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Friday, 1 May 2015 Dereel Images for 1 May 2015
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Final inspection, take 1
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

We had our final inspection (“pre-handover inspection”) this morning at 11:00, but Duncan called me a couple of hours earlier. The cleaners were there, but they didn't have any water. Over to plug in the pump, and all were happy. But where were the air conditioner people? Another call to Karl Waldron and discovered that they were late but coming.

At 11:00 over again and went through the house again, ending up with a certificate:


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It varied considerably from what I had written. Even the following is condensed:

The gas hose, it seems, is only needed for the small barbecue gas bottles, so that's our responsibility. Yvonne had found the cupboard doors stiff, but it seems there's not much we can do about that.

I mentioned the crooked gas connector:


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Duncan thought it was intended to be that way, but I think it was sloppy workmanship. In any case, I can't see any way to change it without making things worse.

Of course, that's just JG King's stuff. We keep finding more things that are missing in the electrics, but I've mentioned them already.

On the other hand, the air conditioning is finished, and as far as I can tell it works well. Given my previous problems with air conditioning, I'm sure we'll have issues here too, but a lot of it looks eminently sensible.

And now? We can pay (and have paid) the final instalment, so theoretically we can move in on Monday. In practice it could be Tuesday.


Final inspection, take 2
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

At 14:00, over with Chris Bahlo for the final inspection of her house:


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She has now added to the galaxy:


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Still, it's nice to see a switchboard without a meter.

And unlike our gas connection, Chris' was straight:


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And yes, as these images show, we both have the same kind of bricks. That's a complete coincidence.

There wasn't nearly as much to do, especially since Chris doesn't really want to insist. But nevertheless it seems that she'll have to wait at least a week before she can move in, at least because her bank is a lot harder to deal with than CVI. Simonds are certainly not keeping to any form of 14 week completion.


Sourdough starter: fermentation or evaporation?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Another batch of bread today. As planned, I had measured the weights of the starter and a control container of water. The results:

Date     3 April  1 May
Starter  159.6  158.1
Water    186.3  185.5

So there is a significant loss of water, in this case 0.8 g. But the starter lost 1.5 g. The last two times it was 2.1 g. Currently, though, it's looking as if the starter does lose weight over and above evaporation. More investigation needed.


Saturday, 2 May 2015 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 2 May 2015
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Understanding Australian houses
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Mail from Michael Hughes today with a couple of questions about our new house. He lives in the USA, where some things are different. He wanted to know if it was normal to have the water heater outside the house, and whether it would be it would be enclosed somehow.

Good questions, I suppose, if you take a step back. Until moving to Victoria, we always had the heater inside the house. But our current house (in Kleins Road) has the heater on the roof, where it's close to the solar heating panels. The new house has solar heating panels too, but clearly it's easier for maintenance to have the heater itself at ground level. And it means shorter distances between the heater and the bathrooms, which translates to less water loss. Having the heater outside the house is also an advantage if it springs a leak.

The disadvantage is heat loss, of course. I assume that the manufacturers have done some (half-hearted?) attempt at insulation, but in general it probably doesn't get as cold here as where Michael lives. Ultimately, though, I suspect it's a tradeoff that “just grew” on the Victorian building trade. It would be interesting to see if they're putting them outside in South Australia now. It's marginally warmer there than here, so that wouldn't be an obstacle.

And covering the thing? I suspect that's just laziness on the part of the builder. Duncan has confirmed that there's no problem if we want to cover it—but we have to pay.


More supplies for the new house
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Into town today to buy various things, including gas cylinders and more light globes for the dimmable lamps. The former was a complete failure: BOC only open until 11:30 on Saturday mornings, and I didn't get there until 12:00.

On to Masters to look for light bulbs. They have another special offer: 10 W LED globes with 800 lumen output for only $5 instead of a more normal $17. And I had just been given a 10% discount voucher when I filled the car's tank, so I got 24 of them for $4.50 a throw. For that price I would have normally only got 6 globes. Now to find out what to do with the fluorescent ones.


Lighting in the 21st century
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Once upon a time electric lighting was simple: you bought a globe, either bayonet or Edison screw, and you chose the wattage to match the amount of light you wanted. But that's so 20th century. In the last couple of weeks we have bought lamps with three different technologies, none of them traditional incandescent, and it seems that even the equivalences we have come to take for granted are incorrect. And what do the manufacturers do? They relate them all to obsolete incandescent wattages. And two weeks ago I established that 11 W fluorescent globes (“equivalent to 60 W”) produce 700 lumen, whereas a traditional 60 W incandescent globe produces about 960 lumens.

Today I bought 10 W LED globes, ostensibly equivalent to 11 W fluoros. But—oh wonder—they clearly state that they're 800 lumens, so they'd be equivalent to 12.5 W. On the other hand, they claim to be equivalent to 75 W incandescent, which should generate 1200 lumens.

And then I bought some dimmable “Halogen” incandescent globes, using 53 W, and claiming to be 30% more efficient, and thus corresponding to—again—a 75 W conventional globe. How many lumens? This is Philips, a world renowned brand, so they don't need that stuff. Well, maybe. With a bit of searching I discovered that they generate 850 lumens. At 16 lumens per watt, that corresponds to 53 W.

So: is the claim of 16 lumens per watt for incandescent incorrect? Does it really relate to halogen globes? Is Wikipedia wrong? How could it be? Clearly I need to check other sources. But wouldn't everything be far simpler if they specified the light output clearly?


Powercor: going-away present
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Power failure at 17:50 this evening. Thank God that will soon be a thing of the past.

Saturday is also our “good food” evening, so the failure was at the worst possible time. Still, we have a generator, so why not keep things running? Dragged it out, fired it up, pulled a cable the length of the house to my computer UPS, and by the time I had done it the generator had stopped again. That's the first time ever. Further investigation showed that they last person (one of the builders) who used the generator hadn't turned off the petrol tap, so I had instead.

Try 2: yes, it ran, and it kept running. But we only had one long power cable, and we needed a second for the kitchen. Over to Stones Road to pick up a second, and back, where Yvonne was having trouble with the lights plugged into the second power point. She had tried 2, and both had not worked.

Diagnosis time. Switched power points. No improvement. Down to look at eureka. Dead. Further investigation showed that the last user, who hadn't turned off the petrol, had turned off the emergency circuit breaker. Given that it's hidden behind a soft plastic barrier, it's almost impossible to tell in the dark.

Called Powercor, who told me it was—again—a general failure spreading from Ballarat. They also told me that my address was 29 Stones Road. Now where did they get that from? The application form for power connection?

Cooking the food went well, modulo the bread I wanted to bake. Power came back at 19:00, and a somewhat flustered Yvonne managed to produce food that showed nothing of the issues, but I couldn't say the same for eureka. Yes, it came up again, but I still have issues with initializing the firewall. But even after that, my fourth monitor wouldn't come up under X. It's rather old, and it has been giving trouble, but this was something new. Swapped in another monitor, the only other one that supports HDMI. Nothing.

What's the problem? Contacts? Why is it that HDMI connectors are so difficult to plug in? In my case, the output from the display card is almost completely inaccessible (something that will change in the new house), but finally I pulled it and reseated it. Nothing.

There were other things to do, and I really didn't get it back up today. But what causes it? For some reason HDMI and nVidia (do they really still spell it that way?) doesn't seem to work as smoothly as with other interfaces. The monitors always display an even blue when blanked long enough, while the other monitors on the same card are completely black. And sometimes the monitor doesn't synchronize after waking up. Is this the monitor or a general issue with HDMI?

About the only clue I had was that until today I only had monitors 1 and 2 on the UPS. The one with HDMI is number 4. When I rebooted eureka, only 1 and 2 had power. I connected power to 3 and 4 after booting, and 3 (DVI) came up fine, but 4 didn't. My current hypothesis is that the HDMI interface didn't get sensed because the monitor had no power. And to check that will require (oh horror!) a reboot. Mañana.


Sunday, 3 May 2015 Dereel Images for 3 May 2015
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Three simple dialogues
Topic: language Link here

My next assignment in the Coursera Miracles of Human Language: An Introduction to Linguistics course requires not one, but two speakers. Yvonne did the last one (which got rave reviews from the peers), but clearly I needed a second native German speaker. Good thing that Chris Bahlo is still here.

I've been trying for several days to get them together, not helped by the recent power failure, but the assignment is due tomorrow, so this morning we finally got round to it:

Things weren't helped by the fact that the subtitling methods I used last time no longer worked. What have they changed? Now they claim that my subtitle files are an unrecognizable format. But in the end I didn't need line breaks: the texts are so long that bilingual subtitles wouldn't fit.

Yvonne and Chris liked the idea, but not the texts, so I had to do a second one with their versions:

Irritatingly, I didn't get thumbnails for the clips, so they display with a grey background. Why? Help is no help, of course.


Recovering monitor 4
Topic: technology Link here

So was the failure of monitor 4 due to the fact that it wasn't powered on when I booted eureka? The only way to find out was to—shudder—reboot. Did that, and for some reason the system decided that one of the disks needed an hour-long fsck. Why? It was a demonstrably clean shutdown. In any case, after it came back up, sure enough, monitor 4 functioned normally. I wonder if there's a way to re-probe the connection without having to reboot.


Another bloody power failure!
Topic: general, opinion Link here

This evening at 21:58 we had another power failure. They're really trying to make a point, it seems. It was only short, but hardly worth going through the fsck rigmarole again, so we just went to bed.


Monday, 4 May 2015 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel
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Another power failure
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Woke up in the middle of the night to discover that the power had failed at 3:17. Three failures in as many days! This is really irritating.

