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January 2019
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Tuesday, 1 January 2019 Dereel Images for 1 January 2019
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Aussie responds
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Call at 9:00 this morning from A at Aussie Broadband, to tell me yes, indeed, 180.150.2.214 was a Google cache server on their network.

And that was all. Never mind that I had asked whether it was the correct server for my IP address; he still couldn't answer that. And once again he went off about DNS issues. I pointed him to the traces I had sent. Ah, they hadn't looked at that. And he wanted to run a traceroute to find out what was going on; the Aussie support people seem to confuse traceroute and packet traces.

Sorry, Aussie, this isn't good enough. As I had reported yesterday, 180.150.2.214 appears no longer to be a cache server; I have two different addresses instead. And yes, I know that at the moment it looks as if the fault is here at my end (which I ultimately told him), but I've gone through a lot of trouble to document the issue, and not only can't they answer my quite simple questions, they don't even look at the evidence that I've provided. This is really worth a complaint to Aussie management.


Researching the Android problem
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I still don't understand all the details of my Android download issues. I have at least:

  1. Where did the alias 180.150.55.199 come from?
  2. Why did the presence of the alias on xl0 prevent access to the subnet 180.150.0.0/16?
  3. Why does it work some of the time, apparently at random?

First look at the routing issue. Added the alias again, and traced the external interface:

17:10:16.726059 ARP, Request who-has 180.150.1.28 tell 180.150.55.199, length 28
17:10:17.731029 ARP, Request who-has 180.150.1.28 tell 180.150.55.199, length 28
17:10:18.736971 ARP, Request who-has 180.150.1.28 tell 180.150.55.199, length 28
...

Of course! xl0 is an Ethernet interface, so it expects to be able to talk to it directly uses ARP to establish the Ethernet address. Clearly it fails. If I change the net mask to /24, it works, since then the destination address is no longer in the network range.

OK, next: where does this address come from? I had already established that it cropped up in the firewall rules, but where else? A clue presented itself quite quickly: after deleting the alias, I could no longer access the local web server (wwww.lemis.com; count those “w”s). What's up?

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/7) ~ 108 -> host wwww
wwww.lemis.com is an alias for aussie-gw.lemis.com.
aussie-gw.lemis.com has address 180.150.55.199

Huh? Once upon a time that must have been the address, but when? I couldn't find any reference to it in the DNS configuration. But the next clue presented itself when I “fixed” the address. This diary contains details that are only accessible locally, like the real names of the Aussie Broadband consultants. But I could no longer see that.

OK, UTSL. This is in ~/public_html/php/includes/header.php. And there I saw:

$islocal = preg_match (":192\.109\.197\.[0-9]:", $_SERVER ["REMOTE_ADDR"])
  || ($_SERVER ["REMOTE_ADDR"] == "180.150.55.199");

Where did that come from? Surprise, surprise, it's ancient. It was introduced in revision 1.376 on 30 August 2017, for reasons that I didn't bother to record:

- * $Id: diary-jan2019.php,v 1.22 2019/01/18 04:08:00 grog Exp $
+ * $Id: diary-jan2019.php,v 1.22 2019/01/18 04:08:00 grog Exp $

So where did the address come from? Have I been kludging that ever since? Time to drag out some old log files and take a look.

That leaves me with the third issue: why was it intermittent? That also offered itself in conjunction with a different issue. I had wondered what DNS lookups taskumatti made, and came across this exchange:

14:12:09.764725 IP 192.109.197.239.1574 > 192.109.197.137.53: Flags [P.], seq 1:32, ack 1, win 343, options [nop,nop,TS val 8986854 ecr 2241263770], length 3110199+ A? i.ytimg.com. (29)
14:12:09.764877 IP 192.109.197.137.53 > 192.109.197.239.1574: Flags [P.], seq 1:1125, ack 32, win 12573, options [nop,nop,TS val 2241263774 ecr 8986854], length 112410199 17/13/26 CNAME ytimg-edge-static.l.google.com., A 180.150.1.47, A 180.150.2.187, A 180.150.1.58, A 180.150.1.43, A 180.150.2.152, A 180.150.2.156, A 180.150.2.148, A 180.150.1.28, A 180.150.1.51, A 180.150.1.55, A 180.150.2.160, A 180.150.1.32, A 180.150.1.40, A 180.150.2.176, A 180.150.2.180, A 180.150.1.17 (1122)

That's not overly clear in tcpdump output, but it's a DNS lookup for i.ytimg.com. Tried manually, it returns:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/6) ~ 940 -> nslookup i.ytimg.com
Non-authoritative answer:
i.ytimg.com     canonical name = ytimg-edge-static.l.google.com.
Address: 180.150.2.168
Name:   ytimg-edge-static.l.google.com
Address: 180.150.2.176
Address: 180.150.2.144
Address: 180.150.2.163
Address: 180.150.1.40
Address: 180.150.2.152
Address: 180.150.2.172
Address: 180.150.2.180
Address: 180.150.2.184
Address: 180.150.2.187
Address: 180.150.1.58
Address: 180.150.1.32
Address: 180.150.1.17
Address: 180.150.2.156
Address: 180.150.2.148
Address: 180.150.2.160

Look at the number of servers! It claims (repeatedly, and removed from this list) that the reverse lookup for each address is ytimg-edge-static.l.google.com, but it lies. All the ones I have tried resolve to what I've already seen, cache.google.com.

All of these addresses are in the block 180.150.0.0/16, but they don't need to be. My guess is that this particular lookup related to a YouTube update, and that potentially other lookups could also return cache servers outside that range, thus explaining the seemingly random successes.

So: almost finished. I just don't understand why this old IP address was still hanging around long after it had outlived its usefulness.


Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Bushfire!
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

While chasing down my routing problems, my phone went “Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!” a couple of times. What's that? Ah, that's VicEmergency's way of saying “we have a report of a bushfire”. Where? Ah, you're going to have to find the emergency app and work it out for yourself. If you can guess what the 4 beeps mean, you should be able to make it. And yes, there's a certain logic in that. But given the effort Android puts into speech recognition, why do no apps use voice output? It would be so much more helpful.


Wednesday, 2 January 2019 Dereel Images for 2 January 2019
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Focus stacking revisited
Topic: photography, technology, opinion, gardening Link here

There are a number of tiny wildflowers in the garden:


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I've been meaning to take photos of them for some time. But my experience two months ago suggested that I should do more preparation.

