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Wednesday, 1 July 2020 Dereel Images for 1 July 2020
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Checking gate
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Out early this morning to see if the “closed” position of the gate had changed. It was still a little more open than

But then Yvonne opened the gate to go shopping, and when it shut again, it looked normal. Here before and after:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200701/big/Gate-detail.jpeg
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So maybe I'll have to get used to that variation. Currently the “closed” position is limited by what used to be a chain attachment:


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I should probably move that a little further from the gate and adjust the end switch.


Coming up roses
Topic: gardening Link here

In past years I have deliberately held off pruning my roses to ensure that I have roses blooming every month of the year. But that's silly: they don't look particularly good in winter, and it means that I can't prune them optimally. So today I bit the bullet and addressed the rose garden:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200701/big/Rose-garden-1.jpeg
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Pruned on of the “new” roses (planted in the last year or two), which went relatively smoothly. Then addressed the « Monsieur Tillier », which we have had for over 10 years. That wasn't so easy. It's much bigger—should it be?—and I tried to keep some of the buds, to be pruned off later. It's a particularly thorny specimen, and I didn't come off unscathed. But about half way through it occurred to me that my basic premise, trim back to 5 strong stems, might be a bit simplistic. That works when the bushes are young, but this one has already been pruned a number of time. Gave it up half way through:


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Now to read my clever books.


More tiles to choose from
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Yvonne was in town today and looked for her own tiles:


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Those are the ones on the right. The terracotta tile on the left is one that I had selected.

Also got a quote from Sean: over $4,000 for 45 m²! Why so expensive? We've had extensive tiling in every house we have ever lived in, with the exception of Kleins Road, and I can't recall them ever having been anywhere near that price. No wonder tiled floors are unusual in Victoria.


Preparing for power outages
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Powercor have announced a 4¼ hour power outage tomorrow. How do I weather that? The last planned outage was in November, where the sun is high and abundant; tomorrow is in the middle of the winter and forecast to bring a lot of rain.

Still, the preparations are the same: charge the battery as full as possible, turn off non-essential consumers and hope for the best. I really should consider connecting a generator to the system; a 3 kW generator such as the el-cheapo one we have would tide us over indefinitely as long as we didn't use the air conditioner or kitchen appliances.

OK, back to the inverter configuration. Last time I had given up and been lucky. But in February I had established that the configuration values I need are SOCgrid, the maximum charge from the grid (that one's simple) and SOCrecx, the minimum charge.

Only that was wrong. The minimum charge is the more logically named SOCmin. How did I make that mistake? Set the values to 99% and 90% respectively; during the night it doesn't make much difference.

And, of course: what is SOCrecx? The menu (in “6. OPERATION MODE”) just says, here with the normal settings:

SOCmax : Maximum charge limit of renewable source (%)       100
SOCgrid : Maximum charge limit from the grid/genset (%)       30
SOCmin : Minimum limit for switching to standby (%)       20
SOCrecx : Value to generate voltage in the loads (%)       20
SOCdescx : Minimum limit for switching to shutdown (%)       5
Maximum battery charging power from the grid (W)       2000
Maximum power injected to the grid (W)       4500

Wouldn't it be nice to find documentation? But it's plausible that SOCrecx and SOCdescx are complementary parameters. Desconectar and reconectar? This is a Spanish device, after all. So this might mean “shut down when the battery goes below 5%” and “don't supply power to load until you reach 20%”. That would make sense, so I'll run with that until proven otherwise.


Thursday, 2 July 2020 Dereel Images for 2 July 2020
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Weathering the power outage
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Up early this morning to prepare for the grid power outage. Despite the weather forecast, it was dry and relatively sunny. Battery charge was round 95%, turned the heat up to 23°, monitored the grid. When the power finally went out, at 11:13:20, nearly 45 minutes later than threatened, battery charge was 99%. Turned off air conditioner, hot water system and even teevee.

To my surprise, the activity was right in front of our doorstep. No fewer than five trucks and lots of people:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200702/big/Powercor-maintenance-1.jpeg
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What were they doing? Hard to say:


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At first I thought that they were going to replace the transformer (the box on the left in the first photo above), but when they came down I asked them, and it seems that they were just checking for damage. They did replace a couple of cables to the transformer, which apparently had deteriorated insulation.

And the power came back at 13:35:55. Battery charge: 100%. So apart from not being able to feed some power back into the grid, we weathered it excellently.

That was luck, though. If the weather had been as forecast, things could have been very different.


Friday, 3 July 2020 Dereel Images for 3 July 2020
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Defunding Facebook
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Recently Facebook took down some postings from Donald Trump, but then reinstated them along with a comment that the content breached Facebook content rules, but might nevertheless be in the public interest (“Look what kind of person the US Americans elected as president”).

And then a number of high profile advertisers announced that they would stop advertising on Facebook. What? Are they trying to bully Facebook into relaxing its censorship? That's what I thought until I dug a little deeper: no, quite the opposite. They've signed up to Stop Hate for Profit.

Now will that finally have an effect? It would be funny if Twitter and Facebook were to ban Trump altogether.


Computer upgrades: new tangents
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I bought my new ThinkCentre mainly because I thought that there might be a hardware issue with the old one. When I got it, I did some investigation that showed that there are issues with newer versions of FreeBSD or X, and I still haven't cornered them. But now that I have replaced the hardware, the rest isn't so much of a hurry.

But there's another upgrade on the back burner: splitting eureka (running FreeBSD 10.2-STABLE, now coming on 5 years out of date) into two machines, one as a network gateway and one as my private machine. That petered out a couple of weeks ago, mainly because the hardware failed.

The other issue was also there: I wanted to do my first clean install in over 20 years, and it wasn't easy. On the other hand, I must do something: a number of sites are warning me that my browser is out of date, some presenting emetic CAPTCHAs where more modern browsers are accepted, and SRF won't talk to me at all: I have to use dischord, an up-to-date Microsoft “Windows” 7 box. What indignity!

But the network servers don't have quite that problem. They all work as intended, though an upgrade wouldn't do any harm. So: how about doing it the other way round? Leave the current box as the server box and install a separate machine as my personal machine. That way I could migrate slowly, especially with the two machines connected to a single “desktop” via x2x

There are at least two ways to implement this particular approach: assemble a new, faster machine (after all, eureka is now coming on 6 years old), use an existing machine, or even possibly buy another cheap ThinkCentre.

The first approach is clearly the cleanest. But it took me weeks of research last time, and I'm not really interested in that pain again.

The second approach has the great advantage that I don't need to buy any more hardware. At least for the time being I could use the old teevee, the one that I suspect of having some hardware issues. Or I could use the one remaining old machine that still seems to work. That's no longer many. In the end it boiled down to the current tiwi or an old Athlon II, only half the speed of tiwi.

tiwi only has 4 GB of memory, and the Athlon only 2 GB, but both had empty slots. OK, salvage memory from the others and put another 4 GB into tiwi.

Power on. beep-beep-beep beep-beep-beep beep. Oh. What's that? Off to download the hardware maintenance manual, which didn't know either. But I did get:

Four sets of three beeps: Reseat the memory modules. If the error persists, replace the memory modules one at a time until the failing module is determined.

That seemed reasonable, even if the thing couldn't count. Could it be that each set represented one SIMM, and that it was number 3 that was defective? No, it didn't like either of the new SIMMs. OK, read elsewhere:

· Use 1.8 V, 200-pin DDR3 SDRAM (double data rate 3 synchronous dynamic random access memory).

Hmm. How about that, the new SIMMs are 1.5 V. I hadn't noticed before that there are different voltages, and the writing on the SIMMs doesn't exactly make it easy to notice:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200704/big/Memory-modules-4.jpeg
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Looking in other boxes brought out SIMMs with a different index hole, making it clearer that they were incompatible. A total of 8 SIMMs, 12 GB of memory, and it looks as if I won't be able to use any of it.

Looked briefly at the other box. Like eureka, it's capable of taking two graphics cards, and I have two which would drive all four monitors. But the GeForce GT 640 card that I use to drive the 2560x1440 monitor, though identical to the one in eureka, is very noisy. It's also old (not surprisingly), and it uses the 340 driver. And both would fit into a ThinkCentre M93p as well.

Enough thinking for one day.


Leo in pain
Topic: animals Link here

Leonid has been limping for a couple of days now. It seems that his right elbow is the problem. Off in the afternoon to show him to Pene Kirk, who prescribed him some anti-inflammatories. Hopefully that will work.


A surplus of food
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Yvonne has found a new supplier of eggs in Dereel, Michelle de Groot, who supplies enormous eggs, averaging about 75 g each. She picked up a new load on Wednesday, so at the moment we have more than enough.

But then this morning our neighbour Helena came along with a box of 18 eggs! I eat about 6 eggs a week, Yvonne 7. What to do with them?

As it happens, the eggs weren't the only unsolicited gifts this week. Margaret Swan has a new harvest of truffles, and we received one last weekend. And what can you do with truffles? Truffle omelettes are a favourite:


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Saturday, 4 July 2020 Dereel Images for 4 July 2020
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Olympus Webcam
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Received interesting mail from Olympus Australia the other day: far from closing down, they've announced new lenses and a webcam application.

The lenses are a 150-400 mm f/4.5 PRO, which has been under development for over a year, and a new 8-25 mm f/4.5 PRO. The 150-400 corresponds roughly to my Leica Vario-Elmar 100-400 mm f/4-6.3 except for the constant aperture and the inbuilt 1.25x teleconverter that converts it to a 188-500 mm f/5.6. Interesting, but probably outside what I can justify.

The other is more interesting: an 8-25 mm f/4 PRO zoom. That could get quite a bit of use, but the aperture isn't outstanding. I already have the M.Zuiko DIGITAL ED PRO 7-14 mm f/2.8, a full stop faster, and Panasonic/Leica have a DG Vario-Summilux 10-25 mm f/1.7, another 1½ stops faster. How will the new Oly lens fare? Presumably it will be a lot smaller and possibly cheaper.

The webcam application is a whole different matter. I've been considering using my camera as a webcam for some time, but the whole thing falls flat because—they say—you need an HDMI to USB adapter, and they cost more than the average webcam.

But here they say that you can do it without any additional hardware! Well, only specific OM-D models, including the E-M5 Mark II, but not the E-M5 Mark III! Why not? Some discussion on Facebook came up with nothing definite, but the most likely scenario is that the program uses the tethering functionality, and the cable (micro USB instead of USB-C) doesn't support it.

OK, off to the download site and downloaded the software (“only for Windows”). No luck:

Cannot install this software in this PC
Your PC does not meet the operating system requirements for the application.

The program doesn't support old, worn-out software like Microsoft “Windows” 7. It wants “Windows” 10. Yet another reason to upgrade. Still, it looks like it might be worthwhile.


Sunday, 5 July 2020 Dereel Images for 5 July 2020
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Het volk redeloos, Groggy radeloos
Topic: language, history, opinion Link here

I never learnt Dutch. I didn't really need to: it's somewhere between English and German, and there are few words that don't have an equivalent in one or both of those languages. The biggest issue is the pronunciation.

But then I read about the Rampjaar 1672. Yes, “jaar” is German „Jahr“ or English “year”. But Ramp? It seems to mean “disaster”, and Google also gives me the much more easily understood “onheil” and “ongeluk”.

But that's nothing compared to what seems to be a Dutch saying “Het volk redeloos, de regering radeloos en het land reddeloos”. Most of those words have German cognates, maybe „Das Volk redelos, die Regierung ratlos und das Land rettungslos“. But the r.*d.*loos words are just guesswork. Surely there must be a translation somewhere?

The three adjectives seem to relate to the German verbs „reden“ (to speak), „raten“ (to advise) and „retten“ (to save). Then I found this book summary, containing:

Het 'rampjaar' 1672 geldt nog altijd als een dieptepunt in de Nederlandse geschiedenis. De gebeurtenissen van dat jaar waren zo traumatisch dat ze werden samengevat in de woorden 'redeloos, radeloos, reddeloos', een uitdrukking die we nog steeds kennen. In 1672 was het volk redeloos, de regering radeloos en het land reddeloos. Maar wat was er nu precies aan de hand? De Republiek werd van alle kanten aangevallen, de Fransen bezetten de helft van het land, de gebroeders De Witt werden vermoord en Willem III werd tot stadhouder uitgeroepen. Dit boek gaat over de reeks van gebeurtenissen die 1672 tot het rampjaar van de Nederlandse geschiedenis maakten. Ook de internationale context van het conflict en de achtergronden van de machtsstrijd binnen de Republiek komen daarbij uitgebreid aan de orde.

I can really understand most of that, except for those three adjectives. What does Google Translate say? I tried in English, German, French and Spanish and got similar results, once I persuaded translate that its “detect language” was broken (it decided that it was German):

De gebeurtenissen van dat jaar waren zo traumatisch dat ze werden samengevat in de woorden 'redeloos, radeloos, reddeloos',

The events of that year were so traumatic that they were summarized in the words "senseless, distraught, lifeless,"

In 1672 was het volk redeloos, de regering radeloos en het land reddeloos.

In 1672, the people were unreasonable, the government desperate and the country rescued.

So: in the same passage, it translates “redeloos” as either “senseless” or “unreasonable”, “radeloos” as either “distraught” or “desperate”, and—most of all—“reddeloos” as “lifeless” or “rescued”! The breakage is pretty much the same in the other languages that I tried. Clearly a good advertisement for Google's syntax-independent translation algorithms.

And that's all. I still can't find a definitive explanation of what the three words mean. But in passing, it seems to have been a time that changed the course of European history, certainly when William of Orange took over the English Throne.


Spoon shelf life
Topic: food and drink, photography, general, opinion Link here

Since taking over running the dish washer, I've discovered that a number of spoons are difficult to keep clean. Why? The spoons we use for cooking are some of our oldest possessions. A number are the remains of the spoons from my mother sent that arrived in Germany on 15 December 1967, and there are also some of similar age that Yvonne brought with her when she moved in.