It wasn't until I got up and tried to wake eureka that I discovered the power was off. That means that the UPS must have completely drained, which takes at least half an hour. When did the outage start? No idea. But this is getting beyond a joke.


Blood test results, finally
Topic: health Link here

Into town this morning to finally get the results of the blood tests that I was asked to get over 4 months ago. For the most part everything was normal; only the Gastric parietal cell antibody showed a positive result. That's associated with pernicious anaemia, and it's so obscure that it's difficult to find a link. But as already discovered in January, the intrinsic factor antibody was negative. So we're closing in on it, but we don't have a diagnosis yet. Next step? Another blood test, of course, handled by a haematologist. Don't call him, he'll call me.


Gas for the house
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

While in town, followed up on the gas stuff I had wanted to buy on Saturday. I had already noted that Bunnings offered full gas bottles for round $56. BOC? $75! The bloke suggested I buy an empty bottle for round $20 and go down the road to another place to have it filled for another $20.

Where do I get a bottle for $20? Don't know. It seems that it would have to be a special offer, and I can't wait for that. I hadn't checked Masters, so off there first to find that they had an offer of $56 for bottle with gas, almost identical to Bunnings. OK, inside and asked. And the attendant sold me a brand new, empty bottle for $28.90. And the gas? $22.98—a total of $51.88. But that meant exchanging my brand new bottle for a used one. That's usual practice, but somehow it seems a strange way to do things.

While in town, also paid for the sideboard. When can we pick it up?


Tuesday, 5 May 2015 Dereel Images for 5 May 2015
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Bad weather and kangaroo damage
Topic: animals, Stones Road house, general Link here

We've had some pretty terrible weather lately, and we have an empty water tank on the Stones Road site. We've seen that combination before:


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Over to the building site early this morning to check on the status. On the way, a kangaroo jumped out of the scrub directly in front of me. He didn't do himself much good:


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The car had relatively minor damage, just a dented rego plate:


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Another phone call to Vince of the Wala Animal Sanctuary, the third in the last twelve months. I didn't hear from him, but next time we went by, the kangaroo was gone.

Fortunately, the water tank didn't get blown away, but certainly the site is very wet:


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Even this early in the season, the water tanks are almost full. That's a mixed blessing: clearly we're not going to have trouble with water, but on the other hand we need to ensure that the overflow goes in the right direction. That's another thing for Warrick to look at.


Handover!
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Back to the house an hour or so later with some of my photographic gear. For the second time in a row, Duncan Jackson was directly behind me, and we got the keys of the house. It's ours! And we even got a gift box to celebrate the occasion:


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Still more flash issues
Topic: photography, food and drink, opinion Link here

In the evening we opened the JG King gift packet. It contained some strange things:


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I took the first few photos, like the one above, without flash at 36°/3200 ISO, but then got my flash. What did it do? It continued to use the 36° setting, and at full aperture:


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It also used 1/60s shutter speed instead of the 1/250s I would expect. Why does it do that? The exposure mode was set to Auto, so it should have recognized the flash and set the sensitivity to 20°/200 ISO, and set the aperture to something appropriate. Presumably the flash was minimal, since I got quite good exposures without it. Why do I have such trouble with flash?


Wednesday, 6 May 2015 Dereel Images for 6 May 2015
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Preparing to move
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

So now we have a new house, and the worst part of all starts: moving house. We're not really ready yet, and spent the day doing other things. Yvonne took a couple of gas fittings in to ENZED, who had no difficulties in creating a couple of custom gas pipes for the barbecue bottles. I spent most of the morning finishing off things like Coursera courses, and didn't get over on site until mid-afternoon, by which time lots of things were happening. The big thing is that the rubbish container is finally gone:


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Jesse the tiler was there unannounced, removing the incorrectly laid tiles:


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They'll have to get a plasterer in to fix the wall.

Outside Brett Chiltern had arrived unannounced to start laying the concrete for the verandah. We had planned that Warrick Pitcher would do the earthworks, but it seems he hadn't been available, so Brett did it himself. Not the best decision: he went through the stormwater pipes not in one, but in two places:


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They've repaired it (the black band is part of the repair), but it looks as if we'll have to get Mari Hendriks to come and inspect it.

While I was over there, started to connect the gas pipes. They had put the wrong fittings on them! I had clearly told them that it was for a barbecue bottle (the same left-hand thread male connector as on larger cylinders), but they had put the other end of the sample tube on each of them. Yvonne off again, and finally we seem to have the correct tubes.

What a day!


Thursday, 7 May 2015 Dereel Images for 7 May 2015
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Moving house again
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Up early this morning in preparation for the arrival of the packers at 8:30. Before that, over to the site to see how things were progressing. CJ was there and managed to establish that at least in one of the two places where the stormwater pipe had been damaged, the other two items (cable and bore water pipe) were undamaged. It had been raining, so of course there was water in the trench:


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But a check on the outlets over the tank showed that they were full, so there couldn't be too much leakage. On the other hand, when I came back in the afternoon, things looked quite different:


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Was that rain or leakage?

The packers didn't arrive until 9:15, and I left Yvonne to handle them while I went over to Stones Road with musical instruments and other things of value:


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After lunch, Rory came along to help, and we planned to go and pick up the dining room table from Wantadilla that we had given to the Yeardleys 8 years ago. The Yeardleys no longer need it, and now we have space for it, so once again it travelled on a trailer:


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Getting it in was really not easy, and it was good to have the movers there.


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In the afternoon they moved the tables in my office, so I did the computers myself. By late afternoon I had the beginnings of a layout:


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I had intended to bring eureka back up as quickly as possible, but then I thought about the mess my last office had been. I fear that the new one will end up that way, but it was worth thinking about how to limit the mess. As a result, I decided not to finish things today, especially as the movers had hidden some important things, like my backup disks, and I still haven't found them.

Back in Kleins Road things didn't quite look the way they had been. The movers had broken a branch of one of the cypresses in front of the house, obstructing the entrance:


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And the remains of my office reminded me why I really didn't want to hurry things in the new office:


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Friday, 8 May 2015 Dereel Images for 8 May 2015
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Understanding computers
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

What's an appropriate caption to this one?

I'd go for “Don't give up, Joe, newcomers always have difficulties learning to use computers. You'll make it”.


Moving house, day 2
Topic: Stones Road house, technology, opinion Link here

The day started with improvised breakfast:


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The red saucer dates from early 1968, when Kaufhof opened its first store in Hamburg, in the Mönckebergstraße. Apart from a second saucer, all has broken, and the saucers are chipped, and they're just there because I hate to throw anything out. The mug is some amazingly poor quality gift from some hotel in Kuala Lumpur, only about 20 years ago.

The movers had promised to be here earlier today, and to a certain extent they were. They arrived only 15 minutes late instead of 45 minutes late.

I spent most of the day trying to bring up my computers again and waiting for various deliveries. Duncan arrived and installed the oven door and the gas burners. The oven doesn't work—power connections? And the gas burners work, but the range has been converted to run on bottled gas, and it looks as if the two right-hand burners have had the jets had been swapped:


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We also established that we had no hot water. What's the cause? Duncan ensured that we had a plumber on site within a couple of hours. The plumber couldn't find anything wrong with it, but suggested electrics. And sure enough, Jim didn't just forget to connect a cable for the hot water unit, he also omitted an external connector between the main plug and the “boost” element. Good thing Corey is coming tomorrow, but for tonight there was no hot water.

Our new sideboard arrived and was installed with relatively little difficulty, but the promised bore pump didn't. When I got back to Kleins Road I found a message on the answering machine saying that they didn't have the parts. Still, that's not urgent.

The movers arrived and made an amazing mess. One told me that they had moved the entire contents of the public library in Beaufort, and that they had fewer books than we did. They didn't bring them all; in fact, for the $2,600 they charged, they appear to have only moved about two thirds of what we have. The mess they left behind was amazing:


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In the evening, discovered that they hadn't come close to finishing, and in some places had just piled up things on the floor. Here my bedroom:


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We had planned to cook something simple for dinner, but all our utensils were still packed away. Chris Bahlo is still with us—her move-in date is only in a week or so—and she brought some take-away food with her, including a chicken endorsed by the RSPCA:


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Is that the way they want animals to be?

Still, we had our first dinner in the new house, with somewhat improvised utensils, but with the new old table:


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So we're here.


Reviving eureka
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I over to the new house to bring up eureka. I hadn't expected a smooth ride, and I was right. Even cabling things up is non-trivial with a four monitor system. but when I finally did it with as little mess as possible, I had firewall hell again. The biggest issue was the change of the gateway address, but after everything I did, I still can't ping any local interface apart from lo0. And for obviously completely unrelated reasons, the mouse became much more sensitive. All this is in unchanged configuration files. Why does that happen?

On a more positive note, when connecting monitor 4 (the one connected by HDMI), it was recognized immediately. A few days ago I connected it after the system was running, but it wasn't recognized, and I had to power cycle the system to get it to be recognized again.

On the other hand, my weird issues with ssh to the external web server are still with us. After discovering that we have no more issues with DHCP, I had hoped that the ssh issues would also go away. They haven't. We'll see what happens if I ever get eureka upgraded to current releases.


Saturday, 9 May 2015 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 9 May 2015
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Things that go buzz in the night
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Didn't get much sleep in the night. The cats in the laundry, only about 1 m from my head, meowed all night to make it clear that they wanted to go home. And some motor cut in and out in a cycle of about every 10 minutes. What's that? Septic tank pump? You'd expect that only to cut in when the level is high enough.


