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October 2019
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Tuesday, 1 October 2019 Dereel Images for 1 October 2019
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Website migration still not complete
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Into the office again this morning to look at web server loads. Yes, gradually the new server was getting some load, up to a load average of 2 on occasion. And the old server was still round 20! What's causing that? Why can't Apache log the web server name?


No email!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

While waiting for the web traffic to settle, moved on to the question of mail. Moved the existing mail queue manually to eureka, and read:

Date: Sun, 29 Sep 2019 13:46:45 GMT
From: Mail Delivery Subsystem <MAILER-DAEMON>
Subject: Warning: could not send message for past 4 hours

   ----- Transcript of session follows -----
<grog@lemis.com>... Deferred: Operation timed out with mx1.lemis.com.
Warning: message still undelivered after 4 hours
Will keep trying until message is 5 days old

And indeed, the message was still there, a couple of days later. mx1 is oldwww, and it's certainly not down. Tried

=== grog@w3 (/dev/pts/1) ~ 19 -> telnet oldwww smtp
Trying 208.86.226.86...
^C

No response! What's going on? No message in the mail log on oldwww. OK,

=== root@w3 (/dev/pts/2) /etc 105 -> tcpdump host mx1
23:54:38.997286 IP w3.lemis.com.34433 > 192.109.197.81.smtp: Flags [S], seq 1767958357, win 65535, options [mss 1460,nop,wscale 6,sackOK,TS val 157074713 ecr 0], length 0
23:54:41.997203 IP w3.lemis.com.34433 > 192.109.197.81.smtp: Flags [S], seq 1767958357, win 65535, options [mss 1460,nop,wscale 6,sackOK,TS val 157077713 ecr 0], length 0
23:54:45.200769 IP w3.lemis.com.34433 > 192.109.197.81.smtp: Flags [S], seq 1767958357, win 65535, options [mss 1460,nop,wscale 6,sackOK,TS val 157080916 ecr 0], length 0

No reply of any kind! At the other end, no evidence of any attempt to connect. A man-in-the-middle attack? Tried a few more things:

=== grog@w3 (/dev/pts/1) ~ 20 -> telnet mx1.freebsd.org smtp
Trying 96.47.72.80...
^C
=== grog@w3 (/dev/pts/1) ~ 21 -> host -t mx gmail.com
gmail.com mail is handled by 5 gmail-smtp-in.l.google.com.
...
=== grog@w3 (/dev/pts/1) ~ 22 -> telnet gmail-smtp-in.l.google.com smtp
Trying 74.125.195.27...
^C

It looks as if the vultures are swallowing my SMTP traffic. What about my other vulture, ffm.lemis.com?

=== grog@ffm (/dev/pts/0) ~ 8 -> telnet gmail-smtp-in.l.google.com smtp
Trying 74.125.71.27...
^C

A bit of searching: yes, by default they block. I need to open a ticket and ask them to unblock. OK, off to the web site to discover that I have to specify which server. Two tickets where one would have done!

Quickly got a response telling me that the account team would look at it, and please don't send duplicate tickets. OK, tell me how. Please reassign the ticket to be against their web site limitations. New response: please don't submit duplicate tickets. Sigh.

Shortly later got a question: what services do you provide, how much email per day and per month, and what's the purpose of the mail? Clearly I answered to their satisfaction, and I got a response:

We have removed the default SMTP block on your account. Please re-start your instances via https://my.vultr.com, for the change to take effect (re-starting the server itself _will_not_work).

Aaargh! Reboot! This isn't Microsoft. ffm has been up for 604 days. I don't want to break that. And I don't want to interrupt web service. That really could have been done better. For the time being I'm considering alternatives. I've missed the end of the month deadline, so oldwww is with me until the end of the month. Maybe I'll be able to bear rebooting by then.

In passing, why do these error messages use the GMT time zone? It should be UTC.

Apart from that, there seem to be issues with the name server. My understanding is that my current config should serve requests from machines on the allow-transfer list, but oldwww didn't want to know anything about www. Not a primary concern at the moment, since I will be running a name server on www there too, and in the meantime I can use the Vulture name servers.


Bad markup
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

It's the beginning of the month, time to finalize last month's diary. Part of that involves passing the page through two different validators at validator.w3.org: this one for the HTML version and this for the RSS version. Most of the errors are in copied markup, but this one baffled me:


This should be Validation-fail-xml.png.  Is it missing?
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What's wrong with that syntax? That was from the XML validator, but the HTML validator, though different, was no clearer:

 
This should be Validation-fail-w3.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: Validation fail w3
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Dimensions: 617 x 154, 14 kB
Dimensions of original: 617 x 154, 14 kB
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While scratching my head, looked at the source with Emacs:


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Finally! There was a ctrl-A character at the end of the line. That explains the obscure reference to non SGML character number 1. And once you know it, you can look at the first of the messages from the HTML validator (but not the second) and see an underscore character at the end of the line. And the XML message points at the r in port, probably because it doesn't understand tabs.


Leonid runs free
Topic: animals Link here

We've been letting Nikolai run free while walking for some time now, and things work well. But Yvonne didn't trust Leonid to do the same—until today. Shortly before returning home (this photo is almost at the gate), she let him free. At least here he behaved just as well:


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Grocery shopping online
Topic: food and drink, technology, opinion Link here

Email from eBay today: do my grocery shopping online and get it delivered to my door.