Two months ago I was taking photos of Thelymitra pauciflora, flowers about 10 to 15 mm across. The ones I'm looking at now are closer to 5 mm across:


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Clearly I can take photos like the ones above, and they expand quite satisfactorily:

 
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In fact, the second flower compares quite well to the experiments I made four years ago:


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But I'm trying to fill the frame. That's difficult: firstly, the flowers are too small. The biggest magnification I can get is about 1.43 with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 60 mm f/2.8 Macro and extension tubes (about 12 mm across). Theoretically I should be able to get 2.1 magnification (8.2 mm across) with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 30 mm f/3.5 Macro, but that requires the images to be almost touching the lens, as I discovered a year ago:


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And of course at those distances focus stacking is absolutely essential. So I have more issues: how do I position the camera and viewfinder, and how many shots do I take?

Unlike the photos taken two months ago, these flowers are in the full sun (in fact, the orange ones require full sun to open), and that makes the viewfinder an issue. One possibility that occurred to me was goggles that connect to the HDMI output of the camera. There are some on the market, but who knows whether they work? The other possibility is the one that I have had since the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark I five years ago: use a mobile phone. But the experiments I made at the time suggested that it was pretty useless:

 
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Admittedly, that's a detail, and there were ways to marginally improve it, but it was still not usable. But I now have the successor model. Is it any better? Yes! Or at least, that's the first impression, though it still insists on giving me a JPEG image that I don't want and which messes up my workflow. But at the very least I need to investigate further.

And the number of shots? That still requires investigation. A year ago I took a large number of photos to try to understand how the focus system worked, but analysis was complicated, and I never got it finished. I probably need to do something about that.


Investigating the network configuration confusion
Topic: technology, history, opinion Link here

Spent most of the day trying to read in old log files from the beginning of December, the date of my last level 0 dump. I failed. Part of the issue was that the dump (in fact, a compressed tarball) was so big that it took hours of CPU time just to untar it, and I think during that time the daily dump ran and then umounted the backup disk from underneath it. Another day to wait...


Thursday, 3 January 2019 Dereel Images for 3 January 2019
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Big bang influence
Topic: general, multimedia, opinion Link here

For reasons that I can only marginally understand, Yvonne likes the The Big Bang Theory TV series. I fear that she identifies Sheldon Cooper with me.

An example: when setting the table for breakfast, she used to put the coffee cup on the table. That makes sense until you realize that it has to be filled from the coffee machine behind me, and that I don't usually drink coffee until after breakfast. So now she puts it in the coffee machine.

Problem: which way round?


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I decided on handle to the right, though arguably that's wrong, since I need to be able to grab it easily. To be pondered upon.


Getting my Mojo working
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Penang Laksa for breakfast today. I have a number of different pastes, and in principle I'm happy with this Richmond paste:


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But over the last 6 months I have bought a number of alternatives, including this one from “Chilliz”, a company apparently without a web site:


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What's a Mojo? Nothing obvious. It does occur in the Malay Wikipedia, but not in a culinary context. And it seems that there's a district in Java with that name. That would match the “Karé”, which is clearly Indonesian. But I did find a reference in the OED:

A sauce or marinade of Cuban origin, containing garlic, olive oil, sour oranges and (frequently) other citrus fruits.

Not quite the composition of laksa, but potentially similar. And Cuba is about as far from Mojo as you can get on this Earth, as the Great Circle Mapper says:

Image

Still, the makeup of the paste seems good enough, and it was worth trying. But before preparing it, I discovered this:

 
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Tomato Sardine? I suppose that means sardines in tomato sauce. What sacrilege! And yes, of course I don't have to use that. But then it wants 400 g of tamarind juice! Not quite what the front of the package said:

 
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More to the point, 400 g is double the weight of the paste. All the pastes I've had so far have tamarind concentrate in them, so presumably this is not intended as concentrate. But how much concentrate? This is too hard, so I used the Richmond concentrate. It'll take a while to get this to work.


Nikolai's wound
Topic: animals Link here

Took Nikolai's shirt off again today:


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It's looking much better, but he's still licking at it, and we're afraid that he will tear it apart again. So another couple of weeks of shirts, I fear.


Wildflower macros in earnest
Topic: photography, gardening, opinion Link here

I've put working out the number of steps for my wildflower macros into the “too hard” basket. Dammit, at this rate they'll finish flowering before I try anything.

So out into the garden with my rig. Turned on the remote viewfinder and... got a playback image of the last photo that I had taken, confusingly close to what I was looking at:


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It should have been much closer:


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Nothing I could do would change the display to a viewfinder. Dammit, is this some pessimization caused by the last firmware update?

OK, let's see how it works with taskumatti, my mobile phone. About as bad as I had feared. Despite maximum display brightness (how do you set that on the fly?), I could barely see anything, and of course holding the thing didn't make adjusting it any easier. It was a sheer coincidence that I got this photo, almost acceptable, though clearly not focus stacked:


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The whole thing was such a mess that I gave up. Back to check on firmware updates. No, I haven't updated the firmware since two months ago. I have updated some settings on the camera, and one of them must have broken the display. Now the long, painful search for the correct settings.


Trump: who needs friends?
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Donald Trump is currently somewhat embattled at home, something that will hopefully lead to his demise. And he's not exactly popular abroad. About his biggest fans are the Israelis.

What can you do about that? Annoy your friends! It has worked before. So this article in the Times of Israel should have come as no surprise:

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday gave Iran free rein to further entrench itself in Syria

Is that quotation correct? I haven't seen it elsewhere, though world traveller Trump did refer to Syria as “sand and death”. What is he trying to achieve?


Friday, 4 January 2019 Dereel Images for 4 January 2019
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Bushfire!
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

It was very hot today—the temperature reached 41.5°—and it was quite windy, so of course we were on alert for bushfires. And sure enough, round 9:16 my phone went beep-beep-beep-beep. OK, VicEmergency, where's the fire?

None! So I dragged out my camera (why aren't I taking screen shots? Every Android release seems to have a different way, and I haven't found this one yet, though I really should look), and took a photo. Nothing in my area:


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While I was puzzling with this (and finding a good lens to use), finally I got the message:


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I managed to cut the time off the display, but the Exif data for the photo show that it was taken at 9:19:43. Ah, the Other Fire. What the hell is that? After dismissing the message, I saw:


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Nothing again. Of course, half the tiny screen was taken up with irrelevant information. When I finally got it I got a map location (which I didn't need) and no further information beyond the fact that the incident was reported 3 minutes after VicEmergency beeped at me:


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What about that ZOOM at bottom left? No idea. It didn't respond. And while I was trying to find out what it was, it went away again, as if it had never occurred.