Fixing the electrics
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Corey Spiteri along this morning to complete the work that Jim Lannen didn't finish. There was a surprising list. The most important one, of course, was the hot water, but he also did the range hood and the wiring in the shed.


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A couple of things I had thought were Jim Lannen's fault proved not to be the case. The oven has a switch on a neighbouring power point. Turn on the power, and hey! It works! And the light in the entrance proved to be functional, just the (fluorescent) lamp I put in was defective. But there were others. The lights in the garage didn't work, because he hadn't inserted the fluorescent tubes correctly. He certainly can't have tested them.

And later I heated up some food in the microwave oven. Bang! Both it and the oven failed. Further investigation showed that the main switch had tripped. Why? The air conditioner and water heater were both running, so there was a fair power usage. But Jim had installed a 40A main switch! It should have been 50A. Another thing to change, but Corey didn't have one on him. I have paid Jim more than he has delivered, and I was going to leave it that way, but gradually it's about time to ask for compensation. Today's work, most of it making up for Jim, came to $950.

The other good news, of course, is that we had several power interruptions in the course of the day, but in the house they were barely noticeable. They even made it less obvious what the cause of the microwave issue was. Hopefully things will stay that way.


More equipment for the house
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

While Corey was doing his thing, out to Ballarat to buy some tools and rubbish bins. Somehow we spent another $250.

While looking for a cordless drill, I found this description:


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Replaceable li... indeed. There's plenty of space on that line and the next to complete the description, and as it is the description is meaningless. And of course details like the performance parameters are completely missing. But then, I suppose that's modern.


Bringing up the network
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

For the first time we have a gigabit network to almost every room in the house, including the shed. Only the laundry is missing. We haven't provided for a connection in the pantry, but that's where the central switch is, so effectively we have a network there too:


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Put lagoon, Yvonne's computer in with relatively little difficulty, though it's clear that the name is no longer appropriate.

Also reinstalled dischord, the Microsoft box I use for photo processing. Somehow this looks wrong:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/6) ~/Photos/20150507 3 -> ruptime
dischord                   up   4+07:53,     0 users,  load 0.99, 0.19, 0.06
eureka                     up      0:13,     2 users,  load 0.12, 0.22, 0.16
lagoon                     up      1:07,     2 users,  load 0.17, 0.22, 0.23

But it's the only system with at least partially reliable hibernation—or is it? I haven't turned off my FreeBSD boxen for years, so I don't really know.

But I still haven't got round to connecting up the TV infrastructure, now again with a TV antenna. Mañana.


Comparing LED and fluoro globes
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've already puzzled about the difference in light output between fluorescent and LED light globes. Now I have started replacing the fluoros with LED, I'm even more puzzled. Yes, the LEDs are brighter (rated at 800 instead of 700 lumens), but they seem to be nearly double the brightness. Time to do some light measurements.


Sunday, 10 May 2015 Dereel Images for 10 May 2015
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Acclimatization
Topic: Stones Road house, technology, multimedia, opinion Link here

Another night in the new house, a little more restful than the previous. The cats are still unhappy, and I've established what the motor noise is: a freezer in the laundry, also just a couple of metres from my head. We may need to move that.

Spent the day installing more of the electronics infrastructure. My main Ethernet switch, a D-Link DGS-1008D, is flaky: it kept going into what looked like a self-test sequence with alternately all Link LEDs and then the speed LED for port 8 lighting, something that is, of course, not mentioned in the manual. Ended up replacing it with an HP ProCurv 1800-8G switch, which irritates me with uneven LED displays. But it works

Also started to install the TV infrastructure, including cvr2, the video recorder that I took out of commission in October after they changed the transmission frequencies. Surprise, surprise. Jim Lannen had installed an antenna amplifier power supply with F connectors. The sockets themselves are IEC 61169-2 connectors, as are my TV cables. So Jim put in an adapter so that the amplifier power supply would fit into the socket—and left the other one without an adapter. I can't use that socket, and of course that's where I want to connect cvr2. In the end I had to install it near another connector until I can get the adapter. When will Jim's surprises stop?

As if that wasn't enough, my reception problems are not gone. I had some serious issues with SBS, despite Jim's claims to the contrary. But that could be due to the tuner, so until I can connect the TV and try direct reception, I can't blame it on him.


Reporting accuracy, Facebook style
Topic: technology, Stones Road house, opinion Link here

We had 18.2 mm rain overnight, quite a bit for round here. Our water tanks are full. In the afternoon I found a post on Facebook:

Does anybody have a rain gauge reading for past 24 hours?

Several useful replies, none with sub-millimetre resolution, but suggesting that further south in the middle of Dereel the rainfall was between 21 and 25 mm. But which one got a “like”?

We have had a lot of rain, during the night it was quite heavy and this morning

Now doesn't that say a lot to people who live here?


Monday, 11 May 2015 Dereel Images for 11 May 2015
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Settling in
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Spent most of the day unpacking things and looking for a place to put them. We've thrown a fair amount of stuff away, but there's still a great deal to be done. And I still haven't found my backup disks.


Tuesday, 12 May 2015 Dereel
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Unpacking my office
Topic: Stones Road house, general, technology Link here

I hadn't really intended to unpack all my old books yet, since there are more pressing things to do. But one of those was to find my backup disks, and there was no obvious place left, so I unpacked everything.

What a lot of old rubbish! In particular, a lot of O'Reilly books that I picked up in Sebastopol in December 1996, mainly because they were free. I've never looked at some of them, but in Computer Security Basics, referring to the Morris worm, I read:

... the Internet, a government-funded network ...

Clearly our perspective (and the facts) have changed significantly since then. Nothing against the book, just its age. And there are many like that that I shouldn't even give away, because they're so misleading. Somehow it's saddening.

Finally I had all the boxes unpacked. What didn't I find? My battery chargers and my backup disks. It only later occurred to me that my Android tablet was also in the same area, and it's missing too. I get the feeling that some of the boxes never made it here.

What a pain! How do I recover? There were 7 disks with a total of (I think) 17 TB of data. I can recover most of it from online disks, assuming that they don't die first, but there's some stuff that is irreplaceable. Where are they? Why did I let the packers pack such sensitive items?

The battery chargers for my cameras are relatively easy to replace, and I ordered two on eBay. And disks? Yes, time to get some disks as well. Ordered a 4 TB photo disk on eBay, and we'll pick up a 2 TB disk for normal backups in town tomorrow.


Where's Piccola?
Topic: animals Link here

Last night I let the cats out. They had been locked in the house for 3 days, and they were making their displeasure known. But Piccola didn't come back today. That in itself isn't unusual, but when she didn't come back for dinner, we were a little uneasy. Chris Bahlo came back round 20:00 with the news that she had seen her at the junction of Stones Road and Bliss Road, about 300 m away, but that she didn't want to be caught.

That's not such bad news. We've seen this before when cats move house, and after a day or two they come back. But we'd be much happier if she came back right now.


SBS reception quality
Topic: multimedia, technology Link here

In general our TV reception quality is much better than it used to be, but I've still had issues with SBS. Another look today. The dtv_multiplex table looked interesting:

mysql> select mplexid, transportid, frequency from dtv_multiplex order by frequency;
+---------+-------------+-----------+
> mplexid | transportid | frequency |
+---------+-------------+-----------+
>       4 |         880 | 571625000 |
>       3 |         563 | 578500000 |
>       5 |        2461 | 585500000 |
>       1 |       12922 | 592500000 |
>       2 |        2050 | 599500000 |
+---------+-------------+-----------+

That's exactly as it was last October. But the lowest frequency, 571625000 Hz, was the only one offset by 125 kHz. And that's SBS. Tried resetting it to a 500 kHz boundary:

mysql> update dtv_multiplex set frequency = 571500000 where mplexid = 4;

And how about that, that solved the problem! So now we have (apparently) perfect reception. About time, too.


LED and fluoro lights compared
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

I've already puzzled about the difference in brightness between my 700 lumen fluorescent globes and the 800 lumen LED globes: the latter seem nearly double as bright than the former. Today I finally got out a light meter and measured them. The existing fluoro globes gave a reading of EV 5.5, and the LED globes gave a reading of 6.0 under the same conditions. Both readings were consistent. Half an EV is √2, close enough to 1.4 for this level of accuracy. So if the LEDs are 800 lumens, the fluoros can't be more than 570 lumens. Another return in the offing.


A week of rainy weather
Topic: general Link here

It has been raining more or less heavily since we moved in, a total of 26.7 mm. Today, while looking for lost goods in Kleins Road, checked the rain gauge there. 32 mm, 5% of the yearly rainfall. So the reports a couple of days ago are consistent. I wonder if there's generally less rainfall here than in Kleins Road, but probably it's just normal deviation.


Getting used to new implements
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Our old oven was pretty terrible, one of the worst purchases I have made on eBay. The new one, a Westinghouse WVE916SA, has a “digital” controller, so I can select exact temperatures, as long as they're a multiple of 5°. The temperatures even go as low as 30°, which suits me for letting bread rise.

Today was the first loaf of bread baked in the new house. I need to let it rise in an oven at 50°. By coincidence, this is the temperature the old oven reached with the thermostat turned off. But now I can set the temperature. To be cautious, I tried heating the oven at 30°. Result: round 55° (measured with oven thermometer and also my infrared thermometer, which also showed extreme differences in different parts of the oven). What kind of digital control is that? Where's the sensor?

OK, so I turned it off. And it forgot all the settings. What kind of beginner did they get to program this device? That's just unnecessary, and inappropriate for a device that retails for over $2,000.