That's one of the borderline areas I considered in my 2014 article The future of the Internet, and most recently here. How does it work? It seems that they're doing a deal with Coles, and that the delivery really is free, up to your kitchen bench. There's a URL, https://www.ebay.com.au/help/buying/grocery-shopping-ebay/grocery-shopping-ebay?id=4873, but I doubt that it's very durable. The most important thing is that it's only in selected metropolitan areas, the closest about 130 km away. They have my delivery address, so they could easily have established that I'm not a target customer.

But where does eBay come into the equation? You'd think that Coles would do it themselves. It seems that they do: here's another fragile URL offering what appear to be different terms and conditions, and, in my case, deciding that I live in Pagewood, NSW. But when I changed it to Dereel, they simply modified their store to the one in Sebastopol, which is the correct store. There's no mention of any geographical restriction on deliveries, but I need to spend at least $150, and it's only valid for this month.


Wednesday, 2 October 2019 Dereel Images for 2 October 2019
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Web site migration, day 4
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Into the office again this morning to see, from the old web site:

last pid: 12571;  load averages:  1.29,  1.25,  1.25   up 416+14:01:08 01:41:34
73 processes:  2 running, 71 sleeping
CPU: 50.0% user,  0.0% nice,  0.0% system,  0.0% interrupt, 50.0% idle
Mem: 67M Active, 69M Inact, 326M Wired, 7004K Cache, 58M Buf, 3444K Free
Swap: 1024M Total, 166M Used, 858M Free, 16% Inuse

  PID USERNAME    THR PRI NICE   SIZE    RES STATE   C   TIME    WCPU COMMAND
57141 root          1 103    0 95668K   524K CPU1    1 117.5H 100.00% perl

Now that's something different. This is a 2 processor system, so a load average of 1.3 is perfectly acceptable. But one of the processors was maxed out with a perl script, something that I hadn't noticed in the mess of httpd processes. What is it?

=== root@www (/dev/pts/0) ~ 76 -> ps aux | grep perl
root    57141 99.0  0.1  95668   524  -  R    16Sep19   7053:12.21 /usr/local/lib/webmin/webmincron/webmincron.pl (perl)
root      894  0.0  0.4  77220  1956  -  Ss   11Aug18     14:04.23 /usr/local/bin/perl /usr/local/lib/webmin/miniserv.pl /usr/local/etc/webmin/miniserv.conf

Webmin! That's something that Chris Bahlo uses (or used) to administer the site. Clearly something has gone wrong. But to think that that has been accounting for 50% of the CPU load for the last few weeks!

And then another piece in the puzzle:

Date: Wed,  2 Oct 2019 12:23:17 +0000 (UTC)
From: World Wide Web Owner <www@www.lemis.com>
Subject: FAILURE: /grog/Thisshouldbemoving-in-1.jpeg.Isitmissing <- http://mail.lemis.com/grog/diary-jul1997.php

Referrer:       http://mail.lemis.com/grog/diary-jul1997.php
Referenced URL: http://mail.lemis.com/grog/Thisshouldbemoving-in-1.jpeg.Isitmissing
Request URI:    /grog/Thisshouldbemoving-in-1.jpeg.Isitmissing

The “Thisshouldbe...” messages are an indication that the system didn't update the page quickly enough, a result of the system overload. But look at that URL: http://mail.lemis.com/grog/diary-jul1997.php. Where did they get that from? That explains why the old system is still serving web pages. High time to get all these spurious system names to redirect to the canonical name.

A while back I discussed on IRC whether the canonical name for my web site should be lemis.com or www.lemis.com. The consensus was that lemis.com is preferable. But that allows problems like this to occur. www.lemis.com is is.

Independently of this, it looks as if I should set up HTTPS, which seems to have become the only way to talk to web sites any more. Here the issue is a certificate. People have recommended Let's encrypt, which led me on to certbot.

Still to do:


Nikolai sick?
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Off to take the dogs for a walk, this time by myself. Today Nikolai came up as usual to have his chain put round his neck, but I didn't put it on: lately I've been leaving him off the lead from the time we leave the house, and it has worked well. But today he didn't want to leave the front of the house. Tried to get him to come, but he demonstratively turned around and wanted to go back into the house.

What's up? Is he sick? Took Leonid for a brief walk, then back to look at Nikolai. How do you tell if a dog is sick? There were no obvious symptoms. Cold, moist nose? Yes. But not as cold as Leonid's: 31° compared to 25°, as measured with a general-purpose infrared thermometer.

OK, should go by itself. But in the course of the day I discovered that he doesn't want to go out the front of the house any more; normally he wants to go there several times a day.

What's up? Sick? Did something out the front of the house scare him? After a bit of consideration, we're toying with the idea that he might feel rejected because he no longer gets a leash. Could it be that what we thought was good for him gave him a feeling of rejection? To be observed.

And the difference in nose temperature? Leonid had just come in from outside, while Nikolai had been inside all the time. That, too, we should observe.


