” that shows bureaucracy from its worst side. I was so annoyed that I haven't looked at it since.

But completing after our COVID-19 vaccinations last week, I received an email:

Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2021 11:19:22 +1000 (AEST)
From: myGov <noreply@my.gov.au>
Subject: Your COVID-19 vaccination status is available to view

Sign in to myGov to get your message in your myGov Inbox.

Regards, myGov team

Do not reply to this email.

And that, apart from some uninteresting headers, was everything. Not even an HTML version. More importantly, though, no URL.

So what could it be? Clearly it's a government web site. https://mygov.gov.au? No. https://mygov.au after all? no. The clue (and really just a clue) was in the From: address: https://my.gov.au. Now how many MUAs even show the address there? Clearly myGov hasn't learnt very much in the last 6 years.

OK, go there. Still these emetic “secret” questions. “What is the name of the first street I lived on?”. How would I know? I had to look it up in my list of passwords to sign in.

But now I have another option: mobile phones. Instead of answering silly questions, I can get an SMS sent to my phone. Tried that. Nothing arrived. Tried again, went searching. Ah, yes, something did arrive, but my phone was too polite to disturb me with a “message arrived” tone. It only does that for advertisements for the toy shop and other essential reasons.

OK, sign in. But wait! There's a third option: myCOVID. Oh, no, myGovID. “It's a secure, safe and easy way to prove who you are online”. What does that mean? They don't say, but it looks like some kind of digital certificate. All I need is to download the app (you wouldn't want to do this on a real computer, would you?) and try to set up. Take a screen shot? No, that's too insecure: you'll have to take photos instead.

OK, enter name, date of birth and email address. These horrible selection boxes for illiterates:


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Put in date, as indicated, and submitted:


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It didn't accept my year of birth! Why not? After several attempts I got it to work, but I still don't know how. Then it sent yet another 6-digit PIN. But the SMS didn't arrive, even after minutes. No, this time they sent it to me as email, just to keep me on my toes.

Then identification. Not much that applies to me: driver license and passport. Not even a Medicare card. Arguably it's difficult to find good identification in a country without identity cards, but fortunately I have a driver license. OK, select that.

“Please scan your driver license”. OK, that actually makes sense. Anybody can save a driver license number; in fact, none of what I had done so far is in any way secure. But present a real driver license (or at least a good copy) and you have some minimal increase in security. All I need to decide is whether it wants to do it automatically or for me to press a button. It doesn't trust my intelligence to press the button, so it does it automatically after a bit of thinking about it. Copies data. For some reason it didn't bother with the date of birth. Because it knew it? No, maybe just too polite, but I had to enter it again.

OK, finally submit. It took forever. And then:


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Huh? Oh, it couldn't read the driver license. The first digit should be a 0. Try scanning again:


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There's something seriously wrong there. Maybe it's because I had pulled down the blinds to get better screen shots with my camera. OK, scan Yet Again, get the wrong license number, but correct it—after all, it seems that the idea of scanning was only a “convenience”. Another eternity goes by. Same claim: despite the fact that all details are accurate,

What can cause that? My guess is either a misreported timeout, or a bug that causes the resubmission to send the wrong data.

OK, I have a passport. It expired only a little over 13 years ago, but the identification information in it is accurate, and it would be interesting to see what it says. Scanned in—this time with no problems—and submitted. Another eternity. And another. Did something else, came back, still running. Back to the web browser:

 
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What an insult! It's also incorrect: it had only been about 30 minutes. And the other web site was similar:


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OK, do that, and it tried to return me not to https://my.gov.au, but to https://mygov, which of course doesn't exist. Do these people ever test their web pages?

After a while, my passport validation finally completed:


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OK, that was just a diversion. I was really looking for my vaccination certificate. And at Medicare I found:

 
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In passing, it seems that I might be able to add Yvonne to the list. But I downloaded the immunisation history statement, which showed not only the COVID-19 vaccinations, but also a number of other ones.

What's the digital certificate? In principle it should be some falsification-proof proof of identity. For the fun of it, downloaded it too. It's a PDF document! In principle, it's the immunization history statement without the other vaccinations. It's not clear what's digital about it, or how it is safe from modification. Printed it out anyway:


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That's what my printer made of it. The black areas are supposed to be backgrounds (“watermarks”), but for some reason my printer doesn't like them. On the whole, I'd guess that my printer (Brother HL2700) is right. But I was able to display and print it with xpdf. I have the urge to take the document, falsify it and see if anybody notices.

On the other hand, the vaccination people were not allowed to certify the vaccinations in Yvonne's WHO yellow vaccination certificate. What's the world coming to?


Memory for ThinkCentre M93p
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Mail from Jim Dillon today pointing me to the Crucial memory choice page. Enter your exact maker, model and model number, and it will tell you what memory you need.

I don't need that, of course: I have the hardware maintenance manual. But it was worth checking, if only to add to today's web site pain. It gave me the choice of M93p tower, M93p tiny, and mine. And how about that: the tower takes up to 4 DIMMs, the “tiny” takes 2 SO-DIMMs. Tried to find the one for mine, but I had forgotten what they call it (“small” is the right answer), and the only way to find it again was to enter all the search terms from the start. I can do without that.

But it's interesting to know that some M93ps do take SO-DIMMs. It might explain the inaccurate claim of the seller:

This memory will work with the below Lenovo ThinkCentre desktops, but it also works in a myriad of other machines. Please contact us with the model of your desktop PC to confirm compatibility:
 
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On the other hand, though, the listing has been updated. Now it shows DIMMs, not SO-DIMMs. It'll be interesting to see what finally arrives.


Web site pain, the third
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Had to make a funds (”payee”) transfer today with the Bank of Melbourne. It didn't show itself from its best side. The web site was down, not for the first time. Came back later and got a little further, then

An error occurred while processing your request.
Reference #30.1cf3ce17.1628221490.33b8a46b

Refresh? Yes, that worked, but after I had started the transfer and entered all the details I got it again. Finally got to the point where it needed to send me a PIN, and then it decided that I had exceeded my daily transfer limit, something that it clearly hadn't thought of before. Tried to transfer the limit, then

An error occurred while processing your request.
Reference #30.ddf00117.1628221862.5167a68f

No, not the same numbers. Tried refreshing. What happens if it performs the transfer twice? No problems, I needed to transfer even more. But no, it just performed it once. One down, two to go.

On days like today I despair. If the government and banks can't provide a reliable web service, who can?


Walking Elena
Topic: animals Link here

We've had Elena for two weeks now, but we haven't gone walking with her (nor with Larissa, for that matter): she was too afraid. Tried again today:


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We didn't get very far:


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Lara is also not overly excited about the idea of going for a walk. I wonder if they're too young, and they haven't yet grown past staying at home. I think we should try it every couple of weeks and see if anything changes.


Saturday, 7 August 2021 Dereel Images for 7 August 2021
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More COVID-19 considerations
Topic: health, general, opinion Link here

Discussing my silly “digital certificate” on IRC today. Of course it's not a digital certificate: it is no more “digital” than email and pornography, and there's no easy way to verify its accuracy. The errors on printing suggest that it's not even valid PDF.

How could people fix that? The obvious solution would be to include a QR code in the document. That's so obvious that you have to wonder why it's not there already.

Of course, that brings up a further question: how do you identify yourself? If I use somebody else's certificate, how can anybody tell? Australia doesn't have a real means of proving identity; driver licenses are generally used for this purpose, though in some places (South Australia for example), the licenses specifically state “This is not an identity document”.

So identity cards? Why not an implant? All our domestic animals have a “microchip” implant. Why not a “microchip” implant for humans? Yes, they exist, and they've been around for a while. In fact, at least one person on the IRC discussion has one, though he only uses it to lock and unlock his home and activate the alarm system. Wouldn't that be so much easier than the current QR code scans? But I fear false impressions of security and “freedom” will make that difficult.

And then in the afternoon CJ Ellis came by, without a mask. Asked him if he had already had both vaccinations. No, and he doesn't intend to. He's nearly 83 years old and one of the most endangered kind of people. Why not? I didn't bother to discuss it with him, just made my displeasure known. I may have lost a friend, but that kind of nonsense pisses me off.


More PV recalibrations
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Once again my PV system has done three recalibrations on three consecutive days. In each case they started with battery charge round 38%, went to 100% and stopped. Does the number of cycles relate to the condition of the batteries?


Sunday, 8 August 2021 Dereel
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Another quiet day
Topic: general, technology, photography, opinion Link here

Somehow I didn't get much done today. Spent a bit of time trying to find a way to update the firmware on my Olympus E-1, with some promise of success: this discussion gave a download link for Olympus Studio 2, which should be able to update the firmware:

Well, it looks like Studio 2 can still be had!

For Windows
Download from: http://www.olympusamerica.com/files/oima_cckb/StudioWindows.zip

Use license key: 0202 1000 2628 0855 7309

For Mac
Download link: http://www.olympusamerica.com/files/...kb/OS230EN.dmg

License key: 0202-2000-0007-8870-2477

So downloaded that, but didn't have time to try it out.