Completing the house
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

JG King are taking their time finishing the house. Handover was over a week ago, and Duncan said that they would try to get all the remaining items finished within a week. It doesn't look that way: until today, apart from the oven door, the only thing that had happened was that Jesse demolished the tiles in the kitchen. Then this evening Bill Sharp came along and replaced the plasterboard behind where the tiles had been, and also hung the sliding door for the pantry and mounted the ducted vacuum cleaner.

What's missing? It seems to be just about everything, but looking back to the final inspection, the big thing is cleaning the windows. It's been nearly 2 weeks since the cleaners did a perfunctory cleanup, but the windows still have packing material on them. Why? And nobody has come to take a look at the damage in the garage. Apart from that, there is also the plumbing (waiting for the new kitchen mixer, which arrived this evening) and the door, which could take a while.


Wednesday, 13 May 2015 Dereel
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More unpacking
Topic: Stones Road house, technology Link here

Another day spent mainly unpacking things. This loss of my backup disks really hurts. Yvonne went shopping as usual on a Wednesday, and came back with a 2 TB disk for my normal backups, complete with useless backup software. But it's software, so before blowing it away, I tried to back up the backup software from the backup disk. I wasn't completely successful: somehow all the Microsoft copy programs don't do what I want. In particular XCOPY—now, it seems, obsolete—didn't copy subdirectories when I asked it to. In the end I ended up with this:

=== root@eureka (/dev/pts/5) /home/grog 26 -> l -R /src/Seagate-backup-software/
total 281
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  wheel  131,685,492 11 Apr  2014 Seagate Dashboard Installer.dmg
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  wheel  159,169,664  1 May  2014 Seagate Dashboard Installer.exe
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  wheel          308  3 Sep  2014 SerialNumber.xml
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  wheel    1,114,848 24 Aug  2013 Warranty.pdf
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  wheel    1,495,608 13 May 15:24 cp .zip

Presumably the first two files are installation programs for Apple and Microsoft, but I'll almost certainly never find out. I somehow managed to squeeze the subdirectories into the last file, into whose name Microsoft inserted a blank. Still, I'll probably never know if there's a problem with the way I did it.


Thursday, 14 May 2015 Dereel
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Unpacking: progress?
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

More unpacking today, but not much. Somehow I'm completely demoralized. Call to the movers who confirmed that no boxes had been left behind. Where the hell is my box of computer stuff? Yvonne returned from Kleins Road with my Android tablet, which, it seems, I didn't pack in that box. That's small consolation. Still no sign of the rest.


Piccola go home
Topic: animals Link here

Yvonne brought another thing with her back from Kleins Road: Piccola. It seems that she found her way back there, 3 km away. How did she manage that? There are stories like “Lassie come-home”, but how realistic are they? Found very little on the subject on the web.

In any case, she's unharmed and not even overly thin—I suspect that some small mammals have had to give their lives for her. Now, of course, it'll be a long time before we let her out again.


Friday, 15 May 2015 Dereel
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Spam explosion
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Is it just me, or has there been an explosion of spam lately? I suppose part of the issue is my old, worn-out tools, but although I reject a lot of spam before it gets near the server, and filter more out before it hits my inbox, I'm finding more “serious” spam, advertising dubious products. Things have changed: it seems that everybody who wanted a penis enlargement now has it, so that kind of spam has declined, but I'm bombarded with beautiful garage floors, medical miracles, walk-in bathtubs, lotto wins, even bulk mail delivery.

One day I might get round to installing more up-to-date spam rejection software, but will it help? I get some of this spam multiple times, once direct to my server, and again via the FreeBSD mailing lists. So it's not just my configuration. In the meantime, observation shows that most of this spam is coming from a relatively small number of /24s, so I can just reject all mail from them. How much collateral damage will I do? None, I suspect, when I look at the PTR records for the servers:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/15) ~/Mail 5 -> grep 46.166.136 backup
Received: from fractal97.zitsab.us (fractal97.zitsab.us [46.166.136.97])
Received: from fractal98.checkfasterbin.us (fractal98.checkfasterbin.us [46.166.136.98])
Received: from fractal99.yesst.us (fractal99.yesst.us [46.166.136.99])
Received: from fractal100.lotasourceformedcare.work (fractal100.lotasourceformedcare.work [46.166.136.100])
Received: from fractal101.fundtakeworkinginfo.work (fractal101.fundtakeworkinginfo.work [46.166.136.101])
Received: from fractal102.colaclearseeing.us (fractal102.colaclearseeing.us [46.166.136.102])
Received: from fractal103.workow.us (fractal103.workow.us [46.166.136.103])
Received: from fractal104.wholee.work (fractal104.wholee.work [46.166.136.104])
Received: from fractal105.yeatwo.work (fractal105.yeatwo.work [46.166.136.105])
Received: from fractal106.woojam.us (fractal106.woojam.us [46.166.136.106])
Received: from fractal107.rowox.us (fractal107.rowox.us [46.166.136.107])

backup is my catch-all folder for all incoming mail. There are a couple of interesting points about these messages: the messages arrived in IP order, and all the TLDs are either .us. or .work.. That's almost enough reason to simply reject these TLDs, though of course .us. is used by non-spammers. In any case, I've now rejected about 15 of these address blocks, and things look a lot better.


Mice!
Topic: animals, general Link here

Came into the pantry this morning and found a well-nourished mouse in a large plastic storage container, unable to get out. It must have fallen in somehow. Just what Lilac needs. She's 18 years old and not as agile as she was. Put her in the container. When she saw the mouse it took less than a second for her to catch it.

After she had finished eating, brought out Piccola as well, who smelt a mouse and ran around all the likely places, even sticking her paw under the freezer on the off chance. There are doubtless plenty more mice here, so for the time being the cats have the run of the place. They spent much of the day in the pantry.


A new phone
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

We have to leave the old Binatone answering machine in Kleins Road for the moment, so that it can give people the new number. The phones are pretty much worn out anyway—the displays are all missing segments—so it's finally time for a set of new portable phones. I want one that is compatible with a Bluetooth headset. There are plenty of phones that offer Bluetooth functionality, but almost all of them seem to pair to mobile phones, something that seems of limited utility—why exchange one handset for another?

After much searching, found that a number of Telstra portable phones have this feature. They seem to be made specially for Telstra, and there's a surprising number of them. All the ones I found have a maximum of 3 handsets, which isn't really enough, but the real issue is that they all seem to have pretty much the same functionality.

Found a number of them at Pocketronics, a supplier of refurbished phones. The prices range between $55 and $128 for the Bluetooth models. If you don't want Bluetooth, you can pay up to $240.

In the end decided on a Telstra 12850, which claims to be LONG RANGE DECT. How long? Ah, that would be telling. I suppose we'll find out. And maybe the mobile phone link can come in handy if I can find a way to put the mobile phone somewhere outside where it has coverage, and I sit inside where I'm protected from the weather. That depends, of course, on whether I can find anywhere where there's both mobile phone and Bluetooth coverage.


Saturday, 16 May 2015 Dereel Images for 16 May 2015
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Different fauna
Topic: animals Link here

We have only moved about 3 km from Kleins Road, but even before moving, we've noticed significant differences in the fauna. I've commented on the kangaroos and wallabies, but there are also a number of different birds. In Kleins Road, for some reason, we almost never saw galahs, and here we also have seen black cockatoos flying overhead. And today I found a kookaburra on a post only about 15 m from the house:


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Spammers: adding insult to injury
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

While looking through spam headers today, found this:

Received: from mx1.lemis.com (webxc17s05.ad.aruba.it [62.149.141.197])

Apart from being an abuse of my domain name, does this actually make things any easier for them? Clearly my Postfix configuration doesn't catch it, but it should do so, so there's no advantage to the spammer to do this. It looks as if they're just giving me the finger.


No toilet paper
Topic: technology Link here

We've gradually unpacked most things except for a large proportion of the books. Today we needed toilet paper. OK, we know where that is: it's marked on the carton. Opened it up. No toilet paper. Just the backup disks that I've been missing for the last 9 days! It makes sense: I had not written anything on the carton because it was to come out immediately at the other end. And it was an old carton, so it already had the description on it from 8 years ago.

Thank God for that! The whole matter was seriously getting me down, and it took several hours for the relief to set in.


Goodbye Shadow
Topic: animals Link here

Sad news this evening: Chris' cat Shadow is dead. That's the second pet of hers who has died while she's been living with us, though he did make it to the new house before he died. I wonder how old he was; we were wondering who would last longer, he or Lilac, who is now well over 18 years old. It's possible that Shadow was even older.


Sunday, 17 May 2015 Dereel → Birregurra → Dereel Images for 17 May 2015
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More anniversaries
Topic: general Link here

17 May isn't a particularly obvious anniversary, but for some reason it's the anniversary of a number of things in my life:

May 17  Greg starts working at Karstadt, 1976
May 17  Greg starts working at Tandem, 1982
May 17  Greg last flew in an aeroplane, 2006

My two longest-running jobs both started on this day, all the more unusual since it was in Germany, where employment always starts at the beginning of the month. And it's been 9 years since I wrote:

I never want to fly again.

That's by far the longest period in my life where I haven't flown.


Hello Molly
Topic: animals Link here

Chris has located a “rescue” Maremma sheep dog in Birregurra. Maremmas aren't the easiest dogs to handle, and Chris already has Nena, so off to see how they would get on together. We were expecting fireworks, but in fact nothing much happened:


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So she took her. I'm still surprised how little attention the bitches paid to each other.


Goodbye Chris
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Chris Bahlo moved out today, after nearly 10 months. It wasn't immediately obvious, since she still had dinner with us, but I suppose it's significant anyway. I wonder how she will survive in a house without heating.