And these spoons seem to stay dirty more frequently than makes sense. Is it dirt? Time for some close-up photos:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200704/big/Corroded-spoon-1.jpeg
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What is that stuff? Some kind of corrosion, clearly. The engraving on the back of the handle show that it's „Nirosta Edelstahl“, stainless steel. Could it be that dish washer detergents required a change in the composition of stainless steel?


“Windows” 10: the pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

It's becoming increasingly clear that I will have to upgrade at least one of my Microsoft boxes to “Windows” 10. For no particular reason, took the disk that I had received with the new ThinkCentre M93p last month and tried it in the old ThinkCentre M58p that used to be teevee. The experience was interesting.

First, try to guess what this silly new GUI is hiding, with some success. Managed to configure the system as disgust.lemis.com (192.109.197.173), though the “troubleshooter” caused trouble: it claimed that couldn't fix the problem. What problem? It was too polite to say. I decided that the “troubleshooter” was the problem.

Apart from that, it was glacially slow, and the disk LED showed that it was continually accessing disk. Not enough RAM (only 4 GB)? The Task Manager showed that there were 1.7 GB free. Still, this was just for playing around with.

Next, set up remote desktop. Does this version of “Windows” support it? Finding that detail proved to be surprisingly difficult. Finally found How to use Remote Desktop from Microsoft support, where they write:

Make sure you have Windows 10 Pro. To check, go to Start > Settings > System > About and look for Edition. For info on how to get it, go to Upgrade Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro.

OK, I have “Windows” 10 Pro. But now I need a user to authenticate. Ah, can't do that without “activating”. And we can't activate Windows on this device:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200705/big/Microsoft-setup-2.jpeg
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I suppose that might even be correct. Yes, every one of the 5 ThinkCentres that I have bought came with what I believe is a valid Microsoft system on disk. But I've only ever used one of them, and this one came from a different machine. Followed some links and ended up at this page, which at least has the interesting implication that if I have a “Microsoft Account” I can transfer licenses from one system to another.

OK, it offers to send the page as mail. I may not be activated, but I am on the net, so why not? And how about that, it's even prepared to log me in to Gmail, though Gmail is clearly not amused:


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OK, log in, not helped by the fact that I forgot to write down the last password change, and send the message. Nothing arrived.

Further investigation showed that I had disabled my POP3 cron job on 13 February 2020 as a poorly thought-out part of the mail migration.

OK, that needs fixing, but there are more direct ways of doing things:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/8) ~ 286 -> /usr/local/bin/fetchmail -a
fetchmail: Authorization failure on groggyhimself@gmail.com@pop.gmail.com
fetchmail: For help, see http://www.fetchmail.info/fetchmail-FAQ.html#R15
fetchmail: Query status=3 (AUTHFAIL)

Huh? I didn't change anything there. Try again with -v flag, which showed that the password was being rejected.

Bloody Gmail! Have they changed something without telling me? Spent quite a bit of time searching and discovered that yes, indeed, they had disabled the “allow less secure app” access. That wouldn't be so bad if it were easy to get secure access, but ultimately anything that goes over SMTP is insecure.

Enabled that, and watched the mail pour in, about 550 messages, all of which I had barely missed. 255 were from the Hugin list, which I had idly wondered about, also 136 from Academia, which has taken to spamming me via two different email addresses, and another 70 from eBay, which also normally communicates by other email addresses.

What didn't arrive? The messages that I had sent from disgust. They were filtered as spam; I'll look at why some other time.

And on reflection, I don't think that disgust is a very good name. distress should be better.


Lies, damn lies and LED light globes
Topic: general, opinion Link here

One of the light globes in the kitchen has been flickering for some time. But there are two in the same mount; which one is it? It was careful never to flicker while I was looking at it.

Finally got round to taking the lid off and taking a look. To my surprise, one was LED, the other fluorescent. OK, my bet on the LED. Took it out. 17 W, 1500 lumens. Do I have another? No, all I had were 11 W, choice of LED or fluoro. Put in a fluoro.

Problem solved? Well, clearly the new globe has a lower rating, 11 W/700 lumens (as opposed to others I had, 11 W/600 lumens). So clearly it should be dimmer. But no, after they had warmed up I found no difference.

I've seen discrepancies between LED and fluoro before, but in that case it was the other way round. For the time being I'll take the values as guesswork. What's less guesswork is that the LED globes don't manage anywhere near the life that they claim; arguably they're less reliable than incandescent globes.


Piccola hair loss again
Topic: animals Link here

Piccola seems to be tearing out her hair again:


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It's not the first time, but why? One clue might be the time of year: she had exactly the same problem exactly 5 years ago.


The limits of frozen meat
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Yvonne had bought some asparagus on Wednesday, throwing our menu into turmoil. OK, forget the enchiladas I had planned, and have some grilled lamb loin. Only 3½ years old, and apart from some “burning” on the outside it looked quite good after thawing out.

But it was tough as old boots! It'll end up in thin slices in some stir fry. We really should keep an eye on the age of stuff in the deep freeze.


Monday, 6 July 2020 Dereel Images for 6 July 2020
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Shotgun attack
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I send myself emails from the web server when a local link is broken. I determine a local link from the HTTP_REFERER field in the request, and that can, of course, be wrong.

So it was today:

Date: Sun, 5 Jul 2020 16:23:56 GMT
From: World Wide Web Owner <www@lax.lemis.com>
To: groggyhimself@lemis.com
Subject: FAILURE: /faq.php?action=grouppermission&gids%5B99%5D='&gids%5B100%5D%5B0%5D=)%20and%20(select%201%20from%20(select%20count(*),concat(version(),floor(rand(0)*2))x%20from%20information_schema.tables%20group%20by%20x)a)%23
        <- http://www.lemis.com/faq.php?action=grouppermission&gids[99]='&gids[100][0]=) and (select 1 from (select count(*),concat(version(),floor(rand(0)*2))x from information_schema.tables group by x)a)%23
Message-Id: <202007051623.065GNuh9049588@lax.lemis.com>

Referrer:       http://www.lemis.com/faq.php?action=grouppermission&gids[99]='&gids[100][0]=) and (select 1 from (select count(*),concat(version(),floor(rand(0)*2))x frominformation_schema.tables group by x)a)%23
Referenced URL:http://www.lemis.com/faq.php?action=grouppermission&gids%5B99%5D='&gids%5B100%5D%5B0%5D=)%20and%20(select%201%20from%20(select%20count(*),concat(version(),floor(rand(0)*2))x%20from%20information_schema.tables%20group%20by%20x)a)%23
Request URI:/faq.php?action=grouppermission&gids%5B99%5D='&gids%5B100%5D%5B0%5D=)%20and%20(select%201%20from%20(select%20count(*),concat(version(),floor(rand(0)*2))x%20from%20information_schema.tables%20group%20by%20x)a)%23
Remote host:
Remote IP:      45.121.104.220
Client:         Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 10.0; Windows NT 6.2)

What's that stuff? Clearly it's some kind of SQL statement, presumably designed to get information about the installation. How many security breaches are needed for it to work?


Sharing files in the age of Dropbox
Topic: technology, photography, multimedia, opinion Link here

Yvonne shares a number of videos with Julie Lannen. Julie does a lot of video production herself, and it's not surprising that she's not satisfied with the quality that YouTube offers.

Her solution: Dropbox. But today Yvonne told me that she had had difficulty uploading a video to Dropbox. Too big, 3.7 GB instead of a maximum of 2 GB. It seems that the new limit is relatively recent.

Julie had a solution: a compressor called HandBrake. Huh? You can't compress videos worth a damn. For the fun of it, tried it with bzip2 -9:

-rw-rw-r--  2 yvonne  home  3,720,123,421  5 Jul 23:24 67050112.MOV
-rw-r--r--  1 root    home  3,719,542,477  5 Jul 16:35 foo.bz2

That's really not worth the trouble. Took a look at HandBrake, and of course it does lossy compression. How lossy? How do I know? Let Julie work it out.

So that means finding somewhere else to put it. That's straightforward enough: DigitalOcean, where I already have 600 odd GB of data. Does that suit Julie? No reply.

In the meantime, though: does dropbox really restrict me to 2 GB per file? Tried loading, which went smoothly until the end. Well, almost the end:

 
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Sigh Sometimes I wonder if these convenience sites are worth it.


Ragù bolognese again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

We had planned to cook spaghetti bolognese over the weekend, but other issues overtook us. But we had the ingredients, and they needed cooking.

It's a lot of work, and this time we chose twice the quantities that we had had before: a total of 1 kg of meat, probably enough for 15 portions or so.

It's been about 13 years since I wrote the page, and in that time things have changed. In particular, I didn't mention salt! This time I used 30 g, based on my rule of thumb “2% of the total weight”; potentially that's a little on the high side, possibly because of salt in the ham.

I was surprised how much battuto I had compared to the meat:


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I had started quite late, and by the time the meat was fried, it was time for dinner. OK, the next step was putting in red wine and reducing it. Why not marinate it first? Put in the wine tonight, cook tomorrow morning.


Tuesday, 7 July 2020 Dereel Images for 7 July 2020
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More Dropbox pain
Topic: technology, multimedia, opinion Link here

So why did my Dropbox upload hang just before the end? There's a “help” link that brings me to this page, where I read:

You can upload files through the desktop app or mobile apps, no matter their size.

Files uploaded to dropbox.com must be 50 GB or smaller.

All files uploaded to your Dropbox must be smaller than your storage space. For example, if your account has a storage quota of 2 GB, you can upload one 2 GB file or many files that add up to 2 GB. If you are over your storage quota, Dropbox will stop syncing.

Note: Files uploaded through the API must be 350GB or smaller.

Four different size values! And one of them unspecified. Tried to follow the link to find out how much space I had, but the download hung, repeatedly.

Sorry, Dropbox, you're more pain than I can handle. Off to investigate s3cmd, which I use for my photos, but whose incantations are stored in various scripts. But it's straightforward enough:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/49) ~ 978 -> s3cmd sync /Photos/yvonne/20200705/orig/67050112.MOV  s3://lemis/yvonne/videos/ -P
upload: '/Photos/yvonne/20200705/orig/67050112.MOV' -> 's3://lemis/yvonne/videos/67050112.MOV'  [part 1 of 237, 15MB] [1 of 1]
 15728640 of 15728640   100% in   38s   394.33 kB/s  done
upload: '/Photos/yvonne/20200705/orig/67050112.MOV' -> 's3://lemis/yvonne/videos/67050112.MOV'  [part 2 of 237, 15MB] [1 of 1]
...

And after a couple of hours it was done. But where is it?

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/54) ~ 112 -> s3cmd ls -l s3://lemis/yvonne/videos
                       DIR                                       s3://lemis/yvonne/videos/
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/54) ~ 113 -> s3cmd ls -l s3://lemis/yvonne/videos/
2020-07-07 05:55 3720123421   874e8cae7f094ae6d2e6240f15068816-237  STANDARD  s3://lemis/yvonne/videos/67050112.MOV

Another program, like rsync, that is sensitive to trailing slashes in path names. But how much help is that? Clearly the s3:// is magic. Ultimately I found the URL http://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/yvonne/videos/67050112.MOV, but how do I remember that? Presumably it's in some config file or another that I have also forgotten.


Why such big video files?
Topic: photography, multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

The video clip that I uploaded for Yvonne was 5 minutes, 20 seconds long, and it took up 3.7 GB! That's 42 GB per hour! Why so big? Clearly it's higher quality than “broadcast” videos, but how much?

Investigating, (re)discovered that the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III has the following video options:

Resolution       FPS       Mb/s       Fantasy name
4096x2160       24       237       C4K
1920x1080       120       50       FHD
3840x2160       30       102       MOV
1920x1080       60       52       superfine
1920x1080       60       30       fine
1920x1080       60       18       normal

Yvonne had the thing set to 4K (in other words, 3840x2160), so the file size should have been 4.08 GB. No idea why it was that much smaller. The real question is, of course: how big does Julie want it to be? For the moment let's set it to the bottom one, only 18% of the size.


Another grid power failure
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Another grid power failure today at 9:23:58, this time a relatively uncommon 100 second outage.


Dual power sources?
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

I've been watching my photovoltaic power system fairly carefully since it was installed, and I think I understand it fairly well now. But today I saw something that puzzled me:

 
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Drawing 436 W from the PV array, 3.5 kw from the batteries—and 1.1 kW from the grid. Why? Under those circumstances I would expect it to draw only from the first two, at least until the batteries reached 20%. Is this some kind of slow stop? It clearly had nothing to do with the outage earlier in the day.


First orchids of spring
Topic: gardening Link here

Walking the dogs, found these Pterostylis on the roadside:


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Spring is on its way.


Understanding planting boxes
Topic: gardening Link here

I'm preparing for some spring herbs (notably Basil), which I'll grow indoors. OK, I have a box:


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But what's that metal rod?


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Took it out; it can't be much use under the soil. And then I was Enlightened:


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It makes up for the flimsy construction of the box.


Wednesday, 8 July 2020 Dereel Images for 8 July 2020
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New Microsoft box
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Over the weekend I ordered another ThinkCentre M93p, and it arrived today. This one was intended to run “Windows” 10, so there wasn't much to do except set it up. But almost out of habit, I opened it up and started putting in a graphics card (by default it only has a VGA connector). And there a surprise that will keep me thinking when I get the next one, destined to become a FreeBSD box: it's too high. Still, that's for another day.

Put the thing back together, fired up, logged in with my Microsoft account, and “activation” was so smooth that I didn't notice it. But the setup was so strange that I really didn't understand a lot of it. Do I want to synchronize activity history across “devices”? I suppose if I were single-threaded, I might. But it fills me with horror to think that actions that I perform in one place should leak into other places. It seems the complete antithesis of good operating system design.