Schinkengriller? Schinkenplatzer!
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

A couple of weeks ago we ate some ALDI „Schinkengriller“ sausages, cooked in an air fryer. The result could have been better. They all burst:


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OK, as I noted at the time, they're intended to be grilled, not “air fried”, though I had my doubts that that was the problem. Indeed. In the grill they not only burst, but also charred:


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„Schinkengriller“ is a German construction meaning “Ham grillers”. But these are clearly bangers: „Schinkenplatzer“. A pity: they don't taste at all bad.


Thursday, 3 October 2019 Dereel Images for 3 October 2019
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Another power failure
Topic: general Link here

Another short power failure today at 11:34:54.


From Eagle's Nest to Big Oak
Topic: animals, gardening, opinion Link here

The weather was nice again today, so down Kleins Road with the dogs to walk in the area where we went 5 years ago, from the “Eagle's Nest” (corner of Swamp Road and Kleins Road) to the “Big Oak” (corner of Kleins Road and Swanson's Road). The Acacia paradoxa are in full bloom:


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Somehow it's not as pretty as I remember it. On the way found a number of orchids which I now know as Caladenia major:


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And of course I didn't have a macro lens again, which shows in the quality of the photos. I should go down there alone some time soon.

On the way back, marvelled at the changes in the Kleins Road property:


This should be Kleins-Road-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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In particular the Agave (or whatever it is) to the south of the house is now enormous:


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Niko (on a leash) was his usual self, though he did have a little diarrhoea, so the cause of his issues yesterday are still not clear. But at least he's livelier.


Where have all the goldfish gone?
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

We've had goldfish in the garden for over 10 years now. When we moved here from Kleins Road we kept them in a tub for a while before putting them in the trough round the verandah, where they flourished.

Until about a month ago. After one particularly cold night Yvonne couldn't find any more, and thought that some bird (cormorant?) had eaten them. That sounded unlikely. I thought that they might have gone to the bottom of the water, where it's warmer, and later I found one swimming around.

But that was the only time, and it really seems that they're gone. As if to prove the point, the place now has lots of frogs, suggesting that there are no fish to eat the tadpoles.

But how could they disappear? It's really hard to believe that a bird could extricate them from their hiding places, and if they had just died we would see the remains. Some aquatic predator?


Daily migration problem
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Problems again today: my remote Squid proxy refused connections.

Why? Took a quick look. Not much activity, since it's just for me, but there was no evidence of any problems. Nor of any connection attempts, even when I tried again.

Bingo! It's running on oldwww, but the configuration in my browser points to www.lemis.com, now a different machine. Time to add a name squid.lemis.com.


Spring rolls, “air fryer”
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Had some spring rolls as an appetizer today, heated in the “air fryer”. The results weren't ideal:


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The big ones also tasted greasy, which clearly has nothing to do with the cooking method.

The other issue with the “air fryer” is cleaning: the drawer is big, and it gets greasy. Deep frying seems less complicated.


Friday, 4 October 2019 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 4 October 2019
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Next migration issue
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yvonne in today with a problem: she couldn't upload her photos to the web server.

Oh. I had forgotten that. She doesn't use the server for anything else, but she does have her photos there. And for that, the way I have it set up, she has her own account and ssh credentials. Or at least, she had. I had only set up accounts for Chris Bahlo and myself on the new machine. Not much work to set it up for her, but just another indication of how easy it is to forget little details.


Infrared thermometer pain
Topic: health, general Link here

Into town for a number of things today. First stopped off at UFS: the infrared ear thermometer that I bought (but didn't document) on 7 August 2019 seemed to work acceptably when I bought it, but now it shows pseudo-random temperatures between 34° and 35.5°, clearly incorrect.

Problem: I had mislaid the receipt. I had the credit card statement, but that was all. OK, ask them to show me what I'm doing wrong (which, in fact, wasn't beyond the bounds of possibility). Spoke to Keylin (if I remember the spelling correctly), who looked as if she had never seen a thing like that before. She certainly couldn't tell me how to use it (not even “stick it in your ear”, which used to be an insulting suggestion).

After a bit of discussion with a pharmacist who was too polite to approach me, she suggested calling the manufacturer. OK, why not? She was soon back: the whole company in on a training course today and Monday, and they won't be back until Tuesday. She, too, found that a little unusual.

OK, what's the alternative? The thermometer had cost $40, about as much as I was prepared to pay. The next cheapest one cost round $80, and I could go up to $180 if I wanted. No, not worth the trouble. Conventional in-mouth thermometers cost $7, and the number of times I use one (the last one died of a flat battery) doesn't make it worth spending any more money. Please refund.

That was easier than I thought. She didn't even ask for the receipt, just my membership card. All was stored in their computer, which, however, required massive paperwork on her part and two signatures from me before I got my refund.


ALDI again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

On to ALDI, where I returned a smoke oven that Yvonne had picked up last week. I had already tried what appears to be the same device nine years ago, but last week I couldn't remember why we returned it. Lack of cold-smoking, maybe? I have a solution for that. But no, the real issue is that it wasn't much good for hot-smoking either, because it didn't have a thermostat and the flame couldn't be regulated sufficiently.

While there, picked up some things that Yvonne had forgotten on Wednesday, and saw this marvel:


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Two portions of nasi goreng for $5! What's in there? Mainly rice (400 g, corresponding to 150 g of raw rice, about $0.15 worth), an egg ($0.50) and leftovers. Yes, there's packaging and stuff as well, but for that price they could equally well have made it a kilogram.