So: how long did it take Simonds to build their “express” house? They advertised 14 weeks:


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When did they start building? The first claim was 5 December 2014, a little over 23 weeks ago. But then they had difficulty calculating water runoff, so the new date was 22 December, 21 weeks ago.

But wait! There's more! On 7 January they actually started doing something (wrong, as it proved):


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But even that was nearly 19 weeks ago. These claims should be backed up with a penalty clause, but for some reason they're not. Still, Chris is happy with the house, and that's the main thing.


Monday, 18 May 2015 Dereel → Geelong → Dereel Images for 18 May 2015
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Animal frustration
Topic: animals Link here

Moving house doesn't seem to be the easiest thing for the dogs. This morning Yvonne discovered Leonid and Nikolai tearing apart one of their beds. By the time I got there, only Leo was still playing with the remains:


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And later Yvonne found a huge puddle of urine in the hallway. Based on the timing, it could only have been Leo. We suspect that he's intimidated by CJ's dogs.


Geelong again
Topic: health, general Link here

Off to Geelong today for six-monthly periodontist's check. In the past I've tried to combine it with other things, but lately there's less and less I can do, and all I managed was to do was drop off an application form for recycling bin in Bannockburn.


Yana and Jo visit
Topic: general Link here

Our daughter Yana came today with her boyfriend, Jo (if I get the spelling right), all the way from Toronto. He got off right away helping CJ do some work in the garden, so we didn't see much of him until the evening.


Roast chicken, yet again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Roasting chicken isn't nearly as simple as it seems. I've been keeping records for years, but it's still difficult to get the breast juicy and the thighs cooked.

Today's attempt was an unstuffed 2.2 kg chicken in the oven at 180°, with only the breast covered in aluminium foil. I had noted a time of between 50 and 55 minutes per kilogram for unstuffed chickens, and a breast temperature of 88°. But after 110 minutes the breast was still only 73°, so I took off the foil. At 125 minutes the temperature was up to 80°—a surprising increase—and I turned the oven off and cut the skin between the thighs and drumstick.

By the time we served it, about 140 minutes, the breast temperature had increased to 83°, which is really enough, and the drumsticks were relatively cooked, so maybe this is the way to go. I'll certainly try it this way next time round.


Tuesday, 19 May 2015 Dereel → Melbourne → Dereel
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Melbourne again
Topic: general Link here

Off to Melbourne again today for a shopping spree, but mainly to get the bladder of Yvonne's water bed repaired. Took Yana and Jo with us, and then off to Footscray market to buy some fish and vegetables.

Off then to Dandenong North to find Lyle, the waterbed man, not helped by a GPS navigator that wanted to take me round some unrelated back streets. Lyle was interesting: all the baffles inside the bladder had been messed up by the move, and he established that they had also been rotated by 90°, but he managed to get it back into shape in a very short space of time. A well-spent $30.

Then to Springvale for lunch, at a Vietnamese place which didn't seem to have much in the way of European visitors. To Nan Yang Supermarket looking just for coriander seed, but came away with an amazing number of things.


Goodbye, IKEA
Topic: general Link here

Then to IKEA in Springvale looking for a large number of items. We left, frustrated, without anything. Why?

The simplest thing seemed to be small shelving units to put in the wardrobes in the bedrooms. Newer Australian houses usually have built-in wardrobes, but inside there's just a shelf at about 1.65 m height and a rail.


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Most clothes go on shelves, not coat hangers. There's not enough space on the top shelf, and there's too much space underneath. Clearly a niche for people like IKEA. But what they had didn't seem to be conceived for that. Entire wardrobes—for what? And the few things that we found in the height range 1.20 m or so were either too wide or (mainly) too deep. And the prices are by no means as competitive as what we found 8 years ago.

Lighting? We needed lights for over the mirrors in the bathrooms. Found a nice LED-driven model on display—but not available, apparently out of stock. Towel rails? Yes, they had them, mainly with exposed screws, and not too cheap. There was one display item without visible screws, but they hadn't bothered to put a label on it, and I couldn't find the corresponding type in the packages. Do I want the potential bother of returning a towel rail when I have to drive over 300 km to do so? No, thanks, especially not at that price.

So we left without anything. Outside they have a small foodstuff area, where Yvonne found a packaged black bread mixture that she wanted, and also some anchovy paste of dubious consistency. We would have bought them—except that the cashier was unmanned. I briefly thought of just taking them with us, but in the end we left them, and IKEA, behind. What a waste of time!

Looking back, it seems that I wasn't exactly happy with IKEA 8 years ago. But since then they seem to have lost their competitive edge—and many of the customers: it's much less crowded than it used to be. I don't think I'll be back.


Faster networking
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

The National Broadband Network is planning a new speed rating for fixed wireless: 50 Mb/s down, 20 Mb/s up, best effort. We're getting a trial at no additional cost.

Yesterday, before the transition, I tested my speed for the first time ever since moving to Aussie Broadband. It didn't look bad: nominal 25/5, actual 23.7/4.9. You can't complain about that.

Today I tried again, and got 40 Mb/s down, but only 4.97 Mb/s up. OK, it's “best effort”, but I'd expect a small increase in the upstream bandwidth. Still, it's early days yet.


TV reception: not there yet
Topic: multimedia, opinion Link here

When I first revived cvr2, the TV reception was excellent. Unfortunately, it hasn't stayed that way. I still need to decide whether it's the tuners or the antenna, but clearly our woes aren't over yet.


Wednesday, 20 May 2015 Dereel Images for 20 May 2015
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More construction work
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Warrick Pitcher and Mick along today to finish off the earthworks and—most important for Yvonne—move the tack crate into the shed. Before they arrived, things looked like this:


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That's the crate on the right in front of the shed. By the time I looked again, it was on its way:


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And less than 10 minutes later it was in its final place, having been rotated by 90°:


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They also put the pallets in the hay shed:


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Total time since arrival: 30 minutes, including unloading the equipment. Yvonne is delighted.

They also lay the final sand for the driveway and put the CFA tank in place:


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Gradually it's getting more livable.

Corey Spiteri there as well, changing the main circuit breaker to 50A. Hopefully that'll be the last time we trip the breaker. He also rewired the electric boost for the hot water: it should be charged at off-peak tariff, but previously there was no provision for that.

In honour of all that, tidied the removal cartons out of the garage and into the shed, or at least started: it rained all afternoon, so I only got about half of it done. But at least we can get one car in the garage, thought it's a tight fit:


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Duncan claims that he can put his truck in his garage, with the same dimensions, but I'm sure he can't lift the tail gate, and that's really necessary for unloading things.


More NBN outages
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

No less than three short network outages today, all in very quick succession:

Start time End time  Duration   Badness        from                    to
                     (seconds)

1432086570 1432086605     35	  0.012	# 20 May 2015 11:49:30 20 May 2015 11:50:05
1432086867 1432086913     46	 13.740	# 20 May 2015 11:54:27 20 May 2015 11:55:13
1432087675 1432087689     14	  4.724	# 20 May 2015 12:07:55 20 May 2015 12:08:09
      

What caused that? We've had others since moving in, but none at all in the previous month when I was monitoring things. It occurred to me that the last happened just as Corey was doing some work on the house power. But what could have caused the link to drop? It's all on UPS. I'll have to take a look at what the NTD displays next time.


Thursday, 21 May 2015 Dereel Images for 21 May 2015
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No hot water!
Topic: general Link here

Up this morning to discover that the water heater hadn't been operating. There was still enough residual hot water, but that wouldn't last long. Called up Corey, who confirmed that there was boost power from the meter, and that he had measured it. What's wrong there? At least he told me how to turn on the boost, which is non-intuitive: press button 2 for 5 seconds.


Power supply hell
Topic: general Link here

Powercor has notified me of another planned outage some time tomorrow; they couldn't be more specific than “09:00 AM FRI 22 MAY TO 02:30 PM”, regarding both the Kleins Road and the Stones Road addresses. High time to set up my generator, which was still in its original carton.

While I was unpacking, I noted a subdued “beep” from the UPS. No power! And yes, the switches were all on. But the meter was off.

Frantically back to get the generator started. I've noted previously how difficult it is to get the oil into the generator, despite the inadequately angled funnel they provide.


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But it's in two parts, and this time it jammed, and I couldn't get it extended properly. With a bit of help from Doug Braddy, who happened to be there frobbing Yvonne's tack crate, managed to get enough oil and petrol into the thing to get it to run. Plugged into the UPS, which didn't want to know. So much for Eaton's claim that it would work off a generator. It's beginning to look like I bought the wrong UPS. One way or another, we were off the grid until 13:24. What happened? Across the road we saw:


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That's Powercor! Did they arrive a day early? It wasn't until much later that I discovered that the two notifications I received weren't quite the same: the outage in Kleins Road is tomorrow, but the outage here was today.

Bringing the power back up wasn't simple either: the UPS repeatedly tripped the RCD. It seems that it's probably too sensitive (30 mA) for the number of devices connected to it. I had to turn off all loads first, which gave me the chance to check which circuits were connected to each circuit breaker:

1 (Light)       Most of house, except bedrooms
2 (Light)       Bedrooms
3 (Power)       Rest of house
4 (Power)       Greg's office, pantry

While doing that, I discovered yet another mistake that Jim Lannen made: he had connected the power points in the pantry to the wrong circuits. The ones I specified at 2 m height (which he placed at 1.8 m height, where they foul the refrigerators) should have been on UPS, but they weren't. The ones at the bottom, for the fridges, were on UPS, which certainly didn't help the backup time. When is this mess going to stop? And does it have a bearing on the National Broadband Network connectivity issues yesterday? The switches in question had nothing to do with the NBN, so it's not clear how it could.