And then there's this “privacy” page with things (all activated) like “Diagnostic data: send your browsing history...”.

That's privacy? They must have redefined it since I learnt the word. And then there are things like “Inking & typing” and “Advertising ID”. What does that have to do with an operating system? Layering violations without end! And finally completely irrelevant entries like “Find my device” and speech recognition. About the only thing that might make sense (and which I might even try some time) is “Location”, but I doubt that that would work. Google has all the information it needs to find my location, and so far it hasn't even always been able to find the correct continent.

And then there's this “link to your smart phone” functionality. What's that? In any case, I can try it out, so I entered my phone number. Nothing obvious happened, but later I discovered that it had sent me a couple of SMS messages, which I shall investigate some other time.

Setting up the network was as on Sunday. At least I've been able to untangle most of that strangeness, though “Register the connection's address in DNS” puzzles the hell out of me. Probably once again it's some Microsoft wart (as opposed to Microsoft “Word”).

Turn down offer of “Microsoft 365” free trial, whatever that might be, and on to set up accounts. What a catastrophe! It seems that Microsoft no longer wants to distinguish between accounts and email addresses, so I had to select the “Email & Accounts” tab and enter a valid email address. Finally with the help of our IRC channel and Google found this page, which despite its age (over 4 years) proved to be right.

No, you don't choose “Email & Accounts”. Why would you to set up an account? You choose “Family & other users”. Family? This is “Windows” 10 Pro, not Home. OK, humour them. Set up a kiosk? What the hell is that? No, it seems that what I want is a limited account. Why limited? Yes, it's running under Microsoft, which is limitation enough, but I still don't know what it meant. It's not lack of administrator privileges; you can add them later.

No, select “Add someone else to this PC” (and not, note, “device”). I want to add myself. OK, humour it. It wants a Microsoft account or a phone (on a PC, remember?). No, I don't. I don't have this person's sign-in information, to put it in Microsoft-speak. So I get another window asking me to create a Microsoft account. Dammit, I don't want anything to do with Microsoft accounts, certainly not for Yvonne. Ah, Add a user without a Microsoft account. Finally! “Create a user for this PC”. I have to think out three stupid security questions. I wanted to select the pair “Microsoft”/“NO”, but they decide the questions, like the name of my first pet (what if I never had one?) or the city where I was born (which nobody else could possibly guess). In fact, I think plenty of people who know me could guess the correct answers to all the questions. But Microsoft can't, so I gave incorrect answers. But to make up for that, I had no option for a password!

OK, try logging in anyway. “The password is incorrect. Try again”. Not surprising, but retrying won't help. Try recovering. Answer All Three of the stupid security questions, then I was able to set my password. Somehow I think that I have done something wrong.

Move on. Next I want rdesktop access. Disable firewall. Nothing. Ah, the thing seems to have two firewalls, a “Windows” firewall and a “Defender” firewall. Undo both, and ICMP works too. A good thing, too: my “Ten easy steps to enable ping” link has atrophied.

But the rdesktop access asks me to use some silly name that it had thought out. It can look up its name from DNS, but it's too polite to do that. How do I set the name? This page tells me. And then I have to reboot! To change the name!

After that, though, I was able to access the system with rdesktop, something that caused me untold grief last time I tried it, now over 3 years ago. The other pain will be setting up access to FreeBSD via Samba, something that I didn't get working at all last time I tried. But Jerry Dunham has recently given me some hints, so maybe I'll get my act together this time.

Still, Microsoft loves updates. Went checking: You're up to date. Oh, maybe not. There's a new version out there:

 
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OK, download that, in typical Microsoft fashion:

 
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Left it running. I'm in no hurry.


Nikolai injured
Topic: animals Link here

Nikolai came in from outside this morning and left many bloody pawprints. Further investigation showed that he had broken a nail on a hind leg:


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Off in the afternoon to visit Pene Kirk again, the second time in a week after nearly 18 months since the previous visit. Relatively straightforward: clip the claw off and bandage it up. But for that she still needed to sedate him, leaving him surprisingly groggy.


Another grid outage
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Another one-second grid power failure this evening at 23:33:53.


Thursday, 9 July 2020 Dereel
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More garden work
Topic: gardening Link here

Knocking on the door this morning at 9:15, just as I was cleaning my teeth. It proved to be Mick Solly, the gardener, who has now repaired his car (intermittent electrical fault). Despite the middle of winter, there was plenty to do, and he'll be back to do the rest next week.

Also managed to plant some of my Basil seeds, unfortunately only the Thai basil. I couldn't find the others. The canonical way to do this is to plant lots and thin out after they have germinated. Somehow that offends my sense of stinginess, so I planted only the number I wanted and marked their positions with toothpicks:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200710/big/Planting-basil.jpeg
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Apart from saving seeds, it will also give me a better idea of the germination rate.


More Microsoft fun
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

After running overnight, distress managed to upgrade itself to “Windows” 10 version 2004 (which sounds surprisingly like it's 16 years out of date). What now? Low-hanging fruit, mainly getting rid of this irritating date and time format. OK, first “region”. Given that it tells me that the date is July 9, it's fairly clear that it's set to USA. But no, Australia, at least Microsoft's interpretation, just US English for some reason. Managed to set time formats, but the login page still showed “July 9”. And of course it's too polite to show the seconds: it's a modern Operating System. Maybe I need to reboot. It also tells me that the temperature in Canberra (apparently near here) is 52°, which I find hard to believe.

And it talks NTP. To Microsoft. How do I tell it that there's an NTP server physically almost touching it? I don't know, yet.

So, it has just installed the most recent updates. I know you, Microsoft: you have updates in store. Check for updates. Yes. Oh, sorry, “check” is a synonym for “install”, right? Installing updates.

Maybe I should just accept that. After all, it's not a system that you can take seriously.

Apart from that, why are Microsoft cursors so hard to see? That's not new, but went looking and found some ways to change them, though they didn't seem to work very well. Maybe part of the rdesktop “experience”?

While searching for the mouse cursor stuff, found a way to disable this emetic bleed-through that was modern 10 years ago, and which thankfully has largely disappeared since then.

So what do I have to do now? In roughly decreasing order of importance,

  1. Set up Samba.
  2. Set up backups, which requires Samba to be working.
  3. Configure NTP.
  4. Teach default displays to tell the time, date and temperature correctly.

Covering the riding arena
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

It's been over three months since Yvonne started looking for quotes for covering the riding arena. By the middle of June, the last time I was in Ballarat, she had nothing useful. I saw a couple of builders while driving around (why didn't she?), and she contacted them. They gave her quotes, but only two. Are there others?

Dammit, this is all too much pain, says Yvonne. Yes, I knew that, that's why I didn't want to have anything to do with it. Now she's experiencing it first hand and not liking it. But that doesn't mean taking the first best quote. Much discussion, with the result that I've decided that there are worse pains than arranging the construction, so I'll be doing the rest after all.

Now we have a third quote from Graham of The Shed Specialist. But he doesn't build, and while he says he has addresses, he won't tell me who they are. On the other hand, he says that we can get it erected for a flat 35% rate and $75 per m² for the footings, and that makes his quote competitive. But do I want to get involved with somebody who only does part of the work?

In passing, there's a mention of the quality of the steel. All-Australian! None of this cheap Chinese junk. I've never listened much to this kind of argument, but he followed it up with numbers: his steel is 0.42 mm thick, while Chinese stuff is—he says—only 0.3 mm thick. Certainly worth keeping in mind and checking for, though it begs the question whether 0.3 mm isn't enough.


Friday, 10 July 2020 Dereel Images for 10 July 2020
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More “Windows” 10 fun
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

As planned yesterday, today was the day to attack file sharing between distress (Microsoft “Windows” 10) and my FreeBSD machines. I wasn't expecting it to be easy, and it wasn't.

The first issue is that my down-rev version of Samba doesn't do the new version of Microsoft's CIFS. People had told me that I had to use the version 1.0, though I had some recollection that it still hadn't worked for me.

OK, how do you do this? By the end of the day I had still not found my way round Microsoft's maze of twisty little menus, all illogical, but at least I had found that most problems have been addressed on some web page or another. This page explains how to do it. Nothing in System. Nothing in Network. Ah, of course: it's in Programs. Just select Windows Features (single/double glazed? Open horizontally, vertically, not at all?), climb down through a tree and select SMB 1.0/CIFS Client, then reboot, and Bob's your uncle.

Or he was, but he died years ago. Now I get:

 
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Now isn't that helpful? Tried Diagnose, which was useless, as apparently always. I don't think it has ever given me a useful answer, let alone analysis. What is it, idiot? Can you see a system called eureka? Then it's not the spelling of the system name. Does eureka respond? If not, it's connection refused. Otherwise is it authentication error or path name not found? All of this information is at the fingertips of the SMB client, but no, “check the spelling”. Ugh!

OK, what's it likely to be? I know that eureka is serving this file system, because dischord can access it. Leaves authentication. What's the password? One of the dangers of having something “just work” is that it's easy to forget the configuration. What's the correct password? It's clearly not the user's password on the client machine. Is it my normal password on eureka? It didn't work, anyway. What other possibilities are there? smbpasswd won't tell me, and I can't find a way for the system on dischord to tell me. One possible password occurred to me, so off to try that.

Same response. Well, almost. It looked identical, only this time it occurred immediately, while before it took about 20 seconds, so this is Microsoft's standard answer to a different problem. My guess is that this means that the password is correct, while previously it was waiting for 20 seconds to see if it might suddenly become correct. But there was still a(nother) problem. What?

First, confirm my guess that I had the correct password. There's this book “The Complete FreeBSD”, which contains just enough information about Samba to get over common problems. One of them was this scenario, and in the book I read:

Next, check that you can log in with smbclient.

$ smbclient -L freebie -U grog
added interface ip=223.147.37.1 bcast=223.147.37.255 nmask=255.255.255.0
Password:                       as usual, no echo
Domain=[EXAMPLE] OS=[Unix] Server=[Samba 2.2.7a]

        Sharename      Type      Comment
        ---------      ----      -------
        homes          Disk      Home Directories
        ftp            Disk      ftp server file area
        grog           Disk
        IPC$           IPC       IPC Service (Samba Server)
...

Tried that, and it worked. OK, first step done: the password is correct. What next? This page goes into some detail about how to configure Samba to log what went wrong. It also mentions the Microsoft client logs, but it's too polite to say where they are. Off to configure my /usr/local/etc/smb.conf with the following entries in the [global] section:

# no log file size limitation
max log size = 0
# specific log file name
log file = /var/log/samba/log.%I
# set the debug level
log level = 3
# add the pid to the log
debug pid = yes
# add the uid to the log
debug uid = yes
# add the debug class to the log
debug class = yes
# add microsecond resolution to timestamp
debug hires timestamp = yes

Fool! It's not /usr/local/etc/smb.conf! This is Samba 4, so it's /usr/local/etc/smb4.conf. OK, do that, ponder why /usr/local/etc/smb.conf is still there, and restart Samba. Look at the somewhat boring debug output for a successful connection from dischord. Try again from distress. It works!

Damn, is that annoying! “I didn't change anything”, and now it suddenly works. It wasn't the debug information; after removing it, it still worked. So despite the frustration of not knowing what the problem was, it has at least gone into hiding, and I should know how to chase it if it resurfaces.


New DxO PhotoLab
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

One of the most pressing reasons I had for setting up distress was to be able to run version 3 of DxO PhotoLab, which doesn't work on “Windows” 7. Install at, start it, no problems. Now Yvonne can process the photos from her Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III without first concealing them as E-M1 Mark II photos. And it seems to work about 50% faster, presumably because of the faster processor.

But then there's the eternal problem: configuration. For DxO there are three components: my saved “presets”, the lens/camera correction modules, and the base configuration. How do I copy them? Will copying them work? The modules for the E-M5 Mark III aren't available for version 2, so potentially they have a different format. OK, process some photos taken with that camera, download the modules, and see where they land up.

How do I move them across? The Microsoft way is, of course, with CIFS, but the Microsoft tools are so hard to use. Fired up an Emacs on dischord, and found the modules and presets at C:\Users\grog\AppData\Local\DxO\PhotoLab 2\Modules and C:\Users\grog\AppData\Local\DxO\PhotoLab 2\Presets respectively. Copy them to eureka:/home/grog/DxO/PhotoLab2, and go looking on distress. Yes, it has a similar hierarchy.

First thing to try: are the modules compatible? I have 249 modules on dischord, a total of 625 MB. Copied the module for the E-M5-III and M.Zuiko Digital 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 II R to dischord via eureka and tried there. Nope, it's worse than useless. Normally if it doesn't know the camera, you can process the photos without correction modules. But here it refuses to touch it as long as “E-M5 Mark III” is in the Exif data. Change that data to “E-M1 Mark II” and all is well.

OK, the other way round? I had established that the other two modules that I had loaded to distress (for the E-M1 Mark II) were the same size, and cmp confirmed that they were the same. Fine, copy them over.

The same worked for the presets. But where's the master configuration? I had to run find to see what files get changed when I update it. In this particular case the file was called (all one one line):

-rwx------+ 1 grog           None      41255 Jul 10 17:09 C:\Users\grog\AppData\Local\DxO\DxO.PhotoLab.exe_StrongName_addo3jomrfkt2faiwwfxxb444r1xfvlh\2.4.0.21\user.config

Now isn't that a good idea? It includes the version number, so it's probably not such a good idea to copy it, especially as there's not very big (the size is misleading: this is XML bloat). Tried out what I had copied. DxO wanted to be restarted before it saw the modules, but apart from that all was well. onow I have version 3 running on distress. It was less pain than I had expected.