Should I growl at VicEmergency again? It's repetitive, and maybe they think it's funny, maybe a preparation for the tenth anniversary of the Black Saturday bushfires, to show how little they have learnt.


More newfs insights
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've had a few strange responses from one of my external backup disks. It's not the newest, and possibly it's an indication that it's dying. But since getting my new video backup disk last month, I have a 4 TB disk sitting around doing nothing. OK, use that.

And the newfs parameters? I always agonize about them. But in this case I can take the parameters from the old backup disk with the help of dumpfs. Or should I take the parameters from /videobackup, the new disk?

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/6) ~ 975 -> df -i /videobackup /backups
Filesystem 1048576-blocks      Used     Avail Capacity iused   ifree %iused  Mounted on
/dev/da4p1      5,722,572 3,491,581 2,173,765    62%   8,376     801,990    1%   /videobackup
/dev/da1p1      1,847,816 1,298,023   401,968    76%  13,897 244,606,389    0%   /backups

OK, /backups doesn't look like I have done a very good job of allocating inodes. How about seeing what I need for /videobackup?

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/6) ~ 976 -> dumpfs -m /videobackup
# newfs command for /videobackup (/dev/da0p1)
newfs -O 2 -a 4 -b 32768 -d 32768 -e 4096 -f 4096 -g 16384 -h 64 -i 7405568 -k 9256 -m 8 -o time -s 7813969832 /dev/da0p1
=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/3) ~ 157 -> dumpfs -m /backups
# newfs command for /backups (/dev/da1p1)
newfs -O 2 -a 4 -b 32768 -d 32768 -e 4096 -f 4096 -g 16384 -h 64 -i 8192 -k 6408 -m 8 -o time -s 3907029096 /dev/da1p1

OK, but what's that device name? /dev/da0p1? It's /dev/da4p1! What went wrong there? It got it right for /backups. Yet another thing to chase down.

In the end I took essentially the parameters for /videobackups; trying to reduce the inode count further seems to hit some internal limit (which, of course, might be yet another strangeness in newfs). And yes, in this case /dev/da0s1 is correct. That's the disk I wanted to build the file system on:

newfs -L backups -O 2 -a 4 -b 32768 -d 32768 -e 4096 -f 4096 -g 419430400 -h 64 -i 7405568 -k 1152 -m 1 -o space /dev/da0p1

In passing, it occurs to me that that disk had last been mounted on /videobackups: it was the old backup disk. Did that maybe confuse dumpfs?

Then to copy the data across. Only a little over 2 TB, so less than a day at data rates round 30 MB/s (apparently limited by the USB interface). It's interesting to compare that with the IBM 3330 class disks that we used in the 1970s and early 1980s. Ours (Tandem Computers) were made by Ampex and stored 300 MB, with a maximum transfer rate of 840 kB/s. That means that we could (theoretically) copy the entire disk contents in 6 minutes. Now we can copy the same amount of data in 6 seconds, but it still would take over 11 hours at 100 MB/s to copy the 4 TB disk.

Also in passing, after copying the data I checked how much storage I have directly connected to eureka. It's amazing—32 TB:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/3) ~ 160 -> df -ic
Filesystem  1048576-blocks      Used     Avail Capacity   iused       ifree %iused  Mounted on
/dev/ada0p2         39,662    28,957     7,532    79%   563,862   4,733,032   11%   /
devfs                    0         0         0   100%         0           0  100%   /dev
/dev/ada0p4         39,662    12,965    23,524    36%   260,823   5,036,071    5%   /destdir
/dev/ada0p5         29,000     3,670    23,009    14%       210   3,852,076    0%   /photowork
/dev/ada1p2      2,820,026 2,580,421    14,002    99% 9,688,958  12,923,520   43%   /home
fdescfs                  0         0         0   100%         4     941,001    0%   /dev/fd
procfs                   0         0         0   100%         1           0  100%   /proc
/dev/da2p1       1,907,067 1,703,134    51,367    97%    53,955   2,113,851    2%   /dump
/dev/ada2p1      7,629,565 5,210,729 2,342,540    69% 1,674,676   1,568,970   52%   /Photos
/dev/da4p1       5,722,572 3,491,581 2,173,765    62%     8,376     801,990    1%   /videobackup
/dev/da1p1       1,847,816 1,298,023   401,968    76%    13,897 244,606,389    0%   /backups
/dev/da0p1       3,815,019 1,298,021 2,478,847    34%    13,881     526,405    3%   /mnt
/dev/da3p1       7,629,565 5,241,712 2,311,557    69% 1,722,374   1,521,272   53%   /photobackup
total           31,479,959 20,869,217 9,828,115    68% 14,001,017 278,624,577    5%

I even have nearly 10 TB of free space. I could never have dreamed of that 25 years ago.


Plummeting temperatures
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Today was another of those days where we had a sudden plummet of temperature in mid-afternoon:

Click to see larger image
mysql> SELECT time, outside_temp FROM observations WHERE date = "2019-1-4" AND time > "14:52" AND time < "14:59";
+----------+--------------+
| time     | outside_temp |
+----------+--------------+
| 14:52:42 |         41.2 |
| 14:53:44 |         40.7 |
| 14:54:45 |         38.8 |
| 14:55:47 |         37.9 |
| 14:56:48 |         37.1 |
| 14:57:50 |           36 |
| 14:58:51 |         35.8 |
+----------+--------------+

In the 61 seconds between 14:53:44 and 14:54:45 the temperature dropped by 1.9°. A record? No, this time last year I measured 2.2° in the same time frame.


Another wildflower?
Topic: gardening Link here

Seen while walking the dogs today:


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Is that something new? We have lots of flowers like that on the property, but I haven't seen them grow so dense or so high. To be compared.


Saturday, 5 January 2019 Dereel Images for 5 January 2019
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Android: taking screen shots
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've been dragging my feet on taking screen shots of my Android display, preferring to take photos instead. That's not an improvement: it means a lot of work, including straightening:


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And the results aren't as good.

Or aren't they? On this occasion, showing typical behaviour of the VicEmergency app, I managed to get an image with very little of the almost omnipresent Moiré, and the gradation looks considerably better (second image):

 
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Still, it's not worth the work. But what's the magic gesture (a term that reminds me of the old “V sign”, not the one for victory) for taking a screen shot? Google to my aid. How to take a screenshot on your android phone sounded the right one.

It starts off with:

Every Android phone is different, and so is taking screenshots with them... We're here to help: Just find your Android phone on the list below to learn the various ways to snap, share, and save a screenshot.

