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Wednesday, 21 August 2019 Dereel Images for 21 August 2019
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Australia Post: So nice, so nice, we do it twice
Topic: general, technology, photography, opinion Link here

Last week I bought a flash unit on eBay, and nowadays Australia Post supplies emails with something like tracking information, and eBay does its best to second-guess. It arrived at “Napoleon” (Australia Post's name for Napoleons) on Monday. Today Yvonne picked it up on the way back from shopping. The emails read:

From bounce-1441751_HTML-1600721773-30696508-10784680-53441@bounce.notifications.auspost.com.au
     Mon Aug 19 10:05:03 2019
From: Australia Post <noreply@notifications.auspost.com.au>
To: groggyhimself@lemis.com
Subject: Your delivery is ready to collect
Date: Sun, 18 Aug 2019 18:03:52 -0600

From ebay@ebay.com  Mon Aug 19 11:15:04 2019
Date: Sun, 18 Aug 2019 18:10:14 -0700
From: eBay <ebay@ebay.com>
To: groggyhimself@lemis.com
Subject: ???? ORDER DELIVERED: METZ Mecablitz 15 MS-1 Digita???

From bounce-1441751_HTML-1600721773-30696513-10784680-317195@bounce.notifications.auspost.com.au  Wed Aug 21 14:45:03 2019
From: Australia Post <noreply@notifications.auspost.com.au>
To: groggyhimself@lemis.com
Subject: Your delivery has been collected
Date: Tue, 20 Aug 2019 22:42:01 -0600

I particularly like the time zones. I can understand eBay using a time zone UTC-7, but why on Earth does Australia Post use UTC-6 (presumably North American Mountain Time), and 16 hours behind local time?


Free Software workshop in Ballarat
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Mail from Ben Sturm today, somebody whom I don't know, but who seems to have been active in Ballarat for 15 years. He's running a workshop next week with the title “Contribute to Free and Open Source Software Workshop”, and was hoping that I could find participants. I can't, but it sounds like a good idea. It seems that it's part of a government-sponsored Digital Information Festival which will start in a couple of days' time and run for 2 weeks. I wonder how that will pan out.


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

It's late winter, a month before the equinox, and I've decided to change my monthly photos to match equinoxes and solstices. Gradually spring seems to be coming. This month has been particularly wet, nearly 80 mm in the past 31 days, and some of the plants seem to be suffering from it, like maybe this Epazote that I planted only last week:


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At the top of the list of other sick-looking plants is most definitely this Corymbia ficifolia that we bought only two months ago. Here on planting and now:

 
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What went wrong there? Is it the plant, the planting, or the planting location? Certainly nothing seems to grow right there.

The Salvia microphylla that we bought at the same time also doesn't look happy:

 
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But its neighbour also looked like that a year ago, so I haven't given up hope on that one.

And then there's the Agonis flexuosa that we bought as the same time. Here last month and today:

 
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Which of those look better? We'll see how it does, but I'm not overly concerned.

The Alyogyne huegelii on the north side of the house is doing better now than it ever did in the summer:

 
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That's not a very normal time for a hibiscus-like flower. I wonder if it's just the freedom it experienced after the tomatoes are gone.

The Camellia japonica in front of the house is looking better, even if the leaves give cause for some concern:

 
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The island in the driveway is now almost completely covered in Carpobrotus, to the extent that we have had to cut it back:


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The Leucodendron could look happier:

 
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And though the Paulownia kawakamii looks like a dead twig, it at least has some flower buds:

 
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The succulent bed continues to improve, now with a number of flowers:


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To my surprise, the Petunias that I left outside over the winter haven't all died:

 
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And once again, the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis in the lounge room is flowering happily, just like it did this time last year:

 
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I had thought that they would be happiest in mid-summer, but the clone outside is also looking like it will recover as soon as it gets warmer:

 
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Little garden work
Topic: gardening Link here

More rose pruning. Why is it so difficult? Spent about 20 minutes and then gave up. I suppose part of it is just deciding where to cut.


Understanding remote flash
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Last week I bought Yet Another macro flash unit, a mecablitz 15 MS-1 digital .