But wait, there's more!


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German Kransky (“made in Australia with at least 20% Australian ingredients”). I wonder how many Germans would associate „Kransky“ with a sausage.


Bunnings again
Topic: general, language, opinion Link here

On the way home, dropped in at Bunnings in Delacombe, apparently the biggest shop they have. Once again, it was almost empty, and the sole cashier explained this:


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That's supposed to be the do-it-yourself checkout, but it's closed: they need a person to supervise it, and it's just not worth the trouble with the amount of business they have. I wonder how things will pan out. Presumably people will learn about the place in the course of time.

The shop is laid out in a very similar way to the other Ballarat shop. Off to look at floor tiles for the verandah. Didn't find very much, but did find this:


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OK, $45.77, and the tiles are only 60 cm square. That's 0.36 m². But the small print states $42.36 per SQM. How does that work out? Must be bad language, like TILE FLOOR PRCLN PEAK CTN3. And how they get 1.08 SQM out of a tile 60 cm on a side is hard to understand. After a while, it dawned: CTN3 means “carton of three tiles”, and the price is for the carton, not the tile.

Wouldn't it be easier if they wrote these things in English?

And then there are “smart” plug-in sockets, a pair for about $27:


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Arguably they're useful; at least they don't rely on a smart home controller. But they do rely on a smart phone. Why? Clearly they communicate by 802.11, so anything on the network should be able to communicate with it. Sigh.


Going home, with help from Google
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Finding my way out of the Bunnings car park wasn't easy. No signs apart from a couple of no-entry signs where I didn't need them, various barriers. In the end I decided that the only exit was to the south onto Webb Road, the way I went last time.

OK, I wanted to go south on Cherry Flat Road. But other things prevented that:


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What's going on there? The most obvious thing was the flashing lights from the police car:


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They were blinding to the eye, almost completely obscuring the “Road Closed” message that they tried to convey.

OK, Google, how do I get home? Oh, that's an old, worn-out phrase. Now it's “Hey Google”. And as usual the interminable delay before this supercomputer in my pocket finally does something, showing me the way home (straight ahead at this point). Drove on, took another look, and got what looked like a scrambled screen:


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Messed around somehow and got a marginally better display:

 
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Had I moved? I don't recall. The GPS log says yes, by 5 metres, but the map claims 100 m. Still, what kind of display is that? I can't see anything there. More messing around and gone nothing useful, just spam from Google:

 
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I suppose I should check out the app, but I suspect it will just give me more cause for grumbling. Currently I download the screen shots to a real computer and edit them, if necessary, there. Anything that requires me to spend more time on a mobile phone has to be bad.

Keep trying:


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Huh? And all this, of course, with no verbal feedback from the device. Dammit, Google, take me home!

Still more messing around and I discovered that, for some reason, it had tried to send me by bus. Probably I prodded the phone in the wrong place; that's far too easy. Got to a T junction in Sebastopol, which I recognized, and somehow managed to get it to show me the map I had been looking for all along:

 
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What's that car symbol in the middle? That's my position! It didn't seem to be paying any attention to me.

Ah, I didn't say “Go!”. Finally I found the magic gesture and got:

 
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OK, Google? It's Hey Google! And I certainly don't want you to play me any jazz. But after that it navigated relatively well with the exception of when it asked me to turn left into an embankment going through Enfield State Park. That reminds me of last year, where it told me to turn right when going along a road with no turnoffs. I think Google Maps must not like forests.


Saturday, 5 October 2019 Dereel Images for 5 October 2019
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More wildflowers
Topic: gardening, technology, opinion Link here

Yvonne in this afternoon to point me at a flower growing in the “sewage paddock” (the one with the soakage for the septic tank). She thought it might be an orchid:


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No, it's clearly not an orchid. But what is it? It reminds me of something, not necessarily indigenous. OK, time to look for programs that can identify flowers.

I didn't find any! Only “apps” for mobile phones! What a declaration of bankruptcy! What happened to our ideals of interoperability? And what a horrible thought to have to upload my photos to a phone to be able to identify them? Sure, it's convenient to be able to take a photo with a phone and identify it immediately, but a good program shouldn't be platform-dependent.

Later, while walking the dogs, found another flower:


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I've seen this one too, but I can't recall what it is. High time for that program!


Leucadendron promises to flower
Topic: gardening Link here

Our Leucadendron salignum cultivar, the one that Lorraine Carranza gave us last Christmas, has been here for nearly a year, and so far it hasn't flowered. But finally it's promising:


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And only now does it dawn on me that this is a Leucadendron, and not a Protea like the ones she has in her garden:


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We have another Leucadendron cordifolium, not far away. And it's not looking overly happy:


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But it, too, is coming up with new blossoms:


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I wonder if I should transplant it, possibly to a pot on the other side of the entrance.


The return of the goldfish
Topic: animals Link here

Looking around the verandah area today, discussing the loss of the goldfish. And then one showed up again, like the one I saw a couple of weeks ago. And another. And another. All in all I counted at least 5 of them, all relatively big.

What's going on? Are they just hiding? Or are they somehow sick or undernourished? Or maybe hiding from a predator that really tried to catch them? Tried feeding them with the flakes that Yvonne bought for them. One of the biggest ate some, but the others didn't pay much attention. In any case, time to clean out the trough and eliminate some of the plants that have grown in the water.