OK, where's my phone? Not there. No Nokia at all. OK, look specifically for Nokia, which takes me to Take a Screenshot on a Nokia Android Phone.

Press the "Volume Down" button and the "Lock" button at the same time. You can find those buttons on the right side of your phone. You will hear camera shutter sounds that indicate your screenshot has been successfully taken.

What's the “Lock” button? What I have always called the “Power” button. Why Lock? Who knows? Still, that's exactly what the old way was. And it's fussy. The instructions tell me that I can then view the screenshot by “swiping” downwards. No, I can't. No reaction.

Still, I don't want to view it: I want to copy it to a Real Computer, something that Android doesn't really think important. But I can do it with WiFi File Transferif I know where the files are. I already have a location for photos taken with the phone: http://taskumatti.lemis.com:1234/storage/emulated/0/DCIM/Camera/. So it must be somewhere round there, right?

Wrong, fool. This is Android. After some playing around I found them at http://taskumatti.lemis.com:1234/storage/emulated/0/Pictures/Screenshots/. Why the difference? This is Android.

In passing, what time was this taken?

 
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It was 12:20, but I have no idea why it's trying to show two different times.


Re-enabling HDMI viewfinder
Topic: photography Link here

So why does my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II no longer transfer viewfinder information to the HDMI monitor? A bit of trial and error (fortunately not too much) gave me the answer: menu D4/HDMI/HDMI control needs to be set to “off”. Possibly that even makes sense. Out to take a look at the flowers, but the weather is cooler, it was late in the day, and the ones I wanted weren't open. Mañana?


Nikolai's wound: better than expected
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Chris Bahlo over this evening, and she and Yvonne took a look at Nikolai's wound. Chris decided that it the lump on top was just matted hair, and without even telling me the ladies removed it, showing a much smaller wound than we had thought.

Photos? Sorry, I wasn't given that option.


Abusive abuse@
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

The scam of the month are messages like this one:

From abuse@lemis.com  Thu Jan  6 16:25:09 2019
Return-Path: <abuse@lemis.com>
X-Original-To: abuse@lemis.com
Delivered-To: groggyhimself@lemis.com
Received: from cpc1-newt39-2-0-cust128.19-3.cable.virginm.net (cpc1-newt39-2-0-cust128.19-3.cable.virginm.net
        [77.101.118.129])
        by www.lemis.com (Postfix) with ESMTP id 21BB71B72837
        for <abuse@lemis.com>; Thu,  6 Jan 2019 05:23:16 +0000 (UTC)
Date: 6 Jan 2019 03:53:10 -0100
From: abuse@lemis.com
To: abuse@lemis.com
Subject: abuse@lemis.com was under attack! Change your access data!
X-Mailer: Microsoft Windows Live Mail 15.4.3508.1109
Message-ID: <70FBA92AD1227852D98B08F3005A70FB@07XR3N843>

Hello!

As you may have noticed, I sent you an email from your account.
This means that I have full access to your account.

The fact is that you were infected with malware through an adult site that you visited.

Trojan Virus gives me full access and control over a computer or other device.
This means that I can see everything on your screen, turn on the camera and microphone, but you do not know about it.

I also have access to all your contacts and all your correspondence.

Why your antivirus did not detect malware?
Answer: My malware uses the driver, I update its signatures every 4 hours so that your antivirus is silent.

I made a video showing how you satisfy yourself in the left half of the screen, and in the right half you see the video that you watched.
With one click of the mouse, I can send this video to all your emails and contacts on social networks. I can also post access to all your e-mail correspondence and messengers that you use.

If you want to prevent this, transfer the amount of $550 to my bitcoin address (if you do not know how to do this, write to Google: "Buy Bitcoin").

My bitcoin address (BTC Wallet) is: 1DrCbXWfTqJbaiak2wjGUQiEo1WBzCBnof

Yes, we've seen all this before, and the sender MUA address and Bitcoin Wallet are correct. The part that I find so funny is that this scammer has chosen to send his nonsense to abuse@lemis.com.


Sunday, 6 January 2019 Dereel Images for 6 January 2019
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More garden work
Topic: gardening Link here

Mick the gardener along today with his unmistakable lawn mower:


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It seems that his son reshaped the front on the day he bought it, but it still works fine. He brought it because our own mower is still in need of repair, and finally mowed the lawn, probably a month too late.

And while he was having lunch he took a look at our mower, which looks very similar, though it's from a different maker (his is Husqvarna, mine is a McCulloch MC17542ST). Or so I thought. Following that mainly broken link brought only one useful piece of information: “Copyright © Husqvarna Group 2017.All rights reserved”. That would at least explain why some parts are clearly identical, notably the cover for the grass deflector shield on the side of the mower housing.

And it occurred to him that my diagnosis of the problem had to be wrong: there was no cable to come unstuck. He took a look underneath and found a disconnected belt. I had suspected that too, but also taken a look and found that the belt was still connected. Only there are two belts. So even before finishing his lunch, he had fixed it.

That's not the end of the story, of course. The belt was disconnected because it was worn and needs replacement. But Mick has a solution for that, too, at a fraction of the cost. Win, win.


Google translate: abandon hope
Topic: language, opinion Link here

Question on IRC today:

<petz> is there some kind of channel greet doodad we can do? do we want to?
<groggyhimself> "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate"?

That quote from Inferno should be familiar to players of Adventure, but of course I wanted it in the original (something that I'm not sure I have achieved).

Clearly others will want it in English. How about Google Translate?

Let each hope hope you get yours

Not even close. But then it had detected the language as Corsican. Remove quotes?

Leave any hope, what you get

Well, that's a change, though I don't know why. OK, tell it that's it's Italian:

Leave all hope, you who enter

Closer, but no cigar. But it did suggest that the last word is entrante, not intrante. OK, try that

Leave every hope, you who enter

I've lost hope. The “correct” (canonical) translation is “Abandon all hope, ye who enter”.

So was the original intrate or entrate? The latter is modern Italian. But try as I might I can't find the original text of Inferno.

Oh hell!


First tomato of summer
Topic: gardening, food and drink, opinion Link here

Rather to my surprise I found a ripe tomato under one of the tomato plants in the garden. It had fallen off, normally a sign of some insect attack, but it was in perfect condition. Only it looks nothing like the sweet bite early maturing tomatoes that I had been promised on the label: wrong shape (I'll get a photo next time) and far too big.

And boring. Neither sweet nor aromatic. I don't need to plant tomatoes like that. I can buy them for next to nothing in the supermarkets. Hopefully the others will have more flavour.