Why? It's the fourth macro lighting device I have, but the others all have their disadvantages:

  1. The “Viltrox JY-670 Macro Ring Lite” doesn't have TTL exposure, and the on/off switch is dubious; it takes quite an effort to turn the thing on.
  2. The Olympus STF-8 is horribly weak, difficult to use and expensive. It also doesn't work in conjunction with Olympus' own focus stacking.
  3. The Travor RF-550D LED ring light is far too weak.

So when I saw a mecablitz 15 MS-1 on sale on eBay, it seemed reasonable to put in a bid. And how about that, I got it, brand new, for $104. Google knows places that sell it in the same condition for between $600 and $709.

It's not as if the mecablitz doesn't have its own issues. The biggest ones are that it's relatively heavy, and that it's a slave flash: you need a master flash as well. Sure, I have flashes—at least four that would come in question for the master function, probably one of the toy ones that Olympus delivers with its cameras. But I need to understand how to use them.

OK, put in batteries, turn on. There's a flash test button, something notably missing from the STF-8. It has a display and three buttons behind it. Initially the display showed something about modelling lights, not the most obvious thing I would expect. OK, leave modelling light off, press OK (middle button), and get more selections with a wandering OK, now the right-hand button—something that I know from other mecablitzen—and end up with a display with the letters CAN at top left and a light balance display that I can change with the left and right buttons. What does CAN mean? Short for channel? How do I get out? I would expect the middle button to do that, but it was dead. Broken? I already have that issues with the Viltrox unit.

Nothing for it: RTFM. Lots of images of displays, but none with CAN at top left.

More details. Somehow this Metz documentation is hard to read; I've seen it with the documentation for the 58 AF-2. But gradually it dawned on me: it's the emulation, one of (the instructions say) CAN REMOTE, NIK REMOTE, OLY REMOTE, PEN REMOTE, SAM REMOTE and SON REMOTE. No display that I could find showed REMOTE, but clearly the bold text is a tasteful abbreviation of the emulation mode. The instructions note that the most flexible modes are CAN REMOTE, NIK REMOTE and CAN REMOTE, OLY REMOTE, and interestingly most of the examples show OLY (without REMOTE).

OK, how do I control the thing? With the on-camera flash, of course, along with the thoughtfully supplied infrared clamp, which, they say, is intended to block visible light. I need to look at it more carefully, but so far it seems to be designed to give the visible light a chance to shine through the hinge. But then I read:

The slave flash unit is remotely controlled by the master or controller flash unit.

A master flash unit contributes to the lighting and at the same time controls the slave flash units.

A controller flash unit only has control functions.

OK, I'll bite. How do I choose one or the other. Ah, see operating manual of the camera or external flash unit.

OK, time to look at the camera manual, which shows that Oly is just as confused as mecablitz and I. The chapter on flash (page 57 to 60 in the OM-D E-M1 Mark 2 Version 3.0 manual (PDF)) doesn't mention remote flash. Ah, the advantages of search functions in PDF documents. It's described all over again on page 153, apparently written by another group of people. It also seems that a different group of people wrote the firmware. Basically, what you do is:

In Camera (“Shooting”) Menu 2, select Flash RC Mode. This replaces the standard “Super control panel” that controls most aspects of the settings, and which this documentation calls the “LV super control panel”, with a flash-specific display:


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How do you get back to the SCP? Press INFO to toggle. What a clear indication of poorly adapted configuration menus!

And what does it all mean? That image above is the only documentation. I had a bit of an idea, but surely there must be some tutorials available on line? Went off looking for olympus remote flash tutorial and found several, including a number that didn't understand the details. I haven't watched them all yet, but what I see here is, for Olympus and the mecablitz 15 MS-1:

  1. Set the flash to OLY, of course, channel ALL.
  2. Set the camera to remote flash, of course.
  3. On the inscrutable menu, set (say) group A to TTL, 0.0 EV compensation (that's the third column) and the last column (which looks like two) to the flash symbol. Set groups B and C to Off, and the last row (camera symbol, implying on-camera flash) to Off, which, I hope, will make it just trigger the other flash(es).

And that's as far as I got today.