ALDI samosa maker
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Last week Yvonne bought a samosa maker at ALDI:

I've never made samosas before, and today I decided to try it out. I discovered multiple issues:

  1. Samosas are deep-fried, not baked.
  2. The instructions want you to heat the cooker (to a surprisingly accurate and uniform 180°, it eventuated) and then roll out the pastry onto the hot plate, fill them in situ and cover with another layer of pastry. I don't know how well that would work, but at the very least it would be wasteful of pastry. The results would look nothing like the illustration.
  3. The instructions also suggest oiling the surface of the cooker to prevent sticking. That sounds like it could be a lot of fun removing the samosas.

OK, first learn to make samosas the traditional way. We have forms that make pouches in samosa size, even if they're semi-circular. They don't waste pastry, and they don't sound so time-critical. I'll try that first, and if they taste good, I can go looking for something that makes triangular rather than semi-circular pastries.


Sunday, 6 October 2019 Dereel Images for 6 October 2019
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More wildflowers
Topic: gardening Link here

Waling the dogs today, saw another kind of wildflower:

It's not easy to recognize, just small (1.2 cm?) white flowers growing apparently from nothing. The interesting thing is that they don't have a constant number of petals:


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Comparing with earlier observations at the same location, it seems that they could be Drosera, possibly two different species.

The broom-like plants that I noted last week ago are now flowering more profusely:


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Still no idea what they are.


Garden flowers
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Back home things are looking good. We have the first cherry blossom:


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And also the first timid attempt at a Paulownia kawakamii flower since moving here:


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Removing TIFFs
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

For a few months now I have been converting my intermediate photos to TIFF rather than JPEG. And of course it's bloating the backups. Today I removed most of the intermediates. The difference is obvious. Here before and after:

before:
  Filesystem  1048576-blocks      Used     Avail Capacity  Mounted on
  /dev/ada1p1      7,629,565 6,125,172 1,428,096    81%    /Photos
after:
  /dev/ada1p1      7,629,565 5,738,401 1,814,867    76%    /Photos

385 GB!


TIFF file sizes
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

While optimizing some images with Ashampoo photo optimizer, took a look at the sizes:

-rwxrw-r--  4 grog  wheel   86,571,008  6 Oct 15:08 Carpobrotus.tiff
-rwxrw-r--  4 grog  wheel   96,087,978  6 Oct 14:45 Cherry-1.tiff
-rwxrw-r--  4 grog  wheel  121,229,452  6 Oct 14:48 Cherry-2.tiff
-rwxrw-r--  4 grog  wheel  121,259,462  6 Oct 14:47 Eucalyptus.tiff
-rwxrw-r--  4 grog  wheel  121,228,318  6 Oct 10:22 Kitchen-accident-1.tiff
-rwxrw-r--  4 grog  wheel  121,276,118  6 Oct 10:22 Kitchen-accident-2.tiff
-rwxrw-r--  4 grog  wheel  121,997,899  6 Oct 14:08 Leucadendron-1.tiff
-rwxrw-r--  4 grog  wheel  121,625,698  6 Oct 14:08 Leucadendron-2.tiff
-rwxrw-r--  4 grog  wheel   96,088,530  6 Oct 14:09 Leucadendron-3.tiff
-rwxrw-r--  4 grog  wheel   96,088,608  6 Oct 14:09 Leucadendron-4.tiff
-rwxrw-r--  4 grog  wheel   96,026,670  6 Oct 14:47 Oak-1.tiff
-rwxrw-r--  4 grog  wheel   96,026,756  6 Oct 14:47 Oak-2.tiff
-rwxrw-r--  4 grog  wheel   96,026,546  6 Oct 14:46 Paulownia-kawakamii-1.tiff
-rwxrw-r--  4 grog  wheel   96,026,686  6 Oct 14:46 Paulownia-kawakamii-2.tiff

There seem to be two basic sizes,round 96 MB and 121 MB. Why? This time the optimizer didn't change the size of the file significantly.


Ashampoo optimizer again
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Yvonne took a few photos this afternoon, about 430 of them. She zooms with the crop tool, so she was using dischord all afternoon, and I had to use eucla, the laptop. It doesn't have the latest and greatest Ashampoo optimizer, so I tried the old 2016 version that had broken on me last month. It didn't fail!

But when comparing the results, though they were marginally bigger, there was no obvious difference in appearance. Optimizer fail. Later I ran the same photos through “Photo Optimizer 7”, and it did improve them. What's going on here?


Monday, 7 October 2019 Dereel Images for 7 October 2019
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Bloody Resilium again!
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Another email from Resilium again today. No, this time it was “Non Fleet Recoveries” (and not ”Fleet Recoveries” like the last time). It was signed by “Arpana”, of whom I am not sure whether she is the same person as Amol or not.

What did they want? $550. The offer is still open, but if I don't pay by 3 October they'll forward it to their mercantile agent.

What's wrong with this picture? No mention whatsoever of my reply of 27 September. Are they unable to read? Certainly they have given the impression of having far less intelligence than even typical insurance representatives, and the date 3 October adds to that impression. Maybe I should just pay the $550 to be rid of the pain.