Monday, 9 August 2021 Dereel Images for 9 August 2021
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Phở for breakfast
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I have bought some cubes for making Phở:


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OK, what kind of noodles? They should be rice noodles, but I don't like them very much, so instead tried a new kind of noodle that I bought a while back:


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OK, they're wheat, but they're quite pale. Let's try them. Only 2 minutes cooking time!

And for once I took their word for it. Bad idea. They were almost raw. It took another 5 minutes to cook them al dente!

And the stock cubes? According to the instructions, one cube makes 500 ml, enough for two servings. But not for me: I want 400 ml per serving, so I used one cube and made it a little stronger. A good thing, too: it still didn't taste as good as the paste I tried a while back. That's the last time I'll buy these ones. On the other hand, the noodles were OK, though clearly not authentic.


More memory!
Topic: technology Link here

In the mail today was no fewer than 64 GB of RAM for my ThinkCentres: 32 GB of SO-DIMM after all, despite (it would seem) the recognition of the seller that that's the wrong format for the computer, and 32 GB of DIMMs. The SO-DIMMs can go straight back, of course.

And the DIMMs? They're enough to max out one ThinkCentre. So I put them in distress, my overworked Microsoft “Windows” 10 box. Does it reduce the disk activity? Not yet. Maybe I should really try the Microsoft “Reinstall” solution.


Microsoft reinstall
Topic: technology Link here

I have more Microsoft “Windows” 10 system disks than I have systems running Microsoft: they come for free with every ThinkCentre I buy. OK, how about calling one of them progenitor and just bring it up to date with a base system that I can then tailor to a successor of dischord, distress, disgust and other Microsoft boxen. Started upgrading one, not helped by the lack of a mouse, but other things took over, so I didn't finish.


More memory for teevee
Topic: technology, multimedia, opinion Link here

After upgrading distress' memory, I had 8 GB (2x4 GB) left over. Just what teevee wants: it already has 8 GB memory, but it's clear that modern web browsers eat it up quickly. OK, put it in and reboot.

Beep, something that I don't recall. And then no display! Why? How can adding memory cause that kind of problem? OK, reboot and see what happens. Display. But when it started X, the display claimed that the signal (1920x1080) was out of range. Checking the X configuration shows that I have a second option, 1280x720, and that worked “fine”. But why? Disconnect the TV and put on a normal monitor. Works fine. Remove memory, reboot, and the TV displays again. For a while. And then I had no display again.

What can it be? Display card? That would explain the beep on booting. HDMI cable? TV? Checked them all. It turns out that the display card from dereel is a drop-in replacement for the card in teevee (though not the same model). No fix to the problem. Try a different HDMI cable. No fix to the problem. Everything's pointing to the TV. But something doesn't ring true that it has been running fine so far, and then fails when I add more memory. OK, there a couple of jitters that I have been observing, but very few, and nothing like a complete lack of display.

Did something cause X to configure the monitor differently? Hardly likely, but interesting to check:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/0) ~ 4 -> xvidtune -show
"1920x1080"   148.50   1920 2008 2052 2200   1080 1084 1089 1125 +hsync +vsync

That looks reasonable, and corresponds to the 68 kHz horizontal and 60 Hz vertical that the monitor showed. Could it be that the system is doing something strange anyway? An input from a completely different device would be good, but my laptops don't have any HDMI outputs. It's looking like time to buy a new TV. For tonight it was watching TV on the monitor:


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Memory and Beethoven's 5th
Topic: technology Link here

While messing around with teevee, considered that I might as well put the additional 8 GB of memory back into teevee. But I didn't put it in the same slots. Beep-beep-beep-BURP, something like the theme of Beethoven 5. What does that mean? And why? I've mixed all kinds of memory in these ThinkCentres, but this was the same!


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About the only way to tell them apart was the colour of the board they were mounted on:


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Somehow today caused more questions than answers.


Updating E-1 firmware
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Installed my copy of Olympus Studio 2 on distress. How I hate these interfaces! But I found my way through the maze of twisty little passages to the right window for updating firmware. Connected the camera. “Can't find camera”. Why? Somehow I had too much else to do today, so I didn't check.


Tuesday, 10 August 2021 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 10 August 2021
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TV HDMI connect: final check
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

Overnight it occurred to me that I do have another portable HDMI source: my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, and I have the cable to go with it. To the lounge room, plugged it in. No reaction. Works fine with the monitor. So another nail in the coffin of the TV.


A new TV
Topic: multimedia, opinion Link here

Where do you buy new TVs? And what do you buy? Checked out The Good Guys and JB Hi-Fi. They're really the same company, though their offerings are different. But what else is there? On IRC people suggested Bing Lee, but they're a New South Wales company.

OK, online research. What size do I want? I'm already running out of space with the 75" TV.

Could I handle 85"? They're another 19 cm wider. I don't know, but to be on the safe side I decided to stick with 75". They're available from $999 (!) to $12,000. There seem to be a number below $2000, and not much difference between The Good Guys and JB Hi-Fi.

To The Good Guys first, mainly because there's easy parking. Took my camera and cable with me (and was asked for a receipt for the cable on the way out) and had a fair discussion with Danny, the salesperson, who helped me connect the camera to a Hisense A7G. Much trouble, not the least the fact that all the Hisense TVs on display reacted to the remote control. Just as I was about to give it up, discovered a loose connection in the plug in the camera. Then all was well.

OK, the Hisense isn't in stock, but they can get it delivered tomorrow. $1699 including delivery. It seemed to be about the cheapest worth buying: it has 100 Hz refresh, he tells me, while the cheaper ones have “only” 50 Hz. So kept it in mind and down to JB.

And the salesperson there (another Olympus fan) gave me pretty much the same picture. The only difference was that delivery would cost $66, but they could waive that and deliver for $1699—exactly the same as The Good Guys. But they had one in stock that I could take with me, and then they would take $37 off the sales price: $1662. That's doubly interesting because it means that I can have it today, and it's also $31 cheaper than what I paid for the ALDI TV 3½ years ago.

Round to the loading bay, where they had promised to help me load the TV into the car. But it has to be upright! Maker's requirement! I asked where it said so on the package, but it didn't. But as a result they made me sign a disclaimer and refused to help me load the TV into the car.

 
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But then, I've done this before. Here in January 2018 and today:


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But what's this nonsense about transporting the things upright? Peter Jeremy had mentioned it in our discussion on IRC, but I've never seen it written on the packaging, which is where you'd expect to find it. My best guess is that people have transported them horizontally and put something heavy on top, which of course can damage the screen. It seems to me that it's much more likely that the unit would be damaged transporting from the car to its final location.

Back home, asked a neighbour to help remove the old TV and install the new one. That went refreshingly quickly, and I discovered that it had two positions for the feet. The closer ones enabled me to put it on the TV cabinet without the board that we had “provisionally” put on top. Here the old and the new:


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Finally, connect it up. This is clearly a low-cost model: “quick install” booklet (17 pages), one power cable, an AV input adapter cable, and that was all! Not even an antenna cable or a real instruction book. Ah well, it's a TV. Connect up the power and HDMI, turn on... no image! Yet another loose contact. Wobble the HDMI cable, and all was well.

And the difference? Much better image! I had expected the lighting to be more even: that had occurred to me when I bought it, especially with light backgrounds. But the overall gradation is much better.

And the smart of the TV? Yes, it came up with a setup screen, which I managed to ignore, and a lot of the setup stuff is worth examining more carefully. Some appears incorrect: it claims that the HDMI input is only 8 bits deep, but that contradicts what X claims:

screen #0:
  dimensions:    1920x1080 pixels (473x261 millimeters)
  resolution:    103x105 dots per inch
  depths (7):    24, 1, 4, 8, 15, 16, 32
  root window id:    0x983
  depth of root window:    24 planes

Could it be 8 bits per colour?

At the end of the day, I have one big recognition: HDMI is horribly unreliable. I have had three different cables give me trouble, something that I've never had with anything since the old AUI cables, and even that was mainly the mechanical attachment.

I'm still not convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the old TV is defective, or just suffering from contact problems. One thing that points to a defect is that the first time it came up after the memory change, it worked in console mode at at 1280x720, but had timing difficulties with 1920x1080. In any case, the improvement in image quality makes the new one worth while.


distress with big memory
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

Found some time to do some image processing with distress after quadrupling its memory. Is it faster? In the past I have expected to process up to 5 images per minute with DxO PhotoLab, or 12 seconds per image, though recently it seems to have been slower. And a freshly booted machine would show memory usage of about 5.5 out of 8 GB.

Today I did two batches, keeping an eye on the memory usage. The first processed 13 images in 100 seconds, using up to 7.7 GB. That's clearly faster, only 8 seconds per image, but the image selection wasn't typical. The second processed 8 images in 72 seconds, 9 seconds per image. So it seems that more memory does make it marginally faster. Now I need to keep an eye on disk usage.


Wednesday, 11 August 2021 Dereel Images for 11 August 2021
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Communicating with everybody
Topic: general, language, opinion Link here

Yesterday was the 5-yearly Australian census. You're allowed to fill it out ahead of time, as long as you can guess well: once you have filled it out, you can't change it, so if somebody unexpectedly comes to stay the night, the results will be incorrect.

