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Tuesday, 11 August 2020 Dereel
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More animals in the household
Topic: animals, general Link here

Living in the country, mice are inevitable. We had our first mouse in Stones Road just after we moved in, and it's clear that Piccola enjoys being in certain places in the hope of catching one.

But lately we've found more and more in the garage. Here's what it looks like two nights after last sweeping the floor:


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Where do they come from? What are they eating? It seems to be a combination of dog food and the old pink sponge cleaners that we have had for decades, and which I thought were of no use:

 
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I wonder why they like them. And how do they get at the dog food? It's sealed in the blue and purple containers to the left of the middle of the first photo, and there's no evidence of the mice getting in.

Where do they hide? An obvious place would be under the bottom boards in the shelves that I installed recently:

 
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The bottom of the other shelf unit (in the middle of the first photo) has nothing on it, so I lifted the board to see. Lots of droppings, but no mice. Where are they? They must be dozens of them. Do they come in at night and leave in the day? Time for Piccola to spend some nights there, and of course also for some mousetraps.


Sarawak laksa!
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I've taken the hint from the current COVID-19 pandemic and planned to do more shopping online. An obvious choice is East Asian food, so today I went looking for likely suppliers and wrote a suppliers page for them.

Some look quite good, and I've found nearly all the ingredients I normally buy in Belmont, Geelong, and also some that I haven't seen. But one thing surprised me was a recipe for (apparently) Sarawak laksa. Clearly they're talking about Kuching laksa; I doubt they would have tried it in Sibu or Miri. It's surprising for a number of reasons:

Still, it's something to investigate.


Wednesday, 12 August 2020 Dereel Images for 12 August 2020
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Fighting dereel X configuration
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've left another couple of days before continuing with the X configuration on dereel. I had feared that it would be painful, and my fears proved to be underestimates.

In principle it works, but the three monitors are configured in the wrong sequence. The one in the middle (BenQ GW2265) comes up as screen 0 and the one on the left (Acer G246HL) comes up as screen 1. By some coincidence, the one on the right (BenQ E200HD) comes up as screen 2:

 
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In passing, there's another issue that I'm going to have to deal with. This photo was taken to show the contents of the monitors, but from my sitting position what I see is:

 
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How am I going to work around those reflections?

Back to the problem at hand: nothing I can do in the configuration file can change the sequence! I've already discussed the obvious way, the ServerLayout at the top of the screen. But there are other ways too.

It's worth stepping back and thinking about the structure of the tree. There are three objects: Device (display card), Screen and Monitor. Screen is abstract: it's an addressable part of the overall display area controlled by the server, and it can span one or more monitors. In my case, I want one screen per monitor, though on the server eureka:1 there's only one screen spanning all four monitors. The hierarchy is as mentioned: device at the top controlling the screens, screens controlling the monitors. Traditionally the objects are named after they type with a trailing number, starting at 0: Device0, Device1, Screen0, Screen1, Monitor0 etc.

In this case, we have one device, three monitors and three screens. How do you map? It seems that you have three device entries, all the same entry except for the device number. Here's one of them:

Section "Device"
    Identifier     "Device0"
    Driver         "nvidia"
    VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
    BoardName      "GeForce GT 710"
    BusID          "PCI:4:0:0"
    Screen          0
EndSection

It's worth noting that there's no way to tell the server which port of the display card to use. You might expect an entry like:

    Port      "HDMI"

But that doesn't exist. There may be other ways, part of today's investigations.

The Screen entries are similar to the Device entries:

Section "Screen"
    Identifier     "Screen0"
    Device         "Device0"
    Monitor        "Monitor0"
    DefaultDepth    24
    SubSection     "Display"
        Depth       24
    EndSubSection
EndSection

The monitor entries contain, inter alia:

Section "Monitor"
    Identifier     "Monitor0"
    VendorName     "Unknown"
    ModelName      "Acer G246HL"
EndSection

So, everything's clear, right? Device 0 controls screen 0 and monitor 0, and monitor 0 is the Acer G246HL. The ServerLayout makes it clear that it's on the left. But when I start the server, monitor 1 (the BenQ GW2265) comes up as screen 0!

Clearly something's broken. Am I using the wrong config file? No, /var/log/Xorg.0.log contains:

[190255.485] (++) Using config file: "/etc/X11/xorg-0.conf"

But I got it working years ago with eureka. Took a look at eureka's config file and came to the conclusion that I had messed around until, by some coincidence, I had got it to work. I'm in no hurry this time (one of the things I found very important about setting things up this way).

So: it's clear that this is a bug. X is not honouring ServerLayout. If I change the layout specification, nothing happens, so it's not just a case of mistaken identity. What other ways do I have to influence the mapping?

The first I tried was to change the mapping of the devices to screens, here device 0 to screen 1:

Section "Device"
    Identifier     "Device0"
    Driver         "nvidia"
    VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
    BoardName      "GeForce GT 710"
    BusID          "PCI:4:0:0"
    Screen          1
EndSection

But that made no difference. OK, screen to device?

 Section "Screen"
     Identifier     "Screen0"
     Device         "Device1"
     Monitor        "Monitor1"
     DefaultDepth    24
     SubSection     "Display"

Also no change. It didn't occur to me until much later that I should have made both these changes at once to remain consistent.