Bore pump
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Bloke from the Ballarat Pump Shop, whose name I forgot, showed up today to install the bore pump. He took pessimal paths to the location of the bore, getting himself bogged down twice and had to call somebody to tow him out, leaving lots of marks in the soil:


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But he got the pump installed:


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Time to install the rest of the sprinkler system.


Friday, 22 May 2015 Dereel Images for 22 May 2015
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Tracking blackouts
Topic: general, opinion Link here

While writing up yesterday's power failure drama, came across this power failure tracker on the Eaton web site. It claims to track all power failures in Australia; in fact, it tracks almost none of them. The most recent one reported in our area (savour the “VI” abbreviation) was on 19 February:


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Since then we have had 5 or 6 failures, including an unrelated one on the same day. Another good idea that falls foul of sloppy implementation.


Finally, the fireproof mesh door
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

One of the things that particularly irritated me about building the house was this silly unnecessary fireproof screen door over the front door. And then they didn't install it. I kept quiet about it, but today somebody turned up with it and intention to install it. No way. I got them to put it in the shed:


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What an amazing device! They claimed I needed it because there were glass insets in the door I wanted; the same door without the insets, they said, was bushfire resistant. But look at the mesh! The other windows have thin wire mesh; Nikolai has already demolished one. Sometimes I wonder what people are thinking. I wonder if I can sell it.


Finishing the verandah
Topic: Stones Road house, animals Link here

Brett Chiltern started working on the verandah and trough in front of it two weeks ago, and gave up after going through stormwater pipes. Today he was back and at least laid the basis of the troughs:


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He also bought his Gordon Setter puppy, who had great fun with our vicious hunting dogs:


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Admire Leonid imitating a kangaroo in the third image.


Pithaya rediscovered
Topic: history, general, opinion Link here

Decades ago—in fact, while living in Kota Bharu from 1954 to 1957—my mother made friends with a Thai woman who, I think, was a friend of Tengku Noor Zakiah. She had a son with whom we were good friends, as I had noted in my diary entry for 27 March 1957. How do you spell his name? Today I found out, probably not for the first time: he is now a senior member of the Pheu Thai Party, and was on the Aljazeera news talking about the first anniversary of the military takeover. Today, at any rate, he spells his name Pithaya Pookaman, I'm sure that at the time the surname was spelt with a B. But it was quite a surprise to see his name pop up on the TV like that. Must establish contact.


VoIP strangenesses
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Call on the phone today. I answered it, and was immediately disconnected. That happened three times. But then I saw the calling number: CJ Ellis. So I called him back and discovered that he had been confused by the ringing tone. Tried calling from the other line. An American (single) ring tone, not the Australian (double) tone. Why did that happen?

Called up MynEtfOne and spoke to Epi (that's how he spelt it), who took me through the typical rigmarole of telling me that it wasn't so, and that I shouldn't be calling the internal number (starting with 09), because that wouldn't work and I wouldn't get a connection. He wouldn't take my word for it that I had got a connection, and said I should try the DID (official) number, and then it would work. So I humoured him. No difference.

As arranged, he called back said he got the double ring, and so on. Tried calling from my mobile phone. And I got the double ring tone. And yes, lately the mobile reception isn't that bad; is this perhaps partially due to the range extender I got with my new portable telephones? It doesn't sound likely, but somebody claimed that.

Epi called back again and explained that it may depend on the codec. Maybe. But then it's a configuration issue, clearly something to escalate. But no, he needed to know details of my equipment. What “modem”? I said National Broadband Network NTD, but no, he didn't want that. Who was the maker? How should I know? The NBN puts its own brand on it. In the end I gave him the serial number, and he shut up. But he still wanted to know the ATA (a Linksys PAP2T), and of course I had to power cycle and reboot everything. In the end I told him I didn't have time, and the he should escalate the issue.

Surprisingly, he did, and some time later I got a call back from Micah (if that's the spelling), reporting all sorts of confusion from Epi. Explained the matter to him, and he understood. It seems that they do most of their calling via normal landlines, not via VoIP, so there was no way for them to know of the different ring tone. He promised to call back, hung up, and tried a couple of times, but somehow we never got a connection.

Why is it so difficult to communicate with support people?


Saturday, 23 May 2015 Dereel Images for 23 May 2015
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Consolidation
Topic: general Link here

Spent much of the day doing nothing in particular. The house photos are far fewer than in Kleins Road, but they still needed taking. Also baked bread and made Kimchi.

We're still slowly tidying up the mess after the move, but the emphasis is on “slowly”:


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I'm still amazed that, after disposing of a number of things we had in Kleins Road, we still have difficulties finding space for everything. I had underestimated the amount of stuff we kept in the cupboards in the laundry and outside toilet; in this house we have no storage space at all in the laundry, and there isn't an outside toilet. It looks as if we're going to have to install some new kitchen cupboards.


Refining bread baking
Topic: food and drink Link here

Since buying a new bread pan I've had an unexpected problem: it's higher than the old one, and while the bread is rising, the baking paper tends to fall into the bread, sticking to it. I've found a solution by moistening the paper so that it sticks to the side of the pan, but that appears to have the consequence that it also sticks to the bread, and is very hard to remove. Next time I'll try some paper clips.


Sunday, 24 May 2015 Dereel Images for 24 May 2015
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More moving
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Over to Chris Bahlo's house this morning to help unload a fridge. It weighed 87 kg, and we had to get it down from some height:


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Somehow Chris seems to be ahead of us in unpacking her belonging. Things already look almost normal:


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Multiplying Maremmas
Topic: animals Link here

When we arrived at Chris' place, her Maremma came to greet us. Which one? Clearly not Molly, whom she has only had for a week. But it wasn't Nena either: it was Tonia, the dog that the Yeardleys kept. It seems that as soon as she found that Chris was there, she went through the sheep-proof fence and came and joined her. I wonder how that one will pan out; at least at Chris' place she wouldn't be tied up all the time.


Bringing the garden to Stones Road
Topic: Stones Road house, gardening Link here

On the way back from Chris, borrowed her trailer and loaded it with a lot of garden stuff:


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I don't know why; until a bit more happens with the garden infrastructure, including the last of the trucks to plough through it, there's not much we can do with them. Still, they're here.


Going for a drive?
Topic: animals Link here

While unloading things, I left the tailgate of the car open. And almost immediately Nikolai got in:


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Where did he want to go? In the past, it was always to Stones Road. But we're here now. I left the gate open in case Leonid decided to finally get in of his own volition, but that didn't happen. After a while, Niko decided that he was going nowhere and got out again.


Monday, 25 May 2015 Dereel Images for 25 May 2015
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Another power failure!
Topic: Stones Road house, technology Link here

I had hoped to be completely free of power failures on moving to Stones Road, but it hasn't started well. Today we had a failure of a completely novel kind: CJ connected an extension cord to a power point in the shed, and for some inexplicable reason turned the main UPS output switch off and on again. Bang! Was I happy, especially when eureka didn't detect its monitors the first time round. Fortunately it did after I had power cycled it.


Gained in translation
Topic: language, photography Link here

A while back I saw a strange eBay item from a seller in Kirchheim (Teck):


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The description is “Olympus B.I.G.-Zuiko Car-W 1:3 5/28mm Wide angle lens OM”. Car-W? What does that mean? The explanation is further down:

The description of this item has been automatically translated. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

This translation also manages to convey a focal length of 1.1". That's wrong, anyway: apart from the fact that focal lengths are almost never given in obsolete British units, 35 mm is 1.37". “Car” is a clear translation of “Auto” (a motor vehicle), and one of the other images confirms this:

 
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How can people expect to sell things with such inaccurate descriptions? I suppose it's significant that this item has been on sale for some months now, though the excessive price could also explain it.

But these mistranslations can occur on a larger scale. On Saturday I bought some cheap dimmable LED globes at ALDI:


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LED-Pear? Recognition came in two steps. I immediately recognized that “Pear” is the German word for “light globe”, but it took me longer to realize that this was presumably another translation error. How can such primitive errors occur? You just need to ask web sites like leo.org to get multiple alternatives, including some I have never heard of.

In passing, it's nice to see that ALDI rates the globes primarily by light output (Lumen), and not by power consumption. It's a pity they didn't do as well with the flyer:

 
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Where do people get this nonsense from?


VoIP ring tones
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

We still haven't resolved the issues with VoIP ring tones. Today I got a call from Donu from MyNetFone, who went through the whole thing Yet Again, starting with confirming that the other two people didn't report the problem correctly. She had her problems too: for her, the American ring tone was correct.

More to the point, though, where is it coming from? The fact that normal calls ring correctly suggests that it's MyNetFone's problem. But Donu came up with one issue: which codec? And sure enough, there was a difference. Connections to the outside world used G.729a, while the internal connections used G.711a. Is it possible that the ring tone depends on the codec? And if so, it's likely that my ATA generates US call progress tones. But that's difficult to recognize when you look at the format of the entries:

 
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More investigation needed.


Completing the shade area
Topic: gardening, Stones Road house Link here

CJ started work on the shade area in the garden today:


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Things were hampered by lack of clout: the clouts we had were too short, and we can't continue until we get some longer ones. But it's not worth driving to Ballarat just for that.