So I did it today. Online, like I tried 10 years ago. And they still don't seem to have learnt. Still arbitrary restrictions on passwords (why a password in the first place)?

 
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And the arbitrary nature doesn't stop there:

 
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And then there are non-sequiturs like:

Question: How is Yvonne related to Greg?
Answer:   Husband or wife
Question: What is Yvonne's marital status?

Compared to the paper form they sent me, they have changed “Person 1” and “Person 2” to “Greg” and “Yvonne”, but they don't seem to have added enough logic to prevent this kind of nonsense.

Where do you come from? There was a question about citizenship, Australian or not. And where was Yvonne born? I've established that for nationality purposes it's Thüringen and not the Third German Reich, just like people born in the UK 150 years ago were born in England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland and not in the “British Empire”. But the census doesn't want to know:

 
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And what assumptions are they going to make about Yvonne's citizenship? I've already commented on this strangeness last time, where we also—coincidentally—had Ildikó Varga overnight, a Hungarian born in Transylvania.

And what does this mean?

 
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Who are the “they” to whom it refers? And why should I agree on their behalf? Ah, this is modern bureaucratese, and “their” means “his or her”, necessary (they say) when you don't know the gender of the person to which it refers.

But of course they know my gender! It was one of the questions. And in this case it's not just nit-picking, though I love that: this census is intended to be filled out by people whose native language is not English. The census could even determine that that's the case for me, since the only question about language is the language we speak at home, and that's German. But consider people—take a German for consistency—who learnt good English at school. How would they interpret this question? At the very least it's confusing.


Autofocus on reflective surfaces
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Part of writing up my diary for yesterday was to take a photo of the new TV:


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But the first attempt looked different:


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There are a couple of differences here. Clearly I didn't go to the trouble of cropping it correctly. To minimize reflections, I took it with the curtains drawn, and even with the M.Zuiko Digital 45 mm f/1.8 I had to crank up the sensitivity to ISO 3200/36°. So I took the second one with flash. But the most important thing is that the first one is out of focus! Here the label at the bottom:

 
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Why that? The autofocus worked fine—but it focused on my image in the reflection. I should have expected that.


Thursday, 12 August 2021 Dereel Images for 12 August 2021
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Latest dog damage
Topic: animals, general Link here

Somehow Larissa and Elena are particularly destructive at the moment:


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Admittedly I don't particularly like these curtains, but I fear we're going to have to replace them.


Covered arena, next step
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

It's been over 16 months since Yvonne decided that she wanted a partial cover for her riding arena. Coincidentally it took 6 months of messing around before we finally signed a contract to deliver it. Then the pain of planning and building permits. But today, finally, the components arrived:


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We wanted to unload it onto the part of the arena that will remain uncovered, but that wasn't as easy as it seems:


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Peter, the driver, wasn't game to put the rest there, so in the end we put it to the west, where they should have relatively easy access:


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Now to wait another month or two before it gets erected. This thing has already taken nearly as long as choosing and building the house. Here the state of the house 16½ months after we started looking for houses:


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It's unlikely that the shed will be completed in the time it took us to complete the house.


Completing the teevee install
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

For a couple of days I have had teevee connected to the new TV, and it works. But there are things to do:

Restarting X worked, though my concerns weren't completely unfounded:

[    66.587] (WW) NVIDIA(GPU-0): The EDID for Hitachi Engineering Company Ltd HISENSE (DFP-1)
[    66.587] (WW) NVIDIA(GPU-0):     contradicts itself: mode "1920x1080" is specified in the
[    66.587] (WW) NVIDIA(GPU-0):     EDID; however, the EDID's valid VertRefresh range
[    66.587] (WW) NVIDIA(GPU-0):     (24.000-75.000 Hz) would exclude this mode's VertRefresh
[    66.587] (WW) NVIDIA(GPU-0):     (100.0 Hz); ignoring VertRefresh check for mode
[    66.587] (WW) NVIDIA(GPU-0):     "1920x1080".

Next, add the memory. Boot. No display! Exactly the problem I had on Monday! But I'm more experienced now. Wobble the HDMI connectors, and it came back.

Next, connect up the correct cables (notably a different and potentially more robust HDMI cable) and put the box in the correct place.

It works! So after 3 days I completed an upgrade that should have taken 3 minutes.

And the old TV? I'm still not convinced that there's anything wrong with it. Maybe I'll check some time. If so, it can be a spare in case the new one fails. But what an indictment of HDMI!


Android: Was fragen Sie nach meinen Schmerzen?
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

What good are mobile phones? I have already established that they're not for phone calls. On that occasion I came up with 7 other uses, almost none of which suited me. The closest were podcast and “Movies, Netflix”.

No, I don't want to watch video on the phone. The display makes up only about 7.5% of the area of my new TV. But there's another issue. When driving, I listen to music on the radio. That's straightforward enough: I have copied a number of my CDs onto disk (eureka), and I can play them there. For example,

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/34) /src/Music/MP3/Schubert/Winterreise 6 -> ls
01-Schubert_-Winterreise,-Op.-89,-D-911---Gute-Nacht.mp3
02-Schubert_-Winterreise,-Op.-89,-D-911---Die-Wetterfahne.mp3
...
24-Schubert_-Winterreise,-Op.-89,-D-911---Der-Leiermann.mp3
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/34) /src/Music/MP3/Schubert/Winterreise 7 -> mplayer *
Playing 01-Schubert_-Winterreise,-Op.-89,-D-911---Gute-Nacht.mp3.
...
Starting playback...
A:   5.7 (05.7) of 318.0 (05:18.0)  0.2%

And on the car radio? Copy the files to an SD card and play them with the MP3 player. The only issue was the sequence: that's why I put the sequence numbers at the beginning of each file name, since they proved to be respected by the player.

But that's so 2000s. Nowadays I can load the files onto hirse, my Android phone and play them via Bluetooth (or cable, if Bluetooth proves as reliable as it usually is).

But how do I copy them? There are probably 100 different apps with different interfaces and limitations to specific file types. Fortunately I have an FTP server on hirse, so I can use that. Where to put them? The top level directory looks like this:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/34) /src/Music/MP3/Schubert/Winterreise 8 -> fh
Connected to hirse.lemis.com.
...
ftp> ls
drwx------   3 user group            0 Mar 17 03:07 Alarms
drwx------   3 user group            0 Jun 16 10:51 Android
drwx------   3 user group            0 Aug  1 21:25 DCIM
drwx------   3 user group            0 Jul 23 10:15 Download
drwx------   3 user group            0 Jun  7 17:43 MIUI
drwx------   3 user group            0 Jun 21 15:16 Movies
drwx------   3 user group            0 Aug 12 17:01 Music
drwx------   3 user group            0 Mar 17 03:07 Notifications
drwx------   3 user group            0 Jun 16 10:45 Pictures
drwx------   3 user group            0 Mar 17 03:07 Podcasts
drwx------   3 user group            0 Jun  7 17:41 Ringtones

Clearly the directory is /Music, and of course it's empty. OK,

ftp> cd /Music
250 Directory changed to /Music
ftp> mkdir Winterreise
257 "/Music/Winterreise" created.
ftp> cd Winterreise
250 Directory changed to /Music/Winterreise
ftp> mput *
local: 01-Schubert_-Winterreise,-Op.-89,-D-911---Gute-Nacht.mp3 remote: 01-Schubert_-Winterreise,-Op.-89,-D-911---Gute-Nacht.mp3
100% |*********************************************|  6221 KiB    3.74 MiB/s    00:00 ETA
226 Transfer complete.
...
ftp> ls
229 Entering Passive Mode (|||40707|)
150 File status okay; about to open data connection.
-rw-------   1 user group      6370432 Aug 13 12:07 01-Schubert_-Winterreise,-Op.-89,-D-911---Gute-Nacht.mp3
-rw-------   1 user group      1997016 Aug 13 12:07 02-Schubert_-Winterreise,-Op.-89,-D-911---Die-Wetterfahne.mp3
...

All so easy! Now all I have to do is play it. Where's the audio player? It must be somewhere in the twisty maze of little icons, all similar.

I couldn't find one! Much searching gave me the impression that there was once an app called Music that was delivered with Androids, but this then morphed to Google Music and then went away. I really couldn't find anything! Even Google Music is no longer in the toyshop.

OK, the toyshop is full of music player apps. Which should I choose? Followed various advice pages and ended up installing four apps.

Which ones? I don't know any more! I can search the home menu of course, but I certainly don't know the sequence. My best bet is:

Did I say four? Yes, the fifth is a “file manager”, something you'd expect to be included in the base system.

None of them did what I wanted! I took a number of screen shots, but I'm no longer sure which app did what. But all of them did something unexpected: they changed the file names, and of course they truncated them! Here a typical example, which also guesses up completely inappropriate and unrelated images to make up for the mutilation of the names:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210812/big/Play-audio-1.jpeg
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My best guess is that they recreated the “file name” from the metadata. The result: 24 files with identical names, but with the useful information that the performers didn't change from one movement to the next. And they nearly all apps did that. One is an exception: the file manager actually shows the correct file names, so that you can tell that it is listing them in reverse order.