Software bloat avoided
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

One of the unexpected occurrences with distress was that it went to sleep while rdesktop was running, leaving rdesktop “corpses” (freely translated from German „Leichen“) behind. Mentioned that on IRC.

What? You're still using rdesktop? That's an old, worn-out, unmaintained magic word.

OK, I'll bite. Why is this rdesktop's fault? But the consensus was that yes, it is. I should be running a more modern client, such as remmina, vinagre, freerdp or krdc. OK, what's good about them? From the pkg-descr, I get for remmina:

 * Maintain a list of connection profiles, organized by groups
 * Make quick connections by directly putting in the server address
 * Remote desktops with higher resolutions are scrollable/scalable in both
   window and fullscreen mode
 * Viewport fullscreen mode: remote desktop automatically scrolls when the
   mouse moves over the screen edge.
 * Floating toolbar in fullscreen mode, allows you to switch between modes,
   toggle keyboard grabbing, minimize, etc.
 * Tabbed interface, optionally managed by groups
 * A GTK+ 3 application

And for vinagre (a name that looks like a typo):

* You can connect to several machines at the same time, we like tabs
* You can keep track of your most used connections, we like favorites
* You can keep track of your recently used connections, we like GtkRecent
* You can browse your network for VNC servers, we like avahi
* You don't need to supply the password on every connection, we like GNOME
  Keyring

OK, which of those do I want? Not many, potentially none. rdesktop does what I want, and (unusually) I haven't had any complaints. GNOME! GTK+! KDE for krdc. The description of freerdp is less verbose, but the Makefile looks scary. What about downloads?

remmina is clearly Modern. There are no fewer than 11 packages to download. They start like this:

=== root@lagoon (/dev/pts/0) ~ 5 -> pkg install remmina-1.3.9
The following 8 package(s) will be affected (of 0 checked):

New packages to be INSTALLED:
        avahi-gtk3: 0.7_1
        avahi-header: 0.7
        avidemux-qt5: 2.7.4
        libsodium: 1.0.18
        libssh: 0.9.4
        remmina: 1.3.9
        vte3: 0.52.2_3

Installed packages to be REINSTALLED:
        avidemux-2.7.4_1 (options changed)

The process will require 16 MiB more space.
7 MiB to be downloaded.

16 MB! And break my build of avidemux that caused me so much pain a few months ago! What does a remote desktop client need with avidemux anyway? No, thanks.

Next, vinagre:

The following 31 package(s) will be affected (of 0 checked):

New packages to be INSTALLED:
        avidemux-qt5: 2.7.4
        freerdp: 2.1.1
        vinagre: 3.22.0_2

Installed packages to be UPGRADED:
        firefox: 74.0_2,1 -> 78.0.1,1
        postfix: 3.4.9,1 -> 3.5.4,1
        wayland-protocols: 1.17 -> 1.20
        webkit2-gtk3: 2.26.4 -> 2.28.1_1

Installed packages to be REINSTALLED:
        avidemux-2.7.4_1 (options changed)

Number of packages to be installed: 16
Number of packages to be upgraded: 14
Number of packages to be reinstalled: 1

163 MiB to be downloaded.

I've only shown the ones that scare me. Another avidemux. Even freerdp! And why does it need to upgrade firefox and postfix? And 163 MB of downloads! Presumably freerdp by itself would be easier.

=== root@lagoon (/dev/pts/0) ~ 9 -> pkg install freerdp
New packages to be INSTALLED:
        avidemux-qt5: 2.7.4

Installed packages to be REINSTALLED:
        avidemux-2.7.4_1 (options changed)

Number of packages to be installed: 4
Number of packages to be upgraded: 13
Number of packages to be reinstalled: 1

143 MiB to be downloaded.

Most of the problems I saw with vinagre are also there with freerdp, and it's still enormous. OK, 3 down, all breaking avidemux, one to go:

=== root@lagoon (/dev/pts/0) ~ 10 -> pkg install krdc
New packages to be INSTALLED:
        avidemux-qt5: 2.7.4
        freerdp: 2.1.1

Installed packages to be REINSTALLED:
        avidemux-2.7.4_1 (options changed)

Number of packages to be installed: 8
Number of packages to be upgraded: 13
Number of packages to be reinstalled: 1

144 MiB to be downloaded.

ALL FOUR of these packages want to break my avidemux! And they're all enormous. What about rdesktop? I had never looked, but:

=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/2) ~ 6 -> pkg install rdesktop
New packages to be INSTALLED:
        rdesktop: 1.8.6

Number of packages to be installed: 1

168 KiB to be downloaded.

Now isn't that a big difference! vinagre wanted to download nearly 1000 times as much software as rdesktop, and krdc and freerdp aren't far behind. And for what? Nothing that I can see that I need. And clearly it's a great violation of the premise “do one thing and do it well”.

To be fair to the people on IRC, they took my use of the word “corpse” to mean “core dump”. In fact, it was just a dead-in-the-water window. And I suspect something to do with Microsoft power management. dischord didn't sleep when rdesktop was active, but distress does.


More grid outages
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Another two one-second grid power failures today at 12:04:44 and 12:05:13.


Saturday, 11 July 2020 Dereel Images for 11 July 2020
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Grey day
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Today was particularly dreary, as the photovoltaic summary shows:

 
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That could be an all-time record: 2.53 kWh, only about a tenth of what was generated 3 days ago. At first I thought that something had gone wrong with the system.


More Microsoft stuff
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

So finally distress is working relatively well. Within the constraints of the system, I'm surprisingly satisfied. Last time I tried, it kept me busy for days, and in the end I gave up.

Of course, there are still things to do. Why does distress go to sleep when rdesktop is active? Off looking in the documentation web, and found lots of suggestions about what to do, like this one. They all had one thing in common: “if you're running rdesktop, disable sleep”.

That's straightforward enough, but not what I want, and not what “Windows” 7 does. Have they broken it?

On the other hand, I did manage to process my weekly House photos on distress, requiring installation of Photomatix and Ashampoo Photo Optimizer 8, which only came out a couple of days ago. And it worked. So within the bounds of expectations, I'm relatively happy. What do I do with dischord now? It still works, but I'll use it less. It also has 16 GB memory, compared to the 8 GB on distress, so if the chips are compatible I might move a couple.


Enchiladas verdes revisited
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I don't make enchiladas very often, mainly because they haven't worked as well as I had hoped. Six years ago, after some particularly unpleasant ready-made salsa verde, I decided that I didn't want to eat them any more.

But people forget, and last time I left both salsa and chicken over. Time to eat the rest.

Making the tortillas is gradually becoming easier. There are now plenty of videos on YouTube showing how to make them; not surprisingly, the best are in Spanish, but it's easy enough to understand. But the devil's in the detail. The women in the videos aren't doing it for the first time, and the tortillas come out perfectly, one after the other.

Years ago I spent lots of soul-searching trying to get the perfect masa/water mixture. I think I've solved that one, at least for Minsa, the only masa I can get easily: 1 part masa to 1.8 parts water, by weight, considerably wetter than I had previously done. And 20 g of masa seems right for one tortilla—previously I had been using up to 35 g. But I have problems getting them round. I have problems peeling the paper off the tortillas after pressing. I have problems with the cooking time.

Today I made some progress: first, leave the masa to rest for 10 minutes after mixing in the water. I press the tortillas between sheets of baking paper and pull the paper off, and it's clear that it should be folded back 180° and pulled off parallel to the surface, and gently. If I lift the paper, it tends to take bits of the tortilla with it.

After peeling the first side, turn over the tortilla and peel off the other side. But what's under the tortilla? In the past I have just put the first sheet of paper back, but that's moist, and it tends to stick again. Today I tried using a third sheet of dry paper instead, and that worked much better.

But that sheet can get most and sticky too. Noticed an old, dried-out piece of Indian roti lying around. Would that be better? No, disaster. It stuck fast, and I had to scrape it off and try again.

OK, next: some recipes fry the tortillas in lard before filling them. Tried that, sort of: melted the lard and wiped one side of the tortillas in it. Then fill with chicken:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200711/big/Enchiladas-verdes-3.jpeg
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Put the enchiladas in a baking tray on a little salsa:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200711/big/Enchiladas-verdes-2.jpeg
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For me (not for Yvonne), shred onion and put on top:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200711/big/Enchiladas-verdes-8.jpeg
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Cover with salsa and cheese:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200711/big/Enchiladas-verdes-11.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200711/big/Enchiladas-verdes-12.jpeg
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This proved to be far too little salsa (300 g). I think I could have done with double that quantity. And clearly the cheese is completely wrong. That's a basic problem in Australia: you can get many brands of cheese, but they're all copies of a few basic types, and things like Cotija are at least as difficult to find as Appenzeller or Vacherin.

Bake at 170° for 30 minutes? After 15 minutes they looked like this:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200711/big/Enchiladas-verdes-13.jpeg
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Turned on the grill, temperature to 175°, and gave them another 20 minutes:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200711/big/Enchiladas-verdes-15.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200711/big/Enchiladas-verdes-16.jpeg
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Once again not the right cheese. What can I use? I suppose the closest I can get (not very close, sadly) would be this grated yellow “Mozarella” cheese. This one made a nuisance of itself by being too hard to cut through to remove individual enchiladas:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200711/big/Enchiladas-verdes-17.jpeg
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And once again the enchiladas fell apart:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200711/big/Enchiladas-verdes-18.jpeg
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I should have expected that; I had commented on it last time, and also suggested how to avoid it “next time”: bake them alone first.


Sunday, 12 July 2020 Dereel Images for 12 July 2020
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The daily “Windows” pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Gradually distress is working more or less as I want it. Spent some time today trying to refine the thing to not require double clicking, and showing all files rather than just those parts of some file names. It wasn't helped by the fact that they've both rearranged and renamed things. I didn't find how to set the NTP server, though my HOWTO page describes it for “Windows” 7. I did find that they have renamed the tab “Folder Options” to “File explorer options”, and that's where I need to turn off this silly double mouse click (obvious, isn't it?). But where's “File explorer options”? Without climbing through the entire maze of twisty little menus, all illogical, I tried the search button:

 
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Where's “File Explorer Options” there? It isn't. You have to ignore much more frequently used items like “File Explorer Developer Settings” and Show all results; it's the very last entry. And when I did open it, it obligingly opened the window under the parent window:

 
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But finally I got some of it done, though I still have to set up backups.

Next, for a little sanity, install Emacs, which doubles as a file manager. It's clear that the Emacs people don't like Microsoft either, and the installation instructions were somewhat vague. Finally I downloaded the tarball, and Microsoft had a hissy fit. I can't “open” that! Do you want to process it with Windows Media Player or Notepad? Otherwise go to Microsoft Storage and download an app.

How about WinZip? It's free!

 
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“PDP functionality to convert and merge PDF files”. “Share large files easily via email”. “Add irrelevant features to cause panic in the hearts of Unix users”.

But particularly “Get your free trial”. They're lying about basic system functionality being free!

OK, on advice of others, how about 7-Zip, really free from their web site. Microsoft didn't want to know; I didn't even get the option to use it to “open” the archive. I had to run 7-Zip and rub its nose in the archive.

OK, go looking for bin\runemacs.exe. Not there! No directory bin. In fact, I had downloaded the sources. Way down the bottom of the directory listing on the ftp site was a directory windows, and the archive I was looking for was there, in a more Microsoft-friendly format. Downloaded and “opened” it.

OK, now it's open, now what? “Create a shortcut”. How do you do that? Even my Microsoft friends couldn't tell me. Tried dragging the executable to the root window, or whatever Microsoft calls it. That worked, and I could start it. But it didn't have its environment, and it crashed.

OK, try running it from the directory that 7-Zip gave me.

The application may depend on other compressed files in this folder
Shall I extract into your \Documents folder?

Now isn't that a good choice for a “folder”. I didn't get much of a choice: yes or no. So I chose no and it installed in my home directory. And then I could drag the executable to the root window and run it. What a relief! And yes, as Andrew Perry commented on IRC, this one was not really Microsoft's fault.

In passing, I never cease to marvel at the obscurity of Microsoft “Windows” windows. Found this at the top of my screen today:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200712/big/Microsoft-3.png
Image title: Microsoft 3          Dimensions:          1062 x 85, 8 kB
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What is it? Parts of two windows, neither identified, and one not rectangular. Clearly one is DxO PhotoLab, but the other one is firefox, and its option tabs grow upwards into the DxO space. That's the white one; if it hadn't been for that, I couldn't have told them apart. And if I use firefox, Chrome and “Edge”, or whatever it's called, it's really hard to tell them apart.


Hibernate or sleep?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

One of the problems for which I haven't found a solution is the fact that “Windows” 10 doesn't seem to be able to ignore the “sleep” settings while an rdesktop session is active. So, as many have advised, I have to disable sleep.

So when do I sleep? Under “Windows” 7 it was simple: terminate the rdesktop session and it goes to sleep after its normal timeout. But of course distress doesn't. And the shutdown program doesn't even offer “sleep”, just “hibernate”. Tried that, and of course it works. It also presumably uses less power. But coming back up is a different matter. Tested today: dischord is up and running after 30 seconds. distress reads in its memory image and then does nothing for a minute, it seems. Then there's a lot of disk activity, and after another minute it's active.

Yes, I can speed that up by pressing the power button (which I have set to “sleep”), but it seems messy, and Yvonne can't do that from the other end of the house.


More “Windows” pain
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yvonne obligingly took 315 photos today, to be processed with DxO PhotoLab. OK, set things up for her as well. Basically the same thing as for me.

But then there's this strange Microsoft layering violation: file sharing is per-user, so I had to go through the whole CIFS pain all over again. That's particularly silly since in each case I need the same credentials.