Measuring light globe brightness
Topic: general, technology Link here

I've already tried some measurements of relative light output of various globes, but only using my camera exposure meter, which has a resolution of 0.1 EV, or about 7%. I have a better tool for this job: a light meter with 3.5 digit resolution. In the meantime I also have more globes, so today I tried a number of measurements. Here the raw data:

Globe       Type       W       Lumen       Lux
IKEA       Fluoro       11             67
Olsent       Fluoro       11       700       96
Philips       Fluoro       18       1100       206
?       Halogen       53       850       154
Olsent       LED       10       800       243
ALDI       LED       18       1300       331

The absolute Lux values are meaningless, but the relative values should make sense. The IKEA is old and doesn't have any indication of light output on it. But even apart from that, there's an amazing difference between the LED and fluoro results. That may be because of the way I measured it, and the different directional characteristics of the two. I'll have to do some real-life measurements with the globes in a ceiling light and the light meter on the floor. I have already done some measurements like that, but they're incomplete. This set was done in the dining room:

Olsent       LED       10       800       43.6
ALDI       LED       15       1055 (!)       51
ALDI       LED       18       1300       60

And this set was taken in the TV room:

?       Halogen       53       850       26.8
ALDI       LED       15       1055       30.9
ALDI       LED       15       1055       9.2       minimum dimmer setting

In the first case, it seems as if the “800 lumen” globe is relatively brighter than the “1300 lumen“ globe. I should plot some graphs. In the second case, it would seem that the 1055 lumen LED is relatively dimmer than the 850 lumen halogen globe.

The other thing of interest was how long it takes fluoro globes to develop full light output. The results above show the maximum, but it takes 3 minutes or longer to get to that point. Here the output over the first three minutes:

Globe       Lumen       0s       10s       20s       30s       60s       90s       120s       150s       180s       210s       240s
IKEA             11.8       22       27.2       33       54       62       65.9       66.6       67.7
Olsent       700       33.6       45.5       52.3       60.5       77.9       83.5       86.8       91.8       96.2
Philips       1100       65       75       105             142       169       184       195       203       208       206

And yes, the light output of the Philips 1100 lumen globe really did drop slightly after 3½ minutes.

There's more comparison work to be done here, but the interesting thing is the difference in light output between the “1100 lumen” Philips globe and the “700 lumen” Olsent globe. If the former really does emit 1100 lumen, the latter would emit 512 lumen. Within the bounds of resolution, this corresponds well with my estimate of 570 lumen two weeks ago.


Tuesday, 26 May 2015 Dereel Images for 26 May 2015
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Completing the plumbing
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

For a brand new house, the plumbing in Stones Road is remarkably primitive. On the face of it, the mixers look fashionable but functional:


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Looking more carefully, though, the spout of the kitchen mixer is just a raw pipe. You can swivel it, but it just outputs a jet of water downwards. And the tap in the bathroom doesn't even have a stopper mechanism, just an old-fashioned plastic plug without even a chain. What didn't become obvious until we moved in was that the range of adjustment of the taps is only about 30° between cold and hot, and getting the right temperature is really difficult.

And then we have the gas stove, which is really badly adjusted. Here is the “wok burner”, rated at 4 kW 14.4 MJ/h, on minimum and maximum:


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Yes, there a difference, but it's minimal. And the flame is just not hot enough.

So there are a number of things to do. We have better plumbing fittings for both the kitchen and the bathrooms. The kitchen tap is much the same as the one we installed in Kleins Road three years ago:


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The taps for the bathroom are nearly 20 years old. We brought them with us from Germany when we returned in 1997. Isn't it sad that they're better than what people install nowadays?

We've been waiting a couple of weeks now for JG King's plumbers are to come and fix the gas, and while they're at it, they could do the taps as well. There was also the issue of the hot water connection to the dish washer. Today, finally, somebody came along. Not about the gas—not his job—but about the dish washer. And it seems that he had been here before and put in the fitting, apparently after we moved in and without informing us. But he hadn't thought to connect the dish washer to the hot water. He did that after I asked him a couple of times.

He didn't have time for the bathrooms—Duncan hadn't told him about that—but he had a go at the mixer in the kitchen. Failure. It didn't fit through the hole. It should have been 35 mm in diameter, but it was only 34 mm, and the new tap has many more connections:


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So he had to replace the old one until we can cut a bit out of the hole for the mounting screws.

Duncan was supposed to come by later to look at some other issues. He didn't.


Range hood specs
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

A call today from John at Atlantis, phone 9336 6100, about the range hood.

I later discovered that the company is Alantin Services.

He had found specs for the hood: 770 m³/h air flow (why do Australian specs so often state things per hour, when the metric unit of time is the second?), which corresponds to 214 l/s. That should be more than enough, and it's certainly a lot more than we're getting.

And the ducting? 15 cm, a maximum of one 90° bend. No specification of duct length, which makes the other specs a bit irrelevant. But on checking the ducting, it just goes straight up, and it's 15 cm diameter. I can't see how it could have been done better. So we need a service call.


Wednesday, 27 May 2015 Dereel Images for 27 May 2015
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eBay and the Turing test
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

A couple of days ago I received an eBay item in damaged condition. Contacted seller, who offered to refund the money. Simple, right?

So I tried to respond. But how?

 
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There's no “Reply” button! Why not? I tried “Forward”, but that just sent me a copy of the message to my real mail.

Browser problem? Seems unlikely, but then eBay has some really leet programmers. Tried other browsers. Same thing. Help? When is eBay help helpful? And of course, it's just designed to answer FAQs, and this, it seems, wasn't one. But then there's the possibility of telephone contact. With 10 minutes wait. But they can also call me back, so I clicked on that.

While waiting, tried all sorts of ways to get a reply to the seller. After much searching, discovered in the boilerplate at the bottom of the message:

To reply now, see your request details.

No link, of course; I had to find a separate box below and click on it. And sure enough, there it was. But why? I still had an outstanding callback, so decided to ask them.

The callback came rather later than advertised, but was only a recorded message: “Are you the valued customer?”. Sounds like spam, especially as the recording didn't think to say who it was. After another 2 minutes I was connected to somebody whose name I didn't understand, something like Alaya (why do so many of these people have unusual names? Are they inventions?).

I asked her why I couldn't reply to a message I had received. It took several attempts to get her to understand the question. Finally she had the answer: go to Activity/Purchase History, select the item and then More actions/Contact seller. I tried to explain to her the difference between replying and sending a new message, but I think that was beyond her. I also told her that there was a way, but that she didn't know it. At least I feel vindicated that it's anything but obvious.

She promised to connect me to the Account Team, represented by Tim (female). She had even less understanding. After I had told her the situation twice, she asked if I were the seller. For the third time I told her that I was the buyer, and I was having difficulty replying to a message by the seller. She explained that there could be many reasons for a delay in the seller's reply. I had this mental image of her holding a pin and pricking it at random into her help scripts.

Finally I managed to get her to understand this specific message did not have a “Reply” button, and that the current situation had managed to confuse the hell out of one buyer and two “support” people. She promised to escalate to the tech team. Maybe she will. But once again I'm wondering whether these people would pass the Turing Test. They're no more intelligent than these horrible voice non-recognition systems that companies like Telstra use.


Concreting the terrace, continued
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Brett Chiltern and mate around today to put in the formwork for the trough round the verandah:


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He managed to put a stake through a stormwater pipe, in exactly the position where he had had to repair it before! I'm amazed. But at least he didn't need to add more joins to the pipe.


Thursday, 28 May 2015 Dereel
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Finishing our things off
Topic: Stones Road house, multimedia Link here

Gradually there isn't so much to do, and I spent a lot of the day unpacking and putting things together. Finally we've got the pantry tidy enough that we can move, but there's a lot more to do.

Also assembled the big bed. We've had it for 28 years now, and this is the sixth place it has been. I had horrible recollections of the last 3 times I assembled it, but this time it went relatively smoothly, even though the movers had made a real mess of the fittings.

At the end of it, plugged the radio into the antenna connector and... nothing. There was no improvement in signal quality over a bare piece of wire. Did Jim forget to connect it up, or did he remove the jumper for radio? My bet is the latter. When will these electrical installation surprises stop?


JG King: Finishing things off
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

It's been 23 days since handover. Duncan said he would try to get the outstanding issues fixed within a week. There's still a lot to be done, and I've set him a deadline of Friday next week. Today he came along and brought a single handle for the pantry door (there should be one on each side). We also discussed the other things that needed to be done. At the end of the day, we still had these issues, taken from an email I sent him after the event:

   Stove
     You'll get Reece to attend to the matter.

   Range hood
     You'll raise a service call.

   Front door frame
     You're still working on this one.

   Front door seal
     You installed this.  Unfortunately, after you left, I discovered
     that the door still does not shut properly, so we'll have to look
     at this again.

   Handles for pantry door
     One down, one to go.

   Extension for vacuum cleaner hose
   Hook for vacuum cleaner hose
     You'll check with the supplier.

   Garage door opener sticks
     You'll raise a service call with Mesh and Masonry.

   Patches in cabinets
     You'll get somebody to look at this.

   Doors sticking
     This was an incorrectly mounted door fitting, will be fixed.

These are mainly simple things. Why does it take so long?


Educating the education minister
Topic: language, general, opinion Link here

It seems that Christopher Pyne, Australia's Minister for Education, has decided that teaching Latin is good. Maybe it is. But his reasoning?

“Latin is of course the root of the English language and most European languages,” Mr Pyne told the Nine Network.

“It is perfectly sensible and intelligent for Latin to be on the national curriculum. I did Latin at school. It’s a very, very good thing to do.”

And people with that kind of misconception can become Minister for Education? The commenters had a field day, of course. But why does This Government make so many blunders?