With other apps it wasn't so easy. Some had them the wrong way round, some simply at random. But maybe that's modern: “shuffled”.

The last app that I tried, Musicolet, seemed to do things better, but I had difficulty with the interface.

In passing, I discovered another issue that is probably more related to Android or MIUI: when I close an app by swiping it from the active list, the music continues. After nearly 10 years of Android, I still don't know a generic way to stop an app! The only way I found to stop the noise was to start the app again and find out how it wanted to be stopped.

Why is this all so difficult?


40 years of PC!
Topic: technology, history, opinion Link here

Somehow almost nobody noticed an anniversary today: 40 years ago IBM announced their model 5150, better known as “Personal Computer” or PC. That's more than half the history of digital computers ago.


Friday, 13 August 2021 Dereel Images for 13 August 2021
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More Android audio investigations
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

More investigation of audio reproduction on Android today, including discussions on IRC.

Not very much came of the discussion on IRC: it seems that I'm a fool for not doing it the way the system wants. In particular, I shouldn't know anything about file names or hierarchies. Problem: how do I understand it any other way? How do I interpret this, for example?


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210813/big/Screenshot_2021-08-13-09-54-34-186_com.musicplayer.blackplayerfree-detail.jpeg
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It doesn't tell me anything that distinguishes the “songs”. But the real problem seems to be product management somewhere: they decide that file system names and hierarchies are too complicated for normal users, so they work around them. How? Ah, that's up to the app writer, who also has complete freedom over his user interface. The result is that you have to learn the interface for almost every single app. And given that most of them are barely usable at all, I haven't bothered.

One thing that did come out of the discussion: another couple of apps. Callum Gibson recommended “Music player”, which certainly has the advantage of an obvious name (and the disadvantage of hundreds of false positives in web searches). But look at this!


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210813/big/Screenshot_2021-08-13-12-44-43-002_com.miui.player-detail.jpeg
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Dammit, I don't want to enter into a legal agreement to play my own audio!

Jamie Fraser suggested BlackPlayer, which at first didn't look too bad, though it suffers from the same opacity of file names. It also ignores hierarchies, so after I uploaded a second copy of Winterreise, I ended up with a display like this:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210814/big/Screenshot_2021-08-14-12-16-46-170_com.musicplayer.blackplayerfree.jpeg
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Each “song” appears twice! About the only advantage is that there's a sequence number to the left. But that's useless. And it also seems to alter the dynamics; my guess is that it's exaggerating them (loud becomes very loud, soft becomes very soft). I couldn't find a way to change that.

In the end, though, I came to the discovery that the best app was “file manager” (or maybe “file manager +”; they can't make up their mind). The display is the only one that is readable, and with a bit of persuasion it can sort and display things in name order (and not backwards), and it will, I think, play all the files in one directory only:


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It seems that this is an obfuscatory way to display the directory path /Music/Winterreise:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210814/big/File-manager-detail-2.jpeg
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You can't have everything, but it's better than nothing, and also better than any of the audio apps I have seen. Doubtless I'll find a shortcoming some time.


Ignorance is strength
Topic: history, opinion Link here

Decades ago I read George Orwell's book Nineteen Eighty-Four, and was reasonably impressed by it. This was some time before the year 1984, and as it approached, the media worked themselves into a frenzy explaining why the predictions in the book had really all come true, when in fact there was little similarity.

The book was written in 1948, so at the time 1984 was 36 years in the future. Now it's 37 years in the past! But during the IRC discussion about Android apps, I was reminded of the three slogans:

War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.

In the process, found an article that explains that the slogans aren't as contradictory as they appear. But doesn't the last one fit the Android mentality?


Saturday, 14 August 2021 Dereel Images for 14 August 2021
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Removing Android apps
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

After the pain installing Android apps over the last couple of days, it seemed imperative to remove the useless ones before I got even more confused. For the most part, that was straightforward. Long press on the icon and a menu pops up:

 
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Press “Uninstall” and it goes away. But “Music player”, the one that wanted to enter into a legal agreement to play my local files, refused:

 
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I can't find a way to get rid of the bloody thing!

Of course, there's more. When I clicked (by accident) on WiFi FTP Server (the “folder” icon with obscured title above the meu), I got this menu instead:

 
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And somehow I managed to copy the icon to the home page. Not a bad idea, but I still don't know how I did it.


Peak smartphone?
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Marginally interesting statistic on Statista today: we have reached “peak smartphone”.

https://cdn.statcdn.com/Infographic/images/normal/12798.jpeg

Considering that in the last 6 years more than one “smart” phone has been produced for every person on earth, that's not surprising. But of course it's a challenge to the makers: how to persuade people to buy new phones although they have perfectly functional ones already.

My suggestion: make them easier to use. Easier to interface with other computing devices, in particular. That means going back to established principles rather than inventing trendy new interfaces that nobody understands. Interoperability, that old, worn-out magic word. Why do I need a different interface not just for every phone, but for every app?

Something will doubtless change. I fear, though, that it will be something even more bizarre.


Internet finally works
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've been using the Internet from home for over 30 years now, since I created a Heath Robinson connection from my home office in Schellnhausen, using an X.25 link to Tandem's “Expand” network and on to devnull.tandem.com in Austin, Texas. It was clumsy and slow, but it worked.

Since then I've had to contend with three issues: price, speed and reliability. Price has dropped continually from the 0.45 DM/kB in March 1992 to my current unlimited “plan” for $69 a month. Based on my actual usage (434 GB last month), that corresponds to 15.9¢ per GB. Based on the 1992 pricing, it would have been 195.3 million DM, or about 323 million AUD today. So the prices have dropped by a factor of about 4.7 million, or 99.99998%.

Reliability has been a mixed bag. Over the course of that time, it hasn't changed much one way or another. The National Broadband Network may have brought other improvements, but until recently it was about the most unreliable of all. Lately it hasn't been bad; let's hope things stay that way.

And speed? Initially I was limited by the 9.6 kb/s X.25 link, and only gradually did I progress to 64 kb/s, back to 56 kb/s, and though I briefly managed to get round 3 Mb/s, even 8 years ago I was on a variable speed link that couldn't be relied on to provide more than 200 kb/s. All that changed with the National Broadband Network, where suddenly I had 25 Mb/s down and 5 Mb/s up.

And that's currently where it stays. Aussie Broadband would like me to move to their now-standard fixed wireless speed of 75/15 Mb/s. Is it worth it? I don't think so. I hate to agree with Malcolm Turnbull, who claimed 8 years ago that “25 Mb/s should be good enough for anybody”, but for different reasons it works for me.

Turnbull claimed that 25 Mb/s could support 4 HD streams. I considered it nonsense then, and I still do. But the real issue is latency and jitter: I don't want an HD stream. I'd rather store it locally and display the video like that. And that's what I do, and for that, 25 Mb/s is sufficient, especially since many TV stations don't seem to be able to deliver even that much. One exception is SRF in Switzerland, which can deliver up to about 16 Mb/s. And so it was today, downloading two videos concurrently. iptop shows:

TX:             cum:   16.9GB   peak:    905Kb            rates:    726Kb   594Kb   605Kb
RX:                     261GB           33.9Mb                     24.7Mb  23.8Mb  24.3Mb
TOTAL:                  278GB           34.7Mb                     25.4Mb  24.4Mb  24.9Mb

The speeds at the right on the RX line are averages, and the 33.9 Mb is the peak speed, over a third faster than the limit. I've seen this before: the speeds are artificially limited, and they don't always manage.

Downloading a 2 GB video at 2 MB/s takes 1000 seconds. How much time would I save by downloading at 75 Mb/s? Assuming that it could deliver, it would be about 213 s. But who cares? I won't watch it until the evening anyway. And is that worth $10 a month? So for the first time in my life, I'll stick with second-best in terms of speed.


Walking the dogs again
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Nice weather today, time to try walking the dogs again. But Elena disagreed:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210814/big/Walking-dogs-7.jpeg
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We got her out onto the road, though I forgot to take photos, but she's still not enjoying it. Made it about 150 m, halfway to Progress Road, and then gave up.

Larissa is doing better, and Yvonne got her not only to sit down, but to lie down, in order to receive a treat. She did that well, even after Yvonne had walked away:


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Sunday, 15 August 2021 Dereel Images for 15 August 2021
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Chloe: Found!
Topic: history, photography, technology, opinion Link here

A while back I looked at my diary for 1 September 2002, where I had written:

In the evening off to Young and Jackson's on the corner of Flinders St and Swanston St to visit Chloe, ...

The link was to my photos for 2 September; in those days I wasn't completely accurate with the dating. And I recalled the photo: a very poor photo of me next to the painting of “Chloe”, a nude on the first floor.

But the photo wasn't there! I looked everywhere, but I couldn't find it. And then I recalled another issue: last month I moved my old files off bilbo.ozlabs.org. In principle there was nothing there that I didn't have elsewhere. But what about Chloe?

Yes!