Beware of Chris bearing gifts
Topic: technology, food and drink, opinion Link here

Chris Bahlo along today with a couple of items that she wanted to get rid of: an Apple MacBook Pro and a George Foreman “LEAN·MEAN CONTACT ROASTING MACHINE”. She had offered them to me a while back, so long ago that I had forgotten the details.

Deferred the “CONTACT ROASTING MACHINE” and looked at the laptop, which looks quite good. Problem: there's something wrong with the display, and from time to time it becomes more or less illegible. Repair will apparently exceed the value of the machine. For me that's not a significant disadvantage, since I'd want to access it over the net only.

Took it into the office and opened it. Well, tried to open it. Dammit, I can't get it open! Is this another silly Apple trick? Off to the web, where I found precious little help beyond the suggestion that some of them can be a little stiff. Insert big screwdriver. Nothing.

After a while, looked at it more carefully and discovered that I had been trying to open the wrong side. The other side opened quite easily. If there was a silly Apple trick, it was in putting the logo on upside down and putting all the connections on the sides, so that it wasn't clear which way was front and back. Andrew Perry told me that all logos are upside down nowadays, such as this ThinkPad T460, from this page:

But I have a ThinkPad too. The one above is a T460, and mine is a T430:


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Clearly people aren't as clear about orientation as they claim. And clearly having connections on the back makes it more difficult to make the mistake that I made.

OK, fire up. How about that! I had an account on the box, from who knows when? Logged in and was presented with the offer to do a system upgrade. OK, it proved the machine hadn't been used for nearly two years, so why not?


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Aaargh! This bloody Apple ID! It's set to Chris' ID, of course. I had an ID, and maybe I still do, though I went through untold pain to get rid of the invasive thing earlier this year. Should I reinstate it?

First, how? The popup says “If you don't have an Apple ID, click Create Apple ID”. But where? It seems that it forgot to add that button!.

OK, Cancel. Ha ha, only joking, you can still download the new system. Only 5.3 GB. Left that running for some time, and addressed the issue of running the laptop when it's closed: normally that causes it to hibernate. In Microsoft there are buttons to set that, but Apple is too polite. Nothing in “Energy Saver”, nothing that I could find elsewhere.

Surely other people have run into this issue. Out on the web to search. How to use MacBook with lid closed, stop closed Mac sleeping sounded right. OK, no trouble if an external monitor is connected. Otherwise you can buy this app for only £0.99.

SCREAM! PAY for programs that make up for brokenness in the base system! What a horrible idea!

More looking and came up with Quick Tip: How to Stop Your Mac From Sleeping Using the Command Line. Use caffeinate(1), which does come with the base system. But what an appalling kludge! It stops the machine from sleeping by running a make process (and doesn't supply a Makefile, making it even more difficult. I'm appalled!

At 10 Mb/s, 5.3 GB take about an hour. In the meantime, tried something different. For no good reason, compared the ping times. At this point the system had called itself dhcp-238. Here a summary:

--- teevee.lemis.com ping statistics ---
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 0.142/0.311/0.374/0.069 ms
--- lagoon.lemis.com ping statistics ---
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 0.315/0.364/0.402/0.027 ms
--- dhcp-238.lemis.com ping statistics ---
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 0.632/0.788/0.926/0.012 ms

Why so slow? It's a 1 Gb/s interface, with only one switch between it and eureka, while the others had two.

en0: flags=8863<UP,BROADCAST,SMART,RUNNING,SIMPLEX,MULTICAST> mtu 1500
        options=10b<RXCSUM,TXCSUM,VLAN_HWTAGGING,AV>
        ether 3c:07:54:3f:73:75
        inet6 fe80::3e07:54ff:fe3f:7375%en0 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x4
        inet 192.109.197.238 netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast 192.109.197.255
        nd6 options=1<PERFORMNUD>
        media: autoselect (1000baseT <full-duplex,flow-control,energy-efficient-ethernet>)
        status: active

Is the energy-efficient-ethernet to blame?

Finally the upgrade was done. Or was it? It came up with a conflict with Xcode, without a suggestion as to how to fix it.

OK, time for another screen shot. But why with a camera? Apple must have some way to take a screen shot. More checking. Went out to the web, where I discovered that the way to take a screen shot depends on the version of Mac OS. What version of Mac OS do I have currently running?

dhcp-238:~ grog$ uname -a
Darwin dhcp-238.lemis.com 13.4.0 Darwin Kernel Version 13.4.0: Mon Jan 11 18:17:34 PST 2016; root:xnu-2422.115.15~1/RELEASE_X86_64 x86_64

That doesn't help much. How old is the kernel?

-rwxr-xr-x@   1 root  wheel  8394688 Jan 12  2016 mach_kernel

That doesn't look like a recent update. Was there something about a Sierra? Is that the same as High Sierra? How does that relate to other OS revisions? How do I find out?

Apple support notes, of course. On IRC, Jamie Fraser offered me this page, which goes into some detail. But you need macOS Mojave (is that the same thing as Mac OS?). They're too polite to tell you where to find information for other, presumably older and mouldier versions of their name-changing operating system.

Finally got something that suggested that Cmd-3 will take a shot of the entire screen. Entered Cmd-F3 and ended up with a completely different screen:


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What went wrong there? Fool! You pressed Cmd-F3 instead of Cmd-3. Finally I found my way back, but the display was gone. Instead I was offered:


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Sigh. Like Microsoft, it tries to pessimize your network traffic. OK, what the hell, I have enough bandwidth and time.