Monday, 7 January 2019 Dereel Images for 7 January 2019
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Breakfast with Pene
Topic: food and drink, animals, general Link here

Pene Kirk is planning to ride again, and today she went out for an early morning ride with Chris Bahlo and Yvonne. Back in time for breakfast, after which she took a look at Nikolai—again nobody called me—and pronounced him well on the way to recovery, but of course I got no photos again.


Some garden work
Topic: gardening Link here

Why is my Leucospermum cordifolium not flowering profusely? There's one flower, but there should be many:


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I suspected lack of watering, and planned to put in a dripper. First, though, remove lots of Carpobrotus that had infringed on the plant. And there was a dripper! It was in the wrong place, but it's not clear whether that was due to my removing the Carpobrotus. To be observed.


Föhnfahne?
Topic: general, opinion Link here

While walking the dogs today, Yvonne looked at the clouds:


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To me, that's Cirrus. But she called it „Föhnfahne“ (Föhn flag). Clearly it's not a Föhn; that only occurs in alpine areas. But what is a Föhnfahne? Off looking online, with no useful explanations. It seems that it could be related to one of these photos (from Wikipedia):

They don't look very similar, but it's still not clear what the characteristic appearance of a Föhnfahne is.

After writing the article, Yvonne told me that she had made up the name as a description of the cloud formation. We've agreed that it was probably incorrect.

Looking at clouds
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I took two photos of the clouds this afternoon:


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Why? They both look the same.

Well, you need to look closer:

 
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This particular motive poses a couple of questions. First, how do you focus on clouds? They're all a bit nebulous. Autofocus gave up altogether, and for the first one I focused by hand. Clearly that wasn't good enough. For the second one I focused on the trees; at f/10 the depth of field would go far beyond ∞ (in fact to -8 m).

And then: how much sharpness do you need? That affects depth of field as well. The sharper the image needs to be, the smaller the circle of confusion, and thus the smaller the depth of field. In this example, I'd guess that the trees were 50 m away. For a normal circle of confusion of 8 μm that would give me a depth of field from 6.29 m to ∞, but reducing the circle of confusion to 4 μm would bring the near distances up to 11.18 m. In this case, that's still plenty, but what about at f/2? Then the depth of field would be 21 m to ∞ with a circle of confusion of 8 μm, but only 30 m to 164 m for a circle of confusion of 4 μm.

On the other hand, none of this makes any difference if you're just looking at the image from a normal angle of view. So we seem to have two different definitions of “depth of field”.

I'm confused.


Tuesday, 8 January 2019 Dereel Images for 8 January 2019
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Another slow day
Topic: general Link here

Why is it that some days I do so much, and on others hardly anything? Today was another of the latter. I sometimes feel that if I lump days two at a time, I'll come out with a good balance.


World: hell in a handbasket
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

What's going on in the world? The President of the USA is holding his country to ransom, promising to keep his government shut down until he gets his toy. At what point can his actions be cause for impeachment? It's interesting, though, to look at the magnitude of the illegal immigration problem. I wonder what a good, humanitarian solution would be.

And in Europe, it seems that Great Britain is cutting off its nose to spite its face regarding Brexit. What would the result of a renewed referendum be? The most interesting thing about the whole affair is how difficult it is to unravel agreements. I don't really see a good alternative solution to scrapping the whole effort and remaining in the European Union. Yes, that would cost political careers. Watch people care.


Wednesday, 9 January 2019 Dereel Images for 9 January 2019
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How much toothpaste?
Topic: health, opinion Link here

There's an interesting dichotomy between dentists and toothbrush manufacturers when it comes to cleaning teeth: my dentists say “twice a day, clean all teeth, duration doesn't matter”. The latter (Oral-B for example. This is the only page I could find; their web site is too polite to show a corresponding page for their main source of income, electric toothbrushes) say “two minutes, twice a day”, interestingly backed up by the Australian Dental Association.

And how much toothpaste? There's very little information there. Colgate, the protector of dental cavities, shows this image on instructions carefully designed not to be legible at one glance:


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But that's far too much. You can't fit that much on an electric toothbrush head, and even on a manual toothbrush, most of it would just fall off and be lost. So I've been weighing what I can get on the toothbrush head and use. The result: round ⅓ g (350 mg). Even 450 mg results in wastage.


Relying on digital devices
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Like most people, I have a number of digital devices in the household that have replaced older analogue devices, notably scales and thermometers. The digital display makes them much easier to use, and they're more accurate.

Or are they? Decades ago I built a temperature controller using Dallas 1820 temperature probes. From memory, they have a granularity of 0.07°. But how accurate are they? Recently I had mechanical issues with an infrared thermometer, so I replaced it. But the old one still works, sort of: at room temperature it displays about 20° too high.

That's clearly incorrect. But what would happen if it displayed 1° too high or low? It would still be better than the Bureau of Meteorology, which claims to know temperatures in Dereel that are out by up to 3°. But what kind of defect can result in a digital thermometer being so inaccurate? Or just slightly inaccurate? We just don't know how they're built.

Then there are scales. A few months ago I bought some digital scales with a 1 mg resolution. Just what I need to weigh my toothpaste.

But the scales wouldn't stand still. They drifted upwards continually. They didn't do that when I got them. Why?

At first I thought it was a temperature issue; in the past there seemed to be some relationship. So I checked the temperature: 20.0°. You can't get closer to normal conditions than that. And sometimes it happened, sometimes it didn't.

OK, batteries? No, they're freshly recharged rechargeables. Change the batteries; no improvement. Use fresh, non-rechargeable batteries? Yes, that seems to work. And interestingly the weight of the toothpaste tube had suddenly doubled; previously, on one of the few occasions where it stood relatively still, it was exactly 28.000 g (doesn't that look suspicious?), afterwards round 55 g.

So: what kludges do scale builders make? You'd expect them to have some kind of voltage regulation, but potentially 1.27 V is too low. There are clearly others: if you take just about any scale, out a container on it, tare it, weigh something, pour out the weighed substance and replace the empty container, it will almost invariably not return to zero—immediately. After a couple of seconds, if the offset is less than a certain threshold (0.3 g, for example), it will reset to 0. What else do they do? How important is the temperature? How linear are they? These are all things that we didn't have to worry about in the Analogue Age.


How to watch TV?
Topic: multimedia, opinion Link here

Since discovering the German mediatheques, we've found a large number of TV films and series, some of them well worth watching. But which? And how?