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And yes, the photo is terrible. I wonder who took it. It's interesting to note that it's very easy to locate geographically: the view out the window shows the main entrance to Flinders Street Station. It also shows how bad the photo was:

 
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But why did I lose the image? At the time I had only just started putting my photos on line, and it was all a bit of a mess. That wasn't the only photo that was missing, but most of them were missing the Exif data. I have the data in separate files, but in a format that would require considerable effort to recover. And I certainly don't have the original out-of-camera images on the ozlabs copy—I'm not even sure that I kept them. At the very least, there's more processing to do.


More “smart” TV fun
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

Getting our new TV up and running was very simple, mainly because I had been there before. On the first occasion I had tried to install it according to the instructions, and it had taken forever. This time I ignored what instructions there were, along with the installation procedure, and just connected it up as a monitor.

But there are still those functions, and today I spent more time investigating them. One of them is the “input” choice. TV, of course, and 3 HDMI inputs. Also AV and one labeled “Screen Shar...”. I suppose it's typical of modern devices that the menus are designed to be too small for the text. It takes up less than half of the display, so there's really no other excuse.

“Screen Shar...” proves to offer a function called “Cast”, which in my book means “to throw”. The instructions suggest that I can use it to display my mobile phone on the TV, which sounds like a good idea.

But how? The instructions are vague, so I went to Google, where I found more confusing information:

  1. Make sure that your mobile phone or tablet is on the same Wi-Fi network as your Chromecast device.
  2. Open the Google Home app (icon).
  3. Tap the device for which you want to cast your screen.
  4. Tap Cast my screen and then Cast screen.

OK, step 1 is clear. Indirectly, it tells me that communication is with 802.11 and not Bluetooth. But what's the Google Home App? Not there. I had to install it from the toyshop. “Tap the device”? What device? Where do I tap it? What I see is:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210816/big/Google-home-2-detail.jpeg
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The line below the device name (which must start with capitals, it seems) is part of a menu which is too wide for the screen, but which, for some reason, they don't want to split on two lines. Basically, the page is useless. As I said in the feedback:

Step 2: Describe things in more detail. What's the "Google Home App"? Once I have installed it, where do I tap? What's the difference between step 3 and 4?

Somehow I found other instructions: press on the + sign at top left. When the next page appears, press another +. It then asks you if you want to add a new device. For that, you need a geographical address! Fake that and get


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This looks very much as if my device has already been added, but no, I have to go looking for it:


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Select “Chomecast/Google TV”, and it goes off displaying remarkably emetic images before coming back again empty handed:


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What is this nonsense? I want to display a screen on a different device. With X that's as simple as saying

xterm -display tv:0

But this is so bizarre that I'm not even sure if I have found the correct way through the little twisty maze of menus, all bizarre. Google Home looks as if it's intended for something completely different. If it's correct, could it be that I have to do something undocumented on the other side?

There are other descriptions, like this one, which shows screens that bear little resemblance to what I have. And the description is just as confusing:

Once the target device is added to your Google Home, Open the app and tap the plus (+) icon in the top-left corner to add a device, if needed. Otherwise, tap the device to which you want to cast and tap Cast my screen at the bottom to place your phone screen on the TV.

That, too, doesn't explain what is meant by a “device”. First I need to add one, then I go looking for it. None of this makes any sense.


Monday, 16 August 2021 Dereel Images for 16 August 2021
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Displaying Android on TV, again
Topic: technology, multimedia, opinion Link here

After yesterday's complete lack of success trying to display my Android phone on the new TV, I did a bit of research. Is there something special about my Xiaomi Redmi 9T phone or my Hisense A7G TV? Off looking for specifically that combination. How about a YouTube video? Sure enough, plenty of them, many pointing out that I didn't need this strange Google Home app. This one showed something quite close to my situation. Just click on the chipped window icon, the one they have chosen for “cast”.

Problem: my phone doesn't display that icon. OK, look for something that refers to MIUI, and found this one, conveniently in Hindi. Go to SettingsMore and enable Wireless display.

Problem. My phone doesn't have that. I found it under Wi-Fi. Then select Smart TV. My phone doesn't have that either, but under Connection & Sharing I found the item Cast. Select that. Nothing happens.

Maybe it's on the TV side? Download the detailed manual for the TV, 72 pages instead of 17. It has a little over half a page on the subject, mainly meaningless images. The complete relevant text is:

 
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Now isn't that helpful? What list of devices? All I get is a help display:


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Found another video clip, this time from the Philippines that, but in English, showed a display on the TV saying “Waiting for connection”.


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Mine didn't do that. I couldn't get away from the help display.

It seems that I'm not in the right place to see the device list, but the instructions don't say how to get there, and nothing I tried could help. Hisense even have their own video which is just as useless: apart from the fact that it only wants to display photos, it starts with a TV that has already been set up correctly! In other words, it shows what happens when you finally unravel the secret.

OK, can we see anything on the network? It's not easy to use wireshark, because I can't run a capture on hirse or ugh (the TV, a name which I should change), but the setup must start with a broadcast. So let's see what hirse has for itself.

DNS queries! I haven't fully analysed them yet, but what I get is:

  1. Ask the specified name server (eureka) for a PTR lookup for 192.109.197.228. Get answer: hirse.lemis.com.
  2. Ask the name server for hirse.lemis.com. Get the answer 192.109.197.228.
  3. Ask 224.0.0.241 for an MDNS lookup for _airkan._tcp.local, “QM question”. Why? It already has a name server. What is it really looking for? I don't see any response.
  4. Don't be discouraged by failure: ask again for details about hirse.lemis.com.local!
  5. Somehow get a response from 142.250.70.234 with some TLS information. Huh? In particular, how did this get through the firewall? The address resolves to mel05s02-in-f10.1e100.net., which says nothing to me.

Round about here I lost the plot, but I'll keep the trace. My best bet is that hirse gets some response that I don't see. Importantly, there's nothing there to suggest that there was any communication on the local net. Arguably this makes sense, though this STUPID habit of appending .local to a valid name doesn't.

In summary: I still haven't established whether the problem is with the phone, the TV or the operator. Do I care enough?


Still more “coronavirus” information
Topic: health, opinion Link here

Malcolm Caldwell is (still) in Melbourne. Given the current situation, he doesn't get much choice. So he has had plenty of time to check the current “lockdown” regulations, and he has found another official page about Victoria's restriction levels. One section (apparently not worthy of its own page) is a drop-down titled “Restricted Activity Directions (Regional Victoria)”, and effectively only points to a document in Microsoft “Word” titled “Restricted Activity Directions (Regional Victoria) (No. 7)”. They also provide it in PDF format, but nothing directly legible online.

After downloading the document, I understand why. Whoever wrote it has no idea on how to communicate, and the document appears to be incomplete. I was able to establish:

(10) A person who owns, controls or operates a sex on premises venue, brothel or a sexually explicit entertainment venue in Regional Victoria may only operate the facility during the restricted activity period if: ... the total number of members of the public permitted in the whole of the venue at any time is limited (with infants under one year of age not counted towards this limit) to the lesser of...

But try as I might, I was unable to find any information about meetings in private dwellings. If it's there, it's very well hidden. It makes the other documents look good. As I said in my feedback,

People, this is an emergency! You should get somebody to come up with ONE definition of what people may and may not do, not three different ones. Apart from this PDF document, I also have https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/coronavirus-covidsafe-settings and https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/how-we-live, neither of them obvious URLs, and neither with a link from the DHHS home page.

In this document, I haven't been able to find anything in the Regional Victoria Directions (itself an ambiguous term) that tell me what I may do. The clarifications are probably good, but they should be at a second level. May I have guests in my house or not? All I get is a list of exceptions leading to another list of exceptions. If there is any mention of private homes, you have hidden it so well that I can't find it. Surely you can find people who know how to communicate.

Surely you can find people who know how to communicate.

But maybe it's in the other information on the parent page. “COVIDSafe settings”? What does that mean? But when I select it, all I see are further links, apart from the breaking news “New restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne will come into place at 11:59pm 16 August”. Could I be looking for “How we live: regional Victoria”? Yes! They have hidden the information about as well as they possibly could. Who would expect to find restriction information hidden behind such meaningless terms?

It wasn't until later that I discovered that these last two links were the ones I quoted in my feedback on the first page. Now they seem to have different content from when I last ranted on the topic, and in particular the first links to the second. But still these stupid names!

To be fair, they have now implemented one of my suggestions: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/ now links to https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus, which states “From 6:00pm [sic] on Tuesday 17 August 2021, updated directions are in place for Victoria”, which in turn links to Yet Another List of Restrictions, not including any information about the restrictions for 17 August, but including these stupidly titled “COVIDSafe settings”. Maybe things are getting better, but from this start that's easy.


Tuesday, 17 August 2021 Dereel → Cape Clear → Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 17 August 2021
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Spaying Larissa and Elena
Topic: animals, health Link here

Off to Pene Kirk's in Cape Clear this morning to have Larissa and Elena spayed. It's only been a month since we were last here, but it's clear how the bitches have grown. Last time they were a little smaller than Pene's border collies, but now they're considerably larger.


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Pene doesn't have scales to weigh them, but based on her experience with border collies, she estimates that Lara weighs 20 kg and Lena 25 kg.