And, once again, it didn't work! First time round, after entering user name and password and pressing “Do it” or whatever, it repeated the credentials window immediately. The second time it waited its 20 seconds (to see if the password became valid?) and then repeated the credentials window. And the third time it presented:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200712/big/Microsoft-6.png
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What is this nonsense? Too much pain for today; maybe I'll have to let Yvonne use my account for processing her photos, which won't be until tomorrow.


Dinner with Chris and Margaret
Topic: general, food and drink, gardening Link here

Originally we had planned to have a riding clinic with Anke Hawke this weekend, but the resurgence of COVID-19 has closed the state borders. But Margaret Swan came anyway, and this evening we had dinner together. She brought another truffle, this time a different kind, Tuber borchii, also called “whitish truffle”. It's apparently a “second class” white truffle (the real white truffle has never been grown outside certain areas in Italy), and it's particularly aromatic.

Not exactly as thanks for the truffle, I finally found a taker in her for the enormous Hibiscus rosa-sinensis that has been growing in the lounge room for some months, and which had just reached the ceiling. Here just before loading into the car:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200712/big/Hibiscus-rosa-sinensis-1.jpeg
Image title: Hibiscus rosa sinensis 1          Dimensions:          2621 x 5018, 12660 kB
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And here on the loading area of the car:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200712/big/Loading-Hibiscus-4.jpeg
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Margaret was more interested in pushing some unidentified leaves:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200712/big/Loading-Hibiscus-19.jpeg
Image title: Loading Hibiscus 19          Dimensions:          5184 x 3888, 13946 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200712/big/Loading-Hibiscus-21.jpeg
Image title: Loading Hibiscus 21          Dimensions:          5184 x 3890, 8640 kB
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Monday, 13 July 2020 Dereel Images for 13 July 2020
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“Windows” 10: insights
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Relatively early in the day I start writing my entries for the previous day. Today I had fun enough: the excruciating pain of trying to “map” network drives (under “This PC”, for some reason). OK, repeat the sequence and take screen shots.

The first thing, which I had noticed but not reported yesterday, was that I could display the advertised file systems by pressing “Browse”:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200713/big/Microsoft-4.png
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So I know the file systems, I know my credentials, and I still get these moronic and apparently incorrect error messages. But what can it be? Off to confirm the sequence in which things happen.

But they didn't. It Just Worked! And that's almost exactly what happened last time, only this time I really didn't change anything: I just tried again. I'm coming to the conclusion that elapsed time is a factor in the bug.

But Microsoft is mainstream. Why is this only happening to me? It's not the Microsoft machines: it happened on one machine running “Windows” 7, and on different hardware running “Windows” 10. Could it be related to the Samba version running on eureka?

The good news: setup is as good as finished. The next step will be to set up a new FreeBSD desktop to complement eureka, which will one day become a network server box.


More basil
Topic: gardening Link here

Now I've found my normal “sweet” basil, so finally got round to planting it. The instructions say that it likes being in clumps, and since there are (claimed) 750 seeds in the packet, decided not to plant individual seeds this time.


Tuesday, 14 July 2020 Dereel Images for 14 July 2020
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Good things come in threes
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I have now more or less got distress (Microsoft “Windows” 10 machine) in usable shape. A good thing too: today my third ThinkCentre M93p arrived, the one I'm planning as an interim FreeBSD desktop machine. Interestingly, it had almost exactly the same serial number as the one I'm using for teevee: PC0240MD instead of PC0240MC.

I'm on familiar territory there. But like the other two, it came with “Windows” 10, so it made sense to activate it before removing the disk. What then? Found a disk which I had been using for setting up dereel, so worked on that, in the process updating my HOWTO entry. At least I was able to build a new kernel, which kept me going for much of the afternoon. The real issues I have now are: how do I split between “desktop” (currently dereel) and “server” (currently eureka) machines? And what should I call the new machine? Since I've started giving my Microsoft machines names starting with dis (dischord, disgust, distress), how about continuing the trend and giving the FreeBSD machines names starting with eu? So far I already have eureka, eureso, eucla and euroa. What's left? euphoria? eurphonia? europa? euthenasia? eunuch? eucalypt? I think I should limit the name to 8 characters, which would take care of some of those names, but I'm still not happy. Arguably euphonia sounds best. Until then it's dereel.


Understanding FreeBSD memory allocation
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

During the kernel build on the new dereel, took a look at top output:

      Mem: 72M Active, 5820M Inact, 3372K Laundry, 1185M Wired, 773M Buf, 774M Free

This machine (currently) has 8 GB of RAM. At this time, only 72 MB were active, and 5,820 MB were “inactive”. Admittedly there was hardly memory pressure, with nearly 10% of memory free and no swap, but I wonder if it wouldn't be interesting to tune the “inactive” parameters.


Freedom of expression
Topic: health, opinion Link here

One of the most upsetting things I've seen about the current COVID-19 pandemic is how people take their personal freedom to extremes, even to the extent of extending the pandemic. “I won't wear a face mask. It's an insult to my rights”. And then Yvonne came up with this:

https://preview.redd.it/9t574jyfjoa51.jpg?width=960&crop=smart&auto=webp&s=bb3bdce2e03ee7bcc4cceaf664c32bd6b3f433bc

It greatly predates the pandemic, but it's a good example of the stupidity of such people. Of course, some people were quick to remark that the face mask is to protect others, not the wearer. When will they learn?


Photo image sizes
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

I've just installed Ashampoo Photo Optimizer version 8. I've had various issues with the older versions:

Have they fixed them?

One issue certainly remains: the glacial response to keyboard input to certain windows. But it's only with Microsoft “Windows” 7, not with “Windows” 10, so I don't need to worry about that.

And the green cast on some images? It's not completely gone, but arguably it now looks right. I'll have to keep my eyes open.

And then there was this stupid error message:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200714/big/Ashampoo-1-detail.png
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I don't know all the situations under which it can appear, but almost every time I have seen it, it really means to be saying “I'm too wimpy to optimize such a large file”. I haven't decided where the size limit lay, but it was under 100 MP, much smaller than some of my panoramas.

OK, is it less than 80 MP, the size of the high resolution images from my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II? Took a couple of photos of my father's war medals, something that I have been meaning to do:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200713/big/Australia-service-medal-obverse.jpeg
Image title: Australia service medal obverse          Dimensions:          6446 x 7776, 41852 kB
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Image title: Australia service medal reverse          Dimensions:          6260 x 7776, 39970 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200713/big/British-service-medal-obverse.jpeg
Image title: British service medal obverse          Dimensions:          5958 x 7776, 5297 kB
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Image title: British service medal reverse          Dimensions:          6329 x 7776, 42394 kB
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Could it optimize them? Well... All except the third. But that wasn't because it was too big. On the contrary, it makes no sense, but it was much smaller:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/81) ~/Photos/20200713 368 -> l *medal*
-rwxrw-r--  2 grog  lemis  42,856,894 13 Jul 16:17 Australia-service-medal-obverse.jpeg
-rwxrw-r--  2 grog  lemis  40,930,161 13 Jul 16:17 Australia-service-medal-reverse.jpeg
-rw-r--r--  2 grog  lemis   5,424,812 13 Jul 16:18 British-service-medal-obverse.jpeg
-rwxrw-r--  2 grog  lemis  43,411,653 13 Jul 16:18 British-service-medal-reverse.jpeg

Why is the third so much smaller? It still appears to display correctly, and exiftool tells me that the size is roughly the same (these were all cropped).

The answer was unexpected. The output from DxO PhotoLab was in between:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/81) ~/Photos/20200713 370 -> l orig/*g
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis  12,695,753 13 Jul 16:17 orig/47130793_DxO.jpg
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis  11,947,601 13 Jul 16:17 orig/47130794_DxO.jpg
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis  11,273,130 13 Jul 16:18 orig/47130795_DxO.jpg
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis  12,332,214 13 Jul 16:18 orig/47130796_DxO.jpg

But on converting them with ImageMagick, they all reduced to about 5.7 MB in size. Only Ashampoo Optimizer doesn't optimize size: it still greatly bloats it. The other three original images were:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/81) ~/Photos/20200713 372 -> l _Ashampoo_Photo_Optimizer_Backup/*g
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  wheel  5,985,634 13 Jul 16:17 _Ashampoo_Photo_Optimizer_Backup/Australia-service-medal-obverse.jpeg
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  wheel  5,659,433 13 Jul 16:17 _Ashampoo_Photo_Optimizer_Backup/Australia-service-medal-reverse.jpeg
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  wheel  5,887,520 13 Jul 16:18 _Ashampoo_Photo_Optimizer_Backup/British-service-medal-reverse.jpeg

So the “optimized” images are 7 times the size of the original! And there's something about this specific image that breaks Ashampoo. And I don't yet know whether it can handle bigger images: the biggest of these four was only 50.1 MP.

So: in summary, one problem remains, one seems to have been worked around by the installation of “Windows” 10, one is uncertain, and one seems to remain in weaker form. In addition, potentially there's another one! Should I enter more problem reports? I get the impression that their “support” department is there to protect the software developers from customers. Maybe I should write to the company directors.


Wednesday, 15 July 2020 Dereel Images for 15 July 2020
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Inspecting the photovoltaic installation
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

It's been nearly 3 months since Daryl Buchanan of the Clean Energy Regulator came to inspect the photovoltaic power installation, show his ignorance and wreak havoc. I was not amused.

And he sent a report requiring corrections, some to problems he had caused himself, like the pips in the switch boxes. Here after installation last year, before correction and after repair on 14 May:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20190419/big/Solar-electricity-wiring-10.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200514/big/Labeled-PV-system-3.jpeg
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The important thing to note: the pips were installed correctly at the beginning. After Daryl had opened the housing, they were gone. His fault! But the bloke who came in May fixed that.

But today a bloke from Ballarat Solar Panels showed up, unannounced, to rectify the faults. What faults? Ah, he had a fault report from Daryl Buchanan:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200715/big/Clean-energy-regulator-report-1.jpeg
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What does that mean in plain English? What's IP 54? And what water could ingredeingress there? It turns out that IP 54 is a way of saying “the pips are missing”.

But they're not. Old report? No, it's dated 30 June. How can Buchanan know what the state was then? He didn't come then. So there was nothing to do. The sparky had come for nothing. I hope they charge the regulator for their time.

But then he showed up again! Again unannounced, and while we were having breakfast. To put numbers on the switches! After that, the switch looked like:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200715/big/PV-array-switch-1.jpeg
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He also told me that he had put numbers on the roof. OK, which array is which? We have three arrays, two north, one west. Ah, 1 and 2 (the ones he labeled) are the north ones. The west ones are 3.

I couldn't be bothered to tell him that we only have two switches. That should have been abundantly obvious. But what earthly use is this kind of “labeling” without a circuit diagram?


Shooting in the boot
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Finally got round to rebooting dereel after the kernel upgrade. The results weren't quite what I expected:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200715/big/Shoot-in-boot.jpeg
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What went wrong there? Somehow I had managed to boot from the first partition (/dev/ada0p2, FreeBSD 10.2) and mount the root file system from the second (/dev/ada0p4), which had been built for FreeBSD 12.1. Clearly I needed to modify /boot/loader.conf on /dev/ada0p2. But how? I couldn't even run vi. Briefly considered trying ed before I came to the conclusion that cat would be easier, and fortunately that worked.

OK, start the long procedure of installing ports, today just X and Emacs so that I could complete the installation (installworld wanted me to update some system files before it was prepared to look at my world).

That's enough for one day.


More gate opener problems
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Our gate isn't shutting properly again!


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200715/big/Gate-opener-1.jpeg
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I had thought that maybe the bloke from Ballarat Solar Panels might have pushed on it, but later, after Yvonne had gone shopping, I checked again:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200715/big/Gate-opener-2.jpeg
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Yes, I can adjust it. But how often will I have to?


Thursday, 16 July 2020 Dereel Images for 16 July 2020
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Panic on dereel
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Spent most of today installing ports on dereel, in the process discovering that pkg logs an installation in the system log. That's certainly convenient, since it only logs the prime ports, not the dependencies.

Then a first attempt to configure X. Not a success: just an error message that I forgot (I can find more details in /var/log/Xorg.0.log) and what proved to be an empty configuration file. The log file was empty too! But that's probably because of:

Jul 16 13:58:46 dereel kernel: nvidia0: <Graphics Device> on vgapci0
Jul 16 13:58:46 dereel kernel: vgapci0: child nvidia0 requested pci_enable_io
Jul 16 14:01:29 dereel kernel: panic: vm_fault: fault on nofault entry, addr: 0xfffffe004c2d2000

Yes, I have a dump, but clearly the panic was related to running X. It took a while to realize that—once again!—I had loaded the wrong driver, only this time it failed silently. Somehow these Nvidia drivers are not as reliable as they should be.

And the error message? Probably not very important under the circumstances. But there was none. Xorg.0.log was also empty. Is this to be expected from soft updates journaling?


Spring on its way
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Seen walking the dogs today:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200716/big/Hardenbergia.jpeg
Image title: Hardenbergia          Dimensions:          5184 x 3888, 7512 kB Display location on map
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The first Hardenbergia of spring (or winter?).


Olympus: rumors of my demise
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

An interesting article in the news today, an interview with Setsuya Kataoka, Vice President of Global Strategy of Olympus Imaging. Stories are rife about what is going to happen to Olympus cameras now that they have been “carved up” (a term probably somewhat unfortunately translated from Japanese) and handed (on a plate?) to Japan Industrial Partners, but what we're seeing is very different. They're introducing new products, even a world first (I think) app to use an interchangeable lens camera as a Webcam (though I note that at least Canon and Fujifilm have now followed through).

So why the original doom and gloom announcement? My guess is that they decided that they had to do so after the “cover-up” scandal a few years back. As it is, we really don't know what's going to happen. Anything from JIP carving up Olympus and leaving just the bones to new, better management that can turn the company around. At least it's not going to be a sudden death.