There are a number of issues: the web sites are very little help. ARD, in particular, had a very bad layout. But they've changed that: they've made it even worse, to the point where it's barely usable. They've taken the mobile phone workaround for lack of proper screen navigation and used it to break display on normal devices:


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Why is the display truncated? Because it's modern. When it feels like it, it'll overlay the last half-image (it always seems to be a half image) with a > to indicate that you have to click on it to see only the next of a very large number of images, each (poorly) representing a programme.

As a result, it's really difficult to find out what is worth watching. No useful overview. Is this the kind of brain damage that mobile phones and “smart” TVs have brought us?

So we have taken the easy way out, and we watch mainly TV series. That way we have a reasonable idea in advance of what awaits us. But we still have the issue of finding the series.

Recently we discovered a new series, Großstadtrevier (roughly translatable as “Big city precinct”, using the US meaning of “precinct” as “a division of a police department in a large city (either to the neighborhood patrolled or to the police station itself)”. The police area in question is in St. Pauli in Hamburg. And the series is new to us, but otherwise anything but new: it's in its 32nd year.

Wait a while, we already have Notruf Hafenkante (“Emergency call on the edge of the harbour”), about the police in St. Pauli, only 12 years old. Same series? Predecessor? No, it seems that they're parallel series covering the same topic in the same geographical area. I wonder if the people ever bump into each other.

So: how do we watch Großstadtrevier? It's on the web, of course, but for how long? I decided to download what's available (which proved to be a little over 70 GB), and discovered that we had 58 episodes spread over 12 different years. And some of the ones on the list weren't really there. So it makes sense to download them, number them and wait until the (many) holes are filled in.

Why is it so difficult to find this content? It's not a legal issue as far as I can see; everything I'm doing is legal. But why should it be necessary?


Organic wine? Or vinegar?
Topic: general, food and drink, opinion Link here

Walking the dogs today, they really wanted to go down Grassy Gully Road, which we normally avoid because of the traffic. Today only one car came by, a Claire from Linton who was so taken by the dogs that she wanted me to take some photos of her with them. Did that, and only at the end realized that I hadn't taken any with my own camera.

On to the first driveway, where we had seen some signs about wine tasting some while back. Yes, indeed, found a somewhat hidden sign:


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Somehow the concept of selling wine and vinegar sounds counterproductive. But this is “organic”, so maybe it's OK.


Thursday, 10 January 2019 Dereel Images for 10 January 2019
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Nikolai's wound
Topic: animals Link here

Took another look at Nikolai's wound today. It's healing nicely:


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He's still licking at it a lot, so we'll leave the shirt on for another few days.


Come to Australia!
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Interesting statistic from Statista today. Australia is now the world's seventh-largest tourist destination:

Only seventh? Look at the others: four of them are right next to each other, and all very interesting places. And Australia is literally at the end of the world.

The other thing to note is what we already noticed at the Twelve Apostles in November: there are many more tourists, and most of them are Chinese. Clearly the world is changing, even without Donald Trump's help.


Lion's book: theft?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

In a discussion on the TUHS mailing lists today, somebody pointed to a repository for the Lions' Commentary on UNIX 6th Edition. Closer investigation shows that it was lifted from my web site.

Is that legal? Good question. It's not clear that my copy is legal. As noted five years agp, I found it on alt.folklore.computers about 25 years ago, in uuencode format, with the title “Leo's Notes”. It was sent anonymously (in those days old Unix sources were tabu) by Warren Toomey. Since then the licensing conditions have changed. I subsequently published it on my web site, though I didn't note when, and that's what the Wikipedia article points at.

So what is there to stop Andrew Kanner (is that his real name) from taking the sources? It certainly doesn't offend my (non-existent) copyright. But wouldn't it have been nice for him to at least tell me? As it is, I can't even find contact information.


Old timers
Topic: general Link here

Talking to CJ Ellis on the phone today. He has a problem: a historic car on some special license plates, and he needs photos of it today to renew the license.

OK, I can do that, so CJ came over:


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That's a historical car? A Mazda 929 from 1988. That's the sort of car I drive normally. Maybe I should investigate cheaper registration. His is clearly very cheap:


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They wanted photos from all sides, and also of the dashboard and engine and chassis number. Where are the numbers? The engine compartment is much fuller than I recall from really old cars:

 
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CJ thought on the side of the engine block, under the distributor (remember them)? We couldn't see anything, but I managed to squeeze a camera down there with a wide-angle lens. It couldn't see anything useful either:

 
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Lost: three objects
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Mail from DigitalOcean today:

Date: Wed, 9 Jan 2019 19:41:08 -0600 (CST)

On November 30, 2018, we emailed you regarding a small percentage of Spaces Objects that became inaccessible as a result of a hardware problem that occurred during an emergency in our NYC3 datacenter. Since then, our Engineering Team has focused its efforts on restoring availability to the impacted Objects.

 Unfortunately despite those efforts, there are 3 Object/s that cannot be restored to your account.

It goes on to talk about how the problem happened (hardware failure) and how they plan to ensure that it never happens again. What didn't they mention? What the objects are! I can restore them relatively trivially, but without knowing which they are, it's a shotgun approach. Do they really not know which they are?


Friday, 11 January 2019 Dereel Images for 11 January 2019
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Date your photos!
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I sent CJ's photos off yesterday evening, but when I came in this morning I had a reply waiting for me:

The photos have to have to have the date in the picture frame, normally
printed on the bottom,each photo, so the photos are no good to me.
Include the date and would be perfect, if you have an iphone you can
download an app to do this, got no idea what Exif data is.

Sigh. I suppose he's going to print out the photos too. The original instructions specifically required a digital camera (implicitly excluding analogue cameras, many of which could have automatically added the date he wanted). So why does he talk about iPhones? And if he wants photo data, he should be aware of the Exif data. And of course if you mark up a photo, you can write anything you like.

Sniffing around in the various photo software on dischord, discovered that Zoner Photo Studio 18 could do it relatively easily, if not very flexibly, so I sent him photos which met with his approval, with a clear date at the bottom:

 
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And so far no mention of the missing engine and chassis numbers.


ALDI trolley: stringent quality control
Topic: general, opinion Link here

The ALDI kitchen trolley that I built six months ago has not weathered well:


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How do I fix that? The first attempt would be to screw the two halves together, but will that work?

By chance, Yvonne was in town today and bought a masonry drill bit and wall plugs for some work that CJ and I are going to do on Monday. Instead of going to Bunnings, which she hates (not without reason), she went to Mitre 10, which I hate, also not without reason. I could have got her to buy some screws, but she had been through two different assistants and two phone calls to me just to be sure what kind of bit and what size plugs; they seem to be completely incapable. I didn't want to put her through the pain of buying screws as well.