This was the first time I have seen a bitch spayed. Yvonne went by herself with Tanya last time, but this time I had a chance to take some photos. Here Lara:


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Lena showed her relationship with Leonid:


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Pene had some difficulty with her: it seems that her sexual organs were underdeveloped, about the same as a 4 month old cat:


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And since she was second, she was much groggier when she came out of the anaesthetic, and we had to carry her out to the car:


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As expected, they were very subdued for the rest of the day.


Haircut and things
Topic: general Link here

Into Ballarat today, mainly for a haircut, but also to Napoleons to pick up the remainder of the wine that I collected (but didn't document) last Thursday. For reasons that Australia Post doesn't explain, one crate arrived 3 days after sending, and the other ones took a further 4 days.


Wednesday, 18 August 2021 Dereel Images for 18 August 2021
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Android communication: modern
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

People on IRC seized on yesterday's article on my pains connecting my (Android) phone to my (Android) TV. I had personally decided that the TV was to blame for displaying a help text instead of a connection menu:


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But lots of questions, most of which suggested that the article was too long to read. Had I connected it to the LAN? Had I selected the right input? Does the phone even support “screen casting”? Does the TV even support “screen casting”? Have you installed “Google Home”? Does the device appear in the “share to” menu (what's that?)? Do I see this menu?

http://dunham.org/grog/Day/20210818/thread-697369-7973381894565914466.jpg

No, of course I don't see that menu. It's from YouTube, and the idea of viewing YouTube on a mobile phone blows my mind. But Andy Snow said “my point is that if you can't get youtube working, you're wasting your time trying anything else. its a good debugging tool”.

O Brave New World! Start at the top of the stack and work down! That's not the way we debug network problems! But since everything else had failed, it would be interesting to see what YouTube does. Started it, and sure enough, the cracked window emblem appeared, exactly as in Andy's example. Press on it. Surprise, surprise, nothing happened.

But then there's another input selection: “Content Sh...”. Try that. It found the device (now called hisen to match the phone hirse)!


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And I was able to display the content on the TV! Well, a network trace showed that it was really just displaying the content directly from YouTube, and the phone was really acting as a second-rate remote control.

But still, it's progress. What happens when I select “Screen sha...”? Went through all the motions I had done before. But this time the scan found the TV. Select it, and the “help” screen was replaced by the display on my phone!

Interestingly, considering that I get about 2 incoming phone calls a week, Yvonne rang exactly while I was admiring the on-screen display. The phone displayed the call details, of course, but the TV didn't: the display remained the same. It didn't hang: once I had finished the call, it reacted normally.

Somehow this is really frustrating. Using YouTube functionality to debug a network link connection is a complete layering violation. And arguably it didn't work from a debugging perspective. I got a connection, but I still don't know why, and I also don't know why the “Screen Sh...” function then worked. That's a workaround, not a solution. But at least it's over. I still don't know what use the function is, but it could be useful for displaying things in company.


Unexpected directory change
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Seen on teevee:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/6) /spool/Series/Landaerztin 55 -> cd ..
=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/6) /spool/Videos 56 ->

Those names in red are path names. The parent .. of /spool/Series/Landaerztin is /spool/Series/. So how did it end up in /spool/Videos?

I still only have a partial answer: from another shell, I had previously done:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/7) /spool/Series 32 -> mv Landaerztin ../Videos

This adds the entry Landaerztin in /spool/Videos and removes it from /spool/Series. It also changes the entry .. in Landaerztin to point to the inode of /spool/Videos. But where does the shell get the name of the new parent directory from? My best bet is that mv also gets the kernel to change its view of the current directory, but the code involved has become so convoluted that I can't be bothered to check in more detail. I got about as far as kern___getcwd and lost interest.


Thursday, 19 August 2021 Dereel Images for 19 August 2021
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Still more COVID-19 documents
Topic: health, language, general, opinion Link here

Message from Malcolm Caldwell today, pointing to things that I hadn't been able to find in the documents that I had been looking at:

Private gatherings

(1) Subject to subclause (2), during the stay safe period, a person who ordinarily resides in Regional Victoria must not:

(a) permit another person to enter any premises at which they are residing in Regional Victoria (whether or not entering any building on the premises); or

(b) intentionally enter any premises at which another person is residing in Regional Victoria (whether or not entering any building on the premises).

Huh? I searched that document on Monday and found no reference.

Ah, stay-safe-directions, not restricted-activity-directions. How could I make such a mistake?

Malcolm thinks that the documents were written by lawyers. I disagree. There is a remarkable lack of even legal clarity in this document. It uses so many terms that are not clearly defined. The most obvious one is “COVIDSafe”, but what about “gathering” and “premises”? We have heard a minister say on TV that cleaners are allowed inside premises, so presumably that's not a “gathering”. What is a “gathering”? As usual, the Oxford English Dictionary has multiple meanings, but the most likely ones are:

Gathering a. A bringing together or coming together of people; an assembly or meeting... spec. An assembly organized annually in various parts of the Scottish Highlands for contests in athletics, dancing, piping, etc.

Yes, we don't have that kind of “gathering”. But then, the OED is English, not Australian. With some difficulty found the Macquarie dictionary, which tells me, very much following the OED order, but in at least an order of magnitude less detail,

gathering
/ˈgæðərɪŋ/ (say 'gadhuhring)
1. the act of someone or something that gathers.
2. that which is gathered together.
3. an assembly or meeting; a crowd.
4. a collection or assemblage of anything.
5. an inflamed and suppurating swelling.
6. a gather or series of gathers in cloth.
7. Bookbinding a section in a book.

Admire that silly “phonetic pronunciation” for people who don't understand IPA. But clearly the only applicable meaning is “an assembly or meeting; a crowd”. It doesn't even appear to include a party. If a lawyer wrote that, he should be disbarred.

And then there's “premises”. OED has “A house or building together with its grounds, outhouses, etc., esp. a building or part of a building that houses a business.”, and Macquarie has a similar description. So according to this document we can't even have people outside on our property. Malcolm observes that there is nothing to prohibit him from entering any premises in Regional Victoria, since he isn't a resident of Regional Victoria. But that assumes that there's nobody else there to prohibit him. And it seems that, once he has entered, there is no obligation to throw him out again: the restriction is only on permitting the act of entrance.

But there's a problem: this is the first I have heard of such a restriction. Previously the distinction was between “indoors” and “outdoors”. In “how we live”. The word “premises” is only mentioned once, in an unrelated context. It has a number of issues, though:

So which of these regulations should I follow? A bit of searching brought up (finally!) a link to https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus at https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/, with infection statistics, currently 24 hours out of date and with no obvious link to current restrictions outside Melbourne. But then others link back to https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/, with different content. And only now do I discover that there are many more pages which I need to link to, like Caregiving, pets and medical care - regional Victoria

Other random observations from the notes I made:

I'm losing count of how many lists of restrictions have been published, and how to locate and interpret them. Are there even more?


Wound problems?
Topic: animals Link here

Larissa is as happy as ever, but her stomach wound is not healing as nicely as it should:


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It seems that the leftmost of the three stitches has come undone, probably with Lara's help. I don't think that it's a serious problem, but Pene Kirk suggested bandaging, and Yvonne also put on a T-shirt. It didn't stay on long enough for me to get a photo.


Friday, 20 August 2021 Dereel Images for 20 August 2021
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More Malaysian breakfasts
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I have received email from “AM” (she doesn't want her name mentioned) somewhere in Terengganu, who has some interesting thoughts on Malaysian breakfasts. She found my photo of KL Hokkien Mee to look authentic, but came up with two other dishes: mee wantan (wonton noodles) and nasi lemak with wild boar curry!

http://dunham.org/grog/Day/20210820/nasi-lemak-babi.png

That's doubly surprising, since Malaysia is an Islamic country, and I wouldn't have expected there to be any wild boars (or sows) anywhere.

I also found a number of recipes for mee wantan. Are they worth the trouble? Where do I get the complete wontons from? The recipes I have found expect me to make them myself, not something that I want to do in the early morning. Still, a dish to think about.


Android interfaces
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've been ranting and whingeing about Android for nearly 10 years now, and I continually wonder what fueled the design decisions. My general feeling is that commercial interests predominate, but there are, after all, clever people behind them. What explains the network exchange between mobile phone and TV that I saw on Monday? Arguably I don't care, but people discussed it at length on IRC.

In particular, why both “Screen Sha..” and “Content Sh...”? I've established that the former establishes a direct connection between the phone and TV, while the second causes the TV to contact YouTube directly, while the phone acts as a particularly hard-to-use remote control:


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It seems that under these circumstance some gesture brings up a marginally better “remote control” display:


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But then there's “display mirroring” (really duplication; it's not laterally inverted). That's clearly a very different function. The real point of discussion, though, was why the two functions are separate. Looking at what's going on behind the scenes, that's obvious. Or is it? Callum Gibson says no. And arguably he's right: why should an end user care? In each case, he's using the phone to display something on the TV. I also get the impression that there are differences in behaviour between various TVs or phones.

I should probably think about that in more detail. I now have the communication, and my real question is why it is implemented in such a complicated way. But as I have said multiple times, I don't really care.