In passing, Olympus' flaky documentation doesn't end there. On page 152 of the manual I read:

 
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This table gives a guide number for ISO 100. But the camera has a base ISO setting of 200, and 100 is very much an exception. In addition, the focal lengths are given in 35 mm film camera equivalents. Why? This is a manual for a Micro Four Thirds system camera. So to understand this table, you first need to divide the focal lengths by 2 and multiply the guide numbers by 1.4.

Surely they can do better than that.


Thursday, 22 August 2019 Dereel Images for 22 August 2019
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FAT file directory size
Topic: technology Link here

Mail from Harold Gutch today, with a reference to Monday's article about SD file limits, and pointing me at Design of the FAT file system. It seems that the root directory is handled differently:

This is a Directory Table that stores information about the files and directories located in the root directory. It is only used with FAT12 and FAT16, and imposes on the root directory a fixed maximum size which is pre-allocated at creation of this volume. FAT32 stores the root directory in the Data Region, along with files and other directories, allowing it to grow without such a constraint.

That makes sense, but further reading at File Allocation Table states:

The number of root directory entries available for FAT12 and FAT16 is determined when the volume is formatted, and is stored in a 16-bit field. For a given number RDE and sector size SS, the number RDS of root directory sectors is RDS=ceil((RDE×32)/SS), and RDE is normally chosen to fill these sectors, i.e., RDE*32=RDS*SS. FAT12 and FAT16 media typically use 512 root directory entries on non-floppy media. Some third-party tools, like mkdosfs, allow the user to set this parameter.

OK, nothing for it. Is it even FAT-16? These limitations don't apply to FAT-32, and the card is (just) small enough for FAT-16. And who formatted it? Time to take a look at the card—mañana.


Weather station fail
Topic: technology, general Link here

Into the office this more to find lots of log messages, repeating about every 5 seconds:

Aug 22 08:01:57 eureka kernel: pid 19289 (yreport), uid 0: exited on signal 11 (core dumped)
Aug 22 08:02:01 eureka wh1080: Can't read device: Device busy or Unknown error (16)
Aug 22 08:02:03 eureka kernel: pid 19292 (yreport), uid 0: exited on signal 11 (core dumped)

wh1080 is the program that controls my weather station and saves the results in a database. yreport is one of the programs that processes the saved data, and it wasn't finding any. I should check why it SIGSEGVs instead of producing a usable error message, but the more immediate question was why wh1080 couldn't read the device. OK, this thing is really flaky, and I continually had to physically disconnect the USB connector. But this time it didn't work.

OK, fire up gdb, not something I do very frequently any more. Yes, no trouble opening the device. But it hung on the read. Why?

Removed the batteries and tried again. Success. I suppose that's about as far as it goes unless this starts happening more frequently.


More photovoltaic fun
Topic: Stones Road house, general, technology, opinion Link here

Last week's photovoltaic system monitoring improvements have paid off: today I got a long report of Yet Another “calibrating battery” status. This time it ran only one cycle, a little over 4 hours from 15:12:22 to 19:28:41, suggesting that there was really something wrong last month. But once again it discharged the battery completely, and presumably there are also alarms from the battery. From 17:31:18 to 18:05:24 the state of charge was under 5%, and from 17:40:49 to 17:55:03 it was at 0%.

Time for some answers. Sent a message to Fred and asked for a statement from the makers of the battery and the inverter. Not one, but two replies by the evening, saying that he was also getting the two to talk to each other. I wonder what will happen.


Trump: not pro-semitic
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

One of the the many obnoxious things about Donald Trump is his racism. In particular his hatred of Muslims and other (non-US) Americans is clear. But in one country he's a hero: Israel. He has turned a blind eye to their territorial violations, recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, recognized the Golan Heights as part of Israel, not only turned a blind eye to the plight of the Palestinians, but also cut aid to them. No wonder the Israelis love him.

Ha ha, only joking. He discovered that most US Jews vote Democrat, so he blasted them.

What a man! Who can accuse him of being preferential? He hates everybody equally.


White bread rolls
Topic: food and drink Link here

We're out of hamburger buns (bread rolls). OK, no worries, bake some more. But we were out of one of the ingredients, “Manhattan Light Rye” bread mix, so I had to do it with only wheat flour. That required more water, 635 ml instead of 580 ml.

The result? OK, but not as good as the original recipe.


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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