Friday, 17 July 2020 Dereel Images for 17 July 2020
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New noodles
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

On Wednesday, Yvonne bought some new noodles at the Fruit Shack, which, despite its name, carries a lot of East Asian foodstuffs, Shanxi noodles and something that I haven't heard of before, “Wife's noodles”:


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It's at times like this that I wish I could read Chinese. But a bit of a Google search took me to this page, a company with a web site that is so under construction that I was only able to establish that I would have to pick things up personally, but not where they are located. On the page I found exactly the same packaging and I discovered that they're called 五谷堂老婆手擀面. Well, I knew the last three pictograms, but how do you enter them? Now I have them, and was able to get Google Translate to translate them, as “Wugutang wife rolling noodles”. I wonder how well they are known at all in the West.

So which should I try for breakfast? I decided on the wife's noodles for today, and discovered that they're packed in handy groups of 110 g:


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How much does that make after cooking? I was aiming for 180 g, and since they're already slightly moist, that could be correct. But no, I ended up with 220 g of cooked noodles, a factor of pretty much exactly 2:1, and closer to what I would expect of completely dry noodles.

And the result? Somewhat like the laksa noodles I found a while back, with a reassuring firmness to them. I think we can buy them again. A pity that they're so expensive, at $9 for a rather strange 1.1 kg pack.


Power out!
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Another planned power outage from Powercor today, the second in two weeks! This time it was planned from 8:30 to 15:30.

Like last time I charged the battery to over 90% overnight and got up at 4:00 to turn the air conditioner on to heat to 23°. But it was a cold night—low was -0.8°—and when I got up we had barely hit 20°.

The power went out at 8:54:27 with an audible complaint from the office UPS. Something must have forced its way past the inverter. But the 25 minute delay sounded good: today was Friday, and the people would want to knock off early, so presumably they would be finished by 15:30.

Despite my fears (that the weather could be like last Saturday), we had sunshine all the day. Once again the state of charge didn't drop below 98%. Should I leave the air conditioner on? At one point before the power outage I saw the system drawing 9.8 kW. 2 kW of that was charging the battery, but independent of the charge, the inverter can only deliver 6 kW. If it's asked to deliver 7.8 kW, my guess is that it will do the only thing that it can do, and shut down. So I left the air conditioner off, fortunately not much of a temperature problem.

When will we come back on line? Kept a careful eye on my “dashboard”. 15:00? Nope, still down. 15:30? Still down. Round here I got nervous: yes, we were generating (and discarding) much more power than we used, but that would change rapidly round 16:30, when the sun sank behind the trees.

Finally power was restored at 15:50:51, almost exactly 7 hours of down time. And the first thing that the “dashboard” showed was heavy grid consumption, up to 1.5 kW, though the battery state of charge was 100%. And at the same time the PV consumption dropped from round 900 W to 0. Why? It gradually changed, and after about 2 minutes it started feeding power back into the grid. Here an abbreviated view:

mysql> select tstamp, Pac, Status, SOC, VBat, W1, PacBat, PacPV from powerstats where tstamp> "2020-07-17 15:51:45";
+---------------------+------+-------------------------------+------+------+------+--------+-------+
| tstamp              | Pac  | Status                        | SOC  | VBat | W1   | PacBat | PacPV |
+---------------------+------+-------------------------------+------+------+------+--------+-------+
| 2020-07-17 15:51:50 |  702 | Waiting to connect to On-grid |  100 |  270 |    0 |      7 |   695 |
| 2020-07-17 15:51:51 | 1001 | Waiting to connect to On-grid |  100 |  270 |    0 |      7 |   994 |
| 2020-07-17 15:51:52 |   27 | On-grid                       |  100 |  270 |  979 |      1 |     0 |
| 2020-07-17 15:51:53 |   29 | On-grid                       |  100 |  269 |  982 |      0 |     0 |
| 2020-07-17 15:51:55 |   48 | On-grid                       |  100 |  269 |  948 |      2 |     0 |
| 2020-07-17 15:51:56 |   62 | On-grid                       |  100 |  269 |  934 |      1 |     0 |
| 2020-07-17 15:51:57 |   93 | On-grid                       |  100 |  269 |  586 |      1 |     0 |
| 2020-07-17 15:51:58 |  111 | On-grid                       |  100 |  269 |  583 |      3 |   101 |
| 2020-07-17 15:51:59 |  126 | On-grid                       |  100 |  269 |  566 |      1 |   129 |
| 2020-07-17 15:52:00 |  133 | On-grid                       |  100 |  269 | 1520 |      2 |   121 |
...
| 2020-07-17 15:52:23 |  515 | On-grid                       |  100 |  269 |  342 |      3 |   512 |
...
| 2020-07-17 15:52:42 |  804 | On-grid                       |  100 |  269 |   16 |      8 |   798 |
| 2020-07-17 15:52:43 |  827 | On-grid                       |  100 |  269 |   -4 |      7 |   820 |
...
| 2020-07-17 15:53:32 | 1621 | On-grid                       |   99 |  269 | -783 |     -6 |  1627 |
| 2020-07-17 15:53:33 |  878 | On-grid                       |   99 |  269 | -135 |  -1800 |  2678 |
| 2020-07-17 15:53:35 |  838 | On-grid                       |   99 |  269 |  -15 |  -1839 |  2677 |
+---------------------+------+-------------------------------+------+------+------+--------+-------+

In this query,

My take is: when the grid is reconnected, check that it can supply a load. If it can, revert to PV and feed power into the grid.

It's interesting to look at the last three entries. My guess is that that was the air conditioner.

The whole thing really wasn't a problem, though it could have been if the weather had been different. But what a stress to not know when power would be restored!


Saturday, 18 July 2020 Dereel Images for 18 July 2020
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Enforced pause
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

For probably over 6 months I've had papers to file on my left-hand desk. But instead of filing them, I've been adding to them as things come in the post.

Enough! I'll put off other work, including the new dereel, until I have at least a substantial proportion of the filing done. First step is to sort them into a semblance of destination:


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I can see this taking a while.


What colour Hardenbergia violacea?
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

There are plenty of Hardenbergia violacea vines round where we live. They grow wild in Enfield State Park, and we planted them in Wantadilla and here, though—typically—the one we planted here died.

But the photo in Wikipedia looks just plain wrong:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fc/Hardenbergia_violacea2.jpg/375px-Hardenbergia_violacea2.jpg

What are those white flowers? I've never seen them. One of the references in the Wikipedia page mentions other colours than violet, but my guess is that they're cultivars. Not what you want as the prime example on that page. So off to take some photos of my own:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200718/big/Hardenbergia-violacea-2.jpeg
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But I'm still not happy. What's wrong with it?


Sunday, 19 July 2020 Dereel Images for 19 July 2020
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Another laksa
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Gradually I'm finding that I don't have enough variety for breakfast: Penang Laksa, Curry Laksa, Nasi Lemak with curry or with fried chicken wings, fake Phat Thai, Huevos a la tigre, Huevos rancheros, Eggs benedict, ... You'd think I had enough, but I'm still looking for alternatives.

On Wednesday Yvonne had bought me some tauge, which doesn't keep long. Today was the last day of incorporating it into a breakfast. I had already had one curry laksa this week, but there was this sachet of a paste I had never tried before:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200719/big/MasFood-Laksa-1.jpeg
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OK, try it out. Most of these pastes have enough for 1.6 litres of soup, which corresponds to 4 servings. But this one only wanted 1.2 litres.

The result? Not at all bad. Not as overly pedas as the other ones. I'll be in Geelong next month, COVID-19 permitting. I should get some more of it.


Another grid outage
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Another 10 second grid power failure today at 13:54:13.


Filing away papers
Topic: general, health, opinion Link here

As planned, spent much of today filing away the ridiculous amount of paper that I have collected in the office. It wasn't as painful as I expected—or at least not in the way I expected: it seems that it tires the back. But at least I have made some headway.

How do I ensure that I don't slip back into my old ways? Never add to the pile. If I receive something in the mail, file not it, but also anything else lying around that belongs in the same file.

The real reason for doing the filing Right Now was to find the pathology slip that Dr. Paul Smith gave me in January. And I found it! The last two times I didn't, and had to have it reissued. But it would have been reassuring to have a date on the thing.

And then I found it again. Another one! Also without a date, of course. One was clearly one of the lost ones, but which one? Based on the scrawl on the second one, it became clear that it was the one I needed. But if I hadn't found it, I would happily have gone off to the pathology lab with the wrong request. Why don't they put a date on them?


Snowdrops!
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

A surprising number of plants have died in the 5 years since we've been in Stones Road, but the bulbs aren't any of them. We now have a positively ridiculous number growing outside the laundry door:


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I wonder if I should transplant some of them.


Unhappy Hibiscus
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

The original Hibiscus rosa-sinensis that I got from my uncle Max 12 years ago is no longer looking very happy:


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It really didn't take very happily to being repotted last summer, and it's clear that a number of the branches are dead. I can cut them off, but why are the leaves looking so sad?

More investigation showed why:


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Some kind of scale insect! And not just the brown blobs (about 2 mm across): there are many more much smaller yellow ones over the whole area, about 0.3 mm long. This crop shows an area about 3.5 mm across:


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How do I get rid of them? The canonical method appears to be White oil, but that would make a horrible mess. But I need to do something before the tree dies. Scraped some of them off, but that's not going to make much difference.

And where did they come from? Reading the Wikipedia entry was informative: these are all female insects. The males are much smaller still, and very mobile: they're like tiny flies. And that's what has been annoying me for a long time. They're so small that it's almost impossible to catch them. I had thought that they grew in the soil, and maybe they do, but it's becoming much more urgent to get rid of them.


Focus stacking and flash
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Taking the photos of the scale insects wasn't easy, as usual, but it was clear that I needed focus stacking. OK, get out the mecablitz 15 MS-1 ring flash and equipment, along with the toy Olympus flash as trigger and we're off.

That worked fine for individual photos. But when I tried focus stacking sequences, the trigger flash went off, but the mecablitz didn't.

What causes that? My best guess is that the trigger flash is fired differently for focus stacking, probably without the pre-flashes for which the mecablitz is waiting. I need to think about whether there's something that could be done.

For today, I needed an alternative. The “Viltrox JY-670 Macro Ring Lite” would probably do it, but I couldn't be bothered finding the correct exposure. The toy LED ring light should be bright enough. And so it was; it has the additional advantage that the camera can decide on the exposure, which proved to be quite adequate.


Reheating fondue
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

We had Fondue de fromage for dinner yesterday, rather more than we could eat. What a pity to throw the rest away, especially since the crust was still waiting. Let's reheat it.

How was it? Terrible! The whole consistency had gone to hell. One more entry in the “well don't do that, then” list.


Monday, 20 July 2020 Dereel
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Where are the COVID-19 stats?
Topic: health, opinion Link here

I've been keeping an eye on the COVID-19 statistics for some time, watching in horror as the USA self-destructs.

But no! It has stopped, at “only” 139,050 deaths. Or at least, that's what Covidly (“Data updated a few minutes ago”) tells me.

Is this part of the Donald Trump censorship of US figures? No, it's for all countries. And when I look at the new cases, there have been none since 16 July. Not no cases; no reports for the next couple of days.

Why? Others, such as Johns Hopkins University continue reporting (currently 140,957 deaths in the USA), so it's not just the Trump censorship, though the apparent only 40 new cases yesterday (as opposed to round 70,000 on the previous days) suggest deliberate manipulation of the data.

So what's wrong with Covidly? I haven't found an answer online. More importantly, where do I get my information from? Johns Hopkins' page is horribly illegible, and I can't find the same information that Covidly is still providing. I have a summary page with links to possible sites, but the only other one of interest appears to be Worldometers (which gives a US death toll of 143,834, much higher than JHU), and that, too, doesn't give the detail that Covidly does.


Recovering the Hibiscus
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

More looking around about what to do with the sick Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. As suspected, the treatment is white oil. But I can't spray that in the lounge room, and it's too cold outside to put it out there? Or is it? We have another one out there, and it's been through all sorts of weather. If I put it in the corner on the terrace, it might work. In any case, time to take some more cuttings.


Tuesday, 21 July 2020 Dereel Images for 21 July 2020
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Garden debugging
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

There's nothing for it: I have to do something about the lounge-room Hibiscus. Yesterday I trimmed the dead branches, which didn't leave much of the plant behind. Today I first looked for a recipe for White oil, and came up with one requiring a base mix of one part dishwashing detergent, two parts oil, to be diluted 1:50 before use (or, as they put it, 1 cup detergent to 2 1 cups oil, to be diluted at a rate of one 1 tablespoon per litre; why do people have to make it so hard?).

It seems that these hand sprayers don't like white oil much; I had one with some remaining “oil” in it, but it had coagulated to some kind of resin, and the pump no longer worked. Moral: clean things out when you're done.

To spray the plant, I had to take it outside of course, in the process taking quite a few more. Two of my Buddleja cuttings have grown well, but some of the leaves seem to have been attacked by something, and have dried out. No obvious indication of insects, so maybe it's mildew or some such. Gave them a bit of oil as well. They'll also need attention; they're more like creepers than shrubs at this point:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200721/big/Buddleja-1.jpeg
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Spraying the Hibiscus brought a surprise: an insect didn't like it and crawled out of the woodwork:


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It didn't get far covered in white oil, but what is it? It's about 4 mm long, far larger than the tiny flies that I think are male scale insects. And somehow it doesn't look like something that lives on plants.

Another puzzling issue is that the stems of the Hibiscus are so soft; some have bent under their own weight and broken through. Is that really caused by the scale insects, or is there some other issue in play? There was a surprising amount of water at the bottom of the pot? It has an overflow above the ring at the bottom:


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Could I have drowned it? Or do Hibiscus just not live longer? That would explain that it recovered so badly from the last repotting.