A new flute?
Topic: music Link here

Phone call on my external answering machine this morning, from a Helen in Brisbane who wanted to talk to me about a flute. Made by Chappell, like my Siccama flute. It seems she wants to sell it; it's not clear whether she wants me to give her advice or to buy it from her. It seems that she has spoken to Terry McGee, who has had my flute for the best part of 20 years. She'll send photos.


Lena injured?
Topic: animals Link here

Lena came in in the evening holding up her front left paw. Injury? It didn't seem to be. She was in no pain, but for quite a while she kept chewing at it in various places, as if it were itching.

Woke up in the middle of the night with the thought that it could be a snake bite. In to take a look. No, she seemed to be fine. Maybe some insect bite? Hopefully we'll never know.


Saturday, 21 August 2021 Dereel → Cape Clear → Dereel Images for 21 August 2021
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Lockdown? How many?
Topic: health, opinion Link here

More correspondence with Malcolm Caldwell today, mainly repeating the content of Thursday's article. I ended with:

> In particular, there is nothing stopping us going to regional
> Victoria.  Which is exactly what we intend to do this afternoon.  It
> is only 20 minutes from where we are currently staying, but a world
> away in terms of not having a lockdown.

Well, that was a couple of days ago.  It'll be interesting to see what
happens over the weekend.

I should have checked my email before I wrote that final sentence. After sending the mail, I checked my inbox: yes, we're back in “lockdown” again. Yvonne asked which number this was. I know that Melbourne is on its 6th “lockdown”, but what about round here? How do I find out.

Or are we on a “lockdown” at all? Checked https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/how-we-live-information-regional-victoria, but there was no mention there:


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You had to look carefully to find the contradictory line at the top:

 
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12:59pm [sic]? Yes, most “lockdowns” start at 23:59 (11:59 p.m. in 12 hour format, to avoid some of the confusion that the format carries). But everywhere else said 13:00. It took a while to realize that 12:59 p.m. is 11 hours before 11:59 p.m., and one minute before 1:00 p.m. (13:00). But it's still wrong, if only by one minute.

And that stayed like that all day! These are the official rules for what you may (“can”) and may not do! The more I look at this stuff, the worse it looks.

In the end, Malcolm took the logical next step: fly back to NT and put up with a 14 day “quarantine” (“quatorzeaine”?). That will save him time and money in the end, in all likelihood.


Another Siccama flute
Topic: music, opinion Link here

Received email from Helen Deards today, with photos of her flute. It's a Siccama model, also by Chappell and similar to mine:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20170518/big/Siccama-flute-1.jpeg
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I haven't seen my flute for 20 years, and the quality of the photos shows it, but it seems that Terry McGee has taken a much better photo of it on his Siccama flutes by other makers page:

http://www.mcgee-flutes.com/images/Sicc-Chapl.JPG

Interestingly, though Helen's flute is older than mine (based on the serial numbers), all key mountings are pillars, not the blocks that mine has for the long F, G♯, C and B♭ keys.


Well don't do that, then
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Part of taking my house photos involves creating two files, Makejpeg, a list of instructions for converting images that I use for all photos, and Makehouse, a list of instructions for the house photos, which I generate with an awk script. It gets copied to Makejpeg:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/14) ~/Photos/20210821 789 -> cat Makejpeg >> Makejpeg

Normally it is done instantaneously. But today it went on for a considerable period of time. More memory pressure and page faults? Kill it and see:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/14) ~/Photos/20210821 789 -> cat Makejpeg >> Makejpeg
^C
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/14) ~/Photos/20210821 790 -> l
total 874
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis        3,440 21 Aug 13:12 Makehouse
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis  914,604,840 21 Aug 13:12 Makejpeg

Damn, copied the file to itself. Fool! But the really interesting thing is that I had copied nearly a gigabyte before I realized something was wrong.


Larissa injured
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Only yesterday Lena came in with some issue with her left front leg. That proved to be nothing, but this evening it was Larissa who came in with something wrong with her left front leg. It certainly wasn't nothing: she was limping badly, and in the course of time it became severe; she started screaming at frequent intervals. Called up Pene Kirk and carted her over there. She diagnosed some issue with her shoulder and thought that it should go away by itself in about 3 days; otherwise it looks like we'll have another X-ray on our hands.


Sunday, 22 August 2021 Dereel Images for 22 August 2021
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Larissa's suffering
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Was Larissa feeling better today? If so, it wasn't a lightening recovery. She limped around all day, though she gradually stopped screaming. That might just reflect her acceptance of the pain. Do we really need to wait 3 days before taking X-rays?


How we live?
Topic: health, opinion Link here

After discovering yesterday that the stupidly named rule page https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/how-we-live-information-regional-victoria wasn't updated all day, checked this morning. Still not updated. But I later discovered by chance that they have reduced the number of pages, so https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/how-we-live is now valid for all of Victoria. Of course, they didn't want to fix everything, so the start date (13:00 on 21 August) is still written as “Regional Victoria will enter lockdown at 12:59pm 21 August”, long after the event.

But what help is that if I have bookmarked the old one? I never cease to be amazed about how badly they handle the information. Some time in the course of the day they finally got round to implementing a redirection. But surely they can do better than that.


Lena doesn't like plasters
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Lena seems to be irritated by her spay wound, and today Yvonne caught her nibbling on it. Put on a plaster, which had worked well for Larissa. But Lena wasn't having any of it. She peeled it off and folded it together as neatly as anybody could expect:


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Tagine again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Tagine again for dinner today. I have a surprising number of recipes, most recently my fake tagine recipe. But that uses apricots, and Yvonne wanted prunes and almonds

Can do. My original recipe was for tagine with prunes and almonds. Took a look at that and found a large number of issues. The most obvious was that I started preparing the meat and forgot about it. Also “serves 2” seems inappropriate for 1.2 kg of meat and 1.8 kg of vegetables and things.

So: Yet Another tagine recipe.


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I need to think how to handle it best.


Monday, 23 August 2021 Dereel → Bannockburn → Napoleons → Dereel → Bannockburn → Dereel Images for 23 August 2021
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Investigating Larissa's pain
Topic: health, animals, opinion Link here

Larissa seemed little better today. OK, Pene had said that we should have X-rays done if it hadn't improved in 3 days, and this morning was only 1½ days, but there seemed to have been no improvement at all.

So off to the Bannockburn Veterinary Clinic again, 5 weeks to the day since we went there with Nikolai. This time we saw Kelly Bond, who did the usual investigations and came to the conclusion that she was sore in a number of places, and, of course, she would have to do an X-ray.

But this time it wasn't “while you wait”. She suggested that we come back in the late afternoon. Damn! Another 100 km drive. But there was nothing to do about it, so off back home.

Kelly called in mid-afternoon: she suspects hypertrophic osteodystrophy, visible in particular in this X-ray:


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Well, visible, but not necessarily recognizable. The slightly darker area to the middle right of the detail is apparently an indication, suggesting incomplete bone growth. She demonstrated it to me on a laptop with a program that had an additional display showing where in the body it had been taken.

The good news is that it's a “growing pain”, and that it should go away. It could take months, but each episode is normally limited to a week or less. Lara looked a lot better when I picked her up, but that could be due to the large dose of pain killers that she had had.

More to be read at Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD) in Dogs. It seems to be a condition of large (or larger) dogs, though nothing mentions Borzois. Kelly is sending the X-rays to a specialist who will (hopefully) confirm her diagnosis.

Random fact: today Lara weighed 19.76 kg, and Lena weighed 23.04 kg.


Google Maps navigation, continued
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

We drove a total of 259 km today—or that's what Google Maps says. It has a useful feature that it maintains track logs of where I have been—exactly what I have been doing with GPSLogger, though it calls them “Your Timeline”. Being Google, of course, it also guesses (frequently correctly) what businesses I have visited.

On the whole, a good thing. But as usual, the details are lacking. How do I publish the log? By default only I can see it. How do I find the time where I was at a specific location? And it's not always very accurate. Today I discovered a “snap to road” function, presumably intended to compensate for GPS inaccuracies. Looks good. But it sometimes goes off into the realms of fantasy. On the way home we stopped at Melissa Wisbey's to pick up some eggs. I committed the cardinal sin of not telling it, so it worked out some cross-country way home—anything to avoid turning around. And when I told it to snap to the road, it included its imagined itinerary, here at bottom left and compared with Wikiloc on the left:

 
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OK, I can back it out, right?

 
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All fine and good, but it forgets the update. I don't know how to get rid of that imaginary loop.

Apart from that, how do you get Google Maps to forget a location, or get it to go to a place it doesn't want to know about. “Hey Google Take Me To Napoleons CPO” produces nothing useful. Silly Groggy: as I discovered later, it's “Napoleons CPA”, whatever that may mean. OK, ask for “Napoleons”:


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That's in the middle of nowhere! Napoleons is a one-street town. It took me to Napoleons, for what that was worth. But then I couldn't get rid of it. “Hey Google Cancel Route” did nothing useful, and I couldn't find any button or surface to remove it. Even a “Take Me Home” just added “Home” to the route to Napoleons, creating diversions of up to 30 km just to avoid turning around.

It's been over 14 years since I started ranting about Google Maps, before the ascent of “smart” phones. It has got better, but you'd think there would be an incentive to fix wrinkles like this.