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The word “purchase” sounded ominous. Is this a polite way of circumlocuting “You need an Apple ID and $$$ to buy this upgrade”? OK, they offer Details:


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OS X Mavericks? Is that the same as Mojave? Looking at the dates and the comment “This article has been archived and is no longer update by Apple”, I'd guess that this relates to a much older version, and that the link that took me there is broken. Bad Apple! Still, I don't see myself spending real money buying “Dark Mode” (presumably the horrible colours that my photo software offers, and which I've been grumbling about for I don't know how long), “new apps”, and most certainly not a new Mac App Store. Stacks? What's that? Do I want to know?

In the meantime I got a popup telling me to update Java:


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But it seemed to hang. OK, go to “About this Mac” and generate a report. Screen scrambles, the problem that made Chris stop using it. What she didn't know, though, was that it wasn't just the screen: the system froze and was no longer accessible via the network.

That's enough pain for one day. Why did I do it in the first place? Clearly Apple and I are so far from each other that nothing can save the relationship.


More wildflowers?
Topic: gardening Link here

Today's wildflower:


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I've almost certainly seen this before, but I don't have time to search.


Garden flower bouquets
Topic: gardening, general Link here

This is the time of the year where we have plenty of flowers in the garden, and Yvonne makes bouquets out of them. Time to start an album:


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The fronds at the left are Eremophila nivea.


Tuesday, 8 October 2019 Dereel Images for 8 October 2019
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Another grid power failure
Topic: general Link here

Another grid power failure this morning at 0:23:31, the shortest yet: only one second


More Apple fun
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Yesterday's fun with the MacBook should have been enough, but there were still some loose ends to tie up. What is this machine? Were any of the 5.3 GB of updates yesterday actually installed? After reboot, I found these displays:


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What does the X in the circle mean? That the update failed? Or that this is Mac OS X? It seems that that “Mac OS X” is an old, worn-out magic word, and that it's now called macOS. But I've already seen that they're not very consistent. After all, you'd really think that they're practicing deliberate obfuscation by having no less than three names for their releases. If I can believe what it's telling me, I have Darwin 13.4.0, OS X 10.9.5 and macOS High Sierra. Do they relate? My kernel (if that's what /mach_kernel is) dates from January 2016, and I can't see any updates to /usr/bin (nor even find /sw/bin, which appears in my PATH variable, whatever that might be intended to mean).

Other details are scanty. 16 GB memory (good, more than any other machine I have except for eureka). What processor? Ah, we won't scare you with details like model number. It's a 2.5 MHz Intel Core i7. How many different kinds are there of that? According to the link, there are at least 12 of them, assuming you discount the 2.53 GHz processors (yes, that's a different value, but maybe Apple is too polite to distract me with more than 2 significant digits). How many cores? There could be 2 or 4.

And the OS release? This Apple support note tells me how to find out the macOS version number:

From the Apple menu  in the corner of your screen, choose About This Mac. You'll see the macOS name, such as macOS Mojave, followed by its version number. If some product or feature requires you to know the build number as well, click the version number to see it.

 
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But that's not what I see:


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What an unmitigated mess this stuff is!


More wildflowers
Topic: gardening Link here

More wildflowers while walking the dogs today. I'm sure I've seen this one:


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And this one seemed closed because of the cool weather.


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It was badly placed, thus the poor shot, but hopefully I'll see one again.

And then this shrub is directly in front of the house. Yvonne transplanted it from the other end of Stones Road. It's the only one of three that survived, and it looks better than any of the originals, which are normally even stragglier.


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Migrating narrawin.com
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Chris Bahlo has finally got round to updating her data on the new web server machine—with SFTP! I wonder how she keeps track of things. And of course it didn't work for her, because I was still running the zone on the old web server.

OK, no time like the present, even if it is just before dinner. Copy across the information and run apachectl graceful. Error! The pathnames were a kludge that I needed on the old server, /usr/home/chris/www.narrawin.com. We don't need to put /home under /usr any more, so /home/chris/www.narrawin.com it is. OK, apachectl accepted that. And then I had to wait for the DNS to propagate. Finally it happened, but I couldn't access the site. The error log contained:

[Tue Oct 08 07:24:54.084811 2019] [authz_core:error] [pid 89695] [client 167.179.139.35:61970] AH01630: client denied by server configuration: /home/chris/www.narrawin.com/
h3
[Tue Oct 08 07:24:54.433312 2019] [authz_core:error] [pid 89695] [client 167.179.139.35:61970] AH01630: client denied by server configuration: /home/chris/www.narrawin.com/favicon.ico

What does that mean? apachectl gave it a clean bill of health. Took a look at the configuration again

<VirtualHost *:80>
        ServerName      www.narrawin.com
        ServerAlias     narrawin.com
        DocumentRoot    /home/chris/www.narrawin.com
        CustomLog       /var/log/www/narrawin.log combined
        ErrorLog        /var/log/www/narrawin-error.log
        HostnameLookups On
        AddType          application/x-httpd-php .php
</VirtualHost>

<Directory /home/chris/www.narrawin.co÷m>
        Options All MultiViews
        Require all granted
</Directory>

Nothing wrong there. Oh:

<Directory /home/chris/www.narrawin.co÷m>

Where did that ÷ character come from? It must have been related to the locale issues that I had with Emacs six weeks ago.