OK, devices? Change the first Device entry to contain:

 Section "Device"
     Identifier     "Device1"
     Screen          1
 EndSection

Still no change.

Change the mapping between screen and monitor?

Section "Screen"
    Identifier     "Screen0"
    Device         "Device0"
    Monitor        "Monitor1"
EndSection

Still no change.

Did the TwinView entries in eureka's config contain the clue? They refer to names like CRT-0 and DFP-1. What do they mean? Off googling for TwinViewXineramaInfoOrder, which at least has no false positives, and came up this page, which describes the option in some detail. The interesting part is:


The option string is a comma-separated list of display device names. The display device names can either be general (e.g, "CRT", which identifies all CRTs), or specific (e.g., "CRT-1", which identifies a particular CRT). Not all display devices need to be identified in the option string; display devices that are not listed will be implicitly appended to the end of the list, in their default order.    Examples:

            "DFP"
            "TV, DFP"
            "DFP-1, DFP-0, TV, CRT"

In the first example, any enabled DFPs would be reported first (any enabled CRTs or TVs would be reported afterwards). In the second example, any enabled TVs would be reported first, then any enabled DFPs (any enabled CRTs would be reported last). In the last example, if DFP-1 were enabled, it would be reported first, then DFP-0, then any enabled TVs, and then any enabled CRTs; finally, any other enabled DFPs would be reported.

    Default: "CRT, DFP, TV"

Now isn't that helpful? I still don't know what a DFP is, but clearly a CRT is an old, worn-out magic word. Still, worth trying the entries I had in eureka:

--- xorg-0.conf 2020/08/07 23:52:19 1.1
+++ xorg-0.conf 2020/08/12 06:34:08
@@ -102,7 +102,9 @@
 Section "Screen"
     Identifier     "Screen0"
     Device         "Device0"
-    Monitor        "Monitor1"
+    Monitor        "Monitor0"
+    Option         "TwinView" "0"
+    Option         "TwinViewXineramaInfoOrder" "CRT-0"
     DefaultDepth    24
     SubSection     "Display"
         Depth       24
@@ -112,7 +114,9 @@
 Section "Screen"
     Identifier     "Screen1"
     Device         "Device1"
-    Monitor        "Monitor0"
+    Monitor        "Monitor1"
+    Option         "TwinView" "0"
+    Option         "TwinViewXineramaInfoOrder" "CRT-1"
     DefaultDepth    24
     SubSection     "Display"
         Depth       24
@@ -123,6 +127,8 @@
     Identifier     "Screen2"
     Device         "Device2"
     Monitor        "Monitor2"
+    Option         "TwinView" "0"
+    Option         "TwinViewXineramaInfoOrder" "CRT-2"
     DefaultDepth    24
     SubSection     "Display"
         Depth       24

No change, of course. But clearly everything here refers to TwinView, a proprietary way to join two monitors into a single screen, so there is no reason to believe that it makes any difference, especially since on eureka some screens have it and others don't.

And that was about as far as I got with frobbing the config file. But maybe that's an old way to do things. Who reads config files any more? Not even X, it seems, or it looks on them as comments. Doesn't Nvidia have a program to do this? Yes, nvidia-settings, which offers this view of the server layout (click to enlarge):

 
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At least that's a correct representation of the server layout. Where did it get the monitor names? From the config file or the EDID? My guess is that it was the config file. But the config file says that this is screen 1, not screen 0. OK, try dragging. Yes, it works, but what a mess! It doesn't snap into place, and some of the comments suggest that I'll leave unaddressable space between monitors, or have overlapping space.

 
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OK, I can just select “X screen 0” at the bottom:

 
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But that led to still more surprises. In particular, it forgot the name of the 2200HD, it moved the GW2265 to the extreme right, leaving a space, and also forgot about screen 2:

 
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OK, create a new screen 2 in the right place:

 
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Save the config? Sure, but don't overwrite the old one. In the past I have found that config files generated by this utility were severely broken: they omitted all comments, changed the indentation, and maybe more. But that was enough for today. I'll look at them in the morning.

In passing, it's interesting to note this detail in nvidia-settings:


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There they really are, CRT, flat screen and TV. Could it be that DFP is an abbreviation of “Digital Flat Panel”? That sounds particularly archaic. I get the feeling that the whole Nvidia software offering contains a lot of dead wood and ignored worked-around bugs.

And apart from Nvidia, a couple of other things I hadn't expected. I had to install RCS as a port! And somehow I still can't start X from an xterm, despite following all the instructions to work around this “security” measure. But it seems that I had discovered the real problem months ago. Another thing to check on tomorrow.


COVID-19: Seen before?
Topic: health, opinion Link here

There have been some musings going on lately that COVID-19 may not have originated in or near Wuhan, as currently supposed, but that it was a mutation of an older virus; it seems that many people seem to have some immunity in their T cells.

It'll be interesting to see if anything comes of this idea, but it had occurred to me already: last year I got a severe cold or chest infection, the like of which I have never experienced. That's not typical for me: I never get things like that, and I wondered at the time what had caused it.


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


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