The Farmgate Shop
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

On the way to Napoleons, we saw a whole lot of packaged bales of hay, presumably no longer usable, with advertising for various kinds of foodstuffs. Where? Ah, that would be telling. The writing was only visible coming from the south (like us), so we assumed it was further ahead, but it took us some time to find this place:


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It looks like it could be quite interesting, though Yvonne couldn't find the smoked eel that she had been looking for. But the service was glacial, and Yvonne wasn't in the mood to wait, so we left without buying anything. Next time we're in the area we might look in again.


New keyboard
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

It has been nearly 10 years since I started using a Sun Type 7 keyboard, and for some time I've been looking for a replacement: the A key had started malfunctioning. That problem has gone away, but for how long? So when I found a brand new one for $65, cheap by US standards, but with free shipping—the US suppliers want up to $150 just for shipping—I bought it.

It arrived today—thus the trip to Napoleons—and to my surprise it came with not only a mouse (not included in the item description) but also two mains power cables that didn't belong there.

It's not hard to tell which is the new keyboard:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210823/big/Keyboards.jpeg
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It works, of course, but it wasn't immediately apparent to me that the key layout isn't quite the same. My old one has a British layout, while this one is the standard US layout. The \ key is in a different place, where the top of the Enter key is on the old one, so it took me a while to stop generating spurious \s.

The real advantage, though, is tactile. For reasons I don't understand, the bumps on the F (particularly) and J keys on the old keyboard are very small, so much that it's difficult to feel them. The result was a particularly irritating issue: instead of deleting a message in mutt (d), I frequently pressed f, which forwards a message. That requires several seconds of recovery, including killing the Emacs buffer and regaining focus on the mutt window. Now I shouldn't have that problem any more:


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But why does the old keyboard have such a small bump? Could it be that it had a previous owner who filed it down?


The last supper
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Maddog Hall dug up this image:

http://dunham.org/grog/Day/20210823/10465459_10153319958198776_4463556252133713672_o.jpg

It's on Facebook, of course, so who knows who was responsible? More to the point, though: whom does it represent? Maddog recognized himself, so that's final. And Jesus? St. Ignutious? Apart from that, I only recognize Tux and Linus Torvalds. Presumably you need to be a Linux-head to recognize the others.


Lena frustrated
Topic: animals Link here

Larissa's health problems have proven hard for Lena: on the one hand, she is clearly concerned, but it also means that she has nobody to play with, and she's been misbehaving in various ways. This evening she decided to take a look at the books in Yvonne's bedroom, and she managed to start chewing on three of them before we took measures to stop her:


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Tuesday, 24 August 2021 Dereel Images for 24 August 2021
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More tortilla strangeness
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Huevos rancheros for breakfast today, as usual on a Tuesday. And today I started a new package of masa harina for the tortillas.

The tortilla dough was too moist! I was able to bake them anyway, but it really seems that each package of masa (all the same brand, El Maizal) seems to require different quantities of water. The first required 1.45:1 water to masa harina, the second (ultimately) 1:1.7, and this one seems to require less again. What a mess!


Garden flowers in late winter
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

The monthly garden flower photos were due a few days ago, a month before the equinox, but a combination of weather and other issues meant that I didn't get them finished until today.

I've been keeping a particular eye on the bushes that looked so unhappy last year. The Camellia japonica is still not looking good, but considerably better than this time last year (first photo):


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But the leaves still look so pale. What am I doing wrong?

The Corymbia ficifolia is also looking better. Here again last year first:


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The big difference is that there is new growth now. I didn't take any detail photos last year because there was nothing to see. So with any luck the worst is over.

The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis “Uncle Max” looked particularly unhappy this time last year, so this year we left the cannas round it to protect it from the frost. Maybe it has helped (again the first photo is from last year):


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On the other hand, some things are less than happy. For reasons I still don't understand, Bryan Ross and friends mutilated “pruned” a number of plants that don't really need it, and far too much. The result is that the sage bush, for example, may never recover:


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And the Persicaria odorata (daun kesum) has been almost completely destroyed:


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Apart from the damage, it means that I have had to do without these herbs throughout the winter.

The Alyogyne huegelii will survive, but it's only a shadow of its former self (first photo, last year):


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It's really hard to understand how that can be correct pruning.

Unrelated to that is the condition of the Schinus molle (pepper tree), which looks just as unhappy as last year:


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We've had it for three years now. I fear that it's just not suited to the soil.

And between Bryan and the new puppies, we have almost no tropaeolums left. Bryan “pruned” them away, and the puppies trampled them. This is all that we have left:


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The puppies have caused other damage, too. Our Leucospermum cordifolium in the driveway has been knocked around considerably, though we have now fenced it in:


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I suspect that we're going to have to put up with the dogs running over the “hill”. The Carpobrotus that covers the rest should be able to stand it.

On a more positive note, the (also mistreated) violets have come back in force:


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And we even have the first tulip of winter:


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Indoors, the Spathiphyllum has produced not one, not two, but four new flower stalks:


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That's by far the most we have ever had. The fourth is in the middle, still tiny.

And the Abutilon cuttings that we took in January have grown well, and we now have two plants about to flower:


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Outside the property, a number of acacias are in flower:


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I can't recall seeing them there before.


Wednesday, 25 August 2021 Dereel Images for 25 August 2021
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Building the “shed”
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Call from a Troy today, wanting to come to erect the “shed”, the cover for the riding arena—what should we really call it?—tomorrow. He wanted to know if the slab had been completed; clearly he had looked carefully at the plans.

So he would do the footings and then—if I understood him correctly—erect the shed on Friday. That all sounds rather rushed, but he should know what he is doing. And of course, he wanted money—$7,200 or so, plus GST; ?>: round $8,000, rather more than John Hoffman had estimated. OK, “text” him an email address and wait for the invoice. It didn't come.


More on Larissa's problems
Topic: animals, health, opinion Link here

Call from Kelly Bond today. Almost as promised, she had contacted not one, but two specialists on the interpretation of Larissa's X-rays. Both agreed with her: hypertrophic osteodystrophy. Pene Kirk had—without seeing the X-rays—guessed at Panosteosis, a very similar disease, but the X-rays were relatively clear. I should still read up on panosteitis and hypertrophic osteodystrophy.

What's less clear is why Lara didn't have a number of the symptoms, including digestive problems and elevated temperature. “Just a mild case”. Could be. In any case, things are improving, and Lara is clearly feeling much better. If not, one of the specialists (unnamed) is in Geelong, not that much further than Bannockburn, so he could look at her. And Kelly is clearly interested enough in the case that she will call again next week to see how she is getting on.


Thursday, 26 August 2021 Dereel → Napoleons → Dereel Images for 26 August 2021
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Larissa's progress
Topic: animals, health, food and drink, opinion Link here

Larissa is gradually improving, and we've been weaning her off the painkillers. But she still can't run around as much as she wants with Lena, and it shows.

One of the potential factors with hypertrophic osteodystrophy is lack of calcium. Pene had recommended adding Calcium carbonate to their food, and I had already ordered some before Lara's problems started. Today it arrived, so off to Napoleons to pick it up, being surprised by a request for identification: it seems that somebody had complained about the lax way they handed out items.


Music from Android
Topic: music, technology, opinion Link here

The trip to Napoleons gave me the opportunity to try out my new cable connecting hirse, my Android phone, with the car radio.

The good news: it works. The not-so-good news: it doesn't work well. The sound is far too faint, and I had to turn up the volume on the phone to maximum, and it still didn't sound good. But I also had Google Maps running, and it didn't suffer from any such problem, so the break-throughs were almost deafening.

Is this because I was using the file manager? Started “Music”, the one that I couldn't delete, accepted their stupid license conditions, whatever they may be, and was presented with a list of “songs”, all the same:


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I couldn't find any way to distinguish them, only a way (“Shuffle playback”) to make it even worse. And the volume was still too low.

So what do I do? The obvious thing is “if it ain't broke, don't fix it”: I can play the same music from SD card directly on the radio. But it would be nice to have more control. I could try the old Bluetooth dongle that I bought years ago, but it clearly won't solve the issue of the different volume of the music players and Google Maps.

Why is it that almost everything I try with Android doesn't work satisfactorily? In this case, it's not my atypical taste that allows the problem to surface.


Misery Creek Road again
Topic: gardening, technology, opinion Link here

On the way home from Napoleons, headed down Misery Creek Road to see what I could find. To my surprise, the Grevillea bedggoodiana are already in flower:


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Also a number of other flowers that I should really know, but the only one I know for sure is the first, Hardenbergia violacea:


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What aperture?
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

The photos I took in Misery Creek Road weren't spectacular. One of the issues taking hand-held macro photos is to decide what aperture to use so that the parts I'm looking for are sharp. Does this one work?


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20210826/big/Grevillea-bedggoodiana-2.jpeg
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Parts of the flower are nice and sharp, and the background is nicely blurred. But not all of the flower is sharp. That's 60 mm at f/2.8. Arguably I should have stopped down to f/4 or f/5.6.

So I tried again with another flower and different apertures. Here the same view at f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8 and f/11:


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