Trump presidency: elaborate joke?
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

A couple of times over the last 2½ years I have wondered whether Donald Trump is maybe not as stupid as he appears to be, and that his candidacy for the US presidency was not some kind of practical joke or a dare, just to see how far he could go. Certainly I got the impression that he was surprised that he had won, and recently I've been made aware that his behaviour so exactly matches the Mayo Clinic's description of narcissistic personality disorder that you'd think you would have to be trying to get this close:

At the same time, people with narcissistic personality disorder have trouble handling anything they perceive as criticism, and they can:

I've left out a couple of items that can't easily be verified.

And then somebody came up with a video clip from the 1950s, from this episode (series 1, number 30) of Trackdown:

A fraud by the name of Walter Trump comes to a town and tells them that they are doomed unless they pay money to him to build a protective wall around the town. That sounds so eerily relevant at the moment that it would be easy to think that Donald Trump is reinterpreting the episode. The comments on the Wikipedia page come to similar conclusions.

More details here.


Where did my disk space go?
Topic: technology, multimedia Link here

Recently I've been running low on disk space on eureka:/home. OK, that can happen, and I'm planning to move to a bigger disk. But in the short term I should remove some non-essential stuff, including hundreds of gigabytes of old stuff in ~/Downloads. But while searching I found this:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/3) ~ 208 -> du -sc /src/Videos/teevee-overflow/*
227645  /src/Videos/teevee-overflow/Air-crash-investigation
302366  /src/Videos/teevee-overflow/Cooking
530010  total

Those numbers are in megabytes: over half a terabyte of old videos. OK, now I have space on teevee, and I was able to move them back there:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/10) /src/Videos 124 -> mv teevee-overflow/* /spool

In the process noted that nothing is removed from the source directory until everything is copied. At the end, the entire directory is deleted at once.

How times have changed! Idly thought back to the first big computer centre I worked in, where Karstadt had two IBM 3330 cabinets, each storing a whopping 1.6 billion bytes:

Those things were big. I can't find exact dimensions, but they used 14 inch disk packs, and based on the storage positions for the disk packs on top, I'd guess that the individual bays were about 45" wide, for a total width of 180" or about 4.5 m. I know that they were so high that I couldn't see on top (at least 1.8 m), so possibly 5 m would be a better estimate of the length. And to store the images that I copied today, I would have needed 332 of these things!

How times change!


Saturday, 12 January 2019 Dereel Images for 12 January 2019
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New panorama equipment
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

House photo day today, with a change of equipment. After my accident two months ago I discovered that one of the focusing rails was marginally damaged: the adjusting screw that came off one rail seemed to have damaged a retaining ring, and though it still worked, it kept falling off, usually in places where it was hard to find again. They're quite cheap, so I ordered another one, and it arrived yesterday, after only two months.

It's pretty much identical:


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But the devil is in the detail. First, I had drilled a hole in the old one to position the upper rail where I wanted it, a little to the left of the slide area:

 
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Did I take that into account when calculating the positions along the rail? I almost doubt it. In any case, I know that for the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO the rail should be set at 87 mm. So what's that with the new one? Where's 0, anyway?

Surprise, surprise. I couldn't set the new rail on 0; 2 mm was about the least I could get. And in principle it should be on 0 when the upper mount (for the camera) is directly above the lower mount (for the tripod). That makes perfect sense, but it doesn't match reality. The rails in the image above were positioned at “0”. Here first the old one, then the new one:


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The offset is due to parallax. But the scale read about 1.5 mm on the old rail and fully 6 mm on the new one! On top of that I had to add in the difference in the position of the camera on the new rail (at the left end of the slide), and came up with a difference of fully 13 mm, only barely still on the scale. On the positive side, it meant that less of the rail projects into the image.


Still more videos
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

While looking through my system, found another 157 GB of videos that I had moved to eureka. That's a total of 687 GB, or 430 IBM 3330s. When will I ever have time to look at them?


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

Margaret Swan is back in town for the first time since her accident in October. She's looking as good as ever, but it seems that she won't be able to ride a horse for at least another month, making the accident significantly worse than Yvonne's this time last year, at least on that metric.

Husfrusill for dinner, to which Margaret insisted on drinking the (very good) red wine which she had brought with her.


Sunday, 13 January 2019 Dereel Images for 13 January 2019
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More gardening
Topic: gardening Link here

A somewhat hung-over Mick the gardener along today with a new drive belt for the lawn mower. As he said, it looks considerably different:


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He also found a dent on one of the pulleys that probably helped the wear on the belt. Hopefully that's now a thing of the past.

Apart from that, he did a lot of weeding and then decided that he had had enough. At least most of the weeds are gone.


Monday, 14 January 2019 Dereel
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Supports for garden pots
Topic: general, gardening, opinion Link here

We want to hang some flower baskets on the left side of the house entrance:


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Problem: the ceiling isn't strong enough. So we decided to put a rod between the house wall and the column in the corner. CJ along today with some brackets to be screwed against the column and wall:

 
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I'd had difficulties with this column a few years ago, one of the reasons I bought a new drill bit last week. But this time the drill went in like butter:


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Did I manage to get a gap between the brickwork, or had they applied a very large amount of plaster on that side?

The wall on the other side was completely different. After a minute of drilling, all I had was:


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That was with CJ's hammer drill. Would it be better with the drill I bought specially for this job last time? Not until I find it. But maybe it's the bit. Yet another problem deferred by a poor workman.


Topic: technology, opinion Link here

While he was here, CJ brought his computer. He couldn't play videos from his Gmail index:

 
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What kind of error message is that? No details, no way to find any details. This stupidity really gets on my nerves. I'm beginning to regret that I installed Ubuntu on his machine.

Went looking on the web, with surprisingly little information, much of it out of date. Where do I go from here? CJ will want to take his computer back.

Does it maybe also not work on my machine? Yes! So at least he can have his machine back and I can investigate on my own.

What does it do under Microsoft? Tried on dischord: exactly the same problem. So we have a relatively general problem that nobody seems to find interesting, and which Google is too polite to report. What kind of world are we living in? At least this problem has nothing to do with Ubuntu.