Wednesday, 22 July 2020 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 22 July 2020
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Another blood test
Topic: health, general, opinion Link here

Off to Ballarat this morning for another blood test, also the first time in nearly 6 weeks.

COVID-19 is flaring up again in Victoria, and we even have one or two serious cases in Ballarat, one requiring intensive care. It's clear that the current restrictions aren't sufficient to control the spread.

So at Dorevitch in Victoria Street I wasn't surprised to see a bottle of hand sanitizer, and that the normal number system was out of action. How do I know who's next? In this case, it was easy: there was nobody else there. Called out “anybody home” in case they didn't know that I was there. Wrong. Of course we're here. It seems that the door bangs loudly enough that they hear when somebody comes in, even if they're currently not treating anybody.

But Lois, the phlebotomist, wasn't wearing a mask! Why? Hopefully she won't get infected.

On to Beaumont Tiles to meet Yvonne, and looked in vain for alternative tiles for the verandah. Once again the service person wasn't wearing a mask!

Didn't find anything of interest there, beyond the fact that she referred to one of the tiles as “6x6”. Decimetres? Yes, it seems, though she didn't see it that way. She just used the description as a shortened form of “600x600 millimetres”. I wonder how much further confusion the Australian habit of measuring in millimetres rather than centimetres has caused; we've already seen it with builders.

On to the Fruit Shack, trying a different way for a change. In principle it's straightforward:


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But that required changing lanes almost immediately. Creswick Road has four tracks, and I was in the leftmost. Normally I would have to move to the second left, here at the top of the image:


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OK, for the fun of it, let's see what happens if I just continue straight ahead and avoid the traffic lights that are just on the main tracks.

Not a good idea. The left-hand track forms a dead end just before the turnoff. Up there, turned around. And now? Give up? Not I. For the fun of it, cut across to the lake, not without more surprises. Firstly, there are fewer through roads there than I had expected, and I had to go all the way down to Mill Street, where at least I saw an old building that I hadn't seen before:


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That's Nazareth House, now an aged care facility.

Mill Street ends on the east side of Lake Wendouree, and I wanted to turn north. But no, one way only, south. Down to the next roundabout, up to Gregory Street and let my GPS navigator take me to Howitt Street. Ah, only joking, you can't get there like that.

Got there in the end, of course:

5.6 km and three 180° returns for a journey that normally only takes 3.4 km (unless you follow Google Maps' recommendations, in which case it's 3.6 km and much more congestion). But at least I have learnt something.

At Fruit Shack—for the only time—I saw a number of people wearing masks. There are many Chinese people here, though not only they were wearing masks. Clearly a culture issue.

Thence home, filling up my car for the first time in 5 months. And that journey was also not without its surprises: some misguided authority has decided to reduce speed limits Yet Again, this time approaching Napoleons from the north:


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That used to be 80 km/h. Do they really think that that will make any difference in the heavy traffic that prevails there (crossing Dogtrap Creek, as it happens)? I counted no fewer than 6 pairs of speed limit signs in the next kilometre, costing money that could surely have been spent better elsewhere.

And why are the signs on a green background? Is that even in conformance with the regulations? It would be funny if somebody were acquitted from a “speeding” charge because the signage wasn't correct.

And in Napoleons they have cut down the tree by the General Store.


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I wonder why. Only four months ago it looked like this:


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While taking the photos (from a different angle from last time) I discovered that I had parked in front of what appears to be a picnic area:


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I wonder what they put that there for.


Another grid outage
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Another 6 second grid power failure today at 9:36:09.


Garden flowers in mid-winter
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Today was a month after the winter solstice, time for the monthly garden flowers.

There's not much to see in the middle of winter, of course, but a couple of plants are of interest. Our indoor Hibiscus rosa-sinensis “Uncle Max” faded dramatically over the previous week, and it's still not clear if it will survive:


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So it's interesting to compare it with its outdoor companion, made from a cutting:


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That's been outside all the time, and though the leaves look a little moth-eaten, the bud looks as if it might yet bloom.

The indoor plant has an infestation of scale insects which I'm now trying to control, and there was a lot of water at the very bottom of the pot (which overflows when it gets too full), but are they the reason? Or is it just that 12 years is the normal life span of Hibiscus bushes?

Nothing directly related to the time of year, but our variegated Aloe has produced a number of pups:


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Yvonne wants to plant them on the north side of the eastern garden, though the appearance of one that we have already planted there doesn't fill me with confidence:


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The Banksia serrata continues to flower:


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I'm surprised how well it is doing, not far from where a couple of other plants have died.

The Alyogyne huegelii also continues to flower:


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And though the summer-flowering Corymbia ficifolia is not longer flowering the way it was through the autumn, it's not done yet:


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Looking forward to spring, the Camellia japonica in front of the house has also started flowering, though otherwise the leaves still look unhappy:


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Some of the Carpobrotus plants are also starting to flower, even the small ones that normally flower briefly and violently in November:


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And of course various spring bulbs are already on their way:


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On the other hand, some plants are not looking at all happy, like this lime:


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Somehow we have no luck at all with citrus fruits.

The herb bed is completely overgrown with some plant that I can't identify, but which I can't completely discard as a weed:


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At the bottom of that photo is evidence of kangaroo presence:


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I haven't seen them that close to the house for a long time. They must know when the dogs aren't there.


Macro pain, repeated
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

How do I get a good photo of the insect that crawled out of the Hibiscus yesterday? With multiply adjustable hardware, of course:


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But the top part (in tasteful red) was loose, somehow. That comes from the tripod that I bought for Yvonne last December, though the ball head in this illustration is somewhat different from what they delivered:


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The ball head on the top of this image (above the upper ring) is of no use to her with her PIXIO “Robot Cameraman”, but it adds a degree of flexibility to my compound macro head:

But it wobbles! Poor quality? On some investigation, the base is screwed to the body with three clever Torx-like screws that require special bits:


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And they were loose. Clearly I had the matching bit, here sitting behind its hole at 4th from top, 2nd from left. And it worked.

Then, taking the photos. Somehow I ran into problems—again!—with the flash (mecablitz 15 MS-1 ring flash):


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As a result, took them with ambient light, which sort of worked:


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While I was at it, also took photos of a locket that my father bought for his girlfriend (later my mother) on her 16th birthday:


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But they're not ideal either. How do I get this right? The problem with the mecablitz proved to be a maladjusted right flash tube; maybe that would do better.


Thursday, 23 July 2020 Dereel Images for 23 July 2020
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Fresh noodles: why?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

A month ago Yvonne bought a noodle machine on special at ALDI. Today I finally got to use it.

It wasn't even as easy as I recalled. The simplest issue was that my pasta recipe was laid out for 60 g eggs, and the smallest I could find weighed 72 g. But even after adjusting for that (180 g flour instead of 150 g), the dough was too moist.

OK, we can fix that, and we did. Made some fettuccine and ate it with ragù bolognese. It tasted OK. But:


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Is it worth that trouble and that mess? It tasted OK, but not significantly better than conventional noodles. So I don't think we'll use the machine again for noodles. On the other hand, we've had significant issues with shop-bought lasagne, so we could keep it for that.


Understanding COVID-19
Topic: health, general, opinion Link here

Victoria's resurgence of COVID-19 continues, and it's coming closer. Ballarat now has 3 cases in hospital. In Australia, 130 people have died.

How does that compare with other diseases? From January to March last year, 20,032 cases of influenza were diagnosed. This year there were only 504, according to the ABC. And though they're vague about deaths, in the first three months of last year there were “over 900” deaths, compared to 36 this year.

The numbers are unsatisfactory, comparing apples to oranges. Last year was also a particularly bad year for influenza. But the precautions currently being taken are also good against influenza, so it's not surprising that the number of deaths has dropped.

And then we have the nay-sayers, including Jair Bolsonaro (“It's just a little 'flu”) and, it seems, Jerry Dunham, who lives in Austin, Texas. He points out, correctly, that though the number of cases is rising, the number of deaths isn't (yet). The rising numbers have nothing to do with “opening up”, it's all due to more testing being done (I can hear Donald Trump's voice echoing in the background).

The problem is, it's difficult to counter such arguments. Sure, today's diagnoses lead to next month's deaths. But it's clear that more tests will reveal more cases, and it's hard to understand how the CDC can claim that for every diagnosed case there are ten more that haven't been tested: currently round 16% of the US population has been tested, presumably not the least vulnerable sample. How can you extrapolate that to 1.6 times the population of the country?

Somehow there are too many unexplained statistics. The fact that people claim that the USA is still the worst-affected country is one good example. I can't even find statistics for the European Union, but they must be several times as high. The issue is the different granularity, and there's a clear way to address that: cases per million. By that criterion, the USA is in place 7, behind 6 European countries.

But that's just one perspective. This page tells a more compelling story:


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Irritatingly, this site doesn't have a similar chart for deaths, but they're also rising significantly. And clearly that's not just because of more testing: lockdowns do work.


Friday, 24 July 2020 Dereel Images for 24 July 2020
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Blowout!
Topic: general, opinion Link here

This morning Yvonne called me out to take a look at the wheelbarrow. The tyre didn't look good:


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What caused that? I fear that it was I. Yvonne asked me to pump up the tyre yesterday. OK, that's easy enough. But how much? On cars a typical pressure is 2 bar. OK, what's good for the goose is good for the gander, so I gave it 2 bar.

But hadn't I seen something like this before? Indeed, less than two years ago. On that occasion I didn't measure the pressure, but I should have remembered the fact.

Yvonne into town in the afternoon to buy a new tyre or wheelbarrow. From recollection, tyres, by far the most unreliable part of the wheelbarrow, are hard to find. She did find one, however—for $85, compared to $115 for a new wheelbarrow. So the new wheelbarrow it is.

Back home, checked what warnings there were on the new wheelbarrow. None. And on the tyre?


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“MAX INFL 20P.S.I”. What does that mean? Maximum inflation? What's a 20P.S.I.? It's clearly an obfuscatory way of writing an obsolete term, pounds per square inch, which was abbreviated psi in the day. OK, people, what's a pound? What's an inch? Where's the information in modern units?

It seems that 1 psi is 6.894757 kPa, so 20 of them are 138 odd kPa. 1 bar is 100 kPa, so clearly I exceeded that pressure with my 2 bar.

But where's the warning of the catastrophic damage that can be caused? Where's the information in a form that people can be expected to understand? And in any case, isn't this thing under warranty? Unless they say something to the contrary, it should be 2 years, and we haven't had the thing that long.

Yes, indeed. But:


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So they know how bad the quality is. Somebody should take this up with the consumer people, but it won't be me.


Another PV recalibration
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

Another PV battery recalibration today, from 5:10 to 10:39, followed by 5 minutes without a status report. Gradually a number of things are becoming clear:

  1. The new firmware calibrates once a month, pretty much on the dot.
  2. The decision must come from the inverter, not the battery, contrary to what Fred said.
  3. The start of the recharge doesn't seem to take the time of day into account.
  4. There's only one cycle. The status changes when it hits 100%, from “On-grid (calibrating batteries - 1)” to “On-grid (calibrating batteries - 2)”.
  5. It doesn't quite drop to 0% battery, only to 1%.

All of this is very much in accordance with what I had expected four months ago. I think we can gradually consider the problem solved.


Saturday, 25 July 2020 Dereel Images for 25 July 2020
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COVID-19 meets the plague
Topic: general, animals, photography, history, opinion Link here

Chris Bahlo had another meeting of mediæval riders today:


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That appears to be the 15th century approach to social distancing, using full-body masks:


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The main goal of the meeting was a “dressage riding test” set by the Icelandic Horse Association, of all entities. The whole thing had to be taken on video and submitted to the Association for grading.

OK, Yvonne has her Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III for exactly that purpose. But no, Chris has ordered (but not taken delivery) of a PIXIO “Robot Cameraman”, and a Sony HDR-CX405 video camera to go with it.

Why? She already has an Olympus OM-D E-M10 camera. But the PIXIO can control Sony's zoom, and you can't do that with any real camera that I know (Why not? You'd think that it would be easy to implement). I had already considered a video camera when I bought the PIXIO for Yvonne, but I came to the conclusion that the zoom is too simplistic. The PIXIO points to the badge, which the rider is wearing. If the horse is head-on, you need one zoom ratio. If the horse is positioned sideways, you need a different ratio, and even then it will be off on one half of the screen, while the other half is empty. The PIXIO is a great advantage, but it's by no means perfect.

Still, it would be interesting to see what happens. The test was on a 60x20 m area. My personal view would be to take the photos from some distance away from the broad side of the area, so that the difference in size wouldn't be significant, a ratio of maybe 7:5. But no, the Association wanted it to be taken 10 m from the narrow side, so there's a 7:1 ratio of distances.

Off thus with three cameras: Yvonne with her E-M5 Mark III on the PIXIO, the Sony on a tripod next to her, and I further back on the narrow side with the E-M1 Mark II and the Leica Vario-Elmar 100-400 mm:


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How did it go? Not well. I only saw the issues with my own videos, which were greatly hampered by the choice of lens and standpoint. The lens that I had chosen proved to be rather too long. Autofocus is also still a problem, and my “tracking” autofocus clearly loves Yvonne: it kept getting distracted from the riders and settling on her. And panning is still an issue; the PIXIO really helps there.

Back home with Chris' camera as well. Tomorrow we can spend processing.


Sunday, 26 July 2020 Dereel Images for 26 July 2020
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Sony HDR-CX405
Topic: multimedia, photography, technology, opinion Link here

Lots of photos and videos to process today. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III were straightforward enough, but I had to work out how to use Chris Bahlo's new Sony HDR-CX405. In particular, how do you get the images off the device? The storage is a micro SD card—256 GB of it!—and Chris had bought an SD card adapter to read it into the computer.

But that's not the way to go. Why does the thing have a USB connection?