Why do I always do these things when I have limited time? But at least it seems to be working now.


Wednesday, 9 October 2019 Dereel Images for 9 October 2019
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Grevillea bronwenae recovers
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

We've had our Grevillea bronwenae for two years now. It looked OK in the first year, but in the second I was marginally concerned. But this year it has come back with a vengeance. Here two years ago, last year and today:


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Nikolai's worries
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

So was Nikolai's problem last week sickness or sadness? His bowel movements have long since normalized, so today I tried it again. Go walking without a chain or leash. No, he didn't want to know, wanted to go back inside, just like last week. Put him on the leash and he was happy.

Aren't dogs strange?


Still more wildflowers
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

While walking the dogs today, found this single flower:


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At the time I couldn't tell whether it was the same as the one that Yvonne had found last weekend:


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Clearly it's something else.


Resilium again
Topic: general, opinion Link here

My pains with Resilium or FleetRecoveries or NonFleetRecoveries aren't over yet. Yesterday I sent them a message in the assumption that their attention span doesn't extend beyond the first paragraph, and asking at the end of it for a confirmation of receipt. None was forthcoming.

OK, from now on I'll send them a message every day until I get a response. I wonder if I ever will. What an incompetent company!


Samosa?
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I've already established that the ALDI samosa maker appears to be suboptimal. But what's the best way to make them? Not surprisingly, I found a number of recipes both in my recipe books (one for “samoosa”) and on the web. All different. It seems that you can make them with vegetables or with meat, but vegetables seem more appropriate. Today spent a lot of time trying to find a recipe, and came up with this:

quantity       ingredient       step
5 g       ginger       1
36 g       onion       1
0.5 g       black mustard seed       2
2 g       coriander seed       2
1.5 g       cumminseed       2
1 g       fennel seed       2
2.25 g       garam masala       2
130 g       cooked potatoes       3
60 g       peas       3
1 g       curry leaves       4
5 g       coriander leaf       4
2.5 g       salt       4

Preparation

  1. Cut the onions and ginger finely, fry in a little oil until onions are glassy.
  2. Grind the spices and add to the onion mixture.
  3. Add potatoes and peas and crush with a potato masher.
  4. Add leaves and salt and mix well.
  5. Roll out shortcrust pastry and cut into circles. Fold together in a wonton press.
  6. Deep fry quickly at 180°, then complete at a later time at round 150°.

That was very much an experiment, but it worked surprisingly well:


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I'll need to frob the quantities next time, but the interesting thing is that the relatively small amount of filling was enough for about double the quantity in the photo.


Another grid power failure
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Another grid power failure this evening at 18:44:25, again only one second. I wonder if this kind of failure would have registered before we installed solar electricity.


Thursday, 10 October 2019 Dereel Images for 10 October 2019
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No programme data!
Topic: multimedia, technology Link here

Into the office this morning, and as usual checked TV programme data from mediathekview.de. Nothing! The cron job had failed. OK, try it manually:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/33) ~ 61 -> /usr/bin/fetch -o /var/tmp/Filmliste-akt.xz http://verteiler1.mediathekview.de/Filmliste-akt.xz
fetch: http://verteiler1.mediathekview.de/Filmliste-akt.xz: Connection reset by peer

That was repeatable. What now? The host name was interesting: verteiler1.mediathekview.de. Is there a verteiler2? Yes. And it works!

Further investigation shows that there are a number of them, not all distinct:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/33) ~ 57 -> for i in `jot 10`; do host verteiler$i.mediathekview.de; done
verteiler1.mediathekview.de has address 5.1.76.111
verteiler1.mediathekview.de has IPv6 address 2a00:f820:417::4df6:1bf2
verteiler2.mediathekview.de has address 195.201.115.158
verteiler2.mediathekview.de has IPv6 address 2a01:4f8:1c0c:7baa::1
verteiler3.mediathekview.de has address 5.1.76.111
verteiler3.mediathekview.de has IPv6 address 2a00:f820:417::4df6:1bf2
verteiler4.mediathekview.de has address 88.99.80.17
verteiler4.mediathekview.de has IPv6 address 2a01:4f8:1c17:5753::1
verteiler5.mediathekview.de has address 5.1.76.111
verteiler5.mediathekview.de has IPv6 address 2a00:f820:417::4df6:1bf2
verteiler6.mediathekview.de has address 159.69.82.180
verteiler6.mediathekview.de has IPv6 address 2a01:4f8:1c1c:5642::1
Host verteiler7.mediathekview.de not found: 3(NXDOMAIN)
Host verteiler8.mediathekview.de not found: 3(NXDOMAIN)
Host verteiler9.mediathekview.de not found: 3(NXDOMAIN)
Host verteiler10.mediathekview.de not found: 3(NXDOMAIN)
=

Still more wildflowers
Topic: gardening Link here

Walking the dogs round the “big loop” (Rozenstein Road), came across a number of wildflowers, including some that I don't think I've seen before. Now is clearly the time for the Caladenia major:


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I saw a number of them, and also the small blue flowers that we saw in Spearys Road on Tuesday:


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And there are also some that I can't recall having seen before:


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