Tuesday, 15 January 2019 Dereel Images for 15 January 2019
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Yvonne and Chris ride Carlotta and Vicente
Topic: animals Link here

Chris Bahlo and Margaret Swan along this morning with Vicente, Chris' new Andalusian gelding, whom Chris is planning to use for jousting:


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Chasing the Gmail video bug
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

So why does Gmail not want to play the videos that it displays? Back to take a look:


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Marvellous. What's that? I couldn't get rid of it; close the tab and start it again, and I still get the error. I had to clear cookies (why can't I do that on a per-site basis?) to get rid of the problem.

Further messing around. About all I could establish was that if I press the Download button, it downloads correctly.

 
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Browser issue? That wouldn't explain it happening on four different browsers. Peter Jeremy took an interest, but I didn't hear back.


Irrigation issues
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

My hellebores are looking even unhappier:


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Once this heat is over (yesterday and today we had a maximum of 40°), I should transplant them to the front of the house, where the soil is better and they have less sun—if there's anything left of the first one to transplant.

Later we saw a particularly unhappy looking Hebe in the driveway. Time to run the sprinkler again? Did so and discovered that the dripper for that plant, and a number of others, including the first hellebore, was clogged. Changed them and left it run for a while. Even apart from the clogged drippers, it seems that the plants need more water in this summer heat. Increased the automatic sprinkler time per circuit from 40 to 60 minutes.

Was that the only problem with the hellebores? No, the other one was getting water, but still looks unhappy.


Wednesday, 16 January 2019 Dereel Images for 16 January 2019
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Mayday!
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Last night I went to bed wondering, as so many others, by what margin Theresa May's Brexit bill would be rejected by the House of Commons. 40 votes? Even 200 votes? That was the range that the commentators were expecting.

This morning I woke to find that their worst fears (if that's the word) had been exceeded: the bill was rejected by 230 votes (432 to 202, apparently the largest defeat for a sitting UK government in history).

And now? They're running out of time. Maybe it's time for the British to realize that they're no longer living in the times of Queen Victoria, that they no longer rule the waves, that they're just another country in Europe that happens to have the slight advantage of lingua franca. They'd be a whole lot better off accepting the fact, toeing the line and staying in the union. What would a second referendum bring? The first was only borderline in favour, and that was before anybody understood how difficult and expensive the whole thing would be.


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

The middle of the month, time for my monthly flower photos.

One of the things that I discovered only slightly before these photos was that I wasn't watering the garden enough. I had a similar problem last year, but I didn't recognize the magnitude. I had had the sprinkler to run for 20 minutes per circuit, increasing to 30 in hot weather. But now I'm up to an hour per circuit, and though it isn't obvious from the photos, I think it's improving things.

Some things are just dead, though: the Acer negundo that we coddled this time last year, and one of the birches. The birch is trying to come back, but given that it died in early spring when it was neither too cold, too hot nor too dry, I don't have much hope. Even this time last year it was playing autumn:


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And now the surviving one is doing that same thing this year:


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That could be due to the watering, of course.

The Paulownia kawakamii, on the other hand, seems to be benefiting from the additional fertilizer, and it now growing a little (though still far from the 3-5 m that it should be by this time). Here last year and this year:


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Our second Buddleja x weyeriana is now growing well (though at a distance it looks as if it's drooping):


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But the ones to the left of the big one have all died. This time lack of water can't be the issue. They're in the overflow area from the tanks, so they may have been drowned. I don't see any point in replacing them.

Last month's Kniphofia flower has finished flowering and is in the process of maturing hundreds of seeds, but in its place no less than 5 new flowers have popped up. Here four of them:


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The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis that I got from my uncle Max, and of which I have cloned many times, is currently not flowering. It does that from time to time, and I'm not overly worried. The one that I planted outside two months ago has recovered from the shock and now looks about as good again as it did when I planted it. Then and now:


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The other one, the one with the erectile dysfunction, is flowering, but with very small flowers, though the style is at least erect:


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Maybe this is the size that it's intended to be, or maybe it, too, will benefit from more water.

The roses are also flowering, but I suspect that they're not getting enough water, like this « Monsieur Tillier »:


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I'll see how the added water helps.

Some of the flowers in the shade area are doing well. While we lost one of the fuchsias that we bought two months ago (proved not to be getting any water), the other one is looking quite happy, and compared to this time last year the tree fern is also doing well:


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Cooling down
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

While taking my garden flower photos, found Nikolai relaxing:


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One of the few cool places, I suppose.


Happy Birthday, Margaret Swan
Topic: general, food and drink, gardening Link here

An out of sequence dinner tonight: it was Margaret Swan's birthday, a significant one. So we had a birthday dinner for her, with gratin dauphinois, apparently one of her favourites. Also a cheese soufflée, this time with Parmesan cheese, not quite how we expected it to turn out, but after greasing the form it at least didn't stick. And for a birthday present, of course yet another Hibiscus rosa-sinensis clone.


Thursday, 17 January 2019 Dereel
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Breakfast with Pene
Topic: general, food and drink, animals Link here

Pene Kirk along this morning to go riding with Yvonne; it looks as if this might be a more regular thing. After the (relatively short) ride, Yvonne made her version of Eggs Benedict, with a special sauce mayonnaise instead of the more normal sauce hollandaise. On the other hand, for the first time ever, we ate them on “English” muffins (I suspect that “English” implies an US American background). Pene said that she she liked it.


Nikolai: free!
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

While she was here, Pene took a look at Nikolai and decided that the wound had healed enough to be able to take his shirt off. I suspected that he would then remove the (1 cm wide) scab, but that doesn't seem to be serious. Certainly he looked happier enough.


A history of Israeli settlements
Topic: politics, history, opinion Link here

A question on Quora today: “How can anyone educated actually believe this Al Jazeera propaganda history about Israel?”.

OK, that's worth looking at. The “propaganda” was in fact an apparently well-documented overview with the somewhat inflammatory title Israel's settlements: 50 years of land theft explained. And clearly it has to be wrong, because it comes from “anti-semites”, a term that more and more Jewish people, particularly those with extreme views, are applying to anybody who disagrees with them.

So it was here. There were answers were like “The key word is educated. Al Jazeera’s audience is not educated at all”, and “I believe that it starts with a deep seated bias against Jews. There after it helps to be generally ignorant of history, religion, and gullible enough to believe anything that helps reinforce a person's worldview.”. Nothing to back up these claims, no argument refuting the points made in the article, both suggesting belief rather than proof. I wonder how prevalent these views are in Israel.


Transplanting the Hellebores
Topic: gardening Link here

Finally got round to transplanting one of the Hellebores that look so unhappy, into the garden in front of the “library” at the house entrance:


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I wonder if it will survive.


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