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That's a micro USB connector. Yes, it's marked MULTI, but that's presumably for additional functionality. We have the corresponding cables. Plug in, connect to a computer, nothing, not even a probe message.

OK, RTFM time. Google “HDR-CX405 instructions”, and sure enough, the first hit was from Sony Australia. A noisy page offering me only “Help Guide (Web manual)”. Dammit, where's the PDF?

Finally found a PDF via another Sony link. Only 36 pages, of which there were:

That leaves 12 pages for the real instructions, which include barely recognizable diagrams but no photos. In the past, I have complained about the Olympus documentation, but this Sony “documentation” is in a completely different league. No information about how to get the data off the camera for this model. For other models, things were different: “Transferring MP4 movies and photos to your smartphone”. Now isn't that just what you want to do after a long day's shooting. 200 GB across a flaky 802.11 connection to a phone that can't swallow even a fraction of the content?

It did, however, show that the USB connector was a “Ha ha, only joking”. MULTI really means that it's an inappropriately chosen connector for video output. It also has another USB Type A plug literally up its sleeve:


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But though they call it a USB connector, it's only for charging the battery!


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Gradually I was getting to understand why Chris had the SD card adapter. OK, give up, put the adapter in my SD card reader, plug into eureka:

Jul 26 12:51:07 eureka kernel: da4 at umass-sim4 bus 4 scbus7 target 0 lun 0
Jul 26 12:51:07 eureka kernel: da4: <Lexar LRWM04U 1.00> Removable Direct Access SPC-2 SCSI device
Jul 26 12:51:07 eureka kernel: da4: Serial Number 201408282030
Jul 26 12:51:07 eureka kernel: da4: 40.000MB/s transfers
Jul 26 12:51:07 eureka kernel: da4: 244816MB (501383168 512 byte sectors: 255H 63S/T 31209C)
Jul 26 12:51:07 eureka kernel: da4: quirks=0x2<NO_6_BYTE>
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/30) ~ 48 -> mdir d:
init D: non DOS media
Cannot initialize 'D:'

Oh. What's on this card?

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/30) ~ 50 -> fdisk /dev/da4
parameters extracted from in-core disklabel are:
cylinders=31209 heads=255 sectors/track=63 (16065 blks/cyl)

Media sector size is 512
Warning: BIOS sector numbering starts with sector 1
Information from DOS bootblock is:
The data for partition 1 is:
sysid 7 (0x07),(NTFS, OS/2 HPFS, QNX-2 (16 bit) or Advanced UNIX)
    start 65536, size 501317632 (244784 Meg), flag 0
        beg: cyl 4/ head 20/ sector 17;
        end: cyl 1023/ head 254/ sector 63
The data for partition 2 is:
<UNUSED>
The data for partition 3 is:
<UNUSED>
The data for partition 4 is:
<UNUSED>
=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/30) ~ 51 ->

I suppose that makes sense. Does FAT even support “256” GB file systems? OK, try

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~ 1057 -> mount -t ntfs /dev/da4s1 /mnt
mount: /dev/da4s1: Operation not supported by device

Damn, do we have more problems with NTFS support on FreeBSD? OK, try it on dischord (Yvonne was using distress). It didn't see anything at all. dischord runs Microsoft “Windows” 7. Is that maybe too old for this file system?

Finally got at distress (Microsoft “Windows” 10), which had no difficulties recognizing the card and showing me the contents. All you need is a recursive search and you'll find the files under the intuitive path name MP_ROOT\100ANV01. I was then able to copy the files to eureka.

But this is astounding! NO instructions at all! How do normal users cope?

Back to consider a couple of paths I hadn't tried. First, connect the camera to eureka using the other USB connector.

Jul 26 13:07:02 eureka kernel: ugen0.8: <Sony> at usbus0
Jul 26 13:07:02 eureka kernel: uhid1: <Sony USB Bus-powered Device, class 0/0, rev 2.00/1.00, addr 9> on usbus0

So it has some connectivity, but it won't present itself as a file system. Some silly proprietary interface, maybe? The “instruction manual” mentioned something called “PlayMemories Home™”. What's that? Still, I can download it. It's even free! What a concept!

Unfortunately, it doesn't work. It appears to be some toy for managing content once you have managed to get it onto the computer. So what's the purpose of the USB interface?

Enough of that. Move on and take a look at the video it recorded. It was terrible! Really poor image quality, and only 1280x720. Here a comparison of the videos from the Sony, the E-M1 Mark II and the E-M5 Mark III, in that sequence:

MAH00005.MP4    VIDEO:  [H264]  1280x720  24bpp  25.000 fps  2783.2 kbps (339.7 kbyte/s)
47251168.MOV    VIDEO:  [H264]  1920x1080  24bpp  50.000 fps  16207.1 kbps (1978.4 kbyte/s)
67250011.MOV    VIDEO:  [H264]  1920x1080  24bpp  59.940 fps  16171.0 kbps (1974.0 kbyte/s)

No wonder it looks bad. But what's this 1280x720? The only resolution I had seen was 1920x1080i (note that i). What do the specs say?

Oh, I had already noticed that: nothing at all. The only reference was right at the beginning:

This manual describes 1080 60i-compatible devices and 1080 50i-compatible devices.

Can that really be all the documentation that the thing offers? Is there anything else in the “Help Guide (Web manual)”? Off to take a look.

Yes! The Web guide has more information that that appalling PDF. That's not difficult, and it's still confusing. But it tells me that “PlayMemories” can indeed “import” “images” to my computer, and also to a “Windows PC”. Unfortunately it doesn't say how, and my attempts running the program hadn't given me any obvious solution either.

And then there's this page, equally inscrutable:

Dual Video REC

You can set the dual recording mode (recording an MP4 movie during movie recording) to on or off.

What on earth does that mean?

But finally I found this page, which tells me something, though not very much:

 
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Carefully avoiding actual facts, they clearly describe 5 different resolutions, described only in vague terms and with meaningless abbreviations like FX, or the correspondence HQ to “standard” quality. And this AVCHD™ may be the background for the “dual recording mode” above, though it's not clear why you would want to record two different formats at the same time.

The real specs are elsewhere:

Video Resolution AVCHD: 1920 x 1080/60p (PS), 60i (FX, FH), 1440 x 1080/60i (HQ, LP), MP4: 1280 x 720 30p, XAVC S HD: 1920 x 1080/60 p, 30 p

Well, almost. That's clearly the US version with 60/30 fps. But it clearly specified progressive formats, while the marketing material does itself a disservice by talking only about interlaced formats.

What an experience! I had idly been thinking that if Olympus stops producing cameras, I might migrate to Sony. But if their cameras are anywhere near as bad as this, I'd have to rethink.


Spring on its way?
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Seen walking the dogs:


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The first flowers of spring are on their way. I think they're Goodenias.


Monday, 27 July 2020 Dereel Images for 27 July 2020
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Give me coffee or give me liberty
Topic: language, opinion Link here

Seen recently at Toonpool:

https://www.toonpool.com/user/16130/files/liberte_1132789.jpg


비빔밥
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I've been planning to try 비빔밥 (Bibimbap) for breakfast for some time, but like most Korean dishes, it has so many ingredients and so many nuances. Today I finally made it:


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Yes, there's rice underneath there. And ultimately it wasn't that difficult. But is it right? Many say that the egg should be raw—something that I'll try some time—and it requires strange ingredients like gosari, “fiddleheads” of bracken, frequently incorrectly referred to as stems.

Where do you get them? From the house forest:


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But are they the correct kind of bracken? It seems that there's only one, but the images I have seen suggest that the ones used for cooking are much smaller. And there are indications that the stuff can be poisonous. So I'll try the dried stuff when I find it.


Tuesday, 28 July 2020 Dereel Images for 28 July 2020
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More Sony HDR-CX405 fun
Topic: multimedia, photography, technology, opinion Link here

Somehow my previous experience with the Sony HDR-CX405 doesn't make sense to me. The camera has had good reviews, but I've had nothing but trouble with it. In particular, though, the PIXIO “Robot Cameraman” can control it, so it must have functionality not mentioned in any documentation I have been able to find.

But apart from PIXIO, the tests that we took on Saturday looked terrible. This clip shows a number of issues: bad mounting on the tripod (the ground is level), wobbly tripod, but also poor image quality, aggressive single-speed zoom and focus hunting. Round 19 seconds into this clip a sudden zoom produces this:


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That was one of my main gripes with the Olympus, but it was never that bad. It's all the more surprising because the camera has a very great depth of field due to the small sensor. In a corner of another clip it got the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III:


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And that's as sharp as the resolution allows! I can imagine that a better tripod and higher image resolution can fix a number of the problems seen in this clip, but how can it address focus hunting?

Apart from that, though: there must be an easier way to get videos off the camera. Try again with the USB cable with the type A connector? It seems that I didn't find that combination in my previous searches. And how about that, on connecting to distress:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20200728/big/Sony-HDR-CX405-1.jpeg
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OK, there's that “PlayMemories” again. Fire it up:

 
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How about that! It doesn't tell you that it can connect to a camera until you connect one. OK, it does have an “import” function, but there was no way to find out how it worked until you keep a camera. But what does “USB operation mode must be changed” mean? Ask nicely, please:

 
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So the thing can do mass storage mode. Wouldn't it have been nice to know earlier? OK, accept:


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So it has recognized the camera, set the USB mode. And now it asks me to connect a camera! I couldn't get past that problem.

But looking at the “Windows Explorer” page, if that's what it is (it's too polite to say), I see:

 
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There's a USB drive F: there, and a PMHOME (whatever that means, but which suggests that it's related) drive I:. But with only 2 MB of storage, it's clearly not the files I'm looking for. OK, click F:

 
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“Please insert a disk into USB Drive (F:)”. OK, how? I give up. How do I even disconnect the camera after the admonitions at the start? Ignore the admonitions. Stop PlayMemories, connect again, noting that it has automatically reset the transfer mode to the clearly less-desirable MTP mode. What do I have?

 
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Again I couldn't do anything with it.

OK, in case of doubt, ask Google, which gives me:

That looked good, and showed me to do exactly what I had done. But where I got the “insert disk” message, his clip showed Microsoft displaying the directory contents.

Dammit, this is too complicated. What have I done wrong? Time to call Sony Support on 1300 13 7669 (or 13 SONY, as they claim is easier to find). Got a very faint connection where I was told “Sony takes your privacy furiously”, or some such.

Fought my way through the usual menus, interestingly past the Alpha series camera (apparently a category by themselves) to “videos”. The call was answered effectively immediately by Ed, who was barely audible and clearly not a native English speaker. After we managed to communicate, he told me that I had been connected to the wrong department, and that he would try to connect me to the correct one. For that he needed my name and phone number. Please spell. I'm used to that for “Lehey”, but he had difficulty after the first three letters. And then he wanted me to spell out “Greg”. Finally got put into a wait loop, spent discussing the matter on IRC. And then it occurred to me: where is the SD card? In a card reader in eureka, it proved.

OK, turn the camera off again in violation of the admonitions, put in the card, and surely now things will be OK. And yes, it worked as described in the video clip. Hung up on Sony support after only 13 minutes; they have my number and can call me back. They didn't, of course.

Fire up “PlayMemories” and get:

 
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“Videos that cannot be imported by PlayMemories were found. To import and play all the found media files, your camera must be recognized by PlayMemories Home. Connect the camera to the computer using a USB cable, and restart PM Home. Refer to the instruction manual that came with your camera for details on connecting it to the computer. Camera registration may take a few minutes”.

What nonsense! Clearly the camera is recognized; it's having difficulty with some files, and it's too stupid to say which ones. OKed the message, and was able to access all the files, though it's not clear what use this “PlayMemories” is.

In summary: this horrible documentation and badly written software ganged up to make it almost impossible to use the device. Yes, I made a mistake in removing the card, but it should have made that clearer too (“camera found, but no storage” rather than “Please turn on a camera”).

While recapitulating the whole affair, found an indication in the YouTube video clip that shows how to set mass storage mode. Once again it didn't work for me, but it's not clear that that would be easier for Chris anyway, so I didn't follow through.

So, now to try it out in better circumstances.


Planting seeds for spring
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

I've bought a whole collection of tomato and chili seeds, probably far too many. But like that I can plant some out early, in September, and I can raise some more later in case the first batch gets killed by a late frost. So today planted the first 35 tubes (5 each of 7 different types). Here the tomatoes:


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And here the chilis:


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Here together.


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From left to right:

Type       Germination       Harvest
      (days)       (days)
Tommy Toe       7-14       85-95
Beefsteak       7-14       95
Grosse Lisse       7-14       80-90
Chile poblano       10-21       80
Chile serrano       10-30       90
Chile pasillo bajio       10-21       80-90
Chile arbol       10-30       90

When it was too late to change, I discovered that the arbol and serrano should have been planted in “equal mix of river sand, med coarse perlite, peat moss/coco-coir & fine compost/worm casting”, and the pasillo and poblano seeds should have been soaked for a few hours. I'll take seed raising mix for a good substitute for the equal mix, and we'll see how much difference the lack of soaking will make. But the germination times are certainly extreme.

Another case of slow germination appears to be the Thai Basil that I planted nearly 4 weeks ago. So far only one has germinated (on the left), though a number of the normal “sweet” basil, planted some days later, have germinated on the right:


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Wednesday, 29 July 2020 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 29 July 2020
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Bloody mops!
Topic: health, general, opinion Link here

Nikolai's injured claw is taking its time to heal, and from time to time we find drops of blood lying around on the floor. That's not serious, since the floor is washable, but clearly it's a nuisance. I'd hate to think what we would have to do with carpet.

So: what do we wipe it up with? In Germany we had sponge mops, but here, for some reason, we have old-fashioned rag mops. That can be changed, and today Yvonne brought back a German-style sponge mop:


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