For what it's worth, this is old news, nearly a year old. But what difference does that make?


eBay: action
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

I clearly made the wrong choice of seller for the 4 TB disk that I ordered over two weeks ago. She had promised to send it by express post, which usually corresponds to overnight, but by the end of last week it still hadn't arrived. In the meantime I found my backup disks, so I didn't really need it, so I contacted her and asked for money back. eBay gave her until today to respond. She didn't, so I asked eBay to close the case. Based on my previous experience, I wasn't holding my breath, but in fact I got a refund in under an hour. For once, I'm positively impressed.

Before buying the disk, I looked at the feedback. About a year ago she had a number of negative feedbacks, but since then all was positive. But when I looked again, there was not only my negative feedback: the last six feedbacks were all negative, three of them for the same item that I bought. Her feedback rating is now 68.2%. I suppose that makes eBay's job easier.


Friday, 29 May 2015 Dereel Images for 29 May 2015
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www off the net
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Into the office this morning to discover that my IRC session had closed unexpectedly. OK, that happens for a number of reasons. Tried to restart and got a “can't connect” error.

What, was I off the net? No, it quickly became apparent that www.lemis.com was off the net. How do I fix that? I have some backdoor to access the system console (/dev/ttyv0), but I've used it so seldom that I had to look it up. And sure enough, the machine was up—but had only been so for 2 hours! And I couldn't access it because I didn't have a default route.

Still more investigation showed that my /etc/rc.conf was missing a number of entries: apart from not setting a default route, I had forgotten to start named and ntp. Clearly I'm not used to frequent reboots. And I didn't even know the default gateway, but fortunately it's not difficult to guess looking at the ifconfig output (here abbreviated):

=== root@www (/dev/pts/1) /etc 23 -> ifconfig
xn0: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1500
        inet 208.86.226.86 netmask 0xfffffffc broadcast 208.86.226.87
        status: active
xn1: flags=8843<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> metric 0 mtu 1500
        inet 10.11.51.58 netmask 0xfffffff8 broadcast 10.11.51.63
        status: active
=== root@www (/dev/pts/1) /etc 24 -> arp -a
? (10.11.51.58) at 00:16:3e:17:6c:ff on xn1 permanent [ethernet]
? (208.86.226.85) at 00:19:07:77:9e:00 on xn0 expires in 995 seconds [ethernet]
www.lemis.com (208.86.226.86) at 00:16:3e:06:34:53 on xn0 permanent [ethernet]

And indeed it's 208.86.226.85.

But what happened? /var/log/messages shows:

May 28 16:55:17 www qpopper[58605]: Stats: grog 1 10286 6 32708 stonesroad.lemis.com 180.150.4.222
May 28 20:38:24 www syslogd: kernel boot file is /boot/kernel/kernel
May 28 20:38:24 www kernel: Copyright (c) 1992-2014 The FreeBSD Project.

No hint of a panic or other software-related issue, and it was off the net for over 3½ hours (times here in UTC), too long for a simple reboot after panic. Support explained: (apparently catastrophic) system failure, and the server is now running on newer, faster hardware. I suppose that can happen, but it's only been up for about 400 days. It'll be a long time before I can match my last uptime record.


Concreting the verandah
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

Brett Chiltern and mate along today to do the concreting:


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It took all day, longer than I expected, and he still has to come back tomorrow to do the bottoms of the troughs. And until Sunday we can't let the dogs walk outside, which will be fun for them. In the end we put some cardboard over the exit to their dog run.


Unpacking and random damage
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

More unpacking, and we now have unpacked all the kitchen boxes, without finding all the kitchen equipment. What's missing isn't important, but I wonder where it is. More to the point, it looks like we have (barely) enough space to put everything, though it would have been a lot easier if we had kept things in a more ordered fashion. As it is, we have a large number of duplicate conserves: 10 jars of conserved chilies, 12 of various mushrooms, usually 3 of a kind, and stuff that we had forgotten we even had, some of which were unopened and had expired at the end of the last century. But this one probably takes the cake:


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The first line (in Malay) is in my handwriting. The other two are my wife's handwriting—not Yvonne's, but of my first wife, Doris, with whom I split up in 1982. So the label is probably 35 years old, though I don't know if the contents are as old.

Apart from that, discovered damaged bookshelves:


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My guess is that they didn't try to unscrew the shelf from the wall before moving it. And we've found the trace of some liquid on the dining room wall:


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What is it? It's not beyond the bounds of possibility that it was an animal marking, but the marks start at about 1.5 m from the ground.


Saturday, 30 May 2015 Dereel Images for 30 May 2015
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More unpacking
Topic: Stones Road house Link here

I can't claim to be hurrying, but gradually I'm getting things unpacked. And somehow it seems easier to decide to throw things away after they've been moved to the new house, where I have the choice of finding somewhere to put them or to throw them away. Anybody want a copy of John Valley's UNIX Programmer's Reference, 1991 vintage? No, I no longer do either.


rsync failures gone?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

For some time I've been having problems with copying files to the external web server with rsync: at random, initial authentication fails:

+++ rsync -lKzavP --delete-after --copy-unsafe-links --exclude=weather /home/grog/public_html/ www:www.lemis.com/grog
ssh_exchange_identification: Connection closed by remote host
rsync: connection unexpectedly closed (0 bytes received so far) [sender]
rsync error: error in rsync protocol data stream (code 12) at io.c(605) [sender=3.0.9]

That's the only time there's an issue: if I get beyond the initial exchange, it always works. I've puzzled over it for a long time, and in the end I changed my scripts to retry the error. But since yesterday's crash, they haven't reoccurred. Is that certain enough that they won't reoccur? And if so, what could it have been? The software hasn't changed. Potentially the network connection has, but given that I have little idea what caused it in the first place, it's difficult to guess what it might have been.


“Coding”: not kid's stuff
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

The current Australian government would be good for many laughs if it weren't such a serious matter. Today's was from Tony Abbott, who, in response to a question from Bill Shorten, claimed that “coding” was not appropriate

“Let's just understand exactly what the Leader of the Opposition has asked,” the Prime Minister said. “He said that he wants primary school kids to be taught coding so they can get the jobs of the future. Does he want to send them all out to work at the age of 11? Is that what he wants to do? Seriously?”.

Apart from the fact that that's stupid in itself, it shows that he hasn't done his homework—something of which he accuses Shorten in the video, which is well worth looking at. The fact is that the government is planning to teach coding (and, I fear, not programming) to primary school students. I never cease to be amazed how stupid this man is. There's nothing wrong in not knowing every detail, but to pretend to know and berate the questioner is shameful.


Programming? Or just coding?
Topic: language, technology, opinion Link here

One thing about the parliamentary fiasco about teaching “coding” wasn't subject to disagreement: the term itself. Clearly they're talking about programming, but that's an old-fashioned and maybe slightly scary term. So now they separate the coding step from the much more important design step. But that's not their fault: in June 2013 the OED added a draft update to the word Coding:

intr. Computing. To write or edit the code of a computer program. Cf. programme v. 5b.

Somehow I don't like the word. It suggests hacking away without any thought.


Ports upgrade, yet again
Topic: technology Link here

Now that my office is relatively tidy, it's time to finally upgrade eureka, my main system. That is staged via stable, which has been tracking the FreeBSD STABLE branch for over a year now. Bringing the base system up to date was no problem, modulo a panic on startup:

panic: ncpus is 0 with non-zero map.

That proved to be due to a mismatch between the kernel and the VirtualBox module. Arguably it should refuse to load; something to look at, maybe.

Updating ports is still an adventure. Today I got:

upgrade rule: upgrade local libreoffice-4.3.6_1 to remote libreoffice-4.3.7
cannot install package libreoffice, remove it from request? [Y/n]: y
pkg: cannot find libreoffice in the request
pkg: cannot solve job using SAT solver

That wouldn't go away. In the end I had to remove libreoffice and reinstall it at the end. Then it went away and downloaded tarballs for 177 packages. When I came back, what did I see?

The process will require 13 MiB more space.
Proceed with this action? [y/N]: y

And, according to the man page, there's still no -y option. But it seems that the man page lies: there is, and it avoids this query in the middle of the action.

So now, it seems, things are up to date. Do I dare try this disk in eureka? I still have the X configuration to think about, and that still scares me.


Sunday, 31 May 2015 Dereel
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Starting the garden
Topic: Stones Road house, gardening Link here

Finally the concretors have done their concreting, and we can start tidying up the mess they made in the garden. Yvonne is particularly keen, and managed to drum up Craig Mayor to come and transplant a number of plants. Planted a volunteer Melaleuca (paperbark) to the west of the dog run:


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The shade area isn't finished yet, but we already have the tree fern and a number of other ferns and Fuchsias, including the Fuchsia triphylla that suffered so badly last winter. Hopefully it will fare better this year:


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In the front, towards the road, we planted 3 birches, an elm (I think), a sucker from our Paulownia kawakamii and a sucker of an ornamental Japanese cherry. Without the markers, it would be hard to know it:


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Finally, Yvonne brought some Tropaeolum plants and planted them round the water tanks:


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The plants we brought over last week are also not looking unhappy. The Azaleas and the roses are trying to flower, as is the Cyclamen that started flowering a few weeks ago:


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At least we'll see some change in the coming months.


Signs of the times
Topic: general, history Link here

From my daily “lifelines” mail:

Two thirds of a century ago:    Tuesday, 28 September 1948
Sep 28  Greg "groggy" Lehey born in Melbourne, VIC, 1948
30 years ago:                   Thursday, 30 May 1985
May 31  Yana Lehey born in Frankfurt/Main, 1985

How time flies! And it's interesting to note the relationship between my age (100 × 2 ÷ 3) and Yana's (10 